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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/26/11

Guests: Bill Karins, Ed Rappaport, Bev Perdue

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Chris. Are you going to ride out the storm in New York? CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Riding it out. I`m getting my poncho, some bottles of wine, some crackers. It`s going to be groovy. MADDOW: I remember wine from the must-do list. HAYES: I texted my wife at the grocery, like, buy lots of wine please. MADDOW: Also water. HAYES: Yes, that one, too. Right. Yes, water. MADDOW: Well, good luck, Chris. Thanks a lot. Have a good weekend. HAYES: You, too. Thanks. MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. Roughly 65 million Americans are sitting in the path of an unusually enormous hurricane that has been named Irene. We`ll report on Irene`s location, intensity, likely path, and likely implications this hour. We`ve also got a big update tonight on how Texas Governor Rick Perry has funded his political rides -- and how Elizabeth Warren is probably not funding hers. They`re related. There is a Florida Governor Rick Scott update regarding MSNBC`s "LOCKUP" program. And for the first time anywhere, tonight on this show, we will have an exclusive first look, an exclusive first preview of my documentary with NBC`s Richard Engel about America since 9/11. That`s all ahead this hour. But we begin tonight, of course, with the hurricane that is bearing down on the East Coast of the continental United States. This is what Irene looks like from space -- a powerful category two storm with a diameter of about 510 miles. That means if this were in California, this single storm would extend all the way from San Francisco to San Diego. Irene is now slowly moving on to the East Coast of the United States. The storm already lashing the outer banks in North Carolina and expected to make landfall in that state tomorrow before moving up the East Coast. A hurricane warning now in effect from North Carolina, all the way north to Massachusetts. President Obama cutting short his family vacation on Martha`s Vineyard, which is an island off the coast of Massachusetts. He did not cut off his vacation before he took time to warn the other 65 million Americans in the path of this storm to take this hurricane extremely seriously. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All indications point to this being a historic hurricane. I cannot stress this highly enough: if you are in the projected path of this hurricane, you have to take precautions now. Don`t wait. Don`t delay. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: In the state of Virginia, residents are stacking sand bags against expected flooding. The governor there warning coastal residents to expect a storm surge of up to six feet when the hurricane comes ashore. In Washington, D.C., the mayor of D.C. declared a state of emergency warning of possible power outages and flooding. Residents of Ocean City, Maryland, given mandatory evacuation orders. The mayor of Baltimore declaring a state of emergency in his city. In Delaware, the governor ordered tens of thousands of residents to move inland and warned about the storm causing more damage than the state has seen in 50 years. In Pennsylvania, the governor declaring a state of emergency. Philadelphia will shut down its public transit this weekend. In New Jersey, the governor there warned that this could be the worst storm to hit New Jersey in 60 years. He issued mandatory evacuations along the shore. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: You know, I saw some of these news feeds that I have been watching upstairs of people sitting on the beach in Asbury Park. Get the hell off the beach in Asbury Park and get out. You`re done. It`s 4:30. You`ve maximized your tan. Get off the beach. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The storm even forced the casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey, to close for only the third time in their history. In New York City, for the first time ever 300,000 people are being told to get out of their homes in low-lying areas. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK: We`ve never done a mandatory evacuation before and we wouldn`t be doing it now if we didn`t think this storm had the potential to be very serious. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Several major hospitals and nursing homes have been evacuated ahead of the storm in New York City. And at noon tomorrow, for the first time in history, New York will shut down its subway system preemptively because of a weather event. They say they can`t guarantee that trains can operate safely with more than 39 mile per hour winds. Mayor Bloomberg says he expects Irene to hit New York City with winds of 74 miles an hour or more. If that happens, the bridges connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn, Queens, and New Jersey will also be shut down. In Connecticut, the naval submarine base at new London -- the Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton has sent its submarines out to sea to avoid the storm. And the Connecticut governor has also declared a state of emergency. So has the governor of Massachusetts as that state prepares for what they say -- they are expecting to be the worst storm in Massachusetts in 20 years. Of particular concern, the town of Springfield, which is still recovering from a rare tornado there in June. Amtrak has cancelled all trains in the Northeast corridor as of this Sunday, and nearly 7,000 flights have been cancelled all along the East Coast. For the very latest on Hurricane Irene, I`m joined now by Ed Rappaport. He`s the deputy director for National Hurricane Center. Dr. Rappaport, thank you for sparing us some time tonight. I really appreciate it, sir. ED RAPPAPORT, NATIONAL HURRCANE CENTER: Good evening. MADDOW: What are the basics that people should understand now about the projected path of the storm and its timing? RAPPAPORT: The storm is a little unusual, and that`s why it`s getting so much attention, for a couple of reasons. One is the forecast track, which takes the center that you can see down here off the North Carolina coast. Up across North Carolina, and then rather than out to sea, it takes it very much along the shoreline or just