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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Friday, December 10th, 2010

Read the transcript to the Friday show

Guests: Ken Strickland, Rep. Jan Schakowsky


RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  Fair enough, Mr. Stolen Pants.  Have a good weekend, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  You, too.

MADDOW:  Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.


Today showed a stark and startling contrast between the left and the right in American politics.  It‘s the kind of contrast that the Beltway media does not like to admit to, but today it was on display making everyone uncomfortable.

The Beltway is, of course, very excited these days because some of the left and some of the right are taking the same position on something.  Everybody freak out!  The important thing, though, is that boy howdy, are the left and the right doing this same thing in totally different ways.


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR:  Democrats this morning were not the only ones turning their back on President Obama‘s tax cut deal, he‘s also coming under fire on some from the right as well.

GRETCHEN CARLSON, FOX NEWS:  So, he upset Republicans for the first two years in office, which is to be expected.  Now, he upsets, and he also upset the left.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT:  It really is a case of strange

bedfellows because on the one hand, you got Move On and progressives

objecting and then look at this, Mark Meckler of the Tea Party Patriots

hates the deal


MADDOW:  The left and the right, people on the left and the right coming to the same position.  Ah!

It is true that there are both Republicans and Democrats, both liberals and conservatives, speaking out against the tax deal that the president struck with Republican congressional leaders this week—leading the charge against the tax deal for the left today, you had very visibly, and very publicly Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.  He took to the Senate floor today for 8 ½ hours for not quite a filibuster, but a super-human display of endurance and strength of conviction against the tax deal.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT:  You can call what I‘m doing today whatever you want.  You can call it a filibuster.  You can call it a very long speech.

Millions of Americans remain unemployed and have lost their home, their life savings and their ability to send their kids to college.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO:  Senator Sanders‘ work is so important today on the floor, taking the floor for a longer period than anybody I have seen since I‘ve been in the Senate, in a filibuster kind of setting where he is—you know, he is raising these questions.

SANDERS:  We have a job to do.  And if it means staying here through Christmas Eve, through New Year‘s, that is our job.  How much more do they want?

The highest rate of childhood poverty in the industrialized world—is this America?

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D), LOUISIANA:  And you wonder why people are angry?  Why this Tea Party movement is festering?  And you wonder why people want to—you know, people are so angry that call—I understand that anger and I‘m so angry myself, I don‘t know what to do.

SANDERS:  Losing 600,000 private sector jobs in eight years is not good.  That‘s very, very bad.  That‘s an economic policy that has failed.  We don‘t need to look at that movie again.  We saw it.  It stunk.  It was a bad movie.

As this chart shows, only a tiny fraction off estates from deaths in 2009 owed any estate taxes.  And the Walton family alone would receive an estimated $32.7 billion in tax breaks if the estate tax was particular repealed.  One family, $32.7 billion.  This is patently insane.

It is totally absurd to be giving tax breaks to people who don‘t need them.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Tom Donohue urged American companies to send jobs overseas.  Now, that‘s really patriotic.  That‘s standing up for the United States of America.  We have got to stop protecting the middle class of this country.

I think we can do better in job creation than in business tax cuts.

And with that, Madam President, I would yield the floor.

The Senate stands adjourned.


MADDOW:  Eight and a half hours.  That‘s what the junior senator from Vermont did today.  His argument against the president‘s tax cut deal with Republicans, the argument from the left central theme you heard there is that tax cuts for the rich don‘t do anything for the economy.  They benefit only the people who directly receive them, who are already very rich—and it‘s a hugely expensive thing to do.  It‘s unaffordable and it is ineffective.

And as you saw, that argument from Senator Sanders today came complete with all sorts of evidence, charts and graphs and numbers to support it.

Now, let‘s hear from Senator Sanders‘ strange bedfellows on the right.  Let‘s hear why the conservatives are against this tax deal.  Batting for the right today, Republican senator and Tea Party hero, Senator Jim DeMint.


SEN. JIM DEMINT ®, SOUTH CAROLINA:  Republicans have something good for the country, such as extending these tax rates.  The Democrats are not going to allow us to pass it unless we do more deficit spending on some program that they think is desperately needed.  We call it a compromise.  They say it‘s the best deal we can get.

But, Sean, this is a bad fiscal policy because it increases the debt.  I‘d like to get the deal done, but it should, in my mind, not increase the deficit, and we should at least have a vote on making these rates permanent.


MADDOW:  I don‘t want to increase the deficit, we should have a vote on making these rates permanent.

