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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Monday, March 29, 2010

Read the transcript to the Monday show

Guests: Ed Brayton, Chip Berlet, Ana Marie Cox, Kent Jones>

HOST:  Good evening, Keith.

My biggest worry about doing that story is how I‘m going to get

through it without turning beet red and passing out from embarrassment.

OLBERMANN:  Don‘t do what we did.  Do not use the term.  Turn the

other cheek, end point in this discussion.

MADDOW:  Keith, it is so good to have you back.  Miss you.

OLBERMANN:  It is my joy to be.  And all the best, my friend.

MADDOW:  Thanks.  You too.

Thanks to up at home as well for tuning in tonight.


There are some incredible political news tonight, including as Keith

said, what your donation to the RNC these days is buying you.

And the expiration of President Obama‘s patience with the Senate

Republicans.  We‘ll have Ana Marie Cox here at this hour and Chris Hayes of

“The Nation.”  Both will be joining us.

But we begin our coverage tonight with a startling indictment of nine

U.S. citizens—nine U.S. citizens who are now facing charges of planning

and preparing for war on the United States government.  All are alleged to

be members of a Christian-oriented, Michigan-based militia that—in the

words of the Justice Department—was conspiring to levy war against the

United States and to oppose by force the authority of the government of the

United States.

Now, even though nine militia members have been indicted, you will

notice that there are only eight mug shots in this image.  That‘s because

the ninth member of this militia who was indicted is believed to still be

on the run tonight.  He is the 21-year-old son of the self-styled leader of

this group.

Now, investigators say that all of those indicted are members of the

something called the Hutaree militia in Southern Michigan.  They were

swooped up over the weekend in a series of surprise raids conducted by the


On Saturday night, FBI agents swarmed a rural, wooded property in

Adrian, Michigan, that‘s believed to be the home of the Hutaree militia‘s

leader, a man named David Stone.  As that raid was happening, FBI agents in

Ohio simultaneously raided two homes there and arrested a pair of Hutaree

militia members.  Law enforcement members in Hammond, Indiana, were raiding

yet another home, arresting one militia there.

The Hutaree are apparently a known militia in Michigan.  The FBI says

they‘ve been following this group for a long time now.

What does the word Hutaree mean?  Well, according to prosecutors, they

say it means nothing.  They think it‘s just a made-up word that these

militia members ascribed to their group because they thought it sounded

religious.  They wanted to be thought of as Christian warriors.

If you go to the Hutaree Web site, it‘s clear that this is a religion-

based group.  The group says it‘s preparing to fight the anti-Christ.  It‘s

peppered with theological statements about rapture.  And right underneath

the picture of the militia members posing with their guns on the front page

of their Web site, is this quote, “Preparing for the end time battles to

keep the testimony of Jesus Christ alive.”

The Hutaree logo is inscribed with the logo CCR.  According to their

Web site, that CCR stands for “Colonial Christian Republic.”  I can‘t help

you with the colonial part of it.

Now, the Web site contains a bunch of military-style training videos. 

According to the wife of one of the men who‘s been arrested, the group

would go out into the woods and train on survival skills about once a

month.  One of the videos they have posted shows the group setting fire to

a United Nations flag, a symbol of what they believe is a coming one world


Now, the Justice Department indictment says the Hutaree viewed local

and state and federal law enforcement officials—all as their enemy. 

They refer to all law enforcement officers as “The Brotherhood.”  One of

the men who indicted today, Joshua John Clough appears to be the author of

a Web post from earlier this month in which he warns, quote, “If you are

currently a cop, you are the enforcement arm of the enemy.  Don‘t try to

kid yourself otherwise.”

And this obsession with police that the Hutaree apparently hoped would

help them make their big splash.  The FBI alleges that Hutaree members

discussed a number of possible scenarios in which they would kill a police

officer in order to set off what they hoped would be a larger chain of

violent events.

According to the indictment, they discussed killing a member of law

enforcement after a traffic stop.  They discussed killing a member of law

enforcement and his or her family at their home.  They discussed ambushing

a member of law enforcement in a rural area.  They also allegedly discussed

luring a member of law enforcement with a false 911 emergency call and then

killing that officer when he or she arrived on the scene.

Once they managed to kill a police officer, their alleged plan was to

wait for the police officer‘s funeral.  And then they would ambush the

large number of other law enforcement officers who would be expected to

attend that funeral.

Investigators say the plan was to attack law enforcement vehicles

during the funeral procession using homemade bombs.  The militia would then

retreat to designated rally points which would be protected with trip-wired

IEDs, improvised explosive devices.

According to the Justice Department, quote, “It‘s believed by the

Hutaree that this engagement would then serve as a catalyst for a more

widespread uprising against the government.”  That was apparently the goal

here, sparking some kind of civil war to overthrow the U.S. government by


As I noted before, the FBI has had its eyes on this group for a long

time.  A local Detroit news station, Local 4, is reporting that the FBI had

infiltrated the group for several months.  Well, if the FBI had infiltrated

them, that may explain why these militia members were arrested now.

