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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Read the transcript to the Friday show

Guests: Gov. Bill Richardson; Sinead O‘Connor, Noah Shachtman



RACHEL MADDOW, HOST (voice-over):  In the great state of Arizona, you are now officially presumed illegal.  If an Arizona police officer thinks you look like an illegal immigrant, you‘re under arrest—unless you can prove you‘re not an illegal immigrant.


GOV. JAN BREWER ®, ARIZONA:  Today, with my unwavering signature on this legislation, Arizona strengthens its security within our borders.


MADDOW:  Tonight, the latest news, the president‘s warning, the bizarre cringe-worthy press conference to announce the new law, and our guest, Governor Bill Richardson of neighboring New Mexico.

And—it is a mess of their own making: The Catholic Church in the midst of a worldwide full-blown crisis.  We have the unimplicative data that made it so.

And our very special guest for “The Interview” tonight, Sinead O‘Connor.

Last night, we melt the king of the 400 percent interest loan who‘s pleading poverty to say his industry should not be regulated.  Tonight, meet the fake grassroots Astroturf campaign set up to silence that industry‘s enemies.

Plus, the solid gold suggestion by Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sue Lowden that we pay our doctor‘s bills with chickens, that‘s given us this—


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Bring a chicken to the doctor.  Bring a chicken to the doctor.


MADDOW:  But it‘s also given us so much more.  The Republican Party tries to blame Democrats for the “paying with chickens” idea, and an international leader blames chicken for making you gay.

Something about Fridays brings out the insanity in the news.

It‘s all ahead this hour—starting right now on THE RACHEL MADDOW




MADDOW:  At around 4:30 Eastern Time this afternoon, the previously relatively unknown appointed governor of Arizona made herself famous.


BREWER:  I think it‘s very, very important that the people out there understand that Governor Jan Brewer of the great state of Arizona would always do what‘s right for the people of Arizona.


MADDOW:  Referring to herself in the third person there, the first clue that what was unfolding was one of those stranger-than-fiction, “you can‘t make this stuff up” Friday political press conferences.

Today, Arizona‘s governor signed into law what we‘ve not so affectionately been calling the “Papers, Please” bill.  It‘s remarkable legislation that requires police officers in Arizona to demand the paperwork of anyone they think looks like he or she might be an illegal immigrant.  And this wasn‘t just a press conference to announce that the governor was going to sign this bill into law, the governor actually signed the bill right there at the press conference in front of everybody—as protesters massed on the streets of Arizona cities and outside the capitol building.


BREWER:  This bill, the Support Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, strengthens the laws of our state.  It protects all of us, every Arizona citizen and everyone here in our state lawfully.  And it does so while ensuring that the constitutional rights of all in Arizona remain solid, stable and steadfast.


MADDOW:  Just to be clear, the steadfast upholding of constitutional rights here means that when this bill is enacted, you are presumed to be illegal in the state of Arizona.  Anyone anywhere in the state of Arizona will be eligible for arrest if a police officer thinks you might be an illegal immigrant and you can‘t, on-the-spot, prove otherwise.  U.S.  citizens could be arrested and held in jail if you don‘t have the right form of identification to show a police officer who doesn‘t think you look right.

If it turns out you‘re actually a legal immigrant to this country but weren‘t carrying all of your immigration paperwork with up at the time, that‘s six months in jail for you and a $500 fine.

If this sounds like racial profiling to you, Governor Brewer wants to assure you it most assuredly is not.


BREWER:  Racial profiling is illegal.  It will not be tolerated in America and certainly will not be tolerated in Arizona.


MADDOW:  Racial profiling, illegal—and will remain illegal in Arizona except for the part where police officers now have to stop you if they think you look illegal.  Other than that, there won‘t be any racial profiling in Arizona because that, of course, would be against the law.

It‘s like when George Bush said we don‘t torture because torture is illegal.  Instead, we just waterboard people and yes, we used to put people in prison for waterboarding people because it was torture.  We do that now but we don‘t torture because that would be illegal.  Remember that argument?

Same argument here—racial profiling is illegal.  We don‘t do illegal racial profiling.  We do profiling that is somewhat racial but not racial profiling, that would be illegal.

Because this bill has come under an enormous amount of scrutiny on the national level, duh, Governor Brewer made a special point today of announcing what would happen if stuff like illegal racial profiling did miraculously as a result of this bill take place.


BREWER:  As committed as I am to protecting our state from crime associated with illegal immigration, I am equally committed to holding law enforcement accountable, should this statute ever be misused to violate an individual‘s rights.


MADDOW:  What would be misused?  Really.  I mean, it would have to be misused?  How about—how about used as directed?

This law says you have to show documentation if a police officer says you look illegal.  That‘s not a misuse of the law.  That‘s the actual law.

