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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Friday, February 11th, 2011

Read the transcript to the Friday show

Guests: Eugene Robinson, Alyse Eady



up next with more on this historic day from Egypt.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  Good evening.  Thank you.

If only all Washington, D.C. sex scandals were so normal that they actually had sex in them.

O‘DONNELL:  No sex.  No sex.

MADDOW:  No sex.  But that‘s sort of typical of .D.C.

O‘DONNELL:  Can we still call it a sex scandal?

MADDOW:  It‘s so strange.  There‘s no actually shtooping.  It‘s sort of a sexy scandal.

O‘DONNELL:  We can‘t call it a sex scandal anymore.  It‘s just a shirt scandal.

MADDOW:  It is a shirtlessness scandal.  That‘s exactly right.  Thank you, Lawrence.  Have a great weekend.

O‘DONNELL:  Thanks.

MADDOW:  Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour on this Friday night.

You know, this is one of those days that you index alongside other days in history that were this big.  In our newsroom here at 30 Rock, the shelf that this day goes on is labeled the Brokaw shelf.


TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS:  A historic moment tonight.  The Berlin Wall can no longer contain the East German people.  Thousands pouring across at the Bornholmer bridge.


Tonight, from West Berlin.

BROKAW:  Good evening.  Live from the Berlin Wall on the most historic night in this world‘s history.

What you see behind me is a celebration of this new policy announced today by the East German government, that now, for the first time since the wall was erected in 1961, people will be able to move through freely.


MADDOW:  That was November 9th, 1989, fall of the Berlin Wall in East Germany.  Our Brokaw shelf in our newsroom is reserved for tape of big historic moments just like that, moments of world change—frankly, moments of revolution.


BROKAW:  In the Philippines, jubilation. Marcos is gone and the people reclaim their palace.


BROKAW:  Good evening, tonight from Washington.  A city that had a major role in the astonishing developments in the Philippines.  President Ferdinand Marcos who vowed to fight to last drop of blood has fled his country tonight.  He has flown to Guam.

The end of an era.  Indonesia‘s president finally steps down, a new leader.  But will anything change.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER:  Victory.  Three decades of absolute power surrendered in three minutes.  Asia‘s longest-serving leader, President Suharto, bows to pressure and steps down, asking for forgiveness.  A nation responsible for his down fall cheers, a spontaneous outburst to the parliament now home of the occupation army of students.

BROKAW:  It is a world turned upside down.  While the China‘s communist rulers were brutally cracking down on democracy, Poland‘s communist leaders today were accepting a form of democracy.  The results of parliamentary elections, and admitting that solidarity was a big winner.

A revolution is under way in Romania.  Ceausescu is on the run, but the battle is not yet won.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER:  They chanted Ceausescu is no more.  They had waited 24 years for this.  In the final hours of the Ceausescu regime, the soldiers sided with the people and turned their guns on the presidential palace.  After the helicopter flew the dictator and his wife away, the mob stormed his office and passed belongings to the crowd below.

BROKAW:  A historic day in South Africa, voting by all races begins under heavy security.

In South Africa, this was the day that many thought would never come, the beginning of a true democracy.  All races voting in an election that ends 300 years of white oppression.


MADDOW:  The Philippines, Indonesia, Poland, Romania, South Africa, those are just the ones we keep on our Brokaw shelf.  There‘s also the Rose Revolution in the Republic of Georgia in 2003; the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, one year later, in 2004; the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan, one year after that, in 2005.

Last month—last month—there was Tunisia.  The successful toppling of Tunisia‘s dictator happened on January 14th.  And within a week and a half, the word Tunisia was the rallying cry for what just happened in Egypt, in the largest Arab country in the world.


ANNOUNCER:  This is an NBC News special report: “Revolution in Egypt.”

Here‘s Brian Williams.


If you‘ve been following the news throughout this day, then you know the news that the people of Egypt have toppled their government.  Their leader Hosni Mubarak has left power and left Cairo.

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT:  This is the statement they have been waiting for, not that he‘s in Egypt, not that he is in Sharm el-Sheikh, but that he is stepping down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Listen to the crowd.  That‘s what they‘ve been waiting for.  Hosni Mubarak has gone.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The crowd says it all, up to 18 days, President Hosni Mubarak has resigned.

