'The Rachel Maddow Show'for Wednesday, April 8

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  And thank you at home for staying with us for the next hour.

Today, for the first time in more than 200 years, an American ship was attacked by pirates and its American crew was taken hostage.  How did this happen?  In a word, Somalia.  Somalia, to put it politely, is a mess.  For decades now, they‘ve essentially had no government.

All right.  Technically, I shouldn‘t say “no government.”  They do have a government.  A national government which controls roughly three blocks of their capital city, Mogadishu.

So, unconstrained by law or by any meaningful national government or economy, some of the Somalia‘s young able-bodied men have turned to piracy.  Basically, they head off the Somali coast in small, really fast speedboats.  They overtake merchant ships, they board the ships, they hold the ships and usually their crew hostage for ransom.  And because it‘s for ransom and not some big dumb idea, we call it piracy, organized crime, essentially, instead of calling it terrorism.

Within the past week alone, six merchant vessels have been seized by pirates.  The attacks have taken mostly in the body of water that‘s north of Somalia, the Gulf of Aden.  Take a look at all of the attacks or attempted attacks.  Look at that.  That‘s just in the Gulf of Aden this year alone.  We‘re only a third of the way through this year.

As authorities have started to get protective about the Gulf of Aden, shipping lines there, the pirates have begun striking further out to sea.  Today, they hit the American-flagged Maersk Alabama.  It‘s a container ship.  It departed from Ethiopia on Saturday bound for Kenya.  It‘s supposed to deliver 400 shipping containers full of emergency food relief from USAID.

Now, the Alabama managed to maneuver safely through the Gulf of Aden, but as it made its way out into the Indian Ocean, out where the pirates are increasingly starting to attack—ambush.

Now, the details are a little bit sketchy.  But it appears that the unarmed, 20-member crew of the Alabama were able to hold off the four armed pirates for several hours.  But eventually, the pirates were able to board the ship and take it over.

Then, the crew of the Alabama were able to overpower one of the armed pirates.  But as they did, the three other guys, the three other guys, the three other pirates set off in one of the ship‘s lifeboats with the ship‘s captain as their hostage.  Yes.

After 12 hours of negotiating, the crew apparently thought they had worked out a deal for a prisoner exchange.  They would release the pirate that they were holding if the pirates would release the ship captain, who they were holding.

Now, true to their word, the crew let the pirate go.  But the pirates, they‘re pirates.  They did not keep their word.  They refused to hold up their end of the bargain.  They held on to the captain.

And since then, it has been a waiting game.  With the pirates holding on to the ship‘s captain, holding him hostage on this lifeboat and the USS Bainbridge, an American Navy destroyer steaming toward the whole incident, they have reportedly actually just arrived on the scene, that destroyer.

Because the captain of the Alabama is being held hostage, control of the ship has turned to the Alabama‘s second in command.  This man named Captain Shane Murphy.  He‘s a 2001 graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.  He has been trained in anti-piracy tactics.

We looked at his Facebook page and on his Facebook recently, Captain Murphy had written, quote, “These waters are infested with pirates that hijack ships daily.  I feel like it‘s only a matter of time before my number gets called.”

Captain Murphy‘s dad, Joseph Murphy, teaches an anti-piracy class at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.  His son Shane was a guest lecturer in that class just two weeks ago.

Joining us now is Captain Joseph Murphy.  He is the father of Captain Shane Murphy.

Mr. Murphy, I know this must be a very difficult night for you and your family, thanks so much for taking some time to talk to us.


MADDOW:  First of all, I have to ask if you have spoken to your son on anyone on the ship recently.  When was the last time you had any communication?

MURPHY:  Well, I‘ve not personally spoken with Shane, myself.  He has, however, spoken with his wife and I‘m in communication with her.  So, I‘ve not spoken with anybody else on the ship itself.

MADDOW:  Do you know what he told his wife when he spoke with her?


MURPHY:  Yes, I do.  He called at approximately 10:00 o‘clock in the morning.  He indicated to her that he was safe and that he was alive.  And that he expected the situation to come to a fairly expeditious end.  He had a tremendous amount of confidence in the ability to control the situation.

After the pirates left, about an hour later, he picked up the phone again and he called to tell her that, you know, that the pirates were away from the ship, and that they had actually taken back control of the ship.

MADDOW:  Based on the training that you know that Shane has, based on the type of training that you provide at the maritime academy and what you have heard from him about what has happened today on the Alabama, do you have any sense of how they were able to overpower the one pirate, who they were initially able to overpower, how it actually unfolded that they were able to—the other three were able to get away on this lifeboat?

MURPHY:  Well, I believe what they did was, they‘ve all been trained in tactics as well.  The crew is very well-trained.  They practice these drills for piracy and for boarding.  My suspicion is that they cornered this individual in an area where he wasn‘t able to fire his weapon and they overpowered him.