Just for anybody keeping track, right, extending the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2 percent of Americans just for 10 years would add $700 billion to the debt.  Jim DeMint is against adding to the debt, right?  So Jim DeMint also wants to extend the rich people tax cuts not just for 10 years, but forever.

His argument against the tax cut deal the president made with his party‘s leaders is essentially your idea is bad because it adds to the deficit, my idea is better, because it adds way more to the deficit.

Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota had a much more carefully crafted argument against the tax cut deal today.  According to Ms. Bachmann, this package of tax cuts increases taxes.


REP. MICHELLE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA:  Republicans are concerned, because it does increase taxes in certain segments and it also adds to the deficit.  And that‘s not good.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR:  Increases taxes?

BACHMANN:  Yes, it does on the death tax.  The death tax will go up under this measure.  It‘s significant.

ROBERTS:  But still, there‘s an exemption for the first $5 million. 


BACHMANN:  Well, it‘s in flux right now as to what it‘s going to be.

ROBERTS:  But just to be clear, the president‘s plan as he outlined it, is that something you can sign on to?

BACHMANN:  No, it isn‘t, because it increases the deficit too much, it increases spending too much, and—

ROBERTS:  But part of the reason why it increases the deficit is because you are maintaining those marginal tax rates through all income levels.

BACHMANN:  That‘s right.  But remember the definition—

ROBERTS:  And that is $450 billion of the projected $900 billion?

BACHMANN:  And remember, it‘s a deficit to government, but it‘s not a deficit to people who get to keep their money.  So, it‘s how you frame it.  I don‘t think letting people keep their own money should be considered a deficit.


MADDOW:  So, to recap, on the left, you have Senator Bernie Sanders and his marathon speech with charts and graphs and numbers, explaining that doing that huge expensive thing targeted specifically to the richest of the country is huge and expensive, and as economists agree, it is not very good for the economy.  It is not economically stimulative.  The country does not benefit economically, only the rich people who are getting that benefit.

So, adding that money to the deficit for the whole country does not make economic sense.  That‘s his argument.  On the right, you have Jim DeMint arguing that because he wants the deficit to go down, he proposes making the deficit go up.  And you have Michele Bachmann arguing that for the stuff she wants to add to the deficit, she would prefer you didn‘t really think of that as a deficit anymore.


BACHMANN:  Remember, it‘s a deficit to government, but it‘s not a deficit to people.


MADDOW:  The myth at the left and the right are mirror images of each other, that they are essentially the same, is very attractive to the Beltway media.  It‘s very attractive to sort of anybody skimming over politics.  It has never been true and it has always made me crazy.

I would, today, like to offer my sincere gratitude to Senator DeMint and Congresswoman Bachmann for helping, I think, all of us to dispel that myth at least for today.  Yes, some on the left and some on the right hate this tax deal.  That does not mean that the left and the right are either equally crazy—as you will hear all Sunday morning long this weekend, I promise you.  Nor does it mean, though, that they are equally genius.

Joining us is Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, she is chief deputy whip.  She‘s a member of President Obama‘s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.

Congresswoman Schakowsky, thank you so much for braving the cold for us tonight.

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS:  Thank you so much, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Is there a substantive difference between the different objections to this tax cut plan?  People are talking about the excitement of these politics here, because maybe the left and the right can come together in their problems with this.  Is there any substantive agreement here?

SCHAKOWSKY:  Absolutely worlds apart.  We are hearing from the Republicans that who they care about is a tiny sliver of Americans, the wealthiest Americans in our country who are already controlling most of the wealth in the country versus the middle-class and the poor.

But you know, there‘s not really a contradiction when Jim DeMint talks about raising these concerns about deficits.  Now that what they want to do is to jump in and say, aha!  Now that we have increased the deficits, it‘s time to cut the spending.

And you know what that means.  That means cutting the programs, cutting the things that are actually going to help the middle-class.  That‘s their goal.

Raise the deficit so they can come back and cut spending that‘s going to really help middle-class people.

MADDOW:  The argument about the deficit though is—I think—I think you were right to say that, listen, this is—this is setting a trap to raise the deficit so that they can use that essentially as a bludgeon against things like Social Security and Medicare and things that they have always wanted to get rid of.


MADDOW:  But the arguments of the deficit, the thing that is most salient about them to me is that they are nonsense.  This idea that if you cut taxes, that magically doesn‘t increase the deficit, that revenue has nothing to do with whether or not we have a deficit, and that they refuse to consider the deficit impact of their own proposals.

