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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, December 26th, 2013

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

December 26, 2013


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: All right, so end of the year show, one
way to do it is the most important things that happened this year or the
chronology of what happened this year. Obviously, that`s excruciatingly

And the thing that we ought to do is the best things that happened
this year. Only the good things.


BILL WOLFF, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Yes! Good things, that`s what we`re

MADDOW: We`re never about good things, which is why we have a special
segment on our show we reserve for good things. It`s a very small segment.
It`s called "Best New Thing in the World."

So I think that we can put together, I think we have enough, I know we
have enough. It`s a question of whether we have enough actually good ones
that still stand up to the test of time and all of that. Do we have a
whole show worth of best new things that are freaking the best new things
in the world that ought to be on for the end of the year show?

WOLFF: Easily, easily. I got one, we have about 44 minutes of
program, 16 minutes of commercial. You can play this one like six times.

MADDOW: You like one so much more than --

WOLFF: I personally do, yes.

MADDOW: What is it?

WOLFF: But, he`s gay. But, he`s gay. But, he`s gay, which has so
much unexpected excellence.

I mean, "but, he`s gay," you could win with that alone. But then
there`s more. But, there`s more. It`s so good. But, he`s gay.

MADDOW: It is the most -- it`s the most newsy of all of our best new
things. So we should put it right at the top of the show, because it`s

WOLFF: But, he`s gay. And then there`s just secret hidden surprises
that happen. And you`d think that "but, he`s gay," would be the
catchphrase of the century. Like, we should have t-shirt. THE RACHEL
MADDOW SHOW, but he`s gay.

But it turns out there`s an even better catchphrase that comes out in
the middle of this.

It`s so good.


MADDOW: Best new thing in the world today.

House Republicans left D.C. today for Williamsburg, Virginia to go to
their annual retreat. It is a three-day event, it is apparently titled the
2013 Congress of Tomorrow, which is a little weird, right? As opposed to
the 2013 Congress of last month?

Anyway, it is their annual three-day retreat. It is pollster
briefings and speeches and strategy sessions, and reports that
this year, there will be two motivational speakers for House Republicans.
One is a man who used to tour as a comedian with Garth Brooks, the other is
this man you see on your screen.

His name is Erik Weihenmayer. He is an adventurer. He`s famous for
having been the world`s first blind person to climb Mt. Everest.

And is this story starting to sound familiar? Blind mountain climber?
Blind guy climbing Mount Everest?

Anybody remember one of the most awesome news bloopers of all time?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right after the break, we`re going to interview
Erik Weihenmayer, who climbed the highest mountain in the world, Mt.
Everest. But, he is gay -- I mean, he`s gay -- excuse me, he`s blind. So
we`ll hear about that coming up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, as we head to the break, a look at the --


MADDOW: He is gay, I mean, blind.

An Albuquerque news anchor in 2001, right, five years later the clip
was uploaded to YouTube for some reason, and a cajillion people got to
enjoy the best gay/not gay joke of all time. And yes, that is the same
gay-blind mountain climber who will be motivating America`s Republican
members of Congress tonight.

And the best thing about all of this is that Erik Weihenmayer, who was
the first blind person to climb Everest and who is the famous blind athlete
in the world, and who really is not gay, Erik Weihenmayer has demonstrated
nothing but the best attitude about this blooper since he first heard it
happening, as it was happening.

This is reportedly the video of Mr. Weihenmayer listening to that
tease from that Albuquerque station during the broadcast as he waited for
the interview. As you can tell it is bad quality video, but you can see
him dying laughing as he hears the anchor say what she said.

Since this became a famous thing, Mr. Weihenmayer apparently even runs
the video of that blooper when he makes his motivational speeches. He
finds it hilarious. So House Republicans might be seeing this right now.

