updated 8/9/2010 11:18:39 AM ET 2010-08-09T15:18:39

Guests: Ezra Klein, Jon Ralston, Howard Dean

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  Happy Friday.  Thanks for spending an hour of your Friday night with us.

Tonight, the chairman of the Republican Party tries a hat stunt.  Hat stunts never work.

Also, the nation‘s favorite Republican Senate candidate makes a campaign decision so bad that it is surprising even for her.

And my new friend at the FOX News Channel, Mr. Bill O‘Reilly, calls me names again and offers a fact-free critique of one of our fact-filled critiques.  So, you know, there is a record to set straight.

All that and lots of real news ahead.

But we begin tonight with great economic news out today.

           

Another month—another reason for optimism when it comes to the U.S.  economy.  The new jobs numbers came out today, and they revealed that last month, the month of July, businesses across the country added 71,000 jobs.  That is the seventh straight month that that has happened.  It was the third best month for private sector jobs all year.

On top of that, manufacturing jobs are beginning to come back—

36,000 manufacturing jobs added last month alone, which makes more than 180,000 manufacturing jobs added since the beginning of the year.

Good times, right?  Wasn‘t it great?  Wasn‘t it great in the midst of all the other bad things going on in the world, wasn‘t it great to have a whole day of just hearing about how excited and happy everybody was about the good economic news?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Jobs wanted.  New unemployment numbers show many Americans still struggling in the jobs search.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  A new unemployment report came out today:

131,000 jobs lost last month.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  After five months of net job growth, the economy has now lost jobs for two straight months.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MADDOW:  Oh, yes.  The bits of good news that there were today, all that private sector good news?  The manufacturing jobs and all that—those were completely swamped by the fact that public sector jobs fell off a cliff.

We lost more than 200,000 public sector jobs last month alone.  The public sector, public sector is the government sector.  These are government jobs.

As we try to pull out of the worst recession since the Great Depression, everybody has been fighting about what is within the government‘s power to do?  What‘s the best use of government power to tackle the unemployment rate, to create jobs?  Well, one easy way, which isn‘t really up for a debate about whether or not it works, is the government directly hiring somebody.  That‘s a job.

There are jobs that need to be done by the government, right?  And so, these single least economically controversial thing government can do to keep people employed is literally to keep its own employees employed.  But right now, that is not happening.

As of last month, local governments have laid off 234,000 workers.  Another 247,000 are expected to be laid off over the next few months.  That is a quarter of a million already, and a quarter of a million on the way.

Now, this happens in recessions.  People go broke.  And because we‘re broke, we pay less taxes and that means that governments of all sizes get less money, which means they have to lay people off and cut services.  This happens in recessions.

And in the early 1980s, during the horrible Reagan recession, the number of people working for local governments dropped by almost 4 percent.  It was really, really bad.  Now, it hasn‘t been that bad yet this time, even though this recession is actually worse.

The reason it hasn‘t been that bad is in large part because of the stimulus.  One of the stimulus things the federal government did was keep people employed.  They gave money to state and local governments.  Why do that?  Because it keeps people employed—which keeps them having an income, which keeps them spending, which keeps the economy growing for everybody.

Even if you don‘t like the idea of people working for the government, it is, in fact, stimulus for the whole economy.

Governments laying people off is very anti-stimulative—bad not only for those people, but bad for the economy.  And so, if that is happening, which it is right now in a very big way—if state and local governments are laying off their own employees, something is wrong with your stimulus policies.

Do you want to see where exactly it all went wrong?  Remember when Congress was debating the stimulus package last year?  Remember when the stimulus package was on life support and Democrats started cutting last-minute deals with Republicans?  Guess what fell victim to that deal-making.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Good morning.  We have a deal they say.  Late-night brokering leads to an agreement in principle on President Obama‘s economic stimulus plan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Good morning, Lester.  The biggest cuts in this deal that‘s trimmed the package by $100 billion comes in money to states to help them with their budget shortfalls.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MADDOW:  Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding.  Republicans and conservadems fought to get tens of billions of dollars of money for states taken out of the stimulus package.

In order to try to get conservative votes, Democrats gave up what would have actually made the economy better and now, we are paying the price for it.  Democrats watered down the stimulus.  They literally made it less stimulative.  They made it less effective.

And the result—is that they are still getting nailed for having spent all that money on the stimulus, but the stimulus isn‘t actually doing as much as it should.  So, they‘re getting nailed again for not having much to show for what they spent.  So, they get hit for spending the money and they get hit for the fact that it didn‘t have the necessary affect.

Since then, Democrats have tried to make up for it with a stand-alone state aid bill that Republicans decided delay it for weeks.  That bill has now passed the Senate.  But with a quarter of a million state and local jobs already gone and a quarter million more on the way to being gone, frankly, the damage is already done.  And, of course, the worse off Americans are, the better for Republicans politically.

