The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 05/11/12
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Michael. Thank you. Have a
great weekend, my friend.
DYSON: You, too.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home as well for staying with us for the
We`ve got a big show tonight.
Michael Moore is going to be here tonight. It`s going to be great
When you go to fill up your car with gas this weekend, in most case -
- not everywhere – but in most instances, when you go to fill up your car
with gas, you will find that the business end of the gas pump looks a bit
like this. There`s the triggery handle thing that you squeeze to make the
gas come out of on the right there. There`s the little nozzle part that
the gas comes out of.
But over the nozzle part is the part that we have circled in yellow
there. It`s this big, black plastic hood. That big, black plastic hood
has been there in gas stations in most places in the country since 1994.
See, most of the air pollution, most of the smog, right, caused by
burning gas as a fuel for cars is what comes out of the tail pipe of the
car. But we also cause air pollution and we cause smog in the way that we
fill up our cars with gas. The gas fumes that escape while you are pumping
gas into your car, those fumes are air pollution.
And that big, black rubber hood thing was designed to capture the
fumes while you were pumping gas. So, yes, you are still putting gas into
your car, which when you burn it in your car will create air pollution.
But you are avoiding creating a second source of air pollution with the big
stink of fumes when you fill up.
Since the black hood thing went into place, since that regulation was
put into effect back in the `90s, auto manufacturers have changed the way
that gas tanks are designed. They have changed it to accommodate that
concern about the fumes that escape while you`re filling up. So, for
nearly 20 years, we have been counting on that big, black plastic thing on
the hose to take care of the big stink air pollution problem when you fill
up at the pump.
But now, because auto manufacturers are taking account of it, they
are taking care of that problem inside the car. They have rebuilt gas
tanks so the gas tanks themselves, in the car, actually deal with most of
the problem. Because of that, those big, black, plastic, rubbery hood
things that go over the gas pump nozzle that make it a little bit harder to
fill up your car, but they make it a lot harder to fill up your motorcycle
or your gas can, those big, black plastic rubbery things over the gas pump
nozzle thing, those are going to go away.
Quote, “The Obama administration and the Environmental Protection
Agency announced Thursday, they intend to phase out the rubber boots on gas
pump handles now used to capture harmful gasoline vapors while refueling
cars. The White House decision is part of the latest government wide
review of federal regulations.”
According to a statement from the president on this, quote, “We will
remain vigilant when it comes to eliminating regulations that are not
necessary, or that impose unnecessary burdens on America`s families and
Getting rid of the regulation that requires that big, plastic boot on
the gas handle, the White House says will save the people who own gas
stations a few thousands dollars, and that will in turn make your gas
prices lower, which is better for you and better for the economy. Now,
depending on whether or not your car has an upgraded gas tank that will
capture the fumes so that the gas pump handle doesn`t have to, this rule,
getting rid of the hood on the gas pump handle may also result in you
getting a little high for free the next time you fill up. So, maybe that`s
kind of a benefit too, I mean, provided what you feel is high rather than
just sick or asthmatic.
But, hey, they were looking for a regulation to get rid of and they
decided looking at the gas pump handle that this was the regulation they
were going to get rid of.
On the campaign trail, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney
spent all week says he doesn`t want to talk about super anti-gay rights.
He definitely doesn`t want to talk about medical marijuana. He definitely
doesn`t want to talk about contraception or abortion. I mean, he has
policies on these things that he wants to pursue, once he becomes
president, but he doesn`t want to talk about these things while campaigning
unless he`s talking to a very specific audience that`s going to love him on
those subjects. I`ll be talking about that later in the show.
What Mitt Romney says he wants to talk about instead of all that
other stuff, right, what he says he wants to talk about is the economy. He
wants to talk about the economy and the Obama record that he says has been
so bad on the economy.
And when you let Mitt Romney do that, when you let him talk about
what he says is the thing he wants to talk about in this campaign, the
reason why he`s running, this is what he says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hey, Mr. President, you`re
getting it all wrong. He has more than doubled the number of regulations,
the rate of regulation he`s adding to our nation across America.
Regulators just multiplying like proverbial rabbits, and making it
harder and harder for enterprises to grow and to understand what their
future might be.
This administration`s regulations are even invading the freedom of
every day Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Regulations invading the freedom of every day Americans.
You know, this is not a sidebar or boutique or niche issue for the Romney
campaign. This is essentially their central critique of what is wrong with
the Obama administration. This is the main argument that they have got
against Barack Obama on the economy. It is the main reason they say that
Mitt Romney should replace President Obama in the White House.
It`s the main thing that he wants to talk about. It`s how many new
regulations Barack Obama has put into place.
