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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guests: Steve Schmidt, Glenn Greenwald

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening and thanks, man. And thanks to
you at home for staying with us for the next hour.

It`s happening again. We are embarking on another one of those national
experiments in which everybody who watches conservative media, everybody
who gets their TV news from the FOX News Channel, everybody who lives only
on the right side of the dial, is about to start talking about things in
our country in a way that makes no sense to anybody who does not watch FOX

It`s happening again. Just like they did with ACORN, just like they did
with the New Black Panther Party. Just like they did with the fake Sting
videos about that guy who didn`t actually wear a pimp suit into Planned
Parenthood. Just like they did with the Van Jones panic and the Shirley
Sherrod panic and all these other stories that were not actual news but
which FOX News hyped for its audience until they became the most important
stories in the country for their own audience even as nobody else watching
any other source of non-right wing news had any idea what they were talking

That is happening again. What they`re doing this time is that they are
trying to take us on a new national trip like they`ve done before, but the
new one involves accusing President Obama of terrorism. The president is a
terrorist. They say he is a political terrorist, and not just -- they`re
not just saying this on sometimes wacky FOX News Web site, but they are
saying this on their primetime programming.

This is their wacky Web site reporting on what`s been happening on their
primetime programming.

This is Frank Van Der Sloot. He`s the national finance co-chair for the
Mitt Romney for President campaign. He`s one of Mitt Romney`s
gazillionaire campaign donors. Mr. Van Der Sloot is the CEO of an Idaho
based company. He has been politically active particularly on issues
surrounding gay rights in Idaho over the years. And he has not been on the
pro-gay rights side of those matters.

We`ve reported on Mr. Van Der Sloot and his political activities on this
show twice. Once in February and once again earlier this month. Mr. Van
Der Sloot is now the star of the new FOX News hyped alternate reality
conservative media scandal that makes sense to nobody outside the
conservative media sphere.


BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: CEO of a health related company says his
business being attacked after he donated money to the Romney campaign.

NEIL CAVUTO, FBN ANCHOR: He gave $1 million to a Super PAC supporting Mitt
Romney and soon after found himself listed on an Obama campaign Web site.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The campaign posted a Web site with the names of
private citizens who gave big money to support Mitt Romney and described
those donors in less than flattering terms.


MADDOW: Flashing red sirens. FOX News -- alert. Private citizens, if you
donate to the Mitt Romney campaign, the president of the United States is
coming after you.

To be clear, what FOX News is talking about here is a blog item posted on
April 20th at a Web site called, which is part of the
Obama campaign. The item profiles a number of the gazillionaires who are
bankrolling Mitt Romney`s effort to become president. In this post-
Citizens United world that we are all living in where donors can give
infinitely. Frankly getting to know your presidential candidate means
getting to know their gazillionaire donors.

And in Mitt Romney`s case, among those donors is Frank Van Der Sloot, and
he is not just a campaign donor, he is a campaign official. He`s the
national finance co-chair of Mitt Romney`s presidential campaign. So he`s
not a random private citizen being dragged into the public arena. He`s
already in the public arena. He put himself there. He is a campaign
official. And so his politics are totally germane to understanding the
politics of the campaign. The campaign of which he is an official.

Still, though, it is palpable. FOX News is so excited to have a possible
new Barack Obama scandal to talk about that in some cases it seems like
they have just rushed to get the story on to the air before even they
totally understand it. Before even they have figured out the basic facts
of their supposed scandal.

Case in point.


O`REILLY: So I want to -- I want the folks to know how intense this became
for you. You`re a big Obama fundraiser out in Idaho, correct?



MADDOW: Right, right. You`re a Romney supporter. It`s Obama who`s the
bad guy. Right, got it, OK.

Frank Van Der Sloot, as you just saw there, appearing with FOX News`s Bill
O`Reilly last night. This is one of five segments Mr. Van Der Sloot has
done on FOX in this little flurry of attention so far, just in the past few
days. But last night with Mr. O`Reilly he explained how this one blog post
about him as a Romney campaign official, he explained to Mr. O`Reilly how
this has essentially ruined his life and his business.


O`REILLY: Did it impact your business directly?

VAN DER SLOOT: Well, it did right away. The first day phone calls started
coming in, we had customers who said they wanted to cancel and people --


O`REILLY: Because you were a mean guy, you`re a rat, they wanted to cancel
because you`re just a lousy guy, they read that on the Net.

VAN DER SLOOT: Well, they hit me first with -- they said that I hated gay
people and I was anti-gay which --

O`REILLY: You`re anti-guy. So anybody who was buying your products that
were gay said I`m not going to buy products from this guy.

VAN DER SLOOT: We have a lot of people we work with and deal within the
business --

O`REILLY: Right. So they basically slimed you. They smeared you.

VAN DER SLOOT: They did.


MADDOW: They slimed you, as if you were anti-gay. They made that up out
of whole cloth. Why would they say this untrue thing about you?

It`s not really a rhetorical question. That is a question with an answer
which Mr. O`Reilly had up his fingertips, in the form of transcripts from
his own "Bill O`Reilly" TV show.