Here‘s how Matt Yglesias at “Think Progress” put it today.  Quote, “The losses came from the public sector.  And they were foreseeable.  And they were foreseen by the president of the United States and the speaker of the House of Representatives and the majority leader of the United States Senate and the majority of House Members and a majority of senators.

But because in the Senate, a minority of members can get their way, action wasn‘t taken.  Consequently, we have a horrible jobs number.  Which would be bad enough, but the way the American political system works, the minority party that prevented the majority from addressing the crisis will accrue massive political benefits as a result of the collapse.”

Memo to Democrats: Republicans are going to attack you no matter what you do.  If you accept that truth, just get Zen about it.  You are a duck.  Be a duck, roll off.  Be a duck, roll off.

If you just accept that and you do not try to pointlessly shield yourself from criticism that‘s going to come anyway, you don‘t try to pointlessly shield yourself from the criticism by making your actions less effective, but instead, you actually take great care to make sure that your actions are effective, then you not only stand a better chance at winning the political argument, you also stand a better chance of helping the country out of what really are quite dire straits.

Joining us now is Ezra Klein, staff writer for “The Washington Post” and MSNBC contributor.

Ezra, thank you for letting me ruin part of your Friday night.  Nice to see you.

EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Happy to do it, Rachel.

MADDOW:  What do you think this latest jobs report would have looked like had the stimulus been more focused on aid to local and state governments?

KLEIN:  It probably would have looked a bit better.  I mean, one thing we should say, the big hit in the jobs report wasn‘t just state and local jobs.  I think we lost some 40,000 normal government jobs.  It was Census jobs, right?  A hundred forty thousand of those expired.

So—and this, I think, is a very important point because a job is a job is a job is a job.  If you ask a firefighter or even a temporary Census worker, are you employed?  They don‘t say, well, I‘m employed by the government.  They say I am employed.

And so, what we need right now is continuing money.  It isn‘t even just the stimulus money we have at the beginning.  It‘s fine, if you can‘t get everything you need to get then, you say listen, we‘re all in this together.  The Republicans will surely help us out if it turns out that, you know, this isn‘t enough and we need to keep helping people pass 2010.

Fine.  You could do more extensions now.  But they‘re not really being able to do that.  They got a little bit of money, and they had to cut food stamps for last week.

So, now, we‘re in this position where we could stop these job losses.  In the private sector, the stuff we can‘t control that well, we‘re gaining jobs.  The public sector, which with we can control, we‘re losing them.  We could stop that and we—and by “we” I mean Republicans in the United States Senate and Ben Nelson—are choosing not to.

MADDOW:  Is there anything that would make a real impact on job numbers that Republicans are willing to support?  Obviously, we know they‘re willing to support tax cuts.  We know that tax cuts are remarkably un-stimulative when you compare them with different kinds of government spending, different allocations of resources.

Is there anything?  They keep saying jobs are their priority.  Have they shown a willingness to embrace anything that would make a dent on jobs?

KLEIN:  I would even go further than that.  I would say that they‘re not really willing to support tax cuts, right?  They‘re willing to support the Bush tax cuts, and the Bush tax cuts were not designed to stimulate the economy.  But the Republicans have taken sort of an infomercial approach to them, and now, they slice and they dice and they choose and they‘re great for lowering taxes and stimulating the economy and they pay for themselves.

There are tax cuts a lot of Democrats would support that would do a lot for the economy, a payroll tax holiday.  That would go to the people who need it and we give them money to spend—a large credit for businesses to hire.  That would push their hiring forward and make it cheaper for them to hire each employee.

I think a lot of folks would be willing to vote for that.  But Republicans aren‘t there for it.  And you can look to a lot of reasons, but I think the central one is, is they can‘t give the Democrats very big accomplishments right before an election.  And so, they find a lot of reasons, sincerely or not, to decide they‘re a bad idea.

They for the Bush tax cuts which don‘t really work for what we need right now.  But they have not to my knowledge really come around with an alternative jobs agenda.  And I think a lot of people have been surprised by that.  A lot of people have been surprised by their willingness to do this in the face of 10 percent unemployment.

MADDOW:  A lot of people, a lot of smart people, I think, have been saying that what Democrats ought to be focusing on for the midterms is not just making it clear that it‘s not just a referendum on President Obama and the Democrats.  It‘s a choice between Democrats and Republicans making it clear what the Republican ideas are.  There‘s that part of it.

But the other part of it, the advice that they‘re getting is talk about the economy, talk about jobs.  That‘s all Americans really want to hear about.

But what can be the Democratic message on jobs heading into November?  “We tried, but couldn‘t do it because of the Republicans”?  “The Republicans‘ ideas would make everything that‘s bad now even worse”?  What can they conceivably run on?

KLEIN:  I mean, the difficulty for them is they have to run on “it didn‘t get even worse,” right?  We didn‘t fall into the abyss.  We didn‘t go into a depression.  Unemployment is 10 percent and not 13 percent.

And, of course, because America—it‘s not visceral to people that it could have been so much worse.  That doesn‘t work out so well for them.

