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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

Guests: Eugene Robinson, Rep. Anthony Weiner

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  Good evening, Lawrence.  Thank you very much for that.

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


The most confusing could be a scandal or maybe it‘s just a really malicious prank in the news today revolves, of course, around Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York.  The congressman will be here in just a little while.  Not on tape.  Not from previously.  But live right here with us in just a few minutes.  So, please stick around for that.

But we begin tonight with good news and bad news.  Good news and bad news tonight if you are a Republican politician who is running or planning to run for president in 2012.

The good news is this, when asked to give a one word description of how they feel about the whole Republican presidential field right now, all of the contenders, Americans polled by “The Washington Post” and the Pew Research Center used the terms “hopeful” and “interesting.”  That is the good news.

The bad news, the people who used the terms hopeful and interesting were not among friends.  They were in the very distinct minority.

In this “tell me in one word how you feel about the Republican presidential contenders” poll, the words hopeful and interesting tied for tenth place.  Beating out hopeful and interesting were in order—confused, poor, idiots, unqualified/not interested, pathetic, incompetent, good—a few people said good—weak/disappointed.  And number one “unimpressed.”

Unimpressed was far and away the winner, doubling the second place finishers disappointed and weak.  So, that‘s the bad news.

Want to see what the bad news looks like in a picture?  Boing!  Unimpressed big showing.  This is the official “how do you feel about the Republican presidential field” word cloud.  Again, this comes from a new poll just released by “The Washington Post” and the Pew Research Center.

These were the words people used when they were asked to give a one-word reaction to the field of Republican presidential contenders this year.  That‘s how folks across the country feel about the Republican presidential candidates right now.

But the whole country doesn‘t vote as once, right?  Iowa, of course, gets to go first.  And we have some new polling tonight from Iowa as well.  It is a new Public Policy Polling survey of Iowa Republicans who usually participate in the Iowa caucuses.

The thing that leapt out to me from this new poll was this—get this

when asked do you think Barack Obama was born in the United States, 59 percent of Iowa Republicans answered “no” or “not sure.”  Fifty-nine percent.  Only 42 percent said, yes, he was born in the U.S.


So, even after the whole releasing of the long-form birth certificate thing, even after they put the president‘s long-form birth certificate on a mug and on a t-shirt, a big majority of Iowa Republicans—Iowa Republicans are still not sure if President Obama is secretly foreign, 59 percent of them.

Of course, the big headline out of the Iowa poll, even bigger than that is that after Mitt Romney who‘s in first place in Iowa right now in this poll, the two people who tie for second place in Iowa are Sarah Palin and Herman Cain.  What is fuelling their support in Iowa?

Well, for Sarah Palin, it seems to be the aforementioned die-hard birther dead enders.  Of those Iowa Republicans who still think Barack Obama might be secretly foreign, they love them some Sarah Palin.  Look at that -- 73 percent of Iowa Republicans who are certain that Barack Obama is secretly foreign, 73 percent of them have a favorable view of Sarah Palin and that is higher than any other candidate.  Supporting Sarah Palin and thinking the president is secretly foreign those two things—at least in Iowa right now—seem to go together.

Herman Cain, however, may be the biggest winner in this new Iowa poll.  Mr. Cain is in the midst of what we around the office have been calling the Herman Cain mini-surge.  In addition to placing second in this poll, the firm that conducted the poll notes in their write up about the results, quote, “No one is becoming more popular with Iowa Republicans as they become better known except Herman Cain.”

So, the Herman Cain campaign must really be delighted with these results.  They really are experiencing a delightful mini-surge right now.

On the other end of the spectrum, the candidate who probably comes out looking the worst in all of this has got to be Jon Huntsman, former Republican governor of Utah.  Did you see this today about how Jon Huntsman is doing in Iowa right now?

Quoting again from this Public Policy Polling poll, one Iowa Republican said they would vote for Jon Huntsman if the election was today.  Not one percent, but one respondent, period.  One.  One guy.

Jon Huntsman‘s one supporter in Iowa said he voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and, incidentally, he‘s quite confident that Mr. Obama was born in the United States.  See ,that‘s a really easy cross tab to read because it‘s only one guy.

Jon Huntsman in trying to up his standing with potential Republican primary voters, Jon Huntsman is doubling down right now on the voting to kill Medicare issue.  Mr. Huntsman has an op-ed in “The Wall Street Journal” today reiterating his previously stated support for the Paul Ryan kill Medicare plan.

