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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 04/17/14

Guests: Nicolle Wallace

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. OK, this is the Infiniti Q70. This is the Honda CRV. This is an Audi that`s called the S4. This is the Lincoln MKS, not to be confused with the Lincoln MKZ. This is the BMW X6M. This is a KIA called the K900. Behold the Mazda CX5. This is a Mercedes called the SLK55AMG. This is the Ford F-150 FX4, which is what I have in the driveway at home. And don`t get me wrong. I love cars. I love cars. I love cars too much. But once upon a time, cars had names, right? Once upon a time, shopping for cars wasn`t like reading a bar code -- the S4, CRV, Q70, MKS, X6M, K-900. Once upon a time not that long ago if you wanted to go shop, say, for a Cadillac, a new one or a used one, you`d have to know the names of the cars. You`d have to know the names of the line-up. You`d have to know, for example, that the biggest Cadillac was the Cadillac de Ville. And then the next size down was the Cadillac Seville. And then for a brief moment from the late 1990s to the early 2000s, there was a little Cadillac as well, and that was called the Cadillac Catera. And nobody really liked the Cadillac Catera. So when it came time for Cadillac to do what the rest of the car industry was already doing, when it came time for Cadillac to start dropping the names off its vehicles in favor of a hard to remember system of similar letters and numbers, Cadillac let the dreaded Catera go first into that dark tunnel. Nobody cried when they dropped the name Cadillac Catera and instead calling it the Cadillac Catera Touring Sedan, better known by its abbreviation, which they put on the back hood, the CTS. The CTS stands for the Catera Touring Sedan. But nobody called it that. They just started calling it the CTS. And over time, the CTS stopped being the terrible car that the Catera was and it started being a really nice car. But the trend of dropping the names, that spread, just as the Catera touring sedan turned into the CTS, the Cadillac de Ville, the big one, also had to lose its name. A few years after they dropped the Catera thing, they turned the De Ville into the De Ville Touring Sedan, the DTS. The beautiful stalwart American icon Cadillac Seville, the Seville, which had been the land yacht of American fake kings since 1975, the Cadillac Seville in 2004 it too lost its name. It became the Cadillac Seville Touring Sedan, the Cadillac STS. But when they dropped the name Seville, that great name, and they brought it back as the STS, that car was brought back as the flagship of the Cadillac line. They retired the Seville name. They brought it back as the STS. And the STS was the ultimate Cadillac at the time. You could get a bigger Cadillac. You could get a smaller Cadillac. But you could not get a more expensive Cadillac. The STS absolutely top of the line. And as any car dork will tell you, if you are a car dork and you have fallen in love with a particular car that`s a brand new model or a brand new redesign of an old model, the year that you want to buy that car if you can, whether you`re buying new or used, the year you want to buy of any new model car or any totally redesigned model car, the year you want to buy is the first year of that new model year, because that`s the year they make it the best. That`s when they get reviewed. That`s when they know everybody`s going to look at it and deal with all the fit and finish issues. That first year, that`s what you want. If you fell in love with that car and you want to drive the top-of- the-line Cadillac newly redesigned STS, if that was the car for you, you made sure to buy it in the first model year. 2005 was the first model year. And you know who had a 2005 Cadillac STS in piano black? Joe Biden. Oh, yes. Vice President Joe Biden, yes, he did. He had a jet black 2005 Cadillac STS, the first model year of the total redesign of the baddest-ass Cadillac that there was at the time. The STS came in a V8 or in a V6. Naturally he got the V8, had the push-button start, had heated and cooled front seats and back seats, Bose speakers with the special tweeters. He got the all-wheel drive package. And yes, of course it`s black. Oh, yes, yes, it is. And we know this because that exact car is now for sale. A kid in Delaware bought it at the end of Joe Biden`s lease without knowing whose it had been before he bought it. But see, that car, because it was totally loaded and it had everything, it had the Bluetooth thing for syncing your car with your phone, and when the kid went into the Bluetooth of the new car that he just bought off a lease from the dealer, he says there were old phone numbers in the Bluetooth system. For somebody named Beau and somebody named Hunter and a few different numbers for somebody named Jill. Those, of course, are the names of his sons and his wife and Delaware`s not that big. And if you had a black Cadillac in Delaware with numbers in the dash for Beau and Hunter and Jill it wouldn`t really be that hard to figure out. The kid says he also got the warranty information from the dealer where he bought it and that warranty information confirmed that oh, my God, yes, I just accidentally bought Joe Biden`s car. The young man says it is in good condition inside and out. He does say it needs shock absorbers. And also some minor engine work and also an air filter and also a fan belt. But still, he`s asking $15,000 for the car, which depending on the mileage looks to me to be about the Blue Book value times a gazillion for this vehicle. But hey, there`s a Joe Biden premium. This was Joe Biden`s car. So I`m not saying the 15 grand is not worth it, regardless