THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
June 4, 2013
Guests: John Stanton, Joe Dorman
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Am I right thinking that "Twilight of the
Elites" comes out in paperback today? Am I right in thinking that?
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: It is available for pre-purchase today.
It will come out in about a week.
MADDOW: Very good. You know, it has an excellent blurb on the back.
HAYES: On the front, actually. For the paper back, I think we wanted
to just title the book, "Rachel Maddow`s blurb". Would that be a little
MADDOW: I love it. Congratulations, man. Thank you.
HAYES: Thank you.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us this hour.
This was the headline on the "Drudge Report" Web site.
Last October, just a couple of weeks ahead of the presidential
election, "FOX News tonight, tune in exclusive. We have found something
that`s going to blow your mind about this president who you thought you
knew. Yes. Sure you think you know what President Obama sounds like when
he talks about race. But on FOX News tonight, we have got Barack Obama`s
other race speech. Tune in, tune in the smoking gun."
That was the headline on the conservative Web site, the "Drudge
Report", just a couple of weeks before the presidential election.
And so, everybody tuned in to see what the big secret was, the big
reveal, and FOX News played President Obama`s secret, bombshell, other,
devastating race speech. And it turned out to be just a speech that the
president gave in 2007 at a major university which everybody covered at the
time and which made no ripple in the news at the time because it was not
actually anything newsworthy.
The right was super excited that that was going to change everything
for the presidential election, but it was a dud. Nothing happened.
And this kind of happens all the time ding this presidency. In the
summer of 2008, the right claimed to have another smoking gun that was
going to change everything. It was the Michelle Obama hates white people
tape. Remember that?
Shocking evidence of First Lady Michelle Obama or would-be First Lady
Michelle Obama, she won`t be now, it`s her on tape saying the word whitey,
and she wasn`t talking about Whitey Bulger. It was the release of the hate
whitey tape that was imminent. It was going to totally change the
Since nobody has ever seen the infamous Michelle Obama hate whitey
tape on the account of the fact, it does not exist, we`ll have to have this
stand in for that imaginary tape instead.
Then there was the time in 2010 when Republican Congresswoman Michele
Bachmann insisted the president`s trip to India was costing $200 million a
day, which, if it were remotely true would be less like funding a
presidential trip abroad and more like funding a full blown war. The $200
million a day trip to India thing was not true even though Michele Bachmann
said it. I know that is shocking to hear.
There has been no smoking gun, right? Not with the president`s other
race speech and not with the fake whitey tape that never existed. Not with
the $200 million a day trip to India.
They thought these things would be the end for this presidency, for
that candidate. There`s no way Obama can go another day. We`ve got the
Now they`ve got a new one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: Is there now a smoking gun in the IRS
scandal? This man, former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman visited the
White House -- ready? -- 157 times. Inedible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Incredible. The IRS commissioner visiting the White House
157 times. Are you ready, America? Is there now a smoking gun?
There is not. Now, a smoking gun. It turns out that if former IRS
commissioner was cleared to visit the White House or the executive office
building 157 times, in case he wanted to attend various meetings about
health reform and stuff. They put his name on the list. In case the IRS
commissioner wanted to attend, his name was at the gate.
Ultimately, the only available data on this that actually show him
going to the White House complex, the only available data on this show him
going to the whole White House complex, which includes the White House and
the executive office buildings there, 11 times. The publicly available
arrival and departure information only shows that he attended 11 meetings
over four years.
Is it obscene that the commissioner of the IRS, who was, by the way,
appointed by George W. Bush, apparently had an average of two or three
meetings a year inside the whole White House complex over the course of
four years? Is that a smoking gun scandal?
At FOX News, that`s a smoking gun scandal.
This is -- this is what your uncle who has been watching FOX News all
day has been screaming at the television recently. In case you couldn`t
make out the words while he was screaming them. This is what he`s on
FOX News is leading and prime time late last week with this smoking
gun about the IRS commissioner going to the White House 157 times.
On Friday morning, Garance Franke-Ruta at "The Atlantic" magazine
ended this story, blew it up by noting the buzz killing small detail that
the story was not true. That he had not been there 157 times, like FOX
News was saying.
FOX News has now reacted to the story being debunked by continuing to
lead with it, as a smoking gun story. They have decided this is jus too
good of a story to give up on just because it`s not true.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
O`REILLY: We`re not implying, insinuating, hinting, or doing anything
else other than reporting the facts.
