The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 07/05/12
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the
In 2008, when the Republicans were looking for a candidate to be
their presidential nominee to try to succeed President George W. Bush, the
guy who was supposed to win in `08, the guy who was the early Beltway
favorite was – Fred Thompson. Fred Thompson who was an actor on “Law &
Order” and who is a large man and had a very deep voice and who looks very
presidential-ish from a distance on TV.
And I`ve always thought that the Fred Thompson mania of the 2008
presidential race, the sort of pundit-mania over the prospects for Fred
Thompson were largely based on what he looked like and the fact that he`s a
big guy and he has this big great voice. I mean, in terms of his resume at
that point, what he was known for was being an actor on “Law & Order.”
He had been a lobbyist for decades on Washington. And when you`re a
lobbyist for decades, that usually means you have represented some
unpolitically correct clients, including in Fred Thompson`s case, some
abortion rights clients when he was trying to run as an anti-abortion
In addition to being a lobbyist being the guy on “Law & Order”, he
had also served one and a half terms in the U.S. Senate. But, honestly,
his time in the Senate was characterized by no real accomplishment of any
note. There`s no Fred Thompson legislative achievement that he was trying
to run on. But still, he`s a big guy, played the district attorney on “Law
& Order.” He totally looks like he`s in charge.
Republicans loved the idea of him. This was a poll from before Fred
Thompson got into the race in the summer of 2007, right? Plenty of other
Republicans were running at this time. The Republicans were already
competing with each other for the nomination. Money was being raised and
spent. Fred Thompson was not participating but he was for a time at least
at the top of the polls.
As the other candidates actually competed, Mr. Thompson was easing
his way into making his decision. Figuring out, finally late into the fall
that maybe he guessed he would jump in.
But right off the bat, with all the Beltway press behind him, all
this excitement built up, all those polling numbers excited about him
getting in, right off the bat when he finally did decide to get in, things
went very badly right way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All eyes will be on Fred Thompson when he walks
on the stage tonight. His first debate since he joined the presidential
race. And ABC News spent several months digging some revealing tapes out
of the National Archives, shedding light on Thompson`s role as a young
lawyer investigating the Watergate scandal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fred Thompson made much of his role 30 years ago
as a young Senate lawyer, helping to lead the investigation of Watergate
and President Richard Nixon. But a much different, less valiant picture of
Thompson emerges from listening to the White House audiotapes made at the
time as President Nixon plotted in the Oval Office.
REPORTER: Thompson`s job was to lead the Republican side of the
investigation. Nixon worried that Thompson`s Democratic counterpart Sam
Dash would outsmart Thompson.
RICHARD NIXON, THEN-U.S. PRESIDENT: Dash is too smart for that kid.
JOHN DEAN: Sure. Runs circles around him.
REPORTER: As the investigation picked up speed, Nixon grew
increasingly concerned about Thompson standing up to the Democrats.
Speaking here with his then-chief of staff, Alexander Haig.
ALEXANDER: He`s talking to Fred Thompson. I said you`re –
NXION: He`s dumb as hell. Fred Thompson. Who`s – who is he? He
won`t say anything.
REPORTER: Weeks later, Thompson was still being described in the
Oval Office as not very smart but at least beginning to play ball.
FRED BUZHARDT: Our approach is now, we`ve got pretty good rapport
with Fred Thompson. He came through fine for us this morning.
NIXON: He isn`t very smart, is he?
BUZHARDT: Not extremely so, but –
NIXON: But he`s friendly.
BUTZHARDT: But he`s friendly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Not smart, but he`s friendly.
See, that`s a bad way to start a presidential campaign. The day in
your first debate?
I mean, maybe being insulted by Richard Nixon should be seen as a
badge of honor in America, but being insulted by anyone specifically for
being dumb as hell, not a great way to head into your first debate on the
campaign trail. Once he did get in, Mr. Thompson`s campaign also suffered
from a lack of get up and go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRED THOMPSON (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I appreciate very
much your being here today and listening to me. And give my thoughts.
First of all, can I have a round of applause?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: When you have to ask for the round of applause, even if you
do it in an endearing I`m a large person with a deep voice kind of way,
there is something wrong with you as a moving candidate.
With everything from his stumped speech speaking style, to his
getting in the race really late, to his very light campaign schedule, Mr.
Thompson fell quickly from the guy who was going to win, right? The guy
winning in the polls when it started to the guy who`s being openly derided
as lazy once he actually go into the race.
“The New York Times” reporting on the Thompson campaign – on the
Thompson campaign stop in Iowa where Fred Thompson supporter who had
admitted that Thompson had been outshone on the podium by the local state
legislators who had introduced him.
