August 6, 2009
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Guests: Kent Jones, Rep. Brian Baird, Tim Phillips, Jonathan Turley
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Thank you very much, Keith. Nice to see you.
And thank you at home for tuning in.
Timothy Phillips is the president of an organization called Americans for Prosperity. He will join us this hour, as Keith said. The group that Mr. Phillips is head of is one of those groups that we have reported this week as a corporate-affiliated organizer of the anti-health care reform uprisings that are happening in places that used to host civic discourse.
We're very glad that Mr. Phillips agreed to be here and he'll join us here live shortly.
But we begin tonight with a new ugly term and what was already a pretty ugly political situation. The wave of angry mobs being dispatched to shut down town hall meetings about health care reform appears to be attacking from aggressive rudeness towards threats of violence. Congressman Brad Miller, a Democrat of North Carolina, has received death threats over his position on health care.
Congressman Miller's communications director telling "Talking Points Memo" today, quote, "The call to the D.C. office was: Miller could lose his life over this."
Congressman Brian Baird of Washington-he'll be joining us live in just a moment-also announced that he won't be scheduling any town hall meetings over the August recess because of what he called, quote, "a lynch-mob mentality out there. There is an ugliness to it," he said.
And for evidence of that ugliness-well, Congressman Frank Kratovil, a freshman Democrat from Maryland. He was recently lynched in effigy by an anti-health care reform protester outside his own office-lynched in effigy, because of health care form.
Meanwhile, the rhetoric behind the anti-health care reform movement is also taking a radical turn. Here's a protest outside Democrat Congresswoman Betsy Markey's Colorado office, a protest that includes a sign with the president's name underneath a swastika.
Here's a protest outside a town hall meeting being held by Congressman Lloyd Doggett, Democrat of Texas, this past weekend. If you look closely at that sign there, you'll notice the Nazi SS lettering; another of Congressman Doggett's protestors that day brought along a Lloyd Doggett tombstone.
And influential Republican talk show host Rush Limbaugh is also pushing the Nazi theme, comparing on his Web site the Obama health care logo with the Nazi swastika and devoting plenty of air time comparing the president of the United States and this logo for the health care reform, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Adolf Hitler.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The Obama health care logo is damn close to a Nazi swastika logo. There are far more similarity between Nancy Pelosi and Adolf Hitler than between these people showing up at town halls to protest a Hitler-like policy that's being heralded by a Hitler-like logo. Oh, another similarity. Obama is asking citizens to wrap each other out, like Hitler did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He's just like Hitler. And you know what that means he deserves, right?
As for the actual Republican Party, the would-be responsible adults opposed to health care reform, RNC Chairman Michael Steele is going for the, "who me?" approach, telling reporters that the Republican Party has absolutely nothing to do with encouraging angry town hall protests. Mr. Steele said in a conference call yesterday, quote, "We're not encouraging people to be angry. Now, some people, you know, that's how they express their frustration, but that's not something deliberately coordinated by me or anyone one state party."
But, you know, it is being celebrated and publicized by the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is the part of the Republican Party that's responsible for races in the House of Representatives. They're promoting the disruptions of public events on their Web site. They're calling them "recess roastings," and they're taunting the Democrats who are being accosted and shouted down at these events.
House Minority Leader John Boehner, on his web site, is gloating specifically about the way the Texas Democrat Lloyd Doggett was treated during his town halls. Congressman Doggett is the one who was treated to an image of his own tombstone, you will recall. Congressman Boehner concludes in his taunting of Congressman Doggett, quote, "It will be a long, hot August for Democrats in Congress."
The Republican Party of Texas has produced a video for the front page of its Web site, which includes footage of Congressman Doggett being screamed at and bullied.
Now, for his part, Senator John Cornyn of Texas, who was the chair of the Senate campaign arm of the Republican Party, he says he sees electoral advantage in these demonstrations of mass hostility. Senator Cornyn told "The Hill" newspaper, quote, "Fear, I would say, precedes anger, and I think there are a lot of people who tell me they are scared of what they see coming out of Washington. I see real opportunities for us."
We've got fear. We've got anger. Frankly, we're psyched.
Another congressman, another Republican congressman, is actually making jokes about the death threats and the other threats of violence against Democrat. Little known Congressman Todd Akin of Missouri, now officially has something that he will be known for.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TODD AKIN ®, MISSOURI: Different people from Washington, D.C. have come back to their districts and had town hall meetings and they almost got lynched.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
AKIN: I would assume you're not approving lynchings, because we don't want to do that. But the point is, people are really upset at some of this legislation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That video was shot at a forum held by Congressman Akin earlier this week, telling jokes about lynching and getting big laughs.