of what the miles are. According to the Craigslist ad at least, Mr. Biden leased the vehicle from 2005, when it was brand new, first model year of the new redesign, yes, leased the car from 2005 until 2008. And we can guess that he loved it all that time. But in 2008, you might imagine that he ended the lease because a little something came up. I`m sure it is an awe-inspiring and very exciting experience to be elected president of the United States, as Barack Obama was in 2008, or to be elected vice president of the United States, as Joe Biden was in 2008. But one of the very real-world consequences of that happening to you is that you don`t get to drive yourself anymore, ever, anywhere. Unless they buy you a pretend ranch in Texas for the duration of your presidency, I guess whereupon they will let you drive around in the back yard of your pretend ranch as long as you don`t go on any of the roads. If you`re not going to pretend to be a rancher while you are president or vice president, having that job means no driving for you. And some presidents and vice presidents have taken that harder than others. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOSEPH BIDEN, VICER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, by the way, you guys, everybody wants to know whether or not I`m going to run for president. There`s a lot of reasons to run for president. But there`s one overwhelming reason not to run for president. I`d like to get that Z06 with 0 to 60 in 3.4 seconds, 3.4 seconds. (APPLAUSE) You tack that sucker up to 6 grand and it comes out of the hole like a bullet, man. The press -- I`m going to say it anyway. I was talking to the chairman of General Motors and I said, God, I`d love to drive this sucker. And I said, the only place they let me drive is on the test track with the Secret Service. They said maybe we could arrange to have one there. I may ask. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Vice presidents and presidents do not get to drive themselves anymore when they are elected. But in 2008, when Joe Biden still apparently held the lease on this sweet caddie with the top-of-the-line Northstar V8, that year he hedged his bets on the election. Joe Biden was on the ballot in Delaware twice in November of 2008. Had he lost one of those elections on that ballot and won the other one, he actually could have kept the car. It`s a weird thing to run for two offices at once, right? But that is what Joe Biden did in 2008. He was up for re-election for his Senate seat that year. And, of course, he was also on the ballot for vice president, as Barack Obama`s running mate. But look, here`s the ballot. Look. Can we zoom in? Yes, zoom in to the first two lines there. You see, in the same election, in the same day, in the same state, on the same ballot, the same guy, Joe Biden, is running against two different people. He`s running against both Sarah Palin and Christine O`Donnell -- Christine O`Donnell. He`s running against Sarah Palin for vice president and Christine O`Donnell for senator. Lucky guy, right? Those were his opponents. So yes, Joe Biden won both of those elections in Delaware that day. If Obama and Biden had lost, if Joe Biden had lost the vice presidency and still won that senate seat that day, Mr. Biden could have gone back to the Senate with his awesome Cadillac. Fortunately, for him since he won both election that day, he did get to keep the vice presidency. He did lose the car and he resigned his Senate seat. One of Mr. Biden`s staffers took over his Senate seat in 2008, essentially as a caretaker until a special election could be held. The "I am not a witch" lady, Christine O`Donnell, she ran again for that Senate seat. This time she ran against not Joe Biden but a Democrat named Chris Coons. That is how Delaware got its current Democratic senator, Chris Coons. And that is how the nation got our current vice president. And that is how some kid in Delaware was able to add I think roughly $10,000 to the price of that used Cadillac that he is trying to sell right now on Craigslist. I have one more detail about that Craigslist house -- Craigslist ad that I`m going to share with you in just a moment. You have to hold on for it. It`s so great. But the reason Vice President Biden was able to run for those two seats at once in Delaware in November 2008 is actually because of LBJ. In 1960, Lyndon Baines Johnson, he was up for re-election in the Senate, and he was also running for president. He did not of course win the nomination for president in 1960. That honor went to John F. Kennedy. But then Mr. Johnson did get tapped to run as Mr. Kennedy`s vice presidential nominee. And even with that second choice job to run for, LBJ still had the problem of his Senate seat being up at the same time. Lyndon Johnson had served two terms in the Senate by this point. He was the majority leader in the Senate. He was really powerful. He was really good at being a senator. And he really didn`t want to give up that base of power for himself. But Texas stay law at the time was a problem. Texas state law at the time said you can`t run for two offices at the same time. You can`t run for re-election as a senator and for vice president. Johnson by law couldn`t be on the ballot to be re-elected senator and be vice president at the same time. And so, if he had followed that law then the cost of running for the vice presidency and losing would have been Johnson holding no public office at all. And that, of course, was totally unacceptable to Lyndon Johnson. So he had that Texas law changed. It`s a fascinate thing. Robert Caro wrote about this in "The Passage to Power." Quote, "Solving that problem required no more than a phone call from Lyndon Johnson to Ed