But in searching for an excuse for his low key, low energy
performance, that Fred Thompson supporter said, quote, “I`m sure this is
his fourth event of the day.” “The New York Times,” added, quote, “It was,
but one of those four was a walking tour of downtown Iowa falls that took
him to two stores and lasted less than 15 minutes.”
Fred Thompson was the guy who the Beltway said was totally going to
win in 2008, surely on the strength of his folksiness, his presence, the
way he talks. But in Iowa, he came in third place. In New Hampshire he
got 1 percent of the vote. He was down in Duncan Hunter and Alan Keyes
One of the first five contests – out of the first five contests, the
only place he broke into the double digits was South Carolina. But by the
time he was coming in fifth place in Michigan, it was pretty clear that
Fred Thompson was on his way out. And before Florida had even voted at the
end of January, Fred Thompson for president dream was over.
Here`s the thing, though, about Fred Thompson`s failed presidential
candidacy. The beltway was totally wrong that his folksy presence and his
deep voiced, big guy actorliness would be enough to win him the nomination.
But the Beltway was right that Fred Thompson possesses those qualities.
And during this short-lived failed campaign for the presidency, the
few times he actually turned for him in a political setting, they worked
very well. And the guy who was most often on the losing end of Fred
Thompson`s manifest folksy play to the crowd charm was a fellow candidate
who also lost named Mitt Romney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMPSON: A good number of the people who are uninsured can afford
to choose not to do so. A good number of the people who are eligible for
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You backed away from mandates in the national
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, no I like mandates.
THOMPSON: Beg your pardon?
ROMNEY: Let me –
THOMPSON: I didn`t know you were going to admit that.
ROMNEY: Let me tell you which mandates I like, Fred.
THOMPSON: The ones you come up with.
ROMNEY: Here`s my view. If somebody can afford insurance and
decides not to buy it and then they get sick, they ought to pay their own
way opposed to expecting government to pay their way. That`s an American
principle. That`s a personal responsibility.
So I said this, if you can afford to buy insurance, then buy it. You
don`t have to. If you don`t want to, but then you got to put enough money
aside that you can pay your own way because what we`re not going to do is
say, as we saw more and more people –
ROMNEY: Yes, which they look like. If people can afford to buy it,
either buy the insurance or pay your own way. Don`t be free riders and
pass on the cost of your health care to everybody else.
THOMPSON: The government is going to make you buy insurance –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Fred Thompson failed as a presidential candidate. But Fred
Thompson was also 100 percent successful in pinning Mitt Romney down like
he was a not quite dead butterfly on the issue that totally flummoxed his
Again, this year – just like it did in 2008 when he was running
against the likes of Fred Thompson.
As a candidate in the `08 campaign, you heard Mitt Romney there
saying that what he did for his state in Massachusetts was impose a
mandate. He said I like mandates. Mandates work. And he described the
way you enforce that mandate as a tax.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I like mandates. The mandates work.
THOMPSON: Beg your pardon?
ROMNEY: If people can afford to buy it, either buy the insurance or
pay your own way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is Mitt Romney taking credit for doing as a governor
exactly what Barack Obama did as president, which Mitt Romney now says is
the main reason to vote against Barack Obama as president, because he did
what I did.
If you believe that argument, if you believe that the reason
President Obama shouldn`t get a second term is because he implemented
health reform, then why on earth would you want top replace Barack Obama
with a politician who did exactly the same thing? He just did it first.
Romney campaign is a totally incoherent mess over this right now.
Since the health reform ruling from the Supreme Court, they have been
flailing so ostentatiously on this issue that the right is freaking out
about the prospects of the Romney campaign. “The Wall Street Journal”
editorial page today on the campaign`s confusion.
Look at this. They say the Romney has so bungled this whole issue
politically that they have turned the Supreme Court ruling in favor of
health reform into, quote, “a second political defeat.” After Romney said
in 2008 that his health plan was a tax and then in 2009 that his health
reform plan was a tax then not a tax. Then yesterday it was not a tax.
After all of that, “The Wall Street Journal” saying essentially enough,
calling out the Romney campaign today for looking, quote, “confused in
addition to being politically dumb.”
This is not some commie, liberal editorial here. This is Romney`s
own side. This is an editorial page rooting for him to win.
They say quote, “Mr. Romney promised Republicans he was the best man
to make case against President Obama whom they desperately want to defeat.
So far, Mr. Romney is letting them down.”