Now, I don't want to step on the joke or anything, but I do sort of worry about threatening violence and saying it would be justified for political reasons-given even just our recent history as a country. When Dr. George Tiller was murdered in May, it turned out that his alleged killer Scott Roeder was steeped in extreme rhetoric and reasoning of the extreme anti-abortion movement and their supporters in the conservative media who vilified Dr. Tiller so harshly and so repeatedly as to make his assassination seem like a logical next step to some of the unhinged fringe of our society.
On FOX News Channel, Bill O'Reilly not only attacked Dr. Tiller as a killer but repeatedly called him a Nazi, which is a particularly resonant metaphor to people looking to hear that acting on their fantasies of violence against those with whom disagree would somehow be seen as justified.
Public figures have two options when political circumstances reach a point that's somewhere between extreme rhetoric and physical violence. You can condone the threats and then risk being seen at complicit and whatever comes next, or you can step up and be an adult, try to do something to restore civility.
For example, to his credit, Senator John McCain posted a message on his Twitter account, of all place, saying, quote, "Town hall meetings are an American tradition. We should allow everyone to express their views without disruption even if he disagree." Now, Twitter isn't the floor of the U.S. Senate, but good for John McCain.
Meanwhile, FOX News host, Glenn Beck-yes, Glenn Beck, also did the right thing recently, before undoing it just as quickly, but on his FOX News show recently, Mr. Beck called on his viewers to choose prayer over any violent impulses they might be feeling. Kudos to Glenn Beck for having said that. Then, he said this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS HOST: You have three people in the White House that are in love with u eugenics or whatever it is you would call it today. Of course, it's not eugenics, because eugenics has been so horribly maligned. We have quotes, not ancient 1960s quotes, the oldest one we have is from 1995 and some of them have been written or said this year by people who are advising this president on health care.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Eugenics, of course, is the philosophy-philosophy cited by the Nazi in Hitler's Germany as justification for their racial policies.
You know, there's a reason by comparisons to Nazis and lynchings and effigy and death threats are unacceptable in public discourse, or at least they're supposed to be. They implicitly condone if not encourage violence. It's time to stop it before people get hurt.
Joining us now is Congressman Brian Baird, Democrat of Washington State.
Congressman, thanks very much for coming on the show tonight.
REP. BRIAN BAIRD (D), WASHINGTON: Great to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Do you think there is a danger of real violence being a fringe offshoot of what we're seeing now in our political discourse?
BAIRD: Well, the first violence that's happening is violence in the democratic process. If people set out to disrupt town hall meetings, to intimidate people who sincerely want to discuss important issue, the first victim is the democracy itself. But beyond that, some of the rhetoric that we're hearing is vaguely-not vaguely, but eerily reminiscent of the thing that drove Tim McVeigh to bomb the federal building in Oklahoma.
This is not about health care. Democrats and Republicans alike should have been disbursing to our districts over this August to have serious, honest, open discussions-including hearing from people who have legitimate concerns; and there are legitimate concerns. But when a concerted effort is made to intimidate, to suppress discussion, to threaten people, that crosses the line and it actually blocks the democratic process and informed debate.
MADDOW: As I mentioned earlier, you have decided not to hold any in-person town hall meetings during the August recess. You're getting some criticism from that from among these protesters on the right. Do you feel like you would be putting yourself in physical danger at a public meeting? Is that why you made this decision?
BAIRD: Well, first of all, I've had over 300 town halls in the 10-plus years I've been in Congress. It's more than most members have. So, there's no question that I actually welcome a civic debate and welcome discussion. We're actually going to have town halls, although it's what called the telephone town hall where we call out and can actually have 4,000 to 5,000 people on the line at a time having a real discussion.
What I'm opting not do is create a venue where people can purposefully intimidate other members of the community who want to be heard and want to express their views.
You know, when you read these Web sites, Rachel, it's all about attack early, intimidate, shout them down, don't get them have a word in edgewise. I've had town halls where that kind of thing has happened and average citizens have said, "This is frightening to me. This is not what my country is about. I'm not coming to these anymore."
So, if you get a point where the only purpose to have a town hall is to have it disrupted and reasonable people who want to have a debate can't be there, what's the point of having the town hall?
MADDOW: Do you think that the Republican Party has a role in encouraging this movement? We've seen from the NRCC, we've seen from John Boehner, we've seem from some other specific members of Congress, Republicans in the House in particular, and also now, Senator John Cornyn talking about the political advantages of this and trying to promote these disruptions and publicize them, is, to my mind, to explicitly encourage them. Do you think they have a responsibility to call for some civility?
