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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guests: Michael Steele, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, Asenath Andrews


RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  You know, I‘m having such weird flashbacks to Bill living through the early ‘90s that‘s—that was actually upsetting for ways you did not intend.

O‘DONNELL:  That was exactly the idea.

MADDOW:  I feel like I‘m wearing acid washed right now.



O‘DONNELL:  Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Thank you, Lawrence.

And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.

Remember this?



MARK SANFORD ®, FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR:  The bottom line is this: I‘ve been unfaithful to my wife.  I developed a relationship with—what started out a dear, dear friend from Argentina.  It began very innocently as I suspect many of these things do.  But here recently over this last year, it developed into something much more than that.

I think that is the bottom line as well.  It is not a moral rigged list of dos and don‘ts just for the heck of dos and don‘ts.  It is indeed to protect us from ourselves.  The biggest self or self is indeed self.


MADDOW:  The biggest self of self is indeed self.  Who could argue?

That was Republican Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina admitting that he had been cheating on his wife.  That was two years ago, two years ago this month, in fact.  The governor admitting to the people of South Carolina and to the world that he has traveled to Argentina to visit his mistress even though he told everybody that he was off hiking the Appalachian Trail.

The day after that press conference, the day after sitting Republican Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina admitted to not only having this affair, but lying about it, Republicans across the country, of course, were asked what they thought about all of this.  What should happen to Mark Sanford?  Should Mark Sanford resign because of all this?

Among the Republicans asked that question was the number two Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives at the time, a gentleman you might have heard of named Eric Cantor.  Here‘s how he responded.


REP. ERIC CANTOR ®, VIRGINIA:  As far as his remaining governor, Brian, it‘s up to the people of South Carolina and that will play out.  But, listen, Governor Sanford apologized yesterday.  We ought to be, you know, really dedicating our thoughts and prayers to his family right now going through a difficult time.


MADDOW:  We should be praying for his family right now, whether he stays or goes is up to the people of South Carolina.  It‘s not for me to say.

One of the things that was so amazing about the Mark Sanford “I had an affair” press conference was that it came just about a week after a similar but also quite shocking “I had an affair” press conference from this guy.


THEN-SENATOR JOHN ENSIGN ®, NEVADA:  Last year, I had an affair.  I violated the vows of my marriage.  If there was ever anything that I could take back in my life, this would be it.


MADDOW:  That, of course, is Republican Senator John Ensign of Nevada, acknowledging that he too had been cheating on his wife.  He had been shtooping the wife of one of his Senate aides who, in addition, to being his mistress was also working for his campaign.  Two high profile Republican politicians busted for adultery in the span of about a week.

Again, Eric Cantor one of the top ranking Republicans in the entire country, was asked to respond.  He had responded to Mark Sanford, then he had to respond to John Ensign, what should happen to these guys.


CANTOR:  Look, I mean, is anyone happy to see all that have happened?  No.  It‘s not good.  But, listen, we have our thoughts with their families and they themselves.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS:  Well, if you‘re going to talk the talk, why not walk the walk and say, “You know what, they should step down”?

CANTOR:  Well, listen—I mean, again many the instance of the people of South Carolina and Nevada, I mean, it‘s up to them.  I mean, those are the elected individuals by those states.


MADDOW:  My thoughts are with their families.  But really, it‘s up to the people of South Carolina and Nevada to decide, me, Eric Cantor, it is not for me to say.

So, to be clear, you have Governor Mark Sanford admitting that he is guilty of lying and adultery and hypocrisy on the issue of sexual morality, because he had previously campaigned on his superior family values and other people having family values that weren‘t as good.  And you have Senator John Ensign, lying, adultery, hypocrisy on the issue of sexual morality.  He, you might recall, had previously called for Bill Clinton to resign because of President Clinton‘s affair.  Possible abuse of power in his office, a complicated cover up ensnaring other U.S. senators, orchestrating an illegal lobbying scheme as part of the cover-up that ended up implicating his own Senate staff to the point where his chief of staff had to seek immunity from prosecution—that‘s the John Ensign scandal.

But in both of those cases, and both Sanford and Ensign, the number two House Republican Eric Cantor says essentially pray for their families.  Let their constituents decide their fate.  Who am I to say?

Fast forward to today.  The day after Democrat Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York acknowledges his own indiscretions, his indiscretions essentially amount to sending compromising pictures of himself to women on the Internet and engaging in sexually explicit chats with women online and lying to cover it up.  Yes, he definitely lied.

As far as we know, there was no actual physical adultery nor is there political hypocrisy here.  Anthony Weiner has never campaigned on the basis of his superior family values and other people having bad ones.  He‘s never demanded anybody resign for having had an affair or for having some sort of online indiscretion.

So, Congressman Cantor, what should happen to Anthony Weiner?  What should happen to Congressman Anthony Weiner?  Should we pray for his family?  Is this not for us to say?


