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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guests: Ed Schultz, Noah Shachtman

           

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  Yes, I know.  Thank you, Keith.  It is very good to have you back, my friend.  Thanks.

OLBERMANN:  I thank you kindly again for your support.

MADDOW:  Thanks.

Thanks to you at home as well for staying with us for the next hour.

           

You know, we used to have a great, great segment on this show that was called “Lame Duck Watch.”  It was something we used around this time two years ago roughly to track the lame duck presidency of George W. Bush.  It was after Barack Obama was elected president but before Obama was officially sworn into office.  Despite some stiff competition on the show I feel safe in saying that lame duck watch was the best we ever did in terms of using musical interludes on this show.

It was “Hail to the Chief” followed by a quack.  Do you remember?

(MUSIC)

(QUACK)

MADDOW:  People would come up to me on the street and do that.  Tadat, tadadat, tadat, tadat, tadat—quack!  I loved it.  It still stuck in my head two years later.

“Lame Duck Watch” was our way of keeping an eye on undernoticed, underreported things the Bush administration was doing during its final two months of existence.

Well, now, two years later, we are about to enter into a new lame duck period in this country, it begins on Monday and it‘s the old Congress coming back to Washington for one last hurrah before the new Congress that was just elected gets sworn in.  This is a new lame duck period.  So, it‘s time to bring back the lame duck watch, right?

The problem is the music.  We cannot use that great little musical animation anymore.  We can‘t use tadat, tadadat, tada, tadat, because that is “Hail to the Chief” which is specifically for the president.

And so, it made sense for watching a lame duck president.  It makes no sense for watching a lame duck Congress.  I don‘t think there is Congress music.

So, if we are going to keep an eye on what happens in the lame duck Congress, what does the intro sound like?  After much debate among the staff today, fanfare for the common man, quack, some awesome auto tuned remix of the gavel sound, quack.  Something done 111 times very quickly, and then a quack because it was the 111tth Congress, after debating all of these ideas today, we have come up with the one thing we think we can use for a new intro maybe.

Here it goes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER ®, OHIO:  Hell, no, you can‘t!

(QUACK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Tada!  The official RACHEL MADDOW SHOW intro henceforth for our coverage of the lame duck 111th Congress.  Hell, no, you can‘t.  Quack!

Here‘s the thing about the new lame duck Congress: it‘s still the 111th Congress.  It‘s still this Congress.  In the lame duck period, Nancy Pelosi is still speaker of the House.  Democrats still have a roughly 77-seat advantage over Republicans in the House.

Even with Republican Mark Kirk of Illinois starting his term in the Senate imminently, Democrats will still have a majority—a significant majority in the Senate.

Congress doesn‘t begin to reflect the results of the last election until this current Congress is over and a new one is sworn in.  And that does not happen until next year, until January.  And so, Democrats have a decision to make right now.  Democrats are still in charge.

What do Democrats want to accomplish with their giant congressional majorities while they still have them?  If you would be forgiven for not seeing it this way up until now, because if you had been listening to Republicans, they have not made it seem that way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ERIC CANTOR ®, VIRGINIA:  Hopefully, when Congress goes back in the session next week, we can actually see the president come to our direction.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST:  But between now and January 1, as things are, is there any compromise that you could make or maybe it‘s not even a compromise because of your conviction on this, but is there any way you could vote for taxes to go up on anybody?

CANTOR:  No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Republican Congressman Eric Cantor there demanding that President Obama bow to the will of Republicans right away.

To be clear: Senate Republicans were in the minority before this election.  They will be in the minority during the lame duck period, and they will also be in the minority when the new Congress gets sworn in in January.

House Republicans will be in the majority come January.  But they are still in the distant, distant minority between now and then.  And between now and then is when the Bush tax cuts issue you just heard Eric Cantor talking about is going to be decided.  There is so much bloviation about this tax cut issue that it is easy to forget what the details are.  But the details here are determinative.

When the Bush tax cuts were passed in ‘01 and ‘03, they were not paid for.  They were just larded onto the deficit.  That‘s what turned the Clinton budget surplus into the Bush budget deficit.  That, a couple wars and something about Medicare, but that‘s really what did it.

And because those tax cuts weren‘t paid for, they had a time limit put on them.  That was the only way the people who passed those tax cuts could get away with blowing that big hole in the budget, with being not fiscally irresponsible.  Those cuts had to expire at some point.  They had a 10-year sunset and that point has been reached.  The Bush tax cuts are set to expire at midnight on New Year‘s Eve.

What that means is that at no point will Republicans be controlling any house in Congress when a decision gets made on the Bush tax cuts.  That decision has to be made while Republicans are still in the minority and Democrats are in control.  Somebody alert Eric Cantor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CANTOR:  Hopefully, when Congress goes back in session next week, we can actually see the president come to our direction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  I understand why you want that, but why would he do that exactly?

