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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/07/14

Guests: Jon Erpenbach, Elizabeth Warren

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. We`ve got a big show tonight. There`s lots of news, including about this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my god. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s just incredible footage, something that just happened in Louisiana. It`s got a very uncomfortable connection unfortunately to this, which just happened today in Canada. So we`ve got that story coming up tonight. Also, tonight, we`ve got Elizabeth Warren here live for the interview. That`s coming up in just a few minutes. So we got a big show. There`s lots going on. But we`re starting tonight with breaking news on a national security issue. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the FBI, has taken the unusual step today of asking the American public for help about ISIS. Specifically, the FBI is asking for help in trying to identify this man. This is a propaganda video that was released by the terror group ISIS a couple of weeks ago. And the individual that you were looking at right here, in the video. You can see he`s wearing some military-style camouflaged fatigues. He`s also wearing a black mask. This man is believed by U.S. security officials to be a North American. They think he`s an American citizen, possibly a Canadian citizen, who traveled overseas to join the fight with ISIS and then appeared in this video. I should tell you that as a general rule, we here at MSNBC and at NBC News, we do not typically play extended clips from propaganda videos but in this case there is a specific reason to. The U.S. government tonight has taken the unusual step of reposting just under a two-minute long section of that long video. It`s a video that`s almost an hour in length. That was released by ISIS a couple of weeks ago. The FBI has excerpted a portion that`s just under two minutes long and they posted it on the FBI Web site and asked Americans to watch it, specifically because they`re trying to gather tips from the American public about who that masked man is. Yes, he`s wearing a mask. But they believe between his body language and the shape of his face that you can see through that mask and the voice and the way in which he speaks, somebody may know who he is or may know a way to figure it out. So to that end, we`re going to play just a short clip from that video. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are here in the 17th Division Military Base just outside the city of al-Raqqa. And we`re here with the soldiers of Bashar. And you can see them now digging their own graves in the very place where they were stationed. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Again, that`s a portion of the ISIS propaganda video that was posted online at the FBI Web site tonight. Later on in the portion of the video that the FBI posted, they don`t show it graphically, but they show enough to indicate that the man, this man speaking there with the North American accent goes on to participate in the murder of some of those who are reputed to be Syrian government soldiers who you see behind him, you saw introducing there in that clip. And as you can hear in the clip, the gentleman in -- speaking here, does appear to have an American accent, at least a North American accent. U.S. officials tell NBC News it could be a Canadian accent. At this point, they don`t know who he is or where he is from. But they think there`s enough to identify him in this clip that they`re seeking any information they can get from the public. The FBI tonight also released this wanted poster, which shows the same man, again seeking information from the American public about the man in that video. The FBI is hoping that somebody out there might recognize him either through his voice or his appearance. They`re asking anybody with information to call the FBI toll-free tip line or submit information on the FBI`s Web site. This weekend, the director of the FBI, James Comey, he addressed the threat posed by Americans traveling overseas to join the fight with ISIS. He told CBS News that the FBI knows of about a dozen or so Americans that are fighting with ISIS in Syria. They`ve asked -- the FBI is asking the American public to tell the FBI any information they have about any American who is planning to travel to Syria to fight with ISIS who may have traveled there already. Any information -- they say no bit of information is too small. But, again, tonight, they have expanded on that specifically towards this one target. They apparently believe that this is one of those dozen or so Americans or at least North Americans who have joined the fight with ISIS. Again he is seen participating in killing people in this propaganda video. The FBI has been analyzing this particular piece of tape apparently for weeks now. But again the breaking news tonight is that -- as part of their investigation, they`ve taken the remarkable step of reaching out to the American public specifically on their Web site in the hopes that somebody can identify him. Joining us now is NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams. Pete, thanks very much for helping us with this. I appreciate your time tonight. PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: You bet. MADDOW: How unusual is it for the FBI to take a case like this to the public? Obviously, we all know about the "Ten Most Wanted List" and things like that. But specifically on a counterterrorism case like this, how unusual is it for the FBI to say we think that -- best information might come from Americans we have no contact with at this point. WILLIAMS: Well, you know, I think you have to put this in perspective. The simple answer to your question is, it is unusual. It`s