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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Friday, October 23, 2009

Read the transcript to the Friday show

Guests: Christopher Hayes, Michael Isikoff; Xeni Jardin

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  Good evening, Lawrence.  Thanks for that.  Have a great weekend.


MADDOW:  And thanks for staying with us for the next hour.

The nature of the health reform fight got more hilarious today in Washington, unexpectedly and we have the videotaped evidence.

The nature of President Obama‘s most strident opposition, FOX News and the Cheney family came into much sharper focus.  Big news on both of those subjects to report this hour.

And, John McCain‘s post-presidential election nature has been revealed by some new legislation he has introduced and the word “mavericky” just doesn‘t quite capture it.

“The Nation‘s” Chris Hayes, Michael Isikoff from “Newsweek,” and‘s Xeni Jardin will be here this hour.

Plus, we have a truly cool “Moment of Geek” starring a man known in some parts as “Will at work,” wink, wink, wink.

All right.  That‘s all coming up.

But we begin with the single most unexpected turn of events yet in the fight over health reform.  The scene was the final day of the D.C.  conference of America‘s Health Insurance Plans.  You‘ll remember America‘s Health Insurance Plans as the insurance industry group that released a widely ridiculed study last week in which the insurers threatened that in the event of health care reform passing, they would hike everyone‘s rates sky-high, as opposed to what they‘re doing now.

At the podium today was Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who does poll for the NBC/”Wall Street” polls and whose work over the years for the health insurance industry has included the infamous “Harry and Louise” ads that are widely credited with scaring the public out of supporting health reform the last time around in 1993.

Now, while Bill McInturff was standing at the podium today, at the AHIP conference, he was interrupted in a strange way.  Somebody shouted from the floor of this health insurance industry conference, “Thank you for all the good work you do.”

And then—all I can say is that the fight against the health insurance industry and for health reform in America suddenly, in real-time, got really, really weird and surprising.  Watch this.


BILL MCINTURFF, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER:  All right.  So, kind of try to put in perspective where are we.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thank you for the good work you do!

MCINTURFF:  I‘m not getting paid today, so I think the AHIP staff is in the back trying to provide psychic compensation.  Thank you.


MADDOW:  No, no, no, that wasn‘t the AHIP staff interrupting you, sir. 

Turn back now while you still have the chance.


MCINTURFF:  I think the AHIP staff is in the back trying to provide psychic compensation.  Thank you.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing):  For killing the public option.  And blocking any hopes of its adoption.  Thank you, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing):  But what about competition, it‘s an old American tradition or so I‘ve heard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing):  When Olympia Snowe said no, it croaked, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing):  No, the option is not dead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing):  Or red.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing):  Explain.  Who let these people in here?

CROWD (singing):  If we get a public option, we can sniff out waste just like a dachshund, costs come down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hey, those costs are my profits!

CROWD (singing):  The option, the option, the public wants option without it, it‘s a giveaway.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Exactly to us.  Am I in the right room?

CROWD (singing):  The option, the option, the public wants options without it or reform is a giveaway!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Whoa!  The AHIP singers.  Let‘s hear for the AHIP singers.


MADDOW:  Those were not the AHIP singers.  Obviously, they were the Billionaires for Wealthcare, again—the satirists who cheerfully and in really good tone, nailed the health insurance industry today for opposing health reform.  They honestly said, if we get a public option, we can sniff out waste just like a dachshund.

I have a degree in health policy and I have to tell you, I‘ve never been more happy talking about health care in my life than I am right now, with the dachshund quote.

The Billionaires for Wealthcare described themselves as a grassroots network of health insurance CEOs, HMO lobbyists, talk show hosts and others profiting off our broken health care system.

The Billionaires for Wealthcare‘s well-sung gorilla musical, satirical attack on the insurance industry today said was just one sign among many, of continued spunk and energy on the left to push for a robust version of reform., the Campaign for America‘s Future and the NAACP today wrote directly to the White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, to, quote, “respectively ask that the Office of the President take a stronger stand on a robust public option in order to enact the true health care reform this year.”

In case that was unclear, the groups added that the president should, quote, “heed the will of the people and the organized progressive grassroots and take a strong leadership position in support of a robust option.”

In response to conflicting reports today on the current whip count in both houses of Congress for a robust public option, the left is also flexing its muscles online with influential Web sites like Daily Kos encouraging its readers to whip the vote themselves, by lobbying elected Democrats to commit to vote in favor of a robust public option right now.

Joining us now is Christopher Hayes.  He‘s Washington editor of “The Nation” magazine.

Chris, it‘s nice to see you.  Thanks for joining us.


MADDOW:  You‘ll be expected to sing all of your answer this evening. 

I hope somebody warned you about that.

HAYES:  I wish—I wish I could sing like that.


