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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/19/11

Guests: Michael Moore

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL: A quick note about tomorrow night`s show. We will have an exclusive interview with my buddy Jane Lynch, who`s fresh off her duties as host of the Emmy`s. We`ll tell you about her new memoir "Happy Accidents." That`s tomorrow night on "THE LAST WORD." THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW is up next. Good evening, Rachel. RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Lawrence. Thanks very much for that. And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. We`ve got Michael Moore coming up with us this hour. Also, the repeal of "don`t ask, don`t tell" goes into effect at one minute past midnight tonight. And the president took a major turn today toward confrontation with congressional Republicans, threatening to veto anything Congress sends him that tries to reduce the deficit using cuts alone without making taxation more fair as well. That is all ahead over the course of this hour. But the president`s political schedule these days sort of a bifurcated thing. He has been making a lot of policy speeches about his priorities, about what the country needs and what Congress needs to get done. He has also at the same time been doing a lot of Democratic fund-raisers recently. The president tonight, for example, speaking to a small high dollar fund-raiser in New York City. At the end of last week, speaking to a different Democratic audience at a fund-raiser, the president said this, quote, "I know that over the last couple of months, there have been Democrats that voiced concerns and nervousness about, well, in this kind of economy, aren`t these just huge headwinds in terms of your re-election? And I just have to remind people that here`s one thing I know for certain. The odds of me being re-elected are much higher than the odds of me being elected in the first place." Which is a fair point. People who support President Obama`s re-election or who aren`t sure if they do, but who despair about the prospect of any of this year`s crop of Republican candidates winning, for perspective, it is also worth remembering that in 2008, not only did Mr. Obama beat John McCain, not only did Mr. Obama win, he won hugely. He won by nearly an eight-point margin. He won by about nearly 10 million votes. His margin of victory over John McCain was three times the margin of victory that George W. Bush had over John Kerry in the previous election. And the map from the `08 election makes that clear. The Republican nominees for president and vice president won their home states, of course, Alaska and Arizona. And then they got deep red, mostly low population states. And that was it. That`s all they got. They got the South, minus Florida, minus North Carolina, minus Virginia. Even though John McCain did win his home state of Arizona, he wasn`t able to translate that into victory in Nevada, New Mexico or Colorado. Barack Obama and Joe Biden in 2008 won big, so big that even this happened: (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Hey, Brian, one more thing, by the way, that I`m having fun watching. BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: Yes? TODD: Nebraska, too, you know -- WILLIAMS: I know, it`s your favorite congressional -- TODD: They split their electoral votes. There`s a way to follow it very easily. Omaha right here. It`s two counties make up the entire congressional district. It is Douglas County, Obama`s up a little bit. And it is Sarpy County, Obama also up. So, he`s got a narrow lead. We could see Nebraska for the very first time actually split its electorate votes and not have them all go in the same direction. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That is, in fact, what happened on election night 2008. See? And here`s what that look the like on the map. You have all these red states and all these blue states. And then what`s up with Nebraska? Nebraska is red but with a spot. Nebraska and Maine are the only two states in the country where presidential candidates don`t necessarily get all the electoral votes for the state. They don`t win the whole state. Those states, Nebraska and Maine, hand out their electoral votes in part district by district. So, even though John McCain won Nebraska overall, in the congressional district where Omaha is, Barack Obama won. And so, Obama/Biden got one blue electoral vote there. That`s the spot. Of course, the 2008 election was, as I`ve been saying, sort of a blowout. So, that one electorate vote from Nebraska did not matter. That one blue spot in Nebraska was not a deciding thing. But in 2012, those economic headwinds President Obama was talking about to that Democratic audience last week -- I mean, nobody knows for sure, but looks like because of those economic headwinds, it may very well be a much closer election in 2012. It may be a very hard fought election. And so, that one Democratic electoral vote from Omaha, Nebraska -- Obama was the first Democrat to win an electoral vote in Nebraska since 1964. That one vote may not have mattered on election night in 2008. It may just have been a curiosity that night and something that got Chuck Todd very adorably excited. But in 2012, 2012, that one electoral vote in Omaha, Nebraska, might just matter. It might be that close. And Nebraska Republicans know that. And so, Nebraska Republicans are now mobilizing to make sure that blue Omaha thing, that one electoral Democratic vote from Omaha, Nebraska, never happens again. And by mobilizing to make sure it never happens again, I don`t mean they are redoubling their efforts to make their case to the people of Nebraska that Nebraskans should