MADDOW:  The U.S. Navy destroyer that has been on its way, and we‘ve known that it‘s been on its way for some time, has reportedly just arrived.  Do you have any expectation of what that naval vessel will be able to do, how they will influence what‘s going to happen now, now that they‘ve arrived on the scene?

MURPHY:  Well, I kind of believe—I‘m very happy to see the U.S.  Navy have an asset on scene.  I believe that the lifeboat is only capable of a speed of about six knots.  It‘s only got enough fuel for 12 hours.  It‘s not going anywhere.  It can be controlled.

The good news is, they‘ve removed 19 hostages.  The captain remains. 

The captain actually offered himself up, you know, on behalf of his crew. 

And he‘s in the lifeboat with these four pirates.

I mean, what options do they have?  You know, they can‘t get back on the ship.  They can‘t go anywhere.  And the United States Navy is, you know, right there, standing by.

MADDOW:  Your son and the other 18 mariners who were taken off that ship or the captain, I should say, remains with those pirates—do you know where they‘re going now, where they‘re being taken, if they‘ll stay with the vessel?

MURPHY:  I‘m fairly sure that they‘ll stay with the vessel.  I think she‘ll probably continue on her way as soon as the captain has recovered, or they receive orders to proceed to their next port of call.

MADDOW:  Did you and Shane talk about the threat of piracy in these waters?  Obviously, you‘re both professionally very involved in that as a question, but father and son, have you talked about the idea that this might happen and how he would react?

MURPHY:  Yes, we have.  We‘ve had extensive conversations about what‘s going on in the area.  He‘s actually, basically, my eyes and ears on the ground so I can provide that information to my students.

He did visit with my class.  He did a great presentation.  The students were very receptive.  In fact, they‘re all, of course, very, you know, concerned about his health and wellbeing.  They know him.

He has expressed those same sentiments that you saw on his Facebook page.  He had sent his wife an e-mail on Monday, I believe, and there was an attempt made on Monday to board the ship up in the Gulf of Aden.  So, they were able to thwart that.

MADDOW:  Captain Murphy, I know that there‘s a lot of people who want to talk to you right now, you‘re in heavy demand.  I really appreciate you‘ve taken the time to speak to us tonight.  And, of course, we‘re wishing all the best for your son and for your whole family.

MURPHY:  Thank you very much, Rachel.  A pleasure to be with you.

MADDOW:  Thank you.

Massachusetts Maritime Academy professor, Joseph Murphy, is the father of Captain Shane Murphy, who is one of the 19 men who is—one of the 19 mariners who is safe of the Maersk Alabama tonight, although the hostage situation continues.  We will stay on it.

OK.  Pop quiz, which U.S. state has as many governors as it does senators?  Only one U.S. state has that unlucky designation.  It is Minnesota.  Still.

Yes, Coleman v. Franken has almost outlasted winter in Minnesota.  The state‘s Republican governor, Tim Pawlenty, joins us next.


MADDOW:  The cash-strapped state of South Carolina has come up with a new way to make money.  They are selling it.  They‘ve got boxes and boxes of bank notes issued by the Bank of South Carolina back in the Civil War era.  And now, they started to auction off those notes.

The South Carolina Department of Archives and History is responsible for preserving, conserving and making sure the public has access to the state‘s priceless historic heritage.  But coping with a more than 20 percent cut in its budget means the state is finding a price for its heritage now, online, resorting to selling off some of the state‘s artifacts for cash.

I guess that beats accepting federal funding from the stimulus bill, right?  I mean, as long as they‘re selling off old stuff, why not Charleston?  Maybe the Governor Stanford could rent out timeshares in his mansion.


MADDOW:  In most of the country, the 2008 election is something that happens in 2008.  But in the never-ending Norm Coleman/Al Franken Senate battle, votes that were cast more than five months ago are still being added to the tally.  In the great state of Minnesota, Decision ‘08 is still happening now, despite the numerological awkwardness.


MADDOW:  In Minnesota, Democratic Al Franken is ahead of the former incumbent—well, some like to just call him plain former Republican Senator Norm Coleman.  Franken is ahead by 312 votes.

Way back at that the time of the election, it was a different story.  As of Wednesday, November 5th, the day after the election, Coleman had a 477-vote lead over Franken.  But out of 2.9 million votes, that was a very, very small margin of victory.  So that led to the state-mandated hand recount.

With that was over, a month later, Mr. Coleman‘s lead had shrunk down to 192.  The recount was accompanied by a series of canvassing board reviews of challenged or previously rejected ballots.  When those were counted, a month later still, on January 5th, Franken was ahead by 225.

