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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 07/13/12

Guests: Shannon O`Brien

ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: Have a great weekend. That`s "THE ED SHOW". I`m Ed Schultz. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel. RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Have a great weekend, my friend. SCHULTZ: I will do that. I`m on orders by you to do that. I`ll do it. (LAUGHTER) MADDOW: All right. Thanks, man. SCHULTZ: You bet. MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. After two very bad weeks on the campaign trail, after really not being able to catch a break at all, with this week in particular just getting worse and worse and worse day by day, today, the Mitt Romney for president campaign did something they have never done with their normally rather interview shy candidate. It was a wall to wall blanket the networks blitz of interviews. Governor Romney talked to ABC, he talked to CBS, he talked to NBC, he talked to CNN, he talked to FOX News. He talked to MS-- well, no, actually, Mitt Romney did not talk to MSNBC. But in five hastily called interviews with everybody but MSNBC, Mitt Romney repeated without variation the same thing over and over and over and over and over again today. He left Bain Capital in 1999. He left to run the Olympics. And anybody criticizing him for what Bain did after 1999 should apologize. Mr. Romney said specifically that President Obama should apologize because he, Mitt Romney, was gone from Bain by 1999. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In February of 1999, I left Bain Capital. I had no involvement with the management of Bain Capital after February of 1999. I had no role whatsoever in the management of Bain Capital after February of 1999. I had no role whatsoever in the management of Bain Capital after February of 1999. I left in February of 1999, relinquished all management authority and role in Bain Capital after February of 1999. The truth is that I left any role at Bain Capital in February of `99. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: I will admit that part of me was bummed that I didn`t get one of these Mitt Romney interviews who everybody else got one. But on the other hand, I realize all he would have said to me is, "I left Bain Capital in 1999." And I would have said, pardon? And he would have said, "I left Bain Capital in 1999." I would say, "Can I change the subject?" He would say, "I left". Here`s why it matters, this question of whether or not Mitt Romney left Bain Capital in 1999. The question of Mitt Romney when he was at Bain Capital and when he left, when he really left. It`s critical to Mitt Romney`s viability as a political candidate that he left Bain Capital in 1999 as he says and says and says and says. Mitt Romney`s electability depends in part on that being true, which is why he says it all the time. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) ROMNEY: I left that business in 1999 to help put the Salt Lake City Olympics back on track. I worked at one company, Bain, for 25 years, and I left that to go off and help save the Olympic Games. I left Massachusetts to go run the Olympics and left my organization. I was out there full time. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: I left Bain in 1999. I was out there full time. I was here no time. The Romney campaign should start printing that on shirts and coffee cups and bumper stickers and dog outfit`s because that`s statement is central to Governor Romney`s campaign. Last year, that assertion appeared in a very plain English on the form that Mr. Romney had to file to run for president, his financial disclosure form. It`s very plain English. It says, "Mr. Romney retired from Bain Capital on February 11, 1999, to head the salt lake organizer committee. Since February 11th, 1999, Mr. Romney has not had any active role with any Bain Capital entity and has not involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way." You do not have to be a lawyer to know what "in any way" means. The reason Mr. Romney keeps insisting he left Bain Capital a few weeks into 1999 is that he doesn`t want to answer for things Bain Capital did after that. He doesn`t want to answer for layoffs and bankruptcy at Dynamic Details. Mr. Romney does not want to answer for the layoffs and closing of the GST steel mill where the federal government had to come in and bail out the company`s pension funds. He does not want to answer for the bankruptcy of the American Pad and Paper Company, or the way Modus Media and SMTC Corp sent jobs overseas. He doesn`t want to answer for the bankruptcy of Stage Stores. Mr. Romney does not want to answer for any of those things that happened add Bain Capital after he said he doggone said he left that doggone company. And so, now, Mitt Romney has a problem, which is two fold. The first fold: reporters have been finding and publishing lots and lots and lots of incidents where Mitt Romney shows up in Bain Capital documents as being very much a part of the company after 1999. David Corn at "Mother Jones" and Josh Marshall at "Talking Points Memo" have been publishing Bain Capital documents like this one from after 1999. This one from the year 2000, showing Mitt Romney as the sole shareholder, sole director, chief executive officer and president of Bain Capital. Here`s one from the following year, from 2001, same thing. Bain Capital telling federal authorities that Mitt Romney owns Bain and is the boss. "The Boston Globe" yesterday built on that reporting, finding financial disclosure forms for Mr. Romney that list him as the 100 percent sole owner of Bain Capital in 2002. As these stories have started breaking, as this reporting over the last couple weeks has