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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Friday, June 18th, 2010

Read the transcript to the Friday show

Guests: Gerald Wojtala, Debbie Stabenow

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST (voice-over):  You know that metaphor when people say something doesn‘t pass the smell test?
Well, now, in the BP oil disaster era, it‘s no longer a metaphor.  Smell tests for real—Trained smell testers monitoring America‘s seafood supply.
As technology continues to appear to go backwards, but politics goes forward, at least it does for Democrats—as conservatives commit themselves to a disastrous, renewed embrace of the oil industry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REP. JOE BARTON ®, TEXAS:  I apologize.
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR:  I think that Joe Barton, before he apologized, had a legitimate point.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW:  Plus, a right-wing Senate candidate emerges from her Heidi hole in conservative-only media and accidentally comes into contact, disastrous contact, with a real reporter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARRON ANGLE ®, NEVADA SENATE CANDIDATE:  Where are you getting these questions?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW:  Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan joins us and “The Washington Post‘s” Ezra Klein, and a real life smell tester—ahead as THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
(MUSIC)
(END VIDEOTAPE)
MADDOW:  Good evening.  Happy Friday night.
What would you do if you were just sitting at home and somebody pulled up and parked their truck right in your front yard?  They just pulled up.  They left their truck on your front lawn.  What would your first instinct be?
Before you answer, listen to what Dick Armey thinks you would do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK ARMEY ®, FMR. HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER:  If I go park my truck on your yard, you don‘t call the mayor.  You call your lawyer and you say, “We‘ll settle this in the courts.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW:  Who calls their lawyer if somebody parks on their lawn? 
Seriously.
Think about this: somebody parks their truck on your yard, on your lawn, maybe you‘d call the police and ask them to get the truck towed away?  No, Dick Armey says if you‘re a normal, red-blooded American, you‘d call your lawyer and you‘d say, hey, lawyer, there‘s a truck on my lawn.  Let‘s figure out who owns that truck and see if we can sue them.
In what universe would that be your first recourse?  Your first reaction?  It‘s so strange.
Dick Armey brought this up as a means of explaining his objections to the government getting BP to set up a fund to pay the victims of the BP oil spill.  This weird analogy is how he explained his frustration about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARMEY:  If I go park my truck on your yard, you don‘t call the mayor.  You call your lawyer and you say, “We‘ll settle this in the courts.”  And so on.  So the point that I have is, by what constitutional authority does the president of the United States say, “I will decide what redress will be made to the victims of this catastrophe by this firm and I will decide who are the victims and who are not the victims”?  That—the Constitution doesn‘t give that authority to the executive branch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW:  So, the government negotiates a great deal for the victims of the BP oil disaster.  The government gets BP to hand over a ton of money to compensate the company‘s victims in this disaster, and conservatives having never really minded the whole executive overreach thing under George W.  Bush, conservatives, with this deal, decide they hate it.
They just can‘t stand it but they are having a very hard time articulating why they hate it exactly.  Hence the bizarre truck on the lawn analogy.  They can‘t exactly explain why it just makes them feel bad.
Now, it‘s possible that this is just Obama derangement syndrome.  That Obama did it and therefore it must be bad.  That‘s possible.
But maybe it‘s not just that.  Maybe it‘s something else.  There are two sides to this deal after all.  The government asked for this fund of money.  It is BP who had to give up the money when they agreed to it.
So, it‘s also possible that it‘s not just Obama derangement syndrome. 
Maybe these guys also feel bad for BP.
Dick Armey isn‘t exactly a stranger to the oil industry.  The Web site Think Progress revealed last month that Dick Armey‘s FreedomWorks was part of BP‘s five-year plan to try to get protected waters off the coast of Florida opened to new offshore drilling.  Dick Armey‘s FreedomWorks was trying—helping to try to make that happen for the oil industry.  Conveniently, FreedomWorks doesn‘t disclose their funders.
So, yes, maybe it‘s Obama derangement syndrome.  But it also could be that these guys are like this with the oil industry and they don‘t like to see oil companies have to pay even when an oil company causes the biggest environmental disaster in U.S. history.
Take Joe Barton, for example.  Republican congressman from Texas who has turned out to be the man of the week in American politics—as a result of this remarkable moment yesterday:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARTON:  I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown—in this case, a $20 billion shakedown.  I apologize.  I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong is subject to some sort of political pressure that is, again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown.  So I apologize.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW:  That is the face of the Republican Party on the energy issue.  He is the ranking House Republican on energy.  Joe Barton apologizing to the CEO of BP not once but twice—apologizing because the federal government got BP to set aside money for victims of their oil disaster.
Joe Barton later retracted that apology and said he had been misconstrue-tled (ph).
