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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

October 24, 2013
Guests: Ryan Grim, Lawrence Haake

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: And thanks at home for joining us this hour.

If you are watching this show right now, statistically speaking,
there`s a pretty good chance that you also like watching "The Daily Show."
"The Daily Show" has been on the air for almost 20 years now. Next year,
it will be 15 years, with the show being hosted by the great Jon Stewart.

"The Daily Show" airs on Comedy Central. And even though it handles
very current events, sometimes even very arcane matters of policy and
politics, the line from "The Daily Show" geniuses has always been that they
are fake, that they are a fake news show.

And so, yes, they may be informing their audience about what`s going
on in the world, but they shouldn`t be seen as news. They`re fake news.
Fair enough.

Arguable, because they cover a lot of actual news and people do learn
about what`s going on in the world through the lens of "The Daily Show`s"
comedy writers and Jon Stewart. But fair enough, they say it and to a
certain extent, it`s true. They are a fake news show.

But they are a fake news show that occasionally makes real news by
virtue of their fake correspondents getting real interviews with real
people who they persuade to actually say what they really mean.

Por ejemplo.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How come homosexuals aren`t defending Christians
with our right to be able to express ourselves?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At what point has your right to be able to
express yourself has been infringed upon?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t know if it`s going to happen, but I`m
concerned about it. I have a radio show. I`m just concerned about any
oppression that may come, that people might say, Matt, you can`t say that
on the radio, that homosexuality is a sin.

UNIDENTIIFED FEMALE: So you can`t even go on the radio anymore and
condemn a whole subset of people to hell without getting some blowback.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you put it that way, it does sound rather
narrow-minded and bigoted.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good. Then I`ve done my job.


MADDOW: That was Samantha Bee on "The Daily Show" in June.


MADDOW: It doesn`t happen every night on that show, but, when our
civilization is gone and they dig up the time capsule that we saved for the
aliens or whatever, to show the aliens that we really were worth something
as a species in this era on Earth, when they dig up that time capsule, it
will be these tell them what you really mean from "Daily Show"
correspondents, that will explain to the aliens in the future why we, at
this time on earth, rightfully worship the gods of satire.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s solve this. Let`s solve this right here,
right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just want our government back open, so what do
we do?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Defund Obamacare. The GOP is trying to save the
American people from a disastrous health care plan. We don`t have joy in
the shutdown.

UNIDENTIED MALE: Can you just give us back our government? And when
you do, include Obamacare, because it`s the law.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is law. But it`s not good law. It`s
unconstitutional. It`s unconstitutional.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even though the Supreme Court deemed it

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Supreme Court deemed it constitutional, but
it had to go to the Supreme Court to do so. And they still don`t know
what`s in the bill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Supreme Court didn`t read the bill? I feel
the same way! Can we just stop this whole interview, please? You know,
it`s just a vicious circle. You dig your heels in, you say something
stupid --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a stupid law!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then I give a generically witty response, like,
yes, it`s affordable health care for millions of unemployed people is
stupid, then these dummies laugh. But where does it end?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It ends with defunding Obamacare.



MADDOW: "The Daily Show," national treasure.

But last night, our fake news comedy overlords at "The Daily Show"
made real news again, news that today has cost a North Carolina Republican
Party official his job.

When Asif Monzi (ph) from "The Daily Show" went to North Carolina to
cover the new law there that restricts voting rights. That law was able to
be passed in North Carolina, of course, because the Supreme Court this
summer gutted the Voting Rights Act, which the Justice Department used to
use to block voting laws like this because of their rationally
discriminatory effect. The Supreme Court struck down the heart of the
Voting Rights Act and Republicans took over North Carolina state government
and, so, bingo. They passed this new voter suppression law.

And this is what happened when "The Daily Show" persuaded a North
Carolina Republican Party precinct chairman and Republican Party executive
committee member to explain what the new voting law in North Carolina is
really for.


REPORTER: The Voting Rights Act of 1965 protected voters from racial
discrimination, until June. When the Supreme Court struck down a key
provision, saying is it was no longer necessary, which red states
celebrated by introducing brand-new now-constitutional restrictive voting

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: These laws are just as racist as they
can be.

REPORTER: Congressman John Lewis apparently doesn`t like progress.

LEWIS: In another time, in another period, these devices was used to
make it harder, make it difficult for the average person of color to
participate in the process.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think any part of the law is racist.

REPORTER: North Carolina precinct chairman and GOP executive
committee member, Don Yelton, thinks his state`s new voting restrictions
are just fine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s going to happen with this law, the process
is going to have more integrity. Right here in this Buncombe County,
there`s always one or two that voted twice a year.

