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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, Oct. 21st, 2010

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guests: Nate Silver, Chris Hayes

KEITH OLBERMANN, “COUNTDOWN” HOST:  I‘m Keith Olbermann.  I‘m going to guess that wasn‘t sent by an illegal immigrant to this country.  Good night and good luck.

And now to explain the NPR firing Juan Williams and how that is anything but a First Amendment issue, the 4,932nd time this has come up in the last two years—ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  I intend to just keep repeating it and eventually it will stick.

OLBERMANN:  We have to stamp it on people‘s foreheads backward so they can read it in the mirror.

MADDOW:  Thank you, Keith.

And thanks to you at home for sticking with us this hour.

With less than two weeks to go until this year‘s election, one of the as-yet unexplained, unusual things about this year‘s elections in particular is the absence of macaca moments.  We have been talking about this over the past few days.  And as we have noted over the past few days, there have been a lot of moments this year when Republican candidates for office have said embarrassing or extreme things about race.

But unlike years past, those candidates this year generally haven‘t suffered any negative consequences for those comments or for those actions.  They certainly haven‘t been drummed out of politics the way other candidates have been in years past when things like this have happened.  In fact, this year, quite a few candidates who have said or done really out there, offensive things about race have not only won their primaries but they stand a pretty good chance of winning their general elections as well.

More interesting and more important, though, than any individual moments of prejudice on the campaign trail this year is the question of whether or not there‘s any strategic coherence here, whether this really is a sort of Southern Strategy 2.0.  As we‘ve been trying to tease out this week, you know, the classic Southern Strategy pioneered by the Republican Party in the 1960s and the 1970s in the South was to purposefully allow your candidates to be seen as sort of bigoted as a means of locking up the white vote.

By appearing prejudiced, you write-off all the minority vote, but that‘s OK, the goal is to lock up the white vote, which is much bigger, hence the word minority.  Writing off the minority vote is considered a small price to pay as long as you‘re able to keep minority turnout relatively low and as long you‘re able to lock up every available majority white vote in the process.

You can see the mechanics at work this year when you see most of the racial incidents and comments we have seen on the campaign trail this year take the form of white candidates signaling to white voters, essentially, “Hey, I‘m with you.  I‘m not with them.  It‘s us against them.”


JOHN RAESE (R-WV), SENATE CANDIDATE:  What‘s that guy‘s name, the senator in West Virginia?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Jay Rockefeller.

RAESE:  And he just brought to Charleston yesterday, Dr. Chu or Dr.

Chow or Dr. Chow Mein.  I don‘t know what his name is.


NARRATOR:  Harry Reid is fighting for a program that would give preferred college tuition rates to none other than illegal aliens, using your money to pay for it, leading to a simple question: What does Harry Reid have against you?

FRM. REP. TOM TANCREDO ®, COLORADO:  Mostly because we do not have a

civics literacy test before people can vote in this country -


TANCREDO:  -- people who could not even spell the word “vote” or say

it in English


TANCREDO:  -- put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House. 

His name is Barack Hussein Obama.


MADDOW:  Yes, bring back the literacy tests from Jim Crow.

Can you believe my opponent is siding with those menacing brown people sneaking through the fence?  President Obama‘s energy secretary, Steven Chu, oh, you mean, Dr. Chow Mein.

The unavoidable signal with this stuff is: I do not stand with those people.  I am not with the minority people.  I‘m not with the minority people.  I‘m not with them.  I‘m with you.

You want to know how much I‘m with you, I don‘t even mind offending them.  I‘m going to go out of my way to offend them, in order to signal to you, white voter, that I am with you and not with them.

It‘s an appeal to racial solidarity by white candidates speaking to white voters.  We have seen it before in this country.  We are now seeing it again.

But the uglier thing that gives this its political punch is that you‘re not just making clear to the electorate that the country is divided along racial lines, that you as a candidate stand with them, you stand with the white folks.  You‘re also making clear that there is an active threat against them.

There‘s a fear component here.  White people aren‘t just separate from minorities in the country.  White people need to stand together.  White people need to stand together especially around election time because white people are endanger.  White people are facing a threat.  White people are threatened.

We have that strategy at play this year in politics in terms of how dangerous Latinos are.  They‘re coming across the border.  They‘re coming to get your jobs.

Louisiana Senator David Vitter even ran an ad showing menacing brown people coming through a fence, presumably to get to his constituents, even though Louisiana isn‘t on the border.  Maybe he meant the fence was between Louisiana and Mississippi.  It does start with “M.”

The idea they‘re coming to get you, that they‘re coming to get you stuff, that has been the rhetoric even though illegal immigration is actually down in recent years.  But, still, the political potency is there, right?

White people, be afraid of those brown people.  They‘re coming to get you.

