Guests: Eugene Robinson, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Isikoff
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST, COUNTDOWN: And to discuss now the emerging threat to the American‘s water supply, thanks to fracking. And if you don‘t know what that is, she‘ll explain what fracking is. Ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Keith. That was an unbelievable interview. Just incredible story and incredible interview.
MADDOW: Yes, amazing. Thank you, Keith. Thanks.
And thanks, too, at home, for staying with us for staying with us for the next hour.
We will be joined this hour by actor Mark Ruffalo. We‘ll be joined this hour by investigative reporter Michael Isikoff, by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Eugene Robinson, by some common wisdom-busting good news about Democratic prospect in this year‘s elections. And by something we will see get set on fire that should never, ever, ever get set on fire.
That is all coming up over the course of this hour. We‘re glad to have you with us.
But, first, there‘s something you need to know about this year‘s Republican candidates. If I tell you, however, I may have to kill you. It turns out—there are a lot of secret agents, fake secret agents running for office this year, running for major offices. They‘re connected. They‘re on the inside. And they‘ve seen and done things that mere mortals like you and I can only dream of.
Today, “The Associated Press” revealed the identity of one of these fake secret agents among us. In today‘s political headline, “Sure, Christine O‘Donnell is just a Tea Party-financed insurgent candidate who upset the prohibitive favorite in the Delaware Republican Senate primary.
But in 2006, Christine O‘Donnell let slip that she was fake secret agent 001. At the time, Christine O‘Donnell was a perennial protest candidate running in election after election after election and losing every time.
And that year, in one of her many tries at running for the United States Senate, Christine O‘Donnell blind-sided her Republican opponent at a debate with this claim. Quote, “China has a carefully thought out and strategic plan to take over America. If they pretend to be our friend, it‘s because they‘ve got something up their sleeve.”
China plotting to take over America. How does Christine O‘Donnell know about this plot? Quote, “There‘s much I want to say. I wish I wasn‘t privy to some of the classified information that I am privy to.”
According to the “Associated Press,” when her Republican opponent challenged her claim about having access to classified information, Ms. O‘Donnell suggested she had received it through nonprofit groups she worked with, that frequently sent missionaries to China.
We called Christine O‘Donnell‘s campaign today to try to find out which specific nonprofit groups she had worked with that had access to classified information about Chinese plots to take over America, so far, we have not heard back.
What we do know about Christine O‘Donnell‘s past work with nonprofits is that she worked for groups that promoted the idea that homosexuality can be cured through religious boot camps, groups that promoted the idea that having sex alone is a form of adultery, groups that promoted the idea that using condoms actually spreads HIV and groups that promoted the idea that allowing women to join the military harms national security. That‘s what we know about Christine O‘Donnell‘s work with non-profit groups. That‘s what‘s on the public record.
We contacted the State Department today to find out if being associated with groups that advocate stuff like that would normally, or in the specific case of Christine O‘Donnell, make the U.S. government disclose classified information to a citizen about secret Chinese plans to take over America. The State Department apparently has not found anything for us yet. We will keep you posted.
Fake secret agent case file number two was revealed today by “The Syracuse Post-Standard” newspaper in Syracuse, New York. Fake secret agent 002 is current Republican candidate for governor of New York State, Carl Paladino. The year was 1970. After four students were shot by National Guardsmen at Kent State University in May of that year, the campus of Syracuse University, where Carl Paladino was attending law school, was no exception to national unrest that swept many campuses across the country. This picture shows a student takeover of a Syracuse University administration building that day.
On May 7th, students occupied the chancellor‘s office in that building. They stayed there overnight and then everybody left the next day.
Agent Paladino, however, has just revealed that in his mind, not only did things go really differently than what everybody else remembers and what was in the papers at the time that it happened, agent Paladino has also revealed that he, fake secret agent Carl Paladino, had a super-important secret agent role in how things went down that day, in his mind.
Fake secret agent Carl Paladino told “The Syracuse Post-Standard” last week that while working fake undercover with the Syracuse police, he was a negotiator during a hostage standoff as riots enveloped in the campus. That day, back in May 1970, quote, “When the riots came, I was the one who negotiated for the police chief to take the place of the school‘s chancellor, who the students has locked down in the administration building. I went out and found them and I said, you know, take the police commissioner and let the chancellor go home. That guy has got to take a shower. I mean, for God sakes. So, they said, yes, OK.”