BAIRD: They absolutely have a responsibility to call for civility, because this is a question of our democratic process itself. Remember, they will have town halls as well. And we don't really want a situation where our side decides, well, we've got to show up and scream and shout them down-because then you basically resort to mob rule. And that's not what a constitutional democratic republic is about.
It's not enough for them to say, "We're not coordinating it, we're not condoning it." They must do as John McCain did, and vigorously-vigorously oppose this.
The other thing, though, Rachel, is I think it's time for folks on the progressive side to contact their representative and say, "Look, whether you're a Democrat or Republican, this is not acceptable conduct." And if your representative happens to be Republican, call on them publicly to denounce this and go to their town halls, not to disrupt this at all, but to have a respectful debate and discussion of heath care and confront those who would respond as Mr. Akin's constituents did, with laughter when the topic of lynching members of Congress is raised.
MADDOW: Congressman Brian Baird, Democrat of Washington-thank you very much for joining us tonight. Good luck to you.
BAIRD: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: OK. Last night, I reported on two groups who have been promoting ideas about health care, and promoting the idea of those opposed to heath care reform going to town hall meetings-these supposed ordinary concern citizens going to these town hall meetings.
Coming up next, the president of one of those groups, Tim Phillips, will join us here on this show with a First Amendment-palooza-coming up.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: During the Bush years, there were quite a few administration officials who were forced to leave their jobs under dark clouds. There was Claude Allen, for example, President Bush's domestic policy adviser who left after shoplifting a whole bunch of stuff from Target.
There was Bush's aides czar, Randall Tobias, famous for telling foreign countries they couldn't get any American money to fight AIDS unless they cracked down on hookers. Mr. Tobias resigned, of course, after his name turned up on the client list of the D.C. madame.
There was David Safivian, the head of procurement at the White House, who was busted in the Jack Abramoff scandal. There was Steven Griles, number two guy at Interior Department who was also busted in the Jack Abramoff scandal.
Actually, if I keep listing how many Bush administration officials were busted in the Abramoff scandal, we're going to be here a long time. But suffice to say, there were a lot of dark clouds over a lot of Bush administration resignations. One of them was President Bush's administrator of Medicare, a man named Thomas Scully.
Mr. Scully's career in government took a turn for the infamous after he ordered another government official to withhold information from Congress. That information was: how much President Bush's Medicare prescription drug benefit would cost. Publicly, the Bush administration was saying it would cost no more than $400 billion. Privately, they knew it was more like $600 billion. But Thomas Scully made sure that Congress never knew that.
A Bush administration investigation found that Mr. Scully threatened to fire the actuary who came up with the real cost figures if that actuary gave those real cost numbers to Congress. And while he was doing that, Mr. Scully was also busy getting himself a special waiver that would allow him to get a job as a health industry lobbyist as soon as he left government.
So, think about this for a second. He helped that prescription bill get passed by hiding its true costs, then he immediately went to work for companies who stood to make a mint from the fact that he got that bill passed. It's nice work, if you can get it, right?
You know, it is technically legal to interfere with a federal employee who's trying to communicate with Congress. But Mr. Scully was never charged. He just became a lobbyist and started raking in the D-O-U-G-H, dough. Ha, ha, ha, suckers!
Where's Thomas Scully today? Thomas Scully is a general partner now of a venture capital firm investing in a whole lot of different medical companies, everything from kidney dialysis centers to nurse temping agencies to manufacturers of heart and vascular defect devices.
One of the companies they recently invested heavily in is called Solantic Corporation. Not only did they invest in Solantic, Tom Scully is now a member of Solantic's board of directors. Solantic is a Florida-based urgent care provider famous for trying to take a Walmart-like for-profit franchisee approach to health care. The chairman of Solantic is a man named Rick Scott.
Rick Scott-Rick Scott? Why does that name sound so familiar?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think you've had groups today, Conservatives for Patients' Rights that have bragged about organizing and manufacturing that anger. I think you've got somebody who's very involved, a leader of that group that's very involved in the status quo, a CEO that used to run a health care company that was fined by the federal government $1.7 billion for fraud.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That's who he is! That's the guy. Rick Scott! Right!
The disgraced medical fraud profiteer who's now head of the organization Conservatives for Patients' Rights-which is proudly promoting this effort to disrupt town hall events across the country, at which health care reform is supposed to be discussed. Their Web site not only has a running list of all these town hall events, but they also have a special page for video of these events, bragging about which members of Congress they've been able to rattle and who's events they've been able to shut down.
Rick Scott, the chairman of a chain of for-profits walk-in clinic, many of which are inside Walmart, is actively promoting and taking credit for the organized, intimidating chaos that's trying to stop even discussions about reforming health care.
