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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Tuesday, June18th, 2013

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

June 18, 2013
Guests: Adele Stan, Helen Prejean

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
Lots going on today.

President Obama is at the G8 Summit today, meeting with German Chancellor
Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron and Russian
President Vladimir Putin.

Obviously, there`s this very sensitive issue right now about the war in
Syria, with us and basically all of Europe taking one side in that war and
Russia taking the other side in that war. So, that`s the big overwhelming
tense issue that is happening at that summit.

But there`s a lot under way. All of the leaders at the G8 today took their
group photo. This is the group photo, ended up being a very dramatic photo
this year under the stormy sky.

But whatever weather is rolling in over those lovely Northern Irish
foothills behind these leaders, that`s not the only thing the G8 Summit has
to worry about now that Barack Obama is there with them all in Northern
Ireland, because now that Barack Obama is there with them now in Northern
Ireland, any minute now, the plague of locusts.


RICK WILES, RADIO HOST: Is it by coincidence that a swarm of locust from
Egypt have moved across the border into Israel today just weeks before Mr.
Obama`s arrival in the holy land? Tens of millions of locusts have
attacked Egypt in recent days.


MADDOW: OK. The working theory here, in case it`s hard to follow, working
theory is that wherever President Obama travels, the biblical plagues
follow and afflict that place. OK? OK. That`s the theory.


WILES: In recent months, Mr. Obama has been photographed with flies
buzzing around his head or attached to his lip or forehead. Each time I
see the flies buzzing around him, I think of Beelzebub, lord of the flies.
Beelzebub claims to cause destructions through tyrants, to cause demons to
be worshipped among men, to excite priests to lust, to cause jealousy in
cities and murders and to bring forth war on the world.

So think about it the next time you see a fly land on Barack Obama`s lip or
forehead. I wouldn`t be surprised if Israel is covered with locusts when
he arrives in Jerusalem in three weeks. How many biblical signs do we need
to see to know this man is evil?


MADDOW: Hey, welcome to conservative talk radio. Have you not been
listening recently? This is what it`s like now. This is a conservative
talk radio host named Rick Wiles.


WILES: What will be the spiritual consequences of the American people
allowing Barack Obama to spiritually sodomize the nation? Bishop Harry
Jackson Jr. is on the telephone. I`m going to ask him that question.

Bishop Jackson, welcome to the program.

BISHOP HARRY JACKSON, JR.: Well, Rick, I`m glad to be with you. You have
quite a way with words. That was an intense introduction.

WILES: Am I being overdramatic in saying that Barack Obama has spiritually
sodomized the nation?


MADDOW: No, wait, do not answer that. Bishop Jackson, what do you think?
That was -- yes.

This is what this corner of conservative talk radio is like all the time
now. It`s not just a one-off thing where the guy occasionally says
something unintentionally super over the top and out there. This is the
whole shtick now.


WILES: What it means is he`s not just a smooth-talking, jive-talking
street thug that talked his way into the White House. It means that he was
placed here. He was deliberately placed here as a child. He is a
manufactured person, and the conclusion I`ve come to is that he is a
foreign plant.


MADDOW: The "he", of course, being the president of the United States.

God bless the people for the American Way who record radio shows like this
so we can all enjoy them without the apocalypse survival kit equipment ads
or whatever it is, right?

A couple days ago, this particular conservative talk show host, the one
with the flies, jive talking and sodomy and everything -- he had a man as
his guest a Republican from South Carolina, a man named Jeff Duncan.

Listen to this. The most amazing part of their discussion comes right at
the very end of this clip. This isn`t a long clip, but listen right at the
very end here, that is the jaw dropper.


WILES: And while you guys are rounding up and deporting the illegal
immigrants, any chance the House may actually pursue Barack Obama`s phony
identification papers?


WILES: That`s the original scandal, Congressman.


WILES: That`s the original scandal.

DUNCAN: We had a chance to get rid of him in November. People should have
voted against him in November, and I`m afraid that wouldn`t get to the
Supreme Court where it ought to get --

WILES: But if we know that they`re lying about all these other things, why
not go back and say, well maybe the first scandal was a lie, too?

DUNCAN: There you go. I`m all with you. So, let`s go back and revisit
some of these things because Americans have questions about not only the
IRS mess scandal, but also about the president`s validity.

WILES: All right. I appreciate you being on the program today. My guest,
South Carolina congressman and chairman of the House Homeland Security
Oversight Committee.


MADDOW: Did he say House Homeland Security Oversight Committee? The
birther guy there who just had the whole president is a secret alien
discussion with that guy, with the flies and Beelzebub guy? Agreeing with
Rick Wiles wholeheartedly, you know that president`s birth certificate,
phony, that`s what we have got to be working on as a country?

