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BILL MOYERS: This week on Moyers and Company: The scheme to remake America, one state house at a time.

LISA GRAVES: Politicians and corporate representatives, corporate lobbyists were actually voting behind closed doors on these changes to the law before they were introduced in state houses across the country.

BILL MOYERS: The United States of ALEC. And…

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BILL MOYERS: Welcome, to a story that's been unfolding for more than 30 years but has gone largely untold. That's the way the central characters wanted it. They were smart and understood something very important: that they might more easily get what they wanted from state capitals than from Washington, DC. So they started putting their money in places like Raleigh, North Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; Phoenix, Arizona; and Madison, Wisconsin. That’s because what happens in our state legislatures directly affects our taxes, schools, roads, the quality of our air and water -- even our right to vote.

Politicians and lobbyists at the core of this clever enterprise figured out how to pull it off in an organized, camouflaged way -- covering their tracks while they put one over on an unsuspecting public. This is the story of how and why it worked. Our report was many months in the making. It's collaboration between Tom Casciato and Kathleen Hughes, the filmmakers at Okapi Productions; and the Schumann Media Center that I head. Schumann supports independent journalism and public watchdog groups like the Center for Media and Democracy, whose investigators have been tracking the footprints of ALEC, an organization hiding in plain sight, yet one of the most influential and powerful in American politics.

ARIZONA DEM. REP. STEVE FARLEY: I’ve often told people that I talk to out on the campaign trail when they say “state what?” when I say I’m running for the state legislature. I tell them that the decisions that are made here in the state legislature are often more important for your everyday life than the decisions the president makes.

JOHN NICHOLS: If you really want to influence the politics of this country you don’t just give money to presidential campaigns, you don’t just give money to congressional campaign committees. The smart players put their money in states.

FORMER PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: ALEC has forged a unique partnership between state legislators and leaders from the corporate and business community. This partnership offers businessmen the extraordinary opportunity to apply their talents to solve our nation’s problems and build on our opportunities…

LISA GRAVES: I was stunned at the notion that politicians and corporate representatives, corporate lobbyists were actually voting behind closed doors on these changes to the law before they were introduced in statehouses across the country.

HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: ALEC, has been I think a wonderful organization. Not only does it bring like-minded legislators together. But the private sector engagement in partnership in ALEC is really what I think makes it the organization that it is.

BILL MOYERS: Have heard the name ALEC in the news lately.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC for short.

FOX NEWS REPORTER: The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.

BILL MOYERS: ALEC is a nationwide consortium of elected state legislators working side by side with some of America’s most powerful corporations. They have an agenda you should know about, a mission to remake America, changing the country by, changing its laws, one state at a time. ALEC creates what it calls “model legislation,” pro-corporate laws its members push in statehouses across the nation. ALEC says close to a thousand bills, based at least in part on its models, are introduced each year. And an average of 200 pass. This has been going on for decades. But somehow, ALEC managed to remain the most influential corporate-funded political organization you’d never heard of--until a gunshot sounded in the Florida night.

RACHEL MADDOW: Trayvon Martin unarmed but for a bag of candy and iced tea that he was carrying.

BILL MOYERS: You’ll recall that the shooter in Trayvon Martin’s death was protected at first by Florida’s so-called Stand Your Ground law. That law was the work of the National Rifle Association. There’s its lobbyist standing right beside Governor Jeb Bush when he signed it into law in 2005. Although ALEC didn’t originate the Florida law, it seized on it for the Stand Your Ground model it would circulate in other states. Twenty-four of them have passed a version of it.

RASHAD ROBINSON: How did this law not only get in place in Florida but around the country? And all the fingers kept pointing back to ALEC.

BILL MOYERS: When civil rights and grassroots groups learned about ALEC's connection to Stand Your Ground laws, they were outraged.

RASHAD ROBINSON: ALEC doesn’t do its work alone, they do it with some of the biggest corporate brands in America.

BILL MOYERS: Before long, corporations were pulling out of ALEC, including Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, McDonald’s, Mars, Proctor & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson. Caught in the glare of the national spotlight, ALEC tried to change the subject.

KAITLYN BUSS: You know, I think the entire debate needs to be reframed, and really what ALEC is, is a bipartisan association of state legislators -- we have legislators of all political stripes coming together to talk about the most critical issues facing the states […] and trying to come up with the best solutions to face some of the problems that we’re having.

MEGYN KELLY: Alright, so your point is it’s not a partisan organization.

BILL MOYERS: But ALEC is partisan. And then some.

LISA GRAVES: In the spring I got a call from a person who said that all of the ALEC bills were available and was I interested in looking at them. And I said I was.

BILL MOYERS Lisa Graves, a former Justice Department attorney, runs the center for media and democracy, a nonprofit investigative reporting group in Madison, Wisconsin. In 2011 by way of an ALEC insider, Graves got her hands on a virtual library of internal ALEC documents. She was amazed by its contents: a treasure trove of actual ALEC model bills.

LISA GRAVES: These are the bills that were provided by the whistleblower. That’s just the index.

BILL MOYERS: There were more than 850 of them -- 850 boilerplate laws that ALEC legislators could introduce as their own in any state in the union.

LISA GRAVES: Bills to change the law to make it harder for American citizens to vote, those were ALEC bills. Bills to dramatically change the rights of Americans who were killed or injured by corporations, those were ALEC bills.

Bills to make it harder for unions to do their work were ALEC bills. Bills to basically block climate change agreements, those were ALEC bills.

When I looked at them I was really shocked. I didn’t know how incredibly extensive and deep and far-reaching this effort to rework our laws was.

BILL MOYERS: She and her team began to plow through ALEC documents, as well as public sources, to compile a list of the organizations and people who were or had been ALEC members.

They found hundreds of corporations, from Coca-Cola and Koch Industries to Exxon Mobil, Pfizer, and Wal-Mart; dozens of right-wing think tanks and foundations; two dozen corporate law firms and lobbying firms; and some thousand state legislators a few of them democrats, the majority of them republican.

WISCONSIN DEM. REP. MARK POCAN: ALEC is a corporate dating service for lonely legislators and corporate special interests that eventually the relationship culminates with some special interest legislation and hopefully that lives happily ever after as the ALEC model. Unfortunately what’s excluded from that equation is the public.

BILL MOYERS: In the Wisconsin Statehouse, Democratic Representative Mark Pocan is trying to expose ALEC’s fingerprints whenever he can. By one count, over a third of Pocan’s fellow Wisconsin lawmakers are ALEC members.

WISCONSIN DEM. REP. MARK POCAN: When you look around especially on the Republican side of the aisle, a lot of members of ALEC, front row, ALEC, when you start going down to the chair of finance and some of the other members are all ALEC members, in fact the ALEC co-chair of the state, row by row you can point out people who have been members of ALEC over the years.

There's two main categories they have. One is how to reduce the size of government, and the other half of it is this model legislation that's in the corporate good. In other words, there's a profit driven legislation. How can you open up a new market? How can you privatize something that can open up a market for a company? And between those two divisions you are kind of getting to the same end goal which is really kind of ultimate privatization of everything.

BILL MOYERS: Mark Pocan is something of an expert on ALEC. In fact, to learn as much about it as he could, he became a member.

WISCONSIN DEM. REP. MARK POCAN: What I realized is if you join ALEC for a mere hundred dollars as a legislator you have the full access like any corporate member.

BILL MOYERS: He also took himself to an ALEC conference for a first-hand look.

WISCONSIN DEM. REP. MARK POCAN: Hi, I’m state representative Mark Pocan, I’m outside the Marriott on Canal Street in New Orleans at the ALEC convention, American Legislative Exchange Council.

That was where you watch the interaction of a room full of lobbyists—free drinks, free cigars, wining, dining, many people just came from a dinner that was sponsored by some special interests, coming to a party that’s sponsored by special interests, so they can continue to talk about special interests.

LISA GRAVES: This is from the New Orleans convention. This includes a number of seminars that they held for legislators including one called “Warming up to Climate Change: The Many Benefits of Increased Atmospheric CO2."

BILL MOYERS: That 2011 ALEC conference, lo and behold, was sponsored by BP, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, and Shell, among others. Another of its events featured guns.

LISA GRAVES: And this is the NRA sponsored shooting event. For legislators and for lobbyists. Free.

BILL MOYERS: There was even one offering free cigars.

LISA GRAVES: Sponsored by Reynolds American which is one of the biggest tobacco companies in the world and the Cigar Association of America.

BILL MOYERS: It sounds like lobbying. It looks like lobbying. It smells like lobbying. But ALEC says it’s not lobbying. In fact, ALEC operates not as a lobby group, but as a nonprofit … a charity. In its filing with the I.R.S. filing ALEC says its mission is “education.” Which means it pays no taxes, and its corporate members get a tax write-off. Its legislators get a lot too.

WISCONSIN DEM. REP. MARK POCAN: In Wisconsin, I can't take anything of value from a lobbyist. I can't take a cup of coffee from a lobbyist. At ALEC, it's just the opposite. You know, you get there and you're being wined and dined by corporate interests, I can go down there,

And be wined and dined for days in order to hear about their special legislation. I mean, the head of Shell Oil flew in on his private jet to come to this conference. The head of one the largest utility companies in the country was there on a panel. Utility company in 13 states and here he is presenting to legislators. I mean, they clearly brought in some of the biggest corporate names in “special interestdom” and had that meeting with legislators because a lot of business transpires at these events.

BILL MOYERS: The most important business happens in what ALEC calls “task forces.” There are currently eight of them, with a corporate take on every important issue in American life, from health and safety to the environment to taxation. In ALEC task forces, elected state officials and corporate representatives close the doors to press and public, and together approve the bills that will be sent out to America. But Americans have no idea they come from ALEC. Unless someone like a Mark Pocan exposes it.

WISCONSIN DEM. REP. MARK POCAN: When I went down to New Orleans, to the ALEC convention last August, I remember going to a workshop and hearing a little bit about a bill they did in Florida and some other states and there was a proposal to provide special needs scholarships. And lo and behold I come back to Wisconsin and what gets introduced? Get ready I know you’re going to have a shocked look on your face: a bill to do just that.

BILL MOYERS: Twenty-six ALEC members in the Wisconsin legislature sponsored that special needs bill, but the real sponsor was ALEC. Pocan knew because the bill bore a striking resemblance to ALEC’s model. Have a look.

But Pocan isn’t only concerned that ALEC sneaks bills into the state legislature. The intent behind the bills troubles him too.

WISCONSIN DEM. REP. MARK POCAN: Some of their legislation sounds so innocuous, but when you start to read about why they're doing it, you know there's a far different reason why something's coming forward and that's important.