After he was called out by Robert Gibbs of the White House, Mr. Scott told the conservative Web site CNS News, quote, "No one needs to manufacture anger or concern. It's a shame that Mr. Gibbs chooses to dismiss these Americans and their very real concerns."
These American, and their very real concerns, that the chain of for-profit clinics they've set up inside Walmart might some day get some competition. And, oh, my elderly relatives are really worried that the chain of for-profit clinics they're setting up inside Walmart might be threatened, too.
Rick Scott is just a regular American who happens to have perpetuated one of the largest health care frauds in human history and now senses a threat to his current for-profit health scheme which is being overseen by a disgraced Bush administration official whose own record on the subject is so vile he actually makes the word corrupt look bad.
How dare Robert Gibbs suggest that he's not just a regular guy?
In totally coincidental, unrelated news, America's health insurance plans, the national association that represents more than 1,000 insurance companies have just put out a list of talking points. The things they want real Americans to say at these town hall events. Here's your script, real people-written for you by the health insurance industry, which isn't trying to manufacture the appearance of grassroots opposition at all.
If you don't feel like taking your talking points directly in the health insurance industry, how about a middleman? Like, say, the organization FreedomWorks? Which sounds really grassroots. They have now published their own August recess action kit, your handy-dandy guide for disrupting town hall meetings at a location near you.
The kit actually begins with, "Dear friend of freedom," and it provides suggested questions that you might ask your local congressman. There's also a very helpful Google maps of upcoming town hall events. This kit brought to you by the head of FreedomWorks-of course, former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey.
In addition to fronting that group, Dick Armey is a senior policy adviser at a law firm called DLA Piper. DLA Piper just happens to have received $830,000 this year, so far, from a giant pharmaceutical firm called Medicines Company. This after the $1.5 million Medicines Company paid Mr. Armey's firm last year.
The fact that Dick Armey and FreedomWorks are standing alongside
regular Joes like Rick Scott to lead the charge against health care reform
could be just a coincidence. Or it could be a stark reminder of who we're dealing with here. Who is actively organizing the campaign against health care reform? Scaring real Americans with increasingly paranoid and kooky lies about health care and then providing a script for how to express that fear.
These are the pros, very well-compensated pros. They do this all the time. It's a P.R. industry. It's a lobbying industry. And they have a clear vested financial interest in seeing that the health care industry is not reformed-not now, not ever.
But the prospect of health care reform is up against, is a big, expensive corporate P.R. effort-and as I've said before, should be reported as such.
MADDOW: Have to do a little housekeeping here. Last night, I reported on the sophisticated, well-funded corporate efforts to make it seem as though the opposition to health reform in this country is actually a spontaneous grassroots movement instead of a-instead of a sophisticated, well-funded corporate effort.
And in that reporting, I said that two groups Patients United Now and Patients First were both busing people around the country to demonstrate against health care reform. I apologize for being wrong when I said that. It's actually just Patients First that is bussing people around. See, that's one of their very fancy buses right there. This photo was actually sent in to us today by a viewer from North Carolina, who I thank for that.
Patients United Now may not be busing people around to serve as mobile anti-health care reform crowds, but both groups are part of Americans for Prosperity. So, you can see the Americans for Prosperity/Patients First bus out in your town, say, or you can use the Americans for Prosperity/Patients United Now Web site to, like, watch videos, like this clip from FOX Business Channel that they labeled "Government Health Care Plan Not Necessary." Or this one that's just called "How Obama Will Ruin Health Care."
With either Patients United Now or Patients First, it's really Americans for Prosperity, which is located at-on the 1700 block of M Street, right smack in the middle of downtown Washington, D.C.-you know, where the grassroots grow.
The man who runs Americans for Prosperity, its president, is Tim Phillips. And he will join us live in just a moment. Mr. Phillips has made a career out of, to my mind, creating the impression there is grassroots support for the agenda of his corporate clients.
Americans for Prosperity projects include not only those awesome buses that we just showed you-and I understand it's not just one; it's a bunch of them. They are also the company that hired Joe the Plumber to travel around the country opposing the Employee Free Choice Act that's called the "Save My Ballot Tour." They set up NoStimulus.com to-obviously, oppose the stimulus.
They flew a hot air balloon around to make the case that concern about global warming was a lot of hot air. Get it? With the balloons? That was called the "Hot Air Tour."
Americans for Prosperity is the M Street, Washington, D.C. hive of campaigns that are supposed to look like they're not at all coming from M Street in Washington, D.C.
Joining us now is Tim Phillips, who is the president of Americans for Prosperity, which has launched both Patients United Now and Patients First.
