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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/15/11

Guests: Robert Reich, Abrahm Lustgarten

ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: Rachel Maddow, her show starts right now. I`m not going to miss it. Good evening, Rachel. RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you. And thanks to you at home for staying with us the next hour. At the University of California`s campus at Berkeley, which everybody calls Cal, outside the administration building there, there`s a big empty plaza space. And at the top of a short run of stairs, from the administration area down to that plaza, there was a plaque that`s embedded in the steps. It names those steps the Mario Savio Steps. This is Mario Savio. You are about to hear Mario Savio in a moment. And I`ll just tell you for context, the President Kerr you hear him mention, President Kerr of the University of California at the time that Mario Savio was speaking here. The context here is that the students were trying to overturn a ban on political activity on campus. They wanted free speech rights to advocate for political causes on campus and they are protesting here against the university president and the university`s board of regents. Check this out. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARIO SAVIO: We were told the following: if President Kerr actually tried to get something more liberal out of the regions in his telephone conversations, why didn`t he make some public statement to that effect? And the answer we received from a well-meaning liberal was the following: he said, would you ever imagine the manager of a firm making a statement publicly in opposition to his board of directors? That`s the answer. Well, I ask you to consider if this is affirmed, and if the board of regents or board of directors and if President Kerr is in fact the manager. I tell you something, the faculty are a bunch of employees and we`re the raw materials. We`re a bunch of raw materials that don`t mean to be -- have any process upon us, don`t mean to be made into any product, don`t mean to end up being bought by some clients of the university, be they of government, be they industry, be they organized labor, be they anyone. We`re human beings. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: We`re human beings. Mario Savio, his big speech that day at Cal in 1964 culminated with this famous rallying cry to the students who had assembled there. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SAVIO: The time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart that you can`t take part, you can`t even passively take part. And you`ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you`ve got to make it stop. And you`ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who won it, that unless you`re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was December 1964. And from that very famous speech, there`s a little bit of video from that speech, what you`ve just seen there. There are some still images and there is some audio of Mario Savio`s entire speech. The record of this event in terms of the media available to us now, it`s patchworky. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SAVIO: That doesn`t mean you have to break anything. One thousand people sitting down someplace, not letting anybody -- not letting anything happen can stop any machine including this machine and it will stop. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Mario Savio, part of him there talking about putting your body on the gears of the machine. You have heard that before, right? That became one of the iconic rhetorical moments of the whole decade of the 1960s. There weren`t very many of those moments from 1964 on the West Coast. But it was like he was talking about how to stop the Vietnam War. It was like he was talking about how to stop segregation. It was like he was talking about big, national issues. And allegorically, maybe he was talking about those bigger issues. But in the moment, what he was talking about, as you heard there, was free speech, was students` rights. Students` rights to be protesting at the University of California. This was a huge confrontation between the students and the university, between the students and the police. And it was over a very local campus free speech issue. And even though the free speech movement faced huge hostility at the time, there were more than 800 arrests, the largest number of arrests of students in U.S. history up until that point. Thirty years later, the school put up a plaque for Mario Savio. They named the steps where he spoke there to honor the most articulate and powerful of the free speech movement student organizers, at that spot. And at that spot, this month, at that plaza where Cal put up the plaque to mark the success of the free speech movement, here`s what happened on Wednesday. (VIDEO CLIP PLAYS) MADDOW: Riot police breaking up an "Occupy Wall Street" demonstration at Cal`s supposed free speech plaza last week on Wednesday. Here`s the thing, though -- since that massive police show of force on November 9th, the protesters there are back. Today, they organized a day of action at Cal that included classes being taught outside and a march from Cal`s Sproul Plaza, the home of Mario Savio steps to a local high school, Berkeley High and to Berkeley City College. Cal`s annual Mario Savio memorial lecture was already scheduled to be taking place tonight. It was scheduled to be held this year in some ballroom on campus, but thanks to a request from the Occupy Cal protesters, the Mario Savio lecture tonight will be held outdoors, it will be held outdoors where the plaque is. That`s Sproul Plaza, where those cops beat up those protesting students, just last week. At this hour, the student protesters are reportedly planning to erect tents on the grass near where the lecture is to