updated 6/9/2014 1:40:16 PM ET 2014-06-09T17:40:16

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
June 6, 2014

Guest: Wayne Slater

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Happy Friday. Thanks for being with us
tonight.

If you are a 23-year-old paratrooper when you took part in the Allied
invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe in 1944, that would mean that today on the
70th anniversary of that invasion, you would be 93 years old. Just like
Jim Martin is.

Jim Martin, a veteran of the 101st Airborne Division, and he today at
the age of 93 chose to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion by
parachuting in once again.

Whereupon he promptly gave the single most straight-forward and
magnificent on-camera interview I have ever seen anybody do in any context
in a very long time.

Watch this.

After parachuting in, again, he`s age 93, he lands. Reporters swarm
in, everybody is taking his picture. And he gets one interviewer gets him
on camera. He gets two questions. Watch his answers to these questions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Did it remind you of back then? When you jumped 70 years
ago?

JIM MARTIN, WAR VETERAN: No, because there wasn`t anybody shooting at
me today.

REPORTER: And what was your feeling before jumping?

MARTIN: Well, to tell you the truth, riding around in the plane is
boring. It`s when you get off the plane, that`s when it gets exciting.
When you go out the door, that`s a moment of excitement. But there`s no
fear to it. It`s just something you do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Right. Exactly. Plane ride, boring. Leaving plane in
midair, not boring.

No, it`s not scary to do this, interviewer, when nobody is shooting at
you, it`s not scary. I have done the same thing with people trying to kill
me. No, I`m not scared. Geez, any more questions?

If you do not love paratrooper Jim Martin for this interview, then go
to the cardiologist and get your heart checked because it`s not working
right.

Consider also the news today of Bernard Jordan (ph). He`s a former
city councilor and a former mayor of the city of Hove in southern England.
He`s 89 years old.

And in January, he moved into a nursing home in Hove. He reportedly
tried from the nursing home to sign up for a bus trip for D-Day veterans to
go to Normandy for today`s commemoration ceremonies for the 70th
anniversary, but for whatever reason, he was told they did not have space
for him and he was not going to be able to go.

Yesterday at 10:30 in the morning, Mr. Jordan left the nursing home
for his usual trip into town. He is able to be up and around on his own.
The trouble is by 7:15 p.m. yesterday, he had not come back from his little
trip to town. And so, the nursing home looked for him and then called the
police.

The police searched the area. They contacted nearby hospitals, they
contacted bus companies and taxi companies. Nobody had seen Bernard
Johnson. Everybody is very worried.

Turns out, he went to France. He went to Normandy.

After the police put out notice they were looking for him, another D-
Day veteran who the British press says is just slightly younger than Mr.
Jordan called the police and said don`t worry about Bernard Jordan. I got
him, we`re together, and we`re in France. We`re at a hotel and we`re going
to the D-Day ceremonies.

Bernie Jordan was part of the D-Day invasion. He served with the
British Royal Navy. He apparently pinned his service medals on yesterday
underneath his rain coat before he went out for the day and he had a plan.

He and his buddies say they`re doing fine. He said he`d be back in
hove in a couple days after they finished celebrating, and then look --
look at this. This is great. This is the local police chief tweeting the
news of what happened.

"Eighty-nine-year-old veteran reported missing to us by a care home
who said he can`t go to Normandy for D-Day remembrance. We found him
there," meaning at Normandy. That was last night from the local police
chief.

But now, look at the police chief`s latest retweet on the subject from
tonight. This is from just a couple hours ago. Apparently, Mr. Jordan was
found on the ferry ride as well from France back to Britain tonight. Look
at the picture.

The tweet says, "Bernard Jordan, the D-Day veteran who sneaked off to
Normandy, has got himself a fan club on the ferry ride home. Good man."
Amazing.

Today and for the last several days, President Obama and other world
leaders have convened in France to honor surviving World War II veterans
and to commemorate the turning point in World War II, the largest
amphibious landing in world history, 156,000 troops and paratroopers,
200,000 naval personnel. It was the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied
Europe.

And that invasion, as hard-fought as it was, it was successful, and it
opened a portal for American and Allied armies to be able to swarm into
Europe. It turned Normandy into the busiest port in the world after that
successful invasion, and ultimately, it turned the tide against Hitler.
Complete victory over Hitler`s forces in Europe would come in less than a
year after what happened 70 years ago today on Omaha Beach.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If prayer were made of
sound, the skies over England that night would have deafened the world.

