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updated 8/24/2009 10:44:02 AM ET 2009-08-24T14:44:02

Guests: Rep. Anthony Weiner, Hans Blatter, Kent Jones

           

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  Good evening, Keith.  Thank you.  Have a great weekend.

KEITH OLBERMANN, “COUNTDOWN” HOST:  You, too.

MADDOW:  And thank you for spending some of your Friday night with us.

Congressman Anthony Weiner, who has become the country‘s most forceful advocate of the public option if not single-payer health care, will be joining us in this hour in just a couple of moments.  We‘ve also got Jon Stewart‘s brick-by-brick dismantling of Betsy McCaughey, the person who invented the secret plot to kill old people myth about health car.

There‘s lots to come over the course of this hour.

But we are beginning tonight with some breaking news.  NBC News has learned that as early as Monday, the Obama administration plans to release what we on this show have been calling the big kahuna.  It‘s the report on the Bush administration‘s torture program that was made while the program was still going on in 2004.  This is the report that supposedly stopped the torture program in its tracks when the report circulated inside the administration.

The CIA inspector general‘s report has been described as sickening by some who have seen it.  The only version of it that‘s been publicly released so far looks like this—it was released last year, and as you can see, it‘s almost completely redacted.

In her book, “The Dark Side,” Jane Mayer quotes a source who read the

report as saying, quote, “You couldn‘t read the documents without wondering

why didn‘t someone say, ‘Stop.‘”

Well, on Monday, we‘ll get a chance to read this report, although we don‘t yet know how much of it is going to be redacted this time.  Michael Isikoff of “Newsweek” magazine has sources who have both read a version of the report and who have been briefed on it.  He has just posted an account at Newsweek.com based on those sources, which says that we‘re about to learn from this report that in CIA interrogations, at least one prisoner “was threatened with a gun and a power drill” was fired up next to his head to terrify him that he was going to be killed.

The report also apparently says that “a mock execution was staged in room right next to” a prisoner, including firing a gun in that room, so that another prisoner would think that another detainee being held right next to him had just been killed.

Joining us with this exclusive report is MSNBC contributor and “Newsweek” investigative correspondent, Michael Isikoff.

Mike, thanks for putting your continued reporting on this on hold tonight in order to bring us up to speed.  I appreciate it.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Thank you, Rachel.  Good to be here.

MADDOW:  Your sources are describing what are in this report.  How confident are you that it‘s going to come out on Monday?  Do we have any idea, if it does come out, how much is going to be redacted?

ISIKOFF:  I‘m pretty confident.  This report has been delayed four times.  The release of this has been driven by the ACLU‘s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.  The CIA and Justice Department has been under directive from the federal judge to release the report.  They were going to two or three times before they asked for delays.

This is the deadline.  Monday is the deadline.  And all expectations are that a declassified version of the report will be released on Monday.  It will still contain redactions—about half of the report, I‘m told, will still be redacted.  But what‘s in the half that is going to be publicly released is going to be pretty explosive.

MADDOW:  The context here is critical.  And, you know, we‘ve seen these memos from John Yoo and other Bush administration lawyers purporting to legally OK what most people and most legal bodies would find to be torture techniques, like waterboarding and sleep depravation.  But nobody ever even purported to legally OK mock executions, did they?

ISIKOFF:  Right.  No.  That‘s exactly the point.  Now, that‘s why some of these passages are so significant.  And the story that I‘ve just posted with my colleague, Mark Hosenball, we wrote the story together.  Document - - we document that there are passages in the report that talk about these techniques, mock executions, threatening a detainee with death that clearly seem to go beyond the Justice Department legal authorizations.  And that‘s why these are so significant.

The federal torture law does forbid anybody, any government official or anybody else from threatening somebody with imminent death.  That‘s how torture is defined in the law.

So, you know, people will be asking how can a mock execution—shooting a gun off in a room next to a detainee, cocking a gun, brandishing it in his face, getting a power drill out—be any—judged anything other than seeming to threaten that detainee with death?

MADDOW:  The allegation about this prisoner threatened with death, a gun and power drill and all of this—was that one of the interrogations that was videotaped by the CIA?  It is possible that there is a tape here?

ISIKOFF:  Excellent question.  But the detainee who that happened to is accused of Abd al Rahim Nashiri, accused of being one of the architects of the USS Cole bomber.  He is one of the three detainees who were waterboarded.  But also, he is one of the two detainees whose videotapes were destroyed by CIA—by the CIA after this report came out.

This report came out in May 2004.  The next year as more and more attention about the CIA interrogation program started to get—be picked up on the media, the CIA, in November of 2005, destroyed the videotapes of the interrogation of Nashiri man Abu Zubaydah.  That destruction has been under investigation by a federal prosecutor for over a year, a special prosecutor appointed by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey under President Bush.

