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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/27/11

Guests: Beau Biden, Jim Hightower

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: That`s the best cliff-hanger ever, Ed. ED SCHULTZ, HOST, THE ED SHOW: I think you`re really going to like it, though. It has something -- it has something to do with golf. That`s all I`m going to say. MADDOW: That I can believe. Thank you, Ed. Appreciate it. And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. Now is the time on MSNBC where we praise CNN. Well, we praise somebody who used to work for CNN. In 2005, the Chamber of Commerce held its annual press conference to say what they were going to work on for that year. And at that press conference in 2005, the head of the Chamber of Commerce walked up to the microphone and said this -- "Eliot Spitzer`s approach is to walk in and say, `We`re going to make a deal and you`re going to pay $600 million to the state and you`re going to get rid of this person and that person and if you don`t do it by tonight we`re going to indict the company.`" The head of the Chamber of Commerce continued, quote, "It is the most egregious and unacceptable form of intimidation we have seen in this country in modern times." Eliot Spitzer, the most intimidating thing in all of America in all of modern history, out of everything. It`s Eliot Spitzer. To the Chamber of Commerce, it really was. By that point in time, Eliot Spitzer was on a tear. He had figured out that Wall Street firms were telling suckers all over the country to buy stock in certain companies. Not because those companies were a good thing to buy stock in but because Wall Street was essentially taking money from those companies in order to say that. Give us your investment banking business or whatever and yes, we`ll tell suckers all over the country running some retirement fund somewhere, something, we`ll tell suckers everywhere to buy your stupid stock. The Wall Street firm gets whatever business that lousy company wants to kick back to Wall Street. The company gets people to buy its lousy stock. And the people who get stuck paying the bill is like your Uncle Jim, the toll taker in Cleveland and his pension fund that he thought they`d invest this year with all those smart young guys on Wall Street. It was a total scam. And Wall Street was so confident they were never going to get caught for it that they would openly talk about these scams they were pulling in company e-mails. Eliot Spitzer was New York`s attorney general at the time. He used his power as attorney general to get copies of these firms` super incriminating e-mails. And then when the firms came to him wanting to settle this quietly, we`ll just pay a fine, just don`t tell anybody we`ve been doing this, don`t hurt our reputations -- instead, Eliot Spitzer called a press conference and released the e-mails publicly. So, like here`s the Merrill Lynch report saying some Internet company called Life Minders -- which doesn`t exist anymore -- Life Minders is, quote, "an attractive investment." And then here`s the Merrill Lynch e-mail from earlier that month where the same guy says, "I can`t believe what a piece of --" thing that rhymes with bit "that thing is." So, attractive investment or piece of thing that rhymes with bit. That was for Life Minders, right? So, it`s one thing that they`re marketing to the public. It is another thing that they`re saying among themselves. You remember That same firm, Merrill Lynch, had InfoSpace up on its favored 15 list. These are our top 15 recommended stock buys. And while they had it on their favored 15 list, Spitzer had the Merrill Lynch internal e-mail calling InfoSpace a, quote, "piece of junk." They did the same thing with a firm called where they hyped Buy this, buy this stock. Hey, suckers in Topeka, buy this stock. Well, here was the internal e-mail at Merrill Lynch saying, what`s so interesting about except for the money we`re getting from them for us being their bank? The analyst responding by e-mail, "nothing." So, yes, Merrill Lynch wanted to keep all of this stuff quiet. They wanted to pay a little fine and make this stuff go away. Eliot Spitzer instead dragged them through it publicly, expose what`d they had been doing, and then he did not enter into negotiations with Merrill Lynch about how to make this thing go away. He called Merrill Lynch and he told them, you know what? It`s $100 million. It`s a $100 million fine you`re going to pay. No negotiations. I want this settled tonight. That was the negotiation. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TOM BROKASW, NBC NEWS: The giant brokerage house Merrill Lynch today agreed to pay a $100 million fine and change the way it pays its stock analysts to settle charges those analysts misled ordinary investors. New York`s Attorney General Eliot Spitzer had charged Merrill Lynch with rating some stocks much too highly so they could get investment banking business from those same companies. Spitzer said today this settlement will change that. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So Merrill Lynch paid the $100 million and the piece of rhymes with bit, piece of junk, nothing analyst who was tied to all of these things they got caught for, that analyst got charged with securities fraud, ended up getting banned for life, banned for life from ever working in the securities industry again. He also had to pay a $4 million fine personally. You know where that guy ended up, incidentally? You ever seen that Web site Business Insider? That`s that guy. He doesn`t work on Wall Street, though. As I said, he`s been banned for life. This guy, different guy altogether, this is Bernie Ebbers. Bernie Ebbers is federal prisoner 56022-054. According to local reports at the time, when Bernie Ebbers drove himself to prison when he had to report to prison a few years back, he drove up to prison in his Mercedes. At one point, Bernie Ebbers was number 174 on the "Forbes" 400 list of the richest people in America. Bernie Ebbers owned things like the biggest ranch in Canada. Bernie Ebbers owned more than a half million acres of timber in Mississippi and Tennessee and Louisiana and Alabama. He actually bought all that half million acreage at once. He bought a swath of Alabama and of all those other states all at once. He was able to do that because Citigroup gave him a mortgage. Citigroup gave him a mortgage for a billion dollars -- billion with a B -- a billion-dollar mortgage. Now, Bernie had this sweet deal going on with Citigroup where he would do all of thinks company`s business through Citigroup, right? And in exchange, Citigroup told all the suckers in the country that they should buy stock in Bernie. They also hooked him up with sure bet guaranteed money deals. They`d let him buy stock in companies that were about to go public. He was basically guaranteed money. But Citigroup would give Bernie a special deal, special access on those stocks -- essentially as guaranteed money. Now, if you were a normal customer of Citigroup like, you know, hypothetically, say, the Bakersfield City Employees Retirement Fund, you didn`t get a deal like that. You didn`t get in on those guaranteed money stock deals. You have to be a guy like Bernie because Bernie`s kicking back. So, as they`re telling all of these suckers in America to buy stock in Bernie, even though they know that Bernie`s kind of a fraud and his company`s kind ever falling apart, they`re also giving him this sweet deal on these IPOs. They`re also giving him a billion-dollar mortgage. And what does he want the billion-dollar mortgage for? It`s so he can cash out. So he can put all of his money into a nice hard asset like, say, Alabama so he doesn`t have to sell off his soon to be worthless stock, which, of course, would alert all the suckers in the world that his soon to be worthless stock was soon to be worthless, that it was about to tank. Now, Bernie`s a prisoner. His earliest release date is July 2028. At which point, Bernie will be 87 years old. The guy at Citigroup who hooked up Bernie with the free money, hot deals in those companies, those free money deals that nobody else could get because they weren`t kicking back money like Bernie, that guy did it for Bernie. He did it for a bunch of other companies too. Now, he doesn`t do it for anybody. Here`s the SEC press release where they announced that Jack Grubman will be censured and permanently barred from the securities industry and will pay a total of $15 million to settle charges against him. Barred for life. The case against Jack Grubman. The case against Bernie ultimately did get settled at the federal level, as you saw there. But where it started was with Eliot Spitzer. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS: Now to more corporate leaders on the hot seat. New York`s attorney general is suing five telecommunications executives who he`s accusing of earning millions in personal profits in a corrupt stock deal. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Now, that was just a couple of months after the Eliot Spitzer press conference that exposed the piece of rhymes with bit e-mails. Right? Same year. He was on a tear. Eliot Spitzer also made public the allegations that ratings for companies were being traded for getting the children of Wall Street tycoons into good preschools in New York City. That`s a deal. There were the charges he brought against AIG and Marsh & McLennan and another insurance company called ACE -- charges saying they were tricking people essentially into thinking that those three companies were competing with each other to give customers the best deal when really they were sort of working it out amongst themselves in order to divvy up the business. The nice detail in that set of allegations was that the dad ran AIG and the other two companies in this supposed collusion deal, the other two companies, Marsh & McLennan and ACE, were run by dad`s two sons. Nice. It is now impossible to Google Eliot Spitzer and avoid getting drowned in things about his CNN show being canceled and his prostitution scandal and his wife going to the press conference where he announced that he was resigning because of the horrible prostitution scandal. Right? But if you can -- if you are an advanced Googler enough that you can, say, find information about Rick Santorum even at work, or you know how to set date parameters on your Google search, you can set date parameters so that you can avoid all of the post-attorney general stuff about Eliot Spitzer. And if you do that, what you get back to is the absolute terror with which Eliot Spitzer was regarded by people on Wall Street who were not used to getting caught for criminal behavior. Publications like "The Street" would just lead their articles about Spitzer with stuff like "New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, otherwise known as Wall Street`s dragon slayer, wielded his legal sword today." And, of course, that is hilarious in light of the prostitution scandal now. But at the time there was nothing hookery about a statement like that at all. Wall Street was being perp-walked for stuff they were used to getting away with. They were being perp walked by a crusading attorney general who they hated for it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ELIOT SPITZER, FORMER NY ATTORNEY GENERAL: It is hard to overstate the magnitude of the betrayal. People who work their entire lives to save, to invest, to pay for their children`s education were being told to invest in stocks that Merrill Lynch knew were going to decline in value. The sad thing is that for many, many years, people on Wall Street have known this has been going on. Nobody has done anything about it. There has been massive wrongdoing, and we`re going to act aggressively to address it. Retail investors know there is no guaranteed return in the market. They know there is risk. But the one thing they deserve is honest advice and fair dealing. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: And then he became governor of New York. And then there was the hooker scandal. And then there was the horrible resignation. And then there was the exile. And then there was the show on CNN that did really badly. And then he finished at CNN. And then what became of Eliot Spitzer after that is still sort of yet to be seen. But in the time that Eliot Spitzer has been going through all of that in his post-attorney general life, bad behavior on Wall Street blew up the whole American economy. And at times it was deja vu all over again -- just without Eliot Spitzer in the role of prosecutor. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: Look what your sales team was saying about timberwolf. "Boy, that timberwolf was one (EXPLETIVE DELETED) deal." They sold that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) deal. You didn`t tell them you thought it was a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) deal. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I didn`t say that. LEVIN: No. Who did? Your people. Internally. You knew it was a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) deal, and that`s what your e-mail shows. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And again -- LEVIN: Should Goldman Sachs be trying to sell a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) deal? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well -- LEVIN: Can you answer that one? Can you answer that one yes or no? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Democratic Senator Carl Levin, who by all accounts otherwise never really swears in public, as you saw there, nailing Goldman Sachs for having in this case not sold stock that it knew rhymed with bit but selling mortgage deals -- big piles of mortgages that should have never been written and selling them as if they were gold, knowingly inflating the value of those things, which not only screwed over individual investors who they were selling them to as if they were valuable, but that said and blew up the housing market and the American economy with it. They weren`t just touting these mortgages to people. They were actually taking bets against them themselves, because they knew what they were worth. And they knew it was a great bet to take against them. They knew they were -- forgive me -- they knew they were crap. They knew they were going to fail. They were set to make money when they failed. And they were selling them as if they were gold. And that is something very simple. That is fraud. That whole game did not cause collateral damage like the comparatively now rinky-dink bankruptcy of old Bernie`s company. When Bernie`s company went bankrupt, it was called WorldCom, at the time it was the largest bankruptcy the country had ever seen. But looking back on it, that`s rinky-dink compared to what we went through because of how Wall Street behaved after Bernie. The collateral damage after this time was not a company called WorldCom and everybody who was suckered into investing in it. The collateral damage this time was our country. That one Goldman Sachs deal that Carl Levin was swearing about made it to that senate hearing. Charges were brought. It`s still wending its way through the courts. But as for the overall fraud and recklessness and criminality on Wall Street that blew up Wall Street and blew up the entire American economy at the end of the Bush administration, the recklessness that necessitated the bailouts and that created the recession that we are still in. ProPublica did a good rundown on where are they now this week. What`s happened to those folks? Who got frog marched off of Wall Street for all of this? Well, among the mortgage originators, quote, "Few prosecutions have been brought against subprime mortgage lenders. A Department of Justice investigation into alleged fraud at Washington Mutual closed with no charges this summer." A criminal investigation into activities at Countrywide, quote, "fizzled out earlier this year." Deutsche Bank is still under investigation. Well, how about the people who turned American mortgages, American homes into casino chips? Quote, "Overall the banks and individuals involved in these deals haven`t been convicted on criminal charges. The civil suits against them have produced fines that aren`t very big compared to the profits they made in the lead-up to the financial crisis." OK. How about the CEOs of the big investment banks? A probe of Lehman Brothers, quote, "stalled this spring." Merrill Lynch was sold to bank of America." quoting ProPublica here, "as for the effects who helped crash Merrill Lynch, they walked away with millions. Some still hold senior positions at prominent financial firms." Republicans want the next presidential election to be decided on the basis of whether or not the economy is bad, because the catastrophe of Wall Street exploding in 2008 was so bad that you`re pretty much guaranteed the economy is still going to stink next move. So, Republicans want that to be the basis on which people vote. On the other hand, Democrats want the presidential election to be decided based on the question of who is taking the side of the American people. Who`s taking the side of the 99 percent? Since the Republicans are very happily identified with the 1 percent. They`re happy to be seen as representing not only the richest people in the country but Wall Street specifically. But where is the crusading defender of the people unafraid to stand up for people against Wall Street? To stand up for people who Wall Street is taking for suckers, which frankly is all of us now. There have not been any perp walks off Wall