Captains paced their decks. Pilots tapped their gauges. Commanders
pored over maps, fully aware that for all the months of meticulous
planning, everything could go wrong -- the winds, the tides, the element of
surprise - and above all, the audacious bet that what waited on the other
side of the Channel would compel men not to shrink away, but to charge
ahead.

Fresh-faced GIs rubbed trinkets, kissed pictures of sweethearts,
checked and re-checked their equipment. "God," asked one, "Give me guts."

And in the pre-dawn hours, planes rumbled down runways; gliders and
paratroopers slipped through the sky; giant screws began to turn on an
armada that looked like more ships than sea. And more than 150,000 souls
set off towards this tiny sliver of sand upon which hung more than the fate
of a war, but the course of human history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: President Obama speaking today at D-Day ceremonies, 70 years
on.

The element of surprise that President Obama mentioned there, that was
very, very real. Look at "The Los Angeles Times" headline from the next
day, once we knew the invasion had started. That was the "L.A. Times."
This is the "Ann Arbor News."

Here`s "The Baltimore Sun" that day, "Allies invading France, troops
land in Normandy."

This next one is amazing. Look at this. This is "The St. Petersburg
Times" in Florida. Like lots of other papers, they tweeted an image of
what their D-Day headline looked like that day. That`s amazing. That`s
like a font you measure in inches and feet right?

"The Detroit News", "Hitler`s wall broken as allies move inland."

The last one, this one is great. This is the "Norristown Times
Herald" in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. "Allies in France," and then
look at the subhead, land by sea and air, speed and land, in greatest war
operations of all history."

And part of the reason the headlines were a foot tall was because of
surprise. I mean, yes, it was such a massive and audacious move and it did
not only change the course of the war but the course of history, but part
of the reason the headlines were a foot high when it happened was it really
was a surprise.

Yes, people knew the Allies would attempt an invasion of Europe but
when and from where and how would they try to do it? That was one of the
hardest fought and greatest secrets of all times. And so, when it
happened, it was a shock.

And part of the initial reaction to the initial news that it was
happening was actually that it might be a hoax. When they started getting
these filtered reports that something was going on in Europe, the first
reaction here was that it might be a hoax, it might be disinformation put
out by the Nazis to disappointment people, to dishearten the people of
Europe who were hoping and praying this invasion would come.

And we know that suspicion that it might be a hoax was part of the
initial reaction to the D-Day news. We know that was part of what they
thought because we`ve still got access to the sound of the live news as it
broke.

You may -- you may know that we broadcast, all of us here at MSNBC,
who broadcast from New York, we broadcast from NBC headquarters in
Rockefeller Center in New York City. And specifically, we, this show, we
do our work out of what used to be the NBC Radio News studio on the fourth
floor of this studio, and we work every day and hold our news meetings
every day in the specific place in this building where NBC Radio News
broadcast to the nation the very first word that D-Day had begun, even
though they weren`t really sure if it was true in the first reports.

So, we got this out of the archives today. This is one of the first
unconfirmed reports of D-Day came in. It was after midnight. NBC Radio
News had signed off for the day and was playing music, and then basically
from the spot my desk is, this is what happened. From a room that looked
like this right here in this building where I work today.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

NBC RADIO REPORTING: We interrupt our program to bring you a special
broadcast. The German news agency Trans Ocean said today in a broadcast
that the Allied invasion had begun. I repeat, the German news agency Trans
Ocean said today in a broadcast that the Allied invasion had begun. There
was no Allied confirmation.

The German broadcast could be one which Allied leaders expected would
be made with the purpose of upsetting patriot plans inside the conquered
countries.

This bulletin has come to you from the NBC newsroom in New York.
There is no Allied confirmation.

German naval forces off the coast are engaged in a battle with enemy
landing craft, the broadcast said. The German news agency said the Allied
invasion operations began with the landing of airborne troops in the area
of the mouth of the same river. I repeat, however, there is no Allied
confirmation of this claim.

We return you now to your regular scheduled broadcast.

And now here`s a bulletin that`s just been handed me. As I said when
I first went on the air a few minutes ago, "The Associated Press" says the
Berlin radio broadcast tonight that the Allied invasion has begun, that our
troops are landing. But there is still no Allied confirmation. This may
be an enemy trick. There has been no allied confirmation, I repeat.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MADDOW: "There has been no allied confirmation, I repeat. This may
be an enemy trick." Unconfirmed reports.