I think if the average person knew that a bill like this came from some group like ALEC you'll look at the bill very differently and you might look at that legislator a little differently about why they introduced it.

This is not about education this is not about helping kids with special needs, this is about privatization, this is about corporate profits, and this is about dismantling public education.

BILL MOYERS: The bill passed in the Wisconsin House but failed to make it through the senate. However, in its “Education Report Card,” ALEC boasts that similar bills have passed in Oklahoma, Louisiana, North Carolina and Ohio. ALEC’s education agenda includes online schooling as well. Take a careful look, and you’ll find the profit motive there, too.

LISA GRAVES: What you see is, corporations that have a direct benefit, whose bottom line directly benefits from these bills, voting on these bills in the ALEC taskforce. And so corporations like Connections Academy, corporations like K12, they have a direct financial interest in advancing this agenda.

BILL MOYERS: Those corporations -- Connections Academy and K12, which specialize in online education – can profit handsomely from laws that direct taxpayer money toward businesses like theirs. In 2011 both sat on ALEC's education task force. But the two companies didn’t just approve the model bill. They helped craft it. The proof is in one of ALEC’s own documents. And there’s more to the story.

TENNESSEE SEN. DOLORES GRESHAM: Thank you Mr. Speaker […] House Bill 1030 has to do with the establishment of virtual public schools.

BILL MOYERS: Last year an online schooling bill based on the ALEC model turned up in another state where ALEC has a powerful influence: Tennessee. It was introduced in both the state senate and house by ALEC members. The bill passed, making private corporations eligible for public money for online education. Then within weeks the k-12 corporation got what amounted to a no-bid contract to provide online education to any Tennessee student from kindergarten through 8th grade.

So let’s review: The ALEC member corporations help craft the bill, ALEC legislators introduce it and vote on it, and now there’s a state law on the books that enables one of those corporations to get state money. Game, set, match. But remember: this story isn’t about one company in the education industry and one law in Tennessee. It’s about hundreds of corporations in most every industry, influencing lawmakers in state after state using ALEC as a front.

Here’s another example. The American Bail Coalition, which represents the bail bond industry, pulls no punches about writing ALEC’s model bills itself. In a newsletter a few years back, the coalition boasted that it had written 12 ALEC model bills “fortifying the commercial bail industry.” Here’s Jerry Watson, senior legal counsel for the coalition, speaking at an ALEC meeting in 2007. He has a law to offer.

JERRY WATSON: There is a model bill for you to review if you might be interested in introducing such a measure.

BILL MOYERS: He’ll even help legislators amend it.

JERRY WATSON: Now if you don't like the precise language of these suggested documents, can they be tweaked by your legislative counsel? Well absolutely. And will we work with them on that and work with you and your staff on that? Absolutely.

BILL MOYERS: All the lawmakers have to do is ring him up.

JERRY WATSON: There is a phone number there for our executive offices in Washington D.C. We are prepared to help you and your staff and support this legislation in any way that we can.

BILL MOYERS: And guess what? There’s gold at the end of the rainbow.

JERRY WATSON: But I'm not so crazy so as not to know that you've already figured out that If I can talk you into doing this bill, my clients are going to make some money on the bond premiums.

BILL MOYERS: And corporate interest conflated with the public interest.

JERRY WATSON: But if we can help you save crime victims in your legislative district and generate positive revenue for your state, and help solve your prison overcrowding problem, you don't mind me making a dollar.

BILL MOYERS: ALEC members are seldom as upfront as the American Bail Coalition. In fact, ordinarily ALEC’s hand is very hard to see at all. But if you know where to look, you’ll often find ALEC hiding in plain sight.

LISA GRAVES: ALEC has, in addition to its regular vacation resort trips, it also has special, what it calls boot camps on particular substantive issues.

BILL MOYERS: In March, 2011, ALEC held one of those ‘boot camps’ for legislators at the North Carolina capitol in Raleigh. The subject was so-called “tort reform”: how to keep the average Joe from successfully suing a corporation for damages.

The day after the boot camp two state representatives presented the draft version of a house bill chock full of ALEC priorities. It would, among other things, limit corporate product-liability in North Carolina. One of the representatives, Johnathan Rhyne, was quoted in the Raleigh News Observer saying of ALEC: “I really don’t know much about them.” That’s odd, because Rhyne had been listed as a featured speaker at the ALEC tort reform boot camp. The paper also reported that Rhyne said the bill wasn’t copied from ALEC model legislation. That too, is odd, given how the sections covering product liability could have passed as twins. The bill was controversial; it passed, but only after the product-liability sections were taken out of it. But the tort reformers didn’t give up. They were back a year later. This time with a draft bill aimed only to limit the liability of drug manufacturers. When the public was allowed to comment before a legislative panel, people who had lost loved ones came to testify against the bill. A son who had lost a father.

SURVIVING SON: You know, my dad’s gone. All I can do is be a voice for him, he can’t speak any longer.

BILL MOYERS: A grandfather mourning his granddaughter.

SURVIVING GRANDFATHER: If this bill passes, an innocent victim in NC like Brittany could not hold the manufacturer accountable. Everyone needs to be accountable for their actions.

BILL MOYERS: Unmentioned to those in the room, ALEC was present too, in the form of a lobbyist with drug manufacturing giant GlaxoSmithKline. His name is John Del Giorno.

JOHN DEL GIORNO: Several of the opposing testifiers today brought up very compelling sad, empathetic stories about.

BILL MOYERS: Not only is Glaxo an ALEC corporate member, Del Giorno himself is also a Vice Chairman of ALEC’s national Private Enterprise Board. The North Carolina bill has been tabled for now. So now you’ve seen how it works for corporations. How about for the politicians?

ANDERSON COOPER: Last night was as the President finally acknowledged to day, a shellacking. Republicans gain control of the house picking up 60 seats so far.

BILL MOYERS: When all of the returns were counted on election night 2010, ALEC was a big winner. Eight of the Republican governors elected or re-elected that night had ties to the group.

OHIO GOV. JOHN KASICH: Guess what, I’m going to be governor of Ohio.

SOUTH CAROLINA GOV. NIKKI HALEY: There’s going to be a lot of news, and a lot of observers, that say that we made history.

ARIZONA GOV. JAN BREWER: A clean sweep for Republicans!

BILL MOYERS: And a star was born that election night -- Wisconsin’s new governor, a son of ALEC named Scott Walker.

WISCONSIN GOV. SCOTT WALKER: Wisconsin is open for business!

JOHN NICHOLS: I've known Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin for the better part of 20 years and Scott is a classic career politician, and I don't say that in a negative way.

BILL MOYERS: Journalist and Wisconsinite John Nichols has tracked Scott Walker’s career since the 90s, when Walker was a state legislator and an ALEC member.

JOHN NICHOLS: And in 2010 he ran not presenting himself as an ALEC alumni or as an ally of big corporations or big business people outside the state. He ran a very down-home campaign.

WISCONSIN GOV. SCOTT WALKER: This is my lunch. I pack a brown bag each day so I can spend money on the more important things in life, like sending my kids to college.

BILL MOYERS: Nichols says that despite the folksy image, in the years leading up to Walker’s 2010 campaign, he had become a master political fundraiser.

JOHN NICHOLS: And he began to forge incredibly close ties with a lot of corporate interests that he had first been introduced to in ALEC, individuals and groups like the Koch brothers

BILL MOYERS: David and Charles Koch, the billionaire businessmen behind a vast industrial empire are also political activists with an agenda. Their companies and foundations have been ALEC members and funders for years.

JOHN NICHOLS: The Koch brothers were among the two or three largest contributors to Scott Walker's campaign for governor of Wisconsin.

And The Koch brothers get that if you really want to influence the politics of this country, you don’t just give money to presidential campaigns. You don’t just give money to congressional campaign committees. The smart ones, the smart players put their money in the states.

WISCONSIN GOV. SCOTT WALKER: Hi I’m Scott Walker.

JOHN NICHOLS … It’s state government that funds education, social services. And it taxes.

WISCONSIN GOV. SCOTT WALKER: If you want lower taxes and less government I’m Scott Walker, and I know how to get the job done.

JOHN NICHOLS: And so the smart donors can change the whole country without ever going to Washington, without ever having to go through a Congressional hearing, without ever having to lobby on Capitol Hill, without ever having to talk to a President.

WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT JUSTICE SHIRLEY ABRAHAMSON: Please raise your right hand and repeat after me.

BILL MOYERS: The new governor moved quickly with a raft of ALEC-inspired bills. They included one similar to Florida’s Stand Your Ground. Another made it easier to carry concealed weapons. There was a resolution opposing the mandated purchase of health insurance. And of course there was limiting corporate liability. The Wisconsin legislature passed a so-called tort reform measure that included parts of eight different ALEC models. ALEC was elated, praising walker and the legislature in a press release for their, quote -- “immediate attention to reforming the state’s legal system.” But Scott Walker was also shooting for another big ALEC prize.

WISCONSIN GOV. SCOTT WALKER: Now some have questioned why we have to reform collective bargaining.

BILL MOYERS: Taking away workers’ collective bargaining rights. That had long been an ALEC goal. A candid video caught him talking about it with one of his financial backers, a billionaire businesswoman, Diane Hendricks.

WISCONSIN GOV. SCOTT WALKER: We’re going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill. The first step is we’re going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions. Because you just divide and conquer.

BILL MOYERS: Despite an extraordinary public outcry, and after a brief but intense political struggle, walker’s anti-collective bargaining measures became state law.

JOHN NICHOLS: It was ALEC's ideas, ALEC's values that permeated the bill and un-did almost 50 years, more than 50 years of collective bargaining law in Wisconsin.

BILL MOYERS: But again, remember, this isn’t just about one state. It’s about every state. Take Arizona – it’s practically an ALEC subsidiary. One report this year found that 49 of Arizona’s 90 legislators are members. And two thirds of the republican leadership are on ALEC taskforces. And of course the governor, Jan Brewer, was an ALEC member too. So not surprising, Arizona is among the states passing ALEC-inspired laws to privatize education at taxpayer expense. And no surprise again, Arizona is also getting ALEC-like laws to limit corporate liability. And Arizona, you’ll recall, made news last year, with a law allowing police to stop someone for looking Hispanic, and detaining them if they weren’t carrying proper papers. Laws that create more arrests can create more revenue for-profit prison companies.

So it probably won’t shock you to learn that Arizona’s immigration law inspired an ALEC model, a version of which was passed in five other states.

ARIZONA DEM. REP. STEVE FARLEY: All of us here are very familiar with ALEC and the influence that ALEC has with many of the members here.