offshore through Long Island and into southern New England. Most of the time the center of a hurricane passes off shore. The worst of the weather is to the center and near the east. And what does that is it puts all the metropolitan areas of the Northeast into play. So, we`ve got a new track in essence for many people, so it will be the first experience they`ve had with such a storm and the first experience for the Northeast in about 20 years. The other issue with the storm is even though the winds aren`t as high as we`ve seen with hurricane Katrina or other hurricanes, it`s a very large storm. It`s going to take a long time for it to clear most of these areas. It will be a battering from anywhere from 10 to 24 hours of tropical storm force winds for much of the area in the Northeast. MADDOW: Those of us who are not scientists in these things do tend to know that these storms get more powerful when they are over water and they get less powerful when they are over land. As you say, this has a somewhat unusual track, and it`s going to be hugging the shoreline. How should we understand that then in terms of the -- I guess the -- how long the strength of the storm will last and how it will ebb and flow? RAPPAPORT: Right now the hurricane has maximum winds of about 100 miles an hour. Those are what we call sustained winds, and it has higher gusts. That`s enough to cause at least minor structural damage and to take down trees and caused a storm surge that we`re so much concerned about along the coast. We do think that there will be a slow weakening trend as the hurricane moves northward because even though it`s going to be going over the waters, the waters do cool, of course, as you move northward. So, over North Carolina the eastern part of the state we`re expecting category one to category two conditions -- and then probably category one conditions near and just off shore as we move northward, and then we get up to the New York/southern New England area, probably borderline tropical storm category one conditions. Again, not the strongest of winds, the problem is that we`re going to have 24 hours as much -- of as much as 24 hours with those winds, and that`s going to bring the storm surge inland to depths as high as four to eight feet locally along the coast. M,ADDOW: In terms of the -- what you just described for the timing of the storm and the characteristics of the population centers it`s going to be hitting along the way, do you expect the most damage from this storm to be done by wind, or do you expect most damage to be done by flooding? RAPPAPORT: We`re going to see both -- I can`t tell you right now what is going to cause more, but we`re going to experience and see damage afterwards from both. The wind in this case because it`s over such a large area and we`ll be lasting so long, is going to take down a tremendous amount of trees, particularly in the Northeast. Now, the reason that we`re going to have problems is that those trees have -- are on saturated ground, and with the wind and with heavy rain that is are expected as well, we`re likely to see flooding. So, as you said, we have a problem from the wind. That`s mainly going to be structural -- minor structural damage coming down. To the east of the center, we have a storm surge problem along the coast. To the west to the center, we have the rainfall problem, five to ten inches of rain, maybe as much as 15 inches of rain. And as many folks know, the Northeast has been very wet this summer, so it`s going to be coming down on already saturated ground. So, we really have three risks. Depends on where you are. MADDOW: Ed Rappaport, the deputy director of the National Hurricane Center, one of the busiest men in America right now -- thank you for your time, sir. I really appreciate your clarity on this. RAPPAPORT: Thank you. MADDOW: One of the concerns along the coast as Hurricane Irene comes ashore everybody as you just heard the deputy director say, there is the storm surge, especially because the storm surge will be hitting at a time of unusually high tides anyway. For some further explanation on both the seriousness of this and the science of this, we`re joined now by NBC meteorologist Bill Karins. Bill, thanks for helping us understand this. BILL KARINS, NBC METEOROLOGIST: Of course. MADDOW: Can you talk us through what a storm surge is and why the deputy director might have been expressing such caution about that right now? KARINS: Yes. It`s getting a little confusing, because viewers and everyone out there is hearing the storm is weakened and it`s supposed to be a landfall of category one. Well, that`s the winds -- when we talk about the category, the strength of the storm. That doesn`t have a ton to do with what the storm surges are going to be in any local area. So, although it`s only weakened down to a category two, possibly to a one by landfall, it`s still a huge storm, and it`s displacing a lot of water. In other words, this is like a big huge fan out over the ocean, taking all of that wind and pushing the water towards the coast. And because of the angle of approach to the coast, the winds are going to be out of the south for a very long time, and areas along the coast, the Southeast, along areas of Maryland, Delaware, up into New England. So, the longer duration is actually going to build the water up higher. Let me try to explain what the storm surge is, one of the most famous cases, of course, was Katrina as it went on shore. They had a storm surge of 27 feet in areas of Mississippi. So, as the hurricane approaches land, the wind pushes the water towards the shoreline. That happens in the Northeast quadrant of the storm. That`s where the winds are coming out of the South and in the Northeast, and that just blows and piles the water. The water can`t go back out to sea because the wind doesn`t allow it, so it just keeps getting higher and higher. If you want to do just something with your kids at home to explain this to them, you can just take a glass of water, fill it up to the top of the cup and just blow on it. That`s all the hurricane is doing. It`s pushing the water from one side to the other, and that water will seep over the edge. If you want to do a bigger experiment, you can go and take your tub of water, take your house fan and start blowing it across the surface of that tub of water, and you`ll see the