And he also essentially urges other Republicans to get in line behind it as well—which is instructive for this reason: in Republican land, the Raul Ryan kill Medicare thing is still seen as a positive.  Jon Huntsman was in sort of dire straits in terms of name recognition and support in the early states, Jon Huntsman is trying to use his kill Medicare position to reinvigorate his campaign.  I guess to invigorate his campaign in the first place.

A group of Republican activists are currently trying to draft Paul Ryan hymn to get into the 2012 race.  They have launched the Web site to recruit him.

But while the Paul Ryan kill Medicare budget may seem like a good idea among Republican activists, today, there was a striking visual rebuttal to it in non-Republican land.  It was this image.  Democrat Kathy Hochul getting sworn-in by—who‘s that—Speaker of the House John Boehner in Washington, D.C.

Kathy Hochul is now Congresswoman Hochul of New York 26.  She, of course, won her seat from a deep red district in Upstate New York by running against the Paul Ryan kill Medicare plan which her Republican opponent supported.  She got sworn in today even as Republican activists are trying to recruit Paul Ryan to run for president because of the bravery and courageousness of his kill Medicare idea.

In fairness, Republicans, right now, they are after Paul Ryan.  But it really seems like they just want anybody else to jump into this race in the worst way.

Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina even started making some noise about running.  He told “The Hill” newspaper that he has discussed a White House bid with his wife.  He will pray on the question but he‘s only doing it out of respect for his supporters across the country who keep badgering him about it.

Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota now looks like she really is inching closer to a run as well.  Her congressional chief of f staff announced today that he has taken another job with Michele Bachmann, but he would not describe what that job is.  Hmm.

Michele Bachmann will travel to Waterloo, Iowa, next month to announce her intentions.  That‘s her hometown.  People very rarely go to their hometown to announce they‘re not running.  Michele Bachmann looks like she‘s taking some concrete steps towards jumping in.

That said, she does have a new book that she‘s shopping around reportedly.  So, maybe that‘s what this is all about.  We shall see.

Of course, all the buzz in Republican circles right now, of all the different candidates, all the different people who are trying to be drafted, the strongest buzz right now is still for the one governor who keeps saying over and over again that he‘s not running under any circumstances, Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey.

And again, it might sound like a great idea many the abstract.  It might sound great in Republican land among Republican activists.  But in the same way that Paul Ryan and the kill Medicare idea is not a very popular idea beyond Republican activist world, in the same way that the kill Medicare thing is already losing Republicans elections that they really ought to be winning, Chris Christie where he is actually governing when you get up close to him, he is wildly unpopular.  His approval rating in New Jersey has sunk to a new low, 44 percent of New Jersey voters approve of the job he is doing.  That has been sinking like a stone.

And today, in his home state, here‘s what Chris Christie is dealing with, wall to wall in the New Jersey press.  These are photos of Chris Christie, Governor Christie, using a brand new, multimillion dollar state police helicopter to get a ride to his son‘s high school baseball game in New Jersey yesterday afternoon.

Mr. Christie had no public events on his schedule yesterday and yet he decided to chopper to his son‘s baseball game and then have what was presumably a state vehicle drive him the 100 yards from the chopper to the baseball field, which is a bad scene if you want to be Mr. Fiscal Responsibility, Mr. Everybody‘s Got to Tighten Their Belts, Mr. Everything in the State Must Go.

He took a state helicopter to his son‘s baseball game—a state helicopter that cost the state $205,000 per hour to operate.  He then left the baseball game in the fifth-inning had the chauffeured state car drive him 100 yards back to the helicopter, and then got in the helicopter again and had it fly him to a meeting with Iowa Republican political donors who are trying to talk him into running for president and no doubt flattering him a lot in the process.

I‘m sure from Iowa, Chris Christie seems like a shining beacon on a hill.  But ask the folks in New Jersey, grass greener, et cetera.

Politics is only in part about personality.  It is also about ideas, of course, and policies.  Right now, there really is absolutely no reason to believe that we have any idea who the person will be that will head up the Republican ticket in 2012.  Who is individual politician is who is going to win that nominating process.

The only thing that is already set in motion, the only thing we already know will be a defining feature of this election cycle, of this whole year in politics, is this—the Republican vote to kill Medicare and the results of that vote.  Every major Republican presidential candidate except for Mitt Romney so far, every one has pledged that they, too, will kill Medicare.

The only signs of this New York 26 special election and all of the polling showing that kill Medicare vote to be a disaster for Republicans, that vote gives an advantage to every single Democratic politician who draws that issue as the contrast between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party no matter what office they are running for.

