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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/22/11

Guests: Ezra Klein, Deborah Blum

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thanks very much. And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. For a hot second earlier this year, Michele Bachmann, the congresswoman from Minnesota, was a front-runner in the race for the Republican nomination for president. Michele Bachmann, you may recall, she stormed into Iowa. She won the Ames, Iowa, straw poll, and she looked like a force to be reckoned with in Republican presidential politics. Then people started Googling Michele Bachmann, which did not bode well for her presidential chances. Her husband, Marcus Bachmann, for example, turns out to run a counseling clinic in Minnesota, that among its other services, has offered in the past to cure people of the gay. Mr. Bachmann also on record reportedly talking about gay people by saying, quote, "Barbarians need to be educated." That comment led to one of the more amazing protest scenes we`ve seen in the entire 2012 presidential election season. (VIDEO CLIP PLAYS) MADDOW: A group of protesters dressed as barbarians conducting a flash mob coordinated dance routine to Lady Gaga outside of Michele Bachmann`s husband`s ex-gay counseling clinic in Minnesota. Now, while striking as a protest technique, the barbarian flash mob does not really have wide applicability to other politicians. We`ve not seen other coordinated dance routines, gay, barbarian or otherwise used against the other candidates this year, although a girl can dream. We`ve had a flurry of glitterings this year. If you`re a candidate who`s being glittered or being in the case of -- oh, yes -- in the case of Tim Pawlenty, a candidate who was being confettied, how do you -- oh, how do you handle that as a candidate? I mean, really, there`s not much for the candidate to do in this circumstance, right? There`s no real way to come out of that looking great. I think essentially, you should wait until it`s over is probably the best advice for how to deal with that. More recently, we have seen another new protest tactic gain some traction across the country. And that is the human mic. The human mic is an Occupy Wall Street innovation. In the absence of a microphone, it`s the means of communicating to a large group of people. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mic check. CROWD: Mic check. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We amplify each other`s voices - CROWD: We amplify each other`s voices. We amplify each other`s voices. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No matter what`s said -- CROWD: No matter what`s said. No matter what`s said. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we can hear one another -- CROWD: So we can hear one another. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It all starts with somebody yelling, mic check. Then the crowd repeats that. And then the message gets delivered by human communication. The human mic and the mic check phenomenon turns out can also be used to interrupt other people`s events. And that is something that political figures this year have to be prepared for. We have seen a wide range of responses to the mic check being used as a political interruption. Some of these responses are effective, some not so much. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`ll take one more question. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, it looks like time`s running out. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mic check. CROWD: Mic check. Mic check. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are the 99 percent. CROWD: We are the 99 percent. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will be heard. CROWD: We will be heard. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are criminals on Wall Street. CROWD: There are criminals on Wall Street. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who walk free. CROWD: Who walk free. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are protesters in jail. CROWD: There are protesters in jail. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s something wrong. CROWD: There`s something wrong. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With this system. CROWD: With this system. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are the 99 percent. CROWD: We are the 99 percent. REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do you feel better? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Do you feel better? Last week, George W. Bush`s former senior adviser, now FOX News personality, Karl Rove, came face to face, himself, with the human mic. Here`s how Karl Rove responded. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KARL ROVE: Today, it`s equal to 70 percent of GDP. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mic check! CROWD: Mic check! Mic check! UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Karl Rove! CROWD: Karl Rove! UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is the architect -- CROWD: Is the architect. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is the architect of occupy Iraq. CROWD: The architect of occupy Iraq. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The architect of occupy Afghanistan. CROWD: The architect of occupy Afghanistan. ROVE: Here`s the deal. If you believe in free speech, then you have a chance to show it. If you believe in the right of the First Amendment, free speech, then you demonstrate it by shutting up and waiting until the Q&A session -- (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Karl Rove engaging the crowd in verbal combat there. If you believe in free speech, then you ought to shut up! Michele Bachmann recently encountered the human mic during a foreign policy speech in South Carolina. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: American consumers -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mic check! CROWD: Mic check. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mic check. CROWD: Mic check. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This will only take a minute. CROWD: This will only take a minute. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a message for Ms. Bachmann. CROWD: We have a message for Ms. Bachmann. (INAUDIBLE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So there`s a spectrum of ways to respond to the human mic interruption as a protest tactic. For Ron Paul, it was waiting until the end and being a little condescending. Feel better? For Karl Rove, anger. For Michele Bachmann, freezing with your eyes wide open and then running away. None of those options I think it`s fair to say went all that great for the politico at the center of those human mic interruption protests. Today in New Hampshire, the president of the United States was mic checked. When President Obama chose to handle it rather differently than how the Republicans have been dealing with it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Before I came to school today, I -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mic check -- OBAMA: I had coffee. CROWD: Mic check! UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President -- CROWD: Mr. President. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over 4,000 peaceful protesters -- CROWD: Over 4,000 peaceful protesters. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have been arrested. CROWD: Have been arrested. (INAUDIBLE) OBAMA: Oh, that`s OK. That`s OK. OK. It`s OK. That`s all right. Listen. The -- I`m going to be talking about a whole range of things tonight, and I appreciate you guys making your point. Let me go ahead and make mine, all right? And I`ll listen to you, you listen to me. All right? Young people like the ones here today, including the ones who were just chanting at me, you`re the reason I ran for office in the first place because -- (APPLAUSE) OBAMA: -- it`s folks like you who why I spend so much time up here in the dead of winter four years ago. There`s a profound sense of frustration about the fact that the essence of the American Dream, which is if you work hard, if you stick to it, that you can make it feels like that`s slipping away. And that`s not the way things are supposed to be. Not here. Not in America. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: After the president finished speaking today including a by- name reference to the Occupy movement from the president, an "A.P." photographer named Charles Darapac (ph) captured this moment, a young man in the crowd handing President Obama note. A close-up shot of that note shows it`s the script that the human mic interruption protesters were trying to use when they interrupted the president`s speech in New Hampshire today. You have this guy essentially delivering a confrontational message to the president of the United States, but look at this, this is an amazing photo. Look at the look on the kid`s face and look at the looks on the faces of the people around him up that close with the president. It`s kind of an amazing campaign shot from that "A.P." photographer, Charles Darapac. This is one of those ones that probably goes into the awards short lists. The reason President Obama was in New Hampshire today was to talk about a payroll tax cut that he signed into law at the end of last year. Payroll tax cut giving the average American family about $1,500 extra they otherwise would not have. But that cut in your payroll taxes expires at the end of next month. The president today was arguing it should be extended. Now, this is something that already exists. This is not a new idea. It is not a very controversial idea. On the one side of this argument, you have President Obama pushing for this thing today in New Hampshire, on the other side, you had all of the conservative groups, including the Koch brothers` American for Prosperity, today coming out in Washington and saying, yes, please, we agree with president, please extend the payroll tax cut. So, the Democratic president is for it and the conservative groups on the right are for it. Where are the Republicans on it? Do the Republican presidential nominees support this idea? Hold on. In order to answer that, you -- what month is it? The likely Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, has sort of symbolized the Republican field by being all over the map on this payroll tax cut thing. First he was for it, then against it then back to being for it. Mitt Romney has made a hash of this issue. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS: What he`s advocating, at least for now, an extension of the payroll tax cut? MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m all in favor of keeping taxes down and keeping burdens down in American businesses and employers. I want employers and entrepreneurs to have every incentive to open businesses and start creating jobs. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If the payroll tax cut is not extended, that would mean a tax increase for all Americans. What would be the consequences of that? ROMNEY: No one likes to see tax increases. But, look, the stimulus bills the president comes out with that are supposedly going to create jobs, we`ve now seen this played in the theater several times. And what we`re seeing hasn`t worked. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, you would be okay with seeing the payroll tax cut -- ROMNEY: Look, I don`t like temporary little Band-Aids. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you also support, when it comes down to it, an extension of the payroll tax cut? ROMNEY: I don`t want to raise taxes on people in the middle of a recession. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But to clarify, you agree with President Obama the payroll tax cut should be extended? ROMNEY: I want to keep our taxes down. I don`t want to raise any taxes anywhere. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: Mitt Romney was for the payroll tax cut in august. Mitt Romney was against it as a temporary little Band-Aid in October, and then in November, so far, at least, in November, he has been for it. The biggest news in D.C. politics right now is that the big congressional supercommittee has failed. One of the things people hoped was going to be worked out in the negotiations was this issue of the payroll tax cut. Also, the extension of unemployment benefits. According to the Congressional Budget Office, if those two things don`t get extended, it will have a huge negative impact on the economy. Since the supercommittee failed to act on those two things, there will now be the usual level of political fighting about those things with the added spark that the combatants in the fights are going to be people running for president. Here`s the thing, though. The election is a really long way away. The election is a year away. And we all have to live in this country no matter what happens in this election. These fights are not just for show. They`re not just about political posturing. It`s about whether the economy gets better or gets worse. Or if it gets worse. Forget the election. Today, we learned the U.S. economy grew at a slower rate in the third quarter of this year than we originally thought. Instead of growing at 2.5 percent rate, we actually only grew at a 2 percent rate. At the same time, the national unemployment rate has remained stuck at around 9 percent. It`s not all bad news, though. The economy is actually awesome right now for one specific sector of the country. Today, it was reported that U.S. bank earnings are at their highest level in more than four years. Woo-hoo! So, at least there`s that. The Occupy movement has got the country talking about the interests of the banks not always being the same thing as the interest of the country. And the Occupy Wall Street has got the country talking about the fact that the 1 percent, the very richest, them doing well doesn`t necessarily trickle down to benefit anybody else. The Occupy Wall Street movement has changed the conversation. And it behooved politicians of all stripes, left, right and center to be able to speak to those issues and sometimes to those individual human activists when they interrupt your speech. But putting your money where your mouth is means coming up with now economic policies that really do help the 99 percent. That don`t just empathize, that really do help. Joining us now is "Washington Post" columnist and MSNBC policy analyst, Ezra Klein. Ezra, it`s nice to see you. Thanks for being here. EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening. MADDOW: When Mitt Romney was against extending the payroll tax cut thing, he derided it as a little Band-Aid. Is it a little Band-Aid? Would it have a notable effect? KLEIN: It is littler than it could be. It`s funny, because Mitt Romney`s argument makes you think he`d like a much larger stimulus, right? The payroll tax cut, about $120 billion a year. Not nothing, economic forecasters think that would be enough for 1 percent to 2 percent in growth next year but not a ton either. It would be great to have more, to have infrastructure investment, to have an extension of unemployment insurance. If you think it`s too little of a Band-Aid, the idea is to make it bigger. Obviously, that has not been the tact Mitt Romney has taken with it. MADDOW: In terms of what happened this week in Washington, Ezra -- I mean, obviously people are headlining the fact this was supposed to be a deficit reduction supercommittee and didn`t come up with deficit reduction plans and so now some automatic deficit reduction plans, some automatic big cuts are due to go into effect. That`s the headline here. But is it possible, did you expect, did other people in Washington expect that this super committee thing would have been able to come up with some ways to help the economy, not just to cut the deficit but actually help the way things are now? KLEIN: Absolutely. Almost every deal seriously considered in the supercommittee included U.I. and the payroll cut, unemployment insurance and the payroll cut. And that was a big deal. Though the supercommittee fell apart, the Republicans much more so than Mitt Romney did, begun saying, well, we`re not so sure about the payroll cut or not so sure about U.I. anymore. This was a really big deal, the super committee. You were going to get $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction one way or another, the trigger or the super committee. But you`re not going to payroll cut and U.I. one way or another. And you were saying at the beginning of the segment here that there are policies here that help the 1 percent and policies here that help the 99 percent. And what`s funny, this is one that helps both. The banks do not recover. Finance does not recover. Corporations cannot recover. Not in the long run, unless the rest of the country recovers, too. And so, the market died yesterday. If you read the financial press, if you read "Bloomberg News," if you read JPMorgan, what they sent out, everybody said it was for the same reason. Not because they were worried about the deficit. That wasn`t going to change from what they thought it would be. Because they were now worried we`d go into fiscal contraction next year and the economy would be worse and if the 99 percent aren`t buying things, it`s hard for the 1 percent to make money. MADDOW: Ezra, we saw in the news today banks are having their biggest quarter in four years. I mean, feel like this is obvious now. We`ve had record corporate earnings, we`ve had Wall Street broadly speaking doing great. Now, we`ve got direct evidence that banks as well as other big companies are doing great. How is it that these guys are having such a great year? They`re having such a great time of it and it doesn`t ever translate to everybody else doing better? KLEIN: There`s a lot of why