ENGEL:  Now, they are standing on the tanks, people are here cheering the army saying, hand in hand, the people and the army are together, and that scene I think could be one of the more iconic images of Egyptian—on a weapon of war they are using as a symbol of their new freedom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is ours today.  This is our country.  This is my Egypt.  (INAUDIBLE)  Egypt will be rebuilt with us.

ENGEL:  Egypt will be rebuilt with you.


ENGEL:  That is a theme we are hearing over and over.

This has been one of the cheers that has been iconic throughout all of this.  The army and the people hand in hand.  And today, the army is stepping in to join the people and now taking charge the (INAUDIBLE).


MADDOW:  Before Tunisia overthrew its dictator last month, no country in the modern Arab world had ever before seen a peaceful uprising overthrow a government.  It has never happened before.  It had never happened before it happened last month.  And now, it happened twice.

Will it happen somewhere else next?  Nobody knows.

But the reaction and celebration around the world today was stunning.  In Amman, Jordan, thousands gathered near the Egyptian embassy to celebrate, dancing and cheering, and shouting congratulations in Arabic to Egypt.

In Beirut, Lebanon, fireworks broke out to celebrate the news out of Egypt, along with more scenes of dancing and cheering in the streets.

In Gaza, the sound of car horns honking, ringing through the city. 

Palestinians took to the streets firing guns in the air to celebrate.

As Egyptians gather to celebrate in Tahrir Square, in Cairo, thousands took to the streets in Yemen‘s capital city of Sana‘a.  Demonstrators chanted yesterday, Tunisia, today Egypt, and tomorrow, the Yemenis will break their chains.

Thousands reportedly turned out to celebrate in Doha, Qatar, as well.

When we compare what happened today in the Middle East to the Berlin Wall falling, there‘s something really specifically true about that comparison that is worth remembering.  When the Berlin Wall fell, it was 1989.  We sometimes shorthand that as the fall of the Soviet Union, but that didn‘t happen for a couple more years.

While the Berlin Wall was coming down, anyone that says they knew what would follow, knew what it meant, knew what would happen next is lying.


BROKAW:  What this will all mean for the political future of Germany is very difficult to determine here tonight.  But, clearly, there is a new spirit in Europe, and there is a new spirit in East Germany.  Whether or not the communist party will survive this bold and daring and indeed desperate move, we cannot say.


MADDOW:  Twenty-two years later, 2,000 miles away in Cairo, same thing, we cannot say.

We know this is a big deal.  We call this a Berlin Wall moment because we can see that new spirit that Tom Brokaw was talking about in Berlin, we can see that in Cairo today, too.  But what happens next.  What does this cause?  We don‘t know.

But we do know in some sense, today is day one of a different world.  And change is hard.  And the reason countries bend over backwards and violate all their principles and lie to themselves to maintain stability above all else is because stability is the devil you know, and change is the devil you don‘t.  Unstable is the synonym for dangerous.

We think of the Berlin Wall falling as all good change.  Yet a generation down the road, post-Soviet Russia is one of the most corrupt nations in the world, ranked worse than Haiti, ranked worse than Zimbabwe, ranked worse than Pakistan.

Sudden events with far-reaching consequences are as worrying as they are inspiring on some days.  But on days like today, the inspired part of us beats back the worried part, just for this moment, because things like this, days like this remind us that not everything is foretold, that not every fate is sealed, that no trajectory is permanent, that surprises happen.  Black swans, golden tickets—whatever you want to call it, days like this—days like this go on the Brokaw shelf.

Days like this remind us we‘re alive and we are lucky to be alive to see these days.  This is a big one.  A big day.


MADDOW:  A Twitter user named JF Spanak (ph) wins today‘s PhotoShopped award from most succinct visual to, see (ph), Hosni Mubarak.  Get it?  Busted.  Resigned.

A runner-up in terms of best visual communication about what just happened in the world, I think this representation of Hosni Mubarak as Gulliver pinned down by Lilliputians.  This was posted on  That‘s the name, I‘m not editorializing.