Investigators say the Hutaree were planning to strike some time very

soon, some time next month.  Sometime in April, Hutaree members were

allegedly planning what‘s described as a covert reconnaissance exercise

that they had been training for for months now.  They were reportedly

planning to stake out a police gathering that was set for April.

The U.S. attorney in Michigan is saying that the group had decided

that if someone, some random member of the public, stumbled across the

group during its reconnaissance exercise, that person could be killed.  So

they were arrested, presumably now, in order to avert that planned attack.

The militia members who are arrested over the weekend and the ninth

who remains a fugitive right now, were charged today on a total of five

counts.  One count of seditious conspiracy, one count of attempting to use

weapons of mass destruction, one count of teaching and demonstrating the

use of explosive materials, and two counts of carrying, using and

possessing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

That first charge, seditious conspiracy, is one of the first charges

that landed the Blind Sheikh, Abdel-Rahman, in jail for life back in 1995

after the first World Trade Center bombing.  At the time, “The New York

Times” described seditious conspiracy as a, quote, “obscure 19th century

law that makes it a crime to conspire to overthrow, or put down, or destroy

by force the government of the United States.”


Interesting thing about seditious conspiracy, you don‘t actually have

to be caught actively trying to wage war on the United States in order to

be found guilty of seditious conspiracy.  Planning it, conspiring, even if

you don‘t do anything about it, is enough to be guilty of that.

One of the other interesting charges here is teaching and

demonstrating the use of explosive materials—two of the nine defendants

are facing that charge.  Federal law makes it illegal to teach or

demonstrate to any person the making or use of an explosive, a destructive

device or a weapon of mass destruction, knowing that such person intends to

use the teaching in furtherance of an activity which constitutes a federal

crime of violence.  In this case, that federal crime of violence was this

militia‘s alleged intent to wage war on the United States government.

I also have to tell you—this has broken right this second, while

I‘ve been talking to you.  We have just learned from the “Associated Press”

that the FBI has apprehended the ninth member of this militia who—as of

the start of me talking about this moments ago—was still on the run. 

The date line on the “A.P.” story on this is Wheatland Township, Michigan.

But again, the last of the nine militia members charged with plotting

to kill police officers and charged with seditious conspiracy to wage war

on the government of the United States has been apprehended after a search

in a rural part of Michigan.

Joining us is Ed Brayton.  Ed Brayton is the state editor for “The

Michigan Messenger.”

Mr. Brayton, thanks very much for joining us tonight.  I appreciate


ED BRAYTON, THE MICHIGAN MESSENGER:  Good to be back with you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  As you‘ve just heard, we‘ve just had word that the last of

the nine suspects in this case has been apprehended.  Had you ever heard of

this Hutaree militia group before these arrests were announced over the


BRAYTON:  I had not.  You know, we have a lot of militia groups in the

state of Michigan.  Of course, the Michigan militia became famous during

the Oklahoma City bombing and the aftermath of that in the early ‘90s.  But

we‘ve got about 11.  The Southern Poverty Law Center says we have 11

militia groups in the state.  And Hutaree is not one that I‘d ever heard


And, in fact, I find it hard to say it without giggling.  It sounds

like the Hekawi tribe from “F Troop.”  And I sort of keep waiting to see

Larry Storch‘s mug shot in one of these pictures.

MADDOW:  It is a strange combination of obscure and scary.  You look

at the details, for example, that they‘ve posted on their Web site about

the different ranks that they give to one another and all these made-up

words that sound like they‘re straight out of a “Calvin & Hobbes” strip,

and then you‘ll realize, oh, they‘re actually plotting to kill police

officers and they have advanced weaponry and they‘re doing military

training, and they‘ve been charged with incredibly serious crimes.  Sort of

hard to know—I guess, how to contextualize them on the seriousness


BRAYTON:  Yes, I think we have—in our minds, we sort of think of

these people as just, you know, going out on the weekends and playing

dress-up and playing army.  But clearly, some of them are very serious

about this and we need to keep an eye on them.  There‘s a reason why the

FBI is infiltrating these groups because they really can be very dangerous.

MADDOW:  I know that you‘ve spent a lot of time since these arrests

have been announced, digging into all the tracks of these groups online. 

Of all the different militia groups that are out there, are you noticing

anything that is unique or different about this one?  Obviously, the first

one that jumps out is the theology being so front-and-center with them.

BRAYTON:  Yes.  You know, when you look at these militia groups, they

all have one thing in common, and that is that all across the nation, they

all believe that there is an inevitable war coming and a lot of them refer

to this as a “second civil war,” a war with the government, and they all

believe we are inexorably leading toward that day.  That that day is

imminent, that we‘re going to have that war.

