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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Guests: Karen Tumulty, Gabriel Arana


THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you, my friend.

SCHULTZ: You bet.

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

We`re going to do something a little bit different tonight. We`re
going to do something we have not previously done. We`re going to put
today`s date up right on the screen.

Can we do it? Where is it? There we go. Right? Today`s date, a
little water mark there.

Today`s date is April 18th, 2012, and we are putting that up on the
screen because today`s political news has to go into a time capsule.

At some point before the election in November, it will become clear
that it is time to open the time capsule, because at some point before the
election, there will be an effort to convince you that something that is in
today`s political news, something that is a real news story, did not
happen. A candidate for president will take a totally opposite position to
a position that he holds right now, and he will try to convince you that
his new position is really what he thought all along.

We know that the Mitt Romney for president campaign is planning to do
this, because they have explained that they are planning to do this. It
was that Etch-a-Sketch moment, right?

But the important thing about the Etch-a-Sketch moment was the
question that the Romney campaign spokesman was answering when he explained
their Etch-a-Sketch plan.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there a concern that the pressure from Santorum
and Gingrich might force the governor to tack so far to the right, it would
hurt him with moderate voters in the election?

ERIC FEHRNSTORM, ROMNEY ADVISER: Well, I think he hit a reset button
for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It`s almost like an Etch-a-
Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again.


MADDOW: The question is, to get from the Republican primary campaign
to the general election, what are you going to have to do? And the
campaign has already said that it will hit the reset button, it will shake
the Etch-a-Sketch. It will abandon previously held positions to run
Governor Romney instead as a moderate in the general election.

And when Mitt Romney announces those new policy positions to try to
seem moderate in the general election, will he admit that it is a change
from his previously held position?

No, that`s the beauty of the Etch-a-Sketch strategy. They will have
hit the reset button. The Etch-a-Sketch will have been shaken. History
will be erased. They will be starting with a blank slate.

And so, time stamp! We are going to date this thing. We are going to
seal this thing. And we are going to lock it up in plain view on our Web
site, I guess, forever so the original positions that he is changing from
will not be lost to history.

So, news viewer of the future, I want you to know that today, April
18th, 2012, Mitt Romney was in North Carolina. He had an awkward
explanation that he was in North Carolina to prebut the president`s speech
that`s going to happen in North Carolina at the Democratic convention,
which is several months from now. I know, it was kind of an awkward
explanation, was regardless, he was in North Carolina today.

And that`s important in terms of timing in the state, because tonight
is the eve of early voting starting in North Carolina. Tomorrow morning,
in North Carolina, early voting starts on the anti-gay constitutional
amendment that Republicans have put on the ballot there. Gay marriage is
already illegal in North Carolina, but Republicans in the North Carolina
legislature have put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to doubly,
triply, extra ban this thing that is already illegal.

Their anti-gay constitutional amendment would go so far as to ban not
that just any already illegal same-sex marriages, it would also ban all
civil unions, all domestic partnerships, all anything.

What is Mitt Romney`s position on this bill? What is Mitt Romney`s
position on North Carolina`s anti-gay constitutional amendment? We don`t
know -- which is a little bit weird, because the Barack Obama re-election
campaign has taken a stand on it. The Obama campaign says it is against
the anti-gay marriage amendment in North Carolina. And usually when a
campaign takes an overt stance like that, that`s the kind of thing that
calls for a response from the other side. But so far, nothing from the
Romney camp.

Our own campaign embed, Garrett Haake, confirms to us tonight that Mr.
Romney, even though he is in North Carolina tonight, the night before
voting starts -- even though Mr. Obama has taken a side on this issue, Mr.
Romney has not taken any position on it. We have not heard beep from the
Romney campaign about this. Which, again, is a little bit weird, because
in the context of trying to win the Republican nomination for president
this year, Mr. Romney has not been shy at all about matters like this.

He gave the rabidly anti-gay National Organization for Marriage a
$10,000 donation. He was recently endorsed by the National Organization
for Marriage. He signed that group`s pledge not only affirming that he is
against gay rights when it comes to marriage, but promising that as
president, he will overtly work to amend the United States Constitution to
make our national constitution anti-gay marriage.

When a federal appeals court in California ruled against Prop 8 this
year, when that court handed down a pro-gay rights ruling in California,
Mitt Romney responded vociferously, saying, quote, "Today, unelected judges
cast aside the will of the people of California who voted to protect
traditional marriage. This decision does not end this fight."

This fight! He says, "This fight," he is a combatant in the fight
against gay marriage. And yet, nothing to say about North Carolina, sir?

