All In With Chris Hayes, Monday, May 19th, 2014
Read the transcript from the Monday show
ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
May 19, 2014
Guest: Robert Costa, Emily Bazelon, Daniel Schulman
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris
And it is primary night eve in America. Voters are preparing to go to
the polls tomorrow for contested primaries in Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho,
Kentucky, Oregon and Pennsylvania. And in this era of Tea Party dominance
with red state primaries now doubling as bitter battles for the future of
the Republican Party, the stakes are high and fight for victory has gotten
downright nasty this evening.
It is nasty in Idaho where incumbent Governor Butch Otter used a
devilish bit of jujitsu to make sure two fringe candidates were on stage to
steal the show in the lone debate in the governor`s race. This, of course,
infuriated Otter`s only serious challenger, State Senator Russ Fulcher, who
called the whole thing, quote, "a circus."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have your choice, folks -- a cowboy, a
curmudgeon, a biker or a normal guy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re wasting all kinds of wood out there and
they`re burring it and smogging this place up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t like political correctness. Can I say
this? It sucks.
As it says in my motorcycle club, hey, diddle, diddle right up the
middle. That`s my style.
(END VIDEOI CLIPS)
HAYES: Right up the middle, voters of Idaho, because those guys will
be on the ballot in your state.
In Oregon, it`s getting nasty too with front-running Republican Senate
candidate Monica Wehby, a pediatric neurosurgeon besieged by a brutal oppo
dump and a 911 call in which her ex-boyfriend calls her, quote, "a stalker"
and divorce documents in which her ex-husband characterized, accusing Wehby
of pulling his hair, slapping him and throwing items at him.
It is nasty in Kentucky where Mitch McConnell`s campaign has cast Tea
Party challenger Matt Bevin as a, quote, "East Coast Con Man" and running
ad attacking Bevin for an appearance at a cockfighting rally. Yes, they
are running campaign ads in Kentucky about cockfight.
It`s even worse in Georgia where the crowded GOP Senate contest
includes Congressman Paul Broun, the one who called evolution a lie
straight from the pit of hell, and Tea Party Congressman Phil Gingrey,
who`s tried to bolster his fading prospects with this homophobic TV ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Georgians can send a true conservative to the Senate. But
will we Karen Handel`s vote for youth pride that promote teenage
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The absolute nastiest race in the country in my opinion
involves candidates you probably have not heard of, but which feature the
person most likely to emerge from this election cycle as a new Tea Party
star. It`s the Senate race in Mississippi where six term Senator Thad
Cochran, relative moderate for such a deep red state, is trying to hold off
a Tea Party aligned lawyer and talk show host named Chris McDaniel.
McDaniel made it clear he knows how to rally the base.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CHRIS MCDANIEL, TALK SHOW HOST: Let me just get crazy with it. If
they pass reparations and my taxes go up, I ain`t paying taxes.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HAYES: Get crazy with it, Chris.
This primary is still a couple weeks away and the polling out of
Mississippi is pretty spotty, but McDaniel has become a real darling of the
right wing media trying to take out Cochran. He seemed, in fact, as the
Tea Party`s best hope in a year in which the dominant narrative has been
the return of the GOP establishment.
And curiously, recently stories have been popping up in conservative
media outlets pushing rumors that the incumbent Thad Cochran whose wife has
been in a nursing home for 14 years with progressive dementia that Cochran
was engaged in an affair with a staffer. We have absolutely no
confirmation of this rumor nor does anyone else, as far as I can tell, but
it has been pushed hard in stories like this one on Breitbart.com.
But here`s where things get even nastier. On Friday, in an absolutely
insane development, a blogger named Clayton Kelly who is a McDaniel
supporter was arrested for allegedly sneaking into the nursing home in
which Thad Cochran`s wife lives, photographing her and posting video of her
online as part of an apparently deeply misguided gutter attack on Cochran
We don`t know what exactly this is all about. But it appears to be
related to the attacks on Cochran over the alleged affair and sheds light
on just why it is the Tea Party has been so effective in the last four
years in bending the Republican Party to its will, because the costs of
primary challenges are so high for incumbents and establishment figures
high in money, in time, and reputation, they`re so high that even when the
Tea Party loses, it wins, because they`ve made those who cross them pay a
price. Whatever the result and whoever ends up heading to Washington from
the great state of Mississippi, they will go there thinking in the back of
their mind how the heck do I avoid slogging through something as ugly as
that the next time around.
Joining me now, Robert Costa, national political reporter for "The
And, Robert, that has been the dominant narrative. This is the sort
of empire strikes back round. This is the establishment coming back but I
think if you scratch the surface and look at what`s happening in Georgia
you are seeing establishment candidates have only won insofar as they can
take up the Tea Party mantel.
ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST: That`s correct. We have not seen
a diversion on ideology from the Republican establishment. If anything,
they`re moving farther to the right and they`re championing people like Ted
Cruz when they`re in Republican Senate primary debates. So we see the Tea
Party temperament is not necessarily winning when it comes to candidates.
The establishment style of being more business and polished seems to be
doing OK in these primaries, but when it comes to the platforms they`re in
step with the rest of the contenders.
HAYES: And you see that in Georgia where you`ve got -- you know, the
candidates that people call the front-runners or the establishment front-
runners and that`s Kingston and Purdue and Handel, who was the subject of
that attack by Gingrey, Kingston, a longtime Republican congressman who was
a big kind of pork barrel go along get along log rolling kind of guy, has
now reinvented himself as a firebrand kind of Tea Party insurgent and he is
now near the top at the head of the pack.
COSTA: That`s something to really watch. Can Jack Kingston, this
appropriator in the House, who hasn`t necessarily shied way from his role
in Congress, he`s battling Karen Handel, who has been endorsed by Sarah
Palin for that second slot in the primary runoff. If Karen Handel can slip
through and beat Kingston, that`s a victory for the Tea Party. If Kingston
and Purdue managed to get into that runoff, that`s a win for the so-called
HAYES: You know, about a month ago, I was having dinner, some folks
were talking about the candidate who was poised to win the Republican
primary there to challenge Jeff Merkley, a woman by the name of Monica
Wehby. I didn`t know much about her, but I thought, wow, she sounds like a
formidable person. She`s pro-choice. Pediatric neurosurgeon. She`s
telegenic. She`s pretty good in front of a microphone.
Her campaign is absolutely imploding. This is a tweet from general
assignment reporter with the NBC affiliate who says, "GOP Senate candidate
Wehby appears to have gone underground. Campaign isn`t returning calls, no
This is a nearly unprecedented implosion happening right now.
COSTA: Monica Wehby`s situation in Oregon is really indicative of how
the narrative of this primary cycle has some fault lines and has some
problems because Monica Wehby was this doctor, Republican woman who was
supposed to represent the establishment. Had a backing of a lot people
close to the NRSC, running against Jason Conger, the state representative
who`s been endorsed by Rick Santorum, has a fiery temperament.
Yet, as we see with these reports, Monica Wehby is having problems and
just necessarily not if you are you`re the establishment candidate and
touted by those in Washington, doesn`t necessarily mean you`re going to win
the general election or be a song contender in the general.
HAYES: You know, interesting fact about Cochran in Mississippi coming
back to that race which is fascinating and just find this whole, the level
of dirty ops happening breaking into a woman`s nursing home. You know,
Cochran when you clear away all the nastiness, Cochran actually is more
moderate than he should be given what state he`s from and it is a perfectly
rationale enterprise for people to his right like the Tea Party to try to
primary him into line. He`s more moderate than 85 percent of the caucus
that is in a state that no Democrat is going to carry into the foreseeable
COSTA: That`s right. And it is surprising to see how the McDaniel
campaign in Mississippi is focusing it seems on Cochran`s personal life or
at least the allies of McDaniel are doing that with their attacks. But
it`s Cochran`s voting record, his record of bringing back pork to
Mississippi -- as you say, Chris, that`s alarming to Tea Party activists
but it`s not catching on right now as a narrative in Cochran, though the
top target for the Tea Party isn`t vulnerable yet.
HAYES: You know, this is a guy -- it occurs it`s not that dissimilar
in McConnell. This is a guy who`s run in his state and won time and time
and time again and a lot of times the way they have won is by bringing back
the pork to the state and whether there`s an ideological opposition to that
that emanates out of the Cato Institute or Heritage, the fact is, in very
poor states like Kentucky and Mississippi, voters don`t necessarily mind
someone looking out for them in Washington.
Robert Costa from "The Washington Post" -- thank you so much.
COSTA: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, Jill Abramson, the fired "The New York Times"
executive editor, broke her silence for the first time since the whole ugly
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JILL ABRAMSON, FORMER NYT EXECUTIVE EDITOR: A couple of students who
I was talking to last night after I arrived, they know that I have some
tattoos and one of them asked me, are you going to get that "Times" "T"
that you have on your back removed? Not a chance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Do you think that`s awkward? Wait until you hear the latest
installment of what happens when the world`s most important media
enterprise covers itself. That`s next.
HAYES: Tonight, we`re premiering the first installment of our special
series, "All in America" on the road in the conservative heartland as we
travel to Kansas. A story of Kansas` most powerful native sons and their
unlikely defeat -- you don`t want to miss it.
HAYES: The most brutal PR train wreck in America got even more train
wreckier this weekend. What has become a can`t look away acrimonious
battle between recently deposed "New York Times" executive editor Jill
Abramson and the person who deposed her, "The Times" publisher and family
heir, Arthur Sulzberger, it keeps getting worked (ph).