Now, there‘s a certain faction of these groups that also believes that

war is going to be a race war, and that‘s sort of the KKK-Aryan Nation


Now, this group does not appear to be one of those. This group, in

fact, sort of chased off one of those people from their message board.  Two

of the men who have been arrested actually sort of chased him off, someone

who came to their message board spewing anti-Semitic and racist rhetoric. 

They don‘t appear to be part of that group.

But what is unique about them is the religious element to this, that

they believe that this inevitable war is a war against the anti-Christ, a

war against Satan.  And that it will be the cataclysmic event that will

sort of hasten the return of Christ, after which—as you mentioned in

your introduction, they will establish this “Colonial Christian Republic.” 

That‘s what makes this group sort of stand out from the rest of them. 

They‘re sort of the wingnut‘s wingnuts, if you will.

MADDOW:  I understand members of this militia sought the help of some

other Michigan militia members during this raid.  And as you say—I mean,

Michigan has had a lot of militia activity.  Timothy McVeigh and Terry

Nichols famously attended at least one militia event before the Oklahoma

City bombing.  There was a Michigan militia member who was arrested on

machine gun charges.  There was a shootout in which a Michigan state police

officer lost his life not that long ago.

What‘s been the reaction from the other militia groups in the state to

these arrests and to that call for them to help?

BRAYTON:  Well, the local militia groups apparently do not like this

group at all, neither do the national ones, by the way.  The local militia

groups sort of don‘t want this group to play in any of their reindeer

games.  At least one of the members of the Hutaree was apparently kicked

out of another militia group right in that area, the Southeastern Michigan

Volunteer Militia, which is right in that same area, Adrian, Michigan,

where they‘re from.

And apparently, according to the spokesman for that group, a couple of

the Hutaree members went to one of their people, one of their leaders in

that group and asked them to hide them.  And they said, no.  They turned

them down and sent them away.

And in fact, there‘s also been some indication that one or two of

these groups may have been helping the FBI track them down.  I don‘t know

exactly what they‘ve done, but there is at least some indication that they

have been helping the FBI.

MADDOW:  Ed Brayton is state editor for “The Michigan Messenger”—

thanks for helping us flesh out some of the reporting on this incredibly

strange, weird story tonight.  I really appreciate your time.

BRAYTON:  Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW:  So, the FBI raid on the Hutaree militia is, as they say, it‘s

weird.  It‘s a scary and fascinating story on its own merit.  But, as much

as the religious cult details about this group make them seem unique and

bizarre and not like other militia groups, even, it turns out that their

theology isn‘t really all that unique.  If you scratch beneath the surface

of the story, it‘s actually worse than it first seems.  Details about the

apocalyptic militia terrorism arrest that you have not heard anywhere else

still to come on the show this hour.

And, if you donate money to the Republican Party, you have been

supporting way more than you probably thought you were.  The incredible

story of what the RNC allows as reimbursable expenses and the incredible

survival tale of Mr. Michael Steele.  Ana Marie Cox joins us for that. 

It‘s all coming up.

Please stay with us.


MADDOW:  As soon as I heard about this weekend‘s arrests of the

Hutaree militia, I immediately wanted to talk to our next guest.  He‘s Chip

Berlet.  He‘s a senior analyst for Political Research Associates.

He has written extensively about right-wing populism and militia

movement, the Patriot Movement, and the apocalypse fetishists among us. 

He‘s been doing this for a very long time.  He was one of the few people

calling attention to the armed militia movement in this country before the

Oklahoma City bombing in 199 5.

Chip Berlet, it‘s very nice to have you on the program.  Thank you for

your time.


MADDOW:  What we are learning about the religious beliefs of this

militia group makes them seem a little bit like a—like a cult, like a

stand-alone religious oddity.  But some of the things that they‘re obsessed

with, fighting the anti-Christ, the avoiding the mark of the beast, the

pre-tribulation rapture, all these stuff, this isn‘t a set of beliefs that

is specific to this one cult—these beliefs were actually sort of

characteristic of a broader movement, aren‘t they?

BERLET:  Well, it‘s kind of hard to call it a cult.  If you‘re talking

about Americans who believe that the end times is an upcoming historic

event, you‘re talking about 30 percent to 40 percent of the American

population religiously believes that the end times are coming.  And of

those, probably 15 percent of the population believes it will happen in

their lifetime.

This is the story line of the “Left Behind” series of books by Tim

LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.  Seventy million sold in the U.S.  So, this is

actually a pretty widespread belief system among a certain group of

Christian fundamentalists in the U.S., and there are a lot of them.

MADDOW:  Have we seen the sort intersection of very extreme anti-

government politics?  And in this case, anti-government, if you believe the

indictment, strategizing and plotting, have we seen the convergence of that

and the sort of apocalyptic theorizing and wanting to fight the anti-

Christ, looking out for the mark of the beast—are these two things that

have gone together before in Modern American history?