And then just about an hour later after the piece you just heard, they
got the real word, confirmed from London. Watch this.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

NBC RADIO REPORTING: And now, we have just been informed that we can
expect in a very few seconds, in a very few seconds, a very important
broadcast from the British capital, and so now, we take you to London.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Under the command of General Eisenhower, Allied
naval forces supported by strong air forces began landing Allied armies
this morning on the northern coast of France. This reading of
communicating number one from supreme headquarters allied expeditionary
force.

NBC RADIO REPORTING: Ladies and gentlemen, this is New York, NBC
newsroom again.

Men and women of the United States, this is a momentous hour in world
history. This is the invasion of Hitler`s Europe, the zero hour of the
second front. The men of General Dwight Eisenhower are leaving their
landing barges, fighting their way up the beaches into the fortress of Nazi
Europe. They`re moving in from the sea to attack the enemy under a mammoth
cloud of fighter planes, under a ceiling of screaming shells from Allied
warships.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MADDOW: That was NBC News reporter Robert St. John, and the place
from which Robert St. John was breaking the news to the nation, weirdly
enough, is our newsroom today where we work at the show every day.

Seventy years ago, the main NBC newsroom was on the fourth floor.
Here was what was then the front door, marked news and special events,
where they collected and processed information from across the world, like
you heard those foreign broadcasts that they couldn`t confirm. News wires
and telegrams and radiograms, the studios at the microphones in them were
right next to it and that`s the place from which they told the world that
history had taken a 90-degree right angle turn.

Joining us now is Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian.

Michael, thank you very much for being here.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Thank you,
Rachel.

I couldn`t imagine anything more chilling and exciting than to hear
those broadcasts.

MADDOW: It`s -- I mean, cutting into the music in the middle of the
night. We know from the way they wrote about it, that they honestly didn`t
know if this was a hoax. Imagine the news-making decision about whether or
not you put it on the air, knowing you may be doing the Nazis` work for
them by raising people`s hopes to crush them. It must have been just an
unbelievably tense time.

BESCHLOSS: And that was the fog of war. One other thing, the night
before FDR was part of all this because he had given a speech declaring the
fall of Rome and saying that was a great thing. He knew that D-Day was
beginning, didn`t say a word.

The night of D-Day, he said last night when I spoke to you Americans
about the fall of Rome, I knew this was happening.

MADDOW: Wow.

Well, let me ask you about something that you have written about
recently, Michael, that really piqued my interest. It was about presidents
and D-Day -- obviously, D-Day, 1944.

At the 10-year anniversary of D-Day, General Eisenhower, who had led
the invasion, was president, yet he did not do anything publicly to
commemorate it. I know we have never lost sight in our country about how
important D-Day was. It`s not like something that was forgotten that we
rediscovered.

But how is it that we have these massive commemorations now, but
Eisenhower didn`t do that?

BESCHLOSS: Well, in Eisenhower`s case, needless to say, 10 years
later, almost everyone alive remembered this with huge excitement.
Eisenhower didn`t want this to be about him. He felt that for him to go to
some White House ceremony or to go to Normandy would look as if he was
congratulating himself. That`s what the greatest generation did not do.

And he was also a very emotional person. On one occasion in 1952, he
was speaking during a presidential campaign to a veterans group, began
talking about the casualties, the men who had died on D-Day, and began to
cry and put a handkerchief over his face.

This is a guy who is known for -- there`s the image of that -- he`s
known for anything but this. Was usually, you know, a very steely
character.

So, on D-Day 1954, that 10th anniversary, he spent it not at a
ceremony. He spent it at Camp David in seclusion with his family and sent
out a 300-word statement that was just magnificent in its brevity and its
eloquence.

MADDOW: That`s amazing. We`re going to find that and post it online
tonight at our site, along with your tweets about that, which I have to say
have been remarkable.

I just want to ask you, over time, between then, between 1954 and now,
2014, over this period, how have presidents made decisions about how to
mark this anniversary? Obviously, Eisenhower is the only one who could
have made it about himself, but how could other presidents handle it in
putting President Obama into context?

BESCHLOSS: Well, no one really did it until 1984 for various reasons.
President Reagan gave that speech with dramatic staging and a well-written
speech. It was so good that it was actually used in his political
commercials that fall.

And that speech is so well-remembered and so much admired that every
president has gone back there on the major anniversaries. But they all
know that they`re not going to live up to that kind of rhetoric.
Nevertheless, no president would ever dare stay away.

MADDOW: Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian -- thank
you very much for your time tonight. I`m really glad you could be with us
on this tonight. Thanks.

BESCHLOSS: Thank you. Me, too, Rachel.

MADDOW: All right. A lot coming up. Big developments out of Texas
that you might not have heard about, although they have big national
implications.