Then Mr. Coleman started suing.  That chapter in the never-ending Senate story is still going on.

Just yesterday, a three-judge panel hearing the lawsuit counted some more ballots that they ruled had been improperly rejected.  So, the new count as of today puts Franken a little further ahead, now by 312.  There are still some unresolved conflicts in this case, but the court is expected to rule on them all soon, and the ruling is widely expected, frankly, to be in favor of Mr. Franken.  Even Mr. Coleman‘s campaign folks admit as much.

At which point we would be moving on to the next stage of this race, which could be an appeal to the Minnesota State Supreme Court.  Mr. Coleman has already vowed to do such an appeal if and when Mr. Franken becomes the winner both of the recount and of the legal challenge to the recount.  The state Supreme Court, as the name implies, is supreme, it is the highest court in the state.  So, once the state‘s Supreme Court rules, it will finally be done, right?  Whew!

Actually, wait a minute.  Norm Coleman is not only promising a state Supreme Court challenge, he‘s making noises about taking the whole thing federal, as well—hinting at a U.S. Supreme Court challenge if he loses again on the state level.  Again.

Making a federal case out of losing a statewide election actually takes some doing.  To get to the U.S. Supreme Court, Mr. Coleman would almost certainly have to argue that his rights have been somehow violated by the laborious, systematic recount process.

The bottom line: There are two ways for this to end.  Either this orderly, unexciting but sort of understandable state process comes to an end, and with the understanding that every avenue of redress has been pursued, Minnesota‘s process determines who won that state‘s election for U.S. senator; or the Minnesota process is denounced as having somehow violated Norm Coleman‘s rights and the whole thing starts all over again in federal court this time.  And the people of Minnesota can count on still having only 50 percent representation in the Senate, indefinitely, at least for months.

Joining us now is a man who may have the determinative say in whether or not his state gets to have two senators anytime soon.  I‘m delighted to have as a return guest to the show Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.

Governor Pawlenty, thank you so much for being here.

GOV. TIM PAWLENTY, ® MINNESOTA:  Dr. Maddow, it‘s good to be with you.  And, of course, you‘ve become a very serious student of the Coleman/Franken saga.  That‘s an impressive summary who‘ve just ripped off there.

MADDOW:  Did I get the chronology correct, at least?  It‘s hard to keep track of.

PAWLENTY:  I did.  I‘m impressed.  You know quite a bit about the case.


MADDOW:  I work on these things.

All right.  Well, as we all learned dramatically when Roland Burris was turned away at the Senate door not that long ago, any senator-elect needs an election certificate in order to be seated.  And the state Supreme Court has ruled that an election certificate could be ordered once the state courts have finally decided the election contest.

So, I have to ask you, if Mr. Coleman appeals to the state Supreme Court and then the state Supreme Court rules that one of these two men have won the election, you will sign an election certificate then, won‘t you?

PAWLENTY:  Well, it‘s premature to say that, Rachel, based on a number of factors and the factors include this.  Number one, the state court could hold in abeyance or a stay, in legal terminology, its own decision for a period of time to allow for a federal appeal.  I don‘t know if they‘ll do that, but they might.

The federal courts, if they accept the case, might stay the state court proceedings, and we also want to have a chance to see what the case would like at that point in terms of how harshly or strongly the issues have been decided or dealt with by the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Keep in mind, Norm Coleman could also win that appeal.  So, this issue could be turned around on Al Franken pretty summarily if it goes that direction.

MADDOW:  Mr. Coleman is the one, though, who has talked about potentially filing a federal lawsuit, if and when the state result is not to his liking.  And if that would be the action, that federal lawsuit, if that would be the action that would prevent you from signing the election certificate—which would have the effect of keeping Minnesota from having full representation in the Senate—that makes that federal court case really important.

So I have to ask, if you—if you think that Norm Coleman‘s rights have been violated in this state process so far, if you think the state process has gone wrong somehow?

PAWLENTY:  Well, in fairness to Norm Coleman, I‘ve heard him say only that he hasn‘t opened or closed any options in that regard.  He hasn‘t finally decided what he would do.  So, I want to be fair to him and accurate in that regard.

Number two, we just need more information as to evaluating this case.  The nutshell version of it is this: Some counties took a very strict view of what absentee ballots should be counted under the strict requirements of the laws; others were more lax about it.  So, it raises an equal protection argument whether rights were exercise or respected differently in different counties; and then Senator Coleman, I think, has some concerns about the procedures of the district court process as well.

MADDOW:  And you think those things couldn‘t—might not be adequately resolved by the state‘s—by your state court?

