Guests: Chris Hayes, James Hoggan, Thurbert Baker
HOST: Good evening, Keith. Thank you very much and
OLBERMANN: Thank you kindly.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home as well for tuning in.
We have recently been covering on this show plans to commemorate the
15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh with an
armed anti-government march on Washington. It turns out those plans have
That story is ahead, along with our special guest, the attorney
general of the state of Georgia, who faces impeachment charges in his state
because he said that state lawsuits against health reform are pointless and
frivolous, and he won‘t waste Georgia taxpayer dollars doing it.
Plus, the words “committee” and “comedy” are even more like each
other, when the committee in question is the Republican National Committee.
Tonight, we bring you part two of the scandal over the party of sexual
moralizing approving official expenditures at a scantly-clad lady bondage-
Lots to get to on tonight‘s show.
But, first, do you remember when there was pretty genuine bipartisan
support in this country for the idea of closing down the prison at
Guantanamo? Do you remember that? A few years ago, everyone basically
agreed that Guantanamo needed to be shut down—Barack Obama was in favor
of that, John McCain was in favor of that, George W. Bush was in favor of
And then there‘s something weird happened. Barack Obama became
president, he adopted the idea. He actually tried to do it. He tried to
take the steps to close Guantanamo.
And Republicans balked. They turned against something they used to be
for. They started talking about President Obama wanting to let terrorists
loose in your neighborhood. Do you remember that?
Well, after that, the health reform battle came along. And again,
Republicans started arguing against something that they used to be for.
In the case of health reform, that something was their idea in the
first place—the idea of an individual mandate so that people have to buy
health insurance. That‘s a Republican idea. That was the Republican
alternative to President Clinton‘s health reform proposal in the ‘90s. It
was the basis of Mitt Romney‘s health reform plan in Massachusetts. It was
something that Republicans, like Chuck Grassley, said they supported as
recently as last year.
Then president Obama adopted the idea and Republicans started
attacking it as unconstitutional. They turned against something they used
to be for.
Then Congress started debating the idea of creating a bipartisan
deficit commission and it looked like that was going to pass—until seven
Republicans, who used to support that idea, changed their minds and backed
out after President Obama said he wanted to adopt it. They turned against
something they used to be for.
Same thing happened with PAYGO, the pay as you go budgeting rules for
Congress. This was something Republicans had said they were for, but after
President Obama adopted the idea and actually proposed it, Republicans
turned against it. They‘re against something they used to be for.
Well, that‘s the back drop against which today President Obama came
out and officially adopted yet another Republican idea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, we‘re announcing
the expansion of offshore oil and gas exploration. My administration will
consider potential areas for development in the mid and south Atlantic and
the Gulf of Mexico.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Offshore oil and gas drilling. As you probably recall, this
is something that was not only a Republican idea, but a rather
unimaginative Republican chant throughout the presidential election
campaign in 2008 -- during the national convention, you might recall. You
would have been forgiven for thinking John McCain was running solely on a
drill now platform.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
MITT ROMNEY ®, FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The right course is the
one championed by Ronald Reagan 30 years ago and by John McCain and Sarah
Palin today. The immediate drilling for more oil off our shores.
RUDY GIULIANI ®, FMR. NYC MAYOR: He‘ll do it with an all of the
above approach, including nuclear power, and, yes, offshore oil drilling.
Drill, baby, drill! Drill, baby, drill!
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: We will drill new wells off shore and
we‘ll drill them now.
MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIRMAN: Let me make it very clear: drill, baby,
drill, and drill now.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Now that President Obama has come out in favor of that, what
do you think the Republican response is?
Naturally, the top Republican in the House, John Boehner, blasted the
idea, saying, quote, “The Obama administration continues to defy the will
of the American people.” John Boehner is saying that even though the
president‘s in favor of offshore drilling now, he‘s obviously not in favor
of it enough.
The number three House Republican, Mike Pence, also blasted the
decision today, saying, “The president‘s announcement today is a
smokescreen. Unfortunately, this is yet another feeble attempt to gain
votes for the president‘s national energy tax bill that is languishing in
Now, not all Republicans have reacted like this today. The president
appears to have bamboozled Republicans a little bit actually by giving them
what they said they wanted. Alongside the negative reactions from people
like John Boehner and Mike Pence came mildly positive statements from
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator
John McCain and even Senator James Inhofe.
But man does not govern by press release alone. The real question is
whether Obama‘s big concession to Republicans on policy means that he will
actually get Republican votes for his energy bill. The White House
obviously hopes that will be the case.
In leaking this news to “The New York Times” last night,
administration officials who did not want to be named said that the
announcement today was intended to, among other things, “win political
support for comprehensive energy and climate legislation.”