MADDOW:  That‘s the thing.  It‘s like one thing to be really good at satire, it‘s another thing to be really brave.

HAYES:  I know.

MADDOW:  . about the personal confrontation.  It‘s another thing to be able to do it in perfect, operatic, four-part harmony.  Amazing.

HAYES:  I totally agree.

MADDOW:  All right.  So, Chris, a lot—a lot of today‘s reporting on health reform was that maddening stuff where everybody is claiming something different.

HAYES:  Yes.

MADDOW:  . about the vote counts and which kind of public option will ultimately leave everybody citing unnamed sources.  From your reporting, can you tell us what form of legislation seems to be gaining ground in Congress and which is losing ground?

HAYES:  OK.  So, here‘s where things stand as far as I can tell.  I‘ve talked to some people today who were kind of in conversations with the White House.  On the House side, there‘s going to be a public option in the House bill.  The question is how strong it is.

The robust public option, the term that‘s being used by a lot of people, the sort of strongest version of it is a public option in which the payment rates to doctors and hospitals is set at Medicare plus 5 percent.  And that‘s—that would be the absolute sort of strongest version of the plan.  And it‘s unclear right now—the whip count that you showed from Daily Kos earlier today, the whip count is to get that version of the public option on the House side.

Now, even if they don‘t have that, they‘ll have a slightly weaker version of it but there will definitely be a public option in the House version.  The question on the Senate side, what I‘m hearing, is that there are 58 votes right now on the Senate side for the opt-out version.  The opt-out version, remember, is the one in which everybody starts out with a public option in every state and states can then opt out of that.  Most likely, what you end up with is essentially, the big blue states and blue states in general having a public option and red states is not having it.

The hope being that once you substantiated upfront and it shows, you know, it keeps costs down and people like it, then you get it towards the end.  So, that‘s where things are as far as I can tell in the two houses.

MADDOW:  On the issue of the Senate, you‘re saying 58 votes for an opt-out version of a public option in the Senate.

HAYES:  Yes.  Right.

MADDOW:  Fifty-eight votes is way more than a majority.  Senator Reid obviously is still trying for 60 votes.

HAYES:  Yes.

MADDOW:  There‘s only a 60-vote threshold if a Democrat sides with Republicans to filibuster health reform.  But yet, that is not—that is not central in D.C., to the analysis of what‘s going to happen in the Senate, is it?

HAYES:  No.  And it‘s really frustrating.  I mean, there‘s two issues here.  One is that, look, if you can‘t keep—if you cannot prevent the Democratic senators from filibustering their own party‘s central priority, the president—the thing the president ran or the member of their party, if you can‘t get them to at least let that bill come to the floor for a vote and not join the opposition party‘s filibuster, it‘s really a question of why you have a political party.

I mean, honestly, this is like the threshold baseline level of party loyalty, that you at least allow a vote on the floor.  So, in some senses, it should be academic.  I mean, there should be 60 votes to break a filibuster for whatever the leadership wants to bring to the floor.  Unfortunately, that‘s not the case right now.

MADDOW:  Does the fact that Harry Reid is looking for 60 votes, that he‘s let it be known today that he‘s got 58 and he needs two more, does that mean that he expects somebody will cross over?  Is he essentially giving that up?  You‘d think the thing they‘d be whipping right now is cloture, that there‘d be a 50-vote threshold.

HAYES:  Yes.  I think they‘re trying to put pressure on the hold-outs.  No one knows exactly who the holdouts are.  The two names I heard most today were Landrieu and Ben—Mary Landrieu from Louisiana and Ben Nelson from Nebraska.

I think by saying it‘s a 58, it‘s one way of trying to put pressure on them.  I mean, the other—the other thing that‘s in play here right now is where the White House is in all this.


HAYES:  And right now, there‘s a lot of frustration from people that the White House is not playing a particularly productive role in sort of being the tipping point in the Senate side of things.

MADDOW:  Well, is that potentially strategery at work?  Is it possible that the White House—I mean, Valerie Jarrett on MSNBC this morning that the president is committed to a public option.

HAYES:  Right.

MADDOW:  Is it possible that the White House is not putting the president out as the spokesperson for the public option because they think it would be helpful to the likelihood of a public option ultimately passing, that it not be identified with him?

HAYES:  That seems unlikely to me.  I mean, I think, the more—the more likely explanation is that they are very focused on this being a bipartisan bill, as ludicrous as that sounds when you consider that the best hope they have is one Republican vote in both houses, right?  In the totality of however many Republican legislator there are, 300 or something like that, that they‘re going to get, you know, one of those people to vote and that‘s Olympia Snowe.

And so, you know, there‘s a lot—there‘s, I think, a strain within the White House that thinks, let‘s just kind of give Olympia Snowe what she wants so we could then, at the end of the day, say, the president passed a bipartisan bill.  But that‘s crazy, right?  Because the trigger option that Snowe is proposing, almost no one—I mean, you literally can‘t find a single person who thinks it‘s a good idea.  It‘s the kind of worst sausage making at its worst.