PAWLENTY:  Well, I think the state court will do a good job and a fine job, but there are some equal protection issues that are federal protection issues.  And again, I‘m not—I don‘t want to get ahead of ourselves because I‘m not even sure one of the other parties actually going to get to the federal court, whether the state court or the federal court may hold this in abeyance for a while, how strong the case even looks at that point.

So, that‘s something that all has to be evaluated when we get to that point, and I will evaluate it genuinely and seriously at that point.  But it‘s almost—it‘s really quite unfair to say what will you in advance of all of that.

MADDOW:  I guess there‘s a—there‘s a principle—there‘s two sort of principled issues here.  And one is whether or not you think Minnesota is capable of deciding this at the state level or whether this ought to be a federal case.  And certainly, that‘s a legal matter, but it‘s also a principled matter.

The other issue is, how much of a sense of urgency you feel like there is that Minnesota needs a second senator.  I don‘t—I understand that it‘s possible that these things could play out for months or for years.  The head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee is sort of been rubbing his hands in glee, saying it might take years at least that‘s how it seemed to me when I‘ve seen John Cornyn talked about it.

Do you have a sense of urgency about this?

PAWLENTY:  Well, of course, you know, it puts Minnesota at a disadvantage to have one less member of Congress.  But two things have to be balanced against each other.  One is the frustration and the need to have a full congressional delegation.  And the other is making sure we have confidence in the integrity of our elections.

Those things have to be in balance.  A few more weeks or months will be frustrating, but it‘s important that we also maintain the integrity of our elections.

And if I might, Rachel, just quickly, you talked earlier about, you know, issues of significance.  The Minnesota Supreme Court in an earlier decision in this very case said we‘re not going to count absentee ballots at one point in the process unless both campaigns agree to allow them in.

Now, I respect our Minnesota Supreme Court, but since when does somebody‘s constitutional right to vote depend on two campaigns agreeing?  That‘s a constitutional right and principle that rises or falls on its own merit, not whether two political campaigns agree.

So, that‘s an example of the kind of things that a higher court may have to look at and say, “Well, that‘s correct.”


PAWLENTY:  You know, it troubles me, it concerns me.

MADDOW:  That would sound to me like an effort by the court to try to meet both prerogatives here.  The prerogative of justice and the prerogative of getting this done so that the people of Minnesota are represented—to try to fine the ground where everybody feels like, at least the process, they got a fair shot.

Governor Pawlenty of Minnesota .


PAWLENTY:  Yes, and how would—how would you—yes, how would you feel, Rachel, if you said—somebody said your right to vote depends on whether or the Bush campaign and the Gore campaign can agree on it.  That‘s now how it works.  That‘s not how it should work.

MADDOW:  I would feel just as mad as if I heard the head of the National—the head of the Republican Senatorial—head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee gleefully exclaiming how he hoped this took years to resolve, almost holding the representation of the people of Minnesota in the United States Senate hostage so that the Republicans can keep one more likely Democratic vote out of the Senate.  I would be mad in either count, and you‘re sort of put in the middle of this.

And as a member of the Republican Party and as the chief executive of the state of Minnesota, you‘ve got those competing prerogatives that are going to—are going to be pushing you in both directions on this too, I imagine.

PAWLENTY:  I understand.  That‘s all true.  But that‘s why I get paid the big money here in Minnesota.


MADDOW:  Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, you‘re a good sport. 

Thanks for joining us tonight.  I appreciate it.

PAWLENTY:  Happy to do it.  Thank you.

MADDOW:  It is Passover, so good Pesach.  And guess who‘s hosting a Seder?  It‘s the president, Barack Obama, you know, the one with the radical Christian pastor who was also secretly a Muslim the whole time.  Now, he‘s hosting a Seder.

This is, of course, a confounding monotheistic curveball for the anti-Obama conspiracy theorists among us.  That‘s coming up next.


MADDOW:  Extra loose right-wing cannon, Michele Bachmann, meet facts.  Facts, meet Michele Bachmann.  Now that you‘ve met, you really ought to spend more time together.

Coming up: Eugene Robinson of the “Washington Post” is here to discuss the growing distance between actual, factual truth and what it takes to get a lot of attention in the Republican Party these days.

But first, its time for a couple holy mackerel stories in today‘s news.  One of the great campaign ‘08 examples of common wisdom that was totally, utterly, ridiculously wrong was the claim that Barack Obama had a problem with Jewish voters, that there was no way Jews would vote for Obama.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He does have problems in the Jewish community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I do believe that Barack Obama has a problem in the Jewish community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He does have significant problems in South Florida with Jewish votes.


MADDOW:  It was so obvious.  You don‘t even need to argue for it.  It was self-evident that, of course, the Jews would never turn out for a candidate like Obama the way they had for Democratic candidates in the past like John Kerry, for example, who got a whopping 74 percent of the Jewish vote.  Obama got 78 percent of the Jewish vote.  (LAUGHTER).  More common wisdom dies an embarrassing death.