The even more pointed manifestation of this upset on the right with
Mitt Romney is a whole bunch of people telling him to fire his senior
staff. All sorts of Beltway reports indicating now that Mr. Romney will
not fire anybody or accept their resignations. But he may add new senior
staff to take over and try to give them something to say about what he has
put forth as his central argument about Obama, which he still hasn`t
figured what to say about.
It`s the worst possible thing for him to run on, and he has decided
to run on it. I don`t think the problem is his staff. It is this
particular candidate trying to run on one thing he ever did as a public
official that anyone ever associates with him. The piece of legislation so
closely associated with him that he put in his oil portrait that they hung
in the Massachusetts statehouse to commemorate his governorship.
He`s trying to be that guy seated there on the credenza, running
against the thing that is sitting next to him in the credenza, next to the
picture of his wife. It is the inescapable, irreversible flaw in his
And that is even that something B-team Republicans, or C-team
Republicans or even Fred Thompson team Republicans knew all along, and were
trying to tell us and were trying to tell Republican primary voters when
they were telling them not to pick Mitt Romney – whether or not the rest
of us could actually hear them say it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The idea that
Republicans are going to try to beat Obamacare with somebody who had Romney
care strikes me as a dead loser. How are you going to distinguish a debate
between those two?
RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All he said was,
I`ll repeal Obamacare. And in the same breath, he defends Obamacare at the
state level. It just doesn`t wash and it won`t wash in the general
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: When you take a look at what Mitt did
from the standpoint of Romneycare in Massachusetts, you`re going to have a
hard time finding a difference between Obamacare and Romneycare. I mean,
that`s just the facts. And there`s no way around it.
SANTORUM: Now, think about what that means going up against Barack
Obama who you`re going to claim top-down government run medicine in the
federal level doesn`t work and we should repeal it. He says he`s going to
say, wait a minute, Governor. You just said the top-down government-run
medicine in Massachusetts works well.
HERMAN CAIN (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Romneycare, given
what`s happening in Massachusetts, isn`t a lot different from Obamacare.
And so, he`s going to have to deal with that constantly, I believe,
throughout the race.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now is E.J. Dionne, “Washington Post” columnist
and MSNBC contributor, Brookings Institution senior fellow and the author
of “Our Divided Political Heart” which is just out and which is great.
E.J., thanks for being here. It`s great to see you.
E.J. DIONNE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Good to be with you. You started
the draft Fred Thompson movement tonight. It`s going to sweep the
MADDOW: You know, I still have a Fred Thompson related web site URL
leftover from an earlier campaign. So, if that`s happened, I`m going to be
the one who benefits.
Let me ask you. Looking at all those Republican Romney rivals,
playing pundit, talking about his Achilles heel, obviously they were making
the case for themselves instead of him at the time they were making those
arguments. But were they right in those arguments?
DIONNE: I think they were right. I thought they were right at the
You know, it was fun to pick up “The Wall Street Journal” this
morning and read that editorial. It reminded me of one of the greatest
lines in politics. In 1960, “The Wall Street Journal” criticized Richard
Nixon and John Kennedy said that was like having the “Osservatore Romano”,
the Vatican newspaper, criticized the pope.
mean, that is not supposed to happen in Republican politics. And I
think “The Journal” was reflecting a widespread view. You can`t be in a
position of saying it`s a tax when he does it, but it`s not a tax when I do
it. And also you can put yourself in a position where you got an etch-a-
sketch on steroids, where only a few days earlier, your campaign speaking
for you says no, this is not a tax and then you back away.
And last thing is, I think it shows that he will always respond to
pressure from the right end of his party or from the congressional
leadership. And I think underlying this, that`s going to be the issue that
the Obama folks are going to play down the road.
MADDOW: E.J., one of the things you have written about in your book
but also you write about eloquently in your column at “The Washington Post”
is the idea of how policy connects to politics. How we talk about law-
making and the use of government, which after all is what elected officials
are working on when we send them to Washington to work on our behalf.
Do you think the Romney campaign is handling this so poorly, this
issue of health reform is getting is bungled on it, actually opens an
opportunity for the Democrats to reconsider whether maybe they want to run
on health reform. Everyone keeps telling us, no, no, they want to sort of
pocket this victory from the Supreme Court and move on. They don`t want to
talk about healthy reform a lot.
We saw today on the stump, though, President Obama being approached
by a woman in tears thanking him for passing the bill. We see the Romney
campaign having no way to announce this to Romney`s previous public service
connections on this issue.