The first question for Governor Brewer today at this press conference was about what basis a police officer could use to decide if someone looks illegal.


REPORTER:  It seems to me that while the bill says race and ethnicity may not be used as the sole factor, it does allow them to be used as a factor.  How can you then not lead to some form of racial profiling?

BREWER:  No different than any other reasonable suspicion, Howie.  I mean, we have to trust our law enforcement.  You know, it‘s a simple reality.

Police officers are going to be respectful.  They understand what their jobs are.  They‘ve taken the oath.  And racial profiling is illegal.


MADDOW:  It is illegal.

Governor Brewer pointed out today that the law is against racial profiling because it says this.  It says, quote, “The attorney general or county attorney shall not investigate complaints”—as this reporter pointed out—“that are based solely on race, color or national origin.”  Based solely on race, color or national origin.

So what account to “not be based solely on race or color” if it was based on, say, both race and color?  If you want to identify the exact moment where any suspicion you might have had that you had gone down the rabbit hole at this press conference was completely verified by what you were seeing, it was probably this unbelievable moment.


REPORTER:  What does an illegal immigrant look like?  Does it look like me?

BREWER:  I do not know.  I do not know what an illegal immigrant looks like.  I can tell you that I think that there are people in Arizona that assume they know what an illegal immigrant looks like.  I don‘t know if they know that for a fact or not.  But I know that if AZPOST gets theirselves together, works on this law, puts down the description that the law will be enforced civilly, fairly and without discriminatory points to it.


MADDOW:  The law will be enforced without discriminatory points to it.  As long as someone somewhere in the state of Arizona can figure out what an illegal immigrant looks like.

So far, the governor says she hasn‘t figured it out.  Until someone figures it out, everyone in the state of Arizona is presumed illegal.  May I see your papers, please?

Joining us now is Democratic Governor Bill Richardson of the neighboring state of New Mexico.

Governor Richardson, thank you very much for joining us tonight.


MADDOW:  I know that you were not in favor of this bill being signed by the Arizona governor today.  What‘s your reaction to her decision to make this Arizona law?

RICHARDSON:  Well, I‘m extremely disappointed.  I think it hurts the Democratic values of this country.  It‘s impractical.

It‘s not reform.  It‘s unenforceable.  It‘s going to spur racial profiling.

My hope is that the Obama administration looks at the legality of this bill, which in my judgment clearly usurps federal powers, and does something about it.  But they‘ll have to decide that.

I know Governor Brewer.  She‘s a good person.  I flew over our joint borders with her about 10 days ago.  We have the same problem.

We need more national guard on the border.  We need more law enforcement.  In my view, we don‘t need a fence, but we need to protect our borders.  It‘s been more border violence because of the drug cartels that are almost out of control.

And so, Arizona has a serious problem.  New Mexico‘s is less so.

But I‘m sad today.  I just think that this is a very bad bill.  You know, close to—I don‘t know what percent of Arizonians are Hispanic.  Maybe 20 percent to 30 percent.

You know, if somebody Hispanic-looking is driving, there‘s a real risk by awe law enforcement officer who is only trying to do their job to ask that person that might be an American citizen but just isn‘t carrying their paperwork.

You know, look, I love to go to Arizona.  I‘m an Arizona Diamondbacks baseball fan.  If I go there, I‘m just concerned with my beard.  I‘m the only Hispanic governor.  They‘re going to ask me for my papers.

You know, this just doesn‘t make sense.  And hopefully—hopefully, there will spur—what this will spur, Rachel, is what the Congress has failed to do.  And that is comprehensive immigration reform, an earn legalization program, accountability, where the 11 million that are here, speak English, prove that they have a viable background check, get in back of the line, we do need more border enforcement, an employer verification system.

You know, the Congress has been sitting on this for years.  It‘s not just Democratic administrations, but Republican administrations.  George Bush tried to do this, too.

But this is a sad day for democracy in America.

MADDOW:  When President Obama spoke out against this legislation today in Arizona, he brought it up unprompted at a citizenship ceremony for members of the armed services, people on active duty who are becoming citizens although they‘re active duty members of our armed forces.  And President Obama‘s comments were essentially that states are taking actions like this, some of them smart, some of them not smart, as the way he characterized Arizona‘s, because the federal government hasn‘t gotten around to comprehensive reform.

Did you take that as a signal that immigration reform is now on the front-burner for this Congress and it is going to happen?

RICHARDSON:  Well, the president has to take the lead.  And I was very pleased with his comments and the comments lately that he is going to put comprehensive immigration as a major priority.  Now, we also have the need to create jobs and deal with the economy.  And now, they‘re on financial regulation.

