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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/13/14

Guests: Angela Hewlett

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel. RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, man. HAYES: You bet. MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. The book was called "For the Record." And even before page one of the book, in the foreword of the book, the author made clear that he had tales to tell and the tales that he had to tell were going to make the president of the United States very unhappy. So, in the foreword of the book, he said this, quote, "Because actions that would otherwise bewilder the reader, cannot be understood in its absence, I have revealed in this book what was probably the most closely guarded domestic secret of the Reagan White House." OK, it was May 1988. The book was called "For the Record." The author of the book had been chief of staff to then-President Reagan for the previous two years. And the most closely guarded domestic secret of the Reagan White House that he gave away, it was this one, "Astrology in the White House." First Lady Nancy Reagan and President Ronald Reagan were not just believers in astrology but astrological forecasting was being used to determine the daily schedule and the travel schedule of the president of the United States when Ronald Reagan when Ronald Reagan was president. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: "Newsweek" magazine reports that former White House chief of staff Donald Regan writes in his forthcoming book that President and Mrs. Reagan sometimes consult astrologers when making difficult decisions. NBC`s Chris Wallace has been looking into that report. He`s at the White House tonight. Chris, what`s the story? CHRIS WALLACE, NBC NEWS: Tom, sources tell NBC News that the president and Mrs. Reagan have consulted an astrologer several times while they`re in the White House. And the changes in the president`s schedule have been made based on the advice from that astrologer. According to the sources, scheduling of major events would be changed because the first family said the astrologer indicated another time would be better. According to the sources the staff would go to Mrs. Reagan as they often do and say, we can do an event or the president can go on a trip on a Tuesday or a Wednesday and that she would come back sometime later and say, don`t do it on Tuesday, do it on Wednesday. And the sources say the president was aware that his schedule was being changed on the basis of astrological advice. BROKAW: Chris, what`s the official White House reaction to all of this? WALLACE: Tom, a spokesman for the White House tells NBC News they have no information whatsoever that the president used astrological advice. But I am told this information was, in fact, closely held. As you say, "Newsweek" reported and there have been some rumors around town that Don Regan was going to report this in his new book. An administration official told me this afternoon that recently, he went to the White House and talked to a top White House official and said, this is a crazy story, and the White House official told him it isn`t crazy. It`s true. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So there have been rumors before about the Reagans consulting astrologers to make important decisions. January 1967, Ronald Reagan sworn in as governor of California. The Reagans insisted that that inauguration happened at a really strange time. They said they wanted him sworn in at precisely 12:10 a.m., 10 minutes after midnight. As "The New York Times" put it somewhat delicately, that decision was made to take advantage of favorable astrological portents. So, it had been rumored before, but when it broke once he was president, it really broke in a huge way. The story of Reagan being organized around the movement of the planets and people`s horoscopes and what astrologers were telling the first lady the president should be allowed to do and not be allowed to do. It became a really big story about the Reagan White House. And part of it became a huge story because it was true. I mean, they were initially very angry that the news was out about this. But the White House? The president and the first lady did not deny the basic truth of the story. So, that`s part of the reason it was a big deal. It was a true story. The other reason that became a big deal is because the man who broke the news was in a position to be so specific about it. The guy who broke this news for the country was not just talking in general about astrology influencing President Reagan`s schedule. He was able to confirm the details up to and including the fact that one of the things the Reagan White House did to prepare for President Reagan`s big summit with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 is that the White House prepared a detailed horoscope for Gorbachev. Apparently he`s a Pisces. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WALLACE: The White House fired back at Regan. A spokesman denounced his book as a breach of confidence, seeking to exploit the first family for personal self interest. Mrs. Reagan was quoted as saying, "It`s come through to me that Don Regan doesn`t really like me." But for all the attacks, officials say the first lady will continue consulting an astrologer about the president`s schedule. Regan charges that almost every major decision made during his two years as chief of staff was first cleared with the astrologer. Regan says he quickly approved the dates for the first Reagan-Gorbachev summit, even did a horoscope of the soviet leader. He also charges the first lady kept the president from making almost any public appearances for three months after the Iran Contra scandal was revealed on the astrologer`s advice. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: This was a big story in 1988. Those are two clips from the "Nightly News". Those were a week apart, because the story was still percolating at that sort of a level. This was kind of a big story of this part of the Reagan presidency. And it was all first made public by Don Regan. Don Regan had been chairman of Merrill Lynch. He was a really big wheel in the business world, who came to Washington in 1981 after 35 years at Merrill Lynch in order to become Ronald`s treasury secretary. And then in 1985, he became the president`s chief of staff. He contended that First Lady Nancy Reagan did not like him. If that`s true, the feeling was certainly mutual. He blamed her for forcing him out as chief of staff in 1987. But apparently, while they were kicking Don Regan out the door, he was already hard at work on this tell-all about President Reagan, about President Reagan being a dim bulb who was easily manipulated, this book about how the first lady was not just unelected, but somewhat bizarre power behind the throne in the White House and, of course, the news about astrologers being allowed to prescribe what the president of the United States could and could not do. Every major decision in the Reagan White House made in consultation with astrologers? The book was published just a few months after Don Regan left as White House chief of staff. And he`s not the only very high level White House source to turn against his president and write the tell-all while that president was still in office. But it was a very rare thing to do when he did it. It wasn`t unheard of, but it`s rare. It`s still rare. It did happen again when Bill Clinton was president. 1997, Dick Morris had been a Republican strategist in the `80s and `90s before he joined up with the Democratic Clinton administration, halfway through Clinton`s first term. By the time President Clinton was running for re- election in 1996, Dick Morris had gone from being Bill Clinton`s literally secret Republican adviser to being, instead, one of the most influential and high-profile advisers in the Clinton White House and he effectively became the senior strategist organizing the whole Clinton reelection effort in 1996. One week in 1996, this was the cover of "Time" magazine. We`re talking "Time" magazine cover. You see that`s the little guy there, that`s Dick Morris. It says, Dick Morris, the man who has Bill Clinton`s ear. But then, the very next week, the following week, same magazine, this week the cover, "After the Fall: The Morris mess, how it could hurt Clinton." That was quick. The night before Bill Clinton gave his speech to the Democratic National Convention in 1996, accepting his party`s nomination to be reelected for position of president of the United States, the night before that speech, Dick Morris, the senior strategist for the whole reelection campaign had to quit, had to quit the Clinton campaign because of a particularly bad and lurid hooker scandal. Dick Morris was exposed as having a regular relationship in a very specific sense of that world, with a very expensive prostitute. That included him letting the hooker listen in on conversations that Dick Morris was having with the president of the United States while the president did not know that, notion Dick Morris being an the phone, a hooker was also on the phone listening in. So, it`s not like, you know, being chased out of the White House by the president`s wife who is fixated on astrology and doesn`t like you. But the way Dick Morris got run out of Washington wasn`t all that pleasant either. Like Don Regan, Dick Morris hit the ground running after he got run out of Washington. Within six months after his hooker scandal and him resigning, Dick Morris had his tell-all book out as well. President Clinton was still in the White House. Dick Morris was freshly kicked out of the place. And here`s how "The New York Times" reviewed his tell-all book when it came out. Quote, "As the first of the Clinton White House insiders to publish his memoirs, Mr. Morris reveals much new detail. The president`s childish temper, Mrs. Clinton`s cold vengefulness, its amply an display. The portrait of Mr. Morris` rival and the president`s former deputy, Harold Ickes, is scathing and George Stephanopoulos fares only better. One can only sympathize with Mr. Clinton as he presides over what seems like an endless backstabbing and squabbling by his White House staff. So, yes, Don Regan maybe broke some new ground, when he turned against his president, President Reagan, while that president was still in office. Dick Morris, a few years later proved not only could you get away with something like that. You can turn it into the basis for a lucrative new career in which people paid you to bash the president you used to serve specifically because that president had once trusted you and held you close. And, therefore, that put you in a position to know things about that president you could later blab about for money and to advance your own aims. So, this is a thing that happens in Washington. There`s modern tradition of this stuff in Washington. It`s not like this has never been done before. It dates back to Nancy Reagan`s least favorite Ronald Reagan chief of staff. But the latest one of these just happened to President Obama. It happened in the form of Leon Panetta. Panetta had come up in the Clinton era. Ironically, this is interesting, it was Leon Panetta as White House chief of staff in the Clinton