Barack Obama has put fewer regulations into place than George W. Bush
did. There were more new government regulations created in the first three
years of the George W. Bush administration than there were in the first
three years of the Obama administration. Barack Obama has slowed down the
pace of new regulations when you compare him with the last guy, who was a
So, it is not true when Mitt Romney says that President Obama is
creating some unprecedented number of new regulations. A shorter way of
saying it`s not true, is to say it`s a lie. And it is a lie.
But even if it`s a lie and you say it frequently enough, you
sometimes can make people believe it`s true. You make it the centerpiece
of your presidential campaign, one of two things can happen. You can be
laugh off the stage for being a liar, which doesn`t seem to be happening to
Mitt Romney. Or people can start to believe this lie you say every day.
And that raises an interesting question about this really specific
policy about the gas pump. This gas pump thing that`s about to change.
Almost everybody who uses a gas pump in America is about to
experience directly the elimination of a government regulation on something
that you physically have to personally deal with to put gas in your car.
Does that have a political affect? Could that have a political
effect? Does that translate at a retail politics level? Does that counter
this Republican argument from Mitt Romney that Barack Obama is regulation
I mean, you`re direct experience at the gas pump is about to be that
this president has gotten rid of regulations. It`s a very subtle thing,
but subtle things like this can have a powerful impact when you`re talking
about something that may really stick with people and affects millions and
millions of people.
The political impact of the way that you personally interact with
something about the government, the way that you personally experience a
policy change or the affect of something that a politician did, that can
affect in a life-long way the way you think about the policy, the way that
you think about that politician. And that individual affect part of
politics is something that Republicans have long appreciated.
In 2008, before the big financial crash but when the economy was
slowing down, President George W. Bush passed a stimulus act.
What? Republicans? A stimulus act?
Yes. George W. Bush passed two stimulus acts actually. He did it in
2001 as well.
You know, Reagan had a big stimulus act as well. So did George H.W.
Bush. I know it`s crazy. But that is actually the way you deal with
recessions and economic slowdowns. It is normal and both parties do it, no
matter what you hear these days on FOX News or the crazy part of your
But when George W. Bush passed his stimulus act in 2008, the
political geniuses of the George W. Bush administration decided to get
money out into the economy, to pursue stimulus – to get money out into the
economy that Americans would spend, jumpstart the economy, they decided to
distribute that money just by sending everybody a check. A check made out
to you from the Bush administration.
Here is some money. It`s from the government. Please go spend it.
I`m not kidding. This is what they did.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, APRIL 25, 2008)
GEORGE W. BUSH, THEN-U.S. PRESIDENT: These rebates will provide
eligible Americans with payments up to $600 a person, $1,200 for couples
and $300 per child.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Every man, woman and child in America getting free money
from the government. Thank you, George W. Bush.
I just saw there, he called it a rebate. But this wasn`t a rebate.
You weren`t overcharged for something. Your child getting this $300 had
not paid too much money in the government and therefore need to get $300
They called it a rebate, but it was just a check from George W. Bush
to you. Please, spend it. It was a government hand out, not that there`s
anything wrong with that.
This is political genius because – I mean, at a very base level,
dude`s giving you hundreds of dollars for nothing. It kind of makes you
like the guy, right?
I mean, policy-wise it was not as much genius as in political terms.
Political terms, this is very, very smart. But in policy terms, it did
If you spend somebody a check for $300, or $600 or $1,200, I mean,
most people`s instinct is not to take that check to the bank, flip it over,
sign it, get all that money back in cash and then spend all that cash
immediately. Some people might do that. But overall, most people, the
instinct will be to deposit the check, to not spend all of it at once.
But in terms of the whole economy, the point of doing the stimulus is
that you really do want people to spend the money you`re sending them. You
want them to spend all of it or as much of it as possible. Saving may help
you as an individual, but it does not help an economy in need of stimulus.
It`s not what you do as stimulus for. You want spending.
So, rather than sending everybody a lump sum check like George W.
Bush did, a much better way to stimulate the economy is to give people
money in way that doesn`t encourage them to just save it. Give people
money in a way that doesn`t make as much of a splash. I mean, just put 20,
30 or 40 bucks in their paycheck every couple of weeks. If you get the
money that way, you`re likely to spend 20 or 30 or 40 more bucks than you
otherwise would have spent.
The more low key you make it, the better policy it is as stimulus.
But you do have to give up that great moment, right? You have to give up
that Ed McMahon publisher`s clearinghouse handing over the big check
political benefit that you get from doing it in this loud and splashy but
less good way.
