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'The Rachel Maddow Show'for Friday, November 7

Read the transcript to the Friday show

Guests: Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Phil Donahue, Lawrence O'Donnell

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: I never like to go after you except for this whole every night at 9:00 thing.

KEITH OLBERMANN, "COUNTDOWN" HOST: Well, yes, that's rather often isn't it then?


MADDOW: Yes. Thanks, Keith.


MADDOW: And thank you for staying with us this Friday night.

What a week it was for President-elect Obama. On Monday, campaigned in three states; on Tuesday, win the national election and wowed the nation and the world; and today, try to stop the economy from melting down even further. What did you get done this week?

(voice over): President-elect Obama meets the press for the first time, in the shadow of news that this time last year, there were 1.2 million more jobs in America than there are today. The president-elect was all business and very specific.


PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES: I want to see a stimulus package sooner rather than later.


MADDOW: OK. Maybe, he wasn't all business.


OBAMA: Our preference would be to get a shelter dog, but obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me.


MADDOW: How'd Obama do on his first lap around the track? Lawrence O'Donnell reviews a historic press conference number one on a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for the economy.

Want some instant good news? Thanks to President-elect Obama, there is progress in Iraq, already. Shiite politicians say they did not trust the Republicans but they do trust that Obama will keep his word and they just might want to make a deal. That was fast. Phil Donahue joins us to discuss instant improvement in the Obama era. The election that couldn't come fast enough now won't go away.

Governor maverick suddenly can't get enough camera time.


GOV. SARAH PALIN, ® ALASKA: I know that I know that I know that there was nothing done wrong in the campaign.


MADDOW: The fight for the soul of the GOP continues about what to do with their unfortunate convicted felon in the United States Senate.

Our lame duck watch continues. You think there is nothing to worry about over at the White House now? Well, how does radioactive drinking water hit you? Another newsworthy day of quack-itude needs some explaining.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

(on camera): So, you want to know one of the big differences between being a candidate for president and being the president-elect? When you're the president-elect, everyone stands up when you walk into a room. President-elect Obama, this is your new life.

Today brought another first in what has been a whirlwind week for Obama. First phone call to a world leader as president-elect-check. Trip to the gym as president-elect-check. First parent-teacher conference as president-elect, parents in elect, sort of-check, check.

And today, Obama held his first press conference as president-elect. You can also check off the list first good-natured answer to a trivial question about the first family.


OBAMA: With respect to the dog, this is a major issue. We have-we have two criteria that have to be reconciled. One is that Malia is allergic, so it has to be hypoallergenic. There are a number of breeds that are hypoallergenic. On the other hand, our preference would be to get a shelter dog, but obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me.


MADDOW: Obama also made his first presidential intellectual gaffe when he awkwardly cracked-wise about Nancy Reagan's alleged fondness for seance. When he spoke about which former president he has talked, President-elect Obama called Mrs. Reagan to apologize.

But adorable puppy talk and snafus about former first ladies and speaking to the dead were not the focus today, the battered U.S. economy was. As such, the visual that today's event provided was almost as important as the words Obama spoke. His emergence unto the stage was preceded by a veritable economic show of force, enough economic advisors to fill the football team with five extra players on the bench even.

The pantheon that planked Obama today was presumably there to send a message. I may be new, but I've got the best and the brightest by my side. Among them: Former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers-he of the career-altering suggestion that maybe women are just naturally bad at math and science, not to mention the free trade deregulation reputation he drags along from his time as Clinton's treasury secretary.

Still, it was a serious team standing alongside the president-elect. And Obama had a serious message to deliver on the economy, which went from really, really bad to really, really, really bad today. New job numbers out showed another 240,000 jobs lost last month. That means we've got the worst unemployment rate in 14 years. On top of that, enormous bummer-General Motors announced today

that it may not have enough operating cash to survive the rest of the year

General Motors. That news makes me really regret the old saying, "As G.M. goes, so goes America." Yikes.

Faced with that dire economic picture, Obama delivered this message.


OBAMA: I think that a new president can do an enormous amount to restore confidence, to move an agenda forward that speaks to the needs of the economy and the needs of middle-class families all across of the country. I'm confident that a new president can have an enormous impact. That's why I ran for president.


MADDOW: The enormous impact that Obama wants to have? Well, that

would the first big news item to come out of his first big news conference

an immediate economic stimulus package right here, right now aimed at the middle-class. Wondering what Obama hopes to prioritize in his first 100 days? Well, wonder no more-stimulus, stimulus, stimulus, immediately, if not sooner.