CANTOR:  I think it is up to Congressman Weiner and his constituents to make that decision.  I don‘t condone his activity.  I think he should resign.


MADDOW:  I think he should resign.  Sure, his constituents should get a say, but me, Eric Cantor, I think he should go right now.  What is the difference between Anthony Weiner and these other scandals other than the fact when they stack up next to each other, his, frankly, has less bad thins to say about it than Governor Sanford‘s or Senator Ensign‘s scandal, what‘s the different between Anthony Weiner and these other two guys?

It‘s OK if you‘re a Republican.

Anthony Weiner, it turns out, committed the gravest sin of all.  Not a Republican.  And this stuff is apparently OK if you are a Republican.  If you are asking the Republican Party about it.

Do you remember this guy?  Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiana?  In 2007, David Vitter was busted for having solicited prostitutes through the D.C. madam.  The D.C. madam was running a high-end prostitution ring in Washington, D.C.  Her phone number list got out and David Vitter was identified by “Hustler” magazine, oh, yes, as being a client of the D.C. madam.  His phone number appeared on her list five separate times.

David Vitter was a member of the House of Representatives at the time. 

Two of the phone call from the D.C. madam occurred during House votes. 


David Vitter, like Mark Sanford and like John Ensign addressed the media.  He acknowledged that, yes, he, too, had been cheating on his wife.  And this wasn‘t just cheating.  Soliciting a prostitute is illegal even in Louisiana—illegal in Louisiana and in Washington, D.C.

But Senator Vitter who had previously called on Bill Clinton to resign for his affair, David Vitter decided that he was forgiven—decided to stay in office and we had all the image of the look of his wife‘s face burned into our minds forever.

David Vitter decided that he himself was forgiven.  He also was apparently forgiven by his Republican colleagues, allowed to stay in office by his Republican colleagues then in the Senate.  And so, today, right now, David Vitter remains a Republican senator from the great state of Louisiana.

Here‘s one of his Web sites which we accessed today.  He proudly already displaying big pictures of his wife and his kids still proclaiming his great family values.

Given Republican Congressman Eric Cantor‘s demand today that Anthony Weiner resign, we asked Congressman Cantor‘s office if he is now making the same request of Republican Senator David Vitter.

Senator Vitter, this guy who again potentially committed a crime by soliciting prostitutes.  The response from senator—excuse me—from Eric Cantor‘s office, quote, “Eric isn‘t the majority leader of the U.S.  Senate.”

David who?  That‘s a matter for the Senate not the House.  Got to go.

When we reminded them that Mr. Cantor had previously spoken publicly about the John Ensign scandal—even though John Ensign is also a member of the Senate.  So, (INAUDIBLE) please, what does he think about Senator David Vitter?

We were told by his office, quote, “Senator Vitter won re-election.”

That‘s already been decided.  He was re-elected.  Anthony Weiner, on the other hand, he must resign.  Why is that?  Because it is really only OK if you are a Republican.

It wasn‘t just Eric Cantor calling for Anthony Weiner‘s resignation today.  Incredibly, it was also the chairman of the Republican Party, Reince Priebus.  Mr. Priebus put out a statement today saying, quote, “Congressman Weiner‘s actions and deception are unacceptable and she should resign.”

Mr. Priebus appeared on my colleague Martin Bashir‘s show here on MSNBC and he ended up running headlong into the “it‘s OK if you‘re a Republican” problem.  Watch this.


REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN:  The man is a creep and he‘s a member of the United States Congress and he‘s admitted to flat out lying not only to the American people multiple times, but to multiple reporters and even coming back to hallways after he knew -- 

MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST:  Mr. Priebus, can I ask you—is John Ensign a creep as well?

PRIEBUS:  Well, you know, listen—I mean, this is about here and now.

BASHIR:  No, sorry, can you just answer that?

PRIEBUS:  John Ensign resigned.  I mean, I‘m not going to get -- 

BASHIR:  Was he a creep prior to his resignation?

PRIEBUS:  I have no idea about whether or not he was a creep or not.  But the man resigned and he did the honorable thing.  And the reality is that I think Anthony Weiner should do the same.


MADDOW:  I have no idea if John Ensign was a creep?

It should be noted that John Ensign only he says did the honorable thing and resigned after it was clear that he was going to have to testify in front of the Senate Ethics Committee.  After it was clear that the ethics committee had enough dirt on him to probably recommend his expulsion from the Senate.

He didn‘t resign in shame, “Oh, I‘ve done wrong.”  He resigned about four feet in front of the pitch forks coming after him from the Senate he was part of.  He only resigned because he was about to get thrown out.  He didn‘t resign in shame.  Is that the honorable thing?

Mr. Priebus who has presided over a Republican Party that counted John Ensign and David Vitter as its members in the Senate never called for either of these guys to resign.  He said he‘s still not sure if John Ensign is a creep.

