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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 07/17/12

Guests: Dan Rather, Wayne Slater

ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: I mean, this kind of boxes in his selection as well. Howard, great to have you with us tonight. Thanks so much. HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST: OK, Ed. Take care. SCHULTZ: 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. Thank you. And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. The Mitt Romney for president campaign today announced they have hired new staff -- new staff specifically to work with the Republican Party`s new candidate for vice president. There is no Republican Party candidate for vice president. But this announcement today means that the Republican Party would very, very, very, very much like you to think that they will pick a vice president very soon. Hopefully sooner than the next plot twist in the Bain Capital/Mitt Romney won`t release his tax return saga. The party would very much like you to stop talking about Mitt Romney`s tax returns, thank you very much. So, naturally, there are lots of exciting leaked tidbits in today`s news about other things, like how about, say, Mr. Romney`s impending vice presidential selection, which ought to be coming down the pike any day now? "The New York Times" is out with an insider piece about Mr. Romney`s campaign and their vice presidential vetting process, hinting that a likely short list of potential V.P.s has emerged. According to the "New York Times," the finalists are Tim Pa -- sorry, the mild mannered former Minnesota Governor Tim Pa -- Pa --Tim Pawlenty. In addition to Governor snoozy, there`s George W. Bush`s budget director, Ohio Senator Rob Portman, and then what "The Times" refers to as the two dark horse choices, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, the guy who became nationally famous when he suggested taking away Medicare from old people and giving them coupons instead, and there`s also Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Yesterday, Mitt Romney joined Governor Bobby Jindal in Louisiana for some fund-raisers. The Beltway press describing him as buzzed about as one of Mr. Romney`s most visible supporters and as a V.P. short lister. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: I`m Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: According to "The Washington Post," Bobby Jindal`s stock is on the rise. The paper extolling the many conservative virtues that make him a possible vice presidential choice, like for example, criticizing President Obama. Republican voters love that. And fighting with Democrats on TV. That`s a must. Also, he is not old. Mazel tov. And there`s the rolling back of medical care for the poor and uninsured in his state. Maybe that could cancel out Romneycare in Massachusetts? In fact, it would be a huge deal if Mitt Romney did pick Bobby Jindal as his running back, in part because it would be a history making choice. Not just for the Republican Party, but for major party politics as a whole in this country. Bobby Jindal, of course, would be the first Indian American on a major party presidential ticket. And the Republican Party does not have a great record for breaking even their own party`s glass ceilings -- to say nothing of making history all by themselves. Usually, it`s been the Democratic Party who has nominated the various firsts among national candidates. For starters, there`s our first African-American president, Democrat. The first Catholic presidential nominee, Al Smith, who ran against and lost to Herbert Hoover in 1928. Al Smith, Democrat. The first Jewish candidate on a major party ticket, Joe Lieberman, Democrat. Even the first woman candidate in a major party ticket, 24 years before Republicans got around to breaking the same glass ceiling on their side of the aisle, there was Geraldine Ferraro, the Democratic nominee for vice president in 1984. Geraldine Ferraro ran alongside Walter Mondale against Ronald Reagan and George Bush the elder. And Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro got crushed. They lost that election by an enormous margin. They lost 49 states. This is what the electoral map looked like in 1984. Just a sea of red. And now, what is mostly forgotten to history about that election in which Geraldine Ferraro did not become the first woman vice president, what is largely forgotten about that election is a tax return scandal, which among other things showed that Geraldine Ferraro and her husband owed more than $50,000 in back taxes, turned up on their tax returns. They blamed it on an error blamed by an accountant. They paid off the back taxes. Although the Geraldine Ferraro financial mess was a fascinating little election year scandal, it does not tend to be cited as a key factor in Mondale-Ferraro`s spectacular loss in 1984. The reason we care at all about the Geraldine Ferraro tax scandal that has mostly been forgotten, the only reason it actually matters in the historical record of modern American politics, because it represents as big a scandal as there is in American politics stemming from a candidate`s tax returns. It`s pretty much just Geraldine Ferraro and those back taxes in 1984 which everybody forgot about. After the Geraldine Ferraro scandal that year in the 1988 presidential election, George H.W. Bush released 14 years of his tax returns going back to 1973. There`s no exact number of years that is the standard. But when Mitt Romney says the president is that you don`t have to release much in the way of tax returns when you`re running for president, just