'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Friday, November 15th, 2013
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THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
November 15, 2013
Guest: Peter Welch, Larry Flynt
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us
The state of Illinois is a bright, bright, bright blue state, right?
And every one of the previous six presidential elections going back to
1992, Illinois voted handily for the Democratic candidate for president.
And last year`s presidential election, President Obama won in his home
state of Illinois by 17 points.
And that does not mean there are no Republican areas and no Republican
members of Congress in Illinois. There are plenty of conservative parts of
the state, but state-wide, Illinois is very blue -- which makes it all the
more amazing that Illinois has a senator, of course, senators are elected
state-wide, Illinois has a senator who is a Republican. Senator Mark Kirk
was elected to fill the seat that was once held by President Obama.
After the Rod Blagojevich scandal of the governor essentially trying
to sell that seat, the scandal that ultimately put Governor Blagojevich in
prison, Republican Mark Kirk is the man who eventually got that seat.
Senator Kirk is probably best known for the major health challenges he has
survived since becoming a senator. Senator Kirk suffered a major stroke in
January 2012. It took him an entire year to recover enough to relearn how
You might remember this very moving, dramatic footage of him returning
to work for their first time, walking with great difficulty up the Capitol
steps where he was greeted by Vice President Joe Biden and his fellow
senator from Illinois, Dick Durbin, and by his friend, West Virginia
Senator Joe Manchin.
While Senator Mark Kirk has been dealing with the physical rigors of
coming back from that devastating stroke, he has also been fully functional
as a senator. And he`s been very interesting as a senator, because Mark
Kirk is turning out to be not a very predictable guy.
He is a conservative in a lot of the traditional senses. He`s anti-
regulation and anti-tax guy. He`s a hawk on foreign policy. He`s
supported privatizing Social Security. But he also sometimes takes
positions where it`s just Senator Mark Kirk and the Democrats. Or it`s
just Senator Mark Kirk and a handful of other Republicans who are brave
enough to defy their party and side with the Democrats.
Like, for example, on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, Senator
Kirk was not just one of the ten Republicans who crossed party lines in
order to support that anti-discrimination measure. He was a co-sponsor of
the legislation. His first speech of the floor of the Senate once he came
back from having a stroke was speaking in favor of that Non-Discrimination
Act. He`s in the thumb up column in the issue of gay rights and non-
And a really interesting thing happened in the last few days involving
his office. In the home state of Illinois, there`s a group called the
World Congress of Families. They`re headquartered in Rockford, Illinois.
The World Congress of Families is not just an anti-gay group. They`re
not a run of the mill anti-gay group. They`re a super mega double Dutch
really emphatically anti-gay group.
When Russia started passing all of its recent anti-gay legislation
that has alarmed the whole world about Russia taking this stark anti-gay
turn before they host the Winter Olympics, it was the World Congress of
Families in Rockford, Illinois, that was not just applauding what Russia
was doing, they started sending American antigay activists to go to over to
Moscow to advice Russia on how to improve their anti-gay legislation. To
praise Russia for what they were doing, to encourage them to do more.
As a reward or a sign of support for how anti-gay Russia has become,
the World Congress of Families is planning on holding an international
summit next year at the Kremlin -- specifically because they are so psyched
that Russia hates gays so much more than they used to.
So, the World Congress of Families is based in Illinois, and Mark
Kirk`s home state. And apparently, if you`re an interest group of some
kind and your group would like to hold a meeting in one of the rooms at the
U.S. Capitol, you just call up one of your home state senators and ask if
they will book the room for you. I didn`t think I knew that it happened
this way, but apparently, this is a very common practice. It`s the kind of
thing that happens frequently enough that it`s handled at the staff level
as a relatively routine level.
So, Mark Kirk`s office got the call. The World Congress of Families,
OK, that`s a fairly anodyne sounding name. They called Senator Kirk`s
office. Through his staff, they booked meeting space at the United States
Capitol for today.
The meeting they were planning on holding in the Capitol was
specifically to praise how anti-gay Russia has become and to strategize for
how to get that kind of Russian-style anti-gay stuff happening over here --
how to bring policies from Russia, also say Uganda, other places that are
real success stories for tormenting and abusing their gay populations, how
can we use those examples to inspire similar good work for our country here
in Washington, D.C. That was the subject of the meeting.
Senator Kirk`s office had initially booked them that room for that
meeting in the U.S. Capitol. But then they realized who this group was.