Democratic Senator John Kerry, whose job it is to get that legislation
through the Senate, tried to be optimistic about this today as well. His
office is saying, quote, “In the difficult work of putting together a 60-
vote coalition, Senator Kerry has put aside his own long-time policy
objections and has been willing to explore potential energy sources off our
Here‘s a question, though: Senator Kerry and President Obama willing
to put away their long-time stated objections to this Republican idea—in
exchange for what? Last month, President Obama gave into another
Republican energy demand, cleared the way for more nuclear power plants to
be built in this country—in exchange for what?
It‘s one thing to be willing to compromise on specific things in order
to make a bill good enough to pass. But that only makes sense if you are
getting something in exchange for making that bill less perfect. What are
President Obama and Democrats getting here exactly?
Well, joining us now is Chris Hayes, the Washington editor for “The
Chris, thanks very much for joining us. I really appreciate your
CHRIS HAYES, THE NATION: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, in health reform, Democrats took stuff like single-payer
off the table before the negotiations really even began. This time around
on climate change, they‘ve given in on nuclear power, they‘ve given in on
Why start out making concessions in exchange for nothing from the
HAYES: Well, that‘s a fine question.
HAYES: I‘m sort of with you on this. I mean, I think the most
charitable interpretation possible is that the president is a real believer
in honest negotiation, and time and time again, he is going to try to will
that to be the case, will those to be the facts of the matter, that he is
dealing in a situation of honest, good faith negotiation. And so, as to
deal in that situation, he acts as if those conditions obtained, and he
gives those good faith concessions up front, expecting that somehow the
magical negotiation fairy will show up and prompt the Republicans to
similarly act in good faith.
So far, that has never been reciprocated. But, you know, I think
that‘s the most charitable interpretation. The other interpretation is
it‘s just, you know, poor politics and malpractice.
MADDOW: Well, the magical negotiation fairy is somebody who I have
long believed in.
MADDOW: Who gave me quarters in exchange for my teeth as a child, we
had a strange family.
HAYES: You settle the price. Yes.
MADDOW: It makes sense to be doing this, this way, if it hadn‘t
worked out so poorly in health reform. I mean—
MADDOW: -- surely health reform passed, right? And that‘s the bottom
line, and that‘s maybe all they care about. But the Democrats spent
months, they spent essentially an entire year chasing Republican votes and
watering down the bill, and they ended up putting the bill together with
only Democratic support in the end anyway, having done a ton of work
wasted, a ton of time and lost a lot of support from their base in doing
Isn‘t that the lesson from health reform?
HAYES: Well, you and I think that‘s the lesson, and in fact I think
the lesson of health care reform is: go with reconciliation and use it from
the beginning. I mean, this is—cap-and-trade is a revenue bill. I
mean, most of it can be done through reconciliation. And the lesson was
that, when you go through reconciliation, all of a sudden, you have eight
votes to play with.
I will say this in their favor. In this case, if you‘re not going to
do reconciliation, it‘s 59-vote scenario. It‘s not the 60-vote, pre-Brown
universe. And unlike health care reform, you do have Lindsey Graham who is
a co-signer on the legislation currently. And that—I mean, that is the
big difference. There was never any Republican.
And now, I don‘t know if when push comes to shove, Lindsey Graham is
going to be voting for this thing. But there was never any Republican
similarly headlining health care reform. And so, they can make a plausible
case there‘s more of an area for bipartisan cooperation here.
MADDOW: Bipartisan cooperation. Talk about a magical fairy,
bipartisan cooperation here. I mean, Republican response to this today was
all over the map. You know, John Boehner slamming President Obama for
defying the will of the people.
MADDOW: Those moderately positive statements from McConnell and
Graham and from John McCain.
Do you think that the strategy makes sense at all if Republicans
ultimately don‘t vote for this, if this doesn‘t produce a Lindsey Graham
vote? Is there some broader way in which this is the way the president
wants to look to the American people, and he wants to make Republicans look
HAYES: Right. So the other interpretation is exactly that, right?
Politically, the idea is you‘re constantly extending an olive branch and
you‘re constantly getting slapped in the face. And evidently, you do that
enough, the American people realize who‘s the one operating in good faith,
who‘s the one operating in bad faith.
The problem with that is, that might be good for the president‘s
approval ratings, but it produces bad legislation. And more insidiously,
it moves the center of debate to the right. We‘ve seen this time and time
again. If you step to the right and they step to the right, well then the
center moves to the right.
