'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Monday, April 1st, 2013
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THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
April 1, 2013
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Guests: Darren Rozell, Donald Williams, Donald McEachin
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: You did it.
HAYES: We did it.
RACHEL: You did. You launched.
HAYES: Happy birthday.
MADDOW: Thank you. This was a very, very nice birthday present for
you to give me, doing such an awesome show. So great that you`re here,
Chris. I could not be more excited.
HAYES: I just want to make you happy, Rachel.
MADDOW: Well done. Thank you.
All right. Thanks to you at home for joining this hour, where it has
been a very big day already.
Because of the launch of "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" at 8:00 Eastern, we
have been thinking of today as opening day for MSNBC.
But today was also opening day for real in Major League Baseball, an
unseasonably cold opening day in a lot of the country, but opening day
nonetheless. Major League Baseball teams today all wore patches for
opening day that honored the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School
massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.
And the ongoing aftermath of another mass shooting, Arapahoe County
prosecutors in Colorado today said they would seek the death penalty for
the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater attack.
We`ve got news ahead this hour about how one state has decided to
respond to the country refusing to let the killings fade away, the evolving
politics of gun reform. And one state making a big leap forward on that
issue tonight. We`re going to be breaking that news here tonight. That is
In Arkansas today, as Chris covered in detail in the last hour, the
clean-up continues on the big Exxon oil pipeline leak. This residential
neighborhood in Mayflower, Arkansas, continues to bear the brunt of the
fact we don`t know much about how to clean up the kind of tar sands oil
that was in that burst pipeline, and that would be in the Keystone pipeline
that would track all the way across the nation.
South Carolina former love gov, Mark Sanford, has his primary run off
tomorrow to try to run for his old seat in Congress again.
It`s also being reported that the nominee to be the next U.S.
ambassador to Japan is going to be Caroline Kennedy. Caroline Kennedy, the
daughter of former President Kennedy.
The Easter egg roll rolled at the White House today, which represents
either a real advance, or a real retreat in the war on Easter. I can never
But, finally, the story I have been obsessed with now for weeks did
finally come to an end today when the 240-foot U.S. Navy mine sweeper that
had been stuck on a UNESCO World Heritage site coral reef for months, that
finally got lifted off the darn reef for good. They had to cut the ship
into pieces to get it unstuck. But as of today, that ship is in fact
unstuck. We`ll pain a fine, apparently, for whatever damage we did to the
reef, but so far, they are still measuring the reef to tally up how much we
So, there is a lot going on in the news today, both political news and
just news news.
But we`re going to begin tonight with the murder of another public
official, which is not the kind of thing we end up reporting on very much
on this show because it`s frankly not something that happens very much in
I mean, historically, we have had our share of assassinations,
including some very high-profile ones, but generally speaking, to be a
public servant in the United States, that takes the kind of bravery that we
usually associate with having the courage of your convictions. We don`t
usually expect that being an elected public servant in America is something
that requires actual physical bravery.
Yet in Texas, in Texas now, for the third time in two months, law
enforcement is coping with the aftermath of another public official being
shot to death. Now, nobody knows if any of these three cases are
connected. It may be that all three of them are connected. It may be that
two are connected. It may be that none of them are connected at all.
But this has been in quick succession in a relatively small, specific
geographic area in the country.
So, this is the map of state of Texas, right? Just for perspective
here, the part of Texas we`re talking about here is the greater Dallas
area. Now, the first incident happened in Kaufman, Texas. The second
incident was related to a shooting that happened in Colorado, but the
suspect died on the left side of the screen there, in Decatur, Texas.
And now, the third one, which happened this weekend, Saturday, it
happened back in Kaufman County, in a town called Forney, Texas. So these
are the three. Of these three, it is the shootout in Decatur that we have
covered quite a bit on the show.
That was two weeks ago when the prison`s chief in the state of
Colorado was shot and killed when he answered the front door of his home in
Monument, Colorado. The same gun that was used to kill him, Colorado
prisons chief Tom Clement, was then later used two days later in Decatur,
Texas, in a shootout with police and sheriff`s deputies that ended with one
deputy in the hospital and the suspect dead.
The suspect was a Colorado ex-con, known to be associated with a
prison white supremacist gang called the 211s. There`s still no motive
known for the Tom Clements killing, but police in Texas say that bomb-
making materials were also found in the suspect`s car when it was recovered
in Texas. So, after he allegedly shot the prison`s chief in Colorado,
where was he heading with the bomb making materials when he was driving
pile-mile through Texas?