MADDOW:  Well, as we have talked about on this show before, this I.G.  report, at least the reporting on it that we‘ve seen so far, says that it includes mention of eight criminal cases of homicide and abuse and misconduct that will reportedly referred to the Justice Department because of this investigation.  These cases, as we know, basically languished.

Now, that report is going to come out do, you that I something is going to be done one way or another on these cases?

ISIKOFF:  Well, what we do expect, and as we‘ve reported before at “Newsweek” and discussed on this show, Attorney General Holder is very close, poised to appoint a prosecutor, some senior prosecutor in the Justice Department to review all of these cases and determine if there‘s grounds for further criminal prosecution.  And this is going to be a very significant step.

What Justice Department people say is they‘re going to be looking at are interrogations—actions that went beyond what was the legal authorization in those Justice Department memos.  So, this Nashiri stuff would seem to fit that bill.  We could learn about Holder‘s decision on that very shortly after that report comes out on Monday.

MADDOW:  One of the other things I‘m going to be looking for, of course, based on what we‘ve heard about this is whether or not there‘s also discussion here about people who were killed in custody, people who died in custody.  But we‘re going to have to wait until we see what‘s unredacted in this.

Michael Isikoff, MSNBC contributor, investigative correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine, has a piece up with his colleague, Mark Hosenball at Newsweek.com right now, which is the most advanced reporting I‘ve seen on this subject by far.  I‘m sure we‘re going to have plenty more to talk about this Monday after it comes out if, it comes out, Mike.  Thanks for joining us.

ISIKOFF:  Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  The president today stopped keeping his cards quite so close to the vest about his plans for health care.  In fact, judging by the White House statement today, the president is playing a game that looks a lot less like poker and a lot more like 52-card pickup.  This is turning into a big mess.  That‘s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  The White House stated to day that President Obama is willing to stake his entire presidency on whether or not he‘s able to achieve something that nearly every president since Truman has tried to achieve and failed.

Here is Robert Gibbs, White House press secretary, speaking this afternoon about the president‘s feelings on health care.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  I have heard the president say that if making tough decisions and getting important things done that Washington has failed to deal with for decades means that he only lives in this house and makes those decisions for four years, he‘s quite comfortable with that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  So, if getting health reform done means it‘s one term and out for president Obama, according to the White House, that is fine by the president.

Mr. Gibbs in that same briefing also repeating that it is the president‘s goal that health reform be bipartisan.  How is that bipartisan effort coming along?  How many Republicans are onboard for health reform right now?

Well, there is no one better to ask than the Republican whip in the Senate, Jon Kyl of Arizona.  The whip is the person in each party who‘s in charge of counting votes, in charge of making sure that legislators vote the way the party wants them to.  So, it‘s Jon Kyl who is keeping track of how many Republicans will vote for health reform.

Senator Kyl, how many Republicans you got onboard so far?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JON KYL ®, ARIZONA:  For either the bill that has passed the House committee or the bill that‘s passed the health committee in the Senate, I don‘t think a single Republican in the Senate would support either of those bills.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Not a single Republican.  So that would be zero.  Yay, bipartisanship.

The bottleneck right now for the health legislation is the so-called “gang of six” inside the Senate Finance Committee.  It‘s these three Republicans and three Democrats who are supposedly going to come up with a compromise bill that they can move forward in a bipartisan way.  Two of the three Republicans in the “gang of six” have frankly taken themselves completely out of the realm of negotiations on this.

Senators Mike Enzi and Chuck Grassley both say they think it should take 80 votes to pass health reform in the Senate -- 80 votes.  New rule.  Even beyond that, Senator Grassley has spent his summer vacation warning that the legislation on the table right now is about to “pull the plug” on your grandmother.

The chances of Mr. Enzi and Mr. Grassley voting for any major health reform seem right now to be less likely than me catching an orca on my rod and reel this weekend.

Now, the one hope for a Republican who might really be willing to reach across the ideological divide has been Republican Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine.  She is the other Republican in the “gang of six” besides Grassley and Enzi.  Senator Snowe had this progress report for Andrea Mitchell earlier today on MSNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. OLYMPIA SNOWE ®, SEN. FINANCE CMTE. (via telephone):  We have

not had the public option on the table.  It‘s been co-ops and addressing

affordability and availability and plans through the exchange.  And that‘s

those are the challenges that we‘re wrestling with.

           

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  No public option on the table.  Not on the table.

Since the White House has been fastidiously reiterating all week long how much the president wants a public option for insurance in the bill, I can‘t wait to hear the White House reaction to that.  They‘re not even considering it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL BURTON, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRES SEC.:  Well, that‘s democracy, isn‘t it?  You got folks who come from all different spectrums who were trying to get something done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Wait.  That‘s democracy?  The president says he wants public option.  Three committees in the House have already voted in favor of a public option.  The one committee in the Senate that‘s already voted has voted for a public option.  The top Democrat on health care in the conservadem Max Baucus put in writing at the start of the health care fight that he was for the public option.