be given. Because of that, they say they expect a confrontation with police. They expect to be removed from the free speech memorial plaza again, maybe in the middle of the Mario Savio free speech memorial lecture. Mario Savio`s widow put out a statement yesterday saying that the lecture was going to be moved outside, quote, "In protest against the use of excessive police force, against nonviolent demonstrators." She said, "We apologize for your inconvenience, but as Mario said, there comes time." Today in New York City, very, very early this morning, really, in the middle of the night, New York City police raided and tore town and cleared out the "Occupy Wall Street` encampment that has been at Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan for nearly two months. The raid happened at 1:00 a.m. roughly, as most of the protesters there were asleep. New York City police officers dressed in riot gear, handed out a written notice to the protesters telling them where their personal articles from the encampment could be retrieved, which sounds lovely until you saw what they were doing to the protesters` personal belongings. There were reports that police use knives to cut up the sturdy military-grade tents that were the best hope of surviving winter down there. You can see police here cutting down the protesters` tent poles with hand-held saws, with sawsalls. This is a massive police action. There were 200 arrests early this morning. Zuccotti Park was totally cleared. But here`s the thing -- like at Cal, like everywhere so far for the last couple months, the protesters are already back. After taking temporary refuge last night in nearby Foley Square, in the immediate aftermath of the police raid, at daybreak, people came back to Zuccotti Park and said no matter what happened, whatever specific spot they were boxed out of for the time being, they were not going away, they were not leaving. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LAURA CONAWAY, TRMS REPORTER: On a practical level, what happens now? What`s day one, what`s day two? TIMOTHY GORDON, OCCUPY WALL STREET PROTESTER: I`m going to stay here and I`m going to put my tent right back up. We show them that we are not just words on Internet screen. We are people. And we are willing to put ourselves in pain and misery to put our point across. CONAWAY: How important is the occupation to occupy Wall Street? MELISSA FREEDMAN, OCCUPY WALL STREET PROTESTER: I think it`s very important. This is the location. This is the scene of the crime. And we need a critical mass of people. When people get together and they talk face to face and they have a library and people are coming down to talk and organize and -- it`s what`s needed. You can`t do everything on the Internet. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: Those interviews were both shot by our producer Laura Conaway down there this morning talking to the protesters and also talking to the passers by. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CONAWAY: If they can`t be here, what to you think happens to their movement? JACKIE BLOOM, OCCUPY WALL STREET NEIGHBOR: Oh, I don`t know. I think it -- wouldn`t you guess it`s strong enough that they`ll -- that it`s gained so much momentum that they`ll keep it going somehow? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It does seem like they are strong enough, at least so far, to keep it going somehow. That same point about the fact that this is not going away was made eloquently and pretty effectively I think by Dan Siegel on this program last night. Dan Siegel is the adviser to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan who resigned in protest over that city once again clearing out their occupy encampment. Dan Siegel was our guest on the interview last night. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAN SIEGEL: To me, it seems like a totally useless and futile activity to spend millions of dollars to take people out of tents, to create situations where there was bloodshed in our streets and lots of chaos for days, because they`re going to come back. This is a movement that can`t be stopped. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: They`re going to come back. Although he did not put it in these specific terms, Dan Siegel was essentially recommending last night that cities consider taking the approach that Washington, D.C., has taken as a city thus far, which is to not try to clear the encampments out of there. Do what you need to do to protect public safety but to also recognize this movement is important, to try to figure out a way to let them stay. Practically speaking, though, and this is just practical advice to every mayor in the country, to every police force in country, the whole point of this protest is that it doesn`t go away. That`s the tactical point. It`s not called "march on Wall Street." It`s not called rally at Wall Street. It`s called "Occupy Wall Street." It`s not a stand up for the 99 percent on Saturday at noon movement. It`s the "we are the 99 percent" movement. And its tactics are about physical presence, about continued physical presence. And so, beating the heck out of people and knocking down their signs and arresting them and tearing down their stuff and cutting it up with saws-alls and running them out after a public space for a day, that makes this movement stronger. And it`s always been this way. You should have figured it out by now. I mean, the reason Mario Savio gave his bodies on the gears speech that became so iconic, the reason he gave that speech in September 1964, because in October 1964, police moved in to try to arrest people for handing out civil rights pamphlets on the Berkeley campus. And those arrests led to this. Look, see what`s in the center of that? It`s not a stage. A kid who the police were trying to arrest for handing out civil rights pamphlets is in that police car which is what`s in the middle