We do have our own contribution/suggestion here at this show for what might really best visually represent how this whole Egypt thing fits into our American politics here at home now.  Hosni Mubarak, like Andre the Giant has a posse, with props to Shepard Fairey.  Hosni has a posse.

Who in United States looked at the video from Egypt, looked at shot like this, and said, boy, that stinks, this is bad news?  Who in America looked at this, looked at the jubilance in Tahrir Square and thought, man, I wish Hosni Mubarak had stayed in office and put down those demonstrators in the streets?

Who thinks that?  Who thinks that whose names you are very familiar with in American politics?  That‘s coming up next.  Hosni still has a posse.



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed, confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice, government that is transparent and doesn‘t steal from the people, the freedom to live as you choose.  These are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.


MADDOW:  Because the Republican Party is separate from and in some ways sort of subject to the conservative movement, one of the most important things to understand about American politics is that the conservative movement, particularly in the Republican Party is weak—the conservative movement tends to pull the Republican Party to the right, constantly—over time, they‘re always pulling them for the right.  And that has the effect of constantly pulling not just the right, but even the center in American politics to the right over time.

This is one of those times, however, when the right is sprinting rightward so fast that Barack Obama and George W. Bush stand together in one place in the political continuum, and the American right, what counts as the American right right now is way off the charts on the other side.

I know it sounds impossible, but look at this.  Look at the distance between Bush and Obama together and where today‘s right is.  First, here is Bush-bama or Oba-bush, whatever you would horribly call them.


OBAMA:  There are basic principles that are universal.  There are certain truths which are self-evident.  And the United States of America will never waiver in our efforts to stand up for the right of people everywhere to determine their own destiny.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT:  I fully recognize that some say it‘s impossible, that maybe only certain kind of people can be—can accept democracy.  I just—I reject that.  I don‘t agree with that.  I believe democracy—the desire to be free is universal.  That‘s what I believe.


MADDOW:  It is not possible for two men who are both speaking English to speak as differently as the two men speak.  But they are saying effectively the same thing.

This idea that—this idea that democracy is something that is not geographically specific, that there are no people anywhere in the world who are immune to democracy‘s charms or to the right to it, that is the point that they are both making, right?  That‘s Obama and that‘s Bush.  Today‘s American right wing disagrees with that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It is only in the minds of ill-educated Americans, and especially their leaders, to expect 32 million Muslims to reach for in a time of violence and uncertainty and tumult to reach for an alien ideology, like secular democracy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I appreciate people‘s sympathy an interest in American democracy, that‘s an American instinct.  Unfortunately, in this case, this is the Middle East, and the traditions there do not support their embracing.  If they were allowed to vote in an open election, they would put themselves vulnerable and make us vulnerable to dangerous terrorism.

K.T. MCFARLAND, FOX NEWS:  If Egypt is going to be ever a democracy, it needs to have—it‘s got a lot of work to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We ought to be promoting liberty and really not democracy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Congressman Ackerman might be positive that their Jeffersonian Democrats about to create the first burgeoning democracy in the Middle East under Arab rule, I myself am not 100 percent confident.

WAYNE SIMMONS, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE MALE:  I keep hearing, and many, many people talk about this democracy, this new phase that Egypt is going to—nonsense.  There will be no democracy in Egypt.

GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS:  How is that democracy working out in Iran?  How is democracy working anywhere in the Middle East, outside of Israel?

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS:  We know that the chances of emerging democracy, it‘s—you know, toss a coin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The next days and weeks, he says, will prove whether true democracy is viable or if the Arab world will be swept by the dark forces of extremism.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s the double-edged sword with democracy.  When you have freedom and democracy, you have groups like Hamas that can be elected.  And that‘s a double-edged sword with democracy.  When you have freedom and democracy, you have groups like Hamas that can be elected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  As President Obama, he‘s talking about that we want democracy.  But when you talk about democracy, let‘s look at democracy.  Germany had democracy and voted in Hitler.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There‘s not going to be religious tolerance and political freedom in these countries.  You know, there‘s no hope.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  But there‘s a fine line when you try to impose democracy that doesn‘t quite make sense.


MADDOW:  Doesn‘t quite make sense where?