The George W. Bush administration did it in the loud and splashy but
less good way. When President Obama did a stimulus, they did it the way
that is better for the economy, but doesn`t give the president as much
credit. When Obama did it, they decided to do the stimulus in part in the
form of payroll tax deduction, so everybody got a few more bucks in their
paycheck every couple of weeks. It stimulates the economy way my directly
But the cost is there`s no check in the mail moment that makes you
like the president who sent you the money. The policy is better but the
cost is that the president does not get credit. Democrats – of course,
they do it that way.
But in today`s news, there is a sign that maybe Democrats are
learning a lesson on this type of politics. It`s not a lesson about
policy. It is a lesson about how to get credit for policy. There`s a
chance that you may be able to get a publisher`s clearinghouse Ed McMahon
check from Obamacare.
Mark Halperin wrote about this at “Time” magazine today. The
secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is blogging about
it today at the White House Web site. Health reform or as the Republicans
call it Obamacare is one of these things that if you ask people about
what`s in it, they really like what`s in it.
I can still get insurance without a preexisting condition, that`s
great. I can still get insurance if I have a pre-existing condition,
excuse me. That`s great.
They can`t make your insurance more expensive because you`re a woman.
Kids can stay on their parents` insurance until they`re 26 – that`s
The things that are in health reform are things that people like.
These are very, very popular policies.
But when you ask people if they like health reform – heck no. I
hate health reform. Do you know what`s in it? Keep it down, I`m busy
hating health reform – but yes, I do like all the things that are in it.
One of the things that are in health reform is something to keep the
cost of health insurance low. It`s a requirement that whatever your health
insurance company is charging you for your health insurance, they have to
spend at least 80 percent of that on health care, on actual providing you
So, advertising and bonuses for their CEOs and generic overhead cost
which don`t actually result in you getting any health care. That has to be
less than 20 percent of what you pay. They call it the 80-20 rule.
And the punishment for companies that don`t meet that requirement is
genius. It`s political genius. Companies that have been overspending on
stuff that is not health care, companies that have been wasting your health
care premiums on executive bonuses or whatever, who aren`t meeting the 80-
20 rule, those companies have to pay the difference back to you in a check
that`s made out to you, that comes with this cover letter. Quote, “This
rebate is required by the Affordable Care Act – the health reform law.”
Honestly, they should just add to it – you know, Obamacare.
So, the policy here is kind of a generically popular, common sense
idea. If I`m going to have to spend money on health insurance, don`t waste
my freaking money on CEO bonuses.
But to make that not just a generically, popular common sense concept
but instead to make it something that you know you are personally
benefitting from in a dollars and cents way – thank you, Obama
administration. Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Mr. President
signature health reform act – the benefit of that policy is now going to
show up physically in your mailbox in the form of a check with a tiny
little Ed McMahon.
I`m sorry. No, Ed. Ed McMahon is dead. That will not be true.
But the retail “I did this for you, I`m the check in your mailbox”
political salesmanship idea, that is not dead. Democrats are learning this
game too, at last. Ka-ching!
Joining us now is former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. He`s now
an NBC News political analyst and a CNBC contributor.
Governor Rendell, it`s good to see you. Thanks for being here.
ED RENDELL (D), FORMER PENNYSLVANIA GOVERNOR: My pleasure, Rachel.
MADDOW: How much do you think it affects the political reputation of
a policy or a program or a politician when people do personally experience
something in public policy and they understand where it came from?
RENDELL: Oh, very much so. I`ll give you a perfect example.
If you and I went into the streets of Philadelphia today and stopped
a thousand people and asked them, did you get tax cut from President
Obama`s stimulus plan? My guess is no more than 20 out of a thousand would
say yes. And yet, virtually everyone who makes less than $200,000 did get
a $800 or $400 tax cut.
It was totally lost – lost because we didn`t send the check in the
mail but also lost because the president didn`t go on the TV early on in
stimulus, before the Republicans had chance to spin it and told people that
they were going to get $800 and they`d see it as their payroll deduction
tax went down for the next year. We never did that. We were terrible at
spinning the good things in stimulus and also spinning things in health
And as a result, both of those things which I think were significant
achievements, he got no credit for it.
MADDOW: I wonder, you know, when ever time I`m driving and I see a
big sign on a the side of the road that says this improvement project
funded by the American Recovery Act, which is the name of the stimulus
project, I tend to think of that as cutting both ways because on the one
hand you are trying to attribute a tangible benefit to taxpayers.
RENDELL: I know what you`re going to say.
But at the same time, the reason somebody is seeing that sign is
because they are sitting in traffic, cursing the construction.
