updated 10/1/2010 12:09:52 PM ET 2010-10-01T16:09:52

Guests: Eugene Robinson, Rep. Pete DeFazio

KEITH OLBERMANN, “COUNTDOWN” HOST:  And now to discuss one Democrat‘s fight against the super PACs—ladies and gentlemen, live from the Goldilocks planet, here is Rachel Maddow.

Good evening, Rachel, if you can still hear me out there.

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  This one seems just right, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Num-num.

MADDOW:  Num-num.  Thank you.

Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.

           

You know, this year‘s elections are 33 days away, and the president of the United States taking on the mantle of campaigner-in-chief tonight.  That is just minutes ahead.  We will bring you that action live.

We‘ll also bring you the day in John Boehner—complete with the command performance of THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW unrehearsed players.

That is all ahead.  This is going to be a very big hour of whatever it is we do here.

But we begin with an introduction.  I would like you to meet laughing woman carrying her son, standing in front of trees.

Hello.  Oh, there she is.  Laughing woman, carrying her son, standing in front of trees is available for sale right now at the Website, iStockphoto.com.  In fact, laughing woman carrying her son, standing in front of trees was purchased recently by an organization called Concerned Taxpayers of America.  See, there she is.  She was purchased to depict what this group says are the, quote, “folks—the folks who are concerned about the direction this country‘s economy is going.”

Those average folks also apparently include the couple you see at the top there with the kids, or as they‘re known as iStockphoto.com, “Happy Family”—photos of models purchased at the stock photography Web site to make you think they‘re just your average folks who are concerned about the direction this country‘s economy is going.  That‘s the way the person who heads up this group Concerned Taxpayers of America, that‘s the way he described what his organization is—after Democratic Congressman Pete DeFazio got his attention by yelling through his mailbox and banging on the man‘s door.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, WASHINGTONPOST.COM)

REP. PETE DEFAZIO (D), OREGON:  Hello.  Hello!

Hi, are you Jason Miller?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No.

DEFAZIO:  Do you know Jason Miller?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No.  No, I don‘t, sir.

DEFAZIO:  Are you the renter?  Or owner?  Or what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  No, I rent this place.  You can to (INAUDIBLE).  He‘s the landlord.

DEFAZIO:  Did you ever hear of Concerned Taxpayers of America?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No.

DEFAZIO:  You‘ve never heard of them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No.  No, sir.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  That guy you saw there talking with Pete DeFazio actually is involved with Concerned Taxpayers of America, even though he swore he wasn‘t.  More on that ahead.

Pete DeFazio is a Democrat who‘s been in Congress for 12 terms.  He‘s a progressive Democrat, but he‘s someone who, I don‘t think, would not mind me as describing him as a bit of contrarian.  He goes his own way, does his own thing, has his own very strongly held opinions and beliefs and expert takes on things.

The guy who is running against Pete DeFazio this year is Republican Art Robinson.  Mr. Robinson is a former science professor.  He‘s most famous for being a global warming denier.  Mr. Robinson says the government wants to, quote, “enslave the American people through energy regulation.”

About two weeks ago, something kind of amazing happened in this race -

$86,000 -- $86,000 worth of “We hate Pete DeFazio, we love Art Robinson” ads started popping up on TV in that district.

           

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR:  Politicians Nancy Pelosi and Peter DeFazio made a mess of our economy.  Their policies aren‘t working.  It‘s time for change.

Art Robinson is a research scientist, not a politician.  His plan: to improve our economy, stop reckless spending, lower taxes, promote private sector job growth.

Art Robinson, a new voice.  A smarter choice.  The independent leader we need.

Concerned Taxpayers of America is responsible for the content of this advertisement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Who?  Concerned Taxpayers of America, responsible for the content of this advertisement.

This random clip art organization, whose own employees deny having anything to do with it, suddenly spent more than 80 grand running that ad in a congressional district in Oregon.  They have since reportedly almost doubled that spending.  This is one race in one district.

But in some ways, this is the story of about what‘s new about this year‘s elections.  Some random entity, nobody really knows what it is, has come in and dropped $165,000 now into this race.

I mean, this would be like—if your little neighborhood where you live was all little one-family ranch homes, and one day, you all in the neighborhood heard you were going to get a new neighbor.  And that new neighbor turned out to be a 50-story tall giant pyramid-shaped glass and neon Luxor Casino right in the middle of your street with a fake Sphinx out in front of it.  Hey, that‘s different.  Who put that there?