The latest approval poll for President Obama that just came out shows President Obama with a 54 percent approval rating.  It has been going up and up over the last two months.  What‘s that driven by?  Everyone thought it would be a temporary blip because of the Osama bin Laden op on May 1st.

But there‘s also a fact that this latest sustained surge is driven primarily by the president‘s increased popularity amongst Republicans and among seniors.  He‘s growing more popular with that group Republicans and seniors as Republicans—as Senate Republicans do what House Republicans already did.  Senate Republicans also vote to kill Medicare.

Nobody knows who is going to be the Republican presidential nominee.  Watching them figure it out is going to be so much fun this year, I can hardly stand it.  Just this time right now where people are jumping in and jumping out, and jumping in and jumping out, I‘ve never been more delighted.

But what we do know about the next election cycle is that regardless of the personalities involved, this is the policy it is going to be about.  This is the policy this next election cycle is going to be about.  This is the idea: kill Medicare or don‘t kill Medicare.

The only way that changes, the only way Democrats will give up that advantage is if they vote to kill Medicare, too.  If they trade that in those negotiations they‘re having over the debt ceiling and over the deficit.  If Democrats trade that away, then, frankly, the Republicans really could run Paul Ryan.  They still couldn‘t run Chris Christie, but they probably could run Paul Ryan.

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

Gene, am I wrong?  Is Chris Christie a savior and I just can‘t see it?

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Oh, you know, you can‘t see as far as that helicopter.  Ooh, that talk about bad, bad visuals there.  That was—that was—I don‘t know how you can run for president on a platform of fiscal responsibility when you just did that.

I --- he has kept saying he‘s not going to run, he‘s not going to run.  But you got to excuse for me a second because I‘m still trying to get out of my mind this image of Senator Jim DeMint from my home state on his knees asking the Lord if he should run for president.  And hearing this booming voice saying, are you kidding me?


MADDOW:  Gene Robinson as the voice of God here on MSNBC.

ROBINSON:  Now that I‘ve gotten it out of me, sorry folks, but there it is.

MADDOW:  So, there‘s all these people who are on the sort of fringes sort of, on the edge of the pool, I guess, sort of sticking a toe in and wanting to be seen to be sticking a toe in, and a lot of them are building their brands and monetizing it.  A lot of them have books to sell.

And the White House is I think wisely staying out of all of it, not commenting on all of it, saying it‘s too early for them to be commenting on any one of these Republican candidates.  Do you think, though, that the White House is preparing to run against the idea of killing Medicare, no matter who the Republican is who‘s going to ultimately embody that idea?

ROBINSON:  Yes, I think that would be the White House‘s bottom line.  I think that they will make that a big factor in the campaign.  I think they‘re trying to modulate the tone.  They might modulate it a bit more than, say, you or I under similar circumstances, because my idea would be pound on it every single day.

I think the president as he always wants to appear reasonable would say something like, yes, entitlements are a problem and we need to find ways to reduce Medicare costs, that‘s why the Affordable Care Act is doing this is doing this and that.  We can do some more of that.  We can do a little more over here.  But we‘re not going to turn that into a voucher program and kill Medicare as we know it.

And I do anticipate that we‘re going to hear that, and I think it will be good for the Democrats.

MADDOW:  Do you think that there is a risk that congressional Democrats will screw it up?  That they will give up Medicare as an issue by taking a shot at it in some way in these debt ceiling negotiations, or in anything else they‘re working out with the Republicans right now?

ROBINSON:  Well, with the caveat that, yes, there‘s always a risk.  But I can tell you that, you know, I did happen to be on Capitol Hill, had the chance to talk with a number of House Democrats on the evening of the New York special election—at a point where everybody we didn‘t know the results yet, everybody kind of knew what was happening.  Everybody‘s feelers were out and it really looked like the Democrats were going to take a seat they had absolutely no right to take.

And there was an energy and a consistency of message and a sense of purpose in that room that I haven‘t heard from Democrats in a while and that was qualitatively different from what we‘ve seen the last six or eight months.

MADDOW:  Do you think that there is a split between the House and the Senate on this?  Is this one of the things where Nancy Pelosi is leading the message on this in the House?  She, of course, has been the one who said, “Yes, we have an alternate plan, we have an alternate to the Paul Ryan.  Our plan is called Medicare.”  She‘s been great in terms of the messaging on this.

Congressman Steve Israel, who‘s the head of the House campaign committee for the Democrats, has had a similar sort of unstinting steely, spiney-ness about this.

But is the problem here on the Senate side?  Are you thinking that that‘s problem where they‘re going to go soft if they do?