BILL MOYERS: ALEC’s domination of Arizona proved too much for State Representative Steve Farley:

ARIZONA DEM. REP. STEVE FARLEY: I just want to emphasize it’s fine for corporations to be involved in the process. Corporations have the right to present their arguments, but they don’t have the right to do it secretly. They don’t have the right to lobby people and not register as lobbyists. They don’t have the right to take people away on trips, convince them of it, send them back here, and then nobody has seen what’s gone on and how that legislator had gotten that idea and where is it coming from.

BILL MOYERS: Farley has introduced a bill to force legislators to disclose their ALEC ties, just as the law already requires them to do with any lobbyist.

ARIZONA DEM. REP. STEVE FARLEY: All I’m asking in the ALEC Accountability Act is to make sure that all of those expenses are reported as if they are lobbying expenses and all those gifts that legislators received are reported as if they’re receiving gifts from lobbyists. So the public can find out and make up their own minds about who is influencing what.

BILL MOYERS: Steve Farley’s bill has gone nowhere. ALEC, on the other hand, is still everywhere. Still hiding in plain sight. Watch for it. Coming soon to a statehouse near you.

In reporting this story we wanted to talk to ALEC and some of its legislative members as well as to some of its former corporate members. Our requests were either turned down or went unanswered. At one point, we were told that the chairman of ALEC had agreed to an interview. We pursued it but never received a response. Meanwhile, ALEC continues to make news.

You’ve heard about all those bills passed in state after state by republican legislatures to prevent people from voting unless they can produce a government-issued photo id. Many of those voter id laws are based in part on – you guessed it – an ALEC model bill. As you saw in our report, such groups as Color of Change have questioned whether ALEC is an organization with which businesses want to be associated. So far, about 40 corporations have decided their answer was, “no, thanks,” and pulled out of ALEC.

Still, many companies remain ALEC members. And ALEC continues to strengthen its ties to conservatives. Earlier this month ALEC held a high-level, closed door meeting with congressional conservatives in the nation’s capital. The watchdog group Common Cause, has filed a complaint asking the IRS to end ALEC's tax exempt status and force it to register instead as a high powered lobby. Many legislators would then have to tell their constituents what they’ve mostly been able to hide up till now – that via ALEC they’ve been wined and dined by high-powered corporate lobbyists who took a hand in shaping laws in the state where you live.

Here’s an example of what’s at stake. The American Chemistry Council – that’s the trade group for the chemical industry – has used ALEC to press for changes in health and safety rules on toxic chemicals. Earlier this fall the council poured nearly 650,000 dollars into supporting Wisconsin republican Tommy Thompson’s bid for the U.S. Senate this November. By now it won’t surprise you to learn that Wisconsin’s former governor has been a friend of ALEC going all the way back to his days as a state legislator, when he himself was an ALEC member. Take a listen to a speech Thompson made at an ALEC conference in 2002:

FORMER WISCONSIN GOV. TOMMY THOMPSON: I always loved going to those meetings because I always found new ideas. Then I’d take them back to Wisconsin, disguise them a little bit, and declare that’s mine.

BILL MOYERS: Ah yes, Tommy Thompson and so many others. Finally: ALEC, meet ALICE. That’s right, ALEC now has some competition. Inspired by professor Joel Rogers, the Wisconsin champion of open democracy, ALICE is a transparent, non-corporate, out-in-the-open, web-based library of model laws on a range of public interest issues. Alice doesn’t have corporate or billionaire backers. The work is done by volunteers -- so in the constant struggle for democracy is still David versus Goliath. But as you’ll remember from that ancient story, giants don’t always win.

[BUMPER]

The presidential debates are upon us and many people are describing them as Mitt Romney’s last best chance to establish himself as a serious contender worthy of the White House. It’s happened before. John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan George W. Bush, all bounced higher in the polls after credible debate performances and went on to win the White House.

Whatever the outcome, most agree it’s the debates that will give us our best opportunity to evaluate these candidates, sort out their positions and separate truth from fiction. Not a moment too soon. According to a new survey from the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, “with a little over a month to go before Election Day, the public has a lot to learn about the 2012 Presidential Race.” Among its findings: Only 51 percent know the Romney-Ryan plan would preserve traditional Medicare for those 55 and older and retain it as an option for those now younger than that.

Only about half knew that Mitt Romney would keep the Bush tax cuts in place. Fewer than half knew that Romney and not Obama had promised to increase defense spending;

Only 23 percent were aware that payroll taxes had decreased during Obama’s term in office. Only slightly more than half knew that Paul Ryan is the Republican vice presidential nominee. The director of the Annenberg Center, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, our master media decoder is back with us. Welcome.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Thank you.

BILL MOYERS: So who's responsible for the widespread unawareness or ignorance that you report in your survey? Is it the candidate, the media, or the voter?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: It's all three. And fortunately, we have the opportunity with presidential debates to do something that reliably increases knowledge. We've been studying presidential debates for a long time as a scholarly community. And to our surprise, we consistently find that those who watch debates, regardless of the level of knowledge they come in with, come out with more accurate knowledge as a general group.

And they do this because those who haven't paid a great deal of attention have a lot to learn. Those of us who've paid a lot of attention still missed things. The news may have covered something one day and we weren't paying a whole lot of attention. Or maybe we got one candidates’ position and we missed the other candidate. In the clash of the candidates, in the clash of ideas offered us by the candidates, we have a chance to make direct comparisons. And when the moderator does a good job on common definitions in a way that clarifies distinctions and also clarifies similarities. One of the really important things about debates that people don't notice is that if the two candidates agree on something, first we rarely talk about it. And hence, we miss the translation between campaigning and governance. Because these candidates tend to act on what they tell you they're going to act on, or at least they tend to try.

BILL MOYERS: What are you going to be looking for in these debates?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: What I'm going to be looking for are clarifications of major, on major issues. And so I'm going to ask, "Does the public after watching the debates understand the differences in philosophy of government? Do they understand that Governor Romney wants government spending at a lower level of G.D.P. than does President Obama?"

BILL MOYERS: Gross Domestic Product.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Gross Domestic Product. Governor Romney wants to bring government spending per G.D.P. to G.D.P. down to 20 percent. And he has a theory that says that if you do that and you do the other things that he's going to do with the tax code that he is going to get economic growth. And so the second thing I'm listening for is, "What is their solution to the situation we're in right now with the economy? How are they going to solve the deficit problem and also increase job creation?"

And I'd like to hear that explained clearly, because they have two very different philosophies. And they see the role of government as very different. Basically, Governor Romney would like to see a lot less government in that process than would President Obama. I think that’s a second area where we should expect to see clarification. Third, I think that if the debates do their job, we're going to be able to answer the question, "What are the sacrifices either one is going to ask us to make?"

BILL MOYERS: Such as reforming Social Security, Medicare, higher taxes, lower taxes?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Yes. And on the table are all sorts of things that many people value a great deal and we may not be able to afford anymore. So should we have deductibility for second home mortgages? Should we have deductibility for high-cost homes? Should we have health insurance coverage provided by employers continue to be deductible? If so, for whom, should it be for all? And should we raise the age of entitlement, if so, to what level?" When someone says that about social programs, I want to also hear the answer to the question, "What are you doing with military spending? And how do you justify the tradeoff? We've gotta get the revenue someplace. Where are you willing to cut? And if not, why not, when you're putting really valued things on the table." And simply saying that the wealthy are going to pay more doesn't solve the problem. The wealthy are going to need to pay more, but so is what most people define as the middleclass. And there are going to be cuts across the board, including the military, I think, in order to make this work. I'd like to hear it now, not after the election.

BILL MOYERS: You clearly are placing a lot of faith in the debates.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: The reason for having confidence the debates will increase knowledge is because they have in the past. The question is how much knowledge can we get from the debates? The reason one has to place confidence in it is that it's all that we've got left. If the public is going to learn, it's not going to learn from advertising. It has some capacity to learn from news. But there isn't a high enough ongoing attention to news to really drive up the level of knowledge we need. What we need from the candidates in the debates is not simply greater adherence to facticity about their own records and their opponents records, but also more disclosure about what they're actually going to do in governance.

BILL MOYERS: But will the candidates be trying to tell the truth? Or will they be trying to persuade the audience to vote for them, even if they have to twist or avoid the truth to do so?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: The candidates, I think, need to take the risk that the candidate who is willing to tell us hard truths could pick up a part of the electorate that is otherwise disaffected. And also some of those who are still undecided. And if one of the candidates, preferably both, would tell us what the tradeoffs are, what the sacrifices are, and say, "If you elect me, this is what we're going to do because we need to do this for the wellbeing of the country and of future generations," I think that candidate not only could win on those grounds, but also could gain the license to govern without risking that we immediately try to throw his party out of office.

I'm afraid this year that the fact that the candidates are ducking the tough rhetoric means that they're going to have much, much more trouble governing than they otherwise would. And I wish they would have the courage to simply bite the bullet and tell us the truth. If we're not grown up enough as an electorate to accept it, then we deserve the consequence, which is governance we didn't anticipate, sacrifices we didn't anticipate, and a sense of betrayal that the campaign didn't tell us anything that mattered about what our lives would be like in the coming years.

BILL MOYERS: There are instances in which the public is fairly knowledgeable. For example, you report that 89 percent know that the national unemployment rate has been over 8 percent for more than a year. This is the one that's surprised me. You report that 70 percent know that the Supreme Court held that the fine in the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was constitutional since it is a tax, a very fine point that I thought would have been lost on a lot of people. How do you explain this degree of knowledge ability on some of these very important issues?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: In all of these cases, these things affect people's lives. Why the high attention to the Supreme Court ruling? And that's a very complex question, you're certainly right about that. Why the high level of attention to unemployment rate? It affects your life. And as a result, on those things that really matter to you, you're more likely to get it right if there is sustained news attention. And in none of those cases was there a partisan spin that overrode the news coverage. And so if you're trying to hunker down at your little partisan enclave and say, "No, I want to be in denial," there wasn't a partisan take that was there ready to dismiss the fact.

BILL MOYERS: Think about this for a moment. Here we are one month from the election, what's the most effective ad that you've seen that is believable?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Let me give you an example for each side. The ad that is being run by the Republicans and there are multiple forms of it, that shows voters who are real people who are looking at the camera and saying that they voted for him. This is Obama, this is President Obama. And they're really disappointed.

FEMALE VOTER: In 2008, I voted for Barack Obama.

FEMALE VOTER: He was new. He had new ideas.

FEMALE VOTER: I think that now we’ve given Obama a fair chance. And I don’t think he’s able to do what we need him to do.

