Specifically, McMorris Rodgers argued that Republican efforts to kill the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (which she called "a bad bill") and to restrict women's access to abortion and contraception were not anti-woman, and that Democrats who highlight those issues are just trying to "distract" from "real" economic issues that affect everyone, including women.
Amazingly, McMorris Rodgers also argued---in response to Maddow's point that state legislatures have proposed more anti-abortion laws than at any time since Roe v. Wade---that Maddow was being selective and ignoring legislation "from the left." Her example? Washington State's failed Reproductive Parity Act, which would have required insurance companies that fund maternity care to also pay for abortions.
Mischaracterizing the proposal, McMorris Rodgers said, "In Washington State this year, there was legislation introduced, it passed the House, to require that abortions be included in every health care plan moving forward." McMorris Rodgers, of course, was one of just six US House members who signed a letter urging President Obama to oppose the state proposal---an unusual move, in that members of Congress typically don't involve themselves in state legislative battles.
"The war on women is really a myth that has been created by the Democrats in an effort to distract Americans from the real issues," McMorris Rodgers said. "Let's look at the policy. Let's look at the real issues that face all Americans, including women, and it is the economy."
Maddow responded: "The Mitt Romney campaign put you out as a surrogate to shore up people's feelings about this issue after they could not say whether or not Mitt Romney would have signed [the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act]. You're supposed to make us feel better about it. [But] you voted against the Fair Pay Act.
"It's not about whether you have a female surrogate. It's about policy and whether or not you want to fix some of the structural discrimination that women really do face, that Republicans don't believe is happening."
Additionally, Maddow noted that Republicans state legislatures across the nation are currently pushing ever-more-extreme restrictions on abortion, including the elimination of exemptions to abortion bans for women and girls who are pregnant as a result of rape or incest.
McMorris Rodgers' response: "When you highlight just a few of the bills, out of thousands of different bills that [are in play] at any time at the state legislative level, you're picking and choosing." Bills banning abortion for women who are victims of rape or incest, in other words, are basically no different than, say, this legislation, picked at random, celebrating the 150th anniversary of Walla Walla.
Watch the whole segment (which also includes a memorable exchange between Maddow and Republican consultant Alex Castellanos about pay disparities between men and women) here.