era who had to face all the questions about Dick Morris and the hooker. He had to face all those questions from the press corps the day those revelations broke open during the 1996 campaign. Leon Panetta was sort of a Clinton lifer who President Obama first tapped to be his CIA director and then to be his secretary of defense. Leon Panetta published a book last week talking all sorts of smack against President Obama. He has since been doing an aggressive series of national media interviews talking about how President Obama is a bad leader and he`s weak and he`s made bad decisions about national security issues that Leon Panetta would have done better. This time around, there`s something weird going an. We`ve something like this with Don Regan and the Reagan era, and we saw something like this with Dick Morris, and the Clinton era. But this one in the Obama era has something weird going on, because the criticisms that Leon Panetta is lobbying levying against President Obama do not seem to be his own criticisms. And I mean it this way. When Leon Panetta was defense secretary, he staunchly defended and argued for President Obama`s decision to take U.S. troops out of Iraq. Now that Panetta has fled Washington and written his tell-all book, he says taking troops out of Iraq, that was a terrible decision. He wouldn`t have taken troops out of Iraq at all. He`s also complaining now that President Obama was basically too slow on decisions about Syria, too deliberate. He`s taking in too much information and just not acting fast enough when it came to the question of getting involved in Syria. President Obama is basically saying that the beef on Panetta is Obama is too darn careful. Leon Panetta knew better. He would have rushed right in on Syria. That`s what he says now that he`s selling his tell-all, right? Here`s what he said about it when he was actually defense secretary. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LEON PANETTA, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: It`s not that easy to deal with some of the concerns that are out there. But nevertheless, we`re working at it. We are trying to engage with these other countries. There are other countries that are interested in trying to provide provisions. We are working with them. We are talking with them. And we are looking at every option to try to put that in place. Can it happen today? Can it happen now? No, it`s going to take some work. It`s going to take some time. But when we do it, we`ll do it right. We will not do it in a way that will make the situation worse. That`s what we have to be careful of. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: And then the same guy wrote a book about how President Obama is just being too darn careful about these things. Going too slow. Since leaving the administration, Leon Panetta, I have to tell you, has a new job. He`s become senior council at something called Beacon Global Strategies. The managing director and co-founder of Beacon Global Strategies is a guy named Philippe Reines who has been part of Hillary Clinton`s political operation since her time in the United States Senate and her time at the State Department. Philippe Reines is widely expected to be the spokesman for the Hillary Clinton campaign once she officially starts running for president again. For now, he runs the firm that employs Leon Panetta. And Leon Panetta has just written a book making the patented Hillary Clinton anti-Barack Obama campaign charge that Barack Obama as president is weak on national security and he hasn`t been enthusiastic enough and fast enough when it comes to using force. Obviously, that means someone like Hillary Clinton who would be much more hawkish would therefore be a much better president. Leon Panetta does not seem to have believed those things about Barack Obama when he was working for Barack Obama, when he was running the CIA and running the Pentagon for him. At least he did not behave that way as an administration official. But now that he`s out and he`s working for a global strategy firm that`s essentially the Hillary Clinton campaign in exile, now, he`s flying the same exact anti-Obama flag that the hawkish Clinton wing of the party has been flying all year trying to position themselves for the next stage in their own political careers by stepping on President Obama`s neck. George Zornick at "The Nation" has been writing about this since he noticed all the same criticisms of President Obama were being made on the same day using almost the same language only sometimes it was former President Bill Clinton making those criticisms and sometimes it was Leon Panetta talking about his new book which otherwise makes no sense if you compare it to his own positions that he took when he was an administration official. So, this is a small thing that`s happening in Washington but it gets at the biggest question of all for Democratic politics right now. Is the future of Democratic politics, Democratic Party politics, is the future of that anti-Obama? Is the Democratic Party positioning itself right now as anti-Obama for the elections that are happening three weeks from tomorrow? The midterm elections this year. Is the Democratic Party setting itself up as anti-Obama for 2016? Parties decide to do this sometimes. We see it happen over and over again. After eight years of Bill Clinton, the Al Gore campaign for the presidency in 2000 essentially decided to run away from Bill Clinton. That`s part of what picking Joe Lieberman meant. After eight years of George W. Bush, the Republican Party has only just now in the last few weeks stopped run away from the legacy of George W. Bush and started