And so far, we`ve been dead on. Last week, we told you that former
IRS Chief Douglas Shulman visited the White House 157 times. The IRS boss
visits the White House 157 times, that`s a big story.
KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Look, he shouldn`t have been there
that many times. It`s an independent agency and being too close to the
White House is a problem for the IRS.
O`REILLY: Why do you think he was there? We`ll speculate a little
ROVE: I don`t know --
O`REILLY: Why -- do you have no idea why he was there?
The Obama administration continues to say the president had nothing to
do with the IRS scandal. However, we still don`t know much about former
IRS chief Douglas Shulman visiting the White House 157 times.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: We still don`t know. We do not know much.
We do not, for example, know that the idea that he was there 157 times
has been debunked. We don`t know that. We have been very busy. It was
weekend, it was hot, spent a whole lot of time reading this completely
different thing about these little penguins in Japan that they dressed up
into dashiki to greet some foreign dignitaries who are visiting. It`s
really hard for little penguins when they`re wearing their little dashikis
to go down the stairs in their little shirts they had to bend over and look
at their feet, but they did it.
Yes, I spent some time reading about that -- spent a lot of time,
actually, on that.
Also, I went to the farmers market, I washed my hair. I really
haven`t had enough time to read about the whole IRS commissioner going to
the White House story being debunked.
So I`m just going to keep doing the story over and over and over again
for a few more days. It still sounds really good to me. It still sounds
like a really big story.
It might have seen this week that a college Republican group put out a
heavily researched report about the perceptions of the two parties right
now in our country among young people. It`s about 100-page report based
significantly on focus groups led by Republican pollsters and consultants.
When the Republicans asked these focus groups of young people to name
Democratic Party leaders, quote, "They named prominent former or currently
elected officials: Nancy Pelosi, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Obama,
When those same respondents were asked to name Republican Party
leaders, they focused heavily on media personalities and commentators: Bill
O`Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck.
So, the identifiable leaders of the Democratic Party are prominent
elected officials who work in governing, in policy. The identifiable
leaders of the Republican Party are talk show hosts who are not elected and
who do not work in governing and who have no responsibility for policy.
And that is not a problem if the party itself doesn`t really see
itself as doing policy.
Today, the number two Republican in Congress unveiled the Republican
Party`s latest big idea in Washington. It is a new Web site called
Cosponsor.gov. The idea is that if you like an idea, you can go to the
Republicans` new Web site, give them your personal information, and then
you can become a fake co-sponsor of that idea that you like.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: What this Web site and
program will allow are folks throughout the country to go to Cosponsor.gov,
sign up to be a cosponsor of any bill that`s submitted here in Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Now, to be clear, you will not actually be a co-sponsor of
anything if you sign up at the Republicans` new Web site. You will be a
So there`s that. But at least Eric Cantor will get your e-mail
address in the process.
This follows on the Republican majority leader`s last big idea in
Washington which was to let you fake vote to cut things in Washington.
Again, it was not actual voting for actual cutting by actual people with
the power to do that, it was just a fake way for you to pretend to do that.
It was a fake way they cooked up so you could fake do that and also give
Eric Cantor your e-mail address.
In the actual House of Representatives where these guys work, the
votes there actually taking in Congress are about what you would expect
from people who think of policy in this way. This week, they have
scheduled two separate votes on defunding the group ACORN, for example.
The group ACORN has not existed for three years now. It is hard to
defund and punish something that doesn`t actually exist and hasn`t for
years. Actually, it`s impossible to do that, it`s like trying to divide by
zero, but still, it`s fun. So, House Republicans are voting on that twice
And of course, there was the 37th time that they voted to repeal
Obamacare. They do not repeal Obamacare when they take that vote, it has
no effect, but they have done it 37 times now. And why not?
If one of the two political parties in our country is not a policy-
based thing anymore, if the leaders of the party are talk show hosts, if
the only point of Congress is stuff that helps with messaging and
collecting e-mail addresses for future fundraising, that probably has a lot
of different big picture consequences for our democracy that are too
depressing to think about on a Tuesday.
But in the short run, it means that when actual policy does come up,
when policy decisions do have to be made and they have to be made in
Washington, you never really know what`s going to happen. Things can
suddenly get very unpredictable at least on the Republican side when policy
Por ejemplo, bearing down on us like a freight train right now is a
real deadline having to do with college that`s going to affect millions of
Americans in a very direct way. If you have federal student loans for
college, at the end of this month, for a policy reason, your loan rates are
going to double from 3.4 percent which is what they are right now to 6.8
percent. That`s going to happen all at once at the end of this month,
bang. That`s bad for millions of people.