Yes, he`s one of the guys the Republican Party has put in charge of
homeland security oversight in our country. So, the Department of Homeland
Security, which has more than 200,000 employees, the third largest
department in the cabinet, it combined the work of 22 previous different
organizations into a single thing. The Republicans have entrusted
oversight of that rather important thing for us as a nation to the birther
guy sitting there talking about the president`s alien status with Mr.
Beelzebub fly monitor.

Congressman Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, the Republicans took a look at
him and decided he needed to be put in a position to make homeland security
decisions. Watch out for the department of Beelzebub hatching sometime
this year in august depending on the rain.

This feels like the day we all remembered, we all learned with a shock,
right, that Georgia Congressman Paul Broun is actually on the science
committee and he believes things like this.


REP. PAUL BROUN (R), GEORGIA: I`ve come to understand that all that stuff
I was talking about, evolution, embryology, Big Bang Theory, all that is
lies straight from the pit of hell.


MADDOW: On the science committee. It someone thing to pursued 600,000 or
700,000 people in your congressional district to elect you, it`s another
thing for you to be put on the science committee when you are a guy like
Paul Broun, now congressman and would-be U.S. Senate candidate. Paul Broun
made a little bit of news in the past few days for trying to have his name
removed as a co-sponsor of the House Republicans` national abortion ban.

He was an original co-sponsor of the abortion ban but he asked to have his
name taken off of it once an exemption was added to spare rape victims and
incest victims from the ban. He was so outraged by those protections for
rape victims and incest victims that he asked his name be taken off the
bill in disgust. Interesting note, though, turns out that`s actually a
hard thing to do. Been having a really hard time getting his name taken
off the bill. He did vote against it today.

That whole kerfuffle has been overshadowed today by the latest genius
Republican man comments on the issue of abortion. This time, it came from
Texas Congressman Michael Burgess.


REP. MICHAEL BURGESS (R), TEXAS: We should be setting this at 15 weeks, 16
weeks. Watch a sonogram at a 15-week baby and they have movements that are
purposeful. They stroke their face. If they`re a male baby, they may have
their hand between their legs. They feel pleasure. Why is it so hard to
think they could feel pain?


MADDOW: It is one thing to be a random Texas Congressman Michael Burgess
saying that we should set laws for everybody in the whole country based on
when he thinks fetuses masturbate -- male fetuses only. It`s one thing to
be a random Texas congressman. Hey, your district likes you, you know?

But this guy also is in charge of something. The House Republicans took
the fetal masturbation theorist and put him in charge of their subcommittee
on health. Because, hey, that`s who they got, I guess.

And honestly, with these last three or four years with the triumph of
antiabortion activism as the main policy thrust of the Republican Party,
both in federal government and in the States, I kind of felt like I had
lost the capacity to be surprised, before I heard the fetal masturbation
theory from Congressman Burgess today.

I mean, we have had amazing theories.


that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to

FORMER REP. TODD AKIN (R), MISSOURI: If it is a legitimate rape, the
female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

REP. TRENT FRANKS (R), ARIZONA: The incidence of rape resulting in
pregnancy are very low.


MADDOW: Now, to be fair to Congressman Trent Franks there, the author of
the Republicans` abortion ban that passed the House today, to his credit,
he has tried to make clear when he said that he wasn`t making the exact
same argument as Todd Akin. He wasn`t saying effectively if you are
pregnant, then you must have wanted it, because rapes don`t cause

What Congressman Franks said he s arguing is that you may be pregnant
because you were raped, but he does not care. He wants to force you into
childbirth after rape, regardless.

Even those remarks from him as the sponsor of the bill were overshadowed
today by the male fetus masturbation theorizing from Congressman Burgess.
I mean, really, have you ever seen a headline like that?

This is what, do we have -- OK. Thank you.

This is what "U.S. News and World Report" Web site today. Comments by
Representative Michael Burgess about fetuses masturbating not based in
science, doctors say."

You don`t have headlines like that everyday. You didn`t use to at least.
But now, this is kind of what the politics here are like. Because of the
fetal masturbation theories and the rape doesn`t get you pregnant chorus
and all the rest of the guys and how they handle the issue on the
Republican side, as this bill was put on the House floor for a full vote
today by the House leadership, by Speaker John Boehner and Eric Cantor and
the rest of them, the Republicans did take one PR move of trying to shine
this thing up. They found a Republican woman to take the reins of the bill
and to try to manage its progress on the floor instead of old Trent Franks.

Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, she got handed this bill today
because she`s supposed to be great at talking about this issue. She`s
supposed to be very un-alienating.

Here she was today explaining how the bill would work to MSNBC`s Craig


CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC ANCHOR: The bill only allows the exception for rape
when it`s reported. Only allows the exception for incest when it`s
reported. Is that correct?