a couple years will do it, that`s not true. The Obama campaign released this chart this week showing how many years worth of tax returns the last four presidents released as they campaigned for office. They`re putting this out because they think Mr. Romney has been wrong when he asserted he`s following precedent. As you can see there, President Obama released eight years of tax returns. President George W. Bush released 10. Bill Clinton released 12 years. Poppy Bush released 14 years. Then they added on another guy, on the end there, with an asterisk, the last blue column, that is George Romney, who is just a candidate for president. He of course never became president, but he is Mitt Romney`s dad. So what`s normal in presidential politics is to release many years of your tax returns. Now, the Romney campaign if they wanted to could come back and say, yes, yes, yes, all those people who became president and my dad released more than five years, sure, that`s a precedent. But there`s also a different precedent, the last Republican nominee, John McCain, he only released two years. The Romney campaign if they wanted to could make that case. It`s true. John McCain did only release two years of his tax returns when he ran for president. Here`s the political problem for the Romney campaign on talking about John McCain in these terms. A, John McCain lost. B, John McCain was also the guy who had that problem of not being able to return how many houses he had, which probably the Romney campaign doesn`t want to remind anybody about. But more importantly, C, John McCain seriously considered Mitt Romney to be his vice president. Vice presidency, and this is a strange thing about our politics, that the vice presidency is a really important job that in effect is chosen mostly by one person. There isn`t an election to see who becomes the vice presidential nominee. You`re just hoping the presidential nominee individually, personally picks you. And in that contest in the last election, Mitt Romney was up against Sarah Palin for vice president. And Mitt Romney lost to Sarah Palin. John McCain denouncing today what he called a stupid question about that today, saying the reason he decided not to pick Mr. Romney for vice president after he vetted him for the job was because, quote, "We thought Sarah Palin was the better candidate." He meant this as a sign of support for Mr. Romney, but it did not come out that way. The main reason Mitt Romney cannot defend his decision this year to not release his tax returns based on what John McCain did last time around is because w when Mitt Romney was trying to get John McCain to pick him as the vice presidential nominee, Mr. Romney gave to John McCain 23 years of his own tax returns. 23 years. Mr. Romney felt OK disclosing that much about himself in order to try to get the job of vice president. But now that he wants the job of president, not so much. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have already put out one year of tax returns. We`ll put out the next year of tax returns as soon as the accountants have that ready, and that`s what we`re going to put out. You know what, I put out as much as we`re going to put out. People will have a couple years of tax returns. That`s plenty. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: This is getting worse for Mitt Romney, over time, because, of course, the criticism on this is not just coming from Democrats. It`s coming from his own side. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) BILL KRISTOL, WEEKLY STANDARD: He should release the tax returns tomorrow. It`s crazy. You got to release six, eight, 10 years of back tax returns. Take a hit for a day for two. GEORGE WILL, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: If something is going to come out, get it out in a hurry. I do not know why given that Mr. Romney knew the day that McCain lost in 2008 that he was going to run for president again, that he didn`t get all of this out and tidy up some of this offshore accounts and all of the rest. WOLF BLITZER, CNN: Tax returns -- should he release the tax returns? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would. JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: The fact is there are a couple years where he may not have paid any taxes at all. Maybe he`s concerned about that. Maybe he`s concerned about offshore accounts. But if it`s going to come out, he needs to get it out now so he has a couple months to explain it. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s obviously something there because if there was nothing there, he would say, have at it. MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: Put out as much information if you can, even if you don`t release 12 years, at least three, four, five. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: Today, the "National Review" conservative magazine also in an editorial called on Mr. Romney to release his returns, saying his position looks secretive and is a departure from campaign conventions. The problem for Mr. Romney here is not just taking criticism from his own side, from within his own party and from over conservatives, it`s not just that all of these key conservatives are off message or uncoordinated on this issue. It`s not that surface. The problem is deeper than that. The problem is that all of the questions around Mr. Romney`s personal finances are considerable and substantive questions and they are not being answered. This is not a name calling thing. This is not a political choreography problem or a messaging problem. This is conspicuously unanswered problems. And the thing about conspicuously