In the case of these, “We hate Pete DeFazio ads,” who put that there is actually a very difficult question to answer.  Because of the new rules this year, we don‘t really get to know who is behind stuff like this.  We don‘t get to know who‘s doing this.

Pete DeFazio went over to the office of this group to figure out who they are.  You saw him get stonewalled in the video.

Here‘s what we have figured out about this group and what “The Washington Post,” “The Huffington Post” and some other reporters have been able to ferret out.  Their clip art Web site describes the group this way, quote, “Concerned Taxpayers of America was formed to engage citizens from every walk of life and political affiliation and urge them to hold our nation‘s elected leaders accountable for the country‘s fiscal well-being.”

Are you inspired by their mission statement?  Are you inspired by laughing woman carrying her son, standing in front of trees?  Would you like to join these folks?

Good luck.  Because they don‘t actually offer you any way to do that -

aside from clip art purchased from iStockphoto.com and the mission statement, there‘s not a whole lot else at the Web site.  There‘s no “here‘s how you can donate.”  There‘s no “Here‘s one of our event you can attend.”  There‘s no literature for you to read.  There‘s now way for you as a citizen to get involved with this.  There‘s no nothing.

           

If you try to Google Concerned Taxpayers of America, this is what you‘ll find—all sorts of news stories about Pete DeFazio confronting them and trying to figure out who they are.  But as far as we can tell, it is not possible to find their Web site on the Google.

Here‘s how we found them—we found them because their filings with the Federal Elections Commission when they started up 29 days ago, their FEC filing form does have a line where you‘re supposed to enter in your organization‘s Web site.  That‘s the only way we were able to find it.  The filing was submitted by group‘s treasurer, Jason Miller.

Now, Jason Miller, it turns out, is a long time Republican congressional staffer.  He now works for a company called Jamestown Associates.  Jamestown Associates bills itself as a full-service Republican, political and public affairs consulting firm.  That is who is running Concerned Taxpayers of America.

So, you know, take the Concerned Taxpayers at their word.  Maybe they are an organization designed to engage regular citizens, designed to engage people of all walks of life.  But it doesn‘t really seem like that.  It seems like the Concerned Taxpayers of America is basically just a piece of paper filed with the FEC.  Somebody filed that piece of paper at the FEC 29 days ago and now, $165,000 from Lord knows where is being spent to get rid of Pete DeFazio, totally big-footing all other spending in that race.  And nobody is allowed to know who‘s behind until the damage is already done.

That‘s the way politics works now.  It‘s not news that corporations and rich people try to get their way in politics.  We‘ve talked a lot even just this year about corporations and billionaires funding fake grassroots groups like Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, right?  But at least those organizations do stuff.  They, for example, take David Koch‘s oil and chemical industry fortune money and they buy hot air balloons and they fly hot air balloons around the country talking about how far global warming is a bunch of hot air.  Whatever you think about that, at least they are doing something.

But this year, in 2010, in these elections, for the first time, nobody is pretending that these organizations—these groups—are doing anything but laundering money.  So, hey, there‘s a guy who says that global warming is a hoax designed to enslave America.  And he‘s running against Pete DeFazio.  Awesome.  Let‘s put $100,000 into that race.  Let‘s put $1 million into that race.  Let‘s put $100 million into that race.

How much is it worth our clients to get rid of Pete DeFazio?  Why not? 

Why not spend $100 million?  What‘s holding them back?

I mean, you can just launder your money through a fake organization that you have some Republican lobbyist set up in five minutes at GoDaddy.com.  Honestly, that‘s where they registered it.

You send three pages of paper to the FEC, you buy some quick clip art from iStockphoto, quick trip to GoDaddy.com and you‘re in business.  That‘s it.  Money laundering.  Money laundering.  Money laundering on a grand scale.

Money laundering—that‘s what it is.  To take over the Congress of the United States of America, there is no ceiling on what you can spend.

This is the way the elections are running right now.  After Citizens United, after the campaign finance changes that conservatives are supporting this year, this is the way our elections run in America now.  And this—this is the context in which every individual American citizen of average, mediate, moderate or extreme means, every American in the country is deciding whether or not it‘s good idea to donate 25 bucks to their chosen candidate, to try to make a human sized difference in this year‘s elections.

What do you think your odds are of making a difference?  A human size difference as a regular human or regular citizen if this is the landscape in which your elections get decided now?  You don‘t stand a chance.

Joining us is Democratic Congressman Pete DeFazio of Oregon.

Congressman DeFazio, thanks very much for joining us tonight.

DEFAZIO:  Thanks, Rachel.  I really appreciate the opportunity.  Great lead-in there.  It would be funny if I wasn‘t being pummeled by $86,000 worth of ads.