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: That there is a reporting
requirement in the text of the bill and the hope is that that will help
with getting some of these perpetrators out of the population that are
committing these crimes against women and against minor females.


MADDOW: Using women`s access to abortion as a way to fight crime. We can
use our antiabortion bill to go after rapists. House Republicans
effectively forcing you to use your uterus and access to it as a means of
helping the police with their investigations. That`s the new idea behind
the abortion ban. It will catch rapists.

But, again, Marsha Blackburn is supposed to be their best at talking about
this. It`s not actually like that idea is too weird for what`s going on in
Republican politics right now. Remember the bill from January in New
Mexico? The Republicans there had this bill, victims of sexual assault
could be charged with a felony if they sought an abortion after rape or
incest. The felony you would be charged with was, quote, "tampering with
evidence", a third degree felony. You could get a sentence of up to three
years in prison for tampering with the rapist`s evidence that happened to
find its way into your body. The Republican who introduced that in New
Mexico is a lawyer.

It`s hard to know what happens next here. It has been a whirlwind few
years of Republican activism in this part of policy. Now today, the House
has passed a federal abortion ban that the antiabortion side is calling the
biggest deal in federal legislation in ten years.

This is not the first time they acted at the federal level. This is
something like the tenth time Republicans in the House had voted for
antiabortion legislation since they`ve been in control in the House. They
voted on the Trent Franks abortion ban before now, too, but never made it
apply federally to the whole country like the ban they passed today would.
They`ve never gone this far before.

Asked about a decision to put this bill on the House floor for a vote,
Republican House Speaker John Boehner was as clear about this as he
possibly could be.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Listen, jobs continues to
be our number one concern.


MADDOW: Jobs, jobs, jobs.

Joining us now is Adele Stan. She`s senior Washington correspondent for
"RH Reality Check", which covers reproductive health and justice issues.

Stan, thanks very much for being with us.

ADELE STAN, RH REALITY CHECK : Thanks for having me, Rachel.

MADDOW: So, you were first to report Congressman Burgess` rather
extraordinary analysis of fetal behavior in that hearing room. How did you
end up in that hearing room hearing that argument?

STAN: Well, Rachel, actually I wasn`t even in the hearing room because I
called my source on the Hill and said, rules committee hearing, do I really
need to be here? He said, nothing happens there. I thought, OK, I`ll
watch this stream. I drank a lot of coffee and was able to stay awake
through the whole thing and there it was at the very, very end.

And the reason I was there, Rachel, is I`ve been covering the progression
of this bill now from a bill that once just only applied to the District of
Columbia. Now, they want to apply it to all 50 states. And they`re gaming
it off of the whole Gosnell trial and trying to conflate that situation
with all of abortion.

MADDOW: Obviously, the Republicans in the House know that this bill they
passed today in their side of Capitol Hill is not going to go anywhere.
The president has explicitly said that he will veto it. It`s obviously not
going to go anywhere in the Senate.

So, what they`re hoping for, presumably, is for the debate about this bill,
particularly by their side, to be so edifying that it will spark the kind
of discussion and understanding in the country that`s worth it despite the
fact that this is wasted legislative time.

STAN: Absolutely. And, you know, and the point was made consistently by
Democrats throughout the debate process who would ask for parliamentary
points and ask to introduce, you know, to discuss to debate things that
actually matter like the student loan debacle. The rates are going up
momentarily, and all that kind of thing, and jobs. And so Democrats were
definitely at the charge making that point.

But, yes, I think that their point is, is that they really think that they
can change public opinion, can move public opinion by making a big stink
about this while the public is still, you know, revulsed by some of what we
heard during the Gosnell trial which, of course, has nothing to do with
legal abortion. The guy`s a criminal.

But the deal is, they think if they can change some hearts and minds that
way, that would be great. They think they can get a lot of airtime, which
they did, but they really kind of flubbed it, didn`t they, with the Trent
Franks remarks about rape and then having to, like, kick him out of
managing his own bill on the floor and pulling in Marsha Blackburn because
she was a woman.

And, you know, interestingly, Rachel, I got that information not from the
Hill, but from the stage of a Ralph Reed event that took place last week,
where we were promised that there would be all these amazing Republican
women on the floor, Marsha Blackburn would marshal the bill, and that
Gosnell presented a moment for the anti-choice movement such as they had
never seen before and people better seize the day.

MADDOW: Did they believe -- when you are hearing them talk about it and
strategize amongst themselves like at the Faith and Freedom -- whatever
that thing is called, the Christian Coalition Event.

STAN: Right.

MADDOW: I know you`re not supposed to call it that anymore, but it will
always be that to me.