Do you have hope that we will ever get past just the arithmetic nonsense of those arguments?

SCHAKOWSKY:  Well, what—we don‘t need to.  What we need to do is

for the House Democrats to come up with a proposal that the Republicans are

going to be able to buy, because they have to, because the American people

are simply not going to tolerate the notion that we‘re going to give away -

the estate tax.  Think of this, if someone leaves an estate of $1 billion, under their proposal, they would gain $100 million over what the Democrats are proposing for the estate tax.  Imagine Paris Hilton will be able to get an extra $100 million under their plan.


It‘s obscene.  It‘s absolutely an offense to us and to most Americans.  And that‘s why I think that the right wing is making a big mistake.  I think that there‘s going to be buyer‘s remorse, because I actually think the Tea Partiers out there, most of them, feel that that there is something fundamentally unfair that the rich, the Wall Street, that the banks and the bailouts, that they are getting away with something, and the middle-class people are left to worry about whether they‘re going to keep their jobs or their homes.

And so, I think that they are making a big mistake by only focusing on the wealthiest Americans.

MADDOW:  How much room is there for negotiation right now?  I mean, could we see a final plan that has a different arrangement about estate taxes?  That has, in which those tax cuts for the richest Americans are revisited?  How much room is for movement is there right now?

SCHAKOWSKY:  Actually the president, himself, said today, that the Democrats are going to come up with their own proposal, and the Democratic Caucus in the House is determined to continue to fight to make sure that we do middle-class tax cuts, that we do a payroll tax holiday, that we give unemployment benefits to the millions of Americans.  Our plan affects hundreds of millions of people in the country; theirs just a few.

Now, how far are we going to get?  It is unclear, but I think that we can get a better deal, and we are ready to offer our plan—yes, to compromise, because we know that by January 1st, we don‘t want to see ordinary people‘s taxes go up.  But I think that we can, in fact, do better.  Maybe it it‘s going to be around the estate tax, which is just—it‘s ridiculous, and most people see it that way.

MADDOW:  Is the—is there real anger between House Democrats, particularly progressive Democrats, and the White House on this?  The president has said that he thinks that some of the dissatisfaction with this plan is that people didn‘t understand it, the White House clearly has been doing everything they can to try to explain and sell more about what‘s in this plan that they think will appeal to a Democratic audience.

How would you describe the relationship right now between House Democrats and the White House?  How strained is it?  And where do you think it goes?

SCHAKOWSKY:  Well, I think what we see in the leadership of our caucus and definitely in the rank-and-file is that we want to exert the prerogatives of the U.S. House of Representatives, that it‘s not just a negotiation between the White House and the other parties, that we have a lot to say about it.  We are still in control—I remind everybody—until the end of the year.  We are in the majority.  And we are determined to continue to negotiate.  That we don‘t think it is soup yet, and we are going to introduce our own bill—not necessarily go along with the Senate Democrats either.

MADDOW:  Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, braving a very cold night to be with us tonight.  Thank you very much, ma‘am.  We really appreciate your time.

SCHAKOWSKY:  Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  OK.  As yet, we have still got—and I will tell you in advance so you can prep yourself—we still have a horrible mixed metaphor involving both an ant hill and a treadmill.  It‘s very bad idea.  That‘s coming up.

Also, there is a strange foreign story about a crying child not being allowed to hold a big (INAUDIBLE) statue and that having international implications.  Also, there will be on-set drinking.  It is a big Friday night here.  Please stick with us.


MADDOW:  What does Texas‘s Republican governor have against the guy who directed the movie “El Mariachi”?  Weirdly, it turns out he has plenty against him.

Also, the most hostile, intimidating and creepily ironic peace prize ever.

That‘s still to come.  Please stay with us.


MADDOW:  Do we have the lame—little lame duck quack sounder thing?  We only have so long to play it.  It doesn‘t apply to that much of any particular year.  I want to get our money‘s worth on this.  Do we have this?  Can we play it?


REP. JOHN BOEHNER ®, OHIO:  Hell no, you can‘t!



MADDOW:  Thank you.  The lame duck session of Congress this year is busy it turns out.  Day-long fake filibusters, scheduled and unscheduled votes, bills that have ended up passing the House more than once in the same session, a lame duck session of Congress that everybody thought would be really lame is at least very busy.  It‘s running, running all of the time—go, go, go.

It‘s the sort of running, though, that is like running on a treadmill.  It‘s exhibiting lots of activity.  It is sweating.  It is maybe wearing a little Lycra.  But no matter how much time it spends sprinting on that treadmill, there has, as yet, been very little actual forward travel.