embracing him again. The common wisdom is that Democratic Party is now doing that to Barack Obama as well right now. Democratic senators running for re-election are running away from President Obama. The only surefire, top tier 2016 candidacy that`s already under way on the Democratic side is setting itself up as an anti-Obama candidacy, they`re also drafting loyalists from the Obama cabinet to do that work for them so those punches will land with a harder blow. With more than two years left of the Obama presidency, how self- defeating is this for Democrats, right? Why are Democrats right now giving up on this presidency? Giving up on the Obama presidency and trying instead to use President Obama for their own purposes instead of defending human and defending his legacy? It`s not coming -- the defense of the presidency of Barack Obama is not coming right now from Democratic politicians. It`s not happening in Democratic Party politics. The defense of President Barack Obama and the Obama presidency is coming from somewhere you`d not expect. It`s not coming from the Democratic Party and its politicians. It`s instead coming from places like "Rolling Stone" magazine? This is the new cover story in "Rolling Stone" magazine. "In Defense of Obama". The lefty former critic of President Obama, Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman, writes a defense in "Rolling Stone" right now about how good the Obama presidency has been. Obama faces trash talk, left, right and center and does not deserve it. Obama has emerged as one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history. This is what a successful presidency looks like. When all is said and done, he says, President Obama has achieved a lot. "Rolling Stone" bolsters it with this big long litany of statistics they published. They call it the Obama hope and change index. Six years of progress by the numbers, 55 figures that prove President Obama has accomplished more than you may realize. More than you may realize because the only place anything like this is being published is "Rolling Stone" magazine. That`s where this sort of thing has to come from because Democrats have decided they`d rather be against this president, because they believe that will be to their own gain. They`d rather be against this president to try to help themselves than be on his side. Is that an inevitable political decision? And just in terms of pure strategy, are they try to try to do it? Joining us is now Sam Stein, political editor and White House correspondent for "Huffington Post". Sam, it`s great to see you. Thanks for being here. SAM STEIN, HUFFINGTON POST: Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: Is it an historical inevitability that presidents in their sixth year in office tend to be unpopular and their parties turn against them or do Democrats have a choice here? STEIN: Well, it is an historical trend of the six-year itch essentially where Democrats or presidents of their own party, they are unpopular. Bill Clinton in 2000 -- sorry, 1990, was probably the exception to the rule. I think what the president is dealing with in this case is that he isn`t popular in several of these swing states for Senate. But also, you have to acknowledge, the Republican playbook against him has worked to a T. They stopped any legislative advancements essentially since they`ve taken over the Congress or the House in 2010. And what`s that`s resulted in is a vacuum of sorts, so Democrats can`t sort of latch on to a major domestic policy achievement that`s happened in the past two years. Immigration reform was supposed to be that. But it was stopped in its tracks. Instead, all you have in this vacuum are various foreign policy crises the president is moving around and jumping around to, and that`s created this narrative which is that the president hasn`t done a lot. That he`s besieged by crises. And that he`s floundering. So, I think a lot of this is the Republican playbook working really well. MADDOW: At the same time, the president in this midterm has decided that, all right, if Senate candidates don`t want me, and if more gubernatorial candidates don`t want me, if it`s not going to help them for me to go out and campaign for individual candidates, what I`m going to give a lot of speeches about how much better the economy is doing than everybody thought it would. And then it`s the same argument made by Krugman in this remarkable cover story. I still can`t believe it`s a cover story in "Rolling Stone" about how listen the economy under President Obama is one of the greatest success stories in presidential leadership in the modern era. And so, there`s a narrative to tell about the economy if Democrats want to talk about that. It`s weird they wouldn`t want to talk about that and would prefer talk about stuff like ISIS and Ebola. STEIN: So, the back story on this is there`s been great polling done by Stan Greenberg and James Carville about how difficult it is to talk about an improving economy when you`re still close to a recession. And that`s primarily because a lot of voters will say, well, you`re talking about how this economy is improving but I don`t feel it in my pocketbook or my home. I feel left behind. So, you have to be very careful. And in 2010, Obama was incredibly careful about this. He rarely talked about how well the economy was doing. This year, he`s leaning into it. He`s saying, look, the international community would have loved our recovery. We`ve had so many months of straight positive economic growth, job numbers growth, unemployment rate below 6 percent. We should celebrate this. We need to build an it but celebrate it. And you`re