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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/23/11

Guests: Peter Shumlin, Todd Stave

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Lawrence, if you can convince Tim Pawlenty to get back into the race, I will buy you and him and anybody else in the room dinner. LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, "THE LAST WORD" HOST: It could be kind of a "don`t ask, don`t tell" thing. You can go back in, Tim. MADDOW: You can reenlist. You don`t have to pay back your severance, dude. O`DONNELL: Right. MADDOW: That would be awesome. Lawrence, have a great weekend. O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. All right. First, the first surprising thing was when they showed and clapped and cheered for the fact that they wanted to legalize heroin. Do you remember the cheering for legalizing heroin at the first Republican candidates` debate this year in South Carolina? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRIS WALLACE, DEBATE MODERATOR: You say marijuana, cocaine, even heroin should be legal if states want to permit it. REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES: What you`re inferring is, you know what, if we legalize heroin tomorrow, everybody`s going to use heroin. How many people here would use heroin if it was legal? Nobody would be, oh, yes, I need the government to take care of me, I don`t need to use heroin so I need these laws. (CHEERS) WALLACE: I never thought heroin would get applause here in South Carolina. (LAUGHTER) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Me neither, Chris Wallace. It was such a strange moment. The crowd cheering the idea of legalizing heroin and Ron Paul`s sort of ad lib-y caricature of a person who might want that? It was great. When that happened, we pointed it out on this show the next night and I honestly thought that would be the only time in the campaign when the crowd at one of the debates surfaced as one of the most interesting factors in that debate. Boy, was I wrong. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: Governor Perry, a question about Texas. Your state has executed 234 death row inmates more than any other governor in modern times. (APPLAUSE) WILLIAMS: Have you -- have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was the NBC News debate at the Reagan Library earlier this month, cheering for executions. Cheering that was loud enough to be remarked upon by the moderator. The cheering was ultimately praised as a patriotic response by the candidate who was asked the question about it. The next time the crowd became a factor, though, in a Republican debate, it was a little bit harder to defend the crowd. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WOLF BLITZER, DEBATE MODERATOR: Healthy 30-year-old young man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides, you know what, I`m not going to spend $200 or $300 a month for health insurance because I`m healthy, I don`t need it. But, you know, something terrible happens. All of a sudden he needs it. Who`s going to pay for if he goes into a coma, for example? Who pays for that? PAUL: My advice to him would have a major medical policy but not be forced -- BLITZER: But he doesn`t have that. He doesn`t have it and he needs intensive care for six months. Who pays? PAUL: That`s what freedom is all about, taking your whole risk. This whole idea that you have to prepare to take care of everybody -- (APPLAUSE) BLITZER: But, Congressman, are you saying the society should just let him die? AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes. PAUL: No. AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Yes! Yes! That was the CNN Tea Party Express debate. I still can`t really believe there was a CNN Tea Party Express debate, but there was. And those were members of the audience cheering the proposal that sick Americans should be left to die without receiving needed medical care if they are uninsured. At this point in the Republican campaign process this year, you would think the candidates, themselves, would have figured out that if something like that comes out of the audience at the debate, it`s OK to criticize that, it`s OK to point out that you disagree with the cheering to let Americans die. You can do something. The candidates have apparently not learned that lesson. In last night`s big FOX News Republican debate in Florida, things actually started off OK. A lot of the questions were posed in the form of videos that had been uploaded online. The moderators would play the tape of the question which would give the audience then a chance to react to the questioners in addition to reacting to the candidates. Like this -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUTCH RUSSELL, TROY, OH: When are we going to get someone in the White House that can stand up to these other countries and say, you`re not getting anymore of our money? This is stupid. We send billions of dollars overseas to countries that hate us. (APPLAUSE) BRET BAIER, DEBATE MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Yay! The crowd loves the question about ending the stupid, stupid, stupid foreign aid. They also cheered for this guy`s anti-union question. They cheered for this guy`s question about what federal agency would you eliminate? They applauded for lots of the questioners. The audience either applauded or were neutral to every question asked in the form of one of those little videos -- until they got to this one. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) MEGYN KELLY, DEBATE MODERATOR: Senator Santorum, this question stirred up a whole lot of controversy online and comes from Stephen Hill who is a soldier serving in Iraq. STEPHEN HILL, SERVING IN IRAQ: In 2010 when I was deployed in Iraq, I had to lie about who I was because I`m a gay soldier and I didn`t want to lose my job. My question is, under one of your presidencies, do you intend to circumvent the progress that`s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military? (BOOING) RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes -- (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: Boo. The Republican debate crowd booing the deployed American soldier in Iraq. Like the "let him die" moment and all of the previous ones of these, no Republican candidate on stage said anything about the booing. No candidate in this case even thought to say something like -- thank you for your service, sir. There was nothing like that said during the debate. A few of the candidates have since said it was an unfortunate moment that the soldier was booed, even though none of them, as I said, said anything about it at the time. Rick Santorum`s explanation on FOX News about it today was that he just didn`t hear the booing of the soldier. Again, here`s what Mr. Santorum says he didn`t hear. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILL: Do you intend to circumvent the progress that`s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military? (BOOING) SANTORUM: Yes, I would say any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Whether or not you believe that Rick Santorum couldn`t hear the booing there, I`m sort of more vested in his unprompted declaration there, sexual act -- any type of sexual activity has no place in the military. I`m sort of more interested in this unprompted declaration from him that nobody in the military should have any kind of sexual activity at all. He`s calling for a celibate military. I would like to hear more about this idea, as I`m sure would every 18-year-old in the country who is thinking about enlisting in our military. But the broader point here is that in the 1990s, when Bill Clinton took on the idea of gays in the military, it is broadly thought to have hurt him politically, to be something on which he spent political capital, he did not gain it. This year, not that many years later, President Obama and the Democrats are running on the fact that they repealed "don`t ask, don`t tell." They see it as a political plus. And Republicans do not seem to be using the repeal of "don`t ask, don`t tell" against President Obama except on the fringes. So, it is an interesting question. If Democrats think that winning this gay rights victory will help them in electoral terms this year, are Republicans worried that their anti-gay stances might hurt them? After Rick Santorum said last night he would not reinstate "don`t ask, don`t tell," after the Republican audience booed the soldier who asked about it, after the debate, Mitt Romney`s campaign reaffirmed Mitt Romney would not have repealed "don`t ask, don`t tell." There`s a big Florida straw poll for the Republican candidates this week. Rick Perry named as his new Florida co-chair of that effort a woman what says that wide acceptance of gay marriage has been causing tornadoes this year. Tornadoes? Democrats this year think them advancing gay rights is going to be good for Democrats in the election. It will be interesting to see if and when that translates on the other side to Republicans worrying about the electoral impact of them having really anti-gay stances because they all do have really anti-gay stances. I think that remains an open question about the election this year. But the bigger unanswered question right now in the campaign is what is the Republican presidential field`s response, what is their rejoinder to the biggest partisan political fight in the country right now? The fight that President Obama and congressional Democrats have picked over the American Jobs Act? The jobs act that President Obama has proposed and is taking directly to the people in this series of speeches he`s been doing, this isn`t out of keeping with other policies President Obama supported in the past. He`s supporting infrastructure investment. He`s supporting tax changes to benefit middle class people and to make rich people pay more. He wants to get rid of taxpayer subsidies for oil companies. And one he`s making the case for the infrastructure investment, he`s making it not just on the basis that that will create jobs but that the country really needs our infrastructure taken care of. The substance of his policies is stuff that he`s supported all along. But what`s new and what we really kind of need a Republican response to, by now, is the way President Obama is calling out Republicans more than he ever has done before as president, calling them out as Republicans, calling them out by name. Giving a speech yesterday in front of a bridge between Mitch McConnell`s Kentucky and John Boehner`s Ohio saying he was doing that on purpose. And then following up today with his campaign handing out John Boehner`s phone number and telling people to call Speaker Boehner to complain about her busted bridges. And there is complaint. Check out what was going on all across the country yesterday during President Obama`s Kentucky to Ohio bridge speech. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) TV ANCHOR: When President Obama asked for help to pass his jobs bill, dozens of local residents said they had to do something. Their answer was to gather on the North Avenue Bridge around lunchtime as visible a spot as possible to urge others to support the plan that would rely heavily on construction and bridge repair projects to generate jobs. REPORTER: And a group of Chicagoans impacted by the recession say they want to be put to work fixing the city`s crumbling bridges. Coalition of community and labor groups marched to the North Wells Street Bridge in Chicago. Members saying that the city`s aging infrastructure can help provide them with jobs. REPORTER: On the Tenth Avenue Bridge which runs parallel to the new 35-W Bridge, Minnesotans for a fair economy hang a simple written message. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are hanging this banner because we want to see our infrastructure and bridges fixed. REPORTER: As it flaps in the breeze, the banner reads "Fix this, put America back to work." TV ANCHOR: Local construction workers are showing support for the president`s plan to invest $50 billion to rebuild country`s roads and bridges. They dropped a banner in front of the 5-20 Bridge in Seattle today calling for new jobs to complete those projects. A recent report said there are nearly 70,000 bridges in bad shape across America, including nearly 50 right here in King County. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: President Obama has picked the biggest partisan fight of his presidency. He has picked this fight specifically with Republicans. As you can see, it does appear to be resonating around the country. But last night at the big FOX News Republican candidates debate, not a single peep about it. Joining us now in studio here is Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin of the great state of Vermont. Governor Shumlin, thank you so much for being here. GOV. PETER SHUMLIN (D), VERMONT: Hey. It`s great to be with you, Rachel. MADDOW: I will not you to weigh in on the presidential candidates. You have bigger things on your plate I know. How is -- how is Vermont doing in recovering from hurricane Irene? Vermont was hit very hard. SHUMLIN: We were hit probably harder than any state of the country. Remarkable pain. A lot of folks lost their homes, lost all their possessions literally. Businesses washed down stream. We lost five great Vermonters in the storm. Making a remarkable recovery. My message is that Vermont is open for business. We got beautiful fall foliage. We`re opening bridges and roads left and right. We made more progress in 3 1/2 weeks than I thought was possible. So, remarkable recovery. Vermonters reaching out to Vermonters. You know, the difference for recovery for Vermont versus some other more urban states is that you got to remember almost every Vermonter either owns a backhoe, a tractor or a truck. So, we`re all out there working together to get the job done and we`re rebuilding very fast. MADDOW: What about the issue of federal disaster relief funds? Obviously, Vermont has to be counting on that funding coming through in order to help you out and soon. SHUMLIN: You bet. Congress is scaring me to death. You know, the fact, we`re actually at a point in this country where we can be hit by a natural disaster and have the Tea Party folks in Congress say, we`re not going to give you money, we`re going to leave you out there to dry is unbelievable. I never thought we`d see this point in this country. And the fact of the matter is that you just heard it in that debate. You heard somebody say, listen, why do we send this money to Afghanistan, to Iraq, to other foreign countries? We don`t spend it here. He`s right. We`re not willing at this point to spend the money to rebuild people`s homes who have been lost, all their possessions wiped out. We got to have that money to rebuild our roads, our bridges, our infrastructure and give Vermonters hope. And it`s true from -- you know, Irene hit from North Carolina, South Carolina, all the way up to the Canadian border. So, you know, it`s ironic that Vermonters during Katrina, for example, we`re like, where can we sign up to help? There was never a question we`d rebuild New Orleans. Now, we got our kind of need. We`re hoping that Congress gets it together and gets FEAM the money they need to help rebuild our own country. MADDOW: The president`s message on investing in infrastructure, not just for reconstruction after disaster, but investing to pay it forward on infrastructure, is not a new message from this president. But I think that his sort of confrontational stance with Republicans over their resistance to that is new. Do you think -- do you think that`s appropriate? Do you think that there is a partisan difference, that Republicans are blocking what we ought to be doing on infrastructure? SHUMLIN: Well, you know, I`ll say, Vermont is not a particularly partisan state. MADDOW: Yes. SHUMLIN: These Republicans that you`re seeing, the Tea Party crowd don`t have a lot in common with the Republicans I knew growing up in Vermont, or the Republicans that we have in Vermont. These folks are way out there. You know, they seem to be mean-spirited. Regardless of party politics, American people aren`t mean. So, they want reasonableness. They want compromise. They want to see things get done. And my point is, you know, when I see these debates going on and these discussions where they`re cheering for uninsured Americans, when they`re cheering against, you know, hardworking brave men and women in the military who fight for our country but might be gay or lesbian, you know, they`re fighting for our country. That`s what matters. They`re risking their lives for us. And I think the candidate who won this week is President Obama. I mean, he put forward a jobs plan to rebuild our crumbling roads and bridges. To get the states the resources they need in education, in innovation, in technology. To get middle class Americans tax cuts. Middle class has been kicked in the teeth. As the wealthiest Americans, the wage gap, the income gap continues to grow, highest level in the history of America. So, I think he`s making good sense and he has been forced to draw a contrast between Republicans and Democrats more than he probably wishes to. He`s not a particularly confrontational person. MADDOW: In Vermont, when you have dealt with building issues in the state, at the state level when you`ve