The Google befell them. The senator`s staff moved once they realized who
these guys were. The senator`s staff on their own recognizance moves to
un-help this group, to rescind the offer of booking the room for them at
the U.S. Capitol. They called the group and told them it could not happen.
So, this is interesting, right? I mean, this is a home state group
and this is a Republican senator. But Senator Kirk is not like that on
these issues. And his office could not have been clearer about this issue
once they realized who this group was and what was going on.
His office spoke with "BuzzFeed" about this whole kerfuffle last
night. "BuzzFeed" broke the story. Lester Feder there did. The statement
from Mark Kirk`s office was very blunt and very direct. Quote, "Senator
Kirk does not affiliate with groups that discriminate."
Well, the specific group that does discriminate here, which Senator
Kirk uninvited from the Capitol, they were very, very angry about him
uninviting him from the Capitol. They said, quote, "Obviously, Senator
Kirk does not care about families and children, and freedom. And he has
chosen to side with the policies of decline and death and disease promoted
by the sexual radicals. Shame on you, Senator Mark Kirk, for allowing
vocal radical, sexual minorities to drown out the voices of the natural
One of the anti-gay activists who was due to speak at the meeting went
even further and called Senator Kirk a coward for this decision, a coward.
So, that all went down last night. "BuzzFeed" broke the story, got
the statement from Senator Kirk`s office. The group was uninvited. That
was all last night.
Today, that group, that anti-gay group called Senator Mark Kirk a
coward and everything, they did have their meeting at the U.S. Capitol,
because even though Mark Kirk rescinded his offer to set up a room for them
when he realized who they were, another congressional Republican decided to
intervene, decided to help this group get another room so they could have
And the member of Congress who did that is House Speaker John Boehner.
What? I expected it be like, I don`t know, Louie Gohmert or Michelle
Bachman, the ghost of Jesse Helms, maybe. But the actual speaker of the
House, John Boehner, stepped up personally to make sure that that anti-gay
group was well-taken care of today at the United States Capitol.
Your tax dollars at work. He`s third in line to the presidency. Fred
Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church didn`t need to use that room at that
time? We didn`t have any extra space for them?
John Boehner also made news this week by repeating his insistence that
he will not allow the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to come up for a
vote in the House. This is that bill about employment discrimination the
Mark Kirk cosponsored. Right now, legally, you can`t discriminate in
employment in this country on the basis of race, gender, age, religion,
national origin, disability, or genetic information. ENDA, the non-
discrimination bill, that`s the bill that would add sexual orientation and
gender identity to that list of things, list of basis on which you cannot
Right now in the majority of American states, if your boss hears that
you`re gay or decides that he or she thinks that you`re gay, your boss can
fire you on the spot for that reason and that reason alone. And you have
no legal recourse, in a majority of American states.
The Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill to fix that, with every
Democrat voting in favor of it and with 10 Republican senators, including
Mark Kirk, crossing the aisle to beat the filibuster against it. They
voted for it to become law. It got a big vote, 64 yes votes.
But it will never become law, as long as John Boehner will not allow
it to be voted on in the House, and he says that that is his decision. If
that bill did come up for a vote in the House, it would most certainly
It`s a really popular thing. Not only did it get 64 votes in the U.S.
Senate, look at the public polling on this.
Overall, 73 percent of Americans favor passing a law protecting gay
people against work place discrimination. It`s favored by a huge
proportion of Democrats and a huge proportion of independents and also by a
really big proportion of Republicans, 60 percent of Republican voters
support this. A big, bright, clear majority of Republican voters wants our
country to have a law like this.
But Republicans in Congress won`t let it happen. And it turns out
that that exact dynamic holds on a bunch of things right now in Washington.
John Boehner again this week insisted that he would also not allow a
vote on immigration reform. Just like the nondiscrimination bill,
immigration reform is super, super, super popular. It passed the senate
with 14 Republican senators crossing the aisle to vote with the Democrats
on it. It beat the filibuster handily. That`s a huge vote in the Senate
for immigration reform, 68 votes.
That shows you how noncontroversial and middle of the road that bill
was. They had to make it that noncontroversial and middle of the road so
it could pass with a 2 to 1 margin. Overall, huge majorities of Americans
support immigration reform, 87 percent support reforming immigration and
allowing a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who are here illegally.
Democrats, independents, and Republicans are virtually identical in
their huge -- look at that, overwhelming support for that big reform.
There was just new polling specifically in Republican swing districts.
