updated 9/20/2010 11:54:49 AM ET 2010-09-20T15:54:49

Guests: Elizabeth Warren, Frank Schaeffer, Wayne Besen

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  Good evening, Keith.  Thank you for that.  Have a good weekend.

KEITH OLBERMANN, “COUNTDOWN” HOST:   You, too.

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

Today was a day in politics for conservatives to let their freak flag fly.  The Values Voters Summit, the first post-primary win D.C. appearance for would-be Sarah Palin 2.0, Christine O‘Donnell.

Plus, a window opening wide on to the “gay people can be cured” activism of Ms. O‘Donnell.

All that coming up this hour.

Plus, a piece of tape that convulsed THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW newsroom today for an entire hour, and left us all unable to work, talk or in some cases, breathe like humans are supposed to breathe.

That is all coming up over the course of this Friday night show.

But we begin with what will be the deciding factor in this year‘s elections, the one issue that is most likely to determine which party controls Congress next year.  For all there is to love and hate and obsess about in politics, the determinative truth looming over any predictions about elections is that in the end, the economy basically determines what happens on Election Day.  Bad economy, party in charge loses.

Add that to the other truism of midterm elections that the party in charge also loses in the first election for a new president, and the Democrats know they‘ve got to swim hard upstream if they do not want this current to wash them away this year.  They have got to try to mitigate the forces against them this year.  And their only hope of doing that is by trying to turn the economy around, obviously—and simultaneously, trying to embody and share some of the populist anger out there about the economy, to turn it against the other guys so that anger doesn‘t all get directed at them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  They want to take Congress back and return to the days where lobbyists broke the laws.  It is the most insidious power grab since the monopolies of the gilded age.  They want to keep the public in the dark.  They want to serve the special interests that served them so well over the last 19 months.  We will not let them.  We are not about to allow a corporate takeover of our democracy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  A corporate takeover of our democracy—President Obama‘s message at a fundraiser last night for Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal in Connecticut.  Echoes of that also when I talked with Vice President Biden earlier this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I‘m ready for this

fight.  I say, look, the choice is clear.  I want Republican so and so,

congressman so and so, explain to the people in his district who lost their

job through no fault of their own because of the financial chicanery of

Wall Street, because of this Ponzi scheme they had masquerading as a policy

tell them why they should not get unemployment insurance.  I want this fight.  I want this fight.

           

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  The president and the vice president on message for the election now, on the economy, conveying the message that they are with the American people, that they share in the justifiable anger over the economy, and that they are the ones trying hardest to fix it right now against the other side who wants the opposite.  That is the Democrats ‘campaign message.

Then, today, the Obama administration took the biggest step it could take toward making that campaign message both seem true and be true.  Today, the president named Elizabeth Warren as a special adviser to set up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Here‘s why Elizabeth Warren‘s appointment is so important.  For starters, for the left and for the angry middle, this is intended to lay to rest doubts about whose side the Obama administration is on, Wall Street‘s or Main Street‘s.  Elizabeth Warren‘s entire career has been about exalting Main Street‘s cause and standing up to Wall Street to do it.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau she will be starting up is her brain child.  She laid it out in an article for the journal “Democracy” in 2007, arguing, quote, “It is impossible to buy a toaster that has a one-in-five chance of bursting into flames and burning down your house.  But it is possible to refinance an existing home with a mortgage that has the same one-in-five chance of putting the family out on the street and the mortgage won‘t even carry a disclosure of that fact to the homeowner. Similarly, it‘s impossible to change the price on a toaster once it has been purchased.  But long after the papers have been signed, it is possible to triple the price of the credit used to finance the purchase of that appliance, even if the customer meets all the credit terms in full and on time.”

And while it is all about policy and whether or not regular working people really do have a powerful ally in their government against the corporations that rip regular working people off, it‘s also about communicating that fact.  And there is probably only one person in the country who can talk to individual American families about advocating for their own interests, probably only one person in the country who does that better than the communicator-in-chief—and that person is Elizabeth Warren.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELIZABETH WARREN, ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT:  I want a two-page credit card agreement in big print and plain words.  I want something that will tell me what this is going to cost, and I don‘t want to have to wonder if somewhere in the fine print, the interest rates can triple, or if the $29 fee here and the $49 fee there mean that my free card in fact costs me about $300 a year on average.

I want a two-page mortgage, plain words.  I want a car loan that doesn‘t have a hidden kickback to the dealer like the average kickback now on a used car loan that runs between $1,000 and $3,800.