As the Web site Media Matters first reported today, Mr. Van Der Sloot
actually appeared on the "O`Reilly Factor" in August of 1999 to talk about
his public campaign against the gay. Mr. Van Der Sloot had just helped
finance these billboards to go up all across the state of Idaho warning
about a public television documentary there that promoted the, quote,
"homosexual lifestyle to Idaho kids."

After helping to put up those billboards, Mr. Van Der Sloot appeared as a
guest on the "O`Reilly Factor" to envoy against efforts in Idaho to, quote,
"bring the homosexual lifestyle into the classroom and introduce it to our
children as being normal, right, acceptable and good." Mr. Van Der Sloot
said of the documentary, quote, "It`s propaganda. Any child watching this
film will conclude at least that this homosexual lifestyle is correct."

He described homosexuality as, quote, "contrary to the moral standards of
our community and nation." All of that happened on Bill O`Reilly`s TV


O`REILLY: So anybody who is buying your products who were gay said I`m not
going to buy products from this guy.

VAN DER SLOOT: We have a lot of people we work with.

O`REILLY: Right.

VAN DER SLOOT: And deal within the business world --

O`REILLY: So they basically slimed you? They smeared you?

VAN DER SLOOT: They did.


MADDOW: Dude, you have interviewed the guy before about what he thinks is
so bad about being gay. It can`t be a smear if it is a factual part of his
record, which you put on the Record.

We asked Mr. Van Der Sloot about his involvement in that anti-gay billboard
campaign in Idaho, and he just this year gave us this statement. He said,
quote, "I am a strong supporter of the argument that gay and lesbian people
should have the same rights as all other Americans. My arguments against
`Its Elementary`," the documentary, "was not against the film itself but
with its intended audience. I don`t believe that sexual concepts either
homosexual or heterosexual should be introduced in our schools to first,
second and third graders. I would endorse `Its Elementary` for adults, but
most Americans would agree it should not be shown to little kids."

But again, FOX News has bothered to let the details around this thing get
in the way of the good story here, right? A good scandal about the
president having some kind of enemies list.

After a "Wall Street Journal" columnist named Kimberly Strassel wrote about
Mr. Van Der Sloot being a victim of this enemy`s list, FOX News was so
excited to put the new conservative media scandal on the air that they
couldn`t even figure out that Mr. Van Der Sloot was the supposed victim
here and Kimberly Strassel was the columnist writing about him.

OK, so, Kimberly Strassel is the person writing about Mr. Van Der Sloot.
Mr. Van Der Sloot is supposed to be the Obama victim here. Writer, victim.
Watch how they handle this on FOX. They`re so excited they screw the whole
thing up.


BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: It`s also something about some Romney
supporters that I think is significant. This Kimberly Strassel is coming
forward saying that she`s been smeared in her life because of her support
for Mitt Romney`s campaign. Her name down as a donor finds out the Super
PAC`s going around in her background to find out what she does and what she
does want to do.


MADDOW: No, no, no, no. That`s not even -- not even close to what you
want to be able to say. Kimberly Strassel isn`t the donor. She`s the
person at Rupert Murdoch`s "Wall Street Journal" who`s been writing about
the donor and the donor is actually a campaign official, not just a donor,
and his name is Frank.

Kimberly`s -- it`s a totally -- never mind.

FOX News is very excited about this scandal that they have uncovered. This
scandal that as exciting as it may be, you should know is not true. It is
in fact false. But the way it`s unspooling is telling about our politics
right now and about how the conservative media is working in our politics.

Again the claim from FOX News and from Mr. Van Der Sloot, the basic
allegation here, the scandal that FOX News has discovered that you will
soon see in an e-mail from your crazy conservative uncle is that for the
crime of being a Mitt Romney donor, Frank Van Der Sloot is now the victim
of terrorism.


O`REILLY: Some believe this is economic terrorism. Not economic,
political terrorism. That targeting a businessman like you, running an
honest business, because of your freedom to donate who you want to donate
to, but try to ruin you personally and professionally, that`s terrorism,
political terrorism.


MADDOW: Terrorism. President Obama, of course in the case, is the -- in
this case is the terrorist. Because of what President Obama has done,
because of what Frank Van Der Sloot has done to support Mitt Romney, the
allegation is that Frank Van Der is being singled out. It`s hurting his
business. People are asking all sorts of questions about his past, people
are saying that he`s anti-gay when he totally isn`t. Barack Obama put
Frank Van Der Sloot on an enemy`s list. He was targeted for retribution.


O`REILLY: You say look, I`m just an honest businessman. All right? Now
what happened to your business in lieu of that? What happened?

VAN DER SLOOT: Well, when first saw the list, I thought, this is scary.
And within hours of that then all kinds of things started to appear on the
Internet suggesting all kinds of accusations against me, rewriting history
as it were about all kinds of things I was supposedly guilty of. And --

O`REILLY: Did it impact your business directly?

