Skip navigation

'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

Guest Host: Bill Wolff

Guests: Ezra Klein, Shannyn Moore, Jon Stewart, Melissa Harris-Perry

BILL WOLFF, GUEST HOST:  Well, hi, everybody.  I‘m Bill Wolff, the executive producer of THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW.  Rachel has a well-earned night off tonight.

But there are things going on in this world worth knowing on this bleary not exactly a holiday, not exactly workday, and that is why I‘m wearing a neck tie.

For one thing, the end of the 2010 election, which we have been waiting for so long is about to happen.  We have that story.

For another, Delaware‘s second place finisher for Senate, Christine O‘Donnell, may be in peril of something far worse and having people on TV like me mock her.

We have a full on “Debunktion Junction,” some of the freshly pertinent work of Rachel Maddow, and yes, just because the case of President Obama and his call about professional football player and ex-con Michael Vick.

So, if the Good Lord is willing and the teleprompter don‘t fail, we will try to make this time worth your while.

And we begin tonight with snow-mageddon, of course, the snow-pacalypse.  The big breaking news headline that it snowed in December in the Northeast.  Shocking?  Yes.  But it happened as you have no doubt seen on every network, every hour, for the past three days because when it happens in New York, everybody, it happens to all of you through the great glory of television.

This mother of all blizzards like mothers of blizzards past has generally elicited three different responses.  Now, if you live along the East Coast, in one of the affected areas, you feel panic and, of course, hostility for airlines and mayors and governors and snowplow drivers.  How dare any of you do anything you did?

If you live anywhere else in the country, you probably feel like yawning because who cares?

But if you are someone who doesn‘t believe in global warming, who thinks the idea of climate change is the invention of some attention-starved scientists and Al Gore trying to fool everyone for some unknown but probably evil purpose, you probably felt vindication—sweet, sweet snow-covered vindication.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  For some people, extreme snowstorms, like we saw this week, just more proof that global warming is a fraud.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You‘re looking at video of an extremely snowy Britain from this week—so much for global warming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s the coldest December in the U.K. since 1772.  It feels like there‘s a lot of evidence out there to completely debunk the whole global warming theory.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The East Coast blanketed with snow.  Businesses and travel virtually shut down.  So, where are all the global warming alarmists now?


WOLFF:  So, once again, for the record, everybody, if it‘s cold anywhere, any time, no matter what season it is, climate change is a hoax.  Since, you know, global warming means it‘s supposed to be warm all the time now, except that the phenomenon described by scientists, remember scientists, the thing they describe as climate change actually means things like extreme weather events like huge blizzards on the East Coast in the winter.

Now, the semi-annual dustup between climate change believers and the -

it feels pretty cold to me crowd would be just a dust-up again this go around, except that this go around about climate change coincides with Congress change.


Next Wednesday, seven days from right now, the new Republican-

controlled House of Representatives will officially take over in Washington

along with all sorts of new members of Congress being sworn in, one other really important thing will happen.  All of the committees in the House switch from Democratic control to Republican control.


And in the case of climate change, here‘s the one that matters to you

the House Energy and Commerce Committee will now be headed up by this gentleman, Congressman Fred Upton of Michigan.  If climate change legislation is going to happen in the Congress, it will have to go through Fred Upton‘s energy committee.  And where does he stand on climate change?


Well, Congressman Upton has just penned an op-ed in “The Wall Street Journal” in which he rails against the Obama administration‘s attempt to enforce climate rules, specifically he rails against the Environmental Protection Agency‘s attempt to enforce climate rules.  Quote, “We have significant doubt that EPA regulations can survive judicial scrutiny.  This presumes that carbon is a problem in need of regulation.  We are not convinced.  Cuts in carbon emissions would mean significantly higher electricity prices.  We think the American consumer would prefer not to be skinned by Obama‘s EPA.”

Now, who is this mysterious “we” that Congressman Upton keeps referring to here?  Well, that would be Mr. Upton and the person with whom he co-wrote this op-ed.  See, there‘s the byline, “By Fred Upton and Tim Phillips.”

Tim Phillips.  Tim Phillips.  Where do we get Tim Phillips?  Well, if you‘re a regular viewer of this TV show and God knows we hope you are, then the name Tim Phillips is probably ringing a few bells in the back of your head just right now.


RACHEL MADDOW, TRMS HOST:  A long time Republican political operative named Tim Phillips.  A man named Tim Phillips.  Timothy Phillips.  Tim Phillips, president of the group Americans for Prosperity.


WOLFF:  Ah, Tim Phillips.  That Tim Phillips whose name has been invoked repeatedly on this show over the past two years, he is the head of a group you may have heard of called Americans for Prosperity.  And among other things, Americans for Prosperity flies big, red, hot air balloons across the country as part of what they called their hot air tour because, you know, global warming is just a bunch of hot air.  Get it?

Conveniently, this group, which campaigns against climate regulations, was founded by a man named David Koch.  And Koch Industries just happens to be one of the largest oil and chemical companies on God‘s green earth.

Now, why is it notable that Fred Upton has written a climate change-denying op-ed with the head of the “global warming is just a bunch of a hot air” group?  Well, Fred Upton used to sort of believe there was climate change and that there was some culpability for it, among us human beings.  Back in the late 1990s, he supported immediate reductions in greenhouse gases.  In 2007, he signed on to an energy bill that called for an overall reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.