As we‘ve been talking about in this show since even before the elections, this tax cut issue is a perfect political issue for Democrats.  The only difference between the parties‘ positions on the tax cuts is that Republicans want really big tax cuts for the richest Americans and they are willing to lard $700 billion onto the deficit to pay for them.

Here it is in red, white and blue, and a tiny little bit of black.  All of these different lines going down the screen here represent different income groups.  As you go down the line, the income level gets larger.  The size of the bubble next to the income group represents the size of the tax cut.

These are two proposals—the Democrats in blue and Republicans in red.  The blue bubble is how big the Democratic tax cut would be by income group there.  The red bubble is how big the Republican tax cut would be by income group.

As you can see, the Democratic and Republican plans are almost exactly the same in terms of how much people get in terms of tax cuts.  Under Democrats and Republicans, people are getting more or less the same amount of tax cuts.

The last line you see there is for people making $500,000 to $1 million per year.  Then you get to the highest earners, people making more than $1 million per year.  Watch what happens under the Republican plan.

Watch this.  Boink!  Look at that.  That‘s the difference in the proposals.  Republicans want to shower all of that on the richest Americans and pay for it by larding it onto the deficit.

This is a good political issue for Democrats from Democrats‘ perspective.  We talked about this a couple of months ago when it appears in the Ezra Klein‘s column at “The Washington Post.”  We called it the fat-bottomed snowman or something.  But that‘s the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans on tax cuts.

A lot of things need to happen during the upcoming lame duck period. 

OK, actually, we should play it.  Can you guys play it?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER:  Hell, no, you can‘t!

(QUACK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  I don‘t really know if that‘s going to work.

There is a lot of stuff that has to happen in the lame duck period that we are about to enter into.  It‘s not just the Bush tax cuts.  It‘s unemployment benefits.  Those have to be extended for 2 million unemployed Americans at some point next month.

If Congress doesn‘t act, reimbursements for doctors under Medicare will drop suddenly by nearly 30 percent.  That‘s something called the “doc fix” that they do every year.

The secretary of defense is now calling for the “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” repeal in the Defense Authorization Act to be passed between the time the Pentagon study comes out December 1st and the end of the year.  There also needs to be a stop gap spending bill to fund the entire government or the government shuts down essentially on December 3rd.

So, there‘s a lot of stuff that they have to do.  But what happens in Congress now depends on Democrats.  Nancy Pelosi as speaker, Harry Reid as Senate majority lead, and giant Democratic majorities in both houses that are essentially entirely intact.

What happens now is Democrats sealing their legacy for what they did when they controlled both houses of Congress and Barack Obama was in the White House.

Republicans get their chance starting in January.  They do not get their chance starting on Monday.

Joining us now is Ed Schultz, the host of MSNBC‘s “THE ED SHOW.”

Ed, it is great to see you.  Thanks for sticking around.

ED SCHULTZ, “THE ED SHOW” HOST:  Thank you, Rachel.  Great to be with you tonight.

MADDOW:  You know more than I do, and I know this from watching your show, about how Democrats in Washington strategize about getting stuff done and about their agenda.  Do you have a sense of what they are planning on doing with the lame duck period?  What they are planning on getting done in these last two months?

SCHULTZ:  Here‘s what I think the constituents, the Democratic base, want to see out of the Democrats: get a heart, show some soul and grow a spine.

Let‘s talk about compromise, just what is that.  It‘s time to be principled for the liberal causes of this country and make sure that they deliver for the American people.  I think they can do it.  I think it can be a very active lame duck session.  I think you‘ve got some interesting things out there.

You have Hispanics and the women come out for Harry Reid.  He‘s committed to the DREAM Act.  That would be probably about the biggest thing they could get done on illegal immigration.

You‘ve got the middle class tax cuts.  Use the term middle class as often as you can because the Republicans don‘t do it.

MADDOW:  Right.

SCHULTZ:  Your graphic depicts exactly what they‘re all about.  The bottom line is, is that we have got a group of people in this country who are suffering.  And their unemployment benefits are going to run out.  Show some heart.  Show some soul.  That‘s what the American people want.

Americans, I believe, are good next door neighbors.  We help people in need.  We always have.

So, why would we stop now?  Because there was one election in time, a snapshot about how people feel about the economy—and all of the sudden, the Democrats are going to cave in on everything?  Show your heart, get a soul and go after it with a strong spine.  That‘s what I think the constituents want.

MADDOW:  Taxes go back to Clinton-era rates on January 1st if Congress does nothing.  Between now and January 1st, as we‘ve been saying, Democrats have big majorities in both houses of Congress.

SCHULTZ:  Yes.