Should they be running on health reform? Is there an advantage to
DIONNE: Well, I think they should be proud of what they did. And
finally they have a chance to explain it. And when you hear politicians on
the stump defend particular things this bill does, whether it`s letting
people`s kids stay on the parents` health plan or you can`t be distributed
against because of pre-existing conditions. Or repeal Obamacare would
restore the doughnut hole to prescription benefits, seniors would be angry
So, yes, I think there`s always been an opportunity to run on this
health care law. And I think with Romney being in such a difficult
position to defend its repeal, given that he endorsed something a whole lot
like it, they ought to take advantage of it.
MADDOW: E.J. Dionne, MSNBC contributor, columnist for “The
Washington Post” and author of “Our Divided Political Heart” – E.J., thank
you very much for being here. I really appreciate it.
DIONNE: Always good to be with you. Thanks.
MADDOW: I will say that on the issue of the Democrats campaigning on
health reform or not, I do think we`re seeing when White House and campaign
sources are talking about what they are doing, they are downplaying the
idea that they will run on health reform, that the president will run on
But when you actually watch the president`s remarks and even the vice
president`s remarks when they`re out on the stump and they`re actually
campaigning, they`re talking about it more than they say they are. They`re
sort of spinning the Beltway away from what they`re doing, because when
they talk about health reform on the stump, boy, do they get a positive
reaction. It`ll be interesting if the spin follows the actions of the
politicians in this case.
All right. Tonight, a special rock star edition of the interview.
And we`ve got some good news from Austin, Texas, and Portsmouth, New
Hampshire, to bring you tonight exclusively, and lots more tonight.
And I promise that we are done playing this sound effect. We are
done with that. If you do not believe me, go to
I just said we weren`t going to play it again.
MADDOW: The mysterious and as yet unsolved case of older sister goes
to the White House. That`s still ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Other than me and Susan and Catholicism, my girlfriend
Susan`s family and my family have almost nothing in common. They`re from
New Jersey and New England, we`re from Canada and California. They make
short ribs, we make pot roast.
But there is this one unexpected thing. At least one time or
another, we have been devoted Jeep families. Susan`s family and my family,
if you added us together, we`re probably responsible for something like 15
Jeeps over time. Particularly Jeep Cherokees of various different sorts.
Frankly, both of our families bought them even back when they were
terrible cars. When you close the door and the frame would rattle and the
ventilation would sound like something stuck in there.
I used to light Susan`s Jeep on fire all the time just trying to
start it. Romance.
For a while there, Jeeps really used to suck. But you know what?
They really do not suck anymore, even the really fancy ones. Have you seen
the new Grand Cherokee SRT-8? Look. Not only a good vehicle, these are
good cars now, but a good looking vehicle.
Want to know how much it costs? It costs $190,000. It costs
$190,000 to buy this Jeep if you buy it in China. I`m not saying that a
great new Jeep is not worth a lot of money, but really $190,000? For that
kind of money, you can buy a brand new Bentley. Not that you`d want to,
but you could.
The Jeep Cherokee that costs as much as a Bentley does not make sense
on its own. It`s the result of one particularly country slapping a giant
penalty on buying Jeeps. So that people in that country, frankly, will not
buy that car.
Today, the Obama administration launched an official complaint over
that giant penalty put on American cars by that other country. The White
House today filed a formal compliant with the World Trade Organization for
that one country`s decision to shut off sales of American Jeeps.
And today on the stump in Ohio, where they make Jeeps, President
Obama sold that action like he meant it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As long as I`m
president, that`s what I`m going to be doing – waking up every single day
thinking about how we can create more jobs for your families, for your
security, for your community –
OBAMA: – faster pace than the previous administration. And we won
those cases. Just this morning, my administration took a new action to
hold China accountable for unfair trade practices to American automakers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The Obama administration has piled up a number of actions
like thus one they took on SUVs today. The first largest economy in the
world taking on the second largest economy in the world for them cheating.
In April, the Obama administration held the line on unfair trade in
garlic. In March, they filed a complaint over rare earth metals which, you
know, rare earth metals and all. In December 2011, they did the same thing
for American solar panels. In September, they did the same thing for
In December 2010, they filed a complaint over wind turbine towers.
In September 2010, they filed two complaints, including a big one, to
protect American makers of steel. In September 2009, they fought back for
American makers of tires.
When it comes to one country`s desire to economically screw over
other country, there are things the screwed over country supposed to be
able to do in response to protect its interest.
And here what the Obama administration is doing, we have the number
one largest economy in the world, us, getting juked over and over and over
by the world`s number two economy which is them, which is China. The
number two economy in the world is now forcing a Jeep to be the same price
as a Bentley. So the Obama administration is hitting back.
The Obama administration has been taking official action on this type
of thing at twice the rate of the George W. Bush administration.