REPORTER: One or 2 million people?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, one or two people.

REPORTER: And that`s one or two out of how many?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s just one or two out of 60,000.

REPORTER: So statistically, there is enough voter fraud to sway zero

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s not the point. The bottom line is, the law
is not racist.

REPORTER: Of course the law is not racist. And you are not racist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I`ve been called a bigot before. Let me
tell you something. You don`t look like me, but I think I`ve treated you
the same as I would anybody else. As matter of fact, one of my best
friends is black.

REPORTER: One of your best friends --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of my best friends --

REPORTER: Is black?


REPORTER: And there`s more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I was a young man, you didn`t call a black a
black, you called him a Negro. I had a picture one time of Obama sitting
on a stump as a witch doctor and I posted that on Facebook. I was making
fun of my white half of Obama, not the black half. Now you have a black
person using the term (AUDIO DELETED) this and (AUDIO DELETED) that, and
it`s OK for them to do it.

REPORTER: You know that we can hear you, right?


REPORTER: OK, you know that? You know that we can hear you?



Then, I found out the real reason for the law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The law is going to get the Democrats in the butt.

REPORTER: Wow! An executive GOP committee member just admitted that
this law isn`t designed to hurt black people, it`s designed to hurt

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it hurts a bunch of college kids that`s too
lazy to get up off though bohunkus and go get a photo ID, so be it.

REPORTER: Right, right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it hurts the whites, so be it. If it hurts a
bunch of lazy blacks that wants the government to give them everything, so
be it.

REPORTER: And it just so happens that a lot of those people vote



MADDOW: North Carolina Republican Party, everybody. Can I get an

That ran on "The Daily Show" last night. The local press in Buncombe
County, North Carolina, today reported that the local chapter of the
Buncombe county young Democrats was holding a party tonight in downtown
Asheville to watch the rerun of that interview.

And it`s clear why, right? This local Republican Party official, he`s
a precinct chairman, apparently on the Republican Party`s executive
committee, which is not as big a deal as it sounds, said not only what he
thinks about race, but also that the whole reason the Republican Party is
changing voter laws in that state is not because of voter fraud or any of
the other things they say it`s about, it`s just to kick Democrats in the
butt, as he put it.

Mr. Yelton in North Carolina defended his comments to "The Daily Show"
today. He says he stands by what he said, but he did get fired from his
leadership jobs in the state party today because of that "Daily Show"
interview. The state party chairman called for his head and the county
chairman party today said that he stepped down.

It turns out this is the most awkward week possible for the North
Carolina Republican Party to open up its African-American outreach effort.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s a lot of misinformation, and the
Republican Party needs to get it together.

UNDENTIFIED MALE: That`s where a new African-American recruitment
office comes into play. It opened Monday in Charlotte and is intended to
spearhead new relationships and bring over new minority GOP members.


MADDOW: So that`s the new Republican Party black recruitment effort
in North Carolina, opening up this week. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party
black recruitment effort in North Carolina now just has to consist of this
local Republican official playing on a loop.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks that wants the
government to give them everything, so be it.

REPORTER: And it just so happens that a lot of those people vote



MADDOW: Meanwhile today, the North Carolina U.S. Senate race that`s
due out next year, today got shifted by Larry Sabato from a toss-up raining
to a leans Democratic rating, largely on the strength of how the Republican
Party has been conducting itself in North Carolina of late.

Quote, "Other than the national dynamics, state-level issues are
affecting the race in the Tar Heel state. Freshly minted governor,
Republican Pat McCrory, and the Republican-controlled legislature have
passed a series of conservative measures into law, such as implementing new
voter ID regulations. With the accompanying controversies over this and
other legislation, Governor McCrory`s approval rating is stuck in the 30s,
while only about a quarter of the state approves of the legislature.

The main beneficiary of the tanking Republican ratings in North
Carolina has been Democratic U.S. Senator Kay Hagan, who is now in a better
position to win re-election. With the leading Republican option in that
race being the Republican statehouse speaker, who`s been directly involved
in the unpopular actions of the general assembly, Kay Hagan`s chance of
survival in that senate race has definitely improved."

Unless, of course, the Republican law designed to keep lazy black
people and Democrats from voting does its job at the voting booth, then the
Republicans might be able to hold on. After the last presidential
election, which was not all that long ago, the Republican Party said that
they realize that they were in a pickle. They did not want to gloss over
the causes of their defeat in yet another presidential election. They
didn`t want to pretend it wasn`t as bad for their party as it really was,
they wanted to admit to what was wrong and to fix it.


REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: When Republicans lost in November, it
was a wake-up call. And in response, I initiated the most public and most
comprehensive post-election review in the history of any national party. I
didn`t need the report to tell me that we have to do, and that we have to
do a lot better job and do a lot more to make up ground in minority
communities. The report minces no words in telling us that we have to be
more inclusive. I agree.


MADDOW: The report the Republican Party chairman was talking about
then, right after the 2012 election, is this one. It`s the Republican
Party`s why we lost the election official autopsy. Minority groups that
President Obama carried with 80 percent of the vote are on track to become
a majority of the nation`s population by 2050, the report said.

America`s changing demographically, and unless Republicans are able to
grow our appeal, the changes tilt the playing field even more in the
Democratic direction.

So they get it, right? They get it. Even though this autopsy report
was just supposed to be a technical document, it`s not supposed to be a
policy thing. On one issue, because of the Republican Party`s issues with
minorities, they could not help themselves from prescribing policy.

They say, we are not a policy committee, but among the steps
Republicans take in the Hispanic community and beyond, we must embrace and
champion comprehensive immigration reform. If we do not, our party`s
appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only.

That was supposed to be the game plan for Republicans post-2012
election. Reach out to minority groups, be sincere, show we care, show
what we have to offer.

And also, honestly, guys, we seriously have to do something about
immigration policy. We have to get on board with that. That was supposed
to be the Republican game plan after the last election. That is not how
the game has been going.

In his first speech, his first public remarks after the Republican`s
government shutdown ended and we pulled back from the brink of the debt
ceiling, President Obama said that he did not want to pretend that
Democrats and Republicans agree on a lot. But he said they should stop
holding up everything in Washington based on just the things they disagreed

The president made the case that they should, instead, try to move
forward on some of the areas where Democrats and Republicans had broad-
based majority bipartisan agreement. He said, essentially, let`s aim low.
He didn`t restate his whole second-term agenda. He said, let`s just get
some of the basics done that we all agree should be done. He said, let`s
do a farm bill, let`s try to pass a budget for once, and let`s pass
immigration reform. You guys said you wanted to do that, let`s do that.

The president made his case right after the shutdown, the response
from Republicans was not good. It was less than not good.


DANA BASH, CNN: When you look at the substance of what he asked for,
namely immigration reform, which obviously is something that many
Republicans want to do, particularly after the way that they got really hit
hard in the last election, day did not -- they lost badly with Hispanic
voters, Mitt Romney did in particular, everybody wants to do it. I was
asking a question, really, what do you think the chances are of immigration
reform happening?

One e-mail I got just said, "ha-ha ha-ha ha-ha", straight cross,
another said "zero," and another said "not happening right now."


MADDOW: E-mails to CNN`s Dana Bash from Republican members of
Congress. How about immigration reform, you said you wanted that, and I
quote, ha-ha ha-ha ha-ha, all in one line.

Republican Party`s own plan for what they need to do to stop losing
elections says they should work on immigration reform. Also says they
should stop calling black people lazy and be so obvious about wanting to
block them from voting, but maybe that one`s too hard to stop.

But immigration reform, this is supposed to be possible, right?
Immigration reform, it passed the Senate this summer, 14 Republican
senators voted for it, it got 68 votes overall. And the Republican Party
itself says that if it cannot find a way to support immigration policy, the
whole party is dead in the water.

And remember what they said, after 2012? If we do not do this, our
party`s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only.
That might not even fly in Buncombe County anymore.

The party knows what it needs to do, but can they help themselves do
it? Can they do it?

President Obama today tried to throw them a lifeline. He tried to
give them another chance to do what they, themselves acknowledge is their
only way out.


something is smart and fair and good for the economy and fiscally
responsible and supported by business and labor and the evangelical
community and many Democrats and many Republicans, that does not mean that
it will actually get done. This is Washington, after all. So everything
tends to be viewed through a political prism. And everybody`s been looking
at the politics of this.

And I know that there are some folks in this town who are primed to
think, well, if Obama`s for it, then I`m against it. But, you know, I`d
remind everybody that my Republican predecessor was also for it. I`d
remind you that this reform won more than a dozen Republican votes in the
Senate in June.

I`m not running for office again. I just believe it`s the right thing
to do. I just believe it`s the right thing to do.


MADDOW: Joining us now is Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for "The
Huffington Post."

Mr. Grimm, thank you very much for being here. It`s nice to have you

RYAN GRIM, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Thanks for having me.

