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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/10/11

Guests: Dahlia Lithwick, Ed Lyman

ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: That`s "THE ED SHOW." I`m Ed Schultz. Rachel Maddow starts right now tonight. Good evening, Rachel. RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Spectacular show tonight. I love you that got her on the air tonight. When I saw her in that video, I could not believe how cool under pressure she was. That was great. SCHULTZ: Thank you. MADDOW: Thanks, man. All right. And thanks to you at home for joining us for the next hour. Are you ready for the worst analogy that`s ever been acted out on television? All right. Here`s the scene. Where are we? We are on a street. Here, wait. What was I doing? I was driving a car. What`s that? Person I just ran over in a crosswalk. Now, what is the Herman Cain argument in this situation? Listen, officer, listen, I know -- I know. But look at all these other people walking around safely, safe and sound in this street scene. I drove right past them, and they`re all fine. I mean, yes. But the vast majority of people in the street who I drove by have not been hit by my car, officer. That`s the Herman Cain argument. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For every one person that comes forward with a false accusation there are probably -- there are thousands who would say none of that sort of activity ever came from Herman Cain. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So says Herman Cain. Even for the worst crimes, you know what? It is not a great defense to make the proportion argument, as in, you know, most people I`ve met, most people I`ve driven past in the street, I didn`t kill them. But even if you believe that there`s no chance that Herman Cain will win the Republican combination or come anywhere near being elected president, the scandal around him has now become a national phenomenon in its own right. We are now having a big national fight about not just harassment but about accountability, about how we handle serious allegations about powerful people, about prominent people. Very little of the Cain campaign and now the conservative movement`s response to the allegations surrounding his candidacy have had to do with the substance of the allegations, with answering whether or not Herman Cain actually did harass anybody. "Talking Points Memo" has been putting together a list titled "Things That Don`t Affect Whether Herman Cain Sexually Harassed Two Women in the 1990s." It`s now actually a giant two-part omnibus list. Here`s another one. "More Things That Don`t Affect Whether Herman Cain Sexually Harassed Several Women in the `90s." When asked about these sexual harassment charges, we`ve heard a lot of stuff. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) SEAN HANNITY, THE SEAN HANNITY SHOW: The lady didn`t even work for the company. CAIN: I`ve also seen situations where women have sexually -- attempted to sexually harass men. The machine to keep a businessman out of the White House is going to be relentless. A lot of people have a fact -- have a problem with the fact that I`m doing so well and I`m so likeable. They ought to be asking questions about President Obama and his relationship with Bill Ayers. MARK BLOCK, HERMAN CAIN CAMPAIGN: To one of the women and we`ve come to find out her son works at political. The organization -- HANNITY: Have you confirmed that? I`ve been hearing that all day, rumors about that. You`ve confirmed that now, right? BLOCK: We confirmed it with -- that he does indeed work at "Politico" and that`s his mother, yes. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: Actually, that last thing, that has nothing to do with whether or not Herman Cain actually sexually harassed women in the 1990s. That last one also was just flat out not true. The reporter, who is not related to the accuser, also does not work at "Politico." But nice try. And you know, for what it`s worth, the National Restaurant Association, when some of this stuff allegedly took place -- I mean, I don`t know what they think about Bill Ayers or "Politico" or whatever, but the National Restaurant Association seemed at the time to think that these were not just wild accusations against Herman Cain. To the extent that matters, right? At least they took these allegations seriously enough at the time that the organization decided to pay tens of thousands of dollars out to the women who made these allegations so they wouldn`t take them any further. Now, the Cain campaign of course maintains that he didn`t do any of these things, that he has never acted inappropriately toward anyone. But there`s not just anonymous allegations. There`s named allegations. And there`s evidence of paid settlements to resolve past allegations. The reason this scandal has entered a whole new level today is not because the Cain campaign says they`ve raised more than $9 million since October 1st and they`re chalking that up to the awesome fund-raising power of being accused of sexual harassment. It`s not just because the Republican debate audience in Michigan last night distinguished itself by applauding Mr. Cain when the sexual harassment allegations were raised. Now, the reason this is important today is because of the question that`s at the root of this whole scandal. Did Herman Cain sexually harass anybody? If Herman Cain did sexually harass women in the workplace in the past, consider what his campaign lawyer has just done. His attorney has just given an interview to the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution" in which he says, "to any other women who might think about making allegations about Mr. Cain and sexual harassment," the