But there‘s a ton of important stuff going on and it is all in motion, it just doesn‘t seem like stuff is getting checked off the list.

What is likely to get done at this point?  Take “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” for example.  The president had made ending the “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” policy a big campaign promise.  He has reiterated it many times.

The repeal of “don‘t ask, don‘t tell:” is attached to what is a largely considered to be a must-pass piece of legislation, the National Defense Authorization Act.  It‘s the bill that funds the military.  It never doesn‘t pass.

Democrats almost uniformly back repeal.  Some Republicans have even signaled they may vote for repeal.  But Majority Leader Harry Reid brought to a surprise vote this week, it failed.  Repeal advocates are beside themselves.

Getting anything done on “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” this year started to seem like a pipe dream.  But then after that surprise vote that failed, there was an equally surprising announcement.


SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT:  I was really pleased when he said he would bring it to the floor, that is to the calendar, where it could be acted on under Rule 14.


MADDOW:  Really pleased?  So “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” will be voted on this year as a separate bill this year under Rule 14.

What‘s Rule 14?  It turns out Rule 14 let you bring a bill to the floor without it having to go through committee, which presumably means it is fast-tracked to be able to still pass now in the lame duck session—so that‘s going to happen, sometime in the next week in theory.

And then there‘s also the START Treaty, the nukes agreement with Russia, 67 senators must vote to ratify it.  It‘s a treaty.  President Obama has made this a big priority.  He‘s lobbied Democrats and Republicans for months.  Just about every boldfaced Republican name in national security has said that this should be ratified, and the White House wants you to know that they think it will be done.


ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  I think that START is going to pass by the end of this year with a pretty big bipartisan vote.


MADDOW:  But when?  Before or after the tax deal that‘s got everybody all lathered up?  Before or after the big defense spending bill?  Before or after the repeal of “don‘t ask, don‘t tell”?  Or before or after the DREAM Act, the immigration bill?

That legislation was supposed to be voted on this week, but Senator Reid pulled it at the last minute.  It passed the House and went to Senate, Senator Reid pulled it.  But about that, he said, when he‘s asked about that, his comment was, “Stay tuned.”

Stay tuned?  Apparently, polling it was a strategic move, because there is some other plan to pass it that wasn‘t evident before he pulled it.

Well, the one thing that is scheduled now is a key preliminary vote on this tax deal that has everybody very excited.  We thought that would be this weekend, but it will apparently now be late on Monday.  That‘s what they say for now.

This is like watching an ant hill—watching an ant hill.  You can tell it‘s an ant hill.  You can tell there‘s activity.  You can tell there are ants.  You can tell the general direction in which the ants are moving in the ant hill.

But if you ask me to explain what‘s actually going on here, what does this mean, the only thing I can honestly say to you, human to human, is, look, ants, you tell me what you think it means.

Joining us now is Ken Strickland, NBC News Senate producer, the guy to whom I usually say, Ken, look, ants.  What does it mean?


MADDOW:  This is all very confusing what‘s going on in the Senate these days, Ken.

KEN STRICKLAND, NBC NEWS SENATE PRODUCER:  The Senate—the Senate is a very confusing place.  It has tons of arcane rules.  And if you really want to win, you have to know how the Senate works and how to use the rules.  And if you want to win badly, you have to know how to use the rules to the best of your ability and play hardball.  As you go through, it may upset people.  That‘s really what it comes down when you talk about the rules in the Senate.

MADDOW:  Well, Rule 14, for example, which everybody got to look up this week.  Rule 14 as it has been shorthanded explained to me, means that you can bring something up without putting it through the committee process which would imply that it can move quickly in the Senate.

Senator Lieberman is saying that Senator Reid may do that with a stand alone bill on “don‘t ask, don‘t tell.”  Is that—is that true?  That basic understanding.  And do you think that might work?

STRICKLAND:  That is true.  He did a couple of things.  One of which is very important, which is by stripping the repeal of “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” out of the defense authorization bill, they have made the fight more narrowed.

When it was in defense authorization bill, you were talking about a bill that has so many controversial things in it.  There was even abortion language in that bill.  And so, by taking it out, you basically saying, we don‘t want to fight about all these other things, let‘s just fight about “don‘t ask, don‘t tell.”