It was also common wisdom that the Democratic primary process would be over at the very latest by Super Tuesday, in the first week of February.  That did not happen either.  And in fact, by the Jewish holiday of Passover last year, in mid-April, the campaigns were still in the thick of it—so much so that Jewish campaign staffers were not able to get home to spend Passover with their families.

On the Obama campaign, that meant an ad hoc, on-the-campaign trail Passover Seder in the basement of the Sheraton Hotel in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  At the end of the Seder, it‘s traditional to say, “Next year in Jerusalem.”  And last year, in the basement of that hotel in Harrisburg, candidate Obama and his staffers at Seder added to the end of that, “Next year in the White House.”

Well, now, it‘s next year.  And for the first time in American history, a sitting U.S. president is not only hosting a Passover Seder on the White House, he‘s also going to attend.  It won‘t be tonight for the first night of Passover.  Reportedly, the White House wanted Jewish staffers and invitees to be able to have Seder with their families at home.  The president and first lady will host a second night Seder tomorrow, which will probably lead to a new round of dumb common wisdom that Obama is secretly Jewish, or at least that he personally escaped from Egypt.

The White House tonight accidentally copied a whole thread of internal White House emails about the Seder on the bottom of their emailed release of the president‘s daily schedule—oops—inadvertently revealing that some Jewish groups were upset that they were not invited to the event.  Not exactly earth-shaking news, but definitely, an embarrassing admission.  Happy Passover!

Finally, the real estate market is a little soft right now, for obvious reasons.  But if you were looking to sell an otherwise unremarkable two-bedroom apartment in Washington, D.C., consider putting a headline on your ad like this one, “Watergate Apartment Used in Nixon Scandal.”  That‘s right.  For the low, low price of 515,000 clams, you can own this two-bedroom, two-bath relic of presidential lawlessness. 

It‘s Apartment 310 at Watergate West.  It‘s supposedly where Watergate felon Fred LaRue doled out more than $300,000 in Nixon campaign funds were given to G. Gordon Liddy and Howard Hunt and other Watergate burglars and co-conspirators.  The money was payment for them to keep silent. 

The hush fund department is described on Craigslist as retaining its original historical condition.  The Web site that is set up for the apartment and the eBay lifting, as well, note if you buy the apartment, you also get a copy of the letter that Watergate bagman Fred LaRue sent to his landlady terminating his lease on that apartment.  The letter of termination is on letterhead from CREEP, the Committee to Reelect the President.  That letter had alone balanced out those hideous kitchen cabinets, don‘t you think?


MADDOW:  Quote, “It‘s just wrong.  It‘s wrong in so many ways, it‘s hard to begin.”  That is MIT economist speak for, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”  The MIT economist in question is John Riley.  And what he‘s calling bull-pucky on is the fact that Republican leaders like Sen. Mitch McConnell and Congressman John Boehner have cited his study in order to make the claim that President Obama‘s cap-and-trade global warming plan would cost American families an extra $3,100 a year in energy costs. 

Dr. Riley told house Republicans they were not reading his study right, that they in fact were flat wrong about it.  He told them that back in March.  It‘s April now, and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who I usually enjoy ignoring, apparently did not get that particular memo. 

She has written an editorial in the “Minneapolis Star Tribune” saying, quote, “According to an analysis by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the average American household could expect its yearly energy bill to increase by $3,128 per year.” 

No.  Pants on fire.  The MIT guy says no.  That‘s not what the study says.  Not true.  You can‘t say that.  Well, now the “Star Tribune” will have to run a correction.  Very embarrassing.  Kind of like when “The Washington Post” columnist George Will asserted in the “The Washington Post” that Arctic Sea ice has not declined significantly in the past 30 years. 

That happens to be totally demonstrably false.  And “The Post” has yet to issue an official correction for the column, but they did publish four different articles debunking Mr. Will‘s global warming hoo-ha. 

Do you want more?  Extra-right wing Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma skipped traditional media to dispense his demonstrably phony claims via YouTube this week.  


SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R-OK):  You know, I can‘t believe what we heard today.  Here we are in Afghanistan right now.  We have our men and women in uniform in harm‘s way, and we hear an announcement we‘re cutting, and I would say gutting, our military.  I‘ve never seen a budget like this. 

We‘re spending so much money that the Obama budget has increased welfare, in all the time we‘re doing this, increasing all these welfares to unconscionable high.  The only thing in the budget that‘s being cut is military. 


MADDOW:  Military - being cut.  It‘s unconscionable and unprecedented for the funding of troops in the field in an ongoing war to be cut.  The awkward thing here is that Obama and Secretary Gates are proposing an increase in military spending.  It was $513 billion in Bush‘s last year in office.  $513 billion.  Obama and Gates want it to be $534 billion. 

I don‘t want to blow your mind or do totally complex math on the TV machine or anything.  But 534 is a bigger number than 513.  But you know, it‘s not just old Sen. Inhofe who is making this mistake.  The Gates budget proposal keeps getting described as if it represents some massive cut to the Pentagon, which arguably is true, if by the word cut, you actually mean the total opposite of the actual meaning of the word “cut.” 

An op-ed in today‘s “Wall Street Journal” repeated that same nonsense with the screaming headline “Obama and Gates Gut the Military.”  For extra crazy points, authors Tom Donnelly and Gary Schmidt quote a Civil War general to bolster their argument.  They quote Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, known to Civil War buffs as an impressive cavalry leader, known to all of America as one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan.  Classy. 

Joining us now, a man dedicated to the radical idea that good arguments should beat bad ones and that facts should be, you know, factual.  Associate editor and columnist at the “Washington Post” Eugene Robinson joins us.  Gene, thank you so much for being here.  


Great to be here, Rachel.  It‘s not everyday that I get to come in on a story in which Nathan Bedford Forrest is a character. 

MADDOW:  We‘re going to span the globe on this one.  Gene, I feel like fact-checking politicians is a full-time job and it is a very fun one.  But, does it sort of feel like there is just more made up stuff in the daily back-and-forth of political news right now than usual? 

ROBINSON:  It certainly does and it‘s distressing.  I think there‘s a distinction here among the examples we cite.  What George Will did was cherry-pick a sentence in a report.  You know, be very persnickety in the way he parsed his sentences and end up making it sound as if the report had said the exact opposite of what it actually said. 

He was persnickety enough that his editors, who also happen to be my editors, felt he didn‘t quite cross the line.  I thought he did.  And the ombudsman of the “Washington Post” agreed with me, actually, and wrote about it in last Sunday‘s paper. 

You know, what the Republican House leadership have done on the question of the $3,000 per household and what Inhofe inexplicably did on the defense cutter are different.  That‘s just making stuff up.  I mean, that $3,128 figure does not appear in the report.  It‘s not there. 

It is arrived at by taking an irrelevant number and dividing it by another irrelevant number and coming up with a number that means nothing.  The actual calculation would be more like $340, although that wouldn‘t show up on your electric bill.  It would include all sorts of other costs that you wouldn‘t necessarily see as energy costs, but they would be in there.  But you know, that‘s a factor almost of 10.  They just made it up.  It‘s really crazy. 

MADDOW:  But if we are invested both as citizens and as members of the media in good arguments winning, in policies following argument, and argument being rigorous and the right argument winning, and factual errors being things that you have to correct.  How do you fight a political argument for the good of the country, when the facts don‘t matter, when they don‘t get corrected? 

Because even if the fight within the editorial board at the “Washington Post” was about the persnickety correctness of George Will‘s statement, the fact is he gave the implication that sea ice is growing and sea ice is shrinking. 

Michele Bachmann, as you said, just flat-out lied.  James Inhofe, the “Wall Street Journal” flat-out lying about there being defense cuts when it‘s actually growing.  I mean, when it‘s just not true what the basis of the other side‘s arguments are, how do you then reasonably and responsibly fight an argument? 

ROBINSON:  Well, you know, when one tries to take a deep breath and

calm down a little bit and then, you know -

MADDOW:  Not a specialty here. 

ROBINSON:  You fight - you have to fight it with truth.  You have to be - you have to lay out what the facts actually are.  And if you recall, during the campaign, our newspaper and I think others made an effort to truth squad political ads, for example.  And you know, outrageous claims were being made about Obama or about Clinton. 

And so we‘d look and we actually awarded, you know, one, two, three or four Pinocchios, depending on the degree of lying that was actually taking place in the political ad.  And that may need to be an institutionalized feature, not just in newspapers, but in other media as well. 

Maybe there should be a truth squad kind of segment on news shows in which we kind of pick the whopper of the day and dissect it and let people know that, you know, what this politician is saying is actually completely false. 

MADDOW:  Everybody has a free speech right to say whatever they want. 

But I think that maybe we all ought to assume the responsibility to make

fun of people who say wrong things.  That would serve to -

ROBINSON:  Absolutely.  And we will continue doing so. 

MADDOW:  Gene Robinson, MSNBC political analyst, “Washington Post” columnist and associate editor.  Thank you for your time tonight, Gene.  It‘s great to see you.  

ROBINSON:  Great to see you, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  Remember the great social wedge issues of the ‘90s?  They may be making a comeback.  But the battle lines are in totally different places now than when we left them.  In a moment, we‘ll be joined live by Maryland Governor Martin O‘Malley.