STAN: Kind of the --

MADDOW: Exactly. Is the idea that there`s nothing wrong with antiabortion
policies or the prioritization of antiabortion above all other forms of
policymaking on the Republican side, rather the problem and the reason it`s
alienating to women is because too many men talk while they to that? And
if they just do the same thing with Republican women being out in front of
it, this will suddenly become a popular agenda?

STAN: Yes, you`re absolutely right. That`s what they`ve decided. That`s
the new thing.

I mean, you even heard that in the Reed event where not only was it said
that, you know, they need to put, you know, more women front and center on
this issue, but one of the panelists who was an African-American woman
said, you know, the big problem is that there aren`t enough African-
American women in leadership on the anti-choice side because, you know,
Democrats are always making this big point about how this, you know, being
-- if you outlaw abortion that it disproportionately harms poor and
minority women.

So, you know, they need to find some more African-American women to present
the anti-choice argument.

MADDOW: To present the exact same agenda that they`ve been presenting.

STAN: Absolutely. Yes.

MADDOW: Adele Stan, senior Washington correspondent for RH Reality Check
who watched the stream of that hearing and let us all know about the fetal
masturbation theory as an excuse for the 20-week abortion ban -- Adele,
congratulations on the scoop. Thanks for joining us.

STAN: Thanks so much for having me, Rachel.

MADDOW: All right. So, lots more to come including a simple fix for
something that Congress deliberately broke seven years ago. There`s never
a simple fix, but there is one this time. It`s nice.

Plus, we will try to answer the question, how does a totally embarrassing
mispronunciation become the best new thing in the world.


MADDOW: Reporter Michael Hastings has died today at the age of 33.
Michael is killed in a car wreck in Los Angeles early this morning. It was
announced by his employer, "BuzzFeed", tonight. Michael Hastings will be
remembered nationally, of course, for his blockbuster story in "Rolling
Stone" magazine in June 2010 about the off-hours behavior of General
Stanley McChrystal and his top advisers. The story led to the resignation
of General McChrystal who was then the commander of the U.S. war in

There used to be a liberal talk radio network in this country called Air
America Radio. I worked there from its inception starting in 2004, and by
2006 or so, even though the network was a financial mess and a mess in a
lot of other ways, we were still attracting really good, interesting people
to come work with us.

And one of those people was young and smart and interesting, with tons of
options, who nevertheless came to work for us even though we were a mess,
one of the people who came to work for us was a young woman named -- a
young woman from Perry, Ohio, named Andi Parhamovich. It was through Andi,
my friendship with Andi, that I first met Michael.

When Andi left Air America Radio, it because she went to Iraq. She left to
go to Iraq at the height of the Iraq war. She was working for the National
Democratic Institute and she was ambushed and killed in central Baghdad.
She was returning from a training session on electoral politics and the
role of political parties and the convoy she was in was ambushed and she
was killed.

I`m on the advisory board of the Andi Leadership Institute for Young Women,
which was set up in her name to further the kind of things that Andi
believed in and that she gave her life for.

Michael Hastings was Andi`s boyfriend when she died. He was also living in
Baghdad at the time. He was writing for "Newsweek" magazine. He was just
devastated when she was killed.

When he came back to New York for the memorial that we held for Andi, I
literally did not know who he was as I stood there talking to him even
though I knew him pretty well. I could not recognize him face to face. He
was so contorted with grief.

Michael wrote a wrenching book about that. His first book was called "I
Lost My Love in Baghdad." Some people love the book. Some people hated
the book for it being so personal and so emotional and so angry.

But that really was the whole point. And that`s why he did it. Michael
was angry. He was also loving and thoughtful and constructive and
brilliant, but he was angry about things that weren`t right in the world.
He was angry with things that were right in the world and with war and with
loss and that drove his reporting.

And it made him fearless when he realized he had found something important
he could report. A lot of people in the news business want to seem
unafraid. Michael Hastings was actually unafraid. To the point where he
radiated a sort of energy that made you realize he was unafraid and it made
you treat him different than other people in the business.

I remember talking with Michael the night that his "Rolling Stones" story
on General McChrystal popped here. He was in Afghanistan at the time. He
was about to head out on an embed.

I was trying to talk to him about what he had just done and trying to talk
to him into the idea that he might want to make his way out of the war zone
he was in before the moment at which his reporting would cause the firing
of the very popular man who was running that war that he was in the middle
of. But Michael was in Kandahar that night and Michael stayed. He went
out on the embed. He was unafraid.

That merciless reporting he did on General McChrystal and his staff became
the book "The Operators." Michael`s merciless reporting on the
presidential campaign became the book "Panic 2012: The Sublime and
Terrifying Inside Story of Obama`s Final Campaign."