MADDOW: I made the case in the introduction that President Obama sort
of offering a lifeline to Republicans on immigration reform, aside from the
substantive benefit to the nation of this policy, Republicans themselves
have argued that they`ve got to get behind something like this for their
own political ends, their own political reasons. How does that inflect the
way this is being received in Washington right now?

GRIM: Well, the conventional wisdom is kind of what Dana said. You
know, there are these Tea Party Republicans in these deep red districts
that have no interest in doing any immigration reform whatsoever. And
they`re going to be safe, so they don`t care. They`re just going to do
whatever they want to do.

But you actually have a very strange and twisted set of incentives
here, which leads to the president and House Republicans actually having
their interests aligned here, because the president wants to get
immigration reform done, because it`s the right thing to do, and also
because it`s a huge legacy piece for him. This is something that he`s been
saying since he ran that he wanted to do.

House Republicans want to do this, because they want this off the
table. Even the people in the far right districts recognize that if they
don`t control the majority, then all they are is a congressman representing
a far-right red district, and they don`t even have a chance at being a
subcommittee chairman.

They think they`re frustrated right now where they don`t have the
Senate and the White House? Try being in the House minority.

So they actually do care whether or not these 17, 18, 19 to 35, 36
Republicans in vulnerable districts win re-election. And so, while they
might not want to support immigration reform, they might be a lot more
likely to let it go through, and then you have the strange situation where
house Democratic leaders have the least incentive to do it at this point.

Sure, you know, they care that 1,100 people are being deported every
day, but they would also like to take back the House. And the way to do it
is to paint Republicans as obstructionist. So you have a very strange set
of circumstances here that I don`t think can be as easily gamed out as the
conventional wisdom says.

MADDOW: Obviously, John Boehner, of everybody in the House, has the
most incentive to try to keep the Republicans in the majority, because
that`s his job, that`s the gavel.

Do you think there`s any possibility that he would come up with a
strategy that would sort of thread through all of those various incentives,
let a minority of Republicans and a majority of Democrats, let this thing
go through?

GRIM: I think that`s the only way that it could go through. But I
think John Boehner, from everything that I`ve heard about people that are
close to him, doesn`t have a huge dog in this fight. He sees immigration
reform not as a legacy piece for him, but as a Democratic accomplishment.
And so, you know, a lot of immigration reform advocates say, well, look, if
Boehner does this, he`ll be remembered as the guy who passes this big piece
of legislation.

What I`ve heard, he doesn`t actually see it that way. He wouldn`t see
that as an achievement. He`s not really against it, he`s not really for

So, you know, that -- if John Boehner has any capital, he`s going to
put it towards a grand bargain. You know, that`s the kind of thing he does
care about. However, it doesn`t look like a grand bargain`s ever going to
be possible while Boehner is speaker. And I think that`s only for the next
year or so.

And so, at that point, you`ve got capital left. You`ve got
immigration reform on the table. It becomes a question of why not. And he
might do it because of why not.

MADDOW: Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for "The Huffington Post"
-- you`re always very clear talking about these things, particularly clear
on that, in a very otherwise confusing situation. Thanks a lot, Ryan.
It`s great to have you here.

GRIM: Thanks a lot, Rachel.

MADDOW: You think about John Boehner and what he wants his legacy to
be. Like, no, I don`t want to pass immigration reform, that`ll mess up my
legacy. What legislation has he passed as speaker? Anything?

There have been two debt ceiling crises and a shutdown. Any policy?

We`ll be right back.



REP. JOE BARTON (R), TEXAS: But you`re telling every American, if you
sign up for this or even attempt to, you have no reasonable expectation of
privacy. That is a direct contradiction to HIPAA and you know it.

REP. FRANK PALLONE (D), NEW JERSEY: I started out in my opening
statement saying there was no legitimacy to this hearing and the last line
of questioning certainly confirms that. HIPAA only applies when there`s
health information being provided. That`s not in play here today. No
health information is required in the application process. And why is
that? Because pre-existing conditions don`t matter.

So once again, here we have my Republican colleagues trying to scare
everybody --

BARTON: Will the gentleman yield?

PALLONE: No, I will not yield to this monkey court or whatever this
thing is --

BARTON: This is not a monkey court.

PALLONE: Do whatever you want. I`m not yielding.


MADDOW: This is not a monkey -- this is too -- I love Congress.

Drama today between Republican Congressman Joe Barton from Texas and
Democratic Congressman fed up Frank Pallone from New Jersey earlier today
at a House hearing on the rollout of health reform.

Mr. Barton making a scary-sounding allegation about the whole signup
for health care being illegal. Mr. Pallone clarifying that actually,
that`s made up.