And the Republicans do not want to fix that problem in the way that
President Obama and the Democrats want to fix that problem. But this is a
And you really never know anymore what`s going to happen when
Republicans in Congress end up having to talk about real policy, about real
things instead of ACORN or repeal Obamacare or something, right? It is
very hard to guess what`s going to come out of their mouths when it`s a
real policy matter that they have to make a real policy decision on.
But of all of the things that anybody might have guessed, might have
come out of Mitch McConnell`s mouth when he tried to talk about this issue,
I think nobody could have guessed that this would have been what would come
out of his mouth.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: In Obamacare, the
Democratic majority, without a single Republican vote, abolished the
student loan program. They have to pay back more at a higher rate, all
related to something young people had nothing to do with which was the
passage of Obamacare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Student loan rates are going to rise because Obamacare.
Health reform abolish the student loans, America. Obama care also made it
rain this weekend.
And, yes, you know what you did, Obamacare. You know what you did in
Hong Kong. That`s why everybody`s marching against Obamacare in the
streets and the zoos, whatever.
The Republican Party has a nonsense problem when it comes to policy
and it comes from the top. And if you do not like policy -- that`s fine,
that is fine, for example, for any number of popular conservative TV shows
who are really in a leadership role in that party.
But in Washington, the fact that one of the two parties is just
unsuited for policy at this time, it is not their strong suit, that right
now is a problem. Because that party has also decided that there is a
policy they would like to pass.
The party decided immediately after this last election that they lost
so badly that they could never win another election again if such a giant
proportion of minority voters kept voting against them. To try to repair
their image with Latino voters in particular, Republicans decided right
after the last election that they must stop standing in the way of a reform
of our nation`s policies on immigration.
They decided they have got to find some approach to reforming the
immigration system that Republicans can support or their party`s going to
go into a demographic death spiral from which there is no escape.
They do not much like policy in general. They are not built for
policy at this point in the Republican Party history. But they need this
For purely political reasons if nothing else, they need this one
policy. Now, on all other policy, Democrats are in the lead. Democrats
control the White House and the Senate.
The Republicans in the House have been very open about the fact they
do not want to lead on any major policy. They say they keep saying over
and over again, we`d like the Senate to go first.
And meanwhile in the House, they just keep voting to defund ACORN over
and over again. They`re not doing anything in the House.
So, Democrats are really doing everything on policy in Washington.
But on immigration, the Democrats are trying to let Republicans to find a
way to lead, so the Republicans can find a way support something -- a
policy, just the one. Can they do it?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe that immigration as it looks right
now will have the 60 votes necessary to move to the House?
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: No.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No. No, they cannot do it. Republican Senator Marco Rubio
of Florida on FOX News today explaining that immigration reform is going
nowhere that Republicans just don`t support it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUBIO: No. And I think even the Democrats would concede that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Actually, the Democrats have been saying that they thought
they did have the votes. They thought it was going to pass. Harry Reid
has been saying he`s got the votes. Even Republican Senator Lindsey Graham
said today they had the votes that it was going to pass, they got 60 votes.
But Marco Rubio, who is supposed to be the great Republican champion
of this issue, says, no, it is not going to happen. He`s counting and he
cannot count to 60 on this one. This is the one policy they want, the one
thing they are geared up to actually even talk about and everything, and it
too is now falling apart?
Joining us now is the great John Stanton, Washington bureau chief at
Mr. Stanton, thank you for being here tonight. It`s nice to see you.
JOHN STANTON, BUZZFEED: Pleasure to see you.
MADDOW: Is immigration reform falling apart? Lindsey Graham says it
isn`t, but Marco Rubio seems very confident that it is.
STANTON: Well, guess it sort of depends on how you want to define
falling apart. I never personally thought that there was as much of a
chance of passing actually as I think a lot of people had because the House
Republican conference is very much divided on this thing.
And, you know, there is some thought in Washington that Marco Rubio
may be playing a bit of a Jedi mind trick on his Republican colleagues
saying, oh, I have all of these concerns, we may not be able to pass it.
They get a few additions to the bill, couple tweaks. He can then come back
and say, look, I was very concerned just like you were and we were able to
make some changes, the best policy we`re going to get, so we need to get
behind it and hopefully -- and the reformers, you know, position that would
help bring enough Republicans along.
