The host of the epinonimously titled 'The Rachel Maddow Show.'

Rachel Maddow 2/22/17: Montana Governor Steve Bullock, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez

The Rachel Maddow Show for Wednesday, February 22, 2017 began with the host discussing Montana Libertarian politician Mike Fellows, a candidate for the state’s lone congressional seat in the 2016 election, who unexpectedly died on September 19, in the run-up to the November vote. As a result, ballots, which had already been printed, included Fellows’ name, and had to be destroyed and reprinted, causing the cost of the election in the state to run 50 percent more than any previous.

Maddow continued with Montana, explaining that Republican representative, Mike Zinke, has been nominated by President Donald Trump to serve as Secretary of the Interior. The host described the congressman’s current status as “on ice,” because of “concern” surrounding bogus travel records he submitted during his time in the U.S. Navy. The New York Times reports that Zinke served as a Navy SEAL. Despite this, Maddow stated that Zinke is “broadly expected” be confirmed as the interior secretary.

If Ryan Zinke is indeed confirmed, Montana will need to elect a new member of the House of Representatives in a special election sometime in the spring. With regard to winners in a potential Montana special election, Maddow noted that “at first glance, Montana is a very red state,” where Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton 57-36 and that conservatives have taken in each presidential election since 1992.

Despite the state leaning right in presidential races, the U.S. senator from Montana, Jon Tester, is a Democrat and the governor is Democrat Steve Bullock. The MSNBC host said that the state’s electorate appears to have had “jumper cables” applied to it since the election of Trump, with several of his administration’s initiatives being “scrapped” due to “blow back” from Montana voters. More than 10,000 participants took part in the women’s march following the inauguration of President Trump, at the Montana State Capitol, a number which Maddow said took her “aback.”

The show then played a clip of the other U.S. senator from Montana, Republican Steve Daines, arriving at an airport greeted by a group of protesters chanting “you work for us.” The host noted a big change in Daines’ airport greetings from months previous, and that he has been encouraged, and refused, to hold town hall meetings to discuss issues with his constituency. The senator postponed an appearance at the Montana State Legislature after learning that a crowd of protesters had gathered to meet him. One protester, who wears a chicken suit, is reported to appear where the senator appears, mocking the conservative by flapping his arms.

The Inquisitr has previously featured the Connecticut special election congressional race, and the reaction to the presidency of Donald Trump that has resulted in increased focus on individual state elections, which, otherwise, may have been viewed as inconsequential. Stated congressional elections in Connecticut and Delaware could swing the balance of power to the Democratic Party on what Maddow describes as a “huge amount of Democratic interest, nationwide.”

Republican U.S. Senator from Montana Steve Daines.
U.S. Senator from Montana Steve Daines. [Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]

The host turned back to Montana, noting that elections administrators and clerks throughout the state have been “squawking” about the cost to hold a special election, following shortly after a general election that ran way over budget.

“Where is the money going to come from to do that?” Rachel Maddow asked.

The show then featured an op-ed by in the Fairfield Sun Times, by Paula Jaconetty, the Tenton County, Montana clerk and recorder, suggesting that the special election be conducted with mail-in ballots to save money. Rachel Maddow noted that, with its sparse population and sprawling geography, Montana election officials are well-versed in organizing mail-in ballots. Jaconetty claims that holding a mail-in ballot election could save $500,000 to $750,000. As a result, the host stated that the idea had “bipartisan support,” until an “Emergency Chairman’s Report” was published by the chair of the Montana Republican Party, Jeff Essmann.

In the report, the chairman cited a disadvantage for conservatives if mail-in ballots are used exclusively in the potential special election. The report is seen driving a wedge between the bipartisan support the mail-in ballot bill, which had been sponsored by Republicans, had attracted.

“Vote-by-mail is designed to increase participation rates of lower propensity voters,” the reports states.

“If it’s too easy to vote,” Maddow whispered with a sly grin. “The Democrats might win.”

The second segment of the show included an interview with Governor Bullock. Maddow, who is 43-years-old and a graduate of the University of Oxford, asked the governor about the mail-in ballot bill.