MADDOW:  Chris Hayes, Washington editor of “The Nation”—I think you and I should start a campaign and it be called bipartisan because Bernie Sanders is going to vote for it.

HAYES:  Yes, right.

MADDOW:  And he is, after all, an independent socialist.

HAYES:  That‘s exactly right.

MADDOW:  Thanks, Chris.  Have a great weekend.

HAYES:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  OK.  There‘s been a lot of reporting and even more blah, blah, blah-ing about the White House‘s conflict with our competitor, FOX News.  And most of the reporting and blah, blah, blah-ing, personally, I have thought has kind of missed the point.  Today, the point of this whole thing kerfuffle was made extra doublebly, triply clear with a cherry on top.

That story and my thoughts on it—next.


MADDOW:  Last night on the show, I interviewed my colleague here at MSNBC, Keith Olbermann, about he and I being used this week by the FOX News Channel as a means for that network to hit back at the White House.

FOX, this week, criticized the White House for inviting Keith and me to attend an off-the-record briefing with the president, given that the White House has also recently criticized FOX, which, of course, is seen as one of our competitors.

White House, including the president himself, has said in recent days, they will treat FOX, essentially, as an opposition political outlet rather than a normal news channel.  That position was made manifest yesterday when the White House arranged an interview sitting for the executive pay chief, Kenneth Feinberg.

The way these things work is that the news maker sits in the same chair and talks to the same camera, but every five minutes or so, the interviewer the news maker is talking to changes.  So it would be NBC interviewing Ken Feinberg for five minutes and then ABC interviewing Ken Feinberg for five minutes and then CBS, and then CNN, et cetera.

Well, yesterday, the White House said that FOX would not be among the networks invited to interview Ken Feinberg in one of these round robin poll interviews.  And the other networks came to FOX‘s defense.  They said they would bow out of interviewing Mr. Feinberg themselves unless FOX was included.  So, FOX was included.

FOX has since been trumpeting this as a victory over the White House, and as evidence that the media sees FOX as a news station even if the White House doesn‘t.  FOX is right in that the media generally does treat FOX as a news station, even as the White House says they‘re not.

Is FOX a news station?  The answer to that is unrelated to the question of whether and which FOX hosts and correspondents express their opinion about the news.  It is possible to express an opinion about the news and still cover the news responsibly.


WALTER CRONKITE, LEGENDARY JOURNALIST:  We, the American people, the world‘s admired democracy, cannot ever again allow ourselves to be misinformed, manipulated and misled into disastrous foreign adventures.


MADDOW:  Walter Cronkite‘s statements of his opinion about the Vietnam War did not negate his authority in delivering the news about that war or about anything else.

Today, Bob Schieffer, the venerable host of “Face the Nation” sometimes closes out that program with his commentary on the news of the day.  That commentary, while it‘s opinion, doesn‘t make his audience believe less in Mr. Schieffer‘s ability to deliver the news and to do so well.

Anchors like CNN‘s Anderson Cooper and, yes, FOX News Channel‘s Shepard Smith earned respect and admiration from their audiences and beyond with their impassioned expressions of opinion and outrage against the failed response to Hurricane Katrina.


SHEPARD SMITH, FOX NEWS:  The government said, you go here and you‘ll get help.  Or you go in that Superdome and you‘ll get help.  And they didn‘t get help.  They got locked in there and they watched people being killed around them and they watched people starving, and they watched elderly people not get any medicine.  And now they know it‘s happening because we‘ve been telling them repeatedly, over and over, every day.



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN:  For the last four days, I‘ve been seeing dead bodies in the streets here in Mississippi.  And to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other, you know, I got to tell you, there are a lot of people here who are very upset and very angry and very frustrated, and when they hear politicians slap, you know, thanking one another, it just—you know, it kind of cuts them the wrong way right now.


MADDOW:  It‘s not even just anchors.  Even for flinty, hard-nosed reporters like war correspondent Laura Logan at CBS, the expression of an opinion about the news that reporters cover is, frankly, sometimes part of covering the news.


LAURA LOGAN, CBS:  What kind of a wake-up call do you need to say that you‘re still at war?  And so this idea that you can separate the things is just ludicrous.


MADDOW:  Expressing an opinion about the news does not negate one‘s status as a news reporter or as a correspondent or as a news anchor.  The expression of opinion about the news is not the difference between FOX and the rest of the news media.  The difference between FOX and news is that FOX is now actively organizing and promoting a protest movement against the U.S. government.


GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS:  Celebrate with FOX News.  This is what we‘re doing next Wednesday.


