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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guests: Kent Jones, Jon Erpenbach, Rep. Tim Ryan


RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  Good morning, Lawrence.  I hereby say that if Samantha Bee wants a mug, I‘m just saying.  I‘ve got good ones.

O‘DONNELL:  She‘s going to sneak around the corner.

MADDOW:  All right.  Thank you.


All right.  Thanks to you at home as well for staying with us for the next hour.  No mugs for you.  We should sell them.  Maybe we do.

Anyway, the first time that a Catholic was on a presidential ticket in the United States of America, that was 1928.  Al Smith, Democratic Party.

The first time that a woman was on a presidential ticket—that was 1984.  Geraldine Ferraro.  Also, Democratic Party.

The first time that a Jewish person was on a presidential ticket in America was the year 2000.  It was Joe Lieberman.  Also, the Democratic Party.

The first time that an African-American was on a presidential ticket was in 2008.  Barack Obama, Democratic Party.

Out of all those pioneering presidential tickets that the Democratic Party has put forward, Barack Obama is the only one whose ticket won.  And in January 2009, America inaugurated our first ever African-American president.

Against that historic achievement, what got less noticed was how badly the Republican Party got beat in that election and in the election before it.  In 2006 and 2008 together, the Republican Party lost 54 seats in the House.  They lost 14 seats in the Senate.  And, of course, they lost the White House, too.

A Republican Party looking to come back from that, looking to redefine itself post-Bush, post-McCain, then made their own historic Republican decision.  They picked their first African-American party chairman, Michael Steele.  Michael Steele became a household name.  In many ways, he did become the face of his party.

But there were of course the gaffes.  There were many gaffes.  There were financial troubles in the party.  And there were lots of Republicans who were very eager to publicly talk smack about him.

And even as the Republican Party won a ton of seats in the next election, party bigwigs made clear that they could not wait to get rid of Michael Steele and try to start fresh yet again.  After trying and then casting off Michael Steele, Republican Party insiders, with no heir apparent, with no natural leader for the party, with no clear direction, no clear identity post-Bush, post-McCain, Republican Party insiders made a big decision—they would bring a new party chairman to Washington, a new chairman from the great state of Wisconsin—and from Wisconsin, from America‘s heartland, they would forge the new face of the Republican Party.

After Bush, after McCain, in the age of Obama, the Republican Party would be symbolized and represented and, in some ways, really led by this man—America‘s most famous bounty hunter.  They call him “Dog.”  The new face of America‘s Republican Party, it has come to this.

How exactly has it come to this?  The Republican National Committee dropped Michael Steele.  They elected the Wisconsin Republican Party chairman, Reince Priebus, as their new national leader earlier this year.  Very shortly thereafter, the party decided to put all of its eggs in this basket, the anti-abortion activist-turned-county-executive-turned-governor who has led his party down such a dramatically unpopular losing path that the only way they have left to win is essentially by employing bounty hunters like Mr. Dog.

We all know how we got here, right?  Governor Scott Walker decided he wanted to strip union rights from public employees in Wisconsin.

Even though there were existing unions and there was an existing right for them to bargain, Governor Walker decided to ignore that.  He was just going to override those rights personally.  He would not negotiate.  He would not bargain.  He would not even talk about it.  He and the state‘s Republicans would just strip those rights.

And in order to stop him from doing that, the state‘s 14 Democratic senators fled the state, thereby denying Republicans a quorum in the Senate so their union-stripping bill could not be passed.

Apparently, Republicans did not really have a plan for dealing with that.  I think what Republicans thought they would be doing would be popular.  So, Democrats would feel forced by public opinion being against them, they‘d feel forced into caving.  The Republicans were very, very wrong about that, really wrong.

Even the latest right-wing poll, the conservative activist Rasmussen Poll just polled in Wisconsin, and their poll even shows that Wisconsin hates what Scott Walker and the Republicans are doing.  They‘re against it by 13 points.

But I don‘t think the Republicans expected that.  I think they drank their own Kool-Aid on this one.  And so, it seems like they really had no realistic plan for what to do when Democrats stopped them and then held firm with public support.

The Republicans seem to have been making it up on the fly ever since.  Since they said they won‘t negotiate, they don‘t really have much else to turn to, and they‘ve pretty quickly cycled through all of their available options and then some.

They sent law enforcement officers to Democrats‘ homes to try to prevent the Democrats from leaving the state in the first place, not to mention to embarrass those Democrats in front of their neighbors.

They said Democrats could not collect their paychecks unless they came to the capitol in person.

They threatened the employment of Democratic staffer as well.

They restricted Democrats‘ access to the capitol copy machine.  I‘m not kidding.

They, of course, threatened to fire thousands of state workers and tried to blame that on Democrats.  Republicans renewing that threat yet again today in Wisconsin.

They zeroed out Democrats‘ office budgets.

They took away their parking spaces.  Literally, they took away their parking privileges.