And then, right around that time, Fred Upton started getting gobs and gobs of campaign cash from oil companies, including Koch Industries.  In 2008, Koch Industries was his fifth largest campaign contributor.  And in 2010, Koch Industries came in at number nine, dumping $20,000 American in Fred Upton‘s campaign war chest.

Now, that could be coincidence.  But now, instead of voting for legislation that aims to regulate carbon emissions, Mr. Upton is writing op-eds with a lobbyist heap deep in oil money in which “they”—meaning he -- says he‘s not convinced that carbon is a problem in need of regulation.

Now, that‘s one week from today, everybody.  That‘s your new head of the House Energy Committee.  So, let it snow.

Here to help us try to figure out this remarkable transformation in legislation is the great Ezra Klein, the staff writer for “The Washington Post” and an MSNBC contributor.

Ezra, bless your soul for being here tonight.  Good to see you, man.


WOLFF:  How do you, sir, explain a congressman like Fred Upton going from sort of moderate, sensible guy, thinks there‘s climate change, thinks there‘s something we should do about it legislatively, to a guy who‘s writing climate change denial op-eds in “The Wall Street Journal” with the oil industry?

KLEIN:  Fear for his political life.  So, these guys—all these Republicans watch their party elders get knocked off in 2010, right?  Bob Bennett goes down.  Mike Castle goes down.  Lisa Murkowski loses her primary.

And everybody knows that they could be next.  And when Fred Upton comes in, it becomes clear that he maybe he‘s not actually going to get that energy and commerce committee chairmanship that he though he deserved and he thought he was going to get because, as you probably guess by now, Republicans thought he might be a little bit too moderate on climate change.

So, what do you do if that‘s going to happen?  Well, you got to signal to people somehow that you‘re with them, you‘re one of them, you‘re not one of these sort of bad Republican who can‘t be trusted.  And one of the ways you do that is you partner up with the Americans for Prosperity folks and you write an op-ed together and sort of the House organ of the Republican Party‘s economic message and “Wall Street Journal” editorial page and say very, very clearly that whatever I once felt on the climate change, I will now do everything I can to stop the Obama administration from doing a single thing about it.

WOLFF:  Even two years out from his next election.  In other words, he just got elected.  So, you know, the need for money right now isn‘t there.

KLEIN:  Right.

WOLFF:  But even two years from his next election, he‘s got to run for cover.  Now, Americans for Prosperity, the groups like them, giant corporate funded lobbyist firms, they have been in the periphery with the Republicans out of the power, you know?  The Republicans haven‘t had any power in the House, limited power in the Senate, except for the filibuster; and obviously, not the White House.

Now that the Republicans are taking over the House, should we expect a rise in the influence of groups like Americans for Prosperity?

KLEIN:  Certainly, Americans for Prosperity.  They‘ve got, they‘ve got a lot of power.  All the Tea Party-associated groups are going to have a bit more power.

But broadly speaking, what you‘re going to see is that the right wing of the Republican Party has a lot more power, that the real effect of the 2010 election.  And it wasn‘t just a bunch of moderates gotten knocked off in primaries, that wasn‘t really the issue.  It‘s that for each moderate who got knocked off in the primary, 10 more moderates got scared into acting like a party line conservative Republican.

WOLFF:  Right.

KLEIN:  So, if you watch Bob Bennett, you watch Murkowski go down, you realize you could be next.  There‘s no one safe.

Bob Bennett was a Utah Republican, who was a descendant of one of the leaders of the Mormon Church.  There was no way he could have ever lost an election in that state.  But, of course, he did.

And so, at the end of the day, anybody who‘s associated with that wing of the party, that wing of the party that holds that primary challenge in their pocket is going to become a lot more powerful because of the folks who could have stood up to them, these sort of individual old bulls in the Senate and also in the House now don‘t have that power.  They don‘t know if they‘ll survive the next primary, don‘t know if they got their committee chairmanship, don‘t know that their life will be a living hell as a Christine O‘Donnell comes out of nowhere and knocks them off in a humiliating challenge.

WOLFF:  So, it‘s the intangible, uncountable effect of the Tea Party and the conservative movement, not the number of seats but the way incumbent Republican have to act.

Last question, quickly—Fred Upton is the head of the energy committee.  Any incoming Republican chairman that you are particularly keeping your eye on in terms of super-duper extra conservative policy positions?

KLEIN:  Well, watch Paul Ryan of the budget committee.  It‘s not the budget is so powerful but that he himself is very, very influential in Republican politics.  Watch Dave Camp at ways and means.  Ways and means is just very, very powerful, hold power over taxes.

And watch Spencer Bachus at the House Financial Services Committee, who this week or maybe last week had the ringing quote that regulators are there to serve the banks.  We have just passed a very big financial regulation bills.  It has a lot of things that basically say regulators need to fill in the blank here because we have congressmen who really don‘t know how to regulate the ratings agencies.

And it‘s Spencer Bachus telling the regulators that I‘m going to cut off your funding unless you‘re making JPMorgan happy.  Well, those regulators are going to they think twice before they fill in the blank with something too restrictive on JPMorgan.

WOLFF:  That is an unbelievable quote.  I cannot wait to look up and see that quote in context.  Ezra Klein, the staff writer of “Washington Post,” MSNBC contributor—thank you so much for being here.  We really appreciate it.