It‘s not just brown people, of course.  Americans have been fed a steady diet of be afraid of black people, too.  We have seen this on FOX News in particular since Barack Obama was elected president.  Whether it‘s the New Black Panther Party, two guys who braid their beard hair who nobody ever heard of before FOX News made them famous.  Or ACORN, which FOX News still contends secretly contends controls the world, we call them trilateral ACORN.  Or Shirley Sherrod or Van Jones.

White people, be afraid of the black people.  They are coming to take something from you that is rightfully yours.

Beyond menacing brown and black people out to get you, though, it‘s worth pointing out today, because of today‘s news, that FOX News in particular has also focused on another target: the scary Muslims that are out to get you.  That has been a FOX News specialty for a long time now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If you‘re a 20 to 30-year-old Islamic male and even if you have no evil intentions, expect to be delayed.  We have to—we have to profile.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s time to have a Muslims checkpoint line in America‘s airports and have Muslims be scrutinized.  You better believe it.  It‘s time.

BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST:  There‘s no question there is a Muslim problem in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The truth is that Muslims tend to be more violent than Christians.

BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Do you think it‘s time for the military to have special debriefings of Muslim Army officers?

MICHELLE MALKIN, CONSERVATIVE JOURNALIST:  The other day, I listed case after case of Muslim soldiers with attitude is what I‘ve called them over the years, who‘ve been able to infiltrate themselves and insinuate themselves in the armed forces despite all sorts of warnings signs about their hatred for America.

GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS HOST:  Muslim day in six flags.  I can‘t imagine that in 1948, they would have had Japanese day at the water park on December 8th.

Stop with the government/Muslim outreach programs, OK?  I‘m tired of it.

While the president was hosting an Iftar dinner for Ramadan—by the way, my apologies, I didn‘t even know Ramadan was happening, so I didn‘t get you a present.  I‘m sorry.  But I am I know it‘s late but I‘m going to put up my Ramadan tree after the program tonight.

O‘REILLY:  Profiled Muslims between the ages of 16 and 45.  That should be done automatically by professionals.

BO DIETL, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR:  These names, Mohammed and Yusef, don‘t they sound familiar?  We have to be able to profile and I‘m sorry.  If I see two guys that looked like abadabado and abadabada, I‘m going to pull them over and find out what they‘re doing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If you are an 18 to 28-year-old Muslim man, then you should be strip-searched.


MADDOW:  FOX News hosts and contributors there.

Today, the biggest story in news about the news is that a news analyst named Juan Williams was fired from his job at National Public Radio for having said this about Muslims on FOX News:


JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR:  When I get on a plane, I‘ve got to on tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they‘re identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried.  I get nervous.


MADDOW:  The short-hand headline for what happened with Mr. Williams today is Juan Williams fired from his job because of those comments about Muslims.

To be more precise about it, to be more accurate, it should be noted that Juan Williams had two jobs and he lost one of them.  He lost his job on National Public Radio, which said his comments were, quote, “inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices.”

So, Juan Williams is no longer working for National Public Radio.  That‘s true.  But he most certainly did not lose his job at FOX News.  In fact, today, Juan Williams was given a raise at FOX News as a result of this whole thing.  Quote, “FOX News handed Williams a new three-year contract Thursday morning, in a deal that amounts to nearly $2 million, a considerable bump up from his previous salary.”

Well, nearly $2 million.  Mazel tov.

FOX News chief executive, Roger Ailes, said of Mr. Williams, quote, “He‘s an honest man whose freedom of speech is protected by FOX News on a daily basis.”

If you mean freedom of speech in a legal sense, constitutional sense, let‘s be clear here.  This is not a First Amendment issue.  Juan Williams has the right, every American citizen, has the right constitutionally to say anything that he wants.  All of us do.  That‘s what the First Amendment does.

The First Amendment does not guarantee you a paid job as a commentator to say what you want.  Your employment as a person paid to speak is at the pleasure of your employer.  In this case, it displeased Juan Williams‘ employer, at least one of them, for him to have reassured the FOX News audience he too is afraid of Muslims on airplanes and that‘s not a bigoted thing.  That comment did not fly with one of the people who was paying one of the organizations that was paying Mr. Williams to say what he thinks.  And so, Juan Williams lost that job.

This is not a First Amendment issue.  This is an issue of what your employer is OK with.

And at FOX News, it is not only OK to talk about Muslims being scary on airplanes, it is expected.  It‘s part of the agenda.  It is what they are selling.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s time to have a Muslims checkpoint line in America‘s airports and have Muslims be scrutinized.  You better believe it.  It‘s time.

O‘REILLY:  There is no question there‘s a Muslim problem in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If you are an 18 to 28-year-old Muslim man, then you should be strip searched.

WILLIAMS:  When I get on a plane, I‘ve got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they‘re identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried.  I get nervous.


MADDOW:  Be afraid, America.  Be afraid.  And don‘t forget to vote. 



