THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
May 10, 2013
Guests: Jonathan Chait, Eleanor Holmes Norton
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Happy Friday. Thank you
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Friday to you as
President Barack Obama was elected president of the United States in
November of 2008. He was sworn into office January of 2009. You might
remember, and it was kind of a big deal, it was kind of a big day in
Washington, the largest crowds ever to turn out to see a U.S. president
sworn in. That was January 2009.
By March 2009, the right wing in America just couldn`t take it anymore.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What they`re doing right now is destroying this
country. Everyone that I know of at least is very angry about it. We`re
very upset. We want this guy out. We want him to be impeached.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I don`t like is that this guy is doing this by
executive order one after the other and the American people are sitting
like a bunch of smocks watching a dictatorship emerge right before their
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s right. I think it is time to talk about
impeachment. Somebody has to get this guy under control. He`s out of
control. Thank you for the call.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Thank you for the call. I have to go.
It was already time to start impeaching President Obama seven weeks into
his presidency. By the fall of 2009, my friends at "Worldnet Daily" were
just asking whether it was time to start whispering about impeaching
President Obama. That`s when the impeach Obama campaign Web site and
petition was started nine months into President Obama`s first term, nine
months into President Obama`s first presidency. They didn`t want to
impeach him for anything specific. They just liked the idea of impeaching
By 2010, Tom Tancredo`s Republican campaign for Colorado governor was
bracing itself for wanting President Obama to be impeached for something
having to do with immigration.
Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann by then was already calling for President
Obama to be impeached for something, not quite clear what.
Congressman Tim Walberg said as a candidate that year in 2010 that
President Obama should be impeached as a means of trying to get his real
birth certificate, not that fake one that says he was born in Hawaii.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TIM WALBERG (R), MICHIGAN: The executive has an awful lot of power to
keep from showing certain things unless the courts stand up, or unless
Congress or the majority will stand up to and including impeachment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Impeachment. It is 2010. President Obama has been president for
a year that he should be impeached for his real birth certificate. But hen
a year of that, it was Newt Gingrich saying we should impeach President
Obama over the defense for marriage act. Yes, Mister Gingrich, what could
possibly be wrong?
Republican congressman Jim Sensenbrenner was saying President Obama should
be impeached over fast and furious.
Congressman then, Senator Tim Scott and congressman Steve King were both
saying that President Obama should be impeached over the debt ceiling.
Congressman Michael Burgess of Texas went to a town meeting in August,
August 2011 and quickly found himself having this discussion with folks
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The issue of impeachment, 90 percent of the people here
remember Nixon, remember what happened to him? If we could just tie his
hands, remember what happened to Clinton. If we could just tie his hands
cause I`m not convinced we`ve got the right one. (INAUDIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, that exchange through the congressman and his constituents and
then a follow-up question from a local reporter led to this markedly
restrained report in the four-worth star-telegram about just what happened
at that town hall.
When one attendee suggested that the House pushed for impeachment
proceedings against the president to obstructs the president from push his
agenda, Congressman Burgess was receptive. It needs to happen and I agree
with you, it would tie things up, no question about that.
When asked about the comment later, congressman Burgess said he was not
sure whether the proper charges to bring up articles of impeachment against
Obama were there, but he didn`t rule out pursuing such a course, anyway. I
don`t know why we could impeach him or even try to, but yes, let`s plan on
it, anyway. It would be so much fun. What`s the down side?
That was all by 2011. That was by the first two years of Barack Obama
being president of the United States. By 2012, though, to impeach Obama
for something, anything movement really started to feel its oats. That was
the year "Laruchi" said President Obama must be impeached or there will be
thermal nuclear war with Russia. Only impeaching President Obama can stop
At the same time, Grover Norquist, the tax guy, was saying President Obama
should be impeached if he does not extend the Bush tax cuts. Sure, why
not? Then this year, immediately upon being sworn in to congress, two
brand new Republican congressmen, one from Florida, one from Texas, started
off their brand new careers in Congress by saying they wanted to impeach
President Obama over something having to do with guns.
This is a satisfying enough exercise for the right that, again, my good
friends at the "Worldnet Daily` conspiracy theory jumbo mumbo Web site,
decide that they were just going to go hog this past Fenri. They round
Robin-ed in this article all their favorite possibilities of maybe the ways
we could conceivably try to impeach him. They went through fast and
furious and drones and they went through recessed appointments, they went
through czars, suing Arizona over the papers police law, the dreams act, to
cap and trade, the defense of marriage act, Benghazi, going to war in
Libya, gun control, and, of course, as you see there, his dastardly aiding
and abetting of the new black panther party who, as we know, took over
elections and turned us into a new party fascist dictatorship or whatever.