In the Matt Yglesias‘ post you read, it had a final sentence.  It said that what you‘re seeing here is the political logic of our system breaking down.  You are seeing people being blamed for outcomes they did not create.  You are seeing the majority get blamed for what it has tried to do and been blocked to do by the minority, which, in turn, blames them for their failure to do it.

It is a remarkable problem because it reduces Democratic accountability in the system.  If the voters who don‘t pay attention to the ins and outs of this, don‘t pay attention to congressional procedure, don‘t really realize that, in fact, 59 Democrats voted for this, but you needed 60, and they didn‘t quite have that.  They blame the Democrats for not getting those jobs movement.  They blame the Democrats for not getting the legislation done because the Democrats are in charge.

But functionally, at this point, with 59 senators, whatever they have, and a unified Republican Party against a real significant further stimulus, the Democrats are no longer in charge.  They‘re just the guys you still blame.

MADDOW:  Ezra Klein, staff writer for “The Washington Post” and MSNBC contributor—thanks to your time tonight.  We haven‘t been talking about the filibuster for a while, but I think we‘re going to have to get back to it pretty soon.  Thanks, Ezra.

KLEIN:  We always do.  Thank you.

MADDOW:  Yes, exactly.

All right.  So, are you familiar with Tea Party rock?

(MUSIC)

MADDOW:  That, Sharron Angle, and the National Doctors Tea Party next. 

The hits just keep on coming, people.  Thank you.

Later on, also, FOX News‘ Bill O‘Reilly accuses me of paranoid, dishonest rants.  A fully secure, verifiably true rebuttal would seem to be in order.  That is coming up, Your Excellency.  Your Excellency.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Mr. Bill O‘Reilly says that I attacked FOX News Channel‘s scare white people stories, quote, “without a shred of evidence.”  Actually, it turns out I do have shreds.  I have lots and lots of shreds. 

Shreds galore—coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  We have a follow-up for you tonight.  Earlier this week, we hosted on this show a Tea Party fife and drum duo who had broken up over differences about relative political purism—a fight between them over who really believed in liberty and who was a sell-out broke the two up, but they did reunite to play on our show, which made me very happy.  I said on the show that if they would have a beer together in the interest of reconciliation, I would pick up the tab.

It turns out they did have reconciliation coffee instead of reconciliation beer.  My offer to pay still stands.  And we, of course, really do wish them all the best.

Apparently, though, that was just the start for us, because it seems to have turned out to be Tea Party music week here at THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW.  We now also need to introduce you to Ricky lee Jackson.  Ricky Lee Jackson, another big musical sensation in the Tea Party Movement, he will be doing a special performance at an event tomorrow in San Diego—an event that is being headlined by Sharron Angle.

For those of you in San Diego, if you‘re thinking of turning out for the National Doctors Tea Party tomorrow afternoon, you are in for a musical treat.

Now, Mr. Jackson has posted his music online, but no video, unfortunately.  That said, we did catch Kent Jones rocking out to the latest Ricky lee Jackson Tea Party mega-hit earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MUSIC:  We‘re going to have a par-tea, yes, yes, P-A-R-T-E-A.  Boston got it started, a party on a boat, they had enough of tyranny, tax without a vote.  The Americans love our tea, best that‘s plain to see, we all win with liberty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  There you are, San Diego.  You too, like Kent, can rock out to the infectious melody of “We‘re Going to Have a Par-Tea.”  Get it—tea?

And you can meet Sharron Angle all at the same time at the National Doctors Tea Party sponsored by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which sounds innocuous, right?  But you might remember that group from the health reform fight.  They are the ones out protesting health reform in white coats at tea parties.  They were also behind some of the most incredible moments in anti-health reform politics of all last year.

Do you remember the anti-health reform neurosurgeon from Florida who mass-emailed the picture PhotoShopped to make President Obama look like a, I guess, communist witch doctor with a bone through his nose?  That guy was from the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.

Now, remember when Lou Dobbs got caught blaming an imaginary outbreak of leprosy on illegal immigrants?  Lou Dobbs got that story from the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.

“Mother Jones” did a report on the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons late last year, noting that the group‘s statement of principles declares that it is evil and immoral for physicians to participate in Medicare and Medicaid.  Evil?  The group‘s Web site also claims that tobacco taxes harm public health and electronic medical records are a form of data control—like that employed by the East German secret police.

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons has also pushed the conspiracy theory that HIV does not cause AIDS.  So, if you‘re HIV-positive, make sure you don‘t take the drugs that might save your life.

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons has also published their theory about how Barack Obama was elected president—by deliberately using the techniques of neurolinguistic programming, a covert form of hypnosis.

Who did Barack Obama hypnotize with his magical oratory and devoting for him?  According to this group, “young people and highly educated people -- both considered to be especially susceptible to hypnosis.”

The group also says it is, and I quote, “very interesting that many Jews respect supporting Obama.”