MADDOW:  Here‘s the situation: If they say to Republicans, if they say, we‘ve got a spine, no socking the deficit to help rich people, we‘re talking about the middle class and working people here, we are not going to be that fiscally irresponsible just for the rich, then the Republicans are against a wall, right?

I mean, they either let all the Bush tax cuts expire, which they say they desperately don‘t want to do, or they let the Democrats win, everything expires except the tax bracket for the richest people—then what are the Republicans in the position of doing?  Then they got to come back in January and pass tax cuts for the rich only when they are in charge.  It puts Republicans in such a mess if Democrats drew a line here.

SCHULTZ:  Here‘s the scary thing: I think the Republicans don‘t think the Bush tax cuts go far enough.

MADDOW:  Yes.

SCHULTZ:  I think that they‘re going to try to go for a higher percentage down the road, claiming that that‘s going to jump-start the economy, claiming that that‘s going to be best for America and, of course, they‘ll do “the government get off of our back” thing.

Here‘s what—the Democrats can get an easy victory here by always defending the middle class because that‘s the portion of American society that is suffering the most right now.  Focus on in the 98 percent and then make the Republicans come out and explain, OK, what discretionary spending cuts are you going to make?  They haven‘t done it yet.  Explain your game plan.

Then use the term that the Republicans love to use.  You know the American people deserve to know.  They generically talk about the American people want this, the American people want that—well, the American people want to know where cuts are coming.  Is it going to be in Medicare, Medicaid?  Is it going to be in Social Security and how deep is it going to go?

The truth of the matter is that they want to get the new deal.  They want to get it all gone.

MADDOW:  Yes.

SCHULTZ:  If they had absolute power, that‘s where they would go. 

They would get rid of every social program they possibly could.

The Democrats can‘t go wrong on unemployment benefits, extending them because we‘re in this economy, the worst since the depression.

They can‘t go wrong on the DREAM Act.  Reid has got to follow through on that, to show the soul and character.

And, of course, the middle class tax cuts—they can‘t go wrong.

If they are aggressive and if they don‘t let the Republicans dictate to them what compromise will be, they stand to re-energize their base again.  But, right now, I think the base of the Democratic Party is looking for that spine.

MADDOW:  Is this an issue one of those issues, though, where the sort of aggressive progressives—I was thinking in particular about Steve Benen, who writes at “Washington Monthly,” who was so eloquent on this issue about the use of the lame duck period today.  I‘m just wondering if this issue, particularly the Bush tax cuts for rich people and larding it onto the deficit, all of that, this is going to be one of those issues where aggressive progressives in the base know what they want and the elected—it‘s a matter of trying to persuade them to put the spine in it.

SCHULTZ:  The electeds have to stop the calculation and do it for the people.  We are living in extraordinary times, extraordinary circumstances.

I think the Blue Dogs that are coming back, that are still in the Congress, they have to know exactly what‘s right for the American people.  And they have to vote the Democratic base on what they stand for to set up 2012.

MADDOW:  Yes.

SCHULTZ:  This was not a good election.  I mean, for labor, it was tough.  It was a rough night at the office.

But the people that did come out in support are going to expect some payback and they‘re going to expect some Democrats to stand up for ‘em and fight, show some heart, show some soul, show a spine.

MADDOW:  While not in theory, but while Democrats have majorities, they are in a position to actually do something.  This is the last chance by which they actually make rubber hit road for a while if the Republicans are going to continue with the “party of no” stuff.

SCHULTZ:  As far as Republicans are concerned with the tax cuts again, you can‘t have it both ways.  You can‘t be in favor of $700 billion of blowing the hole in the budget over the next 10 years and then come back to say, well, you know, we‘re really for fiscal responsibility.

MADDOW:  Fiscal conservativism, yes.

SCHULTZ:  Fiscal sanity, or whatever they actually want to call it.

They can‘t do it.  They put them in a box by forcing them to tell the American people exactly what cuts they are talking about because there are severe cuts coming, big time.

MADDOW:  Ed, let me ask you one last question on this specific issue of “don‘t ask, don‘t tell.”  It‘s one of these things that you can tell that there‘s a lot of activity behind the scenes.

SCHULTZ:  Sure.

MADDOW:  A lot of people trying to figure out what‘s going to happen.

Do you see any Republicans coming around on it?  Do you see Blanche Lincoln, her last lame duck period right now, do you see her coming around to repeal even though she didn‘t vote for it?

SCHULTZ:  No, I don‘t.  I think when the Republicans have power, they‘re going to vote down ideological lines and they are going to leave “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” right where it is.

MADDOW:  Yes.

SCHULTZ:  But here again the Democrats can put them in the box.  This is what the American people want.  This is what military leadership wants.

MADDOW:  Seventy-thirty, the numbers on this.