MADDOW:  That was a promo run on FOX in advance of the tax day tea party protests.  I say it was a promo not an ad because no one paid FOX to run that.  The network produced it themselves, promoting as a news network protests against the government, and helping to organize them both on their Web site and on the air.


BECK:  We want to be you and your tea party.  If you have a tea party anywhere that we‘re not covering one of those, e-mail me at  We may cover your tea party live on April 15th.


MADDOW:  In addition to the tax day protests that FOX helped organize in April, they also organized and promoted a protest against the government on the occasion of 9/11, oddly, it was the so-called the 9/12 march organized by Mr. Beck.  You‘ve seen here, one of the network‘s primetime hosts.


BECK:  I launched a project back in March and it comes together on Saturday, September 12th, 9/12.  Thousand of people are going to gather in Washington, D.C. and around the nation to stand up for the principles and the values that have made America great.


MADDOW:  The difference between FOX and news is not that FOX has hired personalities and executives and producers share and express an opinion about the news, that they share an ideology.  Opinion has always been a kissing cousin to news, and one man‘s ideology is another man‘s objective passion.

The difference between FOX and news, the way in which one of these things is not like the other, is that only one of these organizations is organizing anti-government street protests.  There‘s nothing wrong with that.  It‘s perfectly legal as far as I know.  It just makes FOX an opposition political outlet to the Democratic Party and the Obama White House rather than a normal news channel.

The exclamation point was put on that fact today when it was announced

that the next round of Americans for Prosperity anti-health reform rallies

which we‘ve highlighted on this show in the past—they will be headlined by FOX host John Stossel.  Mr. Stossel is a paid contributor at FOX News.  He hosts specials for them and he‘s about to start his own primetime hour on their business channel.  But not before he tours Arkansas, leading rallies against what our friends at American for Prosperity call the “dangers of government-forced health care.”


This is a story that most of the media has gotten wrong so far.  By not only defending FOX as if FOX is just a news network that has a right-wing point of view, but by ignoring what FOX does as a network that has nothing to do with the news.  It‘s free country and FOX can do what it wants.  God bless them and keep them.

But it would frankly be strange, it would be weird for the White House, for the U.S. government to treat a group that is organizing protests and rallies against it as if that group is just covering the news.  It‘s not.  One of these things is really not like the other.


MADDOW:  Big news to report about a new effort by the Cheney family and funded by some of the biggest money men in the Republican Party to attack President Obama on national security, to try to undermine his presidency.  It‘s an effort that‘s being led on the surface by Dick Cheney and his daughter, Liz.  And tonight, we‘re learning new details about who‘s bankrolling their mission behind the scenes.

In conjunction with former Vice President Dick Cheney‘s speech this week attacking President Obama for not having yet announced the decision on the way forward in Afghanistan, a new pressure group headed up by Mr.  Cheney‘s daughter, Liz, has released this new attack ad.


NARRATOR:  Not enough time for decision, but plenty of time for Letterman, golf, a beer summit, more golf, vacation, and a visit to Copenhagen.  If you think America‘s president must act to defend America instead of just talking about, join Keep America Safe today.


MADDOW:  According to “Newsweek‘s” Michael Isikoff, Keep America Safe is gearing up to run TV ads and radio ads and Web ads like that in the home districts of Democratic members of Congress in the lead-up to 2010 elections.  They‘re promising in particular to attempt to exploit the issue of closing Guantanamo for political gain.

The lead story on the Keep America Safe Web site right now says is transferring, it says, “Transferring Gitmo prisoners to the U.S. will set them free.”

Well, today, Mr. Isikoff revealed on “Newsweek‘s” new Declassified blog exactly who is bankrolling the Cheney family‘s Keep America Safe political machine.

America, meet Mel Sembler.  He may not be a household name to most of us, but he‘s a Florida real estate mogul who is very, very well-known in Republican circles.  Mr. Sembler is the former finance chairman of the Republican National Committee.  He served as President Bush‘s ambassador to Italy and he‘s throwing all of his considerable financial muscle behind the Cheney‘s new anti-Obama venture.

Mr. Sembler told “Newsweek,” quote, “I love Liz Cheney and what she‘s doing.  I‘ll be as supportive as my budget will allow.”

Mr. Sembler is a very close friend of the Cheney family.  Here he is posing with the former second lady of the United States, Lynne Cheney.

He‘s so close to the Cheneys, in fact, that in addition to bankrolling the Cheney family‘s new anti-Obama political group, Mr. Sembler is also the chairman of the Scooter Libby Legal Defense Trust set up to defend Mr.  Cheney‘s chief of staff, Scooter Libby, when Mr. Libby was charged with lying and obstructing the investigation into the Bush-Cheney White House, outing a covert CIA officer as political revenge.

The “Scooter didn‘t do it” chairman is the new bankroller of the opposition to President Obama, and incidentally, the polishing of Dick Cheney‘s political legacy, which seems like it might be an expensive undertaking.