Michael did not write to make trends friends with the people he covered,
although he sometimes he did. He wrote and reported in a way that was
meant to be unvarnished and actually what he meant to convey no matter if
it bothered people to hear it.


MICHAEL HASTINGS, NEWSWEEK: I think what I`ve tried to demonstrate and
without seeming like too much of a -- you know, jerk, is that you can do
this kind of reporting. Like, if you`re a young reporter out there, you
can do this kind of reporting. You can uncompromising and hard hitting and
fair and accurate and honest and you can still -- people will pick up the
phone again.

MADDOW: Yes, fair and accurate and honest being key to it. You better be
absolutely rig and have nailed down every single detail and sourced
everything. Crossed every "t" and dotted every "i."

HASTINGS: Bombs away and bring it on, as our former president once said.
You know, this is the joy of reporting.


MADDOW: Michael Hastings did not report to make friends. If you were his
friend, he was inspiring and exciting and original and deeply lovable guy.
He was angry and he was hardworking. He was also very sweet.

Michael Hastings loved his wife, Elise. He loved his native Vermont. He
loved reporting. And he died today at the age of 33.


MADDOW: This was Al Capone`s Miami Beach pad. The swanky island property
was originally bought by Mr. Scarface for $40,000 ill gotten dollars back
in 1928. Bought it for $40,000. It recently sold for $7 million.

When Al Capone was not running his $100 million a year bootlegging empire,
he was lapping up the sun at his record breaking 30 foot by 60 foot Miami
swimming pool.

Al Capone was living so large back then and getting away with is to
ostentatiously that the federal government set up a whole unit, whole
division of the Bureau of Prohibition that was just devoted to taking him
down. Those were the untouchables, right? Because they were all supposed
to be totally incorruptible by the whole Capone machine.

It was this guy, Elliot Nash, who ran the untouchables team. They went
after Al Capone`s speakeasies and distilleries and breweries, his whole
crime syndicate and they eventually helped the Treasury Department get him
on tax evasion of all things. That guy, Eliot Ness was a prohibition
agent. And after prohibition, the Bureau of Prohibition became eventually
the ATF, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. All the fun stuff.

The ATF has had a long history of busting gangsters and lawbreakers of all
kinds, but lately it has had a hard time doing its job. And that is in
part because for seven years nobody runs it. And that`s for a very
specific reason. Seven years ago, NRA-backed Republicans in Congress put a
short line item into the Patriot Act reauthorization -- 38 words that made
it so the ATF would henceforth no longer automatically get a director.
They would have a hard time getting one ever.

It was Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner who quietly stuck in this 38-word
provision that made it so starting then the ATF, newly, all of a sudden
would have to be personally confirmed by the United States Senate. That
had never been true before.

But by making this change, by striking the words "attorney general" and
replacing them with president and by and with the consent of the Senate,
these NRA Republicans made the strategic move so the NRA couldn`t have
somebody running it. They could hamstring that agency so the gun laws
couldn`t be enforced.

No presidential appointee from either party has actually been able to
become the director of the ATF since the Republicans made that rule change
serve years ago. The guy President Obama has picked now to run the agency,
the guy who has been running the agency as its acting director only, he
seems to have little chance of getting through confirmation because the
Senate doesn`t want to confirm anybody. Republican members of Congress,
Republican members of the Senate have no intention of confirming anybody
ever to run the ATF. That was the whole point of that rules change.

All that noise on the right about how we don`t need new gun laws, we just
need to enforce the ones we have -- well, Republicans in Congress have
insisted that we`re not allowed to let anybody run the agency that is in
charge of enforcing those laws. So, it`s another gun-related thing that
has no solution, right? Throw up your hands. Ridiculous intractable do-
nothing Congress, right?

Actually, no, not in this case. What if we just undid that change that
caused this whole problem? We used to have directors of the ATF. We just
can`t have one anymore because the Republicans made that change so they
could block everybody. What if we just went back to the old system?

Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois now says he wants to do exactly that. He
wants to two back go back to having the ATF organized as part of the FBI.
Just let the FBI choose a director for the agency. Leave the partisans out
of it. Let us have a working ATF again like we used to.

It`s a crazy idea, I know, to solve a problem by undoing the policy change
that created the problem on purpose. But in this case, that would actually
do the trick.

Is it possible?

Watch this space.


MADDOW: This is a man named David Keaton. Mr. Keaton is from Florida. He
was convicted in 1971 of murdering an off duty sheriff and he was sentenced
to death.

But he was not executed. He was actually released two years later when the
real murderer got convicted. David Keaton did not do it.