So, all of a sudden, like you said on Guantanamo, where things
particularly in the national security state, things that were kind of
settled centrist ideas like we shouldn‘t torture or we should close
Guantanamo—in trying to kind of move towards them, you shifted the
parameters of the conversation over. And I think, you know, we ended up
with was kind of center-right health care bill, Romney Care essentially for
the whole United States. You know, you worry that that‘s what‘s going to
be the end result of this sort of ideological feint here with climate
MADDOW: Well, and of course, the other thing going on here in this, I
think, it fits with that overall dynamic of the country, sort of scooting
to the right, even with Democrats in charge, is that this really was the
president—the administration giving the Democrat Party‘s base the back
of the hand today. I mean, they not only didn‘t fight for what
environmentalists would have wanted him to fight for here, the
administration preemptively gave it up for nothing.
Do they just not care what the base thinks? Do they see political
advantage actively in messing with the base like this?
HAYES: Yes. This is on the Internet known as the punch the hippy
strategy which I think is—it‘s always—it‘s always sort of—it‘s
always applauded here in Washington, because there‘s this bizarre kind of -
I don‘t know what it is about this town, they hate the left, they hate
liberals, they hate progressives. So, if you‘re bashing them, you must be
doing something right.
So I think there‘s that.
But look, it‘s a legislative problem for them. There are 10
Democratic senators along that coastline that got opened up for drilling
today and they‘re not happy campers. Now, at the end of the day, Rahm
Emanuel and the White House‘s calculation is, you‘ll take it and you‘ll
like it, because at the end of the day, you‘re going to come around and
And to be totally honest, it‘s hard to think they‘re wrong after the
health care battle, because at the end of the day, every progressive member
of the House Progressive Caucus voted for that bill, even though they
signed a letter in the beginning saying they wouldn‘t vote for a bill
without a public option. The calculation from the beginning in the White
House on health care was, it doesn‘t matter what we give away, at the end
of this process, they‘re going to be there to vote for us. And having
coming off health care, it‘s hard to think that they‘re making the wrong
MADDOW: Well, and what we ended up with is what we ended with, in my
opinion, is the two terms of the Clinton administration, which is that Bill
MADDOW: -- probably the best Republican president the country ever
had, if you look at the policies that he passed.
Chris Hayes, Washington editor for “The Nation”—thank you very much
for your time tonight. It‘s good to see you.
HAYES: Thank you, Rachel. And happy birthday.
MADDOW: Oh, thank you. Cheers. We‘ll just say that we‘re talking
about “COUNTDOWN.” It‘s “COUNTDOWN‘s” birthday. Right.
All right. So, Barack Obama offshore drilling enthusiast all of a
sudden. How did that really happen? How did—as Chris was just alluding
to—how did the debate on climate change and the environment shifts so
far to the right, that ending a decade‘s long ban on offshore drilling is
now being called a centrist position by a Democratic administration.
Sometimes when you peek behind the curtain on a story like this,
there‘s a multi-zillionaire back there framing the scene. It turns out
that‘s true here. That‘s next.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: I‘m not sure what could be possibly a worse idea for how to
memorialize the worst act of domestic terrorism in our nation‘s history
than to use the anniversary of that act to organize an armed march on
Washington featuring as much anti-government firepower as you can gather.
So, that is the plan now of two different groups. That story‘s coming up.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: Koch Industries, it‘s K-O-C-H. It looks like kach (ph)
industries, as you can see there. But it‘s actually pronounced Koch.
Koch Industries is the second largest privately owned company in the
country. They‘re involved in a whole lot of different parts of the oil and
chemical industry, petroleum refining, chemicals and base oil production,
crude oil supply, wholesale marketing of fuels, base oils, petrochemicals,
asphalt, and other products.
What else is Koch Industries involved in? Well, between 2005 and
2008, the company and the foundation under its control spent nearly $25
million funding organizations that are trying to convince you that the
environment‘s fine—that the data that shows that the world keeps getting
hotter, that‘s just mumbo jumbo. Don‘t pay any attention to that.
One of the biggest recipients of Koch Industries‘ beneficence has been
the Americans for Prosperity Foundation. If that sounds familiar to you,
well, Americans for Prosperity got over $5 million from Koch Foundations
between 2005 and 2008. It‘s a helpful, explanatory reminder actually,
because Americans for Prosperity may be familiar to you, may be a name
you‘ve heard because they organized a lot of the anti-health reform stuff.
They were the big bloody handprint, “hands off our health care” people.
But even at the height of the anti-health reform hubbub that they were
organizing, when you went to the Americans for Prosperity Web site—lo
and behold, it wasn‘t all about health care. It was sort of awkward thing
that I could never put my finger on during that whole—the whole fight
over health reform and all the things they were organizing.