MADDOW:  Yes.  I mean, this group started with a $86,000 ad buy up a couple of weeks ago.

DEFAZIO:  Right.

MADDOW:  Another $80,000 since then.

DEFAZIO:  Right.

MADDOW:  Give us a sense of how big a deal that much money is in your district?  How much is typically spent on an election in your district?

DEFAZIO:  Typically, the most I‘ve ever spent in a contested race would be $500,000 on each side.  So, it would be $1 million total.

These people are obviously headed well toward more than $500,000 as the independent, anonymous expenditure of the Concerned Taxpayers, whoever they are, plural or are they singular?  Is it one person?  Is it a corporation?  Is it a group of people?  We don‘t know.

MADDOW:  Do you have any suspicion about who it is?  I mean, I know you paid a visit to their sort of office, at least to their mailbox with that guy there last week to find it out.  We called them today.  They totally stonewalled us as well.

Do you have any suspicions as to who they might be?

DEFAZIO:  Well, it‘s funny that this high, tony, you know, big-time Republican firm would have a dead drop at a kind of ratty town house on Capitol Hill.  We‘re not sure what that‘s about.  They‘re obviously trying to hide many, many layers and levels here.

But my opponent has a long history of being a, you know, a corporate shill.  I mean, ExxonMobil has funded through the Marshall Foundation blog to say we can‘t prove it—his campaign against global warming.  He has proven—himself singularly, he‘s a chemist—that global warming is a hoax to enslave the American people, and 31,000 people have signed his petition.

The strange thing is, this is a guy who lives on Social Security, in the survivalist compound, in a corner of my district.  And somehow, he came up with about $1 million to mail that petition out to hundreds of thousands of people under false pretenses to try and solicit those contributions.

Where did he get the money?  He‘s got—he‘s reporting 12,000 bucks a year with Social Security.  He must have saved up for a long time to send it out.

MADDOW:  Well, you know, yesterday, I understand that the House Democratic Caucus at their meeting, it was reported that they played the video of you trying to sort this out.  They played the video for all the Democrats in the House of you yelling through the mailbox.  Hello!

DEFAZIO:  Right.

MADDOW:  They showed this to these other Democrats.

Does that mean that what you did is going to be part of a Democratic strategy to respond to this?

DEFAZIO:  I think so.  We‘re listening to you.  You‘ve been—you‘ve been saying, hey, where are the Democrats?  Why don‘t they get out there and push back?

Well, you never really have to encourage me.  But some of my colleagues need a little encouraging.  Some of them, I believe, were inspired by that.  Some of the great, young members like Tom Perriello.  First call I got on my cell phone, he‘s like, go, guy, you know?  He‘s like out there, he‘s in their face, too.

We just got to—we‘ve got to fight back.  So, they‘re billionaires.  I mean, come on, when I first ran for Congress, I went down to a mill, which at the time was one of the 500 richest men in America to support a strike.  I didn‘t know what they had in mind.  But what they did is they actually blocked the mill with miles of cars and pickup trucks.

I stood in the middle of the street and shook their hands.  All the managers look out at us.  And a reporter came out and said, “How can you do this?  He‘s one of the 500 richest men in America.”  I said, “Because all these people get a vote on Election Day, and he gets one vote.”  It‘s still that way.

If it‘s the Koch brothers, they get two votes.  If it‘s ExxonMobil, well, I don‘t know.  In the Supreme Court decision, maybe they get the vote now.  I don‘t know.  I‘m sure they‘re a citizen.

But, you know, I‘m going try and inspire average people to fight back against this.  And we need to do that across the country, kick a little sand in their gears and say, “No, you‘re not going to buy the fourth district of Oregon.  You‘re not going to buy Oregon.  You‘re not going to buy the United States of America and the Congress for your petty little purposes.”

MADDOW:  Democratic Congressman Pete DeFazio of Oregon—thank you for having the presence of mind to bring—send camera crews when you went to yell through the mailbox because, otherwise, we would not be able to show that on TV and show people how it‘s done.  And thanks to your time tonight, sir.  We really appreciate it.

DEFAZIO:  Thank you, Rachel.  Appreciate it.

All right.  Thirty-three days until this year‘s elections.  And the president of the United States, the elected leader of the Democratic Party, is launching another salvo tonight in his party‘s efforts to rev up their base.  We will bring you that appearance as it happens, when it happens.  That is coming up live in just a moment.