MADDOW:  Programming note for you.  This Sunday, the 24th, I will be a guest on NBC‘s “Meet the press.”  I always find it a fun and invigorating way to spend an early Sunday morning.  But add in the fact that this appearance comes just nine days before the election and the fact that David Gregory has also booked RNC Chairman Michael Steele, and it just makes me that much more excited about being on “Meet the Press” this Sunday.  I hope you‘ll be able to watch.


MADDOW:  Twelve days from now, everybody expects that it will be a blood red night.  But at the very least, everything that is red will stay red.  And everything that isn‘t already red, will turn red.  It will be a big night for Republicans on election night.  That is what everybody‘s expecting.

And, look, writ large, it is true that Republicans are set to have a big night.  But as we closer to the actual election, there are a few interesting potential exceptions—one of the sleepers seems to be the U.S. Senate race in Alaska.  I never thought we would be talking about this race in these terms again.

But ever since Lisa Murkowski lost the Republican primary to hold on to her own seat, that race has gone off in a million different directions at once.  You‘ll recall that Lisa Murkowski skipped that whole unity event thing and decided not to endorse the Republican who beat her in the primary, Joe Miller.  Then she decided to run a write-in campaign against him.

The Democrat in the race, Scott McAdams, went from totally unknown mayor from Sitka, Alaska.  Remember when we interviewed him on the show?  Right after the primary, he was at the state fair?

Since then, Scott McAdams has gone from virtual unknown to a pretty polished candidate.  He‘s putting out good ads, even as Joe Miller is getting tons of money and attention from out of state, Scott McAdams, as promised, has been running a totally Alaska-focused campaign.

But he‘s running it well enough that now, really late in the game, he‘s starting to get some national attention of his own.

But the most unexpected direction this Alaska Senate race has gone in since the primary is that Joe Miller, who won the Republican primary—Joe Miller has turned out to be a disaster of a candidate.  It‘s taking basically all of the outside Alaska money in the world to make up for the deficiencies he has shown as a candidate.

I mean, Social Security, Mr. Miller says it is unconstitutional.  Health reform, that‘s unconstitutional, too.  Unemployment insurance is unconstitutional.

It is—it is fine to be a guy who holds all of those as ideological positions, as policy positions.  It is also OK to be a guy whose family has received Social Security and Medicaid and unemployment insurance, even farm subsidies.  You can be a person who has received all of those things and you can be a person who thinks all of those things are unconstitutional.

It is very difficult to be a candidate who says these things are unconstitutional or even merely bad, and to also be the guy who has received all of those things.  That‘s hard to explain.

Mr. Miller also has been campaigning on the basis of his resume, in particular, his past job experience.  He has been doing that while refusing to answer questions about why he was reprimanded at a past job for improper political activity.  He‘s also seeking to block a lawsuit to release his personnel records.

But he still wants to run on his record.  He just doesn‘t want to answer any questions about it.


JOE MILLER ®, ALASKA SENATE CANDIDATE:  We‘ve drawn a line in the sand.  You can ask me about my background.  You can ask me personal issues.  I‘m not going to answer it.  I‘m not.


MADDOW:  I want to talk about my record.  I refuse to answer questions about it.  That was—it‘s such a common thing that you imagine that candidates might wish for.  It‘s a very uncommon thing for candidates to insist on to the press.

And, in fact, that was such a strange pronouncement from Joe Miller that a group of 40 Alaska Republicans, many of whom were either current or former members of the state party central committee, Republicans, put out a statement saying, quote, “No electable candidate can seriously pursue elected office without implicitly saying to voters, ‘I promise to be ethical, honest and accountable and as open and transparent as possible.‘  It is unacceptable and certainly not a winning strategy to explicitly refuse to answer reasonable questions about one‘s self, and to disrespect the Alaska public and the press‘s right to do so before the questions have even been asked.”

That‘s Republicans.

On top of all that, Joe Miller‘s answer to a question about border security was that he liked the way that East Germany handled the issue.


MILLER:  East Germany was very, very able to reduce the flow.  Now, obviously other, things were involved.  We have the capacity to, as a great nation, secure a border.  If East Germany can do it, we can do it.


MADDOW:  Wen you say other things were involved, what are you thinking of?

We‘re talking communist East Germany here.  If East Germany could, we could, he said.  Yes, we can.  We can imprison our own citizens as a method of border patrol and shoot hundreds and hundreds of fleeing people against a Berlin Wall kind of thing.  Other things were involved.  Yes, amazing.

At that same forum that same day, Joe Miller‘s mysterious private security detail under some mysterious authority handcuffed and fake arrested a local journalist trying to ask him questions at a public forum that was held at a public school.

So, all in all here, Lisa Murkowski is still in the race and she‘s killing Joe Miller in her ads.  Joe Miller himself is killing Joe Miller every time he opens his mouth or sees another revelation about him become public.  And meanwhile, Scott McAdams—Scott McAdams—the Democrat who nobody knew, Scott McAdams, slowly, quietly running a campaign that is greatly improving his standing in the polls and the eyes of the nation, for a different reason this time, turn north.

