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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  December 19, 2013 1:00am-2:01am PST

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ryan grim from "the huffington post." thank you, it was fun. that is it for "all in," and rachel maddow is next, with steve kornacki filling in. >> good evening, i'm steve kornacki, rachel has the night off. there is no need to adjust your television, but the united states congress tonight has actually done something. on this vote, the yeas are 64, the nays are 36. the motion to concur in the house amendment to the senate amendment to house hj res 59 is agreed to. >> earlier tonight, the united states had passed that mouthful of senate jargon, otherwise known as a budget. as you heard there, the margin
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was pretty wide. 36 yes, six against it. the house that passed the vote in a vote that was even more lopsided. this makes it the first time since 2009 that a budget has actually been agreed to. this is admittedly a low bar, not exactly the monumental legislation that we're talking about here. but even at that, the fact that there is any budget deal that shows congress functional in a way that it has not been in a long time. at least the math behind the budget was made possible by something else that happened this year. when the bush tax cuts were allowed to expire for the wealthiest americans, maybe you remember the fiscal cliff deal, the deal brought a ton of new tax revenue into the federal government by not only allowing the high-end bush tax cuts to expire but also by raising things like the capital gains attack. so president obama started off
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this year with the deal to end most of the high end bush tax cuts, something he had been trying to do for a long time. something he campaigned on in the 2012 election. now he is ending the year with a two-year budget deal that will likely avert a government shutdown. so this is not the most momentous day in the republican history, we wouldn't look back and say where were you in 2013, when congress passed the budget? but this is still a significant budget. the one in january and the one today, are important deals. yet as the senate was preparing to complete the deal, politico was asking this important question, which president had the worst year 2005, it was the majority view of the beltway media. obama's worst year, that was the headline in the new republic.
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obama had the worst year in washington, according to "the washington post." this was "the daily beast." worst fifth year ever? maybe, they concluded that president obama had not just a bad year, not just a terrible year, but he has had the worst year of his entire presidency and quite possibly the worst fifth year that a u.s. president has ever had. yes, we can take a break. maybe president obama had a trying year, yes, let's take a break, but let's consider some of the competition here for a minute when it comes to the title of worst fifth year ever for a president. it was in the fifth year of his presidency back in 1958 that lyndon johnson who was defeated, that he practically lost the new hampshire democratic primary to a gadfly senator, it was just
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months into his presidency where he had to go on television and make this announcement. >> i do not believe that i should devote an hour a day of my time to any personal partisan causes, or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office. the presidency of your country. accordingly, i shall not seek and i will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your president. >> that was a bad fifth year for a president. as we consider all that happened during president obama's fifth year we could also think about the fifth year that george w.
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bush had. the year five for president bush was the year of the harriet myer debacle. this was not exactly the sort of news coverage you want to hear when you're in year five. >> myers drops out as the supreme court nominee. tonight, the stunning reaction, what happens and what happens next. the votes were not there in the u.s. senate, and so tonight myer's nomination has been withdrawn. the president will choose again, all the while knowing he may be just hours away from the untold political damage. from a grand jury, looking for evidence that some in the white house were out to smear the question for underpinnings for war in iraq. >> did you catch that at the end there, with brian williams, year five of the presidency was not only the year of the harriet myer debacle, it was also the year that the president's top
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aide was indicted. the libby scandal was blowing wide open during that fifth year. and there was also something called hurricane katrina, which was not also a disaster of epic, tragic proportions, but also through his leadership that president bush never really recovered from. >> tonight, the president of the united states visited this region, and while he was here, one of the major radio station that was broadcasting chose not to broadcast his remarks, saying that nothing he would say could help them deal with the dire situation unfolding live in streets of new orleans, where people were still dying in front of him. >> and that was a bad fifth year for a president. there was also in year five, by the way, when something called the saturday night massacre happened during the nixon presidency, in terms of devastating year five elements, this probably takes the cake.