unanswered questions is that they become more acute the longer they go unanswered. And Mr. Romney is not getting any closer to answering these questions. In Mr. Romney`s interview today with that conservative magazine, "The National Review", this was his answer to why he hasn`t gotten rid of his offshore accounts specifically. He says, quote, "Well, first of all, all my investments are managed in a blind trust. By virtue of that, the decisions made by the trustee are decisions that determine where the investments are." The reason he keeps his money offshore is it`s in a blind trust. It`s totally out of his control and not his decision, which might pass for an answer if he wasn`t this guy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: The blind trust is an age old ruse, if you will, which is to say you can always tell the blind trust what it can and cannot do. You give a blind trust rules. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s what Mr. Romney said about blind trusts when he was running for U.S. Senate against Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts. They`re an age old ruse. You get some rules. How about a no offshore accounts rule? But there`s more to his answer to the "National Review" about what he keeps money stashes in offshore accounts. He was not relying exclusively on the excuse he once dismissed as a ruse. He also says, quote, "The so- called offshore account in the Cayman Islands is established by a U.S. firm to allow foreign investors to invest in U.S. enterprises and not be subject to taxes outside of their own jurisdiction." MADDOW: OK, so this account of his in the Caymans is the good kind of thing. It`s a good kind of offshore account because it`s designed to help foreign people invest in the U.S. and avoid paying U.S. taxes when they do it. Great. So why is his money there? Come on, are you foreign? Quote, "Sometimes a foreign entity is formed to allow foreign investors to invest in the United States, which may will be the case with the entities that Democrats are describing as foreign accounts." So his answer to this is what? That he`s a foreign investor in the United States? His own explanation is that this type of account is a good thing for America. It`s set up so foreigners can put their money in that account and invest it in America while avoiding U.S. taxes. But he is not a foreigner. Having a Swiss bank account doesn`t make you foreign. That`s the state of his current explanation. That`s as far as he has gotten to explain why he might hypothetically have an offshore account, because that`s how foreigners invest in America to avoid U.S. taxes. And there`s the issue of his IRA, his individual retirement account. This is a thing that lots of people have. It`s a method of putting money away that avoids it being taxed and the idea is that you`re saving that money for your retirement, an individual retirement account. But because it is a way of avoiding taxation, there`s a limit to how much you can put in one of these accounts. Typically, you can not put more than $6,000 a year into a traditional IRA -- $6,000 per year. Mitt Romney`s IRA has as much as $100 million in it. Wow! So, either Romney has somehow figured out how to contribute to his IRA for nearly 17,000 years or there`s some other explanation for that. I`m sure there`s a explanation, but what is it? There is smoke, which is usually what gets covered in politics, right? And there`s also fire. And this isn`t something where there appears to be smoke and fire. There`s criticism of Mr. Romney from his own side, which is kinetic activity that gets Beltway attention and looks like a campaign in trouble. That sort of thing is kind of run-of-the-mill politics. But this is not just bad optics or bad message control. There is something real and substantive here for which we do not have any reasonable answers. Mr. Romney is wrong when he said there is no precedent for presidential nominees releasing more than a couple years of their tax returns. There is a precedent. It`s very clear, and his explanations for why he has not released tax returns himself are getting worse, not better, over time. Joining us now is Dan Rather. He`s the anchor and managing editor of "Dan Rather Reports" on Access TV. Mr. Rather has covered presidential elections as a network correspondent since 1960. Dan, thank you for being here. DAN RATHER, DAN RATHER REPORTS: Thanks for having me. MADDOW: Do you think the questions around Mr. Romney`s tax returns are run-of-the-mill politics? This is the sort of thing that happens every year, he should be expected to resist these calls or does this stand out in the history of presidential campaigning? RATHER: No, it definitely stands out. You did the precedence before. This is very curious. That Mitt Romney, he`s in a hole, and he just keeps digging. It`s very clear when it comes to his stand, I`m not going to release my taxes beyond last year and the coming year, whatever it is, for two years -- in an old country phrase, that dog won`t hunt. He and his staff must realize that. They place themselves in a position -- they`re on the defensive. They want to be talking about the economy and lack of jobs and Barack Obama`s record. Instead, they`re against the ropes and they`re -- to mix a metaphor, they`re being beaten like a rented mule, and they have got to get off it some time before the convention. I`ll be very surprised, I frequently am surprised, as you know -- I`d be surprised if he doesn`t release some tax returns. He needs to release three to five years and probably eight to 10 years. That`s more or less the precedence as this goes along. If he doesn`t