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The problem of 'working from different facts'

If you didn't catch "Meet the Press" yesterday, you missed a lively conversation about, among other things, women's votes in 2012 and the policy controversies that have put women's issues at the forefront of the political landscape.

As you'll see in this clip, around the 5:20 mark, Rachel noted the pay disparity between men and women in this country, which prompted some unexpected pushback (and incessant interruptions) from Republican strategist Alex Castellanos.

The angle to this to keep in mind is that the Republicans on the panel, Castellanos and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), simply reject the available facts on the wage gap. Despite ample evidence that shows women make less than men for the same work, Castellanos chooses to believe his own version of reality in which that's not the case.

As Rachel responded, "Wow. OK. Well, we're working from different facts." She added that this parallel perspective is critically important:

"The interruption is important, I think, because now we know, at least from both of your [Castellanos and McMorris Rodgers] perspectives, that women are not faring worst than men in the economy, that women aren't getting paid less for equal work. I think that's a serious difference in factual understanding of the world. But given that, some of us believe that women are getting paid less than men for doing the same work, there's something called the Fair Pay Act. There was a court ruling that said the statute of limitations, if you're getting paid less than a man, if you're subject to discrimination, starts before you know that discrimination is happening, effectively cutting off your recourse to the courts. You didn't know you were being discriminated against, you can't go.

"The first law passed by this administration is the Fair Pay Act to remedy that court ruling. The Mitt Romney campaign put you [McMorris Rodgers] out as a surrogate to talk -- to shore up people's feelings about this issue after they could not say whether or not Mitt Romney would've signed that bill. You're supposed to make us feel better about it. You voted against the Fair Pay Act. It's not about whether or not you have a female surrogate. It's about policy and whether or not you want to fix some of the structural discrimination that women really do face that Republicans don't believe is happening."

There's simply no shared foundation of reality, which in turn shapes the policy debate in unproductive ways. The left sees gender-based pay disparity and looks for mechanisms to address the problem; the right rejects the existence of the disparity and sees no use for the solutions because, to them, there is no problem.

For his part, Castellanos tried to move the conversation away from the substance, evidence, and fact-based policies, and instead told Rachel, "I love how passionate you are. I wish you were as right about what you're saying as you are passionate about it. I really do."

Rachel noted that his comments were condescending, adding, "My passion on this issue is actually me making a factual argument on it."

Because the conservatives on the panel are "working from different facts," the factual arguments didn't seem to matter.