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>> the tonight show will not be seen tonight so we can bring you the following nbc report. >> good evening, the country tonight is in the middle of what may be the most serious constitutional crisis in its history. the attorney general has resigned. elliott richardson who was appointed only last may has quit, saying he can't carry out nixon's instructions, his deputy has been fired. he refused during a moment of drama to fire the special watergate prosecutor. that is a stunning development and nothing even like it remotely has happened in all of our history. >> i know, i know, that is not exactly a botched health care rollout there, but that was pretty bad. as was the moment during the fifth presidency when richard nixon had to go on national
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television and say this. >> in all of my years of public life i have never obstructed justice, and i think i, too, can say that in my years of public life, i welcome this kind of examination, because people have to know whether or not their president is a crook. well, i'm not a crook, i have earned everything i have got. >> year five of the nixon presidency was when the water gate scandal happened. that was essentially the beginning of the end for richard nixon. by the way, it was during his fifth year that this happened. >> good evening, spiro agnew became a citizen today, he was convicted of the charge of tax evasion. >> having your vice president resign and then get criminally convicted on the same day,
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having that be number seven or eight of your list of problems of president, now, that is the definition of a bad fifth year in office for a president. apparently not quite as bad as the fifth year that president obama is having, at least according to a certain strain of conventional wisdom. look, there is no doubt this has been a disappointing year for the president. he failed to get a background check bill, immigration reform, stalled ever since it was in the house. there was the whole government shutdown, the botched health care law. there is also a question of how at the end of the year, the country will interpret all of this. was it just a failure of the president, and the republicans? that is a question that has not yet been answered and may not be answered until the full mid-term elections and may not be answered there.
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president obama's approval rating now has reached the lowest rating of his presidency. the republican party is now as unpopular among all american people as it has ever been. that is the result of year five. it has not gone good or been good for anyone in washington, what does that mean for what happens now and in year six? joining me now is the political journalist and the editor. thank you for joining us. i really couldn't help but go back to the archives and we have s pyro agnew, and it is important to say there is bad year fives, as you look at year five for the presidency, we highlight things that didn't happen. there were also things that did happen and that are in the process of happening this year that maybe are not getting a lot of attention when we talk about things that didn't get through.
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>> you talked about getting taxes on the wealthy. he succeeded in january, the first time there was taxation on the rich. he pushed hard to have the repeal of the defense of marriage act. you have this iran agreement where he talked for years about we wanted to negotiate directly with the country and eventually reach a type of deal where iran stops building the nuclear weapons program. by changing the rules of the senate, he convinced the senate democrats to do that, now he can appoint people, judges and executive branch folks, as well, with just 51 votes. that will make a difference in the next three years. >> when you look at it. the politico thing, saying this is the worst year ever. the poll numbers for the president are done, have not been this low for most of his presidency.
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what do you chalk it up to? is it residual frustration from the shutdown? is this because of the website? what do you attribute it to when you see numbers like that? >> the president talked about it during the campaign, he used the phrase "the fever will break" talking about how republicans would work with him and washington would work with him again, americans are frustrated washington is not going stuff. immigration reform blocks, gun control, the government shutdown, these are not the president's own fault. the republicans are acting the same way they did in 2011 and 2012. but washington is definitely not moving. you can't just say the president's health care roll was not improving. you may disagree with him, but this is an issue where it appears there was bad government, the kinds of things that happened during the bush era, you saw the polls directly drop.
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that was the one thing they could have avoided and they did not. and yet here we are, now, we're moving from november, the month when everything went wrong with health care, into december, when there are stories about successes and the system working now. it seems like there is still an opportunity to turn that around. but let's talk about where it may be going, the obama presidency, where his relationship with congress may be going. we have this budget agreement tonight. the senate passing it. the house passing it last week, we also have wow, look at this, they came together, we have a budget. we have a disturbing conversation from paul ryan, where he took the issue of the debt ceiling and basically said that is coming up in march, and republicans are not expecting to just approve another debt ceiling increase without getting something for it. that is the whole recipe that brought on so much crisis before. is that a bluff, or are we just going to head back to the kind of governing for the month ahead?
