IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 05/11/12

Guests: Ed Rendell, Michael Moore

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Michael. Thank you. Have a great weekend, my friend. DYSON: You, too. MADDOW: Thanks to you at home as well for staying with us for the next hour. We`ve got a big show tonight. Michael Moore is going to be here tonight. It`s going to be great show. Yay! When you go to fill up your car with gas this weekend, in most case - - not everywhere -- but in most instances, when you go to fill up your car with gas, you will find that the business end of the gas pump looks a bit like this. There`s the triggery handle thing that you squeeze to make the gas come out of on the right there. There`s the little nozzle part that the gas comes out of. But over the nozzle part is the part that we have circled in yellow there. It`s this big, black plastic hood. That big, black plastic hood has been there in gas stations in most places in the country since 1994. See, most of the air pollution, most of the smog, right, caused by burning gas as a fuel for cars is what comes out of the tail pipe of the car. But we also cause air pollution and we cause smog in the way that we fill up our cars with gas. The gas fumes that escape while you are pumping gas into your car, those fumes are air pollution. And that big, black rubber hood thing was designed to capture the fumes while you were pumping gas. So, yes, you are still putting gas into your car, which when you burn it in your car will create air pollution. But you are avoiding creating a second source of air pollution with the big stink of fumes when you fill up. Since the black hood thing went into place, since that regulation was put into effect back in the `90s, auto manufacturers have changed the way that gas tanks are designed. They have changed it to accommodate that concern about the fumes that escape while you`re filling up. So, for nearly 20 years, we have been counting on that big, black plastic thing on the hose to take care of the big stink air pollution problem when you fill up at the pump. But now, because auto manufacturers are taking account of it, they are taking care of that problem inside the car. They have rebuilt gas tanks so the gas tanks themselves, in the car, actually deal with most of the problem. Because of that, those big, black, plastic, rubbery hood things that go over the gas pump nozzle that make it a little bit harder to fill up your car, but they make it a lot harder to fill up your motorcycle or your gas can, those big, black plastic rubbery things over the gas pump nozzle thing, those are going to go away. Quote, "The Obama administration and the Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday, they intend to phase out the rubber boots on gas pump handles now used to capture harmful gasoline vapors while refueling cars. The White House decision is part of the latest government wide review of federal regulations." According to a statement from the president on this, quote, "We will remain vigilant when it comes to eliminating regulations that are not necessary, or that impose unnecessary burdens on America`s families and businesses." Getting rid of the regulation that requires that big, plastic boot on the gas handle, the White House says will save the people who own gas stations a few thousands dollars, and that will in turn make your gas prices lower, which is better for you and better for the economy. Now, depending on whether or not your car has an upgraded gas tank that will capture the fumes so that the gas pump handle doesn`t have to, this rule, getting rid of the hood on the gas pump handle may also result in you getting a little high for free the next time you fill up. So, maybe that`s kind of a benefit too, I mean, provided what you feel is high rather than just sick or asthmatic. But, hey, they were looking for a regulation to get rid of and they decided looking at the gas pump handle that this was the regulation they were going to get rid of. On the campaign trail, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney spent all week says he doesn`t want to talk about super anti-gay rights. He definitely doesn`t want to talk about medical marijuana. He definitely doesn`t want to talk about contraception or abortion. I mean, he has policies on these things that he wants to pursue, once he becomes president, but he doesn`t want to talk about these things while campaigning unless he`s talking to a very specific audience that`s going to love him on those subjects. I`ll be talking about that later in the show. What Mitt Romney says he wants to talk about instead of all that other stuff, right, what he says he wants to talk about is the economy. He wants to talk about the economy and the Obama record that he says has been so bad on the economy. And when you let Mitt Romney do that, when you let him talk about what he says is the thing he wants to talk about in this campaign, the reason why he`s running, this is what he says. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hey, Mr. President, you`re getting it all wrong. He has more than doubled the number of regulations, the rate of regulation he`s adding to our nation across America. Regulators just multiplying like proverbial rabbits, and making it harder and harder for enterprises to grow and to understand what their future might be. This administration`s regulations are even invading the freedom of every day Americans. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Regulations invading the freedom of every day Americans. You know, this is not a sidebar or boutique or niche issue for the Romney campaign. This is essentially their central critique of what is wrong with the Obama administration. This is the main argument that they have got against Barack Obama on the economy. It is the main reason they say that Mitt Romney should replace President Obama in the White House. It`s the main thing that he wants to talk about. It`s how many new regulations Barack Obama has put into place. Barack Obama has put fewer regulations into place than George W. Bush did. There were more new government regulations created in the first three years of the George W. Bush administration than there were in the first three years of the Obama administration. Barack Obama has slowed down the pace of new regulations when you compare him with the last guy, who was a Republican. So, it is not true when Mitt Romney says that President Obama is creating some unprecedented number of new regulations. A shorter way of saying it`s not true, is to say it`s a lie. And it is a lie. But even if it`s a lie and you say it frequently enough, you sometimes can make people believe it`s true. You make it the centerpiece of your presidential campaign, one of two things can happen. You can be laugh off the stage for being a liar, which doesn`t seem to be happening to Mitt Romney. Or people can start to believe this lie you say every day. And that raises an interesting question about this really specific policy about the gas pump. This gas pump thing that`s about to change. Almost everybody who uses a gas pump in America is about to experience directly the elimination of a government regulation on something that you physically have to personally deal with to put gas in your car. Does that have a political affect? Could that have a political effect? Does that translate at a retail politics level? Does that counter this Republican argument from Mitt Romney that Barack Obama is regulation happy? I mean, you`re direct experience at the gas pump is about to be that this president has gotten rid of regulations. It`s a very subtle thing, but subtle things like this can have a powerful impact when you`re talking about something that may really stick with people and affects millions and millions of people. The political impact of the way that you personally interact with something about the government, the way that you personally experience a policy change or the affect of something that a politician did, that can affect in a life-long way the way you think about the policy, the way that you think about that politician. And that individual affect part of politics is something that Republicans have long appreciated. In 2008, before the big financial crash but when the economy was slowing down, President George W. Bush passed a stimulus act. What? Republicans? A stimulus act? Yes. George W. Bush passed two stimulus acts actually. He did it in 2001 as well. You know, Reagan had a big stimulus act as well. So did George H.W. Bush. I know it`s crazy. But that is actually the way you deal with recessions and economic slowdowns. It is normal and both parties do it, no matter what you hear these days on FOX News or the crazy part of your radio. But when George W. Bush passed his stimulus act in 2008, the political geniuses of the George W. Bush administration decided to get money out into the economy, to pursue stimulus -- to get money out into the economy that Americans would spend, jumpstart the economy, they decided to distribute that money just by sending everybody a check. A check made out to you from the Bush administration. Here is some money. It`s from the government. Please go spend it. I`m not kidding. This is what they did. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, APRIL 25, 2008) GEORGE W. BUSH, THEN-U.S. PRESIDENT: These rebates will provide eligible Americans with payments up to $600 a person, $1,200 for couples and $300 per child. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Every man, woman and child in America getting free money from the government. Thank you, George W. Bush. I just saw there, he called it a rebate. But this wasn`t a rebate. You weren`t overcharged for something. Your child getting this $300 had not paid too much money in the government and therefore need to get $300 back. They called it a rebate, but it was just a check from George W. Bush to you. Please, spend it. It was a government hand out, not that there`s anything wrong with that. This is political genius because -- I mean, at a very base level, dude`s giving you hundreds of dollars for nothing. It kind of makes you like the guy, right? I mean, policy-wise it was not as much genius as in political terms. Political terms, this is very, very smart. But in policy terms, it did have weakness. If you spend somebody a check for $300, or $600 or $1,200, I mean, most people`s instinct is not to take that check to the bank, flip it over, sign it, get all that money back in cash and then spend all that cash immediately. Some people might do that. But overall, most people, the instinct will be to deposit the check, to not spend all of it at once. But in terms of the whole economy, the point of doing the stimulus is that you really do want people to spend the money you`re sending them. You want them to spend all of it or as much of it as possible. Saving may help you as an individual, but it does not help an economy in need of stimulus. It`s not what you do as stimulus for. You want spending. So, rather than sending everybody a lump sum check like George W. Bush did, a much better way to stimulate the economy is to give people money in way that doesn`t encourage them to just save it. Give people money in a way that doesn`t make as much of a splash. I mean, just put 20, 30 or 40 bucks in their paycheck every couple of weeks. If you get the money that way, you`re likely to spend 20 or 30 or 40 more bucks than you otherwise would have