The Obamacare rollout has not been an easy or smooth one. Rollouts
tend to go like that. Before World War II, there were problems for the
brand-new Social Security board. They had to figure out a way to enroll 26
million workers into the program in less than a year, without computers.

One of the big problems in the Social Security rollout back then was
that lots of people had the same name. How do we handle that? It was a
huge problem back in the day for Social Security. Ultimately, they figured
it out, so you having a unique number did not have to depend on you having
a unique name.

Anyway, they figured it out, and now, Social Security, it works. Some
conservatives hate it on ideological ground but nobody says it doesn`t
function as a program.

When Medicare became law in the summer of 1965, here`s a glitch for
you. It turns out that more than 45 percent of the people born between
1890 and 1920, so people who at the time were between 45 years old and 75
years old, almost half of them could not verify their age, because they
didn`t have birth certificates. That makes for a hard rollout in an age-
dependent program.

One guy who wanted to enroll in Medicare, quote, "bared his chest as a
last resort. Tattooed there was the date of his enlistment in the Navy and
the date of his birth. Another applicant literally dug up his mother`s
tombstone and argued that it constituted proof of his age."

Now, that`s a glitch. But, eventually, everybody got signed up and
proved his or her eligibility by tattoo or tombstone or whatever.

But we`ve got Medicare now. And again, you may hate Medicare on
ideological grounds. Some conservatives do. But ask your favorite senior
citizen if Medicare works as a program, especially compared to private
insurance, and see what they say.

More recently, when Medicare part "D" expansion was rolled out during
the George W. Bush administration, things with that rollout were far from
seamless as well.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: Now to that new Medicare prescription drug
benefit that`s been in effect almost two weeks now for thousands of
beneficiaries, it`s been a rough two weeks. It turns out there are quite a
few problems with the new system, leaving some without the life-sustaining
medicine they need and forcing states to step in and help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What went wrong? On January 1st, 6 million people
got switched to the new program. Because of the massive changeover, and
because of computer glitches, one out of five people got lost in the


MADDOW: Computer glitches. People stuck in the system. But now,
things are running smoothly. Whether you like that program or not, as a
program, it worked. It took a while, but it worked.

At the time of that program`s difficult rollout, Congressman Joe
Barton, the guy at the hearing today with the grandstand play that the
whole Obamacare Web site is illegal, back during the Medicare part "D"
rollout, under a Republican president, Mr. Barton had a different view of

American Bridge today noted his record at the time, Congressman Barton
on Medicare part "D," quote, "This is a huge undertaking and there are
going to be glitches."

Congressman Barton pleading to Democrats back in 2006 to please be
constructive about all of this. He said, "I would hope that we can work
together as we go through the implementation phase. If we can make some
changes to fix it, let us do it and do it on a bipartisan basis." Let`s
make this thing work.

Congressman Barton 2006 on line one. Should I tell 2006 to call back
or do you want to take a call?

The Obamacare rollout is not going especially well, but this kind of
trouble has a lot of precedent. Meanwhile, congressional Republicans are
planning to continue to front-page the problems with the rollout. White
House officials and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius are scheduled to
testify both tomorrow and next week. Congress says, they want to know
what`s wrong! And that`s kind of amazing, given where they`ve been.

I mean, Republicans spent the better part of two years trying to get
rid of Obamacare by repealing it. Then they shut down the government in an
effort to defund it is and make it go away that way. But now they`re
outraged that it`s not working more smoothly. And they want to know what`s

And you know what? Look on the sunny side. No matter why they are
staging these hearings about Obamacare, they are, by staging these
hearings, putting pressure on Obamacare to get better, to work, to be
implemented in a way that is better than the way it is otherwise being
implemented. There is always a chance that by accident in its own
beautifully hypocritical way, Congress is accidentally providing effective
oversight that will make this governmental program succeed even better than
it would without them.

They hate it. Don`t tell them, but this might work.


MADDOW: I`m no expert, but I`m sure we can all agree that it would
not make sense to allow a beauty pageant contestant to officiate that
beauty pageant. It would not make sense to let a baseball pitcher call his
own balls and strikes at a baseball game.

But in Virginia, in Virginia politics, turns out there are different
rules for that sort of thing. And that story is ahead tonight with a guest
who is right in the middle of it. You`re going to want to see this.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: Once upon a time, Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry,
who`s now our nation`s secretary of state, once upon a time, he was the
Democratic Party`s nominee to be president. He did not win, and George W.
Bush went on to a second term as president. But in that presidential
campaign, John Kerry chose as his running mate, yes, that guy.