We could put him on a chore wheel and try a new one each week. Surely one
of those might work, right, to impeach him? Let`s try them all. There`s
got to be a way to do it.
Republicans on the right love talking about impeaching President Obama even
when they`re not sure exactly why. It`s almost like an involuntary tic.
They sneeze and a little impeach Obama squeezes out without them meaning
to. They love the idea.
Well today, it was Republican U.S. senator James Inhofe who got to do it.
This is why he says we should impeach President Obama today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: Of all the great cover-ups in history,
we`re talking the Pentagon papers, the Iran contra, Watergate and all the
rest of them, this, I said back on November 28 on FOX, is going to go down
as the most serious, most egregious cover-up in American history. People
need to know how serious this is. To me -- it may be starting to use the
"I" word before too long.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: I word meaning impeachment?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yes. I don`t know why they have to spell it. I mean, they have
been saying the "I" word since March of 2009. Why get all nervous about
spelling it out now?
The biggest cover-up in American history, the latest reason that must
impeach President Obama, according to Senator Jim Inhofe in Oklahoma, is,
of course, Benghazi. The attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Libya
last fall in which the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans
Now, there have been a lot of attacks on U.S. diplomatic series abroad over
the years. There were about dozen attacks on the embassy abroad during the
Bush administration, for example. So it`s not instantly obvious why an
attack abroad should be grounds for impeaching this president but not any
of the other presidents this happened to.
Well, I`m here to help. Depending on the day, depending on which hour of
FOX News you`re watching, there are a number of different ways the right
has tried to make this into a political scandal and not just a tragedy.
Sometimes they say, it was not a spontaneous attack, it was planned.
Sometimes they say, who changed the talking points? Sometimes they say,
hey, Obama! Why did you not call it an act of terror? Sometimes they say,
why were you not better prepared for the attack? Sometimes they say, why
did the military not respond?
We know the answer to why now they said -- we know the answer now to why
they said it was a spontaneous attack. And the answer to this one was that
they were wrong when they said it was a spontaneous attack. But the
intelligence community thought it was a spontaneous attack and said so in
the talking points that they gave to administration officials. That was
their initial assessment. It was wrong, and when they realized it wrong,
they said so and the administration said so, so they stopped describing it
as a spontaneous attack, even though they did initially.
So this one is kind of done, right? We know when it happened. That all
happened right away, it was over very quickly. The notes still say it was
a spontaneous attack. They admit that was initially their assessment and
it was wrong.
On the terror one, why didn`t the president call it an act of terror?
Remember when Mitt Romney tried to get you the president with this at the
debates? The problem was that the president s did call it an act of terror
right away. He called it an after terror the day after the attacks
happened. He did it in public and on tape, which finally puts this one to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No act of terror should ever
shake the resolve of this nation, alter that character, or clips the value
that we all stand for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, that`s one that answered to, right? They did it didn`t call
it an act of terror right away. Why didn`t call you on that an act of
terror. We did it call it terror right away, immediately.
As for this one, as for why the military did not respond to stop the
attack, the military themselves answered that one. The then, secretary of
defense answered back that back in February.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEON PANETTA, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: There was not enough time given
the speed of the attack for armed military assets to respond.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So that`s why the military did not respond. They could not get
there in time, so says the military.
So that leaves this one to change the talking points. The intelligence
community talking points for the administration officials and the immediate
of the attack, they were sent around to the FBI, the state department and
the White House. The e-mail change showing the initial draft of those
talking points and e-mail process, that e-mail chain was sent to members of
Congress a couple months ago in February while they were considering the
nomination of the new CIA director.
So Congress has had the talking points and how they were changed and by
whom for a couple months now, showing the revisions, showing how they
happened. ABC published them today for the public as if they were a
smoking gun, and all the Republicans in Congress who had these things had
them for months reported to be outraged by what was in them, shock,
impeach, impeach. But, they have had them for two and a half months now,
and they never said anything about them before. Today they decided it was
a smoking gun even though this has been long answered.