When you actually went to their Web site at that time, you would find
the Web site—despite all the things they were doing in public—was
still totally dominated by “pro-oil, global warming is bunk” messaging,
everything from praising opposition to cap-and-trade policies, to “be
afraid, be afraid,” hyperventilating about an Environmental Protection
Agency global warming power grab. They‘ve been promoting something they
call a Regulation Reality Tour. And, of course, their Hot Air Tour—a
nationwide gimmick launched in 2008, complete with a hot air balloon, by
which they preached against climate change hysteria and the evils of cap-
Now, as we have pointed here before, Americans for Prosperity bills
itself as an organization of grassroots leaders—they say—who engage
citizens in the name of limited government and free markets on the local,
state and federal levels. But, it‘s an organization founded by the
executive vice president of Koch Industries, David Koch, who is also
chairman of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, who is also the 19th
richest man in the world, and the ninth richest man in America—which
means he is a very, very specific kind of grassroots leader.
Over three years, Koch Industries gave $5 million to a fake grassroots
organizations that one of its owners founded in order to foster popular
sentiment against doing anything about global warming, or at least to
foster the appearance of popular sentiment against doing anything about
It should also be noted that in 2008, Koch Industries spent more than
any other energy company, more than Exxon, more than Chevron, on campaign
contributions, over $1.8 million -- 88 percent of it to Republicans.
And Koch Industries generosity did not stop with President Obama‘s
election. So far, this current campaign cycle, employees, family members
and organizations affiliated with Koch Industries have offered over
$900,000 in campaign contributions, including $2,000 to Congressman Mike
Pence‘s campaign committee, $12,000 to Minority Leader John Boehner‘s
leadership political action committee and campaign committee, and $15,000
to Minority Whip Eric Cantor‘s committees—all of whom, you might notice,
reacted to President Obama‘s pro-drilling announcement today by saying the
president is still not pro-drilling enough.
Joining us now is James Hoggan. He‘s co-founder of desmog.com. The
DeSmogBlog this week reported extensively on new research by Greenpeace
that traced Koch Industries‘ dollars through the climate change denial
infrastructure. Mr. Hogan is also the author of “Climate Cover-Up: The
Crusade to Deny Global Warming,” and he‘s president of the public relations
firm James Hoggan and Associates, which has the awkward of representing
both oil companies and clean energy companies.
Mr. Hoggan, thank you very much for joining us.
JAMES HOGGAN, ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST: Thank you.
MADDOW: How much influence does Koch Industries really have in this -
in the debate over climate change legislation in general and drilling
HOGGAN: Well, back to 1997, 50 -- close to $50 million came from Koch
Foundation, the Koch Foundation to 40 different organizations that are part
of a network that we call an echo chamber of climate change denial.
MADDOW: So, over 13 years, they spent $50 million—
HOGGAN: $50 million.
MADDOW: -- trying to convince people that climate change isn‘t real.
HOGGAN: That‘s right, through these different organizations. And the
fact that there‘s 40 of them creates this unique situation where people
hear this message about, you know, doubt about climate science from so many
different organizations, that it becomes believable.
And people in my business and the public relations business have known
this for a long time, back to the days of Philip Morris, which is actually
where some of these organizations and the techniques that they use began in
the early ‘90s. Philip Morris started a group called the Advancement of
Sound Science Coalition. And it was very, very carefully thought out
public relations tactics that were used to shift the issues around tobacco
off of health issue and on to sound science issues. And Philip Morris knew
they couldn‘t do it by themselves, so they invited people like—or
organizations like Exxon and other fossil fuel companies to join them. And
they—it basically became the beginning of a campaign that a lot of these
40 different organizations that I was talking about earlier drew on to—
you know, then it was tobacco, today it‘s greenhouse gases.
MADDOW: But you‘re—but you‘re saying it‘s the same tactic in two
ways. One, that you use a lot of different organizations so you can‘t just
dismiss the one industry-funded group that‘s trying to shoot down what
everybody else thinks is true. But it‘s also taking on not only the policy
issues about what the implications are of the science, but attacking the
science, saying there‘s no real problem here, trying to make that a money
HOGGAN: That‘s right. It basically undermines, it poisons public
conversations. And it undermines public confidence in science, and it
makes it difficult for even well-intended political leaders to actually do
the right thing on these issues. And the trick in public relations is
always repetition. You know, you look for those projects where you can
actually tell people something 10 times so they actually remember what
you‘re talking about and there‘s more chance that they‘re actually going to
When you pour $50 million into 40 different organizations like this—
and Koch Industries isn‘t the only funder, Exxon and a number of other
groups and companies are funding these 40 climate change denier outfits—
that is an incredibly powerful influence over public opinion.
MADDOW: And that makes it an incredibly powerful influence over
Briefly, are you optimistic that there will be energy legislation this
HOGGAN: I am. But, you know what? It—I think it‘s all going to
come down to this: that people need to start to demand that political
leaders and journalists start to ask these climate—these so-called
climate change skeptics some basic questions about who‘s funding them, and
what their qualifications are, whether or not they‘re actually even climate
scientists, or they‘re doing climate science.