there. The police car is what Mario Savio is standing on. That`s hundreds, no, thousands, of other people surrounding the police car, not letting the police take that kid away to be arrested. That kid was in that car for nearly two days. Had he not been arrested, he would have just been a kid on sprawl plaza giving out civil rights pamphlets. But because you arrested him, those became 30 years later the Mario Savio Steps. That plaza became home to Berkeley`s free speech monument. It became not just some one kid`s free speech effort, it became the free speech movement which, by the way, became a major part of why we got a nationwide anti-war movement in this country. So, in Oakland on October 25th, 2011, they beat the heck out of people, they fractured the skull of an Iraq war veteran. They doused all of downtown Oakland in tear gas. They set off concussion grenades. And they clear that plaza that day, and that encampment came back at that plaza bigger than ever. Now, they`ve cleared it again, as of two nights ago. How did occupy Oakland respond? They came back. They came back to the original square they occupied there and also to a nearby one, where they plan to stick it out even longer. In New York City, they cleared out Zuccotti Park in the early hours of this morning with no warning while people slept. Tonight, "Occupy Wall Street" is back, back to Zuccotti Park. In Boston, remember the footage we showed you a few weeks ago, the "Occupy Boston" encampment being cleared out? They`re back. They are back, too, and they are filing legal action today. The ACLU and the National Lawyers Guild trying to secure them a place to stay for the long run. In Portland, Oregon, this weekend, there was a huge show of force against the "Occupy Portland" encampment. "Occupy Portland" responded by calling for a citywide day of action on Sunday. They are claiming more for support than they ever have in the past. At Cal Berkeley, after being beaten by police and cleared out of their protest site, "Occupy Cal" was back with a full day of protest activities today. And they are back tonight at the birthplace of Berkeley`s free speech movement to hear outdoors tonight the Mario Savio memorial lecture to be delivered a short time from now by Cal Berkeley professor, Robert Reich. Joining us now is Robert Reich, professor of public policy at Berkeley, former secretary of labor under President Clinton and the man who will deliver tonight`s Mario Savio memorial lecture, unexpectedly outdoors. Secretary Reich, thank you for joining us tonight. ROBERT REICH, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: Good evening, Rachel, how are you? MADDOW: I`m good. What can I tell us what the feeling is like on campus right now and what the scene is like at Berkeley. REICH: Well, on campus, there is a kind of mood of restlessness and uncertainty. A lot of the students don`t know if the police are coming back in. There is a kind of nervousness. But there is also I think a sense of indignation with what happened last week and righteousness with regard to the purpose and history of the free speech movement here. You know, Rachel, the irony of all of this is not only Mario Savio, it`s that right now, we are at a time when the Supreme Court has said that money is speech, speech is money, and corporations are people. I mean, you know, we`ve turned the First Amendment on its head. And instead of allowing people to peaceably assemble to express their outrage at how much money is now going into politics, we`ve got mayors and other officials all over the country who are saying you can`t assemble, you can`t express yourself, but we are going to listen to the money from the big corporations that now are basically engulfing American politics. MADDOW: How do you think that mayors` decisions, police departments` decisions to act very aggressively toward these protesters, how do you think it is changing the movement, if at all? REICH: Oh, I think it`s strengthening the movement. I mean, as you said before, every movement that has occurred over the last 75 years, of American history, and we know a lot of movements abroad as well, when they are cracked down upon, when there is sort of a violent effort to end them, and also especially when the members of the movement maintain a kind of a peacefulness, nonviolence, a civil disobedience, that strengthens the movement. The movement grows. And that is almost inevitably what`s going to happen here. MADDOW: You ran for governor of Massachusetts. You were cabinet secretary in the Clinton administration. You`ve been involved in public service your whole life. When you think about the responsibility of public officials at times like this, can you imagine a means by which public officials responsible for the safety of a city`s residence, but also respecting their rights, can tolerate ongoing semi-permanent protest encampments? Is there a way to keep things essentially law-abiding and protect people`s rights to say what they want to do and assemble and say so in the means of their own choosing? REICH: I think there is, Rachel. I mean, sometimes, it`s a little inconvenient and sometimes it`s a little bit expensive. But that`s what democracy is all about. Democracy can be inconvenient and it can be kind of expensive. And the First Amendment can be very inconvenient. A lot of people don`t like freedom of speech. I mean, a lot of politicians would like it if there were no freedom of speech. Their lives might be much simpler. But look, that`s the price we pay for a living democracy. And particularly at a time like now when so much money is entering politics, we`ve got to guard these free speech rights of ordinary people and students and citizens more carefully than ever before. MADDOW: I know that the title -- or at least the subject of your speech tonight is on class warfare. Do you feel like having this protest (AUDIO BREAK) thousand sites around the country, is