not the first time The FBI has asked for help in identifying suspected terrorists overseas. You may recall that the FBI posted pictures from the surveillance cameras in the Benghazi attack to see if people recognize any of the pictures there. The unfortunate fact is that it can be done now because terror organizations are better at producing videos that can be excerpted. MADDOW: Sure. WILLIAMS: I mean, in a sense the way to think about this is the FBI taking an ISIS propaganda tool, videos in English, and now trying to use the tool against the terror group by saying, hey, do you recognize this man? Now in this 55-minute long video, there`s actually two American voices. There`s the picture and the voice of the man that you`ve been showing. But the video is also narrated in English. So there`s actually a second person on there. The FBI apparently didn`t feel there was much to be gained by simply playing the audio of the narrator because that just didn`t give people enough to go on. But in the excerpt that they posted on their Web site, which I guess we should say is,, they do show extended excerpts from this video. And they also on that Web site say we`re not only asking for tips on who this guy is, but we`re also asking for help from the public in identifying anyone else in America that people suspect might be planning to go overseas to commit jihad or have recently come back. It`s a reflection, I think, of the fact that more of these videos are out there and ISIS produces all of its materials or virtually all of them in English specifically to appeal to Westerners and, especially Americans. But it`s also a reflection of the fact that this is one of the FBI`s biggest concerns about people who go join up ISIS and then come back to the U.. MADDOW: In the FBI press release about this today, they noted that an ISIS fighter with a British accent was seen in previous propaganda videos that got so much attention because unfortunately they showed the beheading of hostages and they note that it has been reported that the identity of that British-accented ISIS fighter may be known to British authorities. That he may have been identified. There`s been some American officials who have indicated that American officials may know who that British accented fighter is, as well. Is there any indication that knowing who these guys are helps fight ISIS in any way? Or at least helps track down any risk that they may pose back to their home countries? WILLIAMS: Two points about that. One is the FBI director himself has told us that both he and the U.S. are confident that they know who that British man is. But, secondly, if they can figure out who these people are, even if they can`t get at them in Syria or Iraq or where ever they are, A, it may help them track them down using all the methods that you can probably conjure up in your own mind that needn`t be any further explained here. But, secondly, if they have some comforts in knowing who they are, they can try to figure out who they might be in contact with in the U.S. They can try to talk to their friends and relatives. What was it that radicalized them. Why did they go there? Are they in touch? Do they intend to come back? Any piece of information that they can get about the people that have gone to Syria to join with this groups will be extremely valuable, they say. MADDOW: NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams. Pete, thank you for helping us understand this tonight. I really appreciate it. WILLIAMS: Sure. MADDOW: Again, the breaking news tonight that the FBI has posted on its Web site just under a two-minute section of a longer ISIS propaganda video. The overall video is about 55 minutes long. They posted a shorter segment of it that highlights an individual who appears to be speaking in a North American, either American or Canadian accent. He sort of transitions between fluent Arabic and what is very clearly fluent English. They`re asking for the public at large to watch that tape, see if you see anything that you recognize or you might know who that is. They say no tip is too small. It is interesting the point that Pete Williams made there, though, that there are -- appear to be two American accents or at least North American accents on that same ISIS video. One of them, somebody who just appears as a narrator. And then the other one is the clip that was focused on in the FBI Web site tonight where you can both see the person wearing a mask and hear his voice at the same time. The FBI choosing to focusing on that -- choosing to focus on that second man, presumably because they believe something about the combination of hearing his voice and seeing him at the same time may make it possible for somebody to identify him. It does -- given the technical sophistication of these ISIS propaganda videos, it does raise the question as to whether or not his voice has been electronically altered in terms of the way we hear it on that video which of course would interfere with the ability to identify him. But the fact that the FBI is coming direct to the public on this is a remarkable new development in this fight against ISIS. All right. We`ve got lots more ahead tonight, including Senator Elizabeth Warren here for the interview. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Well, this is moving fast. Watch how fast this is going. As of this weekend, this was where same-sex marriage was legal in this country. It was legal in D.C. plus these 19 states. Then, yesterday morning, when the Supreme Court turned down a whole bunch of appeals all at once, that decision instantly added five more states to the list of places where same- sex marriage is legal. So yesterday we went from those 19 initial states and we added Oklahoma, Virginia, Indiana, Utah and Wisconsin. But wait, there`s more. Put the last list back up there. Because of the way the Supreme Court decided yesterday, because they decided by letting lower court rulings stand, those lower court rulings also mean that same- sex marriage is legal in all of the other states that those lower courts have jurisdiction in. So yesterday we started with 19 states and they directly added five more. But now these other six states, which are under the same jurisdictions -- same jurisdiction of those lower courts, these six are now also in the process of legalizing same-sex marriage at the same time. So you can also add Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming. Oh, but, wait, there`s more. Because today, another one of those courts that`s one level below the Supreme Court, the Federal Appeals court, ruled that state bans against same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. It was the Ninth Circuit Court which covers a whole bunch of states in the western United States so we put back up the score card there. Today`s ruling from the Ninth Circuit directly overthrew the anti-gay marriage ban in two more states. So they directly legalized same-sex marriage in Idaho and Nevada. But the ruling will also apply to all the other states in that circuit as well which currently ban gay marriage, which means that in addition to Idaho and Nevada being added today, you can also add these three more. Montana, Alaska, Arizona. This ruling today in the Ninth Circuit, unless the Supreme Court takes it up, which they won`t, will also legalize same-sex marriage in Alaska, Arizona and Montana. I told you this is happening fast. What this means is that in the course of 36 hours, we have gone from being a country where same-sex marriage is legal in 19 states in the District of Columbia, to being a country where equal marriage rights are either legal or in the process of inexorably becoming legal in very short order in -- oh, almost the whole country. 35 states plus D.C. States that represent 65 percent of the population. Wow, that was fast. It`s now easier to count the number of states where marriage rights are not equal. Than it is to count all of the other -- to count it all the other way. And it all happened in 36 hours. Republicans like Ted Cruz in Texas and Bobby Jindal in Louisiana and Mike Lee in Utah and Mary Fallon in Oklahoma, and Tom Tilson, North Carolina, they`re all mashing their teeth about this. Pledging to fight to the end to stop this terrible outbreak of marriage rights. But after decades of fighting about this, in the blink of an eye, this is what`s happened in 36 hours. It`s all happening, all at once. We`re still waiting on one pending court ruling on the bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. But, honestly, if you`re waiting with bated breath for that result, it`s because you`re not paying attention to the movement of history right now. So on that issue, on that one part of the law about our rights in this country, the courts are just racing ahead right now. It`s happening all over the country, even where you wouldn`t expect it and it`s just happening now. Boom. That is true for gay rights right now. It is not true for all of our rights right now. For all of our contested rights in this country. And maybe we should have seen this coming last summer. You know, the Edie Windsor ruling of the Supreme Court last summer which led to this cascade of pro-gay rights decisions ever since, including the ones today. The Edie Windsor decision was on June 26th of last year. The day before that, June 25th last year, the day before the big gay rights ruling, that same Supreme Court took a sledgehammer to voting rights in this country. They struck down the heart of the voting rights amendment which had passed 50 years ago in the throes of massive civil rights mobilization in this country against voting rights discrimination. The five Republican appointed conservative justices in the majority on that case argued that discrimination in voting rights was a thing of the past. It was something we no longer needed federal protections against states discriminating in the way they let people vote. And that was sort of a lovely, feel good fairy tale that they spun out in their majority ruling. We used to have a problem with that. We don`t have it anymore. The idea that voting rights in this country are a settled thing, no longer contested territory, is very obviously bullpucky. But the Supreme Court ruled otherwise. I mean, since 2010, since the last big midterm election in which Republicans won control of state governments all across the country, 18 different Republican-controlled states have changed the law in those states to make it harder to vote. The conservatives on the Supreme Court explain that, we don`t need to worry about voting rights being restricted anymore. That was all in the past. And they explained that at the exact moment that voting rights are being restricted more than at any other time in the last couple of generations. Don`t worry about it. So they gutted voting rights on a Tuesday, and then the next day, Wednesday, they had their big gay rights decision. It was a very confusing time. But now, more than a year later, we are still reaping the whirlwind of that very confusing time in American rights because right now, as we`ve got this lightning progress from the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts on marriage rights, as that`s just steaming across the country, at the exact same time that`s happening, we`re now one-month out from the next really important national midterm elections four weeks from today. And just as fast as gay rights are expanding voting rights are taking a beating right now. Take for example the great state of Wisconsin. Wisconsin is a state that has never had a documented case of voter fraud by way of impersonation. A voter pretending to be someone else in order to vote in that person`s