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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guests: Ezra Klein, Tina Neal, Genevieve Jodhan, Giselle Laronde-West


RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  Good evening to you, Lawrence.  You are much braver than I.  I spent all day trying to figure out how to say that volcano name and I‘ve punted.  I‘ve given up.  I‘m not even going to try it.

O‘DONNELL:  You‘re not even thinking that I pronounced it anywhere close to accurately, are you?

MADDOW:  You‘re now the MSNBC standard for pronunciation of that volcano term.  I hope it was right.

O‘DONNELL:  Well, close enough.

MADDOW:  Thank you, Lawrence.

And thanks to you at home for tuning in tonight.

On Tax Day today, 30, 14 trillion umpteen and seven million thousand people, approximately, descended on our nation‘s capital to make their angry voices heard.


JIM TOMASIK, FAIRTAX NATION:  We want our country back and we want it back now!


MADDOW:  And random angry man yelling at rally—how do you propose doing that?


TOMASIK:  We have got to take the country back by taking back the way they take our money from us.



MADDOW:  See, we will form our own people‘s tax collecting bureaucracy or something.

The annual April 15th “I hate paying taxes” tantrum this year took the form of an online tax revolt that was sponsored by all sorts of conservative organizations like our friends at the Astroturf group FreedomWorks and the National Taxpayers Union—taxpayers union and the Republican tea party group, the Tea Party Express.  In addition to those folks on the street, they were meeting online.

And right from the opening prayer at today‘s online revolt, the message was very clear.


PASTOR DAVID WHITNEY, CORNERSTONE EVANGELICAL FREE CHURCH:  Thus, we have the tragedy situation we‘re considering today, unjust, unconstitutional taxation in our land.


MADDOW:  The general complaint at all of the various tax day protests today was that President Obama and those commie Democrats in Congress have raised taxes so much.  Since they took over, our taxes have just gone through the roof.  We‘ve had all we can stands and we can‘t stands no more.


GROVER NORQUIST, AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM:  I would like to say a special thank you to the three who did the most to make this possible for all of us to get together.  And, of course, I‘m thinking of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This income tax system is badly broken, badly corrupted, benefits Washington at our expense.


MADDOW:  OK, so there are two things that happened right around tax day every year.  One, people get mad and protest about their taxes getting jacked up to liberty infringing levels.  And, two, people who track this stuff tell us in quantitative factual terms what‘s actually going on with our level of taxation right now.

And this year, the distance between those two things has never been greater.  The rain on the tax revolt parade started early with this morning‘s headline from the “Associated Press,” quote, “Americans paying less taxes this year despite Tax Day rhetoric.”

Less taxes?  What about the revolt?  As the “A.P.” notes, quote, “Congress cut individual‘s federal taxes for this year by about $173 billion, shortly after President Barack Obama took office.”

It is an inconvenient fact for all of the Tax Day protesters today.  But taxes have actually gone down, quite a bit, under Barack Obama.  The nonpartisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities yesterday said thanks to Obama tax cuts, a family of four in the exact middle income tax spectrum is paying federal income taxes this year at the second-lowest rate of any year all the way back to 1955, which is as far back was the statistics go.

In terms of not just income taxes but all federal taxes, including paying for Social Security and everything, middle income families are at or near their lowest level in decades.

But if you want to still feel angry about it anyway and be mad at Obama over taxes, it‘s OK.  Let them out (ph).  Just let it all out.  Don‘t let the facts hold you back.

Congressman Kingston, you want to take it from here?


REP. JACK KINGSTON ®, GEORGIA:  I just talked to a friend of mine, a friend of mine who‘s a liberal, and he says, don‘t these people realize that 95 percent of you got a tax cut under the stimulus plan of President Obama?


KINGSTON:  And I‘m saying, if you believe that, then you believe the health care bill is going to give you better health care.


MADDOW:  Now, I love stuff like this, because whether or not 95 percent of people, as he said, got a tax cut from the stimulus, it isn‘t a subjective thing.  It isn‘t a matter of opinion.  It‘s not something you can choose to believe or not choose to believe.  This is one of those knowable facts.

Assuming most of the folks in the crowd there work for a living, 95 percent of them really did get a tax cut under the stimulus plan.  It‘s a fact.

Here‘s the “A.P.” again, quote, “The massive economic recovery package enacted last year included about $300 billion in tax cuts over 10 years, about $232 billion was in cuts for individuals.”

I understand it might feel good to say that Obama‘s raising your taxes and isn‘t he just some awful commie, tax-and-spend liberal?  I know that might feel good to say.  I know Congressman Kingston, for example, that it might be fun to tell your liberal friend that he‘s stupid for believing that stimulus included tax cuts.

But for those who are interested in them, there are knowable facts here.  The average tax refund is up nearly 10 percent this year.  More than 95 percent of people did get a tax cut in the stimulus.  Taxes went down for almost every single American this past year—largely as a result of 25 separate tax cuts passed by President Obama over the last year.