SCHULTZ:  Absolutely.  It‘s a discrimination issue.  No question about it.  It‘s a victory for the Democrat if they push hard for this in this lame duck session.  They should do it.

MADDOW:  Ed Schultz, host of “THE ED SHOW,” which airs weekdays here on MSNBC at 6:00 p.m. Eastern, about which we are all very proud and happy every day—

SCHULTZ:  Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  -- it‘s great to see you, my friend.  Thanks a lot.

SCHULTZ:  It‘s great to be with you.

MADDOW:  All right.  Still to come, a bit of a programming announcement about this show—an announcement that‘s created some wave this is afternoon.  And, surprise, I‘m still not getting an interview with George W. Bush.  So, I‘m going to keep doing my interview with George W.  Bush alone.

Also, Sarah Palin made the sun go backwards.  All hail her terrifying power.

That‘s all still to come.  Please stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Have you met your new Congress?  Do you feel you have been properly introduced?

New Congress, this is America.  America, this is your new Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOYCE KAUFMAN, THE JOYCE KAUFMAN SHOW”:  I don‘t care how this gets painted by the mainstream media.  I don‘t care if this shows up on YouTube, because I am convinced that the most important thing the Founding Fathers did to ensure me my First Amendment rights was they gave me a Second Amendment.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

KAUFMAN:  And if ballots don‘t work, bullets will.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  What will?  That‘s the new chief of staff to Congressman-elect Allen West.

You know, the Second Amendment remedies thing has been bugging me all week.  There were a handful of people, Sharron Angle foremost among them, making the case before this election that if you conservatives did not get the outcome they wanted from voting this year, they would pursue political objectives instead using the Second Amendment, using guns.  Sharron Angle, of course, lost which has had me wondering if she thinks we should expect people to use Second Amendment remedies now since they did not elect her.

Sharron Angle lost but Allen West won.  Allen West will be representing Florida‘s 22nd congressional district.  And this is the person who he has just named as his new chief of staff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAUFMAN:  This is the stand-off.  When I say I will put my microphone down on November 2nd if we haven‘t achieved substantial victory, I mean it.  Because at that point, I‘m going up into the hills of Kentucky, I‘m going out into the Midwest, I‘m going to go up in the Vermont and New Hampshire outreaches, and I‘m going to gather together men and women who understand that some things are worth fighting for and some things are worth dying for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  I guess because Allen West won in the election, she‘s not going to go up into the hills to prepare people to die, to form a militia and prepare for death.  So no outreaches of Vermont for her—instead, Capitol Hill where she will—I don‘t know, the congressman-elect‘s new chief of staff, her name is Joyce Kaufman.  She is a radio personality in south Florida.  Those were not images of her on her radio show.  Those are images of her speaking in public at a July 4th event.

There are reports today that Mr. West has been on her radio show more than 100 times in the past four days and that Ms. Kaufman will try to keep her job on conservative radio while she is Allen West‘s chief of staff in Congress.  According to her station, quote, “Ms. Kaufman has been retained as our Washington correspondent.”  So, I guess she‘ll be a part time chief of staff to a new member of Congress.

You may remember Allen West from his campaign for Congress during which time he asserted that he has a higher security clearance than the president of the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP.-ELECT ALLEN WEST ®, FLORIDA:  I have a clearance that even the president of the United States cannot attain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  That‘s not true.  He really doesn‘t.  I mean, it is possible that he is talking about a security clearance from a different country than this one, but if he‘s talking about the United States of America—

Even with the kooky national profile that Mr. West earned in this campaign, he was endorsed as a candidate by Sarah Palin.  He was endorsed by the so-called Young Guns, the self-appointed new leadership of House Republicans, and John Boehner, going to be speaker of the House, John Boehner went out and campaign for Allen West—Allen West who‘s turned out to be a bit of a showcase candidate for the Republican Party this year.

And this is who he just hired to run his congressional office:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAUFMAN:  If ballots don‘t work, bullets will.  I have never in my life thought that the day would come where I would tell individual citizens that you are responsible for being the militia that the Founding Fathers designed.  They were very specific.  You need to be prepared to fight tyranny.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Today, in commenting on her impending move to Washington, D.C., to serve as chief of staff to Congressman-elect Allen West, Joyce Kaufman said on her radio show that she is excited to go to D.C.  She says she‘s excited to go to Washington to get a, quote, “bird‘s eye view of Congress.”

To give her the benefit of the doubt, she is speaking of a flightless bird, I‘m guessing, maybe, perhaps.  It‘s too soon to tell.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Danger, Will Robinson.  Danger, Will Rogers?

The great state of Oklahoma is back under Sharia law tonight.  Last week, Oklahomans voted overwhelmingly, 70 percent of Oklahomans who voted, 70 percent voted for an amendment that would ban courts in the Sooner State from consulting Sharia law in making their rulings—because, you know, can‘t be too careful.