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARTON:  If anything I said this morning has been misconstrued, in an opposite effect, I want to apologize for that misconstrue—misconstruction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW:  Congressman Barton has been in Congress since 1985.  Before Joe Barton was elected to Congress, according to his own Web site, he worked for the oil industry.  He was a natural gas decontrol consultant for Atlantic Richfield Oil and Gas Company, better known as ARCO.  ARCO, of course, is now part of BP.
So, conservatives and conservative politicians may just be predisposed to dislike what the president does because the president does it and they don‘t like this president.  But they‘re also really tight with the oil industry.  And on day 60 of the BP oil disaster, it turns out that is a lot more politically important than it was 61 days ago.
Well, everyone got very upset about Joe Barton‘s blunt expression of his pity for BP, how much he identifies with them against the interests of Americans who are harmed by what BP did.  What is sort of being overlooked is that what Joe Barton expressed is a pretty mainstream conservative sentiment right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
INGRAHAM:  I think that Joe Barton, before he apologized, had a legitimate point.
NEWT GINGRICH ®, FMR. HOUSE SPEAKER:  The president is directly engaged in extorting money from a company, this is like General Motors and Chrysler, where the administration basically stole money.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Barton made a courageous statement, in my judgment, to have anyone stand up and even indirectly defend them and say that they were the victim of a shakedown shows political courage.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST:  Congressional Democrats said they wanted BP to set aside $20 billion?  If the government is in charge of this, I want to know who‘s going to get it.  Who is going to get this money?  Union activists?  ACORN people?  Who‘s going to get this money?
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA:  This is an appointee from the Obama administration who will be putting—who will be doing the payouts.  Let‘s just make sure that this isn‘t a permanent ATM card.
ARMEY:  By what constitutional authority does the president of the United States say, “I will decide what redress will be made to the victims of this catastrophe by this firm, and I will decide who are the victims and who are not the victims”?  That—the Constitution doesn‘t give that authority to the executive branch.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW:  Midterm election season starts right now.  That reel of comments that we just played could essentially be the Democratic Party‘s campaign ad for November—any Democratic candidate‘s campaign ad for 2010.
The conservative movement and Republicans are lining up with BP and
against the government trying to get BP to pay the victims of this disaster
not metaphorically.  It‘s not an extrapolation from what they‘re doing. 
It‘s directly what they‘re doing.
And the remarkable news here is not that Republicans have this big political weakness or that they‘re accidentally showing it in this very blunt way.  The really remarkable and frankly almost unbelievable development here is that Democrats appear to have noticed.  Democrats, for once in their lives, appear to be capitalizing on Republicans making this huge political error.
New ads have already been cut by Michele Bachmann‘s Democratic opponent in Minnesota, Tarryl Clark, and by the Democratic National Committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
ANNOUNCER:  It‘s BP‘s fault and they should pay.  But Michele Bachmann calls making BP pay for the cleanup “extortion” and said, “If I was the head of BP, I would let the signal get out there, we‘re not going to be chumps.”  If Bachmann lets BP off the hook, guess who‘s paying?  Us!
BARTON:  I‘m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday.  I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown.
JOHN KING, CNN:  That he personally wanted to apologize to Mr.  Hayward, saying that he found it shameful, what happened at the White House yesterday.
BARTON:  I apologize.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW:  And it‘s not just those Democratic ads.  It‘s also Organizing for America, the outgrowth of Barack Obama‘s presidential campaign machine blasting out this open letter yesterday called “No Apologies,” an attempt to essentially reactive the Obama electorate around this issue.
This is what it looks like when Democrats realize they‘ve got a political opportunity.  This is them seizing that opportunity.
But to what end?  Is this just pointing out that Republicans have taken a really toxic position on oil and energy?  Is this just pointing this out and laughing at them and hoping to raise some money off of it?  Or will Democrats try to turn this into concrete political gains, either electorally or in terms of policy?
Check out this report from “The Hill” newspaper today.  “Senate liberals threaten rebellion on energy bill.”  Yes, that means their own energy bill.  Senate liberals threatening to vote against the energy bill if it gets watered down.  If putting a price on carbon gets taken out of the legislation.  They are drawing a line in the sand and saying, “If we‘re going to move on energy, we‘re going to do something important.  No watering it down.”
Liberals, in other words, are saying that they have the political capital here on the issue of energy.  Liberals have it.  Conservatives have the opposite of political capital on this.
And so, progressives and Democrats should use it.  Use it once.  Use it for once.  Use it to pass a no compromise bill.  They‘re actually making that case right now.  Pinch me.
Joining us now maybe to pinch me is Ezra Klein, staff writer for “The Washington Post” and an MSNBC contributor.
Hi, Ezra.  Nice to see you.
EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Good evening.
MADDOW:  Are you going to pinch me?  Are you going to tell me I should wake up and realize this isn‘t really happening?
KLEIN:  Well, I‘m going to stay back here in D.C. on that.  But it is happening.  The question is how far it will go.  It‘s a couple of liberals right now and it‘s important.