But Anthony Weiner must quit.

It‘s OK if you‘re a Republican.

As we speak, the House Republican Campaign Committee is demanding that any House Democrat who received any campaign donations from Anthony Weiner must return those donations immediately because it‘s tainted money.

Now might be appropriate time to note that the Republican Senate Campaign Committee was chaired by a man named John Ensign while Mr. Ensign was shtooping his Senate staffer‘s wife.  Everything the Senate Republican campaign committee did was under John Ensign‘s direction in 2008.  He even got the son of his mistress a job at the Republican Senate Campaign Committee while the affair was happening.

Are these Republicans who received not just money but strategic advice and coordination from John Ensign‘s Senate Campaign Committee while he was having this affair that led to this cover up that led to this ethics that may lead to criminal charges, that may lead him going to jail—are these senators—these guys all tainted by John Ensign‘s taint?

Whether or not you think that, certainly, no Republican has argued that, even as they now argue that Anthony Weiner‘s money taints everyone it touches.

It is OK if you are a Republican.  It is OK if you think that Anthony Weiner should resign, frankly.  It is OK if you think that everyone who‘s gotten money from Anthony Weiner is themselves now tainted somehow by the fact that he had sexual relationships online with people that weren‘t physical but were online and maybe people should give that money back.  They don‘t want to be associated with something like that.  It‘s OK.

There are not a lot of Democrats rushing to Anthony Weiner‘s defense right now—certainly, if you‘re looking to friends and colleagues in politics to ascertain an appropriate level of response here.

But I would venture the guess here that you can‘t both demand that Anthony Weiner resign because he‘s a creep if you never said beep about John Ensign.  You just can‘t.  You can‘t look kindly upon David Vitter in the United States Senate while demanding that Anthony Weiner resign.

You, sir, you‘re fine.  Anthony Weiner got to go.  Really?  Seriously? 


You cannot demand that people return donations from Anthony Weiner when the whole Senate Republican Campaign Committee was headed up by John Ensign while the affair and the cover up were happening and you didn‘t say beep about it.  Either you actually care about this stuff or you do not.

This is not to say that Anthony Weiner didn‘t do anything bad here.  This show is one of the places where he lied in response to a direct question from me about what he was doing.

But if you are so outraged by that lie or by anything else that he did that you are demanding that he must resign and that other people be shamed by any association with him that is not repudiated, you ought to at least try to fake that same concern about other politicians who have done the same thing and worse but happen to be in a different party.

I know that “it‘s OK if you‘re a Republican” is actually what the rule is, that‘s actually how things operate in the Beltway.  But for the sake of national shame, at least try to fake it.  For the sake of the fame of the nation and my belief that we might still have some, please try to fake it.

Please, try to fake it.  Please, try to fake it about this guy.  Come on!

Former chairman of the Republican Party, Michael Steele, joins us next.



PRIEBUS:  Why do we need to spend taxpayer dollars on investigating whether or not the guy‘s a liar or whether or not he‘s fit for public office?  The man should resign and we should move on and put someone else there that‘s fit to serve.

CANTOR:  I don‘t condone his activity.  I think he should resign.


MADDOW:  House Majority Leader Eric Cantor this afternoon saying Anthony Weiner should resign.  Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus saying Anthony Weiner should resign.  Neither man thinks this person should resign—Senator David Vitter, the hooker guy.  And yes, I keep his picture in my office.  It keeps me grounded.

Here to help me understand the Republican Party congressional leadership and party leadership saying it‘s totally kosher for this guy to be in the Senate but Anthony Weiner must resign is a man who is earning his keep tonight, MSNBC political analyst and former RNC chairman, Michael Steele.

Oh, Mr. Steele.  Please help me out here.

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Look, you don‘t want me to give you the insights on leadership, that‘s for sure.  I don‘t think they‘d appreciate my views that well.  But—

MADDOW:  Do you think they‘re wrong on this?

STEELE:  I think you‘re right.  I think you‘re right.  I think there‘s a level of inconsistency here, to be polite about it.

I‘ve always felt very strongly that when you have been blessed with the public trust through the vote of the people and your district or your state, you honor that trust every day.  And whether your name is Vitter or Weiner, and there‘s a whole commercial we could probably do on just those two names, the reality of it is—in fact, that that trust applies to you, too.  And the consequences of breaking that trust should be equally applied to you.

So, I heard what the chairman said today.  And I thought it was a little bit not right.  You can‘t look at one case and say, that this behavior is—warrants, you know, dismissal or you should quit, and look at another one that may be a degree or two more egregious and not see that same requirement of removing yourself from office.

So, a pox on both their houses it violates the very public trust that the people sent them to Washington and to their state capitals to uphold.

MADDOW:  Anthony Weiner to me, it seems important to me that Anthony Weiner does not have a political hypocrisy problem here.  He‘s never campaigned as a family values guy.  He‘s never said voters for me because I‘m a sexually morality role model and my ideas about sexual morality are superior.