A new poll just out showed 77 percent of Americans support a public option.  And, by the way, Democrats have 60 seats in the United States Senate.  But the public option is not even up for discussion in the Senate anymore.  It‘s not even on the table.

That‘s democracy?  This tiny minority of Republicans gets to decide what‘s in a bill that they basically admit they‘re never going to vote for anyway?  That‘s democracy?

Senator Baucus himself admitted today that the Republican leadership is, quote, “doing its utmost to kill this bill.”

Trying to kill the bill, planning on voting against it, all the while somehow persuading Democrats to make changes to this bill that the Democrats don‘t purportedly really want to make—this is the character of the Republican contribution to the health care debate right now.

Let‘s take a 24-hour snapshot of Republican efforts towards bipartisan health reform.  You‘ve heard that this health care reform is a secret plot to kill old people, right?  Well, Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiana is apparently engaged in his own secret health care plot.  Instead of reforming health care in this country, Senator Vitter has a plan to destroy the health care system of Canada.  At least that‘s what he says.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DAVID VITTER ®, LOUISIANA:  I‘m for re-importation not because I want to import price controls, which Canada has, you‘re right.  It‘s because I believe re-importation will cause the pricing system worldwide that the big drug companies exploit to collapse.  That system can survive.  So, my ultimate goal in terms of re-importation is causing that system to collapse.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Yes.  And that happened.  This is—the senator‘s serious sin, his contribution to health reform is a secret plot to collapse the Canadian health care system by us re-importing their good, cheap prescription drugs.  Sure, we‘ll bring them to their knees.

Then there is Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.  She is now being promoted to the forefront on health reform efforts.  She‘s encouraging states to secede from health reform—just like Governor Rick Perry of Texas suggested.  Ms. Bachmann told a conference call last night that she‘s hoping for, quote, “some fairly revolutionary action to be taken by these states.”  Revolutionary action.

Ms. Bachmann has been using this sort of Civil War language all year now.  In March, she warned that, quote, “a revolution every now and then is a good thing.”  She also said at the time that she wants her constituents, quote, “armed and dangerous” on the issue of climate change.

These latest comments from Ms. Bachmann were made during a conference call in which she spoke alongside Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina.  He‘s famous in the health reform debate for saying he hoped health reform would be President Obama‘s waterloo.

Yesterday, Senator DeMint offered this dire warning about health care.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SEN. JIM DEMINT ®, SOUTH CAROLINA:  Probably the most heart-wrenching experiences I‘ve had over the last several days is when naturalized American citizens who have immigrated here from Germany, Iran and other countries, they come up to me and they say, “Why are we doing what so many have fled from?  Why don‘t Americans see what we‘re doing?”  And I‘ve realized that these people who have lived under socialist type economies and totalitarianism, they know where we‘re headed if don‘t turn things around.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MADDOW:  See, if all Americans have health insurance, we‘ll be just like Iran where people flee from the health care.  Why don‘t you people see that?

Jim DeMint and Michele Bachmann were the two featured speakers on a conference call last night hosted by Americans for Prosperity, a corporate P.R. firm funded substantial by Koch Industries, the largest privately-held oil company in the United States.  The purpose of the conference call was to rally support for nationwide recess rally demonstration that are scheduled tomorrow across the country.

This is the character of the opposition to health reform right now.  This is the character of the contribution to bipartisan health care reform that the White House is banking on right now—that the White House is literally staking President Obama‘s presidency on right now.

Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York.  He sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House subcommittee.  He‘s one of 60 members of Congress who pledged to vote no on any legislation that does not include the public option.  And he is an outspoken supporter of single-payer health care.

Congressman Weiner, nice to see you.  Thanks for coming in.

REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK:  Thanks for having me.

MADDOW:  You‘re very good at math.  If there are zero Republican votes for health care reform, what is the best Democrats can do in terms of policy?  What can be done without Republicans?

WEINER:  Well, one thing we have to stop doing is negotiating against ourselves.  I mean, every time I turn on the television, find another Democrat or even sometimes the president backing away from the basic principles that are going to make health reform work.  And we have to stop that.

I mean, it‘s pretty clear, and you had this group of members of the House and Senate, none of whom are in touch with the mother ship.  You know, you have these guy who‘s basically are the problem.  There is not a single Republican vote that I‘ve seen for the thing.  So, I think that what we should be doing is trying to figure out what we, as Democrats, who are elected to turn this country around, what we should be thinking of doing.