This was a new poll across 20 districts where Republicans are the
representatives from those districts. And 76 percent of the people in
those districts favor the pathway to citizenship, which is supposedly the
most controversial part of immigration reform.
So the president surely wants it, the Senate wants it. Democrats in
Congress want it. Democratic voters want it. Independent voters want it,
and Republican voters want it.
Who doesn`t want it? Oh, you guys.
The only people who do not want it are John Boehner and presumably
some other House Republicans. But they`re against everybody else in the
country. They`re completely against public opinion on this issue,
including the public opinion of Republicans.
They`re also completely against public opinion on the issue of the
minimum wage. Overall, the number of people who say they want to raise the
minimum wage is 76 percent. Support for the minimum wage is massive among
Democrats and independents and among Republicans. But even though their
own voters support it, Republicans in Congress will not let it happen.
On background checks for guns, right? Background checks for guns are
supported by 81 percent of Americans, broadly speaking. Background checks
had huge support among Democrats, among independents, and look, among
Expanded background checks for gun purchases are supported by gun
owners. Expanded background checks are supported by NRA members. But
these guys in Congress, the Republicans in Congress, say no.
Remember the Buffett Rule that said billionaires shouldn`t pay lower
tax rates than their secretaries? Democrats support that, independents
support that, Republicans support that. It`s just the Republicans in
Congress say no even though their own voters like the idea.
I raise the idea of the Buffett Rule because supposedly after the
government shutdown, remember what we were going to start working on?
We`re going to start working on a grand bargain. What`s our tax policy
going to be? What`s our budget going to be?
It`s all supposed to be about debating policy measures, like, for
example, the Buffett Rule, which is very, very popular, even among
Republican voters. But Republicans in Congress will not allow an issue
like that to even be voted on, even though their own voters want it.
And when you start looking at the public opinion polls on issue after
issue after issue after issue, this is what is called a pattern. In
representative democracy, if you are in an elected office and you pursue
policies that are very unpopular and you block policies that are very
popular, something is supposed to happen to you.
It`s like the elephant in the elephant`s room. Republican policy
ideas, both in terms of what they like, but especially what they don`t
like, Republican policy ideas are very, very, very, very strongly at odds
with the views of the American people, with even most Republican voters.
They believe they have one winning issue on health reform, where their
opposition to the president`s health reform law is closer to public opinion
on the issue, which, of course, is still in flux. They think it`s closer
on that issue than every other major policy issue in the country right now
where they stand against the rule of the public and even the rule of their
Why don`t they pay a higher cost for that? And why haven`t Democrats
figured out a way to make them pay a higher cost for that.
Joining now is Congressman Peter Welch, Democrat of Vermont. He`s in
the House leadership for the Democrats. He serves as the chief deputy
Congressman Welch, thanks very much for being with us tonight. I
appreciate your time.
REP. PETER WELCH (D), VERMONT: Thank you.
MADDOW: Why don`t Republicans pay more of a price for blocking things
in Congress, particular in the House, but broadly speaking, in Congress,
that are so widely popular, even among their own voters?
WELCH: Gerrymandering, the fact is a lot of Republicans who take
these extreme positions have a lot of support in the districts they
represent. You know, in 2010 when the Republicans won, and it was a
reaction to the passage of the health care bill initially, the -- they had
select boutique districts where it is now the case that any Republican who
takes pragmatic steps towards compromise, which has become a four-letter
word in Washington, those folks face a primary.
And that gerrymandering is so severe that, you know, in this last
election, the Democrats got a million and a half more votes than the
Republicans, and almost all and throughout our history, whatever party got
the most votes nationally would be the majority in Congress. That`s not
So, with this extreme gerrymandering, what you have are people w had
been elected by folks whose views are to fight for failure on all of these
policies. And that is a major challenge that this country has because we
have to return, obviously, to a pragmatic approach to moving from here to
where we need to get to. And that can include people with conservative and
liberal views but who share a view that ultimately we`ve got to make some
MADDOW: Republicans now seem to be shelving the entire rest of their
agenda, including some of their big priorities like tax reform and other
stuff, simply to keep hammering away at the Affordable Care Act, to keep
hammering away at health reform because they think they`ve got such a
winning issue there. Obviously, if they prioritize that to the exclusion
of all other issues, that`s going to keep the focus on that as an issue.
If they able to sort of get political advantage over the Democrats on
that issue for 2014, how come Democrats haven`t been able to get political
advantage over the Republicans on the stuff like minimum wage, background
checks and these issues that do even appeal, I would guess, even in
WELCH: Well, I think there`s a couple reasons. One, the bully pulpit
that used to be part of the presidential power has been greatly diminished.