And now, today, they are threatening to arrest the Democrats—declaring the Democrats guilty of contempt of the Senate and ordering any Wisconsin state trooper to arrest them on sight should they step foot in Wisconsin.

And in the event that they do come back, what Republicans say the Democrats will return to is possible reprimand, censure, and/or expulsion from the state Senate.  So, thanks for coming back, you guys.

When I say Republicans have gone through all of the options available to them and then some, what I mean by “and then some” is that the Wisconsin state Constitution explicitly says lawmakers cannot be arrested during a legislative session unless they are suspected of treason, felony, or breach of the peace.  And if you live in Wisconsin, the act of being in Illinois may seem really bad, but it‘s not treason.

In this case, it is pretty clear that Republicans don‘t even have this option that they decided to exercise today legally.  That‘s apparently not stopping them.

Whether or not it‘s constitutional, though, there‘s also no way that they can enforce this arrest warrant outside of Wisconsin.  Remember, the Democrats have left the state.  It‘s also not clear if Wisconsin state troopers say it is unconstitutional and refuse to do it what exactly the Republicans will do then.

And that leads us all the way back to the new symbol of the Republican Party, Mr. Hunter.  Mr. Dog?  I don‘t know.  I‘m sorry.

Our affiliate in Milwaukee reported that the leader of the Senate in Wisconsin raised the option of hiring private security to apprehend the Democrats if Wisconsin state law enforcement refused to do it.  So, Mr.  Dog, or someone, presumably handcuffing and kidnapping those Democrats and bringing them to the state capitol in order to get them to do what Governor Walker demands that they do.


MICK TREVEY, REPORTER (via telephone):  The Senate majority leader, Senator Fitzgerald, as we mentioned, said that the only way they would be able to get people back from Illinois would be if they hired some sort of bounty hunter or if they used some other type of service to go get these people.


MADDOW:  That reporter told us tonight that the Republican Senate leader did not say the words “bounty hunter” himself but that is the service that he was describing.

Before this happened, before Wisconsin Republicans started speculating about hiring private security to arrest Democrats if law enforcement refused to do it, before Republicans actually suggested this today, it was a joke on the Internets.  Literally, it was a joke published on—look.  On February 22nd, published at

The whole punch line of this, the whole punch line of this joke being that Republicans would go to such absurd and desperate lengths against the Democrats that they‘d hire a bounty hunter.  They couldn‘t possibly get that desperate, could they?  Ta-da!

You wait a week, and if political times become desperate enough, reality puts satire to shame.  If this is how you have to win your political fight, you have lost your political fight.

State senator Jon Erpenbach, one of Wisconsin‘s 14 Democratic senators who remain out of the state to deny Republicans the quorum they need to pass the governor‘s anti-union bill, joins us now.

Senator Erpenbach, thanks again for your time.


MADDOW:  Have your circumstances materially changed given the order today by your Republican colleagues threatening to have you arrested if you go back home?

ERPENBACH:  No, they haven‘t, but I think it‘s ironic that they‘re even talking about contracting out those jobs to come and get us.  It‘s ridiculous.

Rachel, everything you listed—everything you listed is their counterproposal to our offers to try to come to resolution over the issue of collective bargaining.  We‘re very serious about this and they come back with going after our parking spots, extortion with our paychecks, what, being arrested, reallocating staff, cutting off copying privileges.

We‘ve been very honest and up front as to why we‘re here.  We‘ve been very honest and up front as to what we would like to see happen in order to move us forward.  And this is what we get in return.

So, I think they should spend more time on actually concentrating on the problem in Wisconsin as opposed to wasting time coming up with resolution after resolution that doesn‘t make any difference.

MADDOW:  Just to be clear—I feel like we‘ve been assuming this is true, but I should just clarify it with you.  The governor is still saying that he will not negotiate, that he will not talk about union-stripping, that it‘s not up for discussion, it‘s either he does it or else.

ERPENBACH:  Right.  I mean, that‘s the governor‘s position.  And that seems to be Senator Fitzgerald‘s position as well.

But one of the things they could do that would bring resolution to this immediately is take the collective bargaining language out of the budget repair bill, put it in the big budget, which will give us three months to debate this actually face to face, which would be kind of fun—but debate this provision for the next three months while we‘re dealing with the state budget.

I mean, that‘s resolution right there.  We can debate it in the light of day.  We can have many hearings on that particular provision in the state budget.  And that‘s—to me, that‘s the best way to do it.

MADDOW:  Do you know what you would do if they did, in fact, send some private security or bounty hunters after you?  Do you have a plan?  Do you guys know how you would deal with that?

ERPENBACH:  No.  We haven‘t seen thought about that.  We‘ve actually been thinking about how to come to resolution on the budget repair bill, which is what we should be talking about, I think.