ROBINSON:  That‘s generally where they do go soft if they do go soft.  You know, however, look at the big picture.  Democrats have—Medicare has been a part of the Democratic legacy for this country since it was founded.  If Democrats in the Senate, in the House, wherever, faced with these political circumstances actually start saying, well, gee, maybe we need to fundamentally alter Medicare, they don‘t deserve to win.

I mean, that‘s not only political malpractice, but it‘s wrong.  They don‘t deserve to win if that‘s what they do.

MADDOW:  Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for “The Washington Post” and MSNBC‘s official voice of God from hereon out—I hope you‘re up to it, sir.  Thanks, Gene.


ROBINSON:  Good night, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Good night.

ROBINSON:  Good night, Rachel.


MADDOW:  All right.

Smart, articulate, fiery, New York City Congressman Anthony Weiner made one of his many appearances on this show on Friday night.  As a guest, the congressman is always interesting, always.  Since that appearance, things have gotten interesting in a totally different way for Congressman Anthony Weiner.

He will be our guest again tonight live for “The Interview.”  That is just ahead.  Don‘t miss it.


MADDOW:  If there‘s one person who can really explain what‘s been going on with this strange story these past few days about Congressman Anthony Weiner, it is Congressman Anthony Weiner.  And he will join us live for “The Interview,” next.


MADDOW:  If you were not watching television all day, but you missed your TV while you were gone and you‘d like to know what your TV looked like while it was out—here you go.  This was the news wallpaper.  Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner speaking more candidly to reporters about a picture he is accused of tweeting to a woman in Seattle on Friday.

According to his accusers—most notably the bombastic conservative activist Andrew Breitbart—Representative Weiner sent this tweet after he appeared as a guest on this show.  The picture was almost immediately deleted from his picture sharing account online along with every other picture there.  Congressman Weiner says he was hacked and then he did not send that picture.

But before the erasing of the picture happened, a guy who describes himself on Twitter as no Obamacare socialism, Sharia, re-tweeted what he says was the picture.  Mr. Breitbart‘s conservative Web site picked it up and posted what it claimed was a picture of the original tweet.  CNN then put Mr. Breitbart on television to brag about this and to make further allegations despite his history of smearing people and getting it wrong and everybody else having to apologize for the mess he made even though he never apologizes.

But the damage was done.  Thus began the early freak out of early summer 2011.

Meanwhile, over the last couple of days while everyone in the media had their hair on fire about this story, the talented and very smart people who live in the world of the Internets, they were trying to figure out what happened.  How it could have happened.

If the congressman was hacked as he said he was, if he was pranked, how would that work?  How could a person do that?  What would that look like?  How could you begin to get away with something like that?

Here are a few of those theories.  I think this is fascinating stuff.

One theory was flushed out over at “Daily Kos.”  It goes like this:

the infamous retweeter seems to have had a preoccupation with the congressman‘s possible connection to women on Twitter weeks before Friday night.  From two weeks prior, quote, “Representative Weiner loves young girls, follows this one, too.”

Then, a blogger at Mr. Breitbart‘s Web site asks if it is possible to hack into the picture-sharing service that Congressman Weiner uses, which is called yfrog.

So, the “Daily Kos” writer looks at the image of the congressman‘s Twitter account more closely and judging from the pixelation of the images and some other visual clues, it concludes that the damage was a composite, saved a number of times, indicating it had been PhotoShopped.  But in order for this theory to be true, one would have to assume that the prankster made a fake Anthony Weiner picture, hacked into the congressman‘s Twitter account, tweeted a fake link to that picture, claimed the picture was deleted, but he alone had the screen cap and then spread the word.

In other words, it was all a PhotoShopping scheme elaborately played out on the Internet.  One that one of our producers—it‘s interesting—one of our producers on this show was able to replicate yesterday in less time than it takes to make a two-minute egg.

Here‘s a screen cap of an actual tweet of mine.  This is a tweet I really sent, OK.  And here is out producer, Will Femia‘s PhotoShopped copy of the tweet.

You see how it works?  Same background.  Same imagery.  Same fonts. 

Very different content.

For a theory with fewer steps, a number of other blogs have different versions of a theory of a potential hacking that looks at the information embedded in this controversial picture itself.  It‘s called the picture‘s metadata.  Without getting too techie about it, essentially every photograph contains information about the properties of that photo—size of the image, the device from which it originated, and some other information.

And according to one blogger, Congressman Weiner‘s previous pictures have named his BlackBerry as the camera model name associated with the photo.  The lewd picture in question does not.