Look, I expect to pay for what I get.  But I don‘t expect to be tricked and trapped into paying what I didn‘t bargain for, because that‘s how contracts work and that‘s how markets work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Listen, in political terms, liberals have been pushing for Elizabeth Warren‘s appointment and liberals are excited about it now.  But that is for a reason.

Elizabeth Warren joins us now from Washington.  She is the newly-appointed assistant to the president and special adviser to the secretary of the treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Professor Warren, congratulations.  Nice to see you again.

WARREN:  Thank you.  It‘s good to see you.

MADDOW:  A year ago, I know that Congressman Barney Frank was among those who told you that a consumer protection agency like this was a pipe dream.  It had no chance of becoming law.  What has between then and that moment today when you were standing in the Rose Garden charged with making this a reality?

WARREN:  What happened between then and now is a lot of American people said, you know, “We‘ve had enough of this.”  I‘ve been out there.  I‘ve talked.  And so have lots and lots and lots of other people.

I appreciate the kind words, but this has been everywhere.  This has been the small community groups.  This has been the AFL out there working on this, the SEIU.

All over America, a lot of groups said, this is an issue we care about, and we care about it because it affects us.  It affects our neighbors.  It affects our families.

They got behind it, and they are the ones who put the wind in the sails of this bill.  And that‘s how we ended up in the Rose Garden today.

MADDOW:  Does it—does it worry you, does it weigh on you how much faith people have in you personally to be able to communicate Main Street concerns in a way that can compete with Wall Street concerns?

WARREN:  Of course, it does.  You know, all I can do is the best I can.  But at the end of the day, what this is really about isn‘t about me.  I mean, I will do my best.  I will get out there.  I will talk about this.

But you‘ve got to remember the real power here is not at the top.  This is—this is lots of people—lots of people who came together and said, “Enough of this.  We‘re not going to do this anymore.”

You know, the reason Barney Frank said this is a pipe dream is he said the lobbyists always win.  I think that‘s what happens in this town.  I was told that over and over and over.  All the money is on one side—and in my view, all the hurting was on the other side.

I think that the consumer agency is about our trying to change that around and actually having some success doing it.

MADDOW:  When you first proposed this consumer watchdog agency in 2007, you tied the exorbitant fees middle class Americans are paying to their credit cards.  You tied that to the health of the economy.  It‘s a substantial amount of money and it‘s money you explain that Americans are not spending on clothes and cars and groceries and stuff that stimulates the economy.

Do you see the creation of the CFPB as important not just in terms of fairness but for the overall health of the economy?

WARREN:  Oh, absolutely, in multiple ways.  So, let‘s just talk about a couple.

The first one is, you know, whatever is the right metaphor you want to use, when you think about families out there, their own boats trying to—trying to make it, you know, trying to make it from here to there.  What credit has become is a big hole in the bottom of the boat—the tricks, the traps, the ways that money is drained out.

And what this agency has the capacity to do is to begin to patch that up so that families have more money.  And when they have more money, they‘re more stable.  They‘re likely to take on obligations that they‘re really going to be able to pay back.  That‘s more money in their hands, more money for haircuts, more money to buy goods, more money to buy services, more money in the economy and more stability.

It also means that the idea of trading in those credit products, you know, those mortgages we all are familiar with those—but there are others as well that we‘re going to promise those grotesque profits.  The idea of trading in those, creating the securitization that ultimately crashed this entire economy, we just take that one off the table.  We say, find somebody else to play with.  You can‘t do it with American families.  You can‘t do it with the American economy.

So, this is really about safety for all of us.

MADDOW:  You have—you have created your own bully pulpit by virtue of your own communication skills.  And that was true before you got this appointment.  It now becomes more official, and I think a lot of people who have been fans of yours are heartened today to see you not only here, on a lot—doing a lot of other media today, hoping that you‘ll become a much more public force and public face on this issue even than you have been already.  I know that your priority must be this agency, protecting people from predation and the other types of reforms that you just described.

But are there other policy agenda items that you think would make a huge difference in terms of how middle class working families are going to be able to survive this recession?

WARREN:  Yes, ma‘am.  Do keep in mind, the president asked me to wear two hats—not just one.  And you know how important this agency is to me and how much time and blood I‘ll pour into it.  But at the same time, he has asked me to be an assistant to the president, to talk directly with him, to talk directly with his team about middle class economic issues and be part of their conversation on this.

So, I think the answer is I‘ve got a foot in the door now and I want to talk, because I know these are important issues to the president, to the president‘s team, and I—I want to be in that room and see if I can be helpful on a range of issues.