KLEIN:  Thank you.

WOLFF:  All right.  Of all the stories we covered and the places we went in 12010, we probably had the most fun covering and being in Alaska, where we spent some freezing and awesome time on the three-way race for Senate.  Then there were various disputes and facial hair experiments around here.

And tonight, big news!  If you‘ve been waiting for the end of the 2010 election to really party, stand by your cocktail shakers, America.  Much more to come.  Stick around.


WOLFF:  Much, much, much more ahead tonight, including the investigation into Christine O‘Donnell‘s campaign finances.  Oh, that damn lame-stream law with all its laws.

Stay tuned.



MADDOW:  Do you agree homosexuality is a choice?

JOE MILLER ®, ALASKA SENATE CANDIDATE:  I believe that‘s up to the individual.  The individual has to make that decision.

MADDOW:  About whether or not they‘re gay, or about whether or not they believe that?

MILLER:  You know, I‘m not going to intrude upon an individual‘s decision as to what he or she does.  The fact of the matter is, it‘s a state issue.  That‘s our position in the campaign, and that‘s the answer to your question.


MILLER:  We‘re an increasingly diverse country.  I mean, I want to be straight with you.  And as a diverse country, I think it‘s important that we recognize there are different approaches to different values.


WOLFF:  That, of course, was Republican—Alaska‘s Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller on his now classic walk, talk, glide, turn, quick, get me to the giant SUV interview with our own Rachel Maddow from mid-October.  Man, those camera guys will never get enough credit for doing what they did.

Tonight, you can make that former Alaskan Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller, because nearly two months after the actual election, the Tea Party darling has finally, mostly, almost, pretty much conceded the race.

Mr. Miller didn‘t have much choice really.  The state announced yesterday that it will certify the win for incumbent Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski after a federal judge dismissed Mr. Miller‘s suit over the way the state counted write-in ballots.

On his Web site, Mr. Miller says his lawyers are, quote, “evaluating the ruling and determining what our next step should be.”  The campaign says he‘ll announce a decision on whether to appeal by Friday.  In his court papers, Mr. Miller said he‘d like to at least narrow the gap between his vote totals and Lisa Murkowski‘s, because the final verdict, the final result could affect a hypothetical someone‘s, quote, “future viability” as a candidate.

And let me straight with you, please.  That hypothetical someone is most likely Joe Miller.  I mean, it ain‘t me.  It ain‘t our friend Tank Jones (ph).  It‘s Cory Nasau (ph), he‘s working in the control room tonight.  No, it would appear that Mr. Joe Miller is the one with a comeback in mind time, somewhere.

And Alaska will, in fact, has a senator whose name is still Lisa Murkowski when the new Congress starts working or bickering or stalling or whatever it does on Capitol Hill next week.

Senator Murkowski gets to be part of that party, even though it‘s no longer clear where she fits in with her own Republican Party.  The one whose official candidate she just defeated in the first successful write-in campaign for Senate since Strom Thurmond in 1954.

When last spotted on the campaign trail by us, Alaska‘s senior senator had cast herself as an old-fashioned, big tent Republican, a moderate, who just happens to have an A rating and an endorsement from the National Rifle Association and a score of 25 points from the pro-choice activists at NARAL.  But as a member of the mighty, mighty lame duck Senate, Ms.  Murkowski voted like an old-fashioned, true blue Democrat.  Maybe she was just taking revenge on the Jim DeMints of the world, or maybe she just woke up one morning, decided to spend a few days voting like a moderate, or maybe she likes to cut Senator Lieberman‘s jib.

Whatever the reason, Senator Murkowski backed the president‘s agenda, voting yes to invoke cloture on the DREAM Act to reform immigration, which the Republicans managed to defeat anyway; yes to invoke cloture on the “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” repeal, which she then voted for, which then passed.  She voted yes on the tax compromise, which passed, of course; and yes to invoke cloture on the new START Treaty with Russia, which also passed finally.

So, say what you want about Senator Lisa Murkowski—as “The National Journal” put it, Lisa Murkowski was a more reliable vote for President Obama after December 15th than 18 members of the Senate‘s Democratic Caucus.  If Senator Murkowski‘s spade of bipartisanship foretells her position in the 112th Congress, her win over Joe Miller in Alaska is no small deal and it‘s no small deal for Democrats.

Joining us now is a woman who probably knows as well as anyone what goes on in Alaska politics.  She is Shannyn Moore.  She hosts her own show on the subject and writes for the excellent Web site,

Shannyn, how you been?

SHANNYN MOORE, ALASKA RADIO SHOW HOST:  Good.  Nice to see you again.

WOLFF:  Great to see you.

Now, you supported Scott McAdams, the Democrat.  We all remember that.  You have Senator Murkowski voting in the lame duck the way Scott McAdams might have been expected to vote.  What was your reaction to the Murkowski votes on those four key Obama issues?

MOORE:  Well, I think Scott McAdams probably wouldn‘t have voted for the repeal or to continue with the Bush tax cuts for the most wealthy.  I think he would have been along the lines, more of Bernie Sanders.  I don‘t think that that was really outrageously Democratic or liberal vote.

WOLFF:  Although, you would say it was pro-Obama, whether or not it was liberal, it was what the president wanted.  You‘ll grant that?