OBAMA: A fiscal stimulus plan that will jump-start economic growth is long overdue. I talked about it throughout this-the last few months of the campaign. We should get it done. I want to see a stimulus package sooner rather than later. If it does not get done in the lame duck session, it will be the first thing I get done as president of the United States.


MADDOW: Republicans in Congress, meet the new commander-in-chief to be. And the economic gauntlet he has just laid squarely at your feet. There it is. In terms as plain as day, we are passing a stimulus plan with you or without you. And so, that's what a congressional majority is for.

So, what would this thing look like that he wants to pass? It would probably be somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 billion to be spent on new public works projects that are intended to create jobs, a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits, additional funds for food stamps, and aid to state governments that are struggling to cover healthcare costs for the poor.

But if Obama expects this plan to be passed before he takes office, there's just one teeny-tiny, tiny little obstacle in the way-President Bush's big burly veto pen.


DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, we have long said that the package that they have put forward so far was not something we thought that we could support. It takes three to tango in this town, right?


MADDOW: Oh, tango. (INAUDIBLE) all of a sudden, this administration understands there's a role for all three branches of government, right? Right, Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten, who were told to ignore congressional subpoenas? Why don't you take two signing statements and call me in the morning, Mr. Under-the-weather-unitary-executive?

For their part, congressional Republicans have also been unwilling to get onboard with the Democrats' stimulus plan. And so, this showdown is set-first press conference down, first major battle line drawn in the sand. Does President-elect Obama have enough political capital, enough of a mandate, enough juice to push through the first major item on his agenda? And, can Republicans really do anything to stop him?

Joining us now is MSNBC political analyst, Lawrence O'Donnell.

Lawrence, thanks very much for joining us tonight.


MADDOW: You were a chief of staff on the Senate Finance Committee. You know from which you speak on this subject. Does a president-elect have enough juice to move legislation like this through even before he is sworn in?

O'DONNELL: This is an eerie rerun, Rachel, of 1993 of Bill Clinton's presidency. The very first thing he wanted to do was a stimulus package. He got none of it-exactly zero. And as the stimulus package was gestating through the transition period into February, it was getting smaller and smaller and smaller. It wasn't as big as what Obama is talking about. But it just got smaller because of the deficit that was looming and where was the money going to come from to do it.

What we did end up getting for him, and I have the signing pen back at my office to show for it, was nothing other than just an extension of unemployment benefits, an emergency extension of unemployment benefits. It was one of the first things Obama mentioned he wanted today. He will be able to get that.

But it's very hard to say, at this stage, exactly what he is going to be able to get out of the stimulus package-and if it's not going to happen until February, it's hard to say right now how much of it he will still want when we get to that point. How will the ground change underneath the playing field right now? What will the economic conditions be at that time? And Obama was very clear about saying they are going to be paying close attention to the economic conditions on a daily, weekly basis and adjust their game plan accordingly.

MADDOW: Well, as the Republican Party sort of regroup and spends the next few weeks licking its wounds and forging its new identity, does it seem possible to you that they will coalesce around this idea of being the anti-spending party, that they're rally against all spending, especially a stimulus plan even though, economically, it kind of seems like the right thing to do for the economy right now?

O'DONNELL: Well, that is exactly what I would recommend to them, strategically, and philosophically, it fits what their approach to government. And this would be the time for them to suddenly become responsible when you're kind of sitting on the sidelines and not really part of the legislative process. And that is certainly what Bill Clinton ran up against in 1993 when he was trying to do a stimulus package.

You know, President Obama-President-elect Obama, and President Obama next year, wants to do a lot more than stimulus and he will need a lot more money to do it with. And so, it may be that when you get to February, just right off the bat, trying to take $100 billion off the top of the Obama budget, might not feel like such a great idea by the time they get there.

MADDOW: It's hard to imagine, though, that at this point, we should be thinking about the Republican Party as defining the realm of the possible in Washington politics. I mean, right now, they are in such disarray. It's not clear who their leadership is. It's not clear what their ideas are. They just got walloped in two consecutive elections. It's hard to believe that they are the ones who get to decide how far Obama gets to go at this point. But that is-is that really the way you see it?

O'DONNELL: Not-well, they've never been as weak as this. I mean, even when we had 57 Democrats in the Senate in 1993, the Republicans were stronger than they are now because they-now, they are in a situation where they've just been overwhelmed at the ballot box. And so, some Republicans, the senators from Maine, for example, will be very amendable to working with the Democratic majority.