After the exoneration of David Keaton, the next two death row exonerations
in America were also from Florida. Wilbert Lee and Freddie Pitts on death
row for 12 years but then released and pardoned after somebody else

Florida leads the nation in exonerating death row prisoners. Going back
and saying, we know we`ve been planning to kill you, but now we believe you
are innocent. Good thing we didn`t go too fast. Florida is number one in
that in the nation.

It`s not just the total number of exonerations that makes Florida so
impressive. For every three prisoners Florida has killed, Florida has said
to another prisoner, actually, we messed up in your case, 3-1. For every
three they have killed, they have said to one, we messed up in your case,
you are free to go, good thing we didn`t go too fast.

Since the Supreme Court clear the way for states to begin executing
prisoners again in 1976, Florida governors have been executing prisoners at
an average rate of about two a year. That has not been fast enough,
though, for Florida`s current governor, Rick Scott. He`s been going twice
that fast. Eight times since he took office in January 2011, Governor
Scott has given the order to kill a prisoner.

And even that is not fast enough for Rick Scott. Last week, he signed a
bill clearing the way for Florida to kill prisoners even faster. That`s
the priority now in his state.

Same deal in North Carolina where the new Republican majority there decided
they want to speed up executions in their state as well. Since the U.S.
Supreme Court started allowing states to start killing prisoners again in
1976, it is the state of Texas that killed more people than the next
several states combined. In Texas, they are on the verge of executing
their 500th prisoner. That is expected to be next week.

So, in the bright red states in our country, that is the situation with
killing prisoners right now. But in the rest of the country, things look
different right now. In Maryland, the Democratic majority legislature
there this year voted to repeal capital punishment. Governor Martin
O`Malley signed that into law last month. When Maryland banned that
practice of killing prisoners, it joined New York and New Jersey and New
Mexico and Illinois and Connecticut to make six states that have all banned
capital punishment just in the past six years.

Overall, capital punishment is banned in 18 American states. Nebraska came
close to banning it last month. So did Delaware, where a ban passed the
state senate this spring before it failed in the house.

In March in Colorado, very interesting situation there, there was a bill to
ban capital punishment moving in Colorado, but it failed in House committee
once Governor John Hickenlooper signaled he might veto that bill. That
means that Governor Hickenlooper will not stop Colorado from having a
system to execute prisoners, but he also says that he does not want to
participate in it, himself.

In May, Governor Hickenlooper issued a temporary reprieve for a prisoner
who was scheduled to die this summer. The governor said the state did not
have the drugs on hand to carry out a death sentence. He said the death
penalty does not make the world a safer or better place.

And in any case, he said, this prisoner`s death would weigh on his personal

So, Governor Hickenlooper banned that specific execution at least while he
is in office. But the system, itself, is still in place. Thanks in part
to him leaving it there.

We have a weird relationship with the death penalty in this country. Some
states trying to speed it up, others getting rid of it, some debating which
way to two, some governors going both ways at once. We have a weird
relationship with choosing to kill people who are already imprisoned.

We have a weird relationship with the whole idea of a dead man walking. A
prisoner confined and contained, living nevertheless with a scheduled date
at which the state government will kill them. Twenty years ago this year,
Sister Helen Prejean, a Catholic nun from Louisiana published her account
of serving as a spiritual adviser to a man who was sentenced to die for
rape and two murders in her state.

That book "Dead Man Walking" became a famous movie of the same name
starring Sean Penn as the prisoner and Susan Sarandon as Sister Helen.


SUSAN SARANDON, ACTRESS: The story of "Dead Man Walking" starts off and it
was very important that it started off with just a little visit, and then
little by little she gets more and more involved and she kind of had all
these doubts and that`s what I really liked about her was that she didn`t
go into the whole situation a hero. She just got sucked in deeper and
deeper and deeper, and the more she knew, the more she got involved.

You`re a fool. You are making it so easy for them to kill you. Coming
across as some kind of a crazed animal, Nazi racist mad dog who serves to

SEAN PENN, ACTOR: Is that what you think?

SARANDON: You`re making it so difficult to help you.

PENN: You can leave.

SARANDON: I`m not going to do that. It`s up to you. You want me to go,
you say so.

I remember when we had the first edit and we invited her to see it and I
thought, oh my God, is this going to be so hard for her and I was kind of
worried about her emotionally and to have to go through that again. When
it was over, I said, are you all right? She said, actually doing it was
much harder. I thought, oh, duh me, this is only a movie.


MADDOW: Joining us now for the interview tonight is Sister Helen Prejean
of the Congregation of St. Joseph. She`s a leading American advocate for
abolishing the death penalty. She`s the author of "Dead Man Walking",
which is out 20 years ago now.

Sister Helen, thanks for being here.

shoulder, it was 20 years.

MADDOW: Yes. How did that happen?

PREJEAN: How did that happen?