In any case, that shootout was March 21st. The prison`s chief was
killed the 19th. The shootout that killed the suspect was the 21st in
Six weeks earlier on the other side of Dallas, in Kaufman, Texas --
it`s about 100 miles away from Decatur -- another utterly mysterious
killing of a public official. In this case, an assistant district
attorney, so a prosecutor for Kaufman County. Kaufman County is a small
county, only about 100,000 people outside of Dallas, of east, as you can
What made that killing stand out at the time that it happened was --
how for a lack of a better word, I guess -- is how professional the killer
or killers seemed in this shooting. The assistant D.A., Mark Hasse, parked
his car in a parking lot about a block away from the county courthouse
where he was working. A sedan reportedly pulled up alongside him, either
one or two people got out of the sedan and shot him multiple times.
The suspects were described as being dressed in all black, having
their faces covered, and wearing, quote, "tactical style vests." The
suspect or suspects then got back into the vehicle and took off. No one
has been arrested in the case, no leads have been announced. No suspects
have ever been announced.
And in terms of being news worthiness of this killing and whether or
not it could have been random or whether it was connected to Mark Hasse`s
job as an assistant D.A., we were left to puzzle over, one very specific
detail that seemed quite unnerving about the shooting, which is that no
shell casings were ever recovered from the scene.
So, it`s a bizarre case. But again, no suspects, no leads, no
At a press conference the day assistant D.A. Mark Hasse was killed,
his boss, the prosecutor in that county, the elected district attorney in
that county, did not mince his words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE MCLELLAND, KAUFMAN COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Any assistance that
anyone can give us in finding the people who did this will be greatly
appreciated. Anything that you people can do to accelerate our getting our
hands on this scum will be appreciated.
I hope that the people that did this are watching because we`re very
confident that we`re going to find you. We`re going to pull you out of
whatever hole you`re in and we`re going to bring you back and let the
people of Kaufman County prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.
This is a crime as our county judge said that`s against the very basis of
our fabric. As far as I know, this has never been done before. I do not
want it to happen again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I do not want it to happen again. Anything you people can do
to accelerate our getting our hands on this scum will be appreciated.
That`s Mike McLelland, head prosecutor, district attorney in Kaufman
County, speaking on the day his deputy Mark Hasse was murdered in broad
daylight on the street in Kaufman County.
And as the D.A., you have to think, he`s looking at it in two ways,
right? Because this is a crime, this is the murder of a public official
that happened in his county. He`s the chief prosecutor, he has to
prosecute it, and if the deputy D.A. was killed because of his job, if he
was killed because he was the deputy D.A., well, then the D.A. himself also
has reason to worry he might also be a target, right?
Mike McLelland addressed that concern with reporters after the Hasse
killing, telling the "Associated Press" that he was carrying a gun at all
times following Mark Hasse`s murder. He told "The Dallas Morning News"
that he was shifting the details of his personal routine. "The Dallas
Morning News" interviewed Mike McLelland`s wife as well, Cynthia McLelland.
She told the paper after Mark Hasse was killed, quote, "It`s very sad.
I feel like my husband could be in danger, too."
Well, on Saturday night, but Cynthia McLelland and her husband Mike
McLelland were found dead inside their home. It happened in Forney, Texas,
which is still inside Kaufman County.
Cynthia McLelland`s body was reportedly found near the front door. It
appears as if she had answered door. Quote, "At least two officials say
Mike McLelland`s body was found in the rear of the house. He was dressed
"The Dallas Morning News" cited an unnamed police source describing
the scene, quote, "They found the bodies and a lot of shell casings. It`s
a bad deal," said the source." "This is brazen. It`s revenge. You don`t
go in there and do the stuff that`s been done if it`s not revenge
Again, that`s from an anonymous police source, ascribing a motive
based on what he or she saw at the scene.
The ABC affiliate locally WFAA is reporting that according to their
sources, a .233-caliber rifle was used and approximately 14 rounds were
To have the assistant district attorney and district attorney of the
same small Texas county both shot to death within eight weeks of each
other, it certainly seems like a heck of a coincidence if this does turn
out to be a coincidence.
But in terms of connecting the two killings, the detail about the
shell casings is different between them. Either there were no shell
casings on the scene at the first killing, or they were collected on the
scene at the first killing, but reportedly, they were all over the scene at
the second killing. Differences in details like that has led the
speculation that maybe the killers in the first killing were more
experienced than the killers in the second killing, or at least maybe we
are dealing with two different sets of killers for the assistant D.A. and
We`re also told the FBI is looking into a link between the Colorado
prison chief`s killing and the first killing. They had already been
looking into that link before the district attorney was killed. They have
produced no evidence to think they are linked, at least that they have made
One loose thread that everybody does seem willing to pull, though, is
related to white supremacist prison gangs. On the day that the assistant
D.A. was killed, the Justice Department has just cited the Kaufman County`s
D.A. office specifically in a press release, announcing guilty pleas from
two gang leaders from something called the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, a
white supremacist prison gang.