MADDOW:  As the Republican Party searches for meaning in the political minority, some of its presidential hopefuls are getting ducks in a row for the next campaign season.  If you‘re former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, that means reportedly selling your 9,500 square foot cabin in Utah at the Deer Valley Resort for around $5 million - only slightly less than what he was asking. 

In the great American tradition of how we get ready to run for president, Mr. Romney is selling off his ski pad in Utah.  He‘s also selling off the $3 million other home he has in Massachusetts.  He‘s consolidating down to just the $10 million other-other home in New Hampshire and the other-other-other home, the $12 million one, in southern California. 

Mr. Romney‘s spokesman says he‘s downsizing, simplifying, to just $22 million worth of housing, presumably so he can relate better to the common man. 


MADDOW:  If you are browsing the Celtic rock band Web sites of the world and you happen upon the Web site for the band “O‘Malley‘s March,” do yourself a favor and go to the section marked, “the boys,” as in the boys in the band.  Click on Martin and learn all about their singer, who is described as, quote, “emboldened by Shane MacGowan and seasoned by Christy Moore, Martin has played a narrow range of music his entire life: Irish.” 

Martin also happens to be the governor of the state of Maryland. 

And I might be wrong here, and if I am, I will joyfully run a correction.  But as far as I know, he is the only sitting governor who has also been the lead singer in a band this cool. 

Governor Martin O‘Malley has made national news as governor this year for boldly pushing his state to repeal the death penalty.  Nationally, we are killing fewer of our prisoners than we used to in this country, 37 people executed in 2008.  That‘s the fewest number since 1994. 

And New Mexico just joined New Jersey in overturning and outlawing capital punishment in their state.  State legislators in Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois and New Hampshire are all debating the same move. 

In Maryland, where six people currently live on death row, the governor has made it his mission to abolish the death penalty, saying, quote, “We should not waste one instant, one day, one cent, one dime, serving death.” 

He‘s promised to do everything in his power to get capital punishment banned in his state and he almost succeeded.  The state assembly just passed a law that would severely limit, though not end, capital punishment in the great state of Maryland. 

Joining us now, Maryland Governor Martin O‘Malley.  Governor O‘Malley, please forgive me the “O‘Malley‘s March” introduction.  It‘s a pleasure to have you here on the show.  

GOV. MARTIN O‘MALLEY (D-MD):  I forgive you.  And because, you know, the Orioles just won the first two games against the Yankees, Rachel.  So I forgive you.  I‘m in a good mood.  

MADDOW:  You‘re going to make me so giddy I‘m going to float off the chair here as a Red Sox fan.  Hurrah. 

All right.  So let‘s just talk about what just happened in your state.  You took this bold political move.  You said, “I‘m going to push for this and I don‘t really care what the impact on my political capital of it is.” 

So I have to ask you, if you‘re happy with what your state legislature has decided to do.  What are the new restrictions on the death penalty in your state? 

O‘MALLEY:  Well, I think we made progress.  I mean, this issue came up because, you know, right at the start of my term in 2006, the Court of Appeals got involved in it, pumped up the saliency in this debate. 

And I‘m proud of the progress that we made together.  It was not the full repeal that many of us have pushed for.  But we brought together a lot of people and we were able to at least greatly narrow and modify Maryland‘s death penalty so as to try to avoid - so as far as humanly possible, the possibility that anyone innocent person would ever be sent to death row. 

So the amendment, in essence, says that a person cannot be sent to - or capital punishment cannot be administered in cases unless there is conclusive biological evidence that is to say DNA, or a videotaped confession or the videotape of the act itself. 

So you know, the arc of justice - or rather the arc of history bends towards justice.  It doesn‘t always get there in one or two years.  But I think this is solid progress and we move forward. 

MADDOW:  In terms of your decision to push for this, did you feel like you were taking a political risk in taking this very public stand on this very divisive issue? 

O‘MALLEY:  I don‘t know.  You know, this is one of those issues that is evolving.  Sixty-five percent of Marylanders agree that life - true life without parole, would be an acceptable substitution for the death penalty even as a narrow number say they are in favor of it. 

So I think, fundamentally, Rachel, time will prove that the death penalty is inconsistent, you know, with sound policy.  I mean, it is expensive.  It does not work.  It is not a deterrent.  It takes money away from things that actually do save lives. 

And it is also - I believe anyway and this is with due respect to those that may disagree on this issue.  I believe that it is fundamentally at odds with some of the most important founding principles of this republic, namely our belief of the dignity of every individual. 

And you know, it is hard to work up a lot of sympathy for many of the people that are on death row who have done these horrible things.  But you know, the death penalty does not save lives.  Other things that we can do with the government that works can save lives. 