I mean, the big thing about energy, right, and the big thing about global warming policy, is that BP and the Gulf show that there are sort of different types of issues we need to solve in American life.  Health care reform, the deficit—if you don‘t do it right the first time, you can come back the next year, the year after that, 10 years after that, 20 years after that.
But then there are things like the Gulf oil spill, and if you get it wrong, you actually don‘t have the technical capacity to undo it—and climate change is one of those.  If we let it happen, if the earth‘s temperature raises seven degrees centigrade, we don‘t know what to do.  We don‘t even know what will happen.  We‘ve only got one of these planets.
And so, there is a real difference in this and I think the liberals aren‘t just seeing political opportunity but seeing policy reality.  And the fact that something seems difficult in a big legislative lift in Congress, they don‘t feel that exempts them from trying.
MADDOW:  Ezra, you posted a Tom Toles cartoon today on your blog at “The Washington Post.”  It says, “Year 2060, the search for a breakthrough technology to solve climate change continues.”  And then the scientist says, “It‘s a time machine we hope will take us back 50 years to 2010 when we should have put a price on carbon.”  Obviously, Tom Toles is a genius.
But is a price on carbon really what it all boils down to?  If we don‘t get that in an energy bill, is everything else in your view sort of just tinkering around on the margins?
KLEIN:  A price on carbon is the single most important thing we need to do.  Not that everything else is tinkering around the margins.  We want investment into clean energy such that we can hopefully get the sort of technological breakthroughs we‘re going to need to actually get through this problem and we‘re going to need to have regulations that deal with coal-fired power plants and other elements of it.
But at the end of the day, if we don‘t do the price on carbon, doing this any other way is going to be wasting an enormous amount of money.  What a price on carbon does is it makes—when we go to the gas station or to buy electricity or use energy at all, it forces the energy to cost what it will really cost us in the long run, once these things like global warming are factored in.  And when it does that other things like solar, wind—they become somewhat cheaper in comparison and we begin to use them and we begin to innovate around them and we begin to move towards them.
We can do that just by funneling $600 billion a year to renewable energies.  We could pay every American 10,000 bucks to put a solar panel on their roof.  But it‘s a dumb way to spend taxpayer money.
What we should do is use the market as conservatives frequently tell us and price things relative to their actual, not only value, but actual cost to us as a society.  And that‘s what the carbon price will do.  Sacrificing it is essentially wasting our money and for no good reason.
MADDOW:  Ezra Klein, staff writer for “The Washington Post”—thank you for your time tonight, Ezra, and your clarity on an issue that is often really bamboozling.  Thanks a lot.
KLEIN:  Thank you.
MADDOW:  OK.  Coming up next: smell-testing Gulf Coast seafood.  Not metaphorical smell-testing but actual smell-testing.  That‘s how we test it turns out.  Humans smell and taste it.  That story next.
And later, a “Moment of Geek” about how to silence a single musical instrument—an instrument that apparently makes people very upset.  There is a way to banish the sound of that instrument.  We will show you how to do it.  That‘s ahead.
Please stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
MADDOW:  Today, BP announced that its CEO, Tony Hayward, is heading back to England.  Gulf Coast responsibility gets handed off to BP‘s managing director.
Bye, Mr. Hayward.  Hope you get your life back.  I doubt you will.
BP also announced that their relief well is within 200 feet of the blown-out well.  Where I come from, 200 feet is nothing.  Of course, I don‘t come from a mile beneath the sea where pressure and temperature levels warp all reasonable expectations about physics and mechanics.  So, potential relief from a relief well is still a ways off but, still, they‘re getting closer.
We‘ll take good news where we can find it.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
MADDOW:  So, I was riding the train back from D.C. to New York today, and I did something I never do.  I read the newspaper on paper.  I do everything online.  I haven‘t picked up an actual print newspaper in years.
But today, I was very much loving Amtrak and enjoying drinking my a.m.  coffee and eating my a.m. bagel and reading my print copy of “The Washington Post” when I ruined everything by snorting my a.m. coffee right out of my nose, right onto the print copy of the paper—when I came across a Q&A in the paper with one of our former guests who I met in Louisiana, Dr. Edward Overton at LSU.  “The Post” asks him and another expert, Professor Ian MacDonald from Florida State about various scientific things about the BP oil disaster.
Here‘s where I snorted the coffee, just the last question of the Q&A.  Question: “What efforts are being made to detect contamination in seafood from the Gulf?”  Answer, Dr. Overton: “There‘s no fishing or harvesting in a large area that has been affected by the oil.  Of course, fish can swim in and out of that zone, so the zone of no fishing is much larger than the actual oil area.  Then, the catch is inspected rigorously by organoleptic testing, which is a fancy science word for taste and smell.  A selected portion is undergoing chemical analysis.”
Then Professor MacDonald says: “There are tasters trained to find seafood contamination.  It turns out that the trained palate can detect hydrocarbons in the parts-per-million range.”