Joining us now is MSNBC contributor and “Newsweek” investigative correspondent, Michael Isikoff.

Mike, thanks very much for coming in tonight.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Good to be with you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  OK.  So, you reported this week that Keep America Safe is planning this aggressive anti-Obama ad campaign.  What do you think we should expect that campaign to look like?  And who are they going to target?

ISIKOFF:  Well, they—look, they are a political advocacy group.  They clearly want to be players on the national political scene, carving out this niche of attacking Obama on national security policies.  We saw it.

It was very interesting this week when Cheney gave that speech at the Center for Security Policy the other night, instantaneously, the speech shows up on the Web site of Keep America Safe.  Very much a coordinate effort, father working hand-in-glove with the daughter, all in the family, to defend the Cheney legacy, attack Obama and particularly make Obama‘s national security policies seen as scary and as dangerous as they can.

You mentioned correctly they want to focus on Gitmo.  One of the things they‘re going to be doing in this ad campaign is showing photos of really scary-looking Gitmo detainees, bearded, Muslims looking like terrorists, saying, “Do you want this guy in your neighborhood?” suggesting that Obama‘s policies might lead to the release of Gitmo prisoners inside the United States. 

So that‘s going to be their focus.  And as you say they‘re going to start with the radio ads.  They want to morph into a more fully-fledged TV advertising campaign targeting vulnerable Democrats in rural districts, primarily, the blue dog Democrats that went - you know, they got voted in 2006, trying to use this issue as a wedge against the Democrats in the next elections. 

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  Well, I‘m no expert on Republican feelings, as you might imagine.  But I am guessing that given Dick Cheney‘s approval ratings and general reputation in the country, Republicans who are concerned about the party‘s electoral chances may not be all that psyched about Dick Cheney being very public as the face of the opposition to Obama. 

So do your sources indicate that this really is a forward-looking elect Republicans effort?  Or is this oriented backwards at sort of fixing Cheney‘s legacy? 

ISIKOFF:  Well, look, it‘s both.  I mean, clearly, a big part of this is trying to vindicate the Cheney legacy.  This goes beyond vindicating the Bush administration legacy.  As we know, Cheney was a hard-liner to the very end in the Bush administration even when President Bush was tilting away to some of the hard-line policies of his first term. 

So there‘s a big element of that.  And it‘s - you know, one could call it a family vendetta or a family crusade.  But I think the strategist behind this, and it‘s not just Liz Cheney, a co-director of “Keep America Safe” as Bill Crystal of the “Weekly Standard,” a very active partisan in Republican Party circles and a regular guest on Fox News. 

But I think they think that if they could shake this about Obama‘s policies, that will work to their advantage.  They don‘t necessarily have to put Dick Cheney out there.  I don‘t think we‘re going to see Dick Cheney in these ads but we‘ll see scary look terrorists in these ads. 

MADDOW:  I bet you we will see Dick Cheney in these ads.  I think he can‘t stop talking about this stuff.  Let me ask you one other strategic question about this. 


MADDOW:  Is Mel Sembler the only confirmed named donor for this effort?  Have they released any other information about who‘s spending them money? 

ISIKOFF:  No, they have not disclosed their donors.  They have said they‘re not going to do that.  But Ambassador Sembler volunteered that he had been contacted by Liz Cheney and was willing to help, wants to help put money in. 

And there‘s very few people who have the resources to pump money into Republican Party causes, bigger and more influential than Mel Sembler.  

MADDOW:  MSNBC contributor and “Newsweek” investigative correspondent, Michael Isikoff and a new dad recently.   Congratulations for that, Mike. 

ISIKOFF:  Thank you.  

MADDOW:  Nice to see you.  Have a great weekend.


MADDOW:  Should the government be allowed to stop telecom companies from rigging the Internet for their own commercial purposes?  Sounds like an easy “yes,” right?  Not according to John McCain, who happens to be the top recipient of campaign cash from those same companies.  Coming up, “‘s” Xeni Jardin will be here to dial up the McCain threat to Net neutrality.  Stay tuned.


MADDOW:  Once upon a time, a maverick was a name reserved for cattle that wasn‘t branded.  No sign of ownership anywhere on its hide. 

Once upon a time, John McCain tried hard to brand himself in that very same light.  And now, the senator has taken a position on regulating the Internet, as it turns out, that suggests he may be in the market for a new nickname and maybe a new telecom logo somewhere for a tattoo.  “‘” Xeni Jardin helps us explain. 

And our own RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Internet wizard Will Femia will join us for his primetime television debut.  It‘s for a very, very, very funny reason.  That is all ahead.  

But first, a couple of holy mackerel stories in today‘s news.  Journalist Jane Mayer was here on the show last night to talk about the war we‘re fighting in Afghanistan with drones and the secret war we‘re not so secretly fighting with drones in Pakistan. 