VAN DER SLOOT: Well, it did right away. The first day phone calls started
coming in. We had customers who said they wanted to cancel. We lost a
couple hundred customers so far and then we started getting that turned


MADDOW: So according to Frank Van Der Sloot, as soon as President Obama
put him on this enemies list his business suffered. That`s the scandal
here. The president targets a private citizen and then that private
citizen`s entire livelihood is threatened.

Flashing red lights. Somebody call Drudge. That whole line, that a
private citizen targeted, that private citizen`s livelihood is threatened,
his business is being affected, his private life is being pried into,
that`s also what he told us, too, months ago. Months before President
Obama was even conceivably involved, before that blog post even appeared on
the Internets. We heard from Mr. Van Der Sloot and his lawyer soon after
we covered him on this program back in February.

We reported on Mr. Van Der Sloot back then in his capacity as Mitt Romney`s
national finance co-chair. We discussed his history and political causes
in Idaho, that billboard that we showed you earlier as well as his efforts
to discredit a gay journalist in Idaho whose reporting Mr. Van Der Sloot
disagreed with.

Mr. Van Der Sloot and his lawyers attacked our reporting. They asked us to
pull it down off the Web. They claim specifically that our reporting on
him had hurt his business. That customers of his had called up and
cancelled based on our reporting that we were to blame for his business

That was in March. Now Mr. Van Der Sloot says none of that started
happening until after President Obama`s campaign blog mentioned him in late

Mr. Van Der Sloot is changing his story.


VAN DER SLOOT: Well, when this came out, when this -- yes, there were only
eight people on it. I was one of them. And so when I first learned that I
was on his enemies list that really worried me at first, I`ll tell you.
And my first anticipation was that yes, I`ve got a target strapped on my
back and sure enough, then the attacks started coming.


MADDOW: Then the attacks started coming. Not when we reported on him back
in February and when other news outlets like Glenn Greenwald at
and Mother Jones reported on him back then, but rather in late April.
Right after President Obama`s campaign re-election team posted that blog
item on him, that`s when it all started. Van Der Sloot has re-invented his
story and he is taking FOX News along for the ride.


CAVUTO: Well, he gave a million dollars to a super PAC supporting Mitt
Romney and soon after found himself listed on an Obama campaign Web site.

O`REILLY: CEO of a health related company says his business being attacked
after he donated money to the Romney campaign.


MADDOW: The Romney campaign finance co-chair has reinvented the story now
to say all of these repercussions for him and his private life and his
business, started months after he used to say they started. He`s now
saying that the stuff he started complaining about back in March actually
didn`t start until late April until after the president got involved and
now the president is coming after him and every American should be afraid
of the president.

Frank Van Der Sloot is not just a CEO of a health related company in Idaho.
He is not just a Mitt Romney supporter. He is not just some private
citizen who has been targeted randomly by the Obama campaign because they
are thugs. He is the national finance co-chair of the Mitt Romney
campaign. He`s been given a leadership position in the Mitt Romney
campaign. He is an official in the Mitt Romney campaign.

And whether he likes it or not, that makes him a public figure. That means
that his record is up for public discussion. Particularly given that he
has chosen to involve himself in such political causes over the years.

And Frank Van Der Sloot`s role in this year`s presidential campaign is that
he will now be the star of the new FOX News scandal about Barack Obama.
Five segments and counting so far on FOX News about how President Obama is
a terrorist and the target of his terrorism is Frank Van Der Sloot. There
have been five segments so far. Mr. Van Der Sloot has appeared in three of

A private citizen who has nothing at all to do with politics other than
being the national finance co-chair of the Mitt Romney campaign. Five
segments and counting later. Now FOX News has their brand new Barack Obama


O`REILLY: Some believe this is economic terrorism -- not economic,
political terrorism. That targeting a businessman like you running an
honest business because of your freedom to donate who you want to donate
to, but try to ruin you personally and professionally, that`s terrorism.
Political terrorism.


MADDOW: Frank Van Der Sloot a victim of terrorism. Now how do we wage
counterterrorism in this case? Very specific answer to that.

Mr. Van Der Sloot, after all, is the national finance co-chair of the Mitt
Romney for President campaign. That means his job is to raise money and
that is exactly what he has been doing with his story on FOX News. Watch.


O`REILLY: Here`s your check to Restore Our Future, right?

VAN DER SLOOT: I think the only response to this --

O`REILLY: Hold it up there.

VAN DER SLOOT: I think the only response is to make another donation.

O`REILLY: All right.

VAN DER SLOOT: Another $100,000. And I would like to invite everybody --
I mean if they want to attack me, I don`t suppose this is going to, like,
reduce the attacks.

O`REILLY: No, it will probably accelerate them but you`re a standup guy.
Look, if Romney wins you`d be in what they call tall cut. I got to run.

VAN DER SLOOT: But perhaps everybody else can donate in peace.

We thought we were done with our donations. We thought we had done our
part. But clearly, we`re going to stand up and get more involved in this
campaign. And we hope that other people will join us in that. Everybody
should get out their checkbooks.


MADDOW: Everybody should get out your checkbooks. That`s how this ends.
That`s where this goes. Giving Mitt Romney money is what Frank Van Der
Sloot and FOX News say is the cure for this victimization tale that he
appears to have reinvented out of thin air.