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>> the republicans are very weary of having another government shutdown style. the health care rollout has been so bad this is their issue for 2014. they don't want to muddy the message too much. so i think that is pretty much a bluff, they will push for some changes, but it wouldn't be a 2011 style, the president has to agree for the reduction or else. the strategists i talked to said they're very well aware of the poll numbers. john boehner doesn't have the numbers in the same way. >> that is why i hesitate, i love to talk about history and trying to put things into a historical context on the spot. but i'm just imagining a year 15 or 20 years from now. let's say the affordable care act worked. and let's say it was deemed a success, we'll talk about how this hugely successful part of
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the social safety net was created. we'll talk about the assessment. they're very interesting to talk about, and thank you so much for being a part of that. while we look back, one of the most unforgettable stories is the big election this year, one in the commonwealth of virginia, and today it officially ended and it ended in a way that makes it even a bigger deal. that is next. . ♪ [ female announcer ] just about anywhere you use sugar, you can use splenda® no calorie sweetener. splenda® lets you experience the joy of sugar without all the calories. think sugar, say splenda™ i think we both are clean freaks. i used to scrub the floor on my knees. [ daughter ] i've mastered the art of foot cleaning. oh, boy. oh, boy. oh, boy. [ carmel ] that drives me nuts. it gives me anxiety just thinking about how crazy they get. [ doorbell rings ] [ daughter ] oh, wow. [ carmel ] swiffer wetjet.
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you guys should try this. it's so easy. oh, my. [ gasps ] i just washed this floor. if i didn't see it i wouldn't believe it. [ carmel ] it did my heart good to see you cleaning. [ regina ] yeah, your generation has all the good stuff. [ daughter ] oh, yeah.
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i need to get something off my chest about the whole chris christie grid saga. i'm going to give you the latest developments in this incredible story just ahead. .
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six weeks and one day after the polls closed across the commonwealth of virginia, we finally are ready to declare a winner in the race for attorney general in that state. this was the last major election of 2013 that was still outstanding until today. and the winner, as you can see, is democrat mark herring, to become the next attorney general of virginia. on election night, he finished ahead by just 165 votes of nearly 2 million cast. they started the recount earlier this week, and he was ahead by 200 votes. today just after the third day of that recount, the republican, conceded the election, his
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lawyer had previously raised the possibility that he may press on even after the recount, but that was before the recount began, adding up the deficit in the race. we don't have the final numbers yet like we said, the recount is still ongoing. but because it moved the results so dramatically in the democrat's favor, the republican candidate is now admitting defeat. so we get to dust off that election night music one last time for 2013 and we get to telling that mark herring is the projected race in the race for attorney general of virginia. and now i know, you may be thinking, the attorney general race in virginia, two candidates people may not have heard of. really is not that big of deal, is it? not so fast, this one is big, it means a lot. for one thing it gives democrats in virginia control of all the state-wide elected offices there for the first time since 1969.