Plus—what the Republican leader, John Boehner, said his mission will be if Republicans win the House this year.  It‘s complicated.  It requires acting and makeup and all sorts of physical awkwardness for us to show you what he said and what he meant.

That overly ambitious, poorly acted effort is ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  We‘re getting this live shot right now.  This is President Obama rallying the base that he hopes he can get to the polls this November to help Democrats keep Congress.  Mr. Obama—that is a live shot—just starting to speak right now to what the Democratic Party calls Generation 44.  That‘s the DNC‘s outreach to young voters.

We‘ve got the president‘s speech live coming up in just a second. 

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  President Obama is speaking right now at the inaugural Senate for Generation 44, a program within the Democratic National Committee specifically targeting young Democratic members.  Let‘s go to the president now.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  But make no mistake, this election is a choice.  And the choice could not be clearer.

For the last decade, the Republicans in Washington subscribed to a very simple philosophy.  You cut taxes, mostly for millionaires and billionaires.  You cut regulations for special interests, whether it‘s oil companies or banks or insurance companies.  You cut back on investments in education and clean energy and research and technology.

And basically, the idea was that if you had blind faith in the market, if you let corporations play by their own rules, if you let everybody else fend for themselves, including young people, including the next generation, then somehow America would grow and prosper.  That was the theory.

Now, look, here‘s what we know.  The philosophy failed.  We tested it. 

We tried it.

We tried it for eight years.  It didn‘t work.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA:  When they were in charge, job growth was slower than it‘s been in any decade since World War II.

Between 2001 and 2009, middle class incomes fell by 5 percent.  This was when they were in charge.  The cost of everything from health care to college tuition just kept on going up.  A free-for-all on Wall Street led to the very crisis we‘re still digging out of today.

And, by the way, we went from record surpluses to record deficits.  These are the folks who say that they care about wasteful spending.  They took us from a surplus when a Democrat was in charge to big deficits when they were in charge.  That‘s the truth.  Those are the facts.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA:  They‘re counting on amnesia.  They think y‘all forgot.  So, I‘ve had two main jobs since I was president: To rescue this economy from crisis and then to rebuild it stronger than it was before so that you look before to the 21st century as being the American century, just like the 20th century was the American century.  And over the last 20 months, we‘ve made progress on both these fronts.

There‘s no longer a possibility of the second depression.  The economy‘s growing again.  Private sector jobs we created for eight consecutive months.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA:  There are—there are 3 million Americans who would not be working today if it weren‘t for the economic plan we put in place.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: We passed Wall Street reform to make sure a crisis like this never happens again.  No more taxpayer-funded bailouts.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA:  We put—we set up reforms that‘ll stop mortgage lenders from taking advantage of homeowners.  We reformed credit card practices so they won‘t hit you up with hidden fees or jack up your rates without reason.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA:  We started investing again in American research, American technology, homegrown American clean energy—because I don‘t want solar plants or wind turbines or electric cars built in Europe or built in Asia, I want them built right here in the United States of America, because we‘re all about making it in America.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

MADDOW:  President Obama speaking tonight to Generation 44, which is the Democratic National Committee‘s program that concentrates on young Democratic voters.  That speech is happening live right now in Washington, D.C.

Joining us right now is Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for “The Washington Post” and an MSNBC political analyst.

Gene, thanks very much for being here.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Great to be here, Rachel.

MADDOW:  So, this week, we saw the president speak at a big, rousing campaign-style outdoor rally in Madison, Wisconsin.  Tonight, now, giving slightly less of a barn burner, but the barn is definitely still on fire to young voters in Washington.

Is this president as “get out the vote” motivator-in-chief?

ROBINSON:  Yes, it is.  I mean, it‘s a—it‘s a job from the Democratic Party‘s point of view had better get done.  And, you know, he may not help the party in every district.  There are some Democrats who would rather run away from the president.

But with this group in particular, the group in Madison and this group that focuses on young voters, this is an important constituency that usually doesn‘t vote in large numbers in midterm elections, that hasn‘t shown a lot of enthusiasm for the 2010 midterms, and that had better get out and vote if the Democrats are going to—are going to squeak by with this thing or if they‘re going to indeed survive with even the majority in the Senate, to say nothing of their majority in the House.

MADDOW:  Gene, if you can hold on with us just one second.  We‘re going to take a quick break and come back with more of the president‘s speech—I like to get more of your reaction to it as we hear, as it unfolds tonight in Washington.

Can you hold on with us?

ROBINSON:  Absolutely.