But I think this action of Arizona has got to spur the Congress hopefully to act and to act soon, because we really need it.

It‘s not just in border states.  You‘ve got undocumented workers. 

You‘ve got 11 million immigrants in America working on jobs and schools. 

You need to give them an opportunity to come out of the shadows.

But I‘m not talking, Rachel, about giving them citizenship.  Give them the opportunity to get some kind of legal status.  If they pass a background check, if they speak English, if they find ways to merge with the community, and then get back to the line—in back of the line those that are trying to come in legally.

If we don‘t do this, you‘re going to have situations like Arizona taking basically action in their own hands and I don‘t believe their action is going to stand a legal standing, because these are federal responsibilities.  The federal government has to deal with this problem and it‘s failed to do it.

MADDOW:  Democratic Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico—thank you very much for your time tonight, sir.  I really appreciate it.

RICHARDSON:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  Still to come, Sinead O‘Connor is our guest for “The Interview” tonight.  Also, a really bad idea from the Obama administration about really big weapons.  And more from the chickens for health care headlines.

It‘s all to come this hour.


BREWER:  I want to thank you all for being here today and hope that we meet again on—better circumstances maybe.



MADDOW:  With the very first Senate vote on financial reform slated for Monday and with Republicans still threatening to filibuster, expect, over the weekend, to hear a lot of speculation about what‘s going to happen with that vote.  That‘s what‘s happening on the surface of the Republican versus Democrat Washington fight on Wall Street reform.

Underneath that surface, though, things are way more interesting than that.  And by interesting I mean gross.

Do you remember Rick Berman?  We talked a lot about him on this show.  We had him here as a guest.

He‘s the guy who refuses to name whoever‘s funding him, but he‘s made a career of setting up Web sites like which makes the case that mercury in fish really isn‘t actually bad for you.  Or which says that tanning beds are good for you.

Or  This one is my favorite.  It says trans fats actually unclog your arteries.  Nurse, get that patient a deep fried Twinkie instead!

Rick Berman is the king of this stuff.  He‘s the guy who will take money from anyone to try to muddy the waters and confuse all the facts to keep Americans buying things that are going to kill them.  He loves to go after watchdog groups in particular to try to discredit and harass them.

It looks like his newest campaign is actually trying to smear the Humane Society of all things.  Yes.

One of Rick Berman‘s all but patented techniques is creating a fake organization that uses almost exactly the same name as a legitimate organization, and then use the fake one to attack the real one.  It‘s deliberate confusion.

Here‘s how it works.  Take for example the Center for Science in the Public Interest, CSPI.  It‘s a nonprofit that focuses on health eating and food safety.  Their main Web site is  Their Web site for kids is

Rick Berman‘s front group for the food and beverage industry, a couple of years ago, bought a couple of domain names.  Instead of, the real Web site, Berman bought  And instead of the real Web site,, with the hyphen between “smart” and “mouth,” Rick Berman bought without the hyphen.

So if you‘re looking for CSPI or their kids site, and you typed in dot-com instead of dot-org, Rick would get you to go to an anti-CSPI Web site, all about how evil CSPI is.  The CSPI kids Web site, where they caught you if you forgot to type in the hyphen, that would redirect you elsewhere as well.

It‘s pure Rick Berman.  You use similar names, the same acronyms, if you can, use the same ones as the group that you‘re attacking.  It‘s deliberately confusing, muddies the waters, confuses people.  It uses the good name and reputation of a reputable group to smear people, smear those groups and confuse people about those groups.

That tactic, that patented Rick Berman tactic is being used right now to try to stop Wall Street reform.  I want to introduce you to CRL, the Consumer Rights League.  Sounds good, right?  Consumers with rights having a league—it sounds great.  That group founded in 2007.  Consumer Rights League, CRL.

CRL, also the acronym for the Center for Responsible Lending, founded nearly 30 years ago, very real consumer rights group, associated with the rural credit union in North Carolina.  They advocate against abusive financial practices, like unauthorized overdrafts and payday lending.

So, there‘s the Center for Responsible Lending, which is a longstanding real consumer rights group, and then there‘s this new group with the exact same acronym, Consumer Rights League.  And they‘re now organizing protests against the real group.

Earlier this week, a bunch of protesters showed up at the Center for Responsible Lending‘s headquarters in Durham, North Carolina.  They accused the group vaguely of corruption, although the protesters didn‘t seem to know too much about what the corruption was about.  The protest was based on claims made by this other group with a very similar name—this other group with a very similar name, right?  Consumer Rights League.

They were founded just a few years ago—for a time they shared office space with Dick Armey‘s corporate-funded group FreedomWorks.