name. That`s the kind of voter fraud that conceivably would be put off, deterred, stopped by voter ID. Never one of those in Wisconsin. Nevertheless, once Republicans got control of the state legislature, and when the governorship there, they passed a new law in 2011 that blocks you from voting in Wisconsin unless you have an ID. Unless you bring specific documentation with you to vote which hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin residents do not have. Just to get a sense of the scale of what they`re doing, look at this. When Scott Walker won elections as Wisconsin`s Republican governor in 2010 he won by about 125,000 votes. The estimates prepared for the courts as to how many legal Wisconsin voters don`t have the kind of ID you`d need to show to be able to vote in Wisconsin anymore. The range they`ve identified is, at the low end, about 160,000. At the high end, about 370,000. He only won by 125,000 votes. You think it might make a difference if you drop that many people out of the electorate in Wisconsin? I mean, most of the people without ID, let`s be honest, are people who are poor, people who have relatively transients lives, people who are disproportionately from minority populations. They`re much more likely to be Democratic voters. You take somewhere between 160,00 and 370,00 of those voters out of the electorate, no Democrat will ever win in Wisconsin again. At least not statewide. So that`s what Wisconsin Republicans passed in 2011. One of the most draconian voter ID laws in the country. And for obvious reasons, it was quickly blocked by the courts. All year this year, it`s been blocked by the courts including when election officials in Wisconsin started sending out thousands and thousands and thousands of absentee ballots. For people who are planning on voting absentee in Wisconsin, they`ve already been sent their ballots. And those ballots say nothing about this voter ID requirement because it had been on hold for years in the courts. And then things got totally nuts. Because even though the absentee ballots had already been sent out, so the election is effectively already under way, people are already voting, a federal appeals court decided they would jump in in the middle of the election and tell Wisconsin that they can start enforcing that law right now in the middle of the election after people have already started voting. So, now, in Wisconsin, they`re trying to track down all the absentee ballot folks who`ve already received their ballots to tell them actually, the rules for voting in this election are different than they`ve ever been before for a major election and the rules are different from what it says on your ballot information that you got in the mail. So they`re trying to track down all those people who`ve already been sent their ballots. And then there`s the people who haven`t just received their absentee ballots in the mail, they`ve already voted. They`ve already filled out their ballots and sent it back. And those people believe, you might think reasonably, that their voting is done and their vote will count. Their civic duty has been discharged. But actually because they impose these new rules after the voting started, because the court decided to jump in after things were already underway, actually those people`s vote is not going to count unless election officials can find those people who`ve already voted. Get in touch with them, explain to them that they need to get in touch with their own country clerk and provide that clerk with photocopies of this identification paperwork that the voter may or may not have, that they`ve never had to show before in order to vote and they were not told they would have to show this time before they already voted. That chaos is underway right now in Wisconsin. And to make things all the more crystal clear in case they are not already, the Scott Walker administration in Wisconsin says it has set aside precisely zero dollars to help sort this all out. The state government has decided that no money will be directed to state agencies to help voters understand the new law, comply with the new law, to help state workers help voters comply with the new law, or to even let anybody know that this change has happened in the middle of the election. This sort of good government group inside Wisconsin is called the Government Accountability Board. They asked the legislature if they could please have half a million dollars to run an ad campaign between now and November 4th, letting everybody know about these new rules that had never been used before in a major election. The Republican controlled state legislature initially scheduled a hearing to say they considered that request. That hearing was due to happen today. Bud then they cancelled it. So -- excuse me. New rule. Hundreds of thousands of people do not have what they need in order to vote anymore. Nobody in the state has ever had to vote this way before in a major election. People have already started voting without complying with that new rule and they`re sort of trying to track those folks down or their votes won`t count. There`s no money to reach any of those people. There`s no money to educate anybody in the state. And no plans to let anybody in the state know that anything has changed between now and Election Day. What could possibly go wrong? But if you`re starting to feel like this maybe is not going wrong and actually it`s going exactly as they want it to go, that`s because you`ve been paying attention to recent history. I mean, it was Wisconsin in 2011 where there was the big recall effort against Scott Walker and other Republican legislators. And remember that the conservative group AFP, the Koch brothers funded Americans for Prosperity group. In Wisconsin that year, they sent out mailers with absentee ballot applications ahead of those