You know, they should be able to get 60 votes or close to 60 votes in
the Senate, I think, in the end. But after that, it`s difficult to see a
MADDOW: Since this is another one of those issues on which they have
delegated responsibility to a gang -- a gang of eight on this -- and is it
not a little bit weird that two of the Republican senators in the gang of
only eight actually are saying something factually different about this? I
mean, it may be a Marco Rubio mind trick to make people think it`s not
going to pass, but isn`t it bad strategy to have the other guy in the gang
of eight saying, "Yes, it is going to pass"?
STANTON: You got the other two guys just don`t saying anything ever
about this thing they`ve done. So, it is odd.
I think it shows the divisions within the party and the insecurities
that Republicans have around this issue. You know, there is this sort of
notion that it`s hurting them or it could hurt them more in the future. I
think to a certain degree, a lot of the damage about over immigration has
But you see with, you know, Marco Rubio, he`s been beaten up really
badly on the right from conservatives, conservative media, other
conservatives in the party, you know, in the House and Senate have been
critical of him.
And, you know, he`s the golden boy. And so, I think for some of these
folks, that`s a terrifying position to be in, right?
MADDOW: Do you see the organized right but particularly the
conservative media starting to whip on this issue? That they`re deciding
this is going to be a litmus test issue for them? It`s been very -- it
hasn`t been so black and white on this issue -- on this issue up until now.
STANTON: No, it hasn`t. In fact, you know, you`ve started to see
much more on the right from commentators, from the press going after Marco
Rubio, going after the gang of eight. You know, you saw in the House,
there`s a similar group of folks that are trying to work on a bill where
Raul Labrador from Idaho`s very conservative Republican, he was involved in
it. He is, you know, sort of come out now and said he`s having difficulty
seeing a way forward.
I think this is part of -- they should have maybe moved on this
earlier. That is the arguments that Democrats and even Republicans have
made that if we done this two months ago in the Senate, we would`ve had the
momentum coming out of the election. Republicans were under a lot of
pressure to deal with this issue, but now there`s been time for that to
cool and for the conservative opponents to this to sort of re-rally
themselves and to get on the offensive, it`s starting to take a bit of a
MADDOW: John Stanton, Washington bureau chief at "BuzzFeed" -- John,
it`s always great to see you. Thanks for being here, man. I appreciate
STANTON: Of course. Good to see you.
MADDOW: All right. Coming up next -- I`m sorry to say, there`s been
an epic outbreak of unexpected wussiness in politics. Somebody who
everybody thought was a big tough guy, turns out -- that`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: You know, Tom, you must be the
thinnest skinned guy in America because you think that`s a confrontational
tone, then, you should really see me when I`m pissed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don`t send your children to public schools.
You send them to private schools. So, I was wondering why you think it`s
fair to be cutting school funding to public schools.
CHRISTIE: What`s her name?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s her name, guys? Real quick, because the
governor is talking. What is it? Gail?
Talk to Gail.
CHRISTIE: Hey, Gail, you know what, first off, it`s none of your
business. I don`t ask you where you send your kids to school. Don`t
bother me about where I send mine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has built his political
career on his image as a tough guy. All the best highlight reels of him
yelling at his constituents are actually easily searchable on his own
governor`s office official YouTube channel because he posts them there.
This is how he wants to be seen.
There`s a ton of them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
CHRISTIE: Hey, listen, pal, either -- either I sat here and listened
to your story and your position -- excuse me -- without interrupting you.
If you decide what you want to do is put on a show today, let me tell you
something, I can go back and forth with you as much as you want.
And let me tell you something, after you graduate from Wall Street,
you conduct yourself like that in a courtroom, your rear end`s going to get
thrown in jail, idiot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Chris Christie yells at Iraq war veteran. Chris Christie
yells at teacher. Chris Christie yells at anyone interrupting him.
Chris Christie is a yeller. He`s a tough guy. He`s not afraid to shy
away from a challenge, he loves a fight. He thrives on it.
That is the brand, right?
Today was election day in New Jersey, it was primary day, and while
off-year primaries are pretty forgettable as election days go, one easy way
to help remember when an election is including today`s, is, of course, that
it`s Tuesday. Election days are always Tuesdays, right? That`s true
nationally, that`s generally true in states around the country, that`s true
in New Jersey, like for today`s primary. Election day is on Tuesday.
Except, apparently, for when there`s an outbreak of chicken in the New
Jersey governor`s office.
Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey today announced the election
date to choose a new U.S. senator to replace Frank Lautenberg who died
yesterday at the age of 89.