Earlier in November, Kaufman County prosecutors were cited by the
Justice Department in a huge round up of the same gang, Aryan Brotherhood
of Texas -- indictments that were the product of many different agencies,
and state and federal prosecutors. It was a big blow to that gang.
And, of course, the apparent killer of Tom Clements, the prison chief
in Colorado. The alleged killer in that case who led out with a car full
of bomb making materials after the shooting, who died in Texas, he was also
associated with a different white supremacist prison gang based in
Now, it may be there is no connection between these killings, in which
case it will be a huge coincidence that we are having three high profile
murders of public officials in such a quick span of time in such a specific
If they are connected, and law enforcement authorities have so far
given no public reason to say that they are connected, but if they are, as
they are investigating, if there is a connection here, what that means is
that public officials who prosecute and lock up criminals in this country
are being assassinated, and that is a very terrifying prospect.
Joining us is Mayor Darren Rozell of Forney, Texas, the closest town
to the unincorporated area where district attorney, Mr. McLelland, and his
wife were killed.
Mayor Rozelle, it`s very nice to have you here. Thank you for talking
with us tonight. I`m sure this is a difficult time.
MAYOR DARREN ROZELL, FORNEY, TEXAS: Thank you, Rachel. It has been.
I appreciate a lot of your comments in your opening statements there.
One of those being that Mike McLelland was one of the top elected law
enforcement officials in our country. I understand this is a nationwide
story, but it is home to us. And it`s really impacted us and hurt our
community there in Forney and the county. But then the McLelland family is
hurting beyond anything I can even understand.
MADDOW: Absolutely. Well, as we`re trying to figure out whether
these might just be unrelated events that seem to happen close together and
close in time or whether they are connected, is there a sense of -- in the
county, in Kaufman county at home as everybody is dealing now with these
two murders of senior law enforcement officials, is there a sense of fear?
Is there an assumption locally that they are connected and people ought to
ROZELL: To an extent, there has to be somewhat a concern that they
are connected. What I personally am trying to do for the Forney community
and as much of the county that will kind of go along and agree with the
same sentiment is one to really focus on the McLelland family.
I understand that folks are shocked and saddened for the family, and
they`re also a little scared. But what we`re trying to do is get the point
across and you have covered it, that these appear even if they`re not
connected, they appear to be targeted attacks. This was not some random
home in Forney that was picked.
And that being the case, then folks should not walk around in fear.
Our county judge said that this morning in one of his press conferences is
that he didn`t want to see the county residents walking around in fear, but
wanted them to understand we need to pray for the McLelland family and
those handling the investigation so we can catch the people as soon
But we still we need to continue to be the close-knit community we
are, be aware of our surroundings and continue to look out for our
MADDOW: I know there are rewards in both of the cases for information
that leads to a prosecution here. Kaufman County Crime Stoppers has been
asking for public donations towards rewards.
What kind of response are you having to that call for donations and is
law enforcement counting on public tips at this point?
ROZELL: There have been some, and the Web site is
kaufmancountycrimestoppers.org. That organization is overseen by both the
sheriff`s department and the D.A. department. And they can make a
contribution to there.
And what that does is it not only allows us to have funds to, quote,
"reward people for information," but it`s also a place where they can call
and submit tips if they happen to know something.
And what we`re hoping is that by raising enough funds, we can generate
some information coming in because it`s going to have to be a large enough
amount. If some of the connections that some folks are speculating on are
true, it`s not going to be a typical $10,000 or $20,000 award amount to
give somebody to share some information. It`s going to take a large amount
And what I`m hoping is by getting the information out about
Kaufmancountycrimestoppers.org, that we can make a nationwide statement and
stop it here and try to keep it from happening in other parts of the
MADDOW: We do not know if either of these killings was connected at
all to any of the work done in the district attorney`s office.
Specifically, a lot of people have been talking about the role of Kaufman
County prosecutors in going after this Aryan Brotherhood of Texas prison
gang. And again, I do want to stress we don`t know if they`re connected,
but we know that law enforcement, that`s one of the lines they are pulling
Do you have reason to believe in Kaufman County or in the surrounding
area there in Texas, that that gang or associations outside with that gang
might be operating as a sort of network in your part of the state? That
might be something where they would have help on the outside?
ROZELL: Well, I would have to say 72 hours ago, probably not so much.
But now, I`m beginning to wonder. I`m asking a lot of the same questions a
lot of other people are.