MOORE:  Oh, sure.  I would totally agree with that.  But, you know, I

don‘t particularly find the president to be a liberal with the case of this

with this tax situation at all.


WOLFF:  Yes, fair enough.

So, were you heartened by Murkowski‘s votes?  Were you cynical about Murkowski‘s votes?  What was your reaction, like, for instance, when she voted to repeal “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” and voted for cloture on the DREAM Act?

MOORE:  Right.  Well, you know, Lisa had voted against the repeal of “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” before, and when Lisa was a legislator, state legislator here, she was very liberal.  If people had the option to vote for the Lisa Murkowski who we saw in the state Senate, we probably wouldn‘t have had Scott McAdams in there with as much support.  I mean, she was truly liberal and that instance in so many ways and really willing to work with so many Alaskans.

She did go to Washington and she did become far more conservative and far more the party of no with Mitch McConnell and so many others.  So, you know, it was worrisome for so many of us to see her in this position to come in.

We did hound here.  We called her—my listeners called her every single day.  We called over and over.  And Lisa Murkowski had a lot of Democrats and a lot of progressive Alaskans to thank for coming over and voting for her even if it was just fear out of Joe Miller.

So, for that reason, I think that, you know, Lisa Murkowski has a lot of people to thank and a lot of people to pay back.  And when it‘s really going to get interesting is when we were dealing with EPA issues.

WOLFF:  Yes, that‘s very interesting, and it seems to me it will be interesting to track Lisa Murkowski‘s voting record in the upcoming Congress given what you say about the number of normal Democratic voters, people whom otherwise would have voted for McAdams who voted for her in protest of Joe Miller.

Quickly, Sarah Palin picked Joe Miller in the race going back to the primary.  She was—he was her guy, can‘t get around Sarah Palin.  Does Joe Miller conceding that he has lost mean anything for the fortunes of Sarah Palin?

MOORE:  You know, I talked to Joe Miller last night on the phone for a while.  I don‘t think it has anything to do with Sarah Palin.  Sarah Palin has really fallen in Alaska.  I think the newest results were 33 percent of approval ratings that came out.

And just recently, Costco is sending back palettes of her books.  They had a thousand wristbands to hand out for her signing her books, and I think they gave out 300.

She‘s really not a big deal here.  We‘re not that into her.

And, you know, his defeat of Joe Miller—I don‘t think it has much to do with Sarah Palin frankly.

WOLFF:  Wow.  That makes sense to me.  I must say when we were there, it was remarkable the way Alaskans talked about Sarah Palin.  It was unexpected and it echoed a lot of what you just said.

Shannyn Moore, I‘ve been to Alaska, and I happen to know—you are one of Alaska‘s great treasures.  It‘s totally true.  Thank you for coming on.  We really appreciate it.

MOORE:  You‘re sweet.  Thanks so much.

WOLFF:  OK.  Talk to you later.

Our class of 2010 Tea Party rock block continues with the latest on Delaware senatorial runner-up Christine O‘Donnell who is reportedly under criminal investigation regarding her use of campaign money.  Now, that doesn‘t make her a bad person, it doesn‘t make her a witch, but it does make her news again.

That‘s next.  Stick around.



MADDOW:  Vaguely the same deal in Delaware, with ostentatiously surreal Republican candidate for Senate there, Christine O‘Donnell.  The first allegation that running for office was a bit of a for-profit racket for Ms. O‘Donnell came in the primary, during the primary, from her own former campaign manager.


KRISTIN MURRAY, FORMER O‘DONNELL CAMPAIGN MANAGER:  Hi, this is Christine Murray.  In 2008, I was the campaign manager to Senate candidate Christine O‘Donnell.  You see, this is her third Senate race in five years.  As O‘Donnell‘s manager, I found out that she was living on campaign donations, using them for rent and personal expenses while leaving her workers unpaid and piling up thousands in debt.  She wasn‘t concerned about conservative causes.  O‘Donnell just wanted to make a buck.  That‘s why I left.


MADDOW:  That campaign manager said Christine O‘Donnell used the campaign debit card funded by political donations to pay her own personal living expenses.  Ms. O‘Donnell has since defended using political donations to pay the rent on her townhouse where she lives.


WOLFF:  That, of course, was Rachel Maddow reporting in October on how Christine O‘Donnell and other Republican candidates win by losing, especially by losing—how for a select few running for office is a money-making scheme.  It‘s nice, fake work if you can get it.

But in Ms. O‘Donnell‘s case, using campaign funds to pay her rent on her town house eventually might come at a very high cost.  The Associated Press reports tonight that federal authorities have opened a criminal investigation into whether Ms. O‘Donnell broke the law by using campaign money to pay for personal expenses.  That‘s according to an anonymous source who says a client has been questioned as part of the investigation.  So, we‘ll see.

But the good news for Christine O‘Donnell tonight—whatever she did or didn‘t do with her campaign money, she lost, and so, she can live and make a living as something other than the perennial candidate for the Delaware Senate, which is what she had been doing for the last several years.  And she won‘t escape by, mind you.  She could really, really clean up.