We‘ve been looking at this for four years. It is really difficult to
find a legitimate climate scientist who doesn‘t think that climate change
is a problem.
MADDOW: James Hoggan, co-founder of desmog.com, author of “Climate
Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming”—thanks for helping us with
this. I appreciate it.
HOGGAN: Thank you.
MADDOW: Nice to meet you.
HOGGAN: Good to meet you.
MADDOW: So, there‘s currently an impeachment threat against the
attorney general of the great state of Georgia. His alleged high crime or
misdemeanor is that he says it would be fruitless and frivolous for him to
spend Georgia taxpayers ‘money suing the federal government over health
reform. His name is Thurbert Baker and he joins us next for “The
Interview.” I‘m really looking forward to this.
Please stay tuned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: We‘re going to continue to
fight to repeal this thing.
REP. PETE HOEKSTRA ®, MICHIGAN: On January 3, we‘ll start working
for repeal, and we‘ll do it with all of you.
REP. ZACH WAMP ®, TENNESSEE: We need to lead the largest repeal
movement in the history of this country.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: You know that‘s actually not going to happen. If you hate health
reform and someone asks you for money because they say they‘re going to
repeal health reform, that person is ripping you off. They really can‘t
repeal it. I mean, some Republicans are even admitting that now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FMR. REP. NEWT GINGRICH (R-GA), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES: What you have to do is be politically honest. If the
Republicans win a majority in the House and Senate next year, they will not
be able to repeal the bill. The president would veto it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our view is that we should repeal and replace the bill
with the solutions that we think actually work. Obviously, the president
will not sign a repeal bill that the Congress passes, so that‘s more of a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Sure, that‘s more of a symbol. Republican Senator Bob Corker of
Tennessee got even more blunt about it today, telling an audience at
Vanderbilt University, quote, “The fact is, that‘s not going to happen,
OK. Despite the impossibility problem that they are running up against
with the “we‘ll repeal it” fundraising drive, some other opponents of
health reform are trying out another futile, purely symbolic political
stunt in order to dramatize how much they hate health reform.
They want to sue the government to try to get health reform overturned.
Now, no one seriously thinks these lawsuits have any chance of success.
For example, when the University of Washington tried last night to host a
debate between legal experts on whether or not health reform is
Constitutional, they couldn‘t find anyone to take the “it‘s
Even legal experts who didn‘t like health reform conceded that the lawsuits
against it are pointless. Because the lawsuits are widely believed to be
legally pointless, the state attorneys general who are bringing these suits
are feeling a little bit of pressure now about how much taxpayers‘ money
they‘re willing to spend on something that has no point.
That‘s just a political stunt. For example, Virginia‘s astounding new
attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, released a statement today defending -
defense that we‘re explaining - that the whole lawsuit that he was bringing
against the federal government to overturn health care was only expected to
cost Virginia taxpayers a total of $350.
This is amazing. Listen to this. Quote, “Attorney General Kenneth T.
Cuccinelli, II today released the cost of the lawsuit his office launched
against the federal government over the passage of the Federal Health Care
Reform Act. The court filing fee for the case was $350. There has been no
additional cost above this amount, as the litigation is being handled
entirely by the attorney general‘s staff.”
Wait a minute. The attorney general and his staff work for free? They‘re
doing this one pro bono at their own time with their own office supplies,
sitting in their cars in the parking lot or something, not while they‘re at
work, having their salaries and other expenses paid for by the good
taxpayers of the state of Virginia?
Amazing. Absolutely amazing. Even more amazing, though, is what‘s
happening in the great State of Georgia. Georgia‘s Republican Governor
Sonny Purdue wanted very badly to get in on the frivolous anti-health
reform lawsuit action.
But his attorney general, a Democrat named Thurbert Baker, refused telling
the governor in a letter, quote, “Considering the state‘s severe budgetary
crisis, with vital services like education and law enforcement being cut
deeply, I cannot justify a decision to initiate expensive and time-
consuming litigation that I believe has no legal merit. In short, this
litigation is likely to fail and will consume significant amounts of
taxpayers‘ hard earned money in the process.”
Georgia Republicans, however, are not about to let themselves be deprived
of their pointless symbolic tool of opposition to health reform.
Republicans in the state legislature in Georgia drafted legislation to try
to force the attorney general to file that lawsuit that he said was bound
to fail and waste money.
That bill failed twice. Republican Governor Sonny Purdue wasn‘t giving up
on this pointless exercise either. The governor announced last week that
since the real attorney general in his state refused to sue the government
over health reform, he intended to appoint a special attorney general just
to file that lawsuit.