A third but by no means final theory has to do with the photo-sharing service that I was talking about earlier, yfrog.  One way you can share a photo is by emailing it to your yfrog account.  So, you attach the picture to an email message, you write a message in the subject line.

If you‘re confused right now don‘t worry.  The important thing is to understand this.

You alone are supposed to know your yfrog email address which you can use to post pictures.  One of our viewers pointed out today, however, it‘s not all that hard to generate a program that would try every possible combination using your Twitter name until you got the right email address to use this service to post pictures.

That viewer who tweets SRAKING mimicked that process today.  She hacked a friend‘s account @roomerholmes, and from his account, from the account that she hacked into, she tweeted this picture to one of our producers.  She tweeted it as if she was Roomer Holmes which she is not.

If you want to totally geek out about Twitter hacking and how our awesome, Sarah Katon (ph) pulled it off, our amazing web producer Will Femia is explaining it all with pictures over at “Maddow Blog.”

So, if you are into this stuff, you may want to check that out later.  It is an elegant and easy solution that makes it seem quite obvious that this sort of thing could be done without too much technical know-how.

We do not know that any of these theories explained what has happened in the last few days to Congressman Weiner.  We don‘t know what happened there.  We do not know anything more about that than you do, or your neighbor or your dog does.

We are—we do know more than we knew before the brilliant people on the Internet started looking into this and doing all the metadata tricks about how it could go wrong if it had gone wrong in the way the congressman says it did.

Anthony Weiner has answered a lot of questions about this thing so far.  He has not yet answered the question about whether or not the picture in question is actually a photograph of him.  But the congressman will join us live next.


MADDOW:  The last time Congressman Anthony Weiner was a guest on this show was Friday night.  I did a really, really stupid lead in story totally unrelated to the news of the day about rodeo queens in Salt Lake City.  Then I made a self-consciously awkward transition to talk about special election results since House Republicans voted to kill Medicare, also approval ratings for red state governors.

Congressman Weiner took it all in good humor and we talked about national politics and Democrat‘s political strategy around Medicare and more.

Tonight, Congressman Anthony Weiner is back on the show and this time it‘s because since Friday night, an allegation which he denies that he tweeted a lewd picture of himself has become a national fixation.  Here now for “The Interview” to help us understand what has turned into four days of very strange news, Congressman Anthony Weiner.

Congressman, thanks very much for your time.

REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK:  I blame it all on you.

MADDOW:  I‘m sure it has something to do with those rodeo queens.

Will you tell me in your own words what has happened here?

WEINER:  Well, I don‘t know for sure.  It seems like what happened someone somehow got access to my Twitter account and tweeted a joke, I guess.  You know, when your name is Weiner, you get some of those sometimes.  I happen to be quite literally because I was on your show, I was tweeting at that very moment I saw it pop up there.  I took it down pretty quickly.

The woman who was I guess intended to get it, never received it, put out a statement saying she doesn‘t know me.  I certainly don‘t know her.  And I write off basically as a prank.  I continued that night tweeting and talking to my followers about hockey and Clarence Thomas and other things, and woke up the next morning to kind of smell the embers burning of what would become this national question about who did what and when.

But I just want to say that I didn‘t send the picture.  I don‘t know who did and what they were intending to do.  But I consider it a prank and we‘ve been trying to move past it ever since.

MADDOW:  Does anybody else have access to either your Twitter account or your yfrog account, any different vectors by which this would have appeared on the Internet under your name?

WEINER:  You know, I do all of my own tweeting and with some very narrow exceptions, sometimes, there‘s—we do some mass mailings and a firm links to it.  But the answer is I don‘t know.  I mean, it doesn‘t seem likely.

But to be honest with you, one of the things we‘ve been doing ever since this thing happened is taking a kind of a hard look.  We hired a firm to take a look at our security and we‘re not doing a great job at it.

A couple weeks earlier, I had problems with my Facebook account, changed the password to that, neglected to change the password on Twitter.  I don‘t really know what happened.  One of the things we‘re trying to do is get to the bottom of how secure this system is.

As far as the yfrog account, I‘d be very honest with you, I didn‘t really know for sure what that was until this thing popped up and I clicked on it and it directed me to where these photographs were being kept.  And I kind of quickly deleted it and moved on with my life.

MADDOW:  In terms of the Facebook problems that you had, were they this type of problem?  Was it a problem where somebody was trying to put something on your Facebook page where it looked like it would be attributed to you and would be embarrassing but it wasn‘t from you?

WEINER:  I don‘t want to drill too deeply into that because, you know, we have some professionals who are taking a look at it—but perhaps.  I mean, I think that someone actually did get access.  We reported a couple of weeks earlier, got a new password and everything else.