And this is all because—like Sarah Palin before her—she didn‘t just lose, she lost in spectacular fashion on a national stage and she found a way to get the entire country to mock her in the process, including a critical “Saturday Night Live” parody of her infamous “I am not a witch” declaration.  Now that she‘s a household name, she‘s ready for the book contract, and voila, Christine O‘Donnell signed a deal with St. Martin‘s Press earlier in month for a book in which she plans not only to set the record straight about the 2010 campaign, but aims further to foment revolution.

Ms. O‘Donnell saying in a statement, quote, “I plan on making my book one of the revolution‘s catalysts.”  Chapter two, my days as an anti-doing it with yourself activist; chapter three, overturning the government because I said so.

And time will tell what sort of legal peril Ms. O‘Donnell if any, but beyond those problems or non-problems, what can she expect in the wake of her stirring defeat to Chris Coons in Delaware.  Well, after the book tour and the resulting resolution at which point all the country‘s problems will be solved by lower taxes, we might expect Ms. O‘Donnell to receive a consulting gig on, say, the cable station with news in its name.

Editor‘s note: there‘s no such offer on the table, at least not in public record.

But that‘s the pattern folks.  That same channel has employed not just former Governor Palin, but former Governor Huckabee and former congressman and current governor-elect, Kasich.

As to what else might be on the horizon, well, if Mrs. Palin has a say in the matter, how about a stint on “Dancing with the Stars”?  You see, after Sarah Palin‘s daughter Bristol recently finished up her reportedly improbable, all the way to the finale run on the top-rated primetime show, the former governor of Alaska told reporters she‘d like to see Christine O‘Donnell put on some sequins, get a spray tan and dance the foxtrot, although I think she meant the foxtrot and not some metaphor for something else. 

Are these steps to political relevancy?  It‘s unsafe to predict those things these days.  If having enough dough is your goal, the book, the book tour, the cable TV, the reality TV, it‘s like graduate school in the discipline of getting really rich without doing much or being responsible for any of it.  What a country. 


WOLFF:  Mayor Bloomberg of New York, Senator Franken of Minnesota, the White House, even the never elected and not running for anything “Rachel Maddow Show” all gave credit for the passing of the 9/11 first responders bill to Jon Stewart, who dedicated an entire episode of “The Daily Show” to Republican attempts to kill the bill. 

It was an unusual move for “The Daily Show,” and it was brilliantly done, and it was so influential that it prompted “The New York Times” itself to ask whether Jon Stewart is, quote, “the modern day equivalent of Edward R. Murrow, and that put part of Rachel‘s interview with Jon Stewart in a new light. 


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Do you think that “The Daily Show” functions just as entertainment?  I feel like—satire is more than entertainment.  It is engagement and it is criticism. 

JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  Here‘s what I would say.  I feel more of a kinship to Jerry Seinfeld than I do to, you know, what you guys do or what CNN does or what NBC does in that he is able to comedically articulate an intangible for people.  When they see it, they go, god, it‘s been in my head, and I know it‘s been in there, but I‘ve never put it together with that kind of rhythm in four levels.  And that‘s hilarious that you were able to articulate that. 

He is a craftsman at that.  He‘s the best at being able to craft those moments of sort of these intangible esoteric things and put them together in something that connects with people. 

We try and do the same thing but with a more political, social avenue.  But if you were to look at our process, he‘s much more our process than the news is.  Does that make sense? 

MADDOW:  But what I know of your process seems very similar to the way that I put my show together. 

STEWART:  You really need to change it. 


MADDOW:  Yes. 

STEWART:  We have to—because we‘re parodying a news organization, we have to have the logistics and mechanics of one. 

MADDOW:  Yes. 

STEWART:  But the process that the material goes through is not a news process.  It‘s a—

MADDOW:  But it‘s fact checking. 

STEWART:  Well, we do that, though, not to be journalists.  We do that because it wouldn‘t be that funny. 

MADDOW:  If it was a lie. 

STEWART:  Yes.  People would be, like, I think it‘s pronounced Baltimore, not Bal-ti-mo. 


You do that because untrue things stand out like a sore thumb in the -


MADDOW:  even though you identify yourself as fake news and built with a fake news process—

STEWART:  Yes.  We don‘t say fake—I mean, fake is wrong.  It‘s a misnomer that we use.  And it‘s glib.  It‘s not—we‘re not news anything. 

MADDOW:  Right. 

STEWART:  We‘re commenting on the news comedically. 

MADDOW:  I think that you think of it differently, but I think a lot of people who watch your show and who watch cable news think of what we do as not being that different, which sucks for me, because I used to be the sort of mildly amusing person using humor to tell the story of the wasteful F-35‘s second engine on that fighter jet.  And now I‘m the person trying to be Jon Stewart and sucking. 

STEWART:  Can I say something?  I loved that F-35 bit.  That wasteful engine bit, that killed them. 


That used to be my bit. 

MADDOW:  Even if you‘re not launching it in the same way, it‘s being received in the same way.  And the barriers between what actually happens on cable news that you‘re satirizing and what you‘re doing, we‘re not seen as being all that different.  Is that—

STEWART:  The only thing that I would say, it doesn‘t worry me.  I can understand how it would worry people in the news.  But what I—I have existed.  I am the highlander.  You know, there has been a form of me around in forever, a comedian who, with political and social concepts, criticizes them from a haughty yet ultimately feckless perch throwing things. 