Other news outlets are furiously reporting on "The Times." "The
Times" is reporting on itself and "Times" employees are expressing support
Sulzberger himself finally taking another shot and yet another
statement about Abramson`s dismissal and then today, Abramson made her
first public remarks since fired by speaking at the commencement ceremony
for Wake Forest University.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMSON: Sure, losing a job you love hurts, but the work I revered,
journalism that holds powerful institutions and people accountable, is what
makes our democracy so resilient.
What`s next for me? I don`t know. So I`m in exactly the same boat as
many of you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now, Emily Bazelon, senior editor at "Slate",
contributing writer for "The New York Times Magazine", who knows Jill
Emily, are you astounded at how ugly this entire thing has gotten? I
just cannot believe every day that passes more leak, more articles, more
facts coming out. Sulzberger himself coming out to basically be like, she
was terrible. It`s head-spinning. It`s gotten so bad and so public so
EMILY BAZELON, SLATE: It`s true. You know, the media is obsessed
with "The New York Times" and obsessed with the story. And so, I think
part of what we`re seeing here is a kind of feeding frenzy where everyone
is thinking about this problem at "The New York Times" and taking sides.
HAYES: We`ve seen battling kind of accounts of what was prompted her
ouster. Originally, there was talk about pay equity. Jill Abramson -- Ken
Auletta of "New Yorker" reporting that Jill Abramson was paid $475,000, a
starting salary compared to that of $559,000 of her predecessor, her salary
was raised and only after she protested and the idea was that she had got
to "The Times" and protested and that was part of her dismissal.
We have then seen in "The New York Times", David Carr, their media
reporter, writing a column saying, so I like Jill, my reporter including
interviews with senior people in newsroom, some of them women, backs up the
conclusion of Sulzberger this was not about pay equity.
How do you make sense of this battle over whether pay equity was the
BAZELON: I think David is right. I think the pay equity story is a
sideshow and there was a lot of unrest and division at "The New York
Times", and discontent with having an editor who was really aggressive,
brusque, whatever adjective you want to use.
It is also true that sometimes adjectives like that get used about
women in a way that are different from men, but that doesn`t necessarily
mean this was a sexist firing.
HAYES: So I think that is a really key point that everything seems
over-determined here. It seems to me the possibility this is someone who
had a whole lot of sexist expectations put on her and there were sort of
sexist ways in which she was interpreted, and also had a manner that rubbed
people the wrong way, and those could actually both be true.
BAZELON: Yes, I think that`s right and to me it`s been important that
we have not seen an uprising on the part of women of "The New York Times."
BAZELON: There are a lot of women like me who are grateful to Jill.
She was a tremendous promoter of women. But that doesn`t mean that people
can`t see some of her weaknesses.
HAYES: Yes, Lydia Polgreen who`s a deputy international editor,
saying there has been no revolt. Many conversations but no women`s revolt
over Jill Abramson`s firing at "The New York Times".
It also struck me as an interesting moment in as we all -- as everyone
enters a world in which social media becomes a platform for people all the
way from someone who has a job at an office, an insurance company, all the
way up to the head of "The New York Times", that the public story of
someone`s firing, or the public story about conflict and acrimony in a
workplace is more and more going to be a public matter, not just to "The
New York Times", but everywhere else because everyone has an outlet to
express the discontent and peel the curtain back.
BAZELON: That`s right and in some ways the fewer facts, the more
drama, the more room for speculation, and this is the kind of office soap
opera that everybody can identify with.
We`ve all had a harsh boss. We`ve all wondered if that person would
ever get fired or if the people running the show would just tolerate their
So, I think there`s a way in which this plays into lots of people`s
HAYES: And there`s always, of course, the final conclusion which is
that when you work for a family business, the family patriarch doesn`t like
you, you`re out.
Emily Bazelon from "Slate" -- thank you so much.
BAZELON: Thanks for having me.
HAYES: Coming up, Marco Rubio was approximately 16 years old when
kids all over the nation like myself were being inundated with this PSA.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAD: Are these your drugs?
SON: Look, dad, it`s --
DAD: Where did you get it? Answer me. Who taught you how to do this
SON: You, all right. I learned it by watching you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Did Marco Rubio learn anything from that PSA? That mystery,
HAYES: Just a couple years ago, the Drug Enforcement Administration,
the DEA, co-authored a report called "Growing Up Drug-Free: A Parent`s
Guide to Prevention", detailing how to talk to your kids when it comes to
The report states, quote, "At some point, your child`s likely to ask
have you ever used drugs? Be honest. If your answer is no, explain to
your child how you`re able to avoid temptation and peer pressure. If our
answer is yes, expand on that with why you don`t want your child to do the
same thing you did".
That reads like pretty sound advice. Marco Rubio, however, did not
take it. When asked that inevitable question that all politicians with
White House aspirations get, which is, "Have you ever smoked marijuana?",
Rubio gave this tortured response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Here`s the problem with that question
in American politics. If you say that you did, then suddenly there are
people out there saying it`s not a big deal. Look at all these successful
people who did it.