MADDOW: Twenty years of this advocacy and activism, seeing the way that
things have changed. Do you feel like you have a long view now of what
works and what doesn`t in trying to get people to see this issue your way?

PREJEAN: You know what I`ve come to see is you bring them into the story.
The American people are not wedded to the death penalty. They just never
think about it. And the minute you can bring them into reflection, the
book does that, the film did that.

Then Tim Robertson has written a play for high school and college students
to do. Where they get -- they take all the parts. They`re the guard.
They`re the victim`s family. They`re the mother of the death row inmate.
They`re the governor. They`re everybody. And they go into a deeper

What you have to do in a story, and what I`ll do with all the audiences, I
do a lot of speaking, is you bring people over to both sides. Let`s look
at this terrible crime. We`re outraged over the crime.

Look at this. That person deserves to die. Is that what justice means
from the victim`s family? And then you bring them over from the victim`s
suffering, and then you bring him over to the other side, the perpetrators`
mother and his family. The guards who have to do the killing.

In "Dead Man Walking", I talk about the guards. Nobody thinks about the
guards. But they`re just regular guys. And they`re told, tonight, part of
your job is you take that person out of their cell and you take them out
and kill them.

And they just hope to God the guy goes peacefully, because you`ve had
situations where the guy fights them all the way and you`re looking at a
guard and you`re just saying, don`t kill me, don`t kill me. And they know
they`re killing somebody who`s defenseless.

Everybody. It costs everybody. We have to move this thing out of this
country. We`ve got to change this thing.

MADDOW: I have been thinking about the way that you have told those
stories, in "Dead Man Walking" and your activism over the years. And
thinking about the Governor Hickenlooper story in Colorado, because he has
effectively, politically intervened to keep the system in place, but he is
obviously tormented in a way that I take very seriously about him not
wanting to be one of the cogs in that machine.

PREJEAN: Absolutely.

MADDOW: The machine will stay, but he won`t play a part in it. But he`s
going to leave the machine there. He doesn`t want to be one of those
guards. He doesn`t want to be one of the people making the decision.

PREJEAN: You know, actually, when I`m talking to audiences, I take them
there. I`m honest on both sides. I bring them into the pain on both

And I say to them, so if you believe in the death penalty and that it ought
to happen, that justice demands it, could you do it? Could you do it? If
there`s a part of you that goes -- well, I don`t know if I could do it, I
say there`s a part of your moral conscience that has not said yes to the
death penalty. And so reflection is what it`s all about.

I just came from Oxford University. I come from England. They say, what
is it about the American people? Why are you so people so vengeful?
You`re holding on to the death penalty?

I say, we`re not holding on to the death penalty. We never think about it.
Anything that causes reflection, like your show where you get your facts
and you help people think, the arts, film, books. I didn`t know the power
of a book when I wrote "Dead Man Walking." I`d never written a book

You know, I`m from the South. Talking is what we do. But I mean, reading
books. OK. But it`s an intimate experience, and people, they don`t have
to debate. They get new information. But they`re also using their own
imagination to go to some deep places, and it`s very intimate and almost
everybody comes out not the same on the other end of the book.

So I believe in the book and the good work that it`s doing. And the film
really captured that ambivalence, too. Like Tim said. We`re not going to
do propaganda, and we`re going to shingle in 400 arguments to get people
against the death penalty. We`re going to bring them over to both sides
and leave them there.

MADDOW: When you talk about getting people to reflection and getting
people to a places where we can use a part of our mind and our soul that we
wouldn`t necessarily use, even in artistic context, is this religious
practice? You are obviously a Catholic nun. You`re devoted to the
Catholic Church.

Is this activism a form of religious practice and getting people to reflect
in that way?

PREJEAN: Absolutely it is. What is the deepest spiritual part of all of
us? Religious practice or spiritual practice. OK? What`s the heart of
all the traditions?

Is that everybody is my brother and my sister. And I cannot turn a switch
and say you are not human like the rest of us and we can kill you. It is
deeply spiritual. It`s about the soul of all of us.

And I think, you of the American people over these years, because I talk to
everybody. I talk in synagogues. I talk in universities. I talk in civic
clubs. I talk all over.

And it`s once you can get people to be able to identify that the human
being who did that outrageous act is more than that one act in their life.
But it`s a journey to get there. You can`t do it through preaching at
people. You can`t do it from, you know, just pure argument. You have to
do it through story, and people are open when people say, let me tell you
what happened to me.

Like Susan was talking about the film. That was against all odds. I did
that film. Every Hollywood studio turned down that film. They never
dreamed it could be a box office success.

And I tease Susan because she cried when she saw herself in the dailies,
because, you know, not much makeup. It`s her first nun thing. She goes, I
don`t want to look at the dailies. I don`t what.