When I mentioned gerrymandering, it applies not just to congressional
districts but also to news. It`s very fragmented.
You know, when Franklin Roosevelt sat down and had a fireside chat, 85
percent of America would listen, and there would be -- there would be a
continuation of the discussion. You had a -- you had a news presentation
where there`d be an editorial function that was served so America would be
having a debate, but it would have some common facts. That`s been greatly
eroded. It makes it much more difficult.
Then when you add to it gerrymandering of districts so that folks who
think that it`s OK as a tactic to have America default on its bills have
people who say keep at it, that`s a problem. And then when you have
essentially in Congress a significant element of folks whose view is that
institutions are really an impediment to the realization of each of us as
individuals, of who we can be, then the fight for failure, the destruction
of any governmental program, becomes proof for their point of view that
MADDOW: Exactly. That if you -- if your argument is predicated on
failure, and it is within your power to make failure happen, then you`ve
got a spiral that ends in a dirty, dusty place for the country.
Congressman Peter Welch, chief deputy whip for the House Democratic
Caucus -- thanks for your time tonight on a Friday night, sir. It`s nice
to have you here.
WELCH: Thank you.
All right. Lots ahead tonight, including something truly, truly
crazy. Eric Holder`s Justice Department did something today that even Ted
Cruz thought was pretty excellent. And it turns out to be the best new
thing in the world.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Arguably the most controversial publisher in American history
is astonishing everyone again. And this time, it is for an entirely new
and completely non-pornographic reason. The interview tonight is going to
be amazing. I will want you to stay with us, and I swear, I promise you,
no porn at all. None.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE REP. PETER BARCA (D), WISCONSIN: I have a couple motions I
would like to make as amendments to this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No motions.
BARCA: Clearly, committees do have an opportunity for people to amend
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, there`s no motion.
BARCA: So, I want to be able to present those.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No, there`s no motions. No, there`s none. No.
The great state of Wisconsin has been under Republican control,
complete Republican control, since 2011. And Republicans absolute power in
the state has led to some amazing displays of force there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re interrupting our roll call. Sit down!
Right now! Call the roll.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Carpenter. Coles. Colin (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re interrupting our roll call. It will not be
tolerated. Sit down!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We learned later he actually broke the base of the gavel by
banging it around like that that night. Amazing.
And it is entertaining to watch in a way, at least as a sort of
spectacle. But in practical terms, Democrats in Wisconsin almost cannot
stop anything that the Republicans want to do because Republicans have a
lock on Wisconsin state government. And it turns out a lot of what
Republicans want to do with their lock on Wisconsin state government is try
to change the rules in the state to make sure that they can stay in power
for as long as possible.
In the presidential election this year in Wisconsin, the state voted
for President Obama. Mitt Romney picking Wisconsin Republican Congressman
Paul Ryan as his running mate didn`t help state-wide, and the Democrats won
the state by a seven-point margin.
But if you only counted up the vote before Election Day, if you only
consider the votes of early voters in Wisconsin, they were even more blue
than the rest of the state. President Obama won the state overall by seven
points, but he won early voters by 17 points.
In Wisconsin, as in most places, if you voted early, you probably
voted Democratic. So obviously, that`s got to go, right?
Before Republicans took control of the state government in Wisconsin,
there was plenty of opportunity to early vote. Early voting lasted three
weeks and it always included three full weekends ahead of Election Day.
Once Republicans took control, they cut that three-week early voting period
down to two weeks and instead of three weekends for early voting, they cut
it down to one weekend.
But that is not enough, apparently, because last night in Wisconsin,
on the last night of the legislature before the shutdown, they shut down
the session, Republicans at the very last minute sprung a new bill to cut
down early voting even further. So they have already cut it from three
weeks down to two weeks and from three weekends down to one weekend.
Last night`s bill will cut it further so there will be no weekends at
all. And probably no chance for most people to get there after work during
the week either. The bill they sprung on everybody last night would force
every county clerk in the state to shut down early voting at 5:00 p.m. on
every week day and offer no weekends at all.
So, no voting after work, no voting on weekends.
The Republicans moved that last night on the last day of the session,
and they rammed it through on a party-line vote. Wisconsin likes early
voting. There`s never been any kind of problem associated with Wisconsin
early voting, unless of course you consider the fact that most early voters
vote Democratic to be a problem.