A couple of years after that blooper happened, the anchor who did it
moved to a Dallas station, and her new station staged a reunion, so years
later she finally got to explain to Erik Weihenmayer why she said what she


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right before this story, we had done extensive
covering about the story of a woman who was gay, gay was in the head. And
we came out to the tease for you, and I was so excited, and boom, it
happened. And you were so gracious. We did the interview, we never talked
about it, and we moved on. And I`m sorry.

ERIK WEIHENMAYER: No, please, I should be thanking you. It is the
greatest thing ever.


MADDOW: It is the greatest thing ever, and the guy who thinks so is
motivating all of the Republican members of Congress right now as we speak.
Which is the best new thing in the world today, and you guys be careful.
Because gay is in the head.


MADDOW: Gay was in the head.


WOLFF: Gay was in the head. It was in the head.

MADDOW: It actually makes for a better t-shirt.

WOLFF: It`s unbelievable. Gay was in the head. I say that`s the
best -- that`s my favorite best new thing ever.

MADDOW: All right. Well, what else? Who else has one?

KATHLEEN OSBORN, SEGMENT PRODUCER: That doesn`t top the fire-
breathing dragon in Detroit with the DJ booth on the back and because
Detroit`s going bankrupt, there`s a lot of -- and the art is going to be
maybe sold. So they did this project to sort of -- to save the art.

MADDOW: That was the save the art thing. And of all the best new
things in the world this year, that was the most visually stunning one.


MADDOW: The Motor City, the great city of Detroit, has produced lots
of great cars, lots of great art, lots of great music over the years. And
now, the great city of Detroit has produced this. Behold the light dragon.

This is the brain child of two artists, Detroit-based artist Ryan
Doyle and Hong Kong born artist named Teddy Lo.

It`s called the light dragon. It is made entirely of salvaged metal
and rubber and lights. It was apparently 60 feet long and it weighs 17,000
pounds. It sits on top of a stripped down 1963 Dodge dump truck. It`s
equipped with 2,500 feet of color changing LED lights. And because it is a
dragon, naturally, it can breathe fire. No, really it can shoot a 20-foot
burst of flame through its dragon nostrils.

That part is going to be really important later on in the story. So,
put a pin in that for a second.

The city of Detroit as you may be aware is going through a rough
stretch right now. The city filed for bankruptcy in July. They`ve been
under the control of an emergency manager who makes all the decisions
regarding the city`s finances. That has rendered local democracy
essentially dead in democracy.

One of the things that emergency manager did in city recently was that
he hired Christie`s Auction House to appraise the art that is house the
inside the amazing, iconic, Detroit Institute of Arts. The Detroit
Institute of Arts is one of the country`s greatest art museums. It has a
world famous collection of Rembrandts, and Michelangelos, and Diego
Riveras, like you wouldn`t believe.

It is a truly incredible collection of art and it is owned by the
people of Detroit. It`s municipal owned. The city owns the collection.
It belongs to Detroit and its people.

And when the emergency manager announced that he was having the entire
place appraised to find out its cash value like in case he was going to
sell it off, Detroit started fighting back. And part of the way they have
been fighting back is with art. And that is where the fire breathing
dragon comes in.

Late last night, as the rest of the city was preparing to go to sleep,
the LED lit 60-foot long junkyard dragon, equipped with its own D.J. booth
on the back, rolled through city of the Detroit, pulled right up to the
front lawn of the Detroit Institute of Arts, and as only a fire breathing
dragon can do, it left a simple message for Detroit`s emergency manager
about how the city feels about its art museum.

Watch this.


MADDOW: Save the art. If you are going to try to send a message to
the powers that be in your city, that is the way to do it. Send your
fabric wed metal flame on fire, and with flames you shoot 20 feet out of
your dragon nostrils.

The artists who created that performance stunt made their escape
shortly after setting the protest sign alight. The sign was then
extinguished by dragon artist supporters, and also by the Fire Department.

However, you have been making your political case, however you have
been trying to convey your political feelings, you need to know that out
there somewhere, there are dudes in Detroit who are getting their political
point across with fire breathing LED, 60-foot dragon that breathe fire and
have a D.J. booth on the back.

