THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
May 24, 2013
Guests: Rick Larsen, Mark Seagraves
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: I`ll get back from you, friend. Thanks, Chris!
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
It`s map time! This is the U.S./Canadian border, up here actually in
the Northeast. So, you can see, green is land and blue is water. You got
the U.S. mainland. You`ve got the Canadian mainland.
And you`ve got a few really dramatic bodies of water. Obviously, the
giant hulking Atlanta Ocean off to the east on the right side of your
screen. But then, also, those really big bodies of water inland. The
What if you could get from the ocean into those inland lakes on a
boat? That would be a miracle, right? If you think about it, if that was
true, you could ship stuff across the sea but instead of having to drop
stuff off at some East Coast port, you could drop it like all the way into
Ohio. You could just get to those Great Lakes from the sea.
For centuries, that was pipe dream, for the U.S. and Canada in terms
of what that means in international commerce.
But then, in 1954, our two countries came up with a big thinking
solution. And that solution is something called the St. Lawrence seaway.
Together, Canada and the U.S. built a series of canals, and dams and locks,
that turned the St. Louis River in Canada into essentially an onramp to the
Great Lakes. It`s essentially a giant highway that connects the Atlantic
Ocean to the Great Lakes so you can traverse it by boat.
The St. Lawrence seaway revolutionized commerce in the Northeast and
the Midwest. You can sail from Newfoundland to Toledo, right? And that
marvel came about in part because of the determination of man who was
president at the time it all opened up. Dwight Eisenhower.
Canada really wanted to do this thing, but in our country, Congress
for years was just hemming and hawing about approving a deal to work with
Canada, to build the seaway.
But then, finally, in the 1950s, it was Ike who got it done. The St.
Lawrence Seaway opened for business during the Eisenhower presidency in
1959. The St. Lawrence Seaway created tens of thousands of jobs. It
achieved the incredible feat of connecting the Great Lakes to the Atlantic
I mean, Dwight Eisenhower, I think, does not really get his due in
terms of being one of the most consequential Americans in the entire 20th
century. You may not like the consequences, but he had consequences.
Before he was president, you might remember that he kind of won World War
II, at least the part of it in Europe. He was the supreme commander of the
allied forces in Europe.
Then, when Ike was president, he, as I mentioned, connected the
Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes.
Ike also managed to add who two whole new states to our Union, the
great states of Alaska and Hawaii. Both of those states became state under
But along with those literally world-changing, globe-changing
accomplishments, there was one other achievement of the Eisenhower
presidency that Ike himself saw just as important as those other things we
NBC News sat down with Dwight Eisenhower after his presidency. It was
in color. It was an amazing thing.
But here`s how the president answered an open question that was put to
him about what he thought were his major accomplishment. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DWIGHT EISENHOWER, FORMER PRESIDENT: You got a number of things that
had been on the agenda of both parties for a long time, the St. Lawrence
Seaway, and the admittance of Alaska and Hawaii to the Union. And another
one, that I guess more than anyone else thought of, I guess, an interstate
highway program. All of these things took a lost persuasion before you
could get them on the books.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Alaska, Hawaii, connected the Atlantic Ocean to the Great
Lakes and also the interstate highway program.
The interstate highway program, we think of it as kind after gimme,
but it really did take a lot of persuasion at the time. Eisenhower
essentially conjured up the idea of the interstate highway system, and then
knew he had to sell the idea to the American public because it was a huge
But listen to this. This was President Eisenhower speaking in
Cadillac Square in Michigan in October 1954. Listen to him making the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EISENHOWER: This is the greatest construction program in the entire
history of the nation. We are pushing ahead with the great road program.
A road program that will take this nation out of its shackles of secondary
road all over this country and give us places like -- give us the types of
highways that we need for this great mass of automobiles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: We look back on that project now, that national project and
think, well, of course, we needed the interstate highways. We needed it
for commerce if nothing else, right?
But Dwight Eisenhower did have to go out and make that case. And it
took him a long time. It was hard case to make. But it was finally in
1956 when he was able to sign into the Federal Aid Highway Act, and that
lead to the creation of the interstates -- the interstates that, of course,
changed the pace of America forever.
It was sort after grand vision that Eisenhower had in behind when he
signed that bill. In order to create the grand vision to interlinked
interstate highways, it meant building big new road that didn`t exist at
all, but it also in a large way meant connecting and building up existing
smaller roads. Building them out and making them all inner connected. And
that interconnecting of existing roads and bridges and stuff, that is how
this bridge right here, which was build in 1955, that`s how this bridge
ended up became part of Eisenhower`s grand plan.