Street after this crash, after this manmade disaster. Who is taking them on? Who is even investigating them? It turns out in a lot of ways and a lot of important ways it is guys at the state level, again. It`s not Eliot Spitzer. And the people who are doing this are not nationally famous. One of them was here earlier this week, New York state`s new attorney general, Eric Schneiderman. You`re going to meet another one of them tonight. That`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: There is a way to hold the people who crashed the American and world economy accountable for what they did. It is not glamorous, but it might just be what we need. And it`s starting to look increasingly possible. A man named Biden is working on it. And he joins us next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Where did you send your credit card payment this month? And if you`re someone who still writes a check and sticks it in an envelope and puts a stamp on it and drops it in a mailbox instead of paying your bills online, if that`s something that you do, where exactly was your last credit card payment addressed to? Chances are you sent it off to an address in Delaware -- beautiful Delaware. That`s because the laws of the state of Delaware allow banks to charge big interest rates on their credit cards while paying the state only really, really low taxes in return. So, many banks and credit card companies have decided to put their headquarters in the lovely state of Delaware. You know what that means for the rest of us outside Delaware? It means jurisdiction. It means if you are looking for a state with the standing to investigate and charge potentially criminal behavior on the part of financial institutions in this country, it is not just New York you are looking at because that`s where Wall Street is. It`s Delaware, too. And that`s not just for financial institutions` behavior in Delaware. It`s for what financial institutions have done nationwide. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) REPORTER: More than half a million Florida homeowners were foreclosed on last year, swamping the Florida court system. Real estate consultant Richard Kessler has tracked foreclosure filings in Manatee and Sarasota counties and found problems in most of them. RICHARD KESSLER, REAL ESTATE CONSULTANT: We found in 72 percent of the cases the documentation was defective. In other words, things were left out. They weren`t there. They contradicted themselves. Or they were downright fraudulent and fabricated. REPORTER: Turns out these banks, which demand borrowers have all of their paperwork just right, these same banks have fouled up their own paperwork to a historic degree. MIA MCCORMICK: The family of six that lives in this home thought they were getting a loan modification. Then through a realtor and friend they found out that their home was already in foreclosure and sold. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So why should any American citizen be kicked out of their homes in this cold weather in Ohio? It`s going to be 10, 20 below zero. Don`t leave your home. Because you know what? When those companies say they have your mortgage, unless you have a lawyer that can put his finger or her finger on that mortgage, you don`t have that mortgage. And you`re going to find they can`t find the paper up there on Wall Street. So I say to the American people you be squatters in your own homes. Don`t you leave. In Ohio and Michigan and Indiana and Illinois and all these other places where our people are being treated like chattel. And this Congress is stymied. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me, who owns the house today? Who owns this house that we`re sitting in? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`d give anything to be able to answer that question. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody can tell you? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: The way Wall Street blew up the American economy was that the broke the link between your house and the bank you borrowed the money from to buy your house. The bank you would have to pay back. They combined zillions of houses, zillions of mortgages together in order to bet on them and buy and sell them in bulk like they were pork bellies or stocks instead of Americans` real lives. Today, the attorney general of the state of Delaware, Beau Biden, has announced that he is filing a lawsuit against the mortgage industry, the entire mortgage industry. He is doing that by filing suit against one company -- a company incorporated in Delaware, a company that is owned and funded by the banks. A company that the banks say is keeping track of 60 million American mortgages, of 60 million mortgages with which Wall Street and the banks have been playing roulette, that`s turning regular Americans` very old school idea of owning a home in this country into a game of Russian roulette. Joining us now is the attorney general for the state of Delaware, Beau Biden. Mr. Attorney General, thank you for joining us. It`s nice to have you here. BEAU BIDEN, DELAWARE ATTORNEY GENERAL: I an honor to be with you, Rachel. MADDOW: How is it possible people are getting foreclosed on, forced out of their homes without even knowing who owns the house they are getting kicked out of? BIDEN: Well, look, the outfit that we sued today under the Delaware Deceptive Trade Practices Act, which every state of the union has a version of it, they in 1995 decided to privatize, privatize the recordation system in America. Look, as you know, Rachel, for centuries one of the cornerstones of our jurisprudence, of our common law, has been real property law. The ability for a farmer or a person to walk down the street, go to the recorder of deeds` office, find out and feel and touch who actually owns their home or has a security interest in it. In 1995, the banks and