Last night, Wisconsin Republicans also came up with a novel new twist
on the state`s draconian new voter ID law. At the same time that the
Republicans passed the first big cut to early voting, they also passed a
law to require people to show new documentation in order to vote that
Wisconsin residents never had to show before, and that not all legal voters
in the state have. They passed that bill in 2011. It`s been blocked in
the courts ever since.
But last night, late last night, as the last night of the legislative
session crept past midnight and into the wee hours of this morning, the
Republicans in Wisconsin came up with a new twist on their voting
restrictions. Now, what Republicans what you to do is they want you to
declare when you vote if you are a poor person.
And if you say that you are a poor person, that you do not have the
right documentation to show to be allowed to vote because you cannot afford
to get that documentation, then you have to sign a form swearing that you
are poor. Once you`ve done that, your ballot will get put in a separate
pile from everybody else`s and it will get marked as a challenged ballot.
And then later on, local officials will consider your case and decide
whether you really are poor, and if they`re going to count your vote.
Sounds fair? Sounds amazing.
And Wisconsin Republicans in the middle of the night last night passed
that one, too, on a party-line vote. And that`s where things really got
This is so strange I`m not even quite sure how to explain it. In
September, so not that long ago, a few weeks ago, the Senate in Wisconsin,
which is also Republican-controlled, they did something actually very nice.
Nice and totally non-controversial. It was so non-controversial that every
single senator in the entire Senate was a co-sponsor of the measure. What
they did is they passed a resolution honoring the victims of the Sandy Hook
Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
Now, this resolution does not have any practical impact at all. It
does absolutely nothing. It`s just a statement of honor and respect from
the people of Wisconsin, which passed the Senate unanimously in September.
But for some reason, when the Democrats last night in the assembly
brought up that same resolution, so the assembly could pass it too and it
could be done before the end of the session, for some reason, that enraged
the Wisconsin Republicans. Why would that make you mad? I have no idea.
Here`s how "The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" put it in a way that makes
me think they didn`t understand either. Quote, "Bitter disputes developed
late Thursday that sent the session into the early morning hours. Tempers
flared after Democrats attempted to take up a bill honoring the children
killed last year in Sandy Hook. Republicans rejected taking that up."
So, the Republicans rejected taking up that resolution. They said
they will not honor the victims at Sandy Hook, even being asked to do so
last night made them very angry. How that could make somebody angry, I do
not know, but apparently, it made them so angry that they then blew up the
rest of the night and threw out the rest of the agenda that everybody was
Look, look at this. So, it says, "Tensioned flared after the
Democrats attempted to take up a bill honoring the children killed last
year at Sandy Hook. Republicans rejected taking that up and then advanced
their bill on anti-abortion license plates even though they said earlier
that they would not take that up."
So, that`s what they had to stay until 2:00 in the morning doing in
Wisconsin -- voting on anti-abortion license plates that will fund crisis
pregnancy centers, which they weren`t going to vote on at all until
Republicans got so angry about the resolution to honor the Sandy Hook kids
that they couldn`t contain their anger and all bets and all agreements were
off and they went ahead with the anti-abortion thing.
Things in Wisconsin seem a little out of control. I mean, Wisconsin
is supposed to be so sane, so civil, right?
Well, in the legislature, at least, since the Republicans and Governor
Scott Walker took over in Wisconsin, it seems more and more like Wisconsin
is losing its mind. And Democrats, at least, last night just could not
seem to believe it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE REP. PENNY BERNARD SCHABER (D), WISCONSIN: We have people in
this body that act as if they`re in middle school and high school. And
that decide they can change the rules whenever they feel that they can.
And it is extremely, extremely childish, stupid, asinine, and I could think
of a whole lot of other words I would use. But I believe I probably would
be censored. And let me tell you, I do know a few of those words and I
know how to use them.
STATE REP. TERESE BERCEAU (D), WISCONSIN: I see that the speaker, the
actual speaker is on floor, and before he leaves, I would like to ask him a
question if he could accept it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s not at his assigned spot so he can`t yield.
BERCEAU: Would he -- I`m willing to wait until he gets into his
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn`t appear he yields.
BERCEAU: Is that serious? Is he serious, the speaker of the house
will not yield to a question for the one minute he`s on the floor?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It appears he does not.
STATE REP. JOSH ZEPNICK (D), WISCONSIN: I mean, Robin Voss (ph), are
you still in the room anywhere? Where are you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gentleman will refrain.