MADDOW:  Eugene Robinson is sticking with us.  More of the president‘s speech when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MOMENTS AGO)

OBAMA:  Two years ago, with the help of a lot of you, some of you getting involved in politics for the first time.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA:  You defied the Washington conventional wisdom.  I mean, you remember.  Folks did not think we were going to win, let‘s face it, because they didn‘t know about you.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA:  They said—they said, “No, you can‘t overcome the cynicism of our politics.  No, you can‘t overcome the special interests.  No, you can‘t make real progress on the big challenges of our time.”

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  But yes we did.

OBAMA:  They said, “No, you can‘t.”  What did you say?

CROWD:  Yes, we can!

OBAMA:  You said, yes, we can.

(CHEERS)

OBAMA:  You proved that the power of everyday people, going door-to-door, neighbor to neighbor, friend to friend, using networks, using the Internet, that that was stronger than the force of the status quo.  And every single one of you is a shareholder in that mission to rebuild our country and reclaim our future.

So I‘m back here today just in case you‘ve forgotten what that feels like to change the country.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA:  Because on November 2nd, we face another test.  And the stakes could not be higher.  When I—when I arrived in Washington about 20 months ago, some of you there was really cold.  It was a cold day.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA:  It was a cold day, but the spirit was warm.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA:  And our hope was that we could pull together Democrats and Republicans and independents to confront the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.  What we hoped was that we could get beyond some of the old political divides, red states, blue states, that it prevented us from making progress for so long. 

And we came into this with that spirit because we understood that we‘re proud to be Democrats, but we‘re prouder to be Americans. 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

And instead, what we confronted when we arrived was just politics, pure and simple.  An opposition party that was still stuck in the same failed policies of the past, whose leaders in Congress were determined from the start to let us deal with the mess that they had done so much to create. 

Their calculation was simple and cynical.  They knew that it was going to take a long time to solve the economic changes we were facing, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.  They understood because that it was going to take a long time, people would be frustrated.  They‘d feel anxious.  They‘d be fearful. 

And so what the other side calculated was, “You know, if we just sit on the sidelines, we let Obama and the Democrats in Congress deal with everything, then we can do well in the polls.”  That was their theory. 

And that‘s what they did for the last 20 months.  They‘ve said no to just about every idea I proposed, every policy I proposed, even ideas they‘ve traditionally agreed with. 

I‘m not exaggerating.  I mean, we had situations where they would sponsor bills and I‘d say OK.  And they said, “Oh, well, if you‘re OK with it, we must be against it.”  It happened a bunch of times.  It‘s true. 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

And because they understood that folks were going to be anxious and fearful, they‘ve been tapping into that fear.  And now, the pundits are saying that the base of the Republican Party is mobilized and energized and excited.  And all of us who worked so hard in 2008, well, maybe we‘re not as energized.  Maybe we‘re not as engaged.  That‘s what they‘re saying. 

I‘m just the messenger here.  They say that there is an enthusiasm gap and that the same Republicans and the same policies that left our economy in shambles and the middle class struggling year after year, that those folks might all ride back into power.  That‘s the conventional wisdom in Washington. 

We cannot let that happen.  We cannot sit this out.  We can‘t let this country fall backwards.  The stakes are too high.  We have to move this country forward for you and your future.  So there better not be an enthusiasm gap, people.  Not now. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  (INAUDIBLE) speaking tonight to Generation 44, which is the part of the Democratic National Committee that specifically targets younger voters.  We‘ve had some glitches in the audio and video feed because of weather on the east coast. 

Joining us now once again is Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist from “The Washington Post” and MSNBC political analyst.  Gene, thanks for sticking with us. 

EUGENE ROBINSON, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING COLUMNIST, “WASHINGTON POST”: 

I‘m glad to do it, Rachel.  This is just huge.

MADDOW:  Is the - there better not be an enthusiasm gap - something that is better left unspoken?  Is it the sort of thing you ought to be encouraging not to be true, but not saying?  I don‘t want it to be true?  What‘s the best way to deal with that? 

ROBINSON:  Well, the enthusiasm gap is, frankly, so obvious, Rachel, I think you might as well confront it head-on, because - he says there better not be an enthusiasm gap, but in fact, there is one. 

And it‘s been measured in every survey.  And it‘s what kind of militates against the fact that, you know, in some polls and some races, there have been a lot of signs that Democrats are coming home, that they are focusing in on the election and saying, “Gee, we‘re really, you know - we‘re upset with the Democrats.  But we really don‘t want the Republicans.” 

