According to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, the investigation into the disastrous and reckless operation known as "Fast and Furious" has nothing to do with the deplorable gun-walking tactics used, hundreds of dead Mexican citizens, Attorney General Eric Holder's misleading testimony, or slain U.S. Border Agent Brian Terry. It's all about a "crazy conspiracy theory."
Maddow went on HBO's "Real Time" with Bill Maher Friday night and explained that the scandal-- which neither of them consider it to be-- is motivated only by the belief that President Obama and Eric Holder are trying to take away all the guns in the country. Though there were no conservatives on Maher's panel, Reason Editor-in-Chief Nick Gillespie, representing a rare voice of reason and logic on the show, refused to let Maddow or Maher go unchallenged in some of their questionable assertions about Fast and Furious. He says he is not part of the "right," meaning Republican or conservative.
After admitting that he was "one of those people" who didn't know about Fast and Furious until last week, which is incredibly hard to believe, Maher went on to do what he does best: offend people.
"First of all, let me just say, Republicans don't care about dead Mexicans," he said. After a lengthy pause, the audience responded with scattered applause."I think those 200 dead Mexicans would be dead even if we hadn't sold them guns. They would have gotten the guns somewhere else. So is this really a scandal?"
After that not-so-convincing argument, Maddow made her case that the Fast and Furious investigation is "based on a crazy conspiracy theory that the Obama administration is fomenting gun violence in Mexico in order to make Americans anti-gun so they can rescind the Second Amendment."
"When you listen to Republicans in Congress talk about why they're doing it, its all about the conspiracy theory," she added.
"No, no, wait, wait, wait," Gillespie chimed in.
Correcting Maddow, he said the scandal is not about a conspiracy, but about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) carrying out a dangerous operation and selling guns to Mexican drug cartels without even informing the Mexican government.
"So you have Eric Holder saying, 'no this wasn't going on' then it's 'oh, yes it is going on.' This is a massive screw up and there is something worth checking out here," he said. "It isn't about whether or not Obama is going to take away the second amendment or anything like that. Eric Holder doesn't know whats going on in the organizations that he runs."
Maher started to get a little testy saying, "[Fast and Furious] failed. I grant you, it failed... it bothers me that this country punishes failure so much."
You can watch a portion of Maddow and Gillespie's tense segment here:
Then for the first time since the segment began, Gillespie finally mentioned one of the most important parts of the Fast and Furious probe: Brian Terry.
"And we are talking about a border agent was killed by one of the guns or two of the guns among the thousands of guns that went missing, so yeah, this is a real story," he added.
This frustrated Maddow, likely because it is hard to disagree with that point. Responding to the mentioning of Terry, her partisanship really started to show.
"When the right gets really upset about there being illegal gun sales that don't have to do with the conspiracy about 'Obama and Holder taking away all your guns,' then I think we can talk about it," she declared.
"You are not part of the right are you?" Gillespie asked U.S. News and World Report's Mort Zuckerman, who was also on Maher's panel last night but barely got a word in during the segment. "No, and neither am I, so I'm interested in talking about it."
This is when things started to get pretty tense. Gillespie accused Maddow of being forced by her "Democratic partisanship" to automatically side against Republicans.
"I’m just trying to say a nice thing, and you’re already, ‘You’re a hack!’ Listen, dude, I’m not even a Democrat!" Maddow said.
"That’s not what I’m saying…" Gillespie started. "You will always take the side of a Democrat over a Republican."
"No, I won’t. You don’t even know me."
But Gillespie didn't relent.
"All I'm saying is I refuse to be put into a false choice of like, you are either with the Democrats or the Republicans. This conservation has been framed as: 'Aren't the Republicans just doing this as a show trial, etc. Eric Holder is bad, the Republicans are bad, the drug war is bad. There is a lot of badness in this world."
Maher agreed with two of his three examples of things that are "bad." It shouldn't be difficult to figure out which ones.
You can watch the full "Real Time" episode courtesy of HBO, below. The Fast and Furious segment starts at around 17:45 and Maddow, and Gillespie start going at it at around 19:00: