MSNBC's Hayes Slams Republican 'Jackasses,' Defends Welfare for Violent Felons

On Friday's All In show on MSNBC, host Chris Hayes recounted the recent activities of several Republican political figures which he regarded as examples of GOP members "being jackasses," and coined the Hayes-ism "jackassery" as he used some variation of the word "jackass" 11 times during the segment. After teasing the show, the MSNBC host immediately got to attacking Republicans:

But we begin tonight with a special segment dedicated to Republicans being jackasses. We spent a lot of time this week focused on  breaking national news in the President's big security speech yesterday, but a lot happened in politics this week, and much of it seemed, we thought about it all, it fit a certain theme. And I'm sorry, but that theme is Republicans acting like jackasses.

As Hayes included Texas Representative Louie Gohmert, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, Louisiana Senator David Vitter, and Tea Party Senators Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Marco Rubio on his list of Republican "jackasses," when he got to attacking Senator Vitter for proposing that violent felons be barred from receiving welfare benefits for life, the MSNBC host neglected to inform his viewers that the ex-criminals targeted had to be violent felons, as he merely referred to them as "people convicted of certain crimes," and suggested that it was hypocritical for the Louisiana Republican, who was once caught in a prostitution scandal, to be unforgiving toward criminals. Hayes:

That same David Vitter who should know a thing or two about redemption and forgiveness and fresh starts, introduced a measure this week as an amendment to the farm bill that said to people convicted of certain crimes, once you've paid your debt to society and you're done serving time, I want to punish you some more by making you ineligible for food stamps for life. So David Vitter gets to receive forgiveness from God and his wife and put his transgressions behind him, but that doesn't mean he wants to offer other people the same chance. There's a word for people like that, but it seems to have slipped my mind.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Friday, May 24, All In with Chris Hayes show on MSNBC:

CHRIS HAYES: But we begin tonight with a special segment dedicated to Republicans being jackasses. We spent a lot of time this week focused on  breaking national news in the President's big security speech yesterday, but a lot happened in politics this week, and much of it seemed, we thought about it all, it fit a certain theme. And I'm sorry, but that theme is Republicans acting like jackasses.

If you think I'm crazy, let's start in the U.S. House where an all-male panel held a hearing yesterday on a proposal by Republican Congressman Trent Franks to ban all abortions starting at 20 weeks. The ban originally would just apply to Washington, D.C., but Congressman Franks announced last week to expand it to the whole country. Abortion bans for everyone. Never mind the fact that a similar state law from Trent Franks' very own home state of Arizona was struck down as unconstitutional in a federal appeals court earlier this week. It was unconstitutional in Arizona. Why not give it a try everywhere else in the country, too?

But, no, this is not the jackassery you are looking for. Move along to the actual hearing yesterday for the big, sweeping, unconstitutional ban on abortions after 20 weeks. There was a woman who appeared as a witness, who actually had to go through this procedure. And she gave some truly soul-crunching, heart-wrenching testimony about the horrible choice she had to make.

CHRISTY ZINK, TESTIFIED ON ANTI-ABORTION BILL, CLIP #1: When I was 21 weeks pregnant, an MRI revealed that our baby was missing the central connecting structure of the two parts of his brain.

ZINK CLIP #2: Our baby was also missing one side of his brain.

ZINK CLIP #3: If this bill had been passed before my pregnancy, I would have had to carry to term and given birth to a baby whom the doctors concurred had no chance of a life, and who would have experienced near constant pain.

HAYES: After hearing that story, faced with that woman's testimony, Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas acted like a jackass.

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R-TX) CLIP #1: Just think having my great sympathy and empathy both, I still come back wondering, shouldn't we wait-

GOHMERT CLIP #2: -and see if the child can survive before we decide to rip him apart?

HAYES: Louie Gohmert not only believes that he is more qualified to make health care decisions for Christy Zink and every other woman in America, he is actively working with his Republican colleagues in Congress to do exactly that. All right. Moving on to the great state of Pennsylvania where we catch up with Tom Corbett, a Republican governor who is not as famous for his jackassery as he should be. You may remember when he was asked last year about his support for an anti-abortion bill that would have mandated forced transvaginal ultrasounds and even required that the ultrasound screen be placed in the woman's sight line to make her watch.

GOVERNOR TOM CORBETT (R-PA): I wouldn't change it, as long as it's not obtrusive, but I'm, we're still waiting to see.

REPORTER: Not obtrusive? I mean, making them watch. Does that go too far, in your mind?

CORBETT: I don't know how you make anybody watch, okay? Because you just have to close your eyes.