And so, I think it's going to be easier for this Democratic majority in the Senate to get to 60 votes when they need to than it was in 1993. And always remember, Bill Clinton got elected with 43 percent of the vote. He came in third in North Dakota. As Kent Conrad, Democratic senator from North Dakota told me that at the time when I was trying to get his vote on a Clinton item.

And so, there's much more momentum to the Obama presidency already than there ever was to the Clinton presidency at the outset. And the House of Representatives, they can do as they please. That will be run in a way that Nancy Pelosi will be able to do pretty much whatever she wants. The strain is always going to be in the Senate.

MADDOW: Finally, Lawrence, I have one last quick question. I understand that you have some inside information about the Obama dog search?

O'DONNELL: I was backstage at Grant Park after the Obama speech Tuesday night and overheard, at a certain moment, the future first lady discussing the possibility of someone else's suggestion, the possibility of maybe the two-dog strategy. There could be a two-dog strategy in the White House in 2009.


Lawrence O'Donnell, I sort of feel like we need to blow out the rest of the hour and just talk about that.


O'DONNELL: This was pure-this was just-it was a speculative discussion. There was no commitment to a two-dog strategy but it remains a possibility at this point.

MADDOW: We need to think about this in a much broader way, in other words.

O'DONNELL: We do. That's exactly right.

MADDOW: Yes. Lawrence O'Donnell, thank you very much for that, MSNBC political analyst. Thanks for sharing your Friday with us, Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: Thank you.

MADDOW: So, Sarah Palin began her national political career about two months ago with the McCain campaign shielding her from the press, lest she say something about seeing Russia from her lawn or something. Well, the McCain campaign is over and the shielded-from-the-press days are over, too, which is good news for you, if you enjoy hearing yourself some Sarah Palin uncensored and not holding back.

Have you seen this tape from Alaska today? Holy molly, we've got it coming up right up.


MADDOW: There was a time, really, really recently when Governor Sarah Palin was not allowed near any camera or microphone without a teleprompter or days of massive information dosing from John McCain's appointed handlers. Well, those rather recent days are over, everybody. Cut loose from campaign study, Sarah Palin has made a media jailbreak today at the governor's office in Alaska this afternoon.

So, happy Friday, everybody. I bring you the annotated Sarah Palin impromptu, super surprising media availability. Apparently, Governor Palin held today's Q&A with reporters because she wants to clear up some misunderstandings and do some explaining about what she has learned, what she has come to know she knows she knows about running for vice president.


PALIN: I know that I know that I know that there was nothing done wrong in the campaign, that John McCain and I have a great relationship. I honor him, I love him.


MADDOW: Got that America? Love-she loves him. There is love. Why would we think there is not love? Governor Palin has an explanation for that as well.


PALIN: The media chooses not to correct the record when we're trying to set the record straight on any kind of hard feelings or negativity in the campaign and inside baseball-type issues in the campaign. You guys make it difficult.


MADDOW: But, Governor Palin, isn't it kind of, sort of, not totally the media's fault if people inside your campaign called the media and tell reporters that you've gone rogue, that you're a diva, that you have no relationships of trust, that you're a whack job? I mean, that seems newsworthy since it was coming from your supposed allies, right?


PALIN: Who is they, though? I don't know who they are.


MADDOW: I think the problem, governor, is that no one in America knew who you were. And the people who we asked who you were, the people who were working with you on the campaign, those were the people who called you a "whack job." I know it's awful. It was a horrible thing to say about you, but it wasn't our fault, that it was said about you by the people in your own campaign.

Governor Palin then unprompted, without being questioned about it, brought up and started talking about the clothing controversy.


PALIN: With the whole clothes issue, the RNC purchased clothes. Those are the RNC's clothes. They are not my clothes. I never forced anybody to buy me-I never asked for anything more than maybe a diet Dr. Pepper once in awhile. I never have asked for anything. These are Sarah Palin's clothes.


MADDOW: These are Rachel Maddow's thoughts, Rachel the thought-haver. I'm thinking that you just brought the clothes thing up on your own, without being asked. And now, you are talking about yourself in the third person. And that probably means this is about to get really weird, really quickly, right?


MADDOW: Until it's cleared up by you guys doing your job, what else can I say? What else can John McCain say about all of this-except, these are false allegations?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Does the RNC have lawyers coming up to look at the clothes or inventory those?

PALIN: The RNC is not, they're not coming up. Nobody is coming up to look at anything. There is an inventory of clothes being done so that the RNC is held accountable for all the dollars that we're spent.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: They are held accountable?