BERLET:  Sure.  In the mid-1990s I attended a Patriot gathering where

there militia organizers and there was actually a debate about whether the

need to arm yourself against the coming collapse was a secular, economic

one, or the end times battle with the anti-Christ.  And bear in mind that

just a few months ago in New Jersey, 30 percent of the Republicans in New

Jersey said that they either believed or thought it possible that Obama was

the anti-Christ.

MADDOW:  Chip, when you look at this group, again, this—they are a

group that is the rest of the militia movement is very quickly trying to

distance themselves from them.

BERLET:  Of course.

MADDOW:  Other militia groups in Michigan were saying, “We have

nothing to do with these guys.  We‘re helping law enforcement.  We‘re not

like them at all.”

What—how credible are those claims?  How much do you see the rest

of the militia movement, the rest of the Patriot Movement represented in

what these guys were doing?

BERLET:  Well, the Patriot Movement is fairly vast, like—the Tea

Party movement is part of the Patriot Movement.  You have everything from

black conservative Republicans to armed white supremacists in this large

kind of dissident gathering that‘s been brewing out in the country.  So, of

course, the more middle-of-the-road militia guys are going to say, oh, this

isn‘t us.

But this confluence of apocalyptic belief and the battle of the end

times with the militia movement certainly was very strong in the ‘90s, and

there are other militia groups out there that are built around this end

times, apocalyptic viewpoint.

MADDOW:  Are—in the groups that we‘re seeing now—are we seeing

the remnants of the groups that did exist in the ‘90s?  Did those groups go

away entirely or have they just been sort of fallow for a decade and we

didn‘t know about them while—even though still existed?

BERLET:  Well, mostly they‘re new.  Some of the original folks are re-

involved.  But to a large extent, the militia movement was pretty much gone

by 1999.  It had fairly well collapsed.

And what we have now is this fact that the Patriot Movement, this

Americanist, nativist kind of movement, appears periodically throughout

U.S. history.  And once in a while, it gets really, really large.  And then

the question is, what form does it take?  So that, right now, we have a

settling out occurring, so that there are some people who are moving

towards the Republican Party, and then there are some people moving towards

armed insurrection.

MADDOW:  Obviously, the groups moving toward armed insurrection are

the ones that worry us the most because of the proximity of the potential

for violence here.

BERLET:  Oh, yes.

MADDOW:  One of the things that struck me in the indictment today,

Chip, was there appears to be some effort by the members of this group who

were just arrested to coordinate into a larger national effort.  The

indictment describes a planned February summit of militia groups, possibly

convened by the leader of this Hutaree militia.  It doesn‘t seem to have

happened.  But that‘s occasion for which David Stone is alleged to have

tried to assemble four bombs, four IEDs.

Should we worry about national coordination among other groups that

might otherwise seem disparate?

BERLET:  It is very hard to organize this kind of dissident movement

into a national organization around one ideological goal because we have

the Christian right, we have the economic libertarians, we have the anti-

immigrant nativist, and we have just average taxpayers who are fed up, and

trying to get them to form an actual coalition on a national level is

unlikely.  The Tea Party is having a hard enough time with some of the just

general goals.

I think the danger is that, the more that right wing media demagogues

and opportunistic Republicans egg these people on, the more likely it is

that little cells will form and carried out acts of violence on their own

without a national organization.

MADDOW:  Chip Berlet, senior analyst for Political Research

Associates, for a long time, one of the foremost researchers and thinkers

in this field—I really appreciate your insight, Chip.  Thank you.

BERLET:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  OK, conservatives, it‘s almost 9:30 p.m.  Do you know where

your donations to the Republican National Committee are?  They might be

anywhere paying for anything.  We‘ll be joined by Ana Marie Cox in just a


I do give you one last update, though, on the story about the Hutaree

militia.  We‘ve just received further details from the “A.P.” in terms of

what‘s happened, the FBI says, again, the last of these nine people

arrested—nine people charged with plotting to kill police and seditious

conspiracy, the ninth person they were looking for has finally been

apprehended—about 8:00 p.m. tonight at a home in Hillsdale County,

Michigan, about 30 miles from the site of this weekend‘s raid, this young

man, 21-year-old Joshua Stone.

He was in a house with five adults and a child.  They were there

willingly.  They were not being held hostage.

Mr. Stone was the only suspect not arrested in the raids.  He is now

in custody.

We‘ll keep you posted if we get further details.  We‘ll be right back.


MADDOW:  It‘s been a tough couple of years to be a Republican Party

donor.  People who give money to the Republican Party have learned the hard

way in the last two years that their donations helped pay for things like

over $150,000 worth of clothes, hairstyling and accessories for Sarah Palin

and her family during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Republican donations were also spent by Senator John Ensign to put his

mistress‘s teenaged son on the Republican Party‘s payroll for something

described as “research policy consulting.”  I mentioned the kid was a

teenager at the time.  And that he got taken off the payroll once Senator

Ensign stopped sleeping with his mom.

Today, more news on what your donations go to when you give to today‘s

Republican Party.  The conservative Web site the “Daily Caller” published a

story on the Republican National Committee‘s spending disclosure records. 