I don‘t want to draw too many conclusions.  I mean, I‘ll be honest with you.  You completely lost me with the technical stuff at the outset here.  All I know is what I know, which is—this thing was sent by someone else.  They were on my Twitter page.  I since have read a few articles like you have that it‘s not that hard to do.

I don‘t believe this is this big national emergency that demands international investigations, but I think it was basically a prank.  And until I know otherwise, I‘m going to assume that‘s the case.

MADDOW:  And you have been very clearly trying to bring the whole conflagration to an end.  In part by insisting that you wouldn‘t take questions on it anymore that led to that very tense press conference yesterday.  But because you haven‘t answered a question about whether the photo is you or not, you realize that now, everybody thinks the photo is you.

And so, where‘s there‘s smoke, there‘s fire.  There must be a real scandal here.  You must have been doing something creepy here.

Let me ask you whether or not you want to answer that question, and then let me ask you what the answer to it is.

WEINER:  Whether the photograph is me?


WEINNER:  Am I allowed to say I wish?  I don‘t—look, we don‘t know for sure.  The photo doesn‘t look familiar to me.  But a lot of people who have been looking at this stuff on our behalf are cautioning me that, you know, stuff gets manipulated, stuff gets—you know, you can change your photograph, you can manipulate a photograph, you can doctor a photograph.

And so, I don‘t want to say with certitude it maybe didn‘t start out being a photograph of mine, and now, it looks something different or maybe it was something that was from another account that got sent to me.  I don‘t—I can‘t say for sure.  I don‘t want to say with certitude.  I‘m not trying to be evasive.  I just don‘t know.

MADDOW:  Is it possible that this started out as a private photo of yours that ended up in the public domain accidentally or at least in a way that you didn‘t intend?

WEINER:  Well, it could be or it could have been a (AUDIO BREAK) that was that‘s taken out of context or manipulated or changed in some way.  So, maybe it did or maybe it‘s a photograph that was dropped into an account from somewhere else.  I mean, I can‘t say.  I don‘t want to cast this net wider by saying it‘s someone else.

So, I‘m going to say that I can‘t say with certitude it‘s me or it‘s not.

Jon Stewart last night assured his public that it wasn‘t me for reasons that are somewhat embarrassing.  But I‘ll leave it to your viewers to make that determination.

MADDOW:  In terms of your constituents watching all of this unfold,

and wondering if there is fire here behind all of the smoke, wondering if

you‘re doing creepy things online, specially, what—how do you intend to

re-assure your constituents and to the people who have supported you

politically that they shouldn‘t think that you‘re a creep?

WEINER:  Well, you know, the simple fact here is what this appears to be is probably what it is—someone making fun of my name, someone trying to cause trouble for me, maybe poke fun at me.  You know, when your name is Weiner and someone posts a picture like that, the most obvious conclusion is that someone was pranking me and punking me.  And I get that.

I kind of am concerned about how far and wide this conspiracy theory has run.  I mean, I‘ve got people who did nothing more than just follow me on Twitter who are getting calls from reporters.  We have people that I followed who they asked me to follow them who are now showing up in paper, in articles in the newspaper.

Look, people get hacked all the time.  Hundreds of thousands of time each year, someone that has their account compromised or someone else takes their name or something like that.  It happened to me.  I don‘t think it‘s the end of the world.  If people want to draw this conclusion, it‘s a much more successful hack than I think even I knew who did it could have imagine because it‘s gotten all of this oxygen.

This is what life is like perhaps in social media in the world of 2011.  And I‘ll do the very best I can to persuade my constituents, both I‘m going to keep doing my job and to be honest with you, I‘m going to return to Twitter.  I‘m going to keep doing the things I‘m doing because I think it helps me do my job.

MADDOW:  In terms of that firm that you hired to help get to the bottom of this, will you make public anything that they find in terms of what they determine about—not necessarily any security lapses that you committed, but how this ultimately happened, so people think this isn‘t you covering up something that you did?

WEINER:  Yes.  I mean, it‘s a fair request.  I mean, their primary job is going to be to try to figure out and deconstruct what happened from our perspective in terms of, you know, whether there‘s a big security breach.  They‘re also going to be looking into maybe something much worse went on here that we‘re still learning about.

But I think it‘s perfectly reasonable to say, you know, if they find -

I mean, I‘ve asked them in consultation with them if there are any other authorities we should bring in.  They‘re going to look into that as well.  And I think it‘s fair for people to ask.