Joining us now is Nate Silver, author of the “FiveThirtyEight” electoral politics blog at “The New York Times.”

Nate, it is great to see you.  Thanks for your time.

NATE SILVER, NEW YORK TIMES:  Yes.  Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Where did Scott McAdams start in the poll after the primaries and how has that changed over time?

SILVER:  So, when Miller won, I mean, he was close than you might think.  He was within eight or 10 points in some polls.  It looked at first when Murkowski entered, that she might get kind of—some the centrist vote in Alaska, some of the moderates.  There aren‘t many Democrats and it might hurt him.

But what‘s happened now is that, you know, Miller has lost some standing, right?  And they‘re all converging back to a third, a third, a third.  And both he and Murkowski are 35 percent.  And that‘s a target that McAdams could reach, right?

When you don‘t have that many Democrats in Alaska, but you have enough if you get almost all of them and maybe a third or 40 percent of the independents, you can get to 35 percent and win a three-way race.  You don‘t need 51 percent when you have three candidates.

MADDOW:  So, right now, the polls are showing again, very broadly, a third, a third, a third.  And you could win with—you could win with any percentage of the vote.  There‘s no threshold you have to meet in order to win in this race.

SILVER:  Yes.  I mean, it‘s two things, right?  He is a bit behind.  So, he‘s at about 27 percent or 28 percent in these polls, or five or on six points behind the leaders, right?

What he also has to happen is not for one candidate not to pull ahead, right?  If Miller implodes too much more and Murkowski takes all of his votes, and she‘ll be up at 45 percent and that‘s probably, you know, more than he can obtain in a state like Alaska, in a cycle like this one.

MADDOW:  OK.  So, one of the things that is so interesting to me about this race is that I can‘t understand how you poll a race that has a write-in candidate because you can‘t say, would you vote for Scott McAdams or Joe Miller or Lisa Murkowski?  Because that‘s not going to replicate the situation that voters face that day.  You also can‘t really say, are you going to vote for Joe Miller, or Scott McAdams or anyone else?  I men, literally, how do you do the polling?

SILVER:  Well, literally, what you said is how some pollsters are trying to survey the race, right?  Will they say, hey, will it be these two or someone else?  If they say someone else, they‘ll ask, oh, who would it be, by the way, right?

Others pollsters kind of, people who say that they want to vote for Murkowski, like are you sure?  It‘s going to be a real pain to write her name, to fill the oval right, and see how much support that caused her, you know?

The thing that‘s interesting to the case, though, is that—in part because of the way Joe Miller has run his campaign, he‘s become a fairly unappealing candidate and I think he‘s probably offended a fair number of Murkowski supporters and so, you know, they will have, I think, enough determination where they might go through the extra effort, where she were kind of a candidate seem entitled and he were the underdog, you might not have the dynamic.  I might get in the polling place and say, you know, I like them both.  I‘m going to save myself some effort and vote for Miller because it‘s easier.

MADDOW:  Obviously, the Democratic strategy here with Murkowski being the incumbent but voted out in the primary, Miller getting a ton and ton of outside national attention and national money, it seems like the McAdams strategy here has been to sit back and let Murkowski and Miller go at each other and do some damage to one another.

SILVER:  Right.

MADDOW:  But McAdams has been quietly doing some fundraising.  His campaign went out of their way this week, talked about reaching the $1 million mark in their fundraising.  Is that enough money for him to be competitive in Alaska?

SILVER:  Well, there are about 500,000 people in Alaska.  So, it‘s $2 per person, right?  So, it‘s the equivalent of having $40 million or $50 million in California.  So, it will go a long way.

I mean, Joe Miller won the primary with an infusion of money from the Tea Party which is worth half a million dollars, right?  So, you know, he can get very high levels of turnout among Democrats.  There are some liberal-leaning, centrist and independents.  There are also people who just don‘t like either Murkowski or Joe Miller, you know?

So, the potential for him to reach 35 percent, maybe 36 percent is there.  He would need some help though to make sure that the remaining votes are split about evenly between the two Republicans, because otherwise, you know, he might do as well as you can in a state like Alaska and not quite come out ahead.

MADDOW:  Is it going to take forever on election night to find out who won?

SILVER:  For one thing, we might not know how many of the write-in votes are actually Murkowski votes for a couple of days, right?


SILVER:  Because if you fill out the oval incorrectly, you don‘t spell her name right, that ballot will receive some scrutiny.  And you know, we might have a process that‘s drawn out for weeks or maybe even months.  I mean, if it‘s at all close, you‘re going to have Minnesota cube basically because every ballot for her, not just this handful of a thousand ballots will be debatable.  And they‘ll have lots of arguments about them.

MADDOW:  Wow.  I wish it was easier to get to Alaska, I have to say.   This is like, it‘s so—this is such an interesting race.  They‘re all three such interesting candidates.  And the way this is spinning out is it‘s so unpredictable and people are so into it.  It has nothing to do with Sarah Palin.   It‘s all very exciting.