they`re not spending the money. We`ll take the corporate and bank profits just that they`re sitting on for a moment. Is that they don`t see a reason to spend it, they don`t see a way to spend it profitably. A corporation would hire more people, would build another factory if it had customers to sell the goods to and customers who go and need a new store clerk. Similarly, the banks would give out more loans, hand out more investments if they thought they were going to make them back profitably. Similarly, if they weren`t worried the economy is going to crack over Europe next year, I`m sure that they weren`t worried about having a big cushion. But they were worried about that, so they do. So, there are essentially two big impediments for them to get the money into the economy and helping the economy recover more aggressively than they have been. One is demand, which will be helped by things like the payroll tax cut, helped by things like infrastructure investment, and the other is uncertainty about whether or not we`re going to have a major recession due to something like Europe. That`s helped by things like infrastructure investment, the payroll tax cuts, because at least if Europe goes badly, if we`re doing the right things here, if we`re doing some fiscal stimulus, if we have economic supports, if Congress and the Federal Reserve are committed to standing behind the economy, then at least, you know, it`s not going to get al that bad. At least you know our political system will respond in a way that will try to mitigate the damage. MADDOW: "Washington Post" columnist, MSNBC policy analyst, Ezra Klein -- Ezra, thank you, my friend. It`s nice to see you. KLEIN: Thank you. MADDOW: All right. A big unexpected and principled political move out of the Pacific Northwest tonight. A governor has had a crisis of conscience and made a surprise move tonight that really nobody saw coming. That`s just ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: One suggestion for winning in Iowa and New Hampshire this year, do not campaign there. Do not kiss babies. Keep a low profile. noting this week the candidates at the top of the polls in the Republican primaries are the ones who spent the least amount of time meeting with voters in the early states. Look at who`s ahead. It`s Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain in the early states, both of whom as noted by Politico, quote, "ride high in early state polls, having also spent time promoting their own interests and book projects than on the trial in Iowa and New Hampshire. Rick Santorum, meanwhile, has been camping out in Iowa making a point of visiting every single one of that state`s 99 counties. And, yet, Mr. Santorum still polling at roughly 4 percent there. Also, Jon Huntsman focusing his entire campaign on New Hampshire, only polling at 9 percent there and can`t get a bounce to save his life. And don`t forget poor Tim Pawlenty who sunk everything into Iowa, who ran really, really hard in Iowa and dropped out after the Ames straw poll. This year, for whatever reason, early state campaigning does not translate into doing well. It doesn`t seem to be cutting it for Republican candidates. What does seem to be having an impact for the candidates in the polls is the debates. Tons of people watching the debates and there have been a ton of debates. The Republican candidates have completed 10 of them. Along with two forums and one sort of fakey super friendly two- person non-debate between Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain for which the tickets were really expensive. There`s apparently going to be three more debates between now and Christmas. These things have been the greatest show on earth. I mean, at the very first debate, we were reminded why it was so great Ron Paul is always around at these things. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: Senator, are you suggesting that heroin and prostitution are an exercise of liberty? PAUL: Up until this past century, you know, for over 100 years they were legal. What you`re referring is, you know what, if we legalize heroin tomorrow, everybody`s going to use heroin. How many people here would use heroin if it was legal? I bet nobody would put the -- oh, yes, I need the government to take care of me. I don`t want to use heroin so I need these laws. WALLACE: I never thought heroin would get applause here in South Carolina. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was the first Republican debate back in May when Ron Paul says, essentially, we should legalize heroin and the audience goes nuts. Then at the first debate in Iowa in August, Rick Santorum, the man who famously compared being gay to doing something that he described as man on dog, he made what appeared to be what sounded like a bit of unsolicited pro-gay rights testimony. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t apologize for the Iranian people being free for a long time. And now, they`re under a mullocracy that tramples the rights of women, tramples the rights of gays, tramples the rights of people all throughout their society. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Rick Santorum stands up for the rights of gay people in Iran. He doesn`t appear to change his opposition to gay rights in this country. But thanks to the Republican debate show, weird stuff happens. Rick Santorum speaking up for gay Iranians is now a thing that exists in the world. I love this show. Then at the next debate in September, we learned another new thing about Republican debate audiences. Nobody expected legalizing heroin to be an applause line in the first place. At the NBC debate at the Reagan library, presiding over a record number of executions became an applause line. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: Your state has executed 234 death row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times. Have you. -- (APPLAUSE) WILLIAMS: Have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent? GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In the state of Texas, if you come into our state and you kill one of our children, you kill a police officer, you`re involved with another crime and you kill one of our citizens, you will face the ultimate justice in the state of Texas, and that is, you will be executed. WILLIAMS: What do you make of -- (APPLAUSE) WILLIAMS: What do you make of that dynamic that just happened here, the mention of the execution of 234 people drew applause? PERRY: I think Americans understand justice. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Then at the next debate just a couple of days later, the Republican debate audience made itself famous again. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WOLF BLITZER, CNN: Let me ask you this hypothetical question. A healthy 30-year-old young man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides, you know what? I`m not going to spend $200 or $300 a month for health insurance because I`m healthy, I don`t need it. But something terrible happens, all of a sudden, he needs it. PAUL: My advice to him would have a major medical policy, but not be forced -- BLITZER: But he doesn`t have that. He doesn`t have it, and he needs intensive care for six months. Who pays? PAUL: That`s what freedom is all about, taking your own risks. This whole idea that you have to prepare and take care of everybody -- (APPLAUSE) BLITZER: But, Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die? AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes. PAUL: No. AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes! (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Yes! The debate crowd, yes! Saying if somebody doesn`t have insurance gets sick, yes, let them die! Then the next debate is when it became clear why it is Rick Perry is the last kid on the bench when it comes to choosing up sides in debate club. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PERRY: I think Americans just don`t know sometimes which Mitt Romney they`re dealing with. Is it the Mitt Romney that was on the side of -- against the Second Amendment before he was for the Second Amendment? Was it before he was before the social programs from the standpoint of he was for standing up for Roe v. Wade, before he was against Roe v. Wade. Yesterday, we found out through Admiral Mullen that Haqqani has been involved with, and that`s the terrorist group directly associated with the Pakistani country. And that`s exactly what I`m going to bring to Washington when I go there in November, or excuse me, in January of 2013. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s what they call foreshadowing. At the next debate, we`re now into October, we really started to see that the Rick Perry/Mitt Romney bickering we`ve all come to know and love about the Republican debate show, that that was not only going to be exciting, it was going to be funny. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: I`ll tell you this, though. We have the lowest number of kids, as a percentage, uninsured of any state in America. You have the highest. I`m still speaking. I`m still speaking. I`m still speaking. We have less than 1 percent of our kids that are uninsured. You have a million kids uninsured in Texas. A million kids. Under President Bush the percentage of uninsured went down. Under your leadership, it`s gone up. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I`m still speaking. That was just the - I`m still -- I`m still -- you can do this even fighting with yourself. Anyway. That was just the warm-up for the following debate a week later where the Romney/Perry story line peaked. The October 18th episode of the Republican debate show is the one where Mitt Romney laid hands on Rick Perry. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PERRY: And, Mitt, you lose all of your standing, from my perspective, because you hired illegals in your home and you knew about it for a year. And the idea that you stand here before us and talk about that you`re strong on immigration is on its face the height of hypocrisy. (LAUGHTER) ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: Governor Romney? ROMNEY: Rick, I don`t think I`ve ever hired an illegal in my life. And so I`m afraid -- I`m looking forward to finding your facts on that, because that just doesn`t -- PERRY: Well, I`ll tell you what the facts are. ROMNEY: Rick, again -- Rick, I`m speaking. PERRY: You had the -- your newspaper -- the newspaper -- ROMNEY: I`m speaking. I`m speaking. I`m speaking. (CROSSTALK) ROMNEY: Are you just going to keep talking? PERRY: Yes, sir. ROMNEY: Would you let me finish with what I have to say? (BOOING) ROMNEY: Look, Rick -- COOPER: I thought Republicans follow the rules. ROMNEY: This has been a tough couple of debates for Rick, and I understand that. And so you`re going to get testy. (APPLAUSE) ROMNEY: We hired a lawn company to mow our lawn, and they had illegal immigrants that were working there. And when that was pointed out to us, we let them go. And we went to them and said -- PERRY: A year later? ROMNEY: You have a problem with allowing someone to finish speaking. And I suggest that if you want to become president of the United States, you have got to let both people speak. So first, let me speak. (APPLAUSE) ROMNEY: So we went to the company and we said, look, you can`t have any illegals working on our property. I`m running for office, for Pete`s sake, I can`t have illegals. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I`m running for office, for Pete`s sake, I`m speaking, I`m speaking. That performance -- speaking -- followed a few weeks later by the "oops" debate. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PERRY: And I will tell you, it`s three agencies of government, when I get there, that are gone: Commerce, Education and the -- what`s the third one there -- let`s see. (LAUGHTER) PAUL: You need five. PERRY: Oh, five. OK. PAUL: Make it five. PERRY: OK. So Commerce, Education and -- the -- ROMNEY: EPA? PERRY: EPA. There you go. (LAUGHTER) (APPLAUSE) MARIA BARTIROMO, CNBC: Let`s go -- JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC: Seriously? Is EPA the one you were talking about? PERRY: No, sir. No, sir. We were talking about the agencies of government -- EPA needs to be rebuilt. There`s no doubt about that. HARWOOD: But you can`t -- but you can`t name the third one? PERRY: The third agency of government. HARWOOD: Yes. PERRY: I would do away with the Education, the Commerce and -- let`s see -- I can`t. The third one, I can`t. Sorry. Oops. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: What did he have written down that he was looking at that didn`t help? Anyway, just a few days later, we got a clarifying moment -- I`m speaking -- about Republican debate audiences. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Cain, you`re familiar with the long running debate whether waterboarding constitutes torture or is an enhanced interrogation technique. In the last campaign, Republican nominee John McCain and Barack Obama agreed that it was torture and should not be allowed legally and that the Army field manual should be the methodology used to interrogate enemy combatants. Do you agree or disagree, sir? HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I agree it was an enhanced interrogation technique. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then you would support it as president? You would return to that policy? CAIN: I would return to that policy. I don`t see it as torture. I see it as an enhanced interrogation technique. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congresswoman Bachmann, your opinion on this question that our e-mailer asked? REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I were president, I would be willing to use waterboarding. I think it was very effective. It gained information for our country. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Woo! I love the hooter. It`s the clapping then the hoot. Woo! Applauding torture. Just to be clear that that`s what they`re doing, they applaud it twice. Woo! Waterboarding. Over this past weekend, there was another one of the forums, this most notable for the fact that three of the six candidates in attendance cried during the event. But perhaps maybe a tribute to House Speaker John Boehner who cries a lot, who cried last week? I always find it charming? In any case, the Republican debate show is not stopping any time soon. Ten debates, one forum, and one-two person debate, each thing, already in the can. There are set to be 13 more -- 13 more through mid-March. And that`s even before we get to the real presidential debates during the general election. I know it is inevitable, but I`m going to be so sad when this show gets canceled. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: On Friday on this show, the "Best New Thing in the World" made me fall apart on camera. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: And my cousin athletes foot. Yes, a man named Mr. Butt having to enforce Pakistan`s new censorship of that word, I can`t even make it -- "Best New Thing in the World" today. Good-bye. Prison, go. I`m sorry. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I`m very sorry I was not able to hold it together. However, there is an important update to the story which constitutes the "Best New Thing in the World" today. I have an agreement with my inner 12-year-old that I will deliver this new news like a grown-up. I do not trust my inner 12-year-old, but that deal is in place. That`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: About 100 years ago a man named Wilbur Scoville worked for a Detroit pharmaceutical company. And at work, he needed to come up with a standard method for rating the spiciness of things. He thought he could do that by measuring how those spicy things reacted with chemicals in a lab setting but that proof to be rather unpredictable and rather imprecise. More predictable and more precise turns out was this -- Mr. Scoville found out the human tongue was sensitive enough to detect the substance that gives us spiciness at concentrations way below any test you could cook up in a lab. The thing that gives us the spicy sensation is called capsaicin and dissolved in alcohol. So, Wilbur Scoville soaked spicy things in alcohol overnight to draw the capsaicin out of them so the spiciness would be in the alcohol solution, right? To that, he would add some sweetened water. The amount of water it took the capsaicin undetectable to the human tongue, the amount by which you have to dilute it in order to make it not spicy at all, that gave you away the measure how much spiciness you had, how much capsaicin was in thing you`re measuring. Excuse me. This is not a gag about spiciness. It`s just me cat coughing on live TV. Excuse me. The measure of spiciness because of this method that Scoville came up for measuring it became forever known as the Scoville unit. It`s named for Wilbur Scoville. A century later, we do have more precise ways to measure spiciness now, but essentially when people talk about heat and the human pain caused by spiciness, we still think in terms of Scoville units. This is the Scoville scale, down there at zero Scoville heat units is the sweet bell pepper. You can eat those puppies like apples. You might find it disgusting. I personally hate bell peppers. But it`s not a spicy experience. If you`ve ever had a chili, that pablano pepper that`s stuffed with cheese and then deep fried. It`s delicious. Pablano peppers about a quarter way up the Scoville scale. A Jalapeno pepper, that tends to be the go-to reference for spiciness in most American pop culture. Imagine biting ride into a raw jalapeno pepper. The Jalapeno registers about 3,000 to 8,000 Scoville units. Cayenne pepper, we mostly use that in powdered form. It`s so spicy you really want to go to use an entire peppers worth of it. The Cayenne is about 