do that, he`s going to stay on the defensive all summer, and I just don`t see how his staff can allow that to happen. MADDOW: The last time that we actually got tax return information released from Mr. Romney was early in the spring, I believe, when he faced another round of conservative criticism on the subject. Even people like Chris Christie who was vying for vice president, was saying, yes, he ought to release those. He seems susceptible to pressure on his own side. I wonder though if it is notable that his own side seems so willing to pressure him. "National Review", Bill Kristol, George Will, the governor of Alabama -- all of these people speaking out who are clearly on his side in the election saying he`s got to move on this. That kind of open criticism, what does it say about the relationship between Mr. Romney`s campaign and the conservative establishment? RATHER: I think it says a lot and none of it is good. That he`s got to release the tax returns sooner or later. And someone -- several people said in the earlier clips that you run, when you have bad news, bad news does not get better with time. Get out in front of it. He would have most of the summer and part of the fall to explain it. This is inexplicable to me. You know, I said before -- I think he has a good chance to win. Barack Obama as an incumbent president is no better than even money at this point to win the election. Here, it gives every appearance of Romney trying to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by holding firm to this. I`m not going to reveal my taxes. Now, George Will, one of the most intelligent of commentaries and on the right side of things, a Republican supporter, says in effect, there must be something really damaging in those tax returns or he would have released them a long time ago. That may or may not prove to be true, but when it comes to it, he`s got to get off the defensive. The only way you can do it right now is release tax returns. I`ll be surprised, frequently surprised, but I`ll be surprised if he doesn`t do it and do it fairly soon. MADDOW: There`s obviously some emotional and political significance to citing Romney`s father as part of the precedent of people releasing those returns. But when George Romney did that in 1968, it was quite a step for him to have taken. There was no expectation at that point that candidates would release multiple years of their tax returns or even one year. There was no established precedent the way there has been since him. I wonder when you take a big picture look back at that, was that a good thing that George Romney did for American politics? I think it was a noble thing for his campaign. Was it good for American politics? RATHER: It was a noble thing for his campaign, although he wound up losing. It`s good thing for the country. We are a people who believe in transparency and accountability. If you made mistakes on your taxes, own up to it, pay the taxes, pay the penalty and move on. There`s something very strange about it. I cannot for the life of me figure it out, because Mitt Romney for whatever else he may or may not be, he`s a very intelligent person and an experienced politician. This is too strange, even for (INAUDIBLE), holds to his point, "I`m not going to release my taxes on an extensive basis." If he holds to that, he`s going to stay on the defensive at least through the summer and maybe through the whole campaign instead of talking about what he wants to talk about -- jobs, the economy, how he can fix the economy and so forth. MADDOW: He`s an experienced politician, of all of the times he ran for office, he only won once. RATHER: That`s a point. MADDOW: I do want to ask you about a program you have airing tonight on HIV in the South. A report on this sort of phenomenal angle on the prevalence -- the proportion of new HIV cases in this country that are in the South. RATHER: This is our story. HIV and AIDS are most prevalent now in the South. The eight to 10 states we used to call Deep Dixie. The public is still fixed on the idea, this is basically a New York City and San Francisco kind of problem. The South has the most cases. They have the least help for cases. They get the least on a proportional basis of federal funding. This came as a great surprise to me and it`s on the program tonight and will be repeated throughout the week. MADDOW: Excellent. Dan Rather, that`s an issue very close to my heart. Dan Rather, anchor and managing editor of "Dan Rather Reports" on Access TV. The title of this latest is "It`s a Southern Thing". It`s on the increasing rates of HIV infections across the Southern states. It airs tonight at 11:00 p.m. Eastern. Mr. Rather, thank you as always. RATHER: Thank you so much, Rachel. Thanks for having me on. MADDOW: All right. Lots ahead still, including "Batman" and the really quite unbelievable reason that our nation`s secretary of state got a bunch of tomatoes thrown at her. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: You know how bad the left wing loons out in Hollyweird, want to keep their liberal, socialist, Kenya, Muslim puppet in office so we can take over America, rob the people in their free will, and rule us all forever with the death panels and the gay military and the free stuff? You know how bad, you know how bad? Bad. (LAUGHTER) MADDOW: Not only was that not the sound bite I was expecting, that was not the right day. That was like the A-block, that was the A-block thing in the projector from two days ago. Let`s do that again. Go. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) RUSH LIMBAUGH, TALK RADIO HOST: Have you heard this new movie, the Batman movie, what is it, the Dark Knight Lights Up, or whatever the name is. Dark Knight Rises, Lights Up, same thing. Do you know the name of the villain in this movie? Bane. The villain in the "Dark Knight Rises" is named bane. B-A-N-E. What is the name of the venture capital firm Romney ran and which there`s now this make believe controversy? Bain. The movie has been in the works for a long time and release date has been known, summer, 2012, for a long time. Do you think that it is accidental that the name of the really vicious, fire-breathing, four-eyed whatever it is villain in this movie is named Bane? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Yes, see, the villains in Batman were prenamed decades in advance in anticipation of a 2012 presidential election in which one of the candidates would have a contested affiliation with a company named Bain. That`s why they named the villain Bane when they -- the conspiracy is deep and it has a lot of foresight, decades of foresight. Also gone with the wind was an early salvo of the clean energy movement. And obviously, Apollo Creed from the Rocky movies is proof that the moon landing was fake. Get it? The creed of Apollo. Can`t you see? Sheepal? The modern American right is hermetically sealed in a media universe that lets in no natural light and no air. They breathe in only their own exhalations and in that sealed referential oxygen-deprived environment, they have become addicted to conspiracy theories which mostly is hilarious, but occasionally, it has real world consequences -- like today in the United States Senate when Republicans blocked ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty, even though it was supported by the Obama administration and by the Bush administration and by the Pentagon and by the Navy and by Republicans you might have heard of names Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, James Baker, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice. Their arguments were no match in the United States Senate for the conspiracy theorists who told Republican senators that they ought to vote against this thing because, you know, black helicopters or whatever, one world government. Occasionally, the conspiracy theories on the right travel even further than to the mainstream of Republican politics as they did on that issue today. Occasionally, the far right conspiracy theories that animate your crazy uncle who watches FOX News all day, occasionally, those theories even escape our borders, which is when it stars to hit the fan, and that`s what just happened. That`s coming up on the show. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: If we exclude people in prison and we exclude people who are not well-known, people who are not famous. So, we`re talking about a universe of people in this country who are well-known people and who are not incarcerated. Of that universe of people, if you were running for office this year, whose endorsement would you least want for your run for office? What famous non-incarcerated person in America offers the most toxic political endorsement of all? I think I know who you`re thinking of and he just gave his endorsement on camera. That`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: However the rest of the 2012 election plays out, this particular stretch of the campaign for Mitt Romney can almost only be filed under "very, very bad". With perhaps a subheading of, "and then it got worse". The controversy over when he left Bain Capital has only grown, and every attack his campaign has tried to launch has boomeranged back at them since then. And now, the leaders of Mr. Romney`s own party are calling on him to release his own tax returns, which he is still steadfastly refusing to do in the face of all the criticism. Governor Romney`s own party is criticizing the Romney campaign not just for the tax return thing, but for how badly they`re handling everything they`re not handling as a campaign. Every time it has seems it couldn`t get worse for Romney, things have gotten worse. Today, in the middle of his already very, very bad time, the worst thing yet happened. President George W. Bush for the first time on camera just endorsed him. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I told -- pretty unattractive metaphor, but I said I crawled out of the swamp, and I`m not crawling back in. And you know, I`m interested in politics. I`m, you know, a supporter of Mitt Romney. I hope he does well. But he can do well without me. REPORTER: Last question on Africa. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Last question on Africa. Quick change the subject. But that really was President George W. Bush`s first on camera endorsement of the presumptive Republican nominee, the last Republican president endorsing the guy who wants to be the next Republican president. Mr. Bush`s previous endorsement of Romney came in the form of an off camera quote given to an ABC reporter as elevator doors closed in front of his face, "I`m for Mitt Romney," the president said, and then he disappeared. Later on this YouTube interview today with someone from the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford University, President Bush talked about why he`s sorry the Bush tax cuts were named for him. It hurts their chances for survival. It would have been better if they would have been called the Cheney tax cuts instead? Oh, you have to hunt George W. Bush interviews on YouTube. Frankly, it`s his vice president, Dick Cheney, who`s the one hosting in person fund- raisers for Romney at his house. Dick Cheney is the one who Romney is telling donor was a great American leader, when he