Here they are—all 25 of them.  Tax credits if you work, tax credits if you don‘t work, tax credits if you buy a house, tax credits if you make that house energy efficient, tax credits if you buy a car, tax credits if you buy an electric car.  The list goes on and on and on and on and on and on.

I am sure that it feels great to rail against President Obama and Democrats for raising your taxes through the roof this year.  You know it also feels really good to close your eyes and imagine that you can fly.  Say that you can fly.

You can‘t really fly.

Joining us now is Ezra Klein, staff writer for “The Washington Post” and “Newsweek” contributor, who I have to say I cannot verify that he cannot fly, he can do most other things.

Hi, Ezra.  Nice to see you.

EZRA KLEIN, THE WASHINGTON POST:  Good evening.  Guess how I got here?



MADDOW:  Far be it for me, you and Jack Kingston.

One of the things that has gained a lot of traction among the “I hate paying taxes” crowds that gathered today around the country is this idea that half of the country doesn‘t pay any taxes at all.  Forty-seven percent of people are free loaders, they don‘t pay any taxes.

Can you explain where that number came from and what it really means?

KLEIN:  Right.  So, there are a couple—there are two separate dodges in that number.  One is—it‘s a number about federal income tax.  So, that is one of about four or five taxes most of us pay.  And it‘s interesting, because it shows sort of the class bias of this conversation.

For people who make a fair amount of money, congressmen, for instance, we primarily pay federal income tax.  That is the big hit for us.

But three quarters of Americans pay more payroll tax than they pay income tax.  And then there‘s state and local taxes beyond that.  So, if you add everything together, actually, the tax code looks a lot less progressive.  Pretty much—most people pay about the same amount as a share of their income.  But if you just look at federal income tax, if you just look at income tax, it mostly hits rich people, it looks like poor people are paying less.

The second piece is that we run a lot of social policy through the tax code.  So, for poorer folks, they earned income tax credit, or for rich folks, the first time home buyers tax credit, which is part of the stimulus as I remember.  Both of those wipe out your tax liability instead of the government simply sending you a check.

What happens is that it‘s calculated on your taxes.  If you owed 5,000 bucks and the new home buyers tax credit is 8,000, then the government wipes out your 5,000 and gives you $3,000, hence, zero effect of federal income tax rate, but not zero effect of federal income taxes.  If you have a problem, your problem is with the new home buyers tax credit, not the tax code.

MADDOW:  And so, the political impact that they‘re going for there is if you feel like you‘re paying taxes, you are in the minority and everybody else is free loading off of you.  That‘s obviously the sort of political impact there.

But isn‘t there also sort of a little political paradox here with these anti-tax crowds railing about Americans paying too little in tax?

KLEIN:  There‘s a bit of that.  And one place you saw it, I think it was a CBS/”New York Times” poll today.  And they found that 62 percent of Americans think what they pay in taxes, what they paid this year was pretty much fair.  Fifty-two percent of tea partiers think the same.

But what you do get into is that Americans think the taxes that other people pay aren‘t fair, that the rich are paying too little, that the poor are paying too little, that they are sort of the beleaguered one.  And to some degree, you can argue back and forth on that.  You can argue that, you know, we give too much in social spending to the poor.  You can certainly argue that we have, over the past couple of years with the Bush tax cuts and everything else, stopped taxing the rich or corporations to the degree that we should.

But the funny thing is that most people, even tea partiers, think that their taxes are pretty much acceptable.

MADDOW:  Where are—just for context here, Ezra, briefly—where are tax rates now as compared to, say, the Reagan era?  That was another thing that struck me today, is how often Reagan was invoked as sort of a low taxes god to the crowds here.

KLEIN:  Reagan was a menace when it came from taxes.  He brought taxes quite a bit down in his first year, raised them for a number of years after that.  But his taxes were a lot higher than they are now, which is part of why we see the deficits that we do now.  It‘s a big part of the reason why.  We have become a sort of a lower-taxing nation, even as we‘re a higher spending nation.

And that‘s part of the problem—when people say they want a lower tax burden and then the next week, the tea party protests the high deficit, and then the next week, you hear the Republicans on the floor of the Congress saying we will not ever let Democrats touch Medicare or Social Security or anything else, you sort of scratch your head and you say, well, what pony is going to come in with all the money that we need to make all this work together?  And as of yet, there‘s been no pony.

MADDOW:  Yes, the simultaneous existence of all those arguments is the one silver lining around not funding math education.


MADDOW:  Ezra Klein, staff writer for “The Washington Post”—thank you for your time tonight, Ezra.

KLEIN:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  So, how much have you geeked out so far today on the videos of the Icelandic volcano that‘s in the glacier?  Not only are the pictures jaw-dropping, but about every fact about what‘s happening there is in the “Hall of Fame” of interesting things.  So, please stay tuned to hear some of those.