MALE VOTER: The President is doing a mediocre job, and the economy in my opinion is still the same as it was four years ago.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: What's effective about that is that what Governor Romney has to do is persuade people who voted for President Obama that they shouldn't vote for him again. If the attack is strong on his competence or strong on some facet of his leadership, the danger is people hunker down and defend their original vote. This situates the voter where the voter is right now, It says, "We license you to reject the incumbent." It's an ad that says, "Let's make this a referendum.

BILL MOYERS: What about the pro-Obama ad? What's the most effective ad they've run that is believable?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: I think the most effective ad that they have is on the air right now. It's capturing a small segment of the statement that Governor Romney made behind closed doors, not realized he was being taped, about the 47 percent. And it puts pictures of people who fall into that 47 percent on the screen. And basically suggests that Governor Romney doesn't want to represent you and you and you.

NARRATOR: Mitt Romney attacked 47 percent of Americans who pay no income tax, including veterans, elderly, the disabled.

MITT ROMNEY: My job is not to worry about those people.

NARRATOR: Doesn’t the president have to worry about everyone?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: What makes it effective is Governor Romney's voice. And the fact that when you listen to the extended statement, you can make a plausible case that the tone was dismissive. And so the ad reinforces something that people are inclined to believe about a Republican. And they do it by showing you Governor Romney saying something. And now a second factor comes into play. He's said it in private. And when we're judging messages, we have these shortcuts that we just come to trust. Politicians say things in public, I really want to know what they say in private. I'd like to know if they're the same thing. So we get something that supposedly was said in private to wealthy donors, we're more likely to think that it represents what the candidate actually thinks. Remember how Barack Obama was hurt by the statement about clinging to guns and religion, same dynamic. What does he believe behind closed doors about you? And that's the other piece of that that's effective. You can identify with those people on the screen. And you can say even if you do pay federal income taxes, that was really an attack about people like me. I think that's the most effective ad the Obama campaign has run.

BILL MOYERS: Do you think voters expect honesty from the candidates?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: We know that voters tell us that they don't like attack in politics. And they don't like deception in politics. We know that attack can move voters. And we know that deception can move voters who aren't informed and and anchored in the facts. But we also know that voters value honesty and we know it through indirect evidence. We know that when the Republicans successfully lodge the charge in 2000 that Al Gore wasn't trustworthy, and they did it in part with an ad that played on his statement about playing a role in the creation of the internet, that it hurt perceptions of his trustworthiness and honesty and that it factored in vote decisions.

We know that when we look at the dimensions that come into a vote choice, perceived honesty and trustworthiness are always in that vote choice. And so the question is, "How do you translate your persona into the perception that you are being accurate about the facts?" And here I think each candidate has vulnerabilities going into the debates. Because the debates can expose the fact that the candidates have been engaging in some deceptive communication in their ads.

The Republicans ad that suggests that President Obama has gutted the work requirement in welfare is deceptive. The fact checkers have said that it's deceptive. And it's a clear-cut deception. The Obama campaign has been advertising saying that Governor Romney opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest. Again, the fact checkers have said, "No, that is not his position."

BILL MOYERS: But were those deceptive ads, one by Obama, one by Romney, nonetheless effective?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: They are effective unless you know that they're deceptive. And so—

BILL MOYERS: But more people know that they, more people see the ads than know that they're deceptive, than see your fact check.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: That's correct. But let's look at where we are right now. And then ask me that question again after the debates. What the debates have a potential to do is inform a broad swath of the electorate that it's been misled.

Now imagine that you care about this issue and you feel that you've been misled on the issue. That potentially is consequential in your assessment of those candidates. So debates become the opportunity to catch up with the deceptions. And go back to the primary debates. You saw the best journalists we have holding candidates accountable.

And you saw higher levels of accuracy as a result. Newt Gingrich was claiming that for four consecutive years as speaker he balanced the budget. Well, he'd only been speaker for two of the years that his budget was balanced. He backed of that claim. Debates have the ability to push back on claims that are deceptive and increase the level of accuracy.

BILL MOYERS: Almost you persuade me. But as you know, there's so much talk about how we're in a time of post-truth politics. One of Mitt Romney's own campaign pollsters said that they're not going to let their campaign be dictated by fact checkers. And although he didn't include, call you by name, he includes you, Miss Jamieson, and your colleagues at FactCheck.org.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: And the Romney campaign, when it posts the big deceptions of the Obama campaign, cites the fact checkers in many of those. And importantly, we know something about fact checking actually mattering. So first we know that campaigns have adjusted their claims. The Obama campaign was saying that Romney had outsourced.

BARACK OBAMA: I am Barack Obama and I approve this message.

NARRATOR: Running for Governor, Mitt Romney campaigned as a job creator.

MITT ROMNEY: I know how jobs are created.

NARRATOR: But as a corporate raider, he shipped jobs to China and Mexico.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: The fact checkers pushed back on that claim and the Obama campaign changed the ad to the next version saying, "His firm had outsourced."

BILL MOYERS: So fact checking is a protection against this deception?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Fact checking is a way of not eliminating the deceptive inferences, but increasing the likelihood that you have more of these statements accurate.

BILL MOYERS: You know, there are some journalists who disagree with you. The media critic Jack Shafer said in a column that quote, "Of course politicians and their campaigns lie. Of course they continue to lie even when called out. If you think otherwise, then they might have been speaking to you. You're looking for truth in all the wrong places." Is that realistic or cynical or both?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: If you say that candidates are willing to lie in order to be elected, are you saying that when they govern as president, we have just licensed them to lie to us? Because we have said as a public that we think that lying is acceptable and we're willing to be duped. I worry when campaigns assume that deception is just part of normal operating procedure. I wonder whether the candidates actually understand what the knowable is and are in touch with it. I wonder when they're confronted with the need to look at evidence in order to make a judgment whether they're actually going to do that or they're just going to listen to their pollsters and ask the question, "What can I sell?" instead of "What's the right thing to do, given the available, knowable facts on the ground."

If we give up on the idea that campaigns need to adhere to a standard of facticity and we cynically say, "They all lie all the time. And we just have to live with it." We may as well give up on journalism, which is the custodian of the knowable and accountability, which is journalisms primary function. Journalists are supposed to insist, as best they can, that candidates adhere to some sense of the real, as they try to define the problems and offer solutions.

BILL MOYERS: But here's what I think Jack Shafer would say in response to that, because he has written that, "Voters crave rhetoric that stirs their un-fact-checked hearts, as long as the deception is honest, pointing in the direction they want to go, voters are all right with it."

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: See, I wouldn't call that deception honest. But we do know that people crave reinforcement of things they already believe. They're highly uncritical about statements, about their candidate and made by their candidate. They're highly critical about statements about the other, when the other candidates make them on the other side. So we know that. That's part of the way humans process.

But we also know that we're capable of being analytic. We're capable of being dispassionate. We're really good at doing it when we get into a situation in which, for example, we need good medical information. I mean, there are times in which we really do try to adhere to the best available evidence. Tell somebody they've got a diagnosis of cancer and watch how their respect for fact and existing academic research in the medical community rises dramatically.

So it's true that voters do want their predispositions reinforced. But it should also be true that one can campaign in a way that's consistent with those dispositions and a way that's honorable. We had real trouble as a fact-checking community finding anything wrong with Bill Clinton's speech at the convention. Bill Clinton's speech made a compelling case for Barack Obama, a much stronger case than Barack Obama or his campaign has made for his reelection.

And Bill Clinton's speech, with very few, very minor exceptions, passed the toughest of the fact checking tests. When he went on Jon Stewart we found out why. On Jon Stewart, he said he worked on that for three or four weeks. And he consulted policy experts, because he wanted to make sure he got it right.

Now was that a compelling case, Democrats? I think you think it was. Was it factual? Yes, it was. If you are going to be prepared to govern competently, can't you make the case for your election based on a factually defensible argument? And if you can't, why should we vote for you, even if you share our ideology, candidate?

BILL MOYERS: When you took the results of this survey and sat alone with them in your study there in Philadelphia, and you looked at this gap, gulf, were you proud of the American people or not?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: When you look at the finding about the Supreme Court that shows an understanding of the constitutional issue involved in the ruling that said that that fine was a tax, what was called a fine was a tax, I'm proud of the American people. They understand something very complex. When I look at whether they don't understand where the candidates are on the issues, because the other side has been advertising and talking in speeches and in news in ways that are deceptive, I'm not ashamed of the American people, I'm ashamed of the candidates. And I'm ashamed of journalists for not holding the candidates so accountable that that level of knowledge was pushed up regardless of what the candidates were saying.

BILL MOYERS: Kathleen Hall Jamieson, as usual, it's been helpful. Thank you very much. And we'll see you in a couple of weeks. That’s it for this week. At BillMoyers.com, Laura Flanders has an exclusive, web-only interview with Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change.

RASHAD ROBINSON: We have to do all we can to stay vigilant and hold corporations accountable for how they use their dollars in the public space.

BILL MOYERS: You’ll also find a map that marks the state legislators who are ALEC members. It’s incomplete though, and you can help us fill in the blanks by calling your local representative and asking if he or she belongs. We’ll show you how. On Monday, October first, at 3 PM Eastern Time, I'll participate in a live chat at the BillMoyers.com website and I hope you’ll join me for our own lively conversation. I’ll see you there and see you here, next time.

Watch By Segment

  • United States of ALEC

    How corporations and state legislators are colluding to write laws and remake America, one statehouse at a time.

    Air Date: September 28, 2012
    ALEC-logo-still_SG1_VIM
    United States of ALEC
  • Kathleen Hall Jamieson on Political Debates and Deceptions

    How corporations and state legislators are colluding to write laws and remake America, one statehouse at a time.

    Air Date: September 28, 2012
    Kathleen-Hall-Jamieson-_SG2_VIM
    Kathleen Hall Jamieson on Political Debates and Deceptions

Full Show: United States of ALEC

September 28, 2012

Moyers & Company presents “United States of ALEC,” a report on the most influential corporate-funded political force most of America has never heard of — ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. A national consortium of state politicians and powerful corporations, ALEC presents itself as a “nonpartisan public-private partnership”. But behind that mantra lies a vast network of corporate lobbying and political action aimed to increase corporate profits at public expense without public knowledge.

Using interviews, documents, and field reporting, the episode explores ALEC’s self-serving machine at work, acting in a way one Wisconsin politician describes as “a corporate dating service for lonely legislators and corporate special interests.”

In state houses around the country, hundreds of pieces of boilerplate ALEC legislation are proposed or enacted that would, among other things, dilute collective bargaining rights, make it harder for some Americans to vote, and limit corporate liability for harm caused to consumers — each accomplished without the public ever knowing who’s behind it.