Nate Silver, author of the “FiveThirtyEight” electoral politics blog at “The New York Times”—thanks a lot, Nate.

SILVER:  Yes.  Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW:  OK.  This is day two of my attempt to win a date with George W. Bush on Facebook.  I‘m not very good at Facebook but you guys have helped out a lot.  Our application is in.  I think it‘s really good.  Details ahead.


MADDOW:  In life and in television, I have always thought it is wise to avoid “I told you so” moments.  But sometimes, “I told you so” moments just happen.  And there‘s no way to explain what happened without the “I told you so.”  I‘m very sorry.


CHRISTINE O‘DONNELL ®, DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE:  Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?

CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE:  The First Amendment.  The First Amendment establishes the separation, the fact that the federal government shall not establish any religion, and decisional law by the Supreme Court over many decades clarifies and enshrines clarifies and enshrines that there is a separation of church and state that our courts and our laws must respect.

O‘DONNELL:  So, you‘re telling me that the separation of church and state is in the first amendment?


MADDOW:  The thing you don‘t get from just reading that exchange that you do get from the tape is that she thinks she‘s just won.  She thinks she‘s got one over on Chris Coons there.  She just scored a huge giant political touchdown.  She nailed him.  Stick a fork in Chris Coons.  He is done.  (INAUDIBLE) first amendment or something about religion in it.  That‘s what I thought was going on in that debate.

From her body language and the way she reacted to being corrected, what seems to be going on there is that Christine O‘Donnell had thought she had won that point.  That she‘d caught out Chris Coons for his crazy belief that the first amendment says exactly what the first amendment says.  That‘s what I thought was going on in her mind, in that moment.  It‘s so creepy to be right.


O‘DONNELL:  It‘s really funny the way that the media reports things, because after that debate, my team and I, we were literally high-fiving each other thinking that we had exposed he doesn‘t know the first amendment.  And then when we read the reports that said the opposite, we were all like, what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So, you think you got the better of him in that exchange?

O‘DONNELL:  I do think I got the better of him.


MADDOW:  And now, we commit myself to never I told you so‘ing ever again until we have to, until next time.


MADDOW:  “The New York Times” this week front-paged a great piece about money that you didn‘t notice you have.  There‘s one part of the stimulus bill the Obama administration gave 95 percent of Americans a tax cut.  Up to $400 a year for individuals and $800 a year for married couples.  Now, don‘t get excited about this coming down the pike.  The fact is, you already got this.  It‘s just that nobody noticed it because it didn‘t arrive in the form of a check.  It didn‘t arrive as a lump sum payment.

Instead, it‘s been coming to you directly through your paycheck in the form of a few extra dollars every week.  An average family getting about $65 a month from this tax cut.  Now, that happens to be the most economically stimulative way to give people a tax cut.  If you just get a lump sum check in the mail, you‘re more likely to put that check in the bank and save it.  But instead, if you just get a few more dollars in your paycheck, you are more likely to spend those dollars to their by add demand to our nation‘s supply and demand and that‘s what stimulates the economy.

Economically, it is totally the most responsible way to do tax cuts as stimulus.  You literally hope that people don‘t notice the few extra dollars in their check and they spend them.  But for Democrats and the White House, people not getting this as a big fat check in the mail.  Also, meant that this tax cut has not converted itself into, hey, I cut your taxes, political capital.  I mean, taxes, in general, are hard to get our heads around.  How much did you pay last year, for example?  What tax bracket are you in?

Do you remember exactly how much you paid in taxes last year, the dollar amount?  If I asked you, can you please tell me the exact dollar amount you paid last year?  Would you be able to tell me without looking it up?  If you were Bank of America, you could.  Bank of America paid this much in taxes last year.  Bank of America paid exactly $00.00.  Bank of America paid nothing in taxes last year.  Another mega financial institution, Citi Bank also paid $0 in taxes, nothing.  The General Electric Corporation, a.k.a. big papa around here, our parent company, GE also paid $0 in taxes.  Zippo.  In net of zero.

Which one of those companies paid zip (ph) $0 in corporate taxes?  And they‘re not alone.  There are lots of companies in this boat, even big ones.  And it‘s not that these corporations even necessarily had a bad year last year.  They all earned significant income, but none of them paid anything in taxes.  $00.00, which means you, and all likely you, personally, paid more in taxes than Bank of America, Citi Bank, and GE did last year.  You personally probably paid more than all of them combined.

Why is that?  Because in America, it is good to be a corporation.  The tax code is set up in a way that big companies find loopholes, and they move their revenue around, and they structure their books so that they end up netting out paying an effective tax rate a very little, very little.  Like in some cases, nothing.  And you can tell from our politics that politicians are counting on us not understanding that.