And news on the politics of the whole Bowe Bergdahl situation that you
will definitely want to see. We`ve got a lot ahead tonight.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Big development breaking tonight in one of the weirdest
ongoing stories of this election year so far. It involves the Republican
primary race between incumbent Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi and his
Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel.

On Wednesday, you may remember us reporting some sort of mysterious
news about a Chris McDaniel-supporting Tea Party official somehow getting
locked behind the Hinds County courthouse in Jackson, Mississippi, at 2:00
a.m. on election night.

It later turned out that it wasn`t just one Chris McDaniel supporter
locked inside the courthouse. It was three, including one of his campaign
staffers, locked inside the Hinds County courthouse, the building where
ballots from that night`s bitterly contested primary election were sitting.

The local Hinds County sheriff opened them and then closed an
investigation into the matter declaring as far as he could tell, no crime
had been committed.

But tonight, and this is the late breaking news, the Hinds County
district attorney in Mississippi has announced his office will conduct a
criminal investigation into what exactly those Chris McDaniel supporters,
two supporters and a staffer, were doing in that courthouse in the wee
hours on election night.

The story of Thad Cochran and Chris McDaniel will go on because they
have a run-off election three Tuesdays from now, but it turns out the
cockamamie story of the courthouse lock-in on election night -- as of
tonight, that story is not over either.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Until today, this was the official Republican Party platform
for Republicans in the state of Texas. Ahem.

"We affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of
society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. Homosexual
behavior is contrary to the fundamental unchanging truths that have been
ordained by God, recognized by our country`s Founders and shared by the
majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable
lifestyle in policy, nor should family be defined to include homosexual,
quote, `couples`."

There`s something truly great about the fact they put the word
"couples" in square quotes, as if two gay people who are in a relationship
-- yes, they may in fact be a couple of people, but it`s only like, you
know, two pairs is a couple of pears or two buckets is a couple of buckets.
Two gay people can`t be a couple, so get out the scare marks.

Today, though, the Republican Party of Texas at their state
convention, they did decide to get rid of the "old homosexuality tears at
the fabric of society" language.

They only adopted that language in 2012, but this year, today, in
fact, they scotched it. Instead, they added something new. Under
homosexuality, ahem, they now say this. The new platform that picked
today, according to Texas Republicans says this, quote, "Texas Republicans
recognize the legitimacy and value of counseling which offers reparative
therapy and treatment to patients who are seeking escape from the
homosexual lifestyle."

So good news, Texas gay people. You no longer need to escape from
Texas because Republicans are out to get you for tearing at the fabric of
society. Texas Republicans now say you don`t have to escape Texas. They
just expect you to escape from being gay, and you can stay with the help of
quack science that is officially approve now, oh, by the Republican Party,
oh, of Texas. You, too, can slam a tennis racket into a pillow 40 or 50
times and yell at your mother and whatever, and then they say you`ll come
out ex-gay. So help you, Rick Perry.

The official state endorsement of therapy to cure people of being gay
came today at the Texas Republican convention, which they bill as the
nation`s single largest political event. It`s an every two years test of
partisan political will. And I`m happy to report that partisan will in
2014 Republicans is very strong.

The run-up to this week`s convention included an announcement from
party headquarters that no, the log cabin Republican gays could not have a
booth to pass out flyers and stuff. Yes, first, you get the reparative
therapy so you become ex-gay and then you can have a booth at the
convention as the Log Cabin ex-gay Republicans. Come talk to us when
you`re cured.

Also, if you think small government conservatism should extend to not
making pot illegal, you`re also not welcome to set up your hippie stoner
booth at the Texas Republican convention, because no one at the convention
is allowed to advocate for policy that contradicts our platform and that
includes both pot and gay people.

Over the years, the Texas Republican platform has been sort of a
wondrous document, like a diagnostic workup of conservative politics hot
beating id. So far in this year`s edition, Republicans want you to know
that Benghazi was a cover-up, "climate change", again, scare quotes, is an
agenda to control every aspect of your life. Congress should appeal the
Voting Rights Act, all of it, and they want you to know they deplore all
discrimination and now if somebody could just fix the gays.

But that`s not really the heart of what they`re fighting about at the
convention right now in Texas, because none of that stuff is guaranteed to
cost the Republican Party elections, none of it is going to cost them
control of Texas, but this might.

There were 4 million Hispanics eligible to vote in Texas in the last
big election. That number is expected to grow. At some point, the
Hispanic citizens of Texas are going to make Texas a swing state. Maybe by
2016, that`s the Democrats` great hope, or maybe by 2018 at the earliest,
which is what you actually hear from Texas Republicans.