Like FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity and the all the Rick Berman groups, the Consumer Rights League won‘t say who funds them—though they did admit a few months ago to “Roll Call” newspaper that they are, at least, in part funded by the financial industry.  You‘re kidding.

The board of directors of the Consumer Rights League when they were founded included the wife of the president of FreedomWorks, who is a Republican fundraiser, as well as a banking lobbyist.

But now, this group is hoping to confuse you.  So, they‘re hoping that if you go looking for that group, what was that group, CRL?  CRL, that had all that good information about Wall Street reform and payday lenders?  They‘re hoping you might instead stumble on the other CRL who is against Wall Street reform, who‘s all for payday lenders and who, by the way, says those pinko, commie pro-reform groups are all corrupt and horrible and don‘t believe them.

As Wall Street reform really gets going now, watch for the corporate-funded fake activist groups and the right-wing media that loves them to really start screaming about this stuff throughout the echo chamber.

Here‘s my detail of this whole story.  The former president of this fake group, the Consumer Rights League, Michael Flynn, do you want to know what he does now?  He‘s editor-in-chief of, the right-wing Andrew Breitbart Web site which is eagerly promoting the protests against the real CRL.  Michael Flynn also used to be a lobbyist, naturally, with Rick Berman, the man who invented bamboozling schemes like this in the first place.

So the next time some group you never heard of before shares the same acronym as a well-known consumer group and seems to be pushing the exact opposite agenda as that group, don‘t be confused, google them and google them good.  These Astroturf guys are pros.  They think they can fool you.  They think you‘re dumb.

You‘re not dumb.  They can‘t fool you.  Not if you don‘t let them.



SINEAD O‘CONNOR, ARTIST:  We have confidence in the victory of good over evil.  Fight the real enemy.


MADDOW:  In 1992, the artist Sinead O‘Connor got even more famous than she already was at the time.  That was on “Saturday Night Live,” as she concluded singing her own version of a capella version of Bob Marley‘s protest song, “War.”  As you saw there, she tore up a picture of Pope John Paul II live on TV.

She said at the time that it was an effort to force a public discussion about the Catholic Church and child abuse.  Remember?  This was way back in 1992.

She told “TIME” magazine at the time, quote, “In Ireland, we see our people are manifesting the highest incidents in Europe of child abuse.  This is a direct resulted of the fact that in the schools, the priests have been beating the expletive out of the children for years and sexually abusing them.  This is the example that‘s been set for the people of Ireland.  They have been controlled by the church, the very people who authorized what was done to them, who gave permission to what was done to them.”

Now, almost 20 years later, of course, the Catholic Church is in the middle of a massive worldwide scandal involving not just sexual abuse of children by priests, but also revelations of deliberate, coordinated efforts within the church hierarchy to keep abuse secret and to resist punishing and removing priests who were abusing kids.

John Paul II was pope in 2002 when the sex abuse scandal publicly exploded here in the U.S.  He was criticized for leading the church hierarchy to being deliberately slow to act on abuse charges and to be systemically reluctant to expel abusive priests.

Now, new allegations are surfacing—charging that the late pontiff or those in his inner circle obstructed an investigation into a Mexican priest who had both molested boys and fathered several children with different women.  Also, that here, his inner circle blocked an investigative commission from looking into an Austrian cardinal who allegedly abused an estimated 2,000 boys.

The Vatican has an office in charge of handling abuse allegations.  It‘s called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  From November of 1981 until 2005, for more than 20 years, the man in charge of that office was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.  Cardinal Ratzinger only stopped being in charge of that office that handled sex abuse allegations at the Vatican—he only stopped having that job in 2005 because that was the year that he was elevated to pope.  He is now Pope Benedict XVI.

Pope Benedict himself is now at the center of what‘s become an enormous second wave in the abuse and cover-up scandal.

Thanks to investigative reporting by “The New York Times” and others in recent weeks, we‘ve learned that in 1980, the man who is now Pope Benedict was copied on a memo telling him a priest he had sent to therapy for pedophilia, quote, “would be returned to pastoral work within days of beginning psychiatric treatment.”  Then Cardinal Ratzinger, now the pope, had led a meeting approving that priest‘s transfer to once again work with kids.  That priest was later convicted of molesting boys in another parish.

We also know now that—thanks to a letter bearing his signature—that in 1985, the man who is now pope, resisted calls to expel a priest in California who had been criminally convicted of molesting children.  Even as the priest himself and bishop asked for the priest to be defrocked, Ratzinger resisted for years, explaining that delay in kicking that man out of the priesthood would serve, quote, “the good of the universal church.”  That man was ultimately convicted multiple times of multiple cases of child abuse and he served years in prison.