John Edwards, Democratic North Carolina senator with the honey voice
and the wink and the smile. He had run a strong campaign for the
presidential nomination himself. Had John Kerry won that election, John
Edwards would have been vice president of the United States.

And then who knows when we would have found out about the fact that he
was maintaining a whole separate secret family on the side and that part of
what it meant to work for John Edwards or even support him as a politician
was that you ended up finding secret hiding places for his mistress and
their secret child and secret ways to funnel them money.

Yes, Sarah Palin was a freaking close call for the nation, thanks,
John McCain. George W. Bush actually did give us Dick Cheney, the most
terrifying vice president in American history, maybe even including that
guy from "Homeland." Joe Lieberman was a bit of a nightmare choice himself
from Al Gore back in 2000.

But John Edwards, John "six felony indictments" Edwards, "The National
Enquirer" hiding the secret family in a Beverly Hills hotel, lying over and
over again, and then admitting finally in a press release, trying to make a
campaign staffer take the blame as if he was the father instead of John
Edwards being the father?

Right up there in the pantheon of reasons why vice presidential
nominees should be chosen by more than just one guy deciding on his own is
the terrible, terrible example of John Edwards.

The other terrible legacy of John Edwards is that John Edwards is a
really common name. And if you are a Democratic politician, say, you`re
like a Democratic politician, white guy, from the South, who`s a good-
looking, great smile senator with a bright future ahead of him, it must be
a drag to also be named John Edwards.

But Virginia State Senator John Edwards of Roanoke is reclaiming the
name John Edwards in Democratic politics, and for the zillions of guys all
over the country who have been saddled with the name which makes every
wonder whether you`re sleeping with your videographer. Also, what`s a

But the Virginia John Edwards, the centrist state Democratic senator
from Roanoke, Virginia, he recently wrote to Ken Cuccinelli, to the Tea
Party Republican, Virginia state attorney general, who`s now running for
governor in Virginia, he wrote to him to ask Cuccinelli if maybe it wasn`t
a conflict of interest for Mr. Cuccinelli himself to be presiding as
attorney general over any legal disputes concerning the gubernatorial
elections since Ken Cuccinelli himself is one of the candidates in that

Senator John Edwards noted that this is the first time in a generation
that an attorney general has not stepped down from the ag job in order to
avoid that potential conflict of interest when they wanted to run for
another statewide office. If there`s any sort of legal dispute over your
election, you cannot simultaneously be a candidate in that election and
also the guy responsible for settling the legal dispute, right? Right, Ken

Wrong, apparently, according to Ken Cuccinelli. He has now written
back to State Senator John Edwards, saying he sees no problem with this
arrangement at all. The letter was posted online today, and it is amazing.
Ken Cuccinelli writes about himself in the third person, as if he himself
is not the attorney general he`s referring to.

But he is talking about himself here. This is crazy. "It is my
opinion at there is no inherent conflict of interest presented and thus, no
per se requirement that the office of the attorney general recuse from
investigating and prosecuting alleged violations of election law when the
attorney general is a candidate for public office in the same election that
is under investigation."

I can investigate my own election, sure! Why not? The last six
attorneys general who ran for governor in Virginia all recused themselves
in order to run for governor, so they wouldn`t be in the position of
adjudicating their own election if it came to that. But Ken Cuccinelli has
decided he`s staying put. And it`s not like it`s a hypothetical question
as to whether there`s going to be any legal wrangling around the Virginia`s
governor race. It`s already started is and we`re two weeks out from the

As we`ve previously reported, the Republican-dominated state board of
elections in Virginia decided just a few weeks out from the governor`s race
that 57,000 voters would be purged off the voter rolls immediately. They
came up with this list of nearly 60,000 people, they sent it to local
registrars and told them that if a person`s name was on that list, it
should be treated as a request by that person that their name be taken off
the voter rolls.

To be clear, these voters were not actually requesting that their name
be taken off the voter rolls. The state board of elections was doing that
in their name.

In Chesterfield County, Virginia, they started going through the list
the state sent them. They found more than 170 people who were on this
mandatory purge list, who were actually legally registered in Virginia and
shouldn`t be kicked off the list at all. Other counties found similar
problems, but the state board of elections has insisted that counties go
ahead with the purge anyway, and do it right now, before the election.

And so, so far, with two weeks left before the election, we know so
far that something close to 40,000 people have been taken off the Virginia
voter lists. They may or may not have been notified that their names have
been taken off the list. Nobody quite knows what`s going to happen if
those people turn up to vote in Virginia on Election Day next Tuesday and
they`re told that they can`t.