In the last month alone, the RNC spent more than $17,000 of its donors‘

money on private planes, more than $12,000 on limousines, and over $15,000

at the Beverly Hills hotel and the Beverly Hills Four Seasons.  That‘s all

in one month.

But in these disclosures of what the Republican Party spent its

donors‘ money on last month, what‘s getting the most attention is not the

most expensive item on the list.  What‘s getting the most attention is one

line item from February 4th that‘s classified under meals.  It‘s just under

$2,000.  It‘s at a place called Voyeur West Hollywood.  And Voyeur West

Hollywood is—is kind of a—it‘s a naked lady place.

In the words of “The Daily Caller,” it‘s a bondage-themed

nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating - never mind.  While

Federal Election Commission filings confirm the RNC spent nearly $2,000 in

one night at the club in question, the RNC says it wasn‘t Chairman Michael

Steele who personally was there. 

They say it was a political consultant named Eric Brown who

expensed the trip to the strip club, telling “The Hill,” quote, “The

chairman was never at the location in question.  He had no knowledge of the

expenditure, nor does he find the use of committee funds at such a location

at all acceptable.  Good reporting would make that distinction crystal

clear.  The committee has requested the moneys be returned and the story be

corrected so that it is accurate.”

In other words, the Republican Party‘s push back on this story is

not that they didn‘t spend almost $2,000 of Republican Party donors‘ money

at a bondage strip club.  Their pushback is that, while the party may have

spent almost $2,000 at a bondage strip club, Michael Steele personally

didn‘t spend $2,000 at a bondage strip club. 

And yes, they approved the reimbursing someone‘s expenses for the

bondage strip club.  But now that a story has been written about it,

they‘ve changed their minds about approving that. 

Somehow, despite that incredibly persuasive defense, there are

still Republican Party elders responding to the story by calling for party

chairman Michael Steele‘s resignation. 

Bob Dole‘s former press secretary told “The Huffington Post” that

this, quote, “No matter which side of the aisle you find yourself, if you

are giving to a political party your hard-earned money, you should have no

doubt it is going to be spent as advertised and not to provide a spoiled,

egocentric, out-of-touch chairman with frivolous luxuries which is out of

reach of the vast majority of the American people.” 

I don‘t know if it‘s frivolous.  While it may seem tempting to

fire up the Michael Steele resignation countdown clock right about now, it

remains true that Michael Steele has survived so far.  Michael Steele has

survived day one of the Republican National Committee bondage strip club

spending scandal. 

And assuming he keeps on surviving it, you can just add it to the

list of remarkable things that have not resulted in the resignation of

Michael Steele yet, like the time he published a book that he billed as the

blueprint Republicans should follow to win back power. 

He did this without telling any of the actual elective leaders of

the Republican Party that he was writing this book.  Then he went on a book

tour to promote the book, all while supposedly also running the RNC. 

There was also the gracious manner with which he responded to the

outcry over the book thing. 



chair.  If they want it, take it from me.  Until then, shut up, step back,

or get in the game.  I hope you play this tape over and over again, because

these folks are the problem.  They‘re not the solution.  Get with the

program.  I‘m the chairman.  Deal with it. 


MADDOW:  Then there was the scandal over Mr. Steele marketing himself

for paid speeches around the country even though what he supposedly paid to

do as RNC chairman is give speeches around the country. 

Or there was that time, not long after he became chairman, when

he told “The Washington Times” of his plan to apply the party‘s principles

to urban-suburban hip-hop settings.  Or, when early this year, about 11

months before Election Day, he said this about his own party‘s chances in

the 2010 midterms. 


SEAN HANNITY, HOST, “HANNITY”:  Do you think you can take over the -

do you think Republicans -

STEELE:  Well, they can‘t.  Not this year.  And Sean, honestly -

HANNITY:  You don‘t think so. 

STEELE:  Well, I don‘t know yet because (UNINTELLIGIBLE) candidates. 

We still have vacancies that need to get filled.  But then, the question we

need to ask ourselves is, if we do that, are we ready? 

HANNITY:  Are you? 

STEELE:  Are we - are we ready?

HANNITY:  Answer your own question.  Do you think they are?

STEELE:  I don‘t know. 


MADDOW:  The guy in charge of devising a winning strategy for his

party not only predicting they will fail in the elections but saying he

doesn‘t know if the party‘s really ready to win on the elections now


But what better place to really get down to business and plan a

new strategy for winning in the fall than the tropical paradise of Hawaii? 

That is where Mr. Steele scheduled the RNC‘s winter meeting this year,

defending the move as not a cheap way to turn a working trip into a

vacation, but rather as a clever plan to hold a meeting in Obama‘s


Then, of course, Mr. Steele redesigned the party‘s Web site

which, when it was unveiled to much fanfare, included a page of “Future

Leaders” that was blank.  Also, it had a handy feature by which you could

attach a “” banner to any other Web site like, say, “, like

we did because we‘re incredibly immature. 