Clark, Texas` secret boss, who in fact took care of the matter in the Texas legislature for LBJ. On April 20th, 1959, over the violent objections of a little band of liberals, the Texas legislature passed a special act which preserved the two-office prohibition except in the case of a candidate who`d been nominated for both a statewide office like U.S. senator and also for the office of president or vice president of the United States." So, they changed the law just so LBJ could run for re-election for his Senate seat and run for vice president at the same time. It`s the whole reason they changed it and they tailored it right to him. And they called that law in Texas the LBJ Law. And it let Mr. Johnson keep his Senate seat in reserve just in case he and JFK had lost that national election. Turns out he didn`t need it, he did fine. But he had that Senate seat in reserve just in case. Then almost 30 years later, it was Lloyd Bentsen who used that LBJ law in Texas for himself. When Lloyd Bentsen ran as the vice presidential running mate of Michael Dukakis in the same year that he was also running for re-election as Lloyd Bentsen the senator. Now, unlike LBJ, it turns out Lloyd Bentsen did need that little bit of insurance. He did need the LBJ law more than LBJ did because Lloyd Bentsen and Michael Dukakis did not win the vice presidency and the presidency, but because he was able to be on the ballot for both races in Texas, Lloyd Bentsen did hold on to his senate seat that same night in that same election, and so he got to go back to Washington anyway. And it wasn`t just Texas because it turns out those LBJ laws other states started to realize that their politicians might want to do the same thing. After Texas changed its law specifically for LBJ in the 1960 election, a lot of other states around the country made the same tweak to their laws because these were widespread state laws that banned people from running for two offices at once. So, Connecticut passed an LBJ law. That`s how Joe Lieberman was able to go back to Washington as a senator from Connecticut even though that re-election campaign for him was the same campaign, the same year where ultimately the Supreme Court gave the presidency and vice presidency to Bush and Cheney instead of Gore and Lieberman. Same deal in Wisconsin in 2012, actually, where Mitt Romney chose a member of the House to be his running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin`s 1st district. Members of the House have to run for re-election every even-numbered year. 2012 was no exception for Paul Ryan. He was up for re-election. So, there was this weird spectacle of the Paul Ryan for Congress Twitter account. See, that`s the address there. Paul Ryan for Congress tweeting out pictures of a Paul Ryan for Congress sign stuck into some Wisconsin lawn literally right next to a Paul Ryan for vice president sign. Of course, you can only hold one of those offices at one time. But in Wisconsin, they had an LBJ law, so he was allowed to run for both at once. So, Wisconsin has an LBJ law. And Joe -- and Paul Ryan benefited from it there. Just like Joe Lieberman benefited from Connecticut having an LBJ law. Just like Joe Biden and his black Cadillac benefited from Delaware having an LBJ law. Lots of states have LBJ laws that allow people to run for a national office while they`re also running to hold on to the existing office just in case. Lots of states have LBJ laws. But not all the states have them. The state of Kentucky, for example, doesn`t have one. In the state of Kentucky, it`s illegal for a person`s name to be on the ballot in the same election for two different offices. You cannot simultaneously run for two different things in Kentucky. And yes, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is up for re-election in 2016. If Rand Paul wants to run for president or vice president, he cannot also run for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat at the same time. And so, like LBJ did 55 years ago, Rand Paul is trying to fix this. Rand Paul has realized that he`s got a real 2016 problem. He`s now gone to the state legislature in Kentucky sort of quietly and asked them to please change that state law so that he, Rand Paul, can run simultaneously to hold on to his U.S. Senate seat while he`s also running for higher office, too, on the same ballot on the same night in the same state. And a kind of amazing thing just happened around this issue, which is that Kentucky said no to Rand Paul. The Republicans control the Senate in that state, and the Senate, controlled by the Republicans, they did pass the bill that Rand Paul wanted them to pass. But the assembly is controlled by the Democrats in Kentucky, led by Speaker Greg Stumbo, who you see here. And Speaker Greg Stumbo just flat out said no, we are not changing the state law for Rand Paul. As soon as Rand Paul started asking for Kentucky to change this law, Mr. Stumbo was really very clear about it. He told the "Courier Journal," "We kind of take the position over here that a man who can`t decide which office he wants to run for isn`t fit to hold either office." And so the Kentucky Democrats said no. Or to be more specific, they just let the clock run out on the legislative session where they would have had to pass the bill. They let the clock run out without ever acting on it. And they are palpably gleeful about shoving this in Rand Paul`s face. Look, here`s Mr. Stumbo. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STATE REP. GREG STUMBO (D), KENTUCKY: Still reading it. We can`t decide what it says. REPORTER: There`s only one paragraph. STUMBO: Well, you know, two offices. One says Senate. One says president. Check one. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: We couldn`t possibly act on it. We`re still reading it. Weeks later. It`s only the one paragraph. But that is how Kentucky Democrats laughingly made it this week so that Rand Paul really might have to give up his U.S. Senate seat if he wants to run for president. And, you know, maybe this will get sorted out some other way. Maybe Republicans in Kentucky will talk the Democrats into changing their minds. They`d have to talk the Democratic governor into changing his mind, too. Or maybe the Republicans will take over that House in the legislature in Kentucky next year somehow and then they can do it on their own. But in the absence of something like that happening, this is a weird little quirk in the states that hasn`t received any national play at all, but it might have really big implications for national politics. And, of course, for Mr. Paul and his national ambitions, this calls into question of whether or not he and his father`s brand of Republicanism is actually about holding office and not just running for it. I don`t mean to cast aspersions when I say this. But Ron Paul was basically a lifelong protest candidate for national office. The platform for his views, the support and fund-raising prowess that he could demonstrate to his own party, giving his views more seeming viability within the Republican Party, hoping to nudge the party in that direction. There was reasons for him to run as a protest candidate. But no one, including Ron Paul, I think, ever thought that he was ever anything but a protest candidate, that he was ever actually going to be president. Running was its own end. He held on to that House seat from Texas for decades. You know, casting protest votes and passing zero legislation and every four years, he would run for president in order to build support for the Paulite brand of the Republican Party. Nobody knows if Rand Paul is just chapter two of that legacy, if he too is playing just to play instead of playing to win. But as foreign policy moves back into the forefront of national politics, thanks to Russia, and as the Republican establishment gets its claws out this week against Rand Paul`s foreign policy ideas, which drive them crazy, they`re absolutely apoplectic that he could be taken seriously as a Republican with the isolationist foreign policy ideas that he has -- while all that is happening at a substantive level, at a procedural level, this weird little hurdle that Rand Paul just did not clear in Kentucky as the Kentucky Democrats laughed in his face about it, that little hurdle may call into question as to whether or not the Republican Party is going to be able to keep swatting him down as a relatively inconsequential senator the way his dad was a relatively inconsequential congressman, or whether this round of the Paul family might actually be willing to run for office in a way that he would have to win and not just play. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STUMBO: Still reading it. REPORTER: You`re still reading it? STUMBO: We can`t decide what it says. REPORTER: It`s only one paragraph. STUMBO: Well, you know, go to two offices. One says senate. One says president. The whole sentence. Check one. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Check one. Senate or president, that was the Democratic speaker of the Kentucky House, which this week has upset Senator Rand Paul`s plans for his grand political future. Mr. Paul wanted Kentucky to change a state law so he could both run for re-election in his senate seat in 2016 while also potentially making a much riskier run for president or vice president. Kentucky Democrats took one look at that request and said, no, we are not doing it, even though lots of other states around the country have. Senator Paul doesn`t just have Democrats in the Kentucky legislature stymieing his plans right now, though. He`s also got the Republican Party establishment against him right now. Most vituperatively because of his views on foreign policy, which of course are taking center stage right now because of what`s going on with Russia. Joining us now is Nicolle Wallace. She`s former communications director for the George W. Bush administration and senior adviser to the McCain-Palin presidential campaign. Nicolle is someone with whom I basically disagree with everyone on foreign policy. NICOLLE WALLACE, FORMER G.W. BUSH COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: But I love the word vituperously. MADDOW: Thank you. WALLACE: It`s awesome. MADDOW: I overuse it. WALLACE: I love it. MADDOW: I`ll send it home with you with flash cards so you can use it in regular conversation. WALLACE: I think it`s there. I know my limits. MADDOW: Foreign policy is back on the front burner because of world events. Rand Paul drives sort of establishment Republicans crazy about foreign policy. WALLACE: Well, let me say a couple things about Rand Paul. One, he certainly deserved to have -- you laid out at the beginning of the show all of the precedent over decades, over generations of politicians having the privilege of running for two offices. It`s a privilege. MADDOW: Both parties, all over the country. WALLACE: So, this was clearly political, that he`s been deprived of that opportunity. Rand Paul also has a lot of grassroots support in the Republican Party and also among younger sort of self-identified libertarians and independents. What people who have served in government, what people who keep an eye on foreign policy not just in Russia but in the global war on terror and the ongoing threat that we face as a country from Islamic extremism, in the measures and the counterterrorism measures that two presidents who agree on very little both did basically the same thing on, the