And then, on the night of the Academy Awards, I said look at that, Susan,
your spiritual essence came out. They`re good people. But every Hollywood
studio said -- well, you got no romantic interest. Let us spice it up
between the nun and the death row inmate then we`ll have us a movie.

Tim is saying, no, no, no, that`s not what this film is about. It`s a
journey. We`re going to bring people deeper into the reflection on the
death penalty.

And after "Dead Man Walking" came out, notice how movies changed in t
United States. They all were deeper. "Monster`s Ball", "Dancing in the
Dark", "Green Mile" -- all of them were deeper.

Before the formula movie was, is he guilty or not? Yes, he did it.
Justice is done, end with the execution, end of film and end of reflection.

"Dead Man Walking" left you there looking at bodies. Now the victim`s
here, the guy on the gurney here, where are we, what have we accomplished?

MADDOW: Showing and not telling in a way that lets people tell,

PREJEAN: Yes, I learned that little journalistic principle before I wrote
"Dead Man Walking." You show, you don`t tell, take people there.

And as Tim said, you don`t insult the intelligence. Bring them there. You
don`t have to preach at them.

MADDOW: Sister Helen Prejean, advocate for the abolition of the death
penalty. Author of "Dead Man Walking" -- it`s hard to believe it`s been 20
years. I`ve learned so learned so much from you, from your career and
talking to you.

PREJEAN: Thank you. I watch you, I have learned from you, too. Thank
you, Rachel, for your good work.

MADDOW: Thanks.

We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: OK, lots still to come, including a best new thing in the world
that is so charming and so awesome, if it involves ducklings, it would be
on cute overload right now. That story is next.


MADDOW: Best new thing in the world today.

This is Republican Congressman Kerry Bentivolio of Michigan. Yesterday, it
was his job to preside over the house temporarily, had to take his turn as
speaker pro temp.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The speaker room, Washington, D.C., June 17, 2013. I
hereby appoint Kerry Bentivolio to act as speaker pro tempore on this day,
signed John A. Boehner, speaker of the House.


MADDOW: OK. So, at this point, he is in charge of the House, this
freshman guy, right? Scary, not a big deal, you just keep the lights on,
if your colleague wants to speak, you have to recognize them. You talk
into the microphone, say their names and say where they are from. But that
is where things went a little haywire.

Watch this.


REP. KERRY BENTIVOLIO (R), MICHIGAN: The chair recognizes the gentleman
from American Samolia.


MADDOW: I`m sorry, the gentleman from who? What, now?


BENTIVOLIO: The chair recognizes the gentleman from American Samolia.


MADDOW: American Samolia.

If you Google American Samolia, you can get a little help as to what he was
thinking, if you just type into Google. You ever do this, A-M-E-R-I-C-A-N,
American Sa -- then the drop-down menu helps, he means American Samoa,
thank you, Google, suggests the drop down menu, American samoa.

Not that obscure. I mean, there`s Girl Scout cookie called Samoa, right?
Lots of people who have never been to Samoa have had lots of practice
saying it, Samoa, Samoa.

So, he said American Samolia, but he just meant American Samoa. But then,
things got a lot worse, he had to say not just the next person to speak has
a name. His name is Eni Faleomavaega. Which is not an easy name to say,
but not impossible. This guy is not a new guy.

Eni Faleomavaega has been in Congress representing American Samoa since
1989. Now, he needs to be introduced in Congress, and it`s Kerry
Bentivolio who`s got to take it away.


BENTIVOLIO: The chair recognizes the gentleman from American Samolia, Mr.



MADDOW: Did you say Falumabinga? Why not?

It`s actually Mr. Faleomavaega. How do you get from these letters on a
piece of paper in front of you to --


BENTIVOLIO: Mr. Falumabinga.


MADDOW: Maybe he thought American Samolia was in Spain or somewhere, where
conceivably the V could be pronounced B for vinga? A tough day with the
new president pro tem, right?

But here`s the most important part. If you were Mr. Faleomavaega, how do
you respond? This new guy, right, you`ve been there 24 years, this guy has
never heard the name Samoa before? And he destroys your name and in turns
into Falumbinga, what do you?

You react with total class and win the whole day and everybody`s respect.
Watch how he reacted.


BENTOVOLIO: The chair recognizes the gentleman from American Samolia, Mr.


REP. ENI FALEOMAVAEGA, AMERICAN SAMOA: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, it is
American Samoa.


MADDOW: The best natured man in congress is the guy who ignored that he
has just been called Mr. Falumabinga, but he stands up for where he is
from. Get Samoa, right, huh? With total poise, Representative Eni
Faleomavaega, you were the best natured man in Congress. And that act of
restraint on your part is the best new thing in the world.

Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD."

Have a great night.



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