“All of us here are very familiar with ALEC and the influence that ALEC has with many of the [legislative] members,” says Arizona State Senator Steve Farley. “Corporations have the right to present their arguments, but they don’t have the right to do it secretly.”

“United States of ALEC” is a collaboration between Okapi Productions, LLC and the Schumann Media Center, headed by Bill Moyers, which supports independent journalism and public watchdogs including the Center for Media and Democracy, whose investigators are featured in the report.

Also on the Moyers & Company broadcast, master media decoder Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center and founder of FactCheck.org, joins Bill to discuss a recent Annenberg Center report that reveals widespread ignorance of the presidential candidates’ major policy positions.

The two also view and assess the veracity of Obama and Romney’s recent  TV ads, and talk about the potential impact of upcoming presidential and vice presidential debates.

“We’ve been studying presidential debates for a long time as a scholarly community,” Jamieson tells Bill. “And to our surprise, we consistently find that those who watch debates, regardless of the level of knowledge they come in with, come out with more accurate knowledge as a general group.”

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  • Venus

    Good ole dog and pony show, hell it should be with all the money spent to convince people they have a part to play in the process….as if we have a voice with a vote. Choice being different sides, same coin, all played according to the Golden Rule “them that got the gold…rule”.

  • Guest

    Our VOTES ARE our only voice. Why do you think the money pouring into the SuperPacs is so enormous? To MARKET to you to GET your vote. It’s the bills on the floors of the House of republicans oh sorry Representatives that is the problem. VOTE. VOTE BLUE!

  • davidp

    Saw this first on Democracy Now.org. That site and this one are two of my favorites that are a must to watch.

  • Anonymous

    They are smart to go after the State’s representation and look how well it has taken over! VOTING is SO important. Not takling the word of FOX news is also necessary. YES we DO have a part to play, becasue we cannot vote the extremists into office who speak w/o really giving any information about their policies, about what they plan to do once IN office.

  • http://twitter.com/WallopinWill WallopinWill

    Have you ever looked at the Texas Public Policy Foundation? In the month before each Texas Legislative session, the TPPF holds seminars in San Antonio for State Legislators. Experts and corporate officials are brought in to “teach” legislators how to be “good” law makers.

  • http://twitter.com/WallopinWill WallopinWill

    Why is Jameson “proud” of people knowing about the fact that Judge Roberts said the penalty could “reasonably be called a tax.” Rush Limbaugh and company jumped all over this as proof that Obama had raised taxes. How can you be proud to learn how Republican spin can be pounded into people;s heads over talk radio? The rightwing twitter-sphere jumped on this detail in order to change the conversation that would otherwise have resulted from the Supreme Court ruling. Be proud if Americans understand the mandate was related to the elimination of pre-existing condition exclusions! That would have been understanding something complex – rather than mere spin and redirection.

  • Anonymous

    The ALEC debate should also centre on the fact that Foreign Companies, (Shell is Royal Dutch Shell – a UK/Dutch company, is mentioned), are drafting US domestic legislation.

    The problem that really comes out here – money talks – literally, adverts, FOX News, lobbying. The challenge is for the money to be removed from politics, (how can you justify an election that spends $1bn when people are getting food hand outs), and, accounting to ensure that a companies “donation” is fully documented. Lastly, the definition of a tax exempt organisation is too broad.

  • wej7

    A Much-Needed Information App

    So where is the desktop vertical scroll app that
    slowly rolls the list of pending legislative bills showing people what’s moving
    into law? As business people and
    citizens have priming viewing of the process, won’t they be in the perfect position to spot
    anti-public sector moves? All local,
    state, and federal government should be required to release this data into
    these much needed information streams as each action is filed. If this does not work to check ALEC, then all
    that remains are post-game fuming by protesters. Give the people the tools and they’ll craft
    the best rules they can. Where’s the
    app?

  • Ms Bernardi

    Kathleen Hall Jamieson for President! At last, someone who speaks the truth.

  • MAU

    Ms. Jamieson spoke that if the American people are to make sacrifices to lessen government spending then there should be cuts in military spending – good point. But we should also look at tightening the belt of corporate welfare; in 2006 the US government spent $92 billion in corporate welfare programs (subsidies, etc.) while it spent $59 billion on social welfare programs. Seems like corporations could do some sacrificing too. I am sick of hearing that the average U.S. person must sacrifice, sacrifice. We are already sacrificing while corporations keep getting big government hands out and tax breaks. Maybe ALICE can work on this.

  • MAU

    Bill can you get Joel Rogers from U Wisconsin on your show to talk about ALICE and his other projects? Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/Xistnt Xistnt

    Go to ALECexposed.com and SourceWatch.org

  • Ken Piaskowski

    But we’re so busy. It’s Yada Yaba Season.

  • Marion Stahr-Elaschuk

    I am a 66 year old Canadian from Red Neck Tar Sands-rich Alberta who doesn’t support BIG OIL and have listened to and learned from Bill Moyers’ programs for years. I have very recently discovered Russian Television is part of my “basic” cable service along with PBS and local channels. I’ll tell you I’ve learned more about American politics and business from the likes of journalists like Thom Hartmann, Abby Martin, Max Keiser, Lauren Lyster, Danny Schechter and those who produce documentaries aired on this channel–which incidentally can be watched on your mobile phone; like one upcoming on October 1 and 2 about Nigerian OIL and the blood sacrifices made (like the ordered killing of activist and Nobel laureate Ken Saro Wiwa) by those in opposition to ROYAL DUTCH SHELL OIL’s destruction of their homeland and the corruption of politicians with bribery. American Media, including on many occasions PBS, are afraid of the TRUTH. They’re afraid of speaking truth to the major corporations that own them and they’re afraid if they do their jobs are on the line. When Journalism gets back to being “a calling” (Ted Koppel) whistleblowers won’t have to worry–the truth will always be before the public. We won’t have to have the Sunshine Foundation open daylight on and inform us of the “facts”!

  • sunflower58

    How much more does the middle class have to “sacrifice” before we start to see the likes of Greece and Spain or violence in the streets because the middle class has been pushed too far while the 1% or even the top 5% are going about their business? KHJ is suggesting that the middle class needs to make more sacrifices while the corporations get richer and Wall Street goes about its merry way continuing to wheel and deal like the most unregulated casino in the history of mankind. Any sensible economist knows that we can solve our deficit, SS and medicare issues by taxing the top guys at higher rates, raising the social security ceiling so people earning over 110 K would be taxed on their income and by arguing against any politician that promotes “trickle down” economics that have never worked during recessions. We have to stop the rhetoric that keeps telling us that the middle class is somehow responsible for this mess and that the middle class will have to bail out the country. We have already bailed out Wall Street. The middle class cannot take on any more burden. Our MC is fragile and slowly dissipating. When people like KHJ insist the MC must sacrifice more they should be questioned and debated more thoroughly.

  • susanpub

    ALEC – Ah, another program that leaves me discouraged & hopeless – but at least I’m not ignorant.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pat.elgee.5 Pat Elgee

    Collusion with special interests in secret is not even legal. Our government is suppose to be open and accessable to the people.
    Accepting bribery is grounds for impeachment in the US Constitution and all our elected swear to uphold the Constitution.
    Those large corporations are not even American, they are the equal of independent countries and owe their alligence to bottom line profits, not to our country. That they should be buying our elected destroys the very foundation of our country.
    The elected chase lobbyist for donations to the tune of millions every year.
    $92 Billion in corporate welfare, $59 billion in social welfare programs! How many billion in bass akwards welfare to the top 1% in tax reductions? Taxes should increase with increased personal income.
    My first year married, I substitute taught, while he worked for VISTA, and we paid more in taxes than the President of the US, Richard Nixon. bass akwards!

  • susanpub

    I regularly watch the BBC (& listen to) & DW-TV
    (German). One of the BBC broadcasts is
    based in NYC, but though the German one is in English, it concentrates on news
    of interest to Europe/Germany – stories American TV wouldn’t bother with – so I
    get a more rounded view of some of the world.

  • vlpete

    Living in Kansas, we are in the middle of the ALEC line of fire with the secretary of state having been the one to write both the voter ID laws and the immigration laws, Kobach. Also, the governor, Brownback, has pushed through laws that are going to leave the public education system lacking funding, but is trying to privatize the mediare and medicaid programs for starters. We are in dire straights and a whole lot of people are oblivious to what is going on. The informed minority has a hard time having their voices heard, but I try to set the record straight with every chance I get. Thanks for all the work you do Mr. Moyers & Company!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ashley-Malagant/797736391 Ashley Malagant

    You are out of your mind. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, etc are all welfare programs. The smallest of them is 4 times bigger than your $59 billion number. Combined, they’re close to $1.5 TRILLION dollars, or 15 times your corporate number of $92 billion. Do you have Down’s Syndrome by any chance?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ashley-Malagant/797736391 Ashley Malagant

    Everyone quits reading once you write that 1% nonsense. It’s the 47% who are the real danger to this country.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ashley-Malagant/797736391 Ashley Malagant

    Yeah, because the United States never guides foreign legislation, right? lol

  • Anonymous

    But, that is a sovereign state to sovereign state!
    Why does RAI (the Italian state broadcaster) sponsor ALEC?

  • ccaffrey

    They do much much more and are very much tied up with ALEC. They are also part of another rightwing network with organizations in every state that help provide expert support to ALEC legislators. TPPF has been known to draft “model legislation” that ALEC has adopted. The network is the State Policy Network. Check out their “family tree” at muckety . com.

  • Anonymous

    These are high crimes and misdemeanors against the sovereign people of the United States of America.

  • Trey Parker

    Why should this report be so surprising in a country which privileges private enterprise over social value? US politics has always been corporate politics – get over it!
    If you don’t like it, move to France or the UK.

  • http://twitter.com/Metatron_Qube nacho borealis

    Yeah…now what ?

  • A Free Person (so far)

    LOL. It’s funny how the show complains about people who have the freedom of assembly getting together and organizing to move legislatures toward their common interests. The big labor mafia has done this for years and now that others have caught on to their model and copied it, its a problem? The left wing agenda and buzz words read like a liberal dictionary in this show. Nothing short of fear mongering. No mention of how the model follows big labor monopolies doing exactly the same thing. Sad. Bill, I expect better from you. I awaiting a similar episode on what Acorn, George Soros and big auto labor monopolies are up to. But I’m not holding my breath.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cynthia.pierce.mcnamara Cynthia Pierce

    Ashley, I’d like to know exactly who authorized YOU to speak for “everyone.” I believe I am among those in that group and I I don’t remember appointing you to speak for me. If you cannot be factual in your observations, please keep your opinions to yourself. Thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cynthia.pierce.mcnamara Cynthia Pierce

    Hmmm .. all is quiet from Ms. Ashley … perhaps the parrot does not think or reason?