vote for Republicans and not for Democrats. That is not what I mean by mobilizing. What I mean by mobilizing is that Republicans in Nebraska are now trying to change the structure of voting in Nebraska. Change the means by which Nebraska conducts its elections so that that structure will benefit the Republican Party in a partisan way. Leadership committee of the Republican Party in Nebraska at their meeting this weekend in Lincoln passed a resolution demanding that all Nebraska Republican legislators vote to get rid of Nebraska`s current election system in favor of one that won`t run the risk of giving Barack Obama even one electoral vote. Republicans in the legislature have been promoting a plan to change Nebraska into a winner take all system for presidential elections. And as of this weekend, here`s what the Republican Party had to say to any Republican who does not vote for their party`s plan. Quote, "Be it resolved that the Nebraska Republican Party will not support in any manner, financial or otherwise, any state senator who opposes the return of the state to the winner take all electoral vote plan either by failing to vote for such in committee or on the floor of the legislature." If you don`t vote for us to change to winner take all, the Republican Party will disown you. Why is the Nebraska Republican Party playing such hardball on this? Making this a do or die issue for Nebraska Republicans? They must vote to change this or. When they, earlier this year back in January, brought this up, the Republican senator who sponsored the bill to get rid of Nebraska`s election system, he told "The Lincoln Journal Star," quote, "We would not want to see Obama re-elected in 2012 by one electoral vote in Omaha." So the principle at work here is that changing this rule would be a way to deny President Obama an electoral vote. Changing this rule is a way to deny President Obama a shot at re-election. Not by changing the way people vote or the way people feel about either candidate, but simply by changing the rules so that the rules, themselves, advantage the Republican Party. This is the principle at work here. You can tell that this is the principle at work for Republicans this year because they are also in the process of changing the election rules in the opposite direction in a different state, because in that state, they figured out a way to change the rules so they benefit the Republican Party and hurt President Obama`s chances at re-election. Pennsylvania is the state where Republicans have the opposite problem that they have in Nebraska. In Nebraska, you can pretty much count on a Republican winning the state overall, even if there are some pockets of blue. In Pennsylvania, if the last couple of decades are any guide, you can pretty much count on a Democrat winning the state overall even though there will be pockets of red in the state. And so, what Republicans are trying to create, a winner take all system, to benefit a Republican who will likely win the whole state of Nebraska. They`re also at the same time trying to eliminate a winner take all system in Pennsylvania so that can benefit a Republican nominee there. John McCain won 10 congressional districts in Pennsylvania in 2008, even as he lost the state overall to Barack Obama. Pennsylvania Republicans right now are trying to change the rules so that another result like they had in 2008 wouldn`t give the Democrat, wouldn`t give Barack Obama 21 electoral votes like he got then or 20 which is how many Pennsylvania had at the time -- has this time around. It would instead give the Republican probably as many as 12 of those electoral votes, even if that Republican candidate lost the whole state. Think about this, think about this in big terms -- two states, Republicans pursuing exactly opposite policies in the two states. Parties generally pursue policies they ideologically agree with, that they have a principled reason for supporting. The only principle that could possibly guide opposite decisions in two different states is that the principle for both of them is that both policy changes, both election rule changes will make it harder for President Obama to get re-elected, structurally. But it`s not just Nebraska and Pennsylvania. I mean, Nebraska and Pennsylvania are so different that nothing`s ever just Nebraska and Pennsylvania. These states are never a pair. These are never the only two states to have done something. There`s no connection between Nebraska and Pennsylvania. Where Republicans have control of the state legislature, all over the country, they are if not banking on a close presidential election in 2012. If they are not banking on it, they`re at least planning for it, preparing for it, making sure that their rules are set up in such a way that the election is most likely to go for the Republican, and they are changing the rules of their elections to benefit the Republican nominee and to make it harder for President Obama to get re-elected. In 32 states and in the District of Columbia right now, you can vote before election day. And the people who take advantage of early voting are a pretty diverse group. They can just be highly motivated voters who can`t just wait to get into polls. They may be people who have a hard time getting off work or school to go vote and therefore, the shorter lines and easy access of early voting make it easier for them. People vote early for all sorts of reasons. But people who vote early for whatever reason, particularly since 2008, those early voters tend to vote Democratic. Even in 2010, which was a Republican blowout, elections went red last year, up and down the ticket, coast to coast, all over the country. It was a huge Republican year in 2010. But among early voters, even that year, even in 2010, in