Fannie and Freddie and a lot of smart people on Wall Street got together and said, look, that`s just too cumbersome. We have to -- in order to securitize these things we`ve got to feed the beast with, we`ve got to find a way to make this process more nimble. And they were able to do two things. One, avoid millions upon millions of dollars of recordation fees. And two, make them able to slice and dice these mortgages and mortgage-backed securities more readily accessible and easier for them to do. They did that in private. They basically literally took our recordation system national and private, and they screwed it up. And we allege in our complaint we filed today in Delaware that it`s deceptive to borrowers and deceptive to homeowners and deceptive to property owners. MADDOW: Do you feel that with this lawsuit, with the target of this lawsuit you are aiming at the heart of what`s gone wrong in the wake of the financial crisis? Or do you feel like you`re still at the edges sort of working your way in? BIDEN: I think this is central to it. We`re working our way into this. Look, I mean, the reality is we have more investigation to do. My colleagues are doing investigations. Tom Miller`s leading an investigation that he should be given credit for. Anytime you have all 50 attorney generals agreeing on something, you know the banks have been up to something that`s not good. We are united in our robosigning, our servicing investigation. But this is something our office has been working on. I think you`ll see General Schneiderman in New York work on some aspect of this. You`ll see Martha Coakley work on similar aspects of this. This system MERS, this privatized recordation system, connects it all together. And that is where they have basically begun from our perspective and our investigation reveals lost track of who owns what. And that`s how scary and deceptive this has become. MADDOW: Mr. Attorney General, your father is Vice President Biden. So, asking you about state politics versus federal politics is a personal question as well as a political question, and I recognize that. But why is it that we are seeing a fraud issue as fundamental as this, potential fraud issue, handled at the state level by your office and by other attorneys general at the state level and not as a federal matter by the Department of Justice? BIDEN: Well, look, Rachel, in fairness to our federal partners, tom miller is leading an investigation with Lisa Madigan in Illinois on the servicing aspects of this that have worked hand in glove with Tom Perelli at the Department of Justice and Secretary Donovan at HUD and others. So, there are a lot of folks doing a lot of hard work on this. The issue as it relates to the criminality of this that Eric and I have talked about and you talked about in your intro, these are hard cases to make from a criminal perspective. Anytime you have lawyers and accountants blessing and sealing and giving -- you know, blessing the conduct, it makes it very difficult to prosecute that conduct. And that`s what you have here. That`s why some of these origination cases or even some of the securitization cases are hard to make. That doesn`t mean people aren`t trying to make them. That doesn`t mean that my office and General Schneiderman`s office won`t continue to try to do it. I`m attacking this problem at this level because it seems like it`s a very fundamental violation of a very easy law to understand and that is a deceptive trade practice. Deceiving consumers, and in this case homeowners, about whether or not and who owns their note and the mortgage is the most basic consumer protection right they have. And that`s what I am. I`m a prosecutor and a consumer protector. That`s what I get paid to do. And that`s why I`m on this. MADDOW: Beau Biden, attorney general of the state of Delaware -- thank you for taking the time to talk with us about this tonight. I`ve been looking forward to talking to you about this for a long time, sir. Thanks. BIDEN: Thanks for your coverage on this, Rachel. It`s been phenomenal. MADDOW: Thank you. I will say with so much popular concern about accountability on Wall Street, the sense that Wall Street got away with what they did and left the whole rest of the country holding the bag, we`ve been as a show trying to look into ways to find where that accountability might come from. And I`m telling you, the states is one of the places to watch. And if the president wants to make a case that he`s on the side of the 99 percent and the Republicans are on the side of the 1 percent, a lot of people are going to be looking to the federal government to see them put some -- put their money where their mouth is on that. I`ve got to say it. All right. We`ve got the Best New Thing in the World coming up tonight. Something they said could never be done has been done. We have the tape to prove it, even though we have to show that tape in super slow- mo in order to make sense of it. Plus, Jim Hightower is here, one of America`s greatest populists and one who knows what it`s like to run against Rick Perry from up close and personal firsthand experience. Plus, we`ve got some late breaking and very interesting, unexpected news from "Occupy Oakland." That`s all still to come. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: We have some breaking news out of the "Occupy Oakland" protests that have received so much national attention this week. Twenty-four-year-old Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen has been upgraded from critical to fair condition at a hospital in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mr. Olsen was hit in the head with a projectile, apparently fired by police. The "Occupy Oakland" protest the night before last. You can see Mr. Olsen here on the right just before he was injured in the protest. It has been speculated that what hit Mr. Olsen was a tear gas canister or rubber bullets, but at this point, we still don`t know. Whatever it was that hit Mr. Olsen hit him hard. It fractured his skull. In a press conference today, the interim police chief for the city of Oakland promised a full investigation into the incident. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the highest priority for us. We will use all the resources we use when there`s an officer involved shooting. We want to make sure there`s a thorough complete and comprehensive review is done of the incident. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: At the same press conference, the mayor of Oakland, Jean Quan, signaled a different, less confrontational approach to the protesters. She also tried to find some common cause with their cause. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAYOR JEAN QUAN, OAKLAND, CA: I feel we`re all part of the 99 percent, including the police and the other city workers. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The "Bay Citizen" newspaper reports late tonight that Mayor Jean Quan is now expected to go to the "Occupy Oakland" protest tonight. She`s expected to address the "Occupy Oakland" protesters within this hour. She will have to wait in line to speak. She will do her speaking as part of "Occupy Oakland`s" general assembly -- but a gesture of conciliation tonight from Oakland`s mayor after ugly, ugly scenes this week on Oakland`s streets. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Before he was before the social programs from the standpoint of he was for standing up for Roe versus Wade before he was against Roe versus Wade. The fact of the matter is the science is not settled on whether or not the climate change is being impacted by man to the point where we`re going to put America`s economics in jeopardy. MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Anderson? PERRY: And they want to hear you say that you knew you had illegals working at your -- ROMNEY: Would you please wait? Are you just going to keep talking? PERRY: Yes, sir. ROMNEY: Would you let me finish with what I have to say? (BOOING) ROMNEY: Look, Rick -- ANDERSON COOPER, MODERATOR: I thought Republicans follow the rules. ROMNEY: This has been a tough couple of debates for Rick, and I understand that. And so you`re going to get testy. PERRY: And that`s exactly what I`m going to bring to Washington when I go there in November -- or excuse me, in January of 2013. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: Rick Perry has a campaign problem. In a year when the Republican debates are the best show on TV, and I say that as a person with a TV show, Rick Perry`s bad at debates. He`s bad at debates. And he`s not getting better over time at it. In numerical terms, Rick Perry`s campaign problem right now looks like this if you`re searching for Rick Perry`s name, it`s easier if you start down at the bottom below Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich who seem to be running for fun and profit respectively. Rick Perry is polling nationally this week at 6 percent, 6. That is a problem for Rick Perry. He is tanking. But tanking Rick Perry has a solution to this. Rick Perry appears this week to be launching his comeback plan. Step one: he got himself some new establishment Republican staff. A lot of Bob Dole for president staff, if you must know -- seriously old school. Step two, Rick Perry got himself a new Herman Cain-esque flat tax. Step three: he got himself a Donald Trump-esque birther platform, playing to the tin foil hat fringe implying that the president is secretly foreign and therefore not really president. As of today, some new steps. Tanking Rick Perry also floating the idea that he will fix his being bad at debates problem by going on offense -- not by going on offense during the debates but by going on offense against the whole idea of debating. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PERRY: Actually, these debates are set up for nothing more than to tear down the candidates. It`s pretty hard to be able to sit and lay out your ideas and your concepts with a one-minute response. So, you know, if there was a -- if there was a mistake made, it was probably ever doing one of the -- ever doing one of the campaigns when all they`re interested in is stirring it up between the candidates. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Tanking Rick Perry now saying debating itself, big mistake. That was what he said on Tuesday night. But last night, his campaign spokesman was confirming exactly what you`re thinking. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It takes valuable time away from campaigning in Iowa as those elections approach and -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do I take that -- are you saying he`s going to look over the calendar and scratch some of them out? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John, I think there are 18 more in the planning phases. There`s no way that the candidates can do all those debates. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So, Bob Dole for president staffers, check. Herman Cain tax plan, check. Birther thing, check. Stop going to the debates, check. What`s Rick Perry going to do instead of debating, instead of going out on a national stage with no script and everybody watching and Mitt Romney creeping him out by touching him? The next step appears to be more ads. Rick Perry may be tanking in the polls, but he is swimming in large dollar campaign donations. And if there`s one place you really can control how the candidate appears, it`s in ads. Tanking Rick Perry`s campaign put out its first television ad this week, reportedly spending almost $250,000 to run it in Iowa. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PERRY: As president, I`ll create at least 2.5 million new jobs. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: In his big comeback jobs, jobs, jobs ad, Rick Perry swears he will create at least 2.5 million jobs if he`s elected president. And as a big impressive comeback ad/campaign pledge, that is a little underwhelming if only, as Steve Benen points out today because that would have him creating jobs at a slower pace than President Obama has been creating jobs in this economy. But basically, the ad is a cliff`s notes version of Rick Perry`s overall jobs plan, which is a 2012 redux of "drill, baby, drill." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PERRY: I`ll start by opening American oil and gas fields. I`ll eliminate President Obama`s regulations that hurt other sources of domestic energy like coal and natural gas. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Coal and oil and gas are the main point of Rick Perry`s jobs plan. On the first page of his plan, he promises that on his first day in office he`ll open federal land like the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge and the Atlantic outer continental shelf to drilling. He also says he`ll OK the Keystone XL Pipeline. He`ll immediately suspend and reconsider Clean Air Act regulations. He`ll stop, quote, "lawsuit abuse" by setting time limits on permit-related lawsuits. He will repeal the Environmental Protection Agency`s authority over greenhouse gases. He`ll eliminate all current and planned EPA programs to restrict carbon dioxide emissions. Oh, and while we`re at it let`s just go ahead and, quote, "dismantle the EPA" in its current form. The Rick Perry jobs plan is an oil company executive`s letter to Santa. And that is not a coincidence. It reads like an oil industry Christmas time wish list because it is actually an oil industry wish list. As reported in the "New York Times," quote, "many of Mr. Perry`s proposals appear very similar to if not drawn from an industry-financed study that was endorsed last month by the American Petroleum Institute." That would be this study, which sounds a lot like the Perry plan and promotes things like opening up new land for drilling and approving the Keystone Pipeline and scaling way back on regulation. And if we do all that and a lot more, the petroleum industry waves a magic wand and insists that more pollution and oil profits will create between -- I don`t know, let`s say a million and 1.4 million new jobs in 20 years, maybe. So tanking Rick Perry`s campaign comeback is based on a sketchy jobs plan from the oil industry. And tanking Rick Perry is not alone here. That same American Petroleum Institute study reportedly also helped the senate Republicans with their jobs bill. The Jobs Through Growth Act, which they unveiled two weeks ago. It may not be a big surprise that politicians at times take their marching orders from industry. Republicans do it. Frankly, Democrats do it, too. It`s standard politics now. What is new here is the framing. How politicians are trying to sell us the American Petroleum Institute`s policy wish list. In the past pro oil-industry policies would be packaged as be afraid of the Middle East, we need to stop relying on those dictators in the Middle East for our oil, let`s get American oil here, drill, baby, drill. But now these plans are being packaged as hey, all you people out of work, you know what`s standing between you and a job, between you and the ability to take care of your family? It`s the EPA, regulations. They`re using the dire economic situation in this country right now to prey on people`s desperation to find work. So that`s what`s new here. It`s the sell. Same old plan, but the sell is different. So a jobs plan isn`t always just a jobs plan these days. Sometimes it`s a convenient way of handing industry -- in this case the oil and gas industry -- everything they have been asking for for a very long time. Joining us now is the former agriculture commissioner of Texas, the editor of the "Hightower Lowdown," Jim Hightower. Mr. Hightower, thank you so much for being here. JIM HIGHTOWER, HIGHTOWER LOWDOWN: Rachel, great to be with you. A joy. MADDOW: As somebody who has known and watched Rick Perry for a long time, has actually campaigned against him before, what do you make of his multipart comeback plan? HIGHTOWER: Well, you know, Lyndon Johnson used to say you can`t make chicken salad out of chicken manure, though he used a little more barn-yard epithet than "manure." But nonetheless, that`s what they`re working with. It`s not a matter of changing his staff, which he`s trying to do. It`s a matter of Perry himself is the problem. I can tell you, Rachel, that this guy in Texas, he has put the goober in gubernatorial. MADDOW: Is he a bright man? I mean, he seems to be canny as a politician. He`s never lost an election, including running against you, and he`s been Texas governor for 10 years, and Texas is a tough state. Is he -- do you think he is personally a bright person? HIGHTOWER: No, I do not. And, in fact, you know, you see this oil plan that he`s come up with, so-called jobs plan. He`s touting the job creation in Texas. That`s a Perry tale right there. One he has had less job creation even than George W. Bush had here in Texas. And no better than Ann Richards had when she was governor of our state. So that is a fiction. And even more important, the jobs that he has created really, Rachel, are jobbettes. They pay minimum wage. They have no health care. They have no pension attached to them. No upward mobility. You could go out here to where I am in Austin, Texas, to any restaurant or cafe or bar and say to a waitress, did you know Rick Perry`s created a million jobs in Texas? And she`ll say, yes, I know, I have three of them. That is a problem, you know? And that`s -- but, you know, when Rick Perry says I can do for America what I`ve done for Texas, pay attention. That`s no idle threat. MADDOW: The specifics of his jobs plan, as we -- I mean, a lot of other people pointed this