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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 04/20/12

Guests: E.J. Dionne, Bob Cavnar

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: And Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. Watch this. This is from NBC News from 1979. So, its 33 years ago but it`s really uncanny. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: In the Gulf of Mexico oil workers are trying to handle much larger oil spill, a burning offshore oil well is something 30,000 barrels of crude each day into the Gulf. Airplanes are to be used to drop chemical on the oil but there`s a shortage of aviation fuel down there. The workers are also putting up a mile along boom. They are putting it into place and trying to contain the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico. WILLIE MONROE, NBC NEWS: Oil skimming vessels are put into service to catch any patches of oil which may get through. About five miles offshore, another team of private oil containment workers is prepared to intercept drifting oil but it gets to hand. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Those were the pitiful means by which we had to respond to a giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico more than 30 years ago. That was it. That`s all we had. We had boom. We had skimmers and chemical dispersant dropped by air. Thirty one years after that oil spill and those pitiful means of responding to it, 31 years after that big spill and we had a new spill. It was like time had not passed at all. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: At this hour, BP crews are in the air and on boats looking for oil at the mouth of the Mississippi river. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: U.S. military officials tell NBC News a list of options are being put together that could include sending additional plane, boats, skimmers and booms. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Planes, boat, skimmers and booms. So, boom and skimmers and chemicals dispersant dropped by air. Same in 2010 as it was in 1979. The BP oil spill started two years ago today. And one of the shock things about that disaster is it made us all realize that over the course of 30 years, cleanup technology, what is available for us to respond when there was a big horrible oil spill hadn`t really progressed at all. We were essentially trying to wipe the oil up with especially the large jumbo size versions of paper towels like we are still stock in 1979. I mean, the BP disaster was a real wake up call for this country. It started today back in 2010 when the initial explosion killed 11 oil workers instantly. But the BP catastrophic spill went on and on out of control for three months. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Over the past couple of decades as the oil industry has made the kind of poppet that turns safe into sinners and sinners into kings, that industry has made an overt choice. They could have spent those resources. Some of them maybe on developing new clean up technology, new containment technology for spills. But they didn`t. They can say they did if they want to, but who cares what they say at this point. It`s clear that they didn`t. If they had, the response, out here that this spill wouldn`t be so pitiful, booms that do not work and our food out wipe, bamboo pickets to hold the boom this place that doesn`t hold the boom in place at the first sign of a slight wind, diversion barriers that don`t divert oil, not really. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The BP oil spill proved that oil industry had not made any progress at all in 30 years. And that sort of shocked the country. It was a shock to our collective psyche as a nation. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. CHARLIE MELANCON (D, LOUISIANA: Our culture is threatened. Our coastal economy is threatened. And everything that I know and love is at risk. Even though this marsh lies along coastal Louisiana, these are America`s wetlands. Excuse me. I just wish to submit for the record. Thank you. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The BP disaster was devastating. They turned us around as a country on this issue. How could it be that after 30 years of progress in drilling, there had been zero progress in cleaning up the disasters created by drilling? How could it be that after 30 years, the only tools we had were the same old ineffective 30-year-old technology, boom and skimmers and chemicals dispersants dropped by air? Well, now. Now in 2012, now that it`s been two years since that big wake up call, two years since the BP disaster, the oil industry today wants to assure the nation that they are now fully prepared for any future oil spill because they`ve got lots and lots of boom and skimmers and chemical dispersants dropped by air. Seriously, today on the second anniversary of the BP disaster, the oil industry is crowing about how prepared they are if something this big ever happens again. In particular, the industry funded marine spill response corporation wants you to know they now have 17 skimming vessels up from seven before the 2010 Gulf spill. They now have 65,000 total feet of ocean boom set aside for the Gulf of Mexico. And they now have two dedicated aircraft for spraying chemical dispersants on the spill. It`s the exact same thing. It`s the exact same stuff that didn`t work 30 years ago let alone two years ago. They now just have more of it. The 1979 disaster was a totally out of control