But if you‘re a Republican or a Republican donor, don‘t forget

what Michael Steele says to people from his party who have the nerve to

criticize him. 


STEELE:  I tell them to get a life.  And I‘m telling him and I‘m

looking him in the eye and say I‘ve had enough of it.  If you don‘t want me

in the job, fire me.  But until then, shut up, get with the program, or get

out of the way. 

All I‘m saying is, cut it out.  You don‘t see the Democrats

running around, you know, trying to beat up their national chairman or

embarrass him. 


MADDOW:  You know, frankly I have no idea how long Michael Steele has

left as Republican Party chairman.  But neither do you.  None of us can

understand this.  This is so much bigger than any of us. 

Anyone who still has his job after all of those things I just

described is obviously really, really good at one thing, indisputably,

really good at one thing.  And that one thing is keeping this job. 

Joining us now is Ana Marie Cox, Washington correspondent for

“GQ” magazine.  Ana Marie, very nice to see.  Thanks for being here. 


you, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  Am I just being naive?  Are major parties always spending

money on strip clubs?  Is this normal? 

COX:  Well, I don‘t know.  They may be doing that, but they usually

don‘t put that on the FEC filing.  When I talked to people from both

parties who have worked in national committees and also in state

committees, the first thing I heard from everybody was how did that wind up

at an FEC report? 

That‘s where you should stop.  That‘s a very JV move to have it

get all the way to an FEC report.  So that would be my first concern.  But

Rachel, I have to tell you, in general, we are very fortunate.  We are

going to have Michael Steele to kick around for a while longer. 

MADDOW:  Do you think he‘s impermeable, that this stuff just rolls

right off him? 

COX:  Well, no, not necessarily.  It‘s just that it‘s not a good time

for him to step down.  Also, he won‘t step down as you can tell from those

quotes that you played.  And apparently, it‘s really difficult to get him

out of there. 

To fire him requires something like 70 or 80 members of the

delegation, the national committee to call for a special session and then

to call for a vote of no confidence on him. 

And that‘s probably not going to happen in part because people

don‘t want - they don‘t want this to go away.  The GOP has enough problems

right now.  I believe you‘ve covered some of them. 

And I think that also why get rid of him now when there‘s

probably going to be a really convenient time to get rid of him in


MADDOW:  Well - but if you look at the way these scandals have

unfolded, I mean, the last couple in particular, it really seems like

information is being leaked by people inside the party to conservative news

outlet outlets. 

I mean, the last two big Michael Steele scandals have been Tucker

Carlson‘s Web site and “The Washington Times,” a super conservative paper

in Washington.  So it seems like they‘re trying to force him out without

doing it out in the open, doesn‘t it? 

COX:  I guess I would draw distinction between conservative

publications and Republican publications. 


COX:  Both “The Daily Caller” and “The Washington Times” are proudly

conservative although Tucker Carlson - your friend and mine - is more

libertarian.  But his publications tended to be on the right side of


Right now, it‘s a very cool thing to be a conservative who‘s

against the Republican Party.  And I think there might be some of that

going on right now.  The Republican Party itself is not popular with

anyone, including conservatives.  And so I think that‘s why you‘re seeing

some people go after it in these conservative publications. 

MADDOW:  But to see all these former Republican Party chairmen - those

are the kind of sort of people - you know, Reagan-era former chairman

himself coming out and saying, “I want him to resign.”  How do you explain


COX:  They‘re not very relevant anymore and this is a good way for

them to feel like they‘re relevant.  When I talk to people who are really -

I don‘t know if I talked to real insiders but people who are going but

closer to the center of power right now.  No one seems that concerned about

Steele leaving right now. 

I think that there are some people that will be happy to see him

go in November when there‘s kind of a natural break for him to go.  And

also, it‘s good news for you and I to just keep pumping up the expectations

for the Republicans in November if we want to get rid of Michael Steele. 

But if we don‘t want to get rid of him, we should downplay the expectations

much as he has. 

MADDOW:  Well, do you think - I mean, there‘s the threat of Michael

Steele leaving and the turmoil that would mean for the Republican Party if

he was forced out or if he did resign right now. 

There‘s also the threat of him staying and stuff like this

keeping happening.  I mean, what would it take for Michael Steele to

resign?  Isn‘t this scandal sort of getting close to that? 

COX:  Well, I don‘t know.  I‘ve been calling him the Joe Biden of the

Republican Party.  I mean, he seems to be able to just mess up and because

it‘s such a hilarious screw-up, we all let it slide, although not to say

that anything Joe Biden has said has been sort of on the scale that this


And then, indeed, the people that I talked to in the Republican

Party who are concerned were much more concerned about the expenses at the

hotels and the jets and the limos than they were about this one strip club,

although it is probably the funniest expense I‘ve ever seen, except for - I

know I sent this to you - the Congressional liquors expenses that they did

as well - $200 at Congressional liquors. 