Mr. Phillips, I know you're under no illusions about our coverage of the organization. I really thank you for agreeing to come on the show.
TIM PHILLIPS, AMERICANS FOR PROSPERTY: Rachel, you bet. I did see last night; so, I know what I'm getting into.
MADDOW: Very good. Well, let me start by being as fair as I can be. Have I got my facts straight thus far? Did I just say anything that was factually incorrect?
PHILLIPS: When you say we're bussing folks in or that we're not a real group, I think that's an exaggeration, Rachel. I was in Evansville, Indiana this morning. We had 260 folks there in a steamy hot summer morning. And they're real folks. None of them were bused in on a corporate front route. These are real people.
MADDOW: What are the buses for?
PHILLIPS: The buses are to go around and deliver our message. They're a really good prop. They're a good way to dramatize what's at stake in this healthcare debate. And so we do have two of those buses running. One's in Nebraska this week, one's in North Carolina. I'll be in Pennsylvania with it again next week. And it's a good way to dramatize what's at stake with this healthcare debate going on in Washington, D.C. right now.
MADDOW: In trying to understand your strategy and the way that Americans for Prosperity works, when you go to the Web site of Patients United Now, it notes that it's a project of Americans for Prosperity.
MADDOW: And it has a very folksy feel to it. It says, "We are people just like you. You went to D.C. with questions about reform, but what we found shocked us. Radical solutions, discussions behind closed doors, patients like us, not included, just big companies, lobbyists, unions and politicians."
And so that's, Patients United Now, which is Americans for Prosperity, saying that it's patients like us and not lobbyists or big companies? So that's why I'm confused because - I mean, who are the major funders for Americans for Prosperity.
PHILLIPS: Well, let's answer the questions in sequence. We are very upfront that Patients First is a project of Americans for Prosperity. We said that on the Web site as you've just referenced. We're not trying to hide that.
But it is a good way to quickly cut to the chase on this issue that it is about patients first. So - and I'll tell you something. We have over 700,000 activists in all 50 states. I was out on the road this week in places like El Dorado, Arkansas and Monroe, Louisiana with a lot of these people.
And we are patients - just like us. I'm a patient. Rachel, you're a parent. So I think we're all patients in this issue. And we all have something at stake here.
MADDOW: But when you say, "It's patients like us, and not lobbyists or big companies?"
PHILLIPS: I'm not a lobbyist. I'm not a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. I'm a grassroots - hey, I'm a community organizer, Rachel. What do you think about that? Maybe I'm qualified to be president.
MADDOW: That's awesome. But who are the major funders for Americans for Prosperity?
PHILLIPS: We've got over 50,000 donors across the country, all 50 states. I'll tell you something - over 88 percent our money comes from private individuals and foundations.
MADDOW: Is one of those foundations the Koch Industries Foundation?
PHILLIPS: Korlan(ph) Foundation - yes.
MADDOW: As far as I understand you were one of the largest recipients of the foundation, of the Koch Industries Foundation. And they're the largest privately held oil company in the country, one of the largest companies in the country.
And it seems odd to just call yourself patients like us when you're a huge recipient of funding from a big company, and you're trying to distinguish yourself from lobbyists and big companies.
PHILLIPS: Well, first of all, we applaud all Americans for getting involved in the political process. You don't hear us complaining about George Soros pouring tens of millions or even hundreds of millions of dollars, and we applaud that. We think that the American Democratic process is a good thing that every American ought to be involved, whether there is a lot of money or they don't have a lot of money.
But I'll tell you something, to call Americans who turn out at these rallies and go to town hall meetings, front groups or any one individual organization - Rachel, I do think that's demeaning. And that's wrong to them.
MADDOW: I'm not calling anybody, any individual American, a friend group. I'm calling Americans for Prosperity's subgroups a front group for the corporate interest that funds you, guys. Honestly, I mean, that's the allegation that we're making here.
PHILLIPS: There's a corporate interest or less - the corporate interests are a minuscule part of our funding.
MADDOW: OK. Well, let me you about this - OK.
PHILLIPS: And by the way, we would love to have more corporate funding.
So if there's more corporations watching us, feel free to give to us. We'll be happy to have their support as well. We will get the message out on this healthcare issue.
MADDOW: Your hot air tour, which used this excellent visual of a big hot-air balloon, with the words "global warming alarmism" ... PHILLIPS: It is out of (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
MADDOW: ... on the side of it. I think Americans for Prosperity - you guys also did the "free our energy" tour that was promoting domestic drilling, right? Didn't you guys do that as well?
PHILLIPS: No, I don't think so. We were with the hot air tour.
MADDOW: OK, the hot air tour. Are you, guys, funded in part by Exxon or have you been?