And later, Tax Day cocktails—because, frankly, we here at THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW believe you have earned something tastier than tea.

Please stay with us.


MADDOW:  There are two things today I cannot wait to talk about.  There is the Icelandic volcano, about which I spent hours geeking out today, and consequently have much to share.  Then there are cocktails, because it‘s Tax Day.  And if you filed, you deserve a good story and a great recipe for a great drink.  I promise, it is worth hanging around for.

Please don‘t go away.


MADDOW:  Koch Industries want you to know that they did not have anything to do with all those tea parties today.  Koch Industries, of course, is an oil and chemical company.  It‘s, in fact, one of the largest privately owned companies of any kind in the United States.

Nobody appears to have actually asked Koch Industries today if they were involved in the tea party movement—but weirdly, they proactively announced on the occasion of the Tax Day tea parties that they are not involved with them there tea parties.

The folks at “Talking Points Memo” reported today that they got an unsolicited e-mail last night from a Koch Industries spokesperson that read, in part, quote, “Because you have covered tea parties in the past and we imagine you will cover tomorrow‘s Tax Day tea party in D.C., we want to reiterate some important facts: No funding has been provided by Koch Companies, the Koch Foundations, Charles Koch or David Koch specifically to the support of the tea parties.”  Just in case.

Is that preemptive, unsolicited denial of any and all involvement in the tea party movement on the part of Koch Industries and the Koch family strike you as a little weird?  Suspicious?

Here‘s why—here‘s the one-degree of separation between Koch Industries and the tea parties, it is Americans for Prosperity.  As can you see, David Koch of Koch Industries is the chairman of the board of the Americans for Prosperity foundation.  As it happens, David Koch founded Americans for Prosperity and Koch Foundations gave Americans for Prosperity more than 5 million smackaroos between 2005 and 2008.

So, let‘s say take a look around this Web site for this organization that was founded and funded by Koch Industries guys who have nothing to do with the tea—well, well, look at that.  AFP is your tea party central on Tax Day.

It certainly looks to be true.  The Americans for Prosperity home page is chockfull of pictures and articles and blog entries all about the tea parties.

If you check out April 15th on the Americans for Prosperity events calendar, you‘ll find information on what they call AFP tea parties in seven states.

You want to see a list of Tax Day tea parties all over the country?  Well, Americans for Prosperity is the place to go for that.  If you‘re looking for a tea party in North Carolina, the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity directs you to another Web site,

Same goes for the Maryland chapter of Americans for Prosperity.  Click the box that says, “Ready for a tea party?”  And you‘re taken to  A Tax Day tea party site complete with the official Americans for Prosperity logo.

And the New Hampshire chapter is clearly very proud of AFP‘s plan to host Tax Day tea parties there.

Americans for Prosperity is not trying to hide its role in organizing tea parties.  The Missouri chapter has already posted video of local news coverage of its Tax Day tea party.  And the Oregon and Wisconsin chapters of Americans for Prosperity have posted tea party photos slide shows.

So, David Koch, founder for Americans for Prosperity, wants you to know that he‘s not at all funding the tea party movement.  Except for that part where he totally funds the tea party movement.  But other than that, he just wants to get the facts clear.

There was also lots of credulous media coverage today of the so-called Contract from America, which was unveiled by—who was this thing unveiled by again?  Oh, the American people.

God, I totally don‘t remember signing that.  But look, that‘s my signature and yours too.  See, it‘s in cursive so it must be official.

The Contract from America is being seen as a second generation version of Newt Gingrich‘s Contract with American, which was released with the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress.  See, only this one—this one, though, is signed by the American people.

But if you look above the American people‘s signature, there are some other names that are not incursive.  It looks like the Contract from America was brought to you not just by the American people, but by some organizations as well, like, say, FreedomWorks.

So when they say, signed by the American people, they actually mean signed by legendary corporate lobbyists, Dick Armey‘s corporate-funded Beltway pressure group that doesn‘t disclose its funders.  Also, for example, the Heartland Institute.

So, when they say “by the American people,” they also mean by a conservative think tank that‘s reportedly been funded in the past by Exxon and Philip Morris and—surprise, surprise—the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation.

So, happy Tax Day tea protests, everybody, and congratulations on the Contract from America.  I will admit, a lot of these events looked like a lot of fun.  I sincerely hope that a lot of people got their “I hate taxes” ya-yas out today.

But please don‘t try to rope the rest of us into your parties. 

Claiming to speak for the American people is kind of a tall order any day.  But when you can‘t even keep your corporate-funded logos off the document you‘re claiming speaks for the American people, you very big.  Your breeches, comparatively very small—as they say.

We‘ll be right back.


MADDOW:  All right.  I want you to check this out.

Here is Malaysia, capital city is Kuala Lumpur.  Here‘s the city of Perth on Australia‘s west coast.  You see Australia there.  British Airways Flight 9 is flying from Indonesia to Perth.

