Last night, John Oliver had a good look at the all-day Wendy Davis filibuster in Texas.
I don't know if you watched our show last night. If you did, big mistake. You should not have done that. Why? Because you missed something incredible happening in the Texas state senate.Video below the fold.
6/26/2013:It's just like the plot of Frank Capra's classic movie Mrs. Smith Wants an Abortion.
MATT LAUER: It was a late and wild night at the Texas state house — a day-long filibuster ending with a controversial vote on abortion restrictions.
NICK VALENCIA: Democrat, Wendy Davis, took the Senate floor at 11:18 in the morning. The goal: filibuster for some 13 hours until midnight when the special session of the legislation would expire.
So what exactly is at stake?KELLY O'DONNELL (6/26/2013): At stake, a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, and a requirement that all procedures be done at surgical centers. That would reduce the number of available abortion clinics in the state from 47Well, hold on. Is five abortion clinics in 269,000 square miles really so bad? Think about it. Texas will still have three more abortion clinics than it has Six Flags amusement parks.
So, let's be fair when we're talking about math. So if Senator Davis can talk 13 hours, Texas women won't have to drive 13 hours to get an abortion. OK. How hard can that be?RACHEL MADDOW (6/26/2013): You can't trade off with a colleague to get any relief. You cannot sit down. You cannot eat. You cannot touch the podium or the desk. ... You cannot leave, even for a second, for any reason, including having to go to the bathroom. ... You have to stay on the topic of the bill you are filibustering.And of course, and this is important, there is no sex in the champagne room. This is the Senate that we're talking about.
Now, at least though, Texas actually makes you filibuster during a filibuster. Unlike Washington, where the rule is basically, "Oh, just say that I'm going to filibuster, and then I'll get a pedicure and it still counts! Filibusters make me tired!"
So, OK, Senator Davis. The countdown clock is set to 13 hours, talk the talk.6/26/2013:Bravo, bravo. (audience cheering and applause)
KELLY O'DONNELL: At times, she was passionate.MANUEL BOJORQUEZ, CBS THIS MORNING: She remained standing in her pink sneakers for nearly 11 hours straight.
TEXAS STATE SENATOR WENDY DAVIS, D: And what's so disturbing is that we don't seem to care.
KELLY O'DONNELL: Other times, defiant.
TEXAS STATE SENATOR WENDY DAVIS, D: I'm not yielding for any questions at this point.
SENATE LEADER: The Senator does not yield.
Now that, that right there, is the kind of athletic feat that will definitely get you a product endorsement deal at the very least. Filabusters:
(wild audience cheering and applause)
For when you just have to stand there. Stand there and do nothing else.
But Davis's opponents were equally determined to abort her filibuster before it reached its full 13-hour term.MIKA BRZEZINSKI (6/26/2013): Strike one was Davis's mentioning of Planned Parenthood, which Republicans said was off topic. Strike two came when a colleague offered Davis a back brace. ... And the final strike came when Davis mentioned the state's 2011 sonogram law — again, off topic.Wait, what?? This is a debate about abortion restrictions. How are Planned Parenthood and forced sonograms off topic? That's like saying, talk to me about White Castle, but don't mention diarrhea. Don't you do that. (audience laughter) Those are two different things. That joke landed hard with people here.
Ultimately, Davis and her allies pushed the debate past the midnight deadline, and the abortion bill died. But then, Republicans tried one of the shadiest moves of all time.MANUEL BOJORQUEZ (6/26/2013): For a while this morning, it appeared as if state senators had indeed voted to pass the bill. But just a few hours ago, the Lieutenant Governor of Texas acknowledged computer records had been changed to make it look like Republicans voted the bill through in time when in fact they had not.(audience boos)
Look, Texas, you tried everything you could. Not even an illegal post-mortem vote could revive this dead bill. But look, let's not condemn the Texas senate majority. They're just being consistent. They simply believe that if late one night, when you're swept away by your emotions, you make a stupid mistake, you should always have a chance to fix it later, and not have to live with the consequences. (wild audience cheering and applause)
We'll be right back.