It should come as no shock to learn that a lawsuit has now been filed challenging the measure‘s constitutionality.  While that case is being considered, a federal judge in Oklahoma City has issued a temporary restraining order blocking the state board of elections from certifying the recently passed “no Sharia law here” amendment.

And that means, of course, that while the new law is stayed, we are back to the Islamic Republic of Muskogee, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain.  And the waving wheat can sure smell sweet.  When the wind comes right behind the burqa.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Hey, so a programming note.  I love these.  Today is Tuesday.  Tomorrow is Wednesday.  Then the day after that is Thursday.  And my guest for the interview on this show on Thursday is Jon Stewart of Comedy Central‘s “The Daily Show.”  Also the host along with Stephen Colbert of the giant Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in Washington D.C. the weekend before the election. 

I have been a guest on Mr. Stewart‘s show a couple of times and I really enjoyed it.  But he doesn‘t do all that much guesting on other people‘s programs.  So I‘m very glad he‘s decided to accede to our pestering.  So Thursday night, right here, same bat time, same bat channel.  I hope you will watch.  I‘m very, very nervous.  We‘ll be right back.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  I am not ashamed to admit it.  We are all very excited to have “The Daily Show‘s” Jon Stewart scheduled to be on this show on Thursday.  In working on what I want to ask him, I have been thinking about how he and I do what we do very differently and with very different levels of success, I will admit. 

But basically, what both of our jobs boil down to is talking about the news on cable TV.  There is an uncomfortable desk.  There are blazers.  There is, sadly, makeup.  There are words that pop up or scroll across the bottom of your TV screen while we are talking about the day‘s events.  Right? 

But big picture, given the tools available to those of us working in the loosely-defined medium, how can what we do here be most useful?  What can we contribute to the national conversation that the national conversation needs and that we are sort of set up to be able to provide here?

I mean, everybody‘s going to have their own answer to that.  But I realized when I started thinking about it that one of the things I had been wishing we did more of on this show is debunkery, just separating truth from fiction. 

The term “fact-checking” has essentially been partisanized and scrubbed of its meaning.  So let‘s just go ahead and call it “debunkery.”  When Republicans take control of the House in January, a man named Darrell Issa will be the new chair of the Oversight Committee. 

Mr. Issa says he wants to start hundreds of investigations into the Obama administration - hundreds.  He says he wants seven investigations a week for 40 weeks.  That‘s just like 280 when you add it up pretty much. 

Darrell Issa wants 280 separate investigations into the Obama administration on, for example, the grave scandal that is climate-gate, a story that is still true on the right wing despite the fact that it‘s been “debunkeried” by a whole series of independent investigations including one by the British parliament. 

This theory of a grave conspiracy to fool the world into thinking there is global warming when really there isn‘t global warming - this remains a very live issue in right-wing circles. 

On the right, conspiracy theories and allegations that are debunked by the outside world are not considered debunked, because the right has its own giant, self-contained, self-feeding media universe now.  We have lost faith that facts matter. 

Birth certificate - smirch(ph) certificate - the president is secretly foreign.  China is drilling for oil off the coast of Cuba.  There are death panels in health reform.  Climate-gate.  It‘s costing $200 million a day for the president to go to India and he‘s taking a 10th of the Navy with him. 

All provably not true, but still true in right-wing land.  In the face of this rejection of the reality-based community, do you stop debunking?  Do you get demoralized and decide that the difference between true and false doesn‘t matter because one side of the game really doesn‘t believe it matters? 

No.  Yes?  No.  No.  You recommit yourself to debunkery as both cause and custom, as a thing we not only can do - we ought to do.  Also, I like doing it.  So debunktion(ph) junction, what‘s my function? 

Here we go.  Stories in today‘s news, true or false.  First story

Nicaragua accidentally invaded Costa Rica.  True, because of a Google Maps mistake.  Google Maps admitting that with regard to the boundary between these two nations, their cartography was off by 2.7 kilometers which inadvertently empowered a minor incursion by Nicaragua into Costa Rica as well as a really funny Google Maps blog post apology that we have linked to on our Web site today if you would like to read it. 

Next, true or false - Kentucky Senator-elect Rand Paul opposes earmarks.  This one‘s a little bit tricky because it used to be true, but that was before he was elected.  Now that he is senator-elect Rand Paul and can bring home the bacon for Kentucky, that whole “Rand Paul is against earmarks” assertion is now false. 

Rand Paul is going for the earmarks, telling the “Wall Street Journal” that, quote, “He will fight for Kentucky‘s share of earmarks and federal pork.”  So never mind what was that he promised.  This is the new him. 