ZEPNICK: You know why I`m not going to refrain? Because you guys are
breaking your word. I`m going to ask Robin Voss, I`m going to ask Bill
Kremer (ph), I`m going to ask whoever I damn please, to stand up and
explain your behavior to the public of the state of Wisconsin. Or get out
of the way and let somebody else do the job.
This is insulting. We act like children.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentleman`s out of order.
ZEPNICK: Too bad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: God bless Wisconsin.
We talked on the show the other night about this thing calls Wisconsin
nice. And when we did that, we got pushback from folks in Minnesota where
they claimed the whole nice thing really belongs to them.
I believe there`s enough nice for go around for Wisconsin and
Minnesota, both. Maybe even for Ohio, too, and Washington, D.C. But
whatever used to be the normal expectations for normal, middle of the road,
Midwestern governance, those days really are gone. In Wisconsin anyway,
those days seem gone.
MADDOW: This was the urgent front page of the "Gotham City Chronicle"
today. "Batkid Saves City, hooded hero nabs Riddler, rescues damsel in
distress." Byline of the story, it`s by reporter Clark Kent.
And sure enough, Batkid was spotted doing heroic Batkid rescuey
Before you go ahead and crush my dreams and tell me Batkid isn`t real
and there`s no paper called the "Gotham City Chronicle" and Clark Kent
actually writes for "The Daily Planet", before you crush me dreams, just
hold on because there is more ahead to be revealed, an action-packed edge
of your seat stuff. And frankly, the kind of thing for which the whole
idea of the best new thing in the world today was invented in the first
Oh, so great. We have the footage that you really, truly want to see.
That`s coming up and it is the single best thing I can do to send you into
your weekend tonight. It`s so great and it`s coming up at the end of the
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Last month, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice received
this kind of remarkable letter from a local pharmacy. "Dear sirs and
madam, I`m the owner and pharmacist in charge of the Woodlands Compounding
Pharmacy. Based on the phone calls I had with the Texas Department of
Criminal Justice regarding its request for these drugs, it was my belief
that this information would be kept on the down low." I`m not making it
up, that`s what it says in the letter.
"It was my belief that this information would be kept on the down low,
and that it was unlikely that it would be discovered that my pharmacy
provided these drugs. Had I known this information would have been made
public, I never would have provided the drugs."
The Texas prison system got that letter after they had struck I guess
a halfway secret deal with this one pharmacy to get lethal injection drugs
for Texas`s many, many executions of straight prisoners. When the name of
the pharmacy and what they were doing was made public, the pharmacy decided
they no longer wanted to go through with it.
Texas is number one when it comes to the death penalty, of course, but
a lot of states have had trouble recently getting the drugs that they want
to use to kill their prisoners. Many of the companies that make those
drugs, drugs the states were using to kill their prisoners no longer want
their drugs to be used for that purpose. So, companies are refusing to
sell states these drugs that they have been selling them for years.
So, Texas is on the down low with a local compounding pharmacist.
Ohio had an execution scheduled for this week until it was delayed to
see if the prisoner might be able to donate his organs. Before the delay,
though, Ohio had said its stock of execution drugs in that state was
rapidly expiring and they were looking for new sources. Who knows what
that means for the delay?
Now in Missouri, a new execution protocol is being set up to be used
for the first time this month. The Department of Corrections there is flat
out refusing to say where they`re getting their supply of lethal injection
drugs. They also will not say anymore what medical professionals are
involved in the process of carrying out the killing.
Now, we`ve always had fights about the death penalty forever, since
like the Bible, right?
But this new issue about finding the drugs to kill people with and in
Missouri, the secrecy around the drugs and the protocol by which they`re
going to be administered, this is a whole new wrinkle in the fight. But in
Missouri specifically, there`s an even newer, even weirder wrinkle in the
state`s next planned killing. And the new weird thing Missouri has to
contend with is "Hustler" magazine, and the publisher of "Hustler"
The publisher of "Hustler" magazine, of course, is almost as famous at
the magazine itself. He`s Larry Flynt.
In 1978, "Hustler" magazine published a photo spread featuring an
interracial couple, or least an interracial coupling. At the time that
spread came out, a excite supremacist neo-Nazi serial killer Joseph Paul
Franklin was in the midst of a multi-state killing spree that involved him
singling out his victims on the basis of race and religion. For example,
he staked out a Bar Mitzvah outside St. Louis and shot people as they left
the temple. He shot two young cousins in Cincinnati just because they were
black. He confessed to shooting civil rights activist Vernon Jordan
because he said he saw Mr. Jordan near a white woman. That was in Indiana.