dealt with infrastructure in terms of schools and transportation and those kind of issues -- have those issues been inflected with a lot of partisanship in your state? Are those things dealt with in a more sort of get it done way? SHUMLIN: It`s absolutely get it done. I`ll tell you, as an example, you know, we got hit very hard by Irene. I brought on as the person to help me lead my recovery effort -- the campaign manager, the chief of staff and the secretary of administration for the former Republican Governor Jim Douglas who proceeded me. So, we kind of see through party politics. And, frankly, I think that would be a good thing for America right now. I think what people want is politicians, public figures who are willing to address real problems. You know, I`m up there trying to pass single-payer health care. These folks are booing and, you know, at the notion that we might help low-income people have health insurance. We`re trying to pass the first sensible health care system in the country that treats health care as a right, not a privilege, that`s publicly financed where everybody has a green mountain card, access to insurance. And most importantly, where we spend our health care dollars on making people healthy, not insurance company profits, greed, and payment system that rewards the providers that give the most care, as opposed to emphasizing preventative care, quality of life, good diet, getting off smokes and rest of things we need to do. And I think that`s job creation. You know, we, in this country, we`re spending more on health care than any country in the world. We cannot survive, we can`t keep up, we can`t compete for jobs. If we continue to leave that burden on the backs of businesses, on our job creators, number one. And number two, if health care spending rises at two to three times the rate of our incomes, it`s going to cripple us. MADDOW: In terms of that single-payer health plan, I know we covered it pretty intensively when you signed that sort of telling this as an under-sung story in the country as everybody`s watching what the Republican-controlled legislatures are going around the country, going really in the opposite direction. What I remember from the time you signed it is there`s a lot of work that has to be done to get to the point where Vermont can actually launch your single-payer system. When do you actually think it might be in operation? SHUMLIN: I want to have it in effect in 2014. That`s our goal. What we have to remember is no bun has designed a sensible health care system for America. So, we`re trying to design something that really doesn`t exist. We`re going to get it done. I appointed a five-member board, very capable people. And we think we can do it. We believe when we do that other states will want to do the same. If we can deliver quality health care, better outcomes to all of our citizens for less money than we`re spending now, and we`ve got to do that. It`s killing us in Vermont, just like every other state, you know, we`ve seen our health care spending double in 10 years. We know it`s going to cost us another 2.5 -- sorry, $1.4 billion in the next four years. That`s 2,500 bucks out of the pockets of every living Vermonter. Family of four, that`s 10,000 bucks a year, every year on health care -- just the increase that`s about to happen in the next four years. Out of the pockets of Vermonters who on average like so many Americans are making the same money they were making ten years ago. You know, how is the middle class supposed to afford that? So, I think what the American people want is politicians who work together in a bipartisan spirit to address real problems, have some leadership, some courage, get some tough things done to create jobs and get this economy moving. And I think the president is the candidate that`s doing that. MADDOW: Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin -- I have to tell you, I know you`re not in New York City very often. You`re much happier particularly this time of year to be home in Vermont. It`s really nice to have you here, sir. SHUMLIN: It`s great to be on your show. Thanks for having me. MADDOW: In terms of "The Best New Thing in the World Today," I have to tell you that it`s really sciencey and it`s totally worth it. But coming up next, this is not Rick Perry, obviously. This is the lovely and talented Vin Diesel. But Rick Perry, it turns out, is totally if you get the two of them mixed up, Vin Perry, Rick Diesel? I`ll explain, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Today, the request became official. The leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, formally asked the United Nations for Palestine to be recognized as a member state of the United Nations. When Mr. Abbas said that, in fact when he just walked into the chamber, the chamber filled with applause. The U.S. delegation, however, sat in silence. The United States has spent all week trying to talk Mr. Abbas out of making this request, trying to talk him in to negotiating for statehood with Israel instead of bringing it to the whole U.N. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke after Mr. Abbas. He said that Israel wants a, quote, "just and lasting peace with the Palestinians" but that they need to be, quote, "ready for compromise to make it happen." The Palestinians` request for statehood now goes to U.N. Security Council in which the United States is a permanent member. Permanent members get veto rights. And so, the Palestinian statehood request is all but certain to be vetoed by the United States. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Governor Rick Perry of Texas is still very popular among Republican voters. He`s still polling very well. But truth be told, Governor Perry is not really acing these candidates debates. For example, last night, on the eve of the Palestinians requesting statehood at the U.N. which Governor Perry inveighed against all this week, on the day that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said that our ally, Pakistan, actually assisted in that attack on U.S. forces in Afghanistan 10 days ago at the U.S. embassy in Kabul. As the culmination of a week on the campaign trail where Governor Perry really tried to distinguish himself as knowing what he was talking about on foreign policy. Last night, on foreign policy, Rick Perry just absolutely, fundamentally, incoherently blew it on the one foreign policy question he was asked. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BAIER: Governor Perry, if you were president, and you go a call at 3:00 a.m. telling you that Pakistan had lost control of is nuclear weapons, at the hands of the Taliban, what would be your first move? PERRY: Well, obviously, before you ever get to that point you have to build a relationship in that region. That`s one of the things that this administration has not done. Just yesterday, we found out through Admiral Mullen that Haqqani has been involved with -- and that`s the terrorist group directly associated with the Pakistani country. So to have a relationship with India, to make sure that India knows that they are an ally of the United States. For instance, when we had the opportunity to sell India the upgraded F-16`s, we chose not to do that. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: No -- also -- and -- directly associated with the Pakistani country? To be fair, Governor Perry`s campaign told us today he actually gave the answer in Urdu and his language not making sense was because of a bad voiceover translation. I`m lying. Really, if you did not understand what Rick Perry was talking about there, it`s not your fault. It actually made no sense at all. The one thing for which Rick Perry really did seem to have prepared last night was an attack he was clearly supposed to have ready about Mitt Romney changing his mind a lot. This is not the hardest thing to document, right, against Mitt Romney. It`s not the hardest attack to levy in the world, unless you are Rick Perry. Awkwardly consulting the notes you have your podium about this, maybe without your reading glasses or something? In order for you to understand what happens here, we`re going to subtitle this one to make it easier to follow along. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) PERRY: I think Americans just don`t know sometimes which Mitt Romney they`re dealing with. Is it the Mitt Romney that was on the side of -- against the Second Amendment before he was for the Second Amendment? Was it -- was before he was before the social programs from the standpoint of he was far -- standing up for Roe v. Wade before he was against Roe v. Wade? He was for Race to the Top. He`s for Obamacare. And now, he`s against it. I mean, we`ll wait until tomorrow and see which Mitt Romney we`re really talking to tonight. GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDNETN: There`s an old saying in Tennessee, I know it`s in Texas, probably in Tennessee, that says fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. If you fool me, we can`t get fooled again. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: If Governor Perry cannot count on his debate performances to keep his numbers up with Republican voters, and I got to say, maybe he can`t count on that anymore. If he cannot count on his debate performances, he will have to count more on his very, very, very, very, very well-funded campaign which this week released a brand new super slick looking movie trailer. I mean campaign ad. I mean campaign ad/movie trailer? Tell me if this looks familiar. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PERRY: A great country requires a better direction. A renewed nation needs a new president. The United States of America really is the last great hope of mankind. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: In most movie trailers, this is where the "Alien Invaders" come in, right? This is a campaign ad/movie trailer. So, what follows the dire last hope for mankind business, the threat in this case is President Obama. And, of course, the hero who will save America and thereby mankind is Rick Perry. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PERRY: We don`t need a president who apologizes for America. I believe in America. I believe in her purpose and her promise. I believe her best days have not yet been lived. I believe her greatest deeds are reserved for the generations to come. And with the help and the courage of the American people, we will get our country working again. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Rick Perry`s new campaign strategy, as you can see, is to run as America`s action movie star candidate who can save mankind from the alien that is Barack Obama. Now, if something about the new Rick Perry campaign ad/movie trailer does seem familiar to you, there`s a reason it seems familiar. You have seen this ad before. Only the last time you saw it, it starred Tim Pawlenty. The new Rick Perry campaign ad/movie trailer was in fact made by the same guy who made the inadvertently bombastically funny campaign ad/movie trailers for Tim Pawlenty before he quit the race. A fact confirmed by the Perry campaign to Minnesota public radio -- which is very nice that Tim Pawlenty and Rick Perry have in common the filmmaker who tries to make GOP governors seem more Vin Diesel-ly. Get it, it`s a Venn Diagram? If Perry does not get the nomination, it is always possible that he and Tim Pawlenty and the movie guy can get together, all three of them and make Vin Diesel movies that they market to high school boys. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) TIM PAWLENTY: If freedom were easy, everybody around the world would be free. PERRY: A renewed nation needs a new president. UNIDENNTIFIED MALE: The United States of America. PAWLENTY: If security were easy, everybody around the world would be secured. They are not. PERRY: It`s time to get America working again. PAWLENTY: None of this is going to be easy, but this is the United States of America. It takes an extraordinary effort. It takes extraordinary commitment. PERRY: I believe in America. I believe in her purpose and her promise. I believe her best days have not yet been lived. PAWLENTY: We are the American people. We have seen difficulties before and we always overcome. PERRY: God bless you and God bless the United States of America. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: Campaign ads are an art form. To a large extent, people who are good at making campaign ads treat the candidates as interchangeable. But in this Republican political season, would you want to be the man who was building his campaign on being interchangeable with Tim Pawlenty? (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Tonight`s show includes a "Moment of Geek." You may want to know a few things already when we get to the "Moment of Geek" at the end of the show. Exhibit A: 330 pounds -- 330 pounds looks approximately like this. Vince Wilfork, defensive tackle who I`m happy to say plays for my team, the New England Patriots. Kind of man who even when he gets an amazing interception against San Diego and runs the ball down the field, you still can`t quite believe he`s running even when you can see it because he`s 330 pounds. So that`s exhibit A. Exhibit B: this might be the craziest looking non-crazy tweet in the brief illustrious history of Twitter. And I promise that although it might appear indecipherable, it, in fact, means something even a tiny tot can understand. And I will explain. And Exhibit C: why one Wisconsin town has put these new lyrics to the song "On Wisconsin." (VIDEO CLIP PLAYS) MADDOW: OK. Got that? Exhibit A: Vince Wilfork weights 330 pounds. Exhibit B: incomprehensible, totally comprehensible science tweet. And exhibit C, on with Sputnik to the tune of "On with Wisconsin." Those are the two things you need to prepare you for tonight`s "Moment of Geek." It`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: One of the more popular radical antiabortion protest techniques in this country is to single out for harassment individual doctors or other people involved in providing abortions. Antiabortion protesters have distributed wanted-style posters of doctors and clinic staff. They have showed up in person to protest outside their homes, giving out their addresses or phone numbers and photos. Tell this doctor she`s a murderer. Right? Here`s her address. So, it`s both direct harassment and the invitation of further harassment from other people. People targeted by this tactic tend to suddenly get a lot of unwanted hostile attention. Sometimes threatening, not always, but always unwanted -- unwanted contact from strangers. This tactic was carried out with a nasty twist this month in Maryland. On "back to school" night at a Maryland middle school, protesters stationed themselves outside the middle school carrying graphic bloody antiabortion signs. The protesters were at that particular middle school because the father of a student there owns the property where Dr. Leroy Carhart works. Dr. Carhart is a late term abortion provider who is the nationally demonized Dr. De Jure for the anti-abortion movement. So, to protest Dr. Carhart, the protesters picketed the school attended by the child of the owner of the property where the doctor practices. This was the sign they carried outside the school. There`s the landlord`s photo there. It reads, "Todd Stave, please stop the child killing." And then below that is Mr. Stave`s phone number, which is what we blacked out there. The anti-abortion people also put up a Web site with all of Todd Stave`s contact information. It`s been taking down now. But here`s what it looked like. It had his name, and again, all of his contact information. Again, we have blacked out the details here. The site urged people to contact Todd Stave and ask him to cancel the doctor`s lease, close down his clinic and not to allow anybody to replace Dr. Carhart. Mr. Stave got lots of phone calls to that effect after this campaign. Not threatening but unwanted. So, Mr. Stave decided to do something to respond to them. You know, we have done a lot of coverage of the tactics of the radical antiabortion movements in the last few years. We very rarely get a chance to cover an organized response to those tactics. But here`s one -- after the back to school night protest at his child`s middle school, a number of people asked Mr. Stave what they could do to support him, what they could do to help him, how they could help him fight back against this harassment. Here`s something, he told him, Mr. Stave started taking down the names and phone numbers of the people who called him to protest his decision to lease space to Dr. Carhart`s clinic. When people asked how they could help him, he asked those volunteers to call the people back who had been calling him. To thank them for their thoughts and to tell them, no, he would not be shutting Dr. Carhart down. He couldn`t legally even if he wanted to and besides he didn`t want to. He supports women`s rights. Mr. Stave turned the protesters` own tactics, in other words, around on them. Using that same idea, Todd Stave called an organization, Voice of Choice, it`s aimed at responding to groups that target abortion facilities, providers, patients and their families. There`s a place on the organization`s Web site for victims of antiabortion harassment. If you have been targeted by antiabortion harassing protesters, they can try to help organize a response. Todd Stave joins us tonight for the "Interview" when we come back. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Joining us tonight for the "Interview" is Todd Stave. He`s the Maryland entrepreneur who was targeted at his child`s middle school by antiabortion protesters and who devised a way of, if not counter- protesting, at least responding to them. Mr. Stave, thank you very much for being here tonight. I appreciate the chance to talk to you about this. TODD STAVE, TARGET OF ANTI-ABORTION PROTESTS: Thank you for having me. MADDOW: What made you decide to take this step? And how did you decide the right way to respond to these protesters? STAVE: Well, I`ve actually been a victim of this sort of thing my entire life. My father was an abortion provider. I remember when I was a junior in high school back in the early `80s, my father`s clinic was fire bombed. So, I was -- I`ve around this sort of thing for my entire life. And I sat very quietly while people around me, people in the middle of the argument have done whatever it is they do or not do whatever it is they do. And up until -- and I just found this out this week -- up until recently, nobody has ever really done anything to counter-protest or counter-respond or fight back. Their philosophy has always been, well, if we ignore them, they`ll go away. And they just picked on the wrong guy this time. I mean, I`m not doing anything except renting space to this clinic. And to go in front of my daughter`s middle school and attempt to humiliate me and attempt to humiliate my daughter, I need to fight back. MADDOW: How did you decide that this would be the appropriate way to fight back? What did you consider your options to be? STAVE: Well, OK, first of all, I want to tell you that law enforcement in Maryland is really on my side here. They have -- they contacted me immediately. They contacted me before I actually went to the school and they said, "We`re going to do whatever they can to help you." And they have. I`m not going to get into details. They asked me not to. But the people who have called and e-mailed me are doing so in an attempt to intimidate and harass and bully me into doing something that I`m not going to do. And I figured -- well, these tactics are going to work or attempt to work -- if they think they`re going to work for them, I`m going to do them back. And that`s exactly what happened. We responded -- we meaning there was me and about 20 people in my immediate circle of friends and neighbors -- got together, through e-mail, we didn`t sit around a table, through e-mail made a list of the people who called and e-mailed me and said, all right, we`re going to call these people back and just as politely as they`ve contacted me, we`re going to go back to them and say, thank you for your thoughts, we thank you for your prayers, we heard your pleas, and, no, we`re not going to do anything about it. Those 20 people in my circle of friends have circles of their own. And within a matter of, I`d say two days, 5,000 people had contacted me from all over the world. I got calls from Europe, I got calls from Canada, I got calls from all over the country from people begging, please, let me help you fight back. Let me help you in your effort to stop this harassment, stop this intimidation, stop the bullying. And most of the people that we responded to have in the days after that sent me another e-mail saying, please take me off your list. Please stop calling me. And I have no control over it at this point. I mean, it`s in the blogosphere. It`s on the Internet. I don`t have a Web site with these people`s names or phone numbers or anything like that. And the people that are calling them now are doing so on their own accord. I don`t want to discourage them from doing that. I want to encourage them to keep going. But one of the things that I responded with when I sent their e-mails back to them, when I responded to their pleas to stop calling or e-mailing is, I can`t belief how hypocritical you are. Don`t you want unsolicited opinions from strangers? They felt it was just fine to give me theirs. MADDOW: Do you think that there is a way to, I guess to -- you founded this group, Voice for Choice. Does that mean -- STAVE: Voice of choice. MADDOW: Voice of Choice. Excuse me. I`m sorry. Voice of Choice. Do you think there`s a way to sort of, I guess, I don`t mean to say systematize, but to use this technique that you have used in this instance of you being harassed in a broader way to respond to the antiabortion movement? STAVE: I`m not going to get into the details because I`ve been asked not to. It`s working really, really well. I`m going to tell you that 80 percent of people aren`t going to do this anymore. Twenty percent of the people will always be there. I mean, they`re going to have their opinions. They have the right to have their opinions. I just don`t want them harassing or bullying or trying to intimidate people like me. Eighty percent of the people are going to go away. Once you reveal who they are, once they`re no longer anonymous, once they realize there`s going to be a reaction to their action, they`re not going to do it anymore. And they`re targeting not just abortion providers and clinic owners, they`re going after the vendors. The people who collect Dr. Carhart`s medical waste, for instance, have been targeted by these groups and their buildings have been protested, don`t collect Dr. Carhart`s medical waste. I`ve heard instances from around the country where the groups are going after the people who sell paper towels, just basic office supplies to these clinics. Not to do business with these clinics or they`re going under the threat of boycott and they go out to their offices, to their children`s schools, to