STEELE:  I don‘t—

MADDOW:  But to me, it makes it less newsworthy.

STEELE:  Well—

MADDOW:  It‘s newsworthy that he lied and it‘s important issue with his private life.


MADDOW:  Hypocrisy matters, I think, doesn‘t it?

STEELE:  No, it does.  And you raise actually two interesting points for me.  One goes to an argument that I‘ve made inside the party for a good 15 years now and the other goes to your first point and that is, I don‘t know if Vitter or Ensign or any of these gentlemen ran saying that “I‘m morally superior, I‘m a better family guy or family man.”  Yet, everybody puts out the images of their families and together and the kids on the front porch and all of that.

And I wouldn‘t necessarily extrapolate from that that is a—


STEELE:  Let me—but this gets to the second point—

MADDOW:  Can I just make one—I‘ll make one quick factual point, which is they both said that Bill Clinton should resign from office because of his affair.  And both of them, certainly even David Vitter even more recently.  But I also think John Ensign sponsored amendments—sponsored legislation so that gay people can‘t get married.  So—

STEELE:  Right.  And again, I get that in the context of once they‘re in office, but the question is how did they approach that?  Maybe they made those points.

And this gets to my second point—I‘ve always had a problem with any political party espousing morality that they are not ordained to espouse.  In other words, I go to my minister, my rabbi, my imam, to have my faith lifted, to have that moral code.  And still, I do not go to my politician for that.

And so, when you get on that horse, and you want to ride that horse very much like we saw our good buddy, Mr. Colbert, do last night trying to load his gun, you spill stuff everywhere.  And it always comes back to bite you right on the butt in a way that you have to stand in front of that camera and look in the people in the eye and go, “Well, I told you to do one thing while I was doing something else,” and that is not a position you want to be in.

MADDOW:  Well, do those—when Republicans talk strategy, though, does that come up?  I mean—

STEELE:  No, no, no.

MADDOW:  Nobody believes me—it doesn‘t?

STEELE:  No, no.

MADDOW:  I mean, Christopher Lee sends out a shirtless picture of himself on the Internet on Gawker.  Nobody believes this is true.  But you can check with my staff, the notes are there from our news meeting—we would not have put that on the air, would not have been newsworthy in my estimation had he not resigned.  His resignation made it newsworthy because he took an act that affected the United States House.  But other than that, I think it would have been private.

Republicans can‘t see that they‘re buying themselves a little insurance by laying off about other people‘s marriages?

STEELE:  Well, you know, I agree with you.  I just think it‘s not a place you need to be as a political institution to delve into those types of issues.  When they do come out, I think that you do have to be respectful and handle them in a very interesting way but—very important way.

But the interesting thing for me about Representative Lee was how the leadership in this instance actually got him to resign before the people largely knew it was he was resigning over.  And so, that was an instance where, you know, Speaker Boehner was very proactive.  And I think it speaks to hip and how he looks at these things.

And, again, you go back and you look at Nancy Pelosi coming in saying that she‘s going to clean up this Republican zest pool.  All the while Mr.  Weiner was engaging in this kind of behavior sometimes in his congressional office.  That‘s the type of hypocrisy in politics when we get on that slippery slope.


MADDOW:  Wait, hold on.  But when Nancy Pelosi found out about this, she‘s demanding that there be an ethics investigation.

STEELE:  That‘s now.  I‘m talking about then.  And this is the point, you don‘t know—

MADDOW:  But as soon as she found out about it, she called for the investigation.


STEELE:  I get that, totally.  I get that.  But I‘m talking about when Pelosi ran—when the Democrats ran to take control two years, three years, four years ago, they ran on this issue, you know?  We‘re going to clean up the zest pool, you know, these flagrant violations of ethics rules within the House—all the while members within their own party were engaged in that activity.

And that‘s why you have to be careful on how you go to the public to approach these issues because they do come back to bite.

MADDOW:  I think people screwing up is inevitable in life and in politics.

STEELE:  It is.

MADDOW:  Maybe more inevitable in politics because get into politics who often think very highly of themselves often and that often goes along with bad behavior.

So, I think that‘s going to happen.  I think the ethical issue is how you handle it when it arises.

STEELE:  Right.

MADDOW:  And that‘s why the Reince Priebus thing actually makes my eyes cross.  For him to say, John Ensign, who knows?  David Vitter, who cares?  But Anthony Weiner, he‘s got to go.

I feel like that is almost an unpardonable humiliation for somebody in the position he‘s in.

STEELE:  But the thing is, the other side of this coin, too, Rachel is the fact that he‘s the party chairman.  So, he‘s not going to throw his guys under the bus.  That‘s the politics of it.

Just as the Democrats didn‘t want to throw the Louisiana congressman with $90,000 in freezer under the bus.  They wanted to promote him.