recall votes. Those mailers conveniently told voters that they should send back their absentee ballot applications on a date that was two days after the election was over. The AFP later said it was all an honest mistake. In 2012, the hard-fought presidential election in Wisconsin, black and Latino sections of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, right before the election mysteriously got 85 of these very scary billboards, anonymously posted by some, quote, "private family foundation." The billboards again just in poor and minority neighborhoods threatening 3 1/2 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if you vote wrong in Wisconsin. Are you sure it`s worth the risk? You could go to jail. And now before this year`s elections. Actually right in the middle of this year`s elections. It`s the federal appeals court changing the rules about who`s allowed to vote in this election in Wisconsin. Changing the rules at the very last minute. Actually for thousands of people, they`re changing the rules in the middle of the election after the ballots have already been sent out and lots of people have already voted. Or at least they think they voted but who knows if their votes will count. Not sure really. Nobody is quite sure how this will work. Or if it will work. And there`s no state plan to even pretend to try to make it work. 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time today was the deadline for the state of Wisconsin to tell the Supreme Court of the United States why the Supreme Court should not weigh in here to try to stop this mess. On the appeals court, the -- the lower court, the five judges who all voted to intervene and institute this new law and change the rules in the middle of game in Wisconsin, all of those five justices who made this happen were all judges who were appointed by Republicans. The one justice on the Supreme Court who tonight is decided whether or not she will stop what they`ve done in Wisconsin. That one, Supreme Court justice was not appointed by a Republican. She is Elena Kagan. And she was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Obama. So obviously nobody knows what Elena Kagan or the Supreme Court are going to do here. But Wisconsin is just the worst of a whole bunch of states this year where nobody actually knows. This close to the election. What it`s going to take to be allowed to vote in this year`s midterms. We`re at such a weird legal moment right now as a country. I mean, on some issues affecting our basic rights, there is clear dramatic rapid progress. Everything going in one direction. But then on other issues like, say, on voting. Four weeks before this hugely important election. Right now, in lots of places in our country, it is just chaos, judicially imposed chaos. Joining us now is Democratic state Senator John Erpenbach of Wisconsin. A veteran of many of these recent fights in Wisconsin. Senator Erpenbach, it`s nice to see you again. Thank you for being back with us. STATE SEN. JON ERPENBACH (D), WISCONSIN: My pleasure. MADDOW: So an emergency motion asking to stay yesterday`s decision has been filed, asking for a review en banc. Where do you -- where do you understand things stand right now in terms of whether they`re going to try to implement this new law all of a sudden in the middle of this election or whether Wisconsin is going to get a reprieve here. ERPENBACH: Well, I personally, Rachel, am hoping we obviously get a reprieve on the law. It`s very confusing right now. A lot of people are very upset about this. What we need to do, though, is take up how angry we are about the whole process and turn it into action which we hopefully will talk about in a little bit. But you`re right. It`s before a Supreme Court justice. We`ll see what she has to say. Hopefully, she will, basically, tell Wisconsin to sit this one out. Just go ahead and vote the way you normally would vote. You know, there are people who voted in August on our primaries who wouldn`t be able to vote in the general election coming up in about 28 days, simply because they do not have an ID when a couple of months ago you didn`t need one to vote. MADDOW: So, I mean, some people have already, obviously, as you said, some people voted in the primary, can`t, under the new law, vote in the general election. Some people have already voted in the general election, but they didn`t vote according to the new rules. I mean, as people are talking about the election, do you get the sense that the new rules are a factor in terms of whether or not people are deciding if they`re going to vote, deciding if they`re going to get involved. Is there a confusion on the ground on a day-to-day way. ERPENBACH: There`s confusion over what ID would count, what ID wouldn`t count because they need supporting documentation with an ID. We got a call to our Senate office this past week that`s from a mom trying to get an ID for her son who can go out and go vote now. The only time she can get an ID is on a Saturday. The only office she can get in Wisconsin is actually in Milwaukee, about 90 miles away from where she lives. Obviously that`s very frustrating and very confusing. And for some people they`ll probably just going to say the heck with it and stay home. But our job, my job, as an elected official, is to make sure that people understand that this is possible to do. Obviously, people are very upset and outraged about this but we can take that anger and turn it toward the polls and make sure that we get enough people poll watching and protecting voters` rights the day of the election throughout the state of Wisconsin. But needless to say, it`s really confusing right now and frustrating in Wisconsin. MADDOW: State Senator Jon Erpenbach of Wisconsin, thanks for helping us understand this. I knew this was sort of happening at a surface level when I started looking into those legal briefs today. I could not believe how many people this affects in your state. It`s just a remarkable story. Thanks, Senator. Nice to see you. ERPENBACH: My pleasure. Thank you. MADDOW: All right. Senator Elizabeth Warren is going to be here for the interview straight ahead. And there`s this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my god. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Yes, another disaster in an American town involving trains hauling hazardous materials. We`ve got more on that story including some incredible context. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: In 2011, Senate Republicans blocked from our next guest from an appointment to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The next year she was elected to be their colleague as a senator from Massachusetts. Now she`s crisscrossing the country trying to get as many of her Republican Senate colleagues as possible defeated at the polls this fall. The take-no-guts senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, the senator who liberals everywhere desperately want to run for president. Elizabeth Warren joins us next tonight for the interview. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So the interview tonight is the Democratic United States senator with more national name recognition than almost anyone else in Congress. She has been in office as a senator for less than two years. But if you are running for Senate in West Virginia this year, if you are running for Senate in Oregon this year, if you are running in Minnesota this year, or let`s say you`re running in Colorado this year, or let`s say you`re running for Senate in Michigan, or if you`re running for Senate in Kentucky. Yes, if you`re looking to unseat the top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, by beating him in his home state of Kentucky, then the sitting U.S. senator you are calling on to help you make the case is the same senator they`re calling on in all those other states, too. Red states and blue states. Across the country they`re all calling on Elizabeth Warren, the senator for not very long now from Massachusetts. She is the Democratic senator who has put the spine in the exclamation point back in the Democratic Party`s message of so many issues particularly those around money and the middle class. Four weeks out from the midterm elections right now, she is the most in demand Democratic campaigner across the country, which makes this as good a time as any to check in with her and how she thinks Democrats are doing and whether she think Democratic voters are going to surprise everybody by actually showing up to vote in significant numbers four weeks from tonight. Joining us now for the interview is Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Senator Warren, it`s great to see you. Thanks very much for joining us tonight. SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Thanks. It`s good to be here. MADDOW: So the conventional wisdom in Washington is that the president`s party always loses hugely in the midterms and in midterm elections, regardless of this president, Democrats don`t have enthusiasm, Democratic voters don`t like to show up. Do you think that common wisdom is warranted this year from what you`ve seen around the country? WARREN: No, I don`t. MADDOW: OK. WARREN: You know, I think people understand that elections are important and this is an election about whose side you stand on. And it comes up in very, very specific ways. Minimum wage. Folks who work at minimum wage haven`t had a raise in seven years. And this is a big difference between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats believe that no one, no one should work full time and still live in poverty. And that`s why we`re out there fighting against to raise the minimum wage. And something that Republicans filibustered. Student loans. Democrats believe the United States government should not be making a profit off the backs of our kids. That is fundamentally wrong when they`re trying to get an education. And yet, when we tried to pass a bill to reduce the interest rate on student loans, the Republicans filibustered it in the United States Senate. Equal pay for equal work. I cannot believe we still have to be talking about this in 2014. Democrats think that a woman should not be fired for asking what the guy down the hall is making for doing the same job. And yet in about half the jobs in America that can happen today. The Democrats want to change that and say you can`t be fired just for asking. The Republicans filibustered it. And I`ve got to give you one more. The Democrats believe that it is not your employer`s business what kind of birth control you use. And yet, when we want to move forward on a bill that says exactly that, the Republicans say no. So these are pretty clear choices. They`re choices that really define who we are as a country. And whether or not this government runs for those who`ve already made it big. You know, protecting tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires. Or whether or not this is a government that really works for working people, for people who have to make it at the minimum wage, for people who need not 77 cents on the dollar, but need equal pay for equal work. For people who are trying to deal with students loans. I think that`s really what`s at stake in this 2014 election. And I think we get out there and make our case. That`s what our candidates did. People here, we go to the polls, that`s what democracy is all about. MADDOW: You know, you raised the issue of minimum wage first. And obviously, that`s something that the Democrats and the president have championed. But it`s on the ballot in a really specific way, in Arkansas, Alaska, and Nebraska, South Dakota. Do you think that that may expand the electorate in