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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/21/11

Guests: Ray Lewis, Lisa Jackson

ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: -- I had a thousand people ask me, is Rachel so nice as she is on TV? And I said, absolutely. RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: You said actually she`s a horrible person. She`s just acting. Amazing acting. SCHULTZ: They love you in the middle of the country. It was great to be there. MADDOW: Ed, when I was looking at the coverage this weekend of the rally in Wisconsin, all of the mainstream coverage that I was reading noted that you were there. It was part of the way that the national media took the temperature of what happened this weekend in Madison. I`m glad you were an eyewitness, man. I was good to have you there. SCHULTZ: Good to be there. Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: Thanks, Ed. And thanks to you at home staying with us for the next hour. Stop me if you have heard this one before. But there is a new front-runner in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Surprise. Three new polls out, from CNN, Reuters, from Gallup, all give the national lead for the Republican presidential nomination to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. All right. Now, of course, we do not elect people using nationwide primaries, we go to Iowa and then New Hampshire and then South Carolina, et cetera. But in terms of the nationwide polling right now, for what it`s worth, Newt Gingrich is ahead. In the Gallup poll, alone, this is the sixth new front-runner we have had this year in the Republican race. Mitt Romney has basically been Mr. 22 percent all year long. That was at one point good enough for him to be the front-runner but Gallup at one point also had Herman Cain as the front- runner this year. They had Rick Perry as the front-runner. They had Donald Trump as the frontrunner at one point. Mike Huckabee was winning the Gallup poll for the Republican presidential nomination at one point this year. Yes, this year. And now, I guess it is Newt Gingrich`s turn. This has been such a weird year in Republican politics. I mean, normally, election year drama is fun, but it`s fun and kind of in the way a pinball game is fun. You know, you`re wondering how long that one ball can stay in play, how long that particular candidate can keep going. But this year with this field, with these Republicans, it is less like a pinball game. It is more like a pachinko game. Look at those balls in the game. Are all of these guys really in play? Do they all really have a shot? Apparently they do. I mean, if Newt Gingrich does, they all do. Not Rick Santorum obviously, but the rest of them. Right now, if you were betting on who`s going to win the Iowa caucus on January 3rd, who would you bet on? It`s as likely to be Ron Paul as is it is Herman Cain as it is Newt Gingrich as it is Mitt Romney as it is Michele Bachmann. Not you, Rick Santorum. But, really, any of the others are as viable as any of the rest of them. But Newt Gingrich is different. Newt Gingrich is different from all the rest of these pachinko ball frontrunners for five minutes. Newt Gingrich is maybe even more fun to cover while he`s got his little moment in the sun here because Newt Gingrich has been around politics in one incarnation or another basically forever. I mean, to trace the origins of some of the more eyebrow-raising stuff that Newt Gingrich is promoting now that he is the presidential front- runner, you have to go back to Newt Gingrich`s old cassette tapes. Remember cassette tapes? For all viewers younger than me, this is a cassette tape. Used to have boom boxes and machines in our cars that would play these things and sometimes your car would mess it up and the tape could get tied like this. One of the things that Newt Gingrich did when he was on his way to becoming Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich -- see, I broke it. There it goes -- was that he took over a Republican organization called GOPAC. And GOPAC would send -- from GOPAC, he would send Republican coaching cassette tapes to Republican candidates for office all around the country. So, not just people who are running for Congress, but people who are running like for dogcatcher. So, if you were a Republican candidate for anything, Newt Gingrich would get you on his mailing list and you`d start getting inspirational cassette tapes in the mail from Newt Gingrich. This is former Republican Congressman Gil Gutknecht of Minnesota. Gil Gutknecht ran for Congress in 1994. He told the PBS program "Frontline" a few years later, quote, "I started receiving the Gingrich tapes when I was in the state legislature. And when they would come, I mean, you spend some time in a car particularly going back and forth to the state legislature, when these tapes would come in the mail, I mean, I would open them up right away and put them in a cassette player within 24 hours. I mean, I, we were always eager to get them. It was almost like a chalk talk with a great coach." "Frontline" got some of these Gingrich tapes back in the day. We`re working now of getting copies of them now to the extent that they still exist. But in the meantime, we do have the transcripts. So, we know that Newt Gingrich in his inspirational Republican tapes would tell Republican candidates things like, "You favor a political revolution. You want to replace the welfare state with an opportunity society. You favor workfare over welfare. You want to lock prisoners up and you`re actually prepared to give up some political pork barrel to build as many prisons as you need. We are going to create a real revolution." In addition to the pep talk cassette tapes from Mr. Gingrich, he also conducted a fake college course where he taught American history to perspective Republican candidates via a satellite feed. Well, today, basking in his new front-runner presidential status, Newt Gingrich said once he is elected president, that`s how he talks about himself, "once I`m president," he says he`s going to keep teaching online courses. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think I will probably teach a course when I`m president. It`s part of the answer. I think I will probably try to do something that outlines for the whole country what we`re going to try to accomplish and offer it online sort of like University of Phoenix or Kaplan so anybody in the country who wants to can sign up. It would be free. You wouldn`t have to pay. The news media`s assumption about me, we`ll probably charge $100 a piece so I can get rich. No, I mean, it will be free. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: You can see him bumming about, oh, shoot, it`s going to have to be free. Hmm. Newt Gingrich promising, oh, shoot, promising to stop trying to scam you out of your money once he becomes president. Hopefully not until then, though. Back in the early 1990s, Newt Gingrich also circulated talking points for Republican candidates around the country, giving them lists of words they should use when describing the other side in a political fight. According to Newt at the time, Democrat should be described with words like "pathetic, sick, incompetent, disgrace and traitors." These are just suggested phrases. Democrat should described as "anti-flag, anti-jobs, anti-family, anti- child." This is just the in the abstract way that Newt Gingrich advised fellow Republicans they should talk about Democrats. He wasn`t saying on this one particular issue call Democrats anti-child. He`s just saying, broadly speaking, call Democrats anti-child. And with that as his personal history -- this is why he`s an amazing candidate, with that as his personal history, this weekend ads the new front-runner for president, Newt Gingrich proposed eliminating child labor laws. He said, quote, "Schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and let students take care of the school. The kids would actually do work, they would take pride in the schools and begin the process of rising. You go out to talk to people, as I do, you got out and talk to people who are really successful in one generation, they all started their first job between 9 and 14 years of age." Once we fire all the janitors so they can be replaced by 9-year-olds, don`t forget to call the Democrats anti-child. It should probably also then remember to call them traitors. As weird as it is to have Newt Gingrich, of all people, as a presidential front-runner and weird as it is for him to be suggesting that 9-year-olds should look at janitors, as part of his presidential platform, getting rid of child labor laws thing is actually not just a Newt thing. It has become sort of a mainstream Republican thing in 2011. The Republican governor of Maine this year, Republican legislators in Wisconsin this year, Republican legislators in Missouri this year have all proposed this year in 2011 getting rid of child labor laws. When something happens like the supercommittee collapsing today in Washington, because of an inability to reach a point of economic compromise, everybody tends to react to that in the Beltway by saying stuff like, oh, how come the two parties can`t compromise anymore? How come they can`t find common ground on economic issues? Democrats haven`t really moved in any direction except to the right in their economic positions in the last 20 years. Meanwhile, in Republican politics this year, it became normal to talk about eliminating child labor laws. This is why we can`t have nice things. This is why we cannot come together, kumbayah. You want Democrats to go halfway toward eliminating child labor laws in the interest of bipartisan harmony? Seriously? Today, Newt Gingrich also proposed privatizing Social Security as in allowing the stock market to determine what brand of cat food we will expect elderly Americans to survive on from now on. But, again, the context here is maybe even more telling than anything about this individual 15 minutes of fame current Republican frontrunner, because every single one of the major Republican candidates for president right now says they want to privatize Social Security. Mitt Romney said he wanted to privatize Social Security the last time he ran for president in 2008. Now he explains in his book "No Apology" that he`s not sure about that anymore. But one of Mitt Romney`s positions on Social Security has been that he would like to privatize Social Security. And all of the rest of the major Republican candidates agree. We thought Republicans learned their lesson on this in 2005 when George W. Bush tried it and just got essentially laughed off the national stage. George W. Bush had just won re-election in 2004. He really did have a lot of political capital to spend and the country just laughed in his face about him trying to spend that political capital on privatizing Social Security. It sunk like a stone falling through water. And that was before Wall Street collapsed in 2008. Privatizing Social Security is something that very recently Republicans realized was way too radical for the country to swallow. George Bush walked away from that. But now, all the Republican candidates for president are in favor of it. Depending on which day you ask Mitt Romney. And, you know, maybe we are a country that`s ready to just have master janitors who oversee the 9- year-olds who are going to do the real janitor work. Maybe Social Security is too good for America`s old people. Maybe 21 years of calling Democrats traitors, traitors, traitors no matter what you do, maybe that`s the way to mount your political revolution. But is the bewildering