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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/14/11

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Lawrence. Thank you. And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. I am old enough that my videogame system of choice, the video game consul imprinted on my muscle memory and on my mind is this one -- oh, yes -- the Atari. The wood grain Atari. I had this exact one when I was a kid. You hooked it up to the TV machine and you played games that came on these black cartridges that sort of looked like 8 tracks. I didn`t think about it like this at the time granted I was only 8. But looking back on it now, the games were either manual dexterity games about how you good you were physically at using your hand/eye coordination in order to accomplish something on the screen so like -- Pong, of course, a manual dexterity game that was a classic. There was Kaboom. My mom was amazing at Kaboom. I still remember coming home from elementary school and catching my mother playing Kaboom on the Atari and doing way better than I ever could. Other manual dexterity games for things like Frogger and Pac-Man. I mean, there`s a little strategy involved in these games. But it is mostly about manual dexterity and hand/eye coordination. Then the other main category, it seems to me, was killing games. Space Invaders, right, where the aliens are trying to kill you and you`re trying to shoot them. My favorite killing game was called Adventure, where you were a sword guy that walked around. You were a block and picked up a sword and you poked things with a sword and killed dragons that looked like ducks and stuff. See? That was my favorite. There are exceptions, right? But the broad categories of early video games measured best fast twitch hand/eye coordination like the stuff my mother was good at, or best combat, killing the dragon ducks. Those are the things that I was good at. The one smash hit early video game that sort of broke that dual model that was neither was a game called Sim City. In Sim City, what you were doing was essentially urban planning. Basically zero manual dexterity required and, as far as I remember, zero killing, too. In Sim City, you were building a new urban environment, including utilities and population centers, and schools and stuff. Sim City was urban planning as after school entertainment. Well, Sim City now has a weird cameo role in this year`s Republican presidential nominating process. If there`s one thing you know about current presidential front-runner Herman Cain other than the fact that he was CEO of a mafia-themed pizza chain, if there`s one thing you know about Herman Cain, it is probably this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My 9-9-9 plan -- 9-9-9 -- 9- 9-9 -- 9-9-9. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Herman Cain has an economic plan called --the way you call emergency services in England. And that also happens to be -- 999 -- happens to be the tax structure of Sim City Volume 4. Not kidding. That`s how it`s set up. The tax structure in your simulated world, 9-9-9. Since most economists think the 9-9-9 plan is -- and Mr. Cain says his advisers are secret, people Googling around to figure out where Herman Cain might have come up with the 9-9-9 plan, what might be the basis for his thinking about this, hit pretty quickly on the Sim City video game connection. Could his 9-9-9 idea have come from urban planning as after school entertainment? Mr. Cain was asked about that during a campaign stop in Tennessee. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: An article today says 9-9-9 is modeled after a Sims video game 2003. What do you say about that? You said you had original ideas. You can check with people around thinking those ideas out. Is it an original idea or modeled after a game? CAIN: It`s an original idea. And to people who say it`s modeled after a game, it`s a lie. That`s all I`m going to say. It is a lie. You see? That`s the difference when you become one or two in the polls. People make up stuff. That is a lie. I`m not going to take it back and I`m not going to politically say, but unfortunately, that is not totally true. It`s a lie. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. CAIN: Thank you all very much. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: No, thank you very much. Herman Cain giving up the opportunity to cultivate the aging but still enthusiastic urban planning video game market by claiming proudly his 9-9-9 plan Sims City origins -- Mr. Cain denying that allegation. But what he did say there about being number one or number two in the polls now, that is correct. As you might have heard, Herman Cain had a substantial surge in the polls in recent weeks. Mr. Cain now places ahead of Mitt Romney in Florida, in Iowa and in a pair of recent nationwide polls as well. The sudden and dramatic surges by fringe or unknown candidates, this has sort of been the way it`s gone in the Republican nominating process this year. It`s been a very volatile race. There`s one thing that hasn`t been all that volatile. We`ll get to that in a second. But the Herman Cain phenomenon, the surge we`re experiencing from him right now is not the first time we`ve had a big surge from an unlikely contender. For example, earlier this year, it was the Michele Bachmann surge. Michele Bachmann went up and up and up and then peaked on the 18th of July. Since that peak, it`s been a long, deep decline for Ms. Bachmann. There`s also the epic Rick Perry surge. Rick Perry jumped into the race, and then shot to the front of the pack, way up there, until roughly September 14th at which point he, too, saw his support absolutely crater. And now, we are experiencing the Herman Cain surge. Mr. Cain appears to be