I don`t want my kids to smoke marijuana and I don`t want other
people`s kids to smoke marijuana. I don`t think there is a responsible way
to recreational use marijuana. On the other side of it, if you tell people
that you didn`t, they won`t believe you. So, it`s just --
INTERVIEWER: If you didn`t, you can say you didn`t.
RUBIO: I understand it`s a question that people think they need to
ask, but the bottom line is I don`t think people should smoke marijuana.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now, as it happens, we`ve got some new technology here, so let
me run that answer through my handy-dandy Republican presidential
Yes, I smoked weed but would like to be the Republican nominee at a
time when the conservative coalition is deeply divided among itself on
precisely that issue of marijuana legislation, with libertarians at the
throat of older conservatives, folks like Bill O`Reilly, who think the
country is literally going to pot. And since I don`t want to take sides
and expose myself, I`m going to go give you perhaps the most preposterous
It appears that Rubio`s clearly more concerned with the people who
hate marijuana and stand firm against drug legalization than he is with the
likes of the Cato Institute and their case for marijuana legislation. This
chart from Vox.com shows just how terrifying the drug marijuana is in 2010,
leaving out indirect causes of deaths for traffic accident there were, wait
for it, zero death contributed to marijuana, but more than 16,000 to
prescription and nonprescription drug overdoses, more than 25,000 deaths
were attributed to alcohol, and almost half a million deaths were
attributed to tobacco.
Marco Rubio and everyone else should be way more worried about kids
smoking parliaments than pineapple express.
HAYES: It`s a big night for ALL IN. We`ve been telling you about our
new series "All In America", in which we are going on the road this spring
and summer to find stories across the country and across the political
spectrum, stories at the ground level of American life that illuminate the
biggest conflicts we have in American politics.
Tonight kicks off a week-long examination of a state that lives in our
imagination for a couple of reason, first, "The Wizard of Oz", and second a
book written ten years ago by Thomas Frank. It was in June 2004, remember
that, that Frank published a book which became not just a best seller but
the defining story of the Bush years for a generation of liberals.
Frank looked at his state of Kansas and showed how it had gone from
being the heart of the left populist movement, to the frontier of the
extreme right wing. Ten years later, Kansas is no longer just the
frontier. It is the laboratory for ultra conservative ideas that are being
exported throughout the entire country.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Kansas Governor Sam Brownback. Today, he
signed into law a bill that requires Kansas voters to prove their U.S.
citizenship before registering to vote for the first time.
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: Kansas Governor Sam Brownback
signed into a law a bill that requires a drug test for recipient of both
welfare and unemployment benefits in the state.
UNIDENTIFEID MALE: Republican Governor Sam Brownback signed into a
law a measure that bans certain abortions and codifies that life begins at
MADDOW: Sam Brownback signed a bill into law that cuts taxes for the
richest people in the state and raises taxes on poor people.
HAYES (voice-over): Yu might have noticed that Kansas has been
something of an innovator it political absurdism lately. It`s become the
kind of state that threatens to exploit its draconian ideas as other states
look to it as an example. But it wasn`t always this way.
HAYES: The home state of Dwight Eisenhower has a long history of
being the kind of place where moderation reigns and common sense is prized
in politics. The governor`s mansion has been occupied by an equal number
of Democrats and Republicans over the past 50 years. So bipartisanship has
been a way of life in Kansas, until recently.
GOV. SAM BROWNBACK (R), KANSAS: The state of our state is strong and
getting much stronger and we are leading an American renaissance.
HAYES: The state`s recent sprint to the right started with Sam
Brownback, a man "Bloomberg Businessweek" described as having been a Tea
Partier before the Tea Party was born. Brownback was elected governor in a
landslide, 2010, after 15 years in Congress. When he took office in to
2011, Governor Brownback said about turning his home state into a
laboratory of ultraconservative policies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Specifically, what do you want to do on state
GOV. SAM BROWNBACK (R), KANSAS: Get it to zero, the whole thing.
HAYES: His road map for Kansas was not built on broad bipartisan
consensus. In fact, it wasn`t even built on Republican consensus.
SANDY PRAEGER, KANSAS COMMISSIONER OF INSURANCE: There aren`t many
moderates left serving in the legislature because of the attempts to -- to
defeat them by conservatives.
HAYES: Brownback saw a group of moderate Republican state senators as
roadblocks, so in 2012 he got involved in their primaries.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The governor recruited Republicans to run against
his own party`s incumbents and with the help of Americans for Prosperity
and the Kansas Chamber successfully ousted most of those moderate
HAYES: With the moderate majority defeated in the state Senate, the
grand conservative experiment has been allowed to proceed unchecked in
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brownback now has the numbers in both the House
and Senate that he can do pretty much whatever he wants without working in
any sort of bipartisan manner.