So that leaves this. Why we were not prepared? Why were we not better
prepared for this attack? This is a good question. And this was the point
that was made damningly and unsparingly as the conclusion of the inquiry
into what happened in Benghazi. The inquiry that was made headed up by
former chairman of the joint chiefs, admiral Mike Mullen and Kenneth
Pickering tasked with the review of what went wrong when our ambassador and
fellow workers died in Libya, they had quote "a security posture that was
inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that
took place. The report condemn to this stomach failure and there was
inefficiencies at the senior level of the state department. It was a
And when that brutal report came out in September, secretary of state
Hillary Clinton said she accepted all the report`s recommendations without
reservation and she accepted full responsibility.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: As I have said many times, I
take responsibility, and nobody is more committed to getting this right. I
am determined to leave the state department and our country safer, stronger
and more secure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was back in January after the official report came out
cataloging the one actually outstanding and really important question from
what happened in Benghazi. On the same question obviously could be and is
asked of time one of our diplomatic facilities is attacked abroad. This is
the outstanding matter. The administration accepted all the
recommendations of the report on this as a problem. They are implementing
those recommendations now.
But today, all of a sudden, apparently, for some reason, impeach, impeach!
We will figure out why later, let`s just impeach!
Joining us now is Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. She represents the
District of Columbia. She is a member oversight committee which held those
hearings in to the Benghazi earlier this week.
Congresswoman, it is a real pleasure to have. Thank you for being with us
REP. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (D), DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Of course.
MADDOW: The information making news today, so much news today about
revisions to the talking points, these revisions as far as I can tell are
something that Congress has known about for quite some time. Why is this a
NORTON: These were revisions Congress knew about, and our committee knew
about most of them. This is an ongoing drama. You`ve got to have a
central character. By the way, for a while there, I thought they were
going to impeach Hillary Clinton before she decided to run for president,
because that seems to have been a major goal of this hearing. And yet even
with the talking points, they haven`t come close to Hillary Clinton. The
state department official apparently said these talking points are for
members of congress, there is an investigation still going on, don`t just
read up on the state department. A statement came out today from Hillary
Clinton saying, this state department official was not instructed by
So if the point was to get Hillary Clinton or President Obama, we failed.
But what they have done is to revive preemptively, because they think
Hillary Clinton may run for president, as the old Benghazi chapter, this
time with a few flurries but essentially the same chapter rewritten.
MADDOW: From all the testimony that has been presented to your committee,
from everything that you have done in your oversight role and everything
you`ve seen in your capacity in Congress, do you think that there was an
effort to cover up what really happened in Benghazi for political purposes?
Do you see that, bottom line?
NORTON: Here`s the difference between this administration and their
You talk about the talking points that came out today. Where did they get
those talking points? From the administration. The administration turned
all of that over. Yes, the administration is turning things over as they
get it. They put no shame on them the moment that the attack occurred,
where it was from, who did it. Notice that you have some of the same
methodology used with Boston. The administration and others were reticent
to say it was an attack that was a terrorist attack, because they didn`t
have all the information, some of it is coming out now. It may be
described as such an attack if they can link it to this Russian
In the same way, the administration does not want to call a spade a spade
until they are sure it`s a spade. And so, they dance around it, as well
they should. And the president himself comes out and says acts of terror
within days of the attack. This is hardly a cover-up. If it`s a cover-up,
the president himself didn`t get the memo.
MADDOW: Washington D.C. congressional delegate. Eleanor Holmes Norton,
thank you for being with us tonight. It`s nice to have you here, ma`am.
NORTON: Always a pleasure. Thank you.
MADDOW: All right, a super busy news Friday today, including a new report
that`s three million years in the making. Plenty of time for revisions.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: If you were a reporter on the scandal beat during the George W.
Bush administration, you were a busy reporter. There was the vice
president`s secret energy task force. Yes, we`re writing the nation`s
energy policy. No, you are not allowed to know who is writing it, but take
There were the "no bid multi-million-dollar" contracts. What could
possibly go wrong? There was the Valerie Plame affair, the vice
president`s chief of staff convicted after a covert CIA officer was ousted
in political retaliation for her ambassador husband blowing the whistle on
one of the Iraq war lies -- uranium from Africa. Scooter Libby convicted
in that case but spared his time in prison when President Bush commuted his
There was the Abu Ghraib scandal in Iraq. There was illegally wiretapping
Americans without warrants. Who can forget the purge of U.S. attorneys to
make room for prosecutors more in keeping with the political priorities of
Perhaps the most fun scandal of the Bush administration was the snorting
crystal meth off the toaster oven scandal. Employees at the Minerals
Management Service accused of systemic corruption of kind of an exciting
nature. Gifts from industry officials, sex with oil and gas company
executives, and, of course, snorting crystal meth off the toaster oven.