won`t even say George W. Bush`s name on the record. Dick Cheney is the guy Republicans have welcomed back to Capitol Hill today to argue for his chosen policies on the military. While George W. Bush was making his 22nd endorsement that included referring to politics as a swamp he crawled out of in an hour-long YouTube interview with an obscure think tank. This California college think tank posted this YouTube video and listed it privately. And that`s why the endorsement comes from. And if Mr. Bush looks a little teeth on edge here while he`s making the endorsement, maybe it`s because he seems to recognize that no one wants to run with him as the wind beneath their wings. Do not count George Bush out. He`s reinventing himself starting with a new book that`s out today. It`s called "The 4 Percent Solution: Unleashing the Economic Growth America Needs." It has a foreword by President Bush. It says his name twice on the cover. It`s got a bunch of essays by economists that President Obama apparently likes, all about how the economy can be made to grow at a rate of 4 percent a year, which is apparently something George Bush thinks he knows how to do, I guess he just decided not do that when he was president. Four percent economic growth might as well have been a unicorn during the Bush presidency. He never got there. Even if you take out the Great Recession, the Bush economy still averaged less than 3 percent growth in his presidency. In all of modern American history since World War II, we have averaged 3.2 percent growth. That`s the deal, except in President Bush`s new 4 percent miracle growth book where unicorns play in strawberry fields and real angels make your buttermilk pancakes on Saturday morning. With this new phantom vision he was keeping secret before about 4 percent growth, President Bush is trying to reinvent himself as a president who people think of as having an economic legacy. An economic legacy worth naming and claiming and, by the way, he now endorses Mitt Romney for the nation`s highest office. And you know what? That is exactly where Democrats have been trying to roll this presidential campaign. Democrats want to park their bus on the spot labeled George W. Bush equals Mitt Romney, equals bad economic news for you. George Bush wants to remind the world of Republicans` record on the economy. You can almost hear President Obama saying oh, please, oh, please. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We spent almost a decade doing what they prescribed. And how did it turn out? We didn`t see greater job growth. We didn`t see middle class security. We saw the opposite. And it all culminated in the worst financial crisis in our lifetimes. Precisely because there were no regulations that were adequate to the kinds of recklessness that was being carried out. I don`t know how you operate in your life, but my general rule is if I do something and it doesn`t work, I don`t go back to doing it. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was the first of four events for the Obama re-election campaign in Texas today, in George W. Bush`s backyard on the day he puts out his economic growth how-to book. You will have a report from Barack Obama`s charge across Texas, coming up next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: We did not embark on this journey just to get back to where we were in 2007. We worked hard because we want a country where everybody gets a fair shot. And everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same set of rules. That`s why I ran for president in 2008. And that`s why I`m running for a second term as president of the United States of America. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: President Barack Obama speaking to a crowd of Latino supporters in San Antonio, Texas, today -- one of four campaign events for the president today in Texas. President in those remarks of course reminding everyone of exactly when it was he ran for president, thereby implicitly reminding everyone of who he succeeded in office. George W. Bush for the first time today endorsing Mitt Romney to be, I guess, his one after successor, for the first time making that endorsement on camera. Joining us now from the great state of Texas is Wayne Slater, senior political writer for the "Dallas Morning News" and the co-author, of course, of "Bush`s Brain." Wayne reported from one of the Obama fund- raisers tonight, at the Austin Music Hall. Wayne, it`s great to have you here. Thanks for joining us. WAYNE SLATER, DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Great to be with you, Rachel, as always. MADDOW: So, today, we had George W. Bush finally endorsed Mitt Romney on camera for the first time. He also released a book about how to get 4 percent economic growth, which is something he did not achieve as president. When President Obama was running tonight in Bush`s backyard in Texas, did he seem to you to be running against Bush`s legacy? SLATER: Absolutely. It was a remarkable thing today as I sat there listening to Barack Obama talk about the last near decade, he mentioned it two or three times, at one point, made a reference to the Bush tax cuts. He effectively was saying, I am talking about the guy who 150 miles away, up in Dallas, Texas, is now promoting the idea, oh, goody, goody, that I think we ought to deal the way I want to with the economy, the way we used to. Barack Obama was talking again and again about the Bush legacy. He talked about how he had ended one of the two wars, on credit. Obviously part of the Bush legacy. He talked about the economy, which he was delivered, basically, at the end of the Bush years, the Bush