Jane Mayer‘s article about America‘s robot warriors in the current issue of “The New Yorker” is so good that if you were not watching this show, I would tell you to stop what you are doing and read it. 

And then, I would ask you to riddle me this - after 9/11 President Bush declared it was legal to kill al-Qaeda members and their confederates anywhere in the world.  And Congress authorized that use of force. 

But reports indicate seven out of every eight drone attacks this is year, since Obama has been president, have not been against al-Qaeda.  In seven out of eight Pakistani drone strikes this year, we were not shooting at al-Qaeda. 

We were shooting at people the Pakistani government told us they wanted killed, Pakistani extremists that threaten that government, not al-Qaeda.  I‘m sure that‘s neat for our relationship with the Pakistani government.  But under what legal authority are we now doing this? 

Now you know what my homework is for the weekend and what we‘ll be trying to get answer to sometime next week on this show.  

We also have an update for you to a story that we‘ve been covering this week - George W. Bush‘s big post-presidential career move.  As we have reported, the former president will be speaking live in Ft.

Worth Texas on Monday as part of this all-star lineup. 

He‘s speaking at part of a motivational business seminar called “Get Motivated.”  Former First Lady Laura Bush has also joined the “Get Motivated Team.”  In fact, Mrs. Bush has already gone on the road with this motivational speaking series. 

As you can see here, she shared billing in Denver with retired quarterback, John Elway.  And right next to the two of them, you can see, is a man named T. Harv Eker who promised at that event to teach attendees about the specific ways the wealthy think and act differently from the poor and middle class. 

As it happens, T. Harv Eker was part of the blast of completely unsolicited E-mails we received all week long from viewers who had been to “Get Motivated” seminars and believed them to be high-pressure money-making schemes, allegations that I put to “Get Motivated” co-founder Tamara Lowe who came on this show the following night after we first reported George W.  Bush‘s speaking engagement. 

She very politely denied the allegations and she was a lovely guest.  But the unsolicited, mutually corroborating tide of complaint we received about “Get Motivated” being a means of subjecting large numbers of Americans to high-pressure sales tactics led us to look into Mr. Eker, since the former president is appearing at a “Get Motivated” even on Monday and the former first lady was billed alongside Mr. Eker at a previous “Get Motivated” event.

In addition to T. Harv Eker‘s promise to teach you how to stop thinking like a poor person, at T. Harv Eker‘s Rich Life Club, he promises for the low, low rate of $19.95 a month to teach you, quote, “how the wealthy get rich by structuring their lives so they never have to work and how you can do the same.” 

Does that sound too good to be true?  That was the conclusion of the Better Business Bureau, at least seemingly.  T. Harv Eker‘s Rich Life Club is rated an F by the Better Business Bureau. 

The husband and wife team that run the “Get Motivated” seminars, Peter and Tamara Lowe, don‘t fare a whole lot better in the Better Business Bureau rankings.  The BBB gives Get Motivated Seminars, Inc. a D plus.  

No one expects that at George W. Bush‘s speech to the “Get Motivated” seminar in Texas on Monday.  He‘s going to try to sign people up for a get-rich-quick, foolproof stock-picking software seminar or something. 

But the M.O. of “Get Motivated” is to sandwich in between their marquee guests people who do put the hard sell on you to buy the proverbial get-rich-quick, foolproof stock-picking software seminar for the low, low introductory rate of $19.95, but only if you act today. 

Nobody‘s disclosing exactly how much former President Bush or any of the other famous people speaking at these events get paid.  But using their names to attract tens of thousands of people to also sit through the sales pitches - well, it‘s a technique that sure has been profitable for someone. 

Co-founders Tamara and Peter Lowe reportedly just sold their 30,000 square foot house in Florida this summer for about $22.5 million.  That‘s in a down market.  They got a D plus from the Better Business Bureau but they got an A plus for themselves.  And you know, the Bush legacy project rolls on.


MADDOW:  OK.  If you‘re watching live right now, I don‘t know what channel you‘re watching it on.  Channel 24, 41?  Channel 714?  There‘s a lot of cable channels out there.  If you have a big deal cable package, I understand you probably have about 1,000 channels.  Thank you for choosing this one. 

But the number of channels on your TV doesn‘t even begin compare, of course, to the number of Web sites on your Internets, which is more or less, infinity.  And right now, all you need is an Internet connection and an infinite amount of time.  And theoretically, you could see them all. 

But your endless Web browsing capabilities, that potential - that infinite potential, could be in danger if a new bill proposed by 2008 presidential runner-up John McCain, ever passes. 

Sen. McCain wants to block the government, the FCC from making rules to keep the entire Internet accessible to everyone.  Telecom companies want to be able to slow down access to some parts of the Internet and to block some others. 