That, America, is the innocuous-sounding Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.  It‘s like renaming E. coli “Timmy” in the hopes that it seems less threatening that way.

All of the super creepy stuff about the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons has been known about this group since at least the health reform debate.  All these stories about them have been publicized.  These facts about this group have been nationally broadcast.

And yet, Sharron Angle, the Republican Party‘s nominee for the United States Senate from the great state of Nevada, is teaming up with these guys.  She is headlining their big event in San Diego tomorrow.  Wacky even for Sharron Angle, I think.

Joining us now is Jon Ralston, columnist for the “Las Vegas Sun” and host of “Face-to-Face with Jon Ralston.”

Jon, thanks very much for being here.

JON RALSTON, LAS VEGAS SUN:  Hi, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Is this wacky even for Sharron Angle, or have my senses been dulled?

RALSTON:  Well, I want to make sure, first, that your viewers know that I‘m not going to be susceptible to any of your covert hypnosis tonight, Rachel.

MADDOW:  I don‘t know what you mean, Jon.

RALSON:  But I will say that when I saw some of this stuff on the Web site and I saw the evil and immoral Medicare, and I saw abortion can cause breast cancer—I have to tell you it may seem a little bit wacky to you, but it‘s right in the mainstream of Sharron Angle‘s beliefs.

MADDOW:  Nationally, Sharron Angle has become sort of everybody‘s favorite wingnut.  She‘s kind of becoming the mascot for this election for people who think that Republicans have been pushed really far-right.  It‘s almost like she‘d be funny if it wasn‘t feasible that she really could be the next senator from Nevada.

But how is she playing in state right now?  Is Nevada also feeling the way that the rest of the country is feeling about her?

RALSTON:  Well, I think Nevada is witnessing the peeling of the Sharron Angle onion, and there is some crying going on.  But most of the crying is going on inside the Sharron Angle campaign and among Republicans, because what‘s really happened now, Rachel, is you‘ve seen the polls close.  She was ahead by double digits or close to it at the primary on June 8th, and now, the race is leaning towards Reid.

So, you can see that a lot of independents, about 15 percent, 16 percent of the voters here, independents, are doing—a wait a minute, wait a minute, who is this woman kind of take after I think being pretty dead set against Harry Reid.

MADDOW:  Jon, I know that you were behind some of the other big disclosures about Sharron Angle this week, including a statement that she would not take money from a company that had pro-gay policies towards its own employees.  What was that all about?

RALSTON:  That is really bizarre, too.  It came out after I posted an interview she had done with TruNews Christian Radio and when she talked about government now violating the first commandment because it‘s become a false god with all these entitlements built up.  I won‘t even try to explain that one.

But in that same interview, she talked about being endorsed by a PAC called Government Is Not God.  That PAC has a questionnaire which Mike Blood of the “A.P.” in Los Angeles got ahold of, and what Sharron Angle checked off that she would not take money from corporations that support gay rights, including a specific corporation, Intel, because that‘s the company that supports gay rights and has domestic partner benefits.

I found out today, by the way, Rachel, that Intel actually has contributed $30,000 to this cycle to the National Republican Senatorial Committee which is all in for Angle.  So, I don‘t know.  Some of that gay-loving money could are have trickled into Nevada.  It could be very dangerous for Sharron Angle.

MADDOW:  We will put in a call to Sharron Angle‘s campaign.  She will not return it, but we‘ll ask her if she will return NRSC money as long as they got that dirty gay-loving money in their coffers.

Well, one last question for you, Jon.  She started off here, running away from reporters.  She had that crazy with a K Web site comments about conservatives using guns to get their way if they didn‘t get their way in the elections.  That‘s how she started off.  And we keep hearing that she‘s being made over and made more moderate and all these things.

Is she getting better at presenting herself?  Is she getting better at presenting herself as a more moderate candidate?

RALSTON:  I don‘t think she‘s getting better presenting herself as a more moderate candidate, Rachel.  I think she‘s getting better at delivering message points and just staying on them, and what are those message points.

Message points, very simple: the economy is terrible.  It‘s all Harry Reid‘s fault.  Blame Harry Reid.  Don‘t listen to anything that I‘m saying or I have said about my positions on God and government and getting rid of Medicare and privatizing Social Security.  Just remember, it‘s all about Harry Reid and the economy.

She is staying on those message points.  And I have tell you, Rachel, the race here is still close because that message is resonating, and you have Karl Rove‘s group, American Crossroads, running some ads.  Sharron Angle now having enough money to run some ads.

Well, that‘s the only message: the economy is Nevada is terrible, 14 percent unemployment, foreclosure capital of the world.  It‘s Harry Reid‘s fault.

That is what she is trying to do.  That‘s what she‘s been told to do. 

So far, at least, she‘s executing that fairly well.

MADDOW:  Then again, she is going to the Doctors Tea Party with the bone through the nose guys tomorrow in San Diego.  So, we‘ll see how that all goes.