those races? Some of those races have particularly top of the ticket, you know, hot elections as well. But those voters are going to be voting on the minimum wage. Do you think that will make more people turn out? WARREN: You know, I certainly hope so. But do understand me on this. I want people to turn out. I believe in democracy. I believe in giving people access to voting. I want to expand the access to voting, I want to protect voting rights. Because I think that when people get a chance to hear what the issues are about and get a chance to vote, we truly will move this country in the right direction. But voting is where it starts. People have to have access to the ballot box. That`s key. MADDOW: I have -- I beg your pardon, I just had a coughing fit because obviously I`ve been smote by God for saying something wrong. So I`m not crying because I`ve been moved to tears, I`m crying because I`m coughing. Forgive me, Senator. WARREN: That`s all right. MADDOW: On the issue of Senator Mitch McConnell, in particular. WARREN: Yes. MADDOW: Senator McConnell has a really tough race against Alison Lundergan Grimes. WARREN: I sure hope so. MADDOW: A lot of -- a lot of people were saying, well, Elizabeth Warren going to Kentucky? Is she too liberal for the Kentucky electorate? Will that actually make Alison Grimes look more liberal than she actually is in trying to run essentially a centrist campaign against Mitch McConnell? How do you feel about that criticism? WARREN: You know, Alison Grimes and I do not agree on every issue. And that`s how it should be. She`s a strong and independent woman. And look, I have my own views on many things. But on key issues, on key issues about fighting for working families, on key issues about giving people a fighting chance to build something in their lives, Alison Grimes is really out there. I`ll tell the key one on this. It`s about student loans. You know the -- right now, there`s $1.2 trillion in outstanding student loan debt. There are 40 million Americans trying to deal with student loans. And you know, you can reduce your interest rate by refinancing on your home mortgage, on your business loans even on your car loan. But there`s no way right now to do that on student loans, on these federally guaranteed student loans. And just to pick one little slice, the student loans that went out between 2007 and 2012 -- that`s slice because we happen to have a lot of detailed data on it -- are right now on target after you adjust for the cost of the administration, the cost of the bad debt losses, the cost of the funds, that slice of loans is on target to produce $66 billion in profit for the United States government. Now what we want to do is reduce the interest rate on student loans. And that`s what Alison Grimes wants to do. She says, let`s bring down that interest rate on student loans. Do you know who killed that bill? Mitch McConnell. He`s the one who led the fight. He said no, no, no. We can`t reduce the interest rate on student loans because to do that, we have to find a way to pay for it. And the way we suggested to pay for it is how about stitching up some of the tax loopholes so that millionaires and billionaires pay at least as much in taxes as middle class families. Mitch McConnell said flatly no and led the fight to kill the student loan bill. So for me, there`s the clear choice. Alison Grimes says she`s going to fight for people who are trying to get an education, doesn`t believe we should put an extra tax on their backs. And Mitch McConnell says no, it`s far more important to protect tax loopholes for billionaires than it is to try to help our students. Those are the kinds of choices that are in front of people for the 2014 races. I think that Alison is going to make a good, strong, tough case in Kentucky, and I hope she beats Mitch McConnell with it. MADDOW: Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, making the case by proving it right here, why it is that people want you around the country campaigning for them in what`s going to be a very tough election. Thanks for helping us understand your take on it, ma`am. I appreciate it. Thank you. WARREN: Thank you. MADDOW: And I apologize for having a coughing fit in the middle of that. You know, I`ve been fighting this cold all week. I`ve been fighting for like eight days, really, it has to burst forth on TV while I`m talking to Elizabeth Warren? Yes, of course it does. In Wisconsin, Senator Warren is going to be campaigning this weekend for Mary Burke who is facing against -- facing off against Republican Governor Scott Walker. He`s fighting his re-election effort there. So she`s involved in a lot of Senate races but she`s going to be in Wisconsin with Mary Burke this weekend, too, in that very important governor`s race. All right, we`ll be right back. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Today, at about 7:30 a.m. local time, a freight train derailed in Saskatchewan in Canada. The train was carrying a number of hazardous materials, including hydrochloric acid, caustic soda and petroleum distillate. Now the train originated in Winnipeg. It was heading west bound into Saskatchewan but it derailed. There was a huge explosion that followed, a massive fire that came from the petroleum distillate that spilled on the tracks. That train was pulling 100 cars, 26 of the 100 cars derailed. People living in the nearby town of Claire were evacuated. People with farms in the area were also asked to leave. It`s unclear what caused the derailment, but the Transportation Safety Board there has dispatched an investigative team. This sort of accident is becoming kind of a habit, a bad habit. In November, in Alabama, these rail cars derailed and blew up, caused an explosion that led to the release of 750,000 gallons of crude oil. In December, a mile-long oil train derailed and exploded in