So, if Texas Republicans want to stay in charge of Texas, they are
going to have to figure out a way to continue winning elections, and so
that means they can`t afford to keep losing Hispanic voters as a bloc.

And it was with an eye on that looming political reality that in 2012,
the last convention, the Texas Republican Party drafted and passed a
platform in favor of immigration reform, seriously. They called it the
Texas solution. Yes, it started off with Tea Party friendly stuff, secure
the border first and stop giving people citizenship just because they`re
born here, which would be an amazing change.

But along with those Tea Party-friendly proposals their Texas solution
immigration proposal called for what amounts to a guest worker program. A
program you can sign up for even if you come to this country illegally.

Oh, my God. Amnesty, everybody freak out.

The Tea Party has waited two years in Texas for the chance to vote
that thing out of the platform this year in 2014. The anti-immigration
part of the Tea Party world calls themselves Protect Texas. Their rallying
cry heading into this week`s convention was this. The battle is on for the
future of the Republican Party and for our country.

The message of the other side that wants to keep the immigration plan,
their slogan is just as clear. Their slogan is this, "Keep Texas red." Do
something for immigration reform or Republicans are going to lose Texas and
by immediate consequence, any significant hope of ever controlling the
White House or Congress for a long while.

That is the fight they`re having right now in Texas at their
Republican convention, at least when they`re not pledging to turn gay
people into straight people.

How is this big important question going to work out in Texas? And is
the way in Texas ultimately going to be the way it works out for the
country as Republicans everywhere figure out just how bad the math is for
them.

Joining us now is Wayne Slater, senior political writer for "The
Dallas Morning News". Wayne`s had the pleasure of covering the Republican
state convention this week.

Wayne, it`s great to see. Thanks for being here.

WAYNE SLATER, DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Great to be with you, Rachel, as
always.

MADDOW: Let me ask you about this convention versus Texas Republican
conventions past. They`re always kind of amazing and always huge. Is it
more contentious than it usually is on this immigration issue specifically
or any of the other things that they`re changing and tweaking?

SLATER: It is contentious. It was contentious two years ago. It was
somewhat contentious four years ago.

The key here is that the, let`s quote, "reasonable" folks among the
Republicans who, as you have so well set up in the set-up piece, are
worried about the future of the party and alienating every Hispanic
potential voter from El Paso to Lubbock, are saying we`ve got to do
something. We can`t be the party of no anymore, and this fairly modest
appeal to a guest worker program, the Texas solution, is one thing we could
do.

But it will be contentious tomorrow. The debate is going to be on the
floor tomorrow between those folks in the party who say let`s have this
guest worker program, secure the border, but let`s not have this real harsh
rhetoric. It ain`t good for the party.

We`ll see what happens.

MADDOW: In terms of the state-wide candidates, the Republicans who
are running in Texas in November and some of the conservative heroes,
people like Ted Cruz, are they getting in on this argument and throwing
their weight on one side of the argument or the other? It seems like they
could be potentially king-makers if they wanted to be.

SLATER: Well, I talked to Ted Cruz just a few hours ago. He`s
leaving the platform, including the immigration matter, to the grassroots.
In other words, I`m taking the powder on that. But the people behind Cruz
and behind Rick Perry and behind the gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott and
others in the party say we really need this language that doesn`t alienate
Hispanics.

And so, that debate is very much under way and recognized because just
a few hours ago on the stage, the gubernatorial nominee, Greg Abbott, the
man who is being challenged by Wendy Davis on the Democratic side, not only
talked in pretty glowing terms about Hispanics and the need to expand and
appeal to the constituency on the shared values the party offers, but also
had his wife come out on stage, she is a Latina, and made it clear he wants
to make a play for south Texas, Spanish-rich south Texas, and this
Republican party`s days of alienating Hispanics ought to be over.

MADDOW: Wayne, do you expect this will be settled by binding vote
tomorrow, if the Tea Party side loses on this, and they keep in the sort of
pro-immigration reform language, does this become a rallying cry that they
carry on to the next convention? Does this become sort of a permanent
split in the way the conservatives fight with each other in Texas?

SLATER: I think there is a split. I think it will remain fairly
permanent, at least for the time being. I think what it really will be is
the opposite.

This offers a model. This language offers a model for every
Republican who isn`t from the beautiful red state of Texas to say, I`m
conservative. I want to secure the border, but here is a way we can talk
about immigration without being accused of amnesty in a way that doesn`t
alienate and repel the constituency that`s growing.