Jon Ralston, columnist for the “Las Vegas Sun,” host of “Face-to-Face with Jon Ralston” and an invaluable source for us—thanks so much, Jon.  We really appreciate it.

RALSTON:  Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW:  So, it turns out that a host at the FOX News Channel named Bill O‘Reilly does not like it when I point out that FOX News has a habit of hyping specious stories to scare white people.  Coming up: I will show you that FOX News and Bill O‘Reilly, in particular, have a habit of hyping specious stories to scare white people.  I‘m suspecting that he will call me a loon again, if I‘m lucky.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIRMAN:  This is not complicated.  Fire Nancy Pelosi.  Retire Harry Reid.

We‘re going win in November, and Nancy Pelosi will be in the back of the bus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  I‘m sorry?  Nancy Pelosi will be in the back of the bus.

Also, she‘ll be in her own special separate bathroom and she‘ll be using her own special separate drinking fountain.  Isn‘t that weird?

The apposition for Republican Party chairman Michael Steele‘s latest tragically butchered metaphor was today‘s big RNC meeting in Kansas City.  In his eagerly-awaited chairman‘s remarks, Mr. Steele announced it that a fire Pelosi bus tour, the one where she has to go to the back of the bus - that will be coming to your town this fall.  He punctuated the announcement with a hat stunt. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL STEELE, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE:  So since I don‘t have a Blago hairdo problem, I‘m wearing the hat and I‘m wearing it proud.  And I want to you wear the hat, too. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Now, I am more partial than most people to hat stunts.  I love hat stunts.  In fact, we probably overdo it when comes to hat stunts on this show.  I will admit it.  But you know, this show is all that I‘m in charge of.  Michael Steele technically runs the Republican Party and, still, he cannot stop with the hats. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEELE:  I look at it this way.  The four of us are, let‘s say, for the sake of this example, all wearing a hat that says “GOP,” all right?  You‘re from the west.  You‘re from the Midwest.  You‘re from the south. 

I‘m from the northeast. 

You wear your hat one way you like to wear it, you know, kind of cocked to the left.  Yes, that‘s cool out west.  In the Midwest, you guys like to wear a little bit to the right.  In the south, you guys wear the brim straight ahead.  The northeast, I wear my hat backwards, you know.  That‘s how we roll in the northeast. 

But what do you recognize?  We all are wearing a hat that says “GOP,” because that‘s what we believe.  That‘s who we are. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  You know, it doesn‘t lose anything with the passage of time.  Because that imaginary hat stunt went over so well on MSNBC‘s “Morning Joe” - Mika Brzezinski‘s facial expression is completely priceless in that clip.

Mr. Steele later tried an extended remix of the hat metaphor in a sad, sad meeting we broadcast part of between him and a bunch of college Republicans. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEELE:  What do they have in common?  They‘re all wearing the same hat.  Barack Obama has asked your generation to wear his hat, the hat of one man. 

MADDOW:  The hat of one man. 

STEELE:  I‘m asking you to go out and ask your friends to wear our hat, the hat of an idea. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  The hat of an idea.  Also, imaginary hat.  Chairman Steele, I have to ask.  I do not know who is advising you on that‘s matters, but whoever it is on your staff who may be counseling you away from the hats, those people are bright people. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEELE:  Some of our staff were concerned that these hats might make us look a little undignified, but I think the message says it all - fire Nancy Pelosi.

(END VIDEO CLIP)  

MADDOW:  The people telling you to stop doing the hat stunts in public are trying to help you.  They are only trying to help you. 

Joining us now is former DNC chairman and governor of Vermont, Howard Dean.  Good evening, governor.  No hat, I see. 

FMR. GOV. HOWARD DEAN (D-VT), FORMER CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL

COMMITTEE:  If the hat fits, wear it, right? 

MADDOW:  Amazing.  A Democratic spokesman today responded Mr. Steele today by saying Democrats were planning to launch a “Don‘t fire Michael Steele tour,” the idea being that Mr. Steele, particularly at things like fundraising has been a disaster for the RNC, so he has been good for Democrats.  Do you see it that way?  Do you think that he actually has been trouble for Republicans? 

DEAN:  I think he is now.  I was sort of his defender for a while because he was doing some things that the inside - the beltway Republicans wouldn‘t do.  But at this point, he really has become a distraction. 

Even the “fire the speaker” is not really going to get Republicans elected.  The fundamental problem with Republicans is for two years, they‘ve had one message, and that‘s no.  That‘s just not good enough. 

And it‘s really almost too late for them to put together a platform that anybody is going to take seriously.  Their platform has just been no.  No to unemployed people.  No to people who need health care.  No to teachers and police officers that would have been fired if it hadn‘t been for the president‘s jobs bill that just passed. 

So you know, they‘ve got a lot of problems.  And talking about hats and firing people is probably going to rally the base, but it‘s probably not going to get the independent voters who have been scared off by the tea party. 