Get ready for that e-mail from your crazy uncle about this. It is coming.

Joining us now is Salon contributing writer Glenn Greenwald, who`s also
reported on Mr. Van Der Sloot`s political positions and activities.

Dan, thanks very much for being here. It`s nice to have you here.

GLENN GREENWALD, SALON.COM: Good to be here, Rachel.

MADDOW: Frank Van Der Sloot appears to be saying now that he is being
victimized by the Obama campaign. They say that the Obama campaign is
targeting him to keep him and other private citizens from donating any
money to the Romney Super PAC.

Does that comport at all with your understanding of the timeline of Mr. Van
Der Sloot`s political activities and his aggrieved sense of them?

GREENWALD: It`s really hard to believe that even people who sit in front
of the television watching FOX News all day can be moved by this story. I
mean here`s somebody who has over the last decade used his vast fortune to
dictate the outcomes of some of the most controversial political debates in
Idaho, in elections in Idaho. And now he`s insinuating himself into our
national election in a really extraordinary ways, spending an excess of $1
million and counting to install somebody into the oval office.

So the question of whether this is a person who`s a legitimate subject of
media scrutiny in terms of his beliefs, his prior actions, his ideology,
his agenda, whether that`s a legitimate subject for scrutiny is so absurd.
I mean to ask the question is to answer it. I mean he has the right under
our campaign finance laws and under the constitution as the Supreme Court
is interpreted it to donate unlimited sums of money to help elect Mitt
Romney. But he doesn`t have the right to do that while hiding in the dark.

And I think it`s not just the right but the duty of media outlets and even
opposing campaigns, both for Obama funders and Romney funders, to shed as
much light as possible on who these people are and what their interest is
in funding these campaigns and who the people are taking these politicians
will be beholden if they win the election.

MADDOW: When you Google the name Frank Van Der Sloot as of today, the top
results are about Frank Van Der Sloot speaking out about being targeted.
Might that be how this FOX News hype scandal benefits him? I mean it does
-- he is trying to affect and actually, I think, create a narrative around
himself as a victim rather than as somebody who is using resources to
affect political change?

GREENWALD: Well, he`s clearly very concerned about the damage to his
reputation. This is somebody who has lived in a cocoon that comes from
being one of the richest people in Idaho who`s never challenged, who throws
his weight around. We got the same kind of threatening lawyer`s letter as
you did once we reported on him back in February.

And you know I think there`s a couple of amazing ironies here. I mean one
is that if you look at what happened in the 2008 presidential election,
almost every single one of the people even remotely associated with then
candidate Obama was put under all kinds of microscopes. Not people just
who are closely associated with him like Jeremiah Wright but even remotely
related to him in some way. People like Rashid -- Khalid Rashidi and Bill
Ayers and all kinds of people.

FOX News led the way in those kind of investigations of private citizens.
Bill O`Reilly has done all kind of, quote, "exposes" on George Soros on the
grounds that he`s trying to fund our democracy and buy our democracy. And
yet here they are, the minute that happens to a conservative funder and
they act as though the McCarthy Commission has been rejuvenated.

And the other irony is that Frank Van Der Sloot is somebody who has spent a
decade really engaged in campaigns of intimidation and bullying against
people who are defenseless in Idaho. Journalists and bloggers and just
ordinary citizens who say anything negative about him routinely get
threatening -- got lawyer letters threatening to be sued and people in
Idaho, if you go there as I did in January, are petrified in even writing
about him, and yet the minute somebody turns around and not threatens to
sue him, but simply says we want to look at what your beliefs are, what
your interests are, what your agenda is, he`s suddenly turns himself into
this very petulant, entitled victim and it`s really amazing to watch.

MADDOW: contributing writer Glenn Greenwald. Glenn, thank you
for your reporting on this. I know you and I have talked about what it`s
like to get the lawyer backsplash whenever you mention this guy`s name but
I appreciate your sticking with it and being willing to talk to us about
(INAUDIBLE). Thanks a lot.

GREENWALD: Same to you, Rachel. Thanks.

MADDOW: Thanks.

I should mention that when we asked Mr. Van Der Sloot to be on the show
today, we initially got a letter saying, "Mr. Van Der Sloot will not appear
on tonight`s show. The MADDOW SHOW has knowingly presented false
information regarding Mr. Van Der Sloot in both of its prior segments."

I deny that we have said anything false about Mr. Van Der Sloot and I would
look forward to being disproven by him. Maybe I`m about to get the chance
because late tonight the hour -- in the hour before the show is live, Mr.
Van Der Sloot did offer to come on the show tonight by telephone.

I would like you to be on the show properly, Mr. Van Der Sloot. As soon as
we can arrange for you to be in front of camera for a proper amount of time
for us to discuss these matters as fully as you would like to, I sincerely
look forward to that opportunity. Tell me where I`m wrong, sir.