In response, the Republican against Mr. Obama this year has declared
that he is China`s door mat.
Despite the Obama administration being confrontational toward China
in a way that no modern administration has ever been, Mitt Romney is
calling him a door mat. He likes to make a big deal out of saying that he
as president would be more confrontational. Mr. Romney wrote on op-ed on
“The Wall Street Journal” saying that on his first day as President Romney,
he would take aggressive action against the second largest economy in the
world. So aggressive that he was criticized on the left ands the right for
threatening to start an all-out trade war between the two biggest economies
on earth. When questioned about that, his response was essentially yes so
“The Wall Street Journal” which published Mr. Romney`s op-ed has
lambasted his China plan as a blunder. At “Foreign Policy” magazine, it
was described as Mr. Romney`s hulk policy. “Romney Smash China”. But for
all Mr. Romney just pounding and turning green and shredding his fancy
shirts with suddenly uncontrollable biceps, when it comes to making real
decisions about countries in the market place and confronting them about
that, Mr. Romney has not been all that big in confrontation in the real
In his book “No Apology,” Mr. Romney said President Bush`s design to
stand up for the U.S. steel industry against China had, quote, “done more
harm than good.” He called President Obama`s defense of American tire
companies, quote, “decidedly bad for the nation.”
So this is a test. This is an administration that even if you like
what they have done has been not that great at chest bumping, right?
Rightly or wrongly, it`s just stylistically true about this White House
that they have a hard time getting political credit for things that could
and should give them political capital. Everything from killing bin Laden
to historic comprehensive health reform, like I was just talking about with
The Obama administration has a string of policy accomplishments which
for whatever the reason, they don`t get bragging rights for. And now that
President Obama`s opponent is going for all the bragging rights he can get
on this issue of trade and the second largest economy on earth, he`s
barking as loud as he can regardless of whether or not he has any bite
here. He barks about how tough he is, how confrontational he`s going to
be, though he`s not really in favor of it when people actually do confront.
He barks about growing American jobs though he invested in companies
that specialized in sending American jobs to the land where a Jeep costs
the same as a Bentley. He barks about our nation`s day of shame for
helping a blind dissident reached the safety of American after that
dissident crawled away in the night from constant house surveillance and
state surveillance – house arrest and state surveillance. When as of
December, Mr. Romney became an investor in the largest supplier of domestic
surveillance equipment to China, to the country the dissident was fleeing.
Our relationship as the world`s number one economy, with the world`s
number two economy is not the sort of thing that gets a lot of attention
inside the Beltway for its partisanship points, right? But out in the Rust
Belt in Ohio and in Pennsylvania and in Michigan and places where this
presidential election could be decided, this is an issue that really
matters. This is an applause line issue.
And so, this is a test about whether a president who is sometimes not
all that great about barking can get somewhere with his bite. Whether he
can somehow turn his relatively quiet but aggressive policy into something
for which he reaps political reward.
MADDOW: The interview tonight is the rock star interview tonight.
About which I am both excited and nervous.
And there`s a bunch of good news ahead from a do gooder civic-minded
project that we profiled on this show that has just reaped big rewards. I
never thought they would win. It seems like a total long shot. They
appeared to have won. That`s good news out of Texas tonight.
And more good news out of New England. It`s all ahead. Stay with
MADDOW: If you go to White House Web site right now, if you go to
WhiteHouse.gov, you will find a whole section there designed to give you as
an individual citizen the opportunity to quite literally petition your
government. It`s petition.whitehouse.gov – the idea is anyone can start a
petition about any issue. And if you reach a certain threshold in terms of
the numbers of signatures, then the White House will respond to your
In September of last year, this petition popped up on this White
House Web site. It says, quote, “We petition the Obama administration to
protect coal ash recycling by promptly enacting disposal regulations that
do not designate coal ash as hazardous waste.”
OK. If you`ve even heard of coal ash before, it`s probably because
you remember these pictures, this was the devastating result of an epic
coal ash spill that took place in eastern Tennessee back in 2008. More
than a billion gallons of sludge buried neighborhoods after a coal ash
retaining pond there gave way. It was the largest environmental disaster
of its kind in U.S. history.
Sometime in the wake of that, the EPA proposed a rule to classify a
coal ash as hazardous waste. It contains stuff like lead, and arsenic and
mercury. So, yes.
But now, this petition has popped up on the White House Web site that
says, no, no, don`t classify coal ash as hazardous waste. That petition
racked up more than 5,000 signatures in 30 days, 5,000 signatures in
support of coal ash.