According to actual reports at the time, no, Carl, no. The school‘s chancellor was never held hostage, for one. Also, nobody else but Carl remembers Carl having any role in the protests or the resolution of the protests at all. A current Syracuse history professor who is at the administration building that day told “The Syracuse Post-Standard,” quote, “That‘s completely wrong. He‘s either living in Cloud Cuckooland or shall we say his historical memory is clouded by whatever it is.”
One of Carl Paladino‘s classmates who also at the administration building that day said, quote, “I have the feeling that this may be an urban legend in Carl‘s mind.”
This unveiling today of Carl Paladino as this year‘s fake secret agent number two follows the unveiling earlier this year of fake secret agent 003. Dan Maes, the Republican candidate for governor of Colorado. You may remember, earlier this year, Dan Maes made himself nationally famous by claiming to have been an undercover agent for Kansas once upon a time.
Mr. Maes wrote on his campaign Web site, quote, “At one point in my two years there, I was place undercover by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation to gather information inside a bookmaking ring that was also allegedly selling drugs. I got close to some significant people in the community who were involved in these activities and abruptly was dismissed from my position.”
“I was place undercover,” he says, “by the Kansas Bureau of Investigations.”
After the Kansas Bureau of Investigations came out and said, no, not true—Dan Maes admitted to “The Denver Post,” quote, “Some people have probably taken that a little too literally. Those comments,” meaning his own comments, “might have been incorrect comments.” Failing to recognize that a hole you keep digging just keeps getting deeper, the Dan Maes campaign for Colorado governor to this day keeps releasing more and more information about his time as a fake secret agent for Kansas. All of which continues to prove that Mr. Maes did not work as a fake secret agent, as a secret agent in Kansas. And what he was fired for was for tipping off his girlfriend at the time that the police were going investigate her family.
So, fake secret agent 003, Dan Maes, now repeatedly outing himself as fake secret agent.
Then there‘s fake secret agent 004, a gentleman named Allen West, a Republican congressional candidate in the great state of Florida. During a candidate forum last month, Allen West, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, made this remarkable claim about his own secret agent status.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN WEST ®, FLORIDA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I had a Top Secret/Security Compartmented Information classification, that is the highest you can have in the United States Army. I still maintain secret security clearance. And I‘ll tell you, if you look at the application for a security clearance, I have a clearance that even the president of the United States cannot obtain, because of my background.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Are you from another country? Because president‘s kind of the clearance level—nuclear football. I have a clearance that the president of the United States cannot attain? That‘s like saying you‘re more magically delicious than the lucky charms leprechaun. That makes no sense. You cannot have a higher security clearance than the president of the United States in the United States—unless you‘re in Allen West‘s mind.
Listen, one of the really fun things about a year like this in conservative politics is that establishment candidates have been getting routed by people who are really, really, really, really not establishment candidates. Republican Congressman Mike Castle got beat by Christine O‘Donnell in Delaware. In New York, Rick Lazio got beat by Carl Paladino. Former Republican Congressman Scott McInnis of Colorado got beat by Dan Maes.
In Florida, the more moderate David Brady got beat by the more extreme Allen West. When really outside candidates like that are beating establishment candidates over and over and over again, it sort of blows up the party machinery. It blows up the establishment.
The Republican Party has not had much of a say this year about who is representing the Republican Party on big ticket races. And that begs a very unlikely question: Was the Republican Party the machinery that was keeping folks like this out of national races? Did we just lose the delusional person thinks he‘s a secret agent but he really isn‘t filter that we didn‘t know we need until we lost ours?
Joining us no is Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist of “The Washington Post,” and MSNBC contributor, my friend, Eugene Robinson.
Gene, it‘s great to see you.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: It‘s great to be here, Rachel.
MADDOW: This is one of those stories where, wow, I can‘t believe these people think they‘re secret agents. That‘s so crazy. That‘s not even real politics. These are real politicians running for real office.
ROBINSON: Yes, these are real politicians running for real office. They could win. And they could be representing actual U.S. citizens in the U.S. Senate, or as governor of a great state and—you know, you used the word delusional. And I don‘t know if that might not be fairly mild about some of this stuff.
Now, hold it, first of all, though, are you cleared for this discussion, Rachel?
MADDOW: Gene, I‘ve been meaning to talk to you about—
ROBINSON: OK, OK, you‘re cool.
ROBINSON: No. I mean, Christine O‘Donnell thing, you know, a privy to classified information about the Chinese plot to take over America—I mean, come on.
ROBINSON: I mean, let‘s be serious.
MADDOW: At some point, I mean, I was looking into this about trying to be specific about the language here because when, for example, with Allen West. Allen West had raised millions of dollars for his campaign. He completely outspent the more moderate Republican candidate who he beat very badly in the primary.