And they‘re somewhere over Indonesia when the pilot gets on the P.A.  and says this, this is an exact quote, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking.  We have a small problem.  All four engines have stopped.  We‘re doing our damnedest to get it under control.  I trust you are not in too much distress.”

All four engines—little problem, no worries, though, right?  When Captain Eric Moody made that remarkably calm announcement to the 260 people on board his plane, the plane was 37,000 feet in the air with no engines.  Captain Moody glided the plane down 24,000 feet in total silence. 

Remember, no engines.

Finally, at 13,000 feet, he was able to get one of the engines restarted.  At the last minute, he got three of the four engines restarted and he got that plane down safely.  He‘s the British “Sully,” in other words.

Once that plane was on the ground it got even weirder.  There was an acrid sulfury smoke in the cabin that no one could explain and the windshield of the plane was completely opaque like it was sandblasted.  All the flight crew had been able to see through the whole thing was a bizarre luminous glowing around the plane.

And that incident which happened in 1982 is why we have rules about not flying through clouds of ash from volcanoes.

A volcano in Indonesia called Mount Galunggung, forgive my pronunciation, had erupted.  That British Airways flight went right through the ash clouds.  It was at night.  They couldn‘t see it.  Ash clouds are dry; they turned up on weather radar.  But the particulate matter in the silicates from that volcanic cloud just locked up that jet‘s engines.

The rules now are that flights are supposed to keep 120 nautical miles away from any volcanic ash, which is all well and good.  Volcanoes do go off from time to time.  Good to have these rules.

But the seven-mile long plume of ash that has come out of this volcano that‘s just erupted in Iceland is so huge, and winds are spreading that ash so far that all flights in and out of Britain are canceled, at least until noon local time tomorrow—something that has never happened in living memory.  Airports in Ireland, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, France and Germany have all canceled flights, making this the biggest disruption to airlines since 9/11 by far.

This the second time in a month that this particular volcano has erupted.  And the current eruption happened under a glacier, causing floodwaters that forced hundreds of Icelanders that have to evacuate.

One weird fact about this, though, even though Iceland is right in the middle of all this, the eruption is happening in Iceland, the eruption there is not affecting flights in and out of Iceland itself.  You can blame prevailing northwesterly winds that are slowly blowing this ash plume all the way across Europe.

Now, no one knows when the weather might shift to allow planes back in the air.  No one knows how long this volcano is going to continue to erupt.  I don‘t want to be a Debbie Downer or anything, but the last time the volcano erupted in 1821, it kept erupting for more than a year.

I‘m joined now by Tina Neal.  She is a volcanologist with the U.S.  Geological Survey.  She has studied volcanoes extensively, including flying around active volcanoes to monitor them.  She joins us tonight from Anchorage.

Tina Neal, thanks very much for being here.  Appreciate your time.

TINA NEAL, VOLCANOLOGIST:  Happy to be here.

MADDOW:  Does the giant size of the plume of ash from this particular volcano have anything to do with the fact that it is under a glacier?  Do we know what explains why the plume is so big?

NEAL:  Well, you are correct.  The fact that this eruption occurred under an ice cap added to the explosivity of the event.  And so, that did produce a large volume of fine particulate material which is drifting across Europe.

But, as you point out, that really—as eruptions go around the planet, this is not one of the largest ones.  This ash cloud is not bigger than ash clouds we saw from Alaska just a couple of years ago.  It‘s just that it‘s (AUDIO CLIP) populated area with a lot of air travel that it‘s making such a disruption.

MADDOW:  And what is in that plume of ash that makes it so damaging to aircraft?  What‘s actually—what‘s in that, what looks like a cloud, but we know isn‘t?

NEAL:  Right.  Volcanic ash clouds are mixtures of fragments of lava, crystal and volcanic glass along with volcanic gases.  And they are hot when they erupt.  They travel high into the atmosphere and then are carried with the prevailing winds.

But it‘s the solid particulate that is most dangerous to aircraft.  The jet flying through an ash cloud will suffer abrasions of the windscreen and the leading edges, as you described.  But more severely, if enough ash is ingested into the engines, they can actually quit.  It‘s the ash interfering with the operation of the jet engine.

MADDOW:  In 1783, I spent a long time reading about this today, so forgive me.  But as far I understand it, poisonous ash from an eruption at a different volcano in Iceland apparently damaged crops and caused damage to such an extent that it‘s blamed for killing thousands of people in Europe—again, this back in the 1700s.  Other major eruptions have been said to change the climate at least for short periods of time.

How do you know whether a volcano is going to cause long-term regional or even global effects?  What‘s the most important thing to know about an eruption to know whether it could be that severe?

NEAL:  Well, those eruptions were quite unusual, and that they were very long-lived.  They went on for more than a year, and they erupted voluminous quantities of lava and ash.  This eruption so far is much, much smaller, several thousand times smaller than the size of those eruptions.  So, the most important parameter really is the duration of the eruption and how much lava and ash are emitted.