Mitt Romney could not have taken a more radically anti-gay set of
policy positions during the primary campaign. He was against repealing
"don`t ask, don`t tell". He made jokes about stopping Massachusetts for
being the Las Vegas of gay marriage. He made us sort of a lisping gay joke
about a pink tie while talking to Sean Hannity of FOX News.

He managed to avoid seeming less anti-gay than Rick Santorum in a
political contest, which is really something when you consider Rick
Santorum. He`s the man on dog guy after all.

And so, today, on April 18th, 2012, that is still where Mitt Romney
stands on gay rights. Is that still true in the future? Will he moderate
those positions for the general election? Will he try to pretend that he
didn`t take all of these anti-gay positions that he, in fact, has taken
over the last few months of the primary campaign? Only you in the future
have the answer to that.

Us back here, on April 18th, we are left essentially with a betting
pool, trying to figure out which of his primary stances Mitt Romney shakes
the Etch-a-Sketch on first.

Him refusing to say anything about North Carolina while he`s in North
Carolina, the night before they start voting on a gay rights thing, after
having made a huge deal about how anti-gay rights he was in the primary, I
sort of feel like this issue is teetering for him already. But I have to
tell you, the smart money in the betting pool right now is that he`s going
to shake himself clean and start over on the issue of immigration, even
before he shakes himself clean and starts over on the issue of being anti-

This is Kris Kobach. He is the secretary of state in Kansas. But
he`s not only interested I Kansas. He also writes legislation for
Republicans and a bunch of other states.

And his specialty is anti-immigrant stuff. He is the guy behind the
anti-immigrant law in Alabama and the anti-immigrant law in Arizona. Mr.
Romney claims Kris Kobach as his adviser on immigration issues. He even
cited Mr. Kobach`s papers pleas, SB-1070 Arizona immigration law as a model
for the nation. Wow.

And when Mitt Romney talks about the issue of immigration, he sounds
like Kris Kobach, both in policy terms and in tone.


Congress were to pass the DREAM Act, would I veto it? And the answer is

We went to the company and we said, look, you can`t have any illegals
working on our property. I`m running for office, for Pete`s sake, I can`t
have illegals.

The answer is self-deportation, which people decide that they can do
better by going home.


MADDOW: Self-deportation was cooked up as a parody by Latinos in
California who were amazed by how anti-immigrant the Republican Party was
back in the 1990s. It is now being used without irony at all by the Mitt
Romney campaign and his anti-immigrant adviser, Kris Kobach.

The reason some of the smart money in April 2012, which is when I`m
talking to you now, the reason some of the smart money right now is on Mitt
Romney shaking himself up and reinventing himself as a not quite so anti-
immigrant guy in time for the general election is because the Romney
campaign appears right now to be quietly trying to throw Kris Kobach under
the bus.

"Politico" noted yesterday that Mr. Kobach was left off a list of
Romney advisers in a profile of the general election era Romney campaign.
And when "Politico" reported that and asked about it -- well, here`s how
they said it. Quote, "When I asked the Romney campaign if Kobach was still
an adviser, a Romney spokesperson e-mailed back, `supporter`." As in
supporter, not adviser. As in, he supports us, that doesn`t necessarily
mean that we support him.

Kris Kobach, for his part, started squawking immediately, telling
everybody who would listen that he is still as much of a Romney adviser as
he ever was. Nothing has changed. Nobody is getting rid of him.

And by the way, he volunteered, the DREAM Act, which Mitt Romney said
he would veto, the new Republican Marco Rubio watered down version of the
DREAM Act, Kris Kobach, Mitt Romney adviser on immigration, now says Romney
would veto that, too. He would veto the Marco Rubio bill. It`s not anti-
immigrant enough.

So, here it is future viewer. April 18th, 2012 -- at this stage, Mitt
Romney would veto the DREAM Act, his advisor on immigration issues, Kris
Kobach, is he still there? Says he would also veto the Marco Rubio watered
down version of the DREAM Act.

Mr. Romney talks about self-deportation and he`s not kidding. He says
that Arizona`s papers, please, law is a model for the nation. That is what
is etched on to the sketch of Mitt Romney on April 18th, 2012.

Is all of that still true in the future? Only you in the future have
the answer to that.

And frankly, those are just the issues leaving in terms of what it`s
looks like he`s poised to erase and pretend like he never had these
positions in the first place for the general election. Those are the
leading issues -- the anti-gay issue, the anti-immigrant issue. But
there`s competition.

I mean, let the record show that on April 18th, 2012, Mitt Romney`s
position on Medicare is that he is in favor of abolishing Medicare as it
stands and replacing it with the Paul Ryan house Republican plan. The Paul
Ryan house Republican plan would replace Medicare with a system of coupons.