RENDELL: Yes. You know what I would have done? Rule number one, I
would have got a mascot. A cuddly kangaroo, put him right on the side.
Number two, I would add jobs created by this revitalization project. Boom,
big letters right underneath it.
Can we interpret on this gas pump deregulation issue the insurance
rebate cover letter, these other things that are happening to sort of put
the cuddly kangaroo on these policies? Do you think that is a sign the
administration is kind of getting better at messaging and trying to get
credit for some of the things they have done that ought to have populist
RENDELL: Sure. I think there`s no question about it. I`m not sure
they pick the right regulation. And the answer to Mitt Romney and all
these people who say we`re overregulated, et cetera, it`s easy to say, it`s
just like Republicans in Harrisburg always used to say when they wanted to
cut the welfare budget, “There`s waste, frauds and abuse.” OK. Tell me
where. They couldn`t.
If the regulations are hurting business, give us some concrete
examples, Mr. Romney. Spell out five or six that really hurt American
business. What will happen is, number one, they really don`t hurt American
business or number two, if they do, it`s because they are protecting
children from asthma and the public would understand it.
But if you let them get away with saying, we`re overregulated, and
everyone says, yes, we`re overregulated. But let them spell out which
regulations they get rid of.
MADDOW: On that – on the centrality of that regulation argument to
Mitt Romney`s campaign – I mean, when he says – he doesn`t want to talk
about anything else, yes, he has other policies but he wants to talk about
is the economy, when he does talk about the economy and what he says he
wants to place about the Obama economic policies is regulation. That is
his central idea.
The Obama administration is in a position where they have introduced
fewer new regulations than the George W. Bush administration. The critique
from Romney is just wrong. It`s a lie. It`s an accusation that is not
Should the Obama administration, in your political judgment, just be
saying that, “That`s lie”? Should they be trying to change the narrative?
Should they be trying to refrain it?
RENDELL: Absolutely. Not only should they be saying it, but every
one of the elected officials, Democrats in the country should be saying it,
and just point it out and having big charts, you know, those Steve Rattner
MADDOW: Former Pennsylvania Governor Rendell, NBC News political
analyst – thank you for your time.
RENDELL: Don`t forget that cuddly kangaroo.
MADDOW: Yes. I think of kangaroos as sort of treacherous. But we
can come up with something. Thank you, sir.
All right. Guess who is delivering the commencement address tomorrow
at Liberty University, the same college founded by the preacher who once
railed against the gay menace of – that`s not a kangaroo. Oh, yes, Pinkie
We have a close encounter of the risky evangelical kind, coming up
MADDOW: The interview tonight, coming up, Michael Moore. Yay!
MADDOW: Happy Friday. I`m so glad it`s Friday. I`m pretty sure
this that been the gayest week in Mitt Romney`s whole life.
On Sunday, the vice president went on “Meet the Press” and said that
gay people getting married was OK with him.
The next day, on Monday, Washington convulsed over this news. The
White House besieged with questions about what this meant. The words gay
or same sex used 28 times during Monday`s White House press briefing.
The next day on Tuesday, North Carolina voted to legal recognition
for same-sex couples.
The next day, on Wednesday, President Obama, the president of the
United States, went on television and said he was for recognizing the
rights of same-sex couples to get married.
The next day, on Thursday, the “Washington Post” published a multiple
source blockbuster account of Mitt Romney, the Republican de facto nominee
for president, Mitt Romney as a young man bullying two closeted gay
students, including Mr. Romney leading a group of boys and pinning one
student down and Mr. Romney himself cutting off the boy`s long hair while
the kid cried and screamed for help.
The next day is Friday. The next day is today. Today is the day
that “G.Q.” magazine published this profile of Mr. Romney`s to strategist
and closes aid, Eric Fehrnstrom. Mr. Fehrnstrom in his previous career at
Boston`s conservative tabloid newspaper, apparently outed a Massachusetts
state representative who was transgender.
By outing as transgender, he thereby killed her career. Quote,
“Fehrnstrom was the first one to put that information into print. `I can
remember his glee when he found the birth certificate,` says former
`Herald` report Robert Connolly.”
This Romney senior advisor outing this woman in the statehouse
brought, quote, “a swift end to the representative`s future on Beacon
You know how some days are red letter days on the calendar. This has
been a rainbow lettered week in the campaign to elect Mitt Romney president
of the United States. But if the way too gay for Mitt Romney week started
on Sunday, it`s only Friday, that means his way too gay for him week is not
Tomorrow, Mr. Romney is giving the commencement address at Jerry
Falwell`s university, Liberty University. So, if Mr. Romney was hoping to
get away from his campaign`s increasingly heavy anti-gay baggage, there`s
nowhere to put those bags down safely yet, not when this is your Saturday
(BEGIN VDIEO CLIP)
JERRY FALWELL, TELEVANGELIST: What we saw on Tuesday is terrible
could be minuscule if in fact – if in fact God continues to lift the
curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we
PAT ROBERTSON, TELEVANGELIST: Jerry, that`s my feeling. I think
we`ve seen the anti-chamber to terror. We haven`t seen what they can do to
the major population.