Paying pundits to tow the administration`s line without saying that they
were on the payroll, selectively editing scientific reports to exaggerate
the uncertainty around climate change.
Karl Rove giving the one-finger salute to the Hatch Act, which says career
government officials can`t be used for partisan political purposes. The
Republican Party Political Briefings for Civil Servants were just too hard
to give up so they kept them.
There was still sort of ongoing mystery of how the hooker ended up with the
press pass. Remember that? Conservative blogger and moderately expensive
male prostitute Jeff Gannon, or J.D. Guckert, depending on how well you
knew him. Did we ever find out how he got into the White House press
briefings and got called on for all those presidential questions?
Of course, there was Hurricane Katrina, almost 2,000 people killed, $100
billion worth of damage. The man President Bush appointed to head up the
government`s horrible handling of that disaster and others had no
experience in the field. He was the former commissioner of the
International Arabian Horse Association.
The Bush administration had a lot of scandals. That was just a partial
list. We won`t even talk about the presidential adviser who ran the
shoplifting scam at Target or the guy who President Bush put in charge of
not giving any AIDS funding to anything having to do with sex workers and
then he himself ended up on the phone list in the DC Madame case. We won`t
even talk about those things. I could go on.
The Bush era was a very rich-load of scandals large and small. And now in
the post-Bush era the right has really, really wanted there to be lots of
Obama administration scandals, too. Today`s heroic effort to finally try
to get traction on Benghazi, notwithstanding, nothing much has stuck.
Solyndra, Fast and Furious, ACORN, the New Black Panthers. Outside the
FOX-verse everything has pretty much been a belly flop for them so far.
But you know what? Now there is one. Seriously. It started out with a
Tea Party group complaining in March of last year that they were being
treated unfairly by the government. They said they were being unfairly
targeted by the IRS.
Tea party groups applied for tax exempt status and some of them got back
letters from the IRS like this one addressed to the Waco, Texas Tea Party.
"Dear sir or madam, we need more information before we can consider your
application for exemption." The IRS wanted things like copies of current
Web pages, blog posts, newsletters, bulletins, flyers, newsletter, any and
all literature, copies of agendas and minutes from board meetings, an
updated copy of board members and officers.
In late March the Republican chair of the House Oversight Subcommittee asks
the IRS commissioner about the seemingly extra attention that was being
paid by the IRS specifically to these Tea Party groups.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVE CAMP, HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I`ve gotten a number
of letters. Just recently we`ve seen some recent press allegations that
the IRS is targeting certain Tea Party groups across the country --
requesting what have been described as owners` document requests, delaying
approval for tax-exempt status and that kind of thing.
Can you -- can you elaborate on what`s going on with that? I mean -- can
you give us assurances that the IRS is not targeting particular groups
based on political leanings?
DOUGLAS SHULMAN, IRS COMMISSIONER: Let me start by saying, yes, I can give
you assurances. As you know, we pride ourselves on being a non-political,
non-partisan organization. What`s been happening has been the normal back
and forth that happens with the IRS. There is absolutely no targeting.
This is the kind of back and forth that happens when people apply for
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It`s the IRS commissioner who was in the George W. Bush
administration, also in the Obama administration. He may have believed
that to be true when he said it, but that is not true.
Earlier today, an otherwise innocuous conference sponsored by the American
Bar Association, an IRS official admitted that actually yes, Tea Party
groups were -- singled out, excuse me, by at least one low-level IRS
employee at the IRS office in Cincinnati. Groups with names that included
the words Tea Party and/or Patriots were singled out for extra scrutiny in
their applications for tax-exempt status.
According to the IRS, at least 75 Tea Party groups were given this unwanted
special attention, although none of them was actually denied the tax exempt
status that they were looking for.
You cannot single our group for special scrutiny based on where you think
they are on the ideological number line. You cannot do that to groups on
the right, you cannot do that to groups on the left or vice versa. You
cannot pick one side if you`re not picking the other, that`s nuts.
And the IRS apparently now agrees. The agency has, as of today, issued an
apology. They say they fixed the problem last year. They say there is an
upcoming IRS inspector general audit that will look into the matter
I mean, it`s not like outing a covert CIA operative or something, it`s not
a heck of a job brownie, but it is legitimately a really bad move by the
administration, and they better fix it.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: I will admit that we here at the Rachel
Maddow Show are immature hoarders, but not in the way you may think. It
has to be mostly with props. After we use any props in the show, we always
store them in one of our super organized cabinets. Because, you just never
know the next time you are going to need a fake plastic foot.