PALIN: Who said that attorneys were coming to my house to pick up clothes?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I think (ph) the "New York Times" reported that.

PALIN: The "New York Times" evidently is wrong because it's not-it's not happening. Nobody has told me that they are coming to my house to look through closets, to look through anything. The belly of the plane that had clothes in it and those clothes being packed up.


MADDOW: So, nobody is coming up to look at any of the clothes, at least no one told Governor Palin anybody is coming up to look at any of the clothes. But there is an inventory of the clothes being done. Maybe, the inventory of the clothes is being done in the belly of the plane, or maybe in her closets, but she doesn't know.

And, you know, the "New York Times," they lie. The media-the evils of the media. This is kind of the main point that Governor Palin kept trying to drive home in these comments today.

Governor Palin was asked, at one point, if she was sad about the outcome of the election.


PALIN: I'm disappointed in the change that I've seen in national media compared to, you know, a couple decades ago, when I received my journalism degree. And...


MADDOW: Can we just pause just for a moment here to take note that the governor has thus far said the media is responsible for creating the sense that she and John McCain do not love each other, the media is responsible for reporting comments from sources in the McCain campaign that were negative things about her and the media is responsible for the RNC needing to inventory the clothing purchases-the media, the media, the media, the media, the media seems to on her mind, right? And maybe the media is in her plans?


PALIN: And also, being willing to try to help there also to make sure that there is credibility in our media, that there is objectivity there, so that Americans can trust what is being reported. You don't have to second guess, we don't have to be so, I guess, paranoid of what comes over the airwaves or what we see written. I want to be able to help also Americans to know that they can trust their media.


MADDOW: I want to be able to help-I want to be able to help Americans know that they can trust their-how is the governor of Alaska going to help with that?


PALIN: Media persons, reporters have been absolutely right on and there has been that fairness and objectivity, there have been some stinkers, though, that have kind of made the whole basket full of apples there once in a while smell kind of bad.


MADDOW: OK. The stinking media basket thing strikes me as a couple of things. I mean, number one, it's the best metaphor ever-the stinking apple basket of media. Number two, does it sound to you like this is maybe her manifesto for why she needs to get back into the media with her journalism degree and the people needing to be able to trust their media so we don't have to be so paranoid, in her words, about what's coming over the airwaves?

Is this the launch of Sarah Palin live from Alaska? The talk show that will make America trust their media again? I don't know. I think this might be her telling us that she's going into showbiz or actually, there was one other potential job that, unprompted, she brought up today a couple of times.


PALIN: The Alaska voters have spoken, and me not being a dictator won't be telling anybody what to do. A governor, especially one that's not going to be a dictator in all this, doesn't have control over that.


MADDOW: X (ph) day on the dictator day idea. Who brought up the dictator idea? Is it just on your mind? It's either dictator or talk show host? It seems a shame to have to choose.

Tonight, we will present day two of lame duck watch-quack-itude. We are keeping an eye on President Bush during his last days in office that you don't have to or so you'll want to a lot more.

As the Iraqi government indicated renewed willingness to deal with President-elect Obama, President Bush spent his day western states a lovely parting gift-uranium-mining near the Colorado River. What's a little radioactive drinking water in Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles between friends? Thanks for coming, drive safely.


MADDOW: Belly up to the buffet, election junkies, it's not over yet. Tonight is election leftovers' night at THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW. And this dish is even more delicious when it's cold. The Republican Party is searching for its post-Obama identity which sadly has to include a big debate on what to do with the convicted felon just elected to serve in their midst in the United States Senate. Bring your appetite, there's plenty more coming.

First, though, it's time for a few underreported holy mackerel stories in the world today. First up, I think this is first instance of shipping news on this show-specifically-we've got some good news and some bad news about Dutch shipping. Bare with me here, it's worth it, I promise.

The good news is that the Dutch are building the biggest boat ever. It's the length of 3 ½ football fields. It's 100 feet longer and 100 feet wider than the biggest Nimitz-class American aircraft carrier, a $1.7 billion ship built to lay oil pipes into decommissioned oil rigs in the North Sea So, that's the good news for the Dutch. They must be so proud. They're building the mother of all boats-the biggest boat in the world.

Now, the bad news for the Dutch? It's that the guy whose company

it has commissioned building this giant boat wants to name it after his dad

his dad the Nazi. I hate it when that happens. This presents a rather awkward situation for the Dutch government which gave the company a big fat tax break as a subsidy to build this thing. I guess there was a-don't name this thing after your dad the Nazi clause in the contract.