FALWELL: The ACLU – the ACLU has got to take a lot of blame for
this. I know I will hear from them for this.
But throwing God successfully with the help of the federal court
system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools, the
abortionists have got do bear some burden for this because God will not be
mocked and destroy 40 million innocent babies, we make God mad.
I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the
feminists and the gays and lesbians who are actively trying to make that an
alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them
who tried to secularize America, I point the thing this their face and say
– you help this happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Those are the founders of Regent University, Pat Robertson,
and Liberty University, Jerry Falwell, explaining two days after 9/11 why
we as a nation deserve what we got on 9/11 because of, you know, the homo.
Also People for the American Way.
Jerry Falwell later said that he was sorry for having said. But this
is the guy who used to send out fundraising solicitations, direct mail,
like this. “|lease remember homosexuals do not reproduce. They recruit.
Many of them are after my children and your children.”
Jerry Falwell is dead now, but at his school, they are keeping the
faith. At Jerry Falwell`s Liberty University, they kicked their school`s
Democratic Party Club off campus because the Democratic Party platform has
support for gay rights. They dropped out from CPAC, the big conservative
annual conference, in protest of a gay Republican group, a gay conservative
group being allowed to participate in the conference.
The school`s Liberty Christian Academy, their high school, says flat
out that it quote, “does not employ teachers or accept students who are
So, that`s where Mitt Romney is delivering the commencement address
tomorrow. Mr. Romney, I`m sure you didn`t think it would work out like
this, but this your campaign now. It`s here. It`s queer. Get used to it.
MADDOW: All right. This has been a long week. It has been a long
week of big political news that, as I mentioned, might have been way more
gay than the Mitt Romney campaign could comfortably handle. But because it
has been a long week, I think that you deserve a best new thing in the
world. Specifically, you deserve a best new thing in the world tonight
that is not at all political or at all about gay marriage.
You deserve a Friday night best new thing in the world that`s pure,
unadulterated happiness. Oddly, this is a form of pure, unadulterated
happiness that I have thought looked like a cross between cats and weasels.
But still, it`s pure happiness and it is coming up.
MADDOW: One of the things that Rick Santorum proposed while running
for president back when it looked like he might have real chance at the
nomination was that we should kind of sell Idaho.
This is what it was like this year in the Republican primary. This
was the difference between the two main alternatives to Mitt Romney in the
Newt Gingrich wanted to acquire the moon as the 51st state in the
Union. Not kidding.
Rick Santorum, on the other side, wanted to divest ourselves of most
of Idaho. All the federally controlled land in Idaho he wanted to sell.
Now, Rick Santorum is not going to be the Republican nominee for
president, but imagine that he was. In fact, I think this is a useful
thought experiment. Imagine that Rick Santorum not only got nominated, but
won the general election. Imagine President Santorum – and imagine that
as President Santorum, he decided to follow through on his campaign promise
to sell Idaho, to sell off the federally-owned, publicly-owned parts of
And as president, President Rick Santorum decides he will figure out
what the taxpayers have spent on those lands. What our public, national
investment has been there. And then he`s going to sell that land for 99
percent off that price – essentially giving it away, 99 percent off.
And then, after he`s done being president and done selling off our
national property for cheap, now that he`s an ex-president, he`s going to
go inside business with the new owner of Idaho. He`s going to go into the
business with the person he sold our land to, with a scheme to make money
off that property that he sold for pennies on a dollar. He`s now got
himself off both sides of the deal, that took what he owned, we got paid 1
percent of what we put into, but he`s now going to get rich off it
personally – based on what he did in office.
That would be crazy, right? I mean, that would be even crazier than
just the idea of President Rick Santorum.
There`s not going to be a President Rick Santorum. That process that
I just described really has just happened in Michigan. In Pontiac,
Michigan, a city that may be more notable these days for what it`s lost
than what it still has.
The Detroit Lions used the play in Pontiac`s Silverdome Arena. They
The G.M. truck factory in town left. G.M. used to make the car
called Pontiac here. But that`s gone – the factory and the whole brand.
