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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/07/12

Guests: Terrence Henry

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you. And thanks to you at me for joining us this hour. The Obama campaign announced today that at the president`s big campaign event tomorrow, in the all-important swing state of Colorado, the president will be introduced to the crowd in Denver by Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University law student who became a household name thanks to the Republican crusade earlier this year against contraception. Just in case it wasn`t clear enough that women voters are absolutely essential to the Obama re-election strategy, choosing Sandra Fluke for this high profile gig at this campaign event tomorrow not only shows that the Obama campaign is prioritizing women`s issues in the campaign, but it`s frankly showing by example, by doing this in Colorado, that policy about women and women voters caring about policy about women, can be absolutely definitive in a general election, even when everything else is going against the Democratic candidate. And here`s what I mean -- in 2010, in a year when the entire country went red, in just a landslide election for Republicans, almost from coast to coast, in 2010, in a purple state like Colorado, frankly, the Democrats had no business holding on to the U.S. senate seat that they had up that year. All of the major poll watchers, all of the major election predictors, all of the people who describe what`s likely to happen in election years before election, all of those folks described what was about to happen in that Colorado Senate race in 2010 as either a toss-up or leans Republican. But on Election Day, it went blue. It went to the Democrat, Michael Bennet. It did not go to this guy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Why should we vote for you? KEN BUCK (R-CO), FORMER SENATE CANDIDATE: Why should you vote for me? Because I do not wear high heels. REPORTER: Are you for abortion or against abortion? If you`re for it, what instances would you allow for abortion? BUCK: I`m pro-life and I`ll answer the next question. I don`t believe in the exceptions of rape or incest. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: With an opponent like that in a race that he was expected to lose, the Democrat, Michael Bennet, decided not to stick his head in the sand and pretend like issues like this don`t have any political significance or engaging on issues like this risks offending someone somewhere. Michael Bennet went on the offense on reproductive rights and women`s health. He nailed the Republican Ken Buck on these issues. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D), COLORADO: Since candidate supported criminalizing abortion in cases of rape and incest, my question is: who is going to go to jail, Ken? BUCK: Who is going to go to jail? BENNET: When you criminalize abortion in the case of rape and incest, and an abortion occurs, who`s going to jail? DR. ELIZA BUYERS, OB/GYN: As a doctor, I try to protect the health of women. That`s what I do. That`s why I`m very disturbed by Ken Buck. AD NARRATOR: Who is Ken Buck, and does he speak for Colorado? Ken Buck even wants to ban common forms of birth control. And Buck`s view on abortion -- BUCK: I`m pro-life and I`ll answer the next question. I don`t believe in the exceptions of rape or incest. BUYERS: As far as I`m concerned, Ken Buck is just too extreme for Colorado. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: That was how Michael Bennet won a Senate race he was never supposed to win in an election year that went Republican almost everywhere else in 2010. And what did Democrat Michael Bennet`s win look like in Colorado? Tada! Women`s votes -- that`s the vote among women. He only won the election by a very slim margin, but look at his margin among women voters, 17 points, duh! And thereby, Michael Bennet won the race. And that Michael Bennet playbook from Colorado from 2010 provides the political logic which explains why you are this year seeing ads like these from President Obama`s presidential campaign. There are now three of these ads. The first one came out July 7th. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AD NARRATOR: Every woman who believes decisions about our bodies and our health care should be our own is troubled Mitt Romney supports overturning Roe versus Wade. For women, Planned Parenthood means life saving cancer screens and family planning services. But for Mitt Romney -- MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Planned Parenthood, we`re going to get rid of that. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I never felt this way before, but it`s a scary time to be a woman. Mitt Romney is just so out of touch. AD NARRATOR: Mitt Romney opposes requiring insurance coverage for contraception and he supports overturning Roe versus Wade. Romney backed a bill that outlaws all abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is not the 1950s. Contraception is so important to women. It`s a part of woman being able to make decisions. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t remember anyone as extreme as Romney. ROMNEY: I`ll cut off funding to Planned Parenthood. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t think Mitt Romney can even understand the mindset of someone who has to go to Planned Parenthood. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Three separate ads on women`s reproductive rights over the last month from the Obama campaign. And these are not just running on the web or in a liberal market here and there. These are big official campaign ad buys. These are on TV in places the president is trying really hard to win. And in the swing state of Colorado tomorrow, introducing the president at his big campaign event in Denver is going to be the woman who accidentally made conservatives say what they meant when they launched their Republican offensive earlier this year against American women`s access to contraception. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: What does it say about the college coed Susan Fluke who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. Ms. Fluke, have you ever heard of not having sex? Have you ever heard of not having sex so often? The women in her law school program are having so much sex, they are going broke buying birth control pills. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was a conservative radio talk show host named Rush Limbaugh. Mr. Limbaugh not only just being kind of disgusting there, but also putting on display the fact that apparently nobody ever explained to him how birth control works. Have you ever thought about not having sex so often? It`s like he thinks each time you want to have sex, you have to go to a birth control vending machine and buy a new pill for that sexual experience or something. I mean, of all people -- I`m no expert -- but, dude, you can look it up, anybody can look it up. More sex does not mean more birth control pills. You just take one a day and do what you want. You don`t understand how they work. Sandra Fluke became a household name because of the ridiculousness of those types of attacks against her by conservatives, led by Rush Limbaugh. And also, I think, because the presumptive Republican nominee for president at that point, Mitt Romney, refused to distance himself from those attacks. You may remember that Mr. Romney at the time just said that Mr. Limbaugh`s language was not the same language he would have used. So he wouldn`t have said slut. He might have said another synonym for that or something? The reason Sandra Fluke at that point was a public figure to be attacked by the guys in the first place was because of her advocacy. She was doing advocacy on Capitol Hill as a Georgetown law student advocating for health insurance plans covering the full range of health care including reproductive contraception, which we now know, not just in spring when all that happen, but in a continuing way for this whole election year, we now know that that policy issue of access to birth control is going to be a continuing source of fake outrage for the political right, apparently right up until the election. Ever since the Obama administration issued this new rule as part of the health reform law that health insurance plans must cover women`s preventive health services, including contraception, Republicans in Congress have been saying how upset this makes them. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Imposing this requirement, the federal government has drifted dangerously beyond its constitutional boundaries. SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: The Obama administration has crossed a dangerous line. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Obama coercion starts today. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re no longer free in this country. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: One major problem with all of the Republicans` performative outrage about how birth control access is going to be the end of the republic and the ruination of freedom and democracy, one of the major problems with this has always been the fact that 28 states already had exactly the same rule in effect. In many cases, for years, before this new national health reform rule was even dreamed up. Some of these politicians and organizations that were screaming and yelling about the new birth control requirement were screaming and yelling from states that already had contraceptive requirements in place, which never bothered them. Fake outrage. It`s the same kind of fake outrage we`re seeing now from the folks at Wheaton College in Illinois. We talked about Wheaton College`s awkward predicament a little bit on last night`s show. Wheaton College says, of course, that it is deeply, morally and religiously offended by emergency contraception. They say they wanted to apply for an exemption to the new contraception rule so their health plans wouldn`t have to cover emergency contraception because of the school`s religious objections. The problem was Wheaton College could not apply for an exemption from the rule because Wheaton college already covered emergency contraception in their health insurance plans. Voluntarily. Without being outraged by it. Nobody even noticing it, let alone them being outraged by it. And so, Wheaton has tried to scramble to get rid of the coverage. They tried to get rid of it in time to proclaim their moral outrage so they could qualify for an exemption to the new rule they were already, but they didn`t get rid of their emergency contraception coverage fast enough to do that. So, now, they are suing the Obama administration over the new health insurance rule on the grounds that the school faces the prospect of irreparable harm to its religious freedom, its integrity -- that`s rich -- and its employees` wellbeing. The school says it faces irreparable harm if they have to provide that coverage that they provided up in until a couple month ago whereupon it occurred to them that they ought to be outraged about it or at least say they`re outraged? It`s fake outrage. We are seeing that exact same dynamic play out today on the presidential campaign trail on another subject. In the Romney campaign`s most overt and comprehensive effort yet to change the subject from Mr. Romney refusing to release his tax returns, the Romney campaign today launched a whole brand new attack that is not about contraception, not about reproductive rights. This one is about welfare. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AD NARRATOR: In 1996, President Clinton and a bipartisan Congress helped end welfare as we know it, by requiring work for welfare. But on July 12th, President Obama quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements. Under Obama`s plan, you wouldn`t have to work and wouldn`t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check. And welfare to work goes back to being plain old welfare. Mitt Romney will restore the work requirement because it works. ROMNEY: I`m Mitt Romney and I approve this message. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The policy change that is the basis for this big new ad buy is a change that was requested from the Obama administration by Republican governors. The change does not get rid of the work requirement at all. The ad is totally wrong about that. In fact, the Obama administration says explicitly, if states want to weaken the work requirements, they will not get a waiver to do so. But the Obama administration is offering waivers to say if you want to experiment with your welfare program to try some new state approach to get more people into the work force, you can go for it. You can apply for a waver to do that. And this again was requested of the administration by Republican governors. And back when Mitt Romney was a Republican governor in 2005, he made the same request of the federal government. That states be given waivers to experiment with their welfare programs to try to get more people working. He asked for this himself. Look, there`s his name. It`s memorable whenever you see his signature because I feel his signature looks like it has a sideways emoticon of somebody going like this. It`s distinctive. When you see his signature, you remember it, because of the sideways emoticon. So, there`s Mitt Romney requesting the welfare change, along with Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee and Haley Barbour, also Tim Pawlenty, also Jon Huntsman, also Rick Perry, also Mitch Daniels. Even though Mark Sanford was on the list before he had his hike up the Appalachian trail, by which I mean he went to Argentina with his mistress. The Romney campaign`s big new ad, their big new campaign effort that they let reporters know about in advance because they wanted people to think this was a big deal, to let people know it was coming, right? They wanted to make a huge deal out of it. Their big, new gambit is outrage over the Obama administration doing what Mitt Romney and other Republican governors asked them to do -- which presumably they didn`t find outrageous when they considering with about it, but now they say they find it outrageous. They do not find it outrageous. They`re feigning outrage in order to have something to talk about that is not Mitt Romney`s tax returns. In this case, Mitt Romney is Wheaton College, right, pretending for political purposes to be outraged about something they have done themselves which they palpably do not find outrageous. If they did it outrageous, they wouldn`t have done it voluntarily. But you know, there is something else going on here, which is important, and it`s actually a genuine side to the outrage factor here, and it`s this. It is the really obvious racial resentment card that is being played here. And this is not something that I go looking for. I`m talking about it because it`s obvious. Here`s the 1990 Jesse Helms ad, the famous Jesse Helms ad that everybody calls the hands ad. It`s frankly part of the political science dictionary, as a means of stoking white people`s economic resentment of black people. It shows a white working man`s hands angrily crumpling up a rejection notice while the narrator explains that the white man did not get the job because of essentially handouts to black people. Jesse Helms used that in his Senate race in North Carolina against Harvey Gantt, who was African-American. And Jesse Helms was never embarrassed by stuff like this. Jesse Helms was, shall we say, an unreconstructed conservative. But most people have learned to be embarrassed about stoking racial resentment on economic issues. Most people have learned to at least make it a little more subtle if you want to use it on a political context, but it is lurking beneath the surface whenever you go looking for it. Right before the midterm elections, right before the 2010 elections, you may remember the chairman of the Virginia Beach Republican Party sent around this e-mail, it was a joke. "My dog. I went down this morning to sign up my dog for welfare. At first, the lady said, `Dogs are not eligible to draw welfare.` So I explained my dog is black, unemployed, lazy, can`t speak English and has no frigging clue who his daddy is.` So she looked in the policy book, my dog gets its first check Friday. Is this a great country or what?" The chairman of the Virginia Beach Republican Party later apologized and agreed to resign. Just a few weeks ago, back in June, the same sort of thing, incredibly racist joke about economic issues, about welfare and black entitlement. That was the entertainment at an Arkansas Tea Party rally. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) INGE MARLER, OZARK TEA PARTY: OK, the new definition of democracy. A black kid asks his mom, "Mama, what`s a democracy?" "Well, son," she says, "that be when white folks work every day so us poor folks can get all our benefits." "But, Mama, don`t the white folk get mad about that?" She said, "They sure do, son. They sure do. And that`s called racism." (LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was the Tea Party speaker`s ice breaker joke, which got a big warm round of applause in Mountain Home, Arkansas, at a Tea Party event back in June. It`s exactly the same thing that Newt Gingrich was tapping when he was running around the Republican president campaign calling President Obama the food stamps president, the same thing that made up probably the lowest low point of Rick Santorum`s campaign for the presidency as well. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have looked at all of the economic plans, but President Obama wants to do, his economic plan is to make more people dependent upon the government. I don`t want to make black people`s lives better by giving them somebody else`s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money and provide for themselves and their families. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Rick Santorum`s campaign did have a number of low points, but that was maybe the lowest. It was leavened only by the hilarity of how he tried to explain his way out of having said that on tape. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SANTORUM: I have looked at that quote. And in fact, I looked at the video. I don`t -- in fact, I`m pretty confident I didn`t say black. I started to say a word and sort of -- sort of mumbled it and changed my thought. But I don`t -- I don`t recall saying black. I was starting to say one word and sort of came up with a different word and moved on. And it sounded like black. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I didn`t say black people. Dependent on the government, I said -- people. Did you know that Rick Santorum got a speaking gig at the Republican National Convention they just announced? I look forward to his speech about -- people should support Republican Party has a lot to offer to -- people of America. I mean, really? The big new Romney campaign push to say welfare six times in the same ad about President Obama purporting to be outraged about a policy that Republican governors requested, that Mitt Romney himself requested, is at one level just another example of faking being outraged about something that does not outrage you. It`s Wheaton College pretending it`s outraged over covering emergency contraception when it already does that, right? But this is also a blunt illusion to the populist racial politics of white economic racial resentment, and the Romney campaign has to know it. They`re not dumb, which means that frankly they`re so worried about the continued discussion of Mitt Romney`s tax returns that they would rather change the subject to just exactly how overtly racist their new campaign ad is. That means they`re worried. Melissa Harris-Perry joins us for just a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AD NARRATOR: President Obama quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements. Under Obama`s plan, you wouldn`t have to work and wouldn`t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check, and welfare to work goes back to being plain old welfare. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That is not true. As a factual policy matter, that is not true. But it is out there, and strategically, it seems to be part of the Romney campaign`s new bid to try to change the subject away from what everybody else has been talking about for weeks now, which is their own candidate`s refusal to release his tax returns. This is a new gambit from the campaign, part of an effort to start talking about anything, anything else, even if it is what I believe to be obvious dog whistle racism in this newest campaign gambit. Joining us now is Melissa Harris-Perry, host of the great MSNBC weekend morning show with the same name. Melissa, it`s good to see you. Thank you for being here. MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: Absolutely. Happy to do it. MADDOW: Is this Newt Gingrich`s food stamps president redux? Is this President Reagan`s welfare queen redux? Is this -- is this anything new, or is this part of a pattern? HARRIS-PERRY: Well, don`t miss it, there`s another part of the pattern. And that is President Bill Clinton`s welfare reform redux. In other words, I want to be clear about how African-American single mothers who are in circumstances of poverty and trying to raise their children in difficult circumstances. That`s what we`re talking about when we use this kind of welfare queen bogeyman, and certainly, Ronald Reagan and his Republican predecessors -- excuse me, the people who came after him are the people who gave us the language, stoked the fire in both local elections like Jesse Helms that you pointed out earlier around affirmative action, but also George Bush`s campaign and Willie Horton and all of that. But it is also the tactic that was used by Bill Clinton to move the Democratic Party nationally far enough to the right to win the votes that turned the party in part into, I think, a much less courageous party around questions of race. And so, you know, earlier, you were pointing out the importance of talking about women`s reproductive rights and going right at that and saying, Democrats are going to be brave about this. And make this an issue on which they will run. But the fact is Democrats are going to have to eschew the legacy of Bill Clinton and go at the question of racial equality. MADDOW: On the issue of policy here, though, one of the things that I think hamstrings the Obama campaign is they have made essentially no policy on welfare issues. At least nothing that sparked this. I mean, the waiver of the request they have granted from the Republican governors is a very mild change to this policy that will play out differently in different states depending on whether or not they get these waivers, whether or not they use them. And it doesn`t have any national political implications because there is no national policy change except to give states a little more flexibility. And so, President Obama isn`t doing something here that he can campaign on. The attack seems