The bar has officially been raised, America, step it up.


WOLFF: Good. Detroit belongs -- Detroit made it. Good.

OSBORN: But the thing about that is that they`re trying to save the
art from the Detroit art institute and Christies just did their appraisal
and they`re going to get about, something like $500 million for it and it -

MADDOW: Yes, what they appraised, they could get, like $500 million
to $800 million, and they`re thinking, that would put a big dent in our
debts. And it would also eliminate Detroit`s public art collection.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So this is a best new thing, but also a TBD.

MADDOW: It`s a best new fight. The fight is still under way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they`re going to need a bigger dragon.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Steve, are you there?


CORY GNAZZO, PRODUCER: Steve, are there any best new things you
remember that are really good? Just the top of your head from watching?

BENEN: I like them all equally.

GNAZZO: Well played.



MADDOW: All right. Who else has the best new thing in the world?



RAFSANJANI: And I kind of feel like there`s no competition, because
this is so awesome. I have to say. I`m serious.

MADDOW: You have the best new thing in the world?

RAFSANJANI: I think the best, best new thing in the world. And I can
only describe it with two words.

MADDOW: Mm-hmm.

RAFSANJANI: Which are thing-falumabinga.


MADDOW: This is the single best piece of tape we played all year
long. At least the best political -- it`s not even political.

RAFSANJANI: No, it`s just amazing.

MADDOW: This was the best -- yes, this is it.


MADDOW: Best new thing in the world today.

This is Republican Congressman Kerry Bentivolio of Michigan.
Yesterday, it was his job to preside over the house temporarily, had to
take his turn as speaker pro temp.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The speaker room, Washington, D.C., June 17th,
2013. I hereby appoint Kerry Bentivolio to act as speaker pro tempore on
this day, signed John A. Boehner, speaker of the House.


MADDOW: OK. So, at this point, Kerry Bentivolio is in charge of the
House, this freshman guy, right? Scary, but not a terribly big deal, you
just keep the lights on, if one of your colleagues wants to speak, you have
to recognize them. You talk into the microphone, say their names and say
where they are from.

But that is where things went a little haywire.

Watch this.


REP. KERRY BENTIVOLIO (R), MICHIGAN: The chair recognizes the
gentleman from American Samolia.


MADDOW: I`m sorry, who? The gentleman from who? What, now?


BENTIVOLIO: The chair recognizes the gentleman from American Samolia.


MADDOW: American Samolia.

If you Google American Samolia, you can get a little help as to what
he was thinking, if you just type into Google. You ever do this, A-M-E-R-
I-C-A-N, American S-A -- then the drop-down menu helps, he means American
Samoa. Thank you, Google, suggests the drop down menu, American Samoa.

Not that obscure. I mean, there`s Girl Scout cookie called Samoa,
right? Lots of people who have never been to Samoa have had lots of
practice saying it, Samoa, Samoa.

So, he said American Samolia, but he just meant American Samoa. But
then, things got a lot worse, he had to say not just the next person to
speak has a name. His name is Eni Faleomavaega. Which is not an easy name
to say, but not impossible. This guy is not a new guy.

Eni Faleomavaega has been in Congress representing American Samoa
since 1989. Now, he needs to be introduced in Congress, and it`s Kerry
Bentivolio who`s got to take it away.


BENTIVOLIO: The chair recognizes the gentleman from American Samolia,
Mr. Falumabinga.



MADDOW: Did you say Falumabinga? Mr. Falumabinga, why not?

It`s actually Mr. Faleomavaega. How do you get from these letters on
a piece of paper in front of you to --


BENTIVOLIO: Mr. Falumabinga.


MADDOW: Maybe he thought American Samolia is in Spain or somewhere,
where conceivably the V could be pronounced B for binga? A tough day with
the new president pro temp, right?

But here`s the most important part. If you were Mr. Faleomavaega, how
do you respond? This new guy, right, you`ve been there 24 years, this guy
has never heard the name Samoa before? And he also just destroys your name
and in turns into Falumbinga, what do you?