The big question heading into today`s announcement was whether or not
he would announce that the election would be held next year, next November
which is when Senator Lautenberg`s term would have been up. Would he wait
to hold the election until then? Or would he hold the election this
November? When he himself is on the ballot for re-election, as well, as
The political calculus was not a complicated thing. It would be seen
as a huge power grab and probably very alienating to his blue state of New
Jersey for Governor Christie to designate some Republican to hold that
Senate seat for a year and a half, with nobody getting a chance to vote
until next November if he picked that option, right?
On the other hand, if he said the vote was going to happen this
November, well, then the governor`s own re-election prospects might be
hurt. Flocks of Democrats turned out to vote for the Democratic nominee
for Senate on the same day they were voting for governor, especially if it
was somebody really popular and likely to win like Newark Mayor Cory
So heading into today, this was Chris Christie`s dilemma. Does he
make his state really mad at him by holding the election next year? Or
does he hurt his own re-election chances by having his own re-election race
on the same ballot that`s likely to turn out lots of enthusiastic voters
who are likely there to vote for the U.S. Senate candidate. Should he hold
it next year or should he hold this year? What should he do? Next
November or this November?
Hmm, he chose neither. He took the escape hatch, door number three,
please. He took the route that will cost the taxpayers of New Jersey
probably about $12 million that they would otherwise not have had to spend.
If it`s the route that saves the big chicken New Jersey governor from
making the hard decision and having to be on the ballot opposite of big,
bad Cory Booker.
I could not believe he did this. But Chris Christie announced today
he`s going to have the election for the Senate seat, not next November and
not this November when he, himself, is on the ballot.
No, he called the Senate election for a whole new date. He decided
that the Senate election is going to be in October on a Wednesday. And
that`s going to be the only race that New Jersey is voting on that day on a
Wednesday. And then he`ll get to run for re-election, safely alone without
Cory Booker on the ballot 20 days later,.
Two elections in 20 days, $12 million a pop, really?
Despite Governor Christie`s protests today that his hands were tied,
he had to do it this way, there is nothing in New Jersey law that made him
do this. He just chickened out. Amazing.
And now, having chickened out, he gets to continue his re-election
campaign to be governor again. His re-election campaign is running under
this slogan, strong leadership. Wow. Strong, maybe, but also clearly
MADDOW: OK. This video has been kind of a haunting thing. At least
it has been for me. Through this incredibly rough storm season, we`ve been
having in our country this year. It`s testing supposedly safe rooms
against the kinds of things that get flung at 200 miles per hour in big,
We`re going to have more on this in a second. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Check this out. This is a tornado drill in an American
school in 1947.
The kids in this particular school happened to be in Indiana. But
crouching in the hallway and covering your head and hoping for the best.
That was the state of the art response to tornadoes just about everywhere
in our country, in 1947. It is still the state of the art in 2013.
On hearing the news that a tornado is coming, American school kids in
most places that get these kind of storms are still sent into the hallways
to crouch and cover their heads. Get as far inside the building as you
can, stay away from big open areas like the gym or the cafeteria, get low
to the ground, maybe pray.
I`m not making light of this advice in this kind of plan. It really
is better than nothing. And it really is the best you could do in a lot of
places if and when a tornado is bearing down. Drop and tuck or duck and
cover, that was the plan 60 years ago, it is still the plan now in much of
Last month in Moore, Oklahoma, an EF-5 tornado struck two elementary
schools. It had winds in excess of 200 miles an hour. That tornado was a
mile wide and those kids at those schools pretty much had nowhere to go.
So they went into the hallways like school kids have done for generations.
The kids in Moore took shelter in hallways and bathrooms ducking and
covering. And at one of the two elementary schools, Briarwood Elementary,
all the kids lived. At the other elementary school, though, seven kids
died. The official cause of death from each of them was asphyxia. They
were smothered in the collapse of the hallway.
Neither of the schools ad a storm shelter underground or a fortified
safe room aboveground. When the tornado struck, these kids really had
nowhere safe to hide. They did survive in the school where the hallways
didn`t all collapse but they did not survive in the school that was harder
When people talk about safe rooms, it almost sounds like a metaphor,
but it is a really specific thing for storm survival. It`s a structure, a
room like this, a concrete reinforced aboveground bunker. Scientists at
the National Wind Institute at Texas Tech University have been testing
these rooms out.
They fire debris at them at really high speeds simulating the effects
of a real tornado and the kind of debris that flies at those kinds of
speeds. After the deadly tornado last month in Moore, Oklahoma, the one
that killed seven kids at that school and 23 people in all, after that
storm, those same scientists went out and examined what happened to the
safe rooms that were in that community in the path of that tornado.