So seniors, instead of getting Medicare, will get coupons to get a
discount on buying insurance on the regular private insurance market. Good
luck, grandma. Don`t forget your coupons.

That is Mitt Romney`s position on Medicare, as of April 18th, 2012.

In the future, is he still running on that?

As of April 18th, as of today, Mitt Romney is apparently in favor of
abolishing HUD, the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He
admitted that to a group of campaign donors this weekend. Democrats are
poised to point out this week that eliminating HUD among many other things
would have the effect of throwing thousands of homeless war veterans out on
to the streets.

So, in the future, does Mitt Romney still want to abolish HUD? Or has
that one been shaken off the Etch-a-Sketch too?

In the future, are we still fighting about contraception? Because as
of April 18th, 2012, as of today, Mitt Romney`s position is that he is in
favor of not just overturning Roe versus Wade, which would have the effect
of making abortion illegal in most of the country, he says that he is also
in favor of states passing personhood legislation as well.

Personhood legislation would define a fertilized egg as a person. The
reason they want to do that is because it would render all abortions
illegal in all circumstances. It would also likely ban the most popular
forms of contraception in America, hormonal contraception. It would ban
the pill.

Mitt Romney is in favor of states being allowed to ban the pill. He
told Mike Huckabee on FOX News that had he been able to use an amendment
like that to ban the pill in Massachusetts while he was governor, he would
have done that.


MIKE HUCKABEE, FOX NEWS: Would you have supported the constitutional
amendment that would have established the definition of life at conception?

ROMNEY: Absolutely.


MADDOW: "Absolutely."

Hey, you, watching this in the future, does Mitt Romney still believe
that? Does he admit that he ever did believe equipment it?

So, today is April 18th. The transition from primary campaign to the
general election campaign is underway and every candidate in history, every
candidate on the Democratic side and on the Republican side, has had to
make some kind of pivot to reflect they are done just talking to members of
their own party and they now need to talk to the whole country.

But for those of us reporting on the campaign and watching the
campaign unfold, we have never before had the advantage of the campaign
letting us know in advance, forewarning us, telling us that they are going
to not just abandon previously held positions, they are going to pretend
that those previously held positions were not previously held.

And so with Mitt Romney in North Carolina today, avoiding the gay
marriage question, which is amazing, let us cheerfully refuse to go along
with the plan for us to all forget all but the current news cycle. Let us
cheerfully refuse to go along with the plan that you, in the future, will
be completely unaware of what happened in the headlines on a day like April
18th, 2012.

Joining us now is Karen Tumulty. She`s a national political reporter
for "The Washington Post."

Karen, it`s great to have you here. Thanks for being here.


MADDOW: So, the Etch-a-Sketch plan is not an accusation, it is what
the campaign says it is going to do.

Of the policy positions that Mr. Romney took in the primary, which do
you think the campaign sees as the ones they would most like to change for
the general, if any?

TUMULTY: Well, I think it is pretty clear, and it`s clear, because
Mitt Romney himself said so, that if he does not up his showing with Latino
voters, that he is, in his words, doomed. So this was, of course, what a
number of reporters overheard at a fund-raiser on Sunday night.

So he said, basically, that they have got to, essentially, come up
with some way to sort of square the party on the immigration issue. So I
think what you are going to see is, I would be very shocked if he didn`t
embrace Marco Rubio`s version of the DREAM Act.

MADDOW: In terms of how that happens, I mean, Kris Kobach is
obviously a lightning rod in terms of immigration politics, mostly because
of his role in the Alabama and Arizona laws, but he`s just becoming
increasingly famous.

He has been a known and stated adviser to Governor Romney on
immigration issues, not just for this presidential campaign, but for his
previous campaign in 2008 as well. Do you make the pivot on immigration by
pretending that that did not happen? By trying to get Kris Kobach to come
along with you in changing your positions, by throwing him under the bus?
What do you do?

TUMULTY: Well, I think what the campaign says that adviser is not
really a title and that he essentially was never in the campaign, but he
did campaign with Mitt Romney. He is the intellectual force behind this
concept of self-deportation, which Mitt Romney supports. So I think what
you`re going to see is that they`re essentially not going to be seen with

Basically, the issue here is that of these nine swing states, six of
them have large and really significant Latino populations. And Mitt
Romney`s own actual adviser on Latino issues, who`s a guy named Al Cardin,
a former state party leader in Florida told me that essentially, in six
states, where Latinos are big portions of the population, Mitt Romney has
to win 40 percent of the Latino vote to win the election. And right now,
he`s running in the 20s among Latinos nationally.