the words of "The associated Press" today, quote, "Democratic voters held an edge in early voting during the 2010 elections despite the unfavorable climate for the party nationally and the eventual Republican gains." So, allowing people to vote early shortens the lines. It makes voting more accessible and Democratic-leaning voters have been taking advantage of early voting, particularly in the past couple of election cycles. It increases voter turnout, which generally speaking tends to help Democratic candidates. And so, now, where Republicans control legislatures this year, particularly where they control legislatures and governorships, Republicans are rolling back early voting. They`re cutting down the number of days. They`re cutting down the number of hours. They`re cutting down the number of locations. They`re making it harder to vote, shortening the hours you can vote, shortening the numbers of days when you can vote. Making voting a more challenging thing to do because they think it might help the Republican nominee. They think it will make it less likely for President Obama to get re-elected, structurally. Not on the substance, but on the means by which we vote for president. In Florida, in Ohio, in Wisconsin, in Georgia, in Tennessee, in West Virginia, and the latest one now in North Carolina, Republicans in those state legislatures are restricting or trying to restrict early voting. And then there`s newly registered voters. Newly registered voters went overwhelmingly for President Obama in 2008. He won newly registered voters in 2008 by 69 percent to 30 percent over John McCain, according to the exit polls. And so, Republicans are changing election rules all over the country, to make it essentially impossible to make even nonpartisan groups run voter registration drives, particularly in Florida. It has been the vanguard of these groups, like the Boy Scouts and the League of Women Voters walking away from the opportunity to do voter registration drives because it has become legally threatening to do so -- thanks to the actions of the Republicans in the legislature and the Republican governor. And, of course, five states have passed new laws this year requiring you to show photo ID at the polls. According to the Brennan Center, as many as 12 percent of eligible voters do not have a government-issued photo ID. That percentage is higher for groups like students. Young people voted for Barack Obama 66 percent to 37 percent over John McCain. Also, it includes minorities who voted in the 60s to the 90s over John McCain, and low-income voters who also came down for Obama over McCain in huge, huge margins. If 2012 plays out like 2008, and it is another blowout election, if Barack Obama wins hugely again in 2012, then, of course, none of these things will matter. But if it is close, any one of these things, let alone all of these things in combination could very well matter. And after that election is over, no matter what happens in that election, these states have now structurally changed the way they conduct elections, the way democracy functions in these American states, so that the Republican Party has a partisan structural advantage in every election. What is the Democrats` answer to this? Joining us now is Melissa Harris-Perry, MSNBC contributor, political science professor at Tulane University, and author of the new book, "Sister Citizens: Shame, Stereotypes and Black Women in America." Melissa, it`s great to see you. Thanks for being here. MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: It`s great to be here whoa! I`m sorry. It was a goal post moving. I didn`t want to get hit by it. (LAUGHTER) MADDOW: Is it a goal post moving? Or is it a small democracy being seen by Republicans as capital "D" democracy, as something that in itself benefits the Democratic Party and then therefore must be squelched? HARRIS-PERRY: Well, look, you know, in a certain way, I just hate I have to sit here as a progressive and say, no, we got to keep the Electoral College just as it is. Because, obviously, reform of the Electoral College has been a standard progressive claim, right? The desire to move away from a system that actually buffers us from the popular vote, choosing who the American president is and vastly overrepresented under-populated states because of the way the Electoral College votes are determined -- two senators and one congressman in these states that have very, very small populations. So, on the one hand, you know, having a conversation about the rules of the game is the best kind of democracy with a little "D." But when we see it happening in this format, clearly, as you point out, not about ideology, not about a claim toward how democracy should work, but just about keeping this president from being re-elected, basically buying 2012, you know, election AFLAC, kind of a secondary insurance to make sure if they can`t beat the president on ideas, if they can`t beat the president on the economy, then they will beat him on the rules of the game. That is absolutely a twisting of the purposes of American democracy. MADDOW: Have you seen Democrats or progressive groups broadly taking this up as an issue that Republicans need to answer for? I realize that we have a more sometimes robust federal discussion in this country than we do a federalist discussion. And a lot of times, state policies sort of go under the radar. But with abortion rights, with union rights, with voting rights this year, we`ve seen a really coordinated multistate effort by Republicans all pushing in the same direction. Is there an effort, do you think, by Democrats and by progressives to make Republicans answer for that? HARRIS-PERRY: Not yet. I mean, this is part of sort of us getting very clear that 2010 was one of the most