The box that I‘m in has always existed.  The box that you‘re talking about, I think, is new.  And so I do think if that‘s moving towards me, that‘s OK.  But I really feel like I‘m on pretty solid ground with the footsteps of my ancestors, you know. 

That‘s all, you know, I don‘t happen if the Smothers Brothers don‘t happen, Bill Maher.  You know, those guys all paved a way for something that I do, but that‘s always existed. 


MADDOW:  That‘s kind of a news flash, right?  “The Daily Show” no longer wishes to be considered fake news.  They‘d like to be considered as not news at all.  I still think it‘s news. 

The finale ahead, including me getting a talking-to about the word “teabag.” 


MADDOW:  You don‘t think it was funny that they were calling them—they were saying “teabag the White House before the White House teabags you?”   




MADDOW:  The caricature of the left versus the right is something that


STEWART:  I don‘t think that that‘s the caricature of the left.  I really don‘t. 


STEWART:  I think the caricature of the left is one that is slightly that that they use as a cudgel—don‘t you hate when the Republicans used to use the phrase “Democrat”?  “Democrat.” 

MADDOW:  The “Democrat Party.” 

STEWART:  Right. 

MADDOW:  It has the word “rat” in it. 

STEWART:  It seems dickish, “The Democrat Party.”  Or when you spoke out against the war there was a subtle undertone of, you‘re un-American.  You don‘t want to win the war on terror. 

Well, I think that what also comes out sometimes from the other side is “tea bagger.”  Now that‘s I think derogatory, and I don‘t think that anybody would mistake it for that for anything other than that.  And it‘s been used on this network quite frequently by hosts, by guests. 

MADDOW:  You don‘t think it was funny that they were calling them, they were saying “tea bag the White House before the White House tea bags you?” 

STEWART:  I thought that it was funny for a day. 

MADDOW:  Funny enough to play the John Water clips of the tea bagging thing on the bar? 

STEWART:  For a day.  Probably wouldn‘t have run with it with guests so much. 

MADDOW:  I didn‘t run with it here for months, but I got criticized for it for months.

STEWART:  Because you kind of made more hay of it. 

MADDOW:  Took the joke too far. 

STEWART:  Now again, I have the leeway do that.  Now we get back to a whole other thing.  I do have the leeway to do that.  The one thing I don‘t have that you have is the ability to do really something about it.  You‘re in the game, like—

MADDOW:  You‘re in the game to.  We‘re in the same game. 

STEWART:  I don‘t think so.  I think that you‘re in a better game than I‘m in. 

MADDOW:  How?  What‘s the difference, the material difference? 

STEWART:  You‘re in the playing field. 

MADDOW:  Everybody sees you on the playing field too, I think. 

STEWART:  That may be. 

MADDOW:  Yes. 

STEWART:  And that‘s, again, back to the point the rally, that rally I could have gotten on the field, and people got mad that I didn‘t.  But that was the point.  That rally was to deflate a bubble and to do what I think satire does best, which is articulate an intangible feeling that people are having, bring it into focus, say you‘re not alone, it‘s a real feeling.  It‘s maybe even a positive feeling, a hopeful feeling, and in a weird way it‘s idealistic, but it‘s impotent. 

The next thing I could do is step onto the field and go, so now here‘s what we‘re going to do, people.  Jones, you go over there.  Brooklyn, you grab the canteens.  We‘re out there.

But I don‘t.  That‘s my failing, and my indulgence, but it‘s done because I feel like I am where I belong, and I feel like I serve the best purpose in my life or in whatever it is that I can. 

But I don‘t take any satisfaction in that.  And I don‘t take any satisfaction in just being a critic.  Roger Ebert doesn‘t make movies.  So to say, well, Roger, you‘re in the game.  No he‘s not.  He‘s not making movies.  He‘s sitting in the seat, going, “this movie sucks.”  That‘s me. 


STEWART:  And by the way, very proud to do it.  There is no honor in what I do, but I do it as honorably as I can. 

MADDOW:  In politics, in covering politics, we don‘t get involved.  I mean I don‘t get involved in telling people what to vote for, who to vote for.  I don‘t people you know call your congressmen we need do this thing.  I don‘t do anything like that.  And so for me I‘m not on the field either. 

STEWART:  I feel like you‘re depending yourself from things that are not coming at you from me or from our rally or things like that in a way that—again, the really unfair thing is individuals make—it‘s one of those pictures where it‘s all made of up little pictures, and you go oh that‘s my picture in there.

But again, proportionately to what we do, you think we‘re not—do you think we‘re not fair to MSNBC proportionately? 

MADDOW:  Actually, I really don‘t.  I don‘t actually think the false equivalents thing that you feel that you want to talk about and that you feel defensive about the rally is a major issue.  I don‘t feel like you guys—but I do feel like there is—I do feel like the left gets, including from you, gets criticized for stuff that we don‘t deserve because it is more institutional on the right than it is on the left. 

STEWART:  Right.

MADDOW:  And that the examples that are culled whether it‘s Alan Grayson yelling on the floor of the House or its Code Pink interrupting a rally are not equivalent to Sharron Angle saying if conservatives don‘t get what they want they‘re going to use guns to get what they want.  And she‘s a U.S. Senate candidate. 

STEWART:  You think we said that those are equal? 

MADDOW:  I think you have done some of that.  I don‘t think it‘s the main thing that you do when you talk about the media.