MADDOW: When the Romney campaign made the decision to embrace not
just Kobach, which was a decision made back in 2008, but to embrace Pete
Wilson. Pete Wilson, of course, was the California governor, sort of lost
to history. He`s not a particularly famous Republican. He`s very famous
in California, particularly among Latinos for Prop 187 and for some other
controversial measures taken in California that led to the initial satire
of the term "self-deportation" as an anti-Pete Wilson satirical protest.

When Mitt Romney went and dug Pete Wilson out of the sort of ash heap
of history, this obscure that no one`s really heard of, unless they really
remember him angrily about his anti-immigration politics, were they
cognizant of the fact that that would affect their standing among Latino
voters? The perception of his extremism on immigration issues?

TUMULTY: Well, at the time, his top priority was winning the
Republican primary. And essentially he ran to the right of his opponents
in the Republican primary. He sparred with Newt Gingrich over this whole
self-deportation idea. He was really critical of Rick Perry on granting
in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.

He was very much -- Mitt Romney was, trying to prove that he was the
staunchest opponent of illegal immigration in the race. And at that point,
Pete Wilson was an ally in that.

MADDOW: Karen Tumulty, national political reporter for "The
Washington Post," joining us in the time capsule today -- Karen, thanks
very much for talking with us tonight. I really appreciate it.

TUMULTY: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: I have to say, having a little time stamp on the segment sort
of makes me feel like hello, hello. Sort of makes me feel like I`m a
postcard, you know what I mean? Doesn`t it look like a little postmark?

"Debunktion Junction" is dead ahead, including a really weird one from
today`s politics about buses deliberately driving around in circles in
order to make a political point. Did you see this today? It`s very weird.
That`s next.


MADDOW: Hey, you know that show on Bravo, "Watch What Happens Live"?
I`m going to be on that show tonight. I`m a little nervous. I`m told I
should be nervous.

Also, best new thing in the world today is still ahead. It`s a really
good one, totally unexpected, laugh out loud, funny, best new thing in the
world and it pertains to license plates. That`s coming up.


MADDOW: "Debunktion Junction," what`s my function?

First up, President Obama made a campaign stop at a community college
in Ohio today to talk about the economy and jobs. Mitt Romney is set to
make a campaign stop in Ohio tomorrow, but in the meantime, President Obama
was there today and the Romney campaign wanted to do something to counter
the president`s appearance and all the attention that came with it. So
that leads us to this believe it or not moment in today`s news.

True or false, as a political counterattack, a Mitt Romney campaign
bus drove in circles today, around and around and around the community
college campus where President Obama was speaking today. Is that true or

True. This was an actual plan. Quoting from UPI`s coverage today,
quote, "Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney`s campaign
bus loaded up with state surrogates and phone bank volunteers was to drive
circles around the college while Obama was there," the Romney campaign

A Romney campaign spokesperson talking about this bracketing strategy,
telling "The Washington Post", quote, "Our campaign is going to go toe to
toe and post up against the Obama machine every day." That`s right, the
Romney campaign bus is going to go toe to toe up against the Obama machine,
following the president everywhere he goes, doing donuts in the parking lot
of every Obama event for the rest of the campaign. This is a strategy.

All right. Next up, Democrats in the Obama campaign have been putting
tons of public pressure on Mitt Romney to release more of his tax returns.
Mitt Romney released two years of tax records earlier this year, after his
fellow Republicans put a ton of public pressure on him. That`s how we know
he made $45 million over the last two years without working and paid an
effective tax rate of about 14 percent on those earnings. Mr. Romney`s own
father released 12 years of tax returns when he ran for president, so the
pressure, of course, is still on.

But Mr. Romney has a new excuse as to why he has only released a
couple of years` worth of returns. Mr. Romney now says there`s precedent
for only releasing a couple of years` worth of tax returns. There`s
precedent, he says, on the Democratic side.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why not release your tax returns? Why not go back
ten years?

ROMNEY: Well, we`ve had people run for president before, and they`ve
released two years. John Kerry released two years of taxes. John McCain
released two years of taxes. I`ve released one already, put the estimate
out for the next year. We`ll have two years of taxes.


MADDOW: We`ll have two years of taxes, what`s the problem? The
Democrats did the same thing.

Is that true or false? John Kerry only released two years worth of
tax returns when he ran for president in 2004. Is that true or false?

False. Mitt Romney was incorrect about John Kerry`s tax returns. Sam
Stein at "Huffington Post" pointing out today that when Mr. Kerry ran for
president in 2004, he`d actually released 20 years of tax returns, not two,
but 20.