starting to see some Democrats take up that argument. But you`re right. There`s not a chorus here. People are timid. They`re still very afraid about touting the economic growth because they`re worried a lot of people still don`t feel it. MADDOW: Sam Stein, political editor -- White House correspondent for "Huffington Post", Sam, thanks for being here. STEIN: Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: Thanks. All right. We got lots more ahead tonight, including new information that we`ve just gotten in a last few minutes about the nurse who appears to have contracted Ebola in Dallas. And the interview tonight is a doctor who has treated one of the Ebola patients who has been successfully treated in this country. That issue about health care workers and whether or not they themselves are at risk. How they deal with their own worries and their own safety while providing life-saving care, newly on the front burner because of this new patient. There`s lots still to come tonight. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Today, a liberal PAC called the Agenda Project released an ad, a new ad they say they`re going to run in Kentucky, as well as other states ahead of the midterm elections three weeks from now. The ad is about Ebola, which ought to be a hard thing to make politics about. But it essentially blames Republicans in Washington for cutting the parts of government that we`re now counting on to fight against Ebola, fighting against Ebola both here and abroad. As ad goes, this is pretty brutal. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: Washington actually can cut spending. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The CDC says its discretionary funding has been cut by $585 million since 2010. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut. Less government. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut. DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIH: Our budget has been flat since 2003. Responding to an emerging infectious disease threat, this is particularly damaging. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut. FAUCI: That was the left hook. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut. FAUCI: The right cross was the sequestration. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The NIH saw its budget slashed by $446 million. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut. DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, CDC DIRECTOR: There are outbreaks happening today that we`re not able to recognize, stop or prevent as effectively as we should be able to. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Make a cut. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That ad started running today from a liberal leaning group called the Agenda Project. That does not mind being that controversial in their political work. They said they`ll Republican that ad in Kentucky in the hopes of influencing the Mitch McConnell/Alison Grimes Senate race. They said they`re also going to run it in other states. Separately tonight, Bloomberg just reported an a new bipartisan plan in Washington to increase the amount of money Congress allocates to the National Institutes of Health. A staffer saying increasing the funding for the NIH and other agencies is now the top priority of the appropriations committees in both houses of Congress. Better late than never. The head of the NIH told "Huffington Post" if there had not been a ten-year slide in research funding from Congress, U.S. agencies would probably have developed a vaccine for Ebola by now, one that had gone through clinical trials and would be ready to use to try to combat this outbreak had they again not been shorted in their research funding for a decade. The American part of dealing with Ebola in this country took a 90- degree turn this weekend when the CDC confirmed for the first time somebody contracted the virus in this country. When health officials said they were tracking 48 people who had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas, who fell ill with Ebola several weeks ago, we did not know until now that they were not counting health workers who treated Mr. Duncan among those 48. They should have been. A 26-year-old nurse who treated Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas is now confirmed to have been infected with the virus. On Friday, the nurse discovered she had a fever. She called the hospital where she works. She drove herself to that hospital. Within an hour and a half, she was put into isolation. On Saturday night, her blood results came back positive for Ebola. By yesterday morning, a hazardous materials crew had decontaminated public areas outside her apartment complex in Dallas, as well as her car, and the parking lot of Texas Presbyterian Hospital. They later cleaned her apartment, reverse 911 calls were then made to homes around her apartment telling residents a health care worker who lived in their area had tested positive for Ebola but there`s no ongoing danger to the public`s health. An investigation is under way to try to figure out how this nurse in Dallas became infected. There`s speculation about how the virus might have breached the protective gear she was wearing. But as of yet, there are no real answers. Now we have several people who contracted the Ebola virus in West Africa who are diagnosed in West Africa and brought here for treatment. We have one person who contracted the virus in West Africa and was not diagnosed until he got here. He, of course, has since died. We`ve also one person who contracted the virus here. She got it from the patient who died. She`s now being treated at the