The Virginia Democratic Party filed suit to try to stop the voter
purge or at least to delay it until after Election Day and the governor`s
race. The purge was defended in court by the office of Attorney General
Ken Cuccinelli, who, of course, is on the ballot on Election Day in that
governor`s race.

So that`s one part of a legal fight already underway over that
election. And now outside conservative groups are starting to sue as well.
Chesterfield County, which said they found the high error rate in that
purge list, and therefore they didn`t want to go through with rushing to
throw those names off the voter rolls right before the election. The
vigilante poll watcher group True the Vote s now threatening to sue that
county if they do not go through the with the purge right now ahead of the

So, Virginia`s gubernatorial election is less than two weeks away.
And the issue of which eligible voters might be allowed to vote and which
won`t is rather up in the air. And it`s already in court. But don`t
worry. One of the two candidates in that race says he will take care of
all the legal stuff. He says he`s got it covered.

Joining us now is the election board registrar in Chesterfield County,
Virginia. His name is Lawrence Haake. Mr. Haake has held that post for
the past 18 years and he`s now facing the threat of litigation to force him
to purge the voting rolls in his county.

Mr. Haake, thank you so much for being with us.

Thanks for having me, Rachel.

MADDOW: I`m sure this has been a stressful time for you in this job
that you`ve held for a long time. Can you tell us why you`re trying to
postpone this purge in your county?

HAAKE: When they first sent the list out, it had 2,200 names on it.
And we were in the midst of opening another precinct, which involved
notifying over 3,000 voters we were doing that. We`d already taken
delivery of 68 new voting machines that had to be tested and had over 300
people that we had to train, and then at the end of August, this list

So, I took a quick look at it, very quickly sorted it between inactive
and active voters and active voters being those identified by the post
office as having moved, and they are already on -- on the legal process to
be removed from the rolls. So, I was not too concerned with them. That
left a thousand voters, and just using the data provided to me, I very
quickly found that 170 or so that were properly registered in Chesterfield
should not have even bon that list.

I then did a sampling of the data, a small sample of the 800 or so
names left and actually found some in other states that we had sent
cancellation notices to, as long ago as two years, to take them off of
those rolls, but yet they remained on those rolls.

So, from that, I concluded, this was a task that was going to require
some time, some examination, and to do it properly and do it the right away
and protect the rights of those who should not be removed. So I made a
decision that we would process this list after the election.

MADDOW: Did you have support in that decision from your local board
of elections and from other officials in your county?

HAAKE: Yes, from the electoral board, the three-member electoral
board appoints me as general registrar, and they were contacted by the
state board of elections rather aggressively and asked to order me to
process the list and remove the voters.

And I had briefed them in general terms already of what I had found
and the fact I was going to delay it, because it was going to take a lot of
time. But they met again and I went into more detail on the nature of the
list and the problems I had found and what I thought ought to be done and
why. And they agreed. And they unanimously supported my decision, again,
to the chagrin of the state board of elections. And told one of the
members that they were going to do all they could to get me fired.

MADDOW: Wow. Can day get you fired if they want to?

HAAKE: Well, I commented to the board member, I said, you`re my
authority, you`re the one who can fire me, and he said, yes, I thought it
was interesting that they would say that to him.

MADDOW: Have you had a lot of problems with voter impersonation
fraud, voter fraud from Chesterfield County?

HAAKE: Not a lot of problem, no. We have identified efforts to
commit voter fraud and intercepted it. There`s no epidemic that I`m aware

MADDOW: Sir, I know you are not a partisan and I know you have had
this job for a long time. I also know that you have the support of your
local electoral board there, but I have to ask you -- and don`t answer it
if you`re uncomfortable answering it -- but I have to ask if you think that
this particular purge and its timing and the pressure on you when you
resisted it, do you think it`s politically motivated?

HAAKE: You know, it`s hard to make a case that it`s politically
motivated, because Chesterfield County would normally vote Republican. And
that`s the great mystery about all of this. I`ve talked to both the
Republican Party chairman in Chesterfield and the Democratic Party chairman
and some Tea Party people in Chesterfield. None of them want me to do this

So, it`s just a mystery to me why there`s this aggressiveness to get
me to do something that clearly I should not do. Now, we do need the
ability to do interstate checking of lists, just to keep the rolls
accurate, but I`m very disappointed in how this has been done because of
the inaccuracy and an inaccuracy is not in the names themselves, but in the
eligibility to be removed from the list.