You know, look, we have a majority in the House and the Senate and the presidency.  If we are going to keep worshipping at the altar of bipartisanship as an ends rather than a means to getting good policy, I don‘t think we‘re going to be any further down the road.  So, I think we would stop that right now.

And I‘ll tell you something else.  You know, you had for the longest period of time this “gang of six” on your screen there.  Who are these guys?  These are not people you would turn to for most policies and certainly not to make health care policy for the country.  And, yet, somehow, we‘ve seen it in our interests as Democrats to outsource to that group.  This is not the most important decisions we‘re going to make here about health care reform.

And I got to tell you, a lot of my colleagues are not having it.

MADDOW:  Well, what happens if they turn out to be the problem?  What if what the “gang of six” puts sought is a bill that‘s not acceptable to the Democratic majority in the House or the Senate?  Do they—is there a work around for them?

WEINER:  Look, I got to tell you.  One thing that this August period has shown us is we, as Democrats, frankly, can‘t leave that committee in charge of what‘s going to come out here, because they‘re getting it wrong just about every single day.

MADDOW:  Yes.

WEINER:  And what really troubles me is, I need the president to make it clear he understands that.  You know, I need him to say, look, we‘re watching the direction this committee was going.  We wanted the Senate Finance Committee to be a part of this.  They‘re going in the wrong direction and going away from single-payer, away from a public option.

And so, we‘re basically going to say we don‘t care about them that much anymore.  We‘re going to go to the full House and Senate.  And I think we have to get something else—you know, this notion of 80, 60, 75, they try to get what we can from the majority of the House and Senate.  We‘re going to go through this process called reconciliation which allows us to do with 51 votes in the Senate.  Let‘s use it.  Let‘s try to get the best we can here.

MADDOW:  In the House, Nancy Pelosi yesterday reaffirmed her commitment to the public option.  She said that she can‘t get something passed through the House that doesn‘t have a public option in it.  The number two Democrat in the House, Steny Hoyer, today, singing sort of a different tune, saying, “I‘m for a public option but I‘m also for passing a bill.”

Frankly, sounding a little wobbly on the issue, where does the House stand—where do Democrats in the House stand on the public option?

WEINER:  You know, generally speaking, choosing between something and nothing, I usually choose something.

MADDOW:  Yes.

WEINER:  But we have to get something worthwhile here.  I think that after going through what we‘ve gone through, if nothing else, we turned people on to the idea of—look, we have to solve this problem.  And if we wind up with something that‘s so watered down just so we can say we put one up on the board, I don‘t think that‘s a legacy that—never mind President Obama—but Congressman Weiner is not going to want to run on.

So, I think that it‘s not enough just to say, hey, we‘ll get something.  I think we now have stepped forward into the breech.  And I think President Obama deserves a lot of credit.  He‘s taking a lot of heat here.  And now, we should—we should go do the right thing.

Nancy Pelosi, she can count.  She understands that they don‘t have the votes right now if they strip out the public option.  And I‘m not kidding myself.  I know we might not have it with the public option.  But at least we have the best chance.

MADDOW:  So, you—to be clear though, no public option in the bill, you‘re going to vote no?

WEINER:  I don‘t see any way that we control costs if we don‘t.  Look, I think, right now, my push to get a single-payer plan through the House probably has as many votes as anything right now because more and more people are kind of coming to the place.  Look, you know, why are we walking away from our base principles?

You know, we, in the last few years, have done two things.  One, we extended insurance for children.  We did that through a single-payer system in Medicaid.  The other is we‘ve extended Medicare Part D, which we gave $1 trillion to insurance companies and said, please, do the best you can.

MADDOW:  Yes.

WEINER:  You know, we know what works, and we know that when Democrats extend a chip, we do the right thing and Republicans in Medicare Part D—we screwed it up.  And I think more and more Democrats are getting to the place that they understand that.

MADDOW:  Yes.  Building on what works actually gets you very close to a single-payer argument.

Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York—thank you so much for spending some of your Friday night with us.  We really appreciate it.

WEINER:  Thanks.  A regular Friday thing.  I appreciate it.

MADDOW:  Yes.  We can make this a regular gig.  Thanks.

So, the conspiracy theory that health care reform is a secret plot to kill old people was birthed if, you will, by a woman named Betsy McCaughey, while she was on the board of a medical supply company.  Then, she did an extended interview on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” about that conspiracy theory and now, Betsy McCaughey‘s life is different.  We‘ll tell you how right after the break.

But first, “One More Thing” about Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of the off-the-kook-end caucus.  She is also famously and rabidly anti-abortion.  Not only is Congresswoman Bachmann encouraging states to secede from health care reform, her other contribution to American political discourse this week—I‘ll just let her speak for herself.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA:  That‘s why people have to continue to go to the town halls, continue to melt the phone lines of their liberal members of Congress and let them know, under no certain circumstances will I give the government control over my body and my health care decisions.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Government control over—who whose body?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Coming up: The government-sponsored “cash for clunkers” car trade-in program has been so wildly successful that it‘s ending on Monday.  Is there any way to stop the stopping of this program that‘s working?