This bridge became part of the new Interstate 5, which is marked in
red along the west of your screen. Interstate 5 stretches all the way from
the Canadian border in the north and into the Mexican border in the South.
And this particular bridge, which is about 16 miles north of Seattle, it`s
what`s called steel truss bridge.
In the 1950s, when we were building up our interstate highway system,
steel truss bridges were a basically ubiquitous design, practical and
unglamorous, sturdy and dependable, cost competitive and highly versatile.
They were everywhere.
And one of the distinguishing features of bridges built like this is
the specific way in which they distribute their weight.
The principle upon which all trusses rely is that the triangle is the
strongest and most rigid geometric figure. So, when you look at steel
truss bridges like this one north of Seattle, you can see that it is, see
all of the triangles, it`s made of these different triangles. The system
of interconnected triangle forms a helps steel truss bridges carry a really
heavy load. It`s kind of neat, right? I always thought these were cool
Also, some bridges like this have a really important problem. The
name for that particular type of problem will bother you and stick with
you. These bridges, some of them, are known to be what is called fracture
Fracture critical bridges don`t have redundant supporting elements.
In this case, redundancy is a good thing. Not having redundant supporting
elements means if part of it fails, it all goes. If one support system
fails for any reason the entire bridge is in danger of collapsing --
fracture critical. This is not how we build bridges any more, but that is
how these bridges were built. There is lack of redundancy in their design.
They are like Jenga towers.
One expert complained about fracture critical bridges today, quote,
"It doesn`t imply anything wad bad about the bridge. It just means that if
a certain component fails, it could lead to the collapse of the bridge."
Oh, is that all? Nothing bad.
The reason that expert was being interviewed about the Seattle press
today about fracture critical bridges is because of this. Last night,
around 7:00 p.m. local time, a major section of that 1955 era steel truss
bridge, just north of Seattle, collapsed into the Skagit River.
Two cars that were going across the bridge at the time made a
terrifying 25-foot plunge into the river below. Amazingly, nobody was
killed. The three occupants of those two cars were pulled out of the water
alive, with minor injuries. They are expected to be fine.
What officials in Washington believe caused that collapse last night
is this. We had to put an arrow there, because otherwise you wouldn`t know
what we were talking about. This is -- that little dent, this is the top
of a tractor trailer truck. That little dent you can see there, that dent
is believed to be the result of that truck hitting into one of the steel
beams on the bridge. And then Jenga style, right?
This is security camera video released within the last few years. You
can see the truck on the left approach the bridge. Then, apparently it
clips one of those steel trusses and you see the entire span of the bridge
fall into the water, in an instant.
This is a fracture critical bridge. One thing goes, the whole thing
goes. And it was an oversized truck that was legally traversing the
bridge. Officials say the truck had a permit for its oversized load. But
regardless of the permit, this oversized load hit the bridge in just the
wrong way and it caused the whole section of the bridge to just collapse
into the water. Bang.
There are no real bad eyes here at least that we can tell, yet. There
does not appear to be a villain that caused this bridge collapse.
But this is a problem that really needs to be fixed, because this
isn`t the only bridge like this. Are there good people in our American
politics who are willing to be good guys in political problems like this,
even when there aren`t bad guys to vanquish in order to get the great
In Washington state alone, there are nearly 400 bridges that are
considered to be structurally deficient. More than a third of the bridges
in the state are past their design line of 50 years.
On Interstate 5 in Washington state alone, there are three bridges
that are not the one that collapsed, that are considered to be structurally
deficient. The one that did collapse is not rated structurally deficient.
It instead is rated as functionally obsolete because of that whole fracture
critical problem where if you hit one part of it wrong, the whole thing
falls into the water. Yes, that does seem to be a problem.
We inherited a great legacy of American infrastructure and the people
who have the foresight to build it, and who put in the political work to
get it done, they are historical figures who we still admire for that and a
lot too for having done it. But we have not exactly been keeping up on
what they give us. We just sort of been using it and hoping it lasts
forever despite functional obsolescence and all the rest.
President Obama through all five years of presidency has been calling
for making investment in our infrastructure. Most recently, he made that
call in Miami. The president went to Miami in March to call for what he
said was a deficit neutral $21 billion infrastructure bank that would
involve a public-private partnership.
Fixing our roads and our bridges is something that always gets
applause whenever he brings it up. At the president`s State of the Union
address this year, he called out by name our nation`s structurally
deficient bridges. He said we should have a fix-it first program to do all
of the maintenance that needs to be done to fix things up.