same hospital where the other patient was treated, where the nurse herself works and where she was also infected with the virus while on the job. OK. That`s the lay of the land. Two questions. First one -- if anyone else is treated for Ebola in this country, should it be done in normal local hospitals like Texas Health Presbyterian in Dallas? They are now dealing with their second case which is one of their own workers infected on the job. Should hospitals like that be handling cases like this? Or should anybody who needs treatment in this country be sent to a specialty unit like the one at Emory or bio containment unit in Nebraska. Facilities built specifically to handle high-risk pathogens like this. Should they get all of the cases instead of what`s starting to feel like just the lucky cases? Just the lucky patients? And second question -- if you are a health worker in this cannot, is it reasonable for you to expect you can do your job safely if you are called an to be a front line worker in fighting this disease? Can you do so without unacceptable risk to yourself? One of the doctors who has done just that, who has been involved in the successful treatment of one of these patients has a remarkable personal story to tell about having been in that situation. She`s our guest for "the interview" next. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: The lead authority, the CDC, offers this basic diagram of a crucially important process. How to put on and take off protective gear. But in real life, it`s complicated. NBC News recently observed a demonstration at Emory University. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We tape our first set of gloves on. REPORTER: It`s a meticulous task where suiting up can take 20 minutes and a second worker watching every step. Workers can be most at risk removing the equipment. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Nobody knows yet exactly how one of the nurses from Texas Health Presbyterian hospital in Dallas ended up herself getting infected with Ebola when involved in the treatment of an Ebola patient there. It`s still under investigation. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control says they`re planning a nationwide training conference call for American health care workers tomorrow. They say they`ll also issue more specific instructions for health workers in terms of how to put on and take off protective equipment that may have been contaminated in dealing with an Ebola patient. With this news about this Dallas nurse, there`s only one known case of Ebola being transmitted in this country. But if it happened to that nurse, could it happen to other health care workers as well? Has it happened already as well? And what does this mean for people who work in the health care field who face the prospect of being both key to the confrontation of this illness but also being at risk themselves from doing that work. Joining us now is somebody who has been in this position. Joining us for "The Interview" is Dr. Angela Hewlett. She`s the assistant medical director for the Nebraska Medical Centers Bio containment patient care unit. At that specialist unit, Dr. Hewlett and her team successfully treated an American doctor named Dr. Rick Sacra, who was evacuated from Liberia after being diagnosed with Ebola there. The Nebraska unit right now is treating the freelance cameraman for NBC News who also contracted Ebola in Liberia. Dr. Hewlett, thanks very much for being with us. I appreciate your time tonight. DR. ANGELA HEWLETT, NEBRASKA MEDICAL CENTER: Thank you. MADDOW: First of all, I should ask if you can tell us anything about the condition or the treatment plan for Ashoka Mukpo, who`s that freelance cameraman working for NBC. His family says he`s sitting up and improving. Anything you can tell us about his care? HEWLETT: I can tell you that he is definitely improving. He`s feeling a lot better for sure than he did when he arrived at our facility. And he`s making a gradual improvement. But we`re also cautious with this disease. We want to make sure we don`t get too excited about improvement, but it does excite us. MADDOW: Is there a fear factor for you as a physician and as the leader of a team of health workers in being involved in this kind of care? Obviously, you have the best possible training and best possible facilities but is there a personal level of worry that you have to overcome to be able to do this work? HEWLETT: I think there`s definitely some worry, some anxiety. I think these are normal human emotions when dealing with this sort of situation. I also know there`s some excitement as well. And they are really mixed emotions when you are in a situation like this where you`re dealing with a highly infectious patient. MADDOW: Having lived through these precautions at a nuts and bolts level, having practiced medicine under these protective conditions with protective gear and knowing what the risks are, do you have any insight for those of us who are just watching this story unfold, worried about that nurse in Dallas? Do you have any insight in terms of what`s the hardest to do in terms of keeping yourself safe from infection? Where are the potential pitfalls, where even someone that knows what to do and has the right gear, they might still potentially be at risk? HEWLETT: Well, I think we also have to recognize this is not a zero percent risk situation no matter what we do. However, we pride ourselves in our protocols and standardization of practices and I think those are the things you really have to do in order to keep yourself safe. We have a lot of checks and balances in place with our health care workers to