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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 01/27/12

Guests: Karen Tumulty, Eric Schneiderman, Paul Rieckhoff

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. I`m sorry that last night, I was in a space suit and could not say hi back to you at the top of the show. ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: You know what? That`s OK. I thoroughly -- thought it was more than innovative. I thought it was terrific. And when I got home, Wendy said you won`t believe what Rachel did. I said I have an idea. It was great. MADDOW: Innovative is a very kind way to put that, Ed. I appreciate that. Have a great weekend. Good to see you. SCHULTZ: You, too. Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: All right. Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. No space suit tonight, I promise. Maybe Monday. Do you remember when Bob Dole did a Viagra ad, I started to think that was sort of a apocryphal, that everybody thought Bob Dole did a Viagra ad, maybe he actually didn`t because you can`t find that ad anywhere. You can find people writing about the ad but the ad itself is like not obvious on YouTube. It`s not that easy to find. I started to think that maybe Bob Dole doing a Viagra ad was kind of like saying Sarah Palin saying, "I can see Russia from my house." Sarah Palin never said that, right? It was something that was used as a joke against her on "Saturday Night Live," but we all talked ourselves into the idea that she really did say it. So, starting to think this was the same thing. It turns out -- no. Bob Dole did a Viagra ad. We finally found it. God bless the NBC archives. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BOB DOLE, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Courage, something shared by countless Americans, those who risk their lives, those who battle serious illness. When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I was primarily concerned with ridding myself of the cancer. But secondly I was concerned about possible post operative side effects likely recommend erectile dysfunction, E.D., often called impotence. You know, it`s a little embarrassing to talk about E.D., but it`s so important to millions of men and their partners that I decided to talk about it publicly. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The Bob Dole Viagra ad, it exists. It came out in 1999. The last time there was a Democratic running for reelection and Republicans were trying to unseat that president, that was 1996. It was the end of Bill Clinton`s first time. And if you recall, Bob Dole was that year`s Mitt Romney. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DOLE: When they say Bob Dole wants to raise taxes, and I`ve got a record of carrying the ball for Ronald Reagan, that`s not accurate. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Bob Dole who got sort of famous in that campaign for referring to himself as Bob Dole -- lost to Bill Clinton badly in 1996. He lost to President Clinton by 8 million votes. And after that electoral drubbing he got, there have been two surprising and interesting things about Bob Dole in American life post- losing for president. Number one, the Viagra ad. The Viagra ad was so amazing that Mr. Dole later did a Pepsi ad making fun of his own Viagra ad. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DOLE: I`m here to tell you about a product put real joy back in my life. It helps me feel youthful and vigorous and most importantly, vital again. What is this amazing product? My faithful little blue friend. An ice cold Pepsi-Cola. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are the revitalizing effects of Pepsi-Cola right for you? Check with your local convenience store counter clerk and start living again. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I love the fake doctor guy. So, Bob Dole losing the presidential election in 1996, then becoming a Viagra pitchman. That was the first surprising thing about him, in American life after he lost to Bill Clinton in 1996. The second surprising thing about him, is happening right now. It is his unexpected emergence as the strange factor in this year`s presidential race. In 1996, Bob Dole had to fend off a challenge in the Republican primary from the often wrong but never in doubt Pat Buchanan. This year, Mitt Romney is trying to fend off a challenge from the often wrong but never in doubt Newt Gingrich. And Bob Dole has decided to weigh in, obviously, on behalf of the guy who`s playing him in this year`s remake. He`s on Mitt Romney`s side of course. He`s against Newt Gingrich. Now, the context here is a little weird but you have to know this in order to understand what`s so strange about what Bob Dole is doing right now. In 1996, when Bob Dole was running against Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich was speaker of the House. Republicans won the big term election against Bill Clinton and the Democrats in 1994. So, by the time, Bob Dole is running for president in `96, Newt Gingrich was really the most famous Republican in the country. He was speaker of the House. And he used to carry a bucket around with him everywhere. Here`s with why. Apparently there had been a long standing practice in Congress, for whatever reason, that the office of every member of congress every day got a bucket of ice delivered in the morning. They always had done this in Congress and still did it back in the 1990`s. I find it kind of charming. Newt Gingrich found it wasteful which it obviously totally was wasteful. And Newt Gingrich as speaker put a stop to the ice delivery tradition while he was speaker. He was so pleased with himself for doing that he carried a bucket around with him everywhere, to remind everybody that he had cut that wasteful thing. That`s the relevant context for what happened yesterday. Yesterday in the midst of the new waive of Republican establishment piling on to defeat Newt Gingrich, the Romney campaign released a statement about Newt Gingrich from Bob Dole. This is yesterday. Quote, "I have not been critical of