That‘s how we‘re testing the seafood for contamination.  Smell tests -
60 sniffers/tasters from various agencies and organizations have been trained so far in seafood sensory—seafood sensory testing by the International Food Protection Training Institute and NOAA‘s fishery service at the National Seafood Inspection Lab in Pascagoula, Mississippi.

Apparently, there is chemical testing of the fish and seafood as well, but there‘s no machine better suited for this task of detecting minute amounts of oil in seafood and shell fish than the trained human palate.  Please tell me more.
Joining us now is Gerry Wojtala.  He is executive director for the International Food Protection Training Institute.
Mr. Wojtala, thank you very much for your time.
GERALD WOJTALA, INTL. FOOD PROJECT TRAINING INSTITUTE:  Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW:  So, to be clear: you‘re not just finding people who have supernatural smelling and tasting abilities and putting them on the case.  You‘re training regular folks to be able to detect contamination, is that right?
WOJTALA:  That‘s absolutely correct.  It really—it‘s the training, you can almost take anyone and put them through this training and it really emphasizes and gets them to think about how they can use what‘s already natural in them to do this.  And so, these folks from all the five Gulf States that we‘re putting through this training come from various agencies in those states.
And they don‘t do this every day for a living.  They do other types of things, whether they‘re fisheries people or whether they are food inspectors.  And so, a couple of quick days of going through this and going through the testing that they‘re put through, they come out with a lot of sensory memory.
MADDOW:  And do some people have a natural—more natural affinity for sniffing?  Do you find out after you do the training that there are some people who have like star noses?
WOJTALA:  Yes, that‘s absolutely correct.  A lot of the folks that are going through the training and we‘ve put about 60 people through the training already in the last three weeks, in order to increase the capacity of people out there that can do this, they come out of this as being screeners.  So they can go out now in their normal jobs and do a lot of screening and find problems that are out there, or detect things that they couldn‘t before.
But then there are—there‘s additional training that can take place where they can become assessors, trained assessors, or even experts at some point, and that all depends on how good their God-given talents are.
MADDOW:  When in a non-training environment, once the folks who have been through your training are out in the field, how do they—how do they actually test the seafood?  Are they smelling, tasting, both?  How much of a sample are they smelling or tasting at a time?
WOJTALA:  Well, one of the things they learn in the class is that the environment has to be controlled in—when you‘re doing this testing.  So it‘s somewhat difficult when you‘re out in the heat and the humidity and on a boat, let‘s say, that there‘s diesel fumes and there‘s other types of odors.  It‘s a lot harder to do that.
So, it‘s always encouraged to do that in a lab setting.  Sometimes, that‘s not always possible, but a lot of the assessments that are made—or all of the assessments that are made in terms of opening and closing waters—that‘s taking place in a laboratory setting where a lot of those environmental factors can be controlled.
MADDOW:  And you‘ve got these incredibly well-calibrated human testing machines alongside all of the mechanical ones which is how we all imagined this was done.
It‘s fascinating stuff.
Gerry Wojtala, executive director for the International Food Protection Training Institute—thank you for your time and good luck with this.
WOJTALA:  Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW:  Before today, Nevada‘s Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle had been tossed nothing but journalistic softballs by hand-picked right-wing talk show hosts.  No more.
We don‘t have the sound bite.  Thank you.  What do you mean—come on, you guys.  Really?  We don‘t have the sound bite?  I‘m going to—wow.  That‘s awesome.
Hold on.  “What do you mean about Second Amendment remedies, Sharron Angle?  We kept asking into the parking lot but received no answer.  Why won‘t you answer what Second Amendment remedy means?  Nothing at all.  It‘s a simple question.
Senate candidate Sharron Angle has found that life outside her ideological cocoon is different than she‘s used to, a little colder.
We‘ll have more on that—maybe even with sound if we‘re lucky—just ahead.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
MADDOW:  This has been one of those crazy weeks, a week when stuff you thought could never happen happened.
I mean, Congressman Joe Barton apologized to BP and then un-apologized and then said he‘d been misconstruedled (ph).
Sarah Palin said she smoked marijuana and didn‘t like it.
And the USA came back from two goals down to tie Slovenia in the World Cup then they totally got robbed on the third goal which got taken away from them.
But my favorite impossible-becomes-reality tale from the news this week involves Mr. Impossible himself: Illinois congressman and Senate candidate, Mark Kirk.  Mr. Kirk has already distinguished himself by being caught telling at least 10 different falsehoods about his military career.
Mr. Kirk has claimed the Navy named him Intelligence Officer of the Year, which did not happen.  He also claimed that as a member of the Naval Reserve, he survived live enemy fire in Kosovo—which never happened.  In Iraq, which never happened, and in Kandahar, Afghanistan, where Congressman Kirk has told reporters it both happened and it didn‘t happen.
Mark Kirk‘s untruthiness is amazing enough on its own terms.  The guy is running for Senate.