But, no—I mean, we haven‘t thought about it.  I can‘t imagine them doing that.  To me, the acts that I‘ve seen on these resolutions tend to be a little more on the desperate end.  I don‘t think they have any other ideas as far as to how to move us back and move us forward together as a state.

So, again, they just passed resolution after resolution after resolution.  When we are on the phone back with them apparently discussing OK, what about this particular provision or that particular provision?  And they get back to us by saying, no, we don‘t want to talk about that.  We‘re just—we‘re going to arrest you.

I mean, it doesn‘t make any sense at all.  And it‘s not helping anybody.

MADDOW:  I know that some of your Democratic colleagues in the state assembly showed solidarity with the protesters at the capitol by moving their desks outside today on a very cold day.  I know just a few hours ago, a judge in Wisconsin ordered protesters out of the capitol.

What‘s your—what‘s your reaction to that judge‘s order?

ERPENBACH:  Well, I think—I think the judge‘s order is great.  They‘re opening up the doors to the capitol is an extremely important thing.  Obviously, Governor Walker and the administration, they didn‘t like what the protesters were saying.  So, you shut the doors.  That‘s what they were trying to do.

So, I‘m glad the judge did it.  I was kind of curious about the $7.5 million figure that the Department of Administration is coming up with, which is Governor Walker‘s department, about the damage being done to the capitol.  So, I‘m assuming the desks being moved outside will probably add another $3 million to that price tag.

I mean, the things that the Walker administration is coming up to try to get us bag, to try and make us look back is ridiculous.  And it takes the focus off the fact that we are deeply divided in the state of Wisconsin over the issue of collective bargaining.  That‘s what we should be talking about rather than all of this other stuff.

MADDOW:  There is a new poll out today by a conservative polling firm that‘s called Rasmussen.  They tend to produce results that are friendly to Republicans and conservative cause.  They asked this question about support for bargaining rights, about a million different ways to Sunday.  And still couldn‘t find a way to phrase it that produced any substantial support for Governor Walker.

What do you think the impact is of the polls being so against the governor on this?  How does that affect the decisions that you 14 are making?

ERPENBACH:  Well, it obviously reinforces the fact that what we‘re doing is the right thing to do.  And it reinforces the fact that everything you‘re seeing in Wisconsin about the thousands of people showing up all over the state, they are on the right side of this issue.

Now, if I‘m the other side of this issue, I would pass a resolution.  I would come up with a different idea.  I would come up with some sort of idea to personally pressure state senators to come back across the line and go back to the capitol.

That‘s all they‘re doing.  They‘re not looking at the issue.  They‘re not dealing with the issue.  They‘re trying to inflict pressure on us individually.  And it‘s not going to work.

MADDOW:  One last point and question to you, Senator, and that is that as far as we understand the situation with legal access to the capitol right now, the latest judge‘s ruling is that protesters are kicked out for the night, but they‘re allowed to return tomorrow.  This seems to be something on which the legal situation continues to evolve.  And, in essence, the bottom line is that they have a right to protest at the state capitol and be inside the capitol has been pretty severely crimped.

Is that—is that a central issue for you Democrats while you‘re away?  I mean, I know you want to be dealing with the budget and collective bargaining.  Do you have to deal with the rights to protest and right of assembly as well in order to make sure that this fight is fair?

ERPENBACH:  Yes, and every—well, everything the administration has done to—from the metal detectors, to showing IDs, to closing the doors, to blocking off certain entrances, to allowing one person to go in for every four people that came out, that was very upsetting to see.

We all love that building.  That building represents everything we are in Wisconsin, whether we agree on issues or disagree on issues.  That building has always been open.  There‘s never been metal detectors in that building, Rachel, ever.

So, obviously, that was really—even after 9/11 there weren‘t.  So that‘s been very, very disturbing to see.  At the very least, all the doors are going to be open at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow.  Everybody will be able to come back to the capital, come inside.

And I wouldn‘t be surprised if some state assembly representatives on the Democratic side start holding office hours on the capitol at night.  The building needs to be opened as long as people‘s business is being conducted there.

And that‘s one thing that the Walker administration kind of tended to look the other way on, which was probably the most upsetting thing about all of this.

MADDOW:  Wisconsin state senator, Democrat Jon Erpenbach, joining us from an undisclosed location that looks like a lot—looks a lot like—

ERPENBACH:  I‘m in Chicago. Rachel, I‘m in Chicago.

MADDOW:  I was going to try to hedge it and say looks like a TV studio in Chicago, but if you want to own up to it, sir.

ERPENBACH:  Yes, where am I?  Yes, OK.

MADDOW:  The cat‘s out of the bag.  All right.  Thank you, Senator. 

Appreciate it.

Calling a police officer an idiot is always a bad idea, like it‘s a really good rule to live by.  Never do that.  Not—no matter what else is going on, just don‘t do that.