10 times as spicy as the jalapeno. Moving on up to the "I`m going to need a fire extinguisher" territory is the habanero pepper. You know, the Tobasco company and its famous hot sauce. The Tobasco Company rates its different sauces. For comparison sake, just in their sauce version of it, Tabasco says their own very hot original Tobasco sauce is here on the scale right there. Their habanero sauce is the one above it in terms of its heat. So, original tobasco sauce is two habanero Tobasco sauces as tea light to tiki torch. It`s very hot. And yet, the habanero which dwarfs Tobasco sauce and the jalapeno and the pablano and everything else, the habanaro chili is really child`s play when it`s compared to the Bhut Jolokia. It`s also more commonly known as the ghost pepper. The ghost pepper is many times spicier than the habaneros -- certified as the hottest pepper in the world by the Guinness Book of World records. There`s a world of amateur video out there of people showing themselves, taping themselves eating a ghost pepper and then, forgive the word, but barfing or getting visibly and horribly sick for a very long time. On the Scoville scale, the highest pepper rating there is before pure unadulterated undiluted capsaicin, the higher pepper that`s rated is the ghost pepper. And that`s it, that is the spiciest pepper, spiciest thing on the spicy pain inducing scale before you get to raw capsaicin at 15,000 Scoville units. There`s actually one more thing hotter than the ghost pepper. And that`s pepper spray. The kind sold and used legally in the United States. On the Scoville scale, the U.S. grade pepper spray is rated two to five times more intensely hot and therefore painful for humans than the ghost pepper is. That`s pepper spray. For the occupy Wall Street movement, seeing the police use disproportionate force on nonviolent protesters has been a galvanizing thing and to a great extent it has not been the generic use of force that we have seen by police that`s caused observers to have a visceral reaction. To a great extent. It has been the specific use of this particular chemical weapon. Joining us now is Deborah Blum, Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer and author of "The Poisoner`s Handbook." Deborah Blum is guest blogger for "Scientific American," where she`s been writing about pepper spray. Ms. Blum, thanks very much for joining us tonight. It`s nice to have you here. DEBORAH BLUM, THE POISONER`S HANDBOOK AUTHOR: Thanks. It`s great to be here. MADDOW: Is the Scoville scale a useful and accurate way to understand what pepper spray is like as a weapon? I mean, it is on the scale with food. Is that misleading in any way? BLUM: It is in that, you know, people say pepper and they think, oh, something from the kitchen, something kind of domestic, but it`s a really useful scale in that it gives us a point of reference we all know. Everyone has occasionally made salsa or chopped up a pepper and gotten it in their eyes and felt that burn and knows how much it hurts. So, what the Scoville scale tells us is that pepper spray, commercial grade pepper spray, is off the charts from that experience. A habanero is about 350,000 on the Scoville. Police grade pepper spray is about 5.3 million. And that gives you a point of reference against your everyday life. So, in terms of just saying, whoa, that`s way beyond what I realize, the Scoville scale is incredibly useful, I think. MADDOW: In terms of trying to understand the effect of pepper tray on human beings, nationwide, we`ve all seen pepper spray shot into protesters` faces over the last few weeks at Occupy Wall Street events around the country. How much of a difference does it make in terms of the human experience? How it is actually applied, the quantity, the distance from which it`s shot at you. It affects the overall dosage. BLUM: That`s a great question. You know, there`s a saying in toxicology that the dose makes the poison. So, one of the things the Scoville scale tells us is this is a very high dose. We know capcaisins do two things. They bond to our nervous system and trigger the pain response and they`re a little corrosive. They cause a chemical burn. So when you`re talking about the kind of levels that you`re talking about with commercial grade pepper spray or people call it O.C. spray, you`re talking about a very intense dose. And that`s why you actually see these incredible responses. You can see it on video. People fall over. People are screaming. People are rolling on the ground. That`s another way of measuring how high this dose is. And the higher the dose, the more poisonous the effect. MADDOW: What are the potential long-term effects or even medium term health effects of being exposed to this in the kind of quantities that we`ve seen these protesters exposed to? BLUM: You know, that`s a really good question, because most of our experience is the short-term blast in the face effect. But studies that have been done looking at people who work with peppers or animal studies say this, they say that you can have sort of long-term effects on breathing. People -- it`s an inflammatory effect, right? It affects your nervous system and causes it to kind of blow up in some interesting ways. So it can make your allergic system worse. It makes asthma worse. It has long term sort of burn effects in the respiratory system. I mean, a really good example of it is actually we know that one blast in the face damages your eyes in a temporary sense. It disrupts the cells in the outer layer of the cornea. There`s lots of studies that show that if this happens multiple times, you get permanent effects in the cornea, you get a long-term permanent blurring of vision and that tells us in particular that if you`re sprayed multiple times, you could be looking at some fairly serious long-term effects. MADDOW: Deborah Blum is a Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer, author of "The Poisoner`s Handbook." a guest writer for "Scientific American" -- thanks