But when he tries to explain away his untruthiness, that‘s really when the magic happens—because the only thing Mark Kirk does with more pizzazz than making stuff up is trying to explain away the stuff he is accused of making up.  In this crazy week, Mark Kirk managed to raise the bar on that.  He really did.
“The New York Times” reporting that there are serious questions about another part of Mark Kirk‘s resume.  He claims to have taught nursery school, middle school, and high school, though “The Times” reported those engagements were very, very short-term things.  Mr. Kirk says he taught the older kids during the 1982-83 school year in London at a private school called the Milestone Prep School.  Mr. Kirk also says he worked in the nursery school of the Forest Home Chapel in Ithaca, New York, during his last year of college in 1981. 
For the record, a chapel spokesperson tells “The Times” that Mr.
Kirk was, quote, “never, ever considered a teacher.”  Let‘s keep going.  Here‘s how Congressman Kirk described his career as an educator on the floor of the House a few years back. 
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MARK KIRK (R-IL):  I served as a teacher and I remember the kids who were the brightest lights of our country‘s future.  I also remember those who bore scrutiny as people who might bring a gun to class. 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW:  Now, which of the kids he taught do you think Mr. Kirk remembered as threatening to show up in class with a gun?  Would it be the tiny tots in the church nursery, the two, three, and four-year-olds?  Or would it be the teenagers in England? 
Turns out he was blaming the tiny tots, those gun-toting rug rats.  The “New York Times” reports, quote, “His spokeswoman said the Congressman was referring to nursery school students in Ithaca, not his students in London during that speech on the house floor in 2006. 
Mark Kirk running for Senate in part on the basis of his credentials as a former nursery school teacher even though the nursery school he says he worked at says he wasn‘t a teacher there. 
And if we believe he was a teacher there, it was for one year part-time while he was in college.  And he says while he taught there he worried about the munchkins packing heat.  Three-year-olds with guns. 
If you think you‘ve got to work hard to believe the Mark Kirk for Senate campaign, just think how hard they‘re working to churn out their explanations. 
And the Kirk staff has kept it up now posting what they are calling a correction to the “New York Times” story, quote, “Before and after publication, the Kirk campaign made it clear that the clause ‘brightest lights of our country‘s future‘ referenced nursery school kids in Ithaca, New York, while the ‘bore scrutiny‘ clause referenced a few kids at milestone school in London.” 
“As we told the reporter, Mr. Kirk taught mainly English and some foreign students at Milestone.  A few of the kids he taught came from difficult family backgrounds and he was surprised by what they saw at home and regarded as normal behavior.  ‘The Times‘ mistake is unfortunate but sometimes mistakes do happen.” 
“The Times‘” mistake.  He‘d know about the mistakes thing.  Mark Kirk, you are amazing.  The newest spin, if you can follow this, is that Mark Kirk was not blaming the three-year-olds for inviting suspicion about their concealed carry status at nursery school. 
He was blaming the British middle school students for inviting that suspicion at a time when the number of armed British households was roughly on par with the population of real leprechauns in Ireland. 
As of this evening, the “New York Times” has not backed down on its original story about Mr. Kirk blaming the toddlers for the guns.  If they do retract their reporting, we will let you know.  Meanwhile we will continue to enjoy Congressman Mark Kirk and all his amazing, amazing stories.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
MADDOW:  Yesterday in the Senate was seer sucker Thursday.  I‘m just warning you about that so you don‘t get alarmed when I show you a clip from what happened yesterday in the Senate. 
Here‘s the scene.  It is seersucker Thursday in the Senate.  Republicans have already been blocking a vote on a package of unemployment and state aid benefits for weeks.  But finally, Democrats think they have the 60 votes they need to get the bill past the Republican filibuster. 
Turns out they don‘t.  In fact, they only have 56.  Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Joe Lieberman vote with Republicans to continue filibustering a vote on unemployment and an emergency state aid. 
But then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid takes to the floor with a handful of very popular, badly needed pieces of the bill including the extension of unemployment benefits in an attempt to try to get something passed or at least voted on before the night‘s end. 
On hand to object in a terrifying seersucker suit was Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell looking as if he is on his way to a garden party via horse drawn buggy to discuss the cut of President Chester A.  Arthur‘s gib. 
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER:  For the moment, I object.  We just got this a few moments ago.  For the moment, I object.  For today, I object. 
Mr. President, we‘re still working together on a bipartisan basis to try to figure out how to go forward on all of these items, but for the moment, I object. 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW:  While the nation faces the highest rate of long-term unemployment since the 1930s, unless Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman and all the Republicans let this extension bill pass, more than a million unemployed Americans will see their benefits run out by the end of the month.  It does all seem a lot cheerier in seersucker though, don‘t you think? 
Joining us now is Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan. 
Senator, thank you very much for coming on the show.  It‘s nice to see you. 
SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D-MI), FINANCE COMMITTEE:  It‘s great to be with you. 
MADDOW:  Is there a new strategy for getting this extension passed before the end of the month?  The stakes are so high.  A million people potentially losing unemployment. 
STABENOW:  Well, Rachel, first let me say on behalf of a million people in Michigan and over 15 million people around the country, I‘m outraged about this.  You know, as you know, this has been ping-pong. 
People have been used as pawns in a political fight now for the last year and a half, real people trying to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads.  And you know, I‘ve had it.  This is really outrageous. 
We are going to do a couple things next week.  There is - one more time, they are indicating that they‘re willing to put together this broader bill.  But if not, we have to move ahead and vote on extending unemployment benefits. 
And in my judgment, we need to do that separately.  And I think that everyone watching your program, everyone who is touched by this or cares about Americans in this country who want to work but can‘t find a job, ought to be flooding phone lines and E-mails to express outrage about what is happening. 
This has happened over and over again in the last year and a half since President Obama and the Democrats took the majority.  And too many people in my state are on a rollercoaster now every single day, emotionally, trying to figure out what‘s going on. 
And a lot of them are going to school.  Yes, they‘re going to school.  They‘re living off the unemployment benefits just to keep a roof over their head and take care of their families.
And they‘re E-mailing me saying, “Now, what do I do?  What do I do?  You know, I‘m trying to go back to school.  You told me to go back to school.  I‘m doing that.  But I need a little bit more help to be able to get this done so I can go out and try to find a new profession.”
MADDOW:  Senator, in terms of the tactics here, last fall when Republicans were holding up an unemployment extension package then, they were doing it by adding unrelated amendments to it. 
STABENOW:  Right. 
MADDOW:  You said at the time that the delays like that had - that had become a tactic for Republicans. 
STABENOW:  It has. 
MADDOW:  I expect that that will be part of the way they continue to object to this.  How do you fight that tactic? 
STABENOW:  We‘re going to have to slog our way through it like we did last fall.  It took us a month to get through that with objection after objection.  And by the way, we‘re up to 234 objections and filibusters which is unheard of in the history of our country.  It took us a month. 
And here‘s the bad part, thought.  Here‘s the part that - the cynical part that makes me so angry.  It took a month last fall to slog through this and then almost every Republican voted for the bill.  They were holding it up to try to stop health care at the time. 
Now, they‘re just trying to hold it up to stop us from getting a broader jobs bill done which, by the way, has a provision to stop incentives for taking jobs overseas.  And it also has a provision that would raise additional money from oil companies for the oil spill liability trust fund. 
So I find it interesting when the Congressman from Texas was apologizing to BP yesterday.  His Republican colleagues in the Senate were protecting big oil and stopping a 47-cent fee on every barrel of oil which is $70 or $80 to be able to put into a liability fund to clean up the mess. 
MADDOW:  Senator, the Republicans who have objected to this when they make their case in public say that they just don‘t want anymore spending, that the deficit is too high, that government spending is out of control, and that they just want some fiscal discipline and that‘s why they‘re saying no to things like this.  What is your response to that argument? 
STABENOW:  Rachel, a couple things.  First of all, I don‘t think we should take seriously a lecture from the people that created this deficit trying to now lecture us about deficits, number one.  Number two, we‘re never going to get out of deficit if we have more than 15 million people out of work in this country. 
The way to get out of deficit is to put people back to work, is to have people contributing to the economy, contributing to the tax base, buying things as consumers.  And the final thing I would say is what I said to a Republican colleague on the floor yesterday.  Will they have that same test when they bring to the floor another big tax cut for the estate tax for a few hundred families in this country? 
They‘re going to bring an estate tax cut for a few hundred families and I bet they don‘t care if that‘s paid for.  But when it‘s people out of work in this country, working class people, middle class people, bread winners who can‘t bring home any bread right now, suddenly, the rules change. 
If there was ever a disaster in this country - and that‘s how we pay for this, with disaster assistance - I consider 15 million people out of work a disaster. 
MADDOW:  Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan, thank you so much for your time tonight.  And obviously, this is a real passion for you.  I really appreciate your time. 
STABENOW:  Thanks. 
MADDOW:  We live in a time when the whole world can watch World Cup soccer simultaneously.  Half can complain that the sound of those plastic trumpets that everybody blows during World Cup matches is deafening. 
And we live in a time when through advanced audio frequency geekery, someone can figure out how to reduce or eliminate that specific sound from your TV machine.  A “Moment of Geek” including a home made demonstration, next.  
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NATHAN BACA, REPORTER, KLAS (on camera):  What do you mean Second Amendment remedies? 
SHARRON ANGLE ®, NEVADA REPUBLICAN SENATORIAL CANDIDATE:  Thank you. 
BACA:  Second Amendment remedies?  Anything? 
(voice-over):  We kept asking into the parking lot but received no answer. 