And we have a moment of geek tonight that involves bicycle technology and some incredibly strong muscles in places where I didn‘t know men could have incredibly strong muscles.

And our Kent Jones is here with the “Weak in Review.”

That is all coming up.

But we begin with one big holy mackerel story in today‘s news.

When politics gets crazy, when political debate discards the facts in favor of the freaky and far-pitched and the fearful, those of us who make a living talking about the news sometimes have a little bit of a dilemma.  In order to represent truthfully the character of a political debate, you have to point it out if someone in that debate is making stuff up, or if they don‘t appear to understand what they‘re saying.  In order to give an accurate portrayal of what‘s going on, it‘s important to point out when people are lying.

The dilemma is that even negative attention is still attention.  The time it takes on a TV show like this one to point out that someone is a liar is national media attention being devoted to a liar—a liar who probably is loving the attention and therefore is being rewarded for their lying.  It‘s a dilemma, but is the dilemma that can be solved.

Did you see Betsy McCaughey on “The Daily Show” last night?  As we reported at some length on this show, Betsy McCaughey is responsible for the whole conspiracy theory that the government encouraging people to make living wills—which the government has done for 20 years—is somehow, now it‘s included in the House health reform bill, somehow now is a secret plot to kill old people.

Betsy McCaughey started this conspiracy theory.  She is the Typhoid Mary of the deathers scourge.  She is the angel of deathers.  And last night, Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show” braved the risk of giving Betsy McCaughey a bigger platform than she‘s ever had before, bigger than Fred Thompson‘s talk radio show, bigger than the op-ed page of Rupert Murdoch‘s “New York Post,” bigger even than “The New Republic” in which she published a famously error-ridden hit piece on Bill Clinton‘s health reform proposal back in the ‘90s, that the magazine had to apologize for after the fact.

Jon Stewart braved giving the angel of deathers a big stage on which to propound her nonsense views that scare old people.  He braved it so he could totally, utterly, thoroughly discredit her over two entire segments of his 30-minute show and for another 10 minutes online.  It was a public service, really. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  It seems like this bill is allowing people more control over their lives and that your reading of it is hyperbolic and in some cases dangerous. 

BETSY MCCAUGHEY, FMR. LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK:  Not at all. 

In fact this provision is so dangerous -

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

STEWART:  Wait a minute -

MCCAUGHEY:  Let me just talk.  This provision is so dangerous that the Senate Finance Committee has already ripped it out of its draft. 

STEWART:  It‘s not because it‘s so dangerous, it‘s because people so lost their (EXPLETIVE DELETED) about it. 

MCCAUGHEY:  No.  No. 

STEWART:  The misinformation that was put out there.  Look -

MCCAUGHEY:  It‘s not true.

STEWART:  We can argue about whether or not it‘s a slippery slope to

certain things.  But there is absolutely nothing in that reading that says

this is a mandatory consultation and that -

MCCAUGHEY:  Well, you‘re wrong, you know.  Jon -

STEWART:  I‘ve had it.

MCCAUGHEY:  You‘re great -

STEWART:  Honestly. 

MCCAUGHEY:  But you‘re wrong.

STEWART:  All right.  Then show me where it says it. 

MCCAUGHEY:  I told you, it‘s on page 432. 

STEWART:  Well, get it. 

(LAUGHTER)

MCCAUGHEY:  All right.  I‘m looking for page 432.  Somebody took page 432 and (UNINTELLIGIBLE). 

STEWART:  I almost feel like we have to play “Yakety Sax”.

MCCAUGHEY:  No, it‘s right here.  Right. 

STEWART:  Let me just read it very quickly, “In general, for purposes of reporting data on quality measures for covered professional services, the secretary shall include quality members on end-of-life care and advanced care planning that have been adopted or endorsed by consensus-based organization, if appropriate, such measures shall measure both the creation of and adherence to orders for life sustaining treatment. 

MCCAUGHEY:  That‘s right.  And what‘s wrong about this - it‘s one

thing to pay doctors to spend time with their patients discussing this

issue.  I‘m not against this.  But putting pressure on doctors to require

patients to go through a consultation that‘s prescribed by the government

and then penalize them -

STEWART:  Two things on that -

MCCAUGHEY:  Wait a second - and then to penalize them if the patient or their family changes their minds about their living will in a moment of crisis.  That‘s really wrong. 

STEWART:  It would be really wrong if that was in any way what this said.  But that is not, in any way, what this says. 