But you know, will they go out to vote?  And will those first-time Obama voters, whom he‘s addressing tonight, Obama‘s people, will they go out and actually take the trouble to go to the polls?  And that‘s going to be a huge factor on November 2nd

MADDOW:  The president obviously trying to make that case overtly.  I think I agree with you that it‘s so obvious and it is so the common wisdom in Washington.  There‘s no - sort of no traction in not talking about it. 

But in terms of how he is going to motivate people, the thing I can‘t figure out is if the president is modeling for other Democratic candidates, how he thinks they ought to be campaigning, because he is running on his record. 

He‘s saying, “We‘ve done stuff over two years.  It‘s been really hard.  They want us to flag.  Let‘s not flag.”  And is that modeling for the Democrats how they ought to be running?  Or is he essentially saying, “This is president-only campaigning.  I know I‘m not in the ballot.  I‘m trying to get people excited but I realize all you other candidates are essentially going to talk about, you know, outsourcing or whatever? 

ROBINSON:  Right.  I think it‘s more the latter, frankly.  I mean, it‘s modeling for some Democrats who are in, say, districts.  But for Democrats, especially the group Democrats who won two years ago in districts that traditionally had gone Republican since there was such a Democratic sweep. 

I mean, you know, they were going to have trouble in any event holding on to those seats.  And given the energy, again, on the other side, on the Republican side, obviously, they‘re not going to go out and give this speech. 

They‘re not going to run on Obama‘s record.  They‘re going to run, in some cases, away from Obama‘s record.  And the White House has signaled that, basically, OK, that‘s cool.  You do what you need to do to try to win reelection. 

But for some Democrats, yes, this would be a model.  I think we‘ll hear this again and again from him because he does, I think, uniquely reach a class of voters that kind of span the whole country. 

MADDOW:  Eugene Robinson, thank you very much for going overtime with us tonight.  I really appreciate it, Gene.  It‘s great to see you. 

ROBINSON:  Good night, Rachel. 

MADDOW: It is unclear whether or not Congressman John Boehner has actually measured the drapes in the office of the speaker of the House yet.  But he sure gave a speech today as if he is ready to be doing that.  Irony that sick demands the RACHEL MADDOW SHOW players.  We‘ll see if we can get involved.  Please stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  The Republican Party‘s chosen candidates got beaten over and over again in Republican primaries this year by candidates the party did not want and that, in some cases, the party actively and very vociferously campaigned against. 

Republican fundraising isn‘t really much happening through the Republican Party anymore.  It‘s outside groups and campaign committees.  One of the most interesting things about politics in 2010 has been watching the RNC, Republican Party itself, essentially become beside the point. 

RNC chairman Michael Steele was so exiled from the political process this year that he‘s been on a bus touring dozens of Congressional districts where there is no chance the Republicans can lose. 

Then wait, why send the national chairman?  Oh, right.  And when he‘s not doing that, he‘s being sent literally thousands of miles offshore to places like Guam and Saipan.  But Mr. Steele‘s exile is coming to an end.  Mr. Steele  is finally coming home. 

The chairman of the Republican Party is being allowed back into politics.  And RNC fundraising is once again a real prospect because the RNC is now going to host fundraisers with Sarah Palin. 

As first reported by “Politico.com,” Gov. Palin will be at the RNC‘s victory 2010 rallies in Anaheim, California next month and in Orlando, Florida.  Michael Steele will be there, too. 

But if you look at the invitation that‘s been posted online by CNN, you can see who‘s doing the headlining.  It‘s the one whose name is in big blue cursive letters, the Honorable Sarah Palin.  Did I say that cursively enough?  The Honorable Sarah Palin. 

For a mere $30,000 a couple, you can get a private meeting with Gov. Palin.  So any average folks with $30,000 burning a hole in their pocket can meet the woman from Wasilla who went home to Facebook. 

And that is how Michael Steele and the Republican Party itself will return to politics, through the grace and the fundraising capacity of Sarah Palin.  The rent cloth is mended.  The split seams are sewn.  The lion lays down with the lamb. 

And instead of the brave new Republican world, it just goes back to being 2008 again.  We should have know this how it will all work out in the end.  We should have known, but now we do.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Coming up on “The Last Word” with Lawrence O‘Donnell tonight, Lawrence continues his guest list from heaven tonight with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the one and only Meghan McCain. 

Coming up on this show, acting, makeup, cigarette.  Please stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER:  I‘ve been here nearly 20 years.  I‘ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly.  And lately, there‘s been a lot of ugly. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  A lot of ugly.  That‘s the House Minority Leader, John Boehner, in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. this afternoon. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Take it back.  Take it back.  Wonderful to see you, Congressman. 