spent. The more low key you make it, the better policy it is as stimulus. But you do have to give up that great moment, right? You have to give up that Ed McMahon publisher`s clearinghouse handing over the big check political benefit that you get from doing it in this loud and splashy but less good way. The George W. Bush administration did it in the loud and splashy but less good way. When President Obama did a stimulus, they did it the way that is better for the economy, but doesn`t give the president as much credit. When Obama did it, they decided to do the stimulus in part in the form of payroll tax deduction, so everybody got a few more bucks in their paycheck every couple of weeks. It stimulates the economy way my directly and efficiently. But the cost is there`s no check in the mail moment that makes you like the president who sent you the money. The policy is better but the cost is that the president does not get credit. Democrats -- of course, they do it that way. But in today`s news, there is a sign that maybe Democrats are learning a lesson on this type of politics. It`s not a lesson about policy. It is a lesson about how to get credit for policy. There`s a chance that you may be able to get a publisher`s clearinghouse Ed McMahon check from Obamacare. Mark Halperin wrote about this at "Time" magazine today. The secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is blogging about it today at the White House Web site. Health reform or as the Republicans call it Obamacare is one of these things that if you ask people about what`s in it, they really like what`s in it. I can still get insurance without a preexisting condition, that`s great. I can still get insurance if I have a pre-existing condition, excuse me. That`s great. They can`t make your insurance more expensive because you`re a woman. That`s great. Kids can stay on their parents` insurance until they`re 26 -- that`s great. The things that are in health reform are things that people like. These are very, very popular policies. But when you ask people if they like health reform -- heck no. I hate health reform. Do you know what`s in it? Keep it down, I`m busy hating health reform -- but yes, I do like all the things that are in it. One of the things that are in health reform is something to keep the cost of health insurance low. It`s a requirement that whatever your health insurance company is charging you for your health insurance, they have to spend at least 80 percent of that on health care, on actual providing you health care. So, advertising and bonuses for their CEOs and generic overhead cost which don`t actually result in you getting any health care. That has to be less than 20 percent of what you pay. They call it the 80-20 rule. And the punishment for companies that don`t meet that requirement is genius. It`s political genius. Companies that have been overspending on stuff that is not health care, companies that have been wasting your health care premiums on executive bonuses or whatever, who aren`t meeting the 80- 20 rule, those companies have to pay the difference back to you in a check that`s made out to you, that comes with this cover letter. Quote, "This rebate is required by the Affordable Care Act -- the health reform law." Honestly, they should just add to it -- you know, Obamacare. So, the policy here is kind of a generically popular, common sense idea. If I`m going to have to spend money on health insurance, don`t waste my freaking money on CEO bonuses. But to make that not just a generically, popular common sense concept but instead to make it something that you know you are personally benefitting from in a dollars and cents way -- thank you, Obama administration. Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Mr. President signature health reform act -- the benefit of that policy is now going to show up physically in your mailbox in the form of a check with a tiny little Ed McMahon. I`m sorry. No, Ed. Ed McMahon is dead. That will not be true. But the retail "I did this for you, I`m the check in your mailbox" political salesmanship idea, that is not dead. Democrats are learning this game too, at last. Ka-ching! Joining us now is former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. He`s now an NBC News political analyst and a CNBC contributor. Governor Rendell, it`s good to see you. Thanks for being here. ED RENDELL (D), FORMER PENNYSLVANIA GOVERNOR: My pleasure, Rachel. MADDOW: How much do you think it affects the political reputation of a policy or a program or a politician when people do personally experience something in public policy and they understand where it came from? RENDELL: Oh, very much so. I`ll give you a perfect example. If you and I went into the streets of Philadelphia today and stopped a thousand people and asked them, did you get tax cut from President Obama`s stimulus plan? My guess is no more than 20 out of a thousand would say yes. And yet, virtually everyone who makes less than $200,000 did get a $800 or $400 tax cut. It was totally lost -- lost because we didn`t send the check in the mail but also lost because the president didn`t go on the TV early on in stimulus, before the Republicans had chance to spin it and told people that they were going to get $800 and they`d see it as their payroll deduction tax went down for the next year. We never did that. We were terrible at spinning the good things in stimulus and also spinning things in health care. And as a result, both of those things which I think were significant achievements, he got no credit for it. MADDOW: I wonder, you know, when ever time I`m driving and I see a big sign on a the side of the road that says this improvement project funded by the American Recovery Act, which is the name of the stimulus project, I tend to think of that as cutting both ways because on the one hand you are trying to attribute a tangible benefit to taxpayers. RENDELL: I know what you`re going to say. MADDOW: Right? But at the same time, the reason somebody is seeing that sign is because they are sitting in traffic, cursing the construction. RENDELL: Yes. You know what I would have done? Rule number one, I would have got a mascot. A cuddly kangaroo, put him right on the side. Number two, I would add jobs created by this revitalization project. Boom, big letters right underneath it. MADDOW: Yes. Can we interpret on this gas pump deregulation issue the insurance rebate cover letter, these other things that are happening to sort of put the cuddly kangaroo on these policies? Do you think that is a sign the administration is kind of getting better at messaging and trying to get credit for some of the things they have done that ought to have populist appeal? RENDELL: Sure. I think there`s no question about it. I`m not sure they pick the right regulation. And the answer to Mitt Romney and all these people who say we`re overregulated, et cetera, it`s easy to say, it`s just like Republicans in Harrisburg always used to say when they wanted to cut the welfare budget, "There`s waste, frauds and abuse." OK. Tell me where. They couldn`t. If the regulations are hurting business, give us some concrete examples, Mr. Romney. Spell out five or six that really hurt American business. What will happen is, number one, they really don`t hurt American business or number two, if they do, it`s because they are protecting children from asthma and the public would understand it. But if you let them get away with saying, we`re overregulated, and everyone says, yes, we`re overregulated. But let them spell out which regulations they get rid of. MADDOW: On that -- on the centrality of that regulation argument to Mitt Romney`s campaign -- I mean, when he says -- he doesn`t want to talk about anything else, yes, he has other policies but he wants to talk about is the economy, when he does talk about the economy and what he says he wants to place about the Obama economic policies is regulation. That is his central idea. The Obama administration is in a position where they have introduced fewer new regulations than the George W. Bush administration. The critique from Romney is just wrong. It`s a lie. It`s an accusation that is not true. Should the Obama administration, in your political judgment, just be saying that, "That`s lie"? Should they be trying to change the narrative? Should they be trying to refrain it? RENDELL: Absolutely. Not only should they be saying it, but every one of the elected officials, Democrats in the country should be saying it, and just point it out and having big charts, you know, those Steve Rattner type charts. MADDOW: Former Pennsylvania Governor Rendell, NBC News political analyst -- thank you for your time. RENDELL: Don`t forget that cuddly kangaroo. MADDOW: Yes. I think of kangaroos as sort of treacherous. But we can come up with something. Thank you, sir. All right. Guess who is delivering the commencement address tomorrow at Liberty University, the same college founded by the preacher who once railed against the gay menace of -- that`s not a kangaroo. Oh, yes, Pinkie Winkie. We have a close encounter of the risky evangelical kind, coming up next. (COMMERCIAL BEAK) MADDOW: The interview tonight, coming up, Michael Moore. Yay! Standby. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Happy Friday. I`m so glad it`s Friday. I`m pretty sure this that been the gayest week in Mitt Romney`s whole life. On Sunday, the vice president went on "Meet the Press" and said that gay people getting married was OK with him. The next day, on Monday, Washington convulsed over this news. The White House besieged with questions about what this meant. The words gay or same sex used 28 times during Monday`s White House press briefing. The next day on Tuesday, North Carolina voted to legal recognition for same-sex couples. The next day, on Wednesday, President Obama, the president of the United States, went on television and said he was for recognizing the rights of same-sex couples to get married. The next day, on Thursday, the "Washington Post" published a multiple source blockbuster account of Mitt Romney, the Republican de facto nominee for president, Mitt Romney as a young man bullying two closeted gay students, including Mr. Romney leading a group of boys and pinning one student down and Mr. Romney himself cutting off the boy`s long hair while the kid cried and screamed for help. The next day is Friday. The next day is today. Today is the day that "G.Q." magazine published this profile of Mr. Romney`s to strategist and closes aid, Eric Fehrnstrom. Mr. Fehrnstrom in his previous career at Boston`s conservative tabloid newspaper, apparently outed a Massachusetts state representative who was transgender. By outing as transgender, he thereby killed her career. Quote, "Fehrnstrom was the first one to put that information into print. `I can remember his glee when he found the birth certificate,` says former `Herald` report Robert Connolly." This Romney senior advisor outing this woman in the statehouse brought, quote, "a swift end to the representative`s future on Beacon Hill." You know how some days are red letter days on the calendar. This has been a rainbow lettered week in the campaign to elect Mitt Romney president of the United States. But if the way too gay for Mitt Romney week started on Sunday, it`s only Friday, that means his way too gay for him week is not over. Tomorrow, Mr. Romney is giving the commencement address at Jerry Falwell`s university, Liberty University. So, if Mr. Romney was hoping to get away from