One of the things that I`m convinced of is our county sheriff, David
Byrnes, I know he has his department working, covering every angle they
can. The FBI has been great to assist them. They`re following leads they
have maybe outside of the state.
I believe we`re going to know a whole lot more about this than we do
in the coming days than we do now obviously.
MADDOW: Mayor Darren Rozell of Forney, Texas., again, I know this is
a very difficult time. Thank you very much for helping us understand it
tonight. Good luck to you, sir. Thank you.
ROZELL: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Some big news tonight out of Connecticut --
unexpected and unprecedented news. It just breaking tonight, and we`ve got
the Connecticut Senate president here with us next to explain what just
Stay with us. That`s next.
MADDOW: Newtown, Connecticut, sits between New York and Boston. It`s
not equidistant, but it`s fairly close. Today, New York`s Yankees and
Boston`s Red Sox played each other in their 2013 Major League season
opener. Red Sox won.
But before the first pitch, this ribbon commemorating the massacre at
Sandy Hook Elementary School was painted on the field at Yankee Stadium,
right in front of both dugouts.
The Yankees wore a similar ribbon patch on their jerseys right above
the New York symbol. The Red Sox wore one as well over the N in Boston.
All the teams actually wore a patch like this today for opening day.
The stars that you see on the ribbon there, there are 26 of them, one
for each of the people who were killed at Sandy Hook.
Before the game started, all the victims` names went up on the
scoreboard at Yankee Stadium. They also had an honor guard of about 120
Newtown police officers and firefighters at the game, and before the start
of the game at 12:55 p.m., there was a moment of silence.
Opening day is always filled with all sorts of emotions for baseball
fans, but this was a different kind of emotion and in some ways a different
level of emotion today at Yankee Stadium.
We are a country that is refusing to forget what happened at Newtown.
This is not going away for us as a country.
One of the interesting political dynamics since Newtown is that
Connecticut itself, the state of Connecticut, has not yet moved to pass new
gun reform legislation.
New York state did so. They were the first. Colorado has done so as
well, just a couple weeks ago. Both of those states passed improvements to
the background check system and a limit on high capacity magazines, as well
as some other measures, broad-based packages of gun-related reforms.
But in Connecticut, while the pro-gun reform group Mayors Against
Illegal Guns last week started running this ad specifically in Connecticut,
pushing for Connecticut legislators to get a move on on the issue.
Connecticut is a Democratic-controlled state. The Democratic Governor
Dan Malloy released his list of priorities for gun reform back in February,
but despite controlling the governorship and both Houses of the legislator,
Democrats in Connecticut had firmly that they would not be rushed through
this process. They said, rather, their priority was to arrive at consensus
legislation with minority Republicans in both houses of the legislature
even though they did not need to, so they could come up with solutions that
had bipartisan support.
Well, today, opening day, it`s happened. They have made their
announcement. This is what they`re planning on -- universal background
checks for anybody buying guns in the state, even at a gun show; a ban on
high capacity magazines and a registry for the existing ones. You can also
legally put more than 10 rounds in any magazine at a licensed shooting
range but nowhere else in the state.
The Republican state senator who represents Newtown itself is calling
the reforms the most comprehensive package in the country. It will also
include registry for law enforcement of people convicted of specific gun-
related crimes, along the lines of a sex offender registry, there should be
a dangerous offender registry.
You would need a gun permit or another certificate of eligibility tied
to a criminal background check in order to buy ammunition if this goes
As I said, that Republican state senator who represents Newtown, who
helped negotiate this deal with the Democrats, is calling this the most
comprehensive package in the country on gun reform, but they did it.
Connecticut, at least, is doing it. The reforms were unveiled today.
They`re expected to be voted on before the end of the week. They`re going
Donald Williams is the president of the Connecticut State Senate, a
Thank you for your time, sir. It`s nice to have you here.
STATE SEN. DONALD WILLIAMS (D), CONNECTICUT: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: I have not seen the text of this. I`m going based on what`s
been reported as being part of your gun reform package. Did I fairly
summarize what is in the package?
WILLIAMS: Absolutely. You know, we`re also banning armor piercing
ammunition, requiring a criminal background check for anyone who purchased
ammunition. We strengthened our assault weapon ban. We believe now that
is the toughest in the country.
You certainly hit on the other points, but I think what really kind of
breaks the mold, if not breaks the gridlock here is the idea that we as
Democrats actually worked with Republicans, and you saw today the
Republican Senate leader and House leader in the state legislature stand
with us to support this bill.
If we can do it in Connecticut, this ought to move across the country
and they ought to hear that loud and clear in Washington, D.C.