MADDOW:  His mission, to persuade that conservative think-tank and presumably the American people that if the Republicans take back the House in this election, the institution will be safe in their hands. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Good to see you, Congressman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER:  In the Constitution, the House of Representatives is the first institution of the first branch of government, the body closest to the people.  It‘s an awesome responsibility. 

And we should take pride in it and we should be humbled by it.  The House, more than any other part of our government, is the most direct voice of the people and, therefore, should be avoided or afforded the most care in protecting its ability to protect the people‘s will. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  The House should be afforded the most care because it is the very first branch of government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Good to see you.  Good to see you. 

MADDOW:  Branch of government?  And Mr. Boehner believes a very bad thing has happened to that branch of government. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER:  From the floor of the House to the committee level, the integrity of the House has been compromised. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  The integrity of the house has been compromised.  John

Boehner saying he‘s going to fix that.  He‘s going to restore that

compromised integrity.  He‘s going - I‘m sorry.  It‘s actually really hard

to concentrate on what I‘m saying with all that racket in here.  What is

going on over -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Don‘t forget to vote for tobacco.  How are you? 

Congressman, great to see you.

MADDOW:  Oh, I see.  It‘s 1995 John Boehner, the then number four leader among House Republicans.  1995 John Boehner handing out checks from the tobacco industry on the floor of the House while the House was in session. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The gentleman from Ohio.  (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  Again, vote for tobacco.  Good to see you.  Oh, I‘ve seen you before, haven‘t I? 

MADDOW:  Seriously, he did that.  He handed out tobacco lobbyist checks to Republican members of Congress on the floor of the House while the House was in session.  It‘s not secret.  He even admitted it to PBS. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER:  They asked me to give out a half dozen checks quickly before we got to the end of the month and I complied.  And I did it on the house floor, which I regret.  I should not have done. 

It‘s not a violation of the House rules, but it‘s a practice that‘s gone on here for a long time that we‘re trying to stop and I know I‘ll never do it again. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Were the checks from tobacco companies? 

BOEHNER:  I think if my memory serves me correctly, I think it was a tobacco check, yes. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  That‘s the guy.  That‘s the guy who took money from tobacco lobbyists and handed out it out like candy to his peers while they were meant to be doing the people‘s business on the floor of the House.

That is the guy who today staked his claim to be speaker of the House and saying he will restore the integrity of that branch of government.  They decided their message for this year‘s elections would be vote Republican because of John Boehner‘s integrity. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Let‘s get a smoke later, huh?  Sounds great.  I‘ll see you in the golf course. 

MADDOW:  I think we might try to keep 1995 John Boehner on staff here for a while. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I love to be here.  How are you?  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) from Ohio.  Again, great to see you. 

MADDOW:  I think he might come in handy. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Good morning, landlocked central Asia.  Landlocked. 

Landlocked - a country that just has other countries on all of its borders.  No coastline at all.  We are waging a war, about to start our 10th year of war, in a country that is landlocked. 

Waging a war, of course, takes a lot of big stuff.  Some of that stuff you can load onto really big planes and get into the country by air.  But not all of it.  Not having a port, not being able to ship anything in is a real logistical pain. 

You really can‘t rely on airlifts for everything.  There‘s going to have to be some shipping.  There‘s going to have to be some trucking. 

Well, here‘s what some of that looks like for our decade of landlocked war in central Asia right now.  These are NATO vehicles loaded onto the back of big, awesome colorful Pakistani jingle trucks. 

Those NATO vehicles on their way to the war over land.  This is how we get a lot of our stuff to war.  Ships can‘t go to Afghanistan because it‘s landlocked.  And they can‘t go to the closest ports, which are in Iran, because, you know, Iran. 

So they go to Karachi, they go to Pakistan.  They go to Karachi and then the stuff gets taken off of ships, put on trucks and then it gets driven all the way across Pakistan, all the way to the northwest corner there, you see there in Pakistan, the Khyber Pass.

And then, they cross over to Afghanistan or onto Kabul or whatever.  That is how we supply the U.S. Military in year 10 of our war in landlocked Afghanistan.  And today, the Pakistani government cut that supply line off.  Our supply lines for this war are that fragile, that stretched out, that thin.  And today, cut off. 

It happened because of the thing we do not call a war in Pakistan.  We talk about our war in Afghanistan, our war in Iraq.  But then, there‘s another war we‘re involved in that we don‘t really have simple language for anymore. 

The Bush administration said it was the war on terror, the war on terrorism, the global war on terrorism.  That language is now used less by the Obama administration, but we‘re still waging it, still all the same. 