So, you know, the fact of the matter is, the political institution when one of their own gets in the crosshairs does tend to try to protect them and others in some manner.

I think to your broader point with respect to both Democrats and Republicans, enough is enough.  When you screw it up like this, you‘ve got to be prepared to pay the piper in a big way.  And with respect to Representative Weiner coming on your show, looking you in the eye and lying directly to you and ostensibly the American people—that is an unpardonable sin as an elected official.

WEINER:  Well, if it‘s unpardonable, I am going to start wearing this as a mask every day until we start enforcing that as unpardonable on both sides of the aisle.

STEELE:  I‘m not exonerating Vitter or anyone else on that point.

MADDOW:  But you didn‘t back, you took money from his PAC and didn‘t give it back after all this came out in 2006 when you were running for Senate.  I mean, nobody‘s been calling for him to resign.  You never called for him to resign when you were party chairman?

STEELE:  No, I didn‘t.  And, again, it goes to that point about, you know, you‘re going to put—the political part of this, the politics of it is that you do, you know, you take care of your own as best you can.

MADDOW:  You do unprincipled things because you‘re running the party and you‘re not modeling good behavior?


MADDOW:  Michael Steele!

STEELE:  No, it‘s not—wait a minute, no, no, no.  Don‘t—I‘m not taking it that way, what I‘m saying there are two competing interests in this dynamic.  And you saw it played out this week and you still—you don‘t have the cavalcade of Democrats rushing to get Weiner out of the House.  You have those who stew with him and you can‘t tell me that they didn‘t have some inkling if they‘re that close to him of what some of his behavior was.

MADDOW:  Nobody is supporting him.  Nobody is taking his rack. 

Everybody‘s saying that they ought to investigate him.  I realize—

STEELE:  They‘re not saying—no one‘s supporting him publicly.

MADDOW:  Right.

STEELE:  But that silence, that lack of a call for his resignation that lack of a call for action beyond -- 

MADDOW:  They‘re calling for an investigation into him.

STEELE:  It‘s beyond the speaker is -- 

MADDOW:  And the chair of the House Democrats Campaign Committee and Harry Reid saying, “If he called me for advice, I‘ll tell him to call somebody else.”  No—I understand that it‘s sort of a pox on both their houses is the popular thing to do here.  But the Republicans have such a bigger problem on this name David Vitter than the Democrats do on Anthony Weiner.

STEELE:  Just on that final point, I think the one that I think that Cantor and others have said is true.  At the end of the day—and this will be the case for Congressman Weiner, it will be the people of his district who will ultimately decide his political fate.  If he decides to stay in the office and run for re-election, they will have the chance to cast their opinion, their vote, one way or the other, on his behavior and his actions.  The same was true with Vitter.  The same has been true for others.

In the case of Ensign, it was very clear that was beyond anything the voters were going to do.  He had legal and ethical committee issues that were about to come pouncing on his head.  So, he took that way out.  I‘m just saying.  And ultimately, it all comes home to roost for these guys, either at the ballot box or in their caucus in some way.

MADDOW:  And to have Reince Priebus saying Anthony Weiner is the guy who has to quit, but John Ensign, oh, well, he went on his own terms, man.

STEELE:  Lame answer.

MADDOW:  This is a Republican problem right now.

STEELE:  I understand.

MADDOW:  Michael Steele, MSNBC political analyst, former RNC chairman

I enjoy talking to you very much when we agree and when we disagree, sir.  Thank you.


STEELE:  Absolutely, Rachel.

MADDOW:  All right.  We‘ll be right back.


MADDOW:  When I think of America as the land of opportunity, I think of an egalitarian system, a free market economy, equal protection under the law—you know, opportunity.  But it does mean different things to different groups of people, I guess.


ADAM GADAHN, TERRORIST:  America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms.


MADDOW:  And that is a message from the al Qaeda A.V. club. 

Seriously.  More ahead on that.


MADDOW:  There are a lot of things that guns can be used for that are not terrorism, of course.  And there are a lot of things that are terrorism, of course, that can be done without guns.

But, here, where they overlap, there‘s been a lot of news lately.  For example, the terrorists—as in the ones you are thinking of as in al Qaeda central, they‘ve put out a new video, a really long one.  It‘s nearly two hours long, the world‘s most boring al Qaeda feature length film.  In it, al Qaeda HQ advises its sympathizers to get there on their own.

The idea is Al Qaeda is not going to come to you with a ready-made plot Mr. Terrorist wannabe, you‘ve got to do-it-yourself.

It goes through a long list of pseudo-lone wolf terrorist attacks and describes and praises each of them—from assassinations to the first attack on the World Trade Center, to Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter.

