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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/11/11

Guests: John Stanton, Bill Maher

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evenings, Lawrence. Thank you. And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. We are covering the big Senate vote on President Obama`s jobs bill tonight. We have today`s actual news story about zombies coming up - "Best New Thing in the World." And the one and only Bill Maher is going to be here for the interview tonight. But, first, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW has recently had an international banking problem. But like all truly useful problems in the world, having this problem -- not even solving this problem, just having this problem has helped us at this show gain some valuable insight. In this case, into the today`s -- into the most important story in today`s news. You may remember a story that we did recently about an awesome anti- Nazi t-shirt in Germany. A few months ago, we covered this story of a white power rock concert taking place in Eastern Germany and a genius anti- Nazi, anti-racism group decided to hand out these t-shirts at the rock show. The first 250 racist skin heads to enter that concert received these t-shirts which aren`t particularly overtly racist or anything but they can kind of look nationalist-ish. They have the right kind of skin heady iconography. The genius move here was that the anti-Nazi people developed some crazy t-shirt technology where, where once neo Nazis proudly wore this t- shirt and laundered them -- when this t-shirt came out of the laundry, the shirt would no longer look vaguely and pleasingly racist, but instead, post-washing machine, it would look like this. Reading in German, quote, "what your t-shirt can do, you also can do. We will help you free yourself from right wing extremism." We covered this story back in August. We`ve since been trying to get actual physical genius t-shirts from the anti-Nazi group that was distributing them. And in so doing, we have been developing an international banking problem. We have been waiting through what it takes to wire money internationally. It turns out in order to purchase 70 bucks worth of t- shirts, it`s going to cost us $35, half that much money just to move that money to Germany. That is typically what it costs to do an international money transfer between bank accounts, 30 or 40 bucks. And so, today, when this happened, when there was a massive show of national security fire power in D.C., a suddenly convened press conference to announce a high profile arrest in a case that reads like freaking "Syriana," a spy movie plot to end all spy movie plots, because we on this show are in the middle of trying to work out our own stupid international banking $35 fee snafu, one specific part of this super complicated fascinating thing made way more sense than it ought to have. On August 1st of this year, a 56-year-old Iranian American with awesome hair who said he was acting as an intermediary for Iran`s government specifically for his cousin in the Iranian military, another high-ranking government official, this guy allegedly arranged for this odd amount of money to be wired to a secret bank account, $49,960. About a week later, on August 9th, same deal, same dude arranged for this specific amount of money again to be wired to that same secret bank account. Now, part of the reason the spy movie criminal complaint today was filed in a New York City court is because these bank transfers even though they were starting presumably in Iran and going to a secret bank account somewhere else, these bank transfers went through Manhattan. They went through a New York City bank, because almost all banking in the world despite our financial catastrophe here still pretty much goes through New York City. So, the fact that that money stopped over in New York City in spitting distance of the occupy Wall Street protesters, that is why this criminal case was brought today in New York. And while this is not a central part of the case, it is worth noting that Wall Street is also the reason why the amount of money this Iranian guy allegedly wired twice was such a weird amount, $49,960? What? We know from what were apparently tape recorded conversations in this plot what the Iranian guy was supposed to be sending was 100 grand, $100,000. Clearly, he chose to send that money in two installments but each time, Wall Street takes a pop. This is an international money transfer so they scam 40 bucks every time you make a wire transfer like this. So, $49,960. Minus that 40 bucks twice, that $100,000 did move. Leading to today`s stranger-than-fiction, bombshell national security announcement in D.C. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The disruption of this alleged plot marks a significant achievement by our law enforcement and intelligence agencies. ROBERT MUELLER, FBI DIRECTOR: And though it reads like the pages of a Hollywood script, the impact would have been very real and many lives would have been lost. PREET BHARARA, U.S. ATTORNEY: Today`s charges should make crystal clear that we will not let other countries use our soil as their battleground. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: Not let other countries use our soil as battleground. I wonder if Yemen feels the same way about us, or Pakistan? Never mind. But here`s the stranger-than-fiction, action movie plot that U.S. officials are alleging. On May 24th of this year, this American citizen -- he`s a dual citizen of both Iran and the United States -- he traveled from Texas where he lives to Mexico, to go meet with someone from a Mexican drug cartel. It`s not described in the complaint explicitly as being the Zetas cartel but other people writing about this today, report that the cartel this guy thought he was meeting with was the Zetas. He gets to Mexico and this Iranian guy asks his contact in the drug cartel if the drug cartel guy is any good with explosives. The guy from the cartel replies, yes, he is. He is, in fact, great with C-4 in particular. The Iranian guy then says he`s interested among other things in attacking an embassy of Saudi Arabia. What the Iranian guy does not know at this point is that guy who he`s meeting with from the drug cartel is an informant for the U.S. government. He`s a person who was previously, quote, "charged in connection with a narcotics offense by authorities of a certain U.S. state. In exchange for his cooperation and various narcotics investigations, the state charges were dismissed." And he is now paid by law enforcement officials to be a rat. That`s not the term they used but that`s what he is. He`s a paid informer inside the Mexican drug cartel. We have those apparently in American law enforcement. So, the Iranian guy is meeting with a DEA informant in this Mexican drug gang. The informant then reports back to his handlers at the DEA that an Iranian guy has approached him about attacking a Saudi Arabian embassy, at which point the DEA calls in the FBI. The informant and Iranian guy continue to meet through June and July, during which time the Iranian guy clarifies he doesn`t just want the embassy attacked, he wants the ambassador killed. He wants the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. murdered, assassinated, while the ambassador is in the U.S. And at a meeting between the Iranian guy and the informant in July, the informant, just like in the movies, he wears a wire. At that meeting, the Iranian guy says in English that the money he`s going to use to pay the drug cartel to kill the ambassador, that, quote, "money," is in Iran. The Iranian guy then explains that it`s his cousin in the Iranian army who`s asked him to find somebody to mount this assassination. He describes his cousin as a big general in the army who was, quote, "wanted in America" and had, in his words, "been on the CNN." At a follow-up meeting a few days later, the informant says in English on tape, quote, "I don`t know exactly what your cousin wants me to." The Iranian guy replies, quote, "He wants you to kill the guy," talking about the ambassador. To which the informant says, "There`s going to be like American people there in the restaurant where he`s planning the assassination. You want me to do it outside or in the restaurant?" Iranian guy answers, "Doesn`t matter how you do it." According to the complaint on numerous occasions during that meeting, the Iranian made it clear the assassination need to go forward even if doing so would cause mass casualties. The informant quotes him as saying, quote, "They want that guy done" -- meaning they want the ambassador killed. Quote, "If the 100 go with him, F `em." And then the complaint alleges that the Iranian makes clear that the money to finance this operation is not some freelance thing, not some independent terrorist group. Talking about his cousin in the army again, he says, quote, "He`s got the government behind him. He`s not paying from his pocket" -- meaning the Iranian government. At that point, as far as he`s concerned, the plan goes into motion. This Iranian guy believes he`s now contracted with a Mexican drug cartel to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States in the United States probably in a restaurant in Washington, D.C., using a bomb. He makes $100,000 down payment, minus two wire transfer fees of 40 bucks, makes that payment on the eventual $1.5 million cost of the job. He makes plans to finish the deal and skedaddle, to get out of town to go back to Iran. And with that guy on tape in English making the arrangements for the killing, making the arrangements for the payment, tying it all to the government of Iran and having now completed the wire transfer, the FBI and the DEA sew him up, announcing today the arrest of this American citizen at JFK Airport in New York as he was trying to get back to Iran. He allegedly confessed to U.S. authorities after being read his Miranda rights. He will now be tried in the southern district of New York. The Iranian government already denouncing these charges laid out today as America trying to distract from its own problems. But from the Obama administration`s perspective, this is not being treated as an average run- of-the-mill bubbling true believer terrorist plot, not being treated as just a criminal complaint, although it is that, too. The Obama administration is treating this as a major international incident which is what it seems like it is becoming and quickly. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HOLDER: In addition to holding these individual conspirators accountable for their alleged role in this plot, the United States is committed to holding Iran accountable for its actions. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It remains to be seen exactly what the United States is going to do and how this ends, but looming over this whole story, over this whole dramatic press conference and the bombshell complaint today and the international incident this has now become is the fact that the reason this came down this way is apparently because the DEA had a well placed informant inside what appears to be the Zetas drug cartel. And they did not keep this information to themselves once approached by this Iranian guy. The dots were connected. The arrest was made. The suspect confessed. The trial will be held. In a world where plots like this are not pot boiler or fiction, from a law enforcement and counterterrorism perspective, this is the way this is supposed to go. Want another one? Here`s the former Soviet Union. Really big. Right? Here`s a tiny little part of the former Soviet Union that is now known as Moldova. One