MADDOW: Lawrence Haake, the general registrar for Chesterfield
County, Virginia. Good luck to you, sir. I know you have a big election
on your hands and this additional pressure has to make it more stressful.
Thanks for helping us to understand what`s going on.

HAAKE: Thanks a lot.

MADDOW: I appreciate it.

All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.

Best new thing coming up.


MADDOW: Amtrak has announced that it wants to spend a quarter million
dollars on an advertising campaign targeting a specific group of potential
passengers, gay passengers.

Said an Amtrak representative, quote, "We are always looking for new
ways to reach potential passengers and this community travels a lot."

I can`t speak for this community`s travel habits or anything else, but
if there is research about the gay traveling a lot and Amtrak is trying to
get people to take its trains, then it does seem like a reasonable business

Another in on ongoing series of proven to me I have been wearing the
same shirts and jackets for three years now. Really, wow. That was great
Amtrak outreach news from back in 2010.

But you know who else is warmly welcomed or tolerated by my beloved
Amtrak, people who talk loudly on phones or seat mates though they`re in a
confined space and sitting really close to other people. They`re tolerated
on Amtrak, it is easy to wind up sitting next to one of those people on the

It can be fodder for train ballads if you`re melancholy sorts. It can
be stressful if you really need to get work done, or you can wind up
sitting next to somebody who is loudly blabbing not stuff they`re buying
for dinner but amazing secret national security news. While not
considering that you are hearing every single word.

And that just happened today in a huge way that has the best visual
punchline of any story we have done on the show in a very, very long time.
And that is next!


MADDOW: OK. Best new thing in the world.

If you ever had the pleasure of riding my beloved Amtrak, chances are
you know why Amtrak had to create quiet cars on some of their trains,
riding along, minding your own business when you realize you are sitting in
front of the super loud guy, right?

You`re in a three or four hour trip some where, and just my luck.
Sitting in front of the guy who is yakking away on his phone at full volume
the whole time.

America meet Tom Matzzie. Tom is not the super loud guy on the train.
Tom Matzzie had the loud guy sitting behind him on the train today, instead
of cursing his luck and suffering in silence, Tom Matzzie, God bless him,
decided to live tweet the experience to the whole world.

And that turned out to be a useful thing for the rest of us because
the loud guy on the train sitting behind Tom Matzzie was a guy who should
know better.

First tweet, quote, "Former NSA spy boss Michael Hayden on Acela
behind me blabbing on background as a former senior administration
official. Sounds defensive."

Michael Hayden, the former head of the NSA and CIA under George W.
Bush riding Amtrak giving out-loud anonymous phone interviews to reporters
from the train. Unbeknownest to him, the entire thing was live tweeted by
the guy sitting in front of him.

Quote, "Hayden was bragging about rendition and black sites a minute

And then a few moments later, quote, "Michael Hayden on Acela giving
reporters disparaging quotes about Obama administration. Quote, `Remember,
just refer to me as former senior administration official.`"

"On Acela listening to former NSA spy boss Michael Hayden give off
record interviews. I think I am in the NSA, except I`m in public."

So, Michael Hayden apparently gives off-the-record interviews in which
he bashes the Obama administration and says call him a former senior
administration official.

Brave. You realize everybody can hear you, right?

Then, there is the actual brave guy sitting in front of him tweeting
about the former head of the NSA/CIA while sitting inches away from him on
the train. Quote, "On Acela, phone ringing. I think the jig is up. Maybe
somebody is telling him I`m here. Do I hide?"

At this point, it seems like the people of the Twitter world are maybe
not believing the series of tweets. So, our faithful live tweeter, Mr.
Matzzie snapped a photo of his surroundings in order to provide some
evidence that yes he was riding Amtrak at the moment.

Two minutes after that tweet, he sensed trouble. Quote, "New call
just came in." And in fact, Tom Matzzie was busted. Michael Hayden`s
office called to tell him the guy sitting in front of him was broadcasting
to the world everything he was telling reporters.

End of story, right? Michael Hayden grabs his stuff goes to another
seat. No, Tom Matzzie tweets this picture alongside the word "Win".

Quote, "Hayden`s office called him and then he graciously offered me
an interview, we talked about the Fourth Amendment, and foreign spying."
After his series of tweets nearly broke the Internet today, Tom Matzzie
tweeted. "Getting off the train soon, somebody please e-mail my wife."

Amtrak Rider Tom Matzzie for having the courage to live tweet about
the former top spy in the world for letting us all know what Michael Hayden
hides behind when he talks smack -- you, sir, Tom Matzzie and your enormous
cojones, you are the best new thing in the world. Amazing story.


Have a great night.


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