attorney says, quote, "They should think twice." So, if Herman Cain`s actually done any of this stuff, if you are a woman out there and you have ever been sexually harass the by Herman Cain, his campaign is saying, shut up, think twice before you say anything about it. It`s kind of an accountability moment. Not so much in that anybody`s being held accountable. But because this is a pretty remarkable moment for what it means to be held accountable in America. If you have been sexually harassed by Herman Cain, think twice before you say anything about it. And the threat does not appear to be idle, the day after one woman publicly accused Mr. Cain of sexual harassment, Mr. Cain`s campaign set up a Web site dedicated to attacking her career and her personal life. "New York Post" columnist Andrea Peyser made fun of her hair and her makeup, calling her face heavily painted, saying she would need a new tube of eyeliner soon and referring to her as a bleached blond. Here`s what TV host Bill Kurtis had to say about the same woman on talk radio. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) HOST: You`re already hearing from some people who may have worked with this woman or know this woman and aren`t surprised that she`d be making these types of allegations or that she`s someone want to exaggeration. Is that what you`re saying? BILL KURTIS, TV HOST: Let`s put Herman and Sharon in the car at the same time and the roles may even have been reversed, given the track record. HOST: Ooh. Who would know? (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: Ooh. You know what I`m hearing. That`s what`s happening to the first woman who went public. Another woman who accused Herman Cain of sexual harassment and who was outed as an accuser this week had this item posted about her on a Herman Cain, a pro-Herman Cain PAC Web site, saying that she works for Obama. For what it`s worth, she holds a non-political job at the Treasury Department. She also worked in the George W. Bush administration. And according to the pro-Herman Cain PAC, they also want to know she`s not unattractive, calling her ugly in the headline here. This post has since been taken down. Even though she had not chosen to go public with her story, once she was outed, that second named Herman Cain accuser had said she`d be willing to hold a press conference with other accusers to discuss this, hoping there might be safety in numbers in terms of being attacked for speaking out. But now, it seems like a press conference is in doubt. Her attorney saying that she won`t go through with it unless all of the other Herman Cain accusers sign op to join her. And at that time, we have to welcome to the conversation a talk show host named Rush Limbaugh. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Ms. Kraushaar told friends they`re beginning to worry that all the scrutiny might keep the other women from appearing publicly with her. I did ask yesterday -- what`s the big deal with the panel here? Do they want to synchronize their menstrual periods? Why appear together? (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: You know, maybe Herman Cain could get the Republican nomination for president. But he`s not -- he`s not going to. I don`t believe he`s going to. I continue to believe in fact that his campaign is mostly satire, a sort of brilliant, sort of disturbing performance art project. But there are two ways this is functioning right now. There`s two things his campaign is accomplishing right now for the whole country. I mean, if the end of this exercise is not to make Herman Cain president of the United States, there are two things that this is doing right now, two types of work that this is doing right now in the American mind and in the American polity. One is to model how we deal with sexual harassment as Americans and whether who the alleged perpetrator is of that harassment makes a difference as to whether you`re allowed to blow the whistle on him, whether who the alleged perpetrator is affects whether you are allowed to speak out about it. The other thing that`s happening here more directly is that the Republican Party and the conservative movement, and conservative media in particular, is marketing itself to the lady voters of America. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) LIMBAUGH: Do they want to synchronize their menstrual periods? Why appear together? HANNITY: The lady didn`t even work for the company. CAIN: The day of the firestorm of these accusations we had the highest fund-raising day online in the history of this campaign, and it has not stopped. JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN: Do you think the other candidates will follow suit and hire women to charge them with sexual harassment? CAIN: If they`re smart, they will. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: Joining us now is Dahlia Lithwick, "Slate" magazine`s legal editor. Dahlia, it`s good to have you on the show. Thanks for being here. DAHLIA LITHWICK, SLATE LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Rachel. MADDOW: You have written about this recently, that Republicans in part are just essentially denying the existence of a thing called sexual harassment. Are we now even beyond that now where it`s being claimed as an asset, being accused of sexual harassment is actually a point of pride in some way? LITHWICK: Right. I mean, first of all, just from your setup there, don`t you feel like the entire country is run by 8 1/2-year-old boys? It`s just an amazing -- you know, that here we are in 2011 and we`re having a conversation that we thought we put behind us decades ago. I think the most striking thing is if you think about the architecture of sexual harassment law in this country, it used