Plastic foot seen here, origin Halloween store. We used that one on
the show back in August of 2010 during a segment about shoes that were
mysteriously washing up on Canadian shores. One of those Canadian shoes
had a foot lodged inside and in order to explain that, we strove for
accuracy in our reporting. That made everybody in my family really mad at
And, the old rusty pipe that you can see on the right side to your
screen there, I used that when we were covering the Fukushima disaster;
trying to explain how the zirconium fuel rods were breaking down so
quickly. Thanks to heat and oxidization.
Also, in our filing cabinet, we found a found a bright green full-
body spandex suit. And, I actually have no idea why we have that. I can`t
remember as ever using it. But, it kind of looks like fun, and the price
tag is still there. Chances are that you, too, have something rolling
around in your junk drawer, origin and maybe even species unknown.
If that is the case, tomorrow, I`m going to offer you an opportunity
to sort some of that out. It is the best news thing in the world and
that`s coming up right at the end of the show tonight.
MADDOW: If you love the ocean. If you`ve got a favorite beach
somewhere, you are probably used to the idea that the ocean you love
sometimes takes away the beach you love. But, it doesn`t usually happen in
this dramatica fashion.
This is Popham Beach in Mid-Coast Maine, where the water has been
stealing back the beach at an alarming rate. What we`re seeing here is not
an unusually stormy day at Popham Beach. This is kind of regular. This is
the way it goes. A local official telling the Bangor Paper that in some
spots, quote, "There is no beach anymore at high water."
Here we have Plum Island in Newbury, Massachusetts. This is what
happened after a storm in February when the water came in. This was the
headline for Plum Island the next month, move it or lose it and by that
they mean your house. Move it or lose it because you can`t stay here.
This is the Belt Parkway in New York City. Eighty years ago, the
city felt confident enough to build this road along the coastal southern
edge of Brooklyn, New York. But, now it floods in heavy rain and the ocean
bay sweeps over it even in moderate storms.
The ocean is not where we left it. It is moving on up. It turns out
we are changing the climate. Ask me how. You could argue that any
particular disappearing beach or flooded road results from factors that
only belong to that one place. You can argue that for a lot of individual
places, but ultimately they start to add up and ultimately realize
ultimately that you cannot argue without assuming the mental of willful
ignorance is that the earth is just getting warmer.
It is getting warmer because of us. We burn fossil fuels in our cars
and power plants and so on. That puts extra carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere. That traps more heat in the sun than our little planet is used
to. All that carbon dioxide settles around us like a heavy blanket in
August, like the sweaty covers you want to kick away that you cannot.
Because of all the carbons were adding in the atmosphere, the Earth
has not been this warm in at least 4,000 years. How is that for a blunt
headline? Global temperature highest in 4,000 years. That news arrived a
few weeks ago from scientist to Oregon State.
Ready for your additional scary numbers? This time from the Scripps
Institution of Oceanography. This is the average amount of carbon dioxide
in the Earth`s atmosphere. The chart starts with 1960. Go forward. As of
April we were here -- way up here in scary, scary land about to set a new
threshold for Carbon Dioxide.
The scientist who drew this chart, Ralph Keeling, said at the time,
"I wish it were not true." But, it looks like the world is going to blow
through the 400 part per million level without losing a beat. And, here we
go, we blew through that level, apparently, yesterday and we are on out way
to making this the new normal in hurry.
We may even be there now. We may already have more carbon dioxide in
the Earth`s atmosphere for sustained lengths of time than at any time in
history of humans as a species. Our planet has not been shrouded in that
much carbon dioxide since the Pliocene of more than three million years
ago, when there were no humans and there were still 8-foot-tall carnivorous
birds like this guy running around at 65 miles an hour.
Also the levels were 100 feet higher than they are now, instead of
the merely 25 feet higher, which is what we would like to imagine when we
think about climate change. The scientists who track this stuff say, "It
is not time to give up yet. We can still do something."
And, may be, actually, we are on the verge of doing something
important. Mostly by circumstance, but a little by policy, emissions of
carbon dioxide have been falling since President Obama took office. Now,
the president may get a chance to do more, to do something big; to do
something landmark that so far is not getting much public debate.
Jonathan Chait writes about at this week in New York Magazine saying,
quote, "This is the last best chance to deal with global warming in the
Obama era." The prospect for environmentalists is exhilarating but also
harrowing. The struggle will be lengthy, weighed largely behind closed
doors and its outcome will not be known until the Obama presidency is
nearly over. Drama!