We‘ve also recently learned that in 1996, the man who is now pope opted not to defrock a Wisconsin priest who molested as many as 200 boys at a school for the deaf despite the victims trying for years to raise the alarm about the abuse they suffered. 

The boys went so far in the 1970s as to put the priest‘s picture on a wanted poster and hand out leaflets about him outside Milwaukee‘s cathedral.  They got no support from the church. 

In Pope Benedict‘s home country of Germany, more than 300 victims of sexual abuse have come forward in this year.  In March, Dutch bishops ordered an investigation into more than 200 allegations of sexual abuse of children by priests in that country. 

Two separate reports on abuse in Ireland came out last year.  One chronicled decades of what it described as endemic rape and sexual and physical abuse in schools and institutions run by the Catholic Church in Ireland. 

The other report concluded that all archbishops in Ireland between 1975 and 2004, all were aware of at least some complaints and that the church hierarchy hid the abuse to protect the reputation of the church. 

Just yesterday, the pope accepted the resignation of Bishop James Moriarty who said he stepped down for never acting to change or challenge the church‘s policy of covering up sexual abuse by priests.  He‘s the third Irish bishop to step down in the wake of these reports. 

Two other Irish bishops have offered to resign but the pope has not yet acted on those resignations.  Today, a bishop in Belgium also resigned after admitting that he personally had abused a boy. 

Yesterday, a German bishop offered his resignation over allegations that he beat children.  Earlier this month, it was revealed that a bishop in Norway, who resigned last year, did so after admitting to sexually abusing a boy when he was a priest as well. 

Last month, Pope Benedict issued a pastoral letter of apology to the Catholics of Ireland.  But the church took the extraordinary step of actually having the letter read aloud at Sunday mass all over Ireland. 

Sinead O‘Connor, for one, is not accepting the apology.  In a “Washington Post” op-ed last month, she wrote this, quote, “Benedict‘s apology states that his concern is, above all, to bring healing to the victims.”

“Yet he denies them the one thing that might bring them healing, a full confession from the Vatican that it has covered up abuse and is now trying to cover up the cover up.  He suggests that Ireland‘s victims can find healing by getting close to the church, the same church that has demanded oaths of silence from molested children.” 

“As Ireland withstands Rome‘s offensive apology, I ask Americans to understand why an Irish Catholic woman who survived child abuse would want to rip up the pope‘s picture.  And whether Irish Catholics, because we dare not say, ‘we deserve better,‘ should be treated as though we deserve less.” 

Sinead O‘Connor is the interview on this show tonight.  We will hear from her next.  Please stay with us.  


MADDOW:  The interview tonight is someone I‘ve been very much looking forward to talking to.  Sinead O‘Connor joins us from Dublin. 

SINEAD O‘CONNOR, SINGER/ACTIVIST:  Thanks for having me.  Thanks. 

MADDOW:  You called for accountability for the church at a time when almost no other public figures were doing that.  Do you feel like you‘re starting to see accountability now? 

O‘CONNOR:  Well, I don‘t think we‘re really seeing proper accountability, no.  I mean, accountability would be for the Vatican to admit that there was a cover-up orchestrated by central command. 

The fact is that the Boston report, the Philadelphia report, the three reports done in Ireland were done all independently of each other.  The four corners of the earth, each report concluded the same thing, that there was a cover-up in each diocese.  Everyone behaved the same way. 

If that hadn‘t been orchestrated by central command, there would be differences in how each diocese had handled the manner.  And as it happens, they all behaved without exception in exactly the same way when dealing with complaints, which was they transferred these priests in or out. 

They put pressure on families and victims not to go to the police.  And they - the conclusion of all of those reports is that the church‘s concern was for the preservation of its assets and its reputation above the caring of the children. 

So you know, the only thing that I think would make anyone happy and which would honor not only the victims but the Holy Spirit who these people claim to be representing would be for them to actually admit there was an orchestrated cover-up and get out of office and let us have our church, which is run by people who actually believe in God. 

MADDOW:  The Vatican sort of awkwardly is a country.  The pope is a head of state and that makes thinking about legal justice here complicated.  Also in terms of theological doctrine, there really isn‘t accountability for the church from outside the church. 

How important do you think it is that abuse be handled as a legal matter by secular authorities, by the police, instead of within church rules? 

O‘CONNOR:  well, I mean, it‘s very, very poor that the - these people are allowed to live by their own laws.  And this is where we need to call into question the child protection laws of each land. 

Now, I only know about my own country.  But right up until today, it is not mandatory that anyone knowing abuse has taken place should go to the police.  So if I know my next-door neighbor is abusing his child, I‘m not under any actual obligation to go to the police, which is incredible but true. 

So there is a part to play on the part of all our governments here and

sorry - all over the world in dealing with this issue, that it‘s important to look at what are the child protection laws in your country regarding this matter. 