disaster that took place at about 200 feet of water. Now, with essentially no additional means of cleaning messes, we are now drilling, not until 200 feet of water but in 5,000 feet of water. And on this second anniversary of the BP disaster, the fact that the oil industry has just invested in more of the same old 30-year-old technology, that is pretty much the good news because at least they are doing something. You may remember that after the BP disaster President Obama announced he was creating a blue ribbon commission to investigate what went wrong and to tell us what needed to be fixed. Now, in Washington, of course, a blue ribbon commission is essentially a way to make stories go away for a while. But, on anniversaries of disasters they tend to come back. And the blue ribbon commission report on the BP disaster, two years after that disaster today, says that actually the oil industry has done a heck of a lot more than the United States Congress has. The oil industry which is essentially done nothing has done more than congress, which actually has done nothing. The co-chair of the bipartisan oil spill commission reports that in the two years since the BP disaster, quote, "Congress has yet to enact one piece of legislation, not one, to make drilling any safer." The oil industry at least went out and bought more boom. Congress did nothing. Actually, there`s an asterisks on the nothing that they did. This week, House speaker John Boehner finally passed his long awaited highway bill through the house. And there was something related oil drilling and the oil industry inside that bill. Tucked inside the highway bill was this, quote, "the federal energy regulatory commission shall not later than 30 days after receipts of an application issue a permit without additional conditions for the construction, operation and maintenance of the Keystone Oil Pipeline. The Keystone Pipeline would transport something called Tar Sands oil throughout the American Midwest. As bad as we are of cleaning up crude oil on the its spills in the ocean, we have no idea how to clean up spills of Tar Sands oil. Nome. So, Congress`s role since the BP disaster is to do nothing to improve the safety of drilling. But they are trying to force new oil projects to be approved even when we know overtly that they are not safe. They are insisting that the safety concerns be overridden. And that is sort of reflective of the overall politics on this issue now. It`s as if BP never happened. As if there never was catastrophic oil spill off the Gulf of Mexico, the biggest offshore spill in American history that continues to leave those who live along with Gulf coast with what appears to be lifelong health problems. The fight in this year`s presidential election when it comes to oil is the Republican side accusing President Obama of waging a war on oil. Accusing President Obama of being too anti-drilling and the Democratic response to that has been, actually, we`re drilling way more than the last administration did. We`ve opened up more territory to drilling off the Atlantic coast. When these are the terms of the debate, which party is more pro-drilling when that`s the fight, I`m more pro-drilling, no, I`m more pro-drilling. When that`s the terms of the political debate, it`s not like we`re progressing in leaps bounds toward making things safe. You can see that in the total lack of action by congress on this issue. And frankly, you can see it in the behavior of the administration. About year after the BP oil spill, we had the top offshore drilling regulator from the Obama administration, as a guest on this show, a man named Michael Bromwich. That interview did not go well. Mr. Bromwich appeared on the show that night in order to defend new rules his agency put in place in the wake of BP disaster. Among the new rules, a requirement that oil company now state which containment systems that will have at the ready in the event of a blowout and under seen well. This is essentially an emergency system to cap a leak. You have to say what you use to cap a leak. What of the main containment systems favor by Mr. Bromwich`s agency, was something called helix. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MICHAEL BROMWICH, DIRECTOR, BUREAU OF ENERGY: We now have a very different set of containment equipment and plans than we did then. And so, that should make the American people and you feel much differently about deep water drilling opinion. MADDOW: I felt better when I read your reassurances about it and then I started looking into the basis on which you were issuing them. So, OK, let`s talk about this Helix well containment group, OK? The five of the eight new permits you had give out before tonight, went to companies that contracted with Helix Well Containment Group. Helix is operating something called the helix fast response system which you have been bragging about the newest containment technology that they have. This week, Helix revealed themselves, that by their own assessment it could take them 17 days to contain a spill, 17 days is the new fast response that we`re supposed to feel better about in terms of containing a disaster that`s already happened. That to me doesn`t feel like a great advance that would justify the type of rash issuing of permits that you just done over the last 33 days. BROMWICH: Well, these haven`t been the rash u issuance of permits. As I said, we issued none until the later part of February. We were criticized for dragging our heels on not issuing any permits for several months