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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 06/26/12

Guests: Bob Filner, Jon Tester

HAROLD SCHAITBERGER, IAFF: And in fact, that`s what we`re doing through the SAFER program, $1.3 billion, 13,000 firefighters. ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: All right. Mr. Schaitberger, great to have you with us tonight. Thanks so much. SCHAITBERGER: Always good to be with you. SCHULTZ: You bet. We want to make a quick correction before we go. We misidentified Governor Hickenlooper of Colorado as a Republican. We here at "THE ED SHOW" know that he`s a Democrat in good standing, and we apologize for that error. I should have caught that. I`m sorry about that. That`s "THE ED SHOW." I`m Ed Schultz. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel. I`m trying to be perfect, but I`m not there yet. RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: You know, the on-air correction is an underappreciated art. And you just did it perfectly. SCHULTZ: How come newspapers just get to put it in the corner where nobody can see, but we have to come out here and do all this. That`s what unfair about -- MADDOW: The closest we can do is we can mumble, and that makes it into fine print. SCHULTZ: RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. MADDOW: Thank you, Ed. That`s awesome. SCHULTZ: You bet. MADDOW: Thanks. And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. A big news day. It was last week when "Bloomberg News" reported that the Mitt Romney for president campaign had asked the governor of Florida to please stop talking about the economy getting better in Florida. Citing two sources, "Bloomberg News" said the Romney campaign, quote, "asked Florida Governor Rick Scott to tone down his statements heralding improvements in the state`s economy because they clash with the Romney message that the nation is suffering under President Barack Obama." In the last few years since the financial crisis, Florida unemployment did get up over 11 percent. Now it`s getting better. Still bad in Florida, still 8.6 percent, but it`s better than it had been. If you`re a governor in a state where things are getting better, you want to talk about that, right? You want to take credit, even if it is off message for the Republican who`s running for president who is depending on nobody thinking things are getting better anywhere. After that "Bloomberg" report came out, the Romney campaign denied it vehemently. And after that denial from the Romney side, then the Rick Scott folks started denying it, too. But what nobody really noticed at the time, and the little kerfuffle around that news story was that Rick Scott in Florida was not the first governor who was reported to be having this same problem with Mitt Romney. Just a week earlier, "The Wall Street Journal" had reported the same problem in a bunch of other Republican states. Mitt Romney campaigning in Virginia, talking about how terrible President Obama has been for the economy in Virginia. But the state of Virginia has a 5.6 percent unemployment rate. That`s ninth lowest in the nation, lowest in the southeast. The Republican governor of the state is out countering the Mitt Romney message about how awful everything is by saying actually, Virginia is doing well. Same deal in Ohio. Mitt Romney going to Ohio to campaign saying how terrible President Obama has made the Ohio economy. But the Ohio unemployment rate is now below 6 percent, and the state`s Republican governor was telling the same crowd that Mitt Romney was talking to that Ohio has made a lot of progress. In fact, when the governor of Ohio was asked by a reporter if it bothered him if President Obama got credit for this uptick in jobs in Ohio and the improving economy there, the governor responded by saying, "Bother me? I hope he gets all of the credit." Things are getting way better in terms of jobs in this important swing state of Ohio. I hope President Obama gets all of the credit for that. That`s not the kind of thing that`s supposed to come out of the mouth of a top Romney surrogate at this point in the campaign. Then last month in Iowa, Mitt Romney was campaigning in Iowa saying again how terrible Barack Obama has made the Iowa economy. He even put out a four-minute long web ad showing how terrible things are in Iowa because of President Obama. But in reality, in Iowa, the unemployment rate there has falling to 5.1 percent, the seventh lowest in the nation. The Republican governor of Iowa went out on the occasion of Mr. Romney coming to Iowa and talking smack, went out and did an interview with the "Wall Street Journal" to counter what Mitt Romney was saying there, to counter Mitt Romney`s message that Iowa was a horrible mess because of President Obama. The state`s governor said, actually, we`re doing very well. We`re seeing significant growth. So, all these Republican governors in the states where things are getting better are told by the Republican presidential campaign things are not getting better. Our candidate is going to come to your state and talk about how awful everything is, grin and bear it. Today on the Democratic side, Vice President Biden was in Iowa. He gave a barnburner of a speech there. And again, there was the Romney campaign doubling down on the Iowa sucks message, putting out a press release saying the economy is terrible in Iowa because Barack Obama is president. These poor Republican governors like Terry Branstad in Iowa, they are essentially being told to shut up and take it, while Mitt Romney slags off their state and counteracts all their messaging as governors about how their states are coming back and doing OK. And that is the cost to these Republicans generally of the overall message of the Mitt Romney for president campaign. I mean, he`s not running on his time as governor of Massachusetts. He`s not really running on his time at Bain Capital as a private equity financer. He`s running on the basis that the economy right now is bad so you should fire the president. That`s his message, never mind the details about the guy you get if you fire the president, just fire the president. And the message from the other side, from the president`s reelection campaign is that you should pay attention to this new guy who you would get if you fired the president. The message from the Obama campaign is that what Mitt Romney has to offer, particularly on the economy and jobs, is the opposite of what the country needs right now. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NARRATOR: President Obama`s first 100 days creating thousands of new jobs. NARRATOR: But would it? "The Washington Post" has just revealed that Romney`s companies were pioneers of shipping U.S. jobs overseas, investing in firms that specialized in relocating jobs done by American workers to new facilities in low wage countries like China and India. Does Virginia really want an outsourcer-in-chief in the White House? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The Obama campaign releasing that ad today, specific to Virginia, where Mitt Romney was campaigning today in Virginia. They also released another version of it specific to Iowa where a lot of this fight played out today in Iowa, and where that Iowa ad message was designed I think to dovetail with this barn burning speech by Joe Biden. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Give Mitt Romney credit. He`s a job creator in Singapore, China, India. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The overarching narrative of the presidential campaign, the overarching narrative, so encompassing both campaigns is that, no, the economy is not back from the depression yet. And Mitt Romney says he would do better in bringing the economy further back. President Obama on the other hand says that right now, the White House is doing their best and bringing us in the right direction. There is further to go, but Mitt Romney`s idea and his track record are awful. So, even if you`re not happy with the economy yet, you definitely don`t want to switch to that guy. One level below that overarching message from both presidential campaigns, there`s a whole high stakes world of politics that is separate from, even in opposition to what is going on in the presidential race. There`s some really interesting substantive stuff going on here. The Democratic Party today reserved more than $5 million in TV ad time to support Senator Sherrod Brown in his re-election effort in Ohio. He`s running against the Ohio state treasurer, a guy named Josh Mandel. That race is expected to have more outside money spent against the Democratic incumbent senator than maybe any other race in the country. Sherrod did an interview with "Talking Points Memo" today in which he weighed in on the presidential campaign. He said in Ohio, the Obama campaign should absolutely keep talking about Mitt Romney`s record at Bain. He said that message about Mitt Romney is devastating for Republicans in the industrial Midwest. Even so, some other Democrats, particularly conservative Democrats, are essentially divorcing themselves from presidential politics all together. Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri today is saying that she will not go to the Democratic convection this fall in North Carolina. That follows similar announcements from Democratic Senators Joe Manchin, and Jon Tester. Jon Tester is going to be our guest later on this hour. But it`s in races at this level, races like these, not just with conservative Democrats, but any of the races where the presidential race isn`t maybe the dominant issue, where something really important is going on, and you can see in these races, a bunch of really substantively interesting cross currents in our politics right now, you get a whole different sense of who is getting listened to who, about who has respect, about who has a message that voters ought to listen to. I want you to look at this one thing from the Jon Tester race in Montana. Jon Tester is running against a Republican named Denny Rehberg. This is fascinating. Jon Tester is not going to the Democratic convection this fall, as I said. Denny Rehberg, the Republican, is not going to the Republican convention this fall. In this Senate race in Montana, both candidates, both sides are separating themselves from their parties in that way. They`re both running apart from the presidential race. And so, look what you`re seeing right now in Montana. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I served with the Montana Army National Guard in Iraq. I served and came home safely. Over 1,000 have left limbs in Iraq and Afghanistan weren`t so lucky. But Congressman Rehberg voted against additional critical funding for prosthetic research. Millionaire Rehberg voted to give himself a pay raise but voted against additional funding to help wounded vets? Now, Congressman Rehberg wants us to call him senator? No way. Vote Vets is responsible for the content of this advertising. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s an ad from Vote Vets against Denny Rehberg, the Republican Senate candidate in Montana, who is running against Jon Tester. That same group, Vote Vets, is also running pro-Claire McCaskill ads in Missouri. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFEID MALE: When some tries to make cuts to V.A. hospitals, like Truman, where I go, she fought them. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She pushed the new G.I. bill through and now, I`m earning my degree here in Missouri. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Claire has got our back. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And, Senator, we`ve got yours. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Vote Vets is a Democratic-leaning group of post 9/11 veterans. They`re also supporting Iraq and Afghanistan veterans themselves who are themselves making runs for Congress, like Tulsi Gabbard, who`s a candidate running as a Democrat in Hawaii. So, there`s Vote Vets on the left. There`s Iraq Veterans Against the War who are on the farther left. There`s also Vets for Freedom, which is a Republican joint on the right. They mostly seem to be running their own Vets for Freedom guys for office. But they`re associated with all these big name, brand name Republicans. They`ve got a congressional candidate running in a New York congressional primary tonight. They almost got a U.S. Senate candidate in Minnesota this year. But those are just the partisan or the ideologically identifiable post-9/11 veterans groups. There`s also the big one, right, IAVA, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the first and largest post-9/11 veterans group. They`re totally nonpartisan, aggressively nonpartisan. And they are not just influential in politics. They`re actively feared on Capitol Hill and more broadly in Washington, D.C. I don`t spend a lot of time in Washington, but whenever I do, I`m usually talking to people about national security stuff. You talk to people in Washington about anything that touches IAVA`s political turf and I swear you can take it from me, you can see people retract physically when they start talking about those topics, worried that they might potentially be crossing IAVA. It`s better sometimes to be respected and feared than it is to be liked, particularly in Washington, particularly when you`ve got a long-term horizon on the stuff you`re advocating for. And for the interest of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, seeing that physical reaction on both sides of the aisle, in the administration and out of it, when you bring up IAVA stuff, I`ve got to think for veterans` interests, that is a good thing. So, yes, hey, it turns out if you spent 11 years and trillions of dollars fighting two of the longest wars in American history simultaneously and uprooting the lives of 2 million American families to do that, yes, it turns, you change politics. You create a powerful new political force in the process of doing that -- a powerful new political force with a heck of a lot more moral suasion, persuasive power on their side. This is a respected powerful interest group now that we didn`t have before. They have a lot of pull. And so, given that, how can it be that on the public policy issue most directly affecting those veterans as veterans, we have a total disaster on our hands? We`ve got nearly 900,000 veterans with outstanding claims, disability claims to the V.A.; nearly a million veterans waiting to hear. The V.A. starts counting the claims in a backlog once somebody has been waiting more than four months just for an answer. There are hundreds of thousands of veterans in the backlog right now. In places where the issue is being dealt with particularly poorly, like Oakland, California, and the San Francisco Bay Area, people are waiting a year to even hear back about whether or not they are getting what they are owed by our country. Think about that. You come back from how many tours of duty over how many years? Let`s you`ve got a combat related disability, and maybe that means you can`t work. And you don`t even hear for a year whether you are getting anything to pay for your living expenses, whether your disability claim is getting approved? What do you do for that year? What do you do in the meantime? You`re home from combat and you can`t work. You wait a year to hear? This is a disaster. When the Veterans Administration`s inspector general looked at the department`s mental health care, they found the V.A.`s own data on how long veterans were having to wait, they found it to be of no real value. So, in other words, you can`t believe the V.A.`s answers when you ask them how poorly they`re doing. Now, The V.A. for its part says it has a plan to clear the disability claims backlog by not this year, not next year, not the year after that, but by the year after that. By 2015, they have a plan for that. That`s what they`re aiming for. That`s their best case scenario, and that led -- hearing last week to the ranking Democrat in the veteran`s committee in the House, frankly just letting loose. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. ROBERT FILNER (D), CALIFORNIA: You`ve hired, what, in the last few years, 10,000, maybe 12,000 employees. You`ve got 40 so-called transformational things going on. I don`t know where the name transformation comes, doesn`t do anything. What have we done in the last few years? Doubled the backlogs, rate of inaccuracy, recent report, up to 25 percent. This is disgraceful. This is an insult to our veterans. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s Congressman Bob Filner from San Diego. He`s a Democrat. He`s also running for mayor of San Diego. Congressman Filner is proposing that the V.A. change its system to actually be more like the IRS. In this sense, when you file your tax return with the IRS, unless something is obviously wrong, the IRS assumes it`s fine and they approve it. They keep people honest by watching for unusual things that warrant checking and tax returns. But also by auditing a percentage of what people turn in. So the system goes pretty fast. It`s pretty reliable, and people mostly don`t cheat because they`re afraid to be audited, because if you get audited and you get caught cheating, it`s a really bad thing. Bob Filner says the V.A. should blow up the way it is doing things now and go to a system like that instead. Assume the veterans aren`t lying. The idea has been proposed at Book Link from a Harvard economist as well. Now, veterans groups are not in favor of this change. They are not in favor of the V.A. changing like this. But broadly speaking, veterans groups are pretty furious about how badly the system works right now, and it works really, really badly. And maybe at least debating this, make it like the IRS idea and putting this on the table, maybe that puts a spotlight on the problem. But this problem needs a spotlight. How do you pay somebody back for agreeing to serve in a war and risk being killed because the country has asked them to do that? Personally, as