And as you here, he got a big round of applause for saying that. And
yay, everybody applaud him -- and then nothing. Lots of applause for five
years now, every year, and virtually no investment.
Does a bridge built half a century ago, falling into the water just
north of Seattle, change any of that political calculation?
Joining us now is Congressman Rick Larsen of Washington. Congressman
Larsen represents the district where the bridge collapsed. He`s also in
the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee. Congressman, thank
you very much for being with us tonight. I appreciate your time.
REP. RICK LARSEN (D), WASHINGTON: Thanks, Rachel. I`m glad to be
here to talk about something that frankly a lot of folks don`t talk about.
MADDOW: Yes. And I`m wondering if you think that this bridge in your
district falling into the Skagit River, obviously, everybody is very, very
grateful that nobody was killed in this incident. Do you feel like this
might be an occasion for new round of national talking about this issue?
LARSEN: Well, I certainly hope it is. You know, you mentioned the
legacy that Eisenhower left us and I think morally we`re not leaving to
that legacy. But I also think from an economic perspective, we`re getting
an shorter end of the stick by not investing in our bridges and our
I hope that, you know, if there`s only good thing that come out of
this is that it does jumpstart the conversation about the kind of
investment you need to make in roads and bridges and highways and our
transit systems, it creates jobs and it invests in the future. There is
nothing wrong with doing it.
MADDOW: What`s -- why do you say to the side of the argument that
says, listen, we have invested as much as we can in this, it would be nice
to do more, but right now, basically we don`t have very much money in the
short term, maybe we can plan this for the long-term but we have to hold
out and hope this stuff stays together well enough in order to patch us
through at times when we`ve got maybe an ability to patch into a rainy day
fund or something?
LARSEN: Yes. I think right now, we are in the long-term period. And
we are approaching the end of the long-term period when it comes to
infrastructure and heading off beyond that into nowhere.
It is time to begin reinvesting in infrastructure. The president has
proposed a fix-it first fund of about $50 billion. That is good as for as
We clearly, this bridge we clearly do need to fix some part of our
infrastructure. But we also know we can make a long-term investment at
roads, bridges, highways that creates jobs today for folks to do the work.
But we know to be competitive with other countries, they`re doing these
things, they`re investing in their roads, bridges, highways, rail and we`re
not doing it. That is going to put us competitively behind other countries
if don`t do this investment now.
MADDOW: I`m told Congressman Larsen that members of your staff have
been at that bridge collapse scene since last night. I know you spoke with
the transportation secretary.
How do you think the response has been so far to this collapse in your
district? Do you feel like you`re getting what you need?
LARSEN: Yes, the response locally has been created. I mean, I was
born and raised in my district. I spent, you know, many, many of my years
going up and down I-5, across that bridge. The communities there hang
together, stay together.
And I want to give a shout out to Secretary Ray LaHood. I know he is
leaving his job soon but he was on the job today. I spoke with him this
morning. He assured me that dollars were available to help through
emergency relief fund.
They already have released $1 million. The estimate is $15 million
fix. So, we still have a little bit to go, but they released early dollars
to get started on the design for construction of a replacement and repair.
MADDOW: Congressman Rick Larsen of Washington state, I`m sorry this
happened in your district again. I`m glad that injuries weren`t worse and
that nobody was killed. It`s very lucky. Good luck with the recovery in
your district, sir. Thanks for being with us.
LARSEN: I appreciate it, Rachel, being on tonight. Thanks so much.
MADDOW: All right.
Newt Gingrich -- before Newt Gingrich was known primarily as a
salesman of many fine Newt Gingrich books, DVDs and certificates of
entrepreneurship, all 1995, Newt Gingrich was famous before that for one
really bold, really, really bad political move that he made almost 20 years
ago now. How the United States government Gingriched itself and made
Newt`s mistake itself today. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most talked about phase of the act is the
interstate highway system, a 41,000-mile network of our most important
roads. Most of these roads will be four, six, even eight lane expressways,
constructed for true traffic. They will take the over the road driver from
city to city, coast to coast, at highway speeds, even through large
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Every year in D.C., the kick off to the event surrounding
Memorial Day happened at the D.C. War Memorial to local victims of the
First World War. That memorial is not the huge new National World War II
Memorial, which you see here, or the world famous, very moving Vietnam War
Veterans Memorial Wall. It is much more subtle, and less famous structure
that you see here.
But the World War II Memorial in D.C. is lovely and it is there in a
leafy spot on the National Mall and ceremony there every year kicks off the
week that culminates in Memorial Day.