HAYES: You hear that, ladies? Just close your eyes while you undergo a government-sanctioned, mandated transvaginal probe. No bigs. Well, Corbett is back in the spotlight tonight with a video which surfaced this week of a roundtable he talked with Al Dia News Media, a Spanish and English language news organization in Philadelphia. Watch what happens when the governor of a state with nearly 800,000 Latinos is asked if there are any Latinos on his staff.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Do you have staff members that are Latino?

CORBETT: No, we do not have any staff members. If you can find us one, please let me know.

WOMAN: I'm sure that there are Latinos that-

CORBETT: Do any of you want to come to Harrisburg? See?

HAYES: See? Apparently, the government thinks that joking on the spot job offer to a roomful of Latinos who do not immediately volunteer to follow him to the capitol, somehow proves there are just no Latinos to be found in the state of Pennsylvania. But, then, compounding the jackassery, his office released a statement saying, we found one, we found one, that actually, they did find some Latinos on the governor's staff, including a woman named Maria Montero, whom Governor Corbett appointed as director of his Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs.

Quote, "The 25-member advisory commission is comprised of Latino-Hispanics from across the state." Tom Corbett is a man with a finger on the pulse of Pennsylvania's Latino Hispanic population, for sure. Moving on to Washington, where we find Louisiana Republican David Vitter engaged in his own bit of jackassery this week that did not get nearly as much attention as it should have. David Vitter, of course, is probably still most famous for this.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST, CLIP #1: There's news today in the case of Louisiana's David Vitter, who you'll recall taught us last summer, he was involved with an escort service.

MATTHEWS CLIP #2: He's on the preliminary witness list for the upcoming trial of Deborah Palfrey, the D.C. madam. What a humiliating bit of business for a U.S. Senator.

SENATOR DAVID VITTER (R-LA): I believe I received forgiveness from God. I know I did from Wendy, and we put it behind us. Since then I've gotten  up every morning, committed to trying to live up to the important values we believe in.

HAYES: I have to say, I actually do not want to spend time, every time we talk about David Vitter, who's actually got a great bill with Sherrod Brown right now, I don't want to spend time playing that tape because I agree with him fullheartedly, that people who commit infractions, even crimes, should be allowed to seek forgiveness, pay penance and move on with their lives.

But here's why we did play that tape tonight. Because that same David Vitter who should know a thing or two about redemption and forgiveness and fresh starts, introduced a measure this week as an amendment to the farm bill that said to people convicted of certain crimes, once you've paid your debt to society and you're done serving time, I want to punish you some more by making you ineligible for food stamps for life. So David Vitter gets to receive forgiveness from God and his wife and put his transgressions behind him, but that doesn't mean he wants to offer other people the same chance. There's a word for people like that, but it seems to have slipped my mind.

Finally, for some real topnotch jackassery, let's pay a visit to the Tea Party Republicans of the United States Senate who want to do nothing more desperately right now than to upend the normal budget process in order to once again threaten the country with financial ruin over the debt ceiling. Tea Party Republicans do not want to even wait until the next debt ceiling hostage crisis, ready to hit the debt ceiling. They want to have it right now. And they are prepared to do battle with whomever stands in their way. Whether it's Harry Reid and the Democrats, or their own Republican colleague and one-time standard bearer, John McCain.

SENATOR TED CRUZ (R-TX): The senior Senator from Arizona urged this body to trust the Republicans. Let me be clear: I don't trust the Republicans. And I don't trust the Democrats. And I think a whole lot of Americans likewise don't trust the Republicans and the Democrats because it is leadership in both parties that has gotten us in this mess.

HAYES: Okay. So this is in a category of its own. This is highly effective, strategically deployed jackassery. It's part of one of the most fascinating political stories developing this week, which is the civil war breaking out among Republicans in the Senate. Its effect it so severe it's about to break the already nearly broken United States Senate, but break it in a way that's most likely to benefit the jackassery caucus. Joining me tonight is Ana Marie Cox, senior columnist for The Guardian. And here at the table, Steve Kornacki, host of the great Up with Steve Kornacki on MSNBC on the weekend, Saturday and Sunday at 8:00. Great to have you here. Steve and I did not coordinate our outfits ahead of time, as implausible as that may seem.

STEVE KORNICKI, MSNBC HOST: And the jackassery.

HAYES: Yeah, exactly. Speaking of jackassery, to sort of top it all off. All right, I want to play this sound. I thought, I think what is brewing right now on the Senate floor between John McCain and now some of his colleagues as well, and Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Mike Lee of Utah, over whether they're going to allow this normal budget process to go forward. It's fascinating. So I want to play John McCain going after his Tea Party colleagues, and I want to get your response. Take a look.