to be the political act here, not the policy. HARRIS-PERRY: Absolutely. I think those are the two pieces. So, on one side, there`s a policy point here where the president is actually contributing to a kind of state`s rights philosophy, right? Which the Republicans claim to be at the center of their own political ideology, this idea of states making their own choices, but we know that the conservatives tend to only want that if they believe that states are going to make choices that track towards conservative policies and ideological position. So, for example, they`re not very interested in state by state marriage equality. They are very interested in state by state reductions of Planned Parenthood capacity, for example. So, on one hand, there`s this policy issue where the president can say, look, I haven`t made any serious change, and to the extent I have, it actually moves towards states rights and that what you claim you like. But I do think on the question of tactics and this position you can use African-American bodies and particularly the bodies of poor black women as a bogeyman, as a wedge that basically, the goal here is to distract white women who if they pay attention to what`s going on with reproductive rights, will overwhelmingly choose President Obama and congressional Democrats to encourage them not to think about that issue but instead to stoke racial resentment primarily among white women voters in order to get them to vote their race rather than their gender. MADDOW: Your academic work and your writing about the stoking of white economic resentment against liberalism in general is more than anything shaped my thinking about this, is why I wanted to talk to you about it tonight. So, thank you for doing the academic work and thanks for being here tonight. I appreciate it. HARRIS-PERRY: Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: Melissa Harris-Perry, of course, is host of "MELISSA HARRIS- PERRY" show, weekends here on MSNBC. All right. It`s primary election day in Missouri, in Kansas, in Michigan and Washington. So you know what that means? Reindeer. Later on, junior high school playground taunts among Republican rival candidates, neener-neener. That`s ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Things are getting a little shaky in the great state of Texas -- shaky in an unexpected way, but not in an inexplicable way. That whole amazing story is next on the show. Plus, we`ve got some primary election results coming up tonight. Please do stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: In this country, right now, I think we may be in a moment where something is changing along the number line, when a thing turns from science into business into policy, and then ultimately into politics. It`s about energy. Energy production in this country -- the question or whether or not we pursue certain sources of energy -- it`s always been defined in part by how dangerous we feel that is. Nuclear energy, for example, was a huge hit in America. At one point, it was the wave of the future until Three Mile Island happened and then the nuclear wave receded back to the sea. We haven`t seen new reactor built since. People began to feel like whatever its potential upside was, it was maybe too dangerous to be worth it to pursue more nuclear power. Part of the way that that widespread feeling like that gets established, the feeling that something isn`t worth it or something is at least dangerous enough to look into whether or not it`s worth it, part of that is when you get powerful images, images like Three Mile Island or images like this -- a guy who in Colorado who`s able to set his tap water on fire because of the natural drilling that`s happening in the area where he lives. Enough methane gas has crept in his water supply that his tap water has become flammable. That`s from the movie "Gasland." But what if it`s not just the water coming out of your tap that you`re able to set on fire? What if it`s also puddles that are collecting on your property? This is a video of a man in northeast Pennsylvania collecting water from a puddle bubbling up near his house. And then he`s able to light the fumes off the water on fire. State officials think a natural gas energy company drilling in the area may be responsible for stray gas getting into the ground water that`s bubbling up there. Here`s what it looks like just one county over from there. This is a geyser shooting methane infused water 30 feet into the air. That geyser is located right by three natural gas drilling wells operated apparently by Shell Oil. Images like that are the kind of thing that can have real political impact, that can make the drilling issue less like science, less like geology, less like geology becoming business, and more like policy and politics. And sometimes, it is more than just images. OK, Timpson, Texas -- Timpson, Texas, T-I-M-P-S-O-N -- 10:15 local time in the morning of May 10th. In Timpson, Texas, the ground begins to shake. Timpson is in east Texas. That morning in May, something residents there are not really used to happened, a 3.7 magnitude earthquake. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRISTEL PHILLIPS, KSLA: East Texas has experienced a space shuttle crash, a devastating hurricane, and now add earthquake to the disasters. LANE LUCKE, KSLA: Seismologists first recorded the tremor around 10:15 this morning. A 3.7 earthquake was felt in portions of Shelby, Nacogdoches and Panola Counties. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: A 3.7 earthquake in east Texas, sort of unheard of. The Timpson city secretary told a news station she initially thought a nearby train had derailed. She said it shook the whole city hall for about 15 to 20 seconds. Even the experts couldn`t seem to figure it out. Gary Patterson of the U.S. Geological Survey in Memphis says survey geologists are baffled by the event. He says, quote, "It`s not where we would normally see earthquakes in Texas." It`s kind of a mystery this thing in Timpson, Texas. No injuries reported. There were some minor damage to local buildings, but a 3.7 magnitude earthquake came and went in a place there are never are earthquakes and nobody seemed to know why. Then a week later, it happened again. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TV ANCHOR: For the second time in just a week, in just the fourth time since 1981, an earthquake has struck in east Texas. A little after 3:00 this morning, a 4.3 magnitude earthquake hit about four miles east of Timpson. The quake hit only about six miles from where last week`s earthquake was reported. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So in the space of just seven days, two separate earthquakes struck an area of Texas that is not known for having earthquakes. A second one, the 4.3 magnitude quake, was the strongest earthquake to hit east Texas in nearly half a century. Then three days later, it happened again. A 2.7 magnitude earthquake struck in the exact same area. A week and a half later, another one. This one clocked in as a 2.5 magnitude quake. A week after that, the ground began to shake beneath north Texas. A 2.3 magnitude earthquake struck just south of Ft. Worth, in the town of Cleburne. That was June 5th. And this happened just 10 days later. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) REPORTER: A 3.1 magnitude earthquake has struck an area just north of Cleburne. That`s near Ft. Worth. The U.S. Geological Survey says it happened just after 2:00 a.m. Thankfully, no damage or injuries have been reported. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So, at this point, areas in north and east Texas that do not typically experience earthquakes at all have been hit with six earthquakes in the span of about a month. The last one happened on June 15th. Then on June 23rd, there was another one. On June 24th, there was another one. On June 26th, there was another one. On June 29th, there was one more. Four more earthquakes in north Texas in the span of one week. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: People simply telling us they have never seen anything like this before -- their houses, their businesses, going through these earthquakes. And for many of them, they don`t believe this is just a natural coincidence. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Yes, you think? They don`t believe this is a natural coincidence. Over a span of 40 days between June and July, north Texas was rocked by an astonishing 11 separate earthquakes. But there`s something really interesting about where the earthquakes were hitting. "The Houston Chronicle" put together this map. All of the red markers are known natural gas drilling sites. Notice a pattern? Ever since fracking has been allowed in that part of the country, the region has seen a dramatic and unmistakable uptick in the frequency and intensity of earthquakes. In 2009, in what`s called the midcontinent region, there were 50 earthquakes. In 2010, that number jumped from 50 earthquakes to 87 earthquakes. In 2011, last year, that number shot from 87 earthquakes all the way up to 134 earthquakes in one year. What`s the cause for this? A brand new study out this week from the University of Texas now echoes what at least three other recent studies have shown. The earthquakes in Texas may be caused by natural gas drilling in the area -- actually, not the drilling specifically, but the process of injecting the waste water from that drilling back into the Earth. The U.T. study found that most of the epicenters for these quakes were located within two miles of one or more waste water injection wells. Despite all of the evidence piling up that the process of natural gas drilling may in fact not just be caused methane to creep into the water supply in places like Colorado and Texas, but may also be causing earthquakes in Texas. Despite all of that evidence, the politics around it haven`t seems to have changed just yet. The Texas Railroad Commission, which for some reason regulates all drilling in Texas, I don`t know why, either. They`re currently denying any link between waste water disposal wells and earthquakes in Texas saying, quote, "Commission staff have no science or data at this time linking the minor seismic events to oil field activities." At this time, no science or data. At this time. Times may be changing. Joining us now is Terrence Henry, former editor, writer and web producer for "The Washington Post" and "The Atlantic". Lately, he`s been writing a lot about Texas fracking as energy and environment reporter for "StateImpact Texas", which has published great work about that. Terrence, it`s nice to see you. Thank you for being here. TERRENCE HENRY, STATEIMPACT TEXAS: Thanks for having me. Rachel. MADDOW: So, in terms of me explaining what`s been happening in Texas and what we know about the science here, did I get anything wrong there? Did I leave anything important out? HENRY: No, I think you covered it pretty well. Like you said, there`s been a huge spate of earthquakes, particularly in north Texas. The important distinction, I think, is that fracking isn`t causing the earthquakes but it`s the disposal of waste water from fracking. And what`s happening is, is they have to essentially take this water sand and chemical mixture and put it in a giant underground dumpster. So these disposal wells are more than 13,000 feet deep. And when they`re doing this, it`s causing some faults to slip and it`s causing some of the small earthquakes in places like you said that have had no seismic activity really before this time. MADDOW: Do they have to be