MADDOW: I don`t want to ask for the secret details of your
negotiations if it`s going to screw anything up, but I am curious as to
what changed in this over time as you talked to Republicans about it?
Obviously, you Democrats could have really done anything you wanted.
You`ve got majority control in both houses and you`ve got the governorship
with a governor who is eager to sign reforms and he said what he wanted.
Where did you end up after talking with the Republicans through the
process, where you might not have been otherwise?
WILLIAMS: Well, you know, initially, people thought we would not even
be able to address a ban on high-capacity magazines or a ban on assault
weapons, and all the background checks and universal checks, whether it`s
for ammunition or the purchase of firearms, but we held meeting after
meeting of our task force of Democrats and Republicans. We held five
public hearings in total, getting lots of public input, and then the
leadership of both the Democrats and Republicans met week after week, and
believe it or not, developed trust around this issue so that it did not
We looked at the facts. We knew what we had to do, that the nation
was watching Connecticut. We wanted to be thorough. And we wanted to be
complete in terms of our solution.
So I think the rest of the country may think this is amazing on one of
the most controversial issues in our politics in America you could have
Democrats and Republicans come together, but we did it in Connecticut. It
can happen elsewhere.
MADDOW: Let me ask you about one of the specific proposals on large
capacity magazines. These extended magazines. And as far as I understand
what you`re putting forward, you would allow high-capacity magazines to
remain in the hands of gun owners who already own them, sort of grandfather
them in, although you would legally require people not to put more than 10
bullets in a magazine unless they`re at a licensed gun range. Is that --
is that fair?
WILLIAMS: We ban the sale and possession of the magazines
prospectively, but we do require those who have the magazines right now,
they d declare them on a form, provide photographic evidence, and as of
January 14th, any possession that has not been declared at that point
becomes illegal and folks are guilty of a class D felony.
So the actual ban on the sale and the purchase will be immediate upon
passage of the legislation.
MADDOW: Are each of these individual proposals going to be voted on
one by one or all voted on as a comprehensive package, an up-or-down vote
on the whole thing?
WILLIAMS: That`s a great question. It would be one big bill with all
of our gun violence prevention measures and in addition to that, measures
that strengthen school security and safety, and also strengthen our
services for mental health.
MADDOW: Donald Williams, president of Connecticut State Senate, many
thanks to your time. You guy are starting a conversation that`s going to
get very loud very quickly. I wouldn`t mind staying in touch with you over
how it goes in the next few days in the legislature.
WILLIAMS: Very good. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Great. Thanks very much.
All right. That is big news. You know, Connecticut did not have to
do it this way. Their strategic decision to do it like this, it will be
interesting to see how it works out. They still have to vote, but getting
Republicans onboard when they did not have to was a move that nobody from
outside the state could understand. You could hear from the Senate
president while he thought it was so important. We shall see.
All right. It is, of course, April Fools` Day, don`t I know it. But
our friends at the FOX News Channel have actually done something hilarious
as an April fools prank. Even though it`s FOX News and we`re MSNBC, I
actually think they deserve a little recognition for something they did
because it was so funny. That`s coming up.
MADDOW: OK, a quick note for those of you who may share my news
obsession with the 240-foot long U.S. Navy minesweeper that got stuck on a
coral reef on a UNESCO World Heritage site coral reef off the coast of the
We covered that ship when it first got stuck. We covered that ship
when they were trying to tow it off the reef, which did not work. We
covered the ship when they made the drastic decision to cut the ship into
pieces to get it off the reef on which it was stuck.
Well, they have now, in fact, succeeded at cutting it up and removing
the last of this giant ship off of the coral reef.
But if you want more, if you are as obsessed with this story as I am,
just tonight, we have obtained three U.S. Navy videos showing how they cut
through the ship, how hard it was to cut through the ship, and how they
were able to lift it off in pieces without themselves getting stuck on it
in the process. It is great video from the Navy. We have posted it all
tonight for your obsessive perusal at maddoblog.com.
I`ll be there on the break. I`ll see you on the other side of it.
MADDOW: Epic lines for voting in Florida and Ohio last year were a
national scandal when it came to the election.
But you know what? Virginia was right there with them. Getting line.
The November elections found voters in Virginia standing for three hours,
four hours, five hours, seven hours? Seven hours in a line to vote in a
state that considers itself a cradle of American democracy. Seven hours.
Only four states had longer average wait times than Virginia in this
past election. A survey by "New York Times" found it took twice as long on
average to cast a ballot in Virginia as it did in Ohio, and in Ohio, it was
So, after the election, the Virginia state legislature decided to take
action. They decided to do something about how hard it was to vote in
Virginia in 2012. They decided they would make it even harder to vote
Virginia Republicans in the statehouse rejected a bill that would
allow for more absentee voting, more early voting, so at least the senior
citizens wouldn`t have to stay there all day.