And finally, an update on our to-do list for President-elect Obama after we asked you to weigh in on our Web site as to what Obama should tackle first. He is obviously taking your advice, today, making the economy priority number one at his first press conference. Also, doing well in our poll, the category marked other. Other-as in second place. In third place is universal healthcare.

Your suggestions so far have been awesome, some of the most thought-provoking from the other file. How about this? Get rid of the blanking penny. Expose the UFO cover up-OK. Abolish daylight savings time-a lot of people are interested in that one. Help the gulf coast-right on. And abolish all spoons and forks and replace them with sporks. You know, everybody's got their something.

If you want to add your suggestions for the new president's to-do list, go to Click on "presidential priorities" on the left-hand side. We will keep you updated, unless the spork demands get really out of hand, in which we will shut that thing right down.


MADDOW: Tuesday night's election definitely felt like the end of something - the end of the campaign, the end of the Bush era, the end of some part of America's shame about race, and it was. We were all there. We were all still absorbing the impact.

But it's quickly becoming apparent that Tuesday was also the beginning of some other big stuff. Some big, weird, American politics stuff. Take the Republicans. The GOP plan as of about 2004 was a permanent Republican majority. And then the '06 Democratic takeover of Congress happens. OK, so maybe not a permanent majority.

The plan this year in 2008 was to dig deep into the dirty tricks bag and do what the Republicans do, which is to win elections no matter what, maintain control of the executive branch. And then Tuesday happened.

No Plan C anybody? Can I get a Plan C? Quick! Somebody call a summit.

Yesterday, right when media watched on Brent Bozell hosted GOP identity-crisis summit in Virginia, summit number two is set for next week when GOPAC, the group that promotes local and state Republican candidates. They will summit in Palm, Beach Florida. It's a noun. It's a verb. It's a gerund.

Keep summiting, you guys, because it's got to be more productive than the Republican's other current past time, which is in-fighting.

Make no mistake, in-fighting can be a good thing for a party at rock bottom. It's a good chance to hold your leadership accountable, to talk about new ideas and directions. Except the thing they are fighting about is what to do with their convicted felon. Alaska senator and convicted felon Ted Stevens has not technically won his seat in the Senate. The race is too close to call. If he does win, what's an embattled minority party to do with the first felon ever elected to the United States Senate?

Minority leader Mitch McConnell wants to be tough on crime, he says, but only after lengthy appeals process. Sen. McConnell's office released a statement saying, quote, "If Sen. Stevens is reelected and the felony charge stands through the appeals process, there is zero chance that a senator with a felony conviction would not be expelled from the Senate."

So the standard in the Republican Senate caucus is felony convictions are OK, as long as you can maybe beat the rap on appeal some day. Not according to South Carolina's Jim DeMint, though. "" is reporting that Sen. DeMint wants to get rid of Stevens right away. And he's not happy with Mitch McConnell for setting the standard of tolerance for criminal convictions in the Senate so low.

I have to say battling over when to oust the convicted felon in your midst is not really an auspicious way to start a re-branding campaign for your party. But speaking of senator and felon Stevens, I have to tell you that we've given you some mixed information on what happens if he holds on to his Senate seat, but later resigns or gets kicked out.

On Wednesday, I said that Sarah Palin can't appoint herself to that Senate seat. Yesterday, a guest on the show suggested that Palin could and then she could run for the seat in 2010.

Well, neither scenario is really quite right. Here's the deal. If Sen. Stevens wins back the seat but vacates, whether by resignation or expulsion, a special election to fill the vacancy will be held just 60 to 90 days after he leaves office. With any left, the candidates who run in the special election will not be convicted felons.

And yes, Gov. Palin could run in that special election, though. She said today that she is not planning on it. I'm sorry for any confusion in that regard. But it is still kind of confusing, isn't it?

All the drama is not, however, concentrated on the Republican side of the fence. In California, the liberal uproar over the passage of Proposition 8, the ballot initiative banning gay marriage, that uproar continues. The big, controversial finger-pointing part of that uproar is the fact that African-Americans who turned out in much larger numbers than in '04 voted in favor of Prop 8 by a seven in 10 margin.

So the state and the country is left to grapple with the question of what it means for civil rights, that the same voters who disproportionately helped elect the country's first African-American president also disproportionately helped to take rights away from the gay community.

Now, as I said, Tuesday was the end of a lot of things and the beginning of a lot of other very complicated and confusing things.

Joining us now is Melissa Harris Lacewell, political science professor at Princeton. Melissa, thanks very much for coming on the show.