HAYES: Local progressives have coined the term Brownbackistan to
describe the state of their state. Brownback himself calls it a red state
BROWNBACK: You see, you don`t change America by changing Washington.
You change America by changing the states.
HAYES: That model includes massive tax cuts, which, according to the
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, are costing the state about 8
percent of the revenue it uses to fund schools and other public services, a
hit comparable to a midsize recession.
When state tax revenue fell $92 million short last month, Kansas
Republicans blamed federal tax policies. Still, Americans for Tax Reform
called Kansas the story of the next decade. The Cato Institute called
Brownback`s overhaul one of the most impressive of any state in recent
years and conservatives are already creating buzz around the idea of a Sam
Brownback presidential run in 2016.
BROWNBACK: The red state model is about lower taxes, less government,
family values. It`s about us being America again.
HAYES: Of course, Kansas wouldn`t be a modern red state model without
a restrictive voter I.D. law, one of the strictest in the nation, drafted
by conservative darling Kris Kobach, a former Bush administration lawyer
who also helped craft Arizona`s infamous "Papers, please" immigration law
before Kobach became secretary of state in Kansas.
KRIS KOBACH, KANSAS SECRETARY OF STATE: We have to remember that
every time a non-citizen casts a vote in an election, that`s effectively
canceling out the vote of a U.S. citizen.
HAYES: And that`s just the beginning. Name an ultra-conservative
fight, and you`re likely to find conservative Kansas Republicans at the tip
of the spear, trying to shut down abortion clinics, stripping public
schoolteachers of due process, refusing to expand Medicaid for some 80,000
uninsured Kansans, and voiding local gun laws.
But 2014 brings a reckoning. As Election Day draws near, there are
signs of rebellion, from teachers who want union rights restored.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have angry citizens, angry parents, angry
HAYES: To moderate Republicans who just want their party back.
PRAEGER: There are moderate Republicans out there, I think, that feel
like the party is not their party anymore.
HAYES: Because Kansas is not just a model of unfettered Tea Party
power. It also may provide an answer, the most important question in
American politics at the moment. Just how far to the right can the Tea
Party conservatives push things before the system snaps back into place?
When we come back, a look at two of the most famous and influential
Kansans in the country and what they are doing to certain thriving
businesses in their own home state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY HENSLEY (D), KANSAS STATE SENATOR: The Koch brothers are
involved in the oil industry, and they look at wind as being a direct
competitor to them.
PETE FERRELL, KANSAS RANCHER: They`re very powerful people. I think
they wanted to make an example of Kansas and try to defeat wind here and
then defeat it in other states.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: How that is going next.
HAYES: The Koch brothers are spending millions of dollars to support
their kind of political candidates, but none of them strike as close to
home as the election of 1980 which featured the one candidacy ever financed
which by a in which a Koch brother himself was on the ballot.
"The New York Times" had an incredible piece this weekend highlighting
long-forgotten documents on David Koch`s quixotic campaign for the vice
presidential nomination on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1980.
The article provides a window into just how long the Koch brothers
have been politically advocating for their vision for America and how much
more sophisticated they have become at doing it over the years.
But, as we continue our special "ALL IN America" reporting, no matter
how much they have honed their technique, the Kochs have actually been
recently dealt a humiliating defeat in, of all places, their own home state
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And speaking of
conservative heroes, the Koch brothers bought a table here tonight, but, as
usual, they used a shadowy right-wing organization as a front.
Hello, FOX News.
HAYES (voice-over): Charles and David Koch, who have helped fund
efforts across the country to stymie solar power, to repeat renewable
energy mandates, to foster climate change denialists, even to get members
of Congress to promise to vote against climate change legislation unless it
is linked to tax cuts, those brothers are from Kansas.
Kansas is Koch country. Wichita is the home and headquarters of Koch
Industries, the $100 billion oil and industrial company that provides the
Koch brothers with much of their $80 billion fortune.
The brothers helped finance the 2012 overthrow of Republican moderates
in the Kansas legislature in what one ousted Republican deemed an effort to
use their home state as a laboratory for their ideas, turning it into what
he called an ultra-conservative utopia.
Koch Industries has been one of the biggest contributor to Kansas
Governor Sam Brownback and one of the biggest contributors to Congressman
REP. MIKE POMPEO (R), KANSAS: With respect the climate change, I have
read countless studies, and they disagree.
HAYES: And one of the biggest contributors to Senator Jerry Moran,
who recently read out a Koch brother op-ed on the floor of the United
SEN. JERRY MORAN (R), KANSAS: This is an opinion piece from today`s
"Wall Street Journal" written by a Kansan, Charles Koch.
HAYES: The Koch brothers have been fighting renewable energy
everywhere across the country, from Oklahoma to North Carolina to Ohio to
Arizona. The fight has been particularly toxic in Kansas, against the
state`s renewable portfolio standard, which requires utility companies to
get 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020.
The Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity has spent $300,000 on the
campaign against that Kansas law.
NARRATOR: Before Kathleen Sebelius went to Washington to overtake our
health care system, she proposed a mandate that would limit the sources of
HAYES: The director of AFP Kansas just admitted to helping set up a
group that send out postcards to Kansans saying that green energy makes
their electric bills go up. And state activists say AFP and their allies
have tried six times just this year to repeal the renewable energy mandates
in the Kansas legislature.
So why is the fight against green energy so important in Kansas?
Could it possibly have anything to do with the fact that if you want to see
some of the best examples of benefits of renewable energy, you need look no
further than the Koch brothers` own backyard.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We hope that those of who are in Greensburg will
remain in your shelters, a tornado emergency declared by the National
HAYES: The night of May 4, 2007, a massive tornado more than a mile-
and-a-half-wide tore through the tiny Western Kansas town of Greensburg.
Eleven people died. Greensburg is utterly destroyed, 95 percent of it
But when it came time to rebuild, the city decided to embrace the same
force of nature that leveled it.
BOB DIXSON (R), MAYOR OF GREENSBURG, KANSAS: A hundred percent of the
consumption of the city of Greensburg is from alternative energy, the wind.
Not only is it the wind that destroyed our community; it`s the wind now
that`s generating electricity for our community.
HAYES: Not only is the city now powered by wind. Townhouses are
energy-efficient. City hall has solar panels and geothermal heating. And
the school, the hospital, even the local John Deere building are LEED-
The mayor of Greensburg says going green made sense to him as a
DIXSON: As we thought about the process of talking about -- quote --
"being green," since we were Greensburg, your first impression in rural
America was, oh, that is something that is political. That`s left-wing.
That`s new age. That`s secular stuff, when, in fact, it`s not. It`s not
an issue of whether it`s Democrat or Republican or up or down or right or
left. It`s about our issue to leave legacy for future generations.
HAYES: And the group behind the greening of Greensburg says the
city`s success stands as a real-world rebuttal to the Koch brothers`
arguments against green energy.
DANIEL WALLACH, GREENSBURG GREENTOWN: I think the reason the
renewable portfolio standard bill was defeated was Greensburg, because
Greensburg has been a model of what can happen when you embrace these new
HAYES: But it`s not just tiny cities like Greensburg that are
embracing renewable energy. It`s happening on ranches across the state.
FERRELL: We`re standing on the highest point in the foothills, great
place for a wind farm. Wind blows here all the time. If you will notice
over there, those trees are actually leaning. They have never had a
windless day in their lives.
HAYES: Pete Ferrell`s family has been on this land raising cattle
since 1888. But over the past couple years, Kansas has seen a severe
drought. Fortunately, Pete Ferrell is raising more than just bison and
cattle on his ranch right now.
FERRELL: Wind is my most drought-resilient crop. The wind blows even
during a drought, even when I can`t have livestock on the ranch.
HAYES: Half of the wind turbines from the nearby Elk River wind farm
are on the Ferrell ranch.
FERRELL: I have heard as high as 60,000 homes being serviced by this
wind farm, basically because of the quality of the wind. It tends to blow
here all the time.
HAYES: Like many ranches in Kansas, Ferrell Ranch has some oil
production which provides the family with some secondary revenue. But it
takes a toll.
FERRELL: This is just one of 100 leaks that has happened on this oil
field since it was put in years ago. Once you bring that oil to the
ground, up out of the ground, it`s going to spill somewhere. And this
grass will never be the same.
The tragedy is that this just keeps occurring over and over and over,
and every oil field in America has this going on right now.
HAYES: Which is part of the reason Ferrell Ranch has embraced the
FERRELL: The grass and the wind are inexhaustible. Again, if treated
properly, we can be doing this centuries from now. So the hallmark of this
-- for this landscape is sustainability. We can keep doing this and not
deplete the biological capital of this place.
HAYES: Wind energy is a $2 billion industry and employs thousands of
people in Kansas, which is what makes the Koch brothers` stance so baffling
to those who harness it.
FERRELL: There are some very powerful people that have tried to
repeal the renewable portfolio standard. Those individuals are deeply
entrenched in petroleum and petrochemicals and all sorts of things that I
guess they want to protect, because I can only imagine why they have spent
hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to defeat something that is so
incredibly logical, especially here in Kansas, where we have an abundance
HAYES: And that is why, despite a valiant effort involving thousands
of dollars from the Koch-funded AFP, efforts to repeal the renewable energy
standards keep failing in the Kansas legislature.
As a representative leading repeal efforts describes it:
DENNIS HEDKE (R), KANSAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE: There are a number of
our Republican members that are Western Kansas-based and right in the
middle of the wind farm development territory. So, you know, they have
reasons to want to protect that.