Another bill that would have kept wait times for everyone to an hour,
that never made it out of committee. Republicans in the Virginia Senate
voted to let that go indefinitely the way Virginia voters get to wait in
line indefinitely. Instead of making it so the older folks don`t have to
wait so long, instead of setting a standard for how long anyone had to
wait, Virginia Republicans decided instead they have a better idea. They
decided to instead pass a bill that bans you from voting unless you can
show new documentation you never had to show in order to vote before and
that hundreds of thousands of people in Virginia don`t have.
Even the old ID you got last year from the state, last year when
Virginia made voting harder and had to mail out special cards to help
people vote, even that ID from the state will not be good enough anymore
under the new law.
In Washington, D.C., at the federal level, President Obama has just
established a bipartisan commission to try to fix what has gone so wrong
with the basic running of the elections in this country. But in the states
where they`re actually making policy on these matters, already this year,
we have seen 55 measures introduced to make voting harder -- not easier,
harder -- in 30 states.
It`s as if Republicans in state legislatures looked at the debacle of
2012, they look at the stay in line election and the lawsuits over new
requirements for voting and couldn`t wait to order a second helping of
Well, today in Arkansas, Republicans finished passing laws to make
voting harder. The governor who was a Democrat had vetoed the bill, but
the Republicans today finished overriding his veto, and passing their laws.
And now, it will be much harder to vote in the great state of Arkansas.
In Virginia, there was not even that last low barrier of a Democratic
governor. Virginia Republican lawmakers passed their voter ID bill, and
last week, Governor Bob McDonnell signed it, and that was it, let`s make it
Joining us now is Donald McEachin. He`s a Virginia state senator.
He`s chairman of the state`s Democratic Caucus, and he is an opponent of
Virginia`s new law.
Senator, thank you so much for being with us tonight. It`s nice to
have you here.
STATE SEN. DONALD MCEACHIN (D), VIRGINIA: Thank you for having me
MADDOW: Now that Virginia Republicans have passed this law requiring
new kinds of ID at the polls, what`s your plan for your party`s response?
Do you concentrate on trying to get the new law blocked in court? Do you
try to make sure people have what they need in order to vote? Where do you
expect to jump in here?
MCEACHIN: Well, we`re going to take two tracks, Rachel. One, we`re
going to hope that the Justice Department through its exercise under
Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, puts a stop to this.
But look, we lost that battle, the battle over the bill in the
legislature, so we have to be about the business of making sure every
Virginian knows what the law is and gets their photo ID.
The good news is, is that it doesn`t apply to this election. Of
course, there`s always an election in Virginia every year. It won`t apply
until next year.
MADDOW: In terms of who is likely to be disenfranchised by this new
law, which group of Virginians are disproportionately not likely to have
the ID that will now be likely to be required to vote?
MCEACHIN: I think there are principally two groups, the poor and
elderly. You know, there are some folks who are born in the earlier part
of the last century who don`t have birth certificates. And to get this
photo ID, you`re going to have to prove that you`re a person, prove that
you`re a citizen. They have gotten, as you said already in this segment,
voter ID cards before, but that`s not going to be good enough. You`re
going to have to obtain a photo ID and show perhaps that you`re going to
also have to produce a birth certificate.
MADDOW: You know, we paid so much attention to Florida in terms of
the way that Floridians have to wait in these big long lines and Floridians
are waiting in seven-hour lines just like Virginians were in the past
election, but there was a national sense of -- or statewide sense of
embarrassment in Florida when that happened, so much so that the former
governor of Florida, Charlie Crist, declared himself a Democrat, and all
but declared he was going to start running against the Florida Governor
Rick Scott in part by saying it was humiliating our elections were so
poorly run. All Floridians left right and center think it`s a shame and an
obnoxious thing to do to people to try to block the vote and I`m going to
soar back to the governor`s house based on this complaint.
Is that dynamic at all at work in Virginia? Were people not fed up by
having to wait in line so long in November?
MCEACHIN: I think people were fed up, absolutely they were. They
were embarrassed. Democrats filed many bills, as you highlighted already,
to try to shorten the wait time, to try to eliminate the wait time, but we
have a Republican-led legislature that`s a bunch of sore losers. They
couldn`t believe they would lose to Barack Obama twice in a span of eight
years. Fail to carry the state in a span of eight years. Not once but
lost it twice.
And so, they seek to change the rules. We just did this last year.
We just changed the voting requirements last year. Even the Republican --
I`m sorry, the "Richmond Times Dispatch", which is a conservative
newspaper, said that there`s no reason for this change.