So, Governor Romney, that is not true. Time for whatever your new
excuse is for not releasing your tax returns. Also, you should probably
say you`re sorry for getting that wrong and you should probably correct the
record, right?

And finally, the low and slow space shuttle flight over Washington,
D.C. yesterday mesmerized the capital, and frankly us too. And in the
light of that show-stopping tribute, is it true or false that that amazing
flyover was a once in a lifetime event? That nothing like that is ever
going to happen again? Is that true or false?

False! Actually, it turns out that incredible spectacle of a space
shuttle mounted to a 747, flying low through the air of the landmarks to
meet its people, that is going to be repeated, only a little bit different
next time. The folks at NASA announcing this week that NASA`s special 747
shuttle carrier with the shuttle Enterprise mounted on top is set to fly at
a low altitude over New York City on April 23rd.

So we`ll get another show, much like the one we got when the space
shuttle Discovery flew over D.C., when the space shuttle Enterprise flies
over Gotham later this month. Which is true and cool.


MADDOW: Virginia`s governor needs a job. In Virginia, you can`t
serve in the top spot for conservative terms, and although he will not come
right out and say it, Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia has long been
giving every possible signal that he would sorely, dearly, are you there,
God, it`s me, Bob, love, love, love to have Mitt Romney pick him for vice

He doesn`t have a next job. He`d be great at that, right?

Mr. McDonnell has a couple of hurdles here. Exhibit A, he appears to
gain Mitt Romney a grand total of one point in the polls in his home state.
The Quinnipiac University survey last month finding that he`s no help for
the National Republican Party.

Exhibit B, the Virginia governor is polling at 1 percent among
Republican voters when they are asked who they like to see sharing the
ticket with Romney. Mr. McDonnell polls lower than someone else. He polls
lower than none/no one. And he polls lower than that electoral powerhouse,
no opinion.

But Bob McDonnell has a dream. Bob McDonnell has a plan for helping
Bob McDonnell. Because even though he cannot run for re-election in
Virginia and even though no named Mitt Romney has asked him to run for
anything else, Bob McDonnell is about to run campaign ads for himself.

"Washington Post" reporting that he will start airing, quote,
"positive TV ads in the coming weeks." What are you running for, Gov?

After a few positive TV ads, who knows, he may triple his standings in
the veep stakes, in which case he would still be next to last.

Still coming up in the best new thing in the world is the even bigger
obstacle to Governor McDonnell`s vice presidential hopeful and the thing
Virginia residents are doing to make sure the world never forgets about
that thing.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: I`ve been looking forward to doing this story for a long
time. You ready?

Behold. "The Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders,
Volume IV" -- this book is super boring looking and also super important.
The DSM, they call it. It is the reference that psychiatrists and
therapists and insurance companies and drug companies all consult when they
decide if you have a mental disorder.

So did your insurance company kick in to help cover the cost of you
going to therapy or your antidepressants? If so, this book and your
diagnosis based on what`s in this book is part of why. And it has a big
cultural impact beyond medicine -- a big part of how we define as a
culture what counts as a sickness, what counts as a mental disorder is
framed by what`s in the DSM.

That`s why it was a big deal in 1973 when the American Psychiatric
Association decided that homosexuality no longer constituted a psychiatric
disorder. They delisted it as a psychiatric disorder in the DSM.

For decades, basically forever, psychiatrists had, with this book
said, if you`re gay, you`re sick. You have a medical ailment, a mental
disorder. There is something wrong with you.

And so, in 1973, when psychiatrists moved to change that, it caused a
lot of controversy. One of the prime movers behind that change was this
man, Dr. Robert L. Spitzer, a Columbia University professor and
psychiatrist who worked on revising the DSM that year. In 1973, he argued
for taking being gay off the list of mental illnesses by saying, quote,
"Many homosexuals are satisfied with their sexual orientation and
demonstrate no generalized impairment."

It does not sound revolutionary now, but it was back then. Among the
people rocked by this change in the DSM was an industry that claimed to be
able to heal gay people of their supposed illness. Suddenly, these folks
were being told by the American Psychiatric Association, hey, you are
trying to heal people who aren`t sick.

The anti-gay, "we can cure you" folks did stick around for years, for
decades, even, but frankly, they were on the fringes of quackery, of
pseudo-religious, pseudo-anti-gay politics.

Until something crazy happened. In 2001, this came out. Can some gay
men and lesbians change their sexual orientation?