after lifting of the depot or drilling. It was actually lifted in October, and not in February. And the reason we didn`t was because the containment capabilities were not yet ready. You`re right, 17 days is not fabulous. But 17 day s a lot better than 87 days, which is what it took to contain McCord well. (END VIDEOTAPE) MADDOW: Wow, 17 days. Not fabulous but not being able to stop an underwater oil gusher for two and a half weeks. That was good enough? Full steam ahead? Today, that same agency published an editorial in the "Houston Chronicle" talking about all the lessons learned from the BP disaster. In it, they describe all of their strong new safety standards that the oil industry is now required to meet. You may note that the head of that agency is no longer Michael Bromwich, different guy. New guy named James Watson. Whatever happened to my old friend, Michael Bromwich? Whatever happen to the top offshore oil drilling regulator in the United States government instead of two and half week-long oil spill was oki doki? He`s landed a brand new gig. He`s left the administration and is now working for the oil industry. Mr. Bromwich is now pitching services like crisis management and strategic advising to the same oil company he was tasked with regulating in the wake of the BP disaster. But, don`t worry. Quote, "Mr. Bromwich has pledged not to directly lobby the offshore drilling agencies that he helped create." This is what our oil politics is like now. This is the sense of urgency we have around safety and oil spills. Two years after the worst oil spill in all of recorded American history. Would our politics have been worse if we haven`t had that spill? Is it possible that they could be worse? Joining us now is Bob Cavnar, a 30 year veteran of the oil and gas industry. He is the author of "Disaster on the Horizon, the story behind the deep water well blow out." Mr. Cavnar, it`s great to see you again. Thank you for being here. BOB CAVNAR, FORMER OIL INDUSTRY EXECUTIVE: Great to be with you, Rachel. MADDOW: Bob. In that explanation of what sort of happened, a brief overview of what`s happened in the last couple of year, did I get anything wrong there? CAVNAR: No. Rachel, you`re pretty much right down the middle and this makes want to bang my head on my desk when I`ve watched what`s not happened over the last few years, very, very frustrating. MADDOW: Is it true that Congress specifically has not done anything in terms of safety regulations since the BP disaster? In terms of following the law and drilling legally, things have not gotten better at all? CAVNAR: That`s precisely correct. In fact, it`s worse than that, Rachel. The house actually passed three bills this last year that luckily didn`t go through the Senate. But the bills that they passed actually reduced the amount of environmental review for new offshore leases. And they cloaked it in a mantle of jobs, new jobs by shortening or eliminating the environmental review time. MADDOW: Well, in terms of what the oil companies have the offer, I mean, obviously, he regulatory process is supposed to be a bit of adversarial process. You expect that the companies will pursue what`s best for their bottom line and then they are constrained by the government telling them it won`t be best for your bottom line but you got to do this in terms of safety and in terms of protecting the country. But, if the regulatory environment is still so differential to the oil companies to take care of everything on their own, have the oil companies, themselves, come up with anything new in terms of, I`ll ask you specifically about cleaning up oil on the water, are we any better at it? CAVNAR: You know. We`re actually not. There`s really been no advancing in surface remediation, surface clean up. The skimmers are the same skimmers. They may have more skimmers, but skimmers don`t work in ocean waves. They only work in flat water. And so, oil that does come to the surface does end up in the wetlands and does end up on the beach. Keep in mind too, that in deep water, when you have a spill like this, almost 90 percent of the oil never even comes to the surface. It`s in a deep water column damaging the sea life and could be there for months and years. We don`t know how long it would last there. MADDOW: Is there any progress to report in terms of shutting down deep water spills in terms of dealing with deep water emergencies? I remember back covering the BP spill while it`s still on-going for those 87 days. And you hear people talk about this is equivalent to doing engineering on the moon, trying to invent equipment to operate in environments for - not just Americans but humans don`t have - don`t really have experienced operating. Are we any better in terms of dealing with deep water emergencies? CAVNAR: You know, the challenge we have here in deep water is control the well itself. We have done nothing to improve the primary control device which is the blow out preventer. And so, we still have that almost 50 percent failure rate that you and I have talked about before in deep water. So, something does go wrong, there`s a 45 of 50 percent chance that well will going to lose control. There are a couple of well containment organizations that you mentioned in your introduction that is in place. But the thing that everyone ignores is the fact that there`s a massive drilling rig that sits above these wells in five or 10,000 feet of pipe that goes from the rig to the ocean floor. That has to go somewhere if it sinks. And generally, it`s going to be