MADDOW:  Doesn‘t it make sense, though, that Republicans should just be talking about Democrats, that Republicans should be trying to keep attention off of any specific policy ideas that they might have, whether it‘s - whether it‘s Paul Ryan‘s road map in the house, which would privatize social security or Sharon Angle‘s policies running to replace Harry Reid in the Senate, wanting to do a lot of things that we wouldn‘t think of as very American things. 

Doesn‘t it make sense that they would want to make the whole election about Democrats as if Democrats are the sine qua non of the decision that voters have to make? 

DEAN:  Well, yes.  Except there‘s one problem with that, and that‘s in the last two or three weeks the president has gone out and decided to Harry Truman-ize the campaign, which I think is absolutely necessary and brilliant. 

He has been out there saying, look, this is not a referendum on whether the Democrats have done a good job or not.  This is a choice.  Do you want to move forward?  I thought the business with the car was great. 

To move a car forward, you put it in D, and to move backwards, you want it in R.  What could you want?  So this has really become a choice.  And if the president continues to do this, three or four times a week, every week, until the election, we‘re going to win this. 

I was calculating this morning.  I think it‘s possible we might only lose one seat because we are going to lose a bunch of seats for incumbents. 

But I think we have a shot at picking up five seats, including Louisiana, North Carolina, Kentucky and New Hampshire.  And whether Kendrick Meek or Charlie Crist wins in Florida, that is a pickup for us. 

So you know, it‘s a loss for the Republicans.  So you know, I think they‘re in deep trouble.  And I don‘t think that Michael Steele‘s - at this point Michael Steele has become sort of an antic person instead of a substance person. 

MADDOW:  That‘s a remarkable prediction about Democratic prospects. 

That‘s definitely the rosiest prediction I have heard. 

DEAN:  Yes.  Don‘t take it to the bank, but I‘m saying it‘s possible.  You know, it‘s obviously tinged with optimism.  That assumes that Barbara Boxer and Patty Murray will hold their seats.  So it‘s obviously it‘s tinged with some optimism.  But I was use a figure of minus five until this week, and I think we may do better than that. 

MADDOW:  History definitely on the Republican side for the midterms, just in terms of the way the pendulum tends to swing in the first midterm election after a president is elected. 

Is part of the reason that you are feeling more optimistic now because Republicans fundraising and their organizational strategy and the primary process which picked a lot of really very far-right candidates for them, just isn‘t keeping pace with what they ought to be getting historically? 

DEAN:  Well, the fundraising of the RNC isn‘t keeping pace.  But then, you‘ve got, you know, the crossroads group.  And of course, the Citizens United decision, which is a real blow in allowing corporations to become people and buy their interest and their election strategies in Congress even more so than they already have. 

But the fact is, without a message, you can‘t win.  It doesn‘t matter how much money you have.  If all can you do is smear the other side, that‘s not enough especially when we‘ve got the president who does deliver a constructive message. 

MADDOW:  Howard Dean, former DNC chairman, former governor of Vermont. 

Thanks for being here.  A really interesting perspective from you on this. 

DEAN:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  I really appreciate it.  All right.  So I have learned much from FOX News anchor, Bill O‘Reilly.  Like for instance, the difference between ad hominem arguments and ad populum arguments.  And I‘ve also learned how to be object of both kinds of those things at the same time. 

Later on, ad veritas rebuttal to Mr. O‘Reilly.  Please stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Hey, the new Taliban code of conduct is out.  You know what that means.  The old ones are going to be available for half price soon.  This is something that the Taliban appears to have been doing sense at least 2006 when “Newsweek” got a hold of that year‘s version of the rules. 

We know there‘s a NEW one out because a reporter for the Associated Press apparently got one off of a Taliban fighter in the Afghan town of Spin Boldak. 

Now, the booklet is a list of rules the Taliban at least say they want their fighters to abide by as they fight the infidel foreign troops and as they undermine the Afghan government and try to take over Afghanistan again even though most Afghan people really freaking hate them. 

A lot of the rules are things like who you are allowed kill.  There‘s a lot about trying not to hurt civilians, instructions about when it‘s OK to, say, steal a car.  And when you are not allowed steal it, you are only allowed to blow it up. 

Western sources consider the Taliban code of conduct to essentially be better propaganda about how the Taliban would like to be seen than it is a realistic description of how the Taliban really act. 

Now, that said, I don‘t know.  I mean, I don‘t know what the propaganda value of some of these rules in this Taliban rule book could be, which is what I want to talk about with this. 

I mean, take this item from the rule book, for example.  This appeared in last year‘s edition of the booklet.  Quote, “The physical appearance of Mujahideen, e.g. haircut, dress, shoes, et cetera, should be based on Islamic Sharia and matched with local inhabitants.  It will insure their safety as well as residents of the respective village and town.”

Think about that for a second.  They‘re saying if you blend in with the locals, Taliban fighters, that will keep those locals safer while NATO is hunting you down.  Nice sentiment, totally illogical and incoherent, but still. 