You react with total class and win the whole day and everybody`s
respect. Watch how he reacted.


BENTOVOLIO: The chair recognizes the gentleman from American Samolia,
Mr. Falumabinga.


REP. ENI FALEOMAVAEGA, AMERICAN SAMOA: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, it is
American Samoa.


MADDOW: The best natured man in congress is the guy who ignored that
he has just been called Mr. Falumabinga, who`s willing that ride, but he
stands up for his place, from where he is from. Get Samoa, right, huh?

With total poise, Representative Eni Faleomavaega, you are the best-
natured man in Congress. And that act of restraint on your part is the
best new thing in the world.


WOLFF: So the guy`s name is what?


WOLFF: Bentivolio can`t say Samoa? Has he not been practicing
anything? He just says I`m Kerry.

RAFSANJANI: The guy`s name is hard to pronounce, but Samoa is not
hard to pronounce.

MADDOW: It`s actually harder to say than Samolia.

perfectly, and it`s because of this thing which I`ve kept on my desk the
whole time. It is a pronouncer. Faleomavaega. You can use that.

MADDOW: Eni Faleomavaega. And then it`s, in case you want to refer
to it in the actual text, Eni Faleomavaega, and the cool thing is, that
after this, after we put him on the show in this way, we were shouting him
out. He had such class and restraint in the way he responded.

He went on to be the champion in Congress of the Washington Redskins
dropping their name as a racist insult in the NFL. And he has just been
leading the charge on that in a way that made it more of an issue for the
country than it ever has been before. So he`s not only Eni Faleomavaega,
and he`s not only nice about where he`s from, but very effective.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We should mail that card to Kerry Bentivolio.


MADDOW: Yes, that`s a good idea.


MADDOW: That`s an excellent idea. I have to go.


MADDOW: What else? Best new thing in the world. Who`s got a

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As a former band geek, Rachel, and I know that
there are a lot of us here. I see you. I definitely see you.

WOLFF: There`s no former.

MADDOW: We should have a RACHEL MADDOW staff band.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to say, my favorite best new thing in the
world is when we had to go out and rent a trombone to use on the set,
because there was this video posted by a trombonist. And what he did with
his trombone was like, the best new thing in the world.

MADDOW: Didn`t I have to play the trombone? Did I?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think you attempted --

MADDOW: I attempted --


WOLFF: Well done.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have good arm reach, Rachel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wouldn`t you like to be a senior producer?


MADDOW: OK, this might not work, best new thing in the world.

Do you know how there are kinds of extreme sports videos all over the
Internet these days? Videos shot from the point of view of the athlete,
they`ve got the camera on them so you can feel like it`s you hurdling down
the ski slope or catching a wave, or whatever.

The reason there are a lot of videos like this out there right now is
because the cameras that you do this with have gotten small and cheap.
Like the GoPro, a fairly cheap camera you can stick on a helmet or skate
board while you do something involving velocity. And once people figured
out they could do go fast stuff like that with a GoPro on them as they did
it, it was not long before people started to using these cameras to do
things other than just go fast.

Like for example, somebody came up with the idea to attach one of
these cameras to a hula hoop, which at least alters your perspective on
things and quietly possibly makes you barf just looking at it.

But now, one excellent American, one American musician, may have
discovered the single best awesome use yet of a GoPro camera.

This is a trombone, obviously, which is an inherently funny


And this is a -- can you see that? A GoPro camera that we have
attached to the slide. Remember the hula hoop thing?

Well, imagine the perspective from the GoPro of somebody playing the
trombone, OK? This is genius, watch.


MADDOW: That is a professional musician, David Finlayson. He is the
second trombonist with the New York Philharmonic. The song incidentally is
an etude by Marco Borgoni (ph). Mr. Finlayson tells us he shot the video a
year ago just on a whim. He put it on his personal Web site.