Well, this year, the people that organized and did that kick off event
for the nation, the people who took on that responsibility for our country
were these ladies, just them alone. Instead of a formal ceremony with
bugler playing "Taps", instead of dignitaries assembled to hear a speeches,
and a formal program, instead of crowd waiting there to hear speeches or
public prayer or something.
No, this year, these three women, along with a military.com reporter,
who is one of the few people covering the event, they just held their own
brief moment of silence after putting wreaths at the memorial. Just them.
This year, this commemoration became a freelance gig just for those
patriotic Americans working on their own, because the National Park Service
which usually paid about thousand bucks to cover the cost of those
proceedings, this year, the National Park Service could not do it. This
year, the sequester, that nearly universally agreed upon to be stupid, self
inflicted problem we made for ourselves in Washington, made it so the Park
Service had to cut back and could not pay for that program this year.
Also today, because of the same self inflicted Washington policy that
nobody thinks is a good idea but that we`re doing anyway, also today, the
EPA stopped working on some of the criminal investigations and today, the
EPA did no site inspections anywhere in the country.
Also today, the White House Office of Management and Budget did not do
any managing of the budget, which means again, because of this stupid
budget problem that no one said they wanted but have to have anyway, the
people who supposedly work on fixing stupid budget problems could not even
work today because of the stupid budget problem.
And if you needed help on a tax-related matter, today was also not
your day. Today, all 400 taxpayer assistant centers across the country
were closed. If you went to call the IRS toll fee hotline for help about
something, it was closed. If you needed to contact the IRS taxpayer
advocate service, it was closed. If you are waiting on your tax return,
I`m sorry to say, today, zero tax returns were processed.
Today was a furlough day, an unpaid, mandatory day off work for the
IRS and other major federal agencies, leaving 115,000 employees out of work
for the day, the biggest government shut-down since the `90s.
The IRS, of course, is embroiled in its big Washington scandal right
now. The IRS executive who took the Fifth so dramatically at that
congressional hearing earlier this week, she did not get fired but she did
get put on administrative leave and somebody else has now replaced her in
her IRS job.
More congressional hearings on the IRS are expected at the beginning
of June but the agency in the meantime is responding to a matter horn size
mountain of demands from Congress. Committee staff members are now doing
interviews with IRS staff members both in Washington and in at least
Cincinnati field office. Of course, none of that work happened today
because the IRS had a furlough day today.
Regardless of who`s going to get blamed for the facts that this IRS
scandal happened, the way that they are going to fix it and make sure it
never happens again is likely to be something having to do with increased
training, right? Increased training particularly for the kind of low level
IRS employees who we know carried out the policy that upset everyone in
Washington so much.
And especially hit area in the IRS budget by the sequester is the IRS
training budget. So, we`re doing less of that now than ever.
Times like this in the news are sometimes overwhelming. It`s almost
like the new problems we are creating can barely keep up with the old ones
we are not fixing.
MADDOW: Canada is stupendous for a lot of reasons. Canadians have a
history of war time. Canada declared war on Hitler`s Germany just days
after France did and Britain did. Way before the rest of the world caught
Also, Canada has protein. And Canada has universal healthcare, in
case you eat too much protein. They have commander Chris Hadfield who made
us fall in love with space travel again and who can sing a pretty descent
David Bowie cover even at zero gravity.
Canada has birth the musical geniuses Neil Young and the Barenaked
Canada has hockey, which is truly and totally awesome, even if my
eyesight isn`t good enough to actually see the puck on TV. Canada`s hockey
legacy includes the Toronto Maple Leafs, who chose to make leaf plural with
a simple S, because Canada is awesome and they wanted to do it. And they
do what they want.
Also, my mom is from Canada.
Canada is perfect in every way. But the best thing in Canada this
week has nothing to do with the aforementioned awesome things, because it
turns out that when Canada decides it`s going to have truly salacious, jaw-
dropping scandal, they can also do that better than anyone.
The story that was already the craziest story in politics this week
just got way crazier today. That is coming up right at the end of the show
tonight. We are saving the best for last. Please stay tuned.
MADDOW: If you live in a purple state, basically, a state where
either side needs to play pretty much to the middle to get elected
statewide, then this guy might not be your first choice for statewide
This is Ken Cuccinelli from Virginia. He has been spent his term as
Virginia`s attorney general defending sodomy laws, trying to save the
Virginia law against gay people having sex. He also use the power of his
office to hound a Virginia professor who`s a leading scientist on climate
change. He has been moving heaven and earth in Virginia to close down the
state`s abortion clinics.