thing relevant to American security from the former Soviet Union is the uranium and plutonium left behind by the Soviet`s giant nuclear program when the Soviet Union fell apart. One of the things that U.S. officials do, U.S. government personnel do in the spy versus spy world that we live in is that they try to track down all the old Soviet uranium and plutonium so it doesn`t get sold in the black market to terrorists groups, terrorist groups looking for a nuclear weapon or enough uranium or plutonium to make one on their own or just for enough highly radioactive material to explode a dirty bomb, which is essentially radioactive shrapnel and conventional explosives. In Moldova in June, local police who have been trained by American authorities identified a ring of people who were trying to sell 20 pounds of highly-enriched uranium and some unknown quantity of plutonium. That much uranium could get you well on your way toward making your own homegrown nuclear bomb. "The Associated Press" reporting that the asking price was about $30 million. The arranged buyer of at least a sample of the uranium was a North African man who has not yet been found. Nor has one kilogram of highly-enriched uranium that these authorities still think is out there and in criminal hands and for sale, because there is a functioning black market on which terrorist groups are shopping for uranium and plutonium. But thanks to the U.S. doing this work, prioritizing this, having a presence in somewhere as random as Moldova, this uranium has been tracked to its source. This uranium and plutonium ring has started to be shut down. There have been arrests. This is -- this is the way it`s supposed to work. This is why the U.S. government does this kind of work. How about one more? Tonight, we on the show can exclusively report that the United States government has completed a top secret mission to secure and dispose of more than 70 pounds of highly-enriched uranium in the nation of Kazakhstan. That`s enough highly enriched uranium to build an improvised nuclear bomb. As we have discussed on this show before, we have an agency in the federal government, the National Nuclear Security Administration whose job it is to find and lock down loose nuclear material all over the world, to make sure that material stays out of the hands of terrorists and off the black market. What you`re looking at right now are exclusive images nobody else has from the NNSA`s latest mission to Kazakhstan. NNSA officials, U.S. government officials, along side the Kazaks, they spent the last seven weeks working in secret to secure and transport about 72 pounds of weapons grade uranium, the most valuable substance on earth if you ask your local rich terrorist group. In a mission plan over the course of two years, this highly radioactive nuclear material was packed up and moved more than 750 miles across that country, where we can now report it has finished being down-blended. It`s been down-blended into low enriched uranium, which means it can no longer be used to make a nuclear weapon. This is what the NNSA does every single day. This is what your government is doing. In the last year and a half alone, the NNSA has down- blended more than 55,000 kilograms of nuclear material, enough to build over 2,000 nuclear weapons. They are the ones who are keeping this material off the nuclear black market for the world and for America. They are the ones keeping this stuff out of the hands of terrorists who are actively trying to get it and have millions of dollars to spend to do it. That is the way it`s supposed to work. Next time you hear somebody talking smack about the government, about the whole idea of government doing something useful, you have your rejoinder. These are your tax dollars at work. Thank God. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Today, some of the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters took a walking tour of the New York City homes of billionaires. The protesters noted that New York has a special 2 percent millionaire`s tax that`s due to expire at the end of this year. In other words, that tax is in place now. It`s due to be phased out. Thus, proving by their billionaires homes walking tour, that even with that special New York millionaire`s tax, a whole bunch of millionaires and billionaires still live in New York. They survived the tax and they`re still zillionaires. They did not flee. They weren`t reduced to payee (ph). When a place like New York taxes really rich people, New York does better and really rich people still do OK. They do really OK. They do really, really, really OK. We`ll have more ahead on this with Bill Maher who is our guest tonight for the interview. That`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: "Occupy Boston" protesters tried and failed yesterday to march on to the Charlestown Bridge. Here`s what that looked like on local TV in Boston. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: And you`re looking live again from Sky 5 at the Charlestown Bridge. There`s a bit of a standoff with police not allowing anybody on the bridge. And part of the reason why they wanted to go to that bridge is that many of the union protesters who are joining them at this hour believe if we repaired bridges like that one, there would be more jobs. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: "The Boston Globe" reporting that protesters had hoped to hang a banner on the bridge that said, "Fix this bridge, create jobs now." If you look again at the local news footage from the standoff at the bridge, you can actually see the big "fix this bridge" banner. But that banner and that big group of protesters holding it never made it on to the bridge. According to "The Boston Herald," that`s because police told the protesters the aging structure that is the bridge would buckle if they all walked on to it. So, you can`t take your "fix this bridge" sign on to the bridge because the bridge is so decrepit it might not support your weight. That`s one implicit prayer for America`s infrastructure, from a Boston bridge too run down to speak for itself. There`s another argument for infrastructure spending today coming from big business. President Obama met with his council on jobs and competitiveness today, a group made up almost entirely of business and corporate bigwigs, including both G.E. and Comcast CEOs. Hello bosses who I don`t know. This council is charged with giving the president advice on the economy in which they did today in the form of this 50-page report. Now, remember, this jobs council is a corporate America thing. These are the businesspeople who the Republicans call the job creators, right? You might have noticed corporate America is not really creating jobs now. With unemployment stuck at over 9 percent, corporations are -- as "The Wall Street Journal" put it recently -- deciding to horde cash instead of hiring anyone. Quote, "Corporations have a higher share of cash on their balance sheets than at any time in nearly half a century, as businesses build up buffers rather than invest in new plants or hiring." Corporations in other words have tons of money right now. But they are sitting on it as cash. They are not using it to hire American workers. It`s not because they don`t have any money or because they need to pay lower taxes, G.E., taxes, ha! No, corporate America is not hiring because the economy sucks. There`s no market here for anything that they`re selling. So, they`re not hiring here. So if jobs aren`t going to come as a gift to the nation from corporate America, what do the supposed big business corporate America job creators say needs to happen in order to get jobs back? Their number one recommendation in their big report to the president today was infrastructure. Quote, "The council wants to add its voice to appoint every thoughtful group that`s looked at the matter, shout it from the rooftops, repairing and modernizing our tunnels, railways, ports, dams, schools, airports, transit, electric grids, water and waste water systems, and expanding our broadband networks are classic twofers. They create jobs in the near term at a time when more than a million construction workers are out of work. And they promote long-term competitiveness by building a more productive economy. If Washington can agree on anything, it should be this and should be now," so says corporate America. And so, for the record says the Chamber of Commerce, and so says labor, and so says the great majority of the public, and so says the great majority of all economists both bearish and even though bullish. And so, tonight in the United States Senate, there was a test vote on the Senate`s version of President Obama`s jobs bill. For the $175 billion and that everybody agrees on it, infrastructure investment. Not a single Republican senator voted for the bill. Not one. Charlestown Bridge, how you doing, Scott Brown? Almost every single Democrat and therefore a majority of the Senate voted to move this bill forward, but the Republicans filibustered it. They are unanimously opposed. Joining us now is John Stanton, reporter for "The Roll Call" newspaper. John, thanks very much for your time tonight. It`s nice to have you here. JOHN STANTON, THE ROLL CALL: Goods to be here. MADDOW: Let`s start with the exceptions to the rule. Which Democrats did not vote for this version of the jobs bill tonight? STANTON: Jim Webb and Ben Nelson from Nebraska did not vote for the bill. MADDOW: OK. And David Axelrod has been arguing in a memo to Democrats really, to everybody today, that the policies in the jobs act are really popular, the bill, itself, is really popular and getting more so. He was saying Democrats who don`t back it are making a political mistake. Why didn`t that argument -- why doesn`t the polling on this appeal to guys like Jim Webb? STANTON: Well, I think partly it`s because Webb is fairly conservative in sort of his fiscal policies. But, you know, with say Nelson and other Democrats that opposed it, they`re really looking at what happened in the election two years ago and they`re seeing this sort of an echo effect. They see that the Tea Party, sort of the calls for deficit reduction, fiscal restraint, that kind of thing as sort of the order of the day. And so, they sort of begin to triangulate toward the right and are voting with Republicans on things like this. Particularly for folks like Ben Nelson, who`s facing a very tough re-election next year, you can expect him to vote Republican down the line on anything like this. MADDOW: That said, even with Webb and Nelson defecting from the Democratic line, it shouldn`t overshadow the fact Democrats actually did get almost all Democratic votes here and they did in fact get a raw majority for the bill. If the Republicans hadn`t filibustered it, it would have passed. Do you have any inkling in the Senate that Harry Reid and the Democrats might be thinking about that filibuster rule so they can pass things with the majority again? STANTON: No, I don`t. I think, you know, there`s been a lot of calls, obviously, and a lot of people on the progressive side of the world would definitely like to see that. But there were Democrats that voted for this bill frankly who would not have voted for it if they thought it was actually going to pass in the end, I think. You know, they felt like Harry Reid put a lot of pressure on them for this vote. It was a political point to show that 51 Democrats were willing to vote for it, that a civil majority of the Senate was willing to vote for it -- but had no repercussions for them. If it was going to pass, you`d see a fair number of Democrats actually, eventually defect it and vote with Republicans on it. MADDOW: It is astonishing -- I mean, Republicans can find unanimity on the most complicated issues in the world as long as it`s bad for a Democrat. Democrats can`t agree that the sky is up when they`re standing. The president saying tonight, John, that this isn`t done. He clearly wants to campaign on the jobs bill. He says he wants to try to pass any part of it any way he can. What do you think happens next on this? STANTON: Well, I think that`s what you`re going to see. I mean, you know, next week, they`re going to be doing appropriations bills and there will be a week off. And the Senate will come back to this probably in about three weeks. What you`re going to see between now and then is essentially, you know, a political campaign run by the White House, by Senate Democrats, by House Republicans, continuing sort of this same fight that they`ve been having frankly since, you know, February or January of how do we move forward as a country and not really trying to talk to each other but past each other to the voters -- hoping to put enough pressure on the other guy to get them to cave as opposed to trying to find some kind of middle ground which has traditionally been what we`ve done in this country -- and they`re really no longer trying to do that. It`s mostly a game of who can yell at the other longer and louder at this point. MADDOW: That`s very depressing. John Stanton, reporter for "Roll Call" -- John, thanks for joining us. Appreciate having you here. STANTON: Any time. MADDOW: All right. Bill Maher occupies our airwaves straight ahead. That`s a great new thing on the show. But it is not the "Best New Thing." For "The Best New Thing" -- we had to turn to zombies tonight. That means we`ve got Bill Maher and we`ve got zombies all coming up on the show but not together. It`s two different things. Stay tuned. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: We`ve got Bill Maher tonight for the interview. I wanted to get his take on "Occupy Wall Street" and whether this is finally the shot in the arm, outside the box, lefty populist movement the country is about two generations overdue for. Today in New York, somebody made this protest sign for "Occupy Wall Street," "Repeal the Enclosure Act of 1801, common land for the common folk." That would be a British law that made sheep farming possible and that drove peasant farmers into the city where they became cogs in the industrial machine. I do not know who made this sign, but I think this cardboard protest of an 1801 foreign land statute shows that people have a thousand different reasons for joining the "Occupy Wall Street" movement. This guy, for example, told us today that he`s there because of income inequality. This person says she wants to see the economy improve. This man believes that Americans need to stop voting for rich people because they think it will somehow make their own non-rich people lives better. This artist in this work-consumed be silent hazmat suit says people need a wake-up call to treat the planet better. For instance, no nukes. And this guy here wants to know who wrecked the country. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a fantastic, beautiful, bountiful land that`s hopelessly in debt. What happened? What went -- you know, what happened? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: We talked to another person today at "Occupy Wall Street" -- a somewhat famous one, though not as famous as he`d like to be. He`s Buddy Roemer, former governor of Louisiana, current Republican candidate for president, running what you might call politely an underdog campaign. Republicans are not putting him in the debate. He`s down at Jon Huntsman levels in the polls. But Buddy Roemer is not a wing nut. He is not a crank. He is a candidate who`s sole and signature issue is getting corporate money out of politics. And today out at "Occupy Wall Street," Buddy Roemer signed on for another issue -- another issue about how democracy rolls now in America. Listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your party has made a concerted effort nationwide to change voter registration laws. They`re going to disenfranchise millions of people. What are you doing about that? Are you saying anything about that? BUDDY ROEMER (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am not. I am not saying -- but I am -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why not? ROEMER: In Louisiana, we did not do that while I was governor. I mean, my record is pretty reform and clean on those issues. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, what are you going to do? Like, why don`t you go on the news tonight and say my party is passing laws nationwide that will disenfranchise millions of people, and I support the right of people to vote regardless of whether you vote for me, you vote for Republican, you vote for whoever? ROEMER: Let me tell you what I`m doing. Let me tell you what I`m doing. I have put my whole 24/7 on money and politics. That`s what I`m doing. And I can`t be given 18 message, but I can give one. That is free to lead. But you asked me, have I made this an issue. I have not. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you? Will you? ROEMER: Absolutely. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Immediately? ROEMER: Absolutely. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. I mean, we can`t ask for more than that. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: There it is. Real time -- real time, real live footage of a movement moving someone. In this case, the inimitable Buddy Roemer who is not getting enough attention he deserves. We`ve got to have him back on this show soon. Coming up, the great Bill Maher on "occupy Wall Street" as a shot in the arm for American politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Joining us now for the interview is Bill Maher, the host of "Real Time with Bill Maher" on HBO. Bill Maher, it is nice to see you. Thanks for being here. BILL MAHER, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": Always good to see you, Rachel. MADDOW: The "Occupy Wall Street" protesters today, Bill, they took a tour of Wall Street billionaires` homes in New York City. Noting among other things that New York`s special millionaire`s tax expires at the end of this year. There`s been this surtax on millionaires in New York, but yet all these millionaires are still here. I wonder if you feel like the "Occupy Wall Street" protests are resonating, have come up with at least a vague message that is speaking to people who may not be participating in those protests yet? MAHER: Absolutely. I think it`s a great thing. On our show, we`ve talked for the longest time about how what the left needs is something to put the wind at the back of the president and other Democrats who as you know have a tendency to falter toward the side of, shall we say centrism. And this could be it, you know? So what their message is a little vague. I kind of like it they`re sort of militantly vague at this point, because they are in a lot of ways the opposite of the Tea Party movement. Although that`s sort of weird also because the Tea Party movement, let`s remember, sort of started out as protesting some of the same things. Remember the bailouts of the banks. They didn`t like the big banks. It just shows how easily the people in the Tea Party can be herded to something else. They were sort of on the same page as these folks but then they started to watch FOX News and found out, no, what they were really upset about is things like Obamacare and taxing the job creators and somehow they wound up on the wrong side of the issue again. MADDOW: The Tea Partiers, though, I feel like -- I feel like you`re right that where they ended up was just being a really awesome brand name for what is always the conservative base of the Republican Party. But I think back to the Rick Santelli call from the stock exchange in Chicago and the bailout that he was angry about, that he called for that first Chicago Tea Party, was not a -- he wasn`t angry about a bank bailout. He was angry about the idea that people with mortgages might get bailed out. Individual homeowners might get bailed out. And that was the outrage. So, I don`t know. I feel like the origin myth of the Tea Party is something that`s screwed up in my own mind. I`m not sure they were ever anti-bank. MAHER: I`m not sure they were ever even that much about financial issues which is what they purport to be about. When you, of course, look deep into the Tea Party -- not that they`re really that deep -- they`re, you know, it`s sort of the same stuff that we`ve had in this country going back to the Birchers. It seems like the Republican Party periodically gets taken over by a group of people, the Birchers in the `50s, and then in the `80s, remember, it was values voters types, the Christian coalition. Now it`s the Tea Party people. And it seems like it`s one of those viruses that every time it comes back, it comes back a little stronger and more dangerous. And that seems to be what we have here. I mean, a lot of really what we find out about the Tea Party and their agenda despite the fact that they`re named after a gay sex act is really social issues. You know? They`re really -- they`re really mad at the same things that those pants wetting nativists have always been worried about. MADDOW: I wonder, though, if you -- I mean, you just think back on this year, even just the year in stupid punditry and the amount of power that has been ascribed to the Tea Party movement. They`re seen as essentially driving all Republican political decisions at this point. Is that in part because they were seen as being so potentially -- because they were seen as being potentially violent, because they were seen as an unruly mob? I was thinking about that as we see Eric Cantor and other Republican congressmen denouncing the "Occupy Wall Street" people as an angry mob and somehow dangerous to the country. I wonder if a sense of dangerousness is what gives them power. MAHER: Well, yes, I think so. I don`t think anyone feels that we`re in a country like so many in the world. Let`s remember we are luckier than most, where violence really is going to rule the day and effect policy. Yes, people can be intimidated by that kind of thing. I mean, this idea that they`re marching now on millionaires` homes, I couldn`t help but think of that scene in the Martin Scorsese movie "Gangs of New York" where the riots break out in New York and Martin Scorsese has the cameo where he plays this rich guy. You know, he`s in his Fifth Avenue apartment and a brick comes through the window. Well, if a brick came through Rupert Murdoch`s issue, I have a feeling FOX News would be a lot more gentle on the Wall Street people. MADDOW: In terms of the way Republicans are dealing with this -- I mean, it`s interesting enough to see Democrats dealing with this, trying to decide how much they want to embrace the idea of some movement outside politics as having their message. But Republicans I think are also changing their message toward it, too. In one day, Mitt Romney went from describing "Occupy Wall Street" as dangerous to saying he understands how these people feel and he worries about the 99 percent. I mean, that`s Mitt Romney`s evolution on the subject over the course of one day on the campaign trail. Does that tell you more about Mitt Romney or does that tell you they may be seeing some political cost in denouncing these folks? MAHER: Well, I must say, if you`re trying to say Mitt Romney is a flip-flopper, that does not resonate with me. That`s not the Mitt Romney I ever remember. But if you`re going to try to sell that, I`m buying it. No -- you know, I