This week, a friend shared the link and the world hive mind has
collectively decided that this must be seen.

Seriously, there is probably a master`s thesis in why this works.
Something to do with the sudden altering of perspective or the slide moves,
maybe it is the vein popping on the trombonist forehead. Whatever the
reason, the split bulb eye view of the trombone being played is for obvious
reasons, the best new thing in the world today.



MADDOW: OK. So, out of all the best new things in the world, at
least as portrayed on THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW, we do have to sort of -- I
feel like we have to show the breadth of what we`ve done, right? Because
best new things in the world tend to be a wide-ranging feature, right? So
did we have -- I can`t remember if we had any that were international and
that were particularly good. Did we have any good international ones?

RAWAN JABAJI, SEGMENT PRODUCER: I have one. Remember over the
summertime, there was the huge anti-government protests in Turkey and the
media was just not covering it. They were running films about penguins and
they were --

MADDOW: The state media in Turkey was like, nothing to see here.

JABAJI: Totally, penguins!

So, like, there was this Turkish game show host and he basically
figured out a way to bring up the government crackdown 70 times in his show
and it was like totally awesome. Like, I don`t speak Turkish, but I could
totally understand it.

MADDOW: And he devised it as part of the game and it blew everybody`s

JABAJI: Yes, he`d ask questions, and the answers would be words
against the government.

MADDOW: It was awesome. It was awesome even in Turkish. That`s


MADDOW: In Turkey, there`s a TV game show that`s called "The Word
Game". And it`s kind of like "Wheel of Fortune", maybe closer to
"Password." you ever see "Password" on for about a zillion years, a zillion
years ago, I`m on old person.

Anyway, in this Turkish version of password, this show that`s called
"Word Game". The host gives the contestants a clue, and then based on the
clue, they have to guess what the secret word is.

On Monday night, the host of the "Word Game" in Turkey decided to use
the game show to subvert the censorship in his country. He made the whole
game -- the whole game show about the thing that nobody is allowed to talk
about on TV.

For example, one clue to the contestants was "democracy breather."
Democracy breather? I`m stumped. But the contestant was not stumped.


MADDOW: Gas mask! Democracy breather, as the government has been
tear-gassing the protesters, right?

How about this one? A person that concentrates all political power.
That`s the clue. Hmmm.


MADDOW: Dictator! Good clue.

The next clue was, the social network site that has been described as
a curse. Answer?


MADDOW: Twitter, Twitter. If missed that one in America, Twitter is
just Twitter.

In Turkey, on the morning of that episode of "The Word Game", prime
minister had called Twitter a menace to society.

In the single one hour episode of "The Word Game" in Turkey, the host
brought up the anti-government protest that nobody is allowed to mention 70
different times. Among the 70 secret words he put into the game were
"police" and "violence" and "silence" and "resistance" and "censorship".

According to "The New York Times" lead blog which picked up on some of
the translated coverage of this hero game show hosts, the last two clues
were pretty direct messages to the government.

The second to last clue was, to voluntarily give up a position. The
answer was: resign.

And the last clue was: the act that makes a person bigger by asking to
be forgiven for wrong actions. The answer, of course, to that was

The host has not been back on TV for a live show since doing this on
Monday night. So, we do not know what his act of bravery will cost him.
Whether or not the host Ali Ihsan Varol ever knew that bravery would be
what was needed from him, as a host, as a game show host, he has showed
that he has got what it takes, best new thing in the world.


MADDOW: That was serious -- it was great and serious, though. Do we
know what happened to him?

JABAJI: We do have an update. Thanks to Twitter, he is back in the
hosting chair.

MADDOW: Really?



MADDOW: That`s cool.

WOLFF: In America, he`d have gone to Hollywood and pitched subversive


MADDOW: Or he would have gone into rehab.

WOLFF: Well, those two are not mutually exclusive. This is America.

MADDOW: Well, what else?

MICHAEL YARVITZ, SEGMENT PRODUCER: I think I`ve got a contender, a
real contender. And it involves a 5-year-old boy named Miles Scott.