Newt Gingrich, but it is now time to take a stand before it is too late. Hardly anyone who served with Newt in Congress has endorsed him and that fact speaks for itself. Gingrich had a new idea every minute and most of them were off the wall. In my run for the presidency in 1996, the Democrats greeted me with a number of negative TV ads in every one of them, Newt was in the ad. He was very unpopular and I`m not only certain this did not help me, but that it also cost House seats that year. Newt would show up at the campaign headquarters with an empty bucket in his hand -- that was a symbol of some for the for him -- and I never did know what he was doing or why he was doing it, and I`m not certain he knew, either." Meow. The Gingrich campaign has now responded to Bob Dole by saying, "It`s got to be on the to be 10 list on the weirdest things Bob Dole has ever written. Do you know what else is on that Mr. Gingrich`s spokesperson told "Talking Points Memo" that it was strange that Bob Dole would criticize Newt Gingrich specifically for the bucket thing, quote, "They were still under Bob Dole`s leadership, mind you, delivering a block of ice every day to the congressional offices like it was the 1800s. Newt said that`s a dumb idea and we should stop. Bob Dole thinks cutting spending is a very weird thing." But then, the stinger from the Gingrich camp -- an anonymous pro- Gingrich D.C. person also tells "TPM" today in the same article, "Governor Romney isn`t strengthening his case to conservatives by toting endorsements by two moderate Republican presidential nominees who both lost their elections, Senator McCain and Senator Dole." Ow! That hurts. And it`s true. I mean, right. Bob Dole and John McCain both lost. They are both big touted endorsements by Mitt Romney right now. There are two main things going on in the Republican presidential nominating process. I mean, there`s also sideline things. There`s a question of, you know, when Rick Santorum is going to get out of the race, here`s the question of why Ron Paul is amassing all these delegates and what he wants to do with those delegates, once he gets them -- there are sideline issues. But the main two things going on are these: The Republican establishment is pulling out all the stops to kill the Gingrich candidacy and the Gingrich candidacy keeps exposing new and very real weaknesses in Mitt Romney as a candidate. Pick a conservative establishment news outlet, pick one, any one, they were all busy absolutely slamming Newt Gingrich. Look how the "Drudge Report" did this today. There`s me on the right. They`re making fun of me because nobody recognized me on "Jeopardy," which I thought was hilarious. But, anyway. In the little box there on the left side there, in the same little box on the front page of the Drudge Report, the smiley happy picture of Mitt Romney and his handsome son, and his wife, who apparently, quote, "Wowed the crowd at Hispanic conference." Immediately under that item, dark sad picture of Newt Gingrich with his back to the camera looking like he`s maybe at a funeral. While Ann Romney was wowing that crowd, look at the Drudge caption "Callista remains silent." Over at the "National Review Online," there was this -- "Newt and the earmark era." And do you know Newt? He`s sometimes sounds like Obama. Right over their article Dole nukes Newt, the aforementioned. You get this one -- Romney should be proud his wealth isn`t a problem. At the "Washington Examiner," they turned it up to 11, Newt Gingrich is a Saul Alinsky Republican. Presumably that one goes on to note how Mr. Gingrich is secretly Kenyan. Then there`s conservative "American Spectator." Here`s what they were headlining, "Newt`s Rubio rumble." A rising star, meaning Mr. Rubio, puts the Gingrich candidacy in its place. Transparent much, you guys? Come on. So, you got the entire Republican establishment, all Republican establishment media, all just killing Gingrich. And once again, the Newt push back in terms of his surrogates and people sticking up for him in the conservative media, they`re trying but it is comparatively puny. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Look at Newt Gingrich, what`s going on with him? Via the establishment attacks, they are crucify this man, rewrite history and what he has stood for, not just Ron Paul, I believe it`s also Newt Gingrich that the establishment, that the liberal media, certainly the progressives and Democrats don`t like. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I mean no disrespect here, Governor Palin, but the progressives and Democrats really, really like Newt Gingrich. I mean, not like they would vote for him. But if progressives and Democrats could vote in the Republican primaries, that`s probably would they would vote for. Have you seen the head-to-head numbers recently? Barack Obama is beating all the main contenders right now in the head-to-head match-ups. But Newt Gingrich does the worst out of any of them, even Rick Santorum fares better against President Obama than Newt Gingrich does. So, Governor Palin, you are right there is an establishment attacking Newt Gingrich, but it`s not my establishment. It`s not the liberal establishment attacking Newt Gingrich. It`s your side. But you know, the Republican establishment has tried to kill Newt Gingrich before and in South Carolina, with all the super PAC money that he had behind him, Gingrich was able to sort of ally to the criticism. He beat Romney badly and he took some serious hide off Romney heading forward. Even though there was a ton of criticism of it, Mr. Gingrich`s super PAC ran that half hour long ad called "King of Bain," right, a brutal attack on Mitt Romney supposedly great asset, his business career. And now, it turns out that they are not just repeating those same attacks they used in South Carolina against Mitt Romney, tonight they are premiering another long form documentary style attack ad on another issue about Mitt Romney, essentially accusing him of being part of a massive fraud in his Bain days. They put out this trailer for their hit piece this afternoon, ahead of the release of the film, calling it "Blood Money" apparently. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NARRATOR: With the Medicare, the government says con artists are draining the life blood out of it by filing millions of dollars in phony claims. NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Did Bain ever do any work with the government like Medicare, Medicaid? MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We didn`t do any work with the government. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Coming soon. That trailer will reportedly begin airing as a TV ad in Florida. The Republican establishment desperately wants Newt Gingrich to disappear. They apparently do not understand why he persists, why he keeps sticking around, who is the guy with the bucket any way, right? Can`t we make this guy go away? But Newt Gingrich is sticking around. Newt Gingrich has a message here. He`s a message guy. And for a country that is transfixed with the race between him and Mitt Romney, he is doing more than anybody else in the country right now to define who Mitt Romney is. Joining us now is Karen Tumulty. She is the national political correspondent for "The Washington Post," reporting from South Florida. Karen, thanks for being with us. KAREN TUMULTY, WASHINGTON POST: Well, thanks for having me. MADDOW: You probably remembered the bucket story, I was very happy to go back and figure out it was about ice deliveries. TUMULTY: Yes, he did a lot of things. He got rid of the House barber shop. He -- I believe he may have also fired the House historian. So there were a lot of things that Newt Gingrich was doing back in those days. MADDOW: Well, he`d just take care of that in-house. He`s a very well-compensated historian, you may have heard. The pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC is reportedly planning to go buy air time for this anti-Mitt Romney Medicare, sort of pseudo-documentary. What do you foresee as being the impact of that? TUMULTY: Well, you know, I`m not really sure, because remember that this is a state that elected a governor and in fact he was the Tea Party candidate, elected a governor, who himself had been accused of running a company that was accused of Medicare fraud. So, I don`t know how far this takes him. And I also think that just the whole headline "Blood Money" takes us over the top. But just the whole, it is sort of one of the more interesting things we`ve seen this year. I mean, here is this guy who is in Congress for close to a quarter century. He was the speaker of the House. He was one of the most popular surrogates out there on the campaign trail for everybody, and he`s not the establishment. So, it`s been a real sort of funny empire strikes back kind of drama going on. MADDOW: I feel like that the analysis the blood money thing is a little too far, a little too much, sort of applies in all politics, except for right now, politics right now. It`s hard for me to imagine something being seen as too over the top given the way that these guys have been talking and going at each other. I mean, didn`t Mr. Gingrich say today that Mr. Romney was the like most dishonest presidential candidate ever in American history? TUMULTY: In an interview with my colleague Amy Garner at the "Washington Post," he said that what Mitt Romney did to him last night during the debate was the most dishonest thing he had ever seen in presidential politics. Now, mind you, this is a man who is old enough to remember Watergate. So it was a pretty extraordinary statement. MADDOW: Karen, in terms of the Republican establishment, we are seeing Marco Rubio complaining a little bit about Newt Gingrich, but neither Marco Rubio nor Rick Scott, the Medicare fraud-tainted Florida governor, nor Jeb Bush, a very popular former governor there in Florida, they are not endorsing anybody. If the establishment is so squarely behind Romney, and so anti-Newt Gingrich, why isn`t the Florida Republican establishment doing that same thing? TUMULTY: Well, first of all, they haven`t officially endorsed Romney, but both Rubio and Jeb Bush, who is basically a saint to the conservative movement, have issued statements that were supportive of Romney. Essentially they defended Romney against Newt Gingrich`s characterization that he basically has the same team that ran Charlie Crist`s campaign for governor here. Charlie Crist, of course, was a Republican incumbent, who had to become an independent because he was going to be defeated on his own ballot. So they have done some things that are supportive of him. But I think quite frankly that what you have here in Florida as you have all over the country is this very deep divide within the Republican Party, between the establishment and the insurgent Tea Party forces -- and Marco Rubio is the Tea Party`s guy. So, the last thing I think he wants to do is get in the middle of this fight. MADDOW: Karen Tumulty, national political correspondent for "The Washington Post," thank you for your time tonight. Enjoy these last few days in Florida. I have a feeling it`s going to get more fun and not less. TUMULTY: Thanks a lot. MADDOW: Appreciate it. Hey, great news, turns out there is a crack in the dam, in terms of prominent elected Republicans refusing to come on this show. I think we`ve got a line on a good one. The way we got a line on a good one is very, very strange. I`ll explain that in just a second. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MADDOW: This is as close as I`ll get to interviewing Liz and Dick Cheney. Hi, Rachel Maddow. LIZ CHENEY, DICK CHENEY`S DAUGHTER: Hi, Rachel. How are you? BILL WOLFF, TRMS EXEC. PRODUCER: We said we`re here, we`d love to speak with Ms. O`Donnell or any representative of the campaign. MADDOW: Like getting bounced from a bar. We have asked Sarah Palin to come on the show I don`t know how many times. And she has never agreed to come on. Our booking producers have been calling Liz Cheney and asking her to come on the show and discuss her ideas, debate the issues, for months. Every time we`ve asked Scott Brown do come on the show, he said no. Former governor and former presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty is going to be here at MSNBC tonight, right here on MSNBC, but not talking to me. Say yes Christine O`Donnell. It will be fun, I promise. Say yes, Sharron Angle, you will get a fair shake, pinky swear. Say yes, Sarah Palin, you have our number, I know you do. Ken Buck, come by any time. Joe Miller, I would love to talk to you. Liz Cheney, door is always open, to anybody in your family actually, any Cheney, any time. (INAUDIBLE) MADDOW: We`re on our way to the Jon Huntsman event right now. We`ve heard from the Jon Huntsman campaign, no. No way, no chance, never. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They told you no. MADDOW: They have told us no, don`t try to get close. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The old campaign end around. MADDOW: I know. I was getting no where near this supposed Rick Santorum surge. Mr. Huntsman or Mr. Romney, if either you would like, it`s yours, seriously, for free. I would be happy to give it to either one of you in person. If you`re free one weekday night in the 9:00 hour perhaps, I could give it to you here. You know where to find me. (END VIDEOTAPE) MADDOW: Suffice to say I have a hard time getting Republican candidates to agree to come on the show. Requests are in, to everybody, all the time but I`m not getting anybody ever. However, looking down the road at potential vice presidential prospects for 2012 this week I was given an inkling of hope. The person who give me this inkling of hope is conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham. This is amazing. This is Laura Ingraham talking with one of the guys who everybody says who is on the vice presidential short list, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. Listen. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) LAURA INGRAHAM, CONSERVATIVE RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I was going back on YouTube, governor, and I was watching some of Reagan`s old debates from the `60s, late `60s, early `70s, there wasn`t a place he wouldn`t go to argue the conservative message and advocate for conservative principles. And he got a lot of grief for it, but he also -- he won a lot of respect. And it seems to me that if we have Republicans out there coming up through the ranks who are concern about going Rachel Maddow`s show or, you know, concerned that she`s going to get the better of him or her in a sit-down, then we have real problems. We have to be able to engage with these people, doesn`t mean you`re going to convince her but means you`re going to probably be a stronger advocate across the board to people who don`t really know what conservatism even is. GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: I couldn`t agree with you more, Laura. That`s exactly right. See if you can get Rachel to set that up for me? INGRAHAM: Yes. I will send her a note for sure. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: And she did. She sent me a note, or her producer did, which was very nice. So, Laura Ingraham, thank you. Bob McDonnell, even though I think you just called me `lil Rachel there, I`m still totally looking forward to it. So that we`re all above board and no suspicion of ambush here because I really want this to happen in the interest of full disclosure here, Governor McDonnell, since we have never before have the privilege of having you as a guest on this show, I want you to know, here is what I have been saying about you on television without you, here are some of things that might come up in our interview. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MADDOW: Thanks to Bob McDonnell`s overt action, his overt order in this case, you can be asked what your sexual orientation is in a job interview in Virginia and your answer can legally be the reason you don`t get the job. His grad school thesis condemned cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators, and said public policy should be directed against those people. Bob McDonnell, the Republican governor of Virginia, putting out the proclamation on Confederate History Month that makes no mention of the fact that slavery had something to do with the Confederate cause. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell made this proclamation about importance of Virginia seafood in the same week that he called for oil drilling off the coast of Virginia to begin as early as next year. Bob McDonnell of Virginia, the great milquetoast hope. Virginia governor Just say no to fornicators Bob McDonnell. The conservative hero governor of Virginia. You can either take too credit for your balanced budget and stop talking smack about the stimulus money that got you that balance budget, or you can refuse to take the credit for the balance budget because you don`t like how you didn`t earn it. Why raise the debt ceiling I don`t a see a reason to do it, so says the governor of Virginia. Trying to get something in exchange for it. But if you can`t. Again, quote, "cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators," I`m all three. I`m quoting there about the fornicators, it`s not me describing people as fornicators. I wouldn`t say that. That`s what Bob McDonnell said. Not only is that not "leave me alone" small government conservatism, that is big government crusade against the fornicators conservatism. (END VIDEOTAPE) MADDOW: Now that Governor McDonnell has told conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham that he would like to be a guest on this show, I got to say, Governor, I couldn`t be more excited to have you here. We`ll try to set something up for next week. I hope that works for you. I will have my people call your people, or whatever. As you can probably tell, you should know I think you would be a horrendous choice for vice president -- I have to tell you. But if you would like to bring along the candidate you`ve endorsed for president, Mitt Romney, to back you up, to help make the case for you as V.P., that`s OK with me. He could come and do an interview as well. I would talk to you both at once or separately, it`s up to you. I can`t wait. Laura Ingraham, I owe you. Thank you. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just want all of you to understand: your president and your first lady were in your shoes not that long ago. We didn`t come from wealthy families. The only reason that we were able to achieve what we were able to achieve was because we got a great education. That`s the only reason. And we could not have done that unless we lived in a country that made a commitment to opening up opportunity to all people. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The president today in Michigan, announcing plans to incentivize college to keep tuition rates low. Tuition and student loan reform, these are not the kinds of knockout fights, red versus blue issues that Sunday shows love to prognosticate about, or that the Beltway media love to cover like they`re boxing matches. Talking about making college less insanely expensive, it`s the kind of thing that the political class doesn`t much notice, but if progress could be made on that, it would be a huge deal for millions and millions of American families and millions of American futures. On another potentially huge deal for American families and American futures, the president really did pick a very big fight and picked it with Wall Street. That story is next. You will probably want a seat belt for this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Some good news today. Good-ish news at least. Look, this chart was posted on our blog by the great and good Steve Benen, who now blogs here. Steve`s arrival is the latest addition to THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW`s staff as my own personal Christmas in January. It`s very exciting. But as you can se from Steve Benen`s chart here, the good news, the economy is growing, a little. We`re on the positive side of zero. That`s what the last bar on the right means. Back here, back that part at the end of 2008, start of 2009, that`s when Wall Street blew up and it seriously seemed like the world might, too. It was about that time, three years ago, January, 2009, as the wave of that economic disaster was crashing down on us, that Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur of Ohio got up on the floor of Congress and said something that will be in the history books forever. When the story is written of how America survived the worst economic disaster to befall us since the Great Depression, what Marcy Kaptur said in Congress, that January 15th, 2009, will be part of the history as it is told. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. MARCY KAPTUR (D), OHIO: So why should any American citizen be kicked out of their homes in this cold weather in Ohio, it`s going to be 10, 20 below zero? Don`t leave your home, because you know what? When those companies say they have your mortgage, unless you have a lawyer that can put his finger or her finger on that mortgage, you don`t have that mortgage. And you`re going to find, they can`t find the paper up there on Wall Street. So I say to the American people, you be squatters in your own homes. Don`t you leave, in Ohio, in Michigan, in Indiana, in Illinois, in all these other places where people are being treated like chattel, and this Congress is stymied. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Stay in your homes, don`t you leave. Make the bastards at the banks drag you out by the heels. What Marcy Kaptur was saying that day was in part pure catharsis, right? But she was also making a quite sophisticated legal argument. They`re not going to be able to find the paper down there on Wall Street. She was making that argument years ahead of almost everybody else in Washington. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KAPTUR: When those companies say they have your mortgage, unless you have a lawyer that can put his finger or her finger on the mortgage, you don`t have the mortgage. And you`re going to find they can`t find the paper up there on Wall Street. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Marcy Kaptur, it turns out, was right. In order to create their personal gargantoloid (ph) fortunes from trading other people`s houses, Wall Street first had to devise a way to bundle zillions of mortgages together so they can bet on them and buy them and sell them in bulk. One house, that`s a deal between you and your bank. That can take months to finish up. Ten thousand houses, that`s something Wall Street can flip in a New York instant. But when Wall Street did that, when they created those bundles, they broke the link between your one house and the bank you borrowed money from to buy the house. And it turns out the implications of that one simple little fact are astounding. In January, 2011, two years after Marcy Kaptur speech that we just played, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that the banks had no right to foreclose on two homes, the court decided those loans were shuffled around so many times around so many times among many investors that nobody knew who had the right to kick the homeowners out if they stop paying. Financial blogger Felix Salmon looked at the case and wrote, quote, "Anybody who was foreclosed on in Massachusetts should be phoning up their lawyer and trying to figure out if the foreclosure was illegal. If it was, then the borrower should be able to get their deed and their home back from the bank." So, Marcy Kaptur was right three years ago. They can`t take your house. If you`ll around, you`ll see cases like the one in Massachusetts popping up everywhere. This month in Nevada, the state Supreme Court considering the case of Andrew and Loretta Davis, who said their mortgage, too, does not legally belong to the bank that`s trying to kick them out of the house. If they win, thousands of Nevada families will have reason to ask whether the banks had any right to kick them to the curb, too. And while we just got another sign that Marcy Kaptur was right, this time, it came from a different place. After years of federal prosecutors around Wall Street trying to find a way to assign blame for the Wall Street disaster that ate the whole country`s economy, President Obama announced this week that he is ready to look at what Wall Street did to Main Street as a potential crime. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: And tonight, I`m asking my attorney general to create a special unit of federal prosecutors and leading state attorney generals to expand our investigations into the abuse of lending and packaging and risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis. This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Today, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he has a working group ready to go forward to do what the president is asking, sort through what Wall Street did in betting on average American homes and to put the bankers on trial wherever the evidence warrants prosecution. We are now almost three years removed from Marcy Kaptur`s plea to families to have confidence that the law will protect them even as the banks come to get them. A scene like this one, a foreclosed home, the family who used to live here, gone God knows where, a scene like this is definitely tragic. It can be enraging. But is this also a crime scene, like a mugging or an assault? Could this also be a crime? Joining us now for the interview is Eric Schneiderman. He is the attorney general of the great state of New York. He`s the leader of the president`s new financial crimes unit. Mr. Attorney General, thank you for being here. ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN (D), NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: In terms of the president`s language, what he said was expanding our investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis. People who have not been - - have not been following this issue closely may not understand the specifics how should we understand what you are tasked to do? SCHNEIDERMAN: Our working group is going to dig in to all of the conduct that blew up the economy. It`s not really a secret. I spent 15 years representing folks in financial services, Wall Street firms, everyone knows what happened. The market went up, the housing market went up and ordinary market circumstances it would have come back down, but they were making so much money with the bundling of mortgages and mortgage-backed securities, that they sliced up and sold to pension funds and mutual funds and investors all around the world was just hard to let go of. So, you can see from you go to 4, 5, 6, standards for loans going down. People as the president said didn`t understand and shouldn`t have taken on the loan. The number of no documentation loans, negative amortization loans, where you`re paying every month, but you owe more principal going up from 3, 4, or 5. So, we know what happened. We know what created the bubble and we know what created the crash. It was not an earthquake, it was not a natural disaster, this was a man-made disaster. And our task force is now given both the charge and the resources and the jurisdiction to go in and figure out exactly what happened, and hold anyone who was responsible accountable. MADDOW: If as you say it`s not a secret if the basics are understood about what happened, why haven`t there been prosecutions thus far? SCHNEIDERMAN: Well, I think, first of all, there have been some and there are prosecutors who pursued cases, you mentioned a couple of my colleagues who actually are part of our working group, Attorney General Martha Coakley in Massachusetts, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada, which we just mentioned, also Beau Biden in Delaware and Lisa Madigan from Illinois. So, they are folks who have been working on this. What the president came to understand, I became attorney general about a year ago, and started digging into this, and realized that New York and Delaware, why my collaboration with Beau Biden was so important, we had the unique place, because all of the mortgage-backed securities were actually pools of mortgages deposited into New York trust or Delaware trust. We started looking at what she is talking about, did they get the paperwork done, things like that, and realized there was a lot of work to do, but a lot of potential for proving liability. We started discussing this with our federal counterparts a few months ago. I`ve been in discussions with them and negotiations. But the president took hold of this and said, you know what, we don`t want to do this gradually. I`m going to throw resources behind this. I`m going to mandate that the attorney general put together all the agencies you need. To get this done, Rachel, you need resources, you need jurisdiction and you need will. And when I stood there today with Eric Holder and my other colleagues in government, other prosecutors, I really felt that we have that level of commitment. MADDOW: There has been a sense in terms of pursuing accountability on these issues that you and some of the other state attorney generals who you`ve mentioned have sort of wanted to be more aggressive or maybe more hard-nosed in terms of your approach toward the banks that you`re looking and the mortgage holders that you`re looking at here -- more aggressive than the federal government has. The creation of this task force and your role in it, should we see that divide as now something different? Is there a divide between the state approach and federal approach now, or is it now a unified cause? SCHNEIDERMAN: No, actually, what we realized as we go back and forth over the last few months is that we all need to work together. There are situations New York`s securities law is strongest security laws in some ways than the federal laws. Some of our statutes of limitations, though, are shorter. So, we can`t go as far back. Federal statute is longer. We need everyone together. And the folks that we have in on this, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Rich Cordray, just -- a whole array of new powers just came into existence with his appointment, which the president just got done very recently. That`s a huge addition. We have internal revenue service in, because they are a huge tax fraud implications to some of the stuff that went