Of course.

MADDOW: So the African-American vote made up only about 10 percent of the electorate in California this year. So it's not like it was only African-Americans who voted for Prop 8. But exit polls do show about seven in 10 of African-American voters were in favor of this ban of gay marriage. Why do you think that is?

LACEWELL: Well, there's, I think, plenty of blame to go around here. So that's right. It's not as though the African-American vote controlled or changed Prop 8. It took people of color across the board disproportionately supporting it, as well as plenty of white voters in California supporting Prop 8.

I think the anxiety here is, there was this enthusiasm for the possibility of racial equality or at least the symbol of it that is embodied in the person of Barack Obama. And the fact that the entire coalition that supported Barack Obama also supported a ban on gay marriage, I think - for us, it calls into question, sort of, are we all going to come forward in this American dream together?

But the other part of the story of blame is that those who are in the coalition to vote no on Prop 8 did not do due diligence in communities of color. They did not go there and make the arguments about Loving versus Virginia 1967, the case in Virginia which was a Supreme Court case which finally allowed interracial marriage.

They didn't talk about the fact that the language used against gay marriage is the same language that was used against interracial marriage. They didn't talk about the fact that lies about churches, about schools were, in fact, lies.

So they didn't do enough work in the communities of color. On the other hand, the communities of color demonstrated an awfully bigoted vote.

MADDOW: Is there some risk of backlash though in making that type of argument, using the Loving versus Virginia comparison. Because you are in essence making some sort of equivalence argument about different types of prejudice, different type of legal discrimination. Is there a risk of backlash in using that argument?

LACEWELL: Well, I think there is an equivalence here. And the equivalence is that when you talk about marriage versus civil unions, you're essentially calling it separate but equal. African-Americans understand the language of separate but equal. We understand that separate is inherently unequal.

I think, also, again, if you actually read the language of what the opponents of Loving versus Virginia said, that interracial marriage would - that we have to defend against it because it would reduce the capacity of good people to be married, that it would cause miscegenation and the mixing of the races. I mean, all of the same anxieties, language, hatred, bigotry and potential violence.

Also remember that Loving happens in 1967 after the '64 Civil Rights Act, after the 65 Voting Rights Act. So even after you have procedural Democratic equality, you still had to address the marriage issue to get to a place of full social equality.

MADDOW: Melissa, we have been a lot about the Republican Party rebuilding after this election, trying to rebuild and re-brand itself during a Democratic administration with the first African-American president. Do you think there is a danger that part of the Republican Party's new strategy will be just to give up on the African-American vote given the odds against them at this point? Do you have any advice for them on that regard?

LACEWELL: You want me to give advice to the GOP? OK, sure. I've got a little bit of advice for the GOP. No, no. What I will say is this. You know, clearly, part of what this election was is a reorientation of the parties. It happened for Democrats. It's happening for Republicans.

I want us to be in a position where no party takes any demographic group for granted. So although I am not hoping that there is a massive out-migration of African-Americans, Latinos, women, gay, young people into the Republican Party, I also don't - just as a matter of health of the democracy, with a little "d," we want to be sure that all parties are fighting for votes in all part so of the country.

One of the exciting parts about this was that this is a 50-state election. Everybody was in on it. Parties had to go west, they had to go south. And I think that's actually leading to a much more healthy Democratic system.

MADDOW: Melissa Harris-Lacewell, political science professor at Princeton, thanks for giving up part of your Friday night for us.

LACEWELL: Oh, yes. Thanks. Nice to see you.

MADDOW: Next, it is time for "Lame-Duck Watch" - quackitude. Today's edition - the president-elect is instantly more effective than the president.

The evidence is in Iraq. This is big and it's instant. Phil Donahue will be with us next to talk about a succession that can't happen fast enough.

But first, one more thing. You know you have made it as a politician when your campaign Web site upgrades from .com to .gov. Barack Obama's team unveiled change .gov this week, which employs the radical idea of letting you, the citizen, share your ideas about what the Obama administration ought to do.

Even better though, talking points memo points out a link to this organizational chart. Check this out. It places the executive branch under the Constitution. Almost like it was some sort of guiding document our entire democracy was founded upon. This could take getting used to.


MADDOW: It was a historic Tuesday night in America, in case you have been off the planet these last few days. And not only for the election of our first African-American president. We also, for the first time ever, we have a majority female state legislative body.