And yes, the thing is I think that, you know, the Vatican is - it‘s a 15th century organization.  It‘s a medieval organization.  And what we‘re seeing is the battle between medieval thinking and 21st century thinking. 

If they want to survive into the 21st century, they‘re going to have to become a 21st century business, which means that they are, first of all, those who have brought the Holy Spirit and Catholicism into total disrepute should be fired. 

Whoever was involved in the cover-up of child abuse and therefore endangering children should be fired.  The pope should be fired or should stand down.  There should be a criminal investigation of the Vatican and of the pope. 

They should all get out and let us in the 21st century choose who we think is fit to run our church because it is ours.  It‘s not theirs.  It shouldn‘t be any more of this black smoke, white smoke nonsense, you know, it‘s them and us. 

It‘s our church.  We need to reclaim it and we need to have it run by people who actually believe in God. 

MADDOW:  When you have allowed yourself as an artist to be such a lightning rod on this issue, just by putting yourself up publicly and talking about it, not only in personal terms, but in very political terms, it was always interesting to me that people took that to mean that you were no longer Catholic or that you were an atheist or that you - people essentially took it as an opportunity to question your faith. 

I wonder if you still encounter that, if you have any reflections on that. 

O‘CONNOR:  Well, no.  I mean I think anyone that really knows me or whatever would know that in fact I would have taken that action and still continue to take all of this action because I believe passionately in the Holy Spirit, and I‘m in love passionately with the Holy Spirit. 

I feel the Holy Spirit is being held hostage by the people who are presently running the Catholic Church.  The Catholic Church is full of beautiful people, men and women, you know, who have given up their whole lives, who serve human beings.  They do nothing but love. 

But those people also are being betrayed by the people who are running the church.  Now, I would say I passionately believe in the Holy Spirit.  I believe all of us who believe in the Holy Spirit should be standing up now and defend that spirit and rescue it from these people. 

And sometimes, I‘m not asked, do I believe in God?  But I‘m asked, am I anti-Catholic?  My answer to that is no but the people who are running the Vatican actually are.  They brought Catholicism into a disgraceful state of disrepute. 

Now, when people hear the word “Catholic,” they think - they shudder.  They think of nothing but abuse.  So it‘s, you know - that would be the only question that people ask me, am I anti-Catholic?  I would say absolutely not but those in charge are. 

MADDOW:  One last question for you about your activism on this.  Why did you write this op-ed recently for “The Washington Post.” I wonder why you think the American media is important here and how you think in this global scandal the American public and the American media have been important. 

MADDOW:  Well, you know, I was talking to your research there last night, and I have to say on behalf of all the Irish survivors, they and I and anyone involved in the campaign is so, so grateful to the American media.  Because, you know, you all have leapt in just at the right moment. 

After Pope Benedict‘s letter came - that‘s why I then wrote to the “Washington Post.” I was disgusted by this letter, which actually referred to the priests, the bishops who covered up as being a “well-intentioned” desire to protect the church. 

What on earth was well-intentioned about it?  The letters are a study in the art of lying.  It suggests that the Irish hierarchy were acting independently of the Vatican. 

The letter and their actions have not punished at all those people who were accomplices by silence to the crime of child abuse.  None of them have been fired.  It looks very bad that the pope hasn‘t fired all of them and said, “How dare you bring us into disrepute.” 

That looks like the house of the Holy Spirit has become a haven for moral criminals.  But as I say, just at the right moment, America stepped in, the “New York Times” piece.  “Boston Globe” also stepped in.

And now, a lot of the victims - I was just sitting with some of them this morning.  They were saying, you know, almost with tears in their eyes, sitting back, saying, “We‘ve waited 40 years now, trying to bang the door down here.  And now, we can sit down and relax because the American media have taken it on board.” 

And it‘s their baby now for want of a better - pardon the pun, you know.  But we‘re enormously grateful in Ireland for what the American media are doing because we know the Americans don‘t take any nonsense and they don‘t take any prisoners.

And there‘s no way the Vatican are going to get off the hook now that the Americans are after you.  So thank you very much. 

MADDOW:  Sinead O‘Connor, thank you very much for joining us tonight and for your continued dogged activism on the subject. 

O‘CONNER:  Thanks. 

MADDOW:  Really nice to talk to you.  Thank you.  OK.  So it was an idea about national defense that was too dangerous for the Bush administration. 

Yes, there was such an idea and yet the Obama administration is giving it serious consideration now.  Exciting yet very bad ideas about blowing stuff up, coming up next.  Stay with us.


MADDOW:  Yes, it‘s Friday night, but it‘s never a bad time to learn something new.  For instance, do you know all the side effects of eating that chicken you might soon be using to pay your doctor?  Do stay tuned.  You will be glad you did. 