to be the case that it was impossible for a woman to come forward and say, I am the subordinate, someone powerful and important harassed me. It would ruin her life. It is amazing that we`ve put into place an entire legal system that encourages her to come forward, that protects her from being called a hooker and a gold digger for coming forward, and yet still she`s a hooker and a gold digger despite this legal architecture. So, it`s really an amazing thing, that having acknowledged that we have a problem, put into place a legal system that`s supposed to protect women. Now, when women come forward, men are still the victims. They`re more the victims than ever before. And women are subjected to the exact kind of completely hideous, insulting, sexist, stereotyping that used to happen 50 years ago before we even talked about this. It`s really an amazing thing that we have a system in place that protects women not at all. MADDOW: You know, the reason that I wanted to lead the show with this tonight, the reason I felt like this was literally the most important thing in politics today is because I felt actually shocked -- I`m shocked by very little in politics. I was actually shocked to read the "think twice" comments from the Herman Cain lawyer. And it occurs to me, and the reason I wanted to talk to you about it, is that maybe this is actually sort of normal in sexual harassment litigation and sexual harassment legal politics right now that there is open intimidation of accusers now, that if you say somebody has harassed you, you should expect to be intimidated, to be told overtly even publicly that you will be dragged through the mud for doing it. Is that true? Is that normal? Or did that just used to be normal in the `50s and we thought we outgrew it? LITHWICK: No, it`s insane. Your shocked response is exactly the right response. No lawyer in this current regime that we have can appropriately say don`t bring a claim. You know, you`ve genuinely been harassed. Think twice about coming forward? As I said before, the entire system is set up to smoke out harassment. It`s predicated on the idea, Rachel, that there`s a huge imbalance of power and that the harasser is not the one that needs to be served by the system. And so for an attorney to come forward who knows this and to say, I`m going to use the force of my legal wisdom and this system that`s in place to intimidate women from reporting, the chilling effect is horrifying. And so, I think you`re quite right. It`s worse than having no system at all when you have a system, and you`re discouraged from using it. MADDOW: Let me ask you a sort of pseudo-hypothetical on this. I don`t believe the Herman Cain campaign poses any risk of nominating him to -- making him the Republican Party`s nominee or making him president. But I do think what`s happened around the sexual harassment issue now is a very big issue for the country because it`s essentially a demonstration project of how to deal with that. Given that, if you were Herman Cain`s campaign manager or if you were Herman Cain and these allegations were made and you legitimately felt that you had not done anything wrong, that those settlements were just to make them go away, they were handled as a legal matter, there was not an admission of guilt and all of these accusations are false -- which is what the Cain campaign maintains -- what would be a more responsible way to move forward in the political arena if that`s what you felt? Given the fact this is being acted out on a national stage and will really affect how the country feels about this. LITHWICK: I mean, I guess I can only respond by saying what I wouldn`t do is impugn the accusers. I wouldn`t call them, you know, tramps and pole dancers. I wouldn`t suggest that they`re litigious gold diggers. I think that what you try to do is say, look, this was resolved on the merits. You don`t call them anonymous accusers when they`re in fact circumscribed by a settlement agreement, they cannot come forward. In other words, I think that every characterization that`s been made in this -- by this campaign has been to create a box whereby if a woman reports, she`s a gold digger. If she doesn`t report, she`s also a gold digger. If she comes forward, she`s a liar. If she doesn`t come forward, she`s also a liar. So, I think, the point has to be -- let`s address this on the merits, let`s not start from the assumption that every single woman is desperate, desperate to speed-dial a plaintiff`s attorney and humiliate the candidate. Let`s start from the assumption that we have two competing narratives and we need to sort it out. But from the assumption that one part of the narrative, the narrative from the accuser, is tainted by the fact she`s a woman and a liar and looking to get rich quick and get a book deal. MADDOW: Dahlia Lithwick, legal editor from "Slate" magazine -- thanks for writing about this so clearly recently, Dahlia. It`s a very -- it`s a topic that`s sort of very easy to go off the rails and you`ve been very clear about it. Thanks for talking to us tonight. I appreciate it. LITHWICK: Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: All right. Funny thing happened while everyone else was watching Herman Cain and Rick Perry say some astonishing things. Some actual stuff got done in Washington. Stuff that`s good enough that I`m a little afraid to talk about it because I might jinx it. The host of MSNBC`s excellent new weekend show, "UP", "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES" -- Mr. Chris Hayes will join us next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Veterans Day is tomorrow, which sort of makes this veterans week. And on this Veterans Day, veterans week, spare a particular thought for Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina. Not because he`s a veteran. I don`t think that he is. But because rather Jim DeMint apparently has a frigging problem. Today on Capitol Hill, there was a vote on a hiring bill for our nation`s veterans. Right now our national unemployment rate`s about 9 percent. For Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, it is 12.1 percent, which is both miserable and sort of astonishing because Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are a ferociously competent group of Americans. They have spent the last decade doing incredibly difficult, complex, exhausting, tireless, underappreciated work. I`m not being romantic about this. I mean it in practical terms. This is an impressive, professional class of Americans with a lot to offer. They really did do more before 9:00 a.m. than most of us did all day. And they did it all decade long, and they are still doing it. For us as a country our Iraq and Afghanistan vets are a huge asset. If you are hiring people at your company, you should be looking for them for hiring. That said, they have trouble in the job market in part because while the people they`re competing against for jobs have been working here, veterans have been working and great experience but they have been doing it out of sight and out of mind in, say, landlocked central Asia. So they are this very impressive group. They are underperforming in the job market. And we know why. And oh, by the way, we do kind of owe them as a country. And so, today the world`s least controversial bill came before the Senate, the Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, a tax credit for businesses to hire new veterans. Congress is debating all sorts of different tax credits to hire people. This one is to hire veterans. And it does not even add to the deficit. They moved money around from other veterans programs to pay for this one. This is in the running for least controversial thing in Washington. It is good for the economy. It is good for our souls quite frankly. It is practically helpful to people who need practical help in a way that also helps all the rest of us too because it is a jobs program. The vote on this thing today was 94-1. The bill passed 94-1. The one was Senator Jim DeMint. Why is Senator Jim DeMint against this? Is it some cockamamie Jim DeMint/Tea Party fetishistic states` rights idea about gold bullion or something? No, not in this case. It wasn`t anything like this. Jim DeMint`s reasoning for voting against this was that veterans don`t deserve it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JIM DEMINT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I cannot support this tax credit because I do not believe the government should privilege one American over another when it comes to work. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Yes, those greedy veterans, wanting all this special treatment. Greedy veterans expecting everything to be handed to them. Yes, happy Veterans Day, Senator DeMint. I would salute you, but the way I want you is not something that`s allowed on television. It almost makes me want to sit on my hands. The veterans bill, aside from the blistering astonishment that is Jim DeMint, is an example of things sort of secretly actually getting done in D.C. right now. Here`s another example. Yesterday, the FCC announced that the nation`s biggest cable companies will start offering high-speed Internet service to low-income families for the reduced price of $9.95 a month. Any family that has a kid who qualifies for the free school lunch program will be eligible to get broadband Internet service that they otherwise probably would not be able to afford. This is a real concrete step. It is connecting the poorest Americans to the 21st century economic backbone of our country. So, this week alone: Veterans jobs bill -- check. Minus Jim DeMint. Broadband Internet for low-income families -- check. Here`s one more. Putting people back to work building roads and bridges -- check. Maybe? Yes. One of the other secret things that took a giant step forward toward getting done this week was a long-term infrastructure bill to fund highway projects across the country. Yesterday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee advanced the highway bill by a unanimous vote of 18-0. Every single Democrat and every single Republican voted for this infrastructure bill. I feel like I`m jinxing it by even reporting on it. Listen in the hearing room. Listen, this is a quick clip. Listen to what it sounded like right after they took the vote in that committee yesterday. Here`s what happened right afterwards until they turned the mikes off. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), BOXER: The bill as amended is reported favorably to the United States senate. My thanks to everyone. We stand adjourned. BOXER: Oh, my. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, we did it. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: OK, we did it. Oh, my. I think what we just heard Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer saying there before the mike was cut out was "Oh, my God, we did it." Oh, my God, is this really happening? Joining us now is Chris Hayes, host of MSNBC`s excellent new weekend show called "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES." Chris, it`s great to see you. CHRIS HAYES, HOST, "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES": It`s great to see you, Rachel. MADDOW: Do I have the soft bigotry of low expectations? Am I applauding things that -- HAYES: You need to come in and rain on the parade. No, I thought the Senate -- I thought there was a sort of vestigial senatorial functionality that we saw in those two bills you mentioned. MADDOW: Yes. HAYES: The fact that McConnell put out a good press release on it. This is the kind of thing that as you said is non-controversial. It`s almost routine and programmatic. It`s the kind of thing that the Senate and the House should be able to come together and do. And we have been in such a horribly dysfunctional knot since the 2010 mid-terms, they haven`t been able to do it. So, I do think there`s something positive about that -- excuse me -- and that bill getting out of the senate. The other part of the story, the highway bill, is the House has its own version of the highway bill which does not reconcile very well with the Senate version of the highway bill and spends a lot less money, and the House is really where the kind of stopping gap is right now. There are things you can get in the senate with the Democratic majority and with the sort of vestigial kind of collegiality. It`s the House I think that`s the really worrisome roadblock right now. MADDOW: That said, when we had just an infrastructure bill put forward by Senator Amy Klobuchar, who is not known for her partisan legislating at all, put forward with Joe Manchin, who is maybe one of the most conservative Democrats, definitely one of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate last week, Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman voted against it, and Republicans were able to successfully filibuster it. But now we`re able to see some more roads and bridges stuff move forward in another way. So why do we get to move forward on the highway bill and we don`t get to move forward on the one that`s attached to President Obama`s jobs bill? HAYES: Well, I think implied in your question is the fact that it is clearly the case that -- I mean, it`s a little like Groundhog Day reporting on it, right? Because every day the Republicans come in and every day they want to block what the president is doing. In fact, the veterans bill had to be so non-controversial that it could pass 94-1. And that`s the threshold? You know what I mean? MADDOW: Yes. HAYES: Things can either pass 94-1, you`re naming a post office, you`re giving tax cuts to veterans, or they can get blocked. It`s those two options. There`s nothing in the middle. There`s nothing in this current political terrain that can pass by a five vote margin or six-vote margin or two-vote margin in the Senate, because the habitual use of the filibuster and the political commitment on the part of the minority caucus to politically destroy the president in the run-up to the election is so strong it means going after everything the president has his name attached to. MADDOW: Even in that environment, do you have a Veterans Day wish for Senator DeMint? HAYES: A Veterans Day wish for Senator DeMint. I will say is this to Senator DeMint: It was -- he displayed a genuine fidelity to his cockamamie principles. MADDOW: What principles? If he`d come one some crazy Tenth Amendment like gold standard, like we shouldn`t legally elect senators thing, fine. But like veterans don`t deserve it? Really, Jim? Really? HAYES: But here`s the thing. Look, the argument that that part of the Republican caucus is making and that is clearly taking over the Republican caucus is that everything is distortion. And so, when you come to view every single thing the government does as distortion, as some sort of pure and natural state of the market, then it`s very easy to view a tax credit to hire veterans as a distortion, as something unnatural, as opposed to the thing that is unnatural, being the 12 percent unemployment rate of veterans themselves. MADDOW: Yes. HAYES: And that exactly is the kind of through the looking glass perspective that I think we see broadly from the base of the Republican Party and the most ideological members, is that the crisis that we are in right now, the crisis of joblessness, the crisis of unemployment and foreclosures and personal bankruptcies is the natural state, and the interventions to change them and fix them is unnatural. MADDOW: Is unnatural and -- is unnatural and should not even be evaluated on its merits because -- HAYES: Right, because it is ideologically offensive. MADDOW: Well, I will just say, Jim, if anybody runs into Jim DeMint at a Veterans Day parade, please tell him hi for me. (LAUGHTER) MADDOW: Chris Hayes, host of "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES," which you really are doing great work. I knew you would, but you are doing great work. The show is so good. HAYES: It means so much to me. MADDOW: Thanks, Chris, appreciate it. Spinal tap still ahead. And Rick Perry`s amazing brain freeze. And what`s important about it. And what to do with that pesky 30-foot crack in your nuclear reactor, Ohio. That`s all ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s three agencies of government, when I get there, that are gone: Commerce, Education and the -- what`s the third one there -- let`s see. (LAUGHTER) REP. RAND PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You need five. PERRY: Oh, five. OK. PAUL: Make it five. PERRY: OK. So Commerce, Education and -- the -- MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: EPA? PERRY: EPA. There you go. No. (LAUGHTER) (APPLAUSE) MARIA BARTIROMO, MODERATOR: Let`s go -- JOHN HARWOOD, MODERATOR: Seriously? Is EPA the one you were talking about? PERRY: No, sir. No, sir. We were talking about the agencies of government -- EPA needs to be rebuilt. There`s no doubt about that. HARWOOD: But you can`t -- but you can`t name the third one? PERRY: The third agency of government. HARWOOD: Yes. PERRY: I would do away with the Education, the Commerce and -- let`s see -- I can`t. The third one, I can`t. Sorry. Oops. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: OK. In the last 24 hours there have been two huge deals in American politics about energy. First, after months of sometimes really big protests against it the Obama administration`s expected approval of a tar sands pipeline right through one of the biggest sources of fresh water in our country has been at least delayed for at least a year. The Obama administration saying that one source of the delay in the decision on the Keystone XL pipeline is that they`re considering alternate routes for it. The other major energy development over the last 24 hours is of course the Energy Department`s good fortune that Rick Perry plum forgot his plan to kill them. That`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) PERRY: It`s three agencies of government, when I get there, that are gone: Commerce, Education and the -- what`s the third one there -- let`s see. (LAUGHTER) PAUL: You need five. PERRY: Oh, five. OK. PAUL: Make it five. PERRY: OK. So Commerce, Education and -- the -- GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: We have done everything that we could possibly do. We have -- did what was right for Arizona. PERRY: Was it 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. He was for race to the top. He`s for Obamacare, and now he`s against it. UNIDENTIFEID MALE: Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Fife seldom in my life have I met a dumber man. PERRY: The coolest thing happens. I roll in here, and I get to meet a real live angel in the form of Christopher Duffley. And then I get to meet a real-life hero in Katherine Adair. I mean, my life -- today has been awesome, girl. UNIDENTIFEID FEMALE: Some people out there in our nation don`t have that. And I believe that our education, like such as in south Africa and the Iraq, everywhere such as, I believe that they should -- our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S. -- or should help south Africa. HARWOOD: You can`t name the third one? PERRY: The third agency of government. HARWOOD: Yes. PERRY: I would do away with the Education, the Commerce and -- let`s see -- I can`t. The third one, I can`t. Sorry. Oops. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: The pantheon of very public long pauses, deliberate and not deliberate, amazing political brain freezes and pregnant pauses done for effect. A dumber man. The pantheon of those things is chock full of Rick Perry. That cup runneth over. Last night, what Governor Perry was trying mightily to remember is that the third government agency he would abolish if he were president was this one: the Department of Energy, DOE. The Energy Department operates almost 40 facilities across the nation. So hard we would have had to triple our graphics department to name them all on this map. The sites include the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Ring a bell? During World War II, that`s where Robert Oppenheimer and company became death, the destroyer of worlds. Los Alamos is where we built the world`s first atomic bomb. Los Alamos today is one of two facilities in the country that still works on designing nuclear weapons and a million other things. It`s got a $2 billion budget. It spans 36 square miles, roughly 10,000 employees there. What Rick Perry couldn`t remember last night is that he wants to abolish that. Same goes for the Oakridge facility in Tennessee. There they do awe- inspiring specialized work like studying matter at the atomic, nuclear, and sub-nuclear levels. If you don`t know what that means, don`t worry, because the scientists at Oakridge do know what that means, and thank God for that. Experimental nuclear physics is not for the faint of heart, nor is it for some local town`s budget. But if Rick Perry were president and he could remember to do it, that would be gone. We don`t need it. And in Aiken, South Carolina, it`s the Energy Department`s Savannah River National Lab, working on perfecting the art of detecting weapons of mass destruction. Please keep working on that one. They also work on the cleanup of contaminated groundwater and soils, the development of hydrogen as an energy source and safe management of hazardous materials. Savannah River also works with the Wounded Warrior Care Project to retrain America`s wounded vets. Governor Perry thinks, he can`t quite remember, but he thinks he wants to abolish all of that too -- which would be amazing even if he hadn`t forgotten it and said "oops." But as long as that`s the most amazing tape of the day and we`re talking about the forgotten Energy Department because Rick Perry had a hilarious brain freeze about it, there is something I would like to talk about, about this. Because at the Energy Department`s Idaho national lab in Idaho falls this week, 16 people were apparently just accidentally exposed to plutonium. Two of them have evidence of plutonium in their tissue. Four of them were given intravenous flushing of their systems to try to get radioactive material out. Others had confirmed contamination of their skin, which could indicate internal exposure. The accidental plutonium exposure apparently happened while the workers were handling spent nuclear fuel at this lab. And if it is OK to talk nukes because Rick Perry had his hilarious brain freeze while he was trying to remember he wanted to abolish the Department of Energy, I have another question about nuclear energy while we`re on the subject because on the shores of Lake Erie in Ohio, the Davis- Besse nuclear power plant has been shut down since October 1st. That`s when inspectors accidentally discovered a 30-foot-long crack in the concrete wall around one of the reactors. Inspectors decided to do some more testing. They took concrete samples. That`s when they found more cracks. They found hairline cracks they say in 15 