LINDA MCMAHON, (R-CT) SENATE CANDIDATE:  We can do better by creating the environment to attract business.  We can lower our corporate tax rate.  You know, we have the largest tax rate, corporate tax rate in the world at 35 percent.  The average is 18 percent.

SHARRON ANGLE, (R-NV) SENATE CANDIDATE:  We also need to talk about taxation as well, you know, the corporate tax rate.  Why is Ireland at 12.5 percent?  Here, we‘re at 25 percent to 35 percent.

CARLY FIORINA, (R-CA) SENATE CANDIDATE:  Indeed, I would argue there are some additional tax cuts we need to make.  When we‘re dealing with a 35 percent tax on business when the world averages 18 percent, we‘re increasingly uncompetitive.


MADDOW:  Sure.  It‘s 25 percent, 35 percent, 35 percent corporate taxes.  And the net taxes that lots of corporations pay work out to be significantly less than 35 percent.  How do you do zero as a percent of 35 per divide by—lots of Republicans running for office this year promising to cut that onerous corporate tax rate.  If Bank of America, Citi Bank, GE, and lots of other corporations are already paying a net tax rate of 0.  If they‘re paying $0, what exactly is cutting that tax rate going to do for them?

I‘m sorry, we‘re finding $0 such a burden.  Next year, we really need to some tax relief.  We need to pay less than that.  This is a perfect case study for understanding what it is to run for office in election 2010.  It is true that a true fact that 95 percent of Americans got a fat tax cut from the Democratic stimulus bill.  That is true.

But nobody believes it.  On the other hand, it is not true that corporations generally pay onerous taxes in this country.  In fact, many of the biggest ones paying nothing, but Republicans are counting in this election on everybody believing that the corporate tax rate is super onerous.  Tada.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  November 2nd is the time for choosing.  And at the time for choosing, we will choose those who promise to cut the corporate tax rate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We have the second highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We take out these corporate tax rates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We are to lower the corporate tax rate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If I had my way, we would lower the corporate tax rate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Cut the corporate tax rate, maybe by as much as a third.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We believe we ought to cut corporate tax rates. 

We believe we ought to change the disadvantage that our corporations have.


MADDOW:  It sucks to have to pay $0 in taxes.  We‘ve got to make that easier for them.  Joining us now is Chris Hayes, Washington editor of the “Nation Magazine” and MSNBC contributor.  Thanks for being here, Chris.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Thanks, Rachel.  Well, I want to know is how much in taxes Kabletown is paying with a “K.”

MADDOW:  Kabletown?

HAYES:  Yes.  That‘s the new owner of NBC and 30 Rock.

MADDOW:  Oh, very good.  Kabletown.  Kabletown.  All right.  Isn‘t this the best possible year for Democrats to be saying, I stand with you and the Republicans stand with the big guy?  Look at how they‘re trying to protect the big guy.  Look at these loopholes.  How come this corporate tax cut stuff is not seen by Democrats as more of a soft target for hitting Republicans?

HAYES:  It‘s a really good question.  I think A, it‘s a failure of imagination, right?  I think the Democrats have been sort of beaten into submission on the tax issue.  I mean, even liberal Democrats, right, want to talk about for whom should we cut taxes, right?  That‘s the debate is.  For whom should we cut taxes?  It‘s just inconceivable that anyone, anywhere, whether a corporation or a person or a rich person should pay more in taxes.

I mean, we‘ve seen the debate over letting the Bush tax cuts expire, but any kind of affirmative raising of taxes or even enforcement of current tax law is viewed as Democrats as somehow politically toxic.  And I think you‘re right.  I think that‘s wrong.  I think you can run 30-second ads that say, look, Bank of America, who caused this financial crisis paid $0 in taxes this year, and you paid a heck of a lot more than that, and there‘s something wrong with that.  And I think it is a winning political issue, but so far, Democrats haven‘t done much with it.

MADDOW:  I feel like in years past, Democrats have made an issue of corporate loopholes, about tax loopholes—

HAYES:  Sure.

MADDOW:  About people getting away with it.  And that‘s the sort of

thing that I feel like there is a Democratic vocabulary for it.  We‘re just not seeing it this year.  Do you think it‘s a strategic decision to not do it in 2010 even though they might do it in other years?  After the economic crisis, you would think that this would be the year of all years to do it.

HAYES:  Yes.  I mean, there are a few things here.  One is that, you know, there was an attempt to shut down some of the loopholes, which died a kind of embryonic death in committee, particularly, the loopholes that were all over the news saying with Google paying like 2 percent in taxes and all these esoteric terms like the double Irish and the Dutch sandwich and all these bizarre, you know, tax loopholes that involve moving money around the globe and all sorts of esoteric ways.

The problem is that never came up for a vote, right?  So, there was never some sort of like stand on the battlement moment where you can say, look, we voted for this.  This is what we want.  This is what they want.  That line was never drawn.  So, now, coming down the stretch, it‘s a harder thing to run on, right, because you never had that fight upfront.