And that Republican, the moderate Republican, came out and said, as soon as West won, that he believes, and he said it in a very serious way, that he believes that Allen West is irrational. If you‘re dealing with people who are delusional, who believes they have secret classified information that says the China is invading—at some point, is there something beyond politics that should happen there? I mean—
ROBINSON: There is. I mean, you know, reason should happen there. And we should all be concerned. And establishment Republicans should be concerned because these people could be making decisions as leaders of our government. I mean, that concerns me when somebody who does not seem to have, you know, a firm purchase on reality, who, or alternately who just makes stuff up—is—you know—that should be concerning I think to everyone.
ROBINSON: Aside from Republicans, Democrats, who‘s up, who‘s down. I mean, we talk about that some other time. But we‘re talking about reality. We‘re talking about, you know, do you—you know—logic and empirical, you know, reality.
MADDOW: Well, here‘s something, here‘s the strategic question, though. If you‘re a Democrat running against one of these people, what I say beyond politics, at a certain point, do you stop campaigning against their pro-policy proposal? Do you stop taking them, engaging with them as if they are a politician and start saying, listen, I‘m not going engage with them on a political level because I think that we‘ve got a person who has—who was delusional, who has mental health issues, or who seriously is not engaging in—with whom I cannot engage in a factual debate?
ROBINSON: Well, you know, I don‘t know—I don‘t know that you can quite do that. I mean, because the machinery of politics, I think, it‘s probably a mistake and counterproductive to kind of halt the machinery of politics, and say, you know, we can‘t run against this person because this person is delusional, and because—in fact, if you stop, the delusional person could win.
MADDOW: Especially with the money that they—
ROBINSON: Exactly. With all this money—all this money, by the way, coming—you know, Tea Party money that‘s coming from, you know, from billionaires and from shadowy corporate groups that don‘t disclose their donors.
So, no, you have to—you have to continue politics. But what needs
to happen, I think, is that people need to call them out on these sorts of
ROBINSON: -- irrational nonlinear statements that they‘re making. And telling that to people and just say, look, I know you‘re mad, I know you‘re angry. But come on. You know, elect angry people who make sense. Don‘t elect angry people who are crazy or who seem to be crazy because we‘re all going to be sorry if you do that.
MADDOW: That‘s this year‘s (INAUDIBLE). Don‘t elect people who might be crazy, and I don‘t mean it as a euphemism. Crazy is not a euphemism. That would be great bumper sticker.
ROBINSON: No. Exactly. Crazy is not a euphemism.
MADDOW: That, I think, we just—the merchandising about the possibilities are endless there.
MADDOW: Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for “The Washington Post,” MSNBC contributor—it‘s so nice so have you here in person. Thanks.
ROBINSON: Great to be here, Rachel.
MADDOW: Colbert, tonight, right?
ROBINSON: Yes. And I‘ll tell you where I‘m going to be tomorrow, but I don‘t know if you‘re cleared to that.
MADDOW: All right. We‘re talking about agents.
All right. How many times have you heard this year the Democrats are bored about these elections? Republicans are all hyped up to vote and Democrats aren‘t. What facts have you heard to bolster that assertion? The facts that maybe kind of sort of once supported that assertion do not seem to hold true anymore. The political common wisdom gets extra emphasis on that dumb in wisdom. That‘s making up.
Mark Ruffalo is here in studio for “The Interview” tonight. He‘s here to talk fracking, which is nearly as dirty as it sounds. Please stay with us.
MADDOW: Have you ever had to warn someone to keep an open flame away from the running water in your house? Actor and now activist Mark Ruffalo joins us shortly with more on just why some homeowners can now set their tap water on fire. We‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: We are four weeks from election eve. And the Beltway media narratives about this election that were written six months ago are starting to expire. They have reached and passed their “sell by” dates.
Now, that doesn‘t mean that the new Beltway narratives have just—have been written. It just means that the old ones are starting to stink and it may be time to discard them. Por a hemplo, the vaunted enthusiasm gap, the idea that Democrats are going to lose real big this year because Democratic voters are not excited, Democratic voters are simply not motivated enough by this year‘s elections or by their own party‘s leaders to actually go out and vote next month—which is an OK-sounding theory. All those liberals do keep complaining that President Obama hasn‘t accomplished enough, right? Except anecdotes are not statistically significant.
This is. Check this out. “Newsweek‘s” pollsters asked people how likely they are to actually go out and vote next month. Who says they‘re definitely going to turn out? That would be a Democratic lead. Democrats beating Republicans in the definite voter category, 50-42, which on our bar graph, hopefully looks exactly equal. That‘s nice.