Adam Gadahn who is sometimes known as “Azzam the American,” or as we like to call him on this show, Adam the goat farm dork, the guy who grew up loving death metal on a goat farm in California who does these videos for al Qaeda.  At one point in this video, he specifically addresses al Qaeda sympathizers in the United States.  He tells them they are perfectly placed to do major damage to al Qaeda‘s enemies, that if you are in the United States, he says, you are not only close to good terrorist targets.  He also, says you have great resource at your disposal, by virtue of the fact you‘re in America.

You can‘t see him here.  What you‘ll hear here is his voice.


ADAM GADAHN, TERRORIST:  Let‘s take America as an example.  America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms.


MADDOW:  Now, I could continue to play the sound of him explaining his point. You will forgive me if I cannot quite stomach that.  I will quote him, for you.  He says, “You can go down at a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle without a background check and most likely without having to show an identification card.  So what are you waiting for?”

I‘m sure you‘re not going to believe he says the last part in the al Qaeda videos.  So, here, I will prove it.


GADAHN:  So what are you waiting for?


MADDOW:  So, what are you—truth be told, getting a fully automatic assault rifle is going to be hard even at a gun show.  Semiautomatic, no problem.  But fully automatic, kind of a problem.

And you do, generally, have to show an identification card even at a gun show.  But what he says about not needing a background check, that‘s true.


INVESTIGATOR:  No background check?


INVESTIGATOR:  That‘s good.  I probably couldn‘t pass it, you know what I mean?

SELLER:  Yes, I don‘t take no forms.  They just have to prove Arizona residence is all I need.

INVESTIGATOR:  All right.  How‘s that?  That‘s me.  That‘s Arizona.

SELLER:  That‘s all I need, yes.


MADDOW:  Videos from Mayors Against Illegal Guns showing people buying guns at gun shows not only after not passing a background check, but after telling the seller they couldn‘t pass one.

There‘s a bill in Congress to make it you can‘t buy guns at gun shows without a background check anymore.  It was proposed by Carolyn McCarthy, Democratic congresswoman of New York.  That bill has yet to get out of committee.

Even harder to believe than that, I submit is the fact that if you have been put on the terrorist watch list by the United States of America, you may not be able to board a commercial flight in this country—after all, you‘re on the terrorist watch list.  But you can legally still buy guns.

Last year, almost 250 people on the terrorist watch list in this country legally purchased guns.  They didn‘t sneak around or buy them on the black market.  No, 247 people whose names are on the terrorist watch list bought guns in America because that‘s legal.

A Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois has proposed making it so people on the watch list can‘t buy guns.  His proposal was defeated along party lines last month.  Everyone Republican on the committee voting to keep letting people on the terrorist watch list buy guns.

Also you‘re not sleeping right now.  If you pinch yourself, you will find that this is real.  You are not dreaming.  Seriously.

Joining us now is Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, Democrat of New York.

Congresswoman McCarthy, it is nice to see you again.  Thanks for being here.

REP. CAROLYN MCCARTHY (D), NEW YORK:  Thank you, Rachel, for having me.

MADDOW:  What‘s your reaction to that al Qaeda video urging al Qaeda sympathizers to take advantage of weak background checks at gun shows?

MCCARTHY:  You know, I‘ve been talking about this for years, ever since, unfortunately, 9/11, that when we have terrorists trying to come into this country, we have terrorists probably in this country already and yet we‘re going to be allowing them to go and buy guns in a gun show—I mean, it doesn‘t make any sense.  When you think about it as you have mentioned that you can‘t get on to a plane if you‘re on the terrorist watch list, but you can go certainly go and buy a gun.  It doesn‘t make any sense at all.

But I don‘t think the American people actually realize that how crazy some members in the House and the Senate will go so far to make sure that people can get away with doing this.  I think that‘s what‘s wrong.

MADDOW:  Do you think that this video, though, could change people‘s perspectives on Capitol Hill?  I mean, the NRA hasn‘t won the close the gun show loophole.  I mean, it‘s hard to believe that the NRA is a bigger motivator on Capitol Hill than al Qaeda.

MCCARTHY:  Well, I‘m hoping that watching this, they‘ll certainly realize we are dealing with a potential threat.  And again, to be very honest with you, any law-abiding citizen or anybody that is considered mentally stable are still going to be able to buy their guns.

But we are trying to stop those that shouldn‘t be buying guns.  And I think that has always been the goal.  Take the guns away as far as those that shouldn‘t have them.

The NRA, I hope, is listening to this, have seen these tapes, because it is a real threat.  It is a homeland security threat for this country and for all Americans.

MADDOW:  I know that since the wake of the Tucson massacre, the Gabby Giffords assassination attempt, you have been trying to get those high capacity ammunition clips that used to be banned, banned once again—one of those, of course, was used in that shooting.

How is that legislation going?  What‘s the status?

MCCARTHY:  Well, again, we are still collecting signatures.  But we have still not gotten, unfortunately, one Republican.  It‘s almost like a message has been sent out to all members of Congress from the Republican leadership that we‘re not going to have anybody sign on to any gun leadership.  Obviously, I personally feel they‘re afraid to offend the NRA.