So, you have a new bill.  As remember in high school history, when a bill becomes a law, it goes to committee.  It can stay in committee for weeks, for months, it can go to committee and die.  But if there is something that the majority leader feels a priority, he can use Rule 14, which basically is saying we‘re going to bypass the committee and within two days, we can bring that bill to the floor.  It‘s often done when there‘s a priority, like say, there‘s an emergency and somebody needs money, a state needs money for a disaster, or if somebody thinks that the bill is going to committee and dies.

So, this does get it to the floor quickly, but they still will have to fight.

MADDOW:  On the issue of timing and the sequencing of these different priorities, Republicans, of course, threatened in writing to block anything and everything in the Senate until the Senate moved on extending the Bush tax cuts.  Obviously, there‘s been a lot of fighting this week about this substantive value of whether or not that should or shouldn‘t be done.

But just in terms of whether or not stuff gets done in the Senate, what exactly are they waiting for?  Does it just need to be a deal or do they need to—is their understanding something will have to be signed—passed and signed into law before they‘ll allow anything else to happen?

STRICKLAND:  The letter actually said that there were going to be two things that they wanted to have done first.  One was the Bush tax cuts.  The other was the government funding bill.  On Friday—I‘m sorry, on Saturday, the money that funds the government runs out.  Not this Saturday, next Saturday, the 18th.  So, they still have to figure what to do at that.

So, basically, Republicans were saying, let‘s deal with those two things first.  Now, they are literally on the tax bill and they want to get that done and get that passed.  On Monday, they‘ll have a key procedural vote that will basically show whether or not the will is there for the bipartisan Senate to pass the bill.  We‘ll see that Monday.

MADDOW:  On the issue of the DREAM Act, Ken, the common wisdom was that, it has been for a long time, that the DREAM Act has nowhere to go in the Senate.  It‘s dead there, as dead as dead can be.  Majority Leader Reid does not seem to behaving like that is the case in his view in the Senate.  What do you think is going on with this immigration measure right now?

STRICKLAND:  We talk about—all these things get lumped together.  We talk about the Bush tax cuts and the spending bill.   In addition to the DREAM Act and START and “don‘t ask, don‘t tell,” then Democrats have two opponents, if you‘re a Democrat.  There‘s the Republican and there‘s the calendar.  They need to get all of this done by the end of the year.

If you try to gain this out procedural, if you thought about how they‘re going to do the tax cuts, how they‘re going to finish funding the government, that will actually get you almost to the 18th already, and then it‘s a question of what procedurally can Harry Reid do to get other things done?  Why is he still optimistic about the DREAM Act?

Well, generally, I think that‘s political.  I don‘t think that anybody who has a strong support or something wants to go to the floor and say, “I don‘t have the votes, I‘m wasting my time.”  There‘s also a notion that if sometimes if you think something is close, and I hear that there are some Republicans who are interested in talking about the DREAM Act and there are some Democrats who are interested in not talking about it, but when you think it‘s close, sometimes, just the notion of having the clerk call the roll and making the members come to the floor, that that might shake a few people loose right before Christmas who are eager to get home.

So, it‘s really—somebody told me a great story today, a great quote about how the Senate works.  That anything is possible, but not everything is probable.  So, it‘s hard to know how these other three measures get taken care of.  When I say that, I mean “don‘t ask, don‘t tell,” the DREAM Act and the START Treaty.  They got to pick out priority and then try to figure out strategically how to get it done.

MADDOW:  Nobody expected in the lame duck session that it was going to be both an action movie and a suspense movie.  And in my case, both an ant hill and a treadmill.  But as many metaphors as we can use to try to help explain this, we will keep trying.

Ken Strickland, NBC News Senate producer—thank you so much for joining us tonight.

STRICKLAND:  Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  So, Texas Governor Rick Perry, he is a low-taxing, deregulating, Bill of rights-hugging kind of guy who really wants the movie business to do its business in Texas.  Come on down.  We‘ll leave you alone.  We‘ll make it easy for you.  While we‘re at it, roll them.  Also, this deal has a big asterisk on it that we‘d prefer you did not ask us about until after we‘ve already tricked you into coming into our state.

This is an amazing story about Rick Perry and the movies.  Texas Governor Rick Perry and his amazing, amazing asterisk.  That‘s next.


MADDOW:  So, in 1992, I was in North Carolina for some reason, and I don‘t remember exactly why, but I went to a movie theater, in Asheville, maybe.  And I bought a ticket to see “Il Mariachi.”  I heard it was good.  It turns out it was transcendently good.  And it was so much more ambitious and arty and weird and unexpected and backward put-together than any movie I had seen at that point in my life.  I thought it was amazing.