This was not published in some quack, fringe, wishful thinking anti-
gay publication. It was not a vanity publishing thing. This was published
in a well-regarded peer-reviewed medical journal called "The Archives of
Sexual Behavior". And this piece was not published by some anti-gay true
believer who was trying and failing to pull on the guise of scientific
authority to justify being super anti-gay.

Look at the author of this. Look, Robert L. Spitzer. That would be
the same Dr. Robert L. Spitzer who had been so instrumental in delisting
homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973. In 2001, 28 years after, Dr.
Spitzer told the country that being gay doesn`t make you sick, he published
this, this study, which says he studied a couple hundred patients and he
found that you could, in some instances, pray away the gay! You could get
rid of your homosexuality through therapy or something. He said some gay
people, essentially, could be turned straight.

The anti-gay groups, "the being gay is a choice" people, the you can
be cured of your homosexuality folks, they were over the moon. Look at
this press release from a pray away the gay group called NARTH, the
National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality. Their
press release, prominent psychiatrist announces new study results. Some
gays can change!

Ever since this study came out in 2001, 11 years ago, Dr. Robert
Spitzer`s work has been cited as proof that if you want it enough, you can
turn yourself from gay to straight. The "cure the gay" people have spent
that last 11 years moving to the center of anti-gay politics in the United
States. They have become as mainstream as you can get in the anti-gay
political world.

When President George W. Bush urged Congress in 2006 to amend the
United States constitution, to make it anti-gay marriage, the Bush White
House made sure that a contingent of people who specialize in supposedly
curing gay people were in attendance at the White House announcement.

This is a press release from Exodus International, one of the big ex-
gay cure the gay groups. Quote, "Worldwide network of former homosexuals
to take part in Rose Garden ceremony as Bush endorses marriage protection
amendment." Quote, "The lives of thousands of former homosexuals, like me,
verify that homosexuality is not an immutable trait, therefore marriage is
not a civil right to be casually granted to any group who demands it," so
says Alan Chambers president of the Exodus International.

Recognize the guy there on the right? That is Karl Rove with the then
vice president of Exodus International at a photo taken at the White House,
the "cure the gay" people at the White House.

This year presidential candidate Michele Bachmann`s husband runs a
counseling center in Minnesota that is reported to have tried to change
patient`s sexual orientation. Marcus Bachmann denies that that`s a service
that he offers, but frankly, it is rather convincingly reported in "The
Nation" and elsewhere.

Also, remember the weird speech that Rick Perry gave during the
campaign where he hugged that syrup bottle and everyone wondered if there
wasn`t something a little off about Rick Perry that night. That was a
group in front of a group called Cornerstone in New Hampshire, an anti-gay
group in New Hampshire. Their research page on helpful links lists four
helpful links on homosexuality, four helpful organizations, all of which
are organizations that claim to be able to cure gay people -- to be able to
cure people of having the affliction known as "the gay."

The presumptive Republican nominee this year, Mitt Romney, his anti-
gay politics are also now homosexuality can be cured politics. We reported
on this on this show a while back.


MADDOW: The Romney`s charity, with the Romney`s money, supports a lot
of conservative causes that the Romneys support. CNN did a report on this
the other day, finding out that this foundation has supported like pro-gun
groups and the conservative think tank at Stanford and some medical stuff.
But they also support to the tune of $10,000 in one year alone a group
called the Massachusetts Family Institute.

The Massachusetts Family Institute is an anti-gay group based in
Boston, Massachusetts, that advocates all sorts of anti-gay causes. And
that explains that if anybody is gay, well, you should quit that.

Quote, "We encourage the healing of individuals who wish to change
their choice of lifestyle through the work of Exodus International, Love
Won Out, and Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays."

And how do these recommended groups from the Romney-funded
organization propose that you do that? They promote magic therapy by which
you can be cured of your affliction. Like our old friend, Richard Cohen


REPORTER: Another technique, bioenergetics, designed to help clients
release memories stored in the muscles, in this case by hitting a pillow
with a tennis racket.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was angry at my mother. So I started saying,
mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Why! Did! You! Do! That! To! Me?


MADDOW: What Mitt Romney has been funding as charity is actually
advocacy of the predatory quack industry that sells parents on the idea
that you can ship off your gay son to a guy like this and he`ll ship him
back to you straight.


MADDOW: It was not an oversight that Mitt Romney`s charity gave money
to one of these pseudo-scientific "cure the gay" groups. It was not an
accident, because this is what anti-gay politics are like now. They have
the "you can be cured of the gay" message right at the heart of what they
do in politics.