But the thing where I feel like we are in the same boat, and you don‘t accept that we‘re in the same boat, but I think we are, is, like, I remember right after the 2000 election—and I won‘t keep you here forever, I‘m sorry.  Right after the 2000 election, you said, something that—something—I remember—I remember it was about George Bush and Dick Cheney, it was right after Bush v. Gore, and you said something to the effect that Bush said, “Can we have the recession outside today because the weather‘s so nice?” 

STEWART:  Right, right. 

MADDOW:  The idea being that George Bush is an idiot.  He‘s an infantile person, recession and recess are the same thing. 

STEWART:  Right, right. 

MADDOW:  And after the “tea bag the White House before they tea bagged you” sign goes on FOX News, we talk about what the whole idea of tea bagging is and how funny it is that they don‘t get what that word choice means. 

I sort of feeling that we‘re doing the same thing.  Essentially you exaggerate to be funny or in order to make a point, and everyone understands that there‘s a little exaggeration. 

STEWART:  That‘s true. 

MADDOW:  But I think that we both have a commitment to not lying, to telling—to telling the truth even when we are—

STEWART:  As we see it. 

MADDOW:  -- as we‘re making the point. 

STEWART:  As we see it.  I think that everybody does it.  I don‘t doubt that it‘s genuine. 

There is a part of me that feels like there is a high-mindedness to

news in journalism that doesn‘t exist.  I feel like I have liberties that

you don‘t have.  And I could lose them by stepping into that, and what I

would gain in that I think is a little bit more dignity, a little bit more

you know what I mean?  Like, there‘s—I‘d have a little bit more skin in the game, and I think that there‘s something more courageous of what we do. 

So that, I very much admire.  But I also think, though, that there‘s a part me that says, like, these rules have existed for people, such as me, forever.  And we‘re not the ones bending them.  I‘m not—

MADDOW:  We‘re getting to be more like you, you‘re not getting to be more like us. 

STEWART:  Kind us. 

MADDOW:  Until the rally, and then you got a little bit more like us. 

STEWART:  Yes, because I felt like in 12 years I earned a moment to tell people who I was.  And that‘s what I did.  And—and, you know, this isn‘t going to be me forever either.  And that doesn‘t mean you know—but in my life I also try and actually get on the field and help people, just in a different way.  Just not through the show. 


WOLFF:  And there you have it.  One behind the scenes notes about that Jon Stewart interview—Jon Stewart sat there for 45 minutes in a day when he was sick as a dog.  He didn‘t want to sink us by canceling.  That was the move of a mensch, and we really appreciate it.  That guy showed up when he really didn‘t have to.  Thank you to Jon Stewart from the entire show. 

Meanwhile, back to tonight‘s show there is a full-fledged “Debunktion Junction” to come, including the possibility that there was one more state in the confederacy than we had previously known.  Thank you commonwealth of Virginia.  Stay tuned, everybody.       


WOLFF:  That‘s such a good animation.  “Debunktion Junction,” what is my function?  It‘s finding the light the truth amid all the obfuscatory information permeated our air waves. 

First up, our favorite upcoming theme attraction the ark in counter park to be built in Kentucky by a group called “Answers in Genesis.”  They are the people who previously brought us the creation museum.  They will feature a 500-replica of Noah‘s ark complete with all the animals two by two.  On that roster of animals potentially are dragons.  Dragons on Noah‘s ark?  Is that true or false? 

This is the representative of Answers in Genesis telling reporters which animals will be represented on the ark. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘ll have appropriate animals on the ark. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Can you get to the microphone when you speak, please? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sure.  I‘m sure we‘ll have representative kinds of animals on the ark to include dinosaurs. 


WOLFF:  So, there will be dinosaurs on the ark.  Hopefully just small ones, but will there be dragons?  That‘s what one of my favorite blogs,, set out to learn, starting with a visit to the Creation Museum and this discovery of this historical nugget, quote, “Being land animals, dinosaurs, or dragons of the land, were created on day six.  When aboard Noah‘s ark and then came off the ark in the post-flood world, it makes sense that many cultures would you have seen these creatures from time to time before they died out. 

So “Dragon” is another word for “dinosaur,” and dinosaurs were apparently totally on Noah‘s Ark.  Therefore, QED, there will be dragons on the ark encounter will broaden the appeal of the ark, which, by the way given preliminary approval last week to apply for up to $43 million in state taxes, and so they got the tax incentive going for them, which is nice. 

Coming up next, a multipart true or false.  Please hold your answers to the end of the questions.  A, The United States entered World War I in 1916?  Two, there were 12 states in the confederacy during the Civil War?  C, At the beginning of the 1800s, New Orleans was an American harbor city?  Now, true or false?  False, false, false, or to quote a little remembered show I still love, “wrong, wrong, wrong,” unless you are a student in an elementary school lucky enough to have this textbook, “Our Virginia Past and Present” in which case all three false assertions are true or at least will get you a smiley face on your American history test. 

Historians started taking a hard look at the textbook earlier this year after the Washington post reported that it included a sentence claiming that thousands of black soldiers fought for the south during the Civil War.  When pressed about where she got that fact, the author said she found it on the Internet, a place where everything is true. 