All right.  True or false - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today gave an interview in which she discussed the propensity of Americans to spend our days wrestling and wearing bikinis.  True.  Also on tape and super great. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE:  If you look at American TV as much of the rest of the world does, you would think we all went around wrestling and wearing bikinis.  I mean, that‘s what you would think we spend our entire day.  So instead of viewing us as a caricature, I think it‘s important to be present, to answer questions and to try to make some connections. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Also if we all ran around wrestling in bikinis, we definitely would have sent Linda McMahon to the United States Senate from Connecticut.  I‘m just saying. 

Next question - next headline - this one‘s actually less of a headline than it is visual.  That Burger King guy - you know the mascot guy?  He looks a lot like the head of the world‘s tallest Jesus statue that‘s just being erected in Poland. 

Do you see under the neck, see that tiny little figure there, the little figure between the Jesus like, I guess - what is that, a kerchief and the bottom of the Jesus hairdo?  That is a person.  Largest Jesus statue ever being built in Poland.  Looks just like the Burger King king. 

A bit of total judgment call here, but from my perspective, that one is true.  Next up, it is morning in America.  Morning in America as declared by what looks to be the first political ad of the 2012 presidential campaign. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK):  This is our movement.  This is our moment.  This is our morning in America. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  To the extent that we are talking literally about morning, this one is false.  The sunrise, when she says morning in Sarah Palin‘s new commercial, that sunrise over the Statue of Liberty is really a sunset. 

It is actually time lapse sunset behind Statue of Liberty, yours from a stock footage site for $45.  And it can pass for morning in America only if you play it backwards, see, and don‘t care which way is north or east or what the sun, in real life, does when it is near the Statue of Liberty like that.  So not morning - evening. 

Next question, true or false - when President Obama was a child in Indonesia, President Obama had a nanny and his nanny was openly gay and went on to play on a transgender volleyball team.  True or false? 

True.  So far as we can tell from here, true and amazing and totally in today‘s “New York Times,” quote, “His nanny was an openly gay man who, in keeping with Indonesia‘s relaxed attitudes toward homosexuality, carried on an affair with a local butcher, longtime residents said.  The nanny later joined a group of transvestites called Fantastic Dolls who, like the many transvestites who remain fixtures of Jakarta‘s streetscape, entertained people by dancing and by playing volleyball.” 

Great game, volleyball.  I used to play.  Look it up.  And finally, last question, true or false - someone launched a missile off the coast of southern California yesterday.  There is a video.  Look at that missile.  True or false?  That‘s a missile.  The answer for that?  That one needs a guest.  So please stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Just what is it, flying over the skies Of California?  They are calling it the mystery missile. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  An apparent massive ballistic missile. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  At this hour, no federal agency can explain what it was. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There have been all kinds of reports that it looks like some sort of missile launch. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  A mystery missile launch off the California coast. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I am loving this today.  This was a possible

missile -

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Not only a possible missile, but a possible apparent massive ballistic missile.  So apparently something which looked fairly dramatic on videotape happened in the sky above the state of California yesterday at sunset. 

In spite of the general lack of concrete evidence, as you just heard, this thing that happened in the sky has been suddenly officially christened the “mystery missile.”  That said, consider that not everybody saw it and also these other images sort of look like that mystery missile footage and these pictures you‘re seeing here are definitely not missiles. 

These are pictures of regular airplane contrails when viewed from very, very, very specific geographical locations and atmospheric conditions. 

Joining us now to talk about why the thing in the sky above L.A.  might have actually been not have been a missile but everybody thinks it is, is Noah Shachtman, contributing editor at “Wired” magazine and editor of “Wired‘s” “Danger Room” blog.  Noah, thank you very much for being here. 

NOAH SHACHTMAN, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, “WIRED” MAGAZINE:  Thank you. 

MADDOW:  This was -

SHACHTMAN:  Weird? 

MADDOW:  It was so weird that I don‘t want to debunk it until we absolutely have to. 

SHACHTMAN:  Right. 

MADDOW:  But it doesn‘t seem to me like we are going to ultimately learn that this was a missile.  What do you think? 

SHACHTMAN:  It does not look like this was a missile after all.  And I have to say my missile-wanting quotient was pretty high here.  But I did talk to some people who were actually nerdier than me when it comes to military technology.  And they were like, “No, dude.  No missile.”

MADDOW:  And the reason that people thought it was a missile was obviously because of the images that looked to the naked eye, to the untrained eye like it was a missile launch. 

SHACHTMAN:  Definitely. 

MADDOW:  But there was immediately the sense that there was something more to the story when the military claimed to have no idea what it was.  The military didn‘t initially say, “This is not a missile launch.”  They said, “We don‘t know.”  What explains that response? 

SHACHTMAN:  Right.  They said it wasn‘t a missile launch and then, later on in the day, they said, “Well, we don‘t think it was an enemy missile launch either.”  And it was only at 8:35 - like what, an hour ago, that they definitively ruled out either friendly or enemy missiles. 