But when you have common sense—common sense legislation taking away the large magazine clips, the majority of Americans in this country absolutely agree with me.  When you say let‘s everybody go through a background check—everybody goes, that‘s common sense.  Why not?  It only takes a few seconds.

MADDOW:  New York Congresswoman Caroline McCarthy—thanks very much for your time tonight.  I really appreciate it.

MCCARTHY:  Well, I just want to say one thing quickly.

MADDOW:  Sure.

MCCARTHY:  Gun checks do save lives.  If people will go on to our Web site and to sign up for a petition, hopefully, we can move members of Congress to really get this done.

MADDOW:  Carolyn McCarthy, thank you, again.

MCCARTHY:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  We‘ll be right back.


MADDOW:  This is Catherine Ferguson Academy.  If you are in high school in Detroit and you got pregnant or you had a baby—since 1988, Catherine Ferguson Academy was designed to keep you in school, to keep you from dropping out, to get you to graduate, to get you into college.  Real course work, high expectations, plus, help with parenting classes for the moms and child care and early education for the kids.

Right in the middle of hollowed out inner city part of Detroit, they‘ve got some land and the school has used it to have the girls tend beehives and take care of animals.  That is part of the deal at Catherine Ferguson, the girls learning to grow food and harvest crops—learning farming.

The formula seems to have worked.  At Catherine Ferguson, they can brag on their graduation rate and their college acceptance rate.  There is almost no place like Catherine Ferguson Academy in the entire country.

We started covering the story of this remarkable school in April, right after Detroit public schools put it on this list: closures or charters, summer 2011.  Right there at number eight, Ferguson Academy—

Catherine Ferguson Academy follow the asterisk there on that headline to this footnote.  Quote, “Proposals will be requested to operate these schools as charters.  If an acceptable proposal is not submitted for a school, it will be closed during this summer of 2011.”

In other words, Catherine Ferguson named incidentally for a former slave whose mother was sold away from her as a kid, Catherine Ferguson Academy has been put on the block.  If a private charter company bid for the school and the school district accepted that bid, then maybe it could live on in some way, in whatever way the charter company decided.  If not, then Catherine Ferguson would close this summer.

Like all decisions involving the Detroit public schools, the one about Catherine Ferguson Academy ultimately belonged to the school system‘s appointed emergency manager.  Detroit schools have been run by an emergency manager since 2009 when former Governor Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, installed one to try to save the city‘s school system.

Last year, the emergency manager had tried to move the school out of its building under Michigan‘s old emergency manager law.  But community protests forced him to leave the school alone.

Then in March, the new governor, Republican, Rick Snyder, signed a new emergency manager law, sometimes called “emergency manager on steroids,” sometimes called “financial marshal law.”  This new law from the new Republican governor gave the old manager essentially dictatorial powers, truly dictatorial powers in the technical sense—unilateral authority.  You decide it, it is so.  No one can say otherwise.

Under Rick Snyder‘s new law, the emergency manager answers to no local elected officials, not the elected school board, not the elected city council, the emergency guy is in charge with unlimited authority.

Detroit schools are broke.  They may even be broken.  And in the state of Michigan‘s view, the first part of fixing them is to do away with democracy and give the power instead to a state-appointed overseer with unilateral power.

Perhaps because they remembered what had happened the last time the emergency manager came for the school and how protests had stopped that for happening, the students of Catherine Ferguson Academy this year staged a sit-in at their school to try to keep it open.  You see them painting protest signs here, setting up for the long haul, with sleeping bags, stuff for their babies, food.  They meant to settle in for however long it took because this is their school.  This is how they thought they would be able to keep it open.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I want everybody to have the same opportunity that I had.  I got out of here.  I want you to graduate the same way I did.  I got two kids.  You can make it with one, two, or how many you got. 

They‘re going to make it happen.  Ms. Andrews can make it happen.


MADDOW:  Ms. Andrews—she‘s talking about Ms. Andrews, the school principal, Mrs. Asenath Andrews.  She‘s the one who at Catherine Ferguson pushes you through, finds a college for you to go to, and money to help with tuition.  If you show up at her school as a junior or senior, Ms.  Andrews says you got a 90 percent chance of leaving with your diploma.

Under her leadership, Catherine Ferguson has been named a breakthrough school by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Just hours after Catherine Ferguson students began their sit-in, what they thought would be a long haul occupation of their school, Ms. Andrews got a call for help, especially to help make short-term arrangements for the kids, because the kids needed to be taken care of because this happened.


MADDOW:  Detroit police moved in and arrested these girls, these American girls in this American high school.  A dozen students and one teacher were taken into custody on April 15th.  Their voices drowned out by the police sirens that were put on so their community could not hear what they were yelling.