Had what happened in Egypt today, had it happened even a couple of years ago, American conservatives might have been trying to claim credit, saying Egypt happened because Bush bombed Iraq or something, or Mubarak, we always felt about him like we felt about Saddam.  Would have been a hard sell, but I could see them doing it.

But who could have imagined instead of that, you would have big portions of the American right just flat-out siding with Mubarak and taking Egypt as a sign to hoard food because now clearly this means China is going to take over in New Zealand?


BECK:  There are three powers that you will see really emerge.  One: a Muslim caliphate that controls the Mideast and parts of Europe.  Two: China that will control Asia, the southern half of Africa, part of the Middle East, Australia, maybe New Zealand and God only knows else.

What‘s the best way to keep us from being enslaved?  Please, store food.

The former Soviet Union, everybody, radical Islam, every—this is the story of everyone who has ever plotted to or wanted to fundamentally change or destroy the Western way of life.  This isn‘t about Egypt.  Everything is up on the table.

Socialism—Islamic socialism and socialist communists working together, along with radical Islam.  Now, I showed you how there are different groups uniting with Egypt on the principle of destroying capitalism.  This is going to blow your mind.

That 12th imam, when he returns, he will set up a global caliphate in Ancient Babylon.  This one should gravely concern you because he has all of the earmarks in their own writings of an anti-Christ or the anti-Christ.

This is their official memorandum from the Muslim Brotherhood about the—about their plans for North America.

Their goals include the transformation of America into an Islamic state, the destruction of the Western world.  Well, I want to show you their branches or spin offs that they created, operating in the United States.

FRANK GAFFNEY, CENTER FOR SECURITY POLICY:  The Obama administration policies are being viewed through and actually articulated and now implemented through influence operations that the Muslim Brotherhood itself is running in our own country.

John Brennan, who is the homeland security adviser to the president of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He‘s complicit in this creep of Sharia law?

GAFFNEY:  He‘s absolutely daft on what the nature of the threat is and is insistent upon using Brotherhood-front organizations as sources of information, as vehicles for reaching out to the Muslim-American community.

James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, has said that these sorts of groups are “sources of wisdom,” as he puts it, to the United States government.

Janet Napolitano, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, is incessantly meeting with Muslim Brotherhood front organizations and I think has in the past, if not today, employed people associated with them.

BECK:  You know, the media for the last two days says that I‘m just telling all these things about Egypt to frighten people.

This is the coming insurrection that we warned you about.  But we‘re in the very early stages.  It is here.  I don‘t know how long it could take.  It could happen overnight.  It could take months or years.  But you need to understand why the radicals on the left are collaborating with the Islamic socialists.


MADDOW:  In part, it is entertaining to see it.  But in part, it‘s important for the country.  This is how what just happened in Egypt is being explained to today‘s conservatives.  This is how it‘s being explained to them.  Post-Bush, post-McCain, the Republican Party is thinking on foreign issues is now being shaped by that.


BECK:  You want to call me crazy, go to hell.  Call me crazy all you want.


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

Gene, thank you very much for being here.


What an amazing day.

MADDOW:  Do you think Mubarak has a shot at the 2012 Republican nomination?


MADDOW:  We could be looking at Omar Suleiman and Colmes primetime on


ROBINSON:  He missed CPAC, you know?  I mean, you know, if he gets on that jet right now, he might be able to give a speech.

MADDOW:  Tell me about, I mean, the real 2012 contenders on the Republican side are not saying beep about Egypt.  They are leaving the right wing narrative to the conspiracy theorists that they‘re airing on FOX, particularly on Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity shows.

I mean, in the long run, what lesson does the right think is to be learned from what just happened?  How do they explain it to each other and to the country?

ROBINSON:  I think they‘re working on it, Rachel.  I don‘t think they know now.  And, you know, right now, they can hide behind foreign policy—you know, our disagreements stop at the border, which never really has been the case, and certainly hasn‘t been the case in recent years.  They haven‘t hesitated to criticize the Obama administration and anyone else.  But they can hide behind that and that is probably just as well to tell you the truth until they figure out why it is they don‘t like it.

I assume they‘re not going to like it because the Obama administration likes what happens and therefore, they have to not like it.  But I don‘t think they had the story together. 