If you‘re the governor of a big state, it‘s an especially bad idea to

do that—especially if you‘re doing it in front of a bunch of government

employees and you‘re doing it on tape.  And if you are a governor who has

done that and who‘s now out to strip police officers of their union rights

put it this way: Scott Walker‘s not the only new Republican governor who may be overplaying his hand today.


Please stay with us.


MADDOW:  The big Republican overreach of 2011, blaming public employees like teachers and cops and snowplow drivers for budget deficits while simultaneously cutting taxes on millionaires and corporations.  Yes, the great Republican overreach of 2011 all started in New Jersey with Governor Chris Christie.  It was his get up in teachers‘ faces on camera example that Scott Walker has followed right down the political drain in the Midwest.

Governor Christie says he is not out to strip collective bargaining rights in New Jersey but he is trying to make them moot by stripping cops and firefighters‘ benefits by legislation rather than by—oh, what‘s that thing?  Oh, right, collective bargaining.

How do you think that sits with New Jersey‘s cops and firefighters?

This is Trenton, New Jersey.  Look at this.  Trenton, New Jersey, the state capital, today, and these are thousands of off-duty and retired police and firefighters making a peaceful but very—look at that, very powerful scene.

Governor Christie has picked himself a big fight here.  With a powerful constituency that the public tends to side with on issues like this.  And they tend to side with them on issues like this for a reason.

But at least he hasn‘t appeared on tape screaming about what idiots his state‘s police are.  No, that‘s a different governor, who has also picked the wrong fight.  And that is next.


MADDOW:  More than anyone else elected to office in the last elections, Governor John Kasich of Ohio was elected by FOX News.  He is a former FOX News host.  Here is his FOX show, “Heartland” with John Kasich.

He also raised money directly on FOX News programs.


GOV. JOHN KASICH ®, OHIO:  People can come on our Web site at  Sunday night at 6:30, we‘re going to talk about the damage the Obama agenda has done to us.  And if you have any extra nickels or dimes please send it our way,

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS:  I want to put some emphasis on this because this is really important, to explain to people why we cannot afford to lose that race.


MADDOW:  And by that race, he means your race, Mr. Candidate, sir.  Mr. Hannity did not beat around the bush with the whole explicit endorsement of that candidate.


HANNITY:  I stand proudly in Kasich‘s corner with an endorsement as long as it doesn‘t hurt you.

KASICH:  We want all the help you can give us, Sean.


MADDOW:  And he did give him a lot of help.  Mr. Hannity even traveled to Ohio in October 2009 to headline a $5,000 a plate fundraiser there for Mr. Kasich.  And it paid off, Mr. Kasich unseated an incumbent Democratic governor in Ohio, 49 percent to 47 percent.  Republicans also got big gains in the state legislature that year.

Here‘s the makeup of the state legislature before the 2010 elections. 

That‘s in both houses combined, Democrats held 65 seats, Republicans 67. 

Here‘s how much redder the legislature got after the elections of 2011.  Democrats went down to 50 seats, Republicans up to 82.  Republicans did very well.

John Kasich, Republican of FOX News, he did very, very well.  Better than might be expected by just his natural political skills.


KASICH:  Have you ever been stopped by a policeman who was an idiot?  I had this idiot pull me over on 315.  Listen to this story.  He says to me, he says—he says, “You passed this emergency vehicle on the side of the road and you didn‘t yield.”  He‘s an idiot.


MADDOW:  John Kasich, governor—governor speaking to government employees about what he describes as idiot Ohio cops.


KASICH:  He‘s an idiot.


MADDOW:  That is just one of the scandals that has plagued John Kasich since he was elected governor.  You may have also heard about the blinding whiteness of the first 21 appointments to his 23-seat candidate.  But calling Ohio police officers idiots—


MADDOW:  He‘s an idiot.


MADDOW:  -- that is at least something that Governor John Kasich felt like he had to apologize for.


KASICH:  I apologize for my words.  They were not appropriate.  It was inappropriate.  And I don‘t—my kids shouldn‘t speak like that, and I shouldn‘t either.  And you‘ve got to be man enough to stand up and apologize.

I have the greatest respect for law enforcement.  I think we‘re restoring a lot of spirit in the highway patrol.


MADDOW:  One of the ways John Kasich decided to restore the spirits of the highway patrol is by stripping their union rights.  In Wisconsin, the union-stripping bill exempts police and firefighter unions.  In Ohio, they are included.  And so, police and firefighters and those idiot highway patrolmen, they‘re having their union rights stripped by John Kasich.

In Ohio, like everywhere else that unions are under attack, you see police and firefighters out there at the protests standing in solidarity with all the other workers.  But only in Ohio will you see guys with signs like this one.

Do we have the video there?

The protests in Ohio—the protests in Ohio have—what I was looking for, which I thought we had, signs in Ohio of a man holding up a sign that says, “Idiots against the union-stripping bill” in the state of Ohio.