There‘s also this one first reported in the Taliban rules from 2006.  Quote, “No person in a position of responsibility is allowed to use jihadi equipment and property for his personal interest.”

In other words, do not abuse your Mujahideen corporate card.  Like I said, some of this stuff is of questionable propaganda value.  But a couple of the Taliban‘s rules, I think, could have value for the people who are fighting against the Taliban. 

Part of the counterterrorism strategy in Afghanistan right now is to, of course, kill Taliban leaders, both for the intrinsic military value for killing them, but also to demoralize low-ranking Taliban foot soldiers so they don‘t ever want to become higher ranking leaders because that‘s, frankly, a really risky job. 

The other approach to the Taliban foot soldiers is reintegration, not just making the Taliban a deadly, no-future kind of job, but also offering incentives for Taliban foot soldiers to leave the Taliban. 

President Karzai in Afghanistan recently announced the big reintegration fund to literally pay Taliban fighters to quit, to lure them out of the Taliban with money.  I propose, after reading these rules, that they should also try luring Taliban fighters away with cigarettes, seriously. 

The AP reports this week that the Taliban rules of conduct ban smoking.  All Mujahideen are forbidden from smoking cigarettes.  Also, beards are now mandatory.  Any Mujahideen who does not want to grow a beard, has to get a special exemption from whoever they get a special exemption from, but beards are a must and smoking is verboten. 

No Taliban are allowed to smoke.  This seems like it might have some strategic value even if they‘re dressing to blend in with the locals, the newly not-allowed-to-smoke, forced-to-have-a-beard Taliban guys.  When you think about it, they‘ll be the ones who are armed and dangerous, but also irritable, maybe putting on a little weight.  They‘ll have itchy necks. 

Think how susceptible they might be to persuasion in that state.  My friend, you don‘t really want to be in the Taliban anymore, do you?  Can I offer you a cigarette?  Are you itchy and hot?  Is your Mujahideen skin irritated by your forced facial hair?  How about some fancy razors, fancy after shave, soothing skin products for post-beard softness. 

And if you are not ready to commit but annoyed enough by these rules that you are thinking about creature comforts offered by the world beyond little nihilist death cult, consider nicotine gum? 

If you‘re not ready to shave yet, perhaps maybe a little manly touch-up of that beard that‘s so hot this time of year?  Wouldn‘t you love to shave it?  What do you think, NATO?  Soft power.  Persuasion.  We can make more of these gift baskets.  Call us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  He takes to his nationally syndicated column to denounce me as paranoid and dishonest.  A hopefully enjoyable pong to Mr. O‘Reilly‘s latest ping coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Russia is on fire.  There are more than 800 wildfires burning in Russia right now.  At least 52 people have died.  More than 3,500 people have been burned out of their homes.  It‘s the deadliest spate of wildfires Russia has seen in 40 years. 

More than 160,000 firefighters have been called up to fight them.  Right now, the air in Moscow is so thick with smoke, it‘s too dangerous for many people to go outside.  If that‘s not reason enough to put a mask on, officials are saying they‘re now worried that forests near the red hot nuclear wasteland of Chernobyl may burn. 

They say that the trees near Chernobyl that have soaked up nuclear contaminants like cesium and strontium for the past 40 - excuse me, 20 years, those forests could, if they burn, release those radioactive contaminants back into the air. 

Russia is also reportedly moving some nuclear weapons sites out of the way of the raging, out-of-control inferno.  But remember, nukes are safe now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  When you argue against someone by calling that person names or by saying that the person you‘re arguing with is a bad person, that‘s called argumentum ad hominem.  It is to cast judgment on a person‘s argument by casting judgment on the person making the argument.  Here‘s a perfect example. 

TEXT:  How can you know the plan is right?  Rachel Maddow thinks it‘s wrong. 

MADDOW:  Argumentum ad hominem.  It is a fallacy.  It‘s not actually arguing the point.  It‘s avoiding the point to be insulting instead.  Here‘s a different type of logical fallacy. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(on camera): It‘s not new.  It‘s actually not even interesting about this scandal.  Fox does what Fox does. 

BILL O‘REILLY, HOST, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”:  Which is kick your network‘s butt every single night, madam. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  When I responded to that on the air, I put up a graphic that said argumentum ad hominem.  But that‘s not right, actually.  I got a really nice note from a PhD in the English department at Tulane, pointing out that actually, by saying I was wrong because more people watch his show, that wasn‘t an ad hominem attack.  It was an argumentum ad populum. 

Isn‘t that awesome?  It‘s another logical fallacy.  Instead of avoiding the point by insulting me directly, it‘s avoiding the point by saying his position must be correct because more people believe it to be correct. 

If many believe so, it is so - argumentum ad populum.  Classical logical fallacy.  I‘m sorry for having mislabeled it before.  But now, Mr.  O‘Reilly is eliminating the need for such precision because he is still going after me.  But now, he is calling me names and he is saying he‘s right because of his ratings again.  So he‘s both ad hominem and ad populum all at once. 