radicalism of the 2012 Republican presidential field this year, is it actually helpful for understanding why nothing can really get done in Washington right now? Or if it can get done, it`s a rare, rare, rare occurrence. Is the fact that somebody like Newt Gingrich is now in the lead, after Herman Cain was just in the lead, should that be an ah-ha moment for Democrats about what the other party is like right now and how to get anything done over the next year with them, through them or around them? Joining us now is "Washington Post" columnist E.J. Dionne. He`s also senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and MSNBC contributor. Hi, E.J. Thanks very much for being here. E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST: Good to be with you, Rachel. MADDOW: Does it say something important about the Republican Party that their current presidential front-runner has launched as part of his presidential platform that he will oppose child labor laws? DIONNE: Well, I think it does. I do want to sort of pull out my favorite Newt quote on this. He said that people should get any job that teaches you to stay all day, even if you`re having a fight with your girlfriend. I don`t know about you, but I never knew that fights with girlfriends were barriers to labor force participation. I think this is why everybody says Newt is so brilliant. He thinks up things, he sees things the rest of us completely miss. It`s really quite remarkable. This is actually very helpful what you`re seeing here, because Republicans have been arguing behind a screen, using lumpy words like "deregulation." That doesn`t mean much to anybody except maybe the government has too many rules. When you start talking about getting rid of child labor laws, does the country really think that we should return to the grand old days when 11- year-olds worked in factories? I don`t think so. So there is a clarity here, and I think what`s being made clear is that this generation of conservatives doesn`t want to move us back to the 1980s. They want to move us back to the 1880s and 1890s, to the Gilded Age, when there weren`t any regulations. So, I do think this is a clarifying moment. MADDOW: And, well, they also want to take us back to the mid-2000s on this Social Security issue where George W. Bush in 2004 was very overt about the fact he wanted to spend political capital that he earned in being re-elected on privatizing Social Security. You remember how he mounted a national barnstorming tour to try to build support for privatizing Social Security and the more he talked about it, the worse it sunk in the polls. I mean, Newt Gingrich is declaring himself the historian in the race. How is it that they are all campaigning on trying to get rid of Social Security? DIONNE: You know, and the fact that bush kept talking about it wasn`t that his speeches were bad, it`s that the more people looked at it, the less they liked it. And now it looks a whole lot worse after the stock market crash of 2008/2009. I think what`s gone on is that the Republican primary electorate has moved well to the right of where it was even 15 years ago. It used to be the case that maybe half of Republican primary voters considered themselves conservative or very conservative. Now, it`s over three-quarters. So, they can say these things in primaries and get some traction, although I`m not sure it will work too well in Florida where there are a lot of Social Security recipients. But this is going to leave them in a very difficult position come election day. Yes, they did well in 2010, but there was a lot of discontent, a low turnout, with a broad electorate. This just doesn`t work. MADDOW: What do you think happens in terms of the super committee failure today? One of the things going wrong in the way the failure is being covered, it`s being covered as pox on both their houses, neither side would budge, neither party was willing to be reasonable on this sort of thing. Isn`t it germane to report that the Republican position is dramatically different than what would have been considered reasonable even in Republican Party politics, even just a few years ago, as you just said? Isn`t that part of understanding why this failed? DIONNE: Well, that`s absolutely right. I mean, this isn`t -- Bob Dole and Howard Baker and Bob Michael and people like that look like Paul Wellstone and Hubert Humphrey. This is the -- the real failure here is that the Republicans were not willing to budge on revenue. When they did put up sort of some revenue, they linked it with cutting the top rate of the income tax down to 28 percent. So, it became a proposal to cut taxes on the rich, when we`re trying to cut deficits. I think that message will come through. It was really striking to see President Obama tonight. He had not been making very many strong partisan arguments, indeed, for about six months. He wasn`t making any arguments at all. He was just talking about compromise. And he is finally just laying it on the line and saying, you can`t have a deal unless you`re willing to raise taxes on the wealthy. And I think that`s a debate we should have. And I don`t think it`s a debate the Republicans are going to win. MADDOW: E.J. Dionne, "Washington Post" columnist, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and MSNBC contributor -- E.J., thank you. Appreciate it. DIONNE: Good to be with you. MADDOW: E.J. was talking about there about the president`s comments on the supercommittee kablooie today. We`ve got more on that coming up in just a few minutes. We`ve also got two other things coming up. We do have some very good news in Washington today seriously. Not snarkily, seriously. And in the Interview tonight, here live, is the head of the EPA, Lisa Jackson. Stay tuned. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: From the files of accurately nicknamed weapons, this is the so-called giant pain ray. It`s technically called the active denial system, but really the nickname pain ray is so much more descriptive. This giant satellite looking thing, it shoots electromagnetic radiation at a target, also known as a human. It`s intended to cause a lot of pain. The top layer of skin is supposed to absorb the radioactive rays and get very hot. In tests people could endure the pain ray for about three seconds. Nobody lasted more than five seconds. So it hurts a whole heck of a lot, but in theory at least it does not kill you. This is the Taser XREP, the extended range electronic projectile. It`s like the tasers you have seen cable news hosts volunteer to be shocked by, only a lot more powerful and more terrifying. It`s a little wireless taser you shoot out of the gun. When a taser bullet hits a target, again, as in a human, it emits an electrical charge for almost half a minute. And this is something that`s still in development -- the post-energy projectile. It`s supposed to fire off a plasma beam that heats the air around it so quickly that for lack of better phrase, it makes the air explode. These are supposed to be nonlethal weapons. When used on humans, they`re supposed it hurt badly, knock you down, send you fleeing. But they`re not supposed to kill you, though the pain is so bad you wish they did. The argument for nonlethal weapons development is that in the military field, in the criminal justice field, there may be times when you need to or want to use force but you don`t want to kill people. Therefore in an instance where you might otherwise use live ammunition to shoot and kill, you instead use the pain ray or the souped up taser or maybe the "explode the air" pulse energy projectile thing someday. You switch from a gun to a nonlethal means of getting what you want without using deadly force. That`s the idea behind nonlethal weaponry. But it turns out it`s not the way nonlethal weaponry gets used. Often, instead of substituting for lethal force, nonlethal weapons just increase the number of occasions, the types of occasions on which force is used at all. Seattle police, for example, probably would have never used guns and live ammunition to shoot this 84-year-old woman who was the defining image of Occupy protests last week. But when Dorly Rainey was at an Occupy Seattle protest Tuesday night, and police decided to use force on those protesters, they did pepper sprayed her right in the face. She was eventually escorted out of the crowd, into safety, by an Iraq war veteran whom she met that night. Before Dorly Rainey, there was a veteran named Scott Olsen. Last month. Mr. Olsen was hit in the head with a blunt object at an Occupy Oakland protest. Organizers told the media he was hit by a tear gas canister fired by police. It cracked his skull. His skull was fractured. He was in the hospital for about three weeks and faces a long recovery. Would police have used live ammunition to shoot at those Oakland protesters if they had not had nonlethal projectiles? In Denver last month, police in riot gears dispersed protesters with pepper spray and with rubber bullets. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) REPORTER: A photojournalist was in civic center park on another story when he found himself in the middle of a face-off between police and protesters. An officer shot a steady stream of pepper spray there into the crowd then come rubber bullets. This man got some of the spray in his face. People near him trying to help, calling for more water to help flush out his eyes. TV ANCHOR: Let`s get the latest now from our news reporter Nelson Garcia. NELSON GARCIA, REPORTER: Things are pretty tense right now. But as you can see right behind me, the crowd is still there. Things have calmed down quite a bit. Officers fired rubber bullets into the crowd as well as pepper spray and mace. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: Rubber bullets, pepper spray, mace. These are not used as alternatives to live ammunition, necessarily, to actual guns with actual bullets in the protest situations, not unless you can imagine police in a live fire/live ammo situation if they weren`t using those tools. These tools have essentially been used to give police officers more ways to use force, against more people. By now you`ve probably seen this video shot Friday at the University of California at Davis. Nonviolent protesters sitting on the ground. Their arms linked in a show of unity. And campus police officers spraying pepper spray, essentially pointblank, directly into their faces. The protesters do not fight back. Eleven protesters were treated for injuries. Two had to be hospitalized. An investigation into the incident is under way and the school`s chancellor is facing intense pressure over her supervision of the school`s police department. In New York, where the Occupy Wall Street protests began two months ago, pepper spray has been one of the nonlethal weapons of choice for police. But recently, we`ve been hearing unconfirmed reports of something else, too. We heard about it in Oakland as well. It`s something called an LRAD, short for a long range acoustic device. A protester at Occupy Wall Street tweeted a picture of this handheld one he claims was used by police on protesters. Another protester tweeted about it as well. The LRAD is basically a sound cannon. As designed, it was supposed to make a sound so loud and painful that humans can`t stay nearby it. They`re forced to run away from the weapon hopefully before it causes hearing damage. One reporter for "The New Yorker" says he saw the LRADs being used last week in New York. Quote, "The NYPD descended on the park with deafening military grade LRAD noise cannons and several stadiums` worth of blinding klieg lights." However, the New York