In New Hampshire, the "live free or die" state, women now make up a majority of the State Senate. The speaker and the president are women. They've got 13 of 24 seats. The speaker of the New Hampshire House and the Senate president are both women. And the state is sending its first female senator, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, to Washington. If only the old man in the mountain, the great fallen New Hampshire, icon had lived to see this day.


MADDOW: We elected a new president this week, but there are still 10 scary weeks left of the Bush administration when anything can happen and most likely will.

And so we are back with another installment of our public service series, the RACHEL MADDOW SHOW "Lame Duck Watch" because somebody has to do it.

On the agenda at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, in the last couple days, nearly nobody watched. Scrapping Mid-East peace. Now, there's an idea. About a year ago, the Bush administration invited officials for nearly 50 countries to Annapolis, Maryland for a meeting with Israelis and Palestinians to try to forge peace before the end of the Bush era.

It widely considered the president's attempt to save a sliver of his otherwise, rather soily international legacy. At the time, those talks were deemed a success by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. And the administration vowed to keep working on this until Bush left office. They said they would get a deal before the end of the year.

Well, yesterday, the administration announced, forget it. They called off plans for any further talks before the end of the year. Legacy shmegacy. We've got an environment to wreck while we still have a chance.

They didn't say that thing about the environment, but yes. President Bush's Interior Department is busy relaxing environmental protection rules on mining for uranium within three miles of the Grand Canyon, you know, where the Colorado River runs, the one that provides drinking water for Phoenix, Vegas and L.A.

"Mommy, I didn't ask for lemonade. It's not lemonade, Sweetie. It's the seepage off those radioactive tailings. How much better would it be if January 20th were like tomorrow?

Consider the instant impact of Barack Obama's election on the issue of Iraq. Just last week, a new Status of Forces Agreement, that thing that gives us the legal right to be in Iraq after the U.N. mandate expires at the end of the year - that agreement appeared to be imperiled by a stalemate between the Iraqi government and the Bush administration.

According to Alisa Reuben(ph) in today's "New York Times," powerful Iraqi Shiite politicians were under pressure from Iran to oppose the administration's proposal because they believed the deal would lay the groundwork for a permanent presence of the U.S. troop presence in Iraq. The Iraqi people are probably not too hot on the idea either.

On Tuesday night, Barack Obama and today - now, the Shiites are saying an agreement is likely before the end of the year. A leader from one powerful Iraqi party told the "New York Times," quote, "Before, the Iraqis were thinking that if they sign the pact, there will be no respect for the schedule of troop withdrawal by December 31, 2011. If Republicans were still there, there would be no respect for this timetable. This is a positive step to have the same theory about the timetable as Mr. Obama."

So the Iraqis, our allies, didn't trust a lame-duck President Bush or a potential President McCain, so they were ready to kill the deal.

Now, just by virtue of being elected before he's even taken office, Obama appears to have made something positive happen there. Anybody else looking at the calendar these days the way you look at the clock on a Friday afternoon?

Joining me now is former talk show host Phil Donahue, also the executive producer of "Body of War," which is just out on DVD. Phil, it is great to see you. Thank you for coming in. Nice to see you.

PHIL DONAHUE, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "BODY OF WAR": Pleasure, Rachel. It's nice to be on your very successful cable show here.

MADDOW: Oh, yes. That's like getting complimented on home runs by Hank Aaron in terms of success. Thanks, Phil.

DONAHUE: Thank you.

MADDOW: What do you make of this apparent movement by leading Iraqis, Shiites and Sunnis on the Status of Forces Agreement? They're saying with the election of Barack Obama, there's somebody in office who we believe wants troops out of Iraq. We believe that we can trust him and so we are willing to make a deal that we wouldn't make before?

DONAHUE: I believe that is exactly what can happen. I believe that this is the beginning of the closing of the rift between our country and the rest of the world. I can't wait until this new president comes bouncing off of Air Force One with his 32-inch waist.

And honestly, I think Putin, Harold Brown - all of them are going to just welcome him with both hands. I just think he's going to be a big hit among all the mockers.

MADDOW: So you feel like regardless of what he specifically wants to do, the realm of possibility is bigger for him because he'll sort of hit the reset button. He's given us a second chance internationally?

DONAHUE: And not only that. They don't see this passion for bombing people and attacking. I think we are going to get out of there and we'll get out of there fast after the inauguration.

MADDOW: I know that you've just done this documentary on "Body of War."

Give us a thumbnail about what the film is about.

DONAHUE: "Body of War" is a creation of Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue, who - by the way, she survived four years of partnership with me. So that puts her in the tough category. And she's extremely talented.