It turns out that a reason it was so amazing to me especially at the easily amazed age of 19 is because the movie theater put the reels on the movie of the projector in the wrong order.  So I saw reel one, the start of the film, and then reel three, the amazing climax of the film, and then reel two I saw last.  That was the middle bit, the explaining part.  It was out of order.  It was ACB instead of ABC.

And seeing it out of order made me fall in love with the director Robert Rodriguez, which even now is still kind of true despite the fact that I like him is because of a drunk projectionist in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1992 making accidental experimental art for one showing only when I was 19 years old and impressionable. 

Mr. Rodriguez has gone on since to become very respectable with “The Spy Kids” guy, “Sin City, “Grind House,” all these big movies.  Robert Rodriguez is a born and bred Texan.  He likes to make the movies in Texas.  “The Austin American Statesman” describes him as Texas‘ most prolific filmmakers.

Which is why he has ended up in one of the stupidest stories about taxes you will hear all week, and this week has a lot of competition for the stupidest story about taxes, but this one wins. 

Texas, as you may know, features an ambitious and amazing governor named Rick Perry.  You may have seen him book touring as a national leader by touring as selling Texas itself as a libertarian wonderland where the government stays out of everything and no heavy-handed way of the government getting into the way of what business does. 


GOV. RICK PERRY, ® TEXAS:  We have low taxes, low regulatory climate, and legal system that does not allow for over-suing.  Then we get out of the way.  The federal government ought to try it.  I guarantee you that the country‘s economy would go roaring back to life if they saw a president of the United States and the Congress who understood how the free market actually works and not having government interfere with the free market. 


MADDOW:  Well, one of the ways that government doesn‘t just stay out of the free market in Texas, they don‘t just let them market its laissez faire magic, is by flat out giving industries money.  Last week Rick Perry went to Robert Rodriguez‘s movie theater in Austin and announced that Texas would start to pay movie production companies to make the movies in Texas.  They would literally give you a direct grant out of the state budget to make your movie in Texas. 

Plus they would comp companies their sales taxes on the shoot, and the occupancy tax on their hotel rooms, and even gas taxes.  It is not exactly small government and steering clear of the free market to subsidize this one industry this way, but it is understandable.  A lot of the states and even individual cities offer grant and tax incentives for tax and movie production because those things mean jobs.

But in Rick Perry‘s, government out of the way, I want to be president, Texas, and these movie production incentives are different than anywhere else, because these incentives only go to movies that Rick Perry likes. 

When Governor Perry last year went to Robert Rodriguez‘s studio to announce the deal, Rodriguez said if it weren‘t for the Texas incentives from Governor Perry, he said he could not afford the shoot his film in Texas, because he would have to go out of state.  With the incentives though, Mr. Rodriguez said he could stay, and that provided a great photo-op, photo-opportunity for Mr. Perry. 


PERRY:  Robert, thank you for opening up the doors of this great studio, again.  Thank you for having faith in this state, and staying here knowing that we would get this done. 


MADDOW:  Problem is once Robert Rodriguez got that film done, a film called “Machete” Rick Perry‘s government decided they did not like that film, maybe because it is the story of a Texas politician stoking violent hysteria about immigration in order to help his own career, Governor Perry. 

And so after offering Robert Rodriguez somewhere in the vicinity of $1.8 million to make the movie in Texas, and after Robert Rodriguez made the movie in Texas because of that promise, Rick Perry‘s Texas film commission after the fact reneged, telling Robert Rodriguez they would not get the money after all because of what the movie was about. 


PERRY:  We are going to move Texas to the top of the credits.  If you are a member of the industry, I earn courage you to really learn about the program. 


MADDOW:  I, too, really encourage you the learn about the program, because if you are in the movie or the TV business, learn from what Robert Rodriguez went through.  In Texas, Rick Perry‘s idea is that the state of Texas will give you tax breaks and flat out cash money to make the movie there if and only if it tells a story that Rick Perry likes.  It is a very, very specific kind of free market.    


MADDOW:  “Debunk-tion Junction, what‘s my function?”  True or false, the party that was the 2010 elections have finally ended.  The party has been called and the 2010 election, this year‘s elections are over.  Is that true or false? 

False.  The election is almost over, but there is one final guest who will not leaf the party.  Tonight a state judge in Alaska ruled against Republican Joe Miller in the challenge in that state‘s Senate race. 

On one level you think that is Joe Miller had lost to incumbent Republican write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski.  But even though he lost again tonight, he has until Tuesday to appeal to the Alaska Supreme Court.  Senator Murkowski is urging Mr. Miller to concede, but it seems that the Alaska saga will continue, which means so do the 2010 elections.  OK. 