So, why have they done this? They simply can`t handle losing to
Barack Obama two straight elections.
MADDOW: Do you think that there`s an opening here for some sort of
reform movement that could be done, that could approach the issues in a
nonpartisan way? When you look at what Barack Obama has done federally in
calling for sort of a best practices-based assessment of the conduct of
elections state by state. He`s not asking for Democrats to take over the
process and take it back from Republicans in states. He`s saying let`s
bring in the leading lawyers from both sides and come up with something
that isn`t going to tip the fields in either direction that`s going to be
fair and technocratic.
Is there any way that Virginia could ever do that any time soon?
MCEACHIN: I`d like to think so, but I think we have to get through
the next election cycle and settle some issues. I think it`s going to make
a world`s worth of difference as to who the next governor is. Will it be
Terry McAuliffe, or will it be Ken Cuccinelli.
I think if we can get Terry McAuliffe elected as the next governor, we
have a shot at doing some on a bipartisan basis.
MADDOW: Donald McEachin, Virginia state senator, chairman of the
state`s Democratic Caucus -- thanks for being here tonight, sir. It`s nice
to see you again.
MCEACHIN: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right, the other side of the "I am a politician whose child is
gay" phenomenon got caught on tape this weekend to very, very awkward
effect. That`s coming up.
Plus, my praise of FOX News` April fools joke.
MADDOW: Today, April 1st, was an unbelievable news day -- emphasis on
the unbelievable. First, there was the news from the video sharing
colossus YouTube, after eight years of posting everything from full length
movies to music videos to skateboarders getting racks on banisters and
puppies falling asleep in their water dishes, YouTube announced today it`s
shutting down. Shutting down specifically so they can determine which is
the best YouTube video.
See it`s all been one big contest. Now that it`s time to pick a
winner in the contest, the contenders are speaking out about what inspired
them to enter the contest in the first place.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: When we heard about the contest, we spent months
trying to come up with the best idea, then Charlie bit me finger and I was
like, write that down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did dancing.
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: My dad put a lot of money into this dental surgery
I didn`t even need just so we could win this contest. He`ll be really,
really upset if we lose.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: The winner of YouTube will apparently win $500 and a portable
MP3 player. We`ll find out who the winner is in 10 years, in 2023 when the
site goes back online to announce the final judging that`s going to take
them 10 years to work through. Unbelievable news from the internet today,
But not as unbelievable as the news from Google, which announced its
newest Google innovation, this is seriously unbelievable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wife and I have a puppy with so much energy
that we walk her five times a day and she sniffed around every nook and
cranny. This is how she gets information about her world. We`re excited
to announce Google Nose Beta, our flagship of factor knowledge feature
enabling users to search for smells.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our mobile aroma indexing program has been able to
amass a 15 million centabite database of smells from around the world.
If you have a question like what does a new car smell like? Who knows
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Google Nose.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does a ghost smell like?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Google Nose.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does the inside of an Egyptian tomb smell
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Google Nose.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Google Nose.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Google Nose beta.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Google knows, Google Nose. It`s amazing, right?
Those folks at Google. Is there nothing that Google can`t do?
And then also today, there was the announcement from conservative
media cable news bastion known as FOX News Channel. The announcement that
today, on April 1st, hosting 8:00 p.m. show on FOX News Channel would be?
What? Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, a man who bragged about
meeting with kings and queens, the man who became Twitter immortal with the
Scott Brown, known for being a lot of things, but never especially
known for being that great at the communication part of telecommunication.
But that was their April 1st announcement. Scott Brown, news anchor.
Scott Brown, hosting the 8:00 p.m. show at FOX News Channel.
You know what -- I mean, among all the things of which I am aware,
acutely aware this is April 1st. And I know it happens every year on April
1st, right? Every year, somebody tries to fool the world with a prank
seems impossible to be believed at first. And then, in retrospect, it ends
up being completely outrageous and funny in the way it reveals our
gullibility, maybe our biases, by making us believe in this thing that is
So, yes, Google Nose, that`s a joke.
YouTube is one big contest, and they`re shutting down for a decade to
see who wins, that`s a joke.
But Scott Brown is hosting the Bill O`Reilly show on FOX News Channel?
I totally fell for that. I totally thought that was a real thing for a
second. It`s amazing.
MADDOW: Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey today became the latest
Democrat to declare his support for marriage equality. In a statement that
he says took several days to right, Bob Casey says, quote, "If two people
of the same sex fall in love and want to marry, why would our government
stand in their way, at a time when many Americans lament a lack of
commitment in our society between married men and women, why would we want
less commitment and fewer strong marriages."