started snowballing, the response from Mr. Romney has been that these documents that show his name on them from Bain Capital after 1999, these documents don`t matter. These are just legal mumbo jumbo. It`s just a quirk of the law. Even though I Mitt Romney have signed these documents saying that I, Mitt Romney, am principally engaged in the business of serving as the sole stockholder of the firm, that`s just legal stuff. That`s just a technicality. I don`t mean it. It`s not really true. If you were a rich investment manager like me, you would understand. Really, you would understand in your heart. Today, Mr. Romney elaborated on his defense by saying all of the forms, his norms being on all of the forms well after 1999, all of these forms, what they meant was that he was the owner, but he was not as the owner paying attention to these things that he owned. He was not paying attention to anything at Bain. He was not steering anything. He was not going to meetings, he was not making decisions, he was not doing anything at Bain -- he was just still owning it. If that`s true, it means Mr. Romney wants us to believe -- look at this, look. Look. He wants us to believe that he got paid a lot for doing absolutely nothing. He made $100,000 in 2001 and again in 2002 for the job of doing absolutely nothing at Bain Capital. Nothing at all. That 100 grand salary is not the return from an investment. That`s not somebody paying him back a loan. That`s Mitt Romney making $100,000 for a job that he insists he did not do. Are there any more of those jobs available out there where you get paid 100 grand to do nothing? To swear you`re doing absolutely nothing? Are these jobs available if your name is not Mitt Romney? No, maybe, call me? Well now Mitt Romney has a further problem beyond that. Back when he ran for governor of Massachusetts in 2002, Mr. Romney gave sworn testimony about being a legal resident of Massachusetts and therefore being eligible to run for governor. I lived in Massachusetts at the time, I still do, and I remember people having a little consternation over the fact that this guy who lived in Utah was going to be governor of Massachusetts. But he testified that actually he didn`t live in Utah. He still lived in Massachusetts. In his testimony, he said, even though he had been busy running the Olympics in Utah, he traveled to Massachusetts all the time for both personal reason and for business reasons. Business reasons? He specifically mentioned having to come back for board meetings in 2002. Including apparently board meetings for a company that Bain had a stake in. So he swore then he was coming back to Massachusetts in 2002 to go to board meetings. He says now he was doing nothing, nothing, nothing at all related to Bain after 1999. So Mitt Romney says he was not there at Bain. He also says he was there. It all depends on who`s asking and why. This year, when Republicans were trying to pick a Republican nominee to run against President Obama, Mr. Romney`s opponents in the primary tried to nail him on this. They tried to say he should release his tax returns. He should clear up all this stuff. Didn`t really go anywhere in the primaries. The first person who realized Mitt Romney was struggling with this, that he was trying to create a little cognitive dissonance around this, that he was trying to make people believe two opposite things at the same time, he wanted to evade responsibility for what happened at his firm while still getting credit for being at his firm, the first person who realized that, the first person somebody who wrestled with that in the campaign against Mitt Romney was his opponent back in that Massachusetts governor`s race a decade ago. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SHANNON O`BRIEN (D-MASS), FORMER GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: When you cut people`s health care benefits, cut their pension benefits and close the plant, it has become known that your company made $102 million in profits from the sale of that company, from dismantling that company. My question to you is, couldn`t you have made $80 million instead of $102 million and helped keep people in their health care benefits for a little bit longer or extended their pension benefits? ROMNEY: I was off at the Olympics at the time -- O`BRIEN: Are you going to answer the question? ROMNEY: I was at the Olympics when that occurred. O`BRIEN: Are you going to answer the question? The fact is you were still signing documents as CEO of the company while you were away. As a matter of fact, in the summer of 2001, when you were leaving the Olympics, you made a statement in the paper that in the summer of 2001, you were finally relinquishing 100 percent control of your position in Bain. And so apparently, you hadn`t relinquished that beforehand. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Joining us now is Shannon O`Brien, Mitt Romney`s Democratic opponent in the 2002 race for Massachusetts governor. Ms. O`Brien is a former Massachusetts state treasurer, a former member of the both the state House and state Senate. Shannon O`Brien, it`s really nice to have you here. Thank you for being with us. O`BRIEN: Hi, Rachel. Very nice to meet you and nice to meet a neighbor from Northampton. I lived in Easthampton. MADDOW: Very good. You know, looking back at the debate footage, as the first person to press Mitt Romney in that campaign about what really happened at Bain Capital and when he was responsible for Bain Capital`s actions, are you surprised to see it coming up again now? Is this the same basic issue you were confronting him with 10 years ago? O`BRIEN: Yes, it`s the same basic issue and he criticized me deeply for having done something like this. For having deigned to question his truthfulness. And it`s