climbing and climbing and climbing right now. Maybe that keeps on going and he goes on to win the nomination. But as much fun as it has been to see these different candidates rise up then go away then rise up and go away and then rise up and everybody expects them to go away, what is actually more important and more interesting than that is what has not changed in this race. The one totally nonvolatile element in the Republican race this year is the steady basically straight line of Mitt Romney. During the earliest 2012 polling in the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney was at about 23 percent. Right now, he`s at about 23 percent. He did have that little wiggle in there, sort of. But he`s essentially Mr. 23 percent. Now, the good news for Mr. Romney is that he is not dropping below the basic level of support. The bad news for Mr. Romney is he cannot seem to get above that level of support either. In the most recent Gallup poll that showed him at about 20 percent, Gallup noted that that level of support is, quote, "well below where most previous Republican nominees stood in October of the year prior to the election." So, Mitt Romney has very stable numbers. He is Mr. Nonvolatile in a volatile race. But the nice stable number that he has got is a really low stable number. It`s the same kind of failure to thrive that Mitt Romney is experiencing in fund-raising right now as well, where you would expect him to be rather mega. Mr. Romney has turned in his third quarter fund-raising numbers now and they are lower than his second quarter fund-raising numbers. It`s going the wrong direction. Compounding the quarter to quarter decline is the fact he`s raising a lot less money than he was when he ran for the Republican nomination and lost four years ago in 2008. Beyond just the numbers, though, Mitt Romney is having trouble with humans. The money that he is raising is from a relatively small number of humans. As reported by Paul Blumenthal at "Huffington Post" today, quote, "Romney continues to have the lowest percentages of small dollar donors among candidates in the Republican primary." Which means, yes, he`s raising money but he`s essentially just tapping the same rich guys over and over again. He`s not broadening his appeal. And that`s no big deal in terms of the total amount of money he`s going to be able to raise. I mean, remember, in the era of the John Roberts Supreme Court, billionaires can give infinitely now. Mitt Romney is a zillionaire, himself. So, he will make as much money as he wants to make for this race. But if he only makes the money from a handful of people because he does not have the ability to attract any new people to want to give him money, that implies that Mitt Romney is going to have a hard time attracting people to give his their votes as well. Money is great, but humans are also great and necessary for winning an election. The human thing is sort of a more general problem for the Mitt Romney candidacy as well. Let`s just take a recent campaign stop sort of at random. This was his campaign stop yesterday at Microsoft. Let`s start with probably the most affable human thing a candidate does at a stop like this. The opening "flatter your audience" joke as you step up to the podium -- they all do this, right? But here is the Mitt Romney-con edition. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was the guy in charge of recruiting for a consulting firm called Bain & Company in the 1980s, early 1980s. There was a young man we were trying to recruit to come to our company. His name was Steve Ballmer. I met with Steve. He said he was thinking about the offer I made him but that he was thinking about going off with a couple of other folks in forming a company called Microsoft and he was trying to decide between the two. I told him it was very high risk to come to Microsoft. When I saw him, he said, Mitt, do you remember recruiting me? I said, no, I didn`t remember. But, you know, had you joined us, you`d be worth a million or two now. So -- (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: See what`s funny about that as a joke is the punch line is based on fact that $1 million or $2 million is not that much money. You`d be worth a million or two now. Ha, ha, ha. That`s millionaire humor. At the time that Mitt Romney was at Bain, that he was discussing there in that speech, here was the photo of Mitt Romney in Bain`s annual report. This is not something we PhotoShopped to make him look like Thurston Howell. This is the way he wanted to present himself to the world. That`s money stuffed into this clothes. See the guys he`s with, it`s in their mouths. This is the guy whose punch lines are about poor saps who are only worth a couple million dollars. Did I tell you that I`m unemployed, too? So, there is the human problem for Mitt Romney. There`s also the Mitt Romney candidate personal intangibles. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: I`m afraid in some corners, people don`t like you very much. I`m not just talking about Microsoft. I`m talking about private sector individuals, generally. They feel somehow business is bad. The businesspeople are bad. I don`t dislike you. I love you. I appreciate what you do. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I love you, too, man, exactly the way that you mean that. How do you -- likability and affability are intangibles in a candidate. You can`t even really teach them. You have them or you don`t. But they are an issue for Mitt Romney. They have always been an issue for Mitt Romney. The failure of Romney`s candidacy to thrive takes the form of his inability to get establishment Republicans onboard with him. Just yesterday alone, former RNC Chairman Haley Barbour, Mr. Establishment in the Republican Party, he was busy singing the praises of not Mitt Romney but Mitt Romney`s rival Herman Cain on conservative talk radio. The Republican Party`s budget guy in Congress, Paul Ryan of kill Medicare fame, he was praising Herman Cain`s tax plan in the conservative blogosphere. And the Republican Party`s beloved talk show host, Rush Limbaugh, spent yesterday essentially damning Mitt Romney with faint praise. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Romney is not a conservative. He`s not, folks, but you can argue with me all day long on that, but he isn`t. What he has going for him is that he`s not Obama. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: The thing that Mitt Romney has going for him according to Rush Limbaugh is the thing that 308 million other American citizens have going for them as well. Their name is not Barack Obama. The Republican establishment is not rallying behind Mitt Romney. Not by a long shot. This election cycle has so far seen the lowest endorsement rate by Republican establishment figures of any election in the last 30 years. This is "The Huffington Post" analysis today. Look at that. At this point in years past, Republican establishment figures are publicly getting behind one candidate or another. Look at that in previous years. Now, look at where we are this year. Not this time. Not with Mitt Romney. So, if you are Mitt Romney in this failure to thrive scenario, yes, Herman Cain is sort of ahead of you right now. But if you think that that might not last, Uzbekistan 9-9-9, for example, if you are Mitt Romney and you think it`s possible that the Herman Cain surge might not last, then it is all about timing at this point. You got to lock up the nomination before people realize that you may very well be a doomed candidate. You got to lock up the nomination before there is, say, a Rick Perry resurgence. You got to lock up the nomination and soon. My favorite bit of intrigue right now is that people, including Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman are bailing on the entire Nevada caucuses. They`re bailing on the state of Nevada because they say that Mitt Romney has in Jon Huntsman`s words gamed the system -- Mitt Romney trying to force the voting process to start earlier than it has ever started in order to lock up the nomination while Romney still has it and nobody has figured out how to be the anti-Romney. Nobody has noticed what a doomed candidate he is and come up with an alternative plan. Quick, I`m ahead, let`s vote and end this thing now. Romney`s rivals are alleging Romney got Nevada to move their caucus up to early in January which thereby bumps New Hampshire to December, which is bumping Iowa to roughly five minutes from now or at least Thanksgiving. This is a mess right now. Love it. Joining us now is Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The Washington Post" and MSNBC political analyst. Gene, it`s good to see you. Thanks for being here. EUGENE ROBINSON, WASHINGTON POST: It`s great to be here, Rachel. MADDOW: How does this end, Gene? Should we be looking at Herman Cain as a potential nominee? How does this end? (LAUGHTER) ROBINSON: Why do you want it to end, Rachel? MADDOW: I know. I don`t. Honestly, I don`t. ROBINSON: I don`t know how it ends. I don`t see Herman Cain as a presidential nominee, in any universe. You know, Mr. Black Walnut he called himself, I just don`t see it. But the Republicans clearly, the rank and file and even the establishment, they just don`t love Mitt Romney. They`re not enthusiastic. All the internals of all the poll show there`s very little intensity behind Mitt Romney. And this is a problem. If your support has flat-lined like that and you`re supposed to be the prohibitive front-runner, you do have a problem. MADDOW: It is amazing to look at that polling over time. I graphed that today for the first time to say, what`s happened over, say, the past year? Because Mitt Romney has been running for president for roughly five years. We knew he was going to do this. And to see him at 23 percent a year ago and 23 percent a year now with just a little wiggle in the middle of it, other than that essentially flat- lining, he has a ceiling in terms of his support. Is there any way for him to break through the ceiling? Is there any way for him to make Rush Limbaugh stop talking smack about him and get Republicans more excited about his candidacy? ROBINSON: You know, if there is, he hasn`t found it. I mean, look, there`s not enough time left for him to invent yet another political persona for himself, right? So he can`t become this sort of, you know, Rick Perry without the drawl and with some debating skills overnight. He can`t become Chris Christie overnight. He`s Mitt Romney and his record is his record. In fact, in the past, he`s taken position that an anathema to many conservatives in the Republican Party now and they don`t -- they don`t trust him. So, if he keeps working at it, this is the way he has to think about it. If I keep working at it, I`m going to wear them down. And he hasn`t worn them down yet. He can`t seem to climb above that 23 percent. MADDOW: Gene, let me ask you about one thing about the Herman Cain candidacy. And the way we have seen these other surges from other candidates, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry in particular, is that they surged sort of either because of support from conservatives or the media sort of getting a wild hare about them in think in some cases, but then they faded as soon as they started getting front level scrutiny, as soon as they really -- people started going through their records and fact-checking stuff that they said. Herman Cain`s surge is being treated differently. Even though he is ostensibly the front-runner, he`s not really getting frontrunner scrutiny. And people are sort of looking at the 