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both of the senators are democrats. and now comes january, the attorney general general and lieutenant governor will also be democrats. this has not happened for 44 years. and this was in a state that was basically just a republican bastion, just a generation ago, a state that is now the premier swing state in america. the democrats just locked down a monopoly in the elected offices. you have to go back all the way to 1973, 40 years ago, to find the last time before now that virginia picked a governor from the party that occupies the white house. that is why at the start of this year, republican conventional wisdom said that ken cuccinelli was going to win the governor's race. democrats chose a very unpopular candidate, terry mcauliffe as their nominee. but now that is governor-elect terry mcauliffe. there is really not a modern precedent for what happened in
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virginia, calling into question the basic assumptions in politics in this area. and back in 2008, when barack obama became the first to win the office since 1974, he won with liberal professionals and black voters, city dwellers, union workers. that coalition, that obama coalition carried him in virginia and across the nation. it was a new day in politics, we said, a new day of that new obama coalition. then, the very next year, that coalition vanished. the generation that helped to sweep barack obama into power did not sweep up in the 2009 election, instead, virginia gave the republicans a clean sweep. the governor, the attorney general, all of them elected in 2009, all of them republicans just a year after obama carried the state. and in 2010, the same thing happened again. this time the national red tide washed over virginia. the republicans came to the 2010 mid-terms with five of
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virginia's congressional seats, emerging with eight of them. the obama coalition did not show up, crashed again in 2010. this didn't happen just in virginia either. but it became a truism in politics, all the young voters, non-white voters, inspired to turn out for the first time in many cases. those voters would show up when obama was on the ballot. they would be there when he was on the ballot of 2008 and 2012. take him off, they were not there. all the conventional wisdom the democrats had, a horrible terrible candidate in terry mcauliffe. president obama was not going to be on the ballot. so the obama coalition was not going to show up. so of course, ken cuccinelli was going to be the governor, no matter how extreme his position.
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that was supposed to be the story of american politics in this age. but now, here we are at the end of the year, bringing you the news tonight that democrats have officially swept virginia, the obama coalition did show up even without obama on the ballot. they showed up and produced this crazy, never saw it coming, democratic sweep of the old dominion. african-american women turned out. their votes, just by the odds, it was supposed to be theirs. the conventional wisdom said the obama coalition was not going to show up but it did. and today, they have chosen to put a democrat in every statewide office. partly because the politics are changing, if virginia is a bellweather state, and it is, absolutely, this can't be happy holiday news for republicans because the question has been
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whether democrats could win big, could win at all without barack obama on the ballot. and that means 2014, and 2016, every election going forward, because barack obama is not going to be on the ballot again. could democrats win without barack obama? that was the question at the start of this year. and the answer to that may be now go ask virginia. .
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remember when president obama picked former utah
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republican governor john huntsman to be his ambassador to china? governor huntsman was widely regarded to be a good choice, smart, fluent in the language, also he was regarded as a potential threat to the office. today, we have a new pick to be ambassador to china, and maybe, just maybe, another of the president's well calculated attempts to win twice. stay tuned.
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so i'm known around this building for a few things, one, obviously is my incredible sense of fashion, that is a joke, i still need help tying ties. another, the story on how you get lost. i tell the story on my first day here, i got off the subway, i was excited. came out on the street and found myself looking straight at that, the fox news channel. i get lost trying to get to this building and get lost trying to get around this building, it is just part of my reputation, i guess. the other thing i am known for in this part, though, how to put together my very obsessive interest in the state of new jersey, there has been an
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utterly fascinating jersey store playing out. also a national story. a threat to chris christie's image, a story where every revelation seems to raise ten new questions. i know you have heard about it. how the lanes on the george washington bridge were mysteriously ordered closed a cup of months ago, how the endorsement issue came up. how the closure idea was the idea of chris christie, how some say it was a plot to punish him for not playing ball. how two christie appointeess resigned. we'll learn more about this, the million dollar question, was this a political payback plot of whether or not chris christie had any knowledge of how any of this hung over it.
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maybe all of my colleagues at this point raised the question, all of them except me. the one guy more than anyone else here at msnbc should be talking about this incredible, only in new jersey story, well, we're going to talk about it today. but there is a reason i waited this long, i need to explain it first. this is your disclosure statement, not the run of the mill statement. the guy who was at the heart of it, the guy who ordered the lanes closed, the guy who democrats say was trying to punish the mayor who did not support chris christie. well, i know that guy, i used to work for him. he gave me my first big break, you could say i owe my career to him. it was the summer of 2002, i had just gotten through college, went to l.a., and failed miserably. i was back in politics, i was broke, had no leads, i used the cliche about how the rejection letters came in, but i didn't
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even get them. in 2004, there were a million political news sites out there. remember, this was 2002, the idea was exotic. the listing came with an aol address, i was curious, excited, desperate. i wrote a long e-mail and poured out my heart, pretty much, explaining how interested i was in politics, how badly i wanted to write about it for a career. how much this opportunity would mean to me. the ad was vague, i didn't know who was on the other end of the e-mail. the response came later, the new hampshire job was filled. but they had another site, in new jersey. there was an opening there. they asked if i was interested. i was a massachusetts kid and knew nothing about jersey, but i was interested. the site, it was called politics was an anonymously owned website.