economy. He talked about fundamentally everything that made George Bush`s legacy in a sense it was a conversation not about Mitt Romney at all, but about George Bush and Barack Obama. MADDOW: George W. Bush has said repeatedly since he left office that he was going to keep a low profile. He was going back to private life. He didn`t want to be involved in politics. He doesn`t think it`s helpful to have former presidents involved in the political discussion that hurts the current president when they`re trying to get the country`s business done. But we do have President Bush today in the middle of the campaign season releasing a book on economic policy, and making this endorsement of Mitt Romney while at the same time saying he can do well without me. At the same time that he did it, are we seeing sort of two sides of the coin or maybe two edges of the sword from George W. Bush in terms of what he sees his legacy as in this campaign and who it attends to? SLATER: You know, one of the things that is important to understand about George W. Bush is that while he and the people around him like to say they don`t care as much about the legacy, they don`t care about the politics, he cares deeply about his legacy. And both Karl Rove and others, Bushes from the past, are working actively around the Bush Institute and elsewhere to promote the ideals. The problem is that Bush`s legacy is in three parts. One was foreign policy and that`s problematic in retrospect. Two is the economy, and my gosh, how do you deal with the economic issues which should have been something that was successfully dealt with by an MBA president when everyone sees that the economy went flat at the end of your administration and you handed Barack Obama basically a bag of rocks. The third thing, of course, which is the coup de grace, is Bush the person who nominated John Roberts, that guy who gave us Obamacare. George Bush is the last guy that Mitt Romney and many Republicans want mentioned this campaign year. MADDOW: And Mitt Romney I think has proven your point by I think not once saying George W. Bush`s name on the record, at least not recently. He has been happy to appear with Dick Cheney, and it`s had me thinking about how the various players in this -- in this sort of dance you`re talking about, how they may be interacting with one another. Obviously, Dick Cheney is very happy to be playing a public role. He was on Capitol Hill today. Karl Rove has his own role as a Republican kingmaker. Wayne, I wonder what your take is on what Karl Rove may have to say about important decisions in the Romney campaign, both concerning George W. Bush, but also concerning a vice presidential pick. We have it floated now from the Romney side that the short list is Tim Pawlenty, Bobby Jindal, Paul Ryan, and Rob Portman for vice president. We have it floated at the same time that Karl Rove`s pick is Marco Rubio. How much influence do you think he`s got? SLATER: Look, Rove has zero influence on these folks except, of course, he heads up the super PAC that`s going to spend a lot of money, and that`s a good thing for the Romney point of view. But Rove and the Bushies are personas non grata, whatever the right Latin is to make sure these people should stay away. Rove can articulate a strong Republican message, but he is not the person that Romney is listening to. Bush is not the person that the Romney campaign wants everyone reminded of. The Bush years are over. MADDOW: Wayne Slater, senior political writer for "The Dallas Morning News" -- thanks very much for joining us tonight, Wayne. It`s always great to have you here. SLATER: Great to be here. MADDOW: All right, new crazy conspiracy theories are cooking on the right and they are producing, it turns out, a very, very far-reaching smell. Hold on. That`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Hillary Clinton is now officially the most traveled secretary of state in the history of the United States. Since becoming secretary of state in 2009, Hillary Clinton has logged 351 days on the road. She`s traveled to 102 countries and flown a whopping 843,000 miles. You don`t achieve a record like that, of course, by letting any moss grow on you. In the past two weeks alone, Hillary Clinton has been in France and Afghanistan, in Japan, in Mongolia, in Vietnam, in Laos, in Cambodia, in Egypt, and finally, in Israel, where she toured Tel Aviv today. What`d you do over the last couple of weeks? And this last trip for Hillary Clinton has been a very eventful one. Secretary Clinton`s trip to Egypt this past weekend was kind of a good news/bad news thing. While she was there, two Americans from Boston, who were being held hostage by apparently a disgruntled Bedouin with a relative in prison, those hostages were finally released from captivity. That came after Secretary Clinton raised the issue of their kidnapping with Egyptian officials. o that was the good news from her trip to Egypt, American hostages freed. The bad news, however, was this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Her hotel was surrounded by protesters and her motorcade was pelted with food, with water, and with shoes as she exited the U.S. consulate in Alexandria. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Egyptian protesters pelting Hillary Clinton`s motorcade with shoes and tomatoes. The crowd also reportedly shouted "Monica, Monica" at her over and over again. You stay classy. What was the reason for all the protesting? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARGARET BRENNAN, CBS: U.S. officials say that the secretary was surprised to learn that there`s a perception in Egypt that the U.S. manipulated the recent elections in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Diplomacy is also complicated, and perceptions of America in the Middle East are always convoluted. But where did these Egyptian protesters, who were throwing tomatoes at Hillary Clinton, get this conspiracy theory that the only reason the Muslim Brotherhood won the Egyptian elections is because of us? Is because the United States was secretly in cahoots with them? You know, America and the Muslim Brotherhood, we`re like this, where do they get that idea from? Look at the signs they were waving during this big anti-Hillary Clinton protest. Clinton is the supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood? Really, are you sure we`re talking about the same Hillary Clinton here? There was also this one, stop U.S. funding of the Muslim Brotherhood. Where do they get this stuff from? It turns out they get this stuff from Glenn Beckistan. They get it from the crazy conspiracy theories cooked up on the American right. I`m not just theorizing that`s where they`re getting this stuff, that`s where they say they`re getting this stuff from. "The New York Times" blog "The Lead" had a really good journalistic detective story on this. They traced back various people`s interviews with protester sand they followed links that people gave to information and the citations they were using for their arguments and "The Times" was able to suss out where this subset of Egyptians, these protesters that just attacked Hillary Clinton with tomatoes, where they got this cockamamie idea that the U.S. is in cahoots with the new Islamist regime in Egypt. Quote, "Pressed by American reporters to explain where they got the idea that their new Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, had been foisted on them through an American plot, rather than through the will of the majority, several Egyptians cited information gathered from American blogs or news sites." Quote, "An Egyptian American Christian who met Mrs. Clinton on Sunday cited recent claims by Representative Michele Bachmann, a Republican, quote, `that the Obama administration is pursuing a closeted pro-Muslim agenda.`" That was in a conversation with a "Time" magazine correspondent. Michele Bachmann, that`s the source of the information being used by the protesters in Egypt, awesome. But it`s not just here. An Egyptian blogger named Sarah Ahmed (ph) directed a reporter with "The Wall Street Journal", quote, "to a transcript of a recent conversation between American conservatives who claimed that Secretary Clinton`s deputy chief of staff was participating in the Muslim Brotherhood plot to penetrate our government." Which American conservatives? Quote, "The conversation was an episode of a Web radio program hosted by Frank Gaffney, who was speaking with a retired American general named William Boykin." Yes, the same Frank Gaffney who once claimed that the new U.S. missile defense logo was smoking gun evidence of Barack Obama`s submission to Sharia. When he found out that the logo was actually from the Bush administration, he retracted his claim. General William Boykin, that`s the guy George W. Bush inexplicably appointed to a post in the Pentagon even after he said that the reason we were going to win the war on terror was because of the comparative size of our God compared to the Muslim`s god." When "The Wall Street Journal" tried to reporter who this Boykin guy was, the Egyptian blogger, quote, "remained resolute in her belief that a former official who served in such a high position in the :Pentagon would not make such accusations without proof." Want to bet?! There was one other source of information for these anti-American Egyptian protesters. Quote, "A blog post about American aid to Egypt that was based on a news story posted on, a site ran by Lucianne Goldberg, an American conservative who played a central role in the Monica Lewinsky scandal." So the source of the information about the Obama administration for these Egyptian protesters was in part Michele Bachmann, a crazy anti-Obama conspiracy theorist guy, a crazy anti-Islam conspiracy theorist guy, and one of the ladies who is tried to take down Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PROTESTERS: Monica! Monica! Monica! Monica! Monica! Monica! UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The jeers, a reference to the Monica Lewinsky scandal, when her husband was the president. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Try to keep the smile out of your voice there, FOX. This is a global village. We are interconnected. And our mean- spirited, afraid of black helicopters, buy gold, get yourself a bunker, Glenn Beck-watching crazy uncle has apparently started wandering loose out in the village. The rest of the world is now listening to him. This is one of the great challenges posed to us having the political system that we have in this free information global world. How do we let the rest of the world know that our village idiots, who we love, should not under any circumstances be taken seriously? Yes, it`s true that Michele Bachmann is a member of Congress, but she`s not like a regular member of congress. You should not take her as an authority on anything, ever. Our system is open and free, and that means we have some whack jobs, which is actually something I`m kind of proud of domestically for us here. But isn`t there some sort of warning label we could put on our crazy conspiracy theorists for the benefit of the rest of the world. Not for outside consumption. Please deliver home if found lost in the world. 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