The protests overall in Ohio have been overshadowed by Wisconsin.  That‘s because Democrats are so outnumbered in Ohio they have no way to stop what Republicans are doing.  They can‘t leave the state like they did in Wisconsin.  Even though the union-stripping in Ohio will affect twice as many people in Ohio as it will in Wisconsin, Wisconsin‘s gotten more attention.

Like in Wisconsin, the argument Kasich and Ohio Republicans make for why they are doing this is that it‘s all about the state‘s budget.  But what‘s left unsaid is that one of the reasons Ohio‘s budget looks the way it does is that state eliminated all corporate income tax a few years ago.  Also left unsaid is that stripping collective bargaining rights has absolutely no fiscal impact whatsoever, none.

Concessions on pay and benefits, they have a fiscal impact.  Stripping rights doesn‘t deposit so much as one red cent in the state‘s coffers.  Stripping union rights is just stripping union rights.

You know what else has no fiscal impact but is in this budget bill that strips the union rights?  It‘s this—a provision in the union-stripping bill that John Kasich and the Republicans are passing that says, quote, “A marriage may only be entered into by one man and one woman.  Any marriage entered into by persons of the same sex in any other jurisdiction shall be considered and treated in all respects as having no legal force or effect in this state and shall not be recognized by this state.”

Budget bill?  Budget emergency?

If the supposed emergency budget in Ohio not only strips union rights from all public workers including firefighters and cops, that the governor derides as idiots, it also finds time to doubly, triply ban same-sex marriage, which the Ohio legislature already banned in 2004, right?  Because even if that issue has nothing to do with straightening out the deficit, at least it will, you know, straighten out the deficit or something.

What are they thinking?  This is America‘s grand experiment in governance by FOX News celebrities.  And Ohio, frankly, seems to be over it.  Even the conservative “Cincinnati Inquirer,” which very heartily endorsed John Kasich for governor, even that paper is now editorializing against what he and the state Republicans are doing with this union-stripping stuff.  Six Republican state senators voted against their own party on this, against Kasich‘s bill.  It is not a sure thing that it will pass the assembly when it comes up there next week.

And if on the other side of the aisle, there was any question as to whether or not Ohio Democrats were getting galvanized by this, getting unified, whether or not they understood the stakes here, you can put that to rest.


SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO:  They want to eliminate worker safety laws.  They want to eliminate minimum wage.  They‘re clearly going after collective bargain.  They‘re clearly going after so many of the things that we hold dear.

And again, Mr. President, it wasn‘t the UAW workers.  It wasn‘t the service employee union worker at the state capitol that caused this financial crisis.  They‘ve been the victims of it just like a whole bunch of non-union workers have.

But this financial crisis was caused by greed, by people overreaching, by the richest in our society grabbing and grabbing and grabbing from your wealth, and they‘re going to turn this—let‘s change the subject—turn this against those workers.


MADDOW:  Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio.  Do we have that footage of the police officer at the protest in Ohio?  Look.  “Idiots against SB5.”

When cops can hold up signs like that in Ohio and everybody in the state knows that that‘s what the governor has been calling the state‘s police officers, you probably picked the wrong fight, Governor.

When we come back, more signs of the sleeping Democratic giant that guys like John Kasich have awakened in the American Midwest.



REP. TIM RYAN (D), OHIO:  In Ohio, we have the top person who works for the current administration get a $40,000 pay increase from what the last governor was paying, and the secretaries and the people in the mailroom get a cut.  And the firefighters and the police and the teachers get a cut.

While all this is going on in Ohio, they want to cut the estate tax for the wealthiest people who live in the state of Ohio and ask the teacher to make the sacrifice.  This is disrespectful and unfair to the workers in the state of Ohio.


MADDOW:  (AUDIO BREAK) of Ohio giving an impassioned speech on the House floor a day before his Republican-majority home state Senate passed a bill severely restricting public unions‘ right to collectively bargain.  That bill‘s now on its way to the state assembly, where there‘s also a Republican majority.

Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio.

Congressman Ryan, thank you for being here on the show.  Appreciate your time.

RYAN:  It‘s an honor.

MADDOW:  Governor Kasich is framing this dispute in Ohio as an imbalance, he says, between taxpayers and the government unions that work for them.

How do you assess his assessment of that imbalance?

RYAN:  Well, the facts just don‘t back it up.  We‘ve had kindergarten teachers take a 6 percent pay cut between ‘08 and ‘09.  Middle school teachers take a 5.8 percent pay cut.  And in states where teachers do have collective bargaining, they‘ve had a 3.5 percent to 4 percent increase in their pay.

So, there‘s no fact that I can find that backs up where teachers, firefighters, and cops, having collective bargaining rights—the right to make sure that they have enough gas masks or the proper equipment or class sizes or bulletproof vests in any way, shape, or form affects the budget.  Just the facts aren‘t there, which I guess isn‘t unusual for an argument coming from that side of the aisle, but nevertheless it‘s the truth.