The people who say they are definitely motivated and absolutely vote on November, in fact, on November 2nd, are planning right now to vote for Democrats over Republicans by eight points. Hey, how about that enthusiasm gap?
The other story we keep being told about this year‘s elections is that it‘s bad year to be a Democrat, just generically speaking, people don‘t like Democrats right now, not the way they love Republicans. If you‘re a Democrat running for public office right now, the Beltway common wisdom says you‘re going to lose simply by virtue of your Democratic-ness—except, according to the folks at Gallup, the generic Republican ballot is only three points ahead of the generic Democratic ballot this week. And that‘s a margin of error territory.
Even the super conservative pollsters at Rasmussen report only giving
the Rasmussen Reports only give the generic Republicans a three-point lead. Three points.
So, the phrase, “It‘s a bad year to be a Democrat,” might be a fun to say particularly if you‘re a Republican or if you‘re rooting for the Republicans. But it does have a fact problem.
So, the calcified narratives about what‘s going happen in the elections, this idea that Democrats aren‘t excited, that Democrats aren‘t going to turn out the vote, and Republicans are; this idea that a generic Republican is a much, much, much more appealing idea to voters than a generic Democrat, these are getting a little threadbare.
But, you know, maybe all that doesn‘t matter, because after all, we‘re now living in the era of the Citizens United Robert Supreme Court decision. And conservatives are doing their very best to flood the political system with totally unrestricted, anonymously donated money that will wash way every other political dynamic there is. That is certainly possible. But the facts posed a bit of a problem for that this, too.
You ever seen that old liberal bumper sticker that shows the giant fish being eaten by the even gianter fish. But it turns out when you look closely, the gianter fish is actually made up of lots of tiny little fishes.
As a child with a completely inexplicable geographically inappropriate fear of piranhas, that was always a very scary bumper sticker to me. But that bumper sticker may actually be what is going on in American politics right now. “The Washington Post” has a big piece today on who is spending what in this year‘s campaign.
The big picture narrative is, of course, that money is coming from outside groups on the right, with conservatives outspending their Democratic aligned competition seven to one. But check this out, the Democratic Party raised $16 million last month. It was called a startlingly strong number by Chris Cillizza in “The Washington Post” today.
It is a new record for this election cycle—but not just about the Democratic Party pulling in a large amount of cash over the course of the last 30 days. The Democrats got their record money in a way that suggested the Democratic base maybe does care about these elections. More than 80 percent of it came from low-dollar donors online and in the mail. That means lots of people sending in checks or donating on the Interweb machine, not just a few people going to a handful of rich people fundraisers. Ninety-seven percent of the Democratic Party‘s donations were for $200 or less.
Now, according to the DNC, its record $16 million haul last month came from more than a quarter of a million individual donors. Compare that to the biggest outside political fundraising group on the right, American Crossroads, the one, of course, founded and backed by Karl Rove. As we reported on this show a couple of weeks ago, in the month of August, 91 percent of that group‘s funding came from billionaires, from two guys who are billionaires and one company that‘s owned by a guy who‘s a billionaire. So, 91 percent of the money, three guys.
So, yes, the Republican Party has essentially gone away for this election cycle. It is not even remotely competitive with the Democratic Party as a party. The Democrats are blowing Republicans way with a base that is donating frequently in small amounts whenever they can. Conservatives are trying to make up the lost ground with outside groups, with the help of a handful of very, very rich people.
On the one side, you‘ve got 250,000-plus people giving human-sized, small donations to the Democratic Party in a single month. On the other hand, you‘ve got three guys—three billionaires financing more than 90 percent of Karl Rove‘s outside campaign group funding.
And may—you know, maybe the billionaire strategy worked, who knows? Maybe money will win the day. Maybe money will determine how everything works out. Maybe three billionaires really can decide this year‘s elections.
Or maybe all the tiny little fishes when they get together in a shape of the big, huge fish will eat the big, fat billionaire fish. This year‘s elections are very fun so far.
MADDOW: Programming note. You know how sometimes you just have to see something for yourself. This year‘s Senate race in Delaware is one of those somethings. Early tomorrow, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW will decamp to the great city of Wilmington, with Delaware‘s Democratic Senate candidate Chris Coons.
We‘ll also be trying to speak with his opponent, Republican candidate Christine O‘Donnell. If we can‘t get her, we‘d be happy to speak to anyone from her campaign, or anyone who supports her and lives in Delaware.