MADDOW:  Is there any way to predict what the duration of this eruption will be, and, I guess, more—in practical terms, when planes might be flying again in Europe?

NEAL:  Well, it‘s not a certainty, but can you look at the past eruptions of this volcano and that‘s a good guide to what they‘re probably going to do in the future.

And the past few eruptions of this particular volcano have lasted months to little more than a year.  But they‘ve really erupted only a very small amount of material, less than a cubic kilometer.  For comparison to the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption, it was a cubic kilometer.  So, 1/10 of that size.

So, I don‘t anticipate that this eruption will much greater than those.  However, the Icelandic volcanologists have this volcano well-wired.  They‘re monitoring it with a variety of geophysical instruments. 

And so if it were to intensify or grow much larger or give signs that it was going to intensify and grow much larger, they should see some signals of that. 

MADDOW:  One last question for you just about your own experience.  I know you‘ve flown in planes around active volcanoes to view ash and gas plumes from volcanoes when they‘re going off. 

I think we‘ve got some footage here that you shot from the Okmok eruption in Alaska in 2008.  How hard is it to monitor a volcano from the air when the ash from the volcano as you‘re describing is so damaging to aircraft? 

NEAL:  Right.  Well, you have to keep a safe distance and your aerial observations are giving you visual information about what‘s going on so you can interpret firsthand the process. 

But it‘s very important to have instruments on the ground that are detecting earthquakes, tracking the changing locations, depths and sizes of earthquakes, instrumentation on the ground that‘s measuring the volcano changing shape and moving as magma is moving underground. 

And we also - it‘s very important to use satellite technology to look down at these ash clouds from space to see how big they are and which way they‘re traveling.  So you really need a variety of monitoring techniques in addition to aerial observations via aircraft from a safe distance. 

MADDOW:  Tina Neal, a volcanologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, you have a really cool job.  And it was really cool of you to join us tonight from Alaska at a really busy time.  Thank you so much. 

NEAL:  You‘re welcome. 

MADDOW:  So today was the day that the anti-health reform faith healer who we introduced to you on Monday and the Virginia attorney general and the guy who hands out proud right wing extremist ID cards all got together at Jerry Falwell‘s school.

And boy, was it a hoot.  After that, I think we may have stumbled on the better way to celebrate the passing of another tax day than tea-partying, a cliffhanger mystery about booze and a recipe to take the edge off of one of the least fun days of the earth.  It‘s all coming up.


MADDOW:  Do you remember when that Japanese whaling ship rammed into the anti-whaling activists?  It‘s happened a couple of times in the past year that we have covered on the show. 

One of the really strange things about that very strange (UNINTELLIGIBLE) footage is that the Japanese ship ramming into the activists is prominently labeled “research.”  It‘s a reminder that that‘s how Japan has been getting around the international ban on hunting whales. 

Since 1986, it‘s been illegal to hunt whales internationally.  But one of the exceptions in the international rules is you can keep killing a certain number of whales if you‘re doing so as part of some legitimate scientific study of whales. 

Activists have long said that Japan isn‘t really doing whaling for research.  They‘re whaling because they think whale is tasty, international brink of extinction claims be darned. 

But today, the “you‘re not studying them, you‘re eating them” allegation got significantly stronger.  You might recall a recent controversy about a sushi restaurant in Santa Monica, California getting caught for selling whale meat.  And that‘s illegal.

The restaurant apologized and shut down.  The owner and principal chef were actually charged with illegal sale of a marine mammal product.  But now, the activists who caught that restaurant selling have done a DNA analysis to find out where the illegal whale meat they were selling came from.

The analysis is published in the latest issue of the scientific journal, “Biology Letters.”  And wouldn‘t you know, it turns out that illegal whale meat came from a Sei whale, S-E-I. 

Sei whales are killed in the North Pacific by Japan in their, quote, “scientific research program” that apparently scientifically researches illegal whale meat onto the black market to be sold for food. 

Here‘s how karma works.  Pretending at being a fake researcher is begging the universe to send a real researcher to ruin your day or your illegal mammal hunt or whatever.


MADDOW:  Being the Republican in charge of trying to stop Wall Street reform is not turning out to be fun. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How do you push back against this perception that

you are doing the bidding of the large banks?  Now, there was report that

you guys met with hedge fund managers in New York.  A lot of people are

viewing this particular line of argument, this bailout argument as spin -


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER:  You could talk to the community bankers in Kentucky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m not asking you about the community bankers.

MCCONNELL:  But I‘m telling you about the community bankers in Kentucky.


MADDOW:  Testy.  Sen. Mitch McConnell has been a little testy since he was called out a few days ago for meeting with hedge fund managers in New York, begging for campaign donations at the same time he was promising them he would kill Wall Street reform. 