YARVITZ: Who you may know as Miles Scott, but the city of San
Francisco knows as Batkid!

MADDOW: The cool thing about this one is that it was a cool thing
about this kid, a cool thing about the city of San Francisco, and when it
happened, it became a national cause, like America came together around one
thing. We can`t stand each other on everything from fried chicken
preferences to politics and everything in between, but when it comes to Bat
Kid, we`re all on the same page.


MADDOW: This is Miles. He is 5. He`s battling leukemia for more
than his life. His leukemia is currently in remission, which is a good

When the Make a Wish people asked him what his wish was, he said he
wanted to be a super hero, Batman. Or maybe, Batkid.

But I probably do not have to tell you any of this because if you own
a computer machine or any sort of device that hooks you to social media.
This is what it looked like this afternoon if you set your tweet deck for
#sfbatkid. Don`t stare at it you will go blind.

All the interests at this today`s event actually overwhelmed the Make
a Wish Web site. Look at what they had to post. "We are sorry. We are
currently experiencing technical difficulties, due to interest in the
Batkid wish. Please check back."

And that`s just the virtual world`s response. In the wetware world,
thousands, literally thousand of people brought their actual physical
bodies to the streets of San Francisco today, transforming San Francisco
for a few hours today into Gotham City.

And Miles, costumed as Badkid, as the caped crusader mini-me, well, he
knew he would spend the day in character. But he did not know how
elaborate it would get.

His experience started with a breaking news bulletin and a televised
appeal from San Francisco`s actual police chief.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gotham City needs you, Batman. This is Police
Chief Greg Suhr, only hoping you can hear my voice.

It`s critical that you call me right now. We have a damsel in
distress. But that`s just the beginning, Batman, just the tip of the
iceberg. You have to call me, it`s urgent. Please, caped crusader, we
need you. And -- bring the Batkid.


MADDOW: And he wasn`t kidding. Miles in costume got to ride in a
Batmobile. He helped rescue a woman tied to a bomb on the cable car
tracks. He foiled a bank robbery resulting in the arrest of the Riddler --
oh, yes!

But his work was still not done. While Miles was eating lunch, crowds
of volunteers called on him to rescue the San Francisco Giants` mascot, Lou
Seal, who had been kidnapped by the Penguin. Miles, heard the call, freed
the Seal.

And, yes, yes, helped nab the Penguin, resulting in the most awesome
fake indictment for both super villains published from the U.S. district
court, Gotham division.

And then for his super heroism, Miles was awarded the key to the city.
He also got congratulations from the White House. President Obama even
Vined him his presidential thanks.


to save Gotham. Way to go, Miles. Way to save Gotham. Way to go, Miles.
Way to save Gotham.


MADDOW: Basically, the entire city of San Francisco went nuts today.
And so did everybody who could not be there in person, but who cheered it
all on, online.

And here is why this is the best new thing in the world today, aside
from the first and most obvious reason which its that a kid who has had to
fight for his life is getting something he really wanted.

Another reason this is great is that truth is when people are faced
with awful things, the specter of awful things, including sickness and
death, even in children, the seeming inevitability of darkness and
destruction, you know what people want to do? They want to help.

And when there`s not just a desire to help but there is a specific
thing that you really can do and it really might help, people do it.
People help. They go out in the streets and they do what they can. And
that impulse, that humane impulse, basically engulfed a major U.S. city
this afternoon. And that is the best new thing in the world today. Oh, my
God, is it.


MADDOW: And that`s a TV host trying really hard not to cry while
telling a story. That`s the thing. Like, yes, I cry at sad stories, so
does everybody, I cry at the national anthem like everybody does. Stories
about people being good. Oh, God!

YARVITZ: And since that happened, there has since been a development,
that a mystery donor, somewhere in the city of San Francisco, has put up a
billboard by the Bay Bridge that says, "Thanks for saving the city,



MADDOW: I`m surprised that nobody brought up the actual best, best
new thing in the world. This is the best one. This is the best one.