We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: Very late last night at 1:00 a.m. in the Virginia state
legislature, this man, a Virginia prosecutor, a father, a former Top Gun
Navy fighter pilot, has his nomination to become a judge to be a low-level
Virginia state judge rejected by the Virginia legislature. He had
bipartisan sponsorship. His nomination have passed committees in the House
and committees in the Senate. But when it came down to the final vote he
needed 51 votes to pass and he got nowhere near that, he only got 33 votes.

His nomination just got clobbered. His boss in the prosecutor`s office,
the Richmond state attorney, responded to the vote by saying, "It`s hard to
think about what happened in the general assembly and not conclude that
it`s a form of bigotry." The prosecutor called it an embarrassment for the
state of Virginia.

All 31 votes against the judicial nomination for this prosecutor, Tracy
Thorne-Begland, came from Virginia state Republicans. And the only
objection raised to this judicial nomination was the fact that the nominee
is gay. Thirty-one no votes, all from Republicans, and now he will not be
a judge.

Virginia Democrats say they are livid. Quote, "The blatant prejudice that
Republicans displayed last night should have no place in our government.
The GOP took Virginia back to the bigotry and mean-spirited prejudice of
the 1960s. I thought we had made more progress toward a just society than
this. Mr. Thorne-Begland`s qualifications for appointment to the bench
were unimpeachable but Republicans cynically voted against his appointment
just because he was gay."

Statements from Virginia Democrats.

That happened last night. That vote happened last night at 1:00 in the
morning in Virginia.

In Lincoln, Nebraska last night, the city council there voted for gay
rights. They voted to pass a city wide nondiscrimination measure for
Lincoln that includes sexual orientation. But when I say they voted for
it, what I mean by they is the non-Republicans on the Lincoln, Nebraska,
city council. The only Republicans on the city council did not vote,
citing conflicts of interest while everybody else voted for it.

In Colorado last night, for the second time, the Republican speaker of the
State House did some amazing gymnastic legislative maneuvering to avoid the
threat that not marriage rights but civil unions would be approved by the
Colorado state legislature. Civil unions actually have majority support
not only in the state as a whole but in the legislature.

But the Republican House speaker took matters into his own hand to block it
from coming up for a vote, thereby killing it last night.

Even as public opinion and even Republican public opinion changes in the
United States to become more friendly toward gay rights, Republican policy,
what Republican elected officials do in office is still really, really
anti-gay. Colorado Republicans` position, which is also Mitt Romney`s
position, which is not only should there be no marriage rights for gay
people but no civil unions either, that is a position that`s now only held
by 33 percent of the public.

No civil unions and no marriage rights. But Republicans in office do not
seem to care. This has been their agenda for ever and they are sticking to
it. There is a -- there is weird trend, though, that is worth watching
among Republican officials who have national aspirations. Republican
officials who are speaking to the whole country are still technically
espousing all of the same anti-gay positions.

The positions are staying the same but they`ve started talking about
themselves as if they don`t hold these positions. This is all -- also
sometimes called lying when you talk about yourself as not holding a
position you actually hold.

Right now, for example, in the case of governor ultrasound, Virginia
Governor Bob McDonnell, it sort of feels like the guy is just losing the
thread. He`s losing his own thread. Listen to this. This is how he
reacted to the unfolding drama of that judge in Virginia that would be
judge in Virginia being voted down in the legislature with all those votes
against him coming from Republicans specifically because he`s gay.

Governor McDonnell`s office put out a statement responding to that saying,
"The governor has long made clear that discrimination on the basis of
sexual orientation is not acceptable in state government."

That`s not true. He`s made no such thing clear. Back in the real world of
his real record before he decided to whitewash it like this, do you want to
know what Bob McDonnell did? One of the very first things he did when he
became governor of the great Commonwealth of Virginia is that he rescinded
the anti-discrimination executive order that had been put into place by the
previous governor, by the Democrat, Tim Kaine.

Bob McDonnell rescinded the anti-discrimination policy of the previous
governor and put into place a new one. The only difference between the old
one and the new one was that he took sexual orientation out of it.

So one of his first acts as governor was to make it OK to fire somebody in
Virginia because they are gay. He didn`t make it through a full month in
office before he felt the need to do that.

Less than a month later, after a little bit of an uproar, he did half
backtrack on the issue, saying that even though he was taking sexual
orientation off the list of prohibited discrimination on the state of
Virginia. He thought that under federal law that kind of discrimination
might not be seen as rational? He didn`t put the protections for gay
people back in his state that he took away. He just said federally maybe
they`ll take care of it.

When Bob McDonnell was in the state legislature, when he was chair of the
justice committee and house, he actually said, he wasn`t so sure if people
shouldn`t be allowed to be a judge if they are gay. If a person might
engage in quote "certain homosexual conduct," Bob McDonnell told the
Virginia newspaper that that would quote, "certainly raise some questions
about the qualifications to serve as a judge.

Bob McDonnell has been super anti-gay in terms of policy and his public
position the whole time he has been public figure. But now, he wants you
to believe he`s long made clear that discrimination on the basis of sexual
orientation is acceptable. That`s absolute bull. It is absolutely 100
percent bull (INAUDIBLE). But it is amazing to see it, right? And it`s
politically interesting that he feels like he has to say that because he
now has national vice presidential aspirations.