changing the way we think about class, the way we think about the working class, the way we think about the middle class and the way we think of the political responsiveness of our system to the very top of the 1 percent? REICH: Of course it is. I mean, before the occupy movement a couple of months ago, there were not page one stories about so much of the nation`s income and wealth and political power going to the very top. There was not very much discussion about the consequences of all of this for our democracy. And even for our economy. I mean, the mere fact that the occupiers have focused on this extraordinary concentration of income wealth and power has made it something that even in polite company, you can talk about without being accused of being a class warrior. MADDOW: Robert Reich, U.C. Berkeley professor, President Clinton`s labor secretary and featured speaker at tonight`s Mario Savio memorial lecture -- a bit more of a fraught occurrence than it usually is for this annual address at Cal, but you`re lucky to be there, sir, and we`re lucky to have you here before you do it. Thank you for being with us. REICH: Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: All right. Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas have every right to have dinner. In fact, it`s good for the country that they have dinner every night and a good dinner, too. But their recent dinner company has the appearance of being rather unhealthy as far as the country is concerned. That story is coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: You can tell a lot about a person by looking at his or her shoes. File that away. You will need it for the best new thing in the world. It`s coming up at the end of the show. Shoes is all I`m saying. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Did you know there`s a weather museum in Houston, Texas? There is. There`s a weather museum which has weather terrariums showing weathers in different parts of the world. Weathers? I guess weathers. There`s a tornado chamber built by the National Weather Service where you can see and touch a mini tornado as it forms inside the chamber. The weather museum in Houston also maintains a library. And if you want to see its holding, they`re cataloged here online at library thing, which is a funny name but a real online resource that`s really user-friendly, that libraries can use to list their holdings. So, the weather museum uses library thing. It`s also used by the Champaign Public Library in Illinois. Also the Greenfield Public Library which I have been to in Massachusetts. The Bend Public Library in Oregon. And, oh, hey, the library of "Occupy Wall Street" -- the 5,000-plus books of the "Occupy Wall Street" library in downtown Manhattan have been meticulously catalogue online by volunteer librarians. It tells you about the ethos and the plan permanence of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement, that about five minutes after protesters set up their occupy camp downtown, roughly speaking, they also set up their library. A physical cataloged organized space for reading -- reading about the protest movement and its discontents but also just for reading. I mean, yes, it`s political stuff, from Ralph Nader, to David Brooks, to Sean Hannity. I kid you not. He`s in their library. It`s also Spider- Man, Stan Lee, and David Sedaris. It`s just book. The "Occupy Wall Street" library with its 5,000-plus titles and counting is online in this great big super-organized searchable for anymore database of library. And it still exists that way -- you can still search the "Occupy Wall Street" library online. We`ll post a link on our blog tonight so you can do that at home if you`d like to. But I got to tell you, that`s the only place you can search because the actual books are gone. They are not at the "Occupy Wall Street" physically -- "Occupy Wall Street" library physically anymore, because, overnight, when New York City`s Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered Wall Street to be unoccupied, the library was swept up and torn down and then hauled off, as protesters were evicted and/or arrested from the site. Now, initially, there was some confusion about where exactly the library had been taken and even what condition it was in. This afternoon, the mayor`s office Twitter account posted this, "Property from Zuccotti, including the Occupy Wall Street library safely stored at 57th Street Sanitation Garage. It can be picked up Wednesday." That tweet was accompanied by this photo of a bunch of bins and stacks of books. The folks behind the "Occupy Wall Street" library responded via their own Twitter account saying, quote, "Looks like our library." But not all of it -- they noted on their Web site, quote, "We`re glad to see some books with OK. Now, where are the rest of the books? We won`t be convinced until we have all our undamaged property returned to us." Now, we asked the mayor`s office today for permission to see and photograph the books ourselves. The mayor`s office declined, saying they might allow us to photograph the books tomorrow. Tomorrow, however, is when they told the librarians they can pick up their books. But tonight, as protesters have rallied back at Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, some of the protesters have come bearing books, to help reestablish the library, right now, starting tonight. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is my understanding that the city came in, withdrew all of the books, checked them out. They didn`t use library cards. They didn`t check with librarians. I mean, I suppose if they wanted to take out 4,000 books, OK, although they did take out a lot of books that are reference materials that we asked to be kept in the library, so it wasn`t considerate of them to take those out. They also took out library computers which we certainly do not loan out. We`re hoping that they`re at home reading the copies of the Constitution they took out from the library. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Joining us now is Jeff Sharlet, a co-founding member of Occupy Writers, which is a group of writers that came out in support of the occupy movement. They say they will assist with the effort to rebuild the "Occupy Wall Street" library. Jeff is also a contributor editor at "Rolling Stone" where he has a really, really excellent piece in the current issue chronicling the rise of the occupy movement. Jeff, it`s nice to see you. Thanks for being here. JEFF SHARLET, OCCUPY WRITERS FOUNDER: Good to see you, Rachel. MADDOW: I know you and some other Occupy Writers folks have been talking about ways to help the Wall Street the "Occupy Wall Street" library. Why do you think that library is important? SHARLET: I mean, the library embodies the imagination, which is the driving force of this thing. I think a lot of people who haven`t had a chance to visit it get caught up on policy ideas and so on. If you go to that library, as you said, 5,000 volumes, to me that was the thing that hooked me. That was the thing that made me understand this is different than, you know, a normal demonstration. It is -- it is literally the imagination of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement. MADDOW: And it`s -- what they`re imaging is a permanent or semi- permanent presence. They`re imaging some sort of long term physical commitment to their space. Is that intrinsic to the message? SHARLET: I think it is. I think it is. You know, there`s that slogan that sort of made the rounds, we are our demands. What are our demands? We are our demands. The fact of their presence, the question of free assembly which is obviously up for grabs right now. But, also, you know, that library right there -- one of the things that I thought was fascinating is you go down there and you see the parents bringing their kids to get children`s books from the library because New York public libraries have been defunded. There`s nothing opened. There are no bookstores down there anymore. It`s a sad day when the closings of Borders is the death of a culture in a community in that part of Lower Manhattan. That was the kind of -- that had become the public library of that community. MADDOW: Jeff, in your reporting for "Rolling Stone," you wrote being down there overnight, you felt like it was a turning point for the movement when the tents came out, when they erected tents on the site. I thought about that today, when we had multiple reports that police were using knives to physically shred the heavy duty tents, the military- grade tents that people thought would be key to how they would survive winter. We don`t have footage of that. We`ve seen multiple reports. We have footage of police using sawsalls, portable handheld saws to saw down the tent poles from the tents. How to you feel like the movement will be effected by that in particular? SHARLET: By the tearing down of tents? I mean, I think that you have to make the distinction between the small sort of personal individual camping tents, which -- excuse me, I`ve got a case of what they call Zuccotti lung, the cough from being in the park, and these larger Army tents. The library was now housed in one of these library tents. They had shelves and so on. People who say oh, these tents are places where they`re private and nothing can happen, aren`t really dealing with the steps that the "Occupy" movement had taken to bring in these big, large, warm, secure Army tents that can be used for building institutions and so on. Taking those down is a terrible blow. What happens next, I don`t know. I just came from the park and they have their nightly general assembly, their direct democracy sort of activity. And it was, I have to say, the most energetic, the most joyous one I`ve seen there in all the time I`ve been covering this. And there`s a lot of adrenaline going around. But, you know, after a day of real police violence, the dominant emotion wasn`t anger, it was kind of joy. And so, where it goes, I don`t know. But that`s very promising. MADDOW: Jeff Sharlet, co-founder of Occupy Writers and contributing editor at "Rolling Stone" -- Jeff, thank you for being here. It`s nice to see you. SHARLET: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: We have cough drops. That will help. All right. Best new thing in the world still to come. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: What you are about to see was not the best new thing in the world today. Was not. Watch. (BEGIN VDIEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What, do you come from rich parents or something? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not important. Actually rich grandparents. UNDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of us don`t have rich parents or grandparents. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well -- you are what you say you are. You`re average. That`s fine. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have rich friends, very wealthy friends. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There has to be a winner and there has to be loser. We are the winners. We`re sorry. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was not the best new thing in the world today, but what happened in that dynamic shortly after that exchange you just saw, which was also caught on tape, totally was the best new thing in the world today. The payoff is coming up at the end of the show, which is a shameless tease for you to stay tuned but it`s totally worth it. I`m very sorry. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Do you want to see a guy light his tap water on fire? You`ve probably already seen this clip. Now, this is from -- look, look, wait, one, two -- here it -- misses. This is from the documentary -- come on. This is from the documentary "Gasland" that came out last year. The man you see here is lighting his tap water, his ordinary drinking water. Yes, there we go. Lighting his ordinary drinking water, the same tap water you have in your house, except his lights on fire. He`s able to pull off that bit of all chemical magic because his water supply has been poisoned, contaminated with chemicals that are more flammable than water is inflammable. And it`s not just that one faucet. It`s not just one family. It turns out that the lighting the water from my faucet on fire thing is a genre on YouTube. Just turn on the tap and break out the water. A lot of Americans can burn their water which makes you worry if something in your house catches fire, what exactly should you use to put that fire out? Fracking known in textbooks as hydraulic fracturing is one way energy companies get oil and gas out of the ground if it`s stuck inside rock. They pump water and chemicals into the rock to fracture it thus releasing the trapped fuel that they want to get out of there and sell. But also in the process, they pump all that hydraulic fracturing fluid into the ground. Ground, into the ground. The ground is the root word of ground water. What`s in the hydraulic fracturing fluid that these companies are pumping into the ground and thereby maybe into the ground water? We don`t know. Legally, the companies do not have to disclose what it is they are pumping into the ground. In 2005, President Bush signed a law saying though we have a safe drinking water act in this country that`s supposed to stop anybody from polluting Americans` drinking water, quote, "hydraulic fracturing operations related to oil, gas, geothermal activities" are except from those federal regulations. So, the federal government will stop you from polluting drinking water in this country unless you`re an oil and gas company polluting the drinking water by fracking, in which case, cool beans, sorry to bug you, carry on. Ever since then, energy companies have been having a fracking awesome time of it all over the U.S., anywhere they think they might be fuel they can blast out of the ground that way. The federal government unable to regulate fracking, the job has fallen to the states and the states have not been very good at it. Remember how not just our tap water but also our rivers used to catch fire in this country? That`s part of why we have federal regulation of the water supply at all, because the states could not handle it and so the rivers would catch fire. They couldn`t handle it or they wouldn`t handle it. We`re living through the water catching era all over again. This year in Pennsylvania, for example, the new Republican governor there, Tom Corbett, handed over all decisions about fracking to a single political appointee, an appointee who also happens to be a top energy executive, and a major contributor to Governor Corbett`s political campaigns. And the gas patch of Wyoming, where there`s quite a bit of fracking, Wyoming residents are been complaining about changes in their drinking water for years. Pour a glass of water and you`d see a rainbow sheen, they said, like an oil slick at a gas station and it smelled like gasoline. Last year, the government warned people in tiny Pavillion, Wyoming, to stop drinking their water altogether because it could make them sick. Well water and ground water both have become so filled with compounds like methane that the government advised people to open the windows and turn on a fan when they took a shower or did laundry. Otherwise their houses might explode. The EPA told the town that it couldn`t be sure yet what was causing the pollution. Then last week after years of testing, the EPA released new results from its tests in Wyoming. They found traces of diesel fuel in the water and acetone and naphthalene, benzene, at 50 times the level considered safe for humans. They found something called 2-BE, 2- Butoxyethanol, which "ProPublica" reports is a chemical that`s widely used in fracking. Joining us is Abrahm Lustgarten, the "ProPublica" reporter who broke the story of what`s up with Wyoming`s water right now. Mr. Lustgarten, thanks very much for being here. It`s nice to have you back on the show. ABRAHM LUSTGARTEN, PROPUBICA: Hi, Rachel. MADDOW: The EPA is not saying this water pollution is definitely coming from the fracking in Wyoming. But is there a reasonable alternate explanation as far as you can tell? LUSTGARTEN: Yes, there are a couple of alternative explanations. They all have to do with drilling, though, if not the fracking process specifically. There are a bunch of old waste pits from drilling waste that are in the area, that are known to have contaminated the ground to some extent. The question is, have they gone into people`s drinking water wells? And in the case of what they announced this week, have they gone a thousand feet down into these monitoring wells? It`s also possible that there are other spilled substances from the drilling activities on the surface from trucks and so forth that have gotten into the wells. But they have -- they seemed to rule out agricultural causes, which would be the other industrial activity in the area. No nitrates, no fertilizers, nothing like that. MADDOW: If in the big picture the federal government is not supposed to be regulating fracking activity in terms of its effect on drinking water, why is that the EPA that`s doing the testing here? LUSTGARTEN: Well, the EPA responded to a growing clamor of complains from Pavillion that go a decade back. The EPA still has responsibility for regulating water, regulating the environment under both the clean water act and the safe drinking water act. And they took this on as a straightforward scientific investigation. It`s not as they tell it an investigation to drilling or hydraulic fracturing. It was just to find out if the water was indeed contaminated. They confirmed it is. And eventually, to try to get a line on what caused that contamination. The