PHILLIPS: No, absolutely not.
MADDOW: No Exxon money.
PHILLIPS: Absolutely not. But I'll tell you again, though, we would be happy to take funding from broader groups like that. We haven't in this case, but they have a stake, just like average Americans have a stake in this.
And on the hot-air tour, the cap-and-trade issue is a huge issue that's going to kill jobs, that's going to raise taxes, that's going to drive the utility bills up.
In Evansville this morning, I had a guy walk up to me. Actually, at El Dorado, Arkansas - I'm sorry. There's a refinery there. People and all three of these kids - they said, "Tim, this is my first political event. I want these kids to know their dad's working hard to keep his job." And that's what's at stake with this cap-and-trade issue. And we're happy to hit the road on that. I'll be on the road again in two weeks on that issue.
MADDOW: Exxon does list the Americans for Prosperity Foundation as a recipient of, in some years, tens of thousands of dollars, in other years, hundreds of thousands of dollars, even for things just like general operations. But you're saying Americans for Prosperity, no Exxon money?
PHILLIPS: This year, we haven't had any Exxon money. I would be happy to go back and look at the records. And I will get back to you, Rachel, if we have. But again, though, we're happy to take corporate money.
PHILLIPS: And if you're watching tonight and want to give to us in your corporation and you want to defend freedom and you want to protect the economy and the ability to go out and earn a living and live the American dream, we're happy to take funding for that because it's the issues that we're focused on (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
MADDOW: But my point is that - and the reason I wanted to talk to you - is because I feel like while the corporations need to know that you would be a happy recipient of their funding ...
PHILLIPS: Sure. You bet.
MADDOW: ... people who identify as patients like us as opposed to lobbyists and big companies should also know that you, guys, are as much a big company as you are patients like us. I recognize that I'm a patient, too, but I would never refer to myself as somebody who was a grassroots patients' advocate here.
Let me ask you one last question. In your official bio at the Web site of Americans for Prosperity, there's no activity listed for you at all between 1997 and 2006. Where did you work during that decade?
PHILLIPS: I was at Century Strategies.
MADDOW: Which was - did you co-found that with Ralph Reid? Or did -
PHILLIPS: I did. I sure did. Ralph's a good friend.
MADDOW: When Ralph Reid wrote a memo to Enron in October 2000, it ended up in the "Washington Post." And it says in that letter that your company at that point, Century Strategies should get Enron's business lobbying for energy deregulation because of your company's track record in getting the faith community and faith-based activists to embrace the agenda of your company's clients. I would love to hear you explain to me what the particular interest of faith groups is in energy deregulation.
PHILLIPS: First of all, I'm proud to work with the Century Strategies. It's a good company and is good company today. And Ralph's a good friend of mine. And I think if all Americans, including Americans of faith, have an interest in chief, abundant energy, any time you have energy costs going up, it kills jobs. It takes take-home pay money away from folks who are paying utility bills, paying higher gas prices.
We saw $4 a gallon gas. We see the havoc that it wreaked just last year. So Americans of faith have an interest in cheap, abundant energy, just like every other American does.
MADDOW: One last question for you, and this is just something I wanted to clear up because I've never - I've read about this, but I've never really, totally understood it.
MADDOW: You worked for a candidate, named - it's part of this firm, with Ralph Reid - worked for a candidate named Stephen Martin in the 2000 Republican primary between him and Eric Cantor for Congress.
MADDOW: Did you set up a 527 called the Faith and Family Alliance in Virginia?
PHILLIPS: Initially, I was helpful in doing that. We were not involved once the campaign began of course.
MADDOW: So when they made mailers and robocalls that called Sen. Martin the only Christian in the contest because Eric Cantor is Jewish, was that you?
PHILLIPS: I've never heard of that actually being documented, that occurring. So, A, I wasn't involved. But if it did occur - but I've never actually seen the documentation that did occur in that race.
And Eric Cantor is a good friend of mine today. We're working together to stop this cap-and-trade and to stop this healthcare bill from going through. And I'm glad to count Eric as a friend today.
And I'll tell you something, this kind of gotcha politics, Rachel, is the reason we're winning on health care now. We're worried about it. We're focusing on what this healthcare program is going to do to people.
MADDOW: Wait, wait, what kind of gotcha politics?
PHILLIPS: The kind of discussion we're having right now. Look, the American people want to know what's going to happen to their healthcare system. And the Obama administration and their allies are losing on that point, the only chance they've got.
MADDOW: I think the American people also want to know who the players are in this fight and who's organizing what are being maintained as if they're just spontaneous efforts happening organically by Americans who are angry and they're aren't being coordinated by industry and by lobbyists and by political campaign groups associated with the Republican Party.