So far, only Christine O‘Donnell‘s supporters who do not live in Delaware have agreed to talk with us. We‘ve had no response at all from Christine O‘Donnell headquarters. But we live in hope, and part of that is hoping that they‘ll find it harder to blow us off if we show up in person. So, we‘re there for Delaware bound. I‘m very excited about it.
But, you know, look, you guys, this is going to be very hard work. And, naturally, it therefore requires very good beer. So, tomorrow night, we will be at the Deer Park Tavern in Newark, Delaware, for a live broadcast of this show and a watch party and whatever else we can think of that is cool to do.
So, if you are in the area and you want to drop by, check out our Web site, which is Maddowblog.MSNBC.com for details. It‘s going to be very fun. We would love to see you there.
MADDOW: Do you remember when we last took the show to New Orleans, went in August and I got - I got the “Don‘t ‘Sperse Me, Bro” t-shirt? “Don‘t ‘sperse me, Bro!”
One of the most frustrating things about the debate about chemical dispersants that we used on the BP oil spill was that no one knew exactly what the dispersants were. Even when we visited the LSU lab where the chemicals are being studied, monitoring their effect on the oil, in the lab, they were only labeled with letters and numbers. They had codes.
Even the scientists were not allowed to know what was in the dispersants while they were studying them because it was proprietary information. It was some company‘s trade secret.
The total amount of dispersants dumped into the Gulf of Mexico during the BP crisis was on the order of 1.8 million gallons and we still have no idea what that stuff actually was. Trade secret. Mama‘s secret recipe - 11 herbs and spices and cancer, which brings me to the problem of lighting your own tap water on fire.
This is video from “GasLand.” Watch this. Watch. Oh, geez. Yes. “GasLand” is recent HBO documentary about the process of hydraulic fracturing a.k.a. “fracking.” If “Don‘t Frack Me, Bro” t-shirts do not already exist on one, I‘m sure they‘re getting the printing press ready.
Like BP dispersants, we have no idea why this guy‘s water catches on fire. At least, in a chemical sense, we don‘t have a 100 percent idea about it. Fracking is the process by which companies drill for natural gas by pumping a whole lot of water really, really hard into the ground.
Included in that water is some magical, unknown, proprietary potion of chemicals that we‘re not allowed to know about. On an average fracking site, they‘re pumping this mystery stuff, like, 8,000 feet underground, a typical aquifer from which people their drinking water is about 1,000 feet underground.
Any chance of things getting mixed up, poisoned and contaminated there? This brings us to the sight again of people lighting their drinking water on fire. Don‘t frack me, bro.
Joining us tonight for the interview is someone who is known as an actor and a director and, increasingly, as an environmental advocate on the subject of fracking, Mark Ruffalo. Hi. Thanks for coming in.
MARK RUFFALO, ACTOR, DIRECTOR AND ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCATE: I‘m so glad
to be here.
MADDOW: Did I get anything wrong about - in the description of fracking there. You sort of know a lot about it.
RUFFALO: No. You‘ve pretty much covered it beautifully.
MADDOW: Why are you interested in this issue?
RUFFALO: Well, I happen to live in an area where this is going to be done, pretty mass industrial rollout in upstate New York. I am raising a family in Callicoon, New York. And I‘ve heard about this about two or three years ago. I started studying it.
My study took me to Dimock, PA, where people had their wells poisoned. And you know, I saw it for myself and I saw that people really didn‘t have a voice. There was no one backing these people up. The local governments had turned their back on them and the state government.
And I decided, you know what, for my family, this is my life.
These are my neighbors. These are my people. I have to be involved.
MADDOW: In upstate New York, like portions of Pennsylvania, any place where there is natural gas that‘s potentially locked up in shale, locked up in rock, that‘s why companies use this process.
RUFFALO: That‘s right.
RUFFALO: It‘s actually small pockets of gas that are locked up in the shale. And they crack the shale with such high pressures of water and chemicals that they allow the gas to percolate to the surface.
And like you seen, these chemicals are ending up in people‘s wells. Gas is ending up in people‘s wells. And today, in Dimock, PA, where we see this happening, they have to build a seven-mile pipeline through the municipally because the entire aquifer in the seven-mile radius has been poisoned.
RUFFALO: They have been using that water for 100 years.
MADDOW: And this is - the way the companies are getting access to the shale that they‘re doing to is by offering people money for the mineral rights on their land.
RUFFALO: That‘s right.
MADDOW: They‘re approaching like farmers and people who own any land of any amount, even small amounts of land.