One of his first acts of attorney general was to overtly advise state
universities that they should not feel constrained by anti-discrimination
laws. He wrote to them to ensure them, just in case they wanted to, it
would be OK with him if they wanted to fire a professor just for being gay.
He wanted to let them know it was all right and wanted a lady on the common
wealth seal it put some freaking clothes on. Can`t she cover up?
For his next act, Ken Cuccinelli wants to be governor. He is running
for governor in the election that is this year in Virginia. Because he is
who he is, because his base of support is so far out there on the edge, Mr.
Cuccinelli apparently decided this year that he could not secure the
Republican nomination for governor in his state in the usual way. Virginia
Republicans usually pick their nominees by holding a primary where
everybody across the state gets to vote.
But what Ken Cuccinelli needed in order to get the Republican
nomination was actually just for a few people to vote, the right few people
-- the very, very, very far right few people. And so, Ken Cuccinelli used
his whiles and political muscle to change the rule. He got the Republican
Party to agree that this year, they would pick the nominee for governor,
not by statewide vote in primary but instead at a convention, because
conventions are where the ideological hard cores go for a weekend of tri
color hats and keep the government off your lawn.
Ken Cuccinelli got that convention that he wanted. And last weekend
at that convention, he got the nomination for governor in Virginia.
Now, because the middle is where you win a general election in a
purple state like Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli has sort of recently tried to
stop himself from talking so much about non heteronormative intercourse and
other things he has built his career on. He has tried to sound a little
more jobs-ish and economy-ish and less of the old Ken Cuccinelli culture
war the state has come to know so well.
But fly in the ointment, which probably isn`t legal in Virginia any
more either. Ken Cuccinelli is not the only statewide candidate who
Virginia Republicans picked at their convention last weekend. They also
picked the rest of the slate that Cuccinelli is going to run with.
(BEGI NVIDEO CLIP)
BISHOP E.W. JACKSON, VIRGINIA GOP LT. GOVERNOR NOMINEE: The
Democratic Party has created an unholy alliance between certain so-called
civil right leaders and Planned Parenthood, which has killed unborn black
babies by tens of millions. Planned Parenthood has been far more lethal to
black lives than the KKK ever was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Meet Bishop E.W. Jackson, Virginia Republicans official
nominee for lieutenant governor and therefore the running mate of Ken
Cuccinelli. It is as though Virginia Republicans thought Ken Cuccinelli
would find sprinting to the political middle too easy so they attached
Bishop Jackson to him to make it about 550 times harder.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JACKSON: The military has been decimated by this lesbian, gay,
bisexual, transgender policy that is now been implemented. Their minds are
perverted. They are -- they`re frankly, very sick people, psychologically
and mentally and emotionally, and they see everything through the lens of
When they talk about love, they are not talking about love. They are
talking about homosexual sex.
Homosexuality is a horrible sin. It poisons culture, it destroys
families, it destroys societies. It brings the judgment of God unlike very
few things, that is, we can think of.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s just how Bishop Jackson feels about the gay, the man
Virginia Republicans picked for the second highest statewide office. He
said we should e-mail him if you want to know the names two of the devout
Muslims who President Obama hired for Homeland Security and said Obama and
his comrades are totalitarianists who`s unholy would destroy this country
if we let them.
And President Obama is the first homosexual president, based on his
affinities. And he says -- in this one, the president proclaimed June as
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride month. Well, that just makes
me feel icky all over. Yuck. Yuck.
Virginia Republicans, welcome to the top of the ticket, as picked by
Virginia Republicans. Your guy for governor is very out there, but is
trying not to be. Your guy for lieutenant governor is out there and does
Your guy for attorney general, well, that would be Mark Obenshain, a
Virginia state senator who is noted for once fleeing the Senate chamber,
running away to block the confirmation of a judge who is gay because he is
a judge who is gay. He is also known for 2009 bill that would have
required women in Virginia to report a miscarriage to the police within 24
hours. So they can investigate it?
Yes, Virginia, Republicans, you nominated that guy to be the top law
enforcement official in the state. And he is supposed to be the one from
Virginia`s Republican ticket is really quite a spectacle. Former
Republican Party chairman, Michael Steele, says of them, quote, "The
Republicans I`m talking to are saying, what the hell are they doing in
Virginia? Is this 101 ways to lose an election?"