HAYES: It`s not just Republicans in the House who are willing to go
up against such powerful interests. Even Governor Brownback, a man who has
been supported almost his entire career by the Koch brothers, strongly
supports wind energy.
BROWNBACK: Now is the time to buy Kansas wind, and I hope you will
join me in saying to the rest of the country, now is the time to buy Kansas
HAYES: Now, just because they haven`t succeeded yet doesn`t
necessarily mean the Koch brothers aren`t going to keep tilting at those
HENSLEY: The Koch brothers are involved in the oil industry, and they
look at wind as being a direct competitor to them.
So, yes, I have no doubt they will be engaged in these upcoming House
elections and they will try to elect, you know, more conservative house
members who will then vote to repeal the RPS.
HAYES: But, so far, one of the most conservative legislatures in the
country keeps rejecting efforts to kill renewable energy mandates. And the
Koch brothers-backed governor keeps supporting wind farms, and the efforts
of the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity and their allies in the Kansas
Chamber of Commerce and the American Legislative Exchange Council keep
coming up short.
FERRELL: I think they wanted to make an example of Kansas and try to
defeat wind and then defeat it in other state.
HAYES: Because what is happening in Kansas is, the fossil fuel
industry`s worst nightmare, that once alternative energy gets its foot
firmly in the door, it will be impossible to ever get it out.
HAYES: We asked both of the Koch brothers and the Kansas branch of
Americans for Prosperity to come on the show tonight and talk about all
this. They declined.
Koch Industries did send us a statement from Philip Ellender,
president and COO of the Koch company`s public sector. It reads as
follows: "Koch has consistently opposed all subsidies and mandates across
the board, especially as it relates to energy policy. This is demonstrated
in our longstanding opposition to such misguided and market-destroying
policies as a renewable fuel standard, the wind production tax credit and
the ethanol mandate. Government should not mandate the allocation or use
of natural resources and raw materials in the production of goods and
expansion of mandates and subsidies increases the government`s control
over" -- and I love this phrase -- "the means of production. History shows
the free market driven by consumer choice in the type of energy they use is
a far better way to allocate resources."
When we come back, a look at history of the Koch brothers themselves
all detailed in a brand-new book, the first ever unauthorized biography of
the Koch brothers. It`s three years in the making and the author will join
me right here next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Underneath the flat wheat fields of Kansas, there
is oil, hundreds of small wells owned by small producers.
And federal investigators believe that in the winter of 1973 and `74,
when oil was short, some of the most widespread cheating in the country
went on right here. Now agents are focusing on suppliers of a large
independent pipeline and refining company called Koch Industries.
The government believes well owners Koch dealt with may have
overcharged as much as $200 million, $200 million. Koch has no comment on
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The Koch family has been in the news for a long time, from the
federal investigation to oil overcharging in the mid-1970s to David Koch`s
run as vice presidential candidate on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1980.
The Kochs have been making headlines for decades, before President
Obama ever got elected.
And, tonight, we`re getting an exclusive look at just how the Koch
brothers became so very influential.
Joining me now, "Mother Jones" reporter Daniel Schulman, author of a
new book, the very first ever published about the Koch brothers, which hits
bookshelves tomorrow. It`s called "Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers
Became America`s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty."
It is an excellent read and was an excellent teething opportunity for
our producer Rebekah Dryden`s 8-month-old babe on a plane to Kansas this
Thank you for that.
HAYES: We should note we invited the Koch brothers, who I would love
to just sit here and kibitz with, but they never come on. But...
HAYES: Come on. We will talk.
OK. I feel like I sort of knew about the Koch brothers, and then all
of a sudden, they became this big thing, partly Citizens United, partly the
DANIEL SCHULMAN, "MOTHER JONES": Right.
HAYES: But take us back. What`s the origin story? What`s Koch
Industries? What did it do? Where did it come from? Give us the
SCHULMAN: OK, fantastically, phenomenally interesting family.
Fred Koch, the patriarch, was born in the Texas Panhandle. He was the
son of a frontier newspaper man. He didn`t see promise in that profession.
But this was...
SCHULMAN: This was at a time when automobiles were really coming on
the scene. And he got into the oil industry.
He developed a process for refining oil. It was a novel process. He
ended up making his first million, in fact, in the Stalin Soviet Union,
where he helped to modernize the Soviet Union`s oil industry.
HAYES: He went to Stalin`s Soviet Union and helped modernize their
oil industry and made his first million there?
SCHULMAN: He did. He made -- the company made $5 million, in fact,
creating 15 refineries in Stalin`s Soviet Union.
And his experience there, actually, he really became an ardent,
staunch anti-communist after that. In the `50s, he was literally in the
room when the John Birch Society was created and he became one of that
group`s national leaders.