program`s funded through the super fund cleanup program entirely separate from the agency`s investigation into hydraulic fracturing. MADDOW: Abrahm, I know that you have been -- you have been on this story for a long time. And you first set out to cover this story about potentially contaminated water in that part of the country, how quickly did people start talking about the possibility that drilling or indeed fracking could be to blame? How certain were they about that and how early on? LUSTGARTEN: Well, it really dependent on who you talk to. Pavillion is one of the places that we first went, that I first began reporting in 2008. And like a lot of other places, there were a range of folks, some who complained about their water and had no idea what might have caused it, and others who suspected drilling had. And beginning in about 2004, until the time I started reporting, 2008, there was a growing suspicion that this process of hydraulic fracturing might be causing some problems. Not a lot known about it, but it`s a scary kind of process and when you do try to learn more, you learn some of the things you mentioned about exemptions and loopholes and a lack of understanding. So, that kind of increase suspicions that fracking might be the process that was causing contamination. But really until now, and even to a great extent now, you know, that`s inconclusive. It`s just the chief suspect. MADDOW: Do you see any prospect that the states actually could get great at regulating this type of activity and taking care of people`s health and safety? LUSTGARTEN: Well, sure. They could. And there are some states that do. You know, comparatively good job. There are some states that fall way behind. What`s missing is a consistent baseline. And that`s something that, you know, a lot of people who want to see regulation say that the EPA can provide. What no state does really well, and in my opinion, after having covered this for a long time, every state needs to do, is push to make sure that the best practices that are known are used in the gas fields and in oil drilling as well. That`s to say the best and safest and most environmentally protective techniques that the industry knows how to use are actually employed and used at not disregarded just to save a little bit money or save some time. MADDOW: Abrahm Lustgarten, the "ProPublica" reporter who broke the story of these Wyoming wells -- thanks for your reporting on this, that has been dogged over a lot of years. And thanks for joining us tonight. LUSTGARTEN: Thank you. MADDOW: All right. Right after this show on "THE LAST WORD," Lawrence O`Donnell gets a different take on the Penn State scandal from his guest, the Delaware state attorney general, Beau Biden. That should be fascinating. I recommend sticking around. Here, best new thing in the world is straight ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Quiz. Ready? All right. Which Bush administration attorney general will argue against President Obama`s health reform law before the Supreme Court next year? Your first hint, it`s not John Ashcroft. John Ashcroft busy advising the company formally known as Blackwater. He is reportedly advising them on ethics, which makes my head hurt. It`s also not Alberto Gonzales. Alberto Gonzales is busy on the speaking circuit. For a big fat fee, Alberto Gonzales will speechify you on the subject of pursuing your American Dream. Also, it`s not Michael Mukasey. Michael Mukasey is still practicing law, but health care isn`t his thing. More his thing these days according to his bio, white collar criminal defense. Ah, naturally. So, a former Bush administration attorney general is going to argue against the health reform law at the Supreme Court when it comes up next year. But it`s not John Ashcroft or Alberto Gonzales or Michael Mukasey. Who else is there? Oh, Paul Clement. You would be forgiven for not knowing Paul Clement was also our nation`s attorney general under George W. Bush because his under George Bush because his tenure as attorney general lasted precisely one day. This is in 2007. Quote, "Clement publicly tagged last month as the temporary for Alberto Gonzales wound officially taking the helm at 12:01 a.m. Monday and relinquishing it 24 hours later. Now, Paul Clement was solicitor general for many years under George W. Bush, but he ended up being attorney general for just one day. Since leaving the Bush White House all together, he`s argued more cases before the U.S. Supreme Court than any other lawyer in the last decade. If there is a conservative case going to the court, no matter what it is, this is probably the guy arguing it. That`s why it was a big deal when his law firm, King and Spaulding decided to give up defending the Clinton era anti-gay marriage, Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA. In protest of his law firm making that decision, Paul Clement quit his law firm. He quit King and Spaulding and moved to Bancroft so he could keep working on the anti-gay marriage case. Paul Clement will also the be the man defending SB-1070, Arizona`s paper please law. And now on top of that, he`s got health reform, too. Paul Clement is a busy, busy man. Many cases before the Supreme Court or on their way there. Last week on the day the Supreme Court decided to hear the health reform case, Paul Clement`s law firm sponsored a dinner for the conservative advocacy group, it`s called the Federalist Society. The guest of honor at that dinner were two Supreme Court justices. Guess which ones. Quoting from "The L.A. Times," "The day the Supreme Court gathered behind closed doors to consider the politically divisive question of whether it would hear a challenge to President Obama`s health care law, two of its justices, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas were feted at a dinner sponsored by the law firm that will argue the case before the high court." So on the day they decided to hear the health reform case, Justices Scalia and Thomas were guests of honor at a dinner sponsored by the law firm arguing one side of the case. Supreme Court justices are technically not bound by the conflict of interest guidelines that other judges in our country have to follow. We are not making them be bound by those laws. We`re not supposed to force them to follow the guidelines because they are supposed to want to follow the guidelines on their own, because they are supposed to want the country to respect the Supreme Court and not to think it is biased. That`s how it is supposed to work. But with the John Roberts court, apparently, whatever. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: There`s "Occupy Wall Street" and everyone knows what that is -- a statement against our economy and our political system is only working for the most powerful people in this country anymore. As expressed by people camping permanently in cities around the country and at Wall Street in Lower Manhattan. "Occupy Wall Street" is famous by now and everybody understands the basics. Less famous and less understood is occupy "Occupy Wall Street." That is not a teleprompter error. Occupy "Occupy Wall Street" an actual thing, an actual satire thing. It is, as far as I can tell, two guys pretending to be the 1 percent. They are occupying "Occupy Wall Street." See their signs? Thanks, Bloomberg, 1 percent stick together. And re, re, re, re-elect Bloomberg. Get it because he is already in his third term, right? Occupy "Occupy Wall Street" is satire done in such a way that it mocks the very rich and powerful. But it does so quite -- sort of with a straight face, I guess convincingly. In any case, it can be hard to tell they are joking even if you are a seasoned journalist. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) REPORTER: Interestingly, not everyone here in the park is one of the protesters that agrees with occupy Wall Street. REPORTER: You knew it had to happen. These two self-described investment bankers say they are happy to be part of the 1 percent that has all of the wealth. REPORTER: Tell us your name and why you think it is not a good idea. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is John and I`m with an organization called Occupy "Occupy Wall Street". We have a Web site, And we kind of feel betrayed by the mayor with. It seemed like he was on our side and pulled a fast one on us. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We worked hard to get where we are and people are down here whining that they don`t have the wealth we have. And this is America. This is capitalism. And it kind of sounds like this protest seems un-American, if you think about it. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: Every day, someone is tricked by earnest well-done satire. Sometimes, it`s me. But everyday, when it happens, the angel of Andy Kaufman earns a new set of wings in heaven. But this morning, actual real life "Occupy Wall Street" protesters, they did not get fooled by these guys. At least not entirely and not for too long. Our producer Laura Conaway was there this morning when a crowd of Occupy Wall Streeters came in to contact with the satire guys with the Occupy "Occupy Wall Street" guys and when occupy met occupy occupy, the best new thing in the world happened. (BEGIN VDIEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What, do you come from rich parents or something? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not important. Actually rich grandparents. UNDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of us don`t have rich parents or grandparents. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well -- you are what you say you are. You`re average. That`s fine. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have rich friends, very wealthy friends. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There has to be a winner and there has to be loser. We are the winners. We`re sorry. Every investment banker out there who works down there, you know, this whisper, thank you, Bloomberg. Thank you, Bloomberg. Thank you. Raise your hand if you agree with Bloomberg! UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One percent, you should not be afraid to show your face. Let`s see your ID. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re not afraid. (CROSSTALK) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: OK. So was that funny and painful and very well done? Yes. But was that the best new thing in the world today, no. What happened next is the best new thing in the world today when the real occupiers figured out the occupy occupy guys were not totally 100 percent straight up legit. Watch. This is so awesome. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One percent you should not be afraid to show your faces. Let`s see your ID. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re not afraid to show our faces. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you imagine what would happen if we showed up -- (CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look at their shoelaces! They`re fake. This is a joke! (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It wasn`t their suits. It wasn`t their love of money or their brazen adoration of Mayor Bloomberg. It wasn`t them saying there`s got to be losers and we`re winners, sorry. The thing that gave them away, the thing that revealed occupy "Occupy Wall Street" as a joke was ratty shoe laces. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys were so good. Thank you, that was so funny. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope our movement isn`t a joke to anybody. I hope our movement is not a joke to anybody. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: And that is the best new thing in the world today, the big reveal. That does it for us tonight. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END