Look, there is a party very much a constituency inside the Republican
party, in Texas, who is going to talk tomorrow and will argue amnesty, no
amnesty, no way.

But I sense that even here, although the rest of the platform, as you
said, is pretty conservative -- even here on the issue of immigration,
there are some far-reaching, far-viewing folks in the Republican Party who
say, if we`re going to grow, we`re going to have to figure out how to talk
about this issue in a successful way.

MADDOW: This is going to be a fascinating thing to watch over the
weekend. It seems like there`s a real prospect the Tea Party side in this
is going to lose in Texas, which I think is going to be sparks for a long
time. We`ll see.

Wayne Slater, senior political writer for "Dallas Morning News" --
Wayne, thanks a lot. Enjoy.

SLATER: Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. We got a best new thing in the world coming up.
It involves my new fake boyfriend. He is 89. He does not yet know of my
existence, but I`m working on it.

Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Coming up tonight, still, a best new thing in the world,
which is great, and also the thing that made John McCain this mad.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: How many times do I have to comment?

TED BARRETT/CNN: Why can`t you comment?

MCCAIN: Why can`t I? Because I have a right as a senator to have no
comment. And who the hell are you to tell me when I can or not?

BARRETT: Because I`m a reporter and I`m asking you a question.

MCCAIN: I`m giving you an answer for the 10th time. Get away from
me, please.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MADDOW: Get away from me, please. John McCain hits the anger button
by mistake when he was aiming at something else, and that story`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Last night on this show, a rare and wonderful thing happened.
Are you ready? Look.

Look at that grin. Whether you love Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont
or you hate him or you don`t much care, but you see him on the news
sometimes. One of the things that is a reliable constant about good old
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is that he`s kind of a tough guy. And I
don`t mean to say he`s cheerless, but whether he`s talking about good news
or talking about bad news or breaking news or -- Bernie Sanders looks very
serious all the time.

You know Sam the Eagle from the Muppets? By which I don`t mean to
suggest that Senator Sanders is not perfect in every way, but he`s not a
big smiler. So, last night on this show, it was news in and of itself that
we got this big toothy grin out of Senator Bernie Sanders live on TV.

We have him on the show last night to talk about the unlikely
achievement of coming to an agreement with Republicans about a bill to help
veterans. Senator Sanders famously put forward an effort in February to
help V.A. health care, but Republicans in the Senate filibustered it.
There was worry even this current V.A. scandal and all the upset about the
V.A. right now, that Republicans were going to filibuster it again and we
were going to get nowhere in terms of actually fixing the problem.

But behind the scenes this week, Senator Sanders was able to get
Senator John McCain to sign on to a deal with them. And the expectation is
their deal is going to bring enough Republican votes to actually get this
thing passed for veterans. So something might get done, and Senator
Sanders beamed.

And I`m not kidding, it caused spontaneous applause in the control
room when he showed his pearly whites.

Since the deal was announced, the IAVA, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans
of America, they put out this statement saying they applaud the compromise.
They hope it gets done.

Between the bipartisan endorsements and Bernie`s smile, and the IAVA
saying yes to this, politically, there ought to be nothing to stop it.

Interesting about veterans groups, especially on days like today, this
D-Day commemoration, right? Veterans groups in the U.S., at least the big
ones, are usually treated with widespread respect, even deference when it
comes to policy on veterans issues. That`s why it was shocking recently
when the opposite of that happened.

This past Memorial Day, Republican Senator Richard Burr of North
Carolina was the top Republican on veterans issues in the Senate, Senator
Burr on Memorial Day put out this open letter ripping America`s veterans
organizations, telling them they were doing a terrible job.

He said the most recent Senate hearing on problems at the V.A., quote,
"made it clear to him," specifically veterans groups` testimony at the
hearing, "made it clear to him that veterans groups were more interested in
their own livelihoods and Washington connections than they were the needs
of their own members."

Wow. Their testimony at that hearing must have been really terrible
to earn a rebuke like that from a senator on Memorial Day from a senator
who isn`t even a veteran himself, right?

Well, here is that testimony. Look at how upset Richard Burr was at
that hearing when he sat there listening to that testimony. Look at how --
wait, look how upset his chair is. Senator Burr -- now it`s possible he
was in his chair but slumped all the way down under the floor so you
couldn`t see him.

But actually, cameras in the hearing room captured, look, there it
goes, this moment when he got up and walked out as soon as the veterans
groups began their testimony. Richard Burr got up and left as soon as the
veterans groups began talking and he only returned at the end of their
testimony to tell them, oh, thanks very much, you guys, but you have to get
out of here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RICHARD BURR (R), NORHT CAROLINA: Not that I don`t love you
guys, but we`re going to try to get the next panel in before we get into
the series of votes that will bring a finality to this. So, thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Thank you. In this case means please leave.