The idea is that fighting terrorism is something that has to happen in a way that‘s almost post-national, that terrorist groups aren‘t countries.  They span different countries.  They can move around.  So if you‘re going to fight a war against terrorists who want to launch attacks on Americans, it has to be a global war, a war anywhere on earth.  Countries don‘t really matter. 

But countries do matter.  Borders do matter.  They matter as much to anyone else in the world as they do to us.  And apparently, now, Pakistan is over us.  They are over us acting like the war on people who happen to live in Pakistan, even though we don‘t say it‘s a war on Pakistan, is starting to feel like a war on Pakistan. 

Our flying robots, our planes without pilots, our drones are firing more missiles into Pakistan than ever before.  Recently, it‘s been about one air strike a day.  But it is not just the pace of those remote controlled bombings picking up. 

This weekend, there were also three different air strikes in which U.S. helicopters with pilots flew into Pakistan and launched strikes there.  The U.S. said it was OK to do that because they were in hot pursuit of people who had shot at Americans in Afghanistan.  And they said the hot pursuit rules let them do that. 

Pakistan says there‘s no hot pursuit rules.  Pakistan says, “We never agreed to that.  You actually have to stay out of our country.”  And then, two days ago, “New York Times” reported that Gen. Petraeus warned Pakistan that the U.S. could just start unilateral ground operations inside their country, that we could just send American troops marching into Pakistan. 

We could?  Gen. Petraeus reportedly warning Pakistan of that.  Maybe he should warn us, that at roughly 5:30 in the morning, this morning, local time, not only did U.S. helicopters fly, again, into Pakistan, again, they flew into Pakistan and shot at what everyone now admits were Pakistani soldiers at frontier outpost.  Three of them killed, three injured, border post destroyed. 

Then a few hours later, we hit another one.  NATO issued a statement of sincere condolences to those injured and killed and the government of the country in which those men were killed. 

The government of the real, live actual place with a name in which we are waging a war that we will only say is global, that we won‘t say is there in that specific place, that country‘s government retaliated against us by cutting off our supply route to the 100,000 American troops next door. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RETHMAN MALIK, PAKISTAN FOREIGN MINISTER:  If you are being attacked, are you fighting a war or are you in war together? 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

MADDOW:  Are you fighting a war?  Or are you in war together?  That‘s Pakistan‘s foreign minister.  Pakistan‘s foreign minister also told reporters about the U.S. today this, quote, “We will have to see whether we are allies or enemies.” 

It is the idea of a global war on terrorism that transcends countries, right?  Our idea is about fighting terrorists regardless of where they are, transcending countries, transcending national boundaries. 

But you know, if the United States decides that where it wants to fight happens to be in your country, the idea of what we‘re doing may transcend national boundaries, but the fighting doesn‘t. 

The fighting happens in specific places.  If what‘s going on with this escalation that no one is talking about is that the war in Afghanistan is sort of officially expanding into Pakistan, then this isn‘t just ho-hum, another chapter in the global war that‘s everywhere.

This is Laos and Cambodia 1970.  I don‘t care if people want to talk about AfPak like it‘s a single place, about Pakistan being an extension of the existing war.  What this really is, is war in another country.  It is another war - Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan. 

No matter how much we like to say, “Oh, we‘re just here to help,” you know what?  They do not want us there.  And so it‘s ultimately going to be a war, not with, but against - against a country that has got a government, that has got an army, that has got a population of over 160 million people, more than half the population of our country. 

They‘ve also got a global Diaspora of people from there all over the world, who, in some sense, think of their country as in a war with America.  And oh, yes, Pakistan has nuclear weapons. 

What it seems like is going on right now is that U.S. is testing.  U.S. officials and U.S. military leaders are testing the idea of the war in Afghanistan being expanded into Pakistan.  And they‘re doing it quietly. 

But they‘re talking about it as if it‘s unavoidable, as if it‘s a natural extension of what it is we‘re already doing in the other war.  If that is what‘s happening - if that is what‘s happening, if they‘re test driving, floating this idea of the war expanding into Pakistan, it is not a secret, and it is not going to be a secret. 

I guarantee it.  I don‘t plan on being quiet about it.  In fact, I plan on screaming bloody murder about it. 

That does it for us tonight.  We will see you again tomorrow night.  And now, with his guests, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Meghan McCain, it‘s time for “The Last Word” with Lawrence O‘Donnell.  Good evening, Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, HOST, “THE LAST WORD”:  Thanks, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  Indeed. 

O‘DONNELL:  The lovely Meghan McCain is going to join me tonight.

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