taken 10 years to figure out that actually maybe he wasn`t telling the truth. MADDOW: Obviously, the Obama campaign has been going after Mr. Romney for the apparent conflicts in the record. I wonder, have you been in contact with the Obama campaign? Are they interested in what you know? Are they following any of your lead from what you raised with him a decade ago? O`BRIEN: Well, I certainly thing that a lot of the record that was created in 2002, the Obama people are certainly looking at. I mean, I can`t see this from here, but I guess you have had the videotape of one of our earlier debates from 2002. And so I really think that after 10 years, it`s really making sure that you hold someone accountable for the statements they make. You know, governor -- former Governor Romney has demonstrated a pattern of basically not being completely transparent about his financial dealings. On the one hand he says the reason he should be the president of the United States is because he`s a job creator and the reason we should believe he`s a job creator is because of his fantastic track record at Bain. But then when pressed about the bankruptcies and the lost jobs, then he doesn`t want to have anything to do with that. So I think that we were able to uncover quite a bit of that in 2002, and I think it`s just looking at the inconsistencies, not only in 2002 but you know in his last race and in this race. Just making sure that he`s being truthful and making sure he`s being consistent in the message he`s pressing for making the case to the people of the United States. MADDOW: I have been marinating in the various documents for a few days, trying to figure out what`s important, what might really be legal mumbo jumbo the way his campaign is pointing out, and it sticks out for me he was paid $100,000 both in 2001 and 2002 by Bain, not because of an investment but as a salary for being an executive. And if he is simultaneously claiming he did nothing, he did absolutely nothing, and that he was paid $100,000 for being an executive, it seems to me like one of the things cannot stand. This has to fall apart, if only on that point. Is that detail about him getting paid 100 grand for each of those years, is that new to you? Did you know that at the time? O`BRIEN: I mean, that was part of his statement of financial interest when he was in the campaign, and I think that that`s one of the reasons that we pressed him on this issue in 2002. And I actually probably believe that given the time that he was taking to run the Olympics before he came back to Massachusetts to run, probably the day to day operations of the business of the size and magnitude of Bain, he probably wasn`t doing. But what happens in these private investment companies is initially in essence when you make an investment, you get seats on the board, and there`s a reason you get seats on the board. Because you`re basically watching overseeing the management of these other companies, watching the decisions that they`re making, making sure they`re following good corporate governance and in essence protecting the investment that you`ve made. I actually have sat on a number of different corporate boards including some financial institutions and I understand that even if you`re not involved in the day to day operations, it`s that board work that also becomes important. So, he probably was getting paid for some of that board involvement he was continuing to maintain while he was still running the Olympics. That`s my reading from all of the stories I have seen in the paper. MADDOW: Well, having him say so black and white today over and over and over again on all of the network interviews, I was doing nothing, nothing, nothing, and then getting paid for definitely something -- O`BRIEN: But, Rachel, as someone who sat on a board, it`s sort of interesting because board members be good board members, and we get told this by management all the time, there`s a bright line between what management does and what a board does. What a board does is very, very important, frankly not only to the governance to a company, the sort of direction that the company is taking, the major decisions that a company is taking./ And so, even though you may not be involved in the day to day management of Bain or even in day to day management of the companies that you discussed before I came on, but you`re certainly involved in the direction and the major decisions that are taking place. So, you know, I think that it`s somewhat disingenuous for him to say he was not involved if he was acknowledging that he did board work as a result of his involvement on behalf of Bain`s investments. MADDOW: Shannon O`Brien, the 2002 Democratic Massachusetts gubernatorial nominee who ran against Mitt Romney -- thank you for your insight and helping us figure this out tonight. This rabbit hole is yet deeper and we`re going to keep going. But you helped us figure out some of it. O`BRIEN: Thank you. MADDOW: All right. One quick programming note on this actually. One of Mitt Romney`s former partners at Bain Capital, Ed Conard, is going to be Chris Hayes` guest live tomorrow on "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES". That`s tomorrow morning at 8:00 Eastern, here on MSNBC. That`s going to be really good. You should definitely watch that. If you`re not going to be up that early, DVR it. OK? Good. All right. Lots still ahead, including a popcorn-worthy spy movie ending to this show tonight. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: We are breaking news tonight out of Mississippi. We have been following this story closely. As you know, the state`s only abortion clinic, there`s only one abortion clinic in Mississippi and it`s been threatened with closure by a new law in Mississippi. It`s a new law that specifically targets new regulations only at abortion providers. These new rules designed to be impossible for clinics to comply with, it seems. It seems pretty clear that it`s designed to shut them down. The proponents of the law said that`s what they were trying to do with this law. In this case, the new law in Mississippi requires all abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Something the primary providers at the only Mississippi clinic do not have. Something Mississippi`s Republican governor knew they did not have when he signed that la bill into law in April. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. PHIL BRYANT (R)., MISSISSIPPI: I think it`s historic that today you see the first step in a movement, I believe, to do what we campaigned on, to say we`re going to try to end abortion in Mississippi. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: They admitted they wanted to shut down all access to abortion in Mississippi. The goal of Mississippi lawmakers in passing these new targeted legislations -- targeted regulations -- was to shut down the state`s only clinic. The clinic as we have been reporting here, sued in federal court to block the law, to keep themselves open. Tonight, a federal judge has issued a ruling that partially grants the clinic`s request. The judge did not block the law itself. He ruled tonight that the new law will be allowed to take effect in Mississippi, but he`s blocking the state from enforcing the law`s penalties as long as the clinic is trying to comply with the new law. So, bottom line, as yet unseen. It seems that the state is still trying to shut down the last clinic in the state, but they will not be allowed to take action against the clinic to insure of that, at least now. In any case, here`s how the clinic`s owner is reacting to this ruling tonight. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) DIANE DERZIS, OWNER OF JACKSON WOMEN`S HEALTH ORGANIZATION: We`re pretty happy. This is -- this was our major concern, whether or not we could be criminally or civilly prosecuted. As you know, we have done everything we can to comply with this law. We`ve put in all of our applications. We`re calling the hospitals weekly. But everything is out of our hands now, and into the hands of the hospital. So we`ll be able to operate without fear of either being criminally or civilly prosecuted which is a major, major relief. I think that the judge was clear that we can come back at any time if we need to. I`m hoping that we`re going to be effective and able to get the privileges. I would certainly like to extend an invitation to Governor Bryant and all of the officials who have been real concerned about this, maybe they can help us out and make some calls to the hospitals to see if they could, you know, hasten the process. Otherwise, you know, we plan on seeing it through. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: So as of tonight, a bit of a reprieve. The law that`s designed to end abortion in Mississippi has been allowed to stay on the books, but access to abortion will not be ended in Mississippi just yet. Center for Reproductive Rights responding saying they will remain vigilant in their fight to ensure that the clinic isn`t subject to penalties that would force its doors to close and deprive Mississippi women of their constitutionally protected rights. The clinic`s owner making it clear to us tonight that if she is not ultimately able to comply with that law, she will continue to fight it in court. We will continue to watch it closely because Mississippi is still trying its damnedest to become the first state in the country to ban abortion with or without overturning Roe versus Wade. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Did you ever go to Even if you`re not a person who is into boats, even if you don`t live by a big waterway or anything. If you`re anywhere near as dorky as I am, you will find fascinating. From their world map here, you can zoom in anywhere in the world and see a live representation of what ships are doing in what body of water. So zooming in on New York City, you can see all of the little vessels there. If you click on one of the boats and that boat really is there in that spot right there where you clicked on it -- it`s a tug boat -- on New York City, in New York City harbor, you get a name, you get a picture of the tugboat. Sometimes you get a bunch of pictures of the boat is seeing it in different places. You can find out its size, its home port, where it`s going. It`s totally mesmerizing. And you can get it in real time all over the world for all kinds of ship traffic. And because exists and I`m obsessed with it, I find it very easy to get full details and lots and lots of lovely photos of this guy, the Altair Voyager. The Altair Voyager is a Chevron oil tanker that used to be very famous. That`s because the Altair Voyager used to have a different name. Until the George W. Bush administration took office in 2001, the Altair Voyager was called the Condoleezza Rice. Dr. Rice was a long time board member of Chevron when George Bush hired her to be the country`s national security adviser. She had a tanker named after her. So, yes, the former oil executive president picked the CEO of the oil services company Halliburton to be vice president and he picked a board member of Chevron who had a tanker named after her to be national security adviser. It was a different time. But pity poor Chevron, right, because when the Bush administration took office, Chevron faced the prospect of having one of its oil tankers floating around the Middle East or off the coast of Nigeria or something with the American national security adviser`s name painted in big letters on the side of their tanker. That`s awkward. That was awkward even before Iraq. So Chevron decided in 2001 that they would change the name of the Condoleezza Rice. It would no longer being the Condoleezza Rice. It would instead be the Altair Voyager, which is the name of a star, a very noncontroversial star. But now the woman who once had her name painted or so it would stop as a floating symbol of the Bush administration`s cozy ties to the oil industry is once again having her name turned up in a new round of Republican politics, for a guy who hopes that name stands for something else now. Melissa Harris-Perry joins us next. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: At "The Washington Post," Chris Cillizza reported today that Mitt Romney is adding two new communications professionals to the Mitt Romney for president communication`s team or "Rom Com" we call them in when we`re in a hurry. This followed an avalanche of bad news and, frankly, bad handling of bad news over there. All of the new detail on Bain, the Swiss bank account issue, even his own surrogates calling for his tax returns, even as some of his other surrogates say, no, no, don`t release the tax returns, getting booed at the NAACP. The members of team Rom Com have really been back on their heels all week long. Just an example, here is how team Rom Com handled just the last 24- hour news cycle. This right here, I can`t make it look any better than that. This right here appears to be the only picture that exists of Mitt Romney`s high profile fund-raiser in Wyoming last night with former Vice President Dick Cheney. That`s it, a picture of people`s backs taken from a distance from behind a pole, maybe a tree. That`s the only photo. The Romney team was so nervous that their candidate would be photographed alongside Dick Cheney, Mr. 13 percent approval rating, that they banned TV cameras from covering the event. "The L.A. Times" reports, "A pool of reporters was allowed into the country club event, but media photos of Cheney and Romney together were not permitted. Not only were they banned from photographing Romney and Cheney together, they weren`t even allowed to eyewitness the two men standing together." Quote, "When Mr. Romney arrived at the reception, he greeted Mr. Cheney with a hand shake and his wife, Lynne, with a kiss, but reporters were promptly escorted out by the campaign." Later a little while later in the evening, quote, "Once at Mr. Cheney`s private residence, a reporter within earshot of Mr. Romney`s remarks, heard Mr. Romney invoke Mr. Bush but was not able to make out the context and was again escorted away by a came pain staffer." The Romney campaign went to great length to allow there to be a Dick Cheney-Mitt Romney joint appearance last night while also squelching any discussion or evidence that Mitt Romney and Dick Cheney have anything to do with each other. That was a hard one to pull off, right? And then, in that same news cycle, the we`re not like Bush-Cheney news cycle, in that same news cycle, somebody in Romney land apparently had the genius idea of floating as Mr. Romney`s vice presidential nominee, the highest profile person from the Bush/Cheneys administration who was not George W. Bush or Dick Cheney. Ta-da! But please don`t think of George W. Bush. So, yes, they`re getting new communications in over at Romney land. It seems like a good idea. With or without these, I`m sure excellent new communications folks coming in to try to tune up the shop at Rom Com, it`s going to be hard for them to run from the real connections between Mr. Romney`s campaign and the last Republican presidency. I mean, even if Mitt Romney has so far managed to avoid being seen next to George W. Bush, there are now a bush of statements on the record of him and Dick Cheney making proverbial googly eyes at each other. Mitt Romney saying back in September that Dick Cheney is, quote, "man of wisdom and judgment," somebody he would model his own vice presidential pick after. Dick Cheney saying last night, "When I think of the kind of individual I want in the Oval Office, that man is Mitt Romney." Mitt Romney then returning the favor, saying of Dick Cheney last night, quote, "That`s quite a man, quite a leader." Seventeen of Mitt Romney`s 24 foreign policy advisers are people who served in the Bush/Cheney administration. When Vice President Joe Biden accused the Romney campaign of being laden with Bush/Cheney foreign policy guys, the Romney campaign conference call to rebut that charge was with by two Bush/Cheney foreign policy guys. And on matters of policy, in terms of what they`re in favor of, Mitt Romney and Dick they`re on the same page even on just on very simple issues like the wars. Like Mr. Cheney, said it was a great mistake, in his words, it was tragic to end the war in Iraq. And like Dick Cheney, he also does not want an end to the Afghanistan war. I understand some of what they might think is the appeal of floating Condoleezza Rice as Mitt Romney`s vice president, particularly since it`s not about Bain Capital and that makes it a comparatively good topic of conversation today. But did they not realize that putting Condoleezza Rice into today`s news make them think about all of the connections between the Bush and Romney administrations. Is Condoleezza Rice supposed to be blindingly interesting that we don`t remember why it is she`s that famous? Or maybe it was an intentional thing. Maybe the Romney campaign is getting closer to allowing the photos, right? To say publicly that a Mitt Romney presidency might be a third term of Bush/Cheney and, hey, what about it? Joining us is now is the host of the great new show, "MELISSA HARRIS- PERRY," her on MSNBC, a woman named Melissa Harris-Perry. Great to have you here. Thank you. MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: Thanks. MADDOW: Which is your dream ticket, Mitt