water rise on one side and lower on the other. So, that`s all this is -- just on a much, much larger scale. So, once we get that storm surge and once it piles up along the coast, you got your normal shoreline here, and then what happens is the water levels begin to rise, and they`ll continue to rise until the winds begin to shift out of a different direction, and this doesn`t even include the waves. So, we get the water that will come up -- in the case of what we dealt with Katrina, 20 some feet. This storm, we`re talking maybe at most 10 feet in the outer banks, and what we`re not showing here is the water then rises to the first floor of a lot of buildings. Then we get the waves on top of that. The storm surge does not include the wave action at the coast, which in some cases the storm will be another five to 10 feet. That`s what smashes the properties, and that`s what destroys them in the biggest of hurricanes. Again, we`re not talking about a big huge storm this time, but the storm surge is going to be much greater than you would expect for a category one storm. Here`s our example of that. There`s the storm track taking over the Albemarle and the Pamlico Sounds. They`re probably the most vulnerable area. I lived in Newborn (ph), North Carolina. I went through a bunch of hurricanes in the 1990s. That whole basin is going to see some of the worst flooding because of the angle of the approach of the storm. That will happen tonight, and that`s where we expect that storm surge to be about five to eight feet. And out on the outer banks, it will be similar. There we`ll all have to deal with the wave action. So, Rachel, that`s kind of just the best layman`s view of this I could possibly try to help people with. MADDOW: NBC News meteorologist Bill Karins -- Bill, thank you. I expect you to run back here and interrupt me if things change and we get new information out, and we`ll talk later in the hour. Thank you, Bill. KARINS: Of course. MADDOW: Appreciate it. In an area this large, the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, from North Carolina, as Bill was saying, all the way up to Maine, preparing for a storm potentially this big means managing the movement of millions of humans out of the storm`s way. As we have already discussed, evacuations have been ordered for coastal and low-lying areas of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, including parts of New York City, Rhode Island, Virginia, the outer banks of North Carolina where evacuations are also taking place in five inland counties. In light of those evacuation orders, some of them literally orders, some of them suggestions -- it has been a sobering thing to see cities and states checking on whether their bridges are cracked and dangerous. Whether their bridges and their infrastructure is sound enough to handle what they need to handle right now. In Maryland, whether the infrastructure, whether the bridges were not to with stand the one-two punch of an earthquake and a hurricane in the same week. In New Jersey, inspectors making sure that culverts and storm drains are sound. In Vermont, inspectors checking to see if dam there`s can handle all the extra water that`s about to push up against them. Checking that those dams will hold. Nuclear power plants, which are generally built along oceans and rivers because being near water is helpful for dealing with dissipating all the heat that power plants generate when everything is going fine. In ideal circumstances, that`s great. No problem. But in New Jersey in the path of this storm, inspectors in there checking the state`s four nuclear power plants to make sure the plants` water tight doors are working and to secure anything that could be loosened by the wind. Dealing with an emergency is essentially a technocratic skill. It takes a specific kind of leadership and it requires a very specific kind of good governance in which we all are invested. Storm of this scale though is also a test of whether or not we have physically taken care of the things we count on not only in every average day but that we count on in a mass life or death way in extreme circumstances like this one. That is why talking about roads and bridges and dams and power plants is not supposed to be a partisan concern. We are all in this together. Us on one side. Irene on the other. Governor Bev Perdue of North Carolina is not only dealing with this challenge right now, it is something her coastal state that juts out in the Atlantic has had to deal with often. For this storm, Governor Perdue has ordered mass evacuations in 19 counties. She will join us next to update the challenge on getting everybody out and keeping everyone safe in the first state to be affected severely by Hurricane Irene. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The great state of North Carolina is feeling the effects much hurricane Irene as we speak. That state`s governor, Bev Perdue, will join us with the very latest. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: All weeklong, the hundreds of thousands of people who usually flock for the beaches of North Carolina`s outer banks at this time of year have been heading in the other direction, evacuating under the order and leadership of North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue. Governor Perdue joins us live by telephone now on this very busy evening. Good evening, Governor. Thanks very much for your time. I really appreciate it. GOV. BEV PERDUE (D), NORTH CAROLINA (via telephone): Good evening. And thanks to your coverage of hurricane Irene. MADDOW: Can I just get from you, I guess, a basic North Carolina update, the impact on your state so far and whether there are any bottlenecks or snags in the emergency response plan as you have been implementing it so far? PERDUE: Rachel, we have a really state-of-the-art evacuation and emergency response plan. This is North Carolina. We`re hurricane alley. So, we`re used to it. It happens nearly every year two or three times. And so, our whole plan goes from the local level to the state level to the Feds. FEMA has been on the ground for a couple of days. The president gave us their national emergency disaster order yesterday, so we have resources in the state. We`ve got shelters all over eastern North Carolina, which is our coastal region. We have evacuation routes. We`ve had mandatory