his campaign`s increasingly heavy anti-gay baggage, there`s nowhere to put those bags down safely yet, not when this is your Saturday plan. (BEGIN VDIEO CLIP) JERRY FALWELL, TELEVANGELIST: What we saw on Tuesday is terrible could be minuscule if in fact -- if in fact God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve. PAT ROBERTSON, TELEVANGELIST: Jerry, that`s my feeling. I think we`ve seen the anti-chamber to terror. We haven`t seen what they can do to the major population. FALWELL: The ACLU -- the ACLU has got to take a lot of blame for this. I know I will hear from them for this. But throwing God successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools, the abortionists have got do bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked and destroy 40 million innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who tried to secularize America, I point the thing this their face and say -- you help this happen. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Those are the founders of Regent University, Pat Robertson, and Liberty University, Jerry Falwell, explaining two days after 9/11 why we as a nation deserve what we got on 9/11 because of, you know, the homo. Also People for the American Way. Jerry Falwell later said that he was sorry for having said. But this is the guy who used to send out fundraising solicitations, direct mail, like this. "|lease remember homosexuals do not reproduce. They recruit. Many of them are after my children and your children." Jerry Falwell is dead now, but at his school, they are keeping the faith. At Jerry Falwell`s Liberty University, they kicked their school`s Democratic Party Club off campus because the Democratic Party platform has support for gay rights. They dropped out from CPAC, the big conservative annual conference, in protest of a gay Republican group, a gay conservative group being allowed to participate in the conference. The school`s Liberty Christian Academy, their high school, says flat out that it quote, "does not employ teachers or accept students who are homosexual." So, that`s where Mitt Romney is delivering the commencement address tomorrow. Mr. Romney, I`m sure you didn`t think it would work out like this, but this your campaign now. It`s here. It`s queer. Get used to it. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: All right. This has been a long week. It has been a long week of big political news that, as I mentioned, might have been way more gay than the Mitt Romney campaign could comfortably handle. But because it has been a long week, I think that you deserve a best new thing in the world. Specifically, you deserve a best new thing in the world tonight that is not at all political or at all about gay marriage. You deserve a Friday night best new thing in the world that`s pure, unadulterated happiness. Oddly, this is a form of pure, unadulterated happiness that I have thought looked like a cross between cats and weasels. But still, it`s pure happiness and it is coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: One of the things that Rick Santorum proposed while running for president back when it looked like he might have real chance at the nomination was that we should kind of sell Idaho. This is what it was like this year in the Republican primary. This was the difference between the two main alternatives to Mitt Romney in the Republican Party. Newt Gingrich wanted to acquire the moon as the 51st state in the Union. Not kidding. Rick Santorum, on the other side, wanted to divest ourselves of most of Idaho. All the federally controlled land in Idaho he wanted to sell. Now, Rick Santorum is not going to be the Republican nominee for president, but imagine that he was. In fact, I think this is a useful thought experiment. Imagine that Rick Santorum not only got nominated, but won the general election. Imagine President Santorum -- and imagine that as President Santorum, he decided to follow through on his campaign promise to sell Idaho, to sell off the federally-owned, publicly-owned parts of that state. And as president, President Rick Santorum decides he will figure out what the taxpayers have spent on those lands. What our public, national investment has been there. And then he`s going to sell that land for 99 percent off that price -- essentially giving it away, 99 percent off. And then, after he`s done being president and done selling off our national property for cheap, now that he`s an ex-president, he`s going to go inside business with the new owner of Idaho. He`s going to go into the business with the person he sold our land to, with a scheme to make money off that property that he sold for pennies on a dollar. He`s now got himself off both sides of the deal, that took what he owned, we got paid 1 percent of what we put into, but he`s now going to get rich off it personally -- based on what he did in office. That would be crazy, right? I mean, that would be even crazier than just the idea of President Rick Santorum. There`s not going to be a President Rick Santorum. That process that I just described really has just happened in Michigan. In Pontiac, Michigan, a city that may be more notable these days for what it`s lost than what it still has. The Detroit Lions used the play in Pontiac`s Silverdome Arena. They left. The G.M. truck factory in town left. G.M. used to make the car called Pontiac here. But that`s gone -- the factory and the whole brand. The city of Pontiac Michigan is so broke, so down in its luck that three years ago, the state of Michigan appointed an emergency manager with nearly unilateral authority to run the town. "The Los Angeles Times" at the time suggested thinking of that emergency manager as something as on unelected king. After a few months on the job, that unelected king decided to sell the Pontiac`s biggest asset, the publicly-owned Pontiac Silverdome. He decided to sell it in 2009, in the middle of the worst down swing of the Great Recession. When the emergency manager proposed auctions it off, the Pontiac city council said basically, are you crazy? You`re going to try to sell this thing in this economy. It`s the worst possible time to sell. They voted against it unanimously. But in Michigan, once the state takes over your city with an emergency manager, the elected officials have no power anymore. The Pontiac city council`s unanimous against selling meant zero, meant zip. The unelected king, the emergency manager guy put it up for sale anyway despite that vote. He put it up for sale with ads like this one. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The field has seen monster truck rallies, soccer games. If it can happen on a field, it can happen here. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Out here at the Silverdome, we have anything ranging from your dirt shows, snow car shows, home and garden shows, trade shows, concerts, all the way down to anything you would like to do on top of a football field, soccer, flag football, indoor football, arena football. You can have lacrosse down there. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Up to anything you want and more, we`ll help you. That was the message from the emergency manager as he sold the public`s Silverdome. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course, if the new owner has other ideas for Silverdome, in the land on which it stands, the city of Pontiac says they are fully supportive. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reason we want to sell without reserve is we don`t want to exclude potential bidders. We want people to think out of the box, to be as creative as possible, to use this site for the best possible use that they would like to bring forward. This is an excellent location and will be great value for potential bidders. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The citizens of Pontiac had spent about $55 million building the Silverdome in the mid-1970s. In 2009, under the genius no reserve auction idea, in the middle of the worst part of the recession, the arena sold for just over half of one million dollars to a Canadian real estate zillionaire. He paid one percent of what it costs Pontiac to build it. And still, the Silverdome sat mostly empty for years. Last month, that emergency manager, the guy who sold, that emergency manager`s name surfaced again in Pontiac. The local paper reports on an effort to expand casino gambling in Michigan, including at Pontiac Silverdome. They`re trying to get an amendment on the ballot in November so they can turn the Pontiac Silverdome now owned by the Canadian zillionaire into a casino for him. Among the people trying to bring the casino gambling to Silverdome is the former emergency manager. The guy who sold Pontiac for a song and who now represents in business the Canadian guy he sold it to with whom he is now working to pass the gambling amendments. So, metaphorically speaking, back to the thought experiment here, this would be like fake President Santorum using his power as president to sell Idaho for 99 percent off and now he`s in business with the guy he sold it to for a song and now they can use that land to get rich themselves off of it. Pontiac used to have a thing called the Silverdome. One guy made the decision to give it away for basically no money and now, he is in business to make some real money off it privately for himself. Suckers. A spokeswoman for this former emergency manager tells us that he met the new owner of the Silverdome, the Canadian zillionaire, only after he sold him the stadium. She says the emergency manager has only been working for the guy now since January. She also says the casino will be great for Pontiac. They will get tax revenue from it. Maybe this historic sale of a huge important public asset was a great deal for Pontiac, the best way to sell it at a best price, the best opportunity -- I can`t say. That`s something for the people of Pontiac to decide. It`s their asset. It belongs to them. But they did not get a say. They did not get a vote on that. The city council got the opportunity to have a meaningless symbolic protest vote, because the state took away their power to decide things for themselves. When the city council took that symbolic unanimous vote not to sell the Silverdome, you know, actually predicted almost exactly how little the stadium would sell for at a no reserve open auction. They were right. But their foresight and their vote meant nothing because the state had given one guy unilateral authority to do whatever he wanted with the assets of Pontiac. What he wanted to do, tit turns out, may end up being a great deal for him. It`s not just this one town. Pontiac and Detroit and a lot of other places in Michigan have trouble, major financial trouble. But why is the solution to those problems to get rid of democracy? To get rid of elected officials? To get rid of the quaint American idea that we vote for elected officials to represent us, to make decisions about what is best for our towns? Why is unilateral authority by one person better? Is democracy a problem in America now? Is it a bad system of government? Is it to risky when the going gets rough? Does it only work in rich places? Is Pontiac better off for having its fate in the hands of the guy who made this deal instead of the city council that wouldn`t have done it this way? Earlier this year, these Michiganders turned in enough signatures in a petition drive to put Republican governor`s radically expanded emergency manager law up for a