MADDOW:  Well, for a person who—I feel like at the age of 37, my whole cohort, my whole life and all of my peers has been defined by debt and the new American relationship with debt.  And you‘re the first person in public life right now who I feel like is talking about that in ways that makes sense with my experience and with the experience of all my peers.  So, from that perspective—welcome and we‘re all counting on you and good luck.

WARREN:  Thank you very much.

MADDOW:  Elizabeth Warren, the newly appointed assistant to the president and special adviser to the secretary of the treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

OK.  So, all the Republican presidential hopefuls are lining up for the big conservative Values Voters Summit that‘s under way in Washington.  Which values are we talking about summiting here?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRYAN FISCHER, AMERICAN FAMILY ASSOCIATION:  I would say we should not allow Muslims to serve in the U.S. military.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  In any normal year, running for president means not putting yourself on the same bill as that guy.  This is not a normal year.

Please stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska was beaten in the Republican Senate primary, primary for her own Senate seat this year.  Republican voters instead narrowly picked a far right candidate named Joe Miller to be the Republican candidate for Murkowski‘s seat.

Lisa Murkowski has not taken that loss well.  After refusing to endorse Joe Miller or do any sort of Republican unity events, Murkowski approached David Haase, the libertarian candidate in Alaska, to see if he would give her his line on the ballot so she could try to retain her seat but as a libertarian.  Haase and the libertarian said no.

Then two days ago, Murkowski‘s office said she would decide by today whether to run a write-in campaign for her own seat.  Here it is Friday, but the four-hour time difference between the East Coast and Anchorage means we don‘t officially yet know the answer.  That said, there are reports this hour that when the Alaska Republican senator reveals her big decision tonight, she will be announcing that she‘s going to run for re-election as a write-in.  That means her name will not be printed on the ballot but she‘ll try to get Alaskans to vote for her anyway by spelling out L-I-S-A M-U-R-K-O-W-S-K-I—remember the “I”—when they go to vote.

Now, this might be great news for the Democratic nominee for Senate, Scott McAdams.  If all the other candidates are likely to split the center right and far right vote, that could pave the way for McAdams to win.  Possible.  Except Nate Silver of the “FiveThirtyEight” blog at the “New York Times,” someone who crunches the numbers on these things better than anybody, reports tonight even as a write-in candidate, L-I-S-A M-U-R-K-O-W-S-K-I, might still have a good shot to win this thing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RET. GEN. CARL MUNDY, U.S. MARINE CORPS:  In the military skills, we find that the minority officers do not shoot as well as the non-minorities.  Now, how do you rationalize?  I don‘t know.  I can‘t explain that to you, but we‘re going to find out.

They don‘t swim as well.  And when you give them a compass and send them across the terrain at night in a land navigation exercise, they don‘t do as well at that sort of thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  That was former U.S. Marine Corps General Carl Mundy, making the case on “60 Minutes” back in 1993 that the reason minorities were not advancing within the Marine Corps was because minorities can‘t swim.  Also, they don‘t shoot as well as white people.  Minorities aren‘t as good at directions as white people are.

So, naturally with General Mundy as the commandant of the Marine Corps, the Marines aren‘t going to have many minority officers.  Yes.

Two days after those comments aired on CBS‘ “60 Minutes,” General Mundy apologized.

It was not General Mundy‘s first brush with controversy.  He had previously issued an order banning married people from joining the Marines.  I‘m not sure if that means he also thinks married people can‘t swim.

But General Carl Mundy has not disappeared from public life since all of that.  He was scheduled to speak in fact today in Washington at the conservative Values Voter Summit.  Presumably, he was scheduled to speak because of his, you know, awesome values.

Interestingly, General Mundy was on the schedule to appear to talk about “don‘t ask, don‘t tell.”  But once that panel took the stage, General Mundy was not there.  He did not show up.

You want to know who did show up at today‘s summit, though?  You may remember from this year‘s “Hall of Fame” candidates list, Dale Peterson.  Dale Peterson tried and failed to win the Republican nomination for Alabama‘s agricultural commissioner earlier this year, by starring in one of the best “I‘m laughing at you, not with you” campaign ads of this year‘s election.

Mr. Peterson was given top billing today at the Values Voter Summit and he did not waste his opportunity in the spotlight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DALE PETERSON ®, FMR. AL. AGRICULTURE CMSR. CANDIDATE:  We have an

administration today—I may get arrows and bullets shot at me or

something, I don‘t know—but the thing about that is we got a guy that

hates America.  I‘m just going to go ahead and say it, OK?  So, until we

get rid of Barry or Barack or—I haven‘t seen his little feet on that

birth certificate.  So, I don‘t know, you know, what he is, all right?  But

--

           

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  So, Carl Mundy: black people can‘t shoot.  And Dale Peterson:

Barry, Barack, whatever, let‘s see the birth certificate.  That‘s the Values Voter Summit this year.