This time, the case against me is in his nationally syndicated column which I‘m sure is read by millions and millions and millions and millions and millions of people.  The headline is, quote, “Only far-left loons scared of Fox News.”  Guess who the loon is? 

Yes.  Talking about me on David Letterman‘s show this week, Mr.  O‘Reilly says, quote, “Speaking with far-left MSNBC news commentator, Rachel Maddow on his program, Dave listened as she put forth the preposterous theory that Fox News wants to frighten white Americans by reporting negatively about black Americans.” 

“In the past, paranoid, dishonest rants like that would have been dismissed as fringe-speak.  But not anymore.  Without a shred of evidence, a guest on Letterman‘s “Late Show,” which by the way, gets trounced in the ratings by Fox News Channel every night, defines an entire news organization as a racist enterprise and Letterman goes along.” 

Mr. O‘Reilly‘s repeated insistence that Fox News must be right because Fox has high ratings is a many-splendored thing particularly because this week - if you believe Mr. O‘Reilly, this week means we‘re all wrong and only sharksploitation(ph) is right. 

But there is something else going on here that isn‘t just an ad populum fallacy about ratings or an ad hominem collateral swipe at the lovely creature that is the loon.  It is something stupid, something stupid enough that it doesn‘t even get dressed up in Latin phrasing. 

It‘s him saying that there‘s no evidence to back up my claim that Fox News consistently runs stories it says are news, but that nobody else really covers, stories that are ginned-up, exaggerated, caricatured, in some cases, just flat-out made-up scare stories designed to make white people feel afraid of black people, designed to make it seem like black people, or in some cases, immigrants are threatening white people and taking what is rightfully theirs. 

You may not like that diagnosis of what Fox has been up to, but to say there‘s no evidence, not a shred of evidence, as he said, that‘s bull-pucky. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O‘REILLY:  Speaking at an NAACP event in March, Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod was caught on tape saying something very disturbing.  Seems a white farmer in Georgia had requested government assistance from Ms. Sherrod.  Wow.  Well, that is simply unacceptable and Ms. Sherrod must resign immediately. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Of course, the Shirley Sherrod story ended up being exposed as total bull-pucky, manufactured by nifty video editing.  Mr. O‘Reilly had to apologize for that statement.  But it‘s not like the Shirley Sherrod story stands alone. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O‘REILLY:  The collapse of ACORN - that is the subject of this evening‘s “Talking Points Memo.”  Here‘s the latest scandal.  You‘re not going to believe it.  Because federal authorities have not done much policing of ACORN, two private citizens, James O‘Keefe and Hannah Giles, launch an undercover sting investigation themselves. 

The two pose as a prostitute and a pimp and asked a number of ACORN officials to help them get housing for a prostitution enterprise.  The latest sting was in California, where an ACORN employee engaged the young woman posing as a prostitute. 

ACORN is a tax-exempt organization that should immediately lose that status.  And Attorney General Holder should begin an intense investigation. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Of course, the ACORN story ended up being exposed as total bull-pucky, too, also manufactured by nifty video editing.  Remember after the California attorney general looked into the full tapes and then arrested all those ACORN folks for those crimes that Bill O‘Reilly showed them committing on tape? 

Yes, you don‘t remember that?  Me, neither, because it never happened.  Bull-pucky again.  But still, very scary. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O‘REILLY:  A guy like Van Jones who is a friend of the president, and he comes in and he‘s a hardcore Marxist. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He‘s not a hardcore Marxist. 

O‘REILLY:  He is.  He admits it.  All I keep hearing is from people like Eugene Robinson who traffics in racism every time you turn around. 

White Americans don‘t like the huge expansion of the federal government.  They also oppose the big spending increases that the president has imposed.  It‘s simple.  White Americans fear government control.  They don‘t want the feds telling them what to do and they don‘t want a bankrupt nation. 

For decades, African-Americans have supported a bigger federal government so it can impose social justice.  The vast majority of blacks want money spent to level the playing field, to redistribute income from the white establishment to their precincts. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Black people want white people‘s money.  They want to redistribute income from the white establishment to their precincts.  But remember, Mr. O‘Reilly says there is not a shred of evidence that Fox News hypes stories about scary black people taking white people‘s stuff. 

I am not interested in playing cable news insult ping pong with Mr. O‘Reilly.  But as much as he keeps insisting that I‘m no one worth arguing with, that I‘m an uber-leftist - he called me that in his column, and a loon twice now.

And a slightly larger percentage of one percent of the population watches his show than the proportion of one percent of the population that watches my show, for all he complains about how unimportant I am, my criticism that Fox news scares white people on purpose to politically benefit conservatives, damn the consequences for the country, that criticism appears to have struck a nerve over at Fox.  It appears to have gotten under Mr. O‘Reilly‘s skin.  Good.

That does it for us tonight.  See you back here on Monday.  Have a great weekend.  Good night.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

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