citizens` repeal. Last month the Republicans on a state election board threw the hundreds of thousands of signatures out. They said they could not be sure that the type was large enough. They could not be sure that the font size on one part of the petition might be big enough. And so, with worrying about that, they decided the throw out all those signatures. It doesn`t matter that they got enough. The group trying to overturn the new radically expanded emergency manager law in Michigan will get a hearing on their appeal on the signatures issue next week, before a panel of elected judges. The case people in Michigan tell us we`ll almost surely end up in the state Supreme Court where the judges are elected and come with party ties. As if their struggle were not hard enough, Michigan`s Republican Governor Rick Snyder has now filed a friend of the court brief telling the court to protect the emergency manager law that he says he considers central to his governance. If the people are allowed to vote on what happens to them, that is parentally in the way of what he wants to do in Michigan. What he wants to do to Michigan. What he wants to do for Michigan for their own good. Michael Moore joins us next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When buying the Silverdome in auction in November, you get far more than just a world renowned stadium and the 127.5 acres of prime real estate on which it sits. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course, if the new owner has other ideas for Silverdome and the land on which it stands, the city of Pontiac says they are fully supportive. FRED LEEB: The reason we want to sell without reserve is we don`t want to exclude any potential bidders. We want people to think out of the box, to be as creative as possible and use this site for the best possible use that they would like to bring forward. This is an excellent location, and will be a great value for potential bidders. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can be part of this historic auction of the Pontiac Silverdome. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Joining us now for the interview is Michael Moore, the filmmaker and author and a Michigander down to bill on this bull cap -- Mr. Moore, nice to see you. MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: Good to see you. Thank you. MADDOW: You know, for many months, I have been reporting on Michigan and every time I finish reporting on something going on in Michigan, I ask what the Sam Hill is up in Michigan. The Republican rescue plan for the towns and cities in Michigan that are in trouble is that you have to first stop local democracy. Then you can get to work on fixing these things. MOORE: Right. We have to burn down the village in order to save it. MADDOW: Yes. But whether or not it is -- we`ll get to where that comes from. Why they want to do it that way -- but does it work? I mean, Flint`s had an emergency manager. MOORE: We already did this in the last decade. It didn`t do any good in part because the emergency was 30 years ago. The emergency is long past. I mean, our peak employment was 1978. It`s been downhill ever since. Flint and the state of Michigan has been going 34 years through this. So - - MADDOW: But there`s this technocratic idea like oh, where there`s big problems or there`s big challenge, democracy is too slow or too inefficient or something. One person can really get it done, can really fix it. There`s this idea that it works whether or not it`s right. MOORE: Yes, because if it worked then people would go, well, OK. MADDOW: Yes. MOORE: I guess it saved the state. It doesn`t work. It doesn`t work. Flint didn`t get any better. Pontiac -- as you point out -- isn`t getting any better. Detroit, Ecorse, Benton Harbor, the whole state. I mean, the whole state -- it`s not just those cities either. I mean, you could take this -- if they continue with this, it`s going to be more than just ten entities that they are going to take over. But the problem is that the state of Michigan is bankrupt. The state of Michigan is out of money. So I`m wondering if Governor Snyder, how he would feel if, say, tomorrow morning President Obama said, you know, Michigan is in a depression. They are not able to pay their bills. The federal government is going to take over the state of Michigan. MADDOW: Yes. MOORE: Where will the Republicans be on that? MADDOW: I`m going to appoint a Michigan czar to overrule all local voting. MOORE: From Ohio. (LAUGHTER) MADDOW: Yes, exactly. Or even from Michigan. MOORE: Yes. MADDOW: The idea that voting is what gets you in trouble, that that`s somehow the cause of problems that they need to stop in order to do it, I just --I feel like, yes, it`s happening in Michigan. It`s of national import. MOORE: Right. MADDOW: It`s hard to get anybody on board with this. MOORE: I know. Jeez, I`ve been saying this now for I don`t know how long, umpteen years, it seems. We`re the laboratory. Michigan is capitalism`s laboratory, and the experiments have not been going well for quite some time. We need -- first of all, let me say this about the emergency manager. If I were the mayor of Flint and when he took over Flint, I would just say, sorry, we`re going to continue business today just as we did yesterday. Because I`ve got to tell you something, Governor Snyder doesn`t have a set of keys. He can`t get into city hall. I would -- we need civil disobedience in Michigan to stop this, first of all. The thing with the Silverdome, your lead in story, of course, I`ve been to the Silverdome many times. Actually, this year is the 25th anniversary of probably two of the greatest religious experiences that took place in the state of Michigan and I was there for both of them. Pope John