important elections of our lives and in many ways we sat it out. That part of what 2010 did was not only to give a very powerful cohort within the Republican Party enormous control over the legislative direction of American politics at the federal level. But a huge portion of what 2010 did was to give the statehouses, the state senates and these governors mansions to Republicans who would make choices that have long-term consequences, that aren`t just about policies for their administration but actually changing the rules of the game in a dramatic way -- whether it`s about the capacity for labor to organize, the ability for women to control their own reproductive capacity. Or in this case, really for the meaning of the vote, what your vote cast in your state will mean in 2012. And we sort of missed that you can`t just hand over a midterm in a decennial census year when people are redrawing districts and expect not to have exactly these kinds of rule changes. But, now, this has not been -- you know, I appreciate the vigor with which you gave that early introduction, but the fact is talking about rule changes is not very exciting stuff for organizing politics on the ground. MADDOW: Well, Republicans have found it sufficiently organized to be in lockstep on this all over the country. But I feel like Democrats are sort of watching it happen at this point. Melissa Harris-Perry, MSNBC contributor, political science professor at Tulane University and author of "Sister Citizen," new book just out -- Melissa, it is always great to have you on the show. Thanks for being here. HARRIS-PERRY: Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore will join us, just ahead. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore will join us in just a few minutes. I suspect Mr. Moore may want to sure a few thoughts about current events, possibly, possibly President Obama`s newly aggressive stance against Republican opposition in Congress. I don`t know. I will try to draw Michael Moore out of his shell -- in just a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The "don`t ask, don`t tell" law which kicked people out of the U.S. military for being gay will be fully repealed officially at one minute past midnight tonight. And yes, there will be some celebration by gay service members, by gay people who wish to join the military, by supporters of gay service members, by people who fought for repeal of this law for 18 years. And for, more broadly, by supporters of President Obama who will celebrate repeal as a very big, very difficult to keep promise that Mr. Obama made and that he kept. It took a lot of work but the repeal got through Congress during the lame duck session, just after the midterm elections this past December. Democrats pushed it through the House and through the more problematic Senate, even though the Republicans filibustered it there and even though a senator from his own party`s side, the late Robert Byrd, insisted on an additional 60 days` wait just because an additional 60 days waiting after the military said it was ready to implement repeal of the policy. Also, this all happened despite Republicans` continued effort right until the very end, right until now, to try to delay repeal even further. There was also some initial resistance from some corners of the military. But despite all of that, on the eve of repeal, tonight, everyone charged with making this thing happen seems to be in line and onboard with getting rid of "don`t ask, don`t tell." There will be a press conference about it at the Pentagon tomorrow, including the chairman of the joint chiefs and secretary of defense. The regulations, themselves, will change at 12:01 a.m., a minute after midnight tonight. So, in a few short hours, the policy of hounding people out of the military for being gay will end. And tonight, at midnight and tomorrow on what they`re calling "repeal day," I can confidently confirm there will be some celebration. But what I have found myself wondering in recent days is how repeal day will be noted by people who fought to keep "don`t ask, don`t tell" in place, by the people who said we need to keep kicking gay people out of the military, 14,000 is not enough. How, for example, will John McCain spend repeal day? How will Lindsey Graham spend repeal day? How, for example, will the lady who said that "don`t ask, don`t tell" was responsible for the mass deaths of birds in Arkansas -- how will she spend repeal day? Remember her? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CINDY JACOBS, FOUNDER, GENERALS INTERNATIONAL: The blackbirds fell to the ground in Beebe, Arkansas. The governor of Arkansas`s name is Beebe. And also, there was something put out of Arkansas called "don`t ask, don`t tell" by a former governor this was proposed, Bill Clinton. And so, could there be a connection between this passage where said, and now that we had the repeal of the "don`t ask, don`t tell." It could be because we have said it`s OK for people who commit these kinds of acts to be recognized, you know, in our military for the first time in our history. There is a potential that there is something that actually happened in the land where 100,000 drum fish died and also where these birds just fell out of the air. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: She was one of the endorsers of Republican presidential front-runner Rick Perry`s stadium prayer event a few weeks back, Cindy Jacobs. I`ve been thinking about folks like Cindy Jacobs as repeal day approaches for "don`t ask, don`t tell." I mean, if the Rick Perry stadium prayer event people think that just signing the repeal of "don`t ask, don`t tell" killed thousands of birds in Arkansas, what these folks think is going to happen when full repeal happens tonight at a minute past midnight? If you know any of these folks and you can -- and you`re having trouble finding them, this time tomorrow, I suggest you check under their beds where they will be hiding. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We cannot afford $1 trillion worth of tax cuts for every millionaire and billionaire in our society. We can`t afford it. And I refuse to renew them again. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I refuse to renew them again. President Obama in April talking about the Bush tax cuts, after he reached a deal with Republicans in Congress to extend all of the Bush tax cuts. Although the president said he wanted to extend the Bush tax cuts for middle class folks, he did not want to extend them for rich people at the time he said. He said we couldn`t afford that and he would not extend the tax cuts for rich people again. "I refuse to renew them again," he said back in April. Well, today the president unveiled his suggestions to that supercommittee in Congress working on budget issues and his proposal was not only to get rid of those Bush tax cuts for the richest Americans. The president said he would veto any economic legislation that does not make the tax burden more fair, that spares the rich and squeezed everybody else. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: I will not support -- I will not support any plan that puts all the burden for closing our deficit on ordinary Americans. And I will veto any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on Medicare but does not raise serious revenues by asking the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to pay their fair share. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I will veto any bill. This president has used the veto threat before, but sparingly. Today, he showed that he`s willing not only to put real muscle behind his policy priorities. He`s also willing to call out Republicans by name for how they deal with their policy priorities. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: You know, last week, Speaker of the House John Boehner gave a speech about the economy. And to his credit, he made the point that we can`t afford the kind of politics that says, "It`s my way or the highway." I was encouraged by that. Here`s the problem. In the same speech, he also came out against any plan to cut the deficit that includes any additional revenues whatsoever. So, the speaker says, we can`t have it my way or the highway and then basically says, my way -- or the highway. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So, we get the line in the sand with the veto threat. We get naming and shaming his political opponents for saying one thing and doing another. And we get the president demanding policy that is kind of populist and because of that kind of popular -- raising taxes on rich instead of leaving grandma to go halfsies on her arthritis meds. This summer, nearly three quarters of Americans surveyed said they support raising taxes on people with the largest incomes in America. It was the single most popular way of lowering the debt, when you ask Americans about this, ahead of even raising taxes on oil and gas companies and that`s pretty popular. Americans apparently really do think the wealthy can and should pay more. They really do think, as the president suggested today, that the investor, Warren Buffett, should be taxed more heavily than the assistant who takes his calls or at least he should be taxed as much. Last week,, among the loudest voices on the dedicated and restless left, the political folks at last week said they were not sure they were going to support President Obama in his re-election in 2012, complaining of their disappointment in him, complaining of fights he should have been leading that were either lost or left un-fought. That was last week. Then today, Move On`s civic action came out with this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m Warren Buffett`s secretary, and I pay a higher tax rate than my billionaire boss. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m Warren Buffett`s secretary. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m Warren Buffett`s secretary. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have three kids, make $40,000 a year and I contribute a greater percentage of my income than many billionaires and millionaires. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most Americans want Congress to raise taxes on the wealthy, but the GOP refuses to do it. Why? ANNOUNCER: Call Congress and tell them, raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires so all Americans pay their fair share. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: You know, if you listen just to the Beltway media, Democratic Party doesn`t really have a base. And liberals don`t really function in American politics. I have said before, and I will say again, the way the Beltway media covers liberals in this country is sort of on a good day akin to the way they cover really, really, really foreign news in countries where we don`t have diplomatic relations and on a bad day, it`s like extraterrestrial life. The Beltway media doesn`t believe liberals are important. This White House has been able to get away for a long time without believing the loyalty of its base is important, that the left and frankly the center didn`t have anywhere to go, that they were going to support this president and his re-election effort no matter what happened. Seeing the poll numbers on the left and among Democrats soften in recent weeks and in recent months has brought this back to the center, has brought this issue back to the center and has made liberals a relevant point of Beltway discussion for the first time in a very long time -- certainly the first time in the Barack Obama presidency. Beware of people who don`t know what they`re talking about discussing the ins and outs of liberal feelings about this policy. Somebody whose confidence as a liberal and whose prominence as a member of the restless left, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore, will join us next for the interview. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Joining us for the interview tonight is the one and only Michael Moore. Michael Moore has a new book out called "Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life." Michael, it`s great to see you. Thanks for your time. MICHAEL MOORE, ACADEMY AWARD-WINNING FILMMAKER: Thanks for having me on, Rachel. MADDOW: You have been saying President Obama does not fight hard enough for what he believes in. You have been making this case for a long time -- I think since earlier than a lot of other people were making it. When I heard the speech today, I was really happy I was having you on the show. I wanted to know if you feel better about his tone these days. MOORE: I felt instantly better. So, it doesn`t take much for me. (LAUGHTER) MOORE: That`s another good thing about liberals. That`s just how easy we are. Just a little -- you referenced us as being treated sometimes by the mainstream media as extraterrestrials. Well, you put a few of those Reece`s Pieces out in front of us and we got a whole bag of Reece`s Pieces today. By the way, the American public loves E.T. So, as beloved as E.T. is, I think the American public is actually, as you`ve pointed out many times on this show, much more liberal than the Beltway pundits give America credit for being. When you look at the actual issues, the American public takes the liberal position on the majority of them, whether being against the war, whether it`s equal rights for women, whether it`s a strong environmental laws. In last month`s poll, for the first time ever, 54 percent of Americans saying that they believe gay marriage should be the law of the land. So, Americans are actually quite liberal even though they may not call themselves that. And I think what happened today was exactly what we`ve been wanting President Obama to do. And he has to do more of it. He`s -- the problem with the base, with you mentioned Move On not knowing what to do next year. In the end, the people who are members of Move On, the Michael Moores out there, are going to, you know, vote for Barack Obama. That really -- his problem isn`t me or Move On so much as it is all the people who voted for him in `08 who may vote for him again. They probably won`t vote for the Republican. But they`re not going to go out and bring 10 people to the polls with them. They`re not going to be excited about voting again. And that`s where it could really hurt him. So, this thing that happened today is very exciting and to have him just repeat over and over again, I will refuse to let these Bush tax cuts for the rich continue, I will refuse to rebuild this country on the backs of the poor and the middle class, that is music to my ears. We should have heard this from day one. I`ll take it on day 900 if that`s when I get it. MADDOW: You know, in reading your book about -- which is called "Here Comes Trouble," -- it`s sort of an autobiography but also a political autobiography. You write about your values being -- your liberal values, your confrontational Michael Moore liberal values, really being an American inheritance, being something that you learned in a mainstream way. But then the book is also a story about your life of tough confrontation, trying to live your values, trying to make the world accord to what you think is right and what you think is just. So I wonder if you -- if in that, a feeling that you have mainstream values, but getting justice means confrontation, I wonder if you identify somewhat with the Democrats who you criticize for not fighting hard enough? MOORE: Well, I understand their pain. I understand that the difficulty road that they`re on. I really understand the difficult road Obama has been on because he inherited an incredible mess, the likes of which I don`t know any other president that`s inherited a mess like this. So he has, I think in his own mind, tried to do the best that he can do. What I wish that he would have done is to come in more with the resolve of understanding -- as you said earlier in the show, that he won by 10 million votes, three times the difference of Bush over Kerry in 2004. That`s -- it was a huge mandate. And he didn`t understand the mandate very well. The confrontation, though, you know, I`m actually -- I mean, you know me a little bit. I mean, we`re not -- you know, we don`t go out and drink. But -- MADDOW: We ought to. (LAUGHTER) MOORE: If you`ll bring Kent Jones along. MADDOW: All right. Fair enough. Date. Done. MOORE: But I`m not really that -- I`m not -- I`m not inclined to just automatically want to be confrontational or just take this position. I`m actually -- I actually admired Obama holding out the olive branch when he first came into office to the Republicans. I thought, wow, that`s the way I was raised and I don`t know whether I could do that after eight years of Bush. The way he did that to the Republicans -- turning the other cheek, loving your enemy, doing good to those who persecute you, all those lessons that the nuns and the priests drilled into our heads -- and he was doing it. And I thought, geez, he`s a better man than I. So after they whacked the olive branch out of his hands so many times, it`s kind of like, OK, I think we get the message here. They`re going to ignore you and they`re going to try and stop you. And you have to at some point stand up. I mean, the lesson I learned as a teenager, and I tell this