MADDOW:  Well, because they don‘t have the story together and because

there is sort of a vacuum on the right among presidential aspirants and

other sort of adults in the party or would-be adults in the party, there is

the theme that is filling up that space is that stuff we just showed from Fox. 

And it has a sort of carnival satisfaction in watching it because you can‘t believe it is that crazy.  But I do believe that‘s sort of what is filling up heads on the right. 

And do you think conspiracy-theorizing like that, in the long run, hurts our ability to have real politics in this country about foreign policy? 

ROBINSON:  Yes.  It hurts our ability to have politics, and it hurts the ability to sleep.  I mean, there are a lot of people who are anxious in this country for good reason.  They‘ve lost their jobs.  They‘re worried about this or worried about that. 

The country is changing demographically in all kinds of different ways and people are anxious about that.  This just piles anxiety on top of anxiety, on top of Looney Tunes.  And it is not a good thing for democracy, or the mental health of the nation, frankly. 

MADDOW:  Gene, on the other side of things, meaning sort of back in reality, I think we‘re about to go back now to having a foreign policy presidency for awhile now, because, obviously, today was, I guess, day 18 of the Egyptian revolution, but day one of the whole new world post-Egyptian revolution. 

Do you feel like you know this presidency well enough now to know how they will expect this really fragile, really volatile time in foreign policy? 

ROBINSON:  I don‘t know what they‘re going to do because I don‘t think anybody knows what they‘re going to do right now.  What I believe the White House should do is sit down and try to take a long view, try to say OK, this has changed everything in the Middle East, and just go down the checklist, you know. 

Relationship with Israel.  Relationship with Saudi Arabia.  Relationship with the gulf Emirates.  And try to figure out what the situation is.  What have we been saying and doing, what should we be saying and doing, and try to come out with a plan with a lot of contingencies, and then let it happen. 

It‘s going to happen.  We‘re not able to shape events in Egypt.  We‘re not going to shape events across that region.  We just have to watch out for our interests and the interests of democracy. 

MADDOW:  Do you think that the long-time strategy of America‘s sort of addiction to dictators, supporting despots in the name of stability - do you think that addiction may be weaker now than before this happened? 

ROBINSON:  Well, just in numerical terms, I think there are likely to be fewer of them, fewer American-supported dictators because this region was particularly thick with them, and they seem to be falling by the wayside. 

I don‘t think we will ever get to the point where an administration will say we will never have a relationship, friendly or cooperative relationship, with a despotic regime. 

We have a relationship with China and China has a despotic regime.  And it was good that we talked to the Soviet Union, et cetera, et cetera.

But the sort of client relationship that we‘ve had with some of these countries, I think, that era may be closing, and we‘re going to have to figure out what replaces it, what sort of relationship replaces it and how it can be adapted to the different situations in different countries. 

MADDOW:  Eugene Robinson, MSNBC political analyst and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for “The Washington Post,” thank you for helping us understand this, Gene.  Thanks. 

ROBINSON:  Great to be here, Rachel.

MADDOW:  With the caveat that nobody knows exactly what the Egyptian revolution will mean for Egypt or for the rest of the world, there is no denying the power of joy.  It is hard not to be moved from the video and the audio from Cairo today, which makes tonight for a perfect night for something we have saving for just such an occasion. 

Joy - really weird, totally off-topic joy, with a sliver of a thread of a teeny, tiny, micro-nano connection to the last 18 days in Egypt.  That‘s coming up. 


BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT:  As Martin Luther King said in celebrating the birth of a new nation in Ghana while trying to protect his own, there‘s something in the soul that cries out for freedom. 

Those were the cries that came from Tahrir Square, and the entire world has taken note.  Today belongs to the people of Egypt, and the American people are moved by these scenes in Cairo and across Egypt because of who we are as a people and the kind of world that we want our children to grow up in.


MADDOW:  Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was booed, and Former Vice President Dick Cheney was heckled when they spoke at CPAC conference this week in Washington. 



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  War criminal! 



MADDOW:  You know, once upon a time, it was just the liberals who used to scream “war criminal” at Dick Cheney in public.  Now, it is something the whole family can enjoy. 