Because Carl Mundy was a no-show, we do wait with bated breath to see if this guy is going to show up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

FISCHER:  I would say we should not allow Muslims to serve in the U.S.  military and we have got to raise questions about whether we can afford to allow Muslims to immigrate into the United States at all.

Permits, in my judgment, should not be granted to build even one more mosque in the United States of America, not one.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MADDOW:  Because he‘s a religious freedom guy.

That was a gentleman named Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, scheduled to appear tomorrow at the Values Voter Summit.

You know, it would be one thing if this was just your average conservative movement, the president secretly foreign, black people can‘t swim, I hate Muslims confab.  But the General Mundy, Dale Peterson, Bryan Fischer billing at this event is shared by Governor Tim Pawlenty, Governor Mitt Romney, Governor Mike Huckabee, Congressman Mike Pence—all of these Republicans who want to be seen as mainstream 2012 presidential contenders, all co-billed with, all standing alongside the “deport all the Muslims” guy.

It‘s awkward.  It‘s not quite as awkward as this, though.  You want to know who got a huge rock star welcome today at the Values Voter Summit?  Newly minted Delaware Senate candidate Christine O‘Donnell.  Christine O‘Donnell has this week become an instantaneous big star in the conservative movement.

But here she is in her years as religious right activists.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE O‘DONNELL ®, DELAWARE SENATORIAL CANDIDATE:  I just came back from the Middle East and it was refreshing.  With all that‘s going on, it was refreshing not to be constantly bombarded with smut all the time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All right, Christine.  We‘re going to have to leave it there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  That was Christine O‘Donnell arguing in 2004 on this network that the Middle East is actually a much more refreshing place to be because the way they treat women in the Middle East is much less smutty than the way women are treated in America.  If only we had those anti-smut Middle East values here in America, it would be, in her words, refreshing.

That, Christine O‘Donnell got a rock star welcome today at this event.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

GARY BAUER, FMR. GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We are at war with a group that is getting their inspiration from their religious teachings.

The cause of the violence is an Islamic culture that keeps hundreds of millions of people right on the edge of murder and mayhem 24 hours a day.

There was virtually no Islamic presence in America until just a few decades ago.  When the founders gathered at Constitution Hall, they did not gather there after having read the Koran.  If they had reached into the Koran for inspiration, this would not today be a country you would much want to live in.  For one thing, all the women in the audience would be treated like cattle.  You‘d be in a separate room listening to this speech wearing a burqa.  Thank you very much.

O‘DONNELL:  I tell you, I just came back from the Middle East and it was refreshing.  With all that‘s going on, it was refreshing not to be constantly bombarded with smut all the time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All right, Christine.  We‘re going to have to leave it there.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MADDOW:  Everybody keeps saying what‘s happening in the Republican Party this year is the emergence of a whole new crop of conservatives.

It is not a whole new crop of conservatives.  These folks have been around conservative politics for a long time.  This is just the first year that so many of them have tried to make the miasma of very, very far right conservative movement politics into a cogent Republican Party platform for the midterm elections.

Joining us is Frank Schaeffer.  He‘s the author the book, “Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back.”

Mr. Schaeffer, thank you so much for coming back on the show tonight. 

It‘s nice to see you.

FRANK SCHAEFFER, AUTHOR, “CRAZY FOR GOD”:  Hey, thanks Rachel.  Good to be back.

MADDOW:  Everybody has been saying all year that the religious right is really disenfranchised in Republican politics right now.  Fiscal conservatives have taken over the party.  It seems to me like the religious right is really back.

Do you think that it is?

SCHAEFFER:  Look, it‘s like claims for cures for cancer, you know?  There‘s always something coming along saying that, you know, now, there‘s a cure.  But it always comes back that it‘s not quite the cure.

The religious right is a fundraising operation.  It‘s not a political operation at all.  People like Gary Bauer, who I knew back in the day when I was in the religious right and my dad was a leader and I was a leader before I dropped out in the early ‘80s, was in the same business he‘s in tonight.  And so, when he comes in there bashing Muslims but, say, wasn‘t bashing them before 9/11, or when people show up and say it‘s refreshing to be in the Middle East before 9/11 and then come back and say change their minds—you have to understand they don‘t have a real ideology.  These are fundraising opportunists, not political opportunists.