It turns out they all held. It turns out that if you had somewhere to
go, if you had a safe room to take shelter in from that EF-5 tornado that
hit Moore, Oklahoma, then that safe room really did protect you. They
found 16 of them, these specifically built, specifically re-enforced safe
rooms that were in the path of destruction in Moore, the scientists from
Texas Tech who investigated how they all fared in the storm said, quote,
"They all performed great."
The Oklahoma newspaper reports that in some cases the safe rooms were
the only part of the house that made it through that tornado. But they
made it. They worked. After that devastating tornado in Moore, a state
lawmaker down the road in Rush Springs, Oklahoma, decided to do something
about safe rooms.
Lawmaker Joe Dorman has been trying to pass laws about storm safety in
Oklahoma for a few years now. But he is a Democrat and the Oklahoma
legislature is controlled by Republicans. So far, they have voted down
everything he tried.
After the Moore tornado two weeks ago, he thought maybe now he could
get a bill passed. Joe Dorman proposed that the state spend about $500
million to build more safe rooms for schools and also for homes. That new
bill after the Moore tornado for more safe rooms that saved lives that
might have saved those school kids who died, that bill like all the others
went nowhere in the Oklahoma state legislature.
But then it happened again. Another huge storm went barreling through
Oklahoma. One giant tornado struck El Reno, Oklahoma, which like Moore,
Oklahoma, is a suburb of Oklahoma City. We learned today that that tornado
on Friday in El Reno was also an EF-5, and while everybody was astonished
by the size of that mile-wide tornado that hit Moore, that one in El Reno
was more than 2 1/2 miles wide.
This is the widest tornado on record ever. So wide that observers had
trouble figuring out exactly where it was because it seemed like it was
everywhere. Students at a vocational school in the path of the huge storm
on Friday managed to get underground before that funnel cloud destroyed
Now the superintendent of that school says that any rebuilding he does
is going to include some kind of safe room. Quote, "When you see the
devastation and you see the end result, it clears up for you pretty quick."
The death toll so far from that tornado outbreak on Friday is 18
people dead. But everybody at that vo-tech school lived, because they had
an underground shelter to get to.
With back to back tragedies like this in her state, Republican
Governor Mary Fallin says Oklahoma must have a vigorous discussion about
providing safe places for schools. About what the state can do, she says,
quote, "within budgetary means."
Budgetary means, of course, depend largely on the decisions of the
elected officials of Oklahoma who, after all, pass a budget and set taxes
to pay for it and sign those budgetary means into law. Can the elected
officials of Oklahoma muster the political will to spend money on something
like this? Nobody likes spending, but tornado shelters in school buildings
that work that have been proven to work again and again and again? Can we
Oklahoma`s elected officials do not seem to think so. After the
tornado in Moore, a bipartisan group of lawmakers decided instead of
legislating anything, they would form a nonprofit called shelter Oklahoma
schools to try to raise private money for safe rooms.
"The kids at Plaza Towers did not have to parish," one of the
corporate wrote. "We cannot wait for our government to fix this."
Can`t the government fix this? Why should kids at any school in
Oklahoma have to hope for a corporate bailout that might make their school
safer instead of the schools just being safer by virtue of the fact that
they are Oklahoma schools and Oklahoma takes responsibility for keeping
Well, Joe Dorman, the same state lawmaker who has tried for years now
to get something done on storm safety who tried again just last month, now
he says he plans to try to go around the legislature. He plans to try to
gather signatures for a citizens` initiative in Oklahoma. He plans to put
this policy question about storm shelters directly to the people, because
he says he believes they will do and they can do what the legislature will
not and apparently cannot.
Joining us now is Joe Dorman. He`s a state representative from
Oklahoma. He hopes to put his proposal to establish a half billion dollar
bond for building safe rooms in front of the voters in November 2014.
Mr. Dorman, thank you very much for being with us tonight.
STATE REP. JOE DORMAN (D), OKLAHOMA: Good evening, Rachel. Thank you
for having me.
MADDOW: You know this issue a lot better than I do. I feel like I`m
learning a lot of it day by day.
Did I say anything that was screwy there about this policy idea that
you have and how these shelters have performed in the past?
DORMAN: No, you`re on target. The shelters have been proven to
provide that safe mechanism for people to have a place to go during a
And while none of them are 100 percent safe, it greatly increases your
odds of survival on a storm like what we saw in Moore and in El Reno.