And that's why I want to talk about who you are, because you have such an important role in coordinating these events and I think the American people are curious. So I hope you don't feel like I've been unfair.
PHILLIPS: I'm not saying you're unfair, but I'm saying this is a good example of why we're winning this debate right now, the reason 47 percent of the American people, according to the NPR poll, are against the president's plan on health care is because we're focusing on what this plan's going to do rationing health care, driving costs through the roof for a budget which can't withstand it. And our opponents are sending up their attacking mob violence.
MADDOW: Yes -
PHILLIPS: And that's why we're winning it, Rachel.
MADDOW: I will always attack mob violence whenever it happens. I'm totally against it.
PHILLIPS: You're welcome to keep doing this, but it's part of the reason your side is losing this issue.
MADDOW: Well, if you think the mob violence is why you're winning it, I look forward to the end of this fight. Tim Phillips, president of the Americans for Prosperity. You've been real fair to come on the show. Thanks for joining us.
PHILLIPS: Thanks for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: Oh, and let me know if you find out about that Exxon funding.
PHILLIPS: Hey, one thing, Rachel. One thing -
PHILLIPS: Please come on the road with us. Go to our Web site, "AmericansForProsperity.org." We have dozens of events listed. I would love to have you as my guest to see these real Americans. Would you do that?
MADDOW: I can't bear the conflict of interest with your corporate funders.
PHILLIPS: Oh, come on.
MADDOW: Take care, Tim. Thanks for joining us.
All right. That was great. President Obama's Supreme Court pick, Sonia Sotomayor, was confirmed by the Senate today. Now that her nomination fight showed us everybody's political cards for better and worse, what kind of Supreme Court are we going to have with her on it now? Stay with us. Jonathan Turley joins us.
MADDOW: Still to come this hour, Kent Jones uncovers the scariest anti-health reform bill ad ever. If you love anything, or ever have, you and your family must want you.
But first, a couple holy mackerel stories in today's news. If you are like me and you the Twitter, there was a gaping hole in your procrastinating soul today because Twitter was twacked. Twitter was crippled today by a denial of service attack that left the site inaccessible most of the day. At least, for my computer it was, and I checked a lot.
Denial of service attack is when a - excuse me. When a site is attacked with a denial of service attack, it is overwhelmed with zillions of hits or requests for information. As Charles Arthur, the tech editor of "The Guardian" explained it today, the sort of attack is sort of like ringing the site's doorbell and then running away thousands and thousands and thousands of times.
Facebook also reported on its own Facebook page, of course, that it, too, was hit although that appeared to be less severe. Part of what makes the Twitter crash story so sad, so tragic, really, is that not only couldn't we track the thoughts of millions of strangers, 140 characters at a time. Not only could I not become the 10,000th person to post a link to the awesome fake Kenyan birth certificate generator.
But also because were you we could not keep up today with the tweets of John Quincy Adams. The Massachusetts Historical Society, God bless them, is tweeting the diary of our sixth president. It was a diary that he started exactly 200 years ago yesterday when he was working as ambassador to Russia.
John Quincy Adams left Boston Harbor, August 5th, 1809, headed for St. Petersburg. And each day's entry in his diary is just a single line, which means it's well under Twitter's 140 character limit.
John Quincy Adams served as president of the United States from 1825 to 1829, where upon the American people decided not to re-tweet him, but instead chose Andrew Jackson, FTW.
MADDOW: A historic day in American law and politics today with the first-ever Latino justice confirmed by the United States Senate to join the Supreme Court. The vote 68 to 31 as nine Republicans joined 59 Democrats in voting for Sonia Sotomayor.
That puts her overall tally of support smack dab in between what Sam Alito got and what John Roberts got. They, of course, are the last two justices who were confirmed.
Now, the saga to this point has been about the politics of Judge Sotomayor's nomination, particularly the Republican Party's use of her confirmation hearings to accuse the judge of being prejudiced against white people.
That part of the process is all over now. Good luck in the 2010 elections, Republican senators. Now, we have a new Supreme Court with Sonia Sotomayor but without David Souter on it for the first time in nearly 19 years.
Joining us now to discuss what that court might look like is Jonathan Turley, professor of Constitutional Law at George Washington University Law School. Mr. Turley, thank you very much for coming on the show.
JONATHAN TURLEY, PROFESSOR OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, GEORGE WASHINGTON
UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: Hi, Rachel.
MADDOW: Nice to see you. Who do you think Judge Sotomayor is going to be a surprise to once she settles in on the court?
TURLEY: I actually think she is going to surprise both sides of our political debate. You know, the entire controversy over her nomination was remarkably detached from her actual opinions.