The city of Pontiac Michigan is so broke, so down in its luck that
three years ago, the state of Michigan appointed an emergency manager with
nearly unilateral authority to run the town. “The Los Angeles Times” at
the time suggested thinking of that emergency manager as something as on
After a few months on the job, that unelected king decided to sell
the Pontiac`s biggest asset, the publicly-owned Pontiac Silverdome. He
decided to sell it in 2009, in the middle of the worst down swing of the
When the emergency manager proposed auctions it off, the Pontiac city
council said basically, are you crazy? You`re going to try to sell this
thing in this economy. It`s the worst possible time to sell. They voted
against it unanimously.
But in Michigan, once the state takes over your city with an
emergency manager, the elected officials have no power anymore. The
Pontiac city council`s unanimous against selling meant zero, meant zip.
The unelected king, the emergency manager guy put it up for sale anyway
despite that vote.
He put it up for sale with ads like this one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The field has seen monster truck rallies, soccer
games. If it can happen on a field, it can happen here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Out here at the Silverdome, we have anything
ranging from your dirt shows, snow car shows, home and garden shows, trade
shows, concerts, all the way down to anything you would like to do on top
of a football field, soccer, flag football, indoor football, arena
football. You can have lacrosse down there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Up to anything you want and more, we`ll help you. That was
the message from the emergency manager as he sold the public`s Silverdome.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course, if the new owner has other ideas for
Silverdome, in the land on which it stands, the city of Pontiac says they
are fully supportive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reason we want to sell without reserve is we
don`t want to exclude potential bidders. We want people to think out of
the box, to be as creative as possible, to use this site for the best
possible use that they would like to bring forward. This is an excellent
location and will be great value for potential bidders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The citizens of Pontiac had spent about $55 million building
the Silverdome in the mid-1970s. In 2009, under the genius no reserve
auction idea, in the middle of the worst part of the recession, the arena
sold for just over half of one million dollars to a Canadian real estate
zillionaire. He paid one percent of what it costs Pontiac to build it.
And still, the Silverdome sat mostly empty for years.
Last month, that emergency manager, the guy who sold, that emergency
manager`s name surfaced again in Pontiac. The local paper reports on an
effort to expand casino gambling in Michigan, including at Pontiac
Silverdome. They`re trying to get an amendment on the ballot in November
so they can turn the Pontiac Silverdome now owned by the Canadian
zillionaire into a casino for him.
Among the people trying to bring the casino gambling to Silverdome is
the former emergency manager. The guy who sold Pontiac for a song and who
now represents in business the Canadian guy he sold it to with whom he is
now working to pass the gambling amendments.
So, metaphorically speaking, back to the thought experiment here,
this would be like fake President Santorum using his power as president to
sell Idaho for 99 percent off and now he`s in business with the guy he sold
it to for a song and now they can use that land to get rich themselves off
Pontiac used to have a thing called the Silverdome. One guy made the
decision to give it away for basically no money and now, he is in business
to make some real money off it privately for himself. Suckers.
A spokeswoman for this former emergency manager tells us that he met
the new owner of the Silverdome, the Canadian zillionaire, only after he
sold him the stadium. She says the emergency manager has only been working
for the guy now since January. She also says the casino will be great for
Pontiac. They will get tax revenue from it.
Maybe this historic sale of a huge important public asset was a great
deal for Pontiac, the best way to sell it at a best price, the best
opportunity – I can`t say. That`s something for the people of Pontiac to
decide. It`s their asset. It belongs to them.
But they did not get a say. They did not get a vote on that. The
city council got the opportunity to have a meaningless symbolic protest
vote, because the state took away their power to decide things for
When the city council took that symbolic unanimous vote not to sell
the Silverdome, you know, actually predicted almost exactly how little the
stadium would sell for at a no reserve open auction. They were right.
But their foresight and their vote meant nothing because the state
had given one guy unilateral authority to do whatever he wanted with the
assets of Pontiac. What he wanted to do, tit turns out, may end up being a
great deal for him.
It`s not just this one town. Pontiac and Detroit and a lot of other
places in Michigan have trouble, major financial trouble. But why is the
solution to those problems to get rid of democracy? To get rid of elected
officials? To get rid of the quaint American idea that we vote for elected
officials to represent us, to make decisions about what is best for our
Why is unilateral authority by one person better? Is democracy a
problem in America now? Is it a bad system of government? Is it to risky
when the going gets rough? Does it only work in rich places?
Is Pontiac better off for having its fate in the hands of the guy who
made this deal instead of the city council that wouldn`t have done it this
Earlier this year, these Michiganders turned in enough signatures in
a petition drive to put Republican governor`s radically expanded emergency
manager law up for a citizens` repeal.