citizens, we all need to work that out for ourselves. But in a country that has been at war for 11 years with 99 percent of the population not fighting in those wars, we have all got to figure those things out -- individually and as civilians, we have to figure out what our responsibility is, how we pay back. As a country, though, as an institution, it`s a less esoteric thing. As a country, we make some really specific promises to veterans in exchange for their service, including promising them their health needs are now going to be covered. We`ve got them covered for their health care needs. That is our end of a deal. That`s our promise, and we`re breaking our promise. And while that has ethical implications for all of us since we`re the civilian side of the deal that is breaking the deal, in this political climate we`re in, in this political climate we are in with the political power and respect afforded to this generation of veterans, this problem ought to incur some real political costs for the people who ought to be able to fix it but who haven`t and it ought to mean real political benefits to those who do step up and take it on. This is not B.S., tit-for-tat partisanship. This is not some messaging thing. This is not some fight for the sake of fighting. This is supposedly what government is for. This is about real obligations. This is a real thing. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FILNER: What have we done in the last few years? Doubled the backlogs, rate of inaccuracy, recent report, up to 25 percent. This is disgraceful. This is an insult to our veterans. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The was Congressman Bob Filner of California suggesting not all that delicately that America has failed in our treatment of wounded veterans coming home from Iraq and now Afghanistan. Mr. Filner telling a congressional hearing a couple days ago that the system we have in place now is so bad we frankly ought to blow it up, and do the V.A. totally differently. We ought to do it more like the IRS. He was not kidding. He said the current system is so bad, we`ve got hundreds of thousands of vets waiting up to a year to even hear back about whether they`re going to get the benefits they should get. Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Bob Filner of California. He`s a ranking member on the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. I should also mention he`s currently running for mayor of the city of San Diego. Congressman Filner, thank you very much for being here to help us talk about this. FILNER: Thank you, Rachel. It`s an honor to be on the best show in television. MADDOW: That`s very kind of you to say. Flattery will get you everywhere here. You are a Democrat. You`re not one of these people who is ideologically committed to the idea that government gets everything wrong. Why do you think we`re getting this so wrong? When it comes to handling this basic thing for veterans, why is this so screwed up? FILNER: By the way, I just want to go one step further about how bad it is. You know, people die before they get that final adjudication or they may commit suicide. I mean, it is so bad that these things occur. And I think, you know, it`s a bureaucracy that has been in charge for decades that doesn`t want to do anything any differently. It`s veterans groups who sort of have -- they drank the Kool-Aid of the bureaucracy. They say, well, let`s just play around the edges of it. And they`re afraid to take on the system also. And I think what`s really going on, Rachel, is that we want to talk about the glory of war. How patriotic it is, and we don`t want to focus on the cost of war, what happens when the young men and women come back. We don`t want to pay too much attention to it because it undercuts what every government wants and that`s support for the wars it carries out. And I think Democrats particularly who are anti-war like myself, have to be very pro-veteran and say no matter what we thought about the war, we`ve got to make sure every young man and woman who gets back gets all of the care, the attention, the love, the dignity that a nation can give. MADDOW: When I have been looking into the issue and monitoring really dramatic hearings in your home state of California about this, people talking ability not being able to get -- not even get an answer, let alone get approved for their disability claims. And California has some of the worst V.A. centers in terms of dealing with this, waits up to a year long. When I`ve been looking into this, it seems to me that from the veterans group side, that they are all very angry about this, that they are all upset about this. Obviously, you have a difference with them about whether or not your proposed change is the way to fix the problem. But I wonder if that disagreement is the end of a conversation or if that`s the beginning. It seems to me that their anger on this issue is a starting place given how much political power they`ve got in a country that really does respect what they have done particularly since 9/11. FILNER: Right. You would think so. But there`s a disconnect between the grassroots veterans and the people in Washington who supposedly represent them. The people in Washington have drunk the Kool-Aid. They just want to tinker around the edges because they`re tied into an inefficient system. They figure as long as the system is so bad, veterans will come to them for help rather than say let`s really have a radical change. You know, you mentioned the IRS. Twenty-years ago or so, the IRS was completely dysfunctional. You didn`t know where your return was, or when you would get your refund. Now, when you file your 1040 on April 15th, and if you have a refund coming, you get it back in three weeks guaranteed. How did they change from one dysfunctional agency to a very modern and efficient one? They said, look, we`re going to accept your claim, subject to audit. And that`s what keeps us honest. We can do the same thing with veterans claims. When we have