Senator Casey come into that position means that of the 55 senators in
the Democratic Caucus, only eight are left who are not on the record
supporting marriage equality. They`re only eight left -- Mark Pryor, Bill
Nelson, Tom Carper, Tim Johnson, Joe Manchin, Mary Landrieu and Heidi
Heitkamp, oh, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana.
So, in the Senate, 47 Democrats support equal rights, and eight do
It`s much easier to keep track on the Republican side because on the
Republican side, there`s only one senator who supports marriage equality
and he is easy to remember, Rob Portman, that`s it. Senator Portman
announced last month that he decided to support equal rights after living
with the knowledge for the past couple of years that his own son is gay.
Rob Portman did not explain his evolution with much more than that
declaration about his son.
But just having a gay son is no self-evident guarantee of evolution on
this issue politically. For example, over the weekend, there was a sad and
awkward interview done by another Republican member of Congress who has a
gay son. Arizona Congressman Matt Salmon telling a political talk show in
Phoenix that him having a gay son has not changed his mind about being
against same-sex marriage. At least it hasn`t changed his mind yet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MATT SALMON (R), ARIZONA: I don`t support the gay marriage.
REPORTER: But that doesn`t mean he disavows his son.
SALMON: My son is by far one of the most important people in my life.
I love him more than I can say.
REPORTER: In a candid interview with 3 TV, the Republican congressman
talked about his relationship with his son, and why he still believes
marriage should only be between one man and one woman.
SALMON: I`m just not there. As far as believing in my heart that we
should change 2,000 years of social policy in favor of redefinition of the
family, I`m not there. It doesn`t mean that I don`t have respect. It
doesn`t mean that I don`t sympathize with some of the issues. It just
means that I haven`t evolved to that station. Rob Portman apparently has.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Senator Rob Portman already there on the issue of same sex
marriage, Congressman Matt Salmon thinks Rob Portman is more evolved than
he, himself is on the issue. Congressman Salmon saying he is still
essentially trying to work this out for himself. He and his wife have been
leaders in the anti-gay rights movement in Arizona. In Congress, Matt
Salmon voted to ban gay people from adopting children, which is above and
beyond the typical anti-gay conservative stuff.
Republicans broadly are still trying to work out what they think on
this issue, what their party stands for with regard to gay rights. This
weekend, it was dueling Sunday shows at the same time. The former chairman
of the Republican Party and the current junior Republican senator from
Arizona saying both at the same time that it is inevitable a Republican
presidential candidate will support same sex marriage. That`s what Jeff
Flake said, while Ed Gillespie said it is impossible the Republican Party
will ever support same-sex marriage.
So they`re working on it, they working it out. The Republican Party
is a bit of a mess on this issue right now. And mess is OK. We may
reasonably expect they will settle in on being divided on this a long time,
that maybe as far as the consensus may go for Republicans, it`s just that
everybody should be treated with dignity and respect, right? Maybe party
leadership could just enforce that if nothing else, right?
Well, this is a test. The Republican Party is undergoing a test and
his name is Dave Agema. Dave Agema is one of the Republican Party`s top
officials in Michigan. He`s a member of the actual Republican National
Committee, a committee member for the national party.
Last week, Dave Weigel of Slate.com was first to note that Mr. Agema
was posting things on his Facebook page about how the homosexual agenda is
to get the public to affirm their filthy lifestyle and homosexuals prey on
children and homosexuals account for half the murders in large cities.
When that Facebook post prompted calls for his resignation, Mr. Agema
said he would not resign, telling critics online, quote, "You want to
change the landscape of our party in a direction that had not been accepted
for over 230 years. I`m trying to maintain or platform." He went on to
say, "I could send you reams of studies showing negative health affects of
this lifestyle," misspelling reams and affects.
I know the Republican Party has not exactly figured out where it wants
to be on this issue, but this guy is kind of a test, right? He`s on the
Republican National Committee and, of course, the Republican Party does not
particularly want people to think of guys like Dave Agema when they think
of what it means to be Republican in 2013. But there is a reason people
think that of the Republican Party.
Look at this. Asked by reporters if Dave Agema should resign, the
Michigan Republican Party chairman Bobbie Schostak told reporters, quote,
"That`s between Dave and his family and himself. I have no point of view
on that at all."
Republican National Committee includes a member from Michigan who says
gay people account for half the murders in America`s large cities, and he
doesn`t know how to spell the word "ream," or "affect", or "our". And the
Republican National Committee and Republican Party of Michigan have no
point of view on that at all.
This is a test. This is only a test, but they are not doing well so
far on this test.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Mr. O`Donnell, good evening.
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