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it was a pseudonym, the site was about two years old back then and had really taken off in political circles, the guy who ran it had great sources and unmatched institutional knowledge. now he wanted to go main stream and wanted a real reporter, someone with a real name to put on the site to do real reporting, to be accountable in real life. i had my interview there, i was staying with my aunt and uncle. my little cousin helped me set up aol messenger, he offered me the job, it paid almost nothing, there were no benefits, and i didn't hesitate to say yes. and something i never regretted. for the next three years i lived and breathed new jersey politics, lived and breathed new jersey and loved it.
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i didn't cover it out of the state house, i covered the county bosses, the turf wars, the machine battles, that is where the real action and real decisions were, where every decision that mattered was made. every state is unique, but they don't play politics like they do in new jersey. i tell everybody i got a master's degree in practical politics. when i started that job, wally helped tell who people were, helped fill in back stories, all on instant messenger, of course. mostly he gave me autonomy, i knew what i needed to cover, he didn't interfere. and basically it worked. i learned a ton. i made more than my share of mistakes but i did a lot of work i'm proud of, too. we got the credibility wally wanted when he hired me. i ended up co-hosting a show on new jersey politics. when i started, wally offered to share his real identity with me, but i refused.
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i wanted to be able to honestly tell people i had no idea. only when i left the site after three years, i finally gave in. we met at a steak house in north jersey, actually one that is not far from the george washington bridge. he introduced himself. i always figured he was an older guy, a retired reporter maybe in his 70s. that was my guess, everybody i talked to before that had guesses, when he introduced himself to me in person that was the first time i had ever heard the name david wildstein, i had no idea who he was, in his mid-40s, a life long political junky, we shook hands, soon off i was off to my next job, in 2005, eight years ago, i went on to d.c., and to a few other places. i finally landed here. wally sold the site, went back
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to politics, took the job with the port authority. we stayed in touch, when i got hired here at msnbc, i sent him a note, saying i would never forget he took a chance on me when nobody else would. i told him i appreciated it. that is exactly how i will always feel, this is why i have been torn as this story exploded. an incredible story, i am just as anxious to explore, ask questions about, to get answers about, before i can get answers, i need to get everything off my chest. i have not spoken to david wildstein about this story, but have read about it. it has been weird to see somebody that i know in the middle of this, but as they say in new jersey, it is what it is. i wanted to honor the fact this guy played an important role in my life, and how i got to where i am today, that will never change.
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this is a big story, i want to talk about it. the story has hit the 100 day mark like round numbers in this business, it has been 100 days without an explanation for the bridge shut in new jersey that caused a massive traffic jam. but yesterday it really hit its mark. yesterday, the press coverage of the story went national. so is the u.s. investigation, a federal investigation has been launched into the bridge controversy. and the department of transportation launched their own, with several investigations on their way, the printable officials who have resigned have retained fair representation. considering that they are asked to give their testimony under oath, the witnesses have been given an extension until next monday to answer the state subpoenas. meanwhile, the local press is not letting up.
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the new jersey large newspaper answering quote, these guys knew they were up to no good. there is no reason they would have tried to hide it. even though this is my first chance to talk about it, the story is already huge with big political consequences. to discuss it further, we have joining us the editor and publisher of the weekly insider jersey report on politics, nick, i used to live in hoboken. you were my neighbor there, fully got it off my chest. i want to talk to you more than anything about this. you know new jersey and the players and the personalities in this better than anyone. i'll start with, i think people know the basics here. the question everybody is asking as they look at this, lane closures, a mayor who wouldn't endorse chris christie's re-election, a nightmare in this town, is there any reason to think that chris christie was aware of it? >> i have seen no evidence for it. there has been a lot of speculation. my guess is that he did not.