on top of the well head. And so, I think that 17-day number is a really, really wild number because you don`t know how you can get on top of that well head if you have a rig laying on top of it. That`s something that the industry just simply hasn`t dealt with. MADDOW: In terms of the overall politics and response in terms of the country, obviously, you`ve written a book about this disaster. You and I talked about it while it was going on. We talked since about the political response to it, the technological response to it by the companies, what do you think it would take if it wasn`t the Bp disaster? What do you think it would take? It could take anything in order to get us to actually mobilize as a country on the safety side of this? You don`t have to be hostile to petroleum as a product to want it to be something that we deal with safely as a country. But, I don`t know what else could urge us toward progress in that direction, if not this. CAVNAR: You know. Unfortunately, Rachel, I think the only thing that will motivate the politicians to do something is another catastrophe. There were already been three other incidents in the last year, not nearly as serious as a deep water horizon, but potentially that serious. I`m really afraid to get the American public`s attention, it`s going to take another incident where oil is coming onto people`s beaches and people are going to say, wait a minute. I thought the industry fixed this two years ago or three years ago. Until that happens, it`s clear to me that there`s going to be no leadership from the government regulators or the politicians. It`s going to have to come from us to make it, to fix this particular situation. MADDOW: Bob Cavnar, an energy industry veteran, author of `Disaster on Horizon." Bob, it`s good to have you here. Thank you very much. I appreciate it. CAVNAR: Great to be with you, Rachel. Thank you very much. MADDOW: All right. On one important reproductive rights issue, the Mitt Romney campaign has decided campaign has decided it wants to be to the right of the Republicans in the legislature of the great state of Oklahoma, which is a hard place to find space. Plus, a magnificent best new thing in the world tonight despite with the rest of American League, think about it. Stick around. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: As of today, Republicans in the great state of Wisconsin have succeeded in all but outlawing one kind of abortion in that state. Congratulations, Wisconsin. You can`t just outlaw abortion in America. It`s a constitutionally protected right, but what you can do if you are very anti-abortion legislature and or governor, is you can target doctors with new just for them regulations that are designed to intimidate doctors into no longer providing abortion services. Republicans in Wisconsin have targeted medical abortion. You don`t have to always have surgery in order to get an abortion. In lots of cases, particularly early cases, you can take medication instead of having surgery. But, as of today, you can no longer get a medication abortion in Wisconsin, at least not from Planned Parenthood which accounts for a majority of the state`s providers. Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin suspended nonsurgical abortions in the state starting today as new state law took effect there. A new state law which is establishes criminal penalties including prison time for doctors. The new law signed by Republican governor, Scott Walker, earlier this month sets up requirements for exactly how a doctor needs to talk to a patient before any of abortion and also includes requirements for specific exams and specific doctors visits, but before and after the medication is prescribed for a non-surgical abortion. But, the new regulations that are going to affect as of today, a woman seeking a nonsurgical medication abortion in Wisconsin would be required to see the same doctor a total of three times. And if the woman doesn`t want to do that, if she wants to do the post abortion follow up, not at all or with her regular doctor, for example, instead of doctor that provided the abortion medication to her, that first doctor who provided the abortion medication would face felony charges, could be sent to prison for three and a half years. Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin decided that was an insane risk to put doctors through. So, they are suspending all nonsurgical abortions in that state that had been the choice of a quarter of their patients in Wisconsin, but not anymore, after today. The state`s largest medical association, the Wisconsin Medical Society had asked Scott Walker to veto the bill last month saying it would infringe on the doctor-patient relationship. Scott Walker, of course, did not take that advice from the Wisconsin medical society. He did not veto the bill targeting nonsurgical abortions. He sign id it into law along wind another anti-abortion bill and bill removing contraception from the states sex Ed curriculum. That will help. Today, the president of the Wisconsin society called the new law, quote, "an unprecedented intrusion into the patient doctor relationship arguing that it requires doctors to follow procedures that are not best medical practices." In other words, doctors in Wisconsin are being forced to choose between providing best medical standard, best care for their patients and going to prison or doing what the Republican in the state legislature and Scott Walker tell them to do, even if it`s not what the doctor thinks is best for his