Police Department denies using the LRAD, saying it only used it as a megaphone to broadcast instructions to the protesters. They`re saying they did not use it as a weapon. We asked the NYPD for comment on that late this morning, they have not replied to our request. But we`ll let you know when they do. In criminal justice, when you introduce new weapons that can do things that previous ones didn`t, you don`t end up using force as often as you did before, only now, you kill less people with that force. New weapons with new uses mean that you have opportunity to use force a lot more than you did before. Without having pepper spray as an option, I cannot believe that Seattle police would have shot 84-year-old Dorly Rainey. Without tear gas, Oklahoma police would not have shot Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen. Without pepper spray, U.C. Davis police I do not think would have shot those 11 protesters with live ammunition. But because police officers had these nonlethal ways to use force, they used it and this is the day-to-day reality of the protesters in the Occupy Wall Street movement across the country right now. Joining us now is Ray Lewis. He is a retired police captain from Philadelphia. He and 300 protesters were arrested last week at the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York. Captain Lewis, thank you for being here. RAY LEWIS, RETIRED POLICE CAPTAIN: Thank you. MADDOW: As a retired police captain and somebody who has taken a stand for this movement and, in fact, been arrested there, how do you feel about the use of force at these protests? LEWIS: Well, use of force is absolutely necessary if they are met with force. And oftentimes at these protests, they are met with force. But the amount of force can only rise to the level where you overcome -- the minimum level necessary to overcome the force that you`re receiving and oftentimes that goes way above that, and that`s also due to a lack of proper supervision at the scene. MADDOW: We`re seeing -- we`re seeing things like pepper spray being used essentially as what they describe as a compliance tool. Not to stop violence being directed from protesters toward police but essentially to get protesters to do something police want them to do. In the case at U.C. Davis, what they wanted the protesters to do was move and they weren`t moving. I have a lot of sympathy for police in dangerous situations. I`m just inclined that way as a person. And, yet, I feel like when the average American looks at those pictures of what happens in U.C. Davis, there`s almost nothing that could be done to make the protest stronger because of the sympathy you have for the kids in the situation. LEWIS: The average American, every American found that repulsive including myself. I was profoundly shocked at that. And it is -- what they did is they gave the movement a tremendous weapon. Those people that endured that are going to look back at that and realize how important it was, what happened to them was a tremendous movement, because now you`re including mainstream America looking at that and saying, this is not right. MADDOW: Yes. Can you tell me about the circumstances of your arrest last week? And did you expect to be arrested and what happened around that? LEWIS: That`s interesting. I went to that demonstration just with my sign. I was just going to hold it up. And I had no intention of being arrested at all. In fact, didn`t even come into my mind. When I saw these individuals being led over, being arrested, their conviction inspired me, because here they are, they`re giving up their freedom for justice for other people, for everybody, and that conviction inspired me that, hey, I got to do it. And so I realized then, right there at the moment, that I`m going to be arrested. And I sat down. It was a totally legal arrest. I broke the law. I refused to move when ordered. And I was -- the arrest was handled in an exemplary fashion. Also for all the other protesters I saw, they all received professional treatment. MADDOW: There`s been a sort of a tension, or maybe we`ve just seen two different things, two contradictory things happen at the same time, which is that we`ve seen protesters essentially try to reach out to police and say, you are the 99 percent. I`ve heard people chanting, "Raises for the police, raises for the police." We`ve seen people trying to make common cause, but we have also seen these sharp and some cases disturbing confrontations between police and protesters. You were there in uniform. What was you -- what were your -- and holding a protest sign. What were your protests, what were your interactions like with the other police there on scene covering that as part of their job? LEWIS: Zero. MADDOW: Really? No reaction, nobody talk to you about the fact you`re in uniform? LEWIS: Well, the only -- I have had a little interaction, but it`s very secretive. Passing comments. Nobody talks to me like a regular conversation. MADDOW: Yes. And your reaction from the protesters in terms of them seeing you there in uniform but clearly on their side? LEWIS: Oh, extremely thankful. And they said it gave them just tremendous motivation to continue this fight. MADDOW: In terms of your -- now that you -- you didn`t mean to get arrested but you did, what do you see as your continued involvement, if all in supporting this movement going forward? LEWIS: Oh, absolutely. One of my goals is to try to increase a better understanding between the protesters and the police, and how to get there, the cause going forward. Better fashion than confronting the police. You`re not going to win in any confrontation with the police. You`re guaranteed you will lose. And so I`m trying to get them to understand, even the vocal shouting is detrimental. You know, it causes no -- it doesn`t help the situation at all when you`re shouting about their mothers and everything else. I am looking to get people to talk to the police, on the barricades. The police won`t look at you when you`re talking to them because they`re trained not to. They don`t want to be distracted. So they`re not being ignorant. They`re just doing what they`re trained to do. But even though they`re not looking at you, they are hearing you. I`m telling protesters, to just give their heartfelt feelings about why they`re there and what`s going on in their lives and their family`s lives. MADDOW: That can be a powerful deescalating tool I think. Retired Police Captain Ray Lewis, it was striking to see those photos of you being arrested and it`s a real honor to have you here. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me about this. LEWIS: Thank you very much. MADDOW: Nice to meet you. Thank you. LEWIS: Thank you. MADDOW: We will be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Hey, good news. We have the head of the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, here live tonight for "The Interview." That`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: OK. When you think tree huggers, do you think A, dirty hippies, B, mom, or C, Richard Nixon? You should think Richard Nixon. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICHARD NIXON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Our land, this land that is ours together is a great and a good land. It is also an unfinished land. And the challenge of perfecting it is the summons of the `70s. It is in that spirit that I address myself to those great issues facing our nation which are above partisanship. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: One of those things that was above partisanship that year, the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA. Richard Nixon established it with support from congress in 1970. In that State of the Union Address, he went on to say, "We can no longer afford to consider air and water common property, free to be abused by anyone with regard to the consequences." Yes, I`m uironically and unsnarkily quoting Richard Nixon. One of the things the newly established EPA did in the early `70s is that the commission photographers to travel across the country and document some of the consequences of environmental neglect, of why our country needed something like an EPA. These are some of those images. In 1970, there was no Clean Water Act. That`s a woman holding water from her well. No Clean Air Act, right? Virtually no laws regulating how much toxic waste companies could dump into the water. The EPA changed all that after Richard Nixon created it. Richard Nixon, by the way, in case you haven`t heard, was a Republican. Today`s Republicans blame the EPA for pretty much everything wrong in the country and that`s only half hyperbole. Seven of the 10 jobs agenda ideas put forward by House Republicans this August, ideas meant to create jobs, were things that would kill environmental regulations. Seven of the 10 were to undermine the EPA in some way. Anti-EPA politics are so extreme in Republican politics right now that Kentucky Senator Rand Paul recently argued against power plant pollution rules by actually sort of arguing that power plant emotions might be good for you. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Now, one of the other things people argue about and one of the big health concerns they have with pollution is with regard to asthma. The interesting thing is, is that if you look at all the statistics on all of the emissions from our power plants, all of these declining lines are emissions. We have decreased pollution and rising incidence of asthma. So, either they`re inversely proportional or they`re not related at all. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Maybe they`re inversely proportional. Senator Rand Paul proposing it`s possible that maybe power plant emissions cure asthma. Think of the implications for medicine. Feeling sick? Suck a tail pipe. "Associated Press" called out Senator Paul`s baffling pseudoscience. A quick side note, it turns out Senator Paul`s biggest donor is the delicious, delicious coal industry. Republican presidential candidates seem to be trying to one up each other this week. One up each other each week in how against the EPA they are. Candidates Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, runs in the family, I guess, are promising to dismantle the EPA altogether. Rick Perry and Herman Cain say they want to overhaul it somehow. And even the ones who are not pledging to immediately abolish the agency or take it apart piece by piece are hewing to this year`s mystery science economics. Broadly speaking, Republican candidates line this year is that Wall Street blowing up in 2008 is not why the economy has gone off a cliff. No, no, they say it`s Richard Nixon`s EPA that did it. Joining us now for "The Interview" is not Richard Nixon but the administrator of our nation`s Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson. Administrator Jackson, thank you for being here. LISA JACKSON, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: That`s a great intro. I`m not Richard Nixon. MADDOW: You don`t look a thing like him. It seems impossible that one of the Republican legislative legacies of the century is the EPA, because it seems that environmental protection has become a very partisan, an issue on which there is a stark partisan divide. Do you think that`s fair? JACKSON: Yes, I actually do. I think that it is unprecedented, the level of attack that we`re seeing, not only the agency, but on the Clean Air Act, or Clean Water Act. The fundamental bedrock laws of our country. And I loved -- I actually learned a new phrase, above partisanship. And I keep saying, I said that when I took office as administrator. The environment