Romney/Condoleezza Rice, or Mitt Romney/Liz Cheney? HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, no, it`s Romney/Rice? MADDOW: Why? HARRIS-PERRY: Well, for lots of -- I mean, Romney/Rice is fun to say. But there`s actually some reasons I really like a Romney/Rice ticket. One is I like the idea of a Condi Rice/Joe Biden presidential debate. I think that`s an actual debate about folks who have sort of foreign policy about the two big issues that have dominated our foreign policy scene, Afghanistan and Iraq. And I would like to hear Condoleezza Rice talk about how she would defend that, particularly in a political circumstance because she hasn`t had to do that. So ,I would love that debate. The other piece of it is I just -- I am ready for an America with an African-American woman political scientist who used to be provost of a university as a vice presidential candidate. It makes me happy. MADDOW: Well, she was secretary of state. She was national security adviser. She definitely got chops. I was an attendee of that university when she was the provost there. And if that was some sort of audition for something, I don`t think I`d recommended her. I can tell you from my personal experience. But the idea of Liz Cheney and Mitt Romney has long been my favorite matchup because I want to call the question, right? I want to call the question on whether or not the current Republican Party is an inherited or the Bush/Cheney legacy or whether something has changed. If something has changed, what has changed? Because there`s this lacuna -- to use a favorite term of Condoleezza Rice -- between what they are allowed -- what we know happened in the Bush/Cheney era and what Republicans explain about what they do different. There`s this gap. I don`t know what they do. HARRIS-PERRY: You know, part of it I think is interesting like we can`t stand next to Lynn or Dick Cheney, we`re not going to say George W. Bush`s name in ear shot of a reporter is this challenge of what the Republican Party currently is. MADDOW: Yes. HARRIS-PERRY: Now, we`ve talked about, I think, in the primary season around the kind of moral, Southern, right-wing base, and how is a relatively moderate rich guy going to sort of pull along those populous right wingers, but the real challenge, I think is not just showing those up, that`s part of it. But the other real challenge is how do we manage the fact that the last Republican president was not Ronald Reagan. It was George W. Bush. There`s a real record of Republican decisions and those are all decisions from tax policy to the reduction of a social safety net, to foreign policy that looks precisely like the record that Mitt Romney wants to run on. MADDOW: Are we getting close to a point where Romney starts pivoting to defending Bush/Cheney, though, that he starts pivoting to defending those years? I mean, with all of those advisers, with the Dick Cheney thing, the float of the Condoleezza Rice thing, which I can`t say is from the Romney campaign, but nobody believes Drudge made it up himself. HARRIS-PERRY: Right. MADDOW: I mean, are they getting close to the point where they start saying actually, the Bush/Cheney years were good years? HARRIS-PERRY: No, I don`t think 13 percent approval for Dick Cheney - - MADDOW: That`s where he was when he left office. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. But I mean, look, we saw those bumper stickers fairly early on in the Obama administration, the George W. Bush`s stickers, do you miss me yet? I think the re-sounding answer was no. MADDOW: No. No, thanks for asking. HARRIS-PERRY: Right, exactly. MADDOW: Melissa Harris-Perry, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it. HARRIS-PERRY: Absolutely. MADDOW: All right. The new "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY" show is weekend mornings, 10:00 a.m. here on MSNBC, mandatory viewing. All right. Still ahead, the man who was turning out to be the strangest senator in Washington is still refusing to do an interview on this show, but once again, he`s making news on this show -- strange, strange news from senator mcstrangy strange. That is still ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Quick correction, I said earlier that Ed Conard, one of Mitt Romney`s former partners at Bain Capital is going to be on Chris Hayes` show "UP" this weekend. I said he was going to be Chris` guest on tomorrow`s show. I was wrong. Actually, it`s going to be on Sunday`s show. I`m very sorry about that. What it means is you have to tune in tomorrow for what will surely be an excellent "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES", but you need to make sure you tune in again on Sunday if you want to see Chris`s interview with Romney`s former Bain partner. That interview is Sunday, not Saturday. I`m sorry I screwed that up. We`ll be right back and I have to advice you that you`re going to need your popcorn ready for our end of the show special spy movie tonight. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Last time we checked in on Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, he was trying to recover from what turned out to be a whole series of exaggerates he made about the type of high level meetings he was taking as the junior senator from Massachusetts. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS: Each and every day that I have been a United States senator, I`ve been either discussing issues, meeting on issues in secret meetings with kings and queens and prime ministers and business leaders and military leaders, talking, voting, working on issues every single day. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: Secret meetings with kings and queens. That was the strange claim that Scott Brown made during a radio interview last month, a strange claim that as you might have guessed was not strictly speaking accurate. His spokesman attempting at first to simply clarify the comments to Greg Sargent at "The Washington Post" by saying Senator Brown was speaking generally about private meeting he has had with foreign and domestic leaders. Right, so, their private meetings not secret meetings? But really, seriously, he`s meeting with kings and queens? No, next clarification, he misspoke when he said kings and queens. You know, the secret meetings with kings and queens thing did not come in a spontaneous moment of Walter Mitty-like daydreaming like abandon. It turns out his fantastic secret meetings with kings and queens is something he talks about a lot, which the Massachusetts Democratic Party had made tape of and which they proceeding to gleefully unleash to the interwebs complete with a sound track from ABBA. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) (MUSIC) BROWN: Meetings with kings and queens. World leaders and business leaders, kings and queens. From the kings and queens. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: If you thought that the humiliation of seeing your bizarre, wildly overstated self-aggrandizing proclamations set to "Dancing Queen" would be enough to deter you from further embarrassing exaggeration on the campaign trail, you`re not Scott Brown. Don`t forget, this is also the guy who said he saw the photos of dead Osama bin Laden. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: I`ve seen the picture, he`s definitely dead. And if there`s any conspiracy theories out there, you should put them to rest, OK? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: No, Scott Brown, no. You did not see a picture of dead bin Laden. You saw the same hoax picture on the Internet everyone saw. It`s just that you thought it was real, and you told everybody it was real so you`d seem important, a big important senator who gets shown big important things regular people don`t get to see. His staff had to clarify that one as well. Now, he`s got a new one. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: I can name a litany of Democratic sponsored bills that never would have passed if it wasn`t for me. The president had called me and the vice president calls me and Secretary Clinton calls asking for my vote all the time. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: My phone will just not stop ringing. The president, the vice president and Hillary, she`s calling and calling and calling. The inevitable clarification coming by way of the "Boston Globe" today, quoting "Globe", "In reality, Senator Brown`s staff said he has spoken by phone with Hillary Clinton just twice in his whole Senate career. Most recently over a year ago on July 5th, 2011. The other call occurred in December 2010." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: Senator Clinton calls asking for my vote all the time. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So, by all the time, he means twice ever, the last time more than a year ago. And when he says the vice president calls him, Senator Brown`s staff now clarifying what he actually means is he had a phone call, one, with the vice president, and that was a year and a half ago. Presumably, Scott Brown did not clarify these remarks himself because he was in a very important secret meeting with a number of kings and queens looking at bin Laden pictures he found on the Internet but I swear there were real. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Because it`s Friday and we love you, here`s your real life spy story. If you are watching on a podcast or something, now is a good time to hit pause, go get some popcorn or near beer or whatever and then come back, because this is nuts. Ready? OK, ready? Here it goes. Georgi Markov, Bulgarian novelist and dissident, defected from Bulgaria to England in 1969. Went from the Soviet, left and went to England. He went to work for the BBC and communist overlords back home went to work trying to figure out how to assassinate him. On September 7th, 1978, while waiting for a bus at Waterloo Bridge in London, Georgi Markov felt a little jab in the leg, a little scrape or something. He turned around and a saw a man picking up an umbrella like this. The man reportedly apologized for bumping in to him and hopped in a cab and he took the umbrella with him. And while this is what it looked like on the outside, this is what it looked like on the inside. The umbrella had a trigger, a release catch, a spring, a gas cylinder, piercer, a barrel and, oh, yes, a poison pellet. It was rigged as a tiny concealed gun to fire that poison pellet out of the tip of the umbrella. And so, a few days after that man accidentally jabbed this guy with an umbrella at the bus stop, Georgi Markov died. The pellet contained a deadly poison called ricin that is derived from caster beans. To this very day, we still don`t know who killed Georgi Markov, who ordered the killing, who carried it out. But after the Soviet Union fell, a Bulgarian general and former intelligence chief was sentenced to a year and a half in jail for destroying documents related to that assassination. A former deputy interior minister was called to testify about the destruction of those documents, but he committee suicide instead. A third guy who supposedly ran the assassination plot died in a rather mysterious and unexplained car accident. Years later, "The Guardian" newspaper in Britain reported that when the Bulgarian government collapsed, a stack of those special umbrellas was found in the interior ministry. Because this kind of thing is the stuff of spy novels, it can be hard to get your head around the fact it really does happen in real life sometimes. We think that our government`s targeted killings abroad by