And that‘s kind of a long time, like 24 hours with no warning either way, no way of making sense of this.  I mean, I talked today - I talked to strategic command, northern command, global strike command - yes, there is such a thing called global strike command - space command, the Navy, the Pentagon.  And they were all like, “We have no idea.”

MADDOW:  “We have no idea,” meaning, “We have checked what we are responsible for and it doesn‘t seem like it was us but maybe it was some of those other guys.”

SHACHTMAN:  Maybe it was the guy down the hall. 

MADDOW:  There is nobody in charge of - I mean, there‘s no -

SHACHTMAN:  You would think. 

MADDOW:  It‘s awkward. 

SHACHTMAN:  Right. 

MADDOW:  The other option, if it wasn‘t - not necessarily accidental but a missile launch by the U.S. military or a missile launch by an enemy military was this prospect that it might be a private missile, that it might be something that sophisticated amateurs designed and set off themselves.  This doesn‘t look like a model rocket.  Is that sort of speculation completely off the table? 

SHACHTMAN:  I don‘t think any speculation is like 1,000 percent off the table yet.  But I mean, I‘m a little hesitant to use my naked eye, but that doesn‘t look like a model rocket to me. 

MADDOW:  Yes.  What‘s interesting, though, is that if you see the other images that look airplane contrails, that starts to make sense of the fact that, OK, other things in the world that look like missiles aren‘t necessarily missiles.  Maybe it was just the vantage point of the CBS News helicopter crew that made it seem this way. 

SHACHTMAN:  Right.  So, look, when we look in the sky and usually see a jet flying overhead, we see it left to right or right to left, right?  But if you shift our perspective 90 degrees and, all of a sudden, that plane is coming right at you in the sky.  Well, it looks like it‘s going straight up. 

MADDOW:  Right. 

SHACHTMAN:  So that seems to be what happened.  Now, there are a couple of tips right from the beginning that there was something a little funny here.  First of all, it was going slow for a missile.  That‘s kind of weird. 

And then, secondly, the plume didn‘t seem to be expanding at the bottom the way you would figure a missile‘s plume would.  And so some people smarter than me figured out pretty quick that this wasn‘t a missile. 

MADDOW:  And also the fact that not all of L.A. thought there had been a giant missile launch. 

SHACHTMAN:  Right.

MADDOW:  That to me - that‘s the - like the layman‘s “aha” moment which is that had something like this that looked that dramatic from any other angle besides that exact one happened, everybody in L.A. would be staying home from work trying to figure out what this was all day. 

SHACHTMAN:  True, but most of L.A. at that moment was probably on their cell phones, doing their nails, getting caught on the 405, you know, cursing the traffic.  So they might have ignored it entirely. 

MADDOW:  Fair enough.  Noah Shachtman contributing editor at “Wired” magazine, editor of the indispensable “Danger Room” blog.  Even before we knew for sure that this was bunk, we wanted you to be the guy to tell us whether or not it was.  Thanks a lot, Noah. 

SHACHTMAN:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  We appreciate it.  Good to see you.  All right.  Coming up on “THE LAST WORD,” Lawrence O‘Donnell - get this - Lawrence O‘Donnell, God bless him, bravely kicks off a series of interviews with people who, in Lawrence‘s words, hate him.  Not my words.  Those are Lawrence‘s words. 

He‘s kicking off a series of interviews with people he thinks hate him.  Tonight, he starts off with the estimable Glenn Greenwald.  This should be a very good discussion. 

On this show George W. Bush is getting some ample air time recently promoting his skills as an author.  That‘s new.  I am still not getting an interview, apparently, not that I mind, not that I‘m bitter.  It‘s fine.  I‘m a duck.  Beat up.  Roll off.  Beat up.  Roll off.  I don‘t mind.  Good.  I‘ll just do the interview myself.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  I think I am finally coming around to realizing it.  I think there‘s no soft pedaling it.  I‘m not going to get an interview with George W. Bush, no matter how I promise to hold the book or say the name of it or talk about it in any sort of terms in order to promote the sales.  It‘s not going to happen. 

His first interview is with Matt Lauer.  His second interview is with Oprah Winfrey.  His third interview is with Rush Limbaugh.  With fourth interview is with Sean Hannity.  His fifth interview is, again, with Sean Hannity.  His sixth interview will be with Bill O‘Reilly. 

His seventh interview will be with Greta Van Susteren.  His eighth interview will be Candy Crowley of CNN - that will be this weekend.  His ninth interview will be with CBS Sunday morning.  His 10th will be with “Fox and Friends.”  His 11th with Jay Leno. 

I am not on this list and I did not win the Facebook contest to try to get an interview with him.  I do not think that I am going to get an interview with George W. Bush and I am reluctantly coming to accept that. 