9-9-9 plan and going, wow, it`s like Steve Forbes with fewer vowels. But -- he`s really not getting that scrutiny. Does that mean he could actually be the front-runner for longer because people can`t take him seriously enough to ask him real questions? ROBINSON: Well, you know, it`s possible. I mean, you got to figure that one of these surges might catch, you know? And the later the surge, the better the chance that it could happen at the right time. You know, that said, I don`t see Herman Cain being the nominee. And I don`t see the surge lasting long simply because there doesn`t seem to be a lot of there there. I mean, if you look at 9-9-9, you find not much, you know? Not even 8 1/2. You don`t find it. And beyond that, Uzbeki-bekistan-stan, or whatever he said, I mean, there`s going to be a foreign policy debate at some point and my goodness, what is that going to be like if Herman Cain is the front-runner during the foreign policy debate? I just don`t -- I don`t see it. But, you know, I was going to say stranger things have happened. I`m trying to imagine one. MADDOW: If there is a foreign policy debate and Herman Cain still is the front-runner, a lot of popcorn will be sold. Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning "Washington Post" columnist, MSNBC political analyst -- Gene, thank you very much. I really appreciate it. ROBINSON: Great to be here, Rachel. MADDOW: All right. The thing about a cliche, is became a cliche because it was true in the first place? Tonight`s prime example, hey, Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts. It`s not the crime. It`s the cover- up. Stupid crime and stupefying cover-up from Scott Brown, coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Republican Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts complained today that people should stop bugging him about him plagiarizing Elizabeth Dole on his Web site. Scott Brown telling "The Boston Globe" that he would not answer anymore questions about the plagiarism. He said the whole thing was silly. Senator Brown insisting to "The Globe" when they kept asking about it, quote, "End of story." I command the hometown newspaper, end of story. I declare what is and is not a story about me. The way you make a story like this actually go away, the way you make people and reporters lose interest in a story like this, is just to come clean about it. Tell the truth about what happened, say you`re sorry. The reason everybody is still so interested in the Scott Brown plagiarism scandal, the reason it`s becoming more interesting than when it started now is because Senator Brown keeps making it worse. On Scott Brown`s Senate Web site, under the heading "Student Resources," there was this heartwarming tale. Quote, "I was raised to believe there are no limits to individual achievement and no excuses to justify indifference. From an early age I was taught success not material accumulations but in service to others. I was encouraged to join causes larger than myself to pursue positive change through a sense of mission and stand up for what I believe." Those are not Scott Brown`s words. Those are the words Elizabeth Dole. They`re from a speech of hers. They`re also in her book. They were also on her Web site when she was a politician. But they are in Scott Brown`s message to students, with no attribution to her at all, as if he said the things. When the plagiarism was exposed this week, Senator Brown`s staff said they had used Elizabeth Dole`s Web site as a template for their own Web site and that speech just inadvertently got copied over on to Scott Brown`s new Web site. Here`s the thing, though. Look at the Elizabeth Dole quote again. In the original Elizabeth Dole quote Scott Brown supposedly accidentally covered over in a technical Web site glitch, that technical Web site glitch included carefully trimming out the part of the quote where Elizabeth quote says, "I am Mary and John Hanford`s daughter." Having Scott Brown proclaim that on his Web site would probably be even more awkward than him getting nailed for plagiarism. So, that was the explanation number one. It was a technical glitch, a computer error, which doesn`t exactly go over because of the trimming of the quote, which doesn`t happen automatically. The excuse -- this excuse about the automatic transfer of this quote between Web sites somehow is being mocked openly in Massachusetts local media. So, then, today, Scott Brown decided he`d try explanation number two. Quote, "It was a summer intern that put together the site," at a time when the senator`s office had, quote, "very little time and resources to put things up." Again, now, this is the kind of story that would just go away if you would just tell the truth about it -- explain it, say what happened and then we can move on. In this case, we can move on safe in the knowledge that Senator Brown when he does something wrong as a senator will happily throw the interns under the bus, let them take the blame. But in this case, trying to blame it all on some summer intern is a scenario that cannot be true. Since Senator Scott Brown`s spokeswoman says this Web site was put up in February and hasn`t been updated since. Now, global warming is weird but even in Massachusetts, there`s not a snow ball`s change in Holyoke that the person who screwed this up in February was in Senator Brown`s words a summer intern. Senator Scott Brown, you plagiarizing Elizabeth Dole for your inspirational message to students does not seem to be caused by a computer glitch like you tried first. And it definitely was not caused by a summer intern like you tried second. The single most interesting thing about you plagiarizing Senator Dole, Senator Brown, is why you keep trying this complicated evolving set of implausible stories about how this happened? Just come clean. Then it can be end of story like you insist. This should have been easy. This should have been over. But, now, first you have to come up with at least one plausible explanation for how this happened and then you should probably apologize for it. And then after that, you will now have to explain and apologize for the computer glitch excuse that you said that doesn`t seem to be true and for the summer intern excuse that also does not seem to be true. It is easy to just tell the truth in the first place. But now, Senator Brown, unless you really are Mary and John Hanford`s daughter, now you have really got yourself into a mess here. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: If you go to the Web site for Congressman Dave Camp of Michigan, you will get to see him as a living congressional version of the Microsoft Office paper clip that pops up to help you with your printing problems. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. DAVE CAMP (R), MICHIGAN: Hi, I`m Dave Camp. And welcome to my Web site. This Web site contains helpful information on issues before the Congress, concerns you may have in the federal agency and many other services. But while you`re here, don`t forget to sign up for my electronic newsletter. That will help us stay in touch. Thanks for visiting the site. Hope to see you again real soon. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Isn`t that crazy at the end? He just vaporizes. He just disappears. It`s so weird and so awesome. Dave Camp or as I like to call him now, Clippy, he has a great Web site. He also has the distinction of being one of only three Republicans in the House who did not vote yesterday on Republicans` seventh antiabortion vote of the year. Seven different antiabortion votes since they have been in control of Congress. Seven. But Dave Camp did not vote on their seventh antiabortion thing yesterday and is the only Republican member of Congress who did not vote on that yesterday who did not also have the excuse that he was busy running for president. The other two Republicans who didn`t come to abortion day in the House yesterday are Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann. Ron Paul having a relatively less interesting or at least more predictable race than he did back in 2008. This time around, he`s ended up being just sort of a fairly stable not top tier candidate who doesn`t really seem to be going anywhere. Michele Bachmann did have an early surge in the race, but now, she also seems pretty much consigned to being not a top tier candidate who`s just hanging around now until it`s time to bow out or until her book comes out. But this is an interesting thing. Both Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann decided the key to revitalizing their campaigns is to double down on abortion. Not substantively as a policy matter. Neither of them, of course, bother to show up for the antiabortion vote number seven in the House. Michele Bachmann has not gone to work at all recently. She did not vote once in the entire month of September. But she nevertheless found time to introduce her new antiabortion legislation which she is naturally campaigning on in her run for president. Ron Paul now, too, releasing a big minute-long super slick antiabortion ad. The ad is purely about Ron Paul being antiabortion. In Republican politics right now, I think the Beltway does not get it but there is this really obvious magic decoder ring. If you don`t want to talk about jobs and the economy and you`re a Republican, let`s vote seven times on something antiabortion in the House. If you`re presidential campaign is suffering from a failure to thrive and you`re a Republican, talk about abortion. If you`re trying to rekindling the Republican Party`s interest in you as a Republican candidate, well, then, double-down on being antiabortion. Antiabortion politics is home base in Republican politics right now. But, meanwhile, antiabortion activism on Bill O`Reilly`s show on the FOX News Channel has just helped cost a Republican attorney general his license to practice law -- or it looks like it`s about to. A crusading antiabortion activist named Phill Kline was elected Kansas attorney general in 2002. Elected to be the top law enforcement official in that state on a largely antiabortion platform. And Phill Kline delivered -- at least he delivered on the antiabortion part if not the law enforcement part. As we have reported on show in the past, Phill Kline turned all the power and resources of the Kansas state attorney general`s office on to a crusade against Planned Parenthood and more pointedly against abortion provider George Tiller. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) PHILL KLINE, FMR. KANSAS ATTORNEY GENERAL: Now, any of you heard of George Tiller? George Tiller performs late term abortions in Wichita for years. Another example in Kansas is George Tiller. Abortionist George Tiller. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to tell you who does not endorse Attorney General Phill Kline -- abortionist Dr. George Tiller does not endorse Phill Kline. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: As Kansas attorney general, Phill Kline used the power of his office to get ahold of individual medical records from patients of Dr. Tiller in an effort that very much seemed like he was trying to find something damning enough to use against the doctor. In November 2006, just days before Phill Kline`s unsuccessful re- election bid as attorney general, he appeared on Bill O`Reilly`s TV show on FOX News Channel. Bill O`Reilly had somehow obtained private medical information about abortions performed by Dr. Tiller, the same abortions Phill Kline was investigating. O`Reilly said he had a source inside and Phill Kline confirmed for him that he had received the medical records in question and he talked about those records to Bill O`Reilly on TV -- people`s private medical records. He did that in order to make an antiabortion point. In order to make a point these abortions for which he obtained the medical records in his view should not have been legal. One of the findings in the disciplinary hearing report recommending Phill Kline`s license to practice law in Kansas be indefinitely suspended is that what he said on Bill O`Reilly`s TV show violates legal ethics rule. Prosecutors are only supposed to speak publicly about criminal cases in ways that serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose or inform the public that disciplinary panel found not only did the Phill Kline`s appearances on Bill O`Reilly`s TV show not do that, but, quote, "the statements made by the respondent on the `O`Reilly Factor` had a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of Dr. Tiller. So, Phill Klein may lose his law license in Kansas. By the way, he says he doesn`t care. He`s been taken in by the Jerry Falwell Law School at Liberty University, which is apparently happy to have him even if he does get disbarred. And he succeeded in getting into the public domain and into the antiabortion narrative in this country, private details of the individual patients` private medical records and their personal medical decisions, because he talked about those things so much after he got his hands on them. Bill O`Reilly, even when it was clear that Phill Kline`s law license was in danger in part because of what he said on Bill O`Reilly`s TV show, Bill O`Reilly is still talking, still attacking Dr. Tiller after his death, still talking about those medical records as recently as last month on FOX News. And, of course, Dr. Tiller was murdered by an antiabortion extremist more than two years. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, we don`t take any options off the table in terms of how we operate with Iran. But what you can expect is that we will continue to apply the sorts of pressure that will have a direct impact on the Iranian government until it makes a better choice in terms how it`s going to interact with the rest of the international community. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Earlier this week, you will recall that the Justice Department announced they stopped this mustachio man, Manssor Arbabsiar, a dual Iranian American citizen from hiring someone he thought was a member of a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate Saudi Arabia`s ambassador to the United States. What? The key here is that according to the Justice Department, this guy was not a rogue element. He was not acting along. He was plotting this Washington, D.C. assassination at the request of the highest levels of the Iranian regime. If this is true, the stakes are now very high over this. Haven`t had enough of war with Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen? Want more with Iran, too? New York Republican Congressman Peter King, head of homeland security committee, did go ahead and called this plot an act of war by Iran. Democrat Carl Levin, chairman of Senate Armed Services Committee, basically agreed saying, "It may be," adding he`d "want to see what the implications of that characterization are, before I use it." The U.S. is now taking its case against Iran to the U.N. Security Council which could authorize new sanctions against Iran. They could even authorize the use of force against Iran. The Justice Department says this plot was hatched by a shadowy elite part of the Iranian military that`s called the Quds force. But lots of people have come out this week questioning that assertion, saying that this bungled, poorly planned screw up of an assassination where the dude thought he was dealing with the drug cartel and he was really, really dealing with an American government informant, this is screwed up enough that it doesn`t sound like the Quds force because they`re supposedly good at this thing. To those skeptics, U.S. officials have essentially said we so know that it was the Quds force, we know for sure. But you`re going to have to take our word for it. The truth is we do not know that much about the Quds force. Experts estimate that it`s a 15,000 member group, that they`re recruited from the top ranks of the Iranian military and that their role is to, quote, "clandestinely exert military, political and economic power to advance Iranian national interests abroad." Hmm, clandestinely exerting military, political and economic power to advance national interest abroad. Sound like anyone we know? Hello, shadow military organization that conduct secret mission around the world meant to further the interest of the country it serves -- whose actions are often denied by the government. We have one of those. This story is tricky to even talk about because there is so much secrecy, so much opacity, so many unknown unknowns. On one side, we have this Iranian military branch, part of the even more secretive Iranian regime. On the other side, we have the U.S. government that says we know for sure the Iranian regime is behind all of this, trust us on it. Plus, the U.S. has the added problem that some of the charges we are lobbying against the Quds force, secret acts of war in other countries, we do those things, too, which makes it harder to convince the rest of the world to be outraged by Iran`s outrageous behavior. The CIA is currently engaged in a war in Pakistan, for example. A war that is being conducted with drones -- a war that is for all-intents and purposes secret. There are no oversight. There are no reporters embedded with the CIA. Politicians don`t answer questions about what the CIA does. This is a war happening with no one officially watching. Maybe