Virginia officials ordered an investigation, and even more errors came to light.  For the record, we entered World War I in 1917, there were 11 states in the confederacy, and at the beginning of the 1800s New Orleans was a Spanish colony, then briefly went back to France before becoming part of the United States in 1803.  The publishers say they are sorry and are planning to hire a professional historian and fix the errors in the next edition.  Problem solved.  Thanks, Virginia, you‘ve been good to the “Rachel Maddow Show” this year.  We‘ll see you in 2011.           


WOLFF:  There are certain names which are guaranteed to polarize people.  No matter where you go, say that name, and you‘ll get a really intense argument about why such and such is great or such and such is the devil.  Those names make you pick a side. 

For instance, Barack Obama.  Another one, Michael Vick.  And on Sunday both those names surfaced when it was reported that Jeffery Lurie, the owner of the NFL‘s Philadelphia Eagles, had spoken to President Obama spoke to Lurie about Michael Vick who spent 20 months in prison for running a dog-fighting operation. 

According to Peter King of “Sports Illustrated,” the owner said, quote, “The president wanted to talk about two things, but the first was Michael.  He said so many people who serve time never get a fair second chance.  He was passionate about it.  He said it‘s never a level playing field for prisoners when they get out of jail.  And he was happy we did something on such a national stage that showed our faith giving someone a second chance after a major downfall.” 

On the surface, this may not seem like such a big story.  Well,


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS:  I‘m a Christian, I‘ve made mistakes myself.  I believe fervently in second chances.  Bu Michael Vick killed dogs in a heartless and cruel way.  And I think personally he should have been executed for that. 


WOLFF:  Full disclosure, that was Tucker Carlson on FOX News last night.  Tucker is a friend of mine and a good guy with whom I frequently disagree with on stuff like this.

Michael Vick did do a terrible thing, a nauseatingly, horrible thing, he went to prison, lost two prime years of his earning potential and went bankrupt.  Heartless cruelty qualifies people for capital punishment, there‘s going to be a long line down at the gallows real soon. 

Anyway, the fury about the president‘s comments about Vick is remarkable.  And here to remark about it is Melissa Harris-Perry, professor MSNBC contributor, and a friend of this show.  Thank you very kindly for being here.  How are you? 

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY:  I‘m great.  I didn‘t have to trudge through snow or anything to get here. 

WOLFF:  And you got to be in New Orleans, I assume? 

HARRIS-PERRY:  Exactly. 

WOLFF:  You‘re winning. 

It‘s fairly easy to figure out why people are mad at Michael Vick still and unwilling to give him a break.  Historically, why are people so mad at Michael Vick? 

HARRIS-PERRY:  You just asked me to think about this historically, and I just want to warn you, given your last segment, I was educated in the Virginia public schools. 

WOLFF:  Oh, dear. 

HARRIS-PERRY:  I want to try to get this right historically.  I think we want to be very careful here, but try to recognize there‘s complex issues at stake whenever you‘re talking simultaneously about African-Americans and talking about issues of animal rights. 

And it may not seem those two things have anything to do with each other, historically the questions of the humanity of black people and the relative importance of the life of animals has in fact been deeply connected. 

The fact is in this country our horror about the treatment of animals is pretty restricted to a particular set of animals.  In other words we‘re not really all that horrified about the animals we kill to wear on our backs or the ones that we do horrible things to before we slaughter them for our food source.

But animals that are supposed to be our domestic pets are, you know, they‘re almost like a fetish.  We really love them and see them as innocent and as without any kind of sin.  So anyone who would do something bad to those kinds of animals is considered sort of beyond the pale of human action. 

But remember in this country one of the ways that black people were enslaved, one of ways that segregation and other civil rights violations were allowed, is that black people were equated to animals.  They were calls apes or chattel or beasts of burden. 

And remember during the civil rights movement and slavery, dogs were often used directly against black people.  And so there is a weird kind of interconnection and anxiety when you start talking about simultaneously issues about race and often when you‘re talking about black athletes and in this case also a black president, and animal rights.  So there‘s a lot of emotions and old historical stuff that comes up. 

WOLFF:  Conversely, we see a lot of people that aren‘t Philadelphia Eagles fans vehemently, passionately supporting Michael Vick.  Do you think that‘s the flipside of the same coin? 

HARRIS-PERRY:  Absolutely.  Remember that not—just a few months ago, Oscar Grant, an African-American man was killed by police—actually it happened a bit ago, but when his—those who killed him were brought to justice it was a pretty soft justice in the eyes of many, many people of color. 

And so the idea that someone like Michael Vick, who did a horrendous thing, the murder, the torture of dogs, would be considered someone who deserved the death penalty, but those who killed Oscar Grant should get a relatively light sentence, I think that‘s the kind of distinction that we see that creates these emotions around animals and human rights. 

WOLFF:  Thank you for coming.  I‘m sorry we‘re up against the end of the hour.  Thanks so much for being here.  Happy holidays to you.

HARRIS-PERRY:  Thanks, you too.

WOLFF:  That‘s going to do it for us, folks.  Have a great night. 

We‘ll see you tomorrow.



<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2010 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Copyright 2010 CQ-Roll Call, Inc.  All materials herein are protected by

United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,

transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written

permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,

copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>



Rachel Maddow Show Section Front
Add Rachel Maddow Show headlines to your news reader:

Sponsored links

Resource guide