Obviously, anything about my accounts and security we‘re not going to make public.  But things that kind of help unravel this very important mystery, I‘m certainly eager to do.

MADDOW:  Congressman Anthony Weiner, always a very valued guest on this show.  Look forward to having you back, sir.  Thanks very much for joining us.

WEINER:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  Really big government, REO Speedwagon and “The Best New Thing in the World Today” all still to come, if you can believe it.   Yes, all still to come.


MADDOW:  We have heard far too much bad news in recent weeks about tornadoes that have devastated areas in Joplin, Missouri and Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  But the tornado that you are watching right now touched down today in western Massachusetts—a part of the country that you usually do not hear in the same seasons as tornadoes.  Look at that.

Western Massachusetts is where I live with my partner Susan.  This is what it looked like today when one of at least the two tornadoes in the area crossed the Connecticut River in the Springfield, Massachusetts, area today.

State officials say four people died as a result of today‘s violent storms.  One person killed in Westfield, one in West Springfield—two in West Springfield, excuse me, and one in Brimfield.

Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts has declared a state of emergency.  He‘s called up 1,000 National Guard troops to assist with the aftermath.

We will keep you posted if we learn more.


MADDOW:  Despite their unusually big, beautiful permed hair, the drummer wearing gloves, drummer in gloves, really?  And sitting in front of a large fan, despite the unapologetic purity of their particular brand of cheese rock, REO Speedwagon has sadly been in retro-grade for sometime now.  After their initial period of FM popularity as kind of real rockers and then their top 40 heyday in the early ‘80s, they went through a period of severe uncoolness—then there was a natural pendulum effect in which their very uncoolness made their ironically cool again, which is how they ended up on the kitsch circuit of high school reunions and karaoke machines.

But after that, even since their kitsch re-visitation, REO Speedwagon has again fallen into the cultural abyss.  Thanks to presidential politics in 2011, REO Speedwagon‘s long time out from American cultural relevance ends right now.


MADDOW:  Seriously weird political stylings on tape with REO Speedwagon and these amazing tussled loafers.  “The Best New Thing in the World Today” coming up right at the end of the show tonight.  Ride the storm out, everybody.  Now, it‘s time for me to fly.


MADDOW:  Since Republicans took over state legislatures and governorships in so many states in the last election, they have passed at least 64 pieces of new anti-abortion legislation.  Wow, 64 this year alone.

“The New York Times” counts more than 30 new anti-abortion laws passed in April alone.  But the advocacy groups that are most excited about this year‘s unprecedented frenzy of anti-abortion legislation are not just excited about the prospect of making abortion impossible to get in lots of states, of de facto banning abortion.

They‘ve also got their sights set on something else.  Outlaw abortion today, outlaw contraception tomorrow.  This Saturday is the fourth annual protest the pill event.

In 2008, they had the first one.  That year‘s theme was “the pill kills” babies.  Then, in 2009, their slogan was “the pill kills women.”  So, it‘s the pill kills every year, but the tag line changes each time.

In 2010 it was the pill kills, guess, babies then women, then.  Wrong. 

In 2010 it was the pill kills the environment.  Yes.

And now, this year, a new slogan same sign the pill kills marriage.  There‘s nothing like having no access to contraception to strengthen your marriage, right?

The group behind the protest the pill event is called American Life League.  I think they know they‘re on the fringe even of fringe politics, these are the people who less than a month after Ted Kennedy died were distributing the bury Obamacare with Kennedy sign.  So I think these guys know they are on the fringe.

But their cause is being taken up by Republican legislatures, too.

Pretty much lost amid the huge number of anti-abortions this year is what Alabama is in the process of doing right now.  The Alabama legislature -- get this—one step from final passage on a bill that would change the definition of person in state law to mean, quote, “all humans from the moment of fertilization and implantation into the womb.”

The bill is an attempt, of course, to totally ban abortion in that state.  But because of the way it is written, because of the point at which it grants personhood rights to eggs, this law could also very well ban the most popular forms of birth control.

Similar legislation also introduced by Republicans in Montana, in North Dakota, in Oklahoma and Virginia this year—again, not just trying to ban abortion but potentially even banning contraception, too.

So, there‘s that.  But that wasn‘t even the most amazing development in big government conservatism today.  Did you see what Think Progress just posted from Rand Paul‘s last radio interview?  Senator Rand Paul, who was supposedly the epitome of libertarians, small government, principal conservativism in the Senate right now—a man so enamored of individual freedoms that we questioned whether the government should even constrain people‘s right to discriminate on the basis of race.