MADDOW:  If you don‘t think it‘s about the budget, if you don‘t think that it is not what they say—if it‘s not about what they say, it‘s what do you think it is about?  What do you think is motivating this effort?

RYAN:  Well, this is about busting the backs of the unions.  And I think continuing to try to divide the American workforce.  I mean, they have had a good deal of success dividing the workers and therefore getting away with the huge tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent, all of the increased inequalities.  Wages have been stagnant for 30 years.  So, this is the final stake in the heart that they‘re trying to achieve here.

And let‘s think about it—this is the equivalent of Democrats saying we want to abolish corporations, not tax them a little bit more, not make them more fair or treat their workers differently, but abolish them outright.  They‘re trying to say that on the other side, we want to abolish this ability to stick together as a worker, assemble freely in America, we want to abolish that.  And that‘s what they‘re trying to do.  Because when they divide the workforce, this is the kind of success that they have—and they‘ve had in the past few years.

But what‘s happening here, Rachel, that we‘ve seen in Ohio and in Wisconsin, this is unifying workers.  And we saw in the ‘30s, ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s in this country when the workforce sticks together great things happen.  Civil rights, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid.  Social justice issues happen.

And now, they may win the battle in Ohio.  But ultimately, I think this is going to unite us and the workers in America will unite again and we will win the war.

MADDOW:  As this heads over to the state assembly, I think what‘s on everybody‘s mind is watching this fight in Ohio is those six Republican state senators who defected from their own party on this, who joined with Democrats to vote on this bill.  Clearly, the Republicans have a big majority in the assembly.  Everybody assumes it‘s going to pass there.

But do you think that support there is soft?  Do you think that there are—there will be more Republican defections against these union union-stripping measures?

RYAN:  Well, they got a good chunk of Tea Party folks in the state house.  So I‘m not sure—and I‘m in D.C., I‘m in Columbus.  So, I don‘t know all of the intricacies of what‘s going to happen.

But, you know, we are worried.  But, you know, we‘re going to continue to rally and assemble and unite together.

But I think you are seeing some softening because Ohio‘s a moderate state.  I mean, we see it.  Every presidential election, we‘re not sure what side it‘s going to go, is it red, is it blue, Ohio turns blue, Ohio turns red—and because we traditionally have moderate Republicans in Ohio.

But what we‘re seeing now is not a moderate Republican.  I mean, this isn‘t the old New England moderate Republican we‘re seeing now.  This is Tea Party radicals, quite frankly, and ideologues who are trying to jam this agenda down the throat of a very moderate state in Ohio.  And I think there‘s going to be some backlash.  They may have the ability to get it passed, but they will feel the blowback from it.

MADDOW:  Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio—thanks for making time to be on the show tonight, sir.  It‘s nice to have you here.

RYAN:  Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Hey, breaking news.  Newt Gingrich is running for—well, he‘s thinking about running.  You know, actually, Newt Gingrich is not running for president.

Start over.  Breaking news: Newt Gingrich is raising money for Newt Gingrich on the prospect that maybe someday he might think about running for president.  The 2012 campaign begins in earnest in just a minute.  Stay with us.



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Going forward, we will continue to send a clear message: the violence must stop.  Moammar Gadhafi has lost the legitimacy to lead, and he must leave.  Those around him have to understand that violence that they perpetrate against innocent civilians will be monitored and they will be held accountable for it.  And so, to the extent that they are making calculations in their own minds about which way history is moving, they should know history is moving against Colonel Gadhafi.


MADDOW:  For the first time today, President Obama publicly declaring that the leader of Libya, who‘s using military force against his own people, he must step down and leave that country.  The president declaring this afternoon that Gadhafi has lost the legitimacy to lead, he must lead, said Mr. Obama.

President Obama also said he was directing humanitarian assistance to the Libyan border region, including U.S. military aircraft to fly home foreigners who fled into neighboring Tunisia but then got stuck there.

Today, the refugees at this camp in Tunisia passed the time by playing soccer.  This was Ghana versus Nigeria.

The country of Spain flew some of the refugees, Egyptians, home to Cairo today.

Meanwhile, the violence the refugees have been fleeing has continued.  In the central part of the country, fighter jets again bombed the rebels today as the rebels and Gadhafi‘s ground troops fought for control of Brega‘s oil facilities.

Generally speaking, reports from Libya indicate that rebels have been holding ground when Gadhafi‘s forces have been trying to take that ground back.  That is not a good sign for the dictator.

When you are the dictator, when you‘re supposedly in charge and you pick a military fight with a leaderless resistance—that is a fight you should expect to win.  But Gadhafi has not been winning.  The rebels appear to be mourning their dead when people are killed and then replacing them with even greater numbers of fighters.