Still, though, Virginia`s new Republican nominees have been out
touring the state, doing their best. Ken Cuccinelli was not Republican
Governor Bob McDonnell`s first choice of successor but now that he`s stuck
with him as a nominee, Governor McDonnell has been stumping for him just
the same, fundraising and campaigning for Ken Cuccinelli.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Cuccinelli has been doing this for
Governor Bob McDonnell. Back in November, he quietly ordered a special
investigator to probe whether Governor McDonnell broke Virginia law about
The headline gift in question was a chicken dinner. A $15,000 chicken
dinner served at the wedding of the governor`s daughter, that was paid for
by a campaign donor who makes a tobacco-based supplement of some kind and
is himself under federal investigation. Mr. Cuccinelli it turns out also
received gifts from that same donor and then did not report them and then,
years later, finally did report them. FBI agents are looking into the
governor`s gifts for any sign after quid pro quo between the governor and
And also, the governor`s former chef is facing embezzlement charges.
And as part of his defense, he is demanding to know in open court what the
governor`s grown children were doing carting off flats of eggs and Gatorade
and protein powder from the governor`s mansion kitchen.
But do not worry, Virginia, Governor McDonnell says, that`s his
headline, that should be framed, says "The Washington Post", "McDonnell
says he is still able to govern."
And if you like the way he is governing, please vote for Ken
Cuccinelli and for that guy with the gay/Planned Parenthood/KKK thing. And
for the guy who wants to you report your last heavy period to the sheriff
within 24 hours, just in case.
Heading into the November election, Virginia Republicans may look like
a slow motion disaster but Virginia Republicans hand-picked all these guys.
Right? Maybe they don`t see these guys as a problem.
Joining us now is Mark Seagraves. He`s a long time host of Virginia`s
"Ask the Governor Program" on WTOP Radio. He`s now a reporter for NBC
affiliate in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Seagraves, thank you very much for being with us. I appreciate
MARK SEAGRAVES, WRC TV: Rachel, thanks for having me back.
MADDOW: So, how are mainstream Virginia Republicans reacting to this
ticket they got picked at their convention? Papers make it seem like they
are panicking. But what is your take on it?
SEAGRAVES: Well, you know, we`ll see. Right now, the polls have
Terry McAuliffe with slight lead over Ken Cuccinelli in the governor`s
race, but it`s within the margin of error.
As you said, in the convention, you just had a few thousand die hard
Republican activist who put Cuccinelli in this slate together. Thus,
avoiding a statewide election. So, we really don`t know how the full
elector to the state would have voted on Cuccinelli had he faced Bill
Bolling in an open election who is the current lieutenant governor and who
was going to run and was Bob McDonnell`s pick to replace him.
But in the past, I mean, we can look at 2008 when this happened
before. This is when Congressman Tom Davis wanted to run for Senate and he
was facing former Governor Jim Gilmore in what would have been a primary.
The conservative party went for a convention in that instance because
they didn`t want Tom Davis. They put Jim Gilmore in. Tom Davis famously
said his party gave him the middle finger in that and Gilmore lost to
Warner, I think it was 65 percent to 35 percent.
So that`s what happened the last time we were in this situation in
MADDOW: In terms of the choice of the lieutenant governor candidate,
the guy who he calls President Obama gay. He says President Obama is a
Muslim. He says he is a totalitarian. He is very, very, very virulently
anti-gay, often using very florid language when he talks about both
abortion issues and gay rights issues.
Isn`t that the kind of candidacy that is conceivably viable in a
statewide election in Virginia for any office? And if it isn`t, is that
going to hurt Cuccinelli?
SEAGRAVES: Well, you`ve got two good questions there. The answer to
the first one is, yes, he is a viable candidate. We will see who the
Democrats put up. They have their primary in June and there are two
candidates running there who don`t have the statewide name recognition.
You know, say what you want about good publicity/bad publicity, the
fact is a lot of people across the state are hearing about Bishop Jackson
and hearing his name and seeing him out in public and what not, and getting
this head start on the Democrats.
Now, there are people who think, that he is so far to the right, that
he will make ken Cuccinelli look more moderate. Cuccinelli said he is not
going to spend this campaign defending his fellow slate members, the other
candidates` records. But the other day in Fairfax, we asked him about this
on Sunday, and you know, he didn`t back away from socially conservative
statements, Cuccinelli, that he has made in the past.
And that`s what Democrats are going to try to do. They`re going to
try to remind people of the things that Cuccinelli has said in the past
that are very similar to what Bishop Jackson is saying right now.
MADDOW: When I have talked to people on the Democratic side about the
Democratic approach about this election in Virginia, they seem clear that
they want to run against Ken Cuccinelli the crusading antiabortion -- super
antiabortion, super anti-gay, culture warrior guy, the guy who wanted to
cover up the statue on the Virginia state seal and all the rest of it, as
this real throwback social conservative guy, it seems like the slate would
help them make the case more than anything else that`s happened. Do you
think Virginia Democrats are right to see this as an opportunity or they
are sort of resting on their laurels here?
