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Rachel Maddow: Koch Brothers 'Pop Up In Every Scummy Political Scandal'

The Kochs are everywhere, says Maddow, chronicling the brothers' recent efforts to push the conservative agenda.

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I do not want to keep talking about the Koch brothers. Really I do not. I always want to say it's "Kotch" because of the way it’s spelled. They’re awkward, they’re boring, I’m not interested in talking about them. I don’t want to keep putting their names in the spotlight. But dude, these guys are earning it every single day.

Joining us now is Eugene Robinson, MSNBC political analyst, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Washington Post.

Maddow: Gene, it is great to see you.

Robinson: Great to be here, Rachel.

Maddow: Um, are Koch Industries and the Koch brothers earning this reputation they’re getting like I think they are? I mean, I am prepared to be told that they’re sort of just boogey men and they are being blamed for more than they are responsible for.

Robinson: Rachel, they’re out there working for you, every single day! And look, the difference between the Koch brothers and Karl Rove, or Lee Atwater, or others who may have played a villain role, is that these are the money guys. These are the guys with all the money in the world. These are the guys who own the biggest private company, or second biggest depending on how you calculate it, in the country. Their combined personal fortune is third to that of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. So you have not heard the last of the Koch brothers.

Maddow: And does that explain the timing? Because we have entered in the post- Citizens United universe, into an era in which there really are unlimited horizons in terms of what money can buy you in politics. I mean they’ve been politically active for a long time, but they really have turned it up to 11. They really are doing a lot more than they used to be doing. Does that explain the timing?

Robinson: Partly explains the timing. Everyone has cottoned on to the Koch brothers. They did a lot of stuff for a while that we didn’t really hear about. It's not that they just turned libertarian. One of them founded the Kato Foundation, the other founded Americans for Prosperity. They’ve been out there working, it's just that we’re paying attention, frankly. And yes, they are doing more.

Maddow: Are we, because people are sort of cottoning to them, are we getting to the point that a Koch brother’s endorsement starts being a liability for either candidates or causes that they endorse?

Robinson: I don’t think we’re quite there, but we could get there. I think some candidates, for example Scott Brown in a state like Massachusetts, that’s embarrassing to him. That’s a problem, I think. Given that has to run in essentially a blue state. For other candidates, it wouldn’t be a problem. I frankly think the Koch brothers would be just as happy to kind of fade into the background and let their money do the talking and not be out front at all.

Maddow: I thinks that’s maybe what has changed, that they were able to successfully sort of keep everything quiet about them. They’ve been convening these major donor/conservative strategy sessions for years, and you sort of knew about them vaguely in a conspiratorial sense, but it was buried behind the scenes, and now all of a sudden it’s not and they seem very angry about that. But I do wonder if that means that they can marginalize criticism about them as always being liberal and therefore hysterical.

 
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