But now, it looks like Republicans in the state House have one-upped even
that move by Georgia‘s governor. A Republican legislator has officially
introduced a resolution to impeach Georgia‘s attorney general.
To be clear, they want to impeach Attorney General Thurbert Baker because
he says he doesn‘t want to waste taxpayers‘ money on what he believes is a
redundant frivolous lawsuit that has no chance of success. They say that‘s
grounds for impeachment.
Joining us now for the interview is the Attorney General of Georgia, Mr.
Thurbert Baker. Mr. Baker is also running for the Democratic nomination
for governor in his state. Mr. Attorney general thank you very much for
coming on the show.
THURBERT BAKER, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF GEORGIA: Glad to be here. Thank you.
MADDOW: The move on the part of Republicans in your state to impeach you
seems fairly symbolic. There are just a few days left in the legislative
session. Nobody really expects them to be able to come up with the votes.
But even if it is just symbolic, what‘s your reaction to this?
BAKER: Very surprising. You know, I‘ve been the attorney general now in
this state for 13 years. I would have never thought that there would be an
effort in the legislature of this state to impeach the sitting attorney
general for doing his job and, oh, by the way, for telling the truth.
It makes no sense to me. At a time when we‘ve got huge budget crisis here
in Georgia, when we‘re laying off teachers, when we‘re cutting back on
school days, when we‘ve got huge transportation and water issues. We can‘t
We‘ve got a huge economy problem. We‘re spending time in these last few
legislative days trying to figure out how to impeach the attorney general
for saying that there is no basis to file this lawsuit.
MADDOW: Can you tell us briefly why you think there‘s no basis to file
this lawsuit, why you decided that this wasn‘t worth your time?
BAKER: Our governor asked me to take a look at the question and to file a
lawsuit on behalf of Georgia. I took a look at the Constitution of the
United States. I took a look at applicable law.
I looked at all of the claims that are being raised around the country. I
could find absolutely no basis to file a lawsuit. We took a look at the
Commerce Clause. Commerce - the legislature has a broad expansive power
when we talk about the Commerce Clause.
There‘s been a lot of discussion about the government taxing and spending
for this effort. Listen. That question has been settled since 1937 in
this country. Congress absolutely has the power to do it.
Now, I understand that there is a lot of policy debate across this nation.
I understand there are a lot of budgetary issues involved. We have those
same issues here in Georgia.
But we should not confuse that with the right of the United States Congress
to enact the measure that it did. That was my answer to the governor. I
don‘t think we have a basis for it.
And if we‘re going to go down that road, in my opinion, at least, we‘re
going to be spending hard-earned taxpayer dollars in a time of budget
crisis in this state. I couldn‘t justify doing it.
MADDOW: Let me ask you about an argument that I will admit to having just
made fun of, the argument of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
He‘s claiming that his lawsuit against the federal government to overturn
health care will only cost $350, because that‘s what the filing fee is.
To me, as you could tell in my introduction, I find that ridiculous. But
as an attorney general of a state, does that argument from him make any
sense to you?
BAKER: We filed a lot of lawsuits in my office. We‘ve defended a lot of
lawsuits in my office. It‘s impossible to have a lawsuit where there are
no inherent costs. Every time you are pulling employees away from their
appointed duties to file a lawsuit and to engage in this counter-activity,
there‘s going to be cost.
Lawyers don‘t work for free, not even lawyers who work in house. So I‘m
not aware of any way that a lawsuit can be filed, even if we do it in
house, where it doesn‘t cost the taxpayer some money.
We could have our lawyers off engaged in other areas that are going to be
critical to the budget of this state, to talk about teachers and education.
Any of those areas where we could have our lawyers applied would be a
better use of the employees and the staff. But I‘m not aware of any way
that you can do this without there being some inherent cost.
MADDOW: Me, neither. And I‘m not a lawyer. Mr. Baker, let me also ask
you about something that broke today that was new in this whole debate and
that‘s that the governor and attorney general of the State of Oregon
announced they will not sue the federal government over health reform, but
that, rather, they will proactively defend the health bill in court.
I wonder, if given your stance, if the Oregon officials have reached out to
you, if you would even consider joining their efforts to defend the bill.
BAKER: Well, the Oregon attorney general has not reached out to me. But I
can almost understand what‘s going on. That governor and that attorney
general looked at the same Constitution that I looked at.
They came away with the same conclusion that given the broad expansive
powers of the federal government and its ability to enact laws, especially
in this area, areas that impact interstate and intrastate commerce, that
they came away with the same idea and the conclusion that I did - that
there is no basis for moving in this direction.
You know, so now they‘re going to move forward and try and assist the
federal government in defending against these lawsuits. They must have
come to the same conclusion that I did.