out of the 16 design components of the building. The Union of Concerned Scientists says in a letter this week they`re very concerned about the structural problems at Davis-Besse, which makes me want to ask clarifying questions of all of these things of a senior staff scientist in the Union of Concerned Scientists. So joining us tonight for "The Interview" is Dr. Ed Lyman. Dr. Lyman, thanks very much for being here. ED LYMAN, UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS: Thanks for having me again. MADDOW: The company that`s operates the Davis-Besse plant is saying that the cracks in the wall around these reactors is not dangerous because those walls are just, in their words, architectural parts of the building. What is your response to that? LYMAN: Well, the containment structure in a nuclear power plant is only really need in the event of a severe accident. And if you recall, before Fukushima, we thought that severe accidents were so improbable that we really didn`t have to worry too much about them. But in the case where do you have an event where the core overheats, melts, and potentially causes a large radiological release, you do need that containment building to be as structurally intact as possible. So the fact that there are large cracks in it now again doesn`t matter unless we have an accident. MADDOW: In terms of how this was discovered, as far as I can tell from the narrative that we`ve got, the press around this and the information that`s been released by the company, we know about all of the cracks in all of the other parts of this reactor facility because of the big giant 30-foot-long one that they couldn`t ignore. It wasn`t like somebody was doing inspections anyway. They only found these because they went looking for them, almost by accident. Does that concern you, just about the systematic inspection and maintenance issues here? LYMAN: Well, this is a genuine problem. As the nation`s nuclear reactors age, you really do need to do more intensive maintenance and inspections because you can`t assume that you know everything that`s going on with these aging processes. So, but, of course, the more inspections that you do the more expensive it gets. So, there`s a constant struggle between, you know, how much you actually have to search for things that you don`t necessarily know will be there. And so, it`s this struggle that`s one of the major problems that we worry about with regard to aging plants. How do you discover things that you really don`t expect before they cause a major problem? MADDOW: Aging seems to be one of the issues that was relevant in the Idaho plutonium exposure case as well. They`re describing a container for some spent nuclear fuel that may have been corroded. The 16 people there potentially exposed to plutonium. How scary a situation is that? Can you put that into in-some context for us? LYMAN: Well, the larger context is that the Department of Energy oversees a complex of facilities, many of which are, again, aging. They`re Cold War era facilities. They were used for decades to process radioactive materials and the production of nuclear weapons. And the cleanup of those facilities and the maintenance of that legacy is one of the huge burdens that the Department of Energy has. And this is one good reason why we really can`t abolish the Department of Energy, is because there`s no other agency that would be willing or able to manage these sites and deal with the radioactive contamination. And as this incident shows, even the Department of Energy doesn`t always know what it`s doing. So this is a problem across the complex. We do have a wide variety of radioactive materials, of aging facilities that need to be managed in the most careful way possible to avoid contamination of the environment, exposure to the worker population, and potential contamination and exposure of the public. MADDOW: Ed Lyman, senior staff scientist from the Union of Concerned Scientists, thanks for your time in helping us to understand this, sir. I`m glad we could talk to you about it. LYMAN: Thank you. MADDOW: All right. Right after this show on "THE LAST WORD" tonight, Lawrence O`Donnell`s guest to break down last night`s debate is a man named Tim Pawlenty. And, you know, just as a sidebar if anybody could convince Tim Pawlenty to get back in the race, it`s probably Lawrence O`Donnell. I`m very much looking forward to that. And here still to come, spinal tap. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Moscow, we have a problem. I don`t mean to be alarming but right now there is a Russian rocket circling the earth loaded with roughly 11 tons of toxic fuel called nitrogen titroxide and hydrozen. The spacecraft is called Phobos-Grunt. Phobos for the Martian moon, this thing is supposed to be flying to, and Grunt is the Russian word for ground or soil or dirt, which is a probe that is on top of the big dumb rocket was to scoop this up and bring back once it got to Mar`s moon. It doesn`t look like it`s getting to mars` moon. Phobos-Grunt right now is falling, slowly but inexorably back down towards earth, as it had since Tuesday when shortly after lift up, the rocket`s booster engines failed to fire. The booster engines were supposed to send this thing out of the earth`s atmosphere to get up all the way to mars` moon and the engines were going to use all of the hydrazine. They were going to burn it up as fuel, to go all the way to mars. This is video purportedly shot in Brazil on Tuesday, right about the time the first engine was supposed to fire. That little dot is the rocket doing what is it not supposed to be doing. The reason people in Brazil were even looking for the Phobos-Grunt at the time is that the Russian space program crowd sourced the launch. Instead of sending a reconnaissance ship to South America to monitor the rocket`s progress, they decided to just save the expense and asked amateur sky watchers to help them out. The last time Russia tried a deep space mission, it really didn`t work out then either. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANNOUNCER: This is NBC News at sunrise with Linda Vester. LINDA VESTER, NBC NEWS: Good morning, everyone. The world of science and nation of Russia have suffered a setback. The mission to explore the planet mars have come to an end in the south Pacific. Last night, pieces of a probe have fell back to earth, plunging into the ocean about 900 miles southeast of Easter Island and some 1,800 miles northwest of Santiago, Chile. The spacecraft lifted up from its base in Kazakhstan on Saturday, carrying two devices designed to land on mars. But one of the rocket booster failed to ignite properly. Ground controllers lost contact, and the rocket got stuck in earth`s orbit. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: As you can tell from the hairdo, it was in 1996. What`s happening now is kind of amazingly similar. At least this one does not have any plutonium onboard, like the last one they crashed. This one, it`s just tons and tons and tons of toxic rocket fuel. You can be one of the work for free amateur space trackers of this thing, of the Phobos-Grunt, if you want to be. According to the live track online, it is somewhere west of Indonesia, vaguely. My eyes are not good enough to tell. Well, west of Australia, yes. While it is still up there, the Russian rocket scientists do have time to figure out what the problem is and maybe fix it, but they probably have a few days left before its batteries die. Mission controllers say they have a few attempts to send commands to rockets to fire those booster engines and get this thing fired toward that mars moon, but so far not, which means tons of hydrazine and nitrogen titroxide may be heading back home to earth one of these days in a rather uncontrolled fashion. Today, I learned the phrase bozhe moi. I think that`s how you say it. Bozhe moi, correct me on this. But as far as I know, that`s Russian for OMG. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Today, November 10th. Tomorrow, November 11th. And this being the year 2011 -- hello, ancient Mayans, we are on the way. Tomorrow`s date rendered digital clock styly will be 11-11-11, a perfect palindrome. The same backward as it is forward. And if you use the right font, you can even turn it upside down. It still says 11-11-11. So, its an inverted palindrome as well. This kind of cause for celebration. For example, this club in Mexico is offering some $111 sale offer thing. Apparently, a lot of people are apparently planning to get married on 11-11-11 because it`s good luck and it`s cute and maybe those people love the palindromes as much as they love each other. "The New York Times" reporting today that New York City`s Corduroy Appreciation Club plans to hold its grandest meeting tomorrow. They have picked tomorrow because 11-11-11 is the date that most looks like corduroy, the parallel ridges. They say that the grandest meeting of the Corduroy Appreciation Club is sold out, but you can still buy one of the celebratory things, including the corduroy honey badger which I am buying for a gift for maybe Senator David Vitter, the hooker guy. You can also buy the numbers 11-11-11 made in corduroy, which kind of takes the idea to 11. And yes, tomorrow is also Nigel Tufnel day for the guitar god in "Spinal Tap." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you can see, the numbers all go to 11, look, right across the board to 11-11-11. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amps go up to 10. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does it mean it`s louder? Is that any louder? UNIDENTIFIED AMLE: Well, it is one louder, isn`t it? It`s not 10. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: And 11 is louder than 10. This November 11th is also like every November 11th, Veterans Day, which is a celebratory holiday and not the same as Memorials Day a when we remember those who gave their lives for the country. Veterans Day is celebration of everyone who ever served in the American military, in war time or in the time of peace. It is the day to chap and clear and tip our hats for making that sacrifice. It is a celebratory day. So, particularly if you are not a veteran, this is time right now to think about what are you going to do for Veterans Day tomorrow. Your town might have a local Veterans Day parade, even a lot of small towns have them. You should go. You could also thank somebody, you know, who served the country. Call them up. Write a note. Knock on the door. Reach out to a family who`s got a loved one overseas and offer to walk the dog or run an errand. There`s ways, say, to donate old cell phone so a soldier can call home. You can help make one of the tiny trees they send to Wisconsin every year. You can send a letter saying thank you, you might make somebody`s day over there. Join the V.A. in pausing tomorrow at 11:11 a.m. Stop and remember the troops in the privacy of your own head. We put links to ways you can celebrate Veterans Day on our blog and how you can get in touch with IAVA, with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. It`s all there at And tonight, right now, tonight is the night to talk to some friends and family about what you are going to do for the big 11-11-11. So happy Veterans Day tomorrow. Make plans. 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 with his special guest tonight, Tim Pawlenty. I`m so looking forward to him. Have a great night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END