I‘ve long maintained that my dream interview, my dream guest booking for the show is Dick Cheney.  And now, Mr. Cheney does pretty regularly submit to interview requests, the Cheney resistance to my charms is such that I not only that can‘t get an interview with him, I can‘t get an interview with a single member of the Cheney family. 


(on camera)  This is as close as I‘ll ever get to interviewing Liz and Dick Cheney.  Hi, Rachel Maddow from MSNBC.



MADDOW:  Take care.  I think that was it.  I don‘t know what she said. 

She smiled at me.


That‘s the closest I‘ve ever gotten to an interview with a Cheney.  That was at last year‘s CPAC when I forced my way to the front of the rope line to try to make my big in-person ask to Mr. Cheney‘s daughter, Liz.  Never panned out. 

I want to say, though, that after years of Cheney alone at the top of my most-want-to-interview list, this year, last month, in Las Vegas, something happened that toppled Mr. Cheney off the top of my most-want-to-interview list. 

Somebody else got the title of “person I most want to interview.” 

Like Cheney, I thought it would never happen.  I thought had zero chance. 

But then it happened.  We got her.  I can‘t believe it, but we got her.  That‘s next.  And I will warn you, it is pure joy.


MADDOW:  These last couple of news weeks started off heavy and they got heavier and heavier and heavier still every day.  It started with the State of the Union which seems like it happened three months ago, not nearly three weeks ago. 

Then with that barely in the rearview mirror, we were eyeballed deep in the revolution in the Arab world.  When we were able to tear ourselves away from the world‘s spinning off its axis, it was often to cover the aftermath of a horrific gun massacre here in the States, an attempted political assassination and whether we would change our nation‘s laws on gun and ammunitions in response to that. 

This has been a few heavy, heavy news weeks.  And then, today, the news got no less heavy, but it was cracked through with human joy, with exuberance. 

We have both MSNBC and Al-Jazeera English on in our newsroom for a little bit of time today.  And at one point, an Al Jazeera correspondent in the middle of this outbreak of human joy in Cairo just started weeping to the camera while reporting. 

It is not denial of the peril and fragility of the situation going forward in Egypt to also just bask in the ecstatic celebration there.  People bringing kids, their families, their pets even out into the middle of a chanting, screaming, packed mob of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people because they knew they could do so without danger, because they knew that for the size of the crowd, the crowd was united in happiness, joy.

And it is their joy.  It is their country.  It is their revolution.  But in human recognition of just the pure happiness that we have been watching and reporting on all day, we decided to air something that we have been waiting to air that has absolutely no connection to the Egyptian story or to any of the other heavy news that we have been reporting on lately. 

We recorded this in the middle of the night, on the first night of our wall-to-wall coverage of Egypt and we labeled it moment of joy, because it made everybody on the staff so happy when we did it. 

We did not know when we would be able to air it, given the international news situation.  But when today essentially turned into the day of joy in terms of what the international news was today, we decided we had to do it. 

Are you ready?  It is pure happiness.  It is an interview that prompted an unsolicited, not sarcastic E-mail from one of our senior producers whose initials are - Cory Gnazzo - that called this our best interview ever. 


It‘s Miss Arkansas, Alyse Eady.  Oh, yes, we did it.  Oh, yes, we did.  Happy Friday.  This year at the Miss America contest, her performance in the talent competition was so un-cynically awesome, so laughing with it, not at it beautifully good, that it sort of got the whole country out of their chairs cheering for her. 

She won first runner-up in the contest overall.  She came to New York and showed us how it is done.  And it made us all at this show very happy.  Tonight‘s moment of joy, Alyse Eady.   



MADDOW:  Wow.  Wow.  I don‘t believe you‘re real and I don‘t know which one of you to talk to.  Alyse Eady, current Miss Arkansas, first runner-up in the 2011 Miss America pageant and a real person.  I am so astonishingly happy to meet you. 

ALYSE EADY, MISS ARKANSAS:  Very nice to meet you, too. 

MADDOW:  OK.  Let‘s just get right to it. 


MADDOW:  How did you learn to do this and why did you learn to do this? 