has always been nonpartisan, above partisanship. There`s no one who doesn`t argue that we should have clean air, clean water, a clean and healthy place to live. MADDOW: The Republican argument, though, is that in trying to ensure clean air, clean water and a healthy place to live, there has been regulatory overreach and that the EPA essentially kills jobs by making it impossible for businesses to be profitable. JACKSON: This is a great example, what I`m calling the fact-free zone inside the Beltway. There is not one credible economic study, and in fact, there have been a raft of them in recent days, that has shown that environmental protections hurt job growth. In fact, EPA`s been around for 41 years, as you said. And during that time, our GDP has grown over 200 percent. There`s something like less than half of a percent of job losses that are attributed to any kind of government regulation. And I want to be clear on this: I`m absolutely of the belief that we should have a smart, efficient government. That we should make sure that our regulations are up-to-date. That the standards we set reflect the latest technology -- all wonderful, good things. But to tell the American people, the way I`m going to get you employed is to just ask your child to suck on a tail pipe, to breathe your more pollution I think is the choice being put before Americans. It`s a false choice. MADDOW: Is it -- does it make sense to you that in a crimped environment that we have right now, crimped economic environment where people are really desperate for something, some way to move forward, that the regulatory environment broadly and environmental regulation, itself, would become a target? I mean, as you -- I think you are right that it is essentially operating in a fact-free zone. This is not something were people are citing a lot of studies and in the case of Rand Paul, the studies they`re citing are sort of branded Disney. But is there -- does -- it does also resonate with me, though, that this argument would work politically, that people would think that it is the heavy hand of government that`s holding us back. JACKSON: When people are scared, when they`re worried about the economy, attacks on government pick up. And EPA has been the subject of attacks before. There`s sort of a pendulum that swings back and forth. And what`s really scary now is that pendulum has swung to a pretty extreme place. We`ve seen over 170 votes in this Congress, alone, most of them initiated by the house Republicans, to overturn air and water rules. And we`re talking about the kind of votes that will literally gut the Clean Air Act, something most Americans are sitting at home assuming will be there to protect their families. It`s really important to remind folks that we`re not talking about the ability to see across the street, which is a nice thing. We`re talking about pollution that gets into your lungs, makes you sick. If you have a respiratory ailment, you`ll be at the hospital or the doctor. If you`re vulnerable, we`re talking premature deaths. Just one of our rules, the mercury rules that the president talked about in this joint session to Congress is estimated to save, to prevent 17,000 premature deaths a year. So, we`re not talking about the abstract Clean Air Act. And even those pictures. We`re talking about public health. We`re talking about who pays those costs. Health costs or do polluters pay to reduce emissions? One of the areas of regulation and, I guess, and lack of regulation that`s been a lot of concern to a lot of people this year is fracking. The means by which people release petroleum by-products from the earth and can be a very efficient way of getting at energy sources, but people are also concerned we do not know what the chemicals are that are injected into the earth in order to do that. Do you think that there should be additional regulation of that? And does EPA have enough room to maneuver in order to protect drinking water supplies in a fracking environment? JACKSON: So, EPA`s in the middle of a study. It`s going to take us another year and a half to look at the impacts of fracking on ground water. And I think it`s really important to get scientific information to show the American people what we know. EPA has access to more data than is publicly available. And also to have our scientists look and crunch those numbers. In the meantime, we`ve also said that where there are concerns, if there need to be additional enforcement, we can do that work. Listen, as an environmentalist, I actually think natural gas is important to our country. I do think that it is a potential big change for us. It has immediate benefits from a pollution side. It has immediate benefits from an energy security side. But what we have to be able to say to people is that in the process of getting this natural gas, we`re not going to screw up your ground water or drinking water or your air. There are air impacts potentially as well. Now, states are stepping up and doing a good job. So, I always say, it doesn`t have to be EPA that regulates the 10,000 wells it might go in, but there needs to be standards. And they need to be transparent. When it comes to the chemicals in the fracking fluid, I think that that`s a fair point. People want to know what`s being injected into their water. MADDOW: EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. I know you don`t to very more interviews like this. Thank you for being here. JACKSON: No, I`m happy to be here. Nice for having me. MADDOW: Nice to see you. All right. Right after the show on "THE LAST WORD," Michael Moore will be joining Lawrence O`Donnell. And here, we`ve got some genuine non-snarky, non-italicized good news from Washington, D.C., today. That`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The stock market is open for business from 9:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Four o`clock Eastern is the closing time at the New York Stock Exchange. Today was not an awesome day for the stock market. They closed lower than it has in a month. Today was full of investors and pundits and analysts watching and waiting for the so-called bipartisan super committee to fail to reach a deal on cutting the deficit. Everybody pretty much knew failure was coming. It`s not like there was a lot of suspense surrounding this issue. There had been lots of reporting particularly over this weekend that there really was not going to be a deal. But the super committee interestingly waited until after the stock market closed to make their failure official. The leaders of the super committee released a statement less than an hour after the stock market closed saying, quote, "After months of hard work and intense deliberations, we`ve come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee`s deadline." So, hey, bipartisanship in Congress still doesn`t work to solve big problems right now. Not even bipartisanship in small groups given lots of power. Not even when you put adjectives like super in front of their names. The real question is what happens to the big problems that are not being solved no matter the gimmick? In this case, deficit cutting deal is one -- the deficit cutting deal here is one that was already made -- $1.2 trillion is due to be cut from the deficit one way or another. The sad little super meaningless committee was just supposed to figure out how to cut $1.2 trillion from the deficit. The bill that passed Congress that President Obama signed that created the super committee requires that $1.2 trillion in cuts starts in 2013. If the super committee doesn`t figure it out, if congress doesn`t pass something to cut that much, then automatic cuts kick in. Automatic cuts in defense and domestic spending are triggered by Congress failing. The committee`s statement announcing they failed to reach a deal today, Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington and Republican Congressman Jeff Hensarling of Texas said they hope that Congress would build in the work that they did manage to do and find some way to move forward. Meanwhile, Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham are trying to figure out a way to get everybody out of this mess. They`re trying to figure out a way to undo the trigger, to undo the bill that was already passed and signed into law. They say they`re writing legislation to prevent those automatic cuts from ever going into effect. Same goes for Congressman Buck McKeon, who was the chairman of the Armed Services Committee in the House. He`s already vowed to eliminate any automatic defense cuts. However, it looks like he will have to get around House Speaker John Boehner. Speaker Boehner says he does feel bound by the automatic cuts because, quote, he says, "It was part of the agreement." It should also be noted that all of these guys are going to have to get around the president who had this to say about efforts to get out of this deficit deal, now that Congress has decided they maybe don`t like it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, the question right now is whether we can reduce the deficit in a way that helps the economy grow, that operates with a scalpel, not with a hatchet. And if not, whether Congress is willing to stick to the painful deal we made in August for the automatic cuts. Already, some in Congress are trying to undo these automatic spending cuts. My message to them is simple: No, I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts, domestic and defense spending. There will be no easy off ramps on this one. We need to keep the pressure up to compromise. Not turn off the pressure. The only way these spending cuts will not take place is if congress gets back to work and agrees on a balanced plan to reduce the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: My message to them is simple: no. You guys want to get out of this deal that was going to force you to get some work done -- you want to get out of the deal that forced you to get some work done? No. You either get some work done or the triggers happen. This is what`s called a line in the sand. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: OK. "Best New Thing in the World Today," on a day when all of the headlines out of D.C. are about failure in Congress, the inevitable collapse of an effort to make an ad hoc subgroup of Congress take on work that the whole Congress couldn`t handle. On a day when every Washington headline is about failure, failure, failure. Also, today, there was success, really, in Washington. President Obama today signing into law the only jobs legislation this Congress has been able to pass this year. It gives companies tax incentives to hire veterans. It gives them extra incentives to hire disabled veterans. If you want to look at this from a glass half empty perspective, yes, it is ridiculous that this Congress has only been able to pass one jobs bill the whole year. But you know what, from a glass half full perspective? Hey, the veterans jobs bill got passed with huge bipartisan measures of support. This was a big priority for groups like Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and congratulations are due to them and other veteran service organizations today. But congratulations to also due to Congress and to the president -- and we never get to say that anymore. So for all of us, it`s a good Thanksgiving week reminder, on the shortest, darkest November days, the sun rises and shines and sometimes things work, even in Washington. "Best New Thing in the World Today." That does it for us tonight. It`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a great night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END