So if this election cycle is not over yet, that means that the next hasn‘t started yet, right?  That‘s the second story tonight.  The 2012 elections, even though 2010 is still going, 2012 has not yet started.  Is that true or false? 

I would say this is false.  Saying that the 2012 election season has not begun is wrong, I think.  At least, this ad premiered today which makes it seem like it is wrong. 


SEN. SCOTT BROWN, ® MASSACHUSETTS:  I‘m Scott Brown.  I‘m from Wrentham, and I drive a truck. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Scott Brown said he was like us.  He said he was our senator, and he would lower our taxes. 

BROWN:  I believe our economy is strongest when people keep their own money. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  But Mr. “I drive a truck” is totally full of it. 


MADDOW:  That ad produced by the progressive group the Agenda Project is reportedly set to run on a couple of Massachusetts cable stations, attacks Scott Brown for acting folksy in the pickup while sided with Republicans on tax cuts for the wealthy, among other things.

Saying he‘s full of it doesn‘t make it about 2012, though, which is when Senator Brown is eligible to run for reelection.  This is the part of the ad that does that. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Tell Mr. Tough Guy to start acting like our senator, or come 2012 he won‘t be. 


MADDOW:  As with any incumbent, Scott Brown is running for reelection until he says he isn‘t, and in his case the opposition ads are ready to go, and in his case they are running in the end of 2010. 

And then true or false, David Bahdi, the author of Uganda‘s kill the gays bill and my guest for an interview earlier this week, David Bahdi was kicked out of the United States.  Did you hear that?  Is that true or false?

False, false, false, false.  Despite “The Observer” in Uganda which claimed that he was asked to, quote, “leave right away by the Department of State officials.”  Well, the State Department did get back to us on this one saying that the story is not true.  They said that they had heard from various sources that he had been planning to leave on Thursday evening, they did not make him go.  Mr. Bahdi was apparently free to stay or go, but free in either case, which is nice for him given what he wants for people in his country. 

We‘ll be right back.   


MADDOW:  Today the Nobel Peace prize, the actual physical thing was put on an empty chair in Norway.  The last time this happened, the last time that the chair for the Nobel Peace laureate was empty was 1936 because that year the awardee was locked away in a Nazi concentration camp. 

This year it is Liu Xiaobo and he is one year into an 11 year prison sentence in China for criticizing that country‘s ruling communist party for human rights abuses, and he is in jail for advocating reform in his country.  China also barred Mr. Liu‘s family from coming to Norway to collect the prize in his name. 

But the man and his family were not the only notable absences today.  The peace prize ceremony is one of those must-dos of the international political calendar, but 19 countries announced in advance this year, they would not send anybody to it. 

Those countries were China, duh, plus Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Kazakhstan, Morocco, the Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sudan, Tunisia, Ukraine, Venezuela, Vietnam, and the two countries in which America still has wars, Iraq and Air Force, also the other country in which we sort of have a war but we don‘t talk about it like that, Pakistan.

CNN reported today that Ukraine and the Philippines changed their minds after this list of 19 was published, but that is CNN‘s reporting, and I can‘t verify it. 

But these countries are boycotting the ceremony today because China essentially told them to.  China is the second world‘s biggest economy and in a country like Iraq, that is going to make for some practical politics because they are helping to build its nuclear power plants.  You can‘t afford to burn a bridge there. 

But in addition to using its power to influence countries to pretend there is no Nobel Peace prize, they decided to create their own a Chinese rip-off.  They called it a “Confucius Peace prize” and they awarded this first time ever this year and it appears to have been a bit of a panicky rush job. 

The awardee, for example, says he was never informed by the prize folks that he won it.  But nevertheless, they held a trophy to the guy they picked for the award but did not tell about it or to an empty chair in his honor, they randomly gave it to a little girl whose name we were not will but who was identified by the don‘t think about the Nobel Confucius Peace prize people as, I kid you not, they identified her as an “angel of peace.” 

That that, several people in the audience say it appeared two girls at the ceremony were going to collect the prize together, two angels of peace, until one of the little girl started crying so she did not get to do it and the other one had to do it alone, all of which makes this story a tidy, horrible living pageant of the definition of the word “travesty.” 

Chinese rulers trying to force applause for a very cute and not at all to blame angel of peace while the free but highly indebted and therefore sometime easily intimidated world honors a Nobel Peace laureate who was locked in a Chinese prison for his principles, all which of make it intolerably gross all over again that we owe China $880 billion right now because they buy all our debt.   