MCCAUGHEY:  OK, you know what? 

STEWART:  Let me take this out ...

MCCAUGHEY:  You know what?  You could make me -

STEWART:  ... because you clearly don‘t need it, “Such measures shall

measure the creation of an adherence to orders for life-sustaining

treatment.  Life sustaining -

MCCAUGHEY:  No, no.  A $500 billion cut for Medicare is going to mean that seniors won‘t be able to get knee replacements and hip replacements when they‘re crippled by arthritis.  They‘re not going to be able to get bypass surgery when their breathless from clogged arteries.  Over the last 40 years, Medicare ...

STEWART:  But let me -

MCCAUGHEY:  ... has transformed the experience of aging for elderly and this is a cruel thing to take the money out of Medicare. 

STEWART:  It is a cruel thing if what they‘re saying is we‘re going to save money by making sure old people can‘t get hip replacements.  I understand that.  But that is not in any way what they are proposing. 

Medicine is a science-based thing.  They‘re trying to compile empirical data about treatments that work best and those types of things.  Nobody is suggesting that old people will not be able to get new hips and hearts.

MCCAUGHEY:  Oh, yes they are.  That‘s exactly what these are going to

mean.  Let me -

STEWART:  It is not what it‘s going to mean.  You have no evidence of this. 

MCCAUGHEY:  Of course, I do.  Because -

STEWART:  Where?  Where? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  So after that happened on “The Daily Show” last night, a medical supply company of which Betsy McCaughey was a paid director, Cantel Medical, announced that she would no longer be with the company.  I wonder if there‘s maybe a job for her at Freedom Works.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  If you‘re in the market for a new car like certainly mothers-in-law I know - hi, Elsie(ph) - I have some important news for you.  Car dealerships are going to be really crowded this weekend from already until just about exactly 8:00 p.m. Eastern on Monday, because the government has announced that that‘s when Cash for Clunkers ends. 

Now, as you know, Cash for Clunkers gives consumers up to $4,500 toward the price of a new car or truck if you trade in an older car with lower gas mileage.  The program‘s been so popular that it‘s already run out of cash once. 

After Congress funded it a second time, there was hope that the new round of funding might last all the way through Labor Day.  No.  As of Monday night, it‘s out of money and it‘s done.  So far, the program has accounted for nearly 500,000 vehicle sales.  The final tally is expected to be 700,000. 

The biggest problems with the program have been coping with how much consumers like it.  The Transportation Department hasn‘t been able to process the reimbursements to dealerships fast enough. 

The DOT confirmed to us today that they‘re now tripling the number of workers assigned to deal with the paperwork.  They say they have 1,200 people processing claims now so dealers should be getting their money. 

And dealers have their own sort of high class problems beyond the huge demand causing delays in the paperwork.  So many consumers want to take advantage of the program that dealers haven‘t been able to keep cars on their lots, particularly the most popular model. 

As we reported earlier this week, GM says that it‘s upping the production schedule by tens of thousands of cars for this year to cope with the increased demand from Cash for Clunkers.  That means they‘re rehiring more than 1,300 North American employees to boost production in the third and fourth quarters. That also means overtime checks for more than 10,000 GM workers who have held on to their jobs. 

Ford also announced last week that it will increase production for the last half of the year by 26 percent over last year‘s numbers.  Oh, and Hyundai is rehiring, too.  And in response to increased demand from Cash for Clunkers, Hyundai says it is now able to return about 3,000 of its employees in Alabama to full-time schedules after their hours had been cut last fall. 

So in sum, we‘ve got tons of new consumer-spending as we‘re trying to get out of a recession.  We‘ve got consumers really happy.  We‘ve got car dealers with tons of new business, not to mention the scrap yards for the clunkers.  We‘ve got less pollution, less gas consumption, workers getting rehired at the auto companies.  Seems like this is working out kind of great.  So why are they ending it?  Why don‘t they just extend this thing again? 

Joining us now is Hans Blatter.  He‘s president of Castle Products, a family owned automotive supply business that is also booming, thanks to the Cash for Clunkers program.  This company makes a product that they call the Clunker Bomb which permanently paralyzes the engines of clunkers traded in under the Cash for Clunkers program.  Mr. Blatter, thanks very much for being here. 

HANS BLATTER, PRESIDENT, CASTLE PRODUCTS:  Thank you for having me. 

It‘s great to have all this positive news. 

MADDOW:  You know, there‘s not much positive economic news ever.  And

this really has been a positive story.  But I‘ve got -

BLATTER:  It‘s been very fun for our company. 

MADDOW:  I got to ask you, though.  I can‘t believe you already have a product good to go called the “Clunker Bomb” before this program started.  Did you make this thing just because of the program? 