And by meeting that threshold, it earned an official response from
the White House. Gotten a response from somebody in the EPA office of
solid waste and emergency response. If you`re sitting in the White House
or at the EPA, maybe you`re thinking, wow, look at all that grassroots
regular folks man on the street support for coal ash out there. Maybe we
ought to rethink this policy.
In the unlikely event that you are in the White House thinking that,
you have massively underestimated the coal industry, because as it turns
out, page after page of that petition looks something like this. Notice
anything weird? Hundreds of signatures written in China characters. Many
which list Aurora, Colorado, as their hometown. Now, are there hundreds of
Chinese-speaking residents living in Aurora, Colorado, who are supporters
of the coal ash industry? Perhaps.
But if there are, they are Chinese people living in Aurora, Colorado,
who apparently have name like steamed bun and most handsome guy, and China
A nonpartisan group called the Environmental Integrity Project
spotted all of these suspicious signatures. They hired a mandarin speaking
translator and they discovered that lots of these purported coal ash
supporters had names like steamed bun older sister, steamed bun little
sister, small steamed bun, big steamed bun. Come to China big, come to
China cat, come to China China, and come to China donkey.
And maybe there is somebody named come to China donkey from Aurora,
Colorado, who happens to be a vigorous supporter of the coal ash industry.
But maybe not? It should be noted here until recently, the American
Coal Ash Association, the lobbying group for coal ash, was headquartered in
Aurora, Colorado, which is all these people named after specific sizes of
Chinese buns claimed to live.
It is an executive at the coal ash lobbying group who runs this
supposedly grassroots group that put up the petition on the White House Web
site. After “Think Progress” reported on this fishy steamed bun petition
last week and “Mother Jones” reported on it today, we reached out to the
American Ash Coal association official to ask what`s going on here with his
group and this petition.
He told us, quote, “I have no idea how the Chinese signatures made
their way onto the White House website. For all I know, some environmental
group wanted to embarrass us, could have done it as a prank.”
Yes, blame the environmentalists. The coal industry has a history of
doing stuff sort of like this, making it look like there was widespread
support for their cause when there does not seem to be.
You may remember back in May when the coal industry was reportedly
paying people to pretend they were pro-coal activists. They paid people 50
bucks each to wear pro-coal t-shirts at public hearings. In 2009, the coal
industry launched a new project called “Faces of Coal.” Remember that?
Purporting to be real Americans supporting the coal industry.
The supposedly real people it turned out were actually just stock
photo people such as this nice woman working at flower shop.
The energy industry is now the most profitable industry in the
history of industries. They have unimaginable resources at their
disposable. And one of the things they do is they have a long history of
faking grassroots support, of making it seem like there`s more support for
their policies than they`re actually is.
They have gone to great lengths not just to influence American
policymaking, but to cover up the extent and the means by which they are
influencing American policymaking.
And in that context, I would like to meet Harold Hamm. Harold Hamm
is the 36th richest man in America. He is an oil billionaire from
And just a month after Harold Hamm donated nearly a million bucks to
the pro-Mitt Romney super PAC for this election, Harold Hamm was named Mitt
Romney`s top energy adviser. He is chairman of the Mitt Romney campaign`s
energy policy advisory group. Mr. Hamm advocates that the oil and gas
industry should keep getting billions of dollars in taxpayers subsidies
while he`s also obviously against subsidies going to non-oil and gas energy
And it`s good to know that somebody like is the top energy adviser to
Mitt Romney. But who else along with Harold Hamm is advising Mitt Romney
on energy policy? We don`t know. The Romney campaign will not disclose
We asked the Romney campaign today who else is on Mr. Romney`s energy
policy advisory group and they told us that they are not releasing those
names yet. They said they will sure to keep us posted when they do.
Unlike every single presidential nominee of either party over the
last decade, Mr. Romney is also refusing to disclose the names of his
campaign bundlers, the people who collect millions of dollars each on this
behalf across the country. Everybody else has disclosed their bundlers.
Mr. Romney will not.
MR. Romney has reportedly raised $100 million in the last month
alone. Combine that with the outside groups on the Republican side that
aren`t disclosing their donors and it looks like the Obama campaign will
probably be right in their warnings to their supporters that this will be
the first year in American history that a sitting president will become the
first ever incumbent president to be outspent by his challenger. And we
won`t be allowed to know by whom. Sorry. It`s a secret.
And if a person named steamed bun older sister ends up being one of
the other top Romney energy advisors, I will join you in collective
But we also have reason not to despair. In this part of the politics
that has been such an unrelenting bad news story for the last couple of
years, we just got a good piece of news from an unexpected sources that
news and the interview tonight is next.