Your show is one of the few shows that actually dealt with real opinion. In fact, Sonia Sotomayor is not nearly as liberal as either the liberals or conservatives seem to think. I mean, in fact, if she votes the way she did on the Second Circuit, liberals will lose ground on the Supreme Court.
The funny thing with the charge that she was biased, because, quite to the contrary, she voted on both sides of the political controversy in many cases. I think that liberals actually might be a little disappointed with that voting record if she continues it on the Supreme Court.
MADDOW: Do we know where Judge Sotomayor stands on issues of executive power? You and I have talked about those ...
MADDOW: ... so much over the past few years in terms of the Bush administration. Do we know where she is on those issues?
TURLEY: We don't. You know, she's had over 500 opinions. But the Second Circuit simply did not deal directly with the type of executive power questions that the court's been dealing with in the last eight or so years.
And they are going to come to the court. You know, there is a lot of unfinished business that still remains out there. To the surprise and disappointment for many of us, the Obama administration has not just simply embraced many of the Bush doctrines, but even pushed them further.
And so we expected that many of these issues would die out because Obama would abandon these positions, but he hasn't. He's actually expanding them.
MADDOW: Is there is any way to look at the immediate horizon of what the Supreme Court will be deciding, based on what we know of her as an appellate court judge and what we know about David Souter's record? Is there any way to predict where we're going to see the first manifestations of the changed court, the kinds of decisions we get with her, but we wouldn't have gotten Souter?
TURLEY: Well, the most obvious actually came during her confirmation hearing. Her hearing, like previous hearings for Roberts, Alito and others, was virtually devoid of content. There was only one moment in which there was something constructive. And that was very surprising when Judge Sotomayor, soon Justice Sotomayor, said that she did not believe that foreign judgments and sources should influence decisions of the court.
That really was quite surprising because just in the case involving Simmons - this was a case involving the execution of juveniles - the Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 and relied upon those types of foreign authorities. She said that she doesn't believe the court should rely on those sources.
Well, that decision was 5-4. And the person that she is replacing was in the group of five. So many people are looking - many civil libertarians are looking with great concern about whether she will now add a fifth vote to the conservatives in rejecting foreign source and particularly judgments.
MADDOW: Wow. The distance between the legal applications of what we know about her and the politics of her fight couldn't be more starkly demonstrated by that.
Jonathan Turley, constitutional law professor at George Washington University Law School, it is great to see you. We haven't had you on in way too long. Thanks for being on the show.
TURLEY: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Coming up on "COUNTDOWN," stunning allegations from former Blackwater employers about illegal arms dealing, indiscriminate killing of Iraqi civilians and a reported child sex ring in Iraq. Eek.
Next on this show, my friend Kent Jones will show us a shocking ad attacking Obama's healthcare reform plan, the fact that he made it up and nobody changes how shocking it is. Stay with us.
MADDOW: We turn now to our reform resistance correspondent, Kent Jones.
KENT JONES, POP CULTURIST: Good evening, Rachel. You know, there are all these ads out there that are against healthcare reform. But I found one of them that's unbelievable.
JONES: As in you probably shouldn't believe it.
MADDOW: OK. Fair enough.
JONES (voice-over): We all know that Barack Obama's reckless 75 gagillion-trillion-dollar healthcare scheme will kill old people. But that's only the beginning. Obama, Nancy Pelosi and other liberals in Congress have an even more sinister agenda. They want to kill your pets.
Obama's wasteful bureaucratic healthcare scheme will dictate Lady Sparkles' treatments, Lady Sparkles' medicines, even what that Lady Sparkles conceives. Treatment ration, chronic care denied, beloved family members stolen from their beds.
Obama's plan will eliminate private insurance in favor of a so-called public option. Translation? Lady Sparkles dies, and so will Jingles and She Biscuit and Sir Bunnington Fluff III.
Obama says he'd like to model his plan on Canada's system where the government has been killing off pets for decades. America, we have a choice. Stop Obama's deadly healthcare reform scheme or kiss Lady Sparkles good-bye. Paid for by the Community to Stop Obama from Killing Your Pets, not authorized by any candidate or political party in public.
JONES: Frightening. Frightening.
MADDOW: The problem here is I actually do feel frightened. I'm so susceptible to the music that plays in things like this. "O, Fortuna" makes me scared even if you put it over "The Wizard of Oz." And that makes me scared even though it's you.
JONES: And how do we know? How do we know?
MADDOW: How do we know? Thank you very much, Kent. Terrified. Thank you for watching tonight. We'll see you again tomorrow night. "COUNTDOWN" with Keith Olbermann starts right now. Have a great evening.
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