SEAGRAVES: Oh, no, it`s absolutely an opportunity. As you said in
your lead up to this, you look back at President Obama and now, Senator Tim
Kaine who both won in Virginia. This is the same Virginia that elected
Obama in the first time then elected Bob McDonnell governor.
So, Virginia, you know, they go the way that they want to go and, you
know, Northern Virginia is going to play a big role in this. Northern
Virginia, the further north you go in Virginia, the more liberal and
moderate it gets. This is a huge factor. And Democrats, you know, they
believe this is a good strategy.
You know, the Republicans and particularly Cuccinelli, he wants to
talk about taxes. He`s going to want to talk about the economy and he`s
going to talk about the fact that he has devoted his career to public
service in the past 10 years or more.
Whereas, Terry McAuliffe has been seen as a businessman and a national
fund-raiser for President Clinton but when he lost his last statewide race
here, he lost in the primary, people of Virginia hadn`t seen much of him
since then. You know, he went back into private sector. Now, he is back
on the scene. He worked back behind the scenes during transportation
negotiation and budget in the general assembly.
But, you know, the Republicans won`t want it define the election about
economics. Democrats want to define it about social issues.
MADDOW: It sounds like both of these guys wanted to be about the
other guy, which is always a good sign for covering it at least, because it
makes it the most fun.
SEAGRAVES: The best planning to do.
Mark Seagraves, reporter for WRC TV in Washington, D.C. -- Mark, thank
you so much for being with us. It`s nice to see you again.
SEAGRAVES: Thanks, Rachel.
All right. What would you pay to see tape that allegedly reportedly
maybe shows the mayor of a huge and important North American City smoking
crack on tape? No seriously, what would you pay?
You should think about it because you have the opportunity to actually
pay some of that in order to see that tape. That story is coming up.
MADDOW: If you`re president, what are you looking for in a Supreme
Court justice? As president you get to pick people for the court.
Obviously, you want them to be qualified, to be a good judge. You want
them to share some of your basic values in terms of how you think a judge
should approach the law.
You want them to be fairly young. I mean, as president, after all,
you only get to serve for a term or two if you`re lucky. But your Supreme
Court picks are there for life. So, when you pick somebody you want to be
sure they have plenty of life left.
You also want it make sure that they can be confirmed. Presidents
choose Supreme Court nominees but it`s the Senate who confirms them. And
although it is rare for the Senate to flat-out outright reject a
president`s choice for the Supreme Court, it does happen. It happened most
recently to a man named Robert Bork in 1987 and the threat to Harriet Miers
in 2005 made President George W. Bush withdraw her name from consideration.
So, you`re looking at qualified for the job, judicial philosophy that
you agree with, age. You may also consider the diversity of the court or
other factors like that.
But always on your mind has to be, can they be confirmed? And you can
get that, but it is a mystery, right? You can never know if they`ll be
confirmed unless and until you try to confirm them.
So as this president looks at the Supreme Court, looks at the justices
and their ages, justice age 80, justice age 77, 76, 74, the president has
to be looking at the court, thinking, man, if only I could grab someone who
is qualified, who could do the job, whose judicial philosophy I agree with,
who is young, who can take somebody like that, and test fire them in the
Senate. Only if there was some way to know in advance if I picked this kid
for the Supreme Court, the Senate could confirm, only if there was a way to
There is a way. Say hello to this guy. Sri Srinivasan. That is the
name that will get easier to pronounce when it ends up in the news a lot
more. He is a deputy solicitor general confirmed by the Senate unanimously
for a judgeship. He got confirmed for D.C. circuit court.
You know, the Supreme Court reigns supreme over the whole country.
But just one level below Supreme Court is the appeals court system, divvied
into 11 regions, and also what they call circuit court.
And D.C. circuit court is a big deal. Four of the justices on the
Supreme Court come from the D.C. circuit court. It is kind of like the
feeder court for Supreme Court justices. Out of 11 seats on that D.C.
court, there are four vacant seats now.
President Obama nominated Sri Srinivasan to one of those vacancies.
And the Senate this confirmed him unanimously. And that means Sri
Srinivasan can be confirmed by the Senate. He can be. He just proved it.
And that`s really good to know, in case there`s any other judgeships
that that guy might need to be confirmed for anytime soon, hint hint.
But the big news here, we may have gone through essentially the first
round of President Obama`s next nomination for the Supreme Court.