MADDOW:  What about the larger Democratic issue of talking about the economy, right?  I mean, it‘s hard to dramatize things would be worse, right?

HAYES:  I know.  I know.

MADDOW:  It‘s hard to make dramatic thing that didn‘t happen.  But it seems criminal, seems like political criminal malpractice that less than 10 percent of people in this country know that they got a fat tax cut that they, in fact, got.  How is that even possible?

HAYES:  You know, I‘m so glad that you pointed out that “New York Times” article which is by a great reporter named Michael Cooper who‘s been writing about the stimulus effects.  And here‘s the way I think about that stimulus right.  Let‘s say you hired someone to water your lawn.  There‘s two ways they could do it.  They could take the hose and they could point it in one spot in the lawn and they can create a huge pond.  So, when you came from home from work, you knew the lawn was watered, and yet, wasn‘t very good for the lawn.

Or they could actually do the right thing for the lawn right is spread the water around, and when by the time you got home and it all evaporated and you didn‘t know it was watered and it was the best thing for the lawn.  I think this is really a case of the Obama administration to their tremendous credit, right?  Choosing policy over politics.  I mean, they didn‘t do the thing that would have been more politically expedient thing to do but the less stimulative thing to do.

And they‘re getting killed for it.  At the end of the day, I think there‘s a certain kind of noble fidelity to good policy represented in that.  But you‘re right, it‘s criminal and crazy that they haven‘t been able to let people know that that tax cut is there.

MADDOW:  If you are that lawn care company, you may be doing the right thing by lawns everywhere except you will go out of business.

HAYES:  Exactly.

MADDOW:  If people come home from work and think that you have not water their lawn.  So, I mean, you don‘t have to do something bad in order to get noticed, but you at least need to, I don‘t know, set up a web cam so your clients can see the sprinkler while they‘re at work.  You got to do something to showcase this.

HAYES:  No.  And that‘s true.  And remember—I mean, everybody should remember the extreme example of this, right, is that when the Bush tax cuts got passed, I don‘t know if you remember this, but they actually sent a check, right?  The IRS sent a check.  And the check said in the header, it was like, thanks to the tax relief act of 2003, passed by—and said the name George W. Bush and the United States Congress—you received this money.  And that was—look, I mean, that was totally crass, but it was effective.

MADDOW:  Yes.  Crass but effective.  Crass but effective.  This should be a mantra for Democrats.  Crass but effective.  Chris Hayes, Washington editor of the “Nation Magazine” and MSNBC contributor, thank you, Chris.

HAYES:  Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  All right.  Coming up on the “Last Word,” Lawrence O‘Donnell has put together an A-team of experts to tackle the giant headache of how to actually balance the federal budget.  Not just talking smack about it, but how you would actually do it.  Totally ambitious.  Totally awesome.  Lawrence also has a guest on his show tonight named Rachel Maddow.  I will be joining Lawrence toward the end of the hour.  I‘m really looking forward to that.

Coming up on this show, calculating the odds of me winning an interview with George W. Bush.  And the big fat GOP soft target that Democrats are inexplicably ignoring even now.  Please stay with us.


MADDOW:  On MSNBC—on MSNBC, excuse me, on Monday, we here at MSNBC will be premiering a new documentary.  It‘s called “The Assassination of Dr. Tiller.”  This new documentary explains how that murder happened.  What we know of why it happened.  I have to tell you it has the anti-abortion people very mad before they have even seen it.  I agree that this may be a controversial documentary, but we think it is fair, and we think it‘s important.  I‘m the narrator of the film.  It premiers right here in this time slot, Monday, at 9:00 p.m. eastern.  We hope you‘ll watch.  We‘ll be right back.


MADDOW:  We have asked President George W. Bush if he would please join us for an interview on this program.  We have not heard back.  Ever.  Any of the times that we have asked George W. Bush to please be on the show.  Now that we have a new cause for hope because George W. Bush is holding a contest on Facebook.  If you win the contest on Facebook, you get to fly to Dallas to interview George W. Bush in person, which I very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very much want to do.  To enter the contest, you have to submit interview questions that you would like to ask Mr. Bush.  We got a ton of help from you, guys, who submitted hundreds of potential questions when we asked for help at

Yesterday, I practiced asking a few of the more promising questions with Kent Jones.  I don‘t know how that went, really?  I mean, did that go OK?  I can‘t really tell.  We really want to win, but this is hard.  We have never done anything like this before with our show.  I mean, live TV is one thing with all of you sitting out there and me here, but a video for a former president.  What is the most compelling approach?