Again and again, he specifically sought out interracial couples to
attack and murder. And when he saw that interracial pornographic feature
in "Hustler" magazine, the neo-Nazi serial killer decided "Hustler"
magazine publisher Larry Flynt also had to die. So, the neo-Nazi serial
killer essentially stalked Larry Flynt, tried to find a place where he
might be able to kill him.
He learned that Larry Flynt was going to be in a courthouse in
Georgia, appearing in one of his many, many trials for obscenity. And
Joseph Paul Franklin went to that courthouse and laid in wait. When he had
Larry Flynt in his sights, he shot him with a hunting rifle. He paralyzed
Mr. Flint from the waist down for life. That was 35 years ago. When
police finally caught up with the killer, they tried and convicted him for
eight different murders. Although he says he killed many more than that,
upward of 20 people.
They never prosecuted Mr. Franklin specifically for shooting Larry
Flynt, but he confessed to that shooting and he was sentenced to death for
his other crimes, and he is the killer for whom the state of Missouri is
now refusing to say exactly what they`re going to do as their means of
killing him. They will not say what it is they`re going to use to end his
life, where they got it, or who will administer it or how.
The state has set an execution date for him for Wednesday of next
week. And now, Larry Flynt, Larry Flynt, publisher of "Hustler" magazine,
is working with the ACLU to try to stop the execution. Larry Flynt
fighting to save the neo-Nazi who shot and paralyzed him. He is our guest
for the interview tonight.
Stay with us. Seriously.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: But a block from the courthouse, and minutes before the
trial was to resume, Flynt and one of his lawyers were shot. Witnesses
said a gunman emerged from a car and fired two shots. One hitting Flynt in
the stomach, the other bullet struck lawyer Gene Reeves (ph) in the side.
The men were rushed to the hospital and immediately sent to surgery. Both
are listed in critical condition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was "NBC Nightly News" on the day that "Hustler"
magazine`s Larry Flynt was shot outside a Georgia courtroom.
The man who confessed to shooting him, Joseph Paul Franklin, is now on
death row for convictions in a string of murders in the 1970s. That were
motivated by his neo-Nazi and white supremacist believes at the time. He`s
scheduled to be executed in Missouri next week.
But Larry Flynt, one of this man`s victims, is now working with the
ACLU to try to stop that execution.
Joining us now to explain why is Larry Flynt. He`s here for the
Mr. Flynt, it`s a real pleasure to have you here. Thank you for
LARRY FLYNT, HUSTLER: Hi, Rachel.
MADDOW: Why do you want to stop this execution?
FLYNT: You know, when I wrote that piece for the Hollywood reporter,
I didn`t expect it to go viral. You know, I have been against the death
penalty for as long as I can remember. I just don`t think we should be in
the business of killing people for lives that we`re trying to protect.
MADDOW: Is there part of you -- is there part of you for which it is
difficult to separate that long held political belief of yours from, I
would guess, an understandable anger, desire for vengeance against the guy
who put you in a wheelchair for life?
FLYNT: No, because I`m very pragmatic. You know, if you`re a victim
of someone who has committed a crime like murder or something, I can
understand why you would want to see someone put to death, but when you
really take time to think about the fact that our system was supposed to be
about justice, not vengeance.
And when someone sets out to commit a crime like murder, they don`t
stop and think -- well, am I going to get life in prison or am I going to
get the death penalty if I do this? That`s not the way they think.
It`s not a deterrent. It never has been. And you know, in England in
the 18th century, pickpocketing was a capital offense, and they used to
hang the pick pockets every Saturday in the town square, and while they
were doing it, people would be going through the crowd, picking the pockets
of the people watching the pick pocket get hanged. So I think the British
caught on early, that capital punishment was not a deterrent.
And when you look at the biggest proponents in the world of capital
punishment, the three biggest are Iran, the United States, and China. Why
do we want to be lumped in with them barbarians?
I can understand, you know, people wanting justice. I just don`t
understand vengeance. It`s much, much tougher on a guy if you give him --
put him in a 3x6 cell for the rest of his life, rather than sniff his life
out with a lethal injection in a matter of seconds. Of course, how they`re
putting these people to death -- I want to remind you, Rachel, a few years
ago down in Florida, they were having trouble with the electric chair and
they kept hiding the (INAUDIBLE) because people were actually burning up,
getting caught on fire, there were a lot of suffering, they weren`t dying
right away, and I think Florida has solved that problem right now.