The governor replied that he found it “shocking” that Montana’s senate majority leader would “brazenly acknowledge” that he wants to spend more taxpayer money to engage a smaller portion of state’s electorate. Maddow offered her perception that the plan had no political motive and was simply a case of election officials saying “hey, we’re out of money.”

Bullock stated that the plan was “good for democracy, good for our elections, and it will save taxpayers’ dollars.”

Citing the massive turnouts at protests in Montana, Maddow asked the governor about the current “temperature” of voters, how they are reacting to Donald Trump, and the seeming mishmash of results for liberals and conservatives.

Governor Bullock stated a belief that voters in the state, which has a population of just over one million, ask “where are the values” of candidates, and who will do the best job of forwarding the state’s agenda in D.C.

The governor cited public lands, public schools, and the right to vote, as “great equalizers,” and expressed his view that more taxpayer money would be better served in other uses than encouraging fewer people to participate in elections.

Montana Senate Majority Leader Jeff Essmann.
Montana State Senate Majority Leader and Republican Party Chair Jeff Essmann. [Image by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images]

In the third segment, Rachel Maddow admitted to “wallowing in shame” about an error she made on the day of President Trump’s inauguration. A clip of the president speaking on January 20 was played.

“… crime, and the gangs, and the drugs, that have stolen too many lives, and robbed our country of so much realized potential,” President Trump stated. “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

The MSNBC host repeated Trump’s words with a comically snarled face and offered the opinion that most Americans would find such use of the word “carnage” unusual, except for fans of heavy metal, following a 2010 “American Carnage” tour that featured Slayer, Megadeath, Testament, and Anthrax. In a previous show, Rachel Maddow had called Tom Araya of Slayer, Tim. The transgression weighed heavily on the Emmy Award winner’s shoulders in the weeks since.

“I have felt bad for more than a month,” Maddow stated. “But, tonight, perhaps an opportunity for a reprieve.”

She then announced her plans to wear an American Carnage T-shirt during an MSNBC special on President Trump, “Trump The First Month,” later in the evening.

In the fourth segment of The Rachel Maddow Show, Ms. Maddow moved on to Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which allows for the Department of Homeland Security to give powers to police and other law enforcement officials to act as immigration agents. The host stated concern that when police officers also act as immigration officials, undocumented immigrants are less likely to reports serious crimes, a concern for all of society.

“It’s great for muggers, but it’s bad for everybody else.”

Harris County, Texas was cited as deporting the most people under 287(g), nationwide, under previous Sheriff Ron Hickman. Activists in the county reacted by organizing to register more voters and elect a new sheriff, Ed Gonzales, who did not support the force’s use of 287(g). Yesterday, Gonzalez decided to reassign the ten officers that were performing immigration enforcement under the voluntary ICE program to other areas, as reported by the Houston Chronicle.

Maddow then welcomed the sheriff to her show and asked him if he was aware of occurrences of undocumented, otherwise law-abiding, immigrants not reporting crimes, as a result of a fear of being deported.

Sheriff Gonzalez replied that increased fear being felt by the immigrant population in Harris County results in increased “mistrust of police in a time when we need to be growing more trust, more collaboration with communities.”

Republican Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Montana Ryan Zinke.
Nominee for U.S. Secretary of the Interior, the only member of Congress from Montana, Republican Ryan Zinke. [Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]

The host asked the sheriff if he is concerned about the Texas state or federal governments retaliating by cutting funding, or otherwise reducing the amount of resources available to his force.

Gonzalez replied that he wasn’t concerned with the consequences because 251 of 254 police forces in the State of Texas “have been able to operate without” 287(g), making the decision the right choice. He continued that the resources that had been directed to 287(g) will be put to better use protecting the citizens of Harris County, where Houston is located. The program cost the county $675,000 annually to staff.

The show then moved to President Trump’s decision to repeal “transgender protections” put into place under the administration of former President Barack Obama. A release by the Department of Justice was reported to explain that, while the protections would be lifted, students would continue to enjoy protection from “discrimination, bullying, or harassment.”

“As of tonight,” Maddow, who is gay, stated, “everybody who told you that the Trump administration wouldn’t be terrible on LGBT issues… were full of it.”

[Featured Image by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images]