The same thing is happening right now with the Republican party as a whole.
It`s fascinating. It might just be that Reince Priebus, the chairman of
the Republican party, is not that good at his job and sometimes gets
confused when near microphone. But if you give him the benefit of the
doubt, and you assumed that he knows what he is doing, the chairman of the
Republican party said something this weekend that`s mind bending. It`s
bull. It`s totally untrue. But, it is interesting that he feels like he
has to tell this particular lie.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE HOST: Do you believe that gays and lesbians in America
deserve equal rights?

deserve equal rights in regards to say, discrimination in the workplace.
Issues, such as Mitt Romney has pointed out numerous times, hospital
visitations. I mean I think for the sake of dignity and respect, sure.


MADDOW: Except that`s not actually your position and that`s not Mitt
Romney`s position. The employment nondiscrimination act which has been
around and not getting passed by Congress for almost 20 years would ban
discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation. It
says you can`t get fired because you`re gay.

Most Republicans are against it. The Republican party is against it. Mitt
Romney is not for it. He`s against it. Quote, "I don`t see the need for
new or special legislation." We reached out to the Republican party today
to ask whether the party through its chairman was unveiling some surprise
new position on this issue. Either for the Republican party itself or for
Mitt Romney as well. We have not heard back from them and frankly, I don`t
expect to hear back from them because they don`t want to change their
policy on any of these issues. They just want you to think maybe they have
changed their policies. They do not want to change their position. They
are just now.

In America today, they are just now embarrassed about what their position
is. So, they want to keep doing what they are doing, but they don`t want
you notice and they don`t want you to ask about it and they don`t want you
to think about it when you vote.


MADDOW: We got a best new thing in the world coming up right at the end of
the show tonight. It`s on tape. It`s foreign and it is very, very manly.
That`s coming up.


MADDOW: About a year after President Obama was inaugurated. In February
2010, this billboard went up alongside a highway in Minnesota. Its George
W. Bush with the big grin on his face waving, miss me yet? Was that a
rhetorical question? Was that an ironic rhetorical questions designed to
remind people to be grateful and no matter what you think about the current
president, the last guy is at least gone.

For time, the machine settled on the idea that that billboard was fake and
they photo shop a hoax. That`s why you can find pictures of that billboard
catalogue now places like and enlist of online urban pledges.
That billboard was not a photo shop hoax. It was real. But, if the desire
the fact of that billboard was to elicit and of course, we George W. Bush`s
reaction in the country, I would say it missed its mark.

The question of what to do with the last Republican president, what to do
with the legacy of George W. Bush has been an awkward issue for the Mitt
Romney campaign from the start. Mr. Romney`s first instinct seems to have
been to skip over George W. Bush and instead seek the blessing of the
Republican president before him, George Bush senior.

Mr. Romney, however, even that over chair to George Bush Senior came with
some awkward political baggage.


during the time of Reagan-Bush. I`m not trying to return to Reagan-Bush.


MADDOW: Yes. That might explain some of the physical awkwardness when Mr.
Romney met with for mentioned Bush of Reagan-Bush to receive his
endorsement for president. But, that was nowhere near as awkward as what
the former president asked Mr. Romney at the end of that meeting right in
front of the reporters.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Governor, have you met with George W. Bush
while you`ve been here and have you sought his endorsement?

ROMNEY: You know, I haven`t met with President George W. Bush. We speak
from time to time.



ROMNEY: No, no.

BARBARA BUSH, GEORGE W. BUSH`S WIFE: We will talk about that.


MADDOW: Has he? Has he? We`ll talk about that later. We`ll talk about
that behind closed doors maybe, less said in public, the better. It`s a
dilemma though, right? Miss me yet? Does Mitt Romney want a George W.
Bush endorsement?

In his last year as president, George W. Bush had the highest disapproval
numbers of any president in the 70-year history of the Gallup poll asking
Americans that question about their president.

If you were Mitt Romney, would you want that guy`s endorsement?

My colleague Steve Schmidt, the senior strategist for the McCain-Palin
campaign tried to convince me last month that Mitt Romney would want that


Mitt Romney gets to the next stage of closeness to wrapping this up, you`ll
see President George W. Bush weigh in as well.

MADDOW: You really think so?

SCHMIDT: That would be a good day for Mitt Romney.

MADDOW: Steve, you can talk me into a lot of things about the Republican
way of looking at politics, I have learned a lot from you. But the idea
it`s going to be a good day when George W. Bush endorses Mitt Romney that I
finally found the thing you and I are living in totally opposite universes
and can`t see the same facts the same way.

Will you come back the day that happen happens?

SCHMIDT: Absolutely. And it will happen and it will be a good day for
Mitt Romney in this election.

MADDOW: And it will be one of those days when we realize there are two
different Americas or two different ways of seeing these things.


MADDOW: That was at the end of March. Today the endorsement finally
happened. I`m going to quote verbatim from the ABC News story about this.
All right?

The new story - the ABC News story breaking this news today, here is how it
went down. I`m quoting verbatim from the lead. Here is the first line of
the story.