Castleton, North Dakota, just outside Fargo. That derailment and that huge explosion forced the evacuation of two-thirds of that town. This spring, it happened in Lynchburg, Virginia, another oil train derailed. Its tanker cars exploded. They leaked their flaming toxic contents into the James River in Lynchburg. But this one today, it happened in Canada, not in the U.S. And although Canadian and U.S. rail are pretty well integrated, particularly when it comes to this huge new number of oil trains, a big derailment and explosion like this one in Canada today, it hits a lot of still very raw nerves, because of the huge Canadian disaster last summer in Quebec. An oil train derailment in Quebec that killed 47 people and the huge explosion that wiped out nearly half the center of that town. That disaster spurred the Canadian government to take action. They passed new reforms, including facing out older model tank cars that are commonly used to transport crude oil. Since today`s derailment shows accidents do happen, so making the cars safer might be the thing that saves us all. This is Louisiana. About 120 miles east of Shreveport. There was a village there called Mer Rouge. And on Sunday, this weekend, at about 11:00 a.m. this happened in Mer Rouge. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s that? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. What town are we in? Holy mother -- oh, my god. Tell me he got out. Just tell me he got out. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That crash happened when a transport truck got stuck on the tracks. It happens. The driver of the truck did escape from his truck cab in time. He was not hurt. The train engineer and conductor were both injured in that crash. Two engines and 17 cars out of that 87-car train derailed in Mer Rouge on Sunday. That train that was involved in that crash, it was not carrying crude oil. It was carrying pressurized argon gas, because that gas could have exploded in its tanker cars, about 50 houses in the area were evacuated. The mayor of Mer Rouge told local reporters after the crash, quote, "We`re lucky it was not one of our oil trains that we get 10 times a day. If it had been an oil train, we would have had a fire and then we would have had fatalities." That`s what the mayor had to say. Thank God it wasn`t one of our 10 times a day oil trains. The police chief he said that train derailments in that area are very commonplace. They`re becoming the norm. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, this is Mer Rouge. We`re pretty much notable for our train crashes. This would be the third or fourth one in the last two years. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Earlier this summer, the U.S. Transportation Department announced new rules for oil trains, giving the oil by rail industry up to two years to phase out the old, dangerous oil cars and replace them with safer ones that are less likely to blow up in a derailment. Last week, the oil by rail industry said they`re going to fight that new rule. They said that what they want is seven years to phase out the old dangerous cars. They want to keep the old cars as they are, for seven more years. Because, you know, what`s the rush? Everything`s going fine, as is. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: OK. "Best New Thing in the World." It`s not actually new, but I think that we are the first ones to find it. When the Supreme Court made their surprise decision yesterday to let stand all those gay marriage rulings from lower courts, we kept hearing that Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Ginsburg, had given fair warning a month ago that the court might do this. And so we went back into the news archives from last month and it`s true. Last month at the University of Minnesota, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was interviewed on stage as part of a guest lecture series, and during that event, Justice Ginsburg basically foretold that the Supreme Court might do this. They might leave same-sex marriage up to the lower courts to decide, unless those lower courts suddenly started deciding ways that contradicted each other and the Supreme Court had to weigh in. In the midst of that interview about this very important matter that ended up coming before the court and being decided in this big, surprising way yesterday. In the midst of that, the moderator interviewing Ruth Bader Ginsburg sort of praised her for her social media presence and how much people love her. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of you, after this lecture, should go out and look at the blog, the notorious -- RUTH BADER GINSBURG, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: Tumblr. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tumblr. (LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The moderator there is praising her for being a social media rock star, says, after this lecture, you should go out and look at the blog that has been created for her which is called "Notorious RBG." Notorious Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ruth Bader Ginsburg in that moment, all 81 years of her, corrects the moderator and says, actually, it`s not a blog, it`s a Tumblr. So, yes, there is a blog out there, that is praising Ruth Bader Ginsburg as "Notorious RBG," but if you don`t know the difference between a blog and a Tumblr, that`s because you are not as hip and with it as 81-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. That`s the "Best New Thing in the World Today." That does it for us today. Thank you very much for being with us. And stay tuned for "THE LAST WORD." THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END Content and programming copyright 2014 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2014 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.