MSNBC host Rachel Maddow had an intense exchange with Kansas Republican congressman Tim Huelskamp during last night's coverage of the reaction to President Obama's State of the Union address, in which she challenged Huelskamp on his assertion that the president is "lawless."
In the address, Obama vowed to make 2014 "a year of action," promising to use executive orders on various matters to bypass gridlock in Congress. GOP leaders were quick to express their dissatisfaction with the president; Huelskamp tweeted, "The New Imperial Presidency--#Obama will do everything 'without legislation' to enhance his radical agenda. Guess you deleted Article 1..." Before the speech, based on his review of an early draft, Huelskamp had tweeted that its text read "like dictates of a King. All dictates he will do to bypass Congress #LawLess."
After Obama's address, Maddow challenged Huelskamp to elaborate on his Twitter commentary, prompting a heated on-air exchange between the two. Huelskamp tried to change the subject to the deaths of U.S. diplomats in Benghazi in 2012, on which the right wing claims there has been a cover-up.
"This administration promised to be the most transparent in history, Rachel, and if you would stop being a cheerleader and be a journalist, maybe we would get the answers," Huelskamp quipped.
Maddow bristled at the insult, before shifting the discussion to Huelskamp's Twitter accusations that Obama's use of executive orders is unlawful. "What did he say in the speech that was lawless tonight?" Maddow asked.
"Fourteen different points in where the president said, 'I don't like the American people, who they elect...'," Huelskamp responded. "That's what the president was saying! He said, 'I don't like Congress! I don't like the American people that sent these people up here,' and so he listed fourteen different dictates, executive orders."
Huelskamp kept making a circular argument, leading a frustrated Maddow to conclude, "Congressman Huelskamp, your tweet stream tonight and your arguments here are from two totally different universes."
Watch the exchange below.