  • s. heywood

    What are the names of the members?

  • RU Serious

    WHAT????? Ashley honey wake up….

  • goodkarma

    you can go to Common Cause to find a ful list of contributors to ALEC and which committee they support.

  • KAC

    Kathleen Hall Jamieson is cool!

  • Beth Donaldson

    You started the program on ALEC by saying it was bipartisan . Then WHY did you only show Republicans? What ALEC is all about is horrible, but it doesn’t serve us well to hear and see only one side.

  • Anonymous

    Are you including the veterans who protected this country? The teachers who taught our children, all senior citizens who pay INTO the social programs that you yourself will use one day, you ungrateful child?

  • Anonymous

    The soros troll, right on cue. You obviously did not watch the show, or you’d know that ALEC was parading around as a non profit to let corporations write our laws.

  • Talos

    Here’s a good example of the Shadow Government and Corpratetocracy that we’ve all known about and turned a blind eye to for generations.

  • Gay Lynn Johnson

    The facebook announcement of this program goes only to the preview. Reconnect the 2,000 shares to the program, not the preview. America needs remaking…

  • Ross

    This is absolutely obscene. How this could be going on for so long in a democracy without the media calling our attention to it just proves how much the media is part of the corporatocracy. I would like to see the names of the state legislators who are complicit with ALEC published.

  • Deanna Woods

    To clarify who falls into the 47%, you might find it useful to check http://www.politifact.com or http://www.factcheck.org. The 47% actually includes a huge number of wealthy individuals as well as veterans, the elderly, disabled, those who are the working poor (on minimum wage), new teachers and first responders, etc. Romney was actually very, very inaccurate in his depiction of 47% — this applies to those who don’t pay federal taxes, but he appears to have forgotten the millions within this 47% who pay all the other kinds of taxes — payroll, sales, property, etc. These are not irresponsible and freeloading individuals.

  • Deanna Woods

    The challenge is that few, if any, Democrats are involved with ALEC. That’s why Republicans are the ones featured. In Oregon, only the GOP was involved.

  • Deanna Woods

    The rumors of Big Labor are still quite false. Less than 20% of America is organized, and because they’re a bottom-up organization, composed largely of lower- and middle-income workers and professionals, they don’t represent Big Money by any means. However, it’s important to note that studies have shown that there’s a clear correlation between numbers of union membership and the health of the American economy. For studies, check http://www.epi.org. They provide not only the conclusions but clear access to the data. In sum, whatever the unions win for their members, society as a whole benefits.

  • Fix Nichols Steaming Log

    I fail to see whats wrong with the “stand your ground” law, Trayvon martin was a brutal criminal thug who was up to no good, a teenage truent, and he brutally assaulted a legal fire arm owner, who shot him legally in self defense. Whats the problem you idiots? What dont you get? Sorry, I was getting into this film until you liberal jackasses hit me with a conspiracy theory on the stand your ground laws.

  • Stanley

    “Model” legislation?! That’s like
    Cliff Notes for politicians. Those fools in state legislatures
    probably cheated in high school, then college, now in their
    legislatures. Never mind the deception of submitting a bill THEY
    didn’t write – that’s just friggen lazy!

  • academic MD

    I have to say this was a shocking jolt to this naive viewer. As a physician employed at an academic medical center, I cannot accept a cup of coffee from commercial interests. I cannot present research without declaring all interests. I support these changes. Why should politicians be any different? Thanks to Mr. Moyers for bringing some light to this issue which lurks in the shadows.

  • Occupy the voting booth

    You can go to alecexposed for a lot of good information

  • A Free Person (so far)

    How kind and compassionate. Thanks for showing your true self.

  • A Free Person (so far)

    All mafias thrive in a good economy. Wether it is big labor monopolies or the military industrial complex feeding at the public trough, the issue is the same. All “interests” are “special interests”.

  • A Free Person (so far)

    I did watch the show in its entirety. I understand your point. It is well taken. I just disagree with the case for allowing some lobbying while eliminating others. My view is that all lobbying by all groups should be either legal or illegal. Allowing one side and not the other does not preserve check and balance. I would have no problem with elimination of all lobbying by left and right wing organizations. Silence Soros and Koch Brothers or let both speak. As long as we apply the same rules. Your assumption that I am ok with their non-profit status is just that.. an assumption and it happens to be incorrect.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christopher-Barksdale/100000434720958 Christopher Barksdale

    ITS TIME WE ARREST AND PUT LEGISLATOR’S IN JAIL ON GROUNDS OF TREASON they have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against their Oath of Office (constitution) our sitting Congress has no attainder of treason corruption of blood, the Constitution give us power to end this mess?
    The 14th Amendment states @ section 3:
    No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability. ARTICLE III section 3 OF THE CONSTITUTION STATES:
    Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court. The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Frank-Luke/100002464576512 Frank Luke

    Kudos for your show on ALEC and Ms Jamieson that was really informative for me. I hope viewers will be not only up to speed on ALEC but get into action to curb their activities. A huge shoutout to Ms Jamieson, she’s an answer to my voter’s prayers, dealing with all the issues I’ve been concerned about. I hope she’ll be following up on her spot-on comments somehow.

  • Anonymous

    No Ashley it’s people like you who believe conservative hate-talk. Those 47% are taking the legal deductions allowed them by law, JUST LIKE ROMNEY claims he is doing! But those 47% are not hiding millions in overseas accounts AND they actually work for a living instead of living off money made on the predatory destruction of former businesses.

  • Anonymous

    You certainly belong to your crazy, republican, every which way but the truth party.

  • Anonymous

    But corporate interests seem to supercede everything! When there are literally hundreds of lobbyists crawling all over each and every representative, when would they have time to look out for the likes of the working people?

  • Cindi

    I feel so helpless when I watched this. I feel even more helpless when I know that most people are so uninformed that they don’t even read the newspaper or watch the news on TV.

  • BlueKat

    Another good documentary that shines light on the takeover of state judges and how they spun torte reform to reduce corporate responsibilty is “Hot Coffee”. I highly recommend it. (It’s easily available – netflix, etc.)

  • Cassandra

    join ALICE – never be silent.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bob-Bennett/1178943476 Bob Bennett

    No wonder so many people openly talk about looking forward to a total collapse of the government.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rahim.moosa.18 Rahim Moosa

    I assume you would favor getting all money (and influence behind closed doors) out of politics, whether it is from corporations or labor unions. If so, we’re in agreement.

  • Spotted_raven

    If anyone has been paying attention to politics for the last several years, this should be no surprise. Is it any wonder that many of us have lost faith in our government?

  • http://www.facebook.com/rahim.moosa.18 Rahim Moosa

    To those below who say that unions have played the same game that corporations now play, I reply:

    (a) Corporations spend 65 times as much as unions in lobbying.
    (b) There are 12,500 corporate vs. 400 union lobbyists.
    (both facts according to Hedrick Smith’s interview on the Newshour)
    (c) The strength of unions helped the strength of the middle class.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mo.hergenrader Mo Hergenrader

    Perhaps that is why they are supporting no guns laws. THey hope we will get so mad and fight amongst ourselves and kill each other off?

  • http://www.facebook.com/mo.hergenrader Mo Hergenrader

    You can also catch this sort of real news on LINK, which is where I waatched the ALEC show and th attrocities in Nigeria, and Shell oil. Watch LINK!

  • Ambi258

    3M, AT&T, Best Buy, Century Link, Chevron, Comcast, Conoco, Dell, DirecTV, Ebay, HP, Shell, State Farm Ins, T-Mobile, Verizon, Visa, and Walgreens. It’s quite interesting to look at this list…http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_members_of_the_American_Legislative_Exchange_Council

  • Anonymous

    Interestingly enough the show provided a prime example of ALEC in action when Gov Scott Walker introduced legislation to end collective bargaining in Wisconsin. These special interests are taking out their competition in Wisconsin and the citizens have to live with this invasive legislation from some other source. It is disgusting, dirty and a new low from Republicans. They want to own and influence everything! Their greed and indifference to human suffering is beyond reckoning!

  • beijingyank

    It isn’t a Presidential debate if Gary Johnson and the Libertarian Party is not included. Tyrannical hubris on the part of the usurpers, filthy traitors, corrupt, and rogue government.

  • beijingyank

    Moyer leaves a bad taste in the mouth. This “kid” ran cover for Shadow government criminals involved in pulling off the coup Nov. 22, 1963. There is an agenda to this report. Anyone have a clue? Que bono?

  • Cassandra

    A lot of us feel the same way – for a moment. Take action – join ALICE, inform your friends and loved ones. Support PBS – a true media information source. Knowledge combined with action will set us free.

  • Cassandra

    The membership list is very interesting too.

  • GRT
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001487067405 Kris Rosvold

    Nope, there’s only one word for it…. TREASON.
    This was all done with the collusion and assistance of Congress and the House, who are EACH Sworn to “Protect the Constitution of the United States of America from ALL enemies foreign and domestic”. I say again TREASON (which BTW is good for 20 years in prison)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001487067405 Kris Rosvold

    It’s been going on because the American citizens are sheeple. They (for the most part) CHOOSE to believe the easy lies fed by the media and government over the hard truths of reality…. Witness the “Patriot” Act, the loss of the Fair Use Doctrine, the NDDA, SOPA, PIPA… (any one of these should have caused riots at the White House). Americans (for the most part) do NOT want to believe that their government is a bunch of traitors… because that would require them to actually stand up on their hind legs and DO SOMETHING! (like the riots in Europe)

  • http://www.facebook.com/Jay.J.Johnson.Castro Jay J. Johnson

    The United States…or ALEC.

    If we care about how the United States is being run…this is a must see.

    Keep in mind the architect of fascism’s definition of fascism: ‘Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”

  • Anonymous

    High Crimes and Misdemeanors is the term used in Article 2 of the Constitution to include treason. Indeed, you are right. It is treason.

  • Anonymous

    And Jill Stein of the Green Party.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christopher-Barksdale/100000434720958 Christopher Barksdale

    WE only need two or more people
    who POSTS on here to file class action suit and or complaint against ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. And the United States Government On Grounds of Treason, because Legislators have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the Constitution of the United States, or
    given aid or comfort to ALEC the enemies thereof adhering to the enemies
    US Constitution Article III Section 3.
    Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.
    US Constitution Fourteenth Amendment Section 3.
    No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or
    rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability
    LETS ARREST AND PUT THESE CORRUPT PEOPLE IN JAIL

  • Anonymous

    Even you do not get what voters should know completely correct:

    Under Paul Ryan’s (Romney’s?) Medicare reform, those under 55 will get to “keep” traditional Medicare ONLY if they can supplement the value of the voucher to BUY a Medicare policy.

    Current Medicare patients will return to the “donut-hole” problem in Medicare Part D.

    Keep up the good work, but even it can be improved!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christopher-Barksdale/100000434720958 Christopher Barksdale

    Ben Franklin would not be surprised by the deep sense of entitlement claimed by the government rich (Judges and Legislators). Because of their “Public Service” and “Sacrifice” to us, they feel entitled to the manipulation of the business market for their own benefit by Law/Judgments denying constituents’ who oppose their benefactors’ their attitude is the rules that apply to the rest of us-insider trading laws, conflict of interest statutes, Civil Rights Acts –Don’t apply to them and never should. The Permanent Political Class is, and expects to continue to be, untouchable. It is commonsensical. The simple fact is that politically connected Corporations can make allot of money based on information gleaned from Politicians’, and Government Officials. And it is not illegal for the politician to shear this information. If an official gets paid directly for it, however he risks a bribery charge even if the payback is/was subtle, it is exposed by Bill Moyers; Federal Judges risk cover up charges 18 U.S.C. § 1001 allowing the crimes to go unchecked, protecting the Capitalist cronies who took over State Houses and Judiciaries then preempt whistle blowers, federal appointed District Court Judges with no connection to state re-election campaign contributions’ or lobbyists like Alec or Alice should never appear to protect state officials charged with depriving civil rights of citizens, unless they are connected to the official or money. LETS THOW THEM ALL OUT OF OFFICE

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christopher-Barksdale/100000434720958 Christopher Barksdale

    THANKS YOU ARE SO RIGHT

  • Max Strange

    A Tammany Hall lobbyist was asked to describe an honest politician. His answer: “when bought he stays bought.”

  • mg000

    How soon we forget what Unions did to better all of our lives. Without them we would not have – to name just a few benefits:- the 8 hour work day – the 5 day work week – the abolition of child labor – the abolition of sweat shops – paid vacation time – paid holidays – health insurance (which is quickly becoming a scarce benefit). While it is true that, in some cases, Unions took advantage of their growth and popularity – I would hate to see a society in which there were no Unions or no right to form Unions, Does anyone really think all large, medium-sized or samll employers would take it upon themselves to act morally and responsibly toward all persons in this society? One just needs to look at what events caused this Great Recession to know they would not.

  • Hallen

    I am a carpenters
    union member 45 years. I have no complaints with my union. The usual
    complainers are the non-producers and people who can’t hold a job. My union isn’t
    perfect, but, it did everything it said it would do.

    There
    are about 66 International Unions that make up the AFL-CIO, as opposed to 500
    fortune five-hundred companies in the S&P 500. Anyone with some common
    sense can see that “so called” big labor is outnumbered by a ratio of, almost 8.1.
    Add all of wall street to that and what do you get. Any one of these company
    executives could out spend any of these unions.

    We hear
    so much talk and blame for the loss of jobs in the US. Some of us can remember
    Ross Perot 1992 presidential campaign. He repeatedly stated that the “giant
    sucking sound” you will hear will be the jobs leaving America because of NAFTA
    and all the other free trade agreements. Well, the jobs are gone and who is to
    blame; Bush, Clinton and Bush.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002651347482 Amy Cox

    I won’t have cable (I don’t want my kids watching it). Do you know if there are other ways to get this Russian station that you are speaking of? I would be interested in looking into it. Can you live stream it on line?

  • This guy today

    Mr Moyers – Could you please do a show about wealth?

    I have recently found the Federal reserve’s Flow of Funds reports (online). I now know where to go to find out about just how much wealth that is held by the people of this country – or at least held by a few.

    I have also been doing a lot of thinking about how the wealthy live (most income from capital gains) and it appears to me that their incomes are nearly irrelevant because they have so much control over them.

    While an average person has money in the bank and an income, the wealthy have financial securities that they can exchange for liquidity any time they want – or not – they only need to buy what any person might need to live. Their financial securities are like money in the bank to them. Do you agree?

    The wealthiest few hold the vast majority of our nations net worth and much of that is in the form of financial securities. They are invested in multinational corporations.

    There has been a lot of growth in our economy but it hasnt been shared in any way. all the gains have gone to the top and they are invested in corporations that dont necessarily care about America or its people.

    I feel that our nations policies are allowing (perhaps promoting) the removal of wealth from the benefit of most American citizens.

    Its all become too complicated for me lately.

    I know you do shows on wealth inequality but all we ever here is how poor the poor are. We never actually look at how rich the rich are. Somebody needs to shine more spotlights on their incredible international security.

    If we have monetary problems in this country then those who actually have all the money should be asked to do more.

    Have you ever taken the amount of money we spend on healthcare each year and divided that by our nations net worth? I think most families spend much more than our nation does. We are collectively talking about major changes to programs that save millions of lives and all becuase the only message that ever gets told is “we’re broke”…well…no we’re not.

    The latest Flow of funds report says households and non profits are worth 62.7 trillion dollars. Non profits are worth about 6% of that and so household worth is somewhere in the neighborhood of 58 trillion.

    But the bottom 60% is only worth just over a trillion dollars. The wealth inequality is staggering.

    Please do a show on wealth. Why doesnt ANYONE talk about these Flow of Funds numbers? All anyone ever does is say “the richest 1% hold 42% of all welath” Well I say its time for some real numbers.

    David Stockman used some real numbers on 60 minutes a few years ago. They just so rarely get told that I dont think anyone actually knows that we, as a nation, are worth well over a hundred trillion dollars.

    We are not broke. We are wealthy. and someone needs to shine a spotlight on that before its too late.

    Im living on disability in Texas and they say Im too rich for Medicaid (my income is $718 a month). Im paying almost $200 in rent and fees. The utilities take up at least $150. Food is nearly $300. and transportation costs are set to increase again soon.

    Doesnt anyone realize that a poor person cannot spend money they dont have? The housing authority is willing (with great reluctance) to give me a small deduction for medical expenses but when I asked for a deduction for eyeglasses I had purchased, their response was to increase my rent. They say it was a decrease in ‘utility allowance’.

    Can you live on $61 dollars a month for utilities? Is a telephone truly a luxury item?

    My legislators hand over hundreds of millions of dollars to corportaions and they completely elliminated homeless services here.

    I help the homeless more than our state government does. (and I dont help very much).

    what is this world coming to?

    I would have sent this a an email but I cant figure out how to do that right now.

    Thanks for listening. God Bless. have a good day.

  • this guy today

    OK…note that when I say that the incomes of the wealthy are irrelevant…I mean that studies on income inequality should stop and be ignored.
    Its WEALTH inequality that we need to pay attention to becuase the finacial securities held by a welathy person are like money in the bank to them.

    and if they use their money and influence to get Congress to change course inany way, they can make money off of teh change.

    stability is bad for wealth growth but great for people. Instability is great for wealth growth.
    The welathy put their money in place and then lobby Congress for changes in law that will make their investenmnts grow.

    Its just like buying a piece of land in the middle of nowhere and then lobbying Congress for zoning changes or a road or something.

    They set their money up and then lobby for chnage that benefit them. and their financial securities are like money in the bank and so it is WEALTH that we need to pay attention to.

    I have little monetary wealth. the bottom 60% have little wealth. all of the “potential liquidity” is stored at the very top.

  • Dave

    Hello, Bill Moyer’s fans. I just tweeted a link to this ALEC video, but I only have about 1700 Twitter followers. I hope you will share it as well. The corporate owned media will not, so it’s up to us, we the David against the corporate Goliath. Thanks.

  • Truth is…

    Thankfully, we still have real journalists. We need widespread clean and clear information like this to truly be responsible citizens of the country we live in; to be a part of our own governing in order to protect ourselves and future generations. A spot light on the dark corners of our democracy can only help us grow as an informed nation. This report shames our corporate network news outlets. It is more proof that we cannot depend on corporations to have the best interests of the people at heart – the people who support them and enable their growth.

  • Tit-mouse

    The Republican sitting congress is and has been committing Treason’s acts against their own party and the American people.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003116823383 Janis Smith

    Actually, I’m sorry to say; but, the Liberterian Party is ALSO part/parcel of the “New Right”. Dominionism is THEIR game. We don’t want the “New Right” PERIOD!! Whether they call themselves the Tea Party, Liberterians, or GOP!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003116823383 Janis Smith

    I just WISH that Bill would have made it clear to all exactly what the connection is between ALEC and it’s founder: Paul Weyrich. Weyrich started: Heritage Fdn; Moral Majority; Free Congress Fdn, ALEC and MORE. These people who are pretending they are Republicans – ARE NOT! They are the “New Right” of Weyrich and follow his ideology of Theocracy/Oligarchy to the letter. ALEC is just one arm of their organization! It is a subversive organization intent on taking over our current form of government – Democratic Republic! Don’t stop researching and don’t be afraid of the Truth…it is our best defense. Now, watch them use Election Fraud to WIN! Romney owns Lots of Preferred Shares in Diebold (public records) and his old buddies from Bain now own Scytl. They used the machines to get Bush elected and they will do it now….they just need the polls to be closer to hide it. Good sites: handcountedpaperballots.org and blackboxvoting.org
    PROTECT OUR VOTES!! It’s not over until we cross the finish line!!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VMFVDPWPDQ46VMKLX2F5C246RM Clark Kent

    I watched it on TV and also recorded a DVD copy. Good show.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christopher-Barksdale/100000434720958 Christopher Barksdale

    Reading Comments on Bill’s Story is sad to me, because not one person other than myself has mentioned the U.S. Constitution where the real power of America lies, It instructs how to Remove Corrupt Politicians, instead people post emotional comments on behavior of the Government as if they do not have Sovereign Body Authority over it, what the politicians have done Colluding with Alec, and Alice is Communism, until WE Constituents become more educated about OUR Constitutional Rights, Politicians will do whatever they choose, eventually removing Constituents Civil Rights away for good…so keep waving your FLAGS thinking it is a true symbol of America… ignoring Your Constitution Communism is frightened of a educated Public!

  • JeopardyGeorge

    It’s more than likely a waste of time trying to explain anything about labor to A Free Loader.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fred.rohmann Fred Rohmann

    There is validity in your argument, but you must recognize organizations such as seiu, the gay and lesbian alliance Acorn are guilty of the same intent. The fact is our elected officials are expected to be of high moral standard and incorruptible
    .