Obviously, there has to be a specific place called Congressional

liquors.  Otherwise, where would you go?

MADDOW:  I want to know how many bottles $200 at Congressional liquors

would buy you.  I just want to know what they‘re drinking. 

COX:  That‘s a really good question.  Probably not what I drink. 

MADDOW:  That would be a lot of bottles. 

COX:  Yes. 

MADDOW:  One last question for you.  We know that donors have sort of

publicly threatened.  Then, again, this stuff has been in “The Washington

Times,” in this conservative publication.  Donors have threatened to stop

giving money to the RNC.  Is there evidence that that‘s actually happening

or is that just a threat to push Steele? 

COX:  Well, I don‘t know about those large donors although obviously,

the large donors that have come out and said they won‘t do it.  They have

stopped giving, but as again, your friend and mine, Dave Weigel, who has

pointed out the RNC is doing very badly in the recent past and that money

is not going to them. 

The money that is really sort of moving right now is going to the

tea parties.  It‘s going to places like Jim DeMint‘s organization.  The RNC

is not able to sort of reap the profits of the sort of rabid anti-Obama

fervor that‘s out there. 

And I think that‘s a real disappointment to them.  And I think

that a lot of the missteps that Michael Steele has made and that the

Republicans have made have been attempts to try and get on that bandwagon. 

And they just haven‘t been able to do so in a way that really starts

churning that money. 

MADDOW:  Ana Marie Cox, Washington correspondent for “GQ,” thank you

so much for joining us.  It‘s nice to see you. 

COX:  Thank you, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  OK.  Still to come, I somehow have to get from the awkward

story about Republican Party strip club expenditures to the awkward story

of what New Jersey is now auctioning off for spare change.  I predict that

I will blush.  Coming up.


MADDOW:  Coming up, the combination of Saddam Hussein, public art,

theft, Photoshop, and Michael Jackson, like we do every night.  You know,

that old thing. 

But first a couple of holy mackerel stories in today‘s news. 

Have you ever heard of a sovereign wealth fund?  Sovereign as in sovereign

country.  Wealth fund as in giant pile of money.  A (UNINTELLIGIBLE) with a

ton of cash lying around might form a sovereign wealth fund just to use it

as a savings account essentially or to invest around the world. 

It turns out that there are a lot of countries around the world

that have a ton of spare money lying around.  And some of their sovereign

wealth funds have grown to be enormous, like hundreds of billions of

dollars enormous. 

At least we think so.  The handy thing about a sovereign wealth

fund is they‘re essentially totally unregulated.  They don‘t have to

disclose anything about themselves to anyone so we don‘t really know how

big they are. 

That said, it‘s believed that the biggest one in the world is the

one in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates.  You can see its outsized

headquarters here.  The Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund is thought to be

somewhere between $300 billion and $800 billion. 

It‘s run by the younger brother of the president of the United

Arab Emirates, or at least it was.  The head of the world‘s largest

sovereign wealth fund, the brother of the president of the United Arab

Emirates, is missing. 

On Friday, apparently, he was a passenger in a glider that

crashed in morocco.  The pilot survived, but the head of the Abu Dhabi

Investment Authority has not been found.  The glider he was riding in

apparently crashed into a man-made lake at the site of one of Morocco‘s

royal palaces. 

Again, the pilot found, but the guy who heads the sovereign

wealth fund, not found.  A search for him has been underway now for three

days, including rescue teams from Dubai, and from France and from Spain all

helping out. 

So far neither the government of the United Arab Emirates nor

their sovereign wealth fund nor the missing man‘s family have said anything

at all about what‘s happened.  Very strange story.  We will keep you posted

if and when we can report anything further. 

Back home in the United States, there are 15 state attorneys general

who have said that they will sue the federal government to stop health

reform.  But just because the state attorney general thinks that‘s a good

idea does not mean the whole state is on board with that idea. 

Washington, Michigan, Colorado, and Pennsylvania, for example,

are four states where the attorney general wants to sue, but the governors

of those four states think it‘s a dumb idea, a waste of time and money. 

Governors Christine Gregoire of Washington, Jennifer Granholm of

Michigan, Bill Ritter of Colorado and Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania have all

now written a joint letter to the Federal Justice Department disavowing any

connection to the lawsuits and pledging to help the federal government

defeat them.

Quote, “on behalf of citizens of our states, we write to let you

know that we oppose the actions of the state attorneys general.  We believe

their legal efforts will fail in court, unnecessarily delay the urgent need

to get our citizens access to health care and waste our state tax dollars. 

As you prepare and deliver your defense of this landmark legislation, you

have our commitment to work with you at your request to assist in this


To be fair, it‘s not just the governors who think the anti-health

reform lawsuits aren‘t going to be successful, it would take a minor legal

miracle for them to be successful.  And even in the event of that miracle,

these lawsuits still wouldn‘t nullify health reform. 