Essentially, they want the right to privilege the content that they want to privilege for their own telecom corporate purposes.  The government says the Internet should be free.  Big companies should not be able to rig the Internet for their own purposes. 

John McCain‘s bill says that they should.  That‘s the same Sen.

McCain who, back in 2008, when asked if he preferred a Mac or a PC, said

this -


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Neither.  I‘m an illiterate that has to rely on my wife for all of the assistance that I can get.  


MADDOW:  Despite his self-confessed computer illiteracy, a report out this week from the Sunlight Foundation and the Center for Responsive Politics lists Sen. McCain as the single, largest congressional recipient of campaign contributions from the telecom industry from January 2007 through June of this year. 

Joining us now is Xeni Jardin.  She‘s editor and partner of the blog, “” and our official guest/non-resident expert on regulation of the Internet.  Xeni, thanks very much for being here.    


MADDOW:  “Net neutrality” is one of the most boring phrases ever uttered in modern day America.  Despite being boring sounding, it is important and really concrete.  Can you explain to us what it is? 

JARDIN:  You know, the funny thing about Net neutrality is, nobody cares about the Internet works.  We just want to know that it works.  It‘s kind of like picking up the phone to call your mom.  The idea behind Net neutrality is that we should all have equal access to whatever Web site or funny video or whatever animated gif of a kitten dancing. 

You know, it doesn‘t matter what the content is, no cable companies, no telecoms should be able to slow that down, because what you want access to is against their competitive interest. 

So one example of that might be Time-Warner.  Time-Warner is a cable company that provides broadband Internet services here in L.A.  If I want to watch a RACHEL MADDOW clip, a “Daily Show” clip and a clip from CNN, Time-Warner shouldn‘t be able to slow down the MADDOW clip and the “Daily Show” clip and make the CNN clip go faster because they have a commercial interest in CNN.  The idea is, you know, it‘s kind of that all packets are created equal.  

MADDOW:  When the FCC proposes that they are in favor of Net neutrality, and this is the thing that‘s made John McCain so upset, I worry about the government being technologically capable of doing that. 

Is there a way to keep the Internet neutral and to prevent the telecoms from doing that?  Or will they work around whatever the government tries to do anyway? 

JARDIN:  Well, look, telecoms and Internet service providers - they already have a kind of monopoly.  The idea here is to prevent them from abusing that monopoly.  That‘s what the FCC does. 

I mean, we‘re - this act, the Internet Freedom Act, they want to freedom all right.  It‘s like they want to find new ways to be able to charge us more money.  If the Internet as it was in 1995 with Compuserve, with AOL, with these walled gardens where you can‘t necessarily get to everything as fast you like.  If that‘s what you want, this will bring it to you.  

MADDOW:  Sen. McCain‘s bill, as you mentioned, is actually called the Internet Freedom Act of 2009.  And he‘s deriding the government effort to keep telecoms from walling off the Internet as government intrusion in trying to regulate the Internet. 

And all that means is that he‘s picked better branding.  He‘s picked better names.  It doesn‘t relate to the facts of what he‘s doing.  But I‘m wondering if it‘s too late for a re-branding of the other side here.  We just need to get better at talking about because the language seems sort of corrupt at this point. 

JARDIN:  You know, I would say, too, whenever there‘s a fight on the Internet, it‘s always good to side with the geeks who actually built the Internet, rather than sort of fat cat telecom lobbyists. 

You have guys like Vince Surf(ph) who is one of the original designers of how the Internet would work.  He‘s coming out saying that this is a dangerous thing, that Net neutrality is a positive way to protect access, to protect freedom. 

The Internet - it really is a basic right.  It‘s a basic necessity, such a fundamental way for communicating and for accessing information now.  Telecoms shouldn‘t be able to throttle, to slow down or to block our access to something that might not be in their corporate interest.  

MADDOW:  As Sen. McCain tries to put himself at the leadership of this, sponsoring this bill, despite the obvious political liability of being the single biggest recipient of all these telecom donations, his personality and his reputation may be really intertwined with the hopes of his bill for passing. 

Sen. McCain is very active on the Twitter.  I wonder, if by doing that, despite his professed computer illiteracy, he‘s actually earned himself any sort of online street cred at all.  

JARDIN:  You know, just - god, where do you begin?  The guy who says that he doesn‘t even use E-mail telling us how to craft the Internet.  Look, I don‘t think he‘s the right guy to go to for guidance on this.  I‘m siding with the geeks on this one, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  I always side with the geeks.  That‘s generally a rule around here.  Xeni Jardin, editor and partner at “,” thanks very much for joining us tonight. 

JARDIN:  Thank you, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  OK, coming up on “COUNTDOWN” the rumor that “friends” of Roger Ailes want him to run for president surfaces in “Politico” of all places.  What a surprise. 