one story in the book of being silent actually when I saw some injustice going on in my high school against another student, and I said nothing. And I just really felt bad. And it just weighed heavily on my conscience. And I decided after that, that`s it, I`m not going to -- I`m not going to remain silent again, even though I`d rather remain silent and just sit in my chair with a bag of Doritos and watch the tigers or the lions. I just couldn`t do that. My conscience wasn`t wired that way. And I think I`m not alone in that. I think there are tens of millions of Americans that are just like that, too, and they just don`t have the benefit maybe of being on TV or whatever. But I know that they`re out there. The Internet certainly proves that they are. MADDOW: Michael Moore`s new book is called "Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life." Michael, there`s a story today out of Michigan politics, out of Benton Harbor, Michigan, that I saved until this point in the show because I really want to get your take on it as well as what`s going on with the Republican presidential candidates. Can you hold on one second? MOORE: Absolutely, yes. MADDOW: We will be back with Michael Moore in just one moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Two quick vignettes from Republican America in today`s news. First from Benton Harbor, Michigan, a town taken over after the new Republican controlled legislature and Michigan`s new Republican governor expanded and beefed up a law covering emergency financial managers. Under the new law, the state government can declare a local emergency, overrule local elections and replace any locally elected officials. Republican Governor Rick Snyder`s administration will weigh in and do what they want in a town or a school district. They will override local democracy and local control. In April, the emergency manager put in charge of Benton Harbor, Michigan, declared unilaterally the elected officials of the city would henceforth only be allowed to do three things: they could call a meeting to order, approve meeting minutes and adjourn a meeting. That`s it. It does not matter the tone voted for these elected officials. They`re not allowed to do anything now. Despite that order, Benton Harbor`s locally elected town commissioners recently decided to do something other than call a meeting to order, approve the minutes and then adjourn. They voted unanimously to declare the week starting September 17th as Constitution Week -- honoring our democracy and the signing of the U.S. Constitution. Benton harbor`s emergency manager has now rescinded that resolution, declaring that the decision to acknowledge and honor the U.S. Constitution, quote, "was not authorized by the emergency manager and is null and void and of no force or effect." Elected officials not being allowed to honor the Constitution because they`ve been overruled by an appointed overseer who nobody voted for. Second vignette from Republican America in today`s news comes from the Republican race for president. One of the stranger developments in how Republicans are running this year is about who they have to make nice with, who they have to court publicly to try to become the nominee. Since Donald Trump made a short lived almost run earlier this year based chiefly on him questioning whether President Obama was secretly foreign, Republican candidates and maybe candidates have started making big public photo ops out of being seen to meet with Donald Trump. He met with Sarah Palin back in May and Michele Bachmann back in July. He met with Rick Perry last week and then called him "Jim" which was weird. Now, we learn that Donald Trump is reportedly meeting with Mitt Romney at Mitt Romney`s request next week. Republican presidential candidates you would think would want to put the birther nonsense questioning the president`s birth certificate behind them. But, no, apparently this is a ticket you have to get punched on the way to the Republican nomination this year. Republican candidates also falling all over themselves this year to be seen meeting with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Here`s Joe Arpaio last week with Michele Bachmann, signing a copy of his book for her in front of the cameras. Joe Arpaio has also spoken with Mitt Romney, and with Rick Perry and with Herman Cain. Today, we learn that Sheriff Arpaio has formed a posse in Maricopa County to, quote, "investigate the authenticity of Barack Obama`s birth certificate." The investigation requested by the Surprise Tea Party. Not -- surprise, it`s the Tea Party. But it`s the Tea Party from city of Surprise, Arizona. Because, remember, according to the Beltway media, the Tea Party is all about fiscal conservatism. Joining us once again is filmmaker and author Michael Moore. His new book, "Here Comes Trouble: Stories of My Life," just hit the shelves. Michael, thank you for staying with us. MOORE: I thought I was just listening to a weekend update on "Saturday Night Live." (LAUGHTER) MOORE: I mean, you can`t write comedy to top this. This is absolutely insane that we`re now going to revisit this birther. I thought if they would revisit it, they just would take it to the next level and just question whether or not he was born. That -- that he`s a hologram or he`s something else. But this is just -- this is absolute insanity. And the thing from Michigan with vetoing the community, wanting to celebrate Constitution Week, this is -- you know, if it weren`t so tragic, it would be pretty hilarious. But you have here is the slow creep of those who want to limit and in some cases get rid of pieces of our democracy, piece by piece by piece, so that we can end up with the kleptocracy -- that they would like to have where they can steal as they`ve been