BLATTER:  Well, our people worked hard.  Actually, the cars program, the procedure came out on Friday, July 24th.  About 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time, it hit the news and our people right away started saying we have to have some meetings and come up with a product to help solve this problem that dealerships are going to have. 

We worked diligently all day on Friday into the evening to come up with a product to help fill the needs of the dealerships across the country. 

MADDOW:  Tell me how the product works.  I know that you take the oil out of the engine, right?  And pour this product in place of the oil.  And then you run the engine?  Is that what happens?

BLATTER:  That‘s correct.  It is basically - it‘s a 40 percent sodium silicate solution.  And what you want to do you is drain the vehicle of its oil and then you pour this in and replace the oil under the crankcase.  You run the car for seven to 10 minutes and then the engine will eventually just cease and the engine will be dead.  We guarantee to kill the engine dead. 

MADDOW:  I understand that you‘ve hired new employees because of the demand for this product because it meets the government‘s needs in terms of this new program.  Do you think that you‘re going to be able to keep these new employees on when the Cash for Clunkers program ends? 

BLATTER:  Well, right now we have plans to keep them on.  It‘s really been a great benefit to our company in times of needing some good news and in some good boosts to the economy.  The Clunker Bomb has helped us open up various doors to dealerships that we weren‘t servicing before and in the various parts of the country that we weren‘t before.  So we‘re hoping that with the positive news of this Clunker Bomb, we can get some additional business that will enable us to keep the additional step that we brought on. 

MADDOW:  I know do you work closely with dealerships of a lot of other businesses.  Obviously, this has done wonders for your morale at your company.  But what can you tell me about the other businesses that you work with and the dealerships?  How is their morale and how are they doing because of this program? 

BLATTER:  Well, I think the morale, overall, people want positive news.  It‘s nice to turn the TV on, the news and the newspapers and see the positive news out there.  You spoke in the intro about the dealerships running out of cars, showrooms being swamped with people wanting the vehicle and wanting to take advantage of this program. 

And then the scrap yards - the scrap yards are getting these vehicles.  They‘re getting - and sometimes some good vehicles, some good seats, some good doors, lights, et cetera that then they can use and resell to the people that don‘t qualify for the program. 

MADDOW:  I have a feeling I know the answer to this question.  But do you wish they‘d keep this program going a while longer? 

BLATTER:  We‘re ready.  If they want to revamp the program, we‘re ready to go. 

MADDOW:  Well, Hans Blatter, if we weren‘t on satellite, I would give you a high five.  It‘s great - your attitude about this and also the entrepreneurship and versatility that your company showed in being able to respond to this and take advantage is a business inspiration.  So good luck to you, sir.  Thanks.

BLATTER:  Thank you very much.  I appreciate it. 

MADDOW:  I appreciate it as well.  Thank you.  All right, coming up on “COUNTDOWN,” Keith‘s nexus of politics and terror written off by a lot of self-proclaimed patriots back in 2004 has received ex-post facto validation from Tom Ridge in his new book.  You‘ll see the original piece from “COUNTDOWN” in its prescient entirety next hour.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.  You really should watch it. 

Coming up on had show, we‘ve got an end of the week moment of geek involving bicycles.  And I think you‘re sort of not actually ready for the weekend until you see this video.  We‘ll be right back. 

But first, one more thing about the success of Cash for Clunkers.  Our government got the idea for the program from Europe, similar programs had already been successful in France and Germany and Italy and Spain.  But now, as our program winds down ahead of schedule here in the U.S. for reasons I don‘t understand, the idea is being picked up and adopted in Chile. 

A Chilean financial newspaper reports today that the Chilean government is going to be working with the country‘s automotive association to use a Cash for Clunkers style incentive program to encourage replacing heavy trucks that are more than 25 years old.  If it works with big trucks, they say they hope to try it out with cars, too.  So here‘s to the success of dinero para los clunkers, I guess?  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  It is just past sunrise in Afghanistan right now.  And in Afghanistan, 62,000 Americans are waking up there to the prospect of another day in landlocked central Asia in this life during wartime.  Preliminary indications are that yesterday‘s presidential elections in Afghanistan were successful, sort of. 

In the first post-invasion presidential election in Afghanistan back in 2004, voter turnout was really high.  It was about 70 percent.  Now five years later, well, the Taliban is resurgent and the Taliban really didn‘t want these elections to go forward.

Amid a major intimidation campaign that included bombings and shootings and even a public hanging by the Taliban of two people who had ink stained fingers to prove that they had voted, initial reports are that turnout overall in Afghanistan was down from that 70 percent figure in 2004 to roughly 40 percent or 50 percent this time. 

A western diplomat also told the Agence France Presse news service that the turnout in southern Afghanistan was very, very low.  We won‘t know who won this election for a long time yet.  The counting is not expected to be done for a couple of weeks. 