ensure we put on our personal protective equipment and take offer personal protective equipment without incident. We really try to take the human element out of it by having a person who is in charge of removing or personal protective equipment for us. And they basically stand across and say now it`s time for you to remove your mask. Now, it`s time for you to remove your gloves. And we really try to take that human element out of it so that we can follow protocols appropriately. MADDOW: Right now we have one person who has been treated for Ebola in this country who has died. And that person was treated at this facility, this local community hospital in Dallas. That is also the same facility where it seems like the one case of Ebola transmission in this country also happened. The CDC is reportedly considering sending all future patients diagnosed with Ebola to your unit or to another unit, another hospital specifically trained for this kind of treatment. Do you think it`s wise that they should sort of consolidate treatment in a specialty unit like the one that you work at? HEWLETT: Well, I do think that`s a reasonable idea. However, I really do firmly believe that this disease can be taken care of at a regular hospital. They just have to have a lot of plans in place. I don`t think our physical structure makes us more effective at caring for this disease. I think it`s all of our protocols that we have. If a regular hospital can work out those issues with the staffing, with the disposal of waste, with the laboratory and personal protective equipment, then other hospitals can be well-equipped to care for this disease. It takes a lot of preplanning in order to do so. MADDOW: Yes, and that`s exactly where we`re at right now. That people may know what the gold standard is. You may be living the gold standard at the bio containment patient care unit at Nebraska Medical Center. Just a question as to whether or not other facilities and run-of- the mill facilities can get up to that level of -- up to that standard. Dr. Angela Hewlett of the bio containment patient care unit, Nebraska Medical Center -- thank you so much for helping us understand all this. Best of luck to you, ma`am. Appreciate it. HEWLETT: Yes, thanks for having me. MADDOW: Sorely needed best new thing in the world coming up, also a tribute to the power of persistence. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: When you are the entity that`s responsible for this scene, the scene of -- well, let`s call it devastation that was visited upon a pretty good sized American city recently, you`d think if you were responsible for that, that might preclude you from being involved in any big decision-making in that city for a while. You would think that. Wouldn`t that be nice? It`s not the case. A scene from the intersection of politics and unmitigated corporate gall. That`s coming right up. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: As a general rule, you do not want the sky line of your city to look like this. This is the city of Richmond, California, just outside of San Francisco. This was August 2012. The thing that turned that otherwise peaceful day in Richmond into a scene more closely resembling a war zone is what`s at the base of that huge cloud of black smoke. You can see some of the smokestacks. That billowing cloud was coming out of an oil refinery owned by the giant oil company Chevron. Chevron refinery snugs right up to the city of Richmond. It`s been there for more than a century. That August day in 2012, Chevron`s oil refinery just ignited. A corroded pipe was the cause of the explosion, but the fire stretched on for nearly five hours. They couldn`t get it put out. Ultimately, that incident sent more than 15,000 residents of Richmond to the hospital, as toxic chemicals spread all across that city. Since that day in August 2012, a little more than two years ago, the city of Richmond, California, and Chevron have more or less been in a state of war with each other. It`s not so much the residents of the city of Richmond but more like the mayor and city council. The city of Richmond sued Chevron a year ago over that explosion and more than a dozen other incidents like it over the past three decades. Chevron`s response was to personally attack the Richmond mayor for, quote, "failed leadership|. They also labeled the city dysfunctional. More recently, Chevron and city council of Richmond have sparred over a billion-dollar plan Chevron has been trying to get through to essentially modernize and enhance and kind of turbo charge their giant refinery there, the same one that blew up in 2012. The Richmond City Council and specifically the more liberal wing of the city council has been a thorn in Chevron`s side for years. They want to put all sorts of conditions, safety conditions on Chevron upgrading its refinery. What is the world`s most profitable industry do when something or someone is standing in the way of their interest and bottom line? Guess what they do. This November 4th, otherwise known as election day across the country, there are, of course, big marquee races for Congress and governor across the country. But there`s also tons of local elections, including an election for mayor and city council in good old Richmond, California. In the lead-up to that election in Richmond, California, billboards like this one have been popping up across the city. Lots of them. This is one of the candidates for mayor in Richmond. As you can see, his name is Nat Bates. That`s the big print. If you read the really, really, really teeny tiny fine print, you will see something else. Major funding by Chevron. Tah-dah! Very subtle