on. All of the people who are in this, all the agencies that have been designated working together can achieve so much more than any one of us on our own. I mean, we are working really hard here, Attorney General Biden and I, and we were getting somewhere, but nothing compared to what we can do with the level of cooperation the president has now mandated and I`m telling you, the excitement in the room when we had the first working group meeting of people realizing the potential for what we can do with the hundreds of attorneys and investigators and accountants, we can throw in this, was really palpable. MADDOW: New York state attorney general, leader of the president`s new financial crimes unit, for lack of the better term, Eric Schneiderman - - it`s a real pleasure to talk to you about this stuff. But I`m also hoping that as one of the people who I think is good about talking about these things in a way regular people understand, I hope that this will allow to you still do more media. I mean, both with me, but in general, I think that you`re good at explaining this stuff, and the country has a real interest in hearing from somebody plain-spoken like yourself. So, my appeal to you. SCHNEIDERMAN: I appreciate it. I`m not sure -- I`m certainly not going to avoid your show like some folks do. MADDOW: Very good. Fair enough. Good luck, sir. Thank you. Appreciate it. SCHNEIDERMAN: Thank you. MADDOW: Did you hear that there is a special extra Nevada caucus after the normal Nevada caucus this year? There is the Nevada caucuses and then there`s an extra one. It`s weird, right? Weirder even than you would imagine until you hear the details. Stay tuned. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Best new thing in the world just ahead. And despite quite a few e-mails today, I am not going to wear this again. It turns out it`s way too clammy. That`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Everybody from time to time has a little bit of the tin man in them. If you`re finding yourself feeling tin man-ish, if you`re starting to feel like you`re not sure if you have a heart, you need to get the old waterworks going and proving the heart is still there thumping. Then you go to YouTube and type in the search feature -- homecoming soldier Iraq. In fact, there is a whole video blog called the "Welcome Home" blog, that just videos, pages and pages of videos of American soldiers coming home from the wars. And surprising their families and their kids, and in some cases their dogs welcoming them home. If you`re feeling a little tin man-ish and need to exercise your tear ducts, this is the way to do it. The Afghanistan war, of course, continues -- 90,000 Americans deployed. The target date for ending that war is not this year, not next year but the end of the year after that. But the Iraq war is over. It has been six weeks since the last U.S. troops crossing the border into Kuwait for the last time. And while that trip back from Iraq has led to lots of emotional homecomings, for families at home and at military bases, in the civilian world, there has been as yet no welcome home ceremony, no end of the Iraq war celebration, to say thank you to the troops, to welcome them home and say we as a country were at war -- a war that has ended. It was not just America`s military at war. It was America. As yet, there`s been no ticker tape, no marching band, no floats, no welcome home parade anywhere in civilian life. Tomorrow, St. Louis, Missouri, changes that. Tomorrow, St. Louis becomes the first city to wave flags, float floats and bang drums to mark the end of the war and to say welcome home. And it`s all because of two friends who decided if nobody else would hold the nation`s first big welcome home parade for the troops for the end of the Iraq war, well, they would try to do it just as a couple of citizens. So, they started a Facebook page, they collected donations, they met with the mayor and pretty soon, voila, a parade. Floats are being built, signs are painted, marching bands are practicing their routines. The Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales are being harnessed. The parade route is mapped out, hundreds of veterans are planning to march. The parade starts at noon tomorrow, downtown St. Louis. Joining us now the founder and executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Mr. Paul Rieckhoff. Paul, as always, good to see you. PAUL RIECKHOFF, IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETERANS OF AMERICA: Good to be with you. Happy Friday. MADDOW: Thank you. IAVA is going to be represented in St. Louis? RIECKHOFF: Yes, absolutely. We are excited to be involved. We got an Iraq vet named Angela Peacock (ph) who is leading the charge. She`s organizing right now. She sent me a note on Facebook and said they actually need more truck because we`ve got close to 100 vets that are going to be going. Some of them are disabled. So, this has been a real grassroots effort. Angela`s stepping up and she`s going to lead the charge. It`s really exciting. It`s a community effort. And people are coming from all over. Your attention has helped as well. It`s great to have folks get the recognition they deserve. And I hope it`s the first of many. MADDOW: It is amazing that it`s happening. I guess it could be happening anywhere. The closest military base is three hours from St. Louis. Why do you think it`s happening there? RIECKHOFF: You know, I think there is a real sense of community in St. Louis. You see that when the Cards do well. And some local leaders who have been highly motivated stepped up. In the old Army adage, adapt, improvise and over come. So, they had the good idea, and social media helped tremendously. And you got folks like Anheuser-Busch and the mayor and the others who are getting on board. So -- MADDOW: The Mayflower Moving Corporation donated a chunk -- RIECKHOFF: Yes. There`s a great group. They`re called Mission Continues as well. It had a national presence. It`s a patriotic city. So, I hope it`s the first of many. I have already gotten tweets and Facebook messages saying, hey, we want to do it in San