RUFFALO: That‘s right. That‘s right. And the desperation of the farmers who - a big constituency is dairy farmers up there. They have been losing their farms. There‘s been 100 suicides of farmers, dairy farmers, in the last two years in America. We‘ve lost 150,000 dairy farms in the last 10 years. So they can‘t make a living wage farming.
RUFFALO: And because of that, they‘re being forced to lease their lands. And you know, no one loves water and land more than a farmer does. And so I see it as a two-pronged problem.
So I‘ve been working to - you know, I love it for Tom Vilsack just to sign a $20 per 100 weight of milk, which is - they make $14 a hundred weight of milk. That‘s $14 for 8.6 gallons of milk. It‘s crazy. It‘s $1.10 gallon.
MADDOW: Yes. And so if that was - if farmers were able to make more of a living off of the farming, then they wouldn‘t be selling out.
MADDOW: Are you finding political allies on this. Are you hopeful that something will be done on this?
RUFFALO: Yes. You know, Maurice Hinchey, who is the congressman of my area has been all front on this. He has the FRAC Act which is in Congress right now. And what it‘s doing is it closes the Halliburton loophole which has basically said that there‘s no regulation for this industry. They do not have to tell us, the 590 chemicals that they‘re putting in the ground.
MADDOW: And that was passed in the Bush administration.
RUFFALO: The 2005 Energy Act, Dick Cheney‘s legacy to our country.
MADDOW: Pump whatever you - pump whatever you want in the ground.
It‘s fine. You don‘t have to disclose it.
RUFFALO: Pump it down there. Just pump it down there. And you know, I say - you know, if gas drilling is so safe and there‘s no problems with gas drilling, how come there are so many problems with gas drilling?
If you, people, think that what you‘re putting in the ground is
so safe, then why don‘t you come into regulation under the Clean Water Act
RUFFALO: And the Safe Drinking Water Act? They‘ve been fighting it tooth and nail.
MADDOW: Would it matter - I mean, in terms of the companies disclosing what they‘re doing with this stuff, to me, that‘s the most incredible thing about it, that they don‘t have to tell us and it is our drinking water. It‘s everybody‘s drinking water. I mean, really, it‘s one big aquifer out there. And all comes to all of us.
RUFFALO: Hey, where I live, in the Delaware River basin that is the watershed for 19 million people. We have the cleanest water in the country coming into New York, Philadelphia, and parts of New Jersey. Five percent of our population. It could have their water poisoned or contaminated by this process and there‘s no way of regulating it.
RUFFALO: The Delaware River Basin Commission, who has been charged with keeping the Delaware River watershed safe, is on the fast track to begin drilling ASAP. They want to put 30,000 wells in there.
MADDOW: You hollering about it may stop them from doing that. I‘m getting the sense here.
RUFFALO: Don‘t make me mad. You wouldn‘t like me when I‘m mad.
MADDOW: Mark Ruffalo, actor, director, and big-time activist on this.
RUFFALO: Hey, thanks. Thank you so much.
MADDOW: It‘s a good to meet you. Thank you.
RUFFALO: Thank you. It‘s a pleasure.
MADDOW: All right. So from fracking to TARP. Also several other words I never knew existed before last year. Please stay with us.
MADDOW: OK. Check this out. On the bottom axis, the Y (sic) axis here, that‘s the years - years that we have been shooting into Pakistan with our remote-controlled flying robots.
First time we know we did that was in 2004, OK? On the Y axis in the left side, the vertical axis, that‘s the number of drone strikes we know we‘ve done, OK? So in 2004, there was one drone strike reported (UNINTELLIGIBLE). 2005, again, just one. The year after that. Three. The year after that, five - five in the whole year.
Then, things really started to pick up - 35 strikes in 2008. The following year, the first year of the Obama administration, more than 50. This year, so far, and we‘re only in October - pow! More than ever.
Nearly 80 already.
And if we broke it down further, the more recent numbers are even more dramatic. We‘re getting close to shooting missiles into Pakistan almost every day now.
Why are we doing this so much more than we ever did before now? You tell me. You are as likely to give me an explanation as anyone else since this is all secret. This is the CIA, so nobody admits to the fact that it‘s happening.
Here‘s a clue, though, as to why we‘re doing these secret things so much more right now - one more thing to show you. What‘s marked here in the different color - this is the proportion of all these secret missiles we are shooting into Pakistan that are going to this one specific place.
The part that‘s in red on each of these lines, that‘s the proportion of drone strikes that are hitting up a place called North Waziristan. Not only are we shooting people with missiles in Pakistan way more than we ever did before. Look at the way the red number goes up. Look that.