doing, stealing money from the middle class and from the poor and amass that $2 trillion now I think you said on a show last week that they`re holding in their bank accounts, corporate America, just cash sitting there that normally could be circulating, no longer there. These are -- these are very serious times and it demands the attention and the participation of everybody watching this show. MADDOW: You know, we were talking a moment ago about how -- and it`s one of the things I complain about a lot -- that the Beltway doesn`t cover the left. There isn`t really a sense that the Democratic Party has a base. The other side of that is they really, really do heavily cover the right and the conservative base and the Tea Party in particular. So, why do we have -- with all of the blanket coverage, why do we have such a difference between what they say they are about and what they are doing? I mean, the Tea Party narrative, if you read the Beltway media, really still says they are all about taxes and fiscal conservativism, even with all of the evidence about the birtherism and all of the other social conservative issues that they do seem to motivate them? MOORE: Yes. And they are not the majority of Americans. I mean, the actual number -- the members, the members of the Tea Party is a very small number. They had to cancel their convention in D.C. last year because they couldn`t get people to come. They`re on their own crazy boat that I call the "tea-tanic" and I think the American people are smarter than this and they`re not going -- they`re just going to let the boat sink. But last week when Wolf Blitzer and CNN had that debates, the CNN Tea Party Express debate and Wolf sat there and called them his partners -- I just thought, this was amazing because would you ever see the CNN nurses union debate or the CNN teachers union debate? Because I think there are a few more teachers and nurses in this country than there are members of the Tea Party. But we`ll never see that in the mainstream media and liberal organizations which have many more members just don`t get the attention. A thousand people arrested in front of the White House a couple of weeks ago on the tar sands environmental issue -- hardly any coverage of this. Can you imagine if 1,000 Tea Party members had been arrested in front of the White House? It would be at the top of every news story. People are down on Wall Street right now, holding a sit-in and a camp- in down there, virtually no news about this protest. This goes on with liberals and the left all of the time, and it gets ignored. And, fortunately, there are shows like yours and others who aren`t ignoring it. It doesn`t mean it isn`t happening and it will continue to happen. Can I just say one more thing with the Donald Trump reference? MADDOW: Of course, yes. MOORE: I mean, I have a theory about Romney and these guys, Perry, going to meet with him. Let`s not be so sure that they`re going there just to get an endorsement. I just -- just from little I know him, the way I think his head and his hair operate in sync with each other, I think that they`re going there to convince him not to get back in the race, not to run an independent candidacy. I think Republicans are still somewhat looking over their shoulder at him, that he just may go off at any time in the next few months when he doesn`t see a real front-runner happening that can beat Obama and he`s just going to declare. And I think they`re afraid that and I think that`s why they`re talking to him. You heard it here first. I have no inside information. I just -- I like to watch how their heads tick. MADDOW: I have 20 seconds left. In that 20 second, do you think Republicans are more likely to have a third party challenger from somewhere on the right if Romney is the nominee or if Perry is the nominee? MOORE: If Romney is the nominee. The Tea Party will not allow that election without one of their own on the ballot. So that`s the way it will break and they`ll split the vote and President Obama will have a second term, which I hope he comes in like gangbusters and does the Roosevelt that we need to see take place -- really do the job in those next four years because we are on a brink of the abyss and it`s a historic moment for him and he needs to pull the country back, but he better start doing it now or he`s not going to get those voters out there next year. MADDOW: Michael Moore, filmmaker and author of the new book, "Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life" -- Michael, I know your schedule is crazy these days and you`re promoting this everywhere. So, thank you for taking time to be here tonight. It`s always really good to see you. MOORE: No, thank you for having me from Seattle. I was here at the battle of Seattle. So, it`s great to be back. MADDOW: Thanks a lot, Michael. Good to see you. MOORE: Thank you. MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Tonight at one minute past midnight, the repeal of "don`t ask, don`t tell" goes into effect. Regulations will go into force at 12:01, eliminating the Clinton-era regulations that were supposed to allow people to serve in the U.S. military as long as they stayed closeted. In practice, those Clinton era regulations ensured 18 years of witch hunts against GLBT service members and people suspected of being GLBT. Fourteen thousand people kicked out of the U.S. military for nothing other than being gay over the life of this policy. Tomorrow night, we will finally be able to reveal to you the identity of one gay service member who we were able to interview him in silhouette in order to hide his identity. We hope you will join us on what`s being called "Repeal Day." Now, it`s time for "THE ED SHOW." Have a great night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END