MADDOW: All right. Best new thing in the world. Who else has a
nomination? Kent?

KENT JONES, WRITER: These are cute, these are funny. We did a story
from Russia that`s going to have geopolitical ramifications for the next
decade, two decades.

MADDOW: Russia?

JONES: Russia.

MADDOW: I don`t remember a Russia one.

JONES: There`s a dog that looks like Vladimir Putin.

MADDOW: Oh, my God!

JONES: OK! We`re just forgetting that? We`re not doing that? Dog
looks like Vladimir Putin, OK?

MADDOW: And you think you`ve got the story. Run with it!


MADDOW: I am tempted to say the best new thing in the world today is
this moment of inexplicability, which happened on CNN just a little while
ago this evening.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: Does Pravda well, like you get a freelancer

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I am hoping I get a chance to go over
to Russia and do a face to face interview with "Pravda" look forward how to
that opportunity. Maybe while I`m there get a chance to chat with Vladimir
about, you know, maybe take my shirt off, we can do some things together,

COOPER: You could arm wrestle or something.

Senator McCain, appreciate you`re on. Thank you.


MADDOW: That`s the loudest uh in the world. It`s tempting to call
that the best new thing in the world if only Mr. Cooper on CNN keeping his
composure, as John McCain tells him he wants to take off his shirt with
Vladimir Putin and do some things together. Mr. Cooper holding it together
for that is an excellent, excellent thing.

But this is better -- behold the best new thing in the world today.

Oh. Why the long face?

This dog was reportedly a stray, found on the streets of Kiev in the
former Soviet republic of Ukraine. We know this because the dog`s picture
was posted by a Ukrainian newspaper this week under a tag called oddities.
If you can`t read the alphabet, trust me.

But as to why this picture of Ukrainian street dog is considered an
oddity, does he look at all familiar? Thank you, Google translate. On
Khreschatyk found a dog like a Putin. Seriously, it`s true. The dog is a
dead ringer for Russian President Vladimir Putin. It`s amazing. It`s

Even more so when you lay the pictures on top of each other. The
resemblance -- look, it`s uncanny. It`s like Putin`s face is coming out of
the dog.

The Internet, of course, exploded over this today, basically my whole
morning. All speculation about what exactly is Putin-esque about this dog?
Is it the eyes with the same expression, gaze upon me for I am a bad ass?
Is it the bridge of the nose, remarkably similar in shape?

I think on their own neither of the things would be enough. I think
the real reason this dog is so Putin-esque is because the dog is shirtless.
And a magnificent watch the wind, caress my skin while I ride horseback
come hither John McCain kind of way.

Shirtless Vladimir Putin having a Ukrainian stray dog doppelganger
obviously the best new thing in the world today. Yes.



MADDOW: All right. Well, I feel like -- it makes me feel good,
looking back at the year at all of the best new things that we did and the
ones you guys liked in particular, because it makes me feel like, there was
more good news than I remember.

But I`ve got to say I`m surprised that nobody brought up the actual
best, best new thing in the world. I mean, it was -- and it was a long
time ago, it was sort of towards the beginning of the year, so maybe you
don`t remember, but it was clearly the best one.

It was around Valentine`s Day and on the occasion of Valentine`s Day,
one of the presidential libraries decided to release some of the
handwritten love letters from one of our previous presidents to his adoring
wife who became the first lady. It was very sweet.

But like all gat best new things, the thing that seems like it`s best
on the surface is actually kind of beside the point. And the actual best
new thing in the world is the single greatest recording ever made of an
American president saying anything ever.

And it`s LBJ and I fell apart on television. I could not keep it
together. And almost could not toss to the Lawrence O`Donnell show at the
end of it. This is the best one. This is the best one.\


MADDOW: Best new thing in the world.

OK? Tomorrow is Valentine`s Day. If you are in a relationship, do
not forget, do something nice. If you are not in a relationship I hope
that Valentine`s Day does not bum you out and you have a really good day,
however you want it to go.