And, of course, the Republican Party is now saddled with a leadership

that are so cowardly—people like Mitt Romney and McCain and the others -

that they don‘t stand up against these guys and say, look, you know, we need you like we need a hole in the head.  What you‘re all about is raising money for things like your family organizations and all the rest.  You keep changing your tune.  It‘s gays, it‘s blacks, it‘s Muslims, circle the wagons, real Americans stand up to Sarah Palin shtick.

           

And Sarah Palin is the greatest example.  She serves half a term as governor and drops out to make a buck.  These are flakes.

And I used to be one of them.  And thank God I got out.  And I mean that literally because I‘m still a believing Christian.  I‘m not that kind of a Christian but I‘m a Christian.

And you have to understand, these people are about fundraising for their organizations and they will latch on to anything.  And if that means they‘re sometimes sounding like fomenting violence, they‘ll do it—if it comes off as racist, there‘s homophobic or anti-Muslim.

And let me just say this, I have a son who was in the Marine Corps.  And I‘m loyal to the Marines and the men and women in the Marine Corps and other armed services.

And it makes me sick to see a group that wraps itself in the flag stoking the flames of anti-Islamic phobia in exactly the way that will result in people like those young Marines who served with my son getting killed while these cowards raise money based on stoking these flames.  That‘s who Newt Gingrich is.  That‘s who these people are today and it‘s disgusting.

MADDOW:  Frank, I feel like the Beltway media take on what‘s going on in the Republican Party and the conservative movement right now hasn‘t really yet caught up to the fact that there‘s a lot of people from the religious right who have been longtime conservative movement figures who are really rising to power here.  I mean, somebody like Christine O‘Donnell has been running for office for a long time.  Somebody like Sharron Angle has been active in movement politics in the southwest for a very long time.  These folks are not new.

What do you think people who are used to just covering red versus blue, Republican versus Democrat, should understand about the influence of this religious right conservative movement, as you say, “fundraising operation,” in the Republican Party?  What should people be on the alert for?

SCHAEFFER:  Well, they have to dig a little deeper the way you do on your show.  And the fact of the matter is, the media doesn‘t do this.  They always say on one hand this, on the other hand that and take the people at face value.

The first thing you have to do is strip away this idea that these are serious people.  They‘re not.  The religious right is a fundraising operation for various organizations, whether that‘s Focus on the Family or any of these other groups.  People like Gary Bauer, if he‘s not running for president and trying to raise money that way, the same way Pat Robertson did, which was never a serious run.  It was just about Pat‘s building his empire and so forth—will cycle back always into the mixture until they just grow old and die in it.

And we have these new people coming along, like Christine O‘Donnell, new to the nation, but have used old baggage when it comes to this group.  It‘s always the same people.

The real story here is this: the Republican Party has to be held to account.  These are your people, my fellow Republican, former fellow Republicans.  If you don‘t speak up against them, then they become your problem.

The problem is the lines are fuzzy.  And so you have all these Republican candidates who actually pick up part of this fundraising pitch from people like Gary Bauer, fold it into their machinery, use it.

They know perfectly well that these guys are flakes.  They know perfectly well that they‘re not serious.  They also know perfectly well that there are a lot of people out there, particularly in white middle class and lower middle class America who are disgruntled enough to be moved by messages of hatred and xenophobia and they‘re cashing in on it.  It‘s the same old playbook again and again and again and again.

But now, it‘s taking a dangerous twist with all this anti-Islamic rhetoric because our men and women will get killed because of the kind of things said by these people.  And there‘s absolutely no need for stirring up a wartime situation to take advantage of it for short-term domestic gain.

And so, the Republicans deserve what they‘re going to get in November

which is far less result than they‘re hoping for.  I would just urge people—you know, you‘re saying what to do about this, how to stay alert. 

Well, one thing we can stay alert for is that whether we agree with

everything the Obama administration is doing or not or whatever it may be -

we have to root for Democrats and reasonable people in this next election to stop these flakes from suddenly becoming our national leadership.

           

MADDOW:  Frank Schaeffer, author of the book “Crazy for God”—Frank, thank you very much for your time tonight.  It‘s good to have you on the show.

SCHAEFFER:  My pleasure.

MADDOW:  Before becoming a full-time candidate, Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O‘Donnell was an activist who did a national tour promoting the idea that the gay has a cure.  Guess what the cure is.  Guess how well it works.  That‘s next.    