MADDOW: Hey, from Nirvana, future rock and roll hall of famer Krist
Novoselic is here next. Seriously. Yay!
MADDOW: If you want to find out right now how much is being spent to
air the political ads that started blanketing TV screens across the
country, a law gives you the way to do that. You can go down to your TV
station and ask to know who`s paying for the ads. If you`re lucky, the
person at the front desk will know what you were talking about and will
allow you inside and you will go through their records looking for
something called the public file and then you will find out who`s been
buying political ads on that station.
When you`re done, you can head on over to the next TV station and
provided it`s still during business hours and it`s a weekday, you can
repeat the process.
It is not easy to find out how much people are spending on TV ads,
who`s buying these ads that you`re seeing in your TV market. But it is the
way that gives us to have access to that supposedly public but actually
very inaccessible information.
Recently, Republicans had blocked an effort to have TV stations just
post the information online instead so everybody could see it more easily.
Last month, we brought you the story of a “ProPublica” project to get
people to go to their local TV stations, collect that information and at
least send it all in to try to build an online database of the
painstakingly in person gathered information.
Since then, the Republicans who had been blocking to put all that
stuff online have caved from blocking it. And so, it`s going to change in
the country`s largest TV markets and have until the end of the month until
the FEC is going to finally start posting information about who is buying
political ads online, starting at the end of the month. Finally, it`s
Our guest tonight for the interview is most famous for being a rock
star, for being the bassist and cofounder of Nirvana. But he`s a committed
advocate for out of the box, fix the system political reforms, particularly
around transparency and understanding how the system works – which is why
I saved the ad stuff going online just for him.
These days, Krist Novoselic is the chairman of the electoral reform
Mr. Novoselic, thank you for being here.
KRIST NOVOSELIC, NIRVANA`S FORMER BASSIST: Hi, Rachel. Thanks for
MADDOW: Good news, right, about transparency –
NOVOSELIC: I think so. It`s a step in the right direction. And I`m
from Washington state and the legislature passed a law last year for the
2012 elections for independent expenditures and for state initiatives. It
has to show the name, address, or the name, the city, and the occupation of
the top five donors.
So, no more smokescreens. So, we get things in the mailbox like
nasty campaigning paid for by Washington for a Better Future, Washington
for a Bright Tomorrow. You can`t do that for expenditures anymore in
Washington state. It needs to have the name, the city, and the occupation
of who the donors are.
We need that in federal elections in the United States.
MADDOW: So much of what has happened around campaign finance stuff
and transparency and stuff has been pioneered at the state level. And
that`s why having Citizens United and these other rulings at the federal
level that have wiped out a lot of that state stuff has been so
But you at Fair Vote and in terms of the way that you`ve written this
personally, you feel like there`s still room to innovate. There`s still
room to fix stuff, even with this federal barrier.
NOVOSELIC: Absolutely. In our Constitution, like at Fair Vote,
we`re advocating multi-member districts for Congress. So, right now
there`s a single member district. There`s nowhere in the United States
Constitution that says one representative representing so many people, OK?
So at Fair Vote, we believe we should have a three or four member
district. And that way Republicans and Democrats in the same district,
merit representation and there`s also room for independents and third
Why is that important? OK. So we just redistricted our states here.
And it was basically insiders, the same old operators, business as usual,
(INAUDIBLE) states. And even with independent commission, they only can do
so much work. OK?
And so Fair Vote believes that we should take the power out of the
hands of those insiders and put it – that power in the hands of voters the
way you designed the ballot and voting systems.
MADDOW: Do you feel like the two-party system is intrinsically is
dead end in terms of having transparency and people being engaged? And lot
of the other things that you`ve advocated for?
NOVOSELIC: Well, things are broken right now. Political pundit
scholars Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann wrote the book, “It`s Worse Than It
Looks,” OK? And they walk the reader through how things got so bad with
the partisanship and why government, federal government isn`t working.
And one of the things that they prescribe as a solution is
proportional representation. So when people call it fair voting or
proportional representation, they think of euro party list systems, they
think of these systems where it takes 2 percent to get elected to the
legislature or to the parliament or whatever.
But there`s American versions of that kind of voting that are
constitutionally protected. American versions of fair voting are – have a
higher threshold to get elected. You need, like, 20 percent, 25 percent of
the vote to be elected. Where euro system is a partylist system. American
versions of this voting are candidate-based.
So, it really fits with the values and traditions of Americans.
MADDOW: Fair Vote has done a lot to promote outside of the box
thinking about the systems that give us problems that we have. And you as
chairman of Fair Vote have done a lot to get people thinking about it.
Thanks for coming in. It`s really nice to have you here.