I mean, last year we reduced homicides in the State of Maryland by 61 lives.  The death penalty didn‘t play any role in that.  It was our second biggest reduction since 1985.  So I‘m for a government that works.  I think we should do programs that work to fulfill the most obligation we have, which is protecting lives in our state.  And the death penalty does not work and it‘s inconsistent, I believe, with our principles. 

MADDOW:  The idea of being tough on crime was for so long the defining, sort of resonant chord at the middle of American domestic politics.  And you know, the death penalty is just - and crime - one of those issues like abortion, like gay rights, like so many others of these social concern issues that have been so divisive and so partisan for the last 20 years.

But things are changing on this issue.  We have seen a lot of change on the issue of gay rights.  We are seeing a lot of change on the issue of the death penalty.  I think that we may start to see change on the issue of abortion rights and women‘s right to choose.  Do you feel like the politics around these things are just evolving in a way that we couldn‘t have predicted in the ‘90s? 

O‘MALLEY:  Well, I do.  And I think with regard to this public safety issue, I believe we‘ve started to do a lot of things that actually work.  You know, in some cases, jail is a sound and good public policy for people that shoot and rob or maim other people in our society. 

And I think over the last 10 years, we have started to implement, you know, performance-measured policing, com stat, if you will.  We‘re much smarter about the supervision of people that are out on parole and probation.  And all of these things have led to decline in violent crime rates. 

In the City of Baltimore we have had a huge reduction, almost, I think, 40 percent in the last seven years.  The death penalty wasn‘t any part of that.  So I think, you know, when you put it to people and lay out the facts that the death penalty is not a deterrent, that there is always a chance that an innocent person would be executed.

And then you couple that with the things that we‘re doing together that actually work to make big American cities safer and to make states safer.  I think that the public wants a government that works again.  And I think that is part of the reason for this shift underlying the death penalty.  Nobody is in favor of expensive policies that don‘t work.  And the death penalty doesn‘t work. 

MADDOW:  Governor Martin O‘Malley of Maryland, thank you so much for taking the time to join us tonight.

O‘MALLEY:  Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  It‘s nice to see you.

O‘MALLEY:  It‘s good seeing you.

MADDOW:  coming up on “COUNTDOWN,” Keith‘s special guest is the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

Next on this show, I get just enough pop culture from my friend Kent Jones, plus a cocktail moment for all you baseball nerds out there.


MADDOW:  Mr. Jones, nice to see you.  What have you got?

KENT JONES, POP CULTURIST:  Good evening, Rachel.  Well, this year marks the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.  So to commemorate, the New York City Tourism Office is launching a $1.9 million marketing campaign called “Rainbow Pilgrimage” to attract gay people to come to New York City. 

And do what?  Go to clubs, restaurants, galleries, Broadway - yes, OK.  Good luck with that.  It‘s a campaign to get people to come here. 

MADDOW:  Rainbow Pilgrimage tells me come find the pot of gold, you know. 

JONES:  Yes, exactly.  Where is that about?  Finally, soccer fans out there, you know when the ref will penalize a player for committing a foul by holding up the yellow card? 

Well, at a club match in England last week, the ref yellow-carded player from Charlton Villa(ph) for breaking wind during the opponent‘s penalty kick.  I‘m guessing that is not in the rule book anywhere, but poor form, mate.  Poor form.  It‘s not (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  Wow.  Don‘t do that.

MADDOW:  I wonder if you can apply for a mitigation based on whether you‘re upwind or downwind. 

JONES:  Yes.  That is the red card for me.

MADDOW:  Oh, man.  Kent, I have a very heavy cocktail moment for you. 

JONES:  You certainly do. 

MADDOW:  I do.  The new “Paul Dixon Baseball Dictionary” just came out, third edition.  It is very cool. 

JONES:  Yes.

MADDOW:  And its weird words in baseball that you need to know.  I just got my first Fenway tickets for this year. 

JONES:  Very nice.

MADDOW:  So I‘ve been looking stuff up.  An FDR pitch, Lew Burdette‘s term for a wild pitch.  It stands for “fire, duck and run.” 

JONES:  Yes.  OK.  FDR, yes.

MADDOW:  The “Peggy Lee fastball” - is that all there is?  That is pretty good. 

JONES:  That would be my fastball. 

MADDOW:  A “Rubinoff(ph)” is a 1937-era term for a player in need of a haircut. 

JONES:  Rubinoff(ph).

MADDOW:  Rubinoff(ph).


MADDOW:  I‘m studying. 

JONES:  Big book.

MADDOW:  Exactly.  Thanks, Kent.  Thank you for watching tonight. 

“COUNTDOWN” with Keith Olbermann starts right now.



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