Last month the Republicans on a state election board threw the
hundreds of thousands of signatures out. They said they could not be sure
that the type was large enough. They could not be sure that the font size
on one part of the petition might be big enough. And so, with worrying
about that, they decided the throw out all those signatures. It doesn`t
matter that they got enough.
The group trying to overturn the new radically expanded emergency
manager law in Michigan will get a hearing on their appeal on the
signatures issue next week, before a panel of elected judges. The case
people in Michigan tell us we`ll almost surely end up in the state Supreme
Court where the judges are elected and come with party ties.
As if their struggle were not hard enough, Michigan`s Republican
Governor Rick Snyder has now filed a friend of the court brief telling the
court to protect the emergency manager law that he says he considers
central to his governance.
If the people are allowed to vote on what happens to them, that is
parentally in the way of what he wants to do in Michigan. What he wants to
do to Michigan. What he wants to do for Michigan for their own good.
Michael Moore joins us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When buying the Silverdome in auction in
November, you get far more than just a world renowned stadium and the 127.5
acres of prime real estate on which it sits.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course, if the new owner has other ideas for
Silverdome and the land on which it stands, the city of Pontiac says they
are fully supportive.
FRED LEEB: The reason we want to sell without reserve is we don`t
want to exclude any potential bidders. We want people to think out of the
box, to be as creative as possible and use this site for the best possible
use that they would like to bring forward. This is an excellent location,
and will be a great value for potential bidders.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can be part of this historic auction of the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now for the interview is Michael Moore, the
filmmaker and author and a Michigander down to bill on this bull cap – Mr.
Moore, nice to see you.
MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: Good to see you. Thank you.
MADDOW: You know, for many months, I have been reporting on Michigan
and every time I finish reporting on something going on in Michigan, I ask
what the Sam Hill is up in Michigan.
The Republican rescue plan for the towns and cities in Michigan that
are in trouble is that you have to first stop local democracy. Then you
can get to work on fixing these things.
MOORE: Right. We have to burn down the village in order to save it.
But whether or not it is – we`ll get to where that comes from. Why
they want to do it that way – but does it work? I mean, Flint`s had an
MOORE: We already did this in the last decade. It didn`t do any
good in part because the emergency was 30 years ago. The emergency is long
I mean, our peak employment was 1978. It`s been downhill ever since.
Flint and the state of Michigan has been going 34 years through this. So -
MADDOW: But there`s this technocratic idea like oh, where there`s
big problems or there`s big challenge, democracy is too slow or too
inefficient or something. One person can really get it done, can really
fix it. There`s this idea that it works whether or not it`s right.
MOORE: Yes, because if it worked then people would go, well, OK.
MOORE: I guess it saved the state.
It doesn`t work. It doesn`t work. Flint didn`t get any better.
Pontiac – as you point out – isn`t getting any better. Detroit, Ecorse,
Benton Harbor, the whole state. I mean, the whole state – it`s not just
those cities either.
I mean, you could take this – if they continue with this, it`s going
to be more than just ten entities that they are going to take over.
But the problem is that the state of Michigan is bankrupt. The state
of Michigan is out of money.
So I`m wondering if Governor Snyder, how he would feel if, say,
tomorrow morning President Obama said, you know, Michigan is in a
depression. They are not able to pay their bills. The federal government
is going to take over the state of Michigan.
MOORE: Where will the Republicans be on that?
MADDOW: I`m going to appoint a Michigan czar to overrule all local
MOORE: From Ohio.
MADDOW: Yes, exactly. Or even from Michigan.
MADDOW: The idea that voting is what gets you in trouble, that
that`s somehow the cause of problems that they need to stop in order to do
it, I just –I feel like, yes, it`s happening in Michigan. It`s of
MADDOW: It`s hard to get anybody on board with this.
MOORE: I know. Jeez, I`ve been saying this now for I don`t know how
long, umpteen years, it seems. We`re the laboratory. Michigan is
capitalism`s laboratory, and the experiments have not been going well for
quite some time.
We need – first of all, let me say this about the emergency manager.
If I were the mayor of Flint and when he took over Flint, I would just say,
sorry, we`re going to continue business today just as we did yesterday.
Because I`ve got to tell you something, Governor Snyder doesn`t have a set
of keys. He can`t get into city hall.
I would – we need civil disobedience in Michigan to stop this, first
of all. The thing with the Silverdome, your lead in story, of course, I`ve
been to the Silverdome many times. Actually, this year is the 25th
anniversary of probably two of the greatest religious experiences that took
place in the state of Michigan and I was there for both of them. Pope John
Paul II, I took my dad there to mass, 93,000 people. And Wrestlemania III,
Hulk Hogan bodyslammed Andrew the Giant, 93,000 people again for that.