It has been like that since the bombshell Robert Spitzer study
mainstreamed this kind of thinking back in 2001. It has been that way for
11 years now. It has been that way for 11 years, until last week when all
of a sudden it stopped being like that, because last week Dr. Robert
Spitzer made it known that he would please like to take that study back
from 2001. He would like to retract it. It does not mean what people
think it means and he wishes it would not have published.

Last week, the "American Prospect" magazine published a remarkable
piece of reporting, including the explosive revelation that Dr. Spitzer is
renouncing this 2001 study that changed gay politics in America ever since.
Dr. Spitzer says he wishes he could retract the study from the journal in
which it was originally published. He says that efforts to cure gay people
of homosexuality, quote, "can be quite harmful"; acknowledging that he did
not study a representative sample of people, but instead counted on people
sent to him from anti-gay groups.

Dr. Spitzer now says, quote, "The findings can be considered evidence
for what those who have undergone ex-gay therapy say about it, but nothing

Dr. Spitzer essentially saying that study was not science, it was just
a series of anecdotes. He`s sorry it was published. He wants to take it

So what does this do to all the cure the gay people? Do they go back
to being seen as quacks, or do Republicans keep inviting them to the White
House and speaking before them as presidential candidates? What happens

Well, the first thing that happens next is the interview on this
subject. Back in a second.



GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: I come from a state where, you know, they
have this little place called the Alamo and they declared victory or death.
You know, we`re kind of into those slogans, man. It`s like, live free or
die, victory or death. Bring it!


MADDOW: Obviously, there were a number of problems with that Rick
Perry speech on the Republican presidential campaign trail last fall. None
of which I need to explain to you. It`s as plain as the nose on your face,
or as plain as the bottle of syrup in the governor`s tender embrace at the
end of the speech, when he just left to be alone with the syrup.

But one of the more subtle, between the lines problems, with that
speech is that it was delivered before an anti-gay group in New Hampshire
that like many anti-gay groups now, bases its anti-gay political arguments
around a core pseudo medical argument that being gay is a curable thing,
that you can change your sexual orientation if you work on it.

The core mainstream scientific justification for that argument has
just been blown up by reporting from our next guest.

Gabriel Arana is a reporter and web editor at "The American Prospect".
He`s the new author of their new bombshell, "My So-called Ex-Gay Life."

Mr. Arana, thanks very much for being here. It`s nice to have you


MADDOW: Your story included this revelation that Dr. Robert Spitzer
wants to retract his fame 2001 study that supposedly proved that gay people
can be cured of homosexuality if they want it enough. When you set out to
write this story, did you know that was going to happen? Were you
surprised by this revelation from Dr. Spitzer?

ARANA: I really didn`t know it was going to happen. I went to visit
him at his home in Princeton, and I wanted to speak with him more generally
about his place in the history of psychiatry. As you mentioned, before the
commercial break, he spearheaded the effort to declassify homosexuality as
a mental illness in 1973 and then in 2001, dropped this bombshell that was
very damaging to a lot of people.

And so, he`s obviously an iconoclast. And I was curious about both
his role in the 1973 declassification of homosexuality and then what led
him to undertake the 2001 study. And then as we spoke, he started to
express regret for both having conducted his study and also how it had been
used by the ex-gay movement.

MADDOW: So it was both about seeing the impact of how his study was
used in the real world, but also some regret about the scientific basis of
his findings?

ARANA: That`s right. After his study was published, he endured a
barrage of criticism from his colleagues in the psychiatric and
psychological communities, as well as from gay rights movement.

The most noteworthy of the criticisms was that he had recruited
participants for his studies from ex-gay organizations and then relied on
these self-reports from patients of ex-gay therapists to conclude that
change for at least a highly motivated group of gay people was possible.
And in the intervening 11 years, he started to doubt the credibility of
these people. And strangely enough, I was originally referred to a study
as a success story and now I`m married to a man. So, you can see how that

MADDOW: Part of the reason this piece of yours in the "American
Prospect" was so powerful is because of the personal story that you bring
to it. I mean, your parents encouraged you to seek therapy, to try to
become straight. Your therapist at the time was the head of one of these
you can be cured of homosexuality organizations.

You write really beautifully about why you agreed to the therapy.
This person telling you, you could make your parents happy. You could be

When you were undergoing the therapy, did you ever feel like it was

ARANA: I can answer that question in two parts. If the question is,
did I ever feel that my sexual orientation was changing? The answer is no.

So the way therapy works is that you`re encouraged to view your
sexuality as the result of gender misidentification. So in the case of gay
men, in my case, I was not close enough with my father and too close with
my mother. And you learn to interpret both your childhood, your past
experiences through that lens and then talk about how that initial
childhood drama has a bearing on your life now.