drone aircraft is an exotic thing. But how about a targeted killing abroad by means of murderous caster bean umbrella gun? Or by means of a nuclear cup of tea that turned its victim bright blue before it kills. Alexander Litvinenko, Russian, a spy, like Georgi Markov, he defected to Britain and he worked there as a journalist. He also consulted with MI5 and MI6, the British equivalent of the FBI and the CIA. In the fall of 2006, Mr. Litvinenko met with men who he believed to be former Russian spies like himself. They met at a fancy hotel in London. They had tea together. And later that day, Litvinenko became ill, very, very ill. Shortly speaking, his hair fell out, his organs failed, he was hospitalized. Ultimately, he turned blue. And within a few weeks he was dead. What killed him was polonium 210, a rare and very radioactive material. Some very small amount of it was dropped on Mr. Litvinenko`s tea at the meeting with the other former spies. Alexander Litvinenko had to be buried in a coffin lined with lead. His body was really quite radioactive. Now, the Brits traced the polonium used to kill Mr. Litvinenko to a nuclear power plant in Russia. When the Brits tried to extradite a suspect in the killing from Russia, the Russians declined. And so, the mystery of who killed Alexander Litvinenko was never solved. Litvinenko`s death is sometimes called the first death by nuclear terrorism. Either a state denying its actions or some other non-state actor using radioactive materials to kill someone. Litvinenko was the first, at least they used to say, but now, there are allegations there may have been another. In late 2004, the president of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat, became ill. Nobody knew exactly what was wrong with him. He flew to France for medical attention. But a few weeks later, he died. Doctors said the death was caused by a massive stroke and a blood condition that couldn`t be explained. The sudden illness, that non-diagnosis, the political stakes of him dying, it`s not surprising his death is a subject of more or less wild conspiracy theories -- everything from him dying of AIDS, to him being deliberately infected with HIV to cause AIDS, to some other poisoned plot. At the heart of most these conspiracies is the allegation that Israel was responsible for killing him. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A nephew of late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat said Saturday his uncle may have died an unnatural death. Many Palestinians believe Arafat was poisoned. Israel denies that claim. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Israel`s denials did not stop the poisoning rumors and conspiracy theories. But how he died is a source of rumor and intrigue and investigation. A few years ago, a couple of years ago, a couple of Israeli journalists got ahold of the 100-page medical report from the doctors who treated him in France until he died. The report said his doctors looked for evidence of the most common poisoned but didn`t find the evidence. There were also two investigations by the Palestinians that turned up nothing in terms of cause of death. No evidence of a conspiracy or poisoning. Nothing fishy except for a lot of rumor and suspicion for almost eight years -- until now. The news channel Al Jazeera has now conducted its own long, detailed investigation in to Yasser Arafat`s death based in part on his widow giving them her late husband`s medical files and some of his belongings, including some of the clothes he wore at the end of his life and a toothbrush of his. The al Jazeera journalist sent those items to a lab in Switzerland to be tested for all sorts of thing. First, doctors looked for heavy metals and for common poisons. They did not find any. You don`t test the person for poison generically. You have to know what poison you are looking for. But after looking for common poisons, they then decided to look for something much more rare -- a certain radioactive element which they found. They reportedly found on Arafat`s clothes and on his toothbrush polonium 210, the same radioactive element that killed Alexander Litvinenko, that Russian ex-spy in London two years after Arafat died. Here`s why this Arafat was killed by nuclear terrorism theory is still seen as a little bit wobbly. The French hospital where Arafat was initially treated never tested him for polonium. So, we don`t have any idea if he was actually exposed to it. We only know it`s apparently on his belongings that were sent to the Swiss lab. But we also know that polonium degrades really quickly. It`s got a half-life of just over four months. So, why would they be able to find it in his clothes in pretty high concentrations almost eight years after he died? And if there was plenty of this material on his belongings, why didn`t it make Mr. Arafat`s widow sick as well. She was in possession of these items that got tested. It`s unlikely they were being held in a lead safe. So, maybe the polonium was planted on his belongings after he died. Maybe. What`s the next step? What would you do? What would you from do here? You dig him up. Seriously. They are going to dig him up. Yasser Arafat`s widow has asked them to exhume her late husband`s body to test it for polonium, to prove whether or not he was assassinated. He`s buried in a mausoleum, on the same compound where the new Palestinian president has his office. And last week, the new Palestinian president agreed to the plan to dig up Yasser Arafat. When that happens, his bones will be taken apart and taken away and tested for polonium-210. What could possibly go wrong? I hope you have a good weekend. I plan to. Why don`t we start it off by spending some time together in prison? THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END