Rachel Maddow Mocks the Idea of Bush as a Motivational Speaker

The following is an excerpt of a transcript from a recent episode of the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC. It has been edited for length and clarity. Click here for the original.

Rachel Maddow: On the same day we got the news about the post-electoral career paths of the two biggest names in Republican politics. Come December, the erstwhile future of the party, former half-term Alaska governor and vice president candidate Sarah Palin will be speaking in front of a sold-out crowd at the College of the Ozarks in Missouri. It's a private Christian school that is now most famous for hosting Sarah Palin, as well for its official policy on lifestyle/sexuality.

Posted at wonkette.com, the college policy prohibits sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual assaults and also homosexual conduct--because, you know, it's all basically the same thing.

But the bigger Republican scheduling surprise of the day comes to us from the Bush family, with news that both former President George W. Bush and former first lady, Laura Bush, will be doing stints as motivational speakers, headlining multiple events for this couple, Tamara and Peter Lowe. They are described on their own Web site as the dynamic duo who create and produce the Get Motivated Seminar. It's also described them as having been married for 20 years. To add punch to that statement about their marriage, they have posted a picture of themselves online kissing at Getmotivated.com.

The event at which George W. Bush will be speaking is described online as a "motivational mega-show that packs more inspirational firepower than a stick of dynamite!" Because dynamite is very inspirational....

The former president will be speaking at the motivational tour for two of their dates in Texas, one in October and one in December. For the December event, look who he appears to be replacing. If you go to the Corpus Christi event for December 1st, you'll see that among those speakers listed there is Dr. Earl Mindell--described as the ultimate authority on vitamins, fitness and nutrition.

Then if you go to the San Antonio date, the next day, December 2nd, you'll see in Dr. Earl Mindell's place, it's George W. Bush. He has replaced the vitamin guy.

Laura Bush will be speaking for the same series, but she'll be speaking in separate cities from the former president. She's described on the motivational Web site as having been, quote, "recognized by Gallop Polls as one of the most popular and beloved first ladies in American history." They spelled Gallup wrong, which makes me sort of sad. As you explore the Web site a bit further, you will find a list of frequently asked questions for potential attendees of these motivational events including this one that caught my eye just because it was unexpected.

Quote, "I'm being pressured to attend. I don't think I need to be fixed." The answer posted on the Web site to this frequently asked question is, quote, "Neither do we. The get motivated seminar is designed for anyone who's interested in continuing to grow and achieve new levels of success. This is the perfect opportunity obtain even more of what you want in your life and less of what you don't."

Unless, of course, what you don't want is to be pressured to go to a motivational seminar. One other frequently asked question that they answer on their "Get Motivated" Web site is this, "Can I get the same information from reading books?"

The "Get Motivated" answer is, "Not even if you read a billion books." And this is really just the beginning of the George W. Bush legacy speaking tour. Who knows what kind of sales conferences and corporate team building excursions he might one day book. The future looks very bright.

Joining us now is Wayne Slater, senior political writer with the "Dallas Morning News" and co-author of the book, "Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential." Wayne, it's nice to see again. Thanks for joining us. ... I'm going to disclose my feelings about this if they are not already clear. This seems like a strange signal to send for the president's first big American multi-occasion speaking gigs. What signal do you think he's trying to send?

Wayne Slater: Look, this is the granddaddy of the sales motivation seminars. This is Babbitt meets the Super Bowl. I mean, this is about everybody you've ever thought you wanted to see, if you were sort of a middle-level salesman trying to sell stuff to people who don't want to buy what you're selling.

It's like - I think part of what George W. Bush is doing and you were alerted to it, this is really an introduction to the George W. Bush legacy project of which we are going to see a lot. Karl Rove is putting together a book. It's finished. It actually will be out early next year, explaining the Bush years.

Bush himself is going to prepare a book. There's a library being built, of course, in Dallas. This is part of the legacy tour. George Bush, who left office, as you may remember, with a couple unpopular wars and an economy going down the tubes, is going to be on the stage with winners, not losers. They are all winners up there.

Maddow: But he's going on stage at an event. I mean, spent so much time on this Web site today. Some of the things they promise people are going to learn at this event are how to irate customers into lifelong fans, the eight keys to communication and captivating public speaking. How to get your ideas accepted, acted upon and accomplished. It's seems like an odd thing for a very recent president to be aligning himself with.

Slater: Well, yes.

Maddow: It's in terms of the tone, doesn't it?

Slater: These are George Bush's people. Zig Ziglar is sort of a master of ceremonies of this event, besides Peter Lowe(ph), the master salesman, is a motivational legend in the sort of latter-day Dale Carnegie ranks. And George Bush, I think, feels comfortable with a number of these folks. But you're right. It's not the counsel on foreign relations. It's not that kind of speech.

Maddow: It's interesting to me that Laura Bush is doing more of these events than her husband, George W. Bush. He's doing two events in Texas. She's doing a sprinkling of event including some outside of Texas. Do you think there's a Texas dynamic at play here?

Slater: Well, there is a Texas dynamic. Laura Bush has already done a couple of these even though George Bush just left the White House. This is George Bush's first time on the motivational speaker circuit.

The Texas connection - Zig Ziglar is kind of a legend around Dallas, Texas although this is not where he's from. There is a kind of upbeat, up, up with people's spirit in Texas, certainly around Dallas, Ft. Worth, San Antonio and, I guess, Corpus Christi.

And so I think the idea that you have the president of the United States who, here in Texas, in many circles, remains fairly popular, really kind of points to the optimism, even the sales craft of a place like Texas.

Maddow: I love the way you sell Texas. You could sell Texas to anybody. You don't need to be inspired by one of these seminars. Let me ask one last question here and I don't mean to crass. But is this likely to be a financial decision for the former president as well? Is this that sort of thing that pays very well for the people who are brought on as speakers?

Slater: This pays very well. My sense is that George W. Bush gets at least $100,000 for about 40 minutes of work, for one speech. They don't talk about how much they pay these people, but this is a big event that makes a lot of money.

The actual night that they have them at a football stadium or a big soccer arena doesn't make a lot of money. But they also sell - people associated with this sell everything from DVDs, inspirational tapes to weight loss programs and make a lot of money. So for George W. Bush, that's not his first motivation, I'm confident. But it sure doesn't have to put $100,000 in your pocket that night.

Maddow: Wayne Slater, senior political reporter with the "Dallas Morning News." Thanks for your time and your insight tonight, Wayne. It's good to see you.


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