  • ccaffrey

    The main site for information on ALEC membership, and copies of all the ALEC bills, is ALECExposed.org, run by the Center for Media and Democracy. Their site Sourcewatch houses information on other rightwing organizations besides ALEC as well.
    A number of reports have been produced about ALEC through the years,one of the most thorough being a 2002 report by the Natural Resources Defense Council. You can find links to other reports on the ALECExposed sitel.
    The big difference now is that everyone can see the ACTUAL ALEC model legislation and track it in their states.That is HUGE and only became available thanks to a whistleblower. ALEC’s name never appeared on the bills introduced in the states. Look for an organization in your state that is working on tracking ALEC bills and legislators, state lobbying rules and reporting requirements. There is lots to do! The “Progress” affiliates are focusing on this in many states “Progress Ohio” Progress Texas” etc.
    Common Cause has just recently filed a petition with the IRS, with thousands of pages of documentaion, including some new insider information from the various ALEC Task Force groups. Common Cause is challenging ALEC’s 501(c)3 tax exempt status and failure to report lobbying activities.
    Color of Change is targeting ALEC corporations 2 at a time to withdraw their membership from ALEC. They are having some impressive results. Consumer boycotts and bad press still speak to corporations
    .
    Find some way to get involved now that we’ve got these new tools! Oh, and to the person who grouped ALICE in with ALEC. Two entirely different things. ALICE is a new project, transparent, no corporate agenda, to showcase model progressive and people-powered legislation, open from the get-go.

  • Marc Chamberlin

    Regarding your conversation with Kathleen Jamieson, I think it is really sad that Americans place so much
    value in debates. Personally, I HATE debates. and believe Kathleen is wrong in her expectations. Debates are NOT about seeking the truth
    or educating your audience. Rather they are all about bullying, using
    verbal trickery and other sundry vacuous tactics to “win” an argument. Debates
    are like other hideous sports Americans love so much, i.e. boxing,
    football, etc, where we enjoy the spectacle of brutality that humans are
    capable of, more than their intellect or
    reasoning processes. Education and learning requires work and effort
    and cannot be achieved through 2 minute sound bites. The candidates
    provide little introspection about their own thoughts, ideas and
    choices they want to make or their own analysis of the consequences.
    Rather they spend most of the time denouncing the other, again using
    vacuous sound bites.
    As for the first presidential debate, pundits and the media are now saying
    Romney “won” this first debate. NO he did not, all he proved is that he
    is an adept bully, long practiced in the art, something we already know from
    his past experiences and comments. I would rather have a president who
    is thoughtful and compassionate and a vetting procedure designed to reveal such a nature. I do not want to use a process, such as debates, designed to winnow out and reward a proficient bully, one who will likely
    force his will on others without much regard for the consequences.

  • Anonymous

    The whole political system is BUNK, and your program has shown this to the sheltered folks on CBS, NBC, and the other censored so-called media or so-called ‘news’.

    Why is it BUNK, the 2 party rigged scam is part of it. Where are all the rest of the available candidates?
    I did not hear what Gary Johnson had to say in the so-called debates.

    I have grown over the years to see NO TRUTH in government at any level. Yes, I am a true optimist. Why an optimist?, because I see a future of total collapse which should set the wheels back on the tracks.

    thanks for a great program…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=783010074 Jj Shaughnessy

    This is EXTREMELY disturbing. Although I keep up with the news, I had never heard of ALEC until the Trayvon Martin/Stand-Your-Ground controversy. Now I know more than I ever wanted to. I will check out ALICE, but I have to say that I Tweeted/Facebooked and LinkedIN’d this video and got zero response so far. I’m always grateful to Bill Moyers for doing the job that the rest of the mainstream media won’t. But this is such a threat to democracy that it should be on networks, CNN, MSNBC and all the major blogs every day!!!

  • http://twitter.com/mauvalange Ribeekah Grant

    If the Corporations r using the subsidy to pay lobbyists who corrupt the politicians who past legislation inimical to the American electorate, why does the government continue to give indirect payments to lobbyists?

  • http://www.facebook.com/adrienne.d.wilson Adrienne D. Wilson

    I’m really glad you are still doing what you are doing Mr. Moyers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mayatoddbob Bob Mueller

    My state rep Patti Bellock just won a “legislator of the year” award from ALEC: Bellock wins award for work on Medicaid reform
    Her “reforms” seem right in line with the other ALEC legislaion your program exposed. Thank you.
    See: http://www.buglenewspapers.com/downers_grove/article_53e6edaa-0d78-11e2-8064-001a4bcf6878.html

  • http://twitter.com/LoisSmithers Lois Smithers

    You wrote words that I’ve been so reluctant to write – “violence in the streets.” In my 20′s, I was part of the 60′s movement. Today at 62, I’m stunned at the passivity. Where’s the anger at these corporations, the GOP takeover, the political buying of America? It’s as if we’ve rolled over and played dead to what’s happening right in front of our eyes.

  • http://twitter.com/LoisSmithers Lois Smithers

    I wrote a comment on the New York Times this morning leaving a link to the United States of ALEC show. So far, 110 people clicked and came here. This show needs more coverage in the media. This message is not getting out to the people!

  • JoJoFox

    Ross…go to www. AlecExposed.com You will get a host of names, legislation and corporate interests..

  • JoJoFox
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bull-Slam/575561311 Bull Slam

    Ashley, your comments reveal you as a shallow thinker. Your use of the tired rhetoric of that failed philosopher, Ayn Rand, paint you as one devoid of a soul, or really, anything much in the way of humanity. Grow up!

  • nancy tinney

    just watched your ALEC episode. i can’t claim to be surprised at what you reported, except that the corruption is so organized. thanks to you and a handful of other patriots, i long since learned that the maxim “follow the money” applies to politics at least as much as it does to any other segment of society.
    but it did remind me of a question that’s been plaguing me for a while now. namely, which of the large corporations benefits from overthrowing roe vs. wade? who makes more money when contraception is outlawed? is there a coalition of doctors who plan to charge outrageous fees for performing abortions or providing birth control once these services are illegal? that doesn’t make any sense, but i can’t think of anything else that does, either. maybe the televangelists would start raking in the dough somehow. these issues are obviously of paramount importance on the right, so there must be a helluva lot of money in it for someone!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/daina.vincent Daina Vincent

    Footnote: Ayn Rand was highly misunderstood in regards to her philosophy as far as I have come to understand recently. However, I’d hate to suggest that you, yourself, misunderstand it as rhetoric per se. I personally wouldn’t dare lump Ashley Malagant and Ayn Rand in the same category. At the very least, Ayn Rand actually had a philosophy and if nothing else, challenged some intellectual minds and continues to do so through her writings and recorded speeches.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cassandra-Jones/1640117402 Cassandra Jones

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for an in depth short coarse on ALEC! Now we need to do our job and spread the word so citizens can take back their states. Again, THANK YOU!!!!!!

  • Deanna

    What an eye opener. Thank you Bill Moyers. Now, what to do about it…

  • Anonymous

    I think that’s exactly what they hope for. A fantasy, mind you, that has no precedent in history. That’s why they have to look for scapegoats to tell their followers among us to go after. And they’ve been crying ‘wolf’ or ‘parasite’ for so long, the tactic is increasingly ineffective.

  • Anonymous

    Like active-duty personnel?

  • Anonymous

    Some believe the lies, the rest are too exhausted to do anything about it after having to commute an hour each way, daily, to and from work. By car.

  • Michael Wesolowski

    What about the legislators not renewing their membership to ALEC– what plans does ALEC have for them?

  • http://www.facebook.com/stacykuta Stacy Kuta

    It’s a cycle called cronyism.

  • http://www.facebook.com/marti.jacobs Marti Jacobs

    Brilliant statement. The FAQ’s on ALEC is valuable for people who don’t watch the video, yet even the beginning of this program is shocking. This is REALLY why the right-wing wants PBS’s figurative, “Big Bird” to go away!

  • Jeff Korenak

    The other reason why the Right wants Big Bird to go away is it is the perfect “straw person.” Simply, if the Right can get people to focus on PBS, we won’t be focusing on subsidies to big oil, big agra, big pharma, and big donors.
    Why Karl Rove and the Right are so brilliant is that they can look at the skeletons in their own closet, dream up a scheme, and accuse the Left of behaving badly. It causes everyone to look away from said skeletons in said closet and chasing smoke.
    The Left has yet to figure this out.

  • mc

    I live in one of the “ALEC states,” Tennessee, and have done environmental advocacy work. We have known about ALEC for years, since they are relentlessly hostile to any environmental protection, and keep up the assault year after year.

    This movement to expose ALEC feels like the Iron Curtain coming down–ALEC has been so secret and impenetrable for so long. They have so much money, and do not wish to be exposed.
    Note that it took a “whistleblower” (insider) to finally break this open. For years we have been unable to learn who in our state were ALEC members (though we could guess based on the legislation they introduced). We could see the big shadow of the beast, but no details.
    I am ecstatic that this is finally coming to light, and was thrilled to see this program.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rich.bart.16 Rich Bart

    Knowledge Is Power !
    Get Informed , so change can happen,
    Each One Can Teach One

  • Anonymous

    There are plenty of conservatives (like me) who do not want our politicians and legislative process to be wholly owned by corporations. That is not individual liberty. Instead of throwing mud at “the right wing,” why not try to build alliances?

  • http://twitter.com/graphiceye R G

    Millions are dying now due to Pharmaceutical Companies and from the poison allowed in our food (GMO etc.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/rhonda.dubose2 Rhonda DuBose

    I agree with your point and your frustration. Sadly, our (good old) tax code doesn’t call it a ‘bribe’ IF it doesn’t produce ‘profit’, (i.e. food, liquor, cigars). Where the crime must be proven is in the campaign funding and even THAT has TAX/IRS cover. I think the root of this problem lies in the powers of our legislative houses. I don’t get to vote on my pay raise, and I certainly CANNOT draft legislation that creates loopholes and subsidies for my personal benefit. I believe the vote of the people, who are effectively employers of their Reps, should make these decisions. The American people should also be required to vote on compensation of their state that federal representatives and maybe this would redirect their attention and allegiance back to those who place them there in the first place.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rhonda.dubose2 Rhonda DuBose

    if you have Wifi, and a smart phone, you may be able to search it online.

  • skipalong

    how to find ALICE on the internet?

  • skipalong

    found it thanks

  • Judith Karon

    Moyers continues to shine a light on the important issues of our day! Many thanks from a fan of many years!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1840914429 Edmond J. Skip O’Neill

    … and the Presidential election was so important because why… can you run that by me again ?

  • Anonymous

    Life of people, not corporations is American public interst.

  • Anonymous

    And….State Farm Insurance, despite protests, continues to fund and support ALEC.
    Like a bad neighbor, State Farm is still there..