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  And now another brief installment to THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW‘S animated graph feeder.  First slide, please.  We found this one on the blog that Matthew Yglesias writes at Think Progress.  There we go.  Poverty rate trends 1966 to 2009.  Those are percentages on the left, on the “y” axis that goes up and down and then there‘s years across the bottom on the “x” axis.  Yellow line, please. 

All right.  Here‘s what the census bureau says has happened to people in their working years.  Poverty goes up and down more or less with recessions.  Lately, as you can see the little up tick at the end, poverty is up.  Here is child poverty.  Kids living in third world USA.  In the Reagan years, were not kind to them.  And lately the recession has been bad too.  Single mother families, can we put them up there?  Yes.  That‘s them in green.  You can see they were better off than they were 40 years ago, you can also see that the recession has started to knock them back. 

All right.  Last one, ready, blue line please.  This is the good one.  Look at this.  These are America‘s senior citizens.  If you are not old already, this is what we all hope to be someday, old.  Because the alternative to getting old is not a good alternative.  The poverty rate for older people in America is a good news story.  Look.  Look at that.  Poverty among older people is a third of what it used to be in this country, lower than all  these other groups, less than ten percent overall.  And it is falling even during the recession.  And it is a good, good news story at a time where there are very few good news stories.  It is great news.  It‘s a miracle.  But it‘s not a miracle.  It‘s not even mysterious because what‘s going on here is that since the mid 1960s, American seniors have been protected by the modern safety net of Medicare and Social Security, the very programs the right is now pledging their sacred honor to get rid of if they win the elections this year. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Do you remember the hugging?  You know what I‘m talking about.  Don‘t pretend like you don‘t.  The cuddling that was seared into your brain when we showed this tape?  I‘m talking about the ex-gay conservative activist, this guy who says that you too can be an ex-gay through the power of cuddling with him. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD COHEN, “COMING OUT STRAIGHT: UNDERSTANDING AND HEALING

HOMOSEXUALITY”, AUTHOR:  It‘s nonsexual.  It establishes a parent/child relationship.  So he didn‘t experience this growing up with his dad. 

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN:  Rob, do you feel a sexual connection right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  No, I don‘t.  I feel very safe and very comforted and it just feels wonderful. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  That expert there also said, the gay could be cured by beating a pillow with a tennis racket while screaming at your parents. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COHEN:  I was angry at my mother. 

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN:  OK. 

COHEN:  So I started saying, mom, mom, mom, mom, why did you do that to me?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  That lady is like, OK.  That master of un-gaying the gay is Richard Cohen.  He wrote a book called “Coming out Straight: Understanding and Healing Homosexuality.”  He appeared on this show last year you may recall.  For the record after seeing him even I‘m still—yes, anyway.  The cure the gay movement is not just this one guy.  It‘s not just Richard Cohen working alone out of the Wild West fringe of American politics.  Conservative activists for years have argued for and advocated for and funded this idea that gayness can be cured, can be hugged away or prayed away or otherwise psychologically beaten out of you.

One such activist is the woman who is now the republican Senate nominee from the great state of Delaware Christine O‘Donnell.  Back in 2000 as president and founder of the Savior‘s Alliance for Lifting the Truth, Miss O‘Donnell held a press conference with other anti-gay conservative groups at the National Press Club.  Her featured guest was the organization‘s then spokesman, the young man who proclaimed that he had been cured of the gay.  That lasted about a year or so.  Christine O‘Donnell‘s ex-gay spokesman became an ex-ex-gay when he told the magazine “The Advocate” that he had been uncured of the gay, he now had a boyfriend and he was whole lot happier now, thank you very much.  The man is named Wade Richards.  He made and released a video this week in which he addresses his association with Christine O‘Donnell and this organization the SALT.  Plus the whole, you can be cured of being gay scam. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WADE RICHARDS, FORMER SALT STAFF MEMBER:  In 1998, feeling guilt and shame about my same-sex attractions, I entered into an ex-gay residential reparative therapy ministry called Love in Action in Memphis, Tennessee.  In 2000, after graduating from Love in Action, I was in contact with Christine O‘Donnell, the founder of the Savior‘s Alliance for Lifting the Truth.  Shortly after, I became aware of Christine O‘Donnell‘s radical beliefs when she introduced me to Peter LaBarbara from “Americans for Truth” about homosexuality.  They say they‘re fighting the gay agenda.  In reality they have an agenda of their own. 