don`t know, who knows what Mitt Romney is saying from one day to the next? But I -- he said in the debate, the last debate, that he wanted everyone to be rich. That seems to be the line from the Republican Party, which, of course, is just a complete fantasy. Herman Cain, of course, famously said recently that if you`re not rich, blame yourself. This is what really bothers me, this idea that somehow we can all be rich. I mean, among the stupid things and you really have to dig deep to, you know, have that contest which is the stupidest, that is one of the stupidest things I`ve ever heard any politician say. I want everybody to be rich. First of all, if everybody was rich, who would do the things that rich people hire people to do for them? Who`s going to be my foot man, my tonist (ph), my liposuctionist? Rich people need poor people to work for them. And this idea that Herman Cain said that, you know, if you`re not rich, blame yourself -- this is what bothers me about rich people. They don`t, first of all, as Elizabeth Warren said, they don`t cotton to the idea they wouldn`t be rich if they didn`t have this great country that provides the roads and the schools and all the other things that allow them to be rich. But also this idea, they never understand it`s a fluke mostly, that what you do is something that made you rich. Yes, if you throw a baseball 100 miles an hour or even what I do -- I mean, I`m not humble about some things. I`m very humble about the fact that telling jokes is something that gets you a lot of money. That is a complete fluke -- and so is owning pizza parlors. Yes, Herman Cain was good at business. Great. He became very rich from it. But what about teachers and cops and firemen? You know those people we always say are our heroes. They`re such heroes that we pay them like crap. Well, they do what they do very well. It doesn`t happen to be something that is ever going to make you rich. So, this idea that if you`re not rich, blame yourself -- oh, really bugs me. But I tried to hide it. MADDOW: Bill Maher, can you hold on one second and come right back with us in just a moment? MAHER: No, I can`t. I`m just going off right now. MADDOW: Well, keep the camera on. OK. Hold on one second. MAHER: OK. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: One correction from earlier on the show. Our guest from "Roll Call" said Ben Wilson and Jim Webb were votes against cloture on the president`s jobs bill tonight in the Senate. Ben Nelson, true. Jim Webb, not true. It was actually Jon Tester of Montana, not John Webb, who is the second Democrat voting with Ben Wilson against the president`s bill tonight. Apologies that was misreported here. We will be right back with more Bill Maher. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Joining us once again is Bill Maher, the host of "Real Time with Bill Maher" on HBO. Bill, thanks very much for sticking with us. Great to have you here. MAHER: I`ve calmed down, Rachel. I`ve calmed down. MADDOW: Well, I`d like to get you more excited by talking to you again about Mitt Romney who I know gets your blood pumping. MAHER: Oh, God. MADDOW: Chris Christie has endorsed Mitt Romney now. Tim Pawlenty today said he wishes he was back in the race, which is a little odd given that he`s Romney`s campaign co-chairman now. It`s hard to make the case for that guy being the guy for the country when you say you wish you stayed in the race to beat him. MAHER: Right. MADDOW: What do you make of the Republican Party`s dissatisfaction with Mr. Romney as they seem to be picking him for their nominee? MAHER: Well, you know, it`s funny. I mean, it`s delightful for someone who doesn`t like the Republicans. I`m enjoying them watching them pick at each other. I mean, you have to understand the Republicans I think basically cannot find a person that they really like because they really don`t like people. They like people in general. They like people in the abstract. If you show a soldier, you know, in a sunset and put the syrupy music behind it, they get teary like John Boehner. But if that soldier then opens his mouth and says he`s gay, they`ll boo him out of the room. So, I think that`s part of it. They don`t like human beings. You know, they`re like Ayn Rand, who doesn`t like human beings. And as far as Mitt Romney -- you know, I was reading an interesting poll today which said most Americans are not familiar with Mitt Romney. They can`t even name the people who are running. This isn`t just Americans. This is Republicans who you think would be a little more interested. I don`t think they know who he is yet. So, he`s still defining himself. You have so much to pick from to define because he`s been on every side of every issue as we know. What really is going to be the problem for Mitt Romney is the for Mormonism thing. I don`t think the flip-flopping thing bothers people anymore. They kind of accept politicians are always full of it and all trust them and t hey say one thing and do another. But the religion stuff in this dumb religious country, that`s going to be a problem for Mitt Romney. As we saw this week when Herman Cain -- well, not Herman Cain. Who outed him? Rick Perry, the Jeffress guy, who was a Rick Perry surrogate, yes, Rick Perry -- outed him as a Mormon, and started to play this Mormon card. And when people find out that Mormon is really is not a branch of Christianity, I think it`s going to be a problem for him. When Mitt Romney made his speech in 2007, people compared it to the Kennedy speech in `60. It was nothing like the Kennedy speech. What Kennedy was saying was I`m a Catholic, yes, but I`m not going to take my orders from the Pope. I separate church and state. That`s not what Mitt Romney said. What Mitt Romney said was look, yes, I`m a Mormon. That`s different than the Christian. But what`s important is that we all believe in nonsense. We