or her patient. We have asked Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin if they ultimately plan to sue the state over this new law. They told us that all options are on the table right now. In Oklahoma, abortion rights advocates are already suing the state over a new regulation on nonsurgical abortion there. The Oklahoma law would restrict what kind of drugs doctors and used for a medication, abortion. A judge has blocked that law from taking a fact until the case is decided. Just a few weeks ago, a judge in Oklahoma overturned a new law that would require doctors to not just perform state mandated ultrasounds, but force a woman seeking an abortion to view the image. The Republican led legislature in Oklahoma has so far been undeterred. Yesterday they sent the state`s governor a bill that would require doctors to tell women they can listen to a fetal heartbeat before an abortion. Oklahoma though, is something of a unique case. Remember it was Oklahoma that voted to ban Sharia Law back in 2010. Last year the Oklahoma legislature passed a bill to make cooking hash punishable by life in prison, hash? Yes, hash. The Oklahoma legislature also passed a birther bill last year. They passed it. It passed by a landslide, 77-13 in the Oklahoma house on the same day that President Obama release d his long form birth certificate. Nothing is too radical for Oklahoma Republican in the state legislature. Nothing except it turns out person hood is too radical for them. The bill to ban all abortion in Oklahoma and ban hormonal birth control by defining a fertilized egg as a person, of this personhood bill has been kicking around the legislature in Oklahoma. But, it was derailed yesterday. The Republican house speaker saying the bill will not even get a hearing because the majority of the Republican caucus privately voted against hearing it. Republican lawmakers apparently voiced a variety of concerns including words that it could ban in vitro fertilization, it would, and some birth control. I think it also would. Personhood is too radical for Republican lawmakers in Oklahoma which should probably not some as a huge surprise since we also know that the whole person hood idea is too radical for Mississippi voters. Perhaps the most anti-abortion electorate in the country voted down a personhood measure by double digits. But, knowing that personhood, that defining a fertilized egg as a person, is too radical for Oklahoma Republicans. And too radical for Mississippi voters, makes it all the more amazing that personhood is not too radical for the likely Republican nominee for president this year. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Would you have supported the constitutional amendment that would establish the definition of life at conception? MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Absolutely. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Mitt Romney`s position on abortion and contraception was already to the right of the Mississippi electorate. Now it`s also to the right of the Republicans in the most conservative state legislature in the country. The Republicans in the great birther, anti-Sharia, no cooking hash state of Oklahoma. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (VIDEO CLIP PLAYING) MADDOW: That was the best new thing in the world last night, the silent electric pizza delivery scooter in the Netherland`s that had been modified to make a fake engine noise sound along with a guy going yummy, yummy, pizza, pizza. In a way that it was linked to the throttle of the electric scooter. This is a picture of the scooter getting a test on the streets of Netherland cracking up all the cyclist and pedestrians, (INAUDIBLE) means yummy. (INAUDIBLE). Cracking everybody up. Now tonight, usually the best new thing in the world on a Friday night is replaced by a cocktail moment. However, I`ve got to get up early tomorrow to go fly to Milwaukee. I`m doing a book tour thing in Milwaukee tomorrow and then I`m doing a book tour thing in Kansas City, Missouri on Sunday. So, that means tonight is a school night, so that means no cocktails even though it`s Friday. However, that does leave us room for a best new thing in the world tonight. And tonight`s best new thing in the world is scientifically designed by the guy who is best at it in the entire world to make you feel happy, maybe a little bit teary in a good way, vaguely uplift and confident. It is just what we need. Best new thing in the world tonight, coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Mitt Romney got some good news in the polls today. The former Massachusetts governor bumped along for most of the Republican primary season with overall national support in the low 20s. But now that Mr. Romney has vanquished his challengers and was pretty much on to the general election, how does he do now in a head to head matchup against President Obama? The answer according to a new poll from the Pew Research Center is not too badly. Mr. Romney, trailing the president by just four points, it is close, right? So, that`s the good news for Mitt Romney. Mr. 22 or 23 percent is now Mr. 45 percent. But, if you look a little deeper into the polling, you`ll see that Mitt Romney has also received some bad news this week. At least, some unsettling news about where it is that he is doing well and where he is not doing well. From the same Pew poll, these are the results among women voters under the age of 50. Mitt Romney losing women under the age of 50 by 18 points. Women voters age 50 and