their neighborhoods, their churches. And I`m not alone. This is not an isolated incident. This is their tactic. This is what they try to do. And, yes, I think this is going to work very, very well. MADDOW: Todd Stave, Maryland entrepreneur, founder of Voice of Choice -- and the only person I`ve ever had the opportunity to I had the opportunity to talk to is not speaking directly from inside the reproductive rights movement who`s talking about these techniques in a tactical way actually, sir. STAVE: We need -- we need everybody`s help. We need volunteers, more volunteer if we can do it. And we also need donations. The Web site is MADDOW:, we`ll post information about that on our web site. STAVE: Appreciate it. MADDOW: Todd Stave, thank you very much. STAVE: Thank you for having me. MADDOW: Long-awaited "Moment of Geek" is coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TV ANCHOR: In Australia today, a lot of people were out in the bush looking for pieces of Skylab which came to a fiery end near the city of Perth yesterday. Skylab`s souvenirs are much in demand. And one government officials said the search for Skylab relics would be good for tourism. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Even before Skylab crashed down to earth in the desert of Western Australia in 1979, the very idea of Skylab crashing to Earth was good for business. According to "Associated Press" roundup at the time, the impending crash of the Skylab Orbiter spawned a cottage industry of frenzied anticipation that included Skylab helmets, Skylab repellent, bull`s eye t-shirts and something called Skylab impact bulb. When Skylab did crash to earth in 1979, the pieces of it mostly hit a sheep and cattle ranch in Australia. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GORDON SEILER, AUSTRALIAN FARMER: There were continuous sonic booms but small ones intercepted again by the loud ones. REPORTER: Was it a frightening experience? SEILER: Yes, it was, a very worrying experience, actually. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: While the sheep farmer was a little shook up. Nobody got hurt. And ultimately, the Australian government billed NASA $400 for littering, for littering pieces of Skylab all over Australia`s desert. Apparently, NASA never paid the ticket. An American radio station took up a collection and paid the money in 2009. In September 1962, way before Skylab, a 20-pound piece of the Soviet Union`s Sputnik satellites crashed into a sidewalk in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Again, nobody got hurt and now, Manitowoc holds an annual Sputnik fest every September to celebrate their encounter with space junk, including a dramatic re-enactment of the finding of the debris. (VIDEO CLIP PLAYS) MADDOW: OK, Wisconsin, I love you. In 1987, an Oklahoma woman named Lottie Williams claimed that while watching a shooting star, she felt a light tap on her shoulder. It turns out that she had been hit with a piece of burned metal mesh from a Delta II rocket booster. Lottie did not get hurt, but she is the only person ever known to have been directly hit by falling space debris. Although in 1961, Fidel Castro had claimed that a piece of falling space debris killed a Cuban cow. So, that was the comforting background and context that we all have for understanding what it means that a school bus-sized 6 1/2 ton satellite is hurtling toward our tiny blue earth right now. It`s a dead satellite, that in life was known as UARS, the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite. Its mission was to monitor the ozone layer. UARS was decommissioned in 2005. It is out of fuel and it has been slowly falling out of orbit for a long time now. It does now appear to be in its final death spiral. It`s expected to break up in to hundreds of pieces as it hits out atmosphere. Most of the pieces are expected to burn up long before they reach us. But NASA says there are possibly 26 large chunks of this satellite that could make it to where people are. And one of them weighs about 330 pounds -- which is the weight of Vincent Wilfork and would be quite a tap on the shoulder for anyone. NASA is trying to predict when and where this thing would come down, which you think it`s knowable, right? I mean, it`s science. They know where it is and how fast it`s traveling along its orbit. Why can`t they be certain when and where it will start to break up? Well, the thing is the conditions in the earth`s atmosphere is always changing, meaning there are variations in how much the atmosphere is dragging on the satellite in any given time, speeding up or slowing down its rate of descent. NASA`s most recent prediction has the UARS coming down sometime between about 9:00 p.m. Eastern tonight and 3:00 a.m. Eastern tomorrow morning -- which means now in other words. We have just learned that the debris will likely not land over North America, but it should make a spectacular light show for anybody lucky enough to see it anywhere on earth. And who knows, it might land somewhere interesting, where there are humans. The single best thing about all of this, though, is that all of this is happening on the first day of fall. Fall. Get it? Thank you, god of irony. We will be right back. Fall. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Before we go tonight, a reminder for you to set your alarm for 7:00 a.m. Eastern tomorrow morning -- yes, 7:00 a.m., so you can catch "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES" live. OK? Or you can DVR too if you insist. Chris` new show is great. It is on 7:00 to 9:00 Eastern on Saturday and 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. Eastern on Sunday. You should watch it. But in the meantime, coming up right now is three, two, one -- prison! THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END