Do you really want organizations like this promoting, funding and endorsing candidates to sit on the United States Congress?  I think not.  In the late summer of 2000, after being completely worn down by becoming the ex-gay political poster puppet for these organizations and still struggling with same-sex attractions, I decided that I needed to come to Christine and let her know that I was struggling so much. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Christine O‘Donnell may be new to us.  You may not have seen her or heard of her before she won her Senate primary this week.  She may be a new face on your TV machine but Christine O‘Donnell has been toiling away in the conservative movement for years. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE O‘DONNELL ®, DELAWARE SENATE NOMINEE:  Those of us who had toiled for years in the values movement suddenly found ourselves surrounded by Americans who had rediscovered the most fundamental value of all—liberty. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  The liberty to be fake cured of your homosexuality and then forgotten and ignored when the cure doesn‘t take. 

Joining us now is Wayne Besen an executive director of Truth Wins Out, a nonprofit organization that fights anti-gay extremism.  Wayne, it‘s nice to see you again. 

WAYNE BESEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, TRUTH WINS OUT:  It‘s great to see you.

MADDOW:  First of all, could you explain your involvement in this story because I know you played a role here.  How did you know Wade Richards?

BESEN:  Well, we debated on the Alan Colmes radio show.  And Wade was really good and very convincing and he said Jesus cured me and I‘ve been saved and I‘m happy and I‘m free.  And I don‘t know why but at the end of the show I said, if you ever want to come out of the closet, give me a call.  He said, no, I‘m free.  I‘ve been saved.  Six months later, I get to my office and I get a call.  It‘s Wade Richards and he said, “The ex-gay ministries don‘t work.  They‘ve never worked.  I‘ve never seen it work for anyone else either.”  And he came and visited me and we have him come out in “The Advocate” magazine.  And I was very moved by it.  And I saw how much he had been harmed by it, how many other people I‘ve seen be harmed by this. 

MADDOW:  In that tape, he describes going through reparative therapy.  It‘s sort of an ex-gay boot camp he says in Memphis.  What is it that he‘s talking about?

BESEN:  Well, they have two types of techniques.  The first is you simply get the bible and you try to pray away the gay.  And then of course they‘ve got the quack therapy, the therapy that‘s been debunked by the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association for more than 30 years.  And their theory is essentially that you‘re gay because you had a distant same-sex parent.  And the way to make you heterosexual is to make friends with straight people and by doing that you‘ll magically lose your attraction to the same sex.  It‘s—we call it consumer fraud.  And we‘ve never seen it work for anyone.  And it not only harms the people who go through it but the spouses end up getting married to these individuals.  These groups love to show you the wedding photos but they never show you the divorce papers and we see that all the time. 

MADDOW:  Yes.  I know you‘ve done a lot of pioneering work on the cure the gays scam in the conservative movement.  Is it fair to say that Christine O‘Donnell played a significant role in it?  

BESEN:  She was a big promoter of the whole pray away the gay ministries and she went across the country with Wade Richards, kind of a dog and pony show and tried to convince people that this was the magical cure.  And this was a big deal back when she was doing it.  The conservatives jumped on this whole ex-gay band wagon around 1998.  Polls started showing that the whole fire and brimstone part of the ministry that they were doing, and gays are going to hell wasn‘t playing.  So they had to do something more kind and gentle and they jumped on this ex-gay bandwagon and they launched a campaign in 1998.  A million dollar campaign that was called Truth in Love to soften the message up.  And Christine O‘Donnell jumped on that as well.  And she went along with this.  Of course the spokesperson for the Truth in Love campaign I photographed in a gay bar obviously hadn‘t changed very much. 

MADDOW:  Wow!  It‘s an incredible story and it is important, I think we‘re going to be understanding a lot now that she is sort of a big national movement, conservative movement superstar, understanding where she came from.  Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out.  I have a feeling we‘ll be talking to you about this again.  Thanks, Wayne.

BESEN:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  Nice to see you.

BESEN:  Nice to see you. 

MADDOW:  So turns out this is the year of long-winded conservative manifestos and the candidates who love them.  A romance told in multiple very similar nonbinding chapters written on fake parchment.  There will be props.  Please stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Louisiana Senator David Vitter, the hooker guy, has signed on to a Tea Party candidate‘s pledge, one put out by the North Central Louisiana Tea Party patriots.  The senator of course is most famous for running for office on the basis of his family values and calling on President Clinton to be impeached for his sexual immorality before Senator Vitter himself got caught out as a client of the D.C. Madam, hands the whole hooker guy thing.  Instead of resigning, Senator Vitter is running for re-election and again trying to run as a family values guy, in the North Central Louisiana Tea Party patriot‘s pledge Senator Vitter among other things promises to quote, “Conduct myself personally and professionally in a morally and socially appropriate manner.” 