up, so older women voters, Mr. Romney loses that group by seven points to President Obama. How about men under 50? Mitt Romney loses just barely but he loses men under 50 by one point. But now look at this. Men over 50, let`s call them the silver backs. Men over 50, show that one, way there he is. Mitt Romney finally wins one. He finally finds his club among men over the age of 50, Mitt Romney is the clear choice, men over 50, an 11 point favorite. Mitt Romney over Barack Obama. Now, Mr. Romney is losing every other age and gender demographic. But, when it comes to the older men, he`s winning. So, there`s one for him, one out of four. And then, his one win, his advantage in his lone winning demographic category is a little more than half Mr. Obama`s advantage in the strongest of his three winning categories. So, Romney`s best among older men. That his best among older men is only roughly half as good as Obama`s best. That`s bad news for Mr. Romney. I mean, if you think about it statistically, right, if only men were voting in the next election, if the race were being held a century ago, Mr. Romney would be delighted with this turn of events. In 2012, however, in these modern times, sadly for him, women vote a lot. Political writer Charlie Cook, spelling this out today in a terrific column for "the National Journal." Mr. Cook writing quote, "given that women generally make up 51 to 52 percent of the electorate, when ever Republican candidates lose women by more than they win among men, they can skip ordering champagne on election night, yes. But Romney campaign knows they have this problem. I mean, it`s great for them that they are winning among older men and some men overall because they are winning so much among older men, just as they are winning among white voters overall. But the campaign has been staring into certain doom with Latino voters where Republicans have lost all the ground that President Bush gained and then some. They do need do not expect to win vague among younger voters but they do need to win some of the college crowd. But, most importantly, given that they are a majority of the electorate, the Romney campaign absolutely, positively must improve their candidate`s standing among women. Women are most of the voters. If they don`t improve among women, it will not matter if Mitt Romney pledges to sign the dream act on the first day of residency. It won`t matter if Mitt Romney offers to personally pay off every student loan in America, and maybe he could. If Mitt Romney cannot convince more women to vote for him, than the number who says, they would vote for him, now, he has no path to the White House. You want to see what the Romney campaign did today. They hired a new spokesman. They hired a man named Richard Grenell. Mr. Grenell is He`s a veteran of the second Bush administration. He worked for President Bush, George W. Bush as controversial U.N. ambassador, John Bolton. Richard Grenell is also a veteran of the twitters from January 22nd, quote, "if Newt does one, would we call Callista, the first lady, second mistress or the third wife." There`s a lot about Callista Gingrich actually. Quote, "Michelle Williams looks like Callista Gingrich before she puts on the wig." For March 13th, do you think her hair snaps on? March 6th. Callista stands there like she`s wife number one. He clauses that up also to say of the secretary of state, quote, "Hillary is starting to look like Madeline Albright. Also note to children, when your mom is a grandmother, do not her wear backless dresses. There`s some nice stuff about me, which is a little weird. Quote, "Forced to watch MSNBC on Jim TV, "the Rachel Maddow" commercials can`t possibly attract any viewers aside from Justin Bieber fans. Dead-ringer." See, the hilarity there is that I look like a boy which is always hilarious. Also, there`s this one. Rachel Maddow needs to take a breath and put on a necklace. Here is one that he deleted even before today when he started deleting everything. This one was about the first lady, Michelle Obama, quote, "sweating on the east room carpet." That`s nice. After politico.com broke the story today, Mr. Grenell wrote to say that he apologized for his tweeting. He said his tweets were meant to be tongue and cheek and humorous and he would now remove them from twitter. Mr. Grenell did do a rather enthusiastic scrubbing of his own line profile today after he was announced as Mr. Romney`s spokesman. And after all that, delete, delete, deleting, now the Romney campaign can get back to their prime campaign goal right now, which is to improve with women the perception of the candidate who just hired this new guy as his spokesman. Joining us now, E.J. Dionne. "Washington Post" columnist, senior fellow of the Brooklyn Institution, MSNBC contributor, and all-around gentleman. Mr. Dionne, it`s nice to see you. E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: It`s good to be here. I assume I`m here for my personal expertise in older white guy. (LAUGHTER) DIONNE: But I got to say to that guy, Grenell. How dare he say anything bad about you? MADDOW: That`s very nice. What he said about me is the at least of my worries. I`ve got to wonder if the Romney campaign, if we see any sign that they understand that even if you`re just talking about like the Callista Gingrich ones, if that they see any sign that they understand that a long string of really nasty sexist tweets about Callista Gingrich`s appearance might be alienating to people who might consider voting for Mr. Romney? DIONNE: Apparently, not. I mean, I find it astonishing that given their problem among women they didn`t look at that stuff. And you ask the question, what can Romney do with women? When they could fire this guy or they could put Mitt Romney on your show to personally apologize to you for this? I think that would be -- MADDOW: I`d endorse that. DIONNE: It would be fun to see him on this show. But, you know. The obvious thing for him to do is start talking a lot more to older working women where he may have a way to get at it. And then he kind of tried to talk to working women the other day and he insulted the cookies. And that sort of got rid of the whole story. It`s really surprising so far how flat footed they are on this question. They had a few good days when they are playing off Hilary Rosen comments but even those that didn`t get them far especially when Ann Romney said that was the best day of her life. I mean, she is his best asset, by the way. And I guess I would use her more. MADDOW: E.J., on the other side of this, if you are the Obama campaign and you`re looking at those very roughly sketch demographics, does the Obama campaign have a potential old white guy strategy? I mean, is there some way that the Obama campaign could pitch, themselves, to the demographic of one big demographic, they really are, losing to Mitt Romney. DIONNE: Well, I think they have some potential because Mitt Romney is who he is. Barack Obama lost working class white men by a lot and Democrats in 2010 lost them by even more. They lost by 30 points among working class white men. Romney`s class profile, the, I like to fire people, and his 14 percent tax rate, I think that gives Obama potential. And I think you`ve seen Obama, particularly, in Ohio, also in Michigan. But right through the Midwest trying to emphasis how his policies have been good for those folks, the auto bail out being number one. And I think what he`s got to do with those older white men is play the class card a little bit against Romney. I think liberals in general have to learn how to talk to older white working class guys because they have a lot to be angry about. I mean, their wages have really gone down a lot in the last 20, 25 years. And Liberals ought to be able to talk about that. And I think Obama is going to have to talk about that. MADDOW: Do you think the Medicare issue factors in there at all in terms just talking - talking to older voter of every stripe? I think, actually, maybe particularly. It`s a female older voters talking about the Romney- Ryan budget ideas about Medicare, this idea of sort of turning Medicare into a coupon program? Does that work as a bigger pitch to older voters in way that might be more successful than in a typical democrat year? DIONNE: It does to some degree. But, remember, the Republicans are playing very careful politics with this. And they are saying no, no, no. None of these cuts are going to affect you because this older generation in general and men in particular are one of their best constituencies. Remember, all the old new dealers, most of them have gone to their eternal reward. So, this particular cohort is a more conservative cohort of older voters than the one that came before. So, the Republicans know they`ve got to pitch to them. But, I do think that health care issues and Medicare give him some potential and the Ryan budget I think is a wide opening because women tend to be more for safety net than men. MADDOW: E.J. Dionne, "Washington Post" columnist, senior fellow at the Brooklyn Institution and MSNBC contributor. E.J., thank you for springing to my defense. DIONNE: My pleasure. Anytime. MADDOW: And if Mitt Romney ever does say yes, to being on this show, I will send you a bouquet of something. DIONNE: Thank you. MADDOW: Thank you, E.J. DIONNE: Good luck on the book tour this weekend. MADDOW: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. I`m really looking for it actually. All right. Best new thing in the world is still ahead. And the best new thing in the world tonight is a musical addition. Stay tuned. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Today, we know more about that army black hawk helicopter that went down in Afghanistan yesterday. We now know that all four Americans on board the helicopter were killed in the crash. According to the U.S. military the four were on their site of a suicide bombing in Helmand province. The black hawk was a Medevac helicopter and the Americans were on their way to provide aid to the wounded and transport them to a nearby hospital. We still don`t know what brought the helicopter down, but we`re told that bad weather is the most likely cause. Now, the Taliban did post a claim for responsibility on its English language Web site saying they shot down the black hawk with a rocket propelled grenade. But U.S. sources are casting doubt on that claim and the Taliban has been known to claim responsibility for things they did not do in the past. Back here at home, U.S. service members who served in Iraq at the tail end of that war are continuing to trickle home months after the war ended in December. This was the scene this week in Minnesota, with 80 U.S. soldiers coming home from Kuwait. They were responsible for escorting the convoys of supplies and thousands of American troops leaving Iraq and crossing over into Kuwait. Over the next few weeks, nearly 3,000 of the troops from 34th infantry red bulls will be coming home in Minnesota. They were all part of the state`s single largest deployment since World War II. And it`s