when you put it in print that small. In the lead-up to this election for mayor and city council in Richmond, California, Chevron is now trying to pick Richmond a new mayor and their new city council. And, why not? They`ve got a refinery there. They would prefer their own candidates to run local government there in order to get out of Chevron`s way. And so, they are trying to install their own local government. They`ve been putting up these billboards, sending out glossy mailers like this one to the city`s residents and running lots of TV ads against city council members, the ones they, Chevron, would like to see ousted. Because California is one of those states where you have to say right on the ad who is paying for it you can follow this as they do it. Major funding by Chevron. Just for context in terms of what they`ve done, the candidate who chevron is supporting for mayor, the guy an the billboard, he`s had so far $1.3 million of Chevron dollars, Chevron cash spent on his behalf for small ton mayor, $1.3 million so far. His opponent? Last count, he had about $22,000 cash on hand. So, $22,000 versus $1.3 million for a small town mayor`s race. Chevron has run up against a city and certain elected officials that it would very much like to get out of its way. Right now, they are trying to remove those obstacles by basically backing a Brinks truck up to that beleaguered city and opening the doors. After the Citizens United decision cleared the way for unlimited corporate spending in federal campaigns, it didn`t feel like it was that much of a sort of earth-shaking, national update when the court followed up the citizens united decision with the news that it`s not just federal elections. Actually corporations can spend unlimited money in local elections, too. But little old Richmond, California, right now is living that dream right now as one of the richest corporations in the history of the earth unloads money on that town. Not like it`s coming out of a spigot but more like gushing out of an out of control blown well. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The great state of Georgia has some of the tightest races in the country this year. There`s new polling out that shows the Republican governor in Georgia is tied -- tied with his Democratic challenger for governor. Also the other top of the ticket race in Georgia is the one for the open Senate seat that has belonged to the Republicans in the past. New polling shows that the Republican and Democratic candidate for Senate in Georgia are also tied. It`s kind of incredible, right? They both top of the ticket races in Georgia right now are dead even in the latest polling. They are polling the same in both of those races. And this is a year when every vote counts. In a place like Georgia when the top of the ticket races are this close, both sides are scrapping and hunting for every possible vote they can get. Well, specifically in the case of a Democratic leaning group that`s been registering new voters in Georgia, they are simply trying to find the names of new Georgia voters on the voter rolls. Last week, Georgia State Rep Stacy Abrams of the New Georgia Project, she told us that her group, New Georgia Project, has turned in applications for at least 40,000 people whose names have not appeared yet an the rolls or on the list of voters whose applications are pending. Where did those names go? What happened to those people who registered to vote and then their name never popped up anywhere and it doesn`t seem like they`re registered? Georgia`s top elections official, the Republican secretary of state says that everybody who applied to register to vote by the deadline will be enrolled in time for the election. His office says they aren`t aware of any backlog in processing applications, but Georgia says they`re missing roughly 40,000 people. After our interview last week, after that state lawmaker who worked an that voter registration drive told us about the missing tens of thousands of voter applications, and told us about their frustration in trying to get answers from the Georgia secretary of state, the day after that interview, the voter registration campaign, the new Georgia folks, they sued the state of Georgia, sued the secretary of state trying to make sure that everybody who ought to be qualified to vote on this election actually gets to vote. The group moved the fight from e-mails and meetings that were going nowhere into a court of law where they`ll ask a judge for answers and for action as we get closer and closer to voting day. In the polling places of Georgia, the voting is already in full swing as of today. Early voting started in Georgia today. But in the courtroom, in the case of those missing tens of thousands of voter applications, that fight is just getting started. Georgia`s story, when liberal groups and Democratic leaning groups started talking about the fact there were hundreds of thousands of nonregistered but eligible voters in Georgia, it sent this ripple to progressive politics in the country, and Democrat politics, as people started to think of Georgia as land of possibility. If the way that state is going to handle that threat of Democratic enfranchisement in Georgia is by just disappearing tens of thousands of proper voter registrations, that is a scandal of significant national proportion. All right. I promised you a best new thing in the world today but then this other thing happened. I promise there will be mucho best new things here at the same tomorrow time show. But now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL" Good evening, Lawrence. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END