this is just the future of war, underground war waged by Iran, waged by the United States, waged by other countries who have figured out that it is easier and more convenient and less hassle frankly to go to war without telling anybody you`re doing it. Joining us is Steve Clemons, from the New America Foundation. You can find him online at "The Washington Note" and at "The Atlantic" magazine, where he`s now Washington editor-at-large and they`re really lucky to have him. Steve, thanks for joining us tonight. STEVE CLEMONS, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: Hey, good to be with you, Rachel. MADDOW: How do you get to the bottom of a story like this Iran story? How are you confident that you`re telling a story that`s real and not spin? CLEMONS: Well, I think the bottom gets deeper and deeper and deeper. And that`s just part of the process of this. United States lost a lot of its eyes and ears some years ago. You want to see, you know, a bungled case, Jim Risen, a "The New York Times" national security correspondent in a book called "State of War," which somewhat outed that warrantless wiretap story, but it also told a fascinating story of how the CIA accidentally revealed and sent an electronic message where most of our Iranian-based intelligence assets were revealed and the entire intelligence network inside Iran was rolled up. So, when you talk about opacity, some of that opacity was self- inflicted by the United States, which at one point did have an intelligence network. So, the issue of how do you get deep, it`s very, very hard. The administration is saying trust us. But after the WMD case in Iraq, after so many cases in which -- particularly during the Bush administration -- we had outright lies told to the American people, there`s not a lot of trust of government when the president comes out and says we know that this leads right up to the very highest levels of the al-Quds force. MADDOW: In relationship -- in the overall relationship of political accountability and military force, there`s a remarkable development today separate from the Iran situation. President Obama today sent a letter to Congress telling them that -- past tense -- he has ordered 100 U.S. combat troops to four countries in central Africa, to find the Lord`s Resistance Army. The letter says these will be combat-ready troops but they`ll be doing training, not actual fighting themselves. Did we have any idea this was coming, Steve? Is this relatively out of the blue? CLEMONS: This is semi out of the blue. General Carter Ham, who`s the commander of the African Command, about 10 days ago at CSIS in Washington began to telegraph that we needed this capacity to send advisers in to help deal with the various national militaries that were dealing with growing mostly Islamic violent Islamic groups inside deep Africa, Sudan, Somalia, Uganda, the Congo and these areas. And when he first made these statements, they sort of went without any public notice, no news release about them, until the president essentially notified Congress that he had done this and it`s now raised this whole question of -- you know, this is how wars and deeper engagement start is advisers go in. I imagine that you`re going to begin doing a lot more shows on what`s really happening in deep Africa now, which is not something many of us have been talking about. MADDOW: How significant is it that the president sent these troops first and notified Congress after? How much leeway does he have to do that without consulting Congress about this? CLEMONS: Well, the way the War Powers Act works, the president needs to notify congress within 48 hours of deployment of force which holds. Within 60 days, there has got to be larger action, Congress has to approve this action, and then he`s got 30 days to withdraw. There have been suggestions the War Powers Act just is unconstitutional or doesn`t in effect work, and that there needs to be much more of a consultative process back and forth. But right now in this political climate, I think that the administration is trying to live somewhat by the letter of the law but not necessarily by the spirit, which is to basically draw in senior levels of the intelligence committees and the various armed services committees and begin having a conversation about why this is a matter of grave national interest to the United States that you would deploy so many combat-ready troops that they say are not necessarily going to be in combat, but they are combat troops that have been deployed. MADDOW: Steve Clemons of the "Washington Note" and the New America Foundation, also Washington editor at large for "Atlantic" magazine -- you brought so many different parts of information about this to this discussion. I`m incredibly grateful, Steve. Thank you very much. CLEMONS: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: All right. Starring in the "Best New Thing in the World Today -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR: Bang. (END VIDEO CLIP0 MADDOW: Not Clyde the orangutan. He`s not the "Best New Thing in the World" -- but rather Clint Eastwood. Coming up -- "Best New Thing" at the end of the show. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: If two random guys in suits and ties demand to see your ID at the polling place, demand to see their ID. Seriously. Do it. Slimy voter suppression games caught on film. Next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This next story comes from the commonwealth of Massachusetts, of which I am a proud resident and of which we have things like Tom Brady, who is manifestly awesome. Also, Route 1 in Saugus, which has this great, old find. Also, the Red Sox who have suddenly become an unmitigated disaster, including star pitchers drinking beer in the clubhouse during games. We love them, anyway. Forever. Also, Massachusetts contains Tom Weaver, a Republican who ran for Congress last year from Lowell. Mr. Weaver has a number of causes that he cares about. Mr. Weaver, for example, believes in making it harder to vote. He leads a group that put up this billboard near a heavily Latino district this spring, just in time for an election. Last month, Mr. Weaver set up a camera at a special election in New Bedford, Mass. So Mr. Weaver sets up his camera, right, so he can watch for things that go wrong at the polls. So he can show others how to set up their cameras in their polling places. And this week he posted that video that he took at that polling place. And he thinks he saw some stuff go wrong at these polls even on this very slow-voting day. In this part, for example, a poll worker`s cell phone rings and he leaves to answer it. I would fix where the subtitle has receives spelled wrong. The point is, having the ringer turned on violates the rules, Mr. Weaver says, exclamation point. A bit later, he tells us someone else had trouble feeding an absentee ballot into a voting machine. Scandal. At the end of the video, Mr. Weaver includes some random stills from the polling place, including one that shows two men sitting at a table inside the polling place. Hey, that guy on the left looks like Tom Weaver. Yes, it`s definitely tom weaver. And he is sitting at a table with a big sign that says, show ID to vote. I think it`s this sign. I think it`s this sign right here. It says show ID to vote. And then it`s got some rules listed. Rules. Have valid government-issued ID. Wait a minute. Have valid government-issued ID? Now we`re on to something that is actually wrong at this place in New Bedford, Mass, because Massachusetts does not have one of these new Republican laws that won`t let you vote without an ID that hundreds of thousands of voters in that state do not have. Massachusetts doesn`t have that law. Massachusetts isn`t Tennessee or Texas or Wisconsin -- all of which have these new Republican-passed laws that instantly disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of people in those states. Massachusetts does not have one of those laws -- which explains why at the bottom of Tom Weaver`s show ID to vote poster, the very last rule after: be polite, and ask poll worker to verify address, the very last rule is, voluntary compliance. See, show ID to vote is not a rule or a law in Massachusetts. It`s the name of Tom Weaver`s organization, an advocacy group that wants to make it harder to vote in Massachusetts. He wants show ID to vote to become a law. But right now, it`s the thing on top of the sign. And other than that, mostly just a Facebook page. Also, it`s occasionally an intimidating billboard designed to dissuade a vulnerable subset of voters. It`s also sometimes a couple of guys in suits trying to look as official as they can and greeting voters with their misleading, intimidating sign inside the polling place. When Tom Weaver`s group wrote this stunt up about getting inside the poll place with this nonsense, they wrote proudly that nobody complained, nobody spoke up. That`s what, of course, they are counting on. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Happy Friday! "Best New Thing in the World Today" requires little trip back in time to the magical summer of 1988. It was two days before George Herbert Walker Bush would stand up in front of his party and the nation to accept the Republican nomination for president of the United States. He was running behind in the polls, way behind -- double digits behind. He needed a boost. He needed to make a big impression. But instead, Mr. Bush did something that flummoxed his party and the press. He decided that his running mate would be this guy: Indiana Senator Dan Quayle, whoo-hoo, who at that moment was more of a question than the punch line he soon became and remained to this day. Instantly, the media questioned everything, from Dan Quayle`s youth and inexperience, to his military record, to his connections to an attractive lobbyist. The response was so negative to the selection of Dan Quayle as V.P. that behind the scenes, some Republican heavies mused about dumping Dan Quayle from the ticket before he was even nominated. They started talking about this almost immediately. Publicly aides insisted that George Herbert Walker Bush considered Quayle to be his first choice and his only choice. But that was really only the public line, that was the official history of this, but not the real history. We learn the real history of this today. Thanks to an interview with Poppy Bush`s former secretary of state, James Baker, an interview just released today. And thanks to it, we now know that the 1988 Republican ticket could have been very, very, very, very, very -- emphasis on very, very -- different. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) ZELIKOW: So, the real candidates were Dole, Quayle, Simpson, Kemp? Is there anyone else that you remember being an important candidate? JAMES BAKER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: You don`t have Clint Eastwood on there. Make my day. Which you know Clint Eastwood`s name was thrown out at one point? MASOUD: No, I didn`t know that. BAKER: When we were way behind, it was suggested in not an altogether unserious -- well, he was a mayor of -- he was a Republican mayor. Anyway, it was shot down pretty quick. We were looking at an 18-point deficit. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: Clint Eastwood seriously considered for vice president, the very real possibility that instead of this, we nearly had this -- seriously the "Best New Thing in the World Today." Seriously, that made my day. Get it? Sorry. Happy Friday. Have a good weekend. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END