MADDOW:  Congratulations, America.  You are the proud owner - at least you are the owner - of at least 450 of these puppies.  This is an LGM-30 Minute Man Guided Missile, better known as a Minute Man 3, better still known as an ICBM, an intercontinental ballistic missile. 

We‘ve got hundreds of these things stashed in missile silos all over the country.  The name “Minute Man” attests in part to the fact they can be launched really fast, like in a minute. 

There are all types of ballistic missiles but the ICBMs are the really, really long-range ones.  They can go thousands of miles.  They could go say from Minot, North Dakota to North Korea. 

They can go, say, from the Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana to Moscow.  Shorter range missiles can and do have conventional warheads, conventional explosives on them.  But these big ones, the ICBMs - these are the nuclear ones. 

Unless that changes, the Obama administration, even as they‘ve said they ultimately want a world free of nuclear weapons and they want to dramatically pare down the number of nukes as soon as possible, they also say they want something called prompt global strike. 

They want the ability to fire something big and deadly anywhere in the world, literally anywhere within an hour.  One way to do that is to take the nuclear thing off the tip of that Minute Man ICBM and replace it with a conventional warhead.  Tada!

What you have then is a conventional weapon that can travel at several times the speed of sound, hypersonic missile that can be launched from the United States almost instantly and reach almost any position on the globe really, really, really fast.  Great idea, right? 

No.  Actually, it‘s a totally bad idea.  If you exchange the warheads on these weapons, when you launch them and before they explode, even if it doesn‘t have a nuclear warhead on it, it‘s going to look like an ICBM, which is the kind of thing we think of as having a nuclear weapon it. 

If you‘re Russia and an ICBM of some kind is hurtling toward you eastward, you‘ve got to decide while it‘s in the air what you‘re going to do.  Is that an ICBM with a nuke on it?  Looks like one.  You guys want to launch?  Launch.  Voila, World War III, the end. 

That‘s how the Russians talked the Bush administration out of this dumb idea when they came up with it.  But not before Donald Rumsfeld shared his genius response to the Russians‘ concerns. 

He said, quote, “Some countries might not know whether it was a conventional weapon or a nuclear weapon.  Everyone in the world would know that it was conventional after it hits, within 30 minutes, or 10 minutes.”

Yes, right.  Everyone would eventually figure out it was a conventional weapon, not a nuclear weapon.  After they see it barreling toward their country and they calmly sit there for 10, 20, 30 minutes, not knowing if it‘s nuclear.  Then once it hits, then they‘d go out and check the impact to check and see if it wasn‘t nuclear.  See, no worries. 

As long as countries react to the immediate threat of nuclear annihilation in a relaxed, calm, reposed, perhaps sipping cups of oolong tea, waiting around to see if they‘ll be incinerated, then this should be no problem. 

Joining us now is Noah Shachtman, contributing editor at “Wired” magazine and the editor of its indispensable national security blog, “Danger Room.”  Noah Shachtman, thanks for being here. 


MADDOW:  Doesn‘t seem that unbelievable to me that Donald Rumsfeld would think this was a good idea.  Why is this coming up again now with this administration? 

SHACHTMAN:  Yes, I mean, this is kind of like one of those ideas like you‘d imagine, like Dr. Strangelove, Dick Cheney, and Jason Bourne kind of sitting around the bong in their college room, coming up with - dude, fire off the conventional missile. 

Yes, it‘s crazy.  I can‘t believe they‘re doing this again.  Why? 

I‘ve heard a bunch of different theories over the last day or so. 

One is that there‘s sort of an internal fight going on within the Pentagon and that the generals to get them to go along with the big nuclear cuts that Obama just announced the other day in Prague, or just signed the treaty for the other day in Prague, that you had to give them something.  And so you gave them this crazy weapon. 

MADDOW:  Go for it. 


MADDOW:  We promise we‘ll never deploy it. 


MADDOW:  Is - if they really want, as they say, a warhead on forehead capacity, anywhere in the world within an hour, is re-tipping an ICBM the only reasonable way to get that capacity?  Are there other ways to get that capacity? 

SHACHTMAN:  No, that‘s what makes this completely insane.  OK, the premise here is our Jason Bourne character has got Osama in his sights, right? 

MADDOW:  Yes. 

SHACHTMAN:  He‘s got him right there.  But somehow, there‘s not a gun. 

There‘s not a helicopter.  There‘s not a drone.  There‘s not an airplane.  There‘s not a submarine.  There‘s not an aircraft carrier.  There‘s nothing within thousands of miles.  And the only way Jason Bourne can kill Osama is to launch an ICBM from California. 