Worst case scenario, they would force only minor, non-substantive

changes to the law.  Still, though, I mean, states right now are so awash

in spare money.  Why not waste a bunch of taxpayer time and money on a

pointless legal stunt with no practical consequence?  Why not?


MADDOW:  An update for you on our lead story tonight, the FBI‘s raid

and arrest of members of a militia group called Hutaree that‘s based in

southeast Michigan.  Having already arrested eight members of the Hutaree

militia this weekend, authorities tonight finally arrested the ninth

suspect in the case who had been at large. 

His name is Joshua Matthew Stone.  He‘s 21 years old.  He was

arrested at a home in Hillsdale County, Michigan, about 30 miles from the

site of the raid this weekend.  Mr. Stone was reportedly in a house with

five adults and a child. 

None of them were being held hostage.  All of them were there

reportedly willingly.  Again, the ninth and last suspect in the FBI raid of

the Michigan-based militia, Hutaree, has been taken into custody tonight

peaceably.  I‘ll be back in just a moment. 


MADDOW:  I have an update for you on something I just said earlier in

the show.  I‘ve just been informed that actually I was totally wrong.  It

turns out states are not totally awash in spare cash right now. 

In fact, late update is that - it turns out states are totally

broke, actually totally completely broke, like worse than ever.  Coast to

coast, states in bad shape.  In a desperate effort to close its jaw-

dropping budge shortfall, the great state of New Jersey, for example, is

considering a brand-new way to raise revenues.  For more on that, we turn

to our Garden State desperation correspondent who, of course, is Kent

Jones.  Hi, Kent.

KENT JONES, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hi, Rachel.  Corporations spend

millions onto display their logo.  But now, the State of New Jersey is

taking the whole idea of sponsorship to a new level. 


(voice-over):  The Garden State is faced with an $11 billion budget

gap.  Well, since big companies sponsor sports stadiums, why wouldn‘t they

spend big bucks to sponsor other buildings like these? 

An idea has been floated to sell the naming rights for 12 rest

stops on the New Jersey Turnpike and eight on the Garden State Parkway. 

Now, what corporation wouldn‘t want their product associated with a place

where people go to - go? 

Department of Transportation Commissioner James Simpson loves the

idea saying, quote, “The Nike Stop might be worth $10 million.”  Just do

it?  Here?  Really?  Currently, some of New Jersey‘s rest stops are named

for people, like Coach Vince Lombardi, Alexander Hamilton or Walt Whitman. 

By why promote a bunch of has-beens who can‘t pay a dime when

jersey could chip away at the deficit with rest stop sponsorships like

this, or this, or even this.  You know, if you can make it here, you‘ll

make it anywhere. 


MADDOW:  Thank you, Kent.  You know, for the record, if our show ever

did raise the cash to name a New Jersey rest stop, what I would want to do

is I would want to get the Walt Whitman one, and then I would pay good

money to just keep it named the Walt Whitman one. 

Then we probably would have to rename ourselves like “The Walt

Whitman Show” or something?  That might end up being weird.  But still I‘d

keep it Walt Whitman.  I will. 


MADDOW:  I have one last thing to show you.  What you‘re looking at

here is a metal relief sculpture of Saddam Hussein.  Now, the “New York

Times” describes this particular sculpture as perhaps the only surviving

public image of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad. 

But in this heroic sculpture, what you‘re looking at here is the

late mustachio desperate, depicted as if he‘s personally directing

something.  What he‘s directing is the construction of the July 14th

Bridge.  That‘s what the image is showing, him directing the construction

of the July 14th Bridge, a suspension bridge in Baghdad that celebrates the

start of Ba‘athist rule in Iraq. 

The Ba‘ath party, of course, was Saddam Hussein‘s party.  It is

no longer in power in Baghdad.  Well, as if to make that fact abundantly

clear - we‘ll go back to that image - somebody has now taken a hacksaw to

this in Baghdad. 

The only surviving public image of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad has

had Saddam cut out of it with a hacksaw, just leaving his arm Saddam‘s

ghostly disembodied arm pointing to the old Republican palace and to the

newly-constructed giant American Embassy, also providing a very rich

Photoshop opportunity for anyone who wants to see themselves, or say, Conan

O‘Brien, or maybe Superman, or the Blue Meanie or Elvis, or - this one is

really, really good.  Oh, yes, that was good - Michael Jackson. 


Maybe even Sarah Palin with me peeking out the side?  All of these

images submitted online by very talented viewers of the show for which we

thank you. 

That does it for us tonight.  We will see you again tomorrow

night.  Until then you can E-mail us .  You can hang out

with us and submit cool stuff like we just showed you at our new blog which

is “”  We‘re very proud of it. 

We test story ideas there.  We break news.  We get you involved

in the show.  It‘s very cool -  Podcast is at iTunes

or at  “COUNTDOWN” with Keith Olbermann starts right now. 

Have a good night. 




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