The way he‘s trying to kill reform is also getting some unflattering attention.  The bill effectively bans taxpayer bailouts for banks.  But McConnell has been caught out now, claiming just the opposite. 

I don‘t know if Sen. McConnell particularly cares if he gets called out for lying, say, on this show like we did here last night.  But I bet he really does care when he gets called out for lying and raked over the coals for it by his hometown newspaper in Kentucky, “The Lexington Herald Leader.”

Quote, “McConnell‘s statements are perfectly calibrated to inflame the public.  Their resemblance to the truth is another matter.  McConnell is trashing the other side‘s ideas with no respect for the truth.  McConnell‘s calculus is pretty obvious.  The high-stakes gamblers on Wall Street, luxuriating again in big bonuses, don‘t want any new oversight or regulation.  McConnell, unabashedly courting Wall Street bankers for political money, is happy to scratch their backs if they‘ll scratch his. 

Ow, ow, ow, ow.


MADDOW:  The interview on yesterday‘s show was Janet Napolitano, the secretary of Homeland Security.  It was a year ago that the extremism and radicalism branch of the intelligence part of her department put out their report on right wing extremism. 

They did one on left-wing extremism, too, but no one much noticed that because conservatives were so outraged that Homeland Security would analyze the threat of right-wing extremist, white supremacist on violent anti-government domestic terrorism that they ignored the left wing report and demanded apologies for the right-wing one. 

They started even proudly calling themselves not just extremists, but even terrorists. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I want to say that I‘m a proud right-wing terrorist. 



MADDOW:  Big applause.  That man was speaking at an event with Republican California Congressman Wally Herger.  Herger‘s response was, and I quote, “Amen.  God bless you.  There‘s a great American.”


REP. WALLY HERGER (R-CA):  Amen.  God bless you.  There‘s a great American. 


MADDOW:  Liberty Council, which is affiliated with Jerry Falwell‘s Liberty University, also started marketing an “I‘m proud to be a right-wing extremist” ID card that they encourage people to carry in their wallets.” 

“I‘m proud to be a right wing extremist.”  This “I‘m proud to be a right wing extremist” group is hosting an event at Liberty University tonight and tomorrow.  It‘s called the Freedom Federation.

A number of the speeches at that event have a revolution theme.  Among the speakers is the faith healer that we introduced you to on Monday‘s show.  I won‘t play sound of her again, because we heard from a lot of people who found her too upsetting to hear. 

Another speaker is Lou Engel who we have covered at some length on this show.  Here‘s Mr. Engel waxing poetic about martyrdom at an event that was just November. 


REV. LOU ENGLE:  Even under martyrdom, God can be the grace.  Fasting, 12 hours of prayer - these are seeds of martyrdom.  The days are coming when we‘re going to have to risk our lives to stand for truth in this society.  Say, lift your voices - say, “God, mark me now.  Mark me as a man and a woman of the cross of Jesus Christ.”  Say, “Mark me.” 


MADDOW:  So great is the need for Christian martyrdom on this specific issue of abortion, according to the Pastor Engle, that he says it may be cause for a second American civil war. 


ENGLE:  600,000 men died on the battlefields of America.  And if God required it for slavery, what will it mean if God requires it for America for the bloodshed of 50 million babies? 


MADDOW:  Yes, can‘t we just please get some bloodshed on the abortion debate in this country, people?  Can‘t we?  So today is the “let‘s see some Christian blood” guy, Lou Engle being hosted at Jerry Falwell‘s school by the maker of the proud right-wing extremist ID cards.

Their big headline speaker at this event is the attorney general of Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli, capping off a busy week for him, actually.  His last event was speaking on a march on the state capitol in Richmond by people with guns.  And before that, this past weekend, Mr. Cuccinelli appeared at this tea party event alongside this speaker. 


DELEGATE BOB MARSHALL (R-13TH), VIRGINIA HOUSE OF DELEGATES:  At times you‘re going to have to stand against the tide.  I had to do that in 2007.  We had about 80 percent of the general assembly voted for a statute that set up unelected tax authorities.  I stood up on the House of Delegates floor and I said, “Folks, our forefathers were shooting people like you.”


MADDOW:  Virginia Republican lawmaker Bob Marshall speaking at an event with that state‘s attorney general.  Americans have a long history of being bombastic and aggressive and over-the-top and hyperbolic even in our opposition to the other side in politics. 

We‘re not a country that‘s ever wanted or needed to put bumpers in the lanes to try to make our discourse polite or boring.  We are excitable people.  We get excited about politics.  We use over-the-top language. 

And we can do all of that without threatening to shoot people, without threatening violence against the Americans with whom we disagree, without threatening violence against the government, without threatening that Christians‘ blood must run in America‘s streets to stop abortion, without threatening that people on the other side of the debate in a state legislature now are the same as people we are glad who were shot in the Civil War. 