can all rally around that. MADDOW: Do you think, though, that -- Mitt Romney now has this choice of whether or not to redo that speech that he did before about his faith. Or should -- I mean, he could also go sort of on the offensive against the people who are calling his religion a cult. It seems like he`s counting on this creating some sympathy for him because his religion has been attacked by his political rivals. If you were advising Mitt Romney and you wanted him to win the nomination, what would you tell him to say about this? I mean, he`s sort of in a box, isn`t he? MAHER: Well, yes. I mean, I would advise him to become a Protestant and I`m sure he would have no problem doing that because he`s Mitt Romney. He is the ultimate shape shifter. If a poll came out tomorrow that said he could get elected easier if he was a black woman, he would have the sex change operation tomorrow, get a weave and rename himself Latisha. I have no doubt about that. But, you know, he`s not going to do that, of course. You know, he`s going to down play it as he did before. Kind of gloss over this idea that Mormonism is a completely different religion as it is from Christianity. He`s going to try to sell this idea that we`re all -- you know what? This is just a different branch of Christianity. No, it`s not. I was raised Catholic. I don`t remember anything about magic underwear or baptizing dead people or getting your own planet to rule over when you die. Mormonism -- I mean, look, all religion is nuts. But Mormonism just takes it to a different level. I mean, all religion is magic tricks. Mormonism is just a particularly cheap, novelty store brand of magic trick. MADDOW: Please address your commentary RACHEL MADDOW SHOW viewers to Bill Maher, the host of HBO`s "Real Time with Bill Maher." Bill, can I ask you one more thing about the Democratic side of things? MAHER: Absolutely. MADDOW: All right. President Obama right now has this jobs program. It`s infrastructure investment, it`s middle class tax cuts, it`s all these hiring incentives. And he`s got Republicans 100 percent uniformly against him on all this. But he cannot get Democrats uniformly behind him on this. He cannot get unanimity from the senators in his own party that they should support his jobs plan. Is that just in the nature of Democrats at this point? Or is there anything that they can do to sort of get them in line on this? MAHER: Well, it`s a great question. I don`t know if they can get them in line. But I would agree with you that is one of the big problems in this country, is we understand that the Republicans are mostly bad policy makers who are trying retreaded ideas that didn`t work the first time. What`s especially disappointing is that group of Democratic senators, you know, the Ben Nelsons, these same types, these centrists, corporatist Democrats who ally with them. You know, it`s bad enough you need 60 votes which is a quiet coup in government because, really, the Constitution says it should be 51 to get something done. When you add the fact that there`s 53 Republican -- I mean, 53 Democratic senators, 40 of them are pretty good. But there`s those 13 that call themselves centrists that really wind up with the Republicans, and then, of course, nothing is going to ever get done. And this is again to come back to what we started to talk about, why I think that "Occupy Wall Street" movement is so important, because the left needs something to move them away from the center and toward the left. You know, we`ve tried conservativism in this country. We tried centrism. We need something to make us try liberal policies. MADDOW: Bill Maher, the host of HBO`s "Real Time with Bill Maher" -- he`s performing live at the Gibson Amphitheater at Universal Studios on November 5th. Mr. Maher, I will see you next week on your TV show. MAHER: Right here in L.A. MADDOW: Woo! I will be there. MAHER: Thank you. MADDOW: I`ll be much more relaxed. Thanks, Bill. Good to see you. MAHER: OK. You, too. MADDOW: We`ll be back with "The Best New Thing in the World Today." (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: "Best New Thing in the World Today" -- but it started with a good news/bad news caveat. The bad news is that this story does involve some bruises and even some broken bones. No one more seriously injured than that, but there were injuries on set while a movie was being shot in Toronto. Sixteen people hurt when some scaffolding collapsed. So, that is the bad news. The good news is everything else is about this story. The movie being shot is "Resident Evil Part 48" or something. There`s a million "Resident Evil" movies. And the next one was being shot in Toronto and they have this scaffolding mishap/ Like all the "Resident Evils," this one new features zombies. This is from the extras on the first "Resident Evil" film. Looking at this makeup, imagine you`re a paramedic called to the scene of an accident and you`ve got to assess if there have been any injuries. When you turn up there are 16 of these. It was 16 people in full zombie regalia and makeup on that scaffolding. How exactly do you triage that as an EMT? Now, the "A.P." delicately put it today -- the victims gory costumes made it difficult for crews to assess the severity of the actors` injuries. So, bad thing: people do get hurt. Better thing: none of the injuries is expected to be very serious and some of the zombies are reportedly already back at work playing their part in "Resident Evil`s" fictional cannibalistic undead horde. But "The Best New Thing in the World Today" is the stories that the paramedics that responded to the zombies on that movie set today will be able to tell their kids, late at night with a flash light under the chin on Halloween. That does it for us tonight. Now it`s time for "THE ED SHOW." THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END