Undaunted by the fact that counting is not done though, both incumbent President Hamid Karzai and his top challenger are claiming victory.  The U.S. government insists that it doesn‘t really care who wins.  It just wants the Afghan people to feel like they have a stake in their own government. 

That said, if Hamid Karzai‘s top challenger does win, Afghanistan would have the best named president in the whole world.  His name would be President Abdullah Abdullah although I bet his enemies would call him Abdullah Hussein Abdullah. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Earlier this week, we did a story about Eurovision, the aesthetically astonishing competition that each spring pits the nations of Europe against each other in a battle for pop stardom that makes “American Idol” look like a local karaoke night. 

The U.S. doesn‘t participate in Eurovision - hint, hint, “Euro,” right?  But that doesn‘t mean Americans who know about it aren‘t mesmerized by it anyway.  We‘ve covered Eurovision a couple of times now on this show. 

And that has led to a minor obsession among some members of THE RACHEL MADDOW staff - I‘m talking to you, Vanessa - about things that Europeans and other foreigners are really, really into that we Americans just aren‘t. 

It‘s not just Jerry Lewis and Speedos and national health care and month-long vacations and unfiltered cigarettes and leaving Iraq and fluency in more than one language. 

It‘s not just Eurovision and wine at lunch and David Hasselhoff and techno and Nutella and royalty and soccer - I mean, football.  Those are all things everybody knows about, things they do over there that we don‘t really get over here. 

But here‘s one that is news, at least it‘s news to me.  This is artistic cycling.  It‘s like synchronized swimming on bikes, best as I can tell.  And apparently, it‘s all the rage in Germany and in a different bunch of Asian countries, as well. 

Why don‘t we do this?  And in some cases, how do they do this?  You know what?  It‘s Friday and you owe it to yourself to marvel at this for just a second, please. 

(MUSIC PLAYING)

MADDOW:  Artistic cycling was invented by an American, apparently in the late 1800s, a German-American man named Nicholas Edward Kauffman.  With Americans, this sport did not catch on, but with the Germans, they love it. 

They call it “kunstrad.”  Obviously, these are fixed gear bikes with no brakes.  The sport mandates that the chain ring and the sprocket are geared at almost exactly at one-to-one ratio.  The bikes are also apparently closer together than normal bikes which supposedly makes it easier to do the willies(ph) which are so important for this sport. 

Now, as to how these guys support the weight of two full-grown men on the crotch of the bottom guy balanced on a thin piece of metal?  For that, no matter how geeky we‘re going to get, I‘m going to have no idea for you on that one. 

That is your moment of crotch-clenching geek for this week.  And no, I don‘t care if the Iraqis do have a team, but we are not getting them outfits for this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Here now is my friend Kent Jones with a look back at the last seven days of lame-itude.  Hi, Kent.  What have you got?

KENT JONES, POP CULTURIST:  Hi, Rachel.  The forecast is for hot and humid with a 90 percent chance of lame-itude.  There you go.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over):  First up, neck flap of the week.  The right-wing magazine, “The National Review” leveled this devastating critique at President Obama - sometimes, he doesn‘t wear a tie, quote, “I‘ve noticed that President Obama frequently forgoes the necktie, lately, even in public appearances.  That reminded me, I have no idea why, the Iranian regime has shunned the necktie ever since Khomeini pronounced it a symbol of western decadence.” 

So when Bush didn‘t wear a tie, it was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) he-man stuff.  But a tie-less Obama is positively Ahmadinejad-ian.  So “National Review,” what sort of tie would you like Obama to wear, something like this?  Or this?  Would this make you feel better?  While thinking it over, try this on.  Weak. 

Next, mad campaign of the weak.  Miller Beer is introducing Miller High Lite in Vietnam.  No issue there.  But the new ad campaign, “It‘s American time.  It‘s Miller time.”  Don‘t you think Vietnam already has had plenty of American time already and might not want to be reminded?  What is this, the beer hunter?  Brewpocalypse now?  Weak. 

Finally, mascot fail of the weak.  After Jamaican runner Melanie Walker won the 400-meter hurdle at the World Track Championship in Berlin, she hopped a ride on the back of the adorable mascot Berlino, then this.  Ich bin ein klutz.  Weak. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MADDOW:  Everybody OK there? 

JONES:  Yes, yes.  Egos are bruised.  Yes.

MADDOW:  Seriously -

JONES:  Yes.

MADDOW:  It‘s hard to be a mascot. 

JONES:  Very hard. 

MADDOW:  I won‘t tell you why I know that.  Thank you, Kent.  Thank you for watching tonight.  We‘ll see you back here on Monday.  “COUNTDOWN” with Keith Olbermann starts right now.  Have an excellent weekend.  Good night. 

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