Paul II, I took my dad there to mass, 93,000 people. And Wrestlemania III, Hulk Hogan bodyslammed Andrew the Giant, 93,000 people again for that. So, this place is like sacred ground to us in Michigan and all kidding aside, half a million dollars, $500,000, you`ll have a hard time getting a studio apartment in New York City for that. That`s how much -- MADDOW: It was stunning to me, I went back and read the contemporaneous news coverage from the time that the emergency manager was selling it, and when the city council, which had no power at that point, could be overruled from him, was saying, no, don`t do this. Don`t do it in a no-reserve auction. They correctly predicted. You`re not going to get more than half a million dollars for this thing. The guy was like, oh, you`re crazy. MOORE: Right, right. MADDOW: And sure enough, out they were exactly right. MOORE: What you said about it being a national problem, that really is the issue. I hope people just don`t think this is about Michigan because this is -- I mean, the fact that -- see, we`re not really broke. The country has money, it`s just in the hands of a few people. And if we could stop these wars -- I mean, we`re still spending $2 billion, $3 billion, $4 billion a week on Afghanistan. I mean, seriously -- I mean, if Michigan could just have like Monday and Tuesday of one week, just a billion dollars, what would happen? The problems would be solved. But, you know, I was talking to your producer and what really has to happen is that we have to stop as a society, along with private corporations, letting them call all the shots. I mean, I know this is going to be a little strange to people because they think, no, Mike, G.M. has a right to do -- no, they don`t. We tell them to put air bags in the car, we tell them what the gas mileage is going to be. Why can`t we also tell them -- we let build crappy cars for two or three decades and it killed us. Everybody I know lost their job. When the state has suffered -- when do we have a right as citizens to come in and say, you know what? You don`t actually get to make all of the decisions because they affect us. What you decide -- even when it`s right down to building a crappy car, you`re not listening to the consumers, what they want. You just keep building the stuff and here`s the results of it. We, the people, pay for the results of higher crime, more divorce, alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide -- all of the social problems that go with massive unemployment. And that is what these auto companies did to the state of Michigan and many other states. And I think at some point -- I know we`re not going to fix this this year, but at some point down the road, we the people have got to say -- you know, we got to get more -- I know this sounds like socialism or communism to people. MADDOW: You say good morning and people hear communism. MOORE: I know. But, you know, the last time I was here, the guy -- you sent a guy to drive me back here. It was a Chevy Suburban, I said -- those things used to be horrible machines of metal and everything rattled and the dome light didn`t work and I said, wow, this is really a nice car. What happened? And he says, well, ever since the government took over, they are building better cars. Well, what does that say? So more of that, more government intervention, more stimulus, the right kind, as you said at the beginning of the show. And maybe we`ll have a chance. But, man, it`s -- we`ve had - - we`ve really had it kicked out of us in Michigan and I know a lot of other people in Michigan have, too. So, it`s -- we can`t be defeated by this. MADDOW: Michael Moore, filmmaker, author, proud Michigander -- it`s always good to see you, Michael. Thank you. MOORE: Good to see you. Thank you so much, Rachel. MADDOW: All right. We got a best new thing in the world, special Friday edition, which has no political content whatsoever, coming up next. It`s so good. Really, it`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: OK. The best new thing in the world today could easily be the 11 new residents of the National Zoo in Washington? It could be the best new thing in the world, but it`s not. For the record, here they are. They are due to be introduced tomorrow. They are 11 Asian small clod otters. These 11 otters are actually a family comprised of two parents and nine babies. Obviously, these guys could be the best new thing in the world because -- I mean, to put it bluntly -- otters rule. I mean, even though they look like cats crossed with weasels, they are the cutest thing in the world. Otters -- they swim on their backs. They swim under water. They seem really friendly with each other and amuse looking at them. And these guys in particular, this type of otter, they are a threatened species. They are the smallest and most social otter species in the world, which, of course, means they are the cutest of an already very cute breed of living things. But none of that bestiness is what makes these guys the best new thing in the world. The best new thing thing has to do with their names. All right. Are you ready? The parents are named Chowder and Clementine. The nine children are Pork Chop, Pickles, Saffron, Olive, Peaches, Turnip, radish, Rutabaga and Kevin. Kevin? He`s like the Marilyn Munster of the family of impossibly cute otters. He`s the weird one. Imagine the ranting (ph) he`ll take from Rutabaga because of his goofy name. Kevin. Kevin, the Asian small clod otter, the endangered species version of the boy named Sue, the one of these otters is not like the other otters. It`s the best new thing in the world today. Happy Friday. It`s a whole otter thing. Now you have to go to prison. END THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END