Next on this show, a member of our staff is now a semi-permanent part of Google‘s coverage of the earth by accident.  It‘s a very strange.  It involves Will Femia who is known in the online world as “Will at Work.” 

I will explain in just a moment.  This is a good story.


MADDOW:  Tonight‘s long-awaited Moment of Geek comes to us courtesy of Google Street View, the service that launched back in May 2007 and now encompasses at least nine different countries. 

But simply, it allows you to go to an address and Google Maps, say right here at NBC News headquarters at 30 Rock and you can see what the view looks like from the street outside that building. 

Incidentally, the image you see also includes all the people who were on the street when the picture was taken.  Google gets these images by driving a car around neighborhoods.  And it has an especially-created GPS-tuned camera or series of cameras mounted on top of the vehicle. 

The images are then stitched together and linked on Google Maps.  How long does the overall process take of picture-on-the-street to picture-on-the-Web? 

We just sort of figured that out accidentally.  Because back in June, our own crack RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Web producer, Will Femia, was walking in his neighborhood in New York City when he spotted the Google car.  He quickly snapped a photo of it.  It took until now, four months later, for Google to post the results of their drive-by camera work.

But now, sure enough, looking at Graham Avenue in Brooklyn - there is Will.  There is Will Femia, a.k.a. on Twitter, “Will at Work.”  There he is, photographing the Google car as it photographs him. 

Here now, the great Will Femia, Web producer for the RACHEL MADDOW SHOW.  Will, thank you for jetting in from Monte Carlo on such a short notice.  I really appreciate it. 

WILL FEMIA, WEB PRODUCER:  Boy, am I tired. 

MADDOW:  Why did you know to take a picture of that? 

FEMIA:  You know, in my geek genes, there was an instinctual trigger that said - although, the first reaction is, “Oh, crap that‘s the Google - that‘s the Google car!”  And then the second instinct is I should take a picture of this. 

MADDOW:  And you wanted to take a picture of it.  How hard was it for you to get that shot?  I mean, you don‘t look like you‘re straining or anything.  But you had to sort of move fast.

FEMIA:  What made it hard was that it‘s driving at regular old car speed.  It‘s not like a big orange truck with a flasher and orange cones like beeping its way on the street.  It just drives like regular.  So I wasn‘t sure that I got the shot.  And I considered chasing it to the next light.  But it was literally beyond my ability to keep up. 

MADDOW:  Why is your face blurred in that picture? 

FEMIA:  It‘s funny because in my action photo, it‘s not blurred.  And then, if you click up the street - because the car just keeps shooting as it drives down.  So as long as you‘re within view of the car, it‘s taking pictures of you.

MADDOW:  Yes.  So there - OK, so there you are. 

FEMIA:  OK.  So right.  And there‘s the blurred one, so that‘s one further click up the street.  Google actually runs face recognition software that automatically blurs all the faces. 

MADDOW:  Look at you.  So while they figured that you were still enough - static enough there that your face could be recognizable, some software package picked that up and zipped you. 

FEMIA:  All the faces get done now, yes.

MADDOW:  Oh my god.  What made you think to check whether Google Street View had updated their files with your picture? 

FEMIA:  I had been checking relatively regularly like every time I was using it.


FEMIA:  Am I there yet?  Am I there yet?  And I hadn‘t checked for little while.  And then Robert Scoble is like a tech blogger who had tweeted that he saw a Google car out on the highway - out in California, I guess, somewhere. 

And I said oh, I haven‘t checked in a while.  I better go and look and see.  And sure enough - it was like the greatest famous Google Street View thing. 

MADDOW:  You are famous.  There you are - you are famous on Google Street View.  Is it only roads Google is mapping out here?  Or are they going to do anything that‘s not just something you can cover with a camera?

FEMIA:  You know they the trike.  It looks like - ever seen those pedicab bicycles, like a big three-wheel bicycle ...


FEMIA:  ... with the giant camera tower on the back so they can do running paths.  I read one article about them doing like Venice where you just can‘t drive a car down that street, but you‘d want a street view of it.  So they have off-road.  I‘ve heard they‘ve been sort of tourist attractions that way on the bicycle. 

MADDOW:  All right.  We have to get them to map our offices.  

FEMIA:  That‘s right.

MADDOW:  Will Femia, Web producer for the RACHEL MADDOW SHOW, it was nice pulling away from the computers and talking with you on the TV machine. 

FEMIA:  I get attention.  Thank you.

MADDOW:  You got my handshake.  All right.  Well, thank you very much for watching tonight.  I think we‘ve over-geeked possibly for the first time ever on this show.  I couldn‘t be happier. 

We‘ll see you back here Monday night.  Until then, E-mail us at  Our podcast, thanks to Will, is at iTunes or 

“COUNTDOWN” with Mr. Keith Olbermann starts right now.  Have a great weekend.



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