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because you can say a lot of things about chris christie, and they probably have all been said. but he is not stupid. this was two guys figuring out how they would retaliate for what, we don't know, because we don't know what the mayor did. did he once promise to endorse chris christie and then backed out? or did they just not -- >> this is the mayor -- we don't know. >> we don't know. >> and that is one thing i think, is there any indication that the mayor of ft. lee will be subpoenaed and testify? >> while it was happening, he wrote a letter to bill barone, who was wildstein's -- >> this is the other -- >> at the port authority and wrote a letter saying this is nothing but retaliation. and then he later recanted that letter. but nobody specified what they
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were retaliating against. and i've seen no indications that the assembly transportation committee is going to call them. we'll see what the national transportation -- committee is going to do. i don't know. i'm very curious about what his role in this was. >> and when you say that you you suspect that christie was not aware of it and it was something cooked up by wildstein and by barone, i think the question this raises, giving the grief this caused chris christie, when you look at his reaction to this, he is not out there throwing him under the bus, he is basically taking their side in this. if he didn't know about it and it is causing him that much grief, tell me what it is about chris christie that can do this. >> i watched chris christie perform before he was u.s. attorney and launched his career. i first met him when he couldn't get elected freeholder in morris county. he doesn't throw you under the bus if you're his friend. he will run you over and back up over you if you're his enemy,
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but wait for this to play out. what is he going to say? he can't say they were rogue operators, which i suspect they were. he is going to let it play out. >> so what do you suspect will happen? we talked about how each of these two appointees, who have lawyers now, do you expect in the next few weeks when this testimony takes place, we'll learn a lot more about it? >> we'll learn more when we have the whole story. you know what testimony is like. people dance around things and take the narrowest path to answering questions. >> this is the guy from the new york side. >> the new york side, appointed by governor cuomo, he has hinted there may be a criminal act to do what they did. if that is the case they have to be very careful. i don't know, i'm not a lawyer, i'm not going to judge that.
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but it was dangerous, it was dumb. and if it was criminal, boy, they have big problems on your house. >> all right, thank you for making the trip -- did you take the george washington bridge? >> no, you can't take it, there is the george washington gate bridge. >> there it is, the oldest suffix in american politics, and we are going to get into the president's pick for ambassador to china. stay tuned. . [ female announcer ] we give you relief from your cold symptoms.
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>> this is democratic senator max baucus of montana, holding his seat since 1978. he announced he is finished with the senate and won't run for re-election. he has long been a more conservative thorn in the liberal sign of the democratic caucus, but he is a democrat, nonetheless, having control in that chamber, his retirement has been considered a huge opportunity for republicans to pick up a seat on the way towards gaining congress's upper chamber, republicans need six seats if they take back the senate next year.
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they also have a democratic senator whose seat is up in 2014. to illustrate why baucus' retirement was such a boost, just look at last month, the leading republican candidate was two seats ahead of his rival. the current lieutenant governor and current governor by 15 and seven points. by 15 and 17 points. now. this is still max baucus. he is president obama's choice to be ambassador to china. a hugely consequential position. recall, former utah governor and republican presidential hopeful john huntsman was president obama's pick at the beginning of the first term. the selection was widely understood as a quality appointment and political move. he would have to overcome with primary voters and something when huntsman ran was never able to do. consider this about the pick of
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max baucus, if he is confirmed and leaves before 2014 elections his seat in the senate will be filled by appointment of montana's governor. the governor is a democrat, steve bullock. and the governor is almost certainly going to tap another democrat to take baucus' place. which means that the republican senate candidate in montana is not running for an open seat in 2014 instead up against an incumbent. doesn't mean democrats are going to hold the montana senate seat in 2014 not at all. but it does complicate the republican's task there. if republicans fail to pick up what until this afternoon everyone thought was a gimme. their odds of controlling the senate go from difficult to plausible to really, really
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long. safe to assume that none of this was a mystery off to the obama administration when they offered max baucus his new job.