(on camera):  Why won‘t you answer what “Second Amendment remedies” means?  Nothing at all? 
ANGLE:  I don‘t know. 
BACA:  It‘s a simple question. 
(END VIDEO CLIP)  
MADDOW:  Sharron Angle accidentally meets a real reporter.  It does not go well.  Footage ahead. 
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
MADDOW:  Tonight‘s “Moment of Geek” is about the World Cup.  Even if you don‘t know anything about soccer, the one story from the World Cup in South Africa that everybody knows about is the vuvuzela.  The vuvuzela - the plastic trumpet that everybody is blowing in the stands. 
When tens of thousands of these are playing at the same time, it creates this weird constant buzzing sound.  You can hear it in all the footage.  That‘s the vuvuzela.  The vuvuzela is loud, OK?  It‘s really loud.  Some would say distractingly loud or even infuriatingly loud, hit-somebody loud, “for god‘s sake turn that off” loud. 
I‘ve asked Kent to come and demonstrate just how loud it is with this vuvuzela, courtesy of Mike G. from our crew.  Thanks, Mike.  All right.  Go ahead, Kent.  You see how loud that is?  I mean, how are you supposed to concentrate with this going? 
Can you see where this would be a big problem?  Thank you, Kent. 
Thank you, Kent.  Thank you, Kent.  Thanks!  Kent!  Thank you. 
Thank you.  Appreciate it.  Ah!  If you are sick of that sound when you are watching videos of the World Cup, the ingenious folks at “LifeHacker.com have come up with a solution to make it go away. 
It goes like this.  The vuvuzela creates sound waves on a specific frequency which is measured in hertz.  The geeks who figured this out determined that the horn‘s musical note is about a B flat which they measured at 233 hertz. 
In addition to that, there are harmonics at successive octaves
that fill out the sound, 466, 932, 1,864 hertz.  So the idea is to use a
filter.  And in our case, we used something called a notch filter that
blocks those specific frequencies, thereby blocking most of the sound made
by the horns. 

We tried it.  Here is a clip from today‘s U.S.-Slovenia game.  Now, just for a baseline, this is it without any filter.  Now, with the notch-filtered blocking out the frequencies we selected, listen to this.  Quieter, right?  Filter off.  Filter on. 
Thank you, gods of the Internet for this brilliant, high-tech solution for filtering out the sound made by a 90-cent piece of plastic.  Woo hoo! 
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
MADDOW:  News media is changing really fast right now.  We are shifting away from single news programs and publications designed to serve mass audiences toward a more atomized system, where people seek out what they want to watch and read.
And there‘s no expectation that everyone‘s watching the same thing.  For those of us who are in this business, recognizing the self-segregation that‘s going on among audiences honestly makes it sort of a fun challenge to try to get people to cross borders and step outside their comfort zone. 
Hi, conservative viewers.  I know you‘re out there.  I‘m genuinely glad you‘re here and I hope you stay.  But we all know for most people, people like to watch and read folks who they agree with among a real or imagined community of other viewers and readers who mostly agree with them, too. 
Although this change in the way we consume news is much lamented, I never thought it was particularly tragic.  I think it offers as many opportunities for diversity and depth in media as it does things to worry about. 
But one of the things to worry about as media splinters like it has is that candidates who get used to staying inside their ideological media bubble of choice in this day and age won‘t necessarily know that they sound crazy to people who aren‘t inside that bubble with them. 
And that‘s the cue for Sharron Angle, who has a record that probably does sound great when it‘s typed in all capital letters in a blog comment at “I‘mClingingToMyGuns.us.” 
When she took her John Birch Society-approved stand against fluoride in water and said she wanted to outlaw alcohol and not once, not twice, but three times this year threatened that if conservatives didn‘t get what they want from this next election, they might turn to their guns to get what they want. 
When she came up with her positions and what she was going to campaign on, it probably sounded great on the far reaches of right-wing talk radio.  But now that she‘s the Republican Party‘s Senate candidate, she‘s fighting to stay within those confines, stay within the confines only of the right-wing media, and it turns out it‘s a hard fight. 
Since being elected, Sharron Angle has not only been turning down interviews with liberal jerks like me, she‘s also completely blanked the mainstream press.  She has only done softball interviews with conservative media, “Fox and Friends,” “The Rush Limbaugh Show,” “Human Events,” “The National Review.” 
And here‘s the problem.  If you‘re used to only talking to people like that who agree with you, accidentally coming into contact with a real reporter from just regular mainstream local media can be quite a shock to the system.  I want you to watch this amazing local footage.  This is from the CBS affiliate in Las Vegas.  The reporter here is Nathan Baca. 
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
BACA (on camera):  Now, for weeks, viewers had given us questions they wanted answered.  They want to know where Angle stands on social security and about her desire to abolish federal environmental programs.  We asked those questions and more.  Here are her answers. 