We are shooting at something very freaking specific. All of North Waziristan is, like, roughly the size of Connecticut. And look how much we‘re shooting it up. We‘re zeroing in on something.
There‘s something specific that we are trying to shoot at, and we‘re doing that with increasing frequency and intensity. At least that‘s what it looks like when you graph it out.
This week end, the United States issued a travel alert about potential terrorist attacks in Europe - Britain, France and Germany. What is the threat? We don‘t know. But there are rumors that involve Osama Bin Laden himself.
And now, today, there is news that the latest of these missiles that we‘ve shot into North Waziristan just happens to have killed a great number of Germans. Some reports say five, some reports say eight - men holding German passports described as militants. What is going on here?
Joining us now is NBC News national investigative correspondent, Michael Isikoff. Michael, thanks very much for joining us tonight. Nice to see you.
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, NBC NEWS NATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Good to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: What do we know about these German passport holders, these Germans killed in Pakistan?
ISIKOFF: Well, we don‘t know a whole lot about the Germans killed in this particular drone strike, because we don‘t know a lot about who gets killed in any of these drone strikes.
By definition, these are strikes in areas where U.S. intelligence and law enforcement does not have easy access, nor, for that matter, do the Pakistanis. And that‘s why we‘re firing drones up there because we can‘t send troops there. We can‘t put boots on the ground there, nor are the Pakistanis doing it.
So what we get are claims of strikes, claims of people killed. And in this case, the Pakistanis who are very eager at this point to show much they‘re cooperating with the U.S. reported today - said today that eight Germans had been killed and told people that these are among the Germans of Pakistani descent who are believed to be connected with this plot that has everybody worked up in Europe right now.
MADDOW: So they‘re asserting that there is some connection between the threat alert for Germany and other European countries and the victims, the targets of the most recent drone strikes?
ISIKOFF: Absolutely. Yes.
MADDOW: In terms of the - our intelligence on the ground there, do people in national security talk, even anonymously? Do they talk about why we‘re having so many more drone strikes now? Is it because we do have more intelligence about something specific that we‘re shooting at there?
ISIKOFF: Look, there are a number of reasons for escalation. Part of it is the intelligence about this ongoing plot that U.S. intelligence officials believe is in Europe.
Over the summer, they captured this guy, Ahmad Siddiqi, who is traveling from Hamburg to Pakistan. He told them after intensive interrogations at Bagram about a plot that was underway.
He was believed to have been traveling with 10 other Germans from Hamburg to Pakistan for training and that the idea was, you know, multiple attacks, simultaneous in European capitals along the lines of what happened in Mumbai. That‘s part of it.
But even before that, this was escalating. It was escalating because of increasing pressure by the U.S. military and U.S. intelligence to show some progress in Afghanistan.
And given that, Pakistan is a safe haven for a lot of jihadi groups who are aiding the Taliban who are killing American troops, particularly this - you know, this group called the Haqqani network which they‘re really worked up on, you know, affiliated with al-Qaeda, but not al-Qaeda, sort of an independent jihadi group that‘s mainly focused on Pakistan but has very - been identified as, you know, one of the chief dangers to U.S. troops now.
There‘s a lot of pressure on Gen. Petraeus to show some progress in Afghanistan in time for next July. And I think that‘s one reason why we‘re seeing this escalation.
MADDOW: Politically, what you just said is so important I can hardly stand it. Because if that‘s the justification for why we are having more drone strikes, if it is not about some new information, new intelligence or intensified strategy about international terrorist groups projecting force against the United States of America, meaning projecting force here or against other western targets but literally just about providing a sort of back - rear guard action for the Afghanistan war, then we‘re just talking about an expansion of the Afghanistan war. We‘re not talking about the supposed war on terrorism that‘s a whole separate thing.
ISIKOFF: Well, look, I mean, you know, U.S. officials would argue that it‘s all intertwined. But there is an eerie parallel to Vietnam as there isn‘t so many aspects of that kind of staying here with the secret bombing of Cambodia.
ISIKOFF: U.S. officials - yes. Military in Vietnam saw a safe haven that the North Vietnamese were using in Cambodia. And so they tried to use air power to wipe it out, to attack it.
We can‘t just fight within the confines of the border. You do see a parallel with what‘s going on in this escalation in air power in Pakistan right now. And the question is whether it will be any more effective.
MADDOW: And whether we ever get to debate it as a country or whether we have to pretend this isn‘t happening because it‘s some CIA secret. Incredible, incredible stuff. NBC‘s national investigative correspondent, Michael Isikoff. Thank you for joining us tonight, Mike. Good to see you.