Bush counterterrorism policy that`s were created were largely left unchanged by -- MADDOW: Not largely, but some of the most controversial -- WALLACE: The drone policy was accelerated. The NSA program was more than Cheney ever could have dreamed of in his wildest fantasies. I mean, Obama has done things in very much the same vein as the Bush administration. So, there`s a lot of concern not just from Republicans but from people who have an idea of the threats that we face as a country with Rand Paul`s views on a lot of those issues. MADDOW: So, Rand Paul`s views on a lot of those issues appeal to both people who are critical of the Obama administration on those things and people who are critical of the legacy of the Bush administration. WALLACE: Right. And I don`t think it`s a political opportunism for him. I think the thing about Rand Paul that appeals is he is a convicted candidate who believes what he believes because those are his views and that`s what he thinks is in the best interests of the country. MADDOW: So my question is how important is foreign policy to the Republican Party? Because -- and I don`t mean this in a mean way. But the nominee in -- WALLACE: You never mean it in a mean way. MADDOW: Well, I`m not -- I don`t have mean feelings about it. But I do feel like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan were absolute dunces when it came to foreign policy. I think they were laughably bad on the issue, to the point where, you know, they`d forget to bring up the war, you know, and stuff. It just -- and it -- they were good at a lot of things. They were terrible about that. And what was clear to me about that was it just wasn`t important. It wasn`t part of why they were picked. Wasn`t part of why they were chosen against their rivals. I feel like John McCain was sort of the last hurrah of the Republican Party in terms making foreign policy an issue. And I don`t know anybody else in the Republican Party who does. WALLACE: You hit on something important. It`s not that it wasn`t important to Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. It wasn`t important to the American voter. The voter was very focused -- MADDOW: Well -- WALLACE: The voter was very focused, the voters in both parties were almost exclusively focused on the economic crisis in 2008. And neither Barack Obama nor John McCain had too much opportunity to focus on exactly what they would do on foreign policy. MADDOW: Well, but to be fair, I think the Obama-Biden re-election campaign could be boiled down to GM`s alive and bin Laden`s dead. They did actually -- Democrats were willing to talk about foreign policy. The vice presidential debate -- WALLACE: And Mitt Romney about did talk about Russia being the largest -- MADDOW: Number one geopolitical foe. WALLACE: They both had things to say. But no, it is a political reality that foreign policy did not drive or determine the outcome of the elections in 2008 or 2012 -- MADDOW: I would agree with you that it didn`t in the Republican primary. I think it`s an open question as to the general. WALLACE: Well -- MADDOW: I don`t think anybody -- WALLACE: Exit polls. I don`t think foreign policy ranked in the top three issues in either 2008 -- MADDOW: But if the Republican Party does care about foreign policy and that`s part of the reason that there`s this Rand Paul is unacceptable freak-out that`s going on right now, which has this great wrinkle in terms of him having to decide he doesn`t want to be a senator if he wants to run for president. Who is acceptable and viable on the Republican Party on foreign policy? WALLACE: Well, let me just say the Republican freak-out is about having a commander in chief who draws red lines and then doesn`t enforce them. If we`re freaking out about things, it`s about our standing in the world. And Republicans are freaking out about that. Republicans who, again, pay attention to foreign policy above other issues are alarmed by Rand Paul`s positions -- MADDOW: But who they like? WALLACE: Well, I think there`s going to be a robust debate. And I think it`s really important that you`re pointing out this distinction and divide in the Republican Party because it is real and I think it is more divisive than the issues a lot of other people focus on. There is a base of the Republican Party who really sees a strong America, who believes we have -- who almost has this view of American interventionalism that we have a moral purpose. And that`s not a right-left divide. It really is a philosophical divide about America`s role in the world. But there is a growing segment of the Republican Party that believes in more isolationism along the lines of what Rand Paul believes. So, this is going to be a big, loud debate. MADDOW: And my point is that they don`t have a candidate, that they know what they don`t want. But they have no idea -- WALLACE: Well, I think Jeb Bush has a world view that`s more consistent with -- MADDOW: Oh, please. WALLACE: -- leaders like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. MADDOW: It`s amazing. WALLACE: You`re going to insult him another night? We don`t have time tonight? (LAUGHTER) MADDOW: I`m never going to say a word about Jeb Bush in the hopes it will bring him to fruition. Nicolle Wallace, former Bush administration communications director, senior adviser to McCain-Palin -- again, I believe you are wrong about everything on foreign policy but I like you very much. WALLACE: I like you very much. And I`m going to look for a thesaurus. So I have a good word next time I`m here. MADDOW: The thing about Joe Biden`s car that I was going to tell you. WALLACE: Yes. MADDOW: You guys have to bring back the Joe Biden`s car thing. Come on. It`s there? Come on. A lot`s going on in the news tonight. Here it is. I just can`t let this go. Vice President Joe Biden`s 2005 Cadillac, up for sale on Craigslist, $15,000. Needs a fan belt, et cetera. Right? I have to show you this. The hopeful seller of Mr. Biden`s Cadillac on Craigslist, he did post several pictures of the car along with his Craigslist ad, but the pictures he posted included this one. Look very closely. See, it`s a very nice paint job on this car. It`s quite reflective. Almost like a mirror. And I think that that is the seller. Look carefully. Himself. Reflected in Joe Biden`s freaking Cadillac. Hot selfie with Joe Biden`s Cadillac and cigarette. That is awesome. We talk about things being so New Jersey on the show. That right there, that is the most Delaware thing I have ever seen in my life. And I mean that in a good way. And we`ll be right back. WALLACE: I love that. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The embarrassing kvelling over cars is over for tonight. I`m sorry. I got a little carried away. But the shame of me trying to pronounce words not in English, that is still ahead tonight. Please stay with us. Lots to come. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The word "new" in the Italian language is nuovo. In Spanish, it is nuevo. In Latin, it is novus. Even in Esperanto, it`s all pretty consistent. The word for new in Esperanto, it is nova. And in Russian, forgive my pronunciation in all of these -- but in Russian as far as I understand it it`s novaya. Of course in Russian they don`t use the same Latin characters as the other languages. So unless you`re good with Cyrillic you probably can`t read that at the bottom of the screen, but sound-wise it is all pretty consistent. New, nuovo, nuevo, novus, nova, novaya. It all means new. The word Russia if you pronounce it in Russian is Rossiya, and if you add that word, Rossiya to the word for new in Russian, novaya, well, that makes this -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PRES. VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA: Nova Rossiya. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Nova Rossiya. Did you get that? One more time. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PUTIN: Nova Rossiya. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Nova Rossiya, New Russia. New Russia. As the world has been watching trying to figure out whether or not President Vladimir Putin of Russia has plans for taking over more of Ukraine than he`s already taken over, it seems like a pretty ominous sign that today is the day he stopped calling eastern Ukraine Ukraine and started instead calling it New Russia. New Russia. That`s part of what it was called in the 19th century when it was part of the Russian empire instead of its own country. And if Vladimir Putin has now gone back to calling it that now it seems fairly ominous about his intentions toward that part of Ukraine. It`s like if Mexico started calling Texas one of its provinces again. President Putin also made clear today that his parliament has given him the right to intervene militarily, to use military force in the Ukraine if he so chooses. He said all of this in a super long, four-hour sort of press conference today which included all this goofy stuff in it, including him taking sort of a stunt question from Edward Snowden on video, him making a crack about how no, he doesn`t want to invade Alaska because Alaska`s not worth anything and it`s really cold there. It was weird. But for all the messing around, in this four-hour-long thing today in Russia, all of this happened amid a very serious day in Ukraine, a day that resulted in bloodshed. Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian protesters engaged in some really serious fighting in eastern Ukraine in the last 24 hours. Hundreds of protesters had marched to a military base and demanded the Ukrainian military station there surrender their weapons at the base. The crowd got more and more rowdy, started firing bullets, started throwing Molotov cocktails. Ukrainian troops reportedly first fired into the air and then the protesters are described as having charged the gates of the base. The two sides did exchange fire. And three pro-Russian protesters are said to have been killed. Thirteen are said to have been wounded. And then after that news today there was news out of Geneva that Ukraine and Russia and the United States had reached a diplomatic agreement of sorts. They signed a pact agreeing to try to defuse the current crisis in Ukraine to try to deescalate it. The deal included amnesty for the militant pro-Russian groups if they leave these public buildings that they`ve been occupying and barricading themselves in in eastern Ukraine. Now, there are worries that Russia`s foreign minister signing on to this deal is just Russia`s foreign minister signing on to this deal. There are worries, increasingly widespread worries, that Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, may not actually speak for anyone more than himself, that he may look like a diplomat but his diplomatic actions don`t actually bind Russia as a nation. There are real questions right now as to whether anyone but Vladimir Putin speaks for Vladimir Putin and now that he`s speaking in four-hour bursts on Russian television, can we see anybody else in Russian government as binding Russia -- as binding the Russian president by anything that anybody else signs? So, Sergey Lavrov signing on for this agreement on behalf of Russia, on paper this did look like a breakthrough toward de-escalation of this very scary situation in eastern Ukraine. But the White House made clear today that that breakthrough might just be on paper. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia right now still has its forces amassed along the Ukrainian-Russian border as a gesture of intimidation, and it is our belief and not ours alone but I think broad portions of the international community believe that Russia`s hand is in the disruptions and chaos that we`ve been seeing in southern and eastern Ukraine. But there is an opportunity for Russia to take a different approach. We are encouraging them to do so. In the meantime, we`re going to prepare additional responses should Russia fail to take a different course. We`ve already had an impact on their economy. That is well- documented. They could get significantly worse. But we don`t have an interest in hurting ordinary Russians just for the sake of it. Our strong preference would be for Mr. Putin to follow through on what is a glimmer of hope coming out of these Geneva talks. But we`re not going to count on it until we see it. And in the meantime we`re going to prepare what our other options are. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: We`re not going to count on it until we see it. We`re going to prepare additional responses should Russia fail to take a different course. What does that mean exactly? Hold that thought. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: Our strong preference would be for Mr. Putin to follow through on what is a glimmer of hope coming out of these Geneva talks, but we`re not going to count on it until we see it. And in the meantime, we`re going to prepare what our other options are. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was President Obama earlier today saying that his administration is going to prepare what other options are when it comes to Russia. Joining us now is Andrea Mitchell, NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent and the host of "ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS" here on MSNBC. Andrea, it`s great to see you. Thank you for being here. ANDREA MITCHELL, ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS: Great to see you. Thanks for having me. MADDOW: So, everyone is worried that this is war or that this is at least Russia further extending its territory by force. Today felt like both an escalation on the ground in terms of the violence but also a breakthrough on paper in terms of the diplomacy. What do you think is most important about what happened today? MITCHELL: I think what`s most important is whether what happened on paper in Geneva really holds up. And there frankly is a lot of skepticism at the White House and at the State Department that that is the case, precisely because we don`t know whether Lavrov speaks for Vladimir Putin. He has not during all of this crisis. And not really on Syria either. So Putin has a small circle of advisers. They`re mostly former KGB people. They`re not diplomats. And they are the people he talks to. You saw that performance you were referring to today -- the hours and hours of his teleconference. This is an annual business that he does. And it was very filled with bluster, very belligerent, aggressive. And it didn`t certainly sync up with what Lavrov and the diplomats were doing in this their first meeting, which was the one achievement today, that it was the first time the Russians had agreed to sit down face to face with the Kiev government officials. MADDOW: Well, in that four hours of bluster and that remarkable event today how big of a deal was it that president Putin called Ukraine new Russia today? I know you highlighted that in your report tonight on "Nightly News." Is that just -- is that carefully calculated bluster? Is that laying the groundwork for something larger? Is that just a provocation? MITCHELL: Well, that`s what they don`t know. They don`t know whether he actually is still going to try to destabilize Ukraine, eastern Ukraine and the rest of the country by keeping thugs in eastern Ukraine, by having these protests. You know, the view for most analysts from the organization of security and confidence in Europe and others from the U.N. is that -- and polling recently -- is that eastern Ukraine is not like Crimea was. That in fact the protests, the pro-Kiev rally we saw in a Donetsk today was fairly representative of the view -- a mixed view towards Russia in eastern Ukraine. It`s not really represented by the people who took over those government buildings. So there is a variety of opinion. Not that easy for him to move troops in. But he`s got these uniformed thugs that are clearly Russian. He denied they were Russian. They clearly are. So, is he going to keep those troops amassed on the border of Ukraine and make it difficult for Ukraine to have a legitimate election in May? That would be a real problem. That is destabilizing Ukraine without moving any troops literally across the border. MADDOW: And President Obama today called that a gesture of intimidation, some of his strong remarks on that. MITCHELL: Exactly. MADDOW: Secretary Kerry today said, "If we are not able to see progress on efforts to implement the principles of this agreement this weekend", he said, "Then we will have no choice but to impose further costs on Russia." Are those carefully chosen words? Should we see that essentially as a Monday deadline from the State Department before the U.S. starts looking at more sanctions toward Russia? MITCHELL: We did have the call to Angela Merkel today from the president, and also tonight to David Cameron as well, and strong words in readouts from the White House on both of those conversations. They have to coordinate this with Europe. The president has the authority. He could move to step up the sanctions. We are told that more sanctions are being preferred against cronies, against their businesses, against Putin circle. But to do the really big sanctions