dumping the waste water 13,000 feet deep into the water? Do they have other options for other ways they could handle this part of the drilling process? HENRY: Well, that could be something they`ll start looking at, at some of the wells that have been blamed for the earthquakes. Not all of these disposal wells in this area of seismic activity have caused the quakes, but about 70 of them have. So, one thing they could stop doing is stop injecting the waste water down there. Another thing to do is put it in a different disposal well that`s known not to cause quakes. There`s the possibility of treating it, setting it back certain distances from seismic areas. So there are options to deal with it. MADDOW: It does seem like -- I mean, if this weren`t serious, it would seem like almost a comic game of what could possibly go wrong. One of the rejoinders to the concern about this so far has been essentially that these earthquakes are small, that aside from very minor damage, these have not been the kinds of earthquakes that should be thought of as disasters or causing any real harm to humans. Is there any assurance that the quakes will never be larger than they have been so far now that there seems to be a strong correlation between this part of the drilling process and the quakes themselves? HENRY: Well, we talked to the U.S. Geological Survey about that and they said there isn`t any assurance that they won`t become more intense. Obviously, as you pointed out, and our reporting has covered the intensity of this -- sorry, the frequency has definitely increased. And you are seeing quakes up to 3.5, 3.7 in areas that never had earthquakes before. So the open question is, well, right now, it`s resulting in broken windows and cracked walls and foundations. But what about quakes that happen in areas where there are natural gas or oil pipelines? Pipelines that weren`t built to specifications to withstand earthquakes? MADDOW: That was going to be my last question. HENRY: OK. MADDOW: Because the area is not seen as being earthquake prone, infrastructure in the area for all sorts of things, but particularly infrastructure around the oil and energy industry, it`s not built to withstand quakes, is it? HENRY: I think that`s a question that hopefully you know the railroad commission and drillers themselves will look into. The thing to remember is that the quakes have been pretty small in size, and also the distance that the quake has gone as been small. So far, it`s been very localized effects and minor damage. But certainly, as drilling happens and closer and closer to people and their homes, and people start feeling earthquakes because of it, it`s going to bring up the questions and hopefully this is something we can all look into. MADDOW: Terrence Henry, energy and environment reporter for "StateImpact Texas" -- again, your work on this has been both more comprehensive than anybody else and but also really clear. So, thank you for helping us cover the story. I really appreciate it. HENRY: Thank you. MADDOW: Thanks. OK. Republican A is running against Republican B in a primary election for the U.S. Congress tonight. And just who is Republican A politically? Well, Republican B has already vowed not to support Republican A should Republican A make it to November against a Democrat. And it`s not because Republican A is too moderate. Election night coverage is weird tonight. And it`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: I just got something wrong. I said that Three Mile Island was 1974, when it wasn`t at all. It was 1979, which was totally dumb of me and my own fault. I`m very sorry. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: It`s Election Day today in Michigan and in Missouri and in Kansas and in Washington state. The Democratic parties and Republican parties in those states are having primaries today. So, for example, Kansas Democrats are picking candidates to run against these incumbent members of Congress. Michigan Republicans are picking someone to run against Senator Debbie Stabenow in the Senate. Missouri Republicans are picking someone to run against Claire McCaskill. Washington state is picking general election candidates to replace Congressman Jay Inslee, who is running for governor in Washington. He is, himself, expected to advance to the gubernatorial ballot in tonight`s voting. So primaries tonight, but the most interesting race in all of these states tonight, I`ve got to say, is this guy`s race. At least it was supposed to be this guy`s race. He, of course, is Thaddeus McCotter, who has been the kind of congressman who really would play the Rolling Stones song "Satisfaction" on a guitar with an American flag on it while lamenting that Silvio Berlusconi has been busted for sleeping with underage prostitutes that but at least he got his "Satisfaction." Congressman Thaddeus McCotter intended to run for re-election this year, but he screwed it up. The signatures on his petition to get himself on the ballot turned out to be really obviously fraudulent and faked. He therefore did not qualify for the ballot, and after a little hemming and hawing about it, he dropped out and he resigned from Congress. The door on Thaddeus McCotter`s congressional career just closed shut. Sometimes when doors close shut, a window mysteriously opens or a chimney flue flies open. In this case, the man who was the only name left on the Republican primary ballot for that congressional seat, the man who became suddenly relevant in Michigan politics after Thaddeus McCotter self- destructed is this guy who came down the chimney, Kerry Bentivolio, Santa Claus impersonator. He`s a reindeer herder, he`s a failed Senate candidate, he`s on the ballot and no other Republican is. He`s also on the interweb machine at his very own Web site, The caption on