But you know, I‘m still going to lay out what I think is the central question posed by his book in the hopes that maybe he will just drop by here at MSNBC one day and decide he wants to chat because he‘s enjoying all these other interviews. 

Without nitpicking, without even talking about doing a full fact-check or following every decision point, going down every rabbit hole, even without drilling in to this, there is one giant glaring thing in the book that‘s wrong. 

And it‘s wrong even if you only consult George W. Bush himself on its veracity, even if you don‘t use outside sources.  It is the central issue of his presidency.  It is the central decision point, if you will, on the central issue of his presidency.  And he gets it wrong in the book, giant-ly, hugely, ostentatiously, provably, proven-ly wrong. 

Here‘s the problem.  We all know that before we invaded Iraq, Mr.  Bush‘s case for invading Iraq was that there were weapons of mass destruction, right? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT:  Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons. 

Saddam Hussein is harboring terrorists and the instruments of terror, the instruments of mass death and destruction. 

We cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.  Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of Sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. 

Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraqi regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Except for all the doubt.  We also all know, including President Bush himself knowing, that when he assigned a study group to look for weapon of mass destruction after we invaded, the Iraq study group found nothing. 

If you‘re George W. Bush now, say, writing a book, you don‘t have to go back and read the big old boring report of the Iraq study group.  You can just read your own transcripts. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  We have not found stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.  We did not find the stockpiles.  Those weapons of mass destruction got to be somewhere.  No, no weapons over there.  Maybe under here.  Iraq did not have the weapons that our intelligence believed were there. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  After the weapons of mass destruction thing was debunked, George W. Bush not only said it was de bunked, he then changed his stated rationale for the war.  Now, he wouldn‘t have had to do that if the weapons thing still stood, right? 

I mean, why change your argument and start saying it‘s about all kinds of new stuff that it‘s not weapons if you could count on the old weapons argument that you used in the first place? 

After the weapons issue was disproven and the George W. Bush admitted it, the president stopped talking about weapons and instead brought up all kinds of new arguments for why we invaded Iraq. 

He argued that we had to invade Iraq because Saddam was committing fraud in the U.N. oil-for-food program, you may recall. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  Saddam was systematically gaming the system, using the U.N.  oil-for-food program to try to influence countries and companies in an effort to undermine sanctions. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  See, it wasn‘t weapons.  It was that George W. Bush was interested in ensuring the integrity of U.N. programs and was willing to back up the integrity of those U.N. programs with the might of the U.S. - yes.  Then he argued that we had to invade Iraq to create democracy. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  Advancing the cause of freedom and democracy in the Middle East begins with ensuring the success of a free Iraq. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  He also tried the argument that we have to invade Iraq in order to save Iraq‘s women. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  As the citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq seize the moment, their example will send a message of hope throughout a vital region.  Young women across the Middle East will hear the message that their day of equality and justice is coming. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Mr. Bush also then argued that we had to invade Iraq in order

this is novel - to get new allies. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  The goal in Iraq and Afghanistan is for there to be Democratic and free countries who are allies in the war on terror.  That‘s the goal. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Whatever you think about the we invaded about the oil-for-food program and we invaded for the women and we invaded because we needed allies - whatever you think about the individual merit of these retroactive rationales for starting the war that we heard from George W. Bush after we started the war, whatever you think of each of those arguments, the bare fact remains, just impure logical terms, that we would not have all those retroactive rationales if the reason President Bush said we had to start the war in first place had held up. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  Iraq did not have the weapons. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Right.  Iraq did not have the weapons.  And George W. Bush knew it and admitted it and therefore changed the explanation for why we had to go to war.  George W. Bush in his own recent history, in just the last few years, admitted that weapons of mass destruction were not why we went to Iraq. 

He‘s a admitted it, except in his new book, he regresses, despite admitting it over and over and over again before, despite changing his rationales for the war to account for the fact that he couldn‘t talk about weapons anymore.  Now, we‘re back to weapons again. 

Now, we‘re back to pre-Iraq war Bush again saying that removing Saddam from power was the right decision.  For all the difficulties that followed, America is safer without a homicidal dictator pursuing WMD - pursuing WMD. 

Saddam Hussein was not pursuing WMD.  We know it.  George Bush knows it and admitted it before, but he‘s back to making that case again in the book.  Now, this is in the book that came out today. 

That‘s why George Bush feels good about the Iraq invasion despite everything else that happened.  I know he‘s the past president.  I know this is a book tour.  I know I‘m never going to get to ask him this directly and I know we‘re a different country now.  But we‘re a different country now.  Are we supposed to fall for this again? 

Now, it‘s time for the “LAST WORD” with Lawrence O‘Donnell.  Good evening, Lawrence.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

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