That‘s the whole basis of his hemming and hawing over the Civil Rights Act.  He says he is such a free speech individual rights purist that even anti-discrimination laws rub him the wrong way because they constrain people too much.  Personal freedoms are that important to him.  He wants to limit government‘s reach that much—except for this:


SEN. RAND PAUL ®, KENTUCKY:  I‘m not for profiling people on the color of their skin, or on their religion, but I would take into account where they‘ve been traveling and perhaps, you might have to indirectly take into account whether or not they‘ve been going to radical political speeches by religious leaders that wouldn‘t be that they are Islamic.  But if someone is attending speeches from someone who is promoting the violent overthrow of our government, that‘s really an offense that we should be going after.  They should be deported or put in prison.


MADDOW:  If someone is attending speeches of the wrong kind, they should be deported or put in prison.  Remember, this is a guy supposed to be the libertarian principled, small government, free speech, conservative guy in the Senate right now.  Government so small it would put you in jail for the crime of listening to someone like Sharron Angle talking about overthrowing the government.

So, yes, today, there is also that.

But maybe the biggest achievement in big conservatism in today‘s news comes to us from the great state of Florida, where Governor Rick Scott just signed into law a requirement that thousands of Florida residents who have committed no crime, who are not suspected of any crime related to drug use or of drug use itself, thousands of Floridians will be forced by his state government to turn over their urine, their blood or their hair to be tested by Rick Scott‘s state government, proactively, without suspicion, to see if they are using drugs.

He has already mandated this for public employees in Florida.  Now, Governor Rick Scott is mandating it for anyone applying for benefits from the government.  In a state supposedly broke, Republicans who are supposedly for limited government will now have Florida taxpayers spending potentially hundreds of thousands a month forcibly acquiring the hair, blood and urine of the state‘s residents so it can be proactively searched, because the government says so.

What conservatives say they want is small government.  What they are working on this year is government that prohibits you from using contraception, that forcibly collects your urine, hair and blood, and that puts you in prison or deports you if it does not like the speeches you attend.

The stuff is happening all over all the time now.  This is what conservative governance is like this year.  It sort of seems like this ought to be a bigger national story.


MADDOW:  “Best New Thing in the World Today” is the latest installment of something I thought I would never see again.


MADDOW:  Congressman Thaddeus McCotter, Republican of Michigan, playing “Riding the Storm Out” by REO Speedwagon in his truly unusual music video series.  The first video on the series back in April had the congressman defending the prime minister of Italy against the political consequences of the child prostitution charges he was facing while the congressman played the opening guitar rift of the song “Satisfaction.”


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There‘s a lot of talk going now with the Berlusconi trial coming up—you know, a great ally of the U.S.  It would be a shame to see such a—such an ardent supporter of the democratic process go down in flames.  What are your thoughts?

REP. THADDEUS MCCOTTER ®, MICHIGAN:  Well, I can‘t play that because, evidently, he‘s found satisfaction by all accounts.


MADDOW:  The joke is he got his satisfaction with child prostitutes.

So, that was the first one.  Today, for you, the latest installment in Congressman Thaddeus McCotter‘s music video series, a two-part interview with another Republican congressman.  One from California, all while Thaddeus McCotter‘s his guitar gently weeps.


MADDOW:  Yes, that is “Californication” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. 

First born unicorn, hard core, soft porn, dream of Californication—yes.

Since the first round of these videos came out, Thaddeus McCotter has floated the idea of running for president.  So, maybe that‘s what these are all about.

If so, there really has been nothing this good in presidential political video art since the seriously Zen candidate Mike Gravel in 2008.  Remember him?  Remember this?

This video from him was three minutes long, but the whole first minute and a half of it was him just staring into the camera.  And then this happened.


MADDOW:  Walks away from the camera.  He walks like he‘s maybe just

going to leave.  But, no, he notices something.  What‘s that?  I‘ll just go

hmm.  What‘s he going—oh, geez.  Oh.  Now what?


And he walks away., and then you are supposed to want him to run for president.

Thaddeus McCotter may be running for president now and using this odd music videos may be how he‘s running.  He may actually be stepping up his game now to compete with the Mike Gravel weirdness legacy.  At the end of the most recent Thaddeus McCotter music video thing, things do kind of get increasingly weird.  Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What a world. 



MADDOW:  Just a couple seconds here.  Just watch.  This is how it ends.  Watch.

What is that facial expression conveying?

Thaddeus McCotter bringing arty video weirdness back to long-shot presidential campaigns, which is great.  And it‘s “The Best New Thing in the World Today.”

Now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW.”  Have a good night.



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