And so, Gadhafi is stepping up his propaganda efforts.  Remember when we—when he said last week that the reason for the revolt was al Qaeda slipping hallucinogenic drugs to the youth of Libya, slipping them drugs in their Nescafe?  Remember that?  Well, today, Libyan state TV aired this report claiming that this truck, which appeared to be loaded with wash basins and makeup, was actually found to be full of hallucinatory drugs brought into the country by opposition activists, by enemies of the state.  Yes, it‘s all a bad trip.

No, it‘s not.  Check this out today from Benghazi, the second largest city in Libya, which is totally in rebel hands.  Look at this.  This is from “Reuters.”

A busy intersection in Benghazi at which an 11-year-old boy is directing traffic and it well.  Taking it upon himself to direct traffic.  He told reporters he has two reasons he is doing this.  One, quote, “There is no traffic man and I am controlling the traffic.”  True enough.  But two, he told “Reuters,” quote, “I‘m supporting the revolution to topple Gadhafi.”

The kid does not appear to be on dope, hallucinogenic or otherwise.  This is Benghazi under opposition control.  The city needs traffic directed and 11-year-old Ayman Samir (ph) says he will step up and direct the traffic.

The drivers this 11-year-old kid was ordering around today appeared to be pretty much fine with that.  This gentleman telling reporters from “Reuters” today, “This clearly indicates that Libya is fine.”


MADDOW:  Tiptoeing ever closer to the lightly shade edge of a very fine line, Republican Newt Gingrich made an announcement today about the 2012 presidential campaign.  Mr. Gingrich did not announce that he is forming a formal presidential exploratory committee or becoming an actual candidate because in that case, he‘d have to make a public accounting of all the money he‘s raising and what he‘s doing with that money.  That just won‘t do.

No, instead, Mr. Gingrich announced that he is launching a sort of exploratory effort, exploratory phase, or maybe it‘s just a Web site.  Behold, where you can see a very diverse crowd of very excited Americans looking up in great wonder, presumably at Mr. Gingrich—presumably as Mr. Gingrich makes this wonderful announcement of exploration or whatever it is.

But if you thought to yourself, hey, am I getting jaded, it feels like I‘ve seen this all before—it may just be because you‘ve seen this all before.  Here‘s that same very diverse crowd of very excited Americans looking up in great wonder at an eagle.

And here‘s that same very diverse crowd of very excited Americans looking up in great wonder at the “about us” tab on a Washington state political Web site.

Here‘s that same very diverse crowd of very excited Americans not just looking up but looking even further up, way up.  They moved the camera.  See?

Here‘s the same group pledging allegiance.

And here‘s the same group now talking on their cell phones.

Here they are looking vaguely angry, like maybe they think Mr.  Gingrich is just toying with them.  Or maybe they‘ve got a cause that they‘re mad about.  But if they do, it‘s a cause you can fill in yourself.  You just put the words right there on the sign.  It‘s easy.

Despite appearances, these are not actual, diverse, excited, flag-waving, upward-glancing Americans psyched to explore Newt.  If you want these models to look excited at you too or at your “donate now” button, then you can buy them.  They‘re fake.  But the donate button, now, that is very, very real.

Perfecting the art of faking politics for fame and profit with the very accomplished scam artist known as Newt Gingrich.  That‘s next.


MADDOW:  December 7th to most Americans is the day that will live in infamy, right?  It‘s the anniversary of Pearl Harbor and it‘s a somber day among American historical commemorations.

Pearl Harbor Day this year was commemorated by Newt Gingrich as follows.  He tweeted this: “The 69th anniversary of the Japanese attack is a good time to remind folks of our novels ‘Pearl Harbor‘ and ‘Days of Infamy,‘ Newt.”

By “our novels,” Mr. Gingrich means novels that he co-wrote that he wants you to buy.  It‘s a good time to remind.  Mr. Gingrich later deleted that tweet without comment and without apology.

On Veterans Day this year, if you were lucky enough to be one of Mr.  Gingrich‘s spam scam email lists, he sent out an e-mail on November 11th under the subject line, “Happy Veterans Day.”  If you clicked on that, you would find out that Mr. Gingrich was using Veterans Day to promote another one of his novels, which might make a lovely gift “celebrate veterans, pay Newt.”

And then Christmas this year was an occasion for him announcing “12 days of Gingrich gifts.”  Actually, I should be specific here.  It was specifically an occasion for the Gingrich productions of 12 days of Xmas presents.

Newt Gingrich is amazing.

This was the scam fax he was sending out just before the election last year.  You can tell it‘s a scam by a few different things here.

Number one: they use a font that is designed to look like a handwritten, to make it look like it‘s personal handwritten fax, but it is not handwritten.  It is mass produced.  That is a font.  That‘s one way you can tell it‘s a scam.

The other way you can tell it‘s a scam is because it says right up here at the top, Newt Gingrich.  This is one of Newt‘s spam specialties—he gives out fake awards.