this shirtless picture here is, "Owner Kerry Bentivolio scratches reindeer ear on a warm spring day." Once everybody figured out that the shirtless reindeer guy really was going to be the only Republican on the ballot, it was interesting. The political right decided that Santa would be their guy. He got endorsed by FreedomWorks, the multimillion dollar Astroturfing right wing Koch brothers and corporate-funded group, he got not only endorsed, but he also got over $300,000 from a PAC with ties to Ron Paul. I mean, establishment Republicans are still trying to get around the Santa reindeer guy. They are waging, in fact, a write-in campaign for Nancy Cassis. If it works, she would be only the fourth person in U.S. history to win a congressional primary as a write-in candidate. She has already said that even though she is a Republican and the Santa reindeer guy is also a Republican, she says she will not endorse Kerry Bentivolio in the general election against the Democrats if Mr. Bentivolio wins this primary today. Polls have been closed for just about an over, I guess just under two hours, in Michigan`s 11th district, and with only 18 percent of the precincts reporting, Mr. Bentivolio does have 65 percent of the vote. The write-in candidates including Ms. Cassis, but maybe just her, so far have 35 percent. But again, less than 20 percent of the vote in. In 2010, Michigan Republicans redrew the district, so this district, the 11th district, swings so far to the right that it might as well be in Alabama. And in any normal year, that means whoever wins tonight`s Republican primary would just be a shoo-in to go to Congress in the general election. But thanks to Thaddeus McCotter and thanks to the guy at, this is not a normal year in Michigan. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Stop me if you`ve heard this one before. In the 2010 Republican Senate primary in the state of Delaware, a political consulting firm that had recently worked for the upstart candidate, Christine O`Donnell, they produced a video with this out of nowhere accusation. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Isn`t Mike Castle cheating on his wife with a man? That`s the rumor. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s the rumor. Actually, no, it was never the rumor. That never was the rumor until this video came out during the campaign. When asked about it, Mr. Castle`s primary opponent, Christine O`Donnell, she played her part perfectly. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) CHRISTINE O`DONNELL (R), FORMER SENATE CANDIDATE: I think that that`s a very tacky approach. I never said that Mike Castle was gay. I don`t endorse putting out rumors that Mike Castle is gay. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: I would never call Mike Castle gay. Who says Mike Castle is gay? I think it`s terrible when anybody says Mike Castle? Who said gay? Gay! Mike Castle, gay? I never said that, gay! Republicans do this to each other all the time. Texas, 2009. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison trying to unseat incumbent Governor Rick Perry. "The Austin American Statesman" notices that hidden in Senator Hutchison`s campaign Web site, among a long list of search optimization terms is the text, "Rick Perry gay" twice. This is the metadata for the site. You don`t see it at the site itself. It helps your site pop when people are searching for, say, the words "Rick Perry gay." But the Hutchison campaign said it was all a mistake. But look at specifically the way they apologized. They said, "We did not know these offensive word associations were being searched for by hundreds of thousands of Texans every day, nor do we condone the computer generated existence on our Website. They will be removed promptly." Hundreds of thousands of Texans are searching daily for the words "Rick Perry gay". We didn`t know. We would never take advantage of the fact that hundreds of thousands of Texans are typing "Rick Perry gay" in their search boxes every day. Rick Perry, gay? Did somebody say gay? Gay, did you say? Now, the latest one is in Arizona. Two incumbent Republicans running against each other in a primary because of redistricting. One of them is David Schweikert and the other one is this guy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. BEN QUAYLE (R), ARIZONA: I love Arizona. I was raised right. Somebody has to go to Washington and knock the hell out of the place. Barack Obama -- (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s Congressman Ben Quayle, son of former Vice President Dan Quayle, who has yet to knock the hell out of Washington, but he does want another shot at it. So, which one of these two guys is the star of the latest episode of the ongoing sad Republican reality series called, "Hey, you, I`m calling you gay"? In this case, it`s Ben Quayle. This is the mailer the Schweikert campaign sent out this weekend. You`re looking at the front of it, "Ben Quayle, he goes both ways," dot, dot, dot. The ellipses do quite a lot of there. If you flip the flyer over, you find oh, that Ben Quayle goes both ways on important conservative issues. Just for good measure, it`s repeated a couple more times on the back, Ben Quayle, he goes both ways, both ways. Very subtle, Dave Schweikert, subtle. And, of course, when called on the insinuations in the flyer, a Schweikert campaign spokesman got to repeat the key phrase, saying, quote, "The mail piece was clearly intended to say `both ways,` taking the liberal and conservative side on the issues." Did we mention he goes both ways? Ben Quayle goes both ways. We said that. Did anybody say he goes both ways? It wasn`t us. That`s not what we went. You stay classy, Republican Party. You stay classy with a "K." 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