evacuations. We have asked all the tourists to leave. It affects about 3.5 million people, so it`s a wide range part of our state that`s coastal. We feel really good. The hard part is waiting, as you can understand. And then, tomorrow afternoon, we begin on recovery, whatever that might be. MADDOW: In terms of your relationship with the federal government and other authorities that you work with at a time like this, I`d ask you, Governor, for a very, very, very candid answer, because we all depend on your candor on this, about how it`s been to work with FEMA. We know about the challenges that FEMA has faced over major hurricanes over the past decade, and we all want to hear that they are doing well in dealing with hurricane management right now, but we do really want to if the answer is that they`re not doing as well as they could. How do you think it`s been so far? PERDUE: Well, I live on the coast, so, you know, I`ve been this for 30 years. So, my experience with FEMA is (INAUDIBLE). In the late `90s, the hurricane that was devastating to our state, a couple of billion dollars worth of damage, was a nightmare. None of us knew what to do. And since then we have developed a strong partnership with our federal friends, and FEMA has been an extraordinary help to us. Not just in hurricanes, but it`s for natives and other natural disasters. We have two people on the ground that have worked with us. They were here for the tornadoes. They are in and out of North Carolina consistently, and we feel like that they are only a phone call away. We say here, Rachel, that we don`t exchange business cards on the day of the incident. We know each other. We have longstanding relationships. I think that makes a difference. So, North Carolina is very, very glad to be a partner with FEMA as we look forward to tomorrow when we can assess our damage and hopefully will have very little. MADDOW: Governor, the everyday infrastructure that takes on out- sized importance during an event like hurricanes, things like bridges and major road systems -- are you confident that the state of North Carolina is getting -- is investing enough in its infrastructure, not just to handle this storm, but future ones too? PERDUE: No, I think the whole country is not investing enough, quite frankly. We are at a real disadvantage globally, competitively. We have got as a country to rebuild and reconfigure our infrastructure. We have no decent mass transit. Our airports are still very, very slow. Our highway system is decaying around us. And, yet, our people refuse to invest in the infrastructure that must happen for us to be a 21st century global competitor. It translates right back to North Carolina. We try. We were glad to get the recovery money. Many governors were. I asked the governor of South Carolina just to let me drive a truck over and pick his up if he didn`t want it, because we need the money here to build our roads and to build our bridges and to be sure our people are safe. And then you`ve got the whole question of the electric grid and how we`re going to transform that. The challenges for America and for North Carolina are great, and I think good leadership will meet those challenges. MADDOW: Governor Bev Perdue of North Carolina, good luck tonight and this weekend. The whole country is thinking of your state and pulling for you. I`m real grateful for your time tonight, ma`am. Thank you. PERDUE: Thank you. And we invite you to come on down and be a tourist, Rachel. MADDOW: OK. PERDUE: Thanks so much. MADDOW: Yes, ma`am. Thank you. We will have more on hurricane Irene`s progress in just a few minutes. But, next, some politics. And a big update on that story that made me put on a prison jumpsuit on the show just a few days ago. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The hurricane is, of course, soaking up most of the news coverage in the country right now. But this terms of 2012 and other politics today, I got a couple of items for you. First, the announcement that nobody was waiting for is officially not going to happen. Former New York Governor George Pataki has decided, well, maybe not. He did try desperately to float the idea that he might run for the Republican nomination for president this year. He was supposed to go to Iowa this weekend to speak at a GOP picnic, a picnic that advertised its impressive array of presidential candidates, grouping Mr. Pataki among them. Then there was a draft of his presidential campaign Web site that "The New York Observer" discovered earlier this week with a spectacularly exciting Pataki for president logo. But then, today, Governor Pataki canceled his trip to Iowa and issued a statement saying that he, in fact, is not running -- which means the only perceived moderate in the Republican race for the presidential nomination, Jon Huntsman, who`s not even all that moderate, Jon Huntsman can continue to rake in 1 percent in the national polls with no worries that he might have to split that 1 percent up with Governor Pataki. Also today in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the Fed chairman castigated Congress for brinksmanship on the debt ceiling, for congressional Republicans bringing the country to the brink of default. Ben Bernanke saying that caused the country`s economy real harm, and that, quote, "The country would be well served by a better process for making fiscal decisions." Since Fed chairmen usually try hard to say nothing at all, that statement counts as his same saying a lot. But what Ben Bernanke did not say was that the Fed would embark on a new round of stimulus actions to try to boost the economy. There had been hopes earlier this week that he might -- hopes that shot the Dow up more than 300 points on Tuesday. Today, during his Wyoming speech, when it became clear that he was not going to promise new stimulus, the Dow promptly slid nearly 2 percent, which is a lot. The market did recover by the end of the day, but still, a reminder that the market is desperate for some economic stimulus somehow from the government. Republicans continue to warn that they, of course, are against that or depending on the specific Republican they continue to warn that they might just beat up Ben Bernanke. And, finally, last week, we reported that Florida Governor Rick Scott canceled a contract between the MSNBC awesome prison show "LOCKUP" and his