So, this place is like sacred ground to us in Michigan and all
kidding aside, half a million dollars, $500,000, you`ll have a hard time
getting a studio apartment in New York City for that. That`s how much –
MADDOW: It was stunning to me, I went back and read the
contemporaneous news coverage from the time that the emergency manager was
selling it, and when the city council, which had no power at that point,
could be overruled from him, was saying, no, don`t do this. Don`t do it in
a no-reserve auction.
They correctly predicted. You`re not going to get more than half a
million dollars for this thing. The guy was like, oh, you`re crazy.
MOORE: Right, right.
MADDOW: And sure enough, out they were exactly right.
MOORE: What you said about it being a national problem, that really
is the issue. I hope people just don`t think this is about Michigan
because this is – I mean, the fact that – see, we`re not really broke.
The country has money, it`s just in the hands of a few people. And if we
could stop these wars – I mean, we`re still spending $2 billion, $3
billion, $4 billion a week on Afghanistan.
I mean, seriously – I mean, if Michigan could just have like Monday
and Tuesday of one week, just a billion dollars, what would happen? The
problems would be solved.
But, you know, I was talking to your producer and what really has to
happen is that we have to stop as a society, along with private
corporations, letting them call all the shots. I mean, I know this is
going to be a little strange to people because they think, no, Mike, G.M.
has a right to do – no, they don`t. We tell them to put air bags in the
car, we tell them what the gas mileage is going to be.
Why can`t we also tell them – we let build crappy cars for two or
three decades and it killed us. Everybody I know lost their job. When the
state has suffered – when do we have a right as citizens to come in and
say, you know what? You don`t actually get to make all of the decisions
because they affect us.
What you decide – even when it`s right down to building a crappy
car, you`re not listening to the consumers, what they want. You just keep
building the stuff and here`s the results of it. We, the people, pay for
the results of higher crime, more divorce, alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide
– all of the social problems that go with massive unemployment. And that
is what these auto companies did to the state of Michigan and many other
And I think at some point – I know we`re not going to fix this this
year, but at some point down the road, we the people have got to say – you
know, we got to get more – I know this sounds like socialism or communism
MADDOW: You say good morning and people hear communism.
MOORE: I know. But, you know, the last time I was here, the guy –
you sent a guy to drive me back here. It was a Chevy Suburban, I said –
those things used to be horrible machines of metal and everything rattled
and the dome light didn`t work and I said, wow, this is really a nice car.
What happened? And he says, well, ever since the government took over,
they are building better cars.
Well, what does that say? So more of that, more government
intervention, more stimulus, the right kind, as you said at the beginning
of the show. And maybe we`ll have a chance. But, man, it`s – we`ve had -
- we`ve really had it kicked out of us in Michigan and I know a lot of
other people in Michigan have, too. So, it`s – we can`t be defeated by
MADDOW: Michael Moore, filmmaker, author, proud Michigander – it`s
always good to see you, Michael. Thank you.
MOORE: Good to see you. Thank you so much, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We got a best new thing in the world, special
Friday edition, which has no political content whatsoever, coming up next.
It`s so good. Really, it`s next.
MADDOW: OK. The best new thing in the world today could easily be
the 11 new residents of the National Zoo in Washington? It could be the
best new thing in the world, but it`s not.
For the record, here they are. They are due to be introduced
tomorrow. They are 11 Asian small clod otters. These 11 otters are
actually a family comprised of two parents and nine babies.
Obviously, these guys could be the best new thing in the world
because – I mean, to put it bluntly – otters rule. I mean, even though
they look like cats crossed with weasels, they are the cutest thing in the
Otters – they swim on their backs. They swim under water. They
seem really friendly with each other and amuse looking at them.
And these guys in particular, this type of otter, they are a
threatened species. They are the smallest and most social otter species in
the world, which, of course, means they are the cutest of an already very
cute breed of living things.
But none of that bestiness is what makes these guys the best new
thing in the world. The best new thing thing has to do with their names.
All right. Are you ready?
The parents are named Chowder and Clementine. The nine children are
Pork Chop, Pickles, Saffron, Olive, Peaches, Turnip, radish, Rutabaga and
Kevin? He`s like the Marilyn Munster of the family of impossibly
cute otters. He`s the weird one. Imagine the ranting (ph) he`ll take from
Rutabaga because of his goofy name. Kevin.
Kevin, the Asian small clod otter, the endangered species version of
the boy named Sue, the one of these otters is not like the other otters.
It`s the best new thing in the world today. Happy Friday. It`s a whole
Now you have to go to prison.
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