MADDOW: Oklahoma is in the heart of tornado country. Obviously, this
has been a tremendously difficult year, but a lot of other years have been
difficult too. The clear examples over many years of people using shelters
and safe rooms to survive otherwise not survivable storms, what is it about
the legislature that has caused them to turn back new laws about storm
safety, given how much it`s been proven over and over again in this state?
DORMAN: I started this fight a few years ago when one of my
constituents died. She was in a mobile home park. She left her mobile
home to go to a building on the area where the trailers were at. It was
So on her way back to her trailer, she was crushed by another trailer.
And after that, we worked to try and get shelters and mobile home parks and
apartment complexes and that stiff opposition through the legislature.
MADDOW: Why are they opposed? Is it just a general idea that the
state law and state regulation shouldn`t be telling private citizens what
DORMAN: That`s part of it. The industry was opposed to any mandate
that would force the parks or apartment complexes to build shelters. And
Oklahomans have a tendency to buck up any time you do say you have to do
So often times when we`re looking at legislation like this, we have to
offer the carrot rather than the stick, and provide incentives. It`s
unfortunate. A lot of times when people are shopping, they`d rather have a
swimming pool than a storm shelter.
In Oklahoma, that`s definitely not the safe way to go.
MADDOW: Why do you think that Oklahoma voters might be more likely to
support this idea if you put it to them directly when the lawmakers they
have elected have not supported it?
DORMAN: It`s just like a school bond issue. In Oklahoma, we actually
have a 60 percent requirement to pass a school bond issue. And when the
citizens see something like that and they know it`s going for the kids,
often times they will turn out a 60 percent vote in favor of something like
Now, this constitutional amendment, this change would only require 50
percent vote of the people. And with the outcry of what I`ve heard from
Democrats and Republicans alike and around the state, people are willing to
look at something even if it means raising their taxes to provide that for
the schools and protect our kids.
MADDOW: If you do get enough signatures, if you get this on the
ballot, do you expect opposition? Where do you think the opposition would
DORMAN: I think there will be some opposition from individuals who
feel like we`re taxed enough already. We see elements of the Tea Party
that would fight any type of tax increase, the Grover Norquist crowd.
They`re very prominent in Oklahoma and continue to fight any effort to
But I think this crosses the line there. I think you`re going to see
a lot of registered Republicans join with a lot of the Democrats and
support something like this knowing that it is going for the common good.
MADDOW: Joe Dorman, Oklahoma state representative, it`s been
interesting to follow your efforts on this from afar as all of us in the
country are trying to learn more about how your state copes with this kind
of threat. Thanks for helping us understand it. I really appreciate your
DORMAN: You`ve got a lot of fans here in Oklahoma. Thank you for
everything you do in reporting.
MADDOW: Thanks for saying so. I really appreciate it.
All right. Still to come, young guns -- they get old too. Then what
happens? That`s coming up.
MADDOW: Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor turns 50 on
Happy birthday, Congressman. All best wishes.
Awkward thing here, though, is this. Mr. Cantor and Congressman Kevin
McCarthy and Congressman Paul Ryan back in 2007, they decided to embrace a
nickname that have been given to them by the "Weekly Standard" magazine,
"The Young Guns". It`s 2007, these guys are young and totally with it.
Republicans are young and they`re so young and vital.
But then, you know, life happens. Nobody stays young forever. And at
a certain point, a nickname like young guns starts to feel like false
You could change it to something like middle aged but holding up OK
Another awkward thing here, though, is the original young guns were
all guys. In trying to make the Republican Party seem less like it was all
guys, the young guns tried to start a new effort last year called YG Woman
Up. And right after they started that, they released their slate of
endorsed candidates for Congress in 2012 which actually had fewer
proportionally fewer women than were already serving in Congress.
So, that ended up being an awkward thing too. Woman up, by which we
mean women down.
Now, though, these guys are taking another crack at it. It`s not
going very well. That story is next.
MADDOW: Senator Saxby Chambliss, Republican from Georgia, is not
running for re-election. He is up for re-election next year but he`s not
going to be on the ballot. He`s decided to retire from the United States
That means his performance today in the United States Senate will not
be used against him in the context of an election, at least not in the
context of his own election.
Today, there was an historic gathering in the Senate of the chiefs of
every branch of the United States military, and there in a sea of medals
and ribbons and starched collars, the Senate Armed Services Committee held
a hearing on the very large and very bad sexual assault problem in our
nation`s military -- almost 30,000 cases of unwanted sexual contact just
Senator Saxby Chambliss today explained that he has a theory why this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R), GEORGIA: The young folks that are coming
into each of your services are anywhere from 17 to 22 or 23. Gee whiz, the
level of -- the hormone level created by nature sets in place the
possibility for these things to occur.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The hormone level created by nature why we have 17, 22, 23-
year-old rapists, gropers and creeps, right? These crazy kids with their
crazy kid hormones.