because of those Minnesotans returning home over the next few weeks, we have news to report tonight on the nationwide grassroots effort to welcome home Iraq war veterans as we have done for returning veterans for every war in modern history, eventually. The twin cities, Minneapolis, St. Paul, their parade to mark the end of the Iraq war and say welcome home and thank you to the troops, twin cities parade was planned for tomorrow, this Saturday. But because Minnesota is right in the middle of this big rotation of troops coming home from Kuwait, the twin cities have decided to postpone the parade. So, as many people can participate as possible, organizers tell us, they were contacted by both the military and friends and family of the 34th infantry red bulls who basically said, you guys, we are almost home. We all want to go. Wait for us. So there`s no specific new date set yet for the end of the Iraq war parade but they are aiming for late July. We will let you know when we know more. Also, Richmond, Virginia. Richmond, Virginia, end of the Iraq war is set for May 19th. Now, there had been some worry that Richmond wouldn`t be able to pull it off. They need to raise money for the costs, particularly the police costs of the event. Organizers had set the rather intimidating goal of needing to raise $50,000 for the Richmond, Virginia, parade by today. Today was their deadline and they hit it. So the parade is on. Again, May 19th, Richmond, Virginia. They do say, they still need to raise some more money for costs of the event but at least they now know. They can cover the cost of the police support for the parade and it`s on the calendar in pen. The first of these parades was in St. Louis. Then there was a big one in Tucson. There was another big one in Houston. Last weekend this was the scene at Melbourne, Florida, thousands of people in downtown Melbourne, Florida, for the welcome home veterans` parade. The parade itself included over 650 veterans. Melbourne is about an hour from Orlando and every veteran in the parade was given a ticket to theme parks like Walt Disney World and sea world. Next up on the Iraq war, veterans` parade, duck it. We will be in parade in Media, Pennsylvania, that is the next one is set for April 28th, that`s for April 28th, that`s a week from tomorrow. Then Des Moines, Iowa, it is going to host one in June. And then in New York City, apparently never, because even though New York City is where we civilians traditionally have welcomed home the troops at the end of the wars, the Pentagon said they do not want that for Iraq veterans in New York. Everywhere else in the country, where people are hiding parade, they think its fine, but, not New York City for some reasons. So, New York veterans of the Iraq war do not get a public welcome home and the country does not get a chance to say welcome home and thank you and we`re glad the war is over in a traditional New York City kind of way for some reason. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Happy Friday, best new thing in the world today. The Boston Red Sox first played their game at Fenway Park 100 years ago today, April 20th, 1912 so they opened Fenway on April 20th on 424 as a marijuana joke. No, I`m kidding. In any case, that first game back in 1912, the Red Sox played the New York highlanders, a team that would eventually become the dreaded New York Yankees. And in that first game, Boston won. Today, this afternoon, Fenway hosted a centennial rematch complete with old school uniforms that matched what they wore 100 years ago. So, if you have a plain, white baseball cap, you are now officially a Red Sox fan because that`s what they wore in there`s first ever Fenway game, and they tried to pass things offense throw backs. Now, today, sad to say the Yankees highlanders won the game against the red sox which for me, s not the best new thing in the world today. The thing that is, something I have frankly been wait are for weeks, ever since the Red Sox put out a teaser about it. You know composure John Williams? He is the guy who composed the music from "star wars." John Williams is also the guy who composed the music for -- jaws. Little known John Williams fact, he also wrote the theme to a little something we like to call NBC news. Basically, if you have hummed it, John Williams wrote it. And John Williams has just written a little something for the Red Sox. It`s called fanfare for Fenway. About three weeks ago, the Red Sox released a little teaser of video, a 20-second e excerpt of the fun fare just to get the blood pumping up every red Sox fan in the country. Today, just before the game, we got finally to hear the whole thing, but not before the Red Sox got us all worked up by inviting 214 former Red Sox players, managers, and coaches on to the field including 92-year-old, Johnny Pesky and 93-year-old Bobby Darin. They took the field in wheelchairs. Yes, that was just the warm up. Then, came the pitch. John Williams conducting the Boston pops playing fanfare for Fenway. (VIDEO CLIP PLAYING) MADDOW: Somebody is cutting up onions in the studio, obviously. Perhaps my allergies are acting up. I need to be alone with my feelings. I`m a crier. You can`t do this to me. Happy 100th birthday Fenway Park. You are the best old thing in the world, almost every day. And your new fanfare is the new best thing tonight. Now that we must do what we all do every Friday night at this time, we must all, together, joined hands and go, three, two, one. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END