HAYES: John Birch Society, of course, an ultra-right-wing group in
the U.S. It was sort of kicked out of the conservative movement somewhat
famously by William F. Buckley Jr., ardently anti-communist, also prone to
kind of paranoid conspiracy theories, et cetera.
SCHULMAN: Yes, that sort of thing.
HAYES: So, he was a big -- I mean, this is -- they have it in the
blood is what you`re saying.
Like, this is back in the 1950s. Their father, the Koch brothers`
father, was a big millionaire right-wing funder of right-wing causes.
SCHULMAN: And, in fact, he actually was one of a couple people who
led the drive in Kansas in 1958 to pass the right to work -- right to work
in Kansas at that point.
HAYES: Amazing. Right to work, of course, a method of union-busting.
SCHULMAN: Now, Charles -- Charles Koch joined the John Birch Society
in the 1960s, and he was a sort of influential member who sort of
transitioned into the libertarian movement of the early `60s through an
organization called the Freedom School, which was run by a very colorful
anti-government guru named Bob LeFevre.
HAYES: So these guys -- so Charles and David are heirs to this family
fortune, Koch Industries.
HAYES: Koch Industries is the kind of petrochemical business.
They`re doing refinery and they`re branching out. They`re getting their
politics to some extent from their father, right, becoming politically
SCHULMAN: Yes. Indeed.
And I should say, in terms of the origins of the company, it was oil
engineering, oil refining. Their father bought a number of cattle ranches
in the 1950s -- in the 1940s and 1950s. So, that`s basically what it was
at the time when their father died. And Charles ended up taking the helm
of the company in 1967.
HAYES: OK, so they take the -- Charles takes the helm. And tell me,
the company massively expands, right? I mean...
SCHULMAN: I mean, it`s just remarkable. I mean, Fred Koch would not
recognize what Charles has done with that company.
It was worth perhaps $50 million at the time that he took it over.
This is now a $115 billion-a-year company with 100,000 employees, a
presence in 60 countries around the world. I mean, this is just not the
HAYES: OK, and, now, tell me how the brothers` politics and influence
in politics has morphed from the kind of somewhat quixotic, libertarian
fringiness to what they`re doing now, which is essentially setting the
agenda for a huge part of the American right and Republican Party.
SCHULMAN: You know, Charles has been on a 50-, 60-year quest to
mainstream libertarian idea -- free market ideas, Austrian economics and
that sort of thing.
Originally, he saw the Libertarian Party as the vehicle to do this.
But it all got a little bit weird for him and Charles and David. I mean,
you had kind of a stew of all sorts of radical thinkers, anarchists,
disaffected SDS members, all that sort of thing.
HAYES: In that Libertarian Party of the `70s and `80s.
SCHULMAN: It was just combustible.
And, in fact, the 1980 election, when David Koch ran as the vice
presidential candidate, it was like a powder keg. And the whole movement
kind of exploded after that. And they transitioned out of there.
They formed an advocacy group Citizens for a Sound Economy. And they
had a political adviser who remains their top kind of ideological adviser.
His name is Richard Fink, who ran Citizens for a Sound Economy, and has
sort of been the architect, along with Charles, of their political strategy
over all these years.
HAYES: It`s amazing to me. What you`re describing is, you know, six,
seven decades of a family with a certain set of beliefs and a certain
amount of wealth essentially using that to kind of make that vision come
And, as time has gone on, the laws have changed to make them so much
more able to influence what`s going on.
Daniel Schulman, author of the brand-new book "Sons of Wichita," which
hits bookstore shelves tomorrow.
Thank you, Dan.
SCHULMAN: Thank you.
HAYES: On ALL IN tomorrow, we will joined by Thomas Frank, author of
the massively influential book "What`s the Matter with Kansas?", to take an
in-depth look at just how Kansas has become a petri dish for conservative
policy, including what Governor Sam Brownback and the Republican-led
legislature have done in systematically slashing funding for Kansas public
education, what that means for communities now losing their schools.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DARRYL TALBOTT, PRINCIPAL, MARQUETTE ELEMENTARY: We`re kind of the
heart of community. We`re one of the larger employers in town.
And everyone participates at school, but also participants in
activities and groups in town. So it`s all intermingled and just part of
what makes a small town tick.
MARY KAY LINDH, TEACHER, MARQUETTE ELEMENTARY: It`s hard to -- it`s
just kind of hard to put into words, because it`s just like you`re losing a
part of your family, like a part of your family is being torn away from
you. And so it`s an extreme loss. It really is.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It will just be a big adjustment for everyone,
going somewhere else, and not -- everything is new.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: We`re going to bring you that report tomorrow.
There`s lots more about our reporting tonight and other stories from
Kansas on our Web site, allinwithchris.com -- MSNBC.com. Check that out.
We will bring you even more amazing stories all this week on "ALL IN
America," on the road in the conservative heartland. You will not want to
That is ALL IN for this evening.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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