If he picks Sri Srinivasan, he would be the first justice of South
Asian heritage. He is an Indian American. He`s only 46 years old. He
apparently does not have an enemy in the world, and the United States
Senate voted for him for a judgeship, 97-0, which bodes well for them
voting for him again if nominated for the highest court in the land.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: Happy Friday. Update for you on the craziest politics story
we have covered in a long time. It`s the story of the mayor of Canada`s
largest city smoking crack, maybe.
Both "The Toronto Star" and Gawker.com have now published reports
describing a cell phone video that stars Robert Ford, the mayor of Toronto,
and what looks to be a crack pipe. Gawker`s editor says he was contacted
by a tipster in Toronto who described the video to Gawker, wanted them to
buy it, having been told the tale that there is a video of the mayor of
Toronto smoking crack, Gawker sent its editor to Toronto to see for
There were a bunch of false starts and difficulties in trying to meet
the guy with the video, it didn`t work out for awhile. But, then, finally,
the Gawker editor says the video was shown to him on a touch-screen phone.
He says, quote, "Here is what the video shows. Rob Ford, the mayor of
Toronto, is the only person visible in the frame. Prior to the trip, I
spent a lot of time looking at the photographs of Rob Ford. The man in the
video is Rob Ford.
It is well lit, clear, seated in a house, and has a glass pipe, the
kind with the big globe and two glass cylinders sticking out of it, and the
other hand is a lighter. A slurred voice off camera is ranting about
Canadian politics in what sounds like an attempt to goad Ford."
Mayor Rob Ford then uses an anti-gay slur to describe a former
Canadian prime minister or his son, who in either case is one of his
Then, quote, "Ford pipe in one hand, lighter in the other is laughing
and mildly protesting at the sacrilege he seems to keep trying to light the
pipe, keeps stopping to laugh. He is red-faced and sweaty, heaving with
each breath. Finally, he finds this moment and lights up. He inhales."
Gawker decided not to buy the 90-second video because the guy selling
it wanted too much money. I have not seen the video, we cannot confirm
Gawker`s reporting here, but their description comports with the reporting
from two reporters at "The Toronto Star", who also say that they saw the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN DONOVAN, TORONTO STAR REPORTER: The video which appears to be
real showed Mayor Rob Ford in a room, his shirt open, lulling back in his
chair and appears to be smoking a crack pipe.
ROBYN DOOLITTLE, CITY HALL REPORTER: The man in the video we believe
is Mayor Rob Ford appears stumbling. He seems incoherent. He rambles.
DONOVAN: Mayor Ford ends this segment on camera, which lasts only 90
seconds, by being startled when he hears a telephone ring. He looks
directly into the camera, says, that thing better not be recording.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yes, maybe it was recording. The story broke eight days ago.
Today, the mayor made his first public comments on the matter. At a
hastily called press conference, the mayor seems sort of flustered, and out
of sorts. He read this from a prepared statement, and then he took no
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR ROB FORD, TORONTO: I do not use crack cocaine nor am I an
addict of crack cocaine. As for a video, I cannot comment on a video that
I have never seen or does not exist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Or does not exist.
The mayor today denying he smoked crack, denying that there`s video of
him smoking crack. Meanwhile, the Crackstarter campaign is under way
online. You can participate if you would like to.
Having reportedly seen the mayor smoking crack video in Toronto,
Gawker.com didn`t object to content of paying for the tape, that`s
something some publishing organizations don`t do, Gawker seems to have no
problem with that in concept. Gawker`s only objection to buying the tape
is that it was too expensive.
So, now, they set up a fundraising drive, a crowd-funding called
Crackstarter, to raise $200,000 for the video. As of tonight, they`re
pretty close. The deadline they set is Monday. They only have 30-
something grand to go.
The problem is that Gawker freely admits the crack smoking tipsters
offering the video didn`t seem to be the most reliable guys on the planet.
And, now, apparently they`ve lost touch with them, the guys who reportedly
have the video.
So, who knows how this ends? Maybe Gawker gets the money and gets the
video and we all get to sit it and judge for ourselves, maybe Gawker raises
the money, but they still can`t get the video. Maybe somebody else gets
the video. Maybe the mayor decides to take a question first time in a
week. Who knows?
But until the video surfaces, and you know it will, it is the maybe
crack smoking mayor of Toronto versus Gawker, versus "The Toronto Star",
versus crowd funding power eager to see the supposed crack-smoking mayor
video and eventually, something is going to have to give.
And while we are waiting for that something to give, you have to go to
prison right now. Seriously. Three, two, one. Prison. Go.
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