MADDOW: Mr. Thurbert Baker, the attorney general for the State of
Georgia for the past 13 years now - I should mention again, running for the
Democratic nomination for governor in Georgia. Thank you very much for
your time tonight, sir. I really appreciate it.
BAKER: Thank you. Glad to be here with you.
MADDOW: OK. What do an age 45 and under Republican club called The Young
Eagles, a naked lady nightclub called Voyeur, and the defense contractor
formerly known as Blackwater have in common? Turns out they have a lot in
common. A perfect storm of eww is coming up right after the break.
MADDOW: In the wake of the revelation that the Republican National
Committee spent almost $2,000 at a bondage-themed nightclub in West
Hollywood, “U.S. News and World Report” posts a reminder today that the
Congressman who is now head of the Republican Congressional Campaign
Committee had a sexy time fundraiser of his own.
2007, before Pete Sessions of Texas held his leadership position in the
Republican Party at the National Republican Campaign Committee - in 2007,
in trying to earn a few bucks for his own campaign fund, Pete‘s PAC, Mr.
Sessions held a fundraiser here at Ivan Kane‘s Forty Deuce, a burlesque
club in Las Vegas that seems very nice.
Mr. Sessions‘ PAC spent more than $5,000 there, which means I guess that at
least in recent years the Republican Party has been way more libertarian in
their choice of fundraising venues than they have been in their policy
positions, which is sort of like comforting and funny.
Speaking of, I have a correction to make. It‘s a slightly embarrassing
correction about our earlier coverage of that club where the RNC spent
about $2,000 grand of its donor‘s money.
As you know, it is a club called Voyeur. It is a place where ladies wear
very little clothing for money. On Monday night, when we were talking
about this story, we showed you this logo, which made me a little
uncomfortable to talk about. I‘m sorry. It‘s just the way I am.
Yesterday, I have to tell you, the nice people at Voyeur in San Diego
contacted us to say that when we were showing that logo, what we were
actually showing was the logo for their Voyeur Club in San Diego, where the
ladies wear very little clothing, not the West Hollywood Voyeur Club, where
the ladies wear very little clothing, which is the one that certain RNC
members have been enjoying on their donor‘s dime.
What we should have shown you was this. That was the best Hollywood logo.
So there you go - a slightly different logo that is still about a story
that makes me stutter and fidget for which I‘m sorry.
The Republican Party outing to the West Hollywood scantily-clad lady place
occurred after an official RNC party fundraiser at the Beverly Hills hotel.
It was a fundraiser for a group of Republicans under the age of 45 that the
party calls The Young Eagles.
They are young to the extent that they are under the age of 45. The Young
Eagles‘ director is named Alison Myers. She‘s so far that the only person
at the RNC to be punished for this scandal. She was fired this week.
Chairman Michael Steele - he whose desk is where the buck is supposedly
going to stop. Now, Michael Steele, of course, is still gainfully
employed. And so the work of The Young Eagles and their entire calendar of
fundraising events is now in jeopardy.
The RNC canceled all Young Eagles events until further notice. The
cancellations include next month‘s traveling in North Carolina at something
that is innocuously called the U.S. Training Center.
The U.S. Training Center is in fact part of the security contractor company
formerly known as Blackwater. Blackwater now goes by the name we like to
pronounce “she.” Blackwater, Xe, is probably most famous for the legal
battle stemming from an incident in Baghdad in which Blackwater employees
gunned down 17 civilians.
Iraq then ordered the company out of the country. Earlier this month,
there were reports that we aired that a Republican fundraiser at the
Blackwater compound had been planned.
Now, at that time, Blackwater denied it. Then, Blackwater said the idea is
back on. And now, the Republican Party post-strip-club-gate is canceling
the Blackwater fundraiser once again, which is, I‘m sure, too bad. It
would have been a killer party.
MADDOW: A whole new group of gun lovers are planning an anti-government
march on Washington on the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. That
story is next.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me implore you to keep the torch of freedom burning
bright, tell you God bless the republic. Death to the New World Order. We
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was a member of a group called the Ohio Valley Freedom
Fighters speaking at a rally over the weekend in Frankfort, Kentucky.
About 400 people with guns gathered on the state capitol grounds on
Saturday there to hear him and other speakers, many of whom were also
visibly packing heat.
There was a similar scene in Helena, Montana on the same day. About 200
people showed up at the rally there with their guns.
These two events are part of a national campaign to, quote, “galvanize the
courage and resolve of Americans to petition our elected officials against
establishing anti-gun legislation and to remind America that the Second
Amendment is necessary to maintain our right to self-defense.”