EADY:  That‘s a really good question and I get that a lot.  I actually started doing ventriloquism when I was nine years old.  And I must have been a strange kid.  Something wasn‘t quite right for me to be that interested in it.  But I loved it.  It was different and it caught my attention.

MADDOW:  How did you even know that ventriloquism was an option for you?  At nine, I‘m not sure I knew. 

EADY:  I saw a girl do it and it just captured me.  So I went to the library and checked out books and watched old tapes, old Jerry Lewis tapes.  And I taught it to myself to be a ventriloquist.

MADDOW:  That is amazing.  And is it a straight line from learning to be a ventriloquist to learning to be a ventriloquist yodeler?  I mean, did that just emerge organically? 

EADY:  Actually, the very first song I ever did as a ventriloquist was “I Wanna Be a Cowboy Sweetheart.”  And so I learned to do ventriloquism and yodel together. 


EADY:  I think kind of made it a little bit easier. 

MADDOW:  Is it harder to yodel without people telling that it‘s you

producing the sound than it is to sing or speak?  Is it harder to disguise

I mean, I‘m sorry.  I‘m sure I‘m using the wrong terms. 

Is it harder to not move your lips while yodeling than it is to - while you talk or otherwise sing? 

EADY:  I‘m so used to it now that it‘s pretty much the same for both. 


EADY:  It‘s pretty easy for me to do both now. 

MADDOW:  Wow.  So if it‘s - if you started doing this when you were nine, and if it‘s sort of easy, what‘s the next challenge for you?  Like what do you - is there something else that you‘re going to add to this to make it harder? 

MADDOW:  I need another hand, another arm so I can have three puppets, I guess. 

MADDOW:  That would be perfect.  OK.  Actually, when you were Miss Teen Arkansas, before you were Miss Arkansas, you had two puppets and the singing and yodeling and the clogging. 

EADY:  And the clogging. 

MADDOW:  Do we have a clip of the clogging? 

EADY:  Uh-oh. 

MADDOW:  Here it comes.  Here it comes. 


EADY:  Come on everybody.  Put your hands together.  Have a good old time! 


MADDOW:  What happened to the clogs?  Most people would look at that and say, “Oh, my god.  Look how amazing that was.”  But you‘re horrified to see yourself like that.

EADY:  Let me tell you why.  That‘s because I really don‘t know how to clog.  Big secret.  Someone taught me how to do that clogging routine for that song.  So if you were to ask me to put my clogging shoes on and do a little shuffle, I wouldn‘t know what to do. 

MADDOW:  You can do that one song again. 

EADY:  I can do that in my song, that‘s it. 

MADDOW:  All right.  Meeting you and even just seeing what you did at the pageant, which not only went viral online but people are still talking about it this long after the pageant. 

It made me feel bad about being snarky and cynical about beauty pageants.  Is there a cure?  Are you the cure for cynicism and snarkiness about beauty pageants? 

EADY:  Absolutely.  You know what?  That makes me really happy to hear you say that.  I think what‘s really important to remember in all this is that it is about the scholarships, and the Miss America Organization is the world‘s leading provider of scholarships for women. 

And personally, I received $22,000 for Miss Arkansas and $25,000 for getting first runner-up at Miss America.  So that‘s a lot of money to work with. 

And people can say what they want about pageants but because of pageants, I‘m going to be able to get my masters degree. 

MADDOW:  Wow.  Which makes me very happy.  I mean, I am still unnerved by the fact that the leading - that the leading organization for giving college scholarships is something in which you have to qualify in part based on your looks. 

I mean, it‘s hard to think of ourselves as a democratic when you don‘t have much control over your looks other than, you know, being in good shape and all of those things. 

EADY:  I understand that.  There are just so many other aspects of it like having a platform - mine, the Boys and Girls Club of America - that it encourages you to work with. 

And so while, you know, it‘s easy to look at it and say it is just a beauty pageant, it is so much more than that. 

MADDOW:  Well, clearly.

EADY:  I have dummies.  Come on.  What else do you want? 

MADDOW:  Can I just ask you - can I ask you another thing about - can we - can I see her? 

EADY:  You may. 

MADDOW:  And then I want to touch her.  I mean, can she come to the interview? 

EADY:  Yes. 

MADDOW:  Does she have a name? 