certified veterans officers all over the country, the American Legion, VFW, states, counties, the V.A., if they are helpful to the veteran in filling out the forms, we should accept it subject to audit, then they get their check, and get their life together, and move on right away. MADDOW: Congressman Bob Filner of San Diego, running for mayor of San Diego -- sir, thank you for venting your spleen the way you did in this hearing. It put a spotlight on the issue that otherwise would not have been there. FILNER: Thank you for taking it -- thank you for taking this up. You know, the American people have got to understand that we send the kids to war. You`ve got to take care of them when they come home. MADDOW: Thank you, sir. And I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you. You know, this policy that Congressman Filner is proposing, without the veterans groups onboard with it, I`m not sure it`s going to be the way that we proceed in trying to fix this, right? People who -- all of the different stakeholders need to be on board. But you know what? All of the different stakeholders need to get on board with something, because this is an unsustainable ethical problem that we`ve got us a country. This is a problem we made. This is a problem that we created, a promise we broke. This has to be fixed. Left, right and center, it has to be fixed. All right. Coming up at the end of the show tonight, we have discovered a way to expose to the light the rage that is lurking inside the most soft-spoken man in Washington. It involves flooding and a libertarian from Kentucky and a lot of flying spittle. That`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: You know, for a while, it looks like Montana might be the country`s only hope for something in American elections surviving beyond the reach of Citizens United and this flood of dark money into our politics. Montana was going to be our only hope. And then Montana lost at the Supreme Court yesterday. And, boy, is Montana mad about it. That`s the interview tonight. That`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: All right, are you ready? This is not at all about a candidate. This has no message at all for you about any particularly candidate or politician. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NARRATOR: President Obama`s agenda promised so much. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We must help the millions of homeowners who are facing foreclosure. NARRATOR: Promise broken. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s an ad that has nothing to do with some politician named President Obama. This is an ad that has nothing to do with any particular candidate either. (BEGIN VIDEOI CLIP) NARRATOR: Senator Claire McCaskill was a key Obama adviser in passing his failed $1.18 trillion stimulus. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: See, that ad has nothing at all to do with Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri. Nothing to do with her. And now, here is an ad that has nothing to do with Sherrod Brown. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NARRATOR: No surprise he voted for Obama care. He supports Obama`s agenda 95 percent of the time. In Sherrod Brown`s Washington, talk is cheap. In Ohio, it`s costing us a fortune. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That has nothing to do with Sherrod Brown. These are all ads by one of Karl Rove`s, it`s a group Crossroads GPS. That particular Karl Rove group is a dark money group. They do not disclose where they get their money from. They don`t have to because of this rule that says if you`re running ads that aren`t about a candidate, then all your money can be totally secret. And up until now, that has essentially been a self- policing rule. So the way that groups like Karl Rove`s group say that ads like that aren`t about any candidates is that they put little tags on the end that say things like tell Claire McCaskill this, or tell President Obama that. So, we`re not advising you how to feel about these particular politicians, we`re just helping you deliver to them a message about an issue because we`re an issues group. We don`t care at all about candidates. Honestly, that`s the one rule we have left in campaign finance in this country, and it`s a farce. But there was a court ruling earlier this month that said if there is going to be that rule, actually, these groups shouldn`t just be policing themselves. The federal elections commission should make the decision about whether or not these ads are about candidate or are about issues, and therefore whether you should be able to keep where all your money comes from a secret. Once that ruling came down, the Obama campaign`s top lawyer, a man named Bob Bauer, wrote to the FEC and said, you know what, given the court ruling, if you are responsible for looking at groups and enforcing this rule where you have to disclose your donors if you really are talking about candidates, please look at Karl Rove`s group because we think he`s advocating for candidates so he shouldn`t be allowed to keep his donor secret. Karl Rove was asked about that on FOX News Channel, and here was how he responded. He`s responding to that complaint about his group going to the FEC about secret donors. This was his response. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KARL ROVE, AMERICAN CROSSROADS: This is an attempt to intimidate the people who might otherwise contribute to GPS. And this is frankly thuggish behavior. You know, earlier, we were talking about the time that I went up to the Congress. To testify, one of the accusers was Bob Bauer, who was the attorney for a woman named Dana Jill Simpson who alleged I had encouraged her to investigate -- a woman I never met in my entire life, that I asked her to investigate the sexual shenanigans of Democratic Governor Siegelman of Alabama, and you know, Bob Bauer was her attorney, got her on "60 Minutes" big ho-ha about it. This is the kind of guy, Bob Bauer, he is. I know what he`s doing. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The question was about whether or not you`re going to reveal who is giving you all that money to run the anti-Obama ads you have been running, and the answer was: President Obama`s lawyer was the lawyer for a woman who said I was involved in a sexual shenanigans investigation in -- what are you talking about? This happened on FOX News last week. We have been keeping an eye on it ever since, wondering if there was going to be another shoe that dropped, what it could have meant. But there has been no other shoe dropped by Mr. Rove. So, you should just know this is happening because there is something weird going on now. In this fight over all of the dark money being spent against Obama this year. I mean, Karl Rove does have a long history in Alabama politics. There was a scandal about an Alabama Republican operative saying Karl Rove, when he was working in the Bush White House, essentially had sent her to go try to get dirt on this Democratic governor in Alabama, try to catch him cheating on his wife or something. She did go on "60 Minutes" and make that allegation. But this is something that allegedly happened more than ten years ago. This has absolutely nothing to do with this year`s campaign or secret money or the FEC or any of these things. But Karl Rove`s response to the Obama campaign asking them to disclose their donors, his r response was essentially the Obama campaign, their lawyer was a lawyer for this woman in Alabama 11 years ago when she went on "60 Minutes" -- completely bizarre. One of the strangest and bluntest and most non-sequitur diversionary tactics I have seen on any subject on this whole campaign season. The only reason I think it might be important is because I think Karl Rove is supposed to be a slick guy, right? The weirdest thing about this is, that he`s obviously and factually totally wrong in his assertion. President Obama`s campaign lawyer is a guy named Bob Bauer. Karl Rove said on FOX News that Bob Bauer was the lawyer for this woman, Dana Jill Simpson. After Karl Rove went on FOX News last week and made this weird allegation out of the blue, President Obama`s campaign lawyer Bob Bauer wrote a letter to Karl Rove which we have. The letter says, "I have never represented Dana Jill Simpson nor had anything to do with her allegations about you or any appearance by her on `60 Minutes`. I have never met Ms. Simpson or spoke to her on the phone or crossed her path in any other way. The identity of her lawyer is a matter of public record, a lawyer I have also never met, but whom you can find through the search engine of your choice." That`s true actually. You can Google who the lawyer was. We did that today and we spoke with the lawyer today. We asked her about the weird thing that Karl Rove said on FOX News about President Obama`s campaign lawyer, Bob Bauer. And this is what she told us. She said, quote, "Bob Bauer was totally unknown to everybody down here. There were a lot of other lawyers on the periphery, but Mr. Bauer was nowhere to be seen. He was not involved in any way nor was his firm. I think Karl Rove is delusional. I think he`s lying." We contacted Mr. Rove`s office today to ask what in the name of sweet, whoopee pie non sequiturs he is talking about, why did he bring this up when he was asked about campaign donors on FOX News? And what about the fact it was totally made up what he said? We`ve as yet had no response from Mr. Rove. If we got one, we`ll let you know. But in the meantime, what is most interesting about this strange thing that happened on FOX News a few days ago, this very unexplained eruption from Karl Rove, the most interesting thing about this is the reason why he did it, which was to avoid answering the question to him about who is paying for all of those ads against President Obama that he`s been running. And why shouldn`t he have to disclose who those people are. One of the targets of Karl Rove`s wrath, although it`s totally not about the candidates, one of those candidates targeted by Karl Rove joins us next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) NARRATOR: Tell Jon Tester, Obama`s way is the wrong way for Montana. Tell him to say no to Obama`s proposed trillion dollar deficit. NARRATOR: Remember when Jon Tester said -- SEN. JON TESTER (D), MONTANA: Is this a time we make the Senate look a little more like Montana? NARRATOR: Well, now, Tester is looking a little more like Washington. Tester called himself a dirt farmer. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: Tester is a dirt farmer. Those are ads that are being run against Montana Senator Jon Tester. And those are ads that are supposedly not at all about Montana Senator Jon Tester. They`re just issue ads that happen to mention him. And because they`re supposedly issue ads that just mention him, the Karl Rove unlimited donation group that`s running those ads does not have to say where they`re getting their money from, because they`re not all about Jon Tester. The post-Citizens United money in politics situation is pretty disgusting everywhere. But in the state of Montana, the pre- and post- Citizens United difference is particularly stark because Montana had been a lone state hold-out, retaining their anti-corruption laws, at least for their state level elections, even as the Supreme Court handed federal elections over to unlimited and corporate spending. Then, yesterday, the court ruled that Montana couldn`t hold out any longer. Montana`s own state laws are overruled by Citizens United, too, and it`s open season on Montana elections. Joining us now for the interview is U.S. Senator Jon Tester of Montana, facing re-election in November, in a race that is saturated with over $300 million in ads from outside groups. Senator Tester, thank you for being here. TESTER: Hey, it`s great to be with you, Rachel. Thanks for having me. MADDOW: You have said that the Supreme Court ruling rolled Montana back 100 years. Back to when the zillionaires just bought the elections outright. What do you think the immediate effect is going to be on your state? TESTER: Well, I think it`s going -- what you`re seeing at the national level in Senate races and House races, Montana is going to see it in the state-wide races, too. I think it`s very unfortunate. You know, about 100 years ago, back in 1912, the voters of Montana got tired of folks like William Clark buying their state, buying their government, and becoming a government that serves corporations. And they said enough is enough, and in 1912, they changed it. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court, I don`t think, used good judgment or common sense when they made this decision to make corporations like people to give corporations more rights than people. And now, what we`re going to see in Montana is corporations and their big money controlling elections a lot more than people and their ideas. And people and ideas are what elections should be about. That`s a Montana value. MADDOW: You have never been a particularly ideological guy. You`ve always been a pretty independent, centrist Democrat in Washington in your career before that. When you talk to people in Montana about this, does it have an ideological cast? Do people have an opinion on this based on where they`re coming from on other political issues or is this something on which Montanans you think can see eye to eye, even across the aisle? TESTER: I think it cut party lines for sure. I have people come up to me all the time, and I guarantee they`re not all Democrats, they`re not all Republicans, they`re not all libertarians, and they say, what`s going on with Citizens United? Is Congress going to be able to do anything about it? Because they understand -- I mean, Montanans understand what a negative impact this is going to have on elections. It really is a kick in the teeth to our democracy, and I think Montanans understand it. And I think it does cut party lines. Interestingly enough, my opponent in the race believes the Citizens United decision was a smart decision. He said that in a debate a few weeks ago. And he`s endorsed by Citizens United. So, the differences between me and my opponent on this issue are very, very stark. But, you know, he`s you now, he`s -- you`ve said, has nearly $4 million they have spent all on negative ads, trying to make me into something I`m not and if they`re able to do that and have fiction trump fact, they`ve got a chance of winning this election. We have been holding our own pretty well even though the amount of money coming from third parties, secret money you talked about in the previous segment, is ridiculous. No transparency, no accountability, and not good for democracy. MADDOW: When you have run in previous races, in a political climate that was not like this in terms of there being dark money around, can you give us what the difference is? Obviously, you have done well raising money. You have raised more in your campaign fund than Denny Rehberg has raised in this. It`s just that there`s all that outside money going to support him. How do you have to run differently given the outside money that you don`t know the source of? TESTER: Well -- I mean, we`ve got to be smarter. We have got to run better ads, we have to outwork them. I mean, just up and down the line, we`ve got to do a better job. The unfortunate part is, and, Rachel, and your viewers, Montana has been a very transparent state. Their government is very transparent. I think that`s a good thing. I think that`s the way it should be in Washington, D.C., too, as transparent as possible. What ends up with the secret dark money is there`s no transparency, there`s no accountability. We don`t know where this money is coming from at all, and there`s absolutely -- could be from out of foreign corporations that are putting the money into this thing. It really -- it really allows itself for a high level of corruption. And that`s not how -- that`s now how the government should work and certainly not how a democracy will work over the long haul. There`s got to be change. MADDOW: Do you think that Congress can do anything to stop it? Obviously, the bar got a lot higher with this Supreme Court decision? TESTER: Yes, well, I think the only way it can be done is a constitutional amendment. Hopefully, people will get sick of this in short order and understand they need to take their government back. I they think they will. I think this cycle is going to show them what it`s like. If it`s not repealed by 2014, I think it will be shortly thereafter. Obviously, the court isn`t going to help us with it. MADDOW: Montana U.S. Senator Jon Tester, thanks very much for your time tonight, sir. I know you`re a busy man. I really appreciate it. TESTER: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: All right. Up next, acting. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: OK. Acting, coming up. I promise. The Republican Party`s agenda in Congress hit a big snag in the Senate today. The Republican Party`s agenda in Congress is, of course: jobs, jobs, jobs -- by which I mean abortion. Their laser-like focus on jobs, jobs, job-abortion has produced a ton of legislation already this year. They tried to amend the House spending bill to restrict access to abortion under the health reform law. They expedited a bill to the House floor that would require doctors to investigate women`s motives for seeking an abortion. They introduced a U.S. Senate bill to make it harder for young women to get abortions. They pushed a bill in the House to limit the time during which women can get abortions in Washington, D.C. And speaking of D.C., after threatening last year to shut down the entire federal government over Republicans` desperate need to ban D.C. from using its own money to fund abortions for low-income women, House Republicans this year have already put the local D.C. abortion funding ban into this year`s budget. And a bill that would have given D.C. more control over its own money and its own budget died an unceremonious death in the Senate today. It was