Joining us now is Jonathan Chait, writer at New York Magazine,
someone with a hopeful eye on the politics of this sometimes hopeless
subject. Mr. Chait, thank you very much for being here tonight. It`s nice
to have you here.
JONATHAN CHAIT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE WRITER: Thank you.
MADDOW: So, can you describe for us what you mean about this last
best chance for dealing with this problem?
CHAIT: Right. Well, if the Obama Administration has had the power to
regulate carbon. In fact, the Supreme Court ordered the administration to
deal with carbon several years ago. They tried to use it in the first term
as a stick to force the power companies to agree to cap-and-trade. And,
they succeed, but they couldn`t get the republicans in the senate and the
house to go along with it.
So, this was sort of thought to be a dead letter for a while, but
it`s become revived recently. The national resources defense council came
out with a plan shortly after the election that was pretty practical for
how they could use this carbon regulating authority; this power to regulate
the existing power plants, which is 40% of carbon emissions.
So, I think there are a lot of people within the environmental
community, who are really focusing on this and really think it could
happen, but it hasn`t really leached into the broader narrative.
MADDOW: If this is something that the president could do through
regulatory authority and the EPA`s authority alone without congress, does
that mean that it ends up becoming endless litigation? That it ends up
being something that just ends up in court for a generation?
CHAIT: Not endless litigation. It will be litigated. There`s no
doubt that someone on the right is going to file suit. But, if they put
the rule into place, it gets to proceed even as it`s challenged in court,
unless there are extraordinary circumstances. They don`t get to hold it up
forever. So, we will -- If the Obama Administration goes through with
this, we will know one way or another by the end of the term whether they
manage to get it done.
MADDOW: When you look at some of the things that the Obama
Administration has already done, I mean in terms of working stuff out with
congress, there is no record to speak of. And, in terms of the other
things they have been able to do --
MADDOW: -- What are the most important things they have done and how
big a dent are those things likely to make in the enormity of this problem
that we face?
CHAIT: The stimulus had a lot of green energy spending and we weren`t
focusing on it, because we were focusing on the economic crisis and we all
freaked out about the economic crisis, understandably. But, there is a lot
of green energy and that`s really starting to pay some dividends.
When you saw the news about Tesla, the electric car firm earning a
profit. Wind energy is up several times. A solar power, the prices coming
way down and it`s really starting to take off. They have also had the EPA
regulate other sources of carbon besides existing power plants. They
announced regulations on automobiles. The miles per gallon standards way
up from 29 miles an hour to 54 miles an hour.
They eliminated mercury in power plants, appliances. So they have
really used this authority piecemeal here and there, but it hasn`t gotten a
lot of attention. There is no political drama to it. It doesn`t play out
in congress over weeks or months. It just happens, you know, there is an
announcement and then it`s a one-day story.
MADDOW: Do you think that`s smart and do you think that`s by design?
CHAIT: Yes. I do think it`s by design. Now, the thing is that it is
a little tricky. People are kind of blase about the climate change. It is
a little bit disturbing, right? Especially during a recession, they just
care about their jobs. They don`t want anything that seems to come at the
expensive jobs. On the other hand, people do strongly support regulation
of carbon emissions even though they are against cap-and-trade and taxes.
MADDOW: How does the republican denial of climate change as a
problem play into this? Obviously, it creates the incentive for the
administration to do stuff without having to talk to them about this. But,
does that actually have to be defeated. Do they have to be advances
against denialism in order to approve ahead for the EPA, in order to do
even some of the regulatory work they want to?
CHAIT: No. No, because the legislative track is hopeless. Now,
Obama officially called for congress to act, but I think that`s just a way
of showing that he`s not taking their authority away from them. He`s
giving them one more chance to pass a bill even though nobody thinks it
will happen. But, honestly, I think you can go around an interview. If
you can get the regulation in place and if it stands up, you don`t need to
deal with the wackos on the right.
MADDOW: Jonathan Chait, writer for New York Magazine, and writer for
New York Magazine, I think of uncommon clarity. I really enjoyed your
CHAIT: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you very much. Thanks a lot.
MADDOW: All right. Do you need a best new thing in the world today?
I do, especially after that picture of the Jefferson Monument under water.
I need the best new thing in the world today. But, hold on, we have one
for you, coming up.