state`s prison system. This week, the contract is back on again. One of Governor Scott`s big hires after his election last year was this man. This guy, Edwin G. Buss. He left his job running Indiana`s prisons to come run Florida`s prisons instead. When he hired him, Governor Rick Scott said he was looking forward to Mr. Buss helping him, quote, "to change the way the Department of Corrections does business here in Florida." One of the new things that Mr. Buss wanted to do in Florida prisons was to allow the juggernaut MSNBC show "LOCKUP" to film inside a Florida prison for the first time. But just days after the production company started filming inside Florida`s Santa Rosa correctional institution, Governor Rick Scott abruptly pulled the plug. One Florida newspaper speculating that Rick Scott`s decision to pull the plug on "LOCKUP" maybe had something to do with the governor feeling sensitive about being criticized on another MSNBC show whose initials are THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW. "The Bradenton Herald" saying, quote, "It`s probably just a coincidence, but MSNBC`s liberal night-side anchor Rachel Maddow has been a persistent critic of Scott and his policies." Flattering, but actually, it was just a coincidence. The governor`s spokesperson telling us in an e-mail, quote, "We were not aware of any affiliation with Maddow. Not that it mattered. That would indeed be petty. The contract was canceled because the secretary of the corrections did not have the authority so sign it. It was entertainment related and outside the scope of his agency." OK. So, that was last week. This week, the secretary of corrections, Mr. Buss, pushed back. The prison`s front office telling the "St. Petersburg Times" that actually, at least five of Governor Rick Scott`s aides knew about the contract back in April. So, if the governor`s office said they didn`t know about this contract or they weren`t advised that it was happening, that in short, according to the Corrections Department, is bullpucky. Then on Wednesday, Governor Scott reinstated the contract with "LOCKUP," without changing a thing. So, the prison`s chief tells the governor`s office that it wants to do "LOCKUP" months ago. Prison`s chief then puts out a press release and signs the contract to do "LOCKUP." "LOCKUP" starts shooting for the show. Rick Scott angrily rescind the "LOCKUP" contract and stops them from shooting saying I had no idea this was happening. What is this contract? Then after trashing the prison`s chief to the press over and over and over again about his horrible offense of having signed this contract, Rick Scott signs the exact same contract, that same day that Rick Scott signed the contracts, Ed Buss, the prison`s chief, quit. Surprise! So, "LOCKUP" is back shooting at that Florida prison. Expect the show early next year. But Rick Scott and Florida have lost their state prisons chief. And Florida still has Rick Scott. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Say you`re a Texan. First, congratulations, this particular hurricane is not headed your particular way. But say are a Texas resident and you have had the misfortune of mold, toxic mold in your house. And it`s not because of anything you did wrong; it`s because of the way your house was built. The builder did a shoddy job or used shoddy materials. And the consequence confesses for you and your family is that your house has toxic mold. If you live in Texas and you would like to sue the builder responsible for the toxic mold in your house, I have bad news, and that is that your governor`s top campaign contributor is a zillionaire homebuilder who does not want to be sued for toxic mold in Texas houses. And so, you, Texas resident, with mold in your house, you are out of luck. Thanks to your governor, Rick Perry, in most cases, you cannot sue your homebuilder. You, instead, have to put your complaint about the mold in your house through something called the Texas Residential Construction Commission. You`re not allowed to sue. You have to go through this government board instead. After Rick Perry signed the law creating this board in 2003, his number one campaign contributor, the builder guy, sent Rick Perry two $50,000 checks for the governor`s campaign. Three weeks after the checks, according to "The New York Times" this week, Rick Perry appointed an executive from that contributor`s company to his board -- to the board that means you can`t sue. That board no longer exists in Texas. It was abolished in 2009. But the story of how it came to be, how Rick Perry looked out for the interests of the people of Texas in that moldy little instance is not a unique story. Say you are another Texan. Not a Texan this time with a toxic mold problem in your house, but just a run of the mill, average resident of Texas. The only restriction on this is that you are not a Texas resident who`s one of those uranium-eating bacterium. So, you are a Texas resident who has an interest in not being exposed to any radioactivity you don`t need to be exposed to. So, if you are a Texan who does not want radioactive waste, say, leaking into your ground water, I again have bad news for you. And that is that your governor`s second largest campaign contributor after the house builder mold guy is a man whose business wants to put a giant radioactive waste dump in Andrews County, Texas. And so, you, nonbacterial resident of Texas who doesn`t want a radioactive waste dump in your state, you are out of luck. According to "The L.A Times" earlier this month, Texas is getting the first new low level radioactive waste disposal site anywhere in the country in three decades. The second largest campaign contributor to Rick Perry explained to the "Dallas Business Journal" back in 2006 that his company would have a fantastic future -- he means monetarily -- if it could get in radioactive waste dump licensed in west Texas. But for that, he would need Rick Perry. Quote, "We first had to change the law to where a private company can own a license, and we did that. Then we got another law pass that said they can only issue one license. Of course, we were the only ones who applied." Then a state review board, members appointed by Rick Perry, approved the licenses. Geologists and engineers working for that board reviewing the request said don`t do it. The bottom of this pit of