But these prisons if they are going to continue to use the death
penalty, there needs to be more transparency. I think we`re entitled to
MADDOW: Your effort with the ACLU, the legal filing that you made in
this case just to try to get Missouri to unseal documents about their
execution and explain what they`re doing, is that basically just -- that`s
the leverage you have got to slow it down? Do you think that would make a
difference against the death penalty broadly?
FLYNT: No, I think it will make a difference, because the more
attention we get. You know, anesthesiologists are supposed to be
administering these drugs, they`re supposed to be board-certified. They
take an oath. They`re not supposed to be, you know, killing people for fun.
And I think all of that needs to be exposed.
MADDOW: Larry Flynt, the CEO of the Flynt Management Group, who`s
been very kind to this show and very generous to us over the years, sir,
just in terms of your willingness to come and be here and talk to us.
Thanks for helping us to understand this tonight, sir.
FLYNT: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: I appreciate it.
All right. If you are in need of a little feel good in your life, a
little watch it alone in case you cry material -- there is a best new thing
in the world that took most of a huge American city to pull off. And it is
amazing, and it is coming up. And we have footage you have not seen.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: Joker, Riddler, Penguin, your reign of terror in Gotham City
is over. Best new bat thing in the world, straight ahead. Pow!
MADDOW: Best new thing in the world today and it truly is.
It started a couple weeks ago, the Make a Wish Foundation put out the
call for volunteers to help a kid named Miles.
This is Miles. He is 5. He`s battling leukemia for more than his
life. His leukemia is currently in remission, which is a good thing.
When the Make a Wish people asked him what his wish was, he said he
wanted to be a super hero, Batman. Or maybe, Batkid.
But I probably do not have to tell you any of this because if you own
a computer machine or any sort of device that hooks you to social media.
This is what it looked like this afternoon if you set your tweet deck for
#sfbatkid. Don`t stare at it you will go blind.
All the interests at this event actually overwhelmed the Make a Wish
Web site. Look at what they had to post. "We are sorry. We are currently
experiencing technical difficulties, due to interest in the Batkid wish.
Please check back."
That`s just the virtual world`s response. In the wetware world,
thousands, literally thousand of people brought their actual physical
bodies to the streets of San Francisco today, transforming San Francisco
for a few hours today into Gotham City.
And Miles, costumed as Badkid, as the caped crusader mini-me, well, he
knew he would spend the day in character. But he did not know how
elaborate it would get.
His experience started with a breaking news bulletin and a televised
appeal from San Francisco`s actual police chief.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gotham City needs you, Batman. This is Police
Chief Greg Suhr, only hoping you can hear my voice.
It`s critical that you call me right now. We have a damsel in
distress. But that`s just the beginning, Batman, just the type of the
iceberg. You have to call me, it`s urgent. Please, caped crusader, we
need you. And -- bring the Batkid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And he wasn`t kidding. Miles in costume got to ride in a
Batmobile. He helped rescue a woman tied to a bomb on the cable car
tracks. He foiled a bank robbery resulting in the arrest of the Riddler --
But his work was still not done. While Miles was eating lunch, crowds
of volunteers called on him to rescue the San Francisco Giants` mascot, Lou
Seal, who had been kidnapped by the Penguin. Miles, heard the call, freed
And, yes, yes, helped nab the Penguin, resulting in the most awesome
fake indictment for both super villains published from the U.S. district
court, Gotham division.
And then for his super heroism, Miles was awarded the key to the city.
He also got congratulations from the White House. President Obama even
Vined him his presidential thanks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Way to go, Miles. Way
to save Gotham. Way to go, Miles. Way to save Gotham. Way to go, Miles.
Way to save Gotham.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Basically, the city of San Francisco went nuts today. So did
everybody who could not be there in person, but who cheered it all on,
And here is why this is the best new thing in the world today aside
from the first and most obvious reason which its that a kid who has had to
fight for his life is get something he really wanted. Another reason this
is great is that truth is when people are faced with awful things, the
specter of awful things, including sickness and death, even in children,
the seeming inevitability of darkness and destruction, you know what people
want to do? They want to help.
And when there`s not just a desire to help but there is a specific
thing you can do and it really might help, people do it. People help.
They go out in the streets and they do what they can. And that impulse,
that humane impulse, basically engulfed a major U.S. city this afternoon.
That its the best new thing in the world today. Oh, my God is it.
That does it for us tonight. Have a great weekend. Good night.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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