removed from the schedule after Republican Senator Rand Paul tried to add a host of amendments to force on D.C. his own chosen gun laws, his own chosen rollbacks of union rights, and, of course, because abortion is job one, he insisted on a doubling down on that ban on using local D.C. funds for abortion. The Republicans are focused. The Republican focus on jobs, jobs, jobs, by which I mean abortion, has just been exhaustive this year. They don`t get that much credit for it, but it`s really most of what they`re working on. But if you are a member of Congress, even if you are a Republican member of Congress who is singularly dedicated to the very important issue of creating jobs, by which I mean restricting abortion rights, sometimes you still simply have to work on something else. You have to work on other issues that happen to be important to the running of the country, besides abortion. Things like infrastructure, keeping the nation`s highways running, or emergency preparedness, or maybe, for example, extending the country`s flood insurance program, which covers 5.6 million properties in flood-prone areas. The flood insurance program is set to expire at the end of next month. And as if to remind us all how important that is, big swaths of the state of Florida are underwater right now. Tropical storm Debby has been dousing the western coast of Florida. One Florida County near Tallahassee has seen more than two feet of rain in the last few days. Residents stranded there by flooding had to be rescued by boat. Parts of the interstate along a 50-mile stretch of Florida between Jacksonville and Tallahassee were shut down because of all the flooding. So, great, sounds like a good time to make sure the nation`s flood insurance program doesn`t expire, right? Well, what had been a bipartisan effort in the Senate to extend that program suddenly became a partisan disaster today, because today, the flood insurance bill came face to face with the Republicans` abortion above all else agenda. They couldn`t help themselves. They couldn`t let a totally unrelated bill with broad bipartisan support about flooding, they couldn`t let that pass without turning it into some way to go after abortion rights. Republican Senator Rand Paul, who`s theoretically a small government, get the government out of my business guy, he is pushing for a personhood amendment to the flood insurance thing. Rand Paul wants to add to flood insurance a personhood measure, like the one that was defeated, even by voters in Mississippi last fall. A measure that declares a fertilized egg is a person, declares a woman to have become two people, essentially as soon as she has had sex, thereby banning all abortion as well as some common forms of hormonal birth control. That`s what Rand Paul wants to do with the flood insurance bill. This kind of thing has been happening all session. Jobs, jobs, job- abortion. But this time, this time, Senator Harry Reid on the Democratic side has had enough. The Rand Paul personhood amendment to the flood thing seems to have aroused real genuine anger in the mild-mannered Senate majority leader. In responding to the personhood amendment, Senator Reid lost his temper today. He lit into Republicans on the Senate floor. Here`s the thing about harry Reid losing his temper, though, and lighting into Republicans. Harry Reid is so soft-spoken, so mild-mannered, so beyond calm and collected, his demeanor so politely unperturbed, that even when he is saying mean, angry, fed up, even sarcastic words, he does not sound mean, angry, fed up, or sarcastic. He sounds nice. For example, about two-thirds of the way through his tirade about the anti-abortion personhood amendment to the flood bill, Senator Reid says, "I think this is outlandish." only, here`s how he says it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I think this is outlandish. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Outlandish. The substance of Senator Reid`s speech was compelling and important and fiery if you read it on the page, but the delivery was -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REID: Outlandish. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Outlandish. So in order that you may fully appreciate the substance of Harry Reid inveighing against the Republican jobs, jobs, job-abortion agenda today, Kent Jones has translated it for us, translating Harry Reid`s angry-looking words into actually angry-sounding words. KENT JONES: I have been very patient working with my Republican colleagues, in allowing amendments, that are relative amendments on issues, and sometimes we even do non-relevant amendments. But, really, on flood insurance?! The big pushers of this bill are Republican senators, veteran Republican senators! And they better work on their side of the aisle -- because I am not going to put up with that on flood insurance! I can be condemned by outside forces. My friends can say, let them have a vote on it! There will not be a vote on that in flood insurance. We will either do flood insurance with the amendments dealing with flood insurance, or we won`t do it! MADDOW: Harry Reid`s "rant" against the Republican effort to attach an anti-abortion personhood amendment to the flood insurance bill, as translated for our non-sleeping viewer by the great Kent Jones. Kent, I have never loved you more than I love you in this moment and I have loved you for a long time. JONES: I`m still pretty angry. MADDOW: I have a cough drop if you need it. JONES: I will. MADDOW: All right. A quick programming note before you go. Tomorrow night, our guest for the interview is going to be Massachusetts Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren. Obviously, we would love to have her opponent, Republican Senator Scott Brown on this show as well, but he never returns our phone calls. We are always excited to have Elizabeth Warren here. Scott Brown, call me, anytime. Now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a great night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END