And if I don‘t, heh, didn‘t seem to matter too much when I got caught for that before.  Where do I sign?  But that I promise to not be a hooker guy anymore pledge is not the only one.  Dick Armey, the former House majority leader and current chairman of the corporate funded Beltway group “FreedomWorks” announced this week that nationally the inchoate but impassioned movement of American conservatives known as the Tea Party will get a manifesto of their own, courtesy of Dick Armey, and his new co-written book, “Give us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto.” 

Whether the inchoate but impassioned masses will rally around his manifesto remains to be seen.  Because there are so many others to choose from this year.  Remember, there was also the Mt. Vernon statement signed by conservative leaders in February.  And there was the contract from America created by Tea Party activists online somehow.  It‘s that one.  Not to be confused with the contract with America, Part II, floated by Newt Gingrich apparently because the first one is done and good and stuff.  That‘s this one here.  All right.  Stay, Newt.  Oh, I knew you were going do that.  There you go. 

Then there‘s something called the seven and 11 plans from Karl Rove shadow are in seen group laying out seven key legislative priorities for the republicans to run on.  Seven in ‘11, a crossroads group.  Not to mention, a proposal of sorts from the actual Republican National Committee or at least its Chairman Michael Steele who has his own 12-step program for the parties—those 12 steps not to be confused actually, it should be noted with Glenn Beck‘s 12 values and nine principles that form the center of his numeric initiative.  There is also Republican Congressman Paul Ryan‘s roadmap for America‘s future.  His call to action.  Sorry, guys. 

That was then followed by his and his friend‘s book length called to action “Young Guns.”  Which they described as, “a call to action that sets forth a plan for growth, opportunity, and commitment.”  Watching the Republican Party try to find itself and re-make itself post Bush and post McCain, has made for some spectacular news watching this past year or two.  Thanks to this party‘s soul-searching, the conservative movement has lots and lots and lots of platforms and agendas and statements and manifestos to choose from.  This mess is just from the past year and a half alone.  Everybody needs to sign on.  How does this translate in to actual electoral politics?  Would be actual Republican Party itself.

Well, back in February, Senator John McCain said, Senate republicans were working on a ten-point election year agenda.  We called his office to see where that ten-point agenda is or if it exists.  They referred us to the Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.  His office has not gotten back to us.  They never do.  Whether that agenda was ever drawn out as of right now, Senate republicans say, they are teaming up with House republicans to draft that new agenda.  House Minority Leader John Boehner promises it should come out any minute now.  Quote, “We don‘t get back to Washington until September 14th and I would think that not too long after that, you‘re likely to see it.”  It is now September 17th, so any second now, we will hopefully see exactly what the official republican manifesto is and whether it becomes just another thing to add to these treaties tacked up to the door or whether it meaningfully super seeds this mess in some way.  I love politics.   

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Next, a video made by a pathetic human mortal, relieved my dark secret that I am Rachel, clean of the undead and I shall feast on your blood.  That‘s next.   

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  Elena Kagan is slated—it looks like—I don‘t know.  I mean, unless we start moving quick to be the first lesbian Supreme Court justice, and while I was thinking about that, I got to thinking about something else, about the influence of the homosexual agenda on America.  Of course I had to start thinking about Rachel mad hour, mad cow. 

(LAUGHTER)

That always makes me laugh.  Anyway, and while I was looking into it, something—I‘m just going to show you.  It‘s going to shock you. 

All right.  So this here is a picture of Rachel Maddow, mad cow. 

(LAUGHTER)

I‘m sorry.  You don‘t have to know a lot about her to know that she‘s a lesbian.  She looks manly, she got the broad shoulders, she got the thick neck like—she got short hair, she got her arms across her almost nonexistent breasts but here‘s the thing.  Go in a little bit closer and this is what I saw.  What‘s that thing on her neck?  I‘m going a little bit closer.  It looks kind of suspicious to me.  So I went and I looked for some other pictures of Rachel Maddow and sure enough take a look at this again.  Manly, short hair, smiling, although she‘s crying on the inside, and zoom in a little bit and a little bit closer.  What does that look like to you?  Those are the bites of a vampire.  MSNBC, this socialist, Nazi, Bolshevik channel hired a lesbian vampire and put her on when little kids could see her.  We are letting a lesbian vampire comment on America. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Now that I have been exposed, I can‘t say for certain I will see you on Monday.  But I hope you have a good weekend anyway.  Now can someone please turn off those hideous lights? 

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