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The decisive vote of the 36th state against Prohibition is happy news for the grain raisers United States and for many others throughout the land.  With an eye on December 5th, work is being rushed into distilleries.  Thousands are being called back to work in plants of allied industries. 

At least 500,000 new job are predicted as a result of the repeal.  From keg and barrel factories, the most closely allied lines, immediate benefits from repeal extend until almost every line of business and commerce. 

However, everyone isn‘t waiting until December 15th.  The lid is off in many places.  With the downfall of prohibition being celebrated, we see the renewal of old acquaintances.  Hotels and nightclubs record a real prewar spirit among those revelers. 

There will be no more scenes such as this, barrel after barrel of prize whiskeys destroyed by government agents.  It will be a cold winter for the barrel busters. 


MADDOW:  A cold winter, I love it.  It‘s like we made it up.  But no, that‘s real.  A cold winter for the barrel busters, unless they get some of their mitts on to that hooch, that is. 

That real report marked tend of dark and unnaturally sober times in this country, times known as Prohibition.  That was the passage of the 21st Amendment which happened 77 years ago this week.  How are you celebrating? 

That boozy reason for good cheer was marked by screaming headlines like this one in “The New York Times,” “Bartenders poised for drinkers‘ rush.  Thousands license places to keep radios tuned in for the reveal proclamation.”  Then the next day, this banner, “Prohibition repeal is ratified at 5:32 p.m.  New York celebrates with quiet restraint.”  I bet. 

Repeal became officially effective on December 15th, putting the national embarrassment of alcohol Prohibition, the 18th Amendment, behind us.  And even though Prohibition has been romanticized over time, Prohibition sucked.  It was bad for a lot of different reasons.  Gangsters, right? 

But it was particularly bad for drinking itself.  Prohibition didn‘t stop people from drinking.  It just changed drinking by pushing it on to the black market.  And when you do that while people still want to do something, what you end up happening is that people still drank, they just drank stuff that was a lot worse than what they used to drink—homemade liquor, liquor that wasn‘t produced properly, all in order to evade authorities, and because nothing illegal can be properly regulated. 

Because the liquor of the prohibition era was so bad, one of the hallmarks of drink that came out of that era is the use of mixers designed specifically to mask the bad taste of the lousy alcohol you were mixing them with.  Hence a lot of prohibition era drinks used stuff essentially masking agents, like orange juice or cream.  Most of the drinks from prohibition were disgusting. 

As we note the repeal of the 18th Amendment 77 years ago this week, as we remember when and where the country said bye-bye to prohibition, this is probably the time to admit that there are some good cream based drinks that we would probably never have had without prohibition.  They were using cream for a dumb reason, but it made us learn this stuff. 

So it has been a long week but it‘s also prohibition repeal week cocktail moment.  I would like to present to you the “Gatsby.”  This is the drink I know of that I think has the highest ratio of deliciousness to effort, by which I mean it is very tasty and it is also very easy to make.  I make it all the time.  It‘s sort of embarrassing to admit but I do. 

Here‘s how it goes.  The recipe calls for heavy cream.  I can‘t stomach all that much heavy cream—two ounces half and half.  OK?  If you want to make it super rich with cream, don‘t let me hold you back.  Who am I?  I‘m not going to ruin your day. 

There are only two other ingredients.  This is amaretto, as you can see, which come in handy small size bottles because lots of people like it for lots of different reason, so you can get in it nip size.  Three quarters of an ounce.  And then Creme de Cacao.  Use the light within because it prettier. 

And how do they make the dark one dark?  If it comes in light and dark, doesn‘t that imply the dark one you had to add something?  In any case, what you have is two ounces of cream, three-quarters of an ounce of amaretto, three-quarters of an ounce of white Creme de Cacao.  You put it in a cocktail shaker with way more ice than you think you need, and you shake it for way longer than you think you need to shake it, especially because it is creamy. 

It is important to make it really cold, because a warm cream drink is like a bad movie watched in a foreign language in foreign language subtitles.  You just don‘t want to go there. 

So this is called a Gatsby.  We‘re making it because it is Friday and this is repeal week and we like cocktail moments, and sometimes there are thing going to here other than the news.  You can find the recipe for our Gatsby on  You will also find all sorts of other things about our show too, including an embarrassing picture of Kent drinking a cocktail out of a bowl. 

Have a great weekend everybody.  Thanks for indulging us.  Goodnight.



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