(voice-over):  As Sharron Angle greeted supporters at Stoney‘s Restaurant in Las Vegas, we approached her to ask her about her social security plan.  Her website calls for transitioning out, an end to social security and Medicare. 
(on camera):  Why do you want to eliminate it for younger folks? 
Because your plan calls for transitioning out. 
ANGLE:  You have believed a Harry Reid lie. 
BACA:  Your own Web site says transition out of the program.  What does that mean? 
ANGLE:  Transition into a personalized account. 
BACA:  But ending social security as we know it? 
ANGLE:  Personalized social security account that they can‘t raid. 
BACA:  Stock market almost crashed in 2008.  Millions of seniors would
have had their -
ANGLE:  You‘re putting words into my mouth from Harry Reid and I want
you to be very clear on this.  I‘m here to save social security.  Harry
Reid is here -
BACA:  By transitioning out of it? 
ANGLE:  Harry Reid is here to bankrupt social security. 
BACA (voice-over):  We then asked Angle about her quote, “calling for the elimination of the Environmental Protection Agency in the midst of the oil spill.” 
BACA (on camera):  Why do you want to eliminate the EPA when we‘re in our worst environmental disaster in this country? 
ANGLE:  Where are you getting these questions?  The issues are not
about the EPA -
BACA:  But you want to eliminate the EPA, correct? 
ANGLE:  The issues are homes here in Nevada.  He is trying to make this a campaign about me, but where‘s Harry?  Go ask Harry. 
BACA:  Your own Web site calls -
ANGLE:  Please go ask Harry about the EPA and why they have failed. 
BACA:  And why you want to eliminate it?
ANGLE:  Why they have failed to do what they needed to do in the gulf. 
BACA (voice-over):  Angle walked away when we asked about her Web site once advocating withdrawal from the United Nations.  She then gave a 20-minute long interview to conservative radio talk host, Roger Hedgecock. 
She told the assembled media she would answer four questions, but refused to answer our question about this statement of hers, “If this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking towards those Second Amendment remedies.” 
ANGLE:  Thank you so much. 
BACA (on camera):  What about - Ms. Angle, what do you mean - what do you mean “Second Amendment remedies?”
ANGLE:  Thank you. 
BACA:  “Second Amendment remedies,” anything? 
(voice-over):  We kept asking into the parking lot but received no answer. 
BACA (on camera):  Why won‘t you answer what “Second Amendment remedies” means?  Nothing at all?  It‘s a simple question. 
Reaction from the angle campaign was swift.  Their spokesperson called this reporter an “idiot” and another term that cannot be repeated on television. 
Now, the spokesperson did say he would detail Angle‘s positions.  We asked him to explain it on camera but he refused to explain it on camera. 
(END VIDEOTAPE) 
MADDOW:  Reporter Nathan Baca also posted more footage online of Sharron Angle running away from him in a parking lot, in that parking lot, and refusing to answer questions about her repeated warnings that conservatives will turn to Second Amendment remedies, that they will turn to guns to get what they want if she doesn‘t beat Harry Reid in November. 
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BACA (on camera):  What do you mean “Second Amendment remedies?”
ANGLE:  Thank you. 
BACA:  “Second Amendment remedies,” anything? 
(voice-over):  We kept asking into the parking lot, but received no answer. 
BACA (on camera):  Why won‘t you answer what “Second Amendment remedies” means?  Nothing at all?  It‘s a simple question. 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW:  Our friend, John Ralston, another great local Nevada reporter, today tweeted a link to this footage with the hash tags “not Fox News” and “welcome home.”  My favorite part of all of this, though, is the EPA issue. 
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BACA (on camera):  Why do you want to eliminate the EPA when we‘re in our worst environmental disaster in this country? 
ANGLE:  Where are you getting these questions? 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW:  Where are you getting these questions.  Ma‘am, we‘re getting them from your record where you have said on the record that you want to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency. 
Question, “Is there a federal department/cabinet decision you would support eliminating.”  Answer, “Yes, those cuts should include the Department of Education, Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, IRS,” blah, blah, blah.  You proposed eliminating the EPA.  It is your position, Sharron Angle. 
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGLE:  Where are you getting these questions? 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW:  Where are you getting these questions?  These aren‘t the questions I want to be asked.  This isn‘t what I get asked about on conservative talk radio shows and Fox News.  You‘re not doing it right. 
Nathan Baca from KLAS in Las Vegas, you‘re doing it right.  In the age of atomized media and the huge conservative radio and TV and blog echo chamber, Sharron Angle is an amazing test case.  Can a very, very, very right-wing politician get elected by only talking to audiences and to venues that are prescreened to agree with her? 
Or to get elected in 2010, can you not afford to quite literally run away from journalists who aren‘t already on your side, who will ask you about your record?  It is a great question and it is why everyone is watching Sharron Angle.  Pass the popcorn. 
That does it for us tonight.  We‘ll see you again Monday night. 
Good night. 
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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