that would hurt Russia, it would also hurt France, and Britain and Germany. So, he`s got to coordinate that with the leaders. And figure out how to proportionately do financial and energy and mining and arms shipments sanctions that will not disproportionately hurt Germany more than allies. That`s what they`re trying to do. They`re going to figure out the actual measurement of sanctions as they step them up. I don`t think it`s literally Monday. It will take a couple days to see, to test whether Russia really does de-escalate, whether they disarm these militias, whether they give up these government buildings. And if they don`t do that, I think you will see some additional sanctions. Whether it is the big guns from the United States and the allies remains to be seen. MADDOW: And that balance of trying to -- sort of ratchet up the tension or escalate the effect while also maintaining unanimity among allies on the issue. It`s fascinating stuff. Andrea Mitchell, NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent, Andrea, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. MITCHELL: My pleasure. Thank you. MADDOW: Andrea, of course, hosts "THE ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS", which is here on MSNBC at noon Eastern every weekday. All right. We`ve got some news that you won`t believe out of the great state of Texas. And that is coming up next. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, Venn diagram, right? Two circles, each of which represents a thing, then usually the point of the diagram is the overlap between those circles. The thing I`m about to show you is the Venn diagram overlap between a circle called neat and a circle called unnerving. It`s an interactive map of the country. The blue marks represents schools. The orange marks represent chemical facilities, especially chemical facilities to report to the EPA`s risk management program. You have to report to that program if you produce or use or store significant quantities of hazardous chemicals that the EPA says are risky to human health if they get spilled or released into the air or involved in an explosion or fire. So, with this map, you can cross reference where schools are and where these facilities are that have to report to the risk management program about their chemicals. With those two sets of data, you can graphically come up with a fairly representative map of which American schools are within one mile of facilities that handle dangerous chemicals. You can zoom in to the area where you live. You can type in the name of your kids` school to see whether there are facilities full of dangerous chemicals nearby that school. And you can learn how many accidents have taken place at that chemical facility if any. See, it`s neat. Also very unnerving. It turns out there are about 10,000 American schools located within one mile of this kind of potentially dangerous chemical facility. That`s one in every 10 American school kids, within a mile. And that`s current data. And that data feels even more unnerving than it used to. Ever since what happened one year ago, one year ago tonight in a little town called West in Texas. One year ago tonight that a fertilizer plant in the city of West in Texas exploded. The facility was storing large amounts of ammonium nitrate. Among other things, 15 people were killed. Just a few minutes ago at 7:51, local time, residents of West gathered to hold a full minute of silence to mark the moment the explosion took place a year ago. The damage that day left a 90-foot wide crater and damaged or destroyed hundred of buildings. The damaged of destroyed buildings included a nursing home, a nearby apartment complex and three schools, including one that backed right up on to the plant, storing all of those explosives, as it turns out, in wooden bins. "The Wall Street Journal" yesterday quoted Texas state fire marshal saying since the explosion at West, his office has identified 46 facilities in Texas still storing large amounts of explosive fertilizer in bins and buildings made out of wood. That was what happened at the facility in West. We know how that turned out. But even knowing that, nearly 50 other Texas facilities are doing the same thing that was done at West, even a year after what happened there. Texas has done nothing to change any of the rules in the state. The state fire marshal says he is advising owners of fertilizer facilities in the state to please think about installing sprinklers, please think about storing their explosives and structures that won`t burn, take them out of wooden bins and buildings and put them in stuff made out of cinder block, or made of concrete. But the state fire marshal confirms with us today that he can only make those suggestions as suggestions to people who are storing large amounts of explosive fertilizer, because nothing in Texas state law or regulations allows the Texas fire authorities to require that sort of thing. They lack the authority to require it. And nothing that happened in West, Texas, a year ago tonight has changed Texas`s mind about that. The line from Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry on this is that "there`s no need to jump to conclusions on this subject." But if something like this is not cause for reconsidering safety rules and neither is the news that nearly 50 other facilities in the state are storing explosives the same way this place was, then essentially, the state of Texas is saying that this is what to expect if you choose to live in the great state of Texas. And that is the very definition of unnerving. Thanks for being with us tonight. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD." Thanks. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END