Richard Burr getting back to the room just in time to tell the
veterans groups to leave after he skipped their testimony. Their testimony
which he later said was so upsetting to him, he had to send out an open
letter ripping veterans organizations on Memorial Day.

I should note this cowardly form of failure is not just a Richard Burr
problem, although he does wear it well. This particular kind of failure
happens a lot right now in Washington. Over the last few years, this has
become a very popular way to make a fool out of yourself as a politician.

Here`s another instance. This tape I`m about to play, for example,
this is one of the all-time great recorded instances of Senator John McCain
accidentally hitting the angry button when really what he might have been
aiming at instead is the button marked I`m sorry or I`m embarrassed. But
since those are apparently tiny buttons that are hard to hit, he hit angry.

Senator John McCain screwed up badly and he sort of emotionally
misfired all of his anger into the microphone of CNN`s Capitol Hill
producer at the time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN: Tempers flaring on Capitol Hill. Senator John
McCain lashing out at one of our CNN producers who questioned why he was
missing a key hearing on the attack of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi,
Libya. McCain has been a sharp critic of the president and his
administration, complaining lawmakers are not getting enough information.
And when asked why he missed that meeting today, he lashed out.

DANA BASH, CNN: One of those Republicans who did not go to that
briefing, it was a classified briefing, was John McCain. Now, McCain at
the time was having a press conference yesterday, lashing out at the
administration for not getting enough information and calling for a select
committee to investigate it all.

Well, our Ted Barrett caught up with the senator earlier today and
wanted to know why he didn`t go to that briefing and to say the least, it
did not go well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: CNN then posted the audio exchange between their producer
trying to get Senator McCain to explain how he could justify this thing. I
mean, there`s a classified briefing on Benghazi going on from 11:00 a.m. to
1:00 p.m. John McCain did not go. Instead at noon, he scheduled his own
press conference demanding more information on Benghazi.

He had to skip the meeting with the information about Benghazi in
order to complain he was not getting the information. Do you care to
comment on that, Senator?

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BARRETT: Listen, I understand that you did miss this briefing
yesterday.

MCCAIN: I`m not -- no more comment. I have a comment about my
schedule and I`m going to comment on how I spend my time.

BARRETT: I mean, is there -- is there --

MCCAIN: I will not -- I have no further comment.

BARRETT: Is there a legitimate reason, legitimate reason --

MCCAIN: I have no further comment, I have no further comment.

BARRETT: Why not? Why can`t you comment?

MCCAIN: How many times do I have to comment?

BARRETT: Why can`t you comment?

MCCAIN: Why can`t I? Because I have a right as a senator to have no
comment. And who the hell are you to tell me when I can or not?

BARRETT: Because I`m a reporter and I`m asking you a question.

MCCAIN: I`m giving you an answer for the 10th time! Get away from
me, please. Please, I have no comment.

BARRETT: Did you make a mistake by not attending that? You`re very
mad about it, you must have made a mistake.

MCCAIN: I have no comment.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MADDOW: Senator McCain really did skip a briefing on Benghazi so he
could hold a press conference demanding information about Benghazi. That
really happened. Senator McCain`s office later called it a scheduling
error. But it`s kind of error these guys seem to make now.

In October, as Obamacare was rolling out, the administration offered
an expert briefing on the rollout to House Democrats and House Republicans.
House Democrats accepted. House Republicans reportedly ignored the offer.
And then when House Democrats did get their briefing. House Republicans
said they were outrage they`d weren`t having one too.

FOX News headline, Boehner calls for briefing after Republicans are
snubbed. Boehner put out a statement, "Far too much information about
Obamacare`s rollout is being concealed from the public. All members as
well as the American people demand answers for the debacle. That`s why
we`ve asked the administration to provide the same briefing to House
Republicans."

Now, briefing had been offered to them and they didn`t even bother to
respond. But after that statement, the administration said, OK, if you
really want that briefing we`ll schedule it for you. Then they held it.
The one that HHS briefing that the Republicans demanded. And well --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: What kinds of questions did members ask, and how many
members are in there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say there is about 20 members in there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Twenty of them showed up.

For context here, there are more than 20 Republicans in the House.
There are more than 10 times 20 Republicans in the how. But only about 20
of them showed up. After they were so outraged that they were not being
offered information that they apparently actually did not want.