radioactive waste is only going to be 14 feet away from the ground water. Don`t do it. But Governor Perry`s appointees voted, yes, do it anyway. The only restriction they put on it was that the dump was supposed to only take radioactive waste from Texas, from one other state, and from the federal government. It turns out that`s no problem either. Another state review board, members appointed by Rick Perry, then approved just letting the dump take radioactive waste from all over the country, from 34 other states. Then, after Rick Perry himself gave it the final rubber stamp, Rick Perry`s second largest campaign contributor, the radioactive dump guy, sent a $100,000 check to Americans for Rick Perry. That`s for Governor Perry`s run for president. So, Rick Perry gets campaign donations from the radioactive dump guy. Some state laws get written or rearranged a little. The radioactive dump guy gets hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars from his radioactive for profit dump, and the people of Texas get low level nuclear waste from more than 30 states. So, if you are a Texan, and you`ve had your interests handled this way by your governor, then, you know, after -- at this point, we`re hoping that maybe you can advise us as nation of what it is like to live in a system like this. Maybe you can help the rest of the country in understanding what it`s like to live in a system like this because the Texas campaign finance laws, or lack thereof, are things that make this sort of thing kind of legal in Texas. That`s pretty much the way we`re heading nationally now, too. Texas puts no limits on how much people can contribute to campaigns. That`s why Governor Rick Perry`s top donors like house builder mold guy and radioactive dump guy are known to have given him donations that total into the millions. Because of what Roberts court has done to campaign finance rules nationally for this election, individuals or even corporations can give unlimited donations now, too -- unlimited. So, that radioactive waste dump in Texas, public citizen in Texas says that`s going to be did about a $2 billion deal for that company, for Rick Perry`s second largest campaign donor. Everybody is freaking out this year that the two candidates for president in this next election might raise $1 billion each in the campaign. Think about it. If you are Mr. Radioactive Dump Guy or you are his company and you are going to make $2 billion on this radioactive waste dump, it would be worth your while just for you to spend $1.5 billion on your chosen candidate if you thought that would secure you the radioactive dump of your dreams. Now, extrapolate that to a nation full of potential radioactive waste dumps or whatever some other corporation wants to do in order to make money. It`s also starting to look more and more like Elizabeth Warren, the nation`s most eloquent and pugnacious advocate for the interests of the middle class against predation by Wall Street. Starting to look like Elizabeth Warren who might be running for Senate next year against Republican Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts. She`s been attending small house parties in Massachusetts talking about what it was like to be fighting for Wall Street reform and consumer protection in Washington while Senator Scott Brown was fighting every step of the way to water all of that down. Liberal groups this week announced with some excitement that through on-line sources like Act Blue, they have raised a little over $100,000 for an Elizabeth Warren Senate campaign, even though she hasn`t actually declared one yet, $100,000. Wow! Wow! Until you realize that against that $100,000, Scott Brown is sitting on $10 million. Dubbed Wall Street`s favorite congressman in a "Forbes" article last year, Scott Brown reported having more than $9.6 million in the bank at the end of June. A good portion of that money came from the financial services sector, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. According to that same article on "The Hill" this week, Senator Brown`s top donors include Fidelity Investments, Goldman Sachs, Bank of New York Mellon, Morgan Stanley, and Bank of America. So, big picture here. You are a human being who has toxic mold in your house or you`re any other kind of living being besides a uranium- eating bacterium who does not want radioactive waste in your ground water, or you are a member of the working class or the middle class or any class that doesn`t light its cigar with burning $100 bills, and would you please like there to be rules on Wall Street so Wall Street doesn`t plunge us back into another near Great Depression and rip us all off on the way down again and on the hard and terrible way back up. When Wall Street and radioactive dumps and toxic mold can infinitely fund their own candidates, how are any candidates running against those guys going to keep up, going to compete? Everybody keeps saying that money and electrics is all Wild West now, just like Texas. Don`t think Wild West. Think "Lord of the Flies." (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This is the very latest radar map tracking Hurricane Irene as it heads to the East Coast of the U.S. Coverage of this mass of storm continues just ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: If you feel like you`ve been having a lot of George W. Bush administration flashbacks recently, you are not alone. Also, it will be OK. I promise. But the reason you`re seeing so much of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney right now is because the former president and vice president and other Bush administration officials have sort of timed their return to the public`s gaze to the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Although the Cheney book tour and the George W. Bush FOX News special and all these other things are designed keep the Bush administration`s own take on 9/11 in the foreground for that anniversary, there`s a lot more to say besides. For most of the past year, I have been working with NBC chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, on a two-part documentary about not 9/11 itself, but the decade after, how 9/11 has changed the country, what we`ve done and how we are different now because of it. Here exclusively premiering first time anywhere ever is a short clip, short preview of the film. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MADDOW (voice-over): In August 2001, weeks before 9/11 Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri meet around a campfire in Kandahar, Afghanistan, with one of Pakistan`s top nuclear scientists. They discuss al Qaeda`s aspirations to build a nuclear bomb. ROLF MOWATT-LARSSEN, VETERAN U.S. INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: The two apparently met in what is referred to as the fireside chat or had a dinner and talked about al Qaeda`s interest in nuclear bombs where the al Qaeda leader apparently was trying to gain some basic sense of what it would take. MADDOW: Rolf Mowatt-Larssen is a veteran U.S. intelligence officer. MOWATT-LARSSEN: A famous question he apparently asked at the end of that meeting was after Bashir was trying to tell him how hard this was and how difficult it was for Pakistan, bin Laden said if I have the material, then how do I build it? MADDOW: The Pakistani scientist Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood later confirms to U.S. official that is the meeting took place and that he gave al Qaeda leaders a pencil drawing of a crude nuclear bomb design. Just one month after that meeting in Kandahar, September 11th, 2001. As the United States reel from the attacks, those who know about that meeting at that Kandahar campfire reel over what may be about to come next. Overnight the most important question for the United States government becomes how far along is al Qaeda in its pursuit of a nuclear bomb and how can the United States stop them from assembling one? MOWATT-LARSSEN: That`s a piece of cake if you have enough material. If you look at the Hiroshima bomb, you know, it was 50 kilograms of HGU. The Oklahoma City bombing was two tons. If you about back and look at the devastation, the two-ton bomb, think of 13,000 tons versus two tons. It`s -- it`s inconceivable. Even if you look at the Hiroshima pictures, it`s inconceivable what a bomb that size could do. MADDOW (on camera): And if you have the material, it`s not hard to build that bomb? MOWATT-LARSSEN: No. MADDOW (voice-over): Rolf Mowatt-Larssen had been planning on a new CIA posting in Beijing. But after 9/11, just after 9/11, he is drafted personally by CIA Director George Tenet to lead a new effort instead. MOWATT-LARSSEN: That is one of my most vivid memories. He said to me, we`re behind the eight ball, and the reason he said that, which I didn`t know what he meant at that precise moment, was because we had information about this meeting with the Pakistan scientist and bin Laden before 9/11. MADDOW: November 2001, Mowatt-Larssen and Tenet, at the direction of President George W. Bush, are dispatched to Pakistan to confront Pakistan`s President Pervez Musharraf about the fireside chat that`s turned up in U.S. intelligence reports -- the possibility that Pakistani nuclear scientists are assisting al Qaeda in pursuing a nuclear bomb. MOWATT-LARSSEN: President Musharraf`s reaction, initial reaction, was men in caves can`t do this or incredulity. That`s what we expected. It`s the same incredulity we all felt. (END VIDEOTAPE) MADDOW: It`s part of a two-part series that airs starting next Thursday night, September 1st at 9:00 p.m. It`s called "Day of Destruction: Decade of War." I`ve been working on it for a long time with Richard, and we`re both really proud of it. Hope you`ll watch. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Big events like hurricane Irene have a way of sort of freezing time. We spend our lives coming and going, working and playing and then we have to stop. We have to because of something like this. When we get from that stopping, it`s sort of a snapshot of life of what the way live it. So, in Florida and South Carolina, for example, they canceled gambling cruises and fishing charters. In North Carolina, the very cool Felice Brothers cancelled shows in Wilmington and Raleigh. Also, in Virginia, Pat Benatar got canceled and so did something called the Cops and donuts festival. Love is a battlefield. In Crownsville, Maryland, the Silopanna Music Festival got canceled. That one was supposed to have Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. In Philadelphia, the Phillies rescheduled a home game, so that the Red Sox in Boston. In New Jersey, Seton Hall University called off its convocation. In Stamford, Connecticut, the women`s triathlon scheduled for (INAUDIBLE) park, that was canceled. In our nation`s capital, they canceled the dedication ceremonies for the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, which had been planned for Sunday on the Washington Mall. President Obama was to deliver what the White House says is a major address, at a time when President Obama`s relationship with many black elected officials has been strained over issues like painfully high unemployment in the African-American community. African-Americans, a key consistency for the Democratic Party every year, but especially now when President Obama has begun his campaign for re- election. Black turnout was high in key states last time, making a difference in `08 for candidate Obama in places like Virginia and Ohio -- hence the expectations for this major address. Now, though, the dedication of the King Memorial and major speech from the president with it will have to wait for a sunnier or at least less stormy day. In New York City, they are pretty much cancelling everything, from Mets baseball games to Broadway shows to a Dave Matthews concert that our producer Tina Cowen (ph) really, really wanted to attend. Tina, I have no idea. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as we mentioned, ordered the first mandatory evacuations in New York City history. He also revoked the permits for some 300 New York City events this weekend -- 300. All scheduled for this weekend, all cancelled. The mayor also announced the city`s subway system will close Saturday at noon because high winds threaten the safety of trains when they leave the tunnels for the elevated tracks. Same goes for bridges in New York which will have to close once Hurricane Irene`s winds hit a certain point. It`s not that the bridges would fall down, Mayor Bloomberg, but rather that the wind would threaten to toss cars off the side of them. Amtrak announced it was cutting back service for Saturday and canceling everything on the Northeast corridor on Sunday. Some New Jersey highways became a bigger parking lot than ever with everybody heading in one direction, away from the beach. As Governor Christie said, you have already maximized your tan. Also, cash in your chips and go home. New Jersey shut down the Atlantic City casinos today, because otherwise, how would people know who to go home from them? So, this is who this accidental snapshot shows that we are -- we are a bunch of music-loving, baseball-watching, subway-hopping, highway driving, train riding, casino hounds who want to live in a better union. We`ll keep hoping for that. For what hurricane Irene is right doing now, we turn to NBC News meteorologist Bill Karins. Bill, thanks for joining us again. What can you tell us about the latests? KARINS: All right, Rachel. A lot of people are wondering, what are your tax dollars doing to help you? Well, one of those things we have and it`s kind of a cool little graphic, is we have hurricane hunter planes. There are men and women right now onboard two different airplanes that are flying through the center of the storm. And they relay information back into my weather computers and we can track them as they fly in and out of the storm. They report to us how strong the winds are. And then when we get the new visionary at 11:00 East Coast, a lot of that information comes from these hurricane hunters, the men and women from the Air Force and NOAA who are out there flying through the center of the storm right now. They`ll continue to that all the way up to the East Coast. The big news out of this storm in the last 12 hours is that the center has weakened. It didn`t strengthen as was expected. If anything, it weakened significantly. We are no longer calling for a category 3 landfall, a category 1 landfall most likely late tonight into early tomorrow morning. And what that means is a lot less wind damage from this storm. It doesn`t make much of a difference with the rainfall. That`s going to be expensive. But the wind damage is not going to be as bad as what was expected for the most part in the eastern North Carolina and maybe all the way up and down the Eastern Seaboard. That`s very important for a lot of people. Lower winds, less tree downs and less power outages. So, that`s good news. We should all be happy about that. Other thing of interest and I`m tracking this, this black line is where the storm has been. White line is projected path of the center. It`s a little bit to the east of that line by about 15 to 20 miles. When the new advisory comes out, instead of landfall being near Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, maybe over here towards Ocracoke Island, not much of a little shift, but any little shift to the east will take the storm surge out of the coastal areas. That`s also a little piece of good news. The new computer models are coming in, these little squiggly lines that predict where the center is going to go. They are good in unison over the outer banks and right along the Maryland coasts and then possibly another landfall around southern Jersey or right along the coast, and then over New York City or extreme eastern or western portions of Long Island. So, that hasn`t changed much. I don`t expect the forecast path to change. And by the way, this path, if you`re going to tell someone what is the worst possible path can take, this is it. But, thankfully, this is supposed to be a weak enough storm and it`s not going to do a lot of enough wind damage. The storm fall and rain damage, that`s what`s going to cause all the issue. And this is a pretty amazing graphic. Our computer has also let us know how much rain we`re going to get. And this is estimating, this dark brown, if you look at the chart behind, is five to six inches of rain. We`re talking eight inches possibly from North Carolina, about seven around Norfolk, possibly eight inches of rain all the way through Philly to New York City. So, we`re talking about a huge amount of rain, short period of time, saturated soil. We`re going to have a lot of flooding concerns. And if any reason trees are going to come down, it`s because soil is so wet and they`re going to topple for that reason. So, that`s one of my concerns. And also, Rachel, this is kind of cool. We get the reports from the buoys out here, 16-foot waves and now 28-foot waves off Wilmington, North Carolina. So, that`s not where you want to be. MADDOW: Bill, in terms of the weakening of the center of the storm that you describe, will that affect the duration of the storm? One of the things you were describing earlier was that the storm will just move slowly and last for a long time. That`s part of the reason that we`ll have a lot of rain damage, grand saturation damage. Does that mean the storm might break up faster? KARINS: It does unfortunately. The storm is huge, Texas size huge, but intensity is not all that impressive, especially consider some of the historic storms that our country has had. The size is what is very big. That is going to go anywhere, that built in size, and that`s going to take a long time to wind itself down. That`s not what`s going to matter. We are not going to see one concentrated area where a tornado went through, with houses torn apart. We`re just not going to get that. That`s what changed. And I know a lot of people have been asking what`s going to happen up in New England. It looks like now, don`t be surprised if it`s only a tropical storm by the time it gets to Long Island and New York City. May not be a hurricane anymore. But we`re still going to have that storm surge of three to six feet. Still going to have a ton of rain, and the max winds now lowered for New England and Long Island and also in New York City, possibly max winds at 50 to 70. So, Rachel, we`re not going to see skyscrapers with their windows blown out. It doesn`t look like the storm will be strong enough to do that once it gets up here. MADDOW: That is great news. NBC News meteorologist Bill Karins -- thank you, Bill. Appreciate it. I know it`s going to be a busy night for you. Thanks. KARINS: Thanks. MADDOW: Stay with MSNBC throughout the night for the latest on hurricane Irene, starting right now with Thomas Roberts. Have a good weekend. Stay safe. If you are told to evacuate -- evacuate, OK? Thanks. Have a good night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END