Quote, "Mitt Romney has the support of George W. Bush." Here is the second
line. Quote, "I`m for Mitt Romney. Bush told ABC news this morning as the
doors on an elevator closed on him." And that was it. No tape. No press
conference. No join appearance. No press lease. Just hop into the
elevator say, I`m for Mitt Romney and let the elevator doors close and up,
up and away you go.

So, was this a good day from Mitt Romney? Endorsement from behind the
closing elevator doors day. I`ll ask my friend, Steve Schmidt, in just a

But before I do, I just want to add one more piece of data here as I`m
trying to understand the distance between the Republican mind and the
liberal TV news host`s mind.

The Republican party today, it`s rapid response unit today, released what
they obviously think is a gotcha video that hurts President Obama. They
saved this up, I guess, for the day that George W. Bush gave his
endorsement to Mitt Romney, I`m guessing. This is the gotcha tape that
they released to slam President Obama today. Are you ready? It`s tape
that they dug up from 2004 when Barack Obama was running for Senate. The
Republican party thinks this make Republicans look good and President Obama
look bad. Watch.



OBAMA: I think it`s an enormous problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: What will you do specifically to cut it or
raised into the stop spending or to raise revenues?

OBAMA: I think it`s an enormous problem. This has been the most fiscally
irresponsible administration in sort in my memory. We have gone from
trillion dollar surpluses to trillion dollar deficits in a blink of an eye,
not all of those costs are not the fault of administration, obviously.
9/11 occurred and the decline in the economy.

But, what is also true is that it was aided and abetted by a set of fiscal
policies that I think were on the wrong course. We can take a look at
example of yesterday`s vote.


MADDOW: And that`s where it cuts off. Cuts off all roughly like that.
That`s where this Republican video released by the RNC today ends. There`s
nothing else happens that gets to the gotcha. I`m, surely we do live in
two different political universes if that is supposed to be a Republican
attack ad. Barack Obama saying that George W. Bush left very large
deficits and that he had bad fiscal policies. That he turns surpluses into
deficits. Right and your point is?

I mean, this is a Republican attack ad. Do Republicans think that didn`t
happen or it`s not embarrassing that that happen? Or they like that George
Bush did those things? Is George W. Bush endorsing Mitt Romney from behind
a closing elevator door day, that day, is that a good day for Republicans?

Steve Schmidt joins us next.


MADDOW: We have the best new thing in the world coming up on tonight`s
show. It is the special extra manly manliness edition. Stay with us.



SCHMIDT: I suspect as Mitt Romney gets to the next stage of closeness to
wrapping this up. You will ultimately see President George W. Bush weigh
in as well. That will be a good day for Mitt Romney.


MADDOW: That would be a good day for Mitt Romney?

Joining us now is Steve Schmidt, former senior strategist for the McCain-
Palin campaign, current MSNBC political analyst who said it would be a good
day for Mitt Romney when President George W. Bush endorsed him? Do you
still feel that way now that it happens?

SCHMIDT: Well, it is a good day because the endorsement means Mitt Romney
is the Republican nominee. And at the end of March, this was still a lot
contest. He hadn`t put away Rick Santorum. He hadn`t put away Newt
Gingrich. And the Bush endorsement would have meant that Mitt Romney was
the Republican nominee because that`s the threshold by which President Bush
would have entered the race.

MADDOW: But, once he wrapped it up, it wasn`t - it -- he didn`t have to
get the George W. Bush endorsement.

SCHMIDT: No. Look, I think it`s a pro forma endorsement. George W. Bush
is the Republican president. Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee. So,
he`s going to endorse him. I don`t think you`ll see him actively
campaigning for him. There`s a terrific new book out there called "the
President`s Club" by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy and it charged the
relationship between all of the former presidents going back from Truman
and Hoover, who Truman rehabilitated into public life and it`s a
fascinating look at the dynamics between this really small club. And, I
mean, George W. Bush has a traditionalist approach to this. He has really
retired from political life. He has focused on his a library and, you know

MADDOW: Well, He`s not giving political speeches now --

SCHMIDT: He is giving paid speeches, but he`s not on the campaign speech.

MADDOW: Well, he`s doing policy stuff. He was doing his Paul Ryan budget

MADDOW: What I would say is nonpartisan stuff. He`s education reform, for
example, where you know, there`s a number of people on the left who have
been involved with President Bush`s activities on that front who have, you
know, who have praised him. But, you know, out -- he is out of the combat
and conflict of day to day politics. You know, someone who worked in the
administration, worked on the campaign, you know, the Bush alumni network.
You know, we all enjoy getting the facebook pictures of him with wounded
warriors out on bike rides, running with him.

So, I think he`s a former president through eight tumultuous years. You
know, I think that he`s confident in history`s judgment. Notice that
history`s verdict will be a long way off. I think that, you know, over the
long horizon of the next 20 years, I think that President Bush`s estimation
will rise in the estimation of a lot of people. That this tumultuous
years. He was a controversial president. He left office unpopular.