So, I felt that -- I felt that I was understanding myself given this
frame. But, you know, obviously, I wasn`t coming to any true
understanding. It`s just I sort of learned to speak the language.

MADDOW: Well, the combination of your personal story and this
revelation that you elicit from this doctor who has played such a key role,
I think in the whole forgive the phrase, reorientation of anti-gay politics
in America is -- it`s a remarkable piece of reporting and it`s step one and
what we`re going to see is a real change, a real reckoning in anti-gay

So, congratulations on this as a scoop, Gabriel Arana. And thank you
for being here, I really appreciate it.

ARANA: Thanks for having me.

MADDOW: All right. If you want to learn more about the original
study and the retraction of the study and what might happen next, we`ve got
some supporting materials about this posted at

Best new thing in the world is really good last night. I thought last
night`s was good about the kids and the chess. But tonight is maybe even
better. Best new thing, coming up next.


MADDOW: OK. Best new thing in the world today comes from an unlikely
place, but bear with me, the payoff is totally worth it.

In the commonwealth of Virginia this year, Republicans in the
legislature busied themselves passing legislation to force Virginia women
to undergo medically unnecessary vaginal probe ultrasounds if they wanted
to get an abortion in the state. Governor Bob McDonnell ended up signing a
measure that does mandate medically unnecessary ultrasounds for Virginia
women, it just doesn`t specify that they have to be vaginal probe ones.

Regardless of that last-minute amendment, the governor had
wholeheartedly supported the vaginal probe bill before. And by the time he
signed the state`s new law, the backlash already ensured that he will be
known as governor vaginal probe or maybe governor ultrasound.

The story also generated these special edition Bob McDonnell
commemorative vaginal probes from our audience. This one in honor of what
used to be his vice presidential ambitions says, "I can see the White House
from here." And then the project got bigger and more real.

A viewer named Cara Bone (ph) of Spotsylvania, Virginia, suggested
that we visit the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle`s Web site where you
can buy specialty license plates, most for charities.

You pay a little extra for the plate and the money goes to the charity
which sponsors that plate so you can buy a plate for the Appalachian Trail,
for example. You can buy a plate to help the Brook Trout. Yay, Brookies.

If you`re a member, you can buy a plate to help the Sons of
Confederate Veterans.

There`s this one supporting the Virginia League for Planned
Parenthood. It`s the "Trust Women, Respect Choice" plate. After the tip
from Cara in Spotsylvania, when we put this on the blog, the story started
to change. The Virginia DMV let`s you customize your own plate.

You take the Planned Parenthood plate, or the Brookie plate, or any
plate, and within certain limits, you type in what you want it to say. For
instance, I typed in "You`re no doctor," and got congratulations, the
message you requested is available.

Mandy Perez (ph) sent this one. No VP 4U.

My favorite early on came from Alex Brandt Silasky (ph). It says
"Womb R8R." Obvious, right?

But something better was on the way. Check this out. Holly Ban (ph)
of New Mexico, one day, out of the blue, sends us this. Yes. Get your own
show. You can say it how you want. I say it Virginia.

We had a little intramural debate whether this license plate would be
approved really by the commonwealth of Virginia. Can you say Virginia with
a Y on your license plate in the land of governor vaginal probe? On
Monday, miracle of miracles, we got an answer. We got an answer from the
Delano (ph) family of Williamsburg, Virginia. They saw the extensive
coverage of the Virginia license plates on our blog and when their Virginia
license plate expired, they went out and blessed the Delanos of
Williamsburg, they got this license plate.

This is not Photoshop. This is the actual plate. Virginia with a Y
right on their car in the commonwealth of Virginia. David and Sandy Delano
put this tag on their Prius, right between the class warfare bumper sticker
and the one for the Human Rights Campaign.

They are now driving the most liberal car in the entire realm of
governor vaginal probe. David says Sandy I asked their kids if this was
maybe too much. One of their sons said and I quote, "No, you need to rock
that, mom."

But, wait, there`s more. Yesterday, we got another one. It`s from
Becky Kirkland Krimcoe (ph) of Virginia. Even before our blog posts.
Vicky Kirkland Krimcoe had had it with the situation in Virginia.

Her plates expired in March and this is what she got this to replace
them. Tada! Yes, Virginia, you can vajajay. And with Bob McDonnell in
charge, just driving around vajajay on your car is its own political act.
Virginia is for vajajays.
Anti-mandated ultrasound Virginia license plates and t he cheerful but
unyielding dissent of the people who put them in their cars and then send
us pictures of them -- obviously that is the best new thing in the world
today, right?

Now it is time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a
great night.


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