The last time we checked in with Catherine Ferguson, the principal was preparing a 20-minute public presentation on why the emergency manager should choose to keep the school open, since it‘s his decision alone.  He just gets to personally make that call, this one guy.

Ms. Andrews never got a chance to give that public talk because on May 3rd, Catherine Ferguson turned up on this announcement, the emergency manager‘s list of schools that had drawn at least one bid from a private charter company.  And remember, that was their only hope of staying open, if a private company wanted them.

So, with a bid from a company to keep them open, they thought there was some hope.  But then three weeks later, Catherine Ferguson turned up on a new list, this list, schools whose buildings would close with some kind of unspecified transition plan for continuing their services for a while—far less hopeful but maybe not the worst.  That was a couple weeks ago.

And yesterday, the principal, Ms. Andrews, got called to a meeting for schools that are being shut down.  Catherine Ferguson, her school, is on that list now.  Ms. Andrews has been told to turn in her keys to the school on June 17th.

Catherine Ferguson Academy, which has served Detroit‘s most at-risk girls for almost a quarter century now, is slated to close in just a few days, because the school‘s emergency manager says so.  That‘s what he decided.  And in Michigan now, his word alone is the law.

Joining us now is Asenath Andrews, principal of Catherine Ferguson Academy in Detroit.

Principal Andrews, thank you very much for joining us tonight.


MADDOW:  Let me first say that I‘m sorry about this.  I imagine this must be a very difficult time for you personally.

Did I—did I get the basics there accurately about your school and what‘s happened?

ANDREWS:  Yes.  That‘s pretty much what‘s happening.

MADDOW:  Were you given any particular reason for the decision to close the school?

ANDREWS:  Well, the reasons we were given is that it was expensive and we didn‘t have enough students and there‘s no way for the district to get money for our infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.

MADDOW:  What do you think will happen to the students now, these girls who come to the school who are pregnant or who have young kids?

ANDREWS:  I‘m so afraid most of them will just quit.  Nationally, most girls who quit school do so as a result of pregnancy or parenting.

And if our girls don‘t have a place that they can go and that they can take their children that‘s safe and then inviting and special and has high expectations for them, then right now, some of our kids take three buses to school.  If the neighborhood school is a really good option, they‘d be at the neighborhood school.

So, I‘m not at all hopeful that our girls are going to get back into school if we‘re not there.

MADDOW:  On the issue of the expense of the school and why you were told it‘s closing, it seems to me that a school like Catherine Ferguson may be more expensive.  You are in effect educating two generations at once.  But the people of Detroit had decided before now the investment was worth it.  They fought to keep the school open.

Under this new emergency manager law, does the local community have any say any longer?

ANDREWS:  I don‘t know that everybody—anybody ever had a say over it other than the—it used to be the board of education and us, the emergency manager, we as a school never had a say.  But I think that the district up to this point felt the commitment was important enough so that they said, yes.  We need to do this.  We need to make sure the children of these young women get a good foundation before they become Detroit public school students, and that these young women get the kind of confidence and competence that they need to go on to make a life that gives them and their children some chances in the world.

MADDOW:  What kind of message do you think that this decision—the emergency manager‘s decision here has sent to your students in closing the school?  Clearly, this is part of their education, too, now, this decision.

ANDREWS:  I think they feel like nobody gets it.  Nobody understands how important it is for them to be there, or how important the school is to them, or how much success they‘ve had since they‘ve been there.

One of our students just graduated from medical school last week and a former student.  And she clearly attributes her success to having found us when she was pregnant and 16.

And us—our school is saying, well, yes.  We still expect you to be successful.  Yes, of course, we still expect you to have goals.  We want you to have a future.  And you‘ve got to do some things to make sure that happens.

So, I think my girls now think like nobody‘s hearing them.  Nobody gets that this is so important.

MADDOW:  Do you—I‘m sorry, ma‘am.  Continue.

ANDREWS:  And they really think that they can just go to the neighborhood school.

MADDOW:  Do you know what you‘re going to do next?

ANDREWS:  I‘m going to retire.

MADDOW:  Asenath Andrews, principal at Catherine Ferguson Academy in Detroit—I appreciate your time tonight on what I‘m sure is a very difficult time.  Good luck to you and your students, ma‘am.

ANDREWS:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  “THE ED SHOW” is right after this one here on MSNBC.  Tonight, Ed Schultz has a report on how the Koch brothers are funding an expensive campaign to try to get America to blame the president for high gas prices.  Do you remember what it is that the Koch brothers do for a living?  It‘s coming up at the top of the hour.

But we will be right back.


MADDOW:  Every time we have talked about the Catherine Ferguson Academy on the show, we‘ve received a lot of feedback of people looking for more information.  What we‘ve got about the latest on this story is posted at our blog tonight,

That does it for us tonight.  We will see you again tomorrow night.

Now, it is time for “THE ED SHOW.”  Have a good night.



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