NOVOSELIC: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Krist Novoselic, bassist and cofounder of Nirvana, also
chairman of Fair Vote. See? People can have totally different lives
simultaneously that you would never believe intersected until you see them
embodying them both as one person. Crazier right?
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Hey, here`s a Fourth of July present that our country got
this year that I`m not sure we expected to get at least right now. What we
got is the means by which we`ll physically get all our stuff out of the
giant war we are still waging when we finally wind that war down.
Our war is in a place that is landlocked. And while we can fly that
stuff into the country, it turns out a lot of the stuff you use to fight a
war is giant and is therefore really expensive or inconvenient to ship by
plane. In a landlocked country, though, you can`t just put everything in
big shipping containers and sail that stuff directly to the war. Instead,
you have to sail to the nearest available port and then drive to your war.
We have been driving to our war in Afghanistan for 11 years now
through the neighboring country of Pakistan, which does have a port that we
can ship stuff to and does have a road or two into Afghanistan over which
we can drive our stuff into our war zone. Since last year, though, those
roads from Pakistan to Afghanistan have been closed to us because of a
diplomatic dispute, which means while 90,000 Americans have been fighting
the 11th year of a very hot war in a very inhospitable country, we have
been supplying those Americans through alternative routes in other
countries that require flying everything in. As of the Fourth of July,
however, the roads are open again.
The diplomatic breakthrough came on Tuesday and the trucks reportedly
started rolling today. Logistics are a big part of fighting any really big
war. So this is a really big deal.
It may even be a bigger deal once the supplies moving mostly in the
opposite direction. Once we start moving out more than a decade of
military supplies and structures and equipment as our troops come home. As
our troops come home. As our troops come home.
There are not any U.S. troops in Iraq anymore already. There`s tens
of thousands of Americans still in Afghanistan in year 11. And unless
you`re in the military or in a military family or people close to you who
have been there, given how untouched our civilians lives have been touched
by the war, it`s really hard to overstate the divergence and the types of
lives that we`ve had as Americans in the past 10 years depending on if you
are a military family or if you are not.
I want you to watch one little piece of tape from the man who was the
top military officer in this country for a lot of the past years of war.
This is Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of Joint Chiefs, speaking just
a few days ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADM. MIKE MULLEN (RET), FMR. JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF CHAIRMAN: If I`m
a 5-year-old boy or girl in one of the family of these deploying units,
major deploying units for the Army whose average deployment, well, let`s
say, was 12 months at a time, and my dad or mom but mostly my dad has
deployed at this pace, I`m now 15 or 16 years old and my dad has been gone
three, four or five times. And my whole conscious life from the time I was
5 and I started to figure out there was something out there, my whole
conscious life has been at war.
The United States has never, never experienced that before. It`s my
belief that we have to have a military that is representative of our
country, that does what the president of the United States, the duly
elected president of the United States says we do, and we go through that
debate about whether we`re going to intervene and send someplace – send
someone someplace to give his or her life specifically. That`s who we are.
I do worry that it`s just please go off and fight our war, we don`t
want to be bothered and the whole country isn`t in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The whole country isn`t in.
It turns out it`s not just former chairman of the joint chiefs. It
turns out that a whole lot of the rest of the country is worried about
that, too, and worried in a way that makes us want to do something tangible
In St. Louis, Missouri, they started it in January, with a parade to
mark the end of the Iraq war, to say welcome home and thank you to those
who served in the Iraq war. Those civilians who organized that parade in
St. Louis followed by civilians organizing parades in Houston, in Tucson,
in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in Melbourne, Florida, in Richmond,
Virginia, in Kansas City.
This weekend, the first weekend after the independence holiday, this
upcoming weekend, we can add two more cities to the list, Austin, and
Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
In Austin, Texas, it starts at 9:00 a.m. from the Congress Avenue
Bridge near Lady Bird Lake. The parade goes to the state capitol in
Austin. Anybody can go. You are invited.
It includes a job fair for returning vets, if you want to participate
in that. If you want to help. You can still sign up at
Then on Sunday, the following date, it`s Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
The parade begins at 2:00 at city hall in Portsmouth. And in Portsmouth
like in Austin, Texas, like in St. Louis, like in basically all of these
places, this is organized by civilians to say thank you and welcome home.
The Iraq war is over, and those of us who did not fight it want to
express our thanks and our welcome to those of us who did.
So if you`re in driving distance of Austin, Texas, on Saturday or
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on Sunday, we have details posted at
MaddowBlog.com right now if you`d like to go. Again, they`ve been your
wars. It`s your country, you`re invited.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a
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