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the winter olympics in so chi start in 50 days. the olympic torch leading up has a two month affair. by the time it lights the caldron in sochi, 13,000 will have covered it. people have covered it on foot, horseback, snowmobile, water, by water. it's been the longest, most ambitious torch relay ever. but it has not been without some problems. look at this former russian bobsledder carrying the flame, it drips fluid, and catches on fire. same thing happened to two torch bearers.
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there may be a shortage in russia of nonfire dripping torches. also some times the flame never suppose to go out, some times it has gone out. people had to relight it on the fly. fortunately there is apparently no shortage of lighters in russia. torch relay has been a frustration in rush yeah. like any host country they want everything about their olympics to go seamlessly. more than want. russia need everything to go seamlessly. this is a country that could use a dose of good pr now on the global stage. that need could explain the most recent news out of russia.
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regular rachel maddow show viewers remember end of the summer this green peace ship was on a mission to oppose oil drilling beneath, in, the sea above the arctic circle. excuse me. when this happened. a handful of green peace activists from the ship tried to board the big new russian oil platform. the russians responded by turning fire hoses on the protesters. trying to knock them off the rig. and the russian coast guard arrives. they opened fire. they shot at the protesters. no one was killed or injured. the russians held everyone at gun point. started taking the green peace activists into custody. these are the russian coast
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guard officers, in uniform and guns and a knife. happened at the russian oil rig. the next day, the russians boarded the green peace ship. from a helicopter they rappelled down on to the boat with guns in hand. they arrested all 30 people on the ship. they brought them back to land. they threw them all in jail in rush yeah. and threatened them with charges of piracy and hooliganism. it could lead to 30 years in russian prison. the russians released the activists on bail. they were going to stand trial. looking at serious, hard prison time. until today. at 4:00 p.m. today, when the russian parliament passed amnesty bill that extend amnesty to those charged with hooliganism. the green peace activists arctic 30 will likely be freed. the amnesty bill is likely to free punk rock protest group pussyriot. two have been serving their sentences since then. maybe not for long after today. this is the kind of gesture a country makes when it knows the world is watching when it wants to make a good impression on the world to. make it so their worst problems are their torch problems. that's the idea of what russia
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is trying to do here. exempt there is another problem that russia hasn't addressed. it didn't address today. a big persistent political problem. the russian government is radically anti-gay. against the law in russia to be openly gay. president putin has done nothing to change that. enter the obama administration. yesterday the white house announced its delegation to the sochi olympics and does not include the president, does not include the first lady, the vice president or any former president or any real high profile political figure of any sort. it does however, include the former secretary of the department of homeland security, janet napolitano. some one who is not even currently in the cabinet or any elected position. it also includes the u.s. ambassador to russia, a presidential assistant, a deputy, secretary of state, a
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handful of former u.s. olympians including two athletes who are openly game. billie jean king. ice hockey olympian. we're not sending any high profile politicians to the games but are two sending two openly gay athletes. the statement the government wants to make. in a lot of ways a new experience for russia. a proud country at many times in its history has been happy to ignore, defy, thumb its nose at conventions of the rest of the world. that can change a little bit when you invite the planet over for a couple weeks. that does it. rachel will be back here tomorrow night. more of me and "up" this weekend. starting 8:00 a.m. eastern time. now time for the last word with lawrence o'donnell. have a great night. . good thursday morning. right now on "first look," massive breach. the u.s. secret service is investigating a major credited a debit card theft from shoppers at target dating back to black friday. patriarch from the hugely duck dynasty show gets yanked following anti-gay comments. stocking soar. new all-time highs for the major indices. plus will dennis rodman ask kim jong-un about assassinating his own uncle? the million dollar picasso for 140 bucks. and penguins on parade just for the holidays. good morning, i'm mara schiavocampo.


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