It is so much more fun to demand information than to actually receive
it. Receiving information is boring. It takes forever. It`s totally not
like just going on FOX News and complaining. It`s like a dog chasing a
car. It`s so much more fun to chase the car than to catch the car. What
are you going to do with it once you go out.

But this is an increasingly frequent, modern political failure. And
it has just happened in a really big way. On the new things Republicans
want to be a scandal.

This is Senator Saxby Chambliss, Republican from Georgia, top
Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is him speaking on
FOX on the show that`s hosted by my friend Greta Van Susteren, which means
this was happening at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

It was a live interview. It was not on tape. What that means is
Senator Saxby Chambliss was live on FOX News, in this case talking about
how the administration was denying Congress the information they needed
about the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner ex-change. Congress is out of the loop,
the administration hasn`t explained what they did. More information is
needed.

And while he was doing the interview, the administration was
conducting a classified briefing for all United States senators to explain
those act things.

Senator Chambliss walked out of the briefing to go on FOX News to
complain he couldn`t hear what was being explained to him because he left
so he could go on FOX News and explain that he couldn`t hear it.

After that briefing was over, Chuck Todd tweeted that a lot of NBC
personnel were trying to track down senators who had gone to the important
classified briefing on the Bowe Bergdahl situation. The one they were all
complaining about, right?

According to Chuck, quote, "many are admitting they left early."
Quote, "amazing that so many senators from both parties didn`t stay for the
briefing until the end."

Meanwhile there is lots of briefings and there almost never mandatory,
and you can go if you want to or not go if you want to. The problem is
when you don`t go, or you leave early, then you are outraged that you
didn`t hear enough.

Like Senator Saxby Chambliss and by once again Senator McCain.
Senator McCain did go to the beginning of the Bowe Bergdahl briefing.
Reportedly, Senator McCain stayed long enough at the briefing to ask one
question. But then he walked out shortly after shot offing at an official
over what he considered an unsatisfactory answer.

So, the Bowe Bergdahl hearing this week, John McCain turned up, asked
one question, apparently hated the answer he got, screamed at the person
who gave him that answer, and then left. He walked out to a nearby camera,
and said about the briefing he just walked out of, I learned nothing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: I learned nothing in this briefing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: The one he left in the middle of.

It must be hard to be a member of Congress. I don`t want the job. I
don`t know very many people who do. It cannot be part of the job to demand
information that has been offered to you and that you have decided not to
listen to. It cannot possibly be part of the job to insist that you have
been denied critical information that you yourself were too lazy or
otherwise occupied to bother to absorb.

This is a new, and increasingly frequent form of really, I mean,
political lying in Washington. It depends, getting away with this lie
depends on us being ignorant and easily led when it comes to actually what
is going on in that big boring catty high school called Congress. There is
a reason to know what hearings are going on, when, and who is invited, and
who ought to be there.

And yet it sound boring all of a sudden, until all of a sudden it is
the punch line on an ambitious member of Congress turning himself into a
laughingstock. If you are skipping the briefing so you can complain that
there is no briefing. We`re not laughing with you, Congressmen, we are
laughing at you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Happy Friday. Best new thing in the world, and, boy, do we
all need one? This is great. At the top of the show tonight, we brought
you the story of Bernard Jordan, 89-year-old British navy vet who snuck out
of his nursing home in southern England.

They were worried about him. They called police. But today, he
turned up in France. He is a D-Day veteran and when his nursing home told
him they hadn`t got him on an organized trip to go to Normandy for the
commemoration today, he just went on his own. Hooray!

And now, the best new thing. Since we have been on the air, Bernard
Jordan has arrived safely back in England. Apparently, he made lots of
friend on the ferry from France to England once his story got out.

Because an ITV reporter was able to find him in the ferry terminal in
England when he got back, now we know the best new thing in the world today
is that Mr. Jordan says he is going to try again next year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERNARD JORDAN, D-DAY VETERAN: I`m going to try, if I am still with
us, but if I am still about, I should try next year.

REPORTER: So, nothing is going to stop you basically?

JORDAN: Oh, no.

REPORTER: Was it worth it?

JORDAN: Oh, definitely. Yes, yes.

REPORTER: Have you any idea how much interest there has been in this?

JORDAN: I didn`t realize. No, no, no.

REPORTER: Do you think you are in trouble when you get back?

JORDAN: I might be. But I hope not.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Bernard Jordan, nursing home escapee to Normandy, says he is
going to try it again next year. Best new thing in the world by a mile.
Try to tell me it`s not.

That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again Monday.

Now, you have to go to prison.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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