This one in particular was sent to the mother of a reporter at “The Huffington Post.”  It purports to be a casual note directly from Newt to one of his staffers, sort of leaking the inside, but happy information that Sam Stein‘s mother had, quote, “made the cut as one of Newt‘s quote 2010 Champions of Medicine.”  Newt was giving her an award.  He had selected her and she had made the cut.  He even faxed out a picture of the physical award would look like.  This would look great in your office, says the handwritten font.

It does not say so in the blast fax, but if you call for more information about how to accept the award, you would find out that in order to get the award, you have to send Newt Gingrich $5,000.  This kind of scam has made Newt Gingrich a rich man since he left the House of Representatives under a cloud of fundraising ethics charges.

The best monitor graphic in the history of THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW, it blinks, live Newt girls.  The best one we ever did it‘s because of another Newt Gingrich scam, the Entrepreneur of the Year Award.  This one also came with a catch of having to pay $5,000 in order to collect it.

The reason this one came to light is because one of the people he blast faxed this scam award letter to was the very nice and very friendly owner of a Dallas strip club called The Lodge.  Apparently, Newt Gingrich had not noticed in the very careful process of selecting his award-winning Entrepreneurs of the Year, a process so careful, so scrupulous that the next year, even after all the publicity for his accidental award to a strip club that he rescinded, Newt Gingrich hit the lodge owner up again the following year for another 2 grand.

The owner of The Lodge never got that scam entrepreneur award, but Newt did sent her a lovely souvenir gavel which she then gave to us at THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW, which is nice.

What Newt Gingrich is exploiting is the idea that he is a serious political figure.  And in order to get money off of the idea that he‘s a serious political figure, he has to seen to be a serious political figure.  And in order to seem to be a serious political figure, Mr. Gingrich has to flirt with becoming the most serious political figure in the land.  But he can‘t actually commit to doing that because that would impede his ability to get rich off of the appearance that he a serious political figure.

It is a beautiful scam, and that‘s why you have been hearing that Newt Gingrich might be running for president for the last 10 years.  That‘s why just this week we were treated to promises from Newt Gingrich‘s senior advisers that he‘d be announcing an exploratory committee for president, right?

But then when Mr. Gingrich stood up today to make his big announcement, he did not announce that he was forming an exploratory committee for president, he announced that he was forming a Web site.  He was entering an exploratory phase, having exploratory feelings, yes, as gross as it sounds, why not just announce a candidacy?  Because that would definitely invoke federal election rules about how you raise and spend money.  Mr. Gingrich cannot afford those kind of rules.

Newt Gingrich‘s main money-making vehicles called American Solutions. 

He‘s got a lot of these things.  But the main one is American Solutions.

And when people who do not read the news deeply talk about the potential Republican 2012 political field, they look at how much money Americans Solutions raises and say things like, wow, Newt Gingrich is quite a fundraiser.  He has got to be gearing up for a run, look at how much money American Solutions has been raising.  And it‘s true.

In 2010, he outraised everybody else in the Republican field.  He raised $14.5 million through American Solutions -- $14.5 million.  That is way out ahead of everybody, ahead of Romney, Palin, Haley Barbour, everybody.  He raised $14.5 million in 2010.

He‘s sitting on that much money coming into 2011?  No.  He did actually raise $14.5 million, and then he spent $13.8 million of it.  Ta-da!

What did he spend that money on?  Well, a lot of it was travel, reportedly $2 million on private planes and chauffeur services, and then there are the administrative costs.

What are those administrative costs?  And who is administrating the Gingrich empire and spending all of the money?  One of the vendors is something called the Gingrich Group, which is run by a man named Newt Gingrich.

So, Newt Gingrich is being paid to administer the Newt Gingrich fundraising empire which raises a lot of money, but spends almost all of the money that it raises on what appears to be Newt Gingrich.

Newt Gingrich‘s second ex-wife told “Esquire” magazine last year that Mr. Gingrich was not really running for president.  He was trying to look like he was running for president in order to make more money.  Time will tell if she was right about that, but it does not seem unlikely.


KENT JONES, TRMS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Now, more than ever, American needs Newt Gingrich.  But as much as America needs Newt Gingrich, Newt Gingrich needs your money.

Remember, the first principle of a free market economy, you get what you pay for.  America, do you really want Newt Gingrich?  Then you need to pay Newt Gingrich.

America‘s solution for winning the future can‘t possibly decide whether to devote himself to your future prosperity, until he sees some prosperity right now.  That means money, PayPal, traveler‘s check, unmarked 20s, getting paid.

And the question isn‘t should America have Newt Gingrich, but rather, does America deserve Newt Gingrich?

The only way to find out is to give generously to Newt and Callista Gingrich, they will decide what to do with your donation.  If that‘s not enough, then clearly, there is something wrong with you, liberal.  Newt Gingrich, 2012.  Maybe.  How bad do you want it?


MADDOW:  They will know you found the right Web site that Mr. Gingrich launched today when you see the big “donate now” button on the home page.

Now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW.”  Good night.



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