out, but as we were able to figure out, it really is an oil industry wish list almost literally. The American Petroleum Institute put out a list of what they wanted and Rick Perry has copied it and put it in a different font. Is there any reason to expect from his time in Texas that there would be any daylight between him and, let`s say, Exxon on this or on anything? HIGHTOWER: He`s tighter than the bark on a tree to big oil. Big oil is his number one campaign contributor, having put more than $11 million into his campaigns. So, this guy is big oil`s wet dream, actually. And we see that reflected in this so-called bold proposal. Remember, he called it a bold proposal. Well, Rachel, you know, if you have to say it`s bold, then it`s probably not. You know? And that`s the case here. This is the same old let`s drill in the Arctic, let`s drill along the California coast, let`s drill in the Atlantic, let`s drill in the national parks, let`s drill on the White House grounds. I mean, if ignorance ever goes to $100 a barrel, you want to get the drilling rights on Perry`s head because this is not any kind of a public policy that`s going to work for the ordinary people in this country. It`s going to do nothing for energy independence and nothing for moving our country forward in the new kind of economy that we do need to have, a green energy economy. MADDOW: Jim Hightower, former agriculture commissioner of Texas, who I`ve not talked to in too long. I miss talking to you, sir, and I`m looking forward to having you back soon if you`ll come. HIGHTOWER: Me too. I`m ready. MADDOW: All right. Thanks, Jim. Nice to see you. All right. "THE LAST WORD" is next. Lawrence O`Donnell`s special guest is "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams. I know. And next here is the "Best New Thing in the World Today" with multiple revolutions in slow motion. That`s just ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: I have a programming note for you that I`m happy about. Sarah Silverman -- yes with, that Sarah Silverman will be our guest tomorrow night for an exclusive interview. For anybody who likes your hilarious and your deeply disturbing to be kept separate, I warn you: prepare for cross contamination. Sarah Silverman tomorrow night for the interview at 9:00 Eastern. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: They said it couldn`t be done! Like going faster than the speed of sound. They said nobody could do that, and then, hello, Chuck Yeager, going faster than the speed of sound. Like running a mile in less than four minutes. All hail Roger Bannister, running a mile in less than four minutes. Like climbing the nose of El Capitan with all kinds of gear. Thank you very much, Lynn Hill, nice outfit. The terrifying cut-throat world of ice skating had it is own sound barrier, its own nose of El Capitan. It is something called the quadruple lutz, and they said it couldn`t be done. Not when it counted. Not in competition. Now, the idea of the quadruple lutz, the challenge is you jump off one foot and you are supposed to spin around four times in the air and then you land on the other foot by itself. You are supposed to the land and skate on one foot. Whoa! It`s so hard even to understand what a quadruple one of these things is that it is sometimes helpful to see a single one, single lutz, up on the one foot, up and spin once and land on the other foot. OK. Now multiply the spinning part by four times. This thing is so difficult that no American skater has even tried one. No American has attempted a quadruple lutz in competition since this guy in 1988. (VIDEO CLIP PLAYS) MADDOW: It was definitely two footed. Shucks, he didn`t land on one foot. He landed on two feet. The lutz wins again, it can`t be done. It is too difficult. It`s too hard. Humans in this world cannot do it. Until suddenly it isn`t too hard anymore -- world, meet 20-year-old Brandon Mroz of St. Louis. (VIDEO CLIP PLAYS) MADDOW: Get back here Brandon Mroz. I think without much fanfare you just did something nobody on the planet has done before. You amazing, Mr. Lutz of St. Louis, you just landed a quadruple thingy, a quadruple lutz in competition. You did it when it counted and there were only like three people watching. It`s hard to see -- look, it`s hard to see at first, but it`s totally worth it. On one foot, jump, spin around four times, land on the other foot. Yes, this happened at the Colorado Springs invitational on September 16th. The bleachers look empty. You can hear a little applause, right. You can walk down the railing to your handy cam. And nobody could stop you. This was not a high pressure event from the looks of it. But it is good somebody caught it on video because yesterday, more than a month after Brandon did that to the light applause and not much else in Colorado, the International Skating Union announced they reviewed the video and they confirm that Brandon Mroz has in fact formed the first quadruple lutz in a single competition on earth reportedly. Brandon himself seems to be keeping it a secret. The "Skater`s Choice Colorado" blog posted the news last month, incase you haven`t heard, they said. Somebody did up date the Wikipedia page for quadruple jump with Brandon Mroz`s achievement. Also, NPR did a nice blog post that interviewed him on "All Things Considered." Brandon said hitting the quadruple lutz, quote, "It kind of took me off by surprise." Brandon Mroz, Mr. Humility, Mr. Chuck Yeager of skating, Mr. King Lutz of St. Louis, Mr. They Said It Couldn`t Be Done -- you are the "Best New Thing in the World Today. Seriously. They said it couldn`t be done. Congratulations. Also, go-carts. That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow night. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell. His special guest tonight is Brian Williams. So, stick around. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END