RachelWatch: Poker Face


Today: Rachel has a must-see interview with Tim Phillips of Americans for Prosperity. Plus: Town hall meetings get even scarier!


Rachel started us off with sad news that I wish was more surprising: The thuggish behavior at town halls has gone from ugly to threatening. As in actual death threats.

Oh, and apparently “Obama is a Socialist!” wasn’t scary enough, so the scaremongers have switched back to “He’s a Nazi!” Well, at least we’re sticking to intelligent, nuanced debate. I keep expecting to see signs that say “Four legs good! Two legs bad!”

Thank you, Rachel, for reminding everyone that whipping up the fears of the lunatic fringe tends to get the lunatic fringe whipped up.

I’m not sure how much good Rachel’s plea to tone it down before someone gets hurt will do, though.

The health insurance industry is fighting for the power to continue dropping people who get really sick and refusing to cover people who have pre-existing conditions. They’ve already made it pretty clear that they’re cool with people hurting.

The fact that so many Republicans are actually cackling over the disruption of a fundamental part of our representative democracy — you know, the part where the representatives actually talk to the people they’re representing — makes me wonder if John McCain is the only one with a learning curve or what.

Hey, Congressional Republicans! Remember about six months ago? You’d spent the last eight years cheerfully sending great big platters of Congressional power to the White House because what the hell, you were going to be in charge forever, so who needs checks and balances?

Remember that sick feeling when a Democrat got elected and you realized how thoroughly you’d managed to screw yourselves over?

Try to keep that feeling in mind for a few seconds while I ask you this: Does it really not occur to you that you might one day want to be able to speak directly to your constituents without some gooberhead threatening to string you up?

First, Lose No Money

Next, Rachel took some time to explain how corrupt our lobbying system is (Spoiler: really, really, super corrupt. With a little corruption sprinkled on top for that extra zing.) with an eye on a few star players in the health care industry.

What exactly was the problem with publicly financed elections again? Were those going to turn us Communist too?

On the upside, I have it on good authority that during the commercial break the ghosts of Boss Tweed and several participants in the Teapot Dome scandal dropped in to thank Rachel for making them look better.

Meet Tim Phillips

You may want to watch this clip at least twice.

The first time you’ll want to watch it because it’s an amazing interview, and an example of self-control and a commitment to civility on Ms. Maddow’s part that I, for one, would probably not have been able to maintain.

(Though, yes, the part towards the end where she allows herself a sigh in lieu of what I’m assuming would have been a laugh is pretty great.)

And Phillips’s facility with answering a question two steps away from the one that has actually been asked is also fascinating, in its own oily way.

But you’ll want to watch the clip the second time because, even though Phillips has clearly trained himself to control his face, he doesn’t entirely succeed. Dude has a couple of poker tells.

Rachel catches him in one very big, um, dispute over the facts and brings up a topic or two that he doesn’t want to talk about.

Study the clip and then invite Tim Phillips to your seven-card stud game immediately.

Don’t worry: Once you see this, you won’t mind taking his money.

Pretty amazing, eh?

When reached for comment, infernal spokesperson Mike Beelzebub declared himself “humbled and impressed.”

Ms. Information

Rachel told the rest of the world what we dorkmeisters already knew: Twitter suffered a denial-of-service attack on Thursday, and there was much rending of garments and gnashing of teeth.

But she brought some major geek joy as well: John Quincy Adams sailed off to St. Petersburg, Russia exactly two hundred years ago, and summed up his trip in a diary — just one curt line a day.

The Massachusetts Historical Society is tweeting his diary, which means our world has officially reached a level of nerdy frawesome that is beyond my wildest dreams.

Today’s JQA tweet (Spoiler alert!): 8/7/1809: Fog. No Observation. Spoke a fishing Schooner from Grand Bank, bound to Plymouth. Read Chantreau’s travels.

You know you want it. Share the magic and follow him.

The Legal Has Landed

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed on Thursday!

Rachel welcomed Johnathan Turley, a professor of Constitutional Law at George Washington Law School, to talk about the issues we missed while everyone was just saying “Wise Latina” over and over.

Sounds like things are going to get very interesting on the civil liberties front.

I have a feeling Rachel will keep an eye peeled.

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