for helping us understand this. I`ve found your writing on this to be helpful for understanding it myself. Thank you. BLUM: Thank you. Thank you for having me on. MADDOW: All right. We recently reported a new list of words that Pakistan`s government is not going to let its citizens send by text message anymore. Words like monkey crotch and headlights. I was a little bit out of control when we reported this on Friday night. But now, the story has moved in the direction that made me lay down on the floor and cover my face when I heard about it today. There`s a hint in that last sentence. "Best New Thing in the World" is coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: In the last 49 years, in Oregon, the state of Oregon has executed two of its prisoners. Both of those executions were when John Kitzhaber was governor in the 1990s. Governor Kitzhaber was personally opposed to the death penalty but he says he let those executions be carried out under his watch. John Kitzhaber is now the governor of Oregon again. And today, faced with the prospect of overseeing the killing of another Oregon prisoner, this time the governor said no. He wouldn`t do it. In a statement tonight, the governor said, "The death penalty as practiced in O is neither fair nor just and it is not swift or certain. It is not applied equally to all." He described the last two executions he presided over in the 1990, as, quote, "The most agonizing and difficult decisions I made as governor. I do not believe the executions made us safer or nobler as a society." "Fourteen years ago," he says, "I struggled with the decision to allow an execution to proceed. Over the years I thought if faced with the same set of circumstances, I would make a different decision. That time has come." The one Oregon prisoner scheduled to be killed in two weeks` time has been given a reprieve from execution for the duration of Governor Kitzhaber`s term. This wasn`t a commutation of the sentence. It`s just a temporary retrieve so the prisoner could still be executed under another governor. But Governor Kitzhaber noted today he could have commuted all the citizens of all the prisoners on death row. He could have converted them to life sentences instead, but he didn`t. Saying, quote, "The policy of this state on capital punishment is not mine alone to decide. It`s a matter for all Oregonians to decide. And it`s my hope, indeed, my intention that my action today will bring about a long overdue reevaluation of our current policy." In other words, the governor wants the state to consider changing its policies about killing prisoners, but unless and until the state does change the policy, Governor John Kitzhaber will refuse to see anymore prisoners killed on his watch -- a dramatic and unexpected statement of principle from Oregon`s governor tonight. We posted his whole statement which is intense and, I got to say, worth reading at our blog today at We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: OK. "Best New Thing in the World". We reported on this show on Friday night that the government of Pakistan was about to ban certain words from text messages. Starting this week, starting yesterday, in fact, the plan was to block any text message in Pakistan that contained one of roughly 1,000 English words or phrases, or about 600 words in Urdu. Now, among the words Pakistan planned to block you from texting in the country were the words flatulence, tongue, fairy, gonorrehea, if you spelled it this one incorrect way, also headlights, fingerfood, love pistol, deposit, and what the English-speaking press, me included, reported as monkey crotch. Pakistanis tell us today it is actually crotch monkey, not monkey crotch and I believe them. Also on the banned text message word list as you`d probably expect, dozens of phrases that include the "F" word, including "F" word phrases I have never heard of. And I consider myself to be a bit of a scholar on these things. Also, 22 phrases that use the word butt. They are on the banned word list even though butt is also the last name of a telecom executive in Pakistan who`s being asked by the government to implement the new censorship policy. Mr. Butt being told to enforce making his own name illegal to text. I spent the entire weekend trying to live down my inability to deliver this news on Friday night with a straight face. I live in a small town. There`s not much else to talk about. I couldn`t get away from people making fun of me about that. But, now, the day Pakistan was supposed to block out the crotch monkey and turn off the athletes foot and the tongue and the headlights and the fairy, now we get news the government of Pakistan is maybe backing off. "Voice of America" reporting since someone leaked the list of banned words and phrases, quote, "social media services like Twitter exploded with ridicule from Pakistanis." "Voice of America" saying the frequently ridiculed example is the one about the monkey. Can`t imagine why. The Pakistani government said they were doing actually was a little test run to see if they could block words in texts if they wanted to. They say now they will release a final, much shorter list of banned words. They`re going to do that later after they consult with the phone companies again -- phone companies whose executives include one Mr. Butt which is not that uncommon a name in Pakistan. One hopes that Mr. Butt will get the one word cleared on the final shorter banned text message list of words, if ever there is a new list. In any case, for now, for now, I`m happy to say that you can still text butt and athlete`s foot and a million "F" words in Pakistan. For now, you still can. It`s a small reprieve for foul mouthed liberty and the "Best New Thing in the World" today. That does it for us tonight. It`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell" recapping tonight`s Republican candidates foreign policy debate. Have a great night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END