That message coming from the Second Amendment March, a group organizing
open-carry events all around the country, describing these events to
precursors of their big event which is a march on Washington, D.C. on April
The organizers they picked that date it is the anniversary of the first
shots being fired in the revolutionary war at the Battles of Lexington and
Concord. April 19th‘s significance has changed in recent memory because
April 19th is also the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing which
killed 168 Americans in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building 15 years ago
this April 19th.
The terrorist behind that building said he picked that date to attack the
federal building because it was also the David Koresh Branch Davidian fire
at Waco, an incident that convinced him he needed to wage violent war on
the United States of America starting with a violent attack on a federal
Now, you may be experiencing a sense of deja vu and saying, “Hey, wait.
Haven‘t you been reporting on this armed march on Washington since last
week?” The answer is no. There is actually another march scheduled for
the same day in roughly the same place. There are two marches on
Washington on the Oklahoma City anniversary for people with guns this year.
The event we‘ve been talking about is the “restore the Constitution open-
carry” rally. One of its three confirmed speakers will be this guy, the
ex-Alabama militia man who tried to make himself famous over the last
couple of weeks by imploring people to throw bricks through the windows of
Democratic Party offices around the country.
The rally he‘ll be speaking at is set to happen in Virginia where
organizers believe it is legal for them to carry their guns at that event.
It is not legal to carry guns publicly in Washington, D.C.
But Washington, D.C. is really the point of this whole anti-government
enterprise. So rally-goers will be bussed to this tiny little sliver of
land on the Virginia side of the Potomac River.
They will say - they say they are getting as close as they think they can
get to the national mall in D.C. while still packing heat. Best as we can
figure, we think the armed marchers in Virginia may even be able to catch a
glimpse of the other gun-lovers rally that‘s going to be happening over
here, as you can see on the map there, on the grounds of the Washington
Well, that one is being called the march. Apparently, the participants on
the D.C. side are going to be marching in place. They are not actually
going anywhere. And theoretically, they are not supposed to have their
guns with them.
As we confront the fact that the anniversary of the day Timothy McVeigh
killed 160 Americans has been picked by not one, but two anti-government
gun rallies in Washington, there is a certain disconnect between what these
organizers describe as their peaceful motives and the tactics they are
using to try to attract their audience.
Listen, for example, to how the better organized of these two marches, the
one that‘s actually in D.C., is describing its aims in their radio ad.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Think back 18 months and answer these questions. Did you ever
think the government would run General Motors? Did you ever think the
government would control the private banking system?
Did you ever think the government debt would be measured in the trillions?
All that has happened in just one year‘s time. Does that make you wonder
about 2010? Do you feel uneasy about your unalienable right to keep and
The president Congress and administration want to further limit your gun
rights. Don‘t let them do it.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: It goes on to say the government is looming before us like a tidal
wave threatening to wash away all remnants of freedom upon our great land.
They‘re saying they‘re not anti-government. They are just defending the
Constitution from this government.
You might be forgiven for thinking this event sounds a little fringy. But
the rally will have as a featured speaker a sitting member of Congress,
Republican Paul Brown who represents Georgia‘s Tenth District.
Unfortunately, however, they tried to get famous rock star and gun lover
Ted Nugent to speak. Organizers have lamented on their Web that they
couldn‘t afford to pay for Mr. Nugent. So no Ted Nugent, but a member of
Congress will be there. I‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: Kent Jones is our tea party profiteering correspondent tonight.
KENT JONES, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Rachel. The second big tea party
national convention is coming up. And this time around, they have made a
few changes. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(voice-over): The National Tea Party Unity Convention needed to shake its
fancy pants Obama elitist image. So this time, they chose a real down-home
venue to take America back.
The Palazzo Las Vegas resort. It‘s grassroots without the grass and Jersey
Boys. The convention at the Palazzo happens July 15 through 17.
Quote, “The timing for this country is crucial. As we head into the fall
elections, we must be united in our opposition to the Obama/Pelosi/Reid
axis of fiscal evil. Work with your fellow patriots to help save our
But first, fellow patriots, they‘re going to need $400 a piece. Bring your
rage and your platinum card. But if you are a fired up tea partier coming
in from out of town, know this.
Quote, “Registration for the convention requires confirmed three nights
hotel accommodations at The Palazzo Las Vegas resort. Cancellation of
hotel accommodations will result in the forfeiture of entire convention
registration fee. Hotel cancellation policy is 72 hours prior. Hotel will
require a deposit of one night plus taxes per suite to guarantee
accommodations. Registration is non-refundable and non-transferable.”
Now, if that doesn‘t strike a blow against oppressive bureaucracy, I don‘t
know what does.
MADDOW: Thank you very much, Kent. Appreciate that.
MADDOW: That does it for us tonight. “COUNTDOWN” with Keith Olbermann
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