But on the occasion of Valentine`s Day this year, one of America`s
presidential libraries is going to make that president`s love letters, to
the woman who would become his first lady available for public viewing.
Now, some of those letters were made public before. A few of them, in
fact, were even performed out loud back in the `70s by actors Kirk Douglas
and Helen Hayes. Watch this.


KIRK DOUGLAS, ACTOR: My dear Bird, this morning, I`m ambitious,
proud, energetic, and very madly in love with you. I want to see people.
I want to walk through the throngs, I want to do things with the drive. If
I had a box I would almost make a speech this minute -- plans, ideas,
hopes, I`m bubbling over with them.

HELEN HAYES, ACTRESS: Lyndon, please tell me as soon as you can what
the deal is. I`m afraid it`s politics. Oh, I know I haven`t any business,
not any proprietary interest, but I would hate for you to go into politics.


MADDOW: Isn`t that awesome? After they first met, it took the
passage of nearly two months and nearly 100 letters between them, before
Ms. Claudia Taylor known as Lady Bird, agreed to marry Mr. Lyndon Baines

It`s amazing, right? I mean, we don`t think of our presidents as
young men in love, even sometimes think of them as celebrities, but we
don`t think of them as young men in love.

Particularly, we don`t think of this president that way. We think of
LBJ as a kind of president who was deliberately crass as a strategic
tactic. I mean, he made famously people talk to him while he sat on a
toilet. We think of LBJ as a kind of person whose most famous presidential
recording of him was making an incredible phone call from the White House
to order himself some pants from a man in Texas.

You have heard the recording of LBJ ordering his pants over the phone,
haven`t you? Oh please tell me you have heard this recording.


maybe three of the light brown, kind of an almost powder color, like the
powder on a lady`s face. And then there was some green, and then maybe
some other light pair, if you had a blue on that, or black, one blue and
one black. I need about six pairs to wear around in the evening when I
come in from work. And I need about a half an inch, too tight in the

JH: Do you recall the exact size? I just want to be able to get them
right for you.

JOHNSON: No, I don`t know -- y`all just guessed at `em, I think, some
-- but wouldn`t you have the measurements there?

JH: We`ll find them for you.

JOHNSON: Now, the pockets when you sit down in the chair, the knife
and money comes out so I need at least another inch in the pockets.

Yes. Now, another thing -- the crotch, down where your nuts hang is
always a little too tight, so when you make them up, give me an inch so I
can let it out there because they cut me. It`s just like riding a wire
fence. These are almost -- these are the best that I`ve had anywhere in
the United States.

But when I gain a little weight, they cut me under there. So leave me
-- you never do have much margin there. Let`s see if you can`t leave me
about an inch from where the zipper (BURPS) ends, around, back to my

JH: All right, sir.

JOHNSON: So I can let it out there if I need to.



MADDOW: I have heard it before, I have never, ever seen it laid out
with the pictures of him. And to the subtitler who had to actually add in
there parenthesis "burps" -- I`m sorry.

We may be getting LBJS`s love letters released in time for Valentine`s
Day this year, but for Valentine`s Day eve, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW gives
you President Lyndon Baines Johnson ordering pants in all of its glory.

Happy Valentine`s Day eve, America, this is how you know I love you.
The best new thing in the world. Oh my God!


MADDOW: It`s not like trying to be crass. He is just calling it
(INAUDIBLE) from the White House, tape recording for all eternity.

WOLFF: Oh, nuts and bungholes. Nuts and bungholes. Nuts and

You would think those two word would make a return to the American
lexicon, nuts, but nobody says bungholes. But I --

MADDOW: I didn`t know we could say those things on TV.

WOLFF: We can`t. But he is the president of the United States. He
is down by his nuts and his bunghole.


MADDOW: Well, here`s to LBJ, riding the wire fence! Whoo! Good
afternoon, everybody!




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