"Body of War" tells the story of Thomas Young, a heartland kid, Kansas City. The bullet - is in Iraq five days. The bullet severed his spine at the T-4 level. Thomas is paralyzed from the nipples down. Thomas can't walk. Thomas can't cough. Thomas can't sweat, you know. His respiratory system doesn't work. Morning nausea, UTI.

The closer you - we've been living and watching this for four years now.

So it's become a real chapter in our lives, a very personal experience. And it shows the harm in harm's way at a time when we have the most sanitized war in our history.

The president said you can't shoot the - take pictures of the coffins and the entire press corps said, OK. This shows the pain. This shows what I think is - we hope it's a shaft of light in a big, dark hole, which I think has been left by corporate media. This is not television fare. This will not draw an audience. This is not good for business.

But you are going to see a very unusual and, I think, a remarkable young man and his family on Tuesday night on the Sundance Channel. This is Veterans Day, 7:00 this coming Tuesday night. "Body Of War" will air on the Sundance Channel, and you'll see a drama that is taking place behind the closed doors of thousands of homes in this country occupied by young people who have come home from this war with hideous injuries.

And nobody in America knows it's happening. They don't see this. They're invisible. They're below the radar. Only 10 percent of us made a decision about what to do in the voting booth based on the war. Ninety percent didn't even bring the war into the voting booth with them.

MADDOW: You know, one of the remarkable things since Obama was elected - we're getting anecdotal reports that military recruiters are shifting their pitches just this week and now telling prospective troops, "Don't worry. You won't have to go to Iraq because we elected Obama."

DONAHUE: I heard that. Can you imagine? I mean, everything is turned on its head.


DONAHUE: I mean, this administration somehow has made people believe that remember Kerry was the war wimp and Bush was the hero. Now, we recruited young men and women for Iraq and now we're saying, "Hey, join up, you don't have to go." I mean -

MADDOW: And pay no attention to the other war. Yes. Phil Donahue, the director of "Body of War," again Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. on Sundance Channel. Thank you for coming on. Nice to see you, sir.

DONAHUE: Thank you, Rachel, for allowing us to plug our movie - Tuesday night, Sundance. By the way, the Pearl Jam Web site - you can buy our film, and proceeds go to Thomas. Pearl Jam Web site - we hope you look for "Body of War." Thank you.

MADDOW: Coming up next, I get just enough pop culture from my friend Kent Jones. Barack Obama meets Sonic, the Hedgehog. I promise.


MADDOW: Now, it's time for "Just Enough" pop culture with my friend Kent Jones. Hi, Kent, what have you got?

KENT JONES, POP CULTURIST: Good evening, Rachel. Well, for most of us, this was one of the biggest weeks in news of all time unless you're in Terrell, Texas. Here's the front page of the "Terrell Tribune" for November 5th, the day after the election.

Notice the headline, "Jackson Defeats Schoen." Well, that was the county commissioner race. Notice what's not there? How about a story about that Obama guy winning the presidency thing? Nothing? Really?

Despite protests from angry locals, the "Terrell Tribune's" publisher, Bill Jordan, explained, quote, "We run a newspaper, not a memory book service. We covered the local commissioner's race. We thought that was more important."

Well, you know, he's got a point. If there's anything newspapers hate, it's selling hundreds of extra copies to people who want to remember stuff.

Next, Obama's blowout didn't go unnoticed in the Caribbean. On the island of Antigua, Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer wants to rename the island's highest mountain peak Mt. Obama.


JONES: The 1,300-foot high mountain is currently known as Boggy Peak and is a popular hiking spot. Observers say renaming the mountain for Obama is a stark contrast to the Antiguan landmark named after the current president the so-called Bush Bush.

Finally Obama nation meets Joy Stick nation. Check out this new video game called "Super Obama World." A "Super Mario" style adventure that pits a smiling little bitty president-elect against Sarah Palin on the frozen tundra of Alaska. Obama has to dodge lipstick pigs and evil lobbyists with bagful of money. Boom! Jump, Obama. Jump! Yes, you can. Yes, you can. Oh, no, you can't. Keep going.

Ask me how I spent my afternoon. Those lipstick pigs wicked! Wicked pigs!

MADDOW: Very Super Mario Brothers-y.

JONES: It is fantastic.

MADDOW: Awesome. Thank you, Kent. And thank you for watching tonight. We will see you here Monday night. Until then, you can E-mail us Check out our new full-length podcast, the entire show, iTunes or

You can also hear me at 6:00 p.m. Eastern, coast to coast on Air America Radio. "COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN" starts right now. Have a great weekend.



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