Francisco, we want to do this in New York. MADDOW: Oh, cool. RIECKHOFF: So, we hope that continues. MADDOW: Well, Mayor Bloomberg in New York says it`s not going to happen here. And his explanation of why is he said that he`s talked to military leaders and what the Pentagon tells him is that they don`t want it to happen because of Afghanistan, because it`s inappropriate to mark a homecoming when so many people are still rotating out. What`s your reaction to that? RIECKHOFF: I think we hear that. I mean, we know there are folks still fighting and dying in Afghanistan. But why can`t we have two parades? MADDOW: Yes. RIECKHOFF: Let`s have one when that`s over, too? And I think, you know, Mayor Bloomberg is not exactly the guy who marched in lockstep with everything that folks say. So, I wouldn`t be surprising if he changes his mind on this or comes up with an alternative. I think the people of New York have overwhelming responded to us and said they want something. They want someway to recognize these people. So, I hope we can work with mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn and others and come up with other ways to recognize them. MADDOW: There have been city counselors who have advocating for it. It`s funny in New York because you got this three-term mayor, he`s very, very famous. His popularity swings but always stays high. Everybody is sort of just waiting on Bloomberg to make the decision. RIECKHOFF: We can push his hand here. MADDOW: Yes. RIECKHOFF: And, you know, the Gulf War parade costs $5 million. He can fund it himself. So, we can make it happen. We have done it for the Gulf War, we`ve done it so many other times. In New York is either going to lead the way or follow others. And I hope they will be in front. MADDOW: One last question for you. I know that you were Nancy Pelosi`s guest at the State of the Union this week. Are you feeling like Congress is moving forward on veterans` issues in a way that`s -- where they ought to be right now? Or do you feel like there`s big challenges ahead? RIECKHOFF: We`re still playing catch-up. And I think to say to you it was a great message, the president really used the military community and veterans as a model for the values that should embody America the way we should all work together. I think that was a very powerful message. But unemployment is still really high. We got 20 percent nationally in our membership. So, in places like St. Louis, especially after we finish those parades, we got to get them jobs. That`s going to be our number one focus. We`ll do an event at the Super Bowl in Minneapolis next week, and we`ll be doing events around the country to try to get vets jobs. And that`s got to be what Congress takes on. They should do it in a partisan way. MADDOW: Don`t talk to me about the Super Bowl. RIECKHOFF: Go Giants. How about them Giants? MADDOW: My Super Bowl bet this year is with Paul Rieckhoff and I don`t want to say anything else about it because I`m a little superstitious. But nice blue tie. RIECKHOFF: Go Giants. MADDOW: Tiny little hands. Not even afraid. RIECKHOFF: Cool under pressure. You`ll see. MADDOW: Paul Rieckhoff, founder and executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, which is awesome, rabid Giants fan which is weird. Good to see you, man. RIECKHOFF: Great. Come over to our side. MADDOW: Yes, right. It`s not even a side. RIECKHOFF: Yes, it is. MADDOW: Anyway, best new thing in the world, a special billionaire edition, coming up next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The best new thing in the world today is that we have proof that art and life are now inseparable in the 2012 presidential race -- in case Herman Cain didn`t prove it. Here`s how this goes this time: Newton Leroy Gingrich, Republican presidential candidate, has one major source of funding, Las Vegas casino mogul and billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Sheldon Adelson is the guy who`s pumped the billionaire`s equivalent of pocket change, $10 million so far, into a pro-Newt Gingrich`s super PAC. Pre-Citizens United, impossible. Now, anything goes. The only reason Newt Gingrich is a conceivable choice for president in America now is because one guy, one billionaire wants him to be. This is our world now. But now, this is the best new thing in the world part of it, now, the billionaire bringing us the continued candidacy of Newt Gingrich is also getting something else from this year`s presidential politics. He`s getting his own private presidential caucus. He lives in Nevada, right? And Nevada is like Iowa. It holds caucuses instead of primaries. They happen Saturday, February 4th, day before the Super Bowl. And the rules state that they have to be done by 3:00 in the afternoon on Saturday. Of course, Saturday is also the Sabbath in the Jewish faith and for 7th Day Adventist. Adelson is not only a deep-pocketed Republican. He`s also a strictly observant Jew, and strictly observant Jews do not travel or conduct business between sunset on Friday and sunset on Saturday in order to honor the Sabbath. So, this year the Republican Party of Clark County, Nevada, has decided to schedule most of its caucuses at that time regular time, but they decided to let one precinct start caucusing four hours after everybody else has finished to accommodate 500 people including a guy named Sheldon Adelson. That caucus precinct will meet at the Adelson Educational Campus, which is a school named for Sheldon Adelson because he bought it. This was first reported by our awesome friend John Ralston, a reporter at "The Las Vegas Sun" who says this special Sheldon Adelson caucus, quote, "seemed destined to cause controversy and further humiliation for the party and the state." Yes, yes, it does. Sheldon gets his own caucus held in a building with his name on it after the other caucuses close. But also, yes, this is handy thing because it eliminates the line between politics and art and satire moot. And that is the best new thing in the world today. That does it for us tonight. Now, you have to go to prison -- now. Go! THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END