Kids like the 41-year-old Air Force officer arrested for sexual
assault last month. His job in the Air Force was running the sexual
assault prevention program.
Kids like the army sergeant in West Point who joined up in 1990, so,
carry the two, that makes him at least in his 40s, he`s charged with
secretly videotaping at least a dozen women in various states of undress in
the bathroom and elsewhere.
Kids like the army sergeant at Fort Hood accused of assaulting another
officer and, oh, running a prostitution ring. Before that, he was a sexual
Kids like the 50-year-old brigadier general in the 82nd Airborne
Division, second in command in the 82nd Airborne. He was charged with
forcible sodomy and other accusations of sexual misconduct.
So, in the last 10 months, that`s one guy in his late 30s, two guys in
their 40s, and one guys in his 50s all accused of or charged with exactly
the kinds of crimes that the military apparently stinks at preventing and
prosecuting. And it is senators` responsibility to fix that stupid,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHAMBLISS: Gee whiz, the level of -- the hormone level created by
nature sets in place the possibility for these types of things to occur.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Either the military is filled with lot of late blooming
rapists or Senator Saxby Chambliss has really no authority on this topic.
But that was him weighing in on why all the sexual assaults this morning in
Also across town this morning in Washington, there was Mississippi`s
Republican Governor Phil Bryant, speaking at a "Washington Post" live
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did America get so mediocre? I mean, these
statistics across the board, every one of your states, you know --
GOV. PHIL BRYANT (R), MISSISSIPPI: You want me to tell the truth?
Can I tell the truth? You know, I think parents became -- both parents
started working and a mom is in the workplace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Kids cannot read good because women have the jobs now.
Again, that was Mississippi`s Republican Governor Phil Bryant.
It was a busy morning in Washington today. While Saxby Chambliss was
explaining the hormone thing, and Phil Bryant was explaining the scourge of
women working, destroying the literacy rate, up on Capitol Hill, an all-
male subcommittee passed a bill on party lines, to ban all abortions after
20 weeks, everywhere in the country.
No exception for rape victims, no exception for victims of incest, the
only exception is for the life of the mother. Even if the fetus is
nonviable, a determination often not made until at least 20 weeks into the
pregnancy, if that happens to you, if you are told that your pregnancy
cannot result in a live birth, Republican Congressman Trent Franks wants to
force you to carry the nonviable fetus to term and go through childbirth
because he says so.
This is not a new bill. It is actually Congressman Franks` old annual
D.C. abortion ban. This year expanded to cover the whole country. All the
Republican men on the panel voted for it, all the Democratic men on the
panel voted against it, and oh, look, there were no women. And by that
party line vote of all dudes, 6-4, it now goes to the full committee.
We should have known this week would be a gobsmacking one for
Republican outreach to ladies among us when it started with this, with
Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn this Sunday, arguing that women
do not actually want the law to protect us against pay discrimination.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: They don`t want the decisions
made in Washington. They want to be able to have the power and the control
and the ability to make those decisions themselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Women don`t want to be protected against discrimination.
Women don`t want to make the same amount as their male counterparts. That
is a myth, silly talk. The top three things, women love, walks on the
beach, lasagna, and paid discrimination. Come on.
You know, the Romney campaign this week decided to release their
transition plan for the Romney presidency that never was, as a book, so the
Republican Party could learn all the lessons we would have learned under
President Romney had it only happened.
Between the Republican senior senator from Georgia saying that the
military`s rape problem can be blamed on youth and hormonal science of
youth, and the Republican governor of Mississippi saying his states and the
country`s literacy and education shortcomings are due to the scourge of
women working, kids can barely spell the word mom any more, to a Republican
congresswoman taking an -- excuse me, Republican congressman taking an
unprecedented swing at abortion rights on a national level, and a
Republican congresswoman saying thanks but no thanks, women don`t actually
want legal protections for equal pay for equal work.
With all of that happening and Republicans asking us to reflect on the
possibility of the Romney presidency, and, gee, why did that happen -- it
might be time for an update on the Wikipedia page of the whole Republican
war on women idea. I`m just saying.
That does it for us tonight. Thank you for being with us. We`ll see
you again tomorrow night.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Have a good evening.
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