EADY:  This is Rosie. 

MADDOW:  Rosie.  And how long have you had Rosie? 

EADY:  I‘ve had Rosie since I was in high school.  I had her made specially, just for me. 

MADDOW:  Really?

EADY:  Yes.  I‘m the designer.

MADDOW:  She‘s blinking at me.  Do you get people having a scary reaction to it, like some people like, with clowns and ventriloquists and these sort - some of the things that people have decided are scary instead of just neat? 

EADY:  It‘s happened.  And the movies that have come out, you know, with the scary Chucky dolls, that doesn‘t help.  But I think most people are pretty accepting of it. 

MADDOW:  I was trying so hard not to say Chucky.  I‘m glad that you did. 

EADY:  I just threw that out there. 

MADDOW:  Alyse Eady, one last question for you.  You were the first runner-up in the pageant, which is a big accomplishment in its own right. 

And I know that you‘ve done a lot of media.  We were able to get you to come to New York to talk to me, which I‘m really grateful for.  How has the reception that your performance in the pageant - the reception that that has had, how has that changed your prospects in terms of what you think happens next for you? 

EADY:  I never imagined that I‘d be doing ventriloquism after my year as Miss Arkansas was over and after the Miss America Pageant.

But so many doors have opened.  And on a side note, people have told me not to do ventriloquism because people would think it was weird and they wouldn‘t get it. 

And I‘m so glad I didn‘t listen to them because I never would have had these opportunities if I had been afraid to shine. 

But just excited about opportunities coming up and I‘ve been contacted by a lot of places and so this has all just been really a dream come true for me. 

MADDOW:  You know, I will be totally blunt with you.  I think it is kind of weird and I think that most of the great things in life are kind of weird. 

And if we didn‘t do weird stuff and if we didn‘t do stuff in particular that people are going to think is weird, we‘d all do the same thing.  Life would be really boring. 

EADY:  I agree. 

MADDOW:  And I feel so un-cynically cool about you being a big deal because you have this amazing talent and it‘s great to meet you. 

EADY:  Thank you for giving me this opportunity. 

MADDOW:  Yes.  Good luck, Alyse.  Thanks.

EADY:  Thank you. 


MADDOW:  Miss Arkansas, Alyse Eady.  This is such a good job.  We‘ll be right back.


MADDOW:  So after today‘s revolution, what happens next?  Mark your calendars.  Protesters in Egypt say they were inspired by the people rising up to overthrow the dictator in Tunisia. 

Well, as Tunisia inspired Egypt, so Egypt is now inspiring opposition groups across the Middle East.  Protests planned for next Thursday in Libya.  They‘re planned for tomorrow in Algeria.  They‘re planned for tomorrow also in Syria. 

They‘re planned for Monday in Bahrain.  Monday also in Iran.  Iran, like Egypt, now also counts February 11th, today‘s date, as their date of revolution. 

Thirty-two years ago today, Ayatollah Khomeini took power in Iran after the shah was deposed.  Where did the shah go after he was deposed?  He fled to Egypt. 

Every year, they commemorate this date in Tehran.  And at today‘s big march, the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad praised the protesters in Egypt saying, quote, “It is your right to freely choose your path.  The Iranian nation backs this right of yours.” 

By “this right of yours,” he means this right of Egypt‘s, not the Iranian people.  The Iranian regime is making a big show of backing the Egyptian people‘s rights, but not extending the same courtesy to their own citizens. 

Eight Iranian activists, including planners of Monday‘s protest inspired by Egypt, are now under house arrest. 

A senior commander of the Iranian revolutionary guard tells the state-run news service there, quote, “The seditionists are nothing more than a corpse and we will strongly suppress any movement or action by them.” 

According to the White House, the Iranian regime has also cut off the Internet and they are blocking international media from covering the planned protests. 


JOE BIDEN, UNITED STATES VICE PRESIDENT:  I say to our Iranian friends, let your people march.  Let your people speak.  Release your people from jail.  Let them have a voice. 


MADDOW:  Or else.  The implied “or else” did not have to be said out loud there by anybody from the U.S. Government today.  Egypt said it instead. 

Have a great weekend.  Good night.



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