MADDOW:  To be fair, the administration says they‘re going to add safety protocols of some kind to avoid the accidental World War III thing, so the Russians won‘t think that it‘s a nuclear-tipped ICBM hurtling toward them.

They say they‘ll give the Russians, like, inspection capacity to look at these missiles.  Would that make any difference at all? 

SHACHTMAN:  It would make a minuscule difference.  They‘re talking about basing them in California.  Most of the nuclear missiles are in North Dakota or places like that. 

MADDOW:  Right. 

SHACHTMAN:  So you know, there would be some differences.  The flight paths might be a little bit different.  But I mean, flip the situation around, OK?  Let‘s imagine Russia fires some ICBMs at us. 

And let‘s imagine that it looks like they‘re going to hit Toronto instead of Detroit.  Are we going to feel totally confident that we‘re not going to respond? 

MADDOW:  Yes. 

SHACHTMAN:  OK.  And then, let‘s add to that - let‘s say it‘s 2017 and President Sarah Palin is in charge.  I say cue the rapture. 

MADDOW:  Didn‘t Congress refuse to fund this idea when it was the Bush-Rumsfeld idea? 

SHACHTMAN:  Yes, they refused to fund the like super-duper bad version of

this idea, which was to have a submarine and have 22 nuclear missiles on

the submarines and then two conventional missiles, and that would fly in

exactly the same way -

MADDOW:  Thus guaranteeing that anytime you wanted to fire one of those conventional missiles, you‘re starting a nuclear war. 

SHACHTMAN:  Right.  It was a World War III almost guarantee starter.  So this one‘s only like a maybe World War III starter.  So who knows, maybe Congress will approve it.  I don‘t think so. 

MADDOW:  Is it possible that they‘re floating this in order to look tough and they‘ll never actually pursue it? 

SHACHTMAN:  I think that is highly likely. 

MADDOW:  All right. 

SHACHTMAN:  I think it‘s also likely that this is a great bargaining chip with the Russians.  Hey, you give up one of your nukes and we‘ll give up one of our imaginary conventional missiles. 

MADDOW:  Well, that kind of thinking, I like.  The rest of this, not so sure.  Noah Shachtman, contributing editor at “Wired” magazine, the editor of the “Danger Room” blog, which is very, very, very important.  It‘s good to see you, Noah. 


MADDOW:  Thanks for coming in.


MADDOW:  Nice to see you.  Coming up at the top of the hour, it is an encore showing of our two-hour special documentary, “The McVeigh Tapes,” where we hear from the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh.  This special draws on hours of audio interviews conducted with McVeigh in prison before he was executed.  That‘s tonight at 10:00 Eastern. 

Next on this show, a new twist on the idea of what else chickens can do for you besides standing in for currency when you pay your doctor.  We‘ll be right back. 


SUE LOWDEN (R-NV), REPUBLICAN SENATE CANDIDATE:  You know, before we all started having health care in the olden days, our grandparents - they would bring a chicken to the doctor.  They would say, I‘ll paint your house.


MADDOW:  And the chicken house, I will paint the chicken.  And I will give - when the chicken is sick, I will - little did Nevada Republican Senate candidate, Sue Lowden, suspect that her chickens for health care brainstorm would quickly metastasize into a stimulus package for satire industry. 

Let a thousand chicken jokes bloom.  Por ejemplo, this Web site called “” calculates various medical procedures into chicken.  According to this, a tonsillectomy will cost you 907 chickens, which is very inconvenient. 

Unable to put the chicken back in the bottle, Republicans are now trying to blame Sue Lowden‘s opponent for Senate, Harry Reid, the Democrat - they‘re trying to blame him for the chicken thing. 

The Republican Senate campaign spokesman Brian Walsh told TPM, quote, “Watching the Senate majority leader get down in the mud and desperately try to inject farm animals into his flailing re-election bid is frankly a bit pathetic.”

Unlike, say, using the phrase “inject farm animals” to rebut chicken proposals told by your candidate.  But before we embrace Lowden‘s poultry-for-health-care scheme, we should, perhaps, heed this warning about chicken from Bolivia‘s president, Evo Morales. 

President Morales says that chicken producers inject birds with hormones and that, quote, “When men eat those chickens, they experience deviances in being men.”  You know what he means.  Chicken makes you gay. 

So when it comes time to pay your male doctor, if you don‘t want him turn gay, you should pay him with something else, like bacon.  If he‘s already gay, maybe go ahead and pay him in chicken.  What done is done.  This barter thing is going to be very complicated, but it‘s totally going to work.

That does it for tonight.  We will see you again Monday.  Check out our blog, which is “”  Our documentary, “The McVeigh Tapes,” starts right now.  Have a good weekend.




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