Without threatening that our next peaceful march will actually be an armed insurgency.  Elected officials in institutions that say those things and legitimize them and celebrate extremism as if it‘s something to be proud of have recent violent American history to grapple with. 

As you know, this upcoming Monday, we‘re airing a documentary about the worst incidents of domestic terrorism in our country‘s history, the bombing of the federal office building in Oklahoma City 15 years ago by Timothy McVeigh. 

Here‘s a brief preview of that documentary.  The images you will see here of McVeigh are computer simulations.  The voice is actually his, recorded in prison in tapes that have never before been broadcast.  Here, he explains why he chose the specific date of April 19th for the bombing. 


TIMOTHY MCVEIGH, OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBER:  The two most significant events in history occurred on April 19th, to me, was not just one, Waco.  But number two was the shot heard around the world, April 19th, 1775, the spark that started the American Revolution. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  So that was another grandiose way of saying, how important his actions are to those in the world, compared to everyone else‘s.  His actions mark him a place in history.  He matters. 

MCVEIGH:  People have compared Oklahoma City to Pearl Harbor.  As far as the impact of the psyche on the American people, that it was a surprise, a shock to the nation and all that.  One of the chief intentions of it was the same as dropping the bomb on Hiroshima. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And what was that? 

MCVEIGH:  To hit them hard by surprise and heavily.  You know, and say, “Listen, if you don‘t knock it off, there‘s more of this to come.”


MADDOW:  “The McVeigh Tapes” documentary airs Monday, this hour, 9:00 p.m. Eastern here on MSNBC.  We‘ll be right back. 


MADDOW:  It‘s Tax Day.  Sorry.  Your local post office may be open until midnight.  Have you already turned your taxes in?  Do you feel like you maybe want to talk about cocktails? 

As a salute to the paying of Tax Day, I have both a cocktail and a really good story about cocktails for you. 

OK.  Are you ready?  Here‘s how you make a champagne cocktail. 

It‘s very, very simple.  Champagne flute, sugar cube, Angostura bitters.  Soak the sugar cube in Angostura bitters.  Don‘t be afraid.  You‘ll be fine. 

Depends upon the size of your sugar cube, but - there you go. 

You do that, then you pop open your champagne.  It‘s not difficult at all.  One, two, three, four, five, six - always six turns on the little cage there. 

Remove the cage.  Open the bottle by twisting the bottle, not the cork, right?  Hold at an angle so it doesn‘t foam out the end and you get lots of air in there and it‘s fine. 

And this is it.  This is your champagne cocktail.  It is an Angostura-soaked sugar cube topped with champagne.  Some people put a lemon twist on the top of their champagne cocktail.  Some people put in a dash of cognac. 

Those people are wrong.  I‘m sure they‘re nice people, but actually, probably not.  They‘re probably bad people.  Ignore them.  There‘s your champagne cocktail. 

This is a Manhattan.  A Manhattan you make in what we commonly

call a martini glass.  But you don‘t only make martinis in them.  Manhattan

I like mine old-school style, three to one rye whiskey to sweet vermouth. 

So you make it in a shaker although you don‘t shake it.  It‘s the cartoon liquor pouring noise.  One, two, three.  Rye whiskey and then sweet vermouth.  Sweet vermouth comes in a bunch of different kinds, broadly speaking, white and red.  White is dry.  Red is sweet. 

Not everybody makes their Manhattans with that much vermouth in them.  Some people make them with less vermouth.  But again, those people are wrong.  And you want to add a good like - I do like five dashes of Angostura bitters in a Manhattan.  One, two, three, four, five. 

Then you stir it up.  You don‘t shake it because it doesn‘t have any citrus or egg white or dairy or anything in it and so you want your drink to be nice and cold but you also want it to be sort of clear. 

So that‘s what you stir for.  If I weren‘t as nervous to be doing this on television as I am, you wouldn‘t hear the ice even clattering around in the shaker because I‘d be so good at it.  But I‘m a little nervous because you guys are watching.  And a Manhattan technically has a cherry in it as the garnish. 

People who put a cherry in their Manhattan as the garnish are not wrong, but they‘re also wasting room that could hold liquor in the glass.  The common denominator here is Angostura bitters. 

The label doesn‘t fit.  That‘s a whole long story.  You can‘t actually have a cocktail without bitters.  In fact, the word “cocktail” at its core means booze, sugar, water and bitters.  That‘s what a cocktail was. 

And cocktail has become a million other things.  But really bitters is core.  Back on St. Patrick‘s Day of this year, you might remember I needed Angostura bitters to make a cocktail that we made here on set called Oisin‘s dram. 

Now, I keep my bar in Massachusetts, not here in New York.  So our producers couldn‘t tap my personal supply of Angostura.  They therefore called every liquor store in New York City to find a bottle and nobody had any for sale. 

We ended up having had to bogart a bottle of bitters, a really old bottle of bitters out of producer Tina‘s personal stash in Brooklyn, yet another reason to thank God for producer Tina. 