ISIKOFF: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Coming up on “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O‘Donnell, Congressman Barney Frank responds to his many, many, many right-wing critics.
And on this show, Democrats, why are you believing what Republicans tell you about how you should campaign this year? Why are you taking Republicans‘ advice about whether or not you should campaign on Democratic accomplishments this year?
What if those Democratic accomplishments were accomplishments, stuff that worked? Come back, hug it out. That‘s next.
MADDOW: According to the common beltway wisdom for this year‘s elections, health reform is supposed to be an awful thing that Democrats must run away from, an awful, terrible burden Democrats have saddled themselves with like an albatross that will sink them on Election Day. Run away from health reform. Run fast.
But you know, whenever the president mentions health reform on a stump as he did in Wisconsin last week, he does so to huge applause. Other Democrats like Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold have started running ads on health reform. And health reform still polls really, really well.
So how is it that the common wisdom that Democrats have to run away from it? It‘s the common wisdom because Republicans have tried to make it the common wisdom, a self-serving effort to keep as many Democrats silent or on the defensive about health care reform as possible.
Same thing, I posit - same thing with TARP and the stimulus, both of which are supposed to be swear words in this election. Hey, one of them is even four letters.
So it would be a horrible political liability to support either of these programs, both of which were such disasters the voters are so angry about them, except they weren‘t disasters.
TARP officially ended yesterday. It was passed during the last months of the Bush administration. It‘s often referred to as a bailout, $700 million bailout. But only half was ever actually disbursed.
Six months after President Obama took office, the administration projected the program would lose pretty much all of the money that was disbursed. By this August, the estimated loss was down to only $66 billion. Now, as TARP ends, the treasury says the worst case scenario is that taxpayers stand to be on the hook for all of TARP for about $50 billion.
The best case scenario has AIG paying back all of the remaining $49 billion with it to the government. If that happens, not only will TARP have cost far less than anyone ever imagined it would. If that happens, the program almost paid for itself, did pay for itself or conceivably even made a profit.
Oh, and by the way, it worked. How can you tell? Well, have you used an ATM recently? Did you go to the ATM today with full of confidence not only at whatever money you happen to have would be there, but that you still have an account as well as a bank to go to. Thanks, TARP.
Those banks that were too big to fail - oh, god, I hate that they were too big to fail. You know what? They didn‘t fail. It worked. And to the stimulus, the Obama administration said it wanted to save or create 3.5 million jobs.
The Congressional Budget Office says it is on track to save or create 3.5 million jobs. It worked. Does any of this mean the economy still doesn‘t suck? No, the economy still sucks. But does this mean what the administration has been doing on the economy is working?
Take a look at this. This is what Ezra Klein posted as a way of explaining it. (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We got it from the “New York Times.” This is how much the gross domestic product, GDP, declined in the last quarter of 2008 before Obama took office.
And this is the first quarter of 2009. It‘s getting better. That line there, that‘s when the stimulus started. Then, there‘s the next quarter and then, the next quarter and the next quarter.
That last quarter there, does that still suck? Yes, that sucks. Is that better than everything else in that graph? Yes. Yes, it certainly is. So yes, “TARP” and “stimulus” are swear words in this year‘s election. Everybody thinks they are awful, terrible, awful things that hurt the economy, and not only will hurt the economy but will hurt the Democrats in this election if they dare to campaign on them. Run away from them. That is the narrative. That is the common wisdom.
The facts tell a different story. Both were the exact opposite of awful. They were successful, cost effective programs that did exactly what they were designed to do.
Instead of denigrating them as swear words, instead of running away from them in the election year, imagine what this election might look like if Democrats started to campaign on the actual accomplishments that they accomplished, on the good things that big Democratic supported programs have done, things like TARP and the stimulus.
What would that look like? What would that look like not only for the crop of Democratic candidates trying to campaign against Republicans who are trying to get away with characterizations of these programs that don‘t meet the facts.
But what would that look like for the long run when Democrats campaigned on what they are capable of doing when policy makes sense? What would that look like? There are 29 days left to find out.
That does it for us. We will see you again tomorrow night from Delaware where we will be talking with Democratic Senate nominee, Chris Coons, and hoping to catch up with Republican nominee, Christine O‘Donnell. Now, it‘s time for “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O‘Donnell. Good evening, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, HOST, “THE LAST WORD”: Rachel, I‘m so jealous of this going to Delaware thing.
MADDOW: Yes. Well, come in the bus.
O‘DONNELL: OK. I‘ll see what I can do.
MADDOW: All right.
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