Where is this on the TV production continuum between the bookends of like “Meet the Press” and “Jersey Shore.”  I mean, do you go for funny?  Do you go for substantive?  Substantive funny, surreal, flattery, charm, intellectual heft, ostentatious, lack of intellectual heft?  I mean, when George W. Bush looks at our application, what is he going to like the best?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Mr. President, Jenny Thomas worked in your transition team in 2000.  So, should her husband, Justice Clarence Thomas, have recused himself from Bush v Gore?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Do you feel your ownership society slogans contributed to the housing bubble in the current foreclosure crisis?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  In your presidential opinion, is the rent too damn high?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Have you been to Crawford, Texas, since leaving office?  And do you claim the ranch as a work place for a tax break?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  As a conservative and a Republican, how do you reconcile the GOP stands on limited government when it comes to taxes, gun control, and campaign finance with its invasive involvement in American‘s live and matters such as sexual orientation, reproductive choice and personal recreational drug use?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Do you ever dream you‘re a Democrat?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If you were a crayon, which sovereign nation would you invade?


MADDOW:  Just some of the many very good questions for George W. Bush submitted by you guys at the Maddow blog, auditioned by the members of the RACHEL MADDOW SHOW staff.  We did finally whittle it down and submitted our application today with about 17 minutes to spare.  We will post our actual application on  So, you can check it out.  Thanks to everybody for your help with this.

Thank you in particular for the one about the crayon.  That one, in addition, to being totally inappropriate was also perfect.  Our application is in.  We will let you know if we make the semifinals.  Fingers crossed.


MADDOW:  Republican Senate candidates Ken Buck of Colorado and Sharron Angle of Nevada each got into some political trouble this year for saying that they wanted to privatize the Veterans Administration.


ANGLE:  I know he pays over $800 a month in prescription drugs that we can‘t get through his VA nor through Medicare.  They just won‘t cover those things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Should they cover those things?

ANGLE:  No.  Not if you‘re working toward a privatized system.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Would a Veterans Administration hospital that is run by the private sector be better run than by the public sector?  In my view, yes.


MADDOW:  After making those comments about privatizing the VA, both candidates got hit hard by their Democratic opponents.  Senator Harry Reid ran this ad against Sharron Angle.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Now, in another extreme proposal, Sharron Angle says privatize it, end the VA as we know it.  When she was asked whether veterans‘ benefits like prescriptions and doctor visits will be covered if she had her way?

ANGLE:  No, not if you‘re working towards a privatized system.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And our (ph) promise to veterans, Sharron Angle, dangerous ideas that put veterans at risk.

HARRY REID, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER:  I‘m Harry Reid, and I approve this message.


MADDOW:  That‘s the ad that ran in Nevada.  In Colorado, Senator Michael Bennett, the Democrat, hit Ken Buck for the privatize the VA position, and then he went the extra step of rallying Colorado veterans against Ken Buck.  The most obvious way to tell if a political attack has been effective is to see the impact that the attack has on its target.  And in both case of Ken Buck and Sharron Angle, when they got called out for saying they wanted to privatize the VA, it was textbook.  And both of them dithered then denied then basically tried to change the subject.  It was stop, squirm and run.


ANGLE:  I said that they could do a better job, that‘s all I said, is the VA could do a better job for our veterans.


MADDOW:  Actually, that‘s not all you said.  As for Ken Buck, first his campaign walked back what he said, quote, “what Ken is saying is that our veterans deserve the best.  And I think it‘d be hard for us to find a lot of people who would say the government does the best job.  Ken is not for privatizing the VA hospitals.”  Then his campaign denied he ever said it, quote, “Ken Buck has never advocated the privatization of any veteran‘s hospital.”  Then, three days after that denial, Ken Buck went and said it again.


KEN BUCK, (R-CO) U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE:  I think that the private sector runs operations like hospitals and other operations better than the government.  If we can reduce the deficit and provide better quality of care for our veterans, I‘m in favor of doing things like that.


MADDOW:  Stop, squirm, and run.  He was for it before he was against it before he never said it before he was for it again.  Privatizing the VA is such a politically indefensible position that both Ken Buck and Sharron Angle were incredibly soft targets on this.  Both of their Democratic opponents scored big with political attacks on that issue.  And that is why I do not understand why more Democrats aren‘t running on veteran issues.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America has just put out its report card grading Congress on how they‘re doing on veteran issues.  Overall, the news is not great.  The overall news for IAVA and for us as a nation trying to make sure we keep our promises to veterans is that scores declined overall from the 110th Congress to the current 111th.  That‘s the most important thing in terms of veterans issues.  But in this campaign season, this seems important, too.

Of the 94 members of Congress who got an A or A+ from IAVA for standing by this generation of American veterans, 91 of the 94 are Democrats.  Three are republicans.  The other side of it, perhaps the more infuriating side of it, of the 154 members who got a D or an F from IAVA for standing by this generation of American veterans?  12 are democrats, 142 are Republicans.

When you see what happened to Ken Buck and Sharron Angle when they got hit on not supporting veterans, on putting veterans at risk?  When you see the way those attacks landed like a sledge hammer on both of those candidates, why aren‘t more Democratic candidates talking about this?  Now it‘s time for the “Last Word” with Lawrence O‘Donnell.



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