But here‘s the question, why were there no bitters in all of Manhattan?  For a very few bad months starting, like, last September maybe there was what at least felt like a worldwide bitters shortage. 

And that led bar and distributors to ration what they had, led the lucky few cocktail aficionados who could get their hands on bitters to start hoarding their Angostura. 

A few days after drinking Tina‘s bitters here on set with the Oisin‘s dram, we here at THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW, in our offices, here in Rockefeller Center, got an amazing package, boxes full of bitters straight from the company. 

The shortage is over, at least in my office.  And that leads me to what I‘m celebrating with these cocktails tonight, the return of Angostura bitters.  The shortage is apparently over, sort of. 

Here to tell us what the heck happened are Genevieve Jodhan, who is the executive manager of export sales and business development at Angostura.  And Giselle Laronde-West who is communications manager for Angostura.  It‘s really nice to meet you guys.  Thank you very much for being here. 


DEVELOPMENT:  Thank you for having us. 

MADDOW:  I‘m dorking out about bitters right in front of you.  And I realize this is your business and so it‘s probably see this all the time.  But what happened when we couldn‘t get bitters in this country for such a long time? 

JODHAN:  We had a problem with the supply of the bottles and -

MADDOW:  The bottles, not the -

JODHAN:  Not the liquid. 


JODHAN:  The bottles.  And at the same time, the bottles were short. 

The demand for bitters was just rising.  Cocktail drinkers are everywhere,

you know?  So -

MADDOW:  And so the bottle‘s problem has been solved. 


MADDOW:  Was it solved through some dramatic cloak-and-dagger superman means or it was just - you got a new supplier? 

LARONDE-WEST:  Another supplier. 

MADDOW:  OK.  When bitters were unavailable on the market in the United States for those few months, what did you guys at the company hear in terms of the reaction?  Because I will tell you, it changed my life. 

The bitters - the bitters panic just among my family and friends was palpable and real.  There was a lot of late-night eBay foraging.  How did you guys experience that in terms of the company? 

LARONDE-WEST:  Just our staff alone went crazy hearing - they were hearing from friends and family abroad saying they can‘t get bitters.  What are you doing down there?  What‘s happening?

And I was getting E-mails every single day asking what has happened to the bitters.  We can‘t find it in Manhattan.  We can‘t find it in Europe.  We can‘t find it anywhere. 

And so, you know, constantly replying to them because people were asking, “Is the place burnt down?  Is it out of business?  What exactly happened?”

And of course, we had to let them know that hey, we‘re not out of business.  We‘ve been producing bitters all along.  And then we have to explain, of course, that there was a bottle shortage. 

MADDOW:  Now, when you had the bottle shortage, did you consider continuing to make the liquid gold, continuing to make actual bitters.  You kept making it.  Did you ever consider licensing somebody else to bottle it?  Call it something else?  Calling it, you know, Angotur-ish. 

LARONDE-WEST:  No, no, no. 

JODHAN:  No, no.

MADDOW:  How long has the company existed?  And how secret is the formula? 

LARONDE-WEST:  Since 1824. 

MADDOW:  1824?

LARONDE-WEST:  Almost 200 years. 

MADDOW:  Wow. 

LARONDE-WEST:  And it‘s very secret. 

MADDOW:  Do you guys know what it is? 

LARONDE-WEST:  No.  Four people in the entire world -

MADDOW:  It‘s not like you know half of it and you know half of it. 


MADDOW:  So in terms of the formula, it‘s been the same for nearly 200 years? 

JODHAN:  It has been. 

MADDOW:  Who - I guess the people who distill it know it. 

JODHAN:  We can‘t tell you that. 

LARONDE-WEST:  All we know is that five people know. 

MADDOW:  Tell me - people who are wondering what‘s in this little bottle that they‘ve got in the back of their cabinet that they never thought about before.  What‘s generally the most important thing to know about what is in this bottle? 


MADDOW:  OK.  Secret formula.  People who still can‘t get bitters right now at their local liquor store, it‘s going to get better?  The distribution is back in effect? 


MADDOW:  And the company is important to the economy of Trinidad. 

LARONDE-WEST:  Yes, it is.  It‘s an icon.  Angostura bitters has been around for so long and that‘s what everybody knows.  Because we make rum as well, you know, it‘s a company that people value in Trinidad and Tobago. 

And I think this has done a great deal for us, actually understanding how much people really appreciate Angostura bitters. 

MADDOW:  Sometimes, it takes breaking up to realize how in love you were.  That‘s the thing.  Genevieve Jodhan, Giselle Laronde-West are both with the Angostura Company in Trinidad.  Thank you so much for the hooch and thank you so much for being here.  It‘s nice to meet you both.  Thank you.


MADDOW:   They were here just the other day.  We have recipes for how to make a champagne cocktail and the Manhattan on our blog, “” 

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



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