Rachel Maddow on Friday played a video of a man in underwear banging his genitals against another man's forehead in a gay bar.
This was done to explain to her MSNBC audience the derivation of the term "teabagger," the sexually-charged double entendre that sadly became popular this spring and summer as Tea Parties swept the nation.
According to Maddow, "This is where "teabag" comes from. This is a clip from a 1998 film by John Waters that`s called 'Pecker.'"
As the dancer in the fictional gay bar squats to bang his genitals against a customer's forehead, the emcee played by Martha Plimpton says, "Hey, Larry, no teabagging. You know the rules. No balls on foreheads."
At least Maddow warned her viewers to "get the kids out of this room or put them in ear muffs and cover up their eyes" before she rolled the clip (video embedded below the fold with transcript, relevant section at 2:30, file photo):
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: If you just didn`t get enough of the tea party express bus tours this year, you are in luck. The Tea Party Express told a reporter this week that a new bus tour is in the works for late March and early April of next year, just in time to protest Tax Day, taxation with representation.
Meanwhile, a rival tea party group, Tea Party Nation, is planning a national tea party convention in February, to which the Tea Party Express bus people are apparently not invited.
The Tea Party Nation group says their keynote speaker is going to be Sarah Palin. We will see. But, again, the Tea Party Nation and the Tea Party Express, separate, unaffiliated - they want us to know they have nothing to do with one another.
Alongside the often entertaining infighting among all of the warring tea party factions, another complication in the movement has been addressed in a very, very frank terms today by Jay Nordlinger at "The National Review Online." Should the tea party folks really be calling themselves teabaggers?
The article opens with the fundamental question for far right conservatives, quote, "To teabag or not to teabag." At issue, many of the very same signs, sound bites and calls to action we have highlighted on this show in covering the movement. For example -
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Teabag the fools in D.C.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Mr. Nordlinger also mentioned this now-famous protest sign, "Tea bag the liberal dems before they tea bag you." He did not mention the "Teabag Obama" Twitter page and Facebook group.
But he did compare the term teabagger to the N-word. Yes, that N-word. He says, quote, "This brings up the question of whether `teabagger` could be kind of a conservative N-word, to be used in the family but radioactive outside the family."
The dirty nickname conservatives accidentally gave themselves is just like the most offensive racial slur in the English language? Really? You`re sure about that?
And of course, this show and me in particular, we get slammed for tossing around the T-word on the air. Quote, "MSNBC had an outright field day. Rachel Maddow and a guest of hers, Ana Marie Cox, made teabag jokes to other for minutes on end: having great chortling fun at the conservatives` expense."
OK. Since we have been blamed so many times and in so many ways for this nickname, for its proliferation and for its pejorative use, I would like to set the record straight tonight.
And in order to do so, we have to do something more adult than we usually do on this show. So get the kids out of this room or put them in ear muffs and cover up their eyes. All right. Ready?
This is where "teabag" comes from. This is a clip from a 1998 film by John Waters that`s called "Pecker."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TINA, PLAYED BY ACTRESS MARTHA PLIMPTON: Hey, Larry, no tea bagging. You know the rules. No balls on foreheads.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Readers are advised that Maddow's program airs at 9PM on the East Coast, which means during prime time throughout much of the country. And THIS was considered acceptable.
But I digress:
MADDOW: That was the preexisting pop culture definition of "teabag" when used as a verb. That existed, already, in the world. And that is why it was funny when these members of this emerging far-right protest movement started calling them teabaggers and threatening to teabag anyone who disagrees with them.
That existed ahead of time. They walked right into it, and that`s why it`s still funny today, OK? OK.
Joining us now is David Shuster, another MSNBC anchor called out for teasing conservatives with the T-word. David, thank you so much for staying up late with us, coming on the show.
DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC ANCHOR: Rachel, it`s a pleasure. Am I allowed to use that word?
MADDOW: Yes. We`ve got to be careful about hand gestures and everything when we talk about this, though. Two full paragraphs of this article were dedicated to quoting you. How do you feel about that?
SHUSTER: Well, I`m glad that it was an accurate quote. That was nice. But it was sort of interesting that "The National Review," Jay Nordlinger - I mean, he cited April 15 as the first day for this sort of movement when, in fact, "The Washington Independent" reported those signs on February the 27th.
So he got a couple of things in the story wrong. But it`s also a little bit strange, Rachel, that he would be so obsessed. I mean, when that sort of graphic detail to describe teabagging, also to describe the real meaning of other terms like "scumbag" and "pothead" that Republicans have used. It`s almost as if Jay Nordlinger was somehow obsessed over this, but I`ll leave that to whoever wants to read it.
MADDOW: Well, why do you think that we - I mean, MSNBC specifically, and I think they`re really talking about you and I. Why do you think that we`re still being blamed for this nickname? I mean, even as Nordlinger admits that conservatives used it themselves. They used that language on FOX News. They wrote these signs that use that language. They`re still blaming us for it as if we invented it.
SHUSTER: Well, Rachel, I think that we hit a nerve largely because - one of the reasons that I know, for example, we used it was that - it came to sort of represent the fact that there`s so much about the tea party movement where these groups didn`t do their own research or their own basic homework.
Likewise, they didn`t bother to do any homework about the term "teabagger" before they started using it in signs. So our use of it was saying, "OK, if you`re not going to do your homework, we`ll essentially have a little fun with it and see if you can figure it out when we use it."
But it just sort of - I don`t know maybe they`re just somehow so sensitive about it, about their own mistakes and not bothering to check it out ahead of time.
MADDOW: I agree with you there. I think that analysis is absolutely correct. Nordlinger does imagine that the word "teabagger" could be eradicated as a nickname. Conservatives should try to get rid of it. Do you think they`ll ever be able to do that effectively? I sort of feel like they walked into this. It was such a blessing they can never get away from it.
SHUSTER: I don`t think they can ever get out of it. It`s also particularly ironic, Rachel, that there`s "The National Review" that`s taking up this issue. I mean, this is the same "National Review" that back in the 1960s suggested that the Rev. Martin Luther King and his associates were undermining the foundation of internal order and were somehow essentially rebel rousing demagogues.
I mean, look, does Nordlinger think that because we used a term to describe the tea partiers that they used, that somehow the tea partiers are somehow oppressed by the media and that`s somehow an oppression that - oh, well, it`s OK for minorities to be oppressed in the 1960s, but not tea partiers? I mean, the irony with "The National Review" is unbelievable.
MADDOW: David Shuster, thank you so much for joining us tonight. You can catch David`s show, of course, 3:00 p.m. Eastern every day right here on MSNBC. David, have a great weekend. Thanks a lot.
SHUSTER: Rachel, you, too, and thank you.
Now that's good journalism, dontcha think?
The folks at General Electric must be so proud.