MADDOW: Lots of updates tonight on a bunch of different stories that
we have been watching closely both this week and over the last couple
weeks. Earlier today, Texas law enforcement officials announced that they
are launching a criminal investigation; a criminal investigation, into the
deadly explosion that happened at the West Texas Fertilizer Plant last
The director of the Texas Department of Public Safety says, "This
disaster has severely impacted the community of west, and we want to ensure
that no stone goes unturned and that all the facts related to this incident
are uncovered." So, after weeks of reports claiming the blast had to have
been some sort of industrial accidents, authorities are now officially
opening up a criminal investigation into the cause.
Now, that`s all I can tell you about that criminal investigation.
That`s all we know. That said, also in West Texas today, a volunteer
paramedic, who was one of the first people to arrive at the scene of that
massive explosion, a paramedic was arrested today. He was charged with
possession of a destructive device.
That destructive device was a pipe bomb. Authorities responded to a
home in Abbott, Texas, where they found sections of a pipe, end caps, fuses
and explosive powder including potassium nitrates. Residents of the home
told police that the materials belong to this paramedic, who had passed it
on to them for some reason.
If convicted in conjunction with the bomb, the paramedic faces 10
years in prison. So, both of these things happened today in Texas, and
while it is weird that they happened within hours of each other, to be
clear, we don`t know that these two developments are connected.
So, far officials have not said that there is any evidence uncovered
indicating any connection between this man`s arrest with the pipe bomb and
the April 17th explosion that killed 14 people and injured around 200
people. Again, no connection being drawn, but it`s really weird that they
happened within a couple hours of each other.
Also, today, there is an on a strange story that developed in the days
after the Boston marathon bombing last month. ABC News is now reporting on
what they call "Forensic Hits" allegedly linking the Boston bombing
suspects, both of them, to an unsolved triple murder that preceded the
bombings by about a year and a half.
The triple murder took place in the Boston suburb of Waltham. You
may remember us reporting on this last month; something that is essentially
looks like an eerie coincidence. It was an unsolved, brutal, strange,
triple murder in which one of the victims had a reported social link to one
of the alleged marathon bombers.
Again, ABC News is now reporting that that investigation is heating
up. But, as in the West, Texas reporting today, there is no concrete link
established here between these two alleged crimes. The D.A.`s office that
is investigating the murder tells us tonight that it remains a, quote,
"Open and active investigation."
And, if that`s not enough, it has been that kind of day in the news
today. There is also this, we have been reporting on this story for the
last couple of days. I guess you have to call it the "White Supremacist
Scandal." That`s at the heart of the most important piece of legislation
in D.C. right now, which, of course, is the immigration reform proposal.
The conservative heritage foundation think tank has sort of taken the
lead on the right in trying to get republicans in congress to oppose
immigration reform. But, one of the co-authors of their study that trashes
immigration reform and says, "It would be horrifically expensive", one of
their co-authors of that report has turned out to be a real embarrassment
for the heritage foundation.
As his past work declaring the genetic inferiority of non-white
immigrants to the United States, declaring the inherited low I.Q. of the
Latino race has started to get widely publicized. That previous work has
led the Heritage Foundation again.
Probably, the leading conservative think tank in the country to try
to distance themselves from this guy over the past few days. Well, today,
that distancing themselves thing became much more concrete when they fired
him -- Well, sorry, when he reigned from the Heritage Foundation.
The other two shoes waiting to be dropped here are whether they are
not -- whether not the Heritage Foundation is also going to resend the
report that he co-wrote for them. And, whether or not the other major
conservative think tank that this guy has worked for decides to denounce
him as well.
The other think tank is called the "American Enterprise Institute."
AEI and the Heritage Foundation are the two biggest conservative think
tanks in the country. Heritage was his employer until today. AEI was his
previous employer. And, AEI today also tried to distance themselves from
this guy, who has the white supremacist links.
They said essentially that they know nothing about his controversial
views, that he came highly recommended to them, and that`s the only reason
they hired him. The problem AEI has here is that, again, their basic
claims that they had no idea that this guy`s ideas were so creepy. But,
while this guy was working for them at an AEI sponsored event, that was
broadcast on CSPAN, in case you were at work that day and missed it, and
had to watch it on T.V., while he was working for AEI, he wasn`t exactly
hiding his white supremacist delight under a bushel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JASON RICHWINE, CO-AUTHOR OF HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Race is different
in all sorts of ways, and probably the most important way is in IQ.
Decades of psychometric testing has indicated that at least in America, you
have Jews with the highest average IQ, usually followed by East Asians and
then you have non-Jewish whites, Hispanics, and then blacks. These are real
differences. They`re not going to go away tomorrow. And, for that reason
we have to address them in our immigration discussions and our debates."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I love when the camera just turns to David Frum, the
conservative pundit and Bush administration guy, who`s moderating that
panel, and he gets to the rankings of IQ biracial group. Everybody is like
-- well, should I talk after this. Jews, Asians, non-Jewish whites, then
you get down to the Hispanics, then you get down to the blacks, of course.
Yes, that guy was fired by the Heritage Foundation -- sorry, he
resigned from Heritage Foundation today. But, the American enterprise
institute, who he was working for at that event while he was doing his
racial hierarchy of IQ, they have so far pleased ignorance about having any
idea what his horrific beliefs actually are. We will see how long that
MADDOW: Best new thing in the world today, happy Friday. All right,
there are two kinds of people in the world. The first kind of people, who
finds something cool in their backyard or in camping trip, or in the side
of the road or something. And, when they find something cool in the world,
they collect it. They bring it inside, clean it up. Look at it. Study
it. Try to figure out what it is and it becomes part of the things they
own in the world.
For example, Rachel Maddow Show producer, Laura Conaway, found this
thing in a desert in Nevada. So, she took it home. She took it all the
way home to Brooklyn from Nevada. She`s a studier and a collector. She
would very much like to know what this thing is.
The second kind of people in the world -- are people like me, who do
not have a knack for finding things. Part of it is that I have no
peripheral vision. I never notice anything. And, when I do, I tend to not
pick things up or if I do pick things up, I tend to lose them. So, I never
end up with cool stuff myself.
But, I am interested in the stuff that everybody else finds. So,
basically you can understand that dichotomy this way. When, I watch
Antiques Roadshow, I want to see what you got. When Laura watches Antiques
Roadshow, she wants to go there with all her stuff. Tell me where the next
But, you know what they do every year at the American Museum of
natural history here in New York City? That`s the big museum that has the
giant blue whale hanging from the ceiling and the big dinosaur skeletons in
the big front hall.
Arguably greatest treasure hidden in the museum, hidden behind the
dinosaurs, tucked away out of sight of most tourists to visit. Their
greatest treasure is their great collection of world class scientists.
And, tomorrow, those folks are going to be on display for something that is
called "Identification Day."
Apparently, the first kind of people that I mentioned, the people who
find stuff they`re curious about and collect it, and wonder what it is,
used to just -- people like that used to show up at the American Museum of
Natural History with stuff they found in the yard to try to get the museum
scientists to look at them.
Back in about 1979, because enough people were doing this that it was
getting annoying, the museum started inviting people to come in all at
once, to come in and save your stuff up, and come in one day a year when
you can ask, "Hey, what is this thing anyway?" And, you could get a real
answer from somebody who is likely to know.
The New Yorker Magazine wrote about that first event and what the
expert on rocks and fossils looked at in the span of a half hour, quote,
"He then identified a snail fossil, fossils of brachiopods, a piece of
lava, a piece of a Manhattan schist, a fossilized stem of a crinoid, a
desert rosette, a slice of calcitonin, a heavily weathered piece of
limestone, a piece of agate, some coral, some quartz, a piece of granite,
schist with phlogopite mica, the fossil of an ammonites, and I am just
going to stop there. You get the idea. It is Friday, it is hard to
Over the years, a lot of people have brought in stuff to
"Identification Day" that they thought was important, and that didn`t
actually turn out to be important. But, every now and again they really do
find something amazing at "Identification Day" like this thing.
A couple found it on a beach in Virginia. They thought, "Maybe, hey,
it is a cow skull." It turned out to be a fossilized walrus skull from the
ice age. And, it is now a part of the museum`s collection! The point is
not to identify stuff with high dollar value.
The point is not to identify what gemstone that might be in grandma`s
ring. The point is really to celebrate curiosity and tomorrow there will
be somebody to look at bugs and other invertebrates and plants and rocks
and meteorites, and fossils, and cultural artifacts and birds and other
The museum asks if you do have an animal you want to ask about,
please just bring a picture, leave the carcass at home. Leave your ex-
parrot where he rests. In return for you showing them your stuff, the
museum will display its stuff including some of Teddy Roosevelt`s
ornithology collection. Birds he stuffed himself when he was 12 years old,
as you do.
It`s basically Antiques Roadshow for science. Whether or not you are
the person with the junk or whether you are the person who is amazed by the
people, who kept the junk. It turns out sometimes the junk needs to be in
And, the only way you can find out is by taking it there tomorrow.
Amazing! The best new thing in the world today, tomorrow. That does it
for us tonight. We`ll see you, again, Monday. And, now you know what time
it is. You have been good but you still have to go to prison.
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