But, elections are about the future. They are not about the past. And I
think it`s an indictment of the weakness of the president`s political and
he wants to look backwards as supposed to argue with forwards.


SCHMIDT: I think that`s structurally good news for Mitt Romney.

MADDOW: You and I though, don`t obviously disagree about how history is
going to judged George W. Bush. I think it started off bad when he left
office and it is going to get worse. And that we are going to -- we still
have a lot of reckoning to do with I think the damage that was done by the
Bush presidency and we totally disagree on that.

But, in terms of the impact on the current race of him endorsing, you have
to read something to the fact that they made this endorsement from an
elevator while the walls are closing and then presumably the elevator took
him to a different floor from people asking.

SCHMIDT: I think that`s a - I think that`s photo app when someone who is
retired from politics and doesn`t care about that stuff anymore.

MADDOW: That`s - please don`t link me beyond --


MADDOW: Please, I know I can hurt this guy. Does he know or do you -- is
it reasonable to surmise that he knows that the George W. Bush record is
going to be a bad thing for Mitt Romney rather than a good thing for Mitt

SCHMIDT: Look. I think he`s a very smart guy. He`s very sophisticated
politically. He knows exactly where his standing is in the polls and how
his tenure would be used in the campaign.

But the reality also is, as we just talked about, all elections, no matter
how you look at them, no matter what side they are on, they are about the
future, not the past. This will not be an election where the debate is
about the Bush presidency.

MADDOW: The reason it`s going to be, I think actually more than the
connection between Romney policies and Bush policies, although that is
there on both some economic and foreign policy issues is that Romney took
on so many Bush advisers. I mean, it`s 1like was it 17 of this 24 foreign
policy advisers are Bush guys.

If you do that, if you`ve got 17 of your 24 guys associated with a very,
very, very, very controversial unpopular American president, you will just
put him at the center of the debate about your candidacy.

Romney embraced the George W. Bush alumni association, so he is going to
have to answer for the George W. Bush record.

SCHMIDT: Look. One of the criticisms that was made with the president is
that his administration was still the too many Clinton advisors. I think
that one of the realities is that, when you have a two-term president,
whether it`s a Republican president even a controversial president like
George W. Bush, or controversial democratic president, the next
administration a lot of parties is going to be stocked with alumni from
that previous parties administration.

MADDOW: But, Clinton`s - Clinton is not controversial in the same as
George W Bush is.

SCHMIDT: Well, I think that Bill Clinton when he left office, you know
certainly left office in a pretty controversial way. His numbers were low.
He has have been up. He has been down. He has been back up, that`s, you
know, part of the charm of the Bill Clinton.

And I`m not trying to analogize them completely. Because I think that, you
know obviously, at the end of eight years of Bill Clinton, the country is
in a different place. We haven`t been attack. We haven`t, you know, been
to war twice. There was a very different, you know, dynamic involved in

But the point is, s that the images of the former presidents are dynamic.
They evolve over time. I think Jimmy Carter is an example of that in the
eyes of a lot of Americans.

So, I don`t think at the end of the day that when you look at the
president`s endorsement of Mitt Romney. I mean, this isn`t any injurious
thing in any way to Mitt Romney.

MADDOW: All right. Not a good day but not an injurious thing. We can
come - we can agree on that. Maybe. I will have to think about it.

SCHMIDT: Good to see you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Steve, it`s great to see you. Thank you, man. I appreciate it.
I like talking to you even more than when we disagree than when we agree.

All right. Best new thing in the world. Coming up next.


MADDOW: Best new thing in the world is Russian, whether it`s helping to
tag a tranquilize polar bear in the wild or tranquilizing a tiger at a
reserve or shooting a gray whale with a cross bow to collect gray whale
skin samples or discovering two ancient Greek urns in the black sea or
whether it is riding a motor bike or whether it is putting out wildfires
from a plane. Whether it is showing of his judo moves, whether it`s
swimming in Siberian Lake topless, or fishing topless, or riding a horse
topless. It is inarguable that Russia`s primal president Vladimir Putin is
the master of manly photo op. And his newest manly photo op persona is
hockey star.

Just hours after the latest inauguration while protesters were being beaten
in the streets in Moscow, Mr. Putin took to the rink to play an exhibition
game. And although he was on a team of amateurs and the amateurs were
playing a team of Russian hockey legends, President Putin`s team won.

But it is how his team won and his role in the glory that is important.
Can your American president score a hockey goal? Look at that. Oh, yes.
Putin can.

Seriously, can we look at that for a second? Here`s the first pass,
alright? And there`s president Putin missing it. And while here far, far
away in hockey terms, it`s the defender, way out there. The defender from
the team of the country`s best players. All of the other defenders are
covering their men, but their men are not president of Russia. President
Putin`s defender keeps a very safe distance from him.

And after another pass, President Putin left completely alone scores the
goal to level the score. No defender in sight. Yes, it`s good to be king.

Oh, and then later, President Putin scored this penalty shot, also helping
win the game. Definitely not the best hockey game in the world, but for
pure, pure authoritarian hubris, it is definitely the best new thing in the
world today.

Now it`s time for The Last Word with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a great


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