IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/20/14

Guests: Emily Schultheis

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Two very important Supreme Court things just happened over the weekend. The Supreme Court is a fairly stayed and predictable institution. I mean, the justices after all have lifetime appointments. They get used to doing things in a particular way. Things usually happen in a fairly predictable way and on a fairly predictable timeframe, which doesn`t include weekend surprises at really weird hours. But they keep doing it. And this for some reason, this session of the court for whatever reason has lots of surprises, particularly in terms of timing and weird hours. This weekend, two important Supreme Court things happened. One of them did happen at the court. We`ll get to that one in a second. But the other really important thing about the court, this weekend, happened on HBO. (BEGIN VIDEO CLP) JOHN OLIVER, HBO: What happened to the Supreme Court is way too important not to pay attention to. And that is why this week we spent an incredible amount of time and an almost immoral amount of resources to produce an entire Supreme Court featuring real animals. Settle down. Settle down. Settle down. Let me show you this puppy in action. One of the current cases in the court is Holt versus Hobbs about whether a prison can require a Muslim inmate to trim his beard for security reasons. Now, you might be thinking, John, I don`t want to hear a discussion about that. Really? Don`t you? UNIDENTIFIED CHARACTER: Let`s assume I`m in the religion that requires polygamy. I mean, could I say to the prison, OK, let me have two wives. I mean, you`re still violating your religion it seems to me if he wants his beard to be clipped to one inch, isn`t it? OLIVER: Be honest. You now want to hear the entire hour-long oral argument, don`t you? No. But I will give you just another taste. UNIDENTIFIED CHARACTER: As far as searching the beard, why can`t the prison just give the inmate a comb? He could develop whatever comb you want and say comb your beard. OLIVER: Those dry constitutional arguments are now must-see television. And that is why tonight, as a public service we are releasing raw video at this address of close-ups medium shots and wide shots from our real animals fake policy Supreme Court. We are inviting all news networks to use this footage to make Supreme Court arguments more compelling to watch. We have all nine justices for you. Chief Justice Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, Sotomayor and Kagan who I will warn you would not sit still. We have almost everything you need for full coverage. You need Justice Alito taking notes? Done. Not a problem. You need Ginsburg adjusting her glasses? You got it. You need Samuel Alito having a drink of water? No problem. You need Roberts yawning? He`ll yawn for you. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: I`m thinking Justice Alito to drink out of the water glass. You put like a water glass in front of my dog, maybe -- maybe he would drink it. More likely -- God bless John Oliver at HBO. In fact, if you go to their YouTube page, they have, in fact, published 10 minutes and 21 silent seconds of the exact footage they promised. They have all the dogs sitting together. They have all the justices one by one, totally silent, so you can use it for anything. They have a chicken being the court stenographer. They have a duck or something also taking notes. They have dog sitting in as lawyers. The idea is you use this visual footage to cut together your own visuals to go along with the audiotape when they release the audio of Supreme Court arguments and that makes everybody want to watch it. Now, I am not allowed to speak for the news division here but part of the reason why is because if I were in charge of the news division here, I would totally do this. I would totally use dogs with fake paws to re-enact Supreme Court oral arguments. That`s why they don`t let me make decisions or speak for anybody around here. That said, this now exists as an asset in our nation`s arsenal. And how to cover civics and understand important decisions made by one of the three branches of our government. Amazing. The other big Supreme Court thing that happened this weekend actually happened at the court. And what happened at the court this weekend is that Ruth Bader Ginsburg portrayed here by the tiny Chihuahua and cute plastic glasses, I think it`s excellent casting, the other thing that happened at the Supreme Court is that Ruth Bader Ginsburg stayed up all night. The Supreme Court issued an order just before dawn on Saturday morning. They sent is out to reporters at 5:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. It was an unsigned order for the majority of the court. But it was accompanied by a blistering dissent written by and signed by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And that all went out before the sun came up on Saturday morning. And that is a weird time to get a Supreme Court order, right? But Nina Totenberg from NPR had an interview already scheduled with Ruth Bader Ginsburg for later this weekend, for Sunday night, last night. And in that interview, Ruth Bader Ginsburg explained that yes, in fact, the weird timing on that order meant one justice, 81-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg was up all night in order to get that order out, specifically in order to get out her dissent on that case. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NINA TOTENBERG, NPR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: So, Justice Ginsburg, you were up until 5:00 a.m. on Friday, Saturday morning, Friday night, Saturday morning, writing a passionate dissent in the Texas voter ID case. Just to let people in the audience know, this was a procedural question in some measure, and you can note a dissent in those kinds of cases and not write and it`s fairly common for that to happen. But you wrote. You were joined by Justices Kagan and Sotomayor. So, why did you write, and why did it take until 5:00 in the morning? RUTH BADER GINSBURG, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: Why until 5:00 in the morning? We didn`t get the last filing from Texas until Friday morning, and then the circuit justice, as you know, has to write a memo. And that came around some time in the middle of the afternoon. So, there wasn`t much time to write the dissent. I had written a dissent in a North Carolina voting case, voting rights case. This one was, as you said, I would say it was very well-reasoned. You called it passionate. (LAUGHTER) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I was up until 5:00 in the morning doing great work actually. Didn`t you read it? Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaking with Nina Totenberg last night. That was a live event at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, talking about why she basically pulled an all-nighter on Friday night in order to put out her dissent in a voting rights ruling in which the court handed down its order at 5:00 on Saturday. Now, the majority order from the court means that Texas` voter ID law, the strict nest the country, will be in effect for voting in this election. It`s interesting. The majority didn`t actually rule on the merits of that voter ID law and whether it`s constitutional. They just said the law shouldn`t be blocked so close to the election under the principle that it undermines public confidence in the election. If the rules about voting are changed too close to the time that voting happens. Well, in her dissent, her up all night dissent, Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the Texas law is so outrageously discriminatory it ought to be blocked ahead of this election anyway. She says, quote, "The greatest threat to public confidence in elections is enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters." She -- in her dissent, she chastises the justices who ruled in the majority to let the voter ID law go ahead. She says, quote, "The potential magnitude of racial l racially discriminatory voter disenfranchisement from this Texas law should have counseled hesitation on the part of the court when they were thinking about putting it back in effect. She says the Texas Law, quote, "may prevent more than 600,000 registered Texas voters, about 4 1/2 percent of all registered voters from voting in person for lack of compliant identification." She says, "A sharply disproportionate percentage of these voters are African-American or Hispanic." She laments that the Supreme Court earlier this year struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act. She looked at the historical record in Texas and this voter ID law which she says was enacted with a racially discriminatory purpose and she says, quote, "racial discrimination in elections in Texas is no mere historical artifact." Wow. So, Ruth Bader Ginsburg did not have to write that blistering dissent. The majority order from the court was unsigned. They didn`t explain themselves at all. They didn`t write a word about why they decided the way they did. She didn`t have to explain her dissent either. But once she decided to, she didn`t have to burn the midnight oil, because this order had to come out in a rush. As she explained to Nina Totenberg last night, they got all their last filings an Friday. Well, they had to have the order out as early as possible this weekend because in-person voting started in Texas today. So, they had to move on it. That`s why she had to stay up all night. And, yes, eventually the courts will rule on the merits of that Texas voter ID law and whether it`s as racially repugnant as Justice Ginsburg this weekend said it was. But until they are able to rule on its merits, that voter ID law in Texas is going to be in effect. This will be the first big turnout federal election in Texas in which that law is in effect despite Ruth Bader Ginsburg`s all-night efforts to the contrary. So, early voting as of today is underway today in Texas. All in all, it`s underway in 34 states, plus the District of Columbia. One of the states in which early in-person voting is already going on is Illinois. Illinois is the home address and voting location for a federal official who temporarily resides in Washington, D.C., because he has a job called president of the United States. In 2012, President Obama became the first ever sitting president to early vote in a federal election. He did it again today in his home precinct in Chicago. He got a rare night last night -- night of sleep last night at home in his own bed in his own house in Chicago. And then the president woke up in Chicago this morning and went to the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Center in Chicago and there with a lot of excitement he cast his ballot. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All right. I`m here to vote. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vote Democrat. OBAMA: I can`t say nothing about that. The most important office in a democracy is the office of a citizen. That`s what I`m doing right now, exercising my franchise. (INAUDIBLE) OBAMA: How are you? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you doing? OBAMA: I`m doing very well. I`m so glad I can early vote. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, I have to announce your name. OBAMA: Please do. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Barack Obama. OBAMA: That`s me. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. I`m going to process you now. OBAMA: OK. Go ahead. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. OBAMA: It`s so exciting. Love voting. Everybody in Illinois, early vote. It`s a wonderful opportunity. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Once the president got to the point where he actually started voting, a weird thing happened. He ended up voting alongside a young woman who also was there to early vote. She turned up with her boyfriend. And did you see this today? The boyfriend said something to President Obama while the president was standing there voting and you -- the boyfriend said something that you would not expect somebody to say to the president of the United States. At least his girlfriend really did not expect him to say this thing to the president of the United States, but the reaction from the president and from the girlfriend was amazing. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MIKE: Mr. President, don`t touch my girlfriend now. VOTER: Did you say that? OBAMA: You know, I really wasn`t planning on it. (LAUGHTER) VOTER: I`m sorry, please excuse him. OBAMA: Now, there`s an example of a brother just embarrassing you for no reason. VOTER: Just embarrassing. OBAMA: Just for no reason whatsoever. VOTER: I know he was going to say something smart, but I didn`t know. OBAMA: Now, you`ll be going back home and talking to your friends about, I cannot believe -- what`s his name? VOTER: Mike. OBAMA: I can`t believe Mike. He is such a fool. VOTER: He really is. OBAMA: I was just mortified. (LAUGHTER) MIKE: But she`s having a conversation with the president. OBAMA: But fortunately, the president was nice about it. VOTER: I`m freaking out right now. OBAMA: So, it was all right. VOTER: Thank you so much. OBAMA: It`s all right. Mike seems like a decent guy. He`s a decent guy. VOTER: This is not happening. This really isn`t. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: This is not happening. No, that really happened. After somebody told the president, don`t touch my girlfriend. The reason President Obama was out there in Illinois today meeting the folks and doing that sort of stunt about early voting is because of how important early voting is to the Democratic strategy for this year`s elections. It was, of course, famously a key part of the Obama re-election strategy in 2012 in key states to get Democrats to the polls early to essentially bank early votes ahead of election day so Democratic get out the vote volunteers could check people off their list once they voted, and then move on to other persuadable voters to try to turn them out as the clock ticked down closer and closer to election day and then on through election day itself. So, in 2012, if you look at just the votes cast on election day, for example, in the state of Iowa, on Election Day, Mitt Romney won the state of Iowa. If you only counted the votes cast that day. But Democrats, according to the strategy, had pre-banked so many early votes in Iowa that when you put the numbers together, altogether, the president had won the state. So, extrapolating from those numbers in 2012, lots of people this year are very excited that Iowa this year has banked a record number of early votes. And they have banked a record number of early votes in Iowa this year. It`s just this year it`s not at all clear which votes those are because, yes, the Democrats are keeping their traditional effort to maximize the early vote, but the Republicans are stepping it up, too, particularly the Koch brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity group. They are focusing on trying to turn out the early vote as well. This year, there`s a big, hugely important Senate race in Iowa. There`s been huge early voting numbers in Iowa. But nobody knows what that means in terms who is going to win the Iowa Senate race. I mean, the overall political science common wisdom is higher voter turnout tends to help Democrats and hurt Republicans. But how do you extrapolate that to individual elections or on individual election years? The U.S. Elections Project at the University of Florida, they been monitoring the weekly returns from all the states that are reporting early voting numbers so far this year. The director of the U.S. Elections Project told "The Washington Post" today that looking at the numbers that are in coast to coast so far, quote, "there`s going to be high turnout, both in the early vote and on election day combined." Again, common wisdom would say that`s good news for Democrats. High turnout is generally thought of as being better for Democrats. But there`s nothing about the numbers themselves, the numbers that are in so far that would say this is good news for Democrats for sure. Just for a sense of how hard it is to figure out right now and how fascinating to look at these numbers -- just look at Florida. Florida has got this big governor`s race, right? Well, 2010 was the last time Republican Rick Scott was running for governor of Florida. This was early voting in Florida that year. Republicans were 49 percent of early voting that year. Democrats were 37 percent. On election day itself, the result of that was that Rick Scott won in a squeaker. He won by just over 1 percent. So, now, look at this year. Next midterm year, 2014. This year the early vote numbers in Florida so far, overall the raw number huge. Huge voter turnout, more than 750,000 people have already banked their votes in Florida. But, look, this year proportions are almost identical. Republicans make up 48 percent instead of 49 percent. Democrats of make up 35 percent instead of 37 percent. So, what does that mean about what`s going to happen? Can you extrapolate about what we know about who has voted already to know who is going to win on election day? This is the home stretch. Two weeks left. President Obama voting himself today. How much of this election has already happened? And what can it tell us about how it`s going for both sides? Joining us now is Emily Schultheis. She`s a political reporter for "National Journal". Schultheis, thanks very much for being here. Appreciate your time. EMILY SCHULTHEIS, NATIONAL JOURNAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Thank you for having me. MADDOW: Am I getting Schultheis right, first of all? SCHULTHEIS: You are, you are. I`m impressed. MADDOW: Victory already. All right. Good night. That will be it. So, early voting is now under way in all but 14 states. Is it reasonable to extrapolate from what we know about early voting returns so far in terms of Democrat versus Republican hopes? SCHULTHEIS: Well, it depends on the state. Some states you get information about party registration of who has requested ballots, who has come to the polls. Other states it`s not so clear. It`s really different from every state by state. Generally when we think about early voting, as you noted before, this is something that Democrats have an advantage in in a lot of these states. Democrats have well-known and well-documented ground game programs so we can expect that they are going to be turning voters out pretty strongly. And when we look at some of these record numbers, a lot of those are going to be people that Democrats have been reaching out to. That said, Republicans have said that they`re going to invest and already are investing really record amounts of money into their own voting programs and into their own ground game operations. So, that kind of muddies the water a little bit for us. MADDOW: In terms of early voting and the other logistics about voting. We`ve paid so much attention both in this show and in the country broadly in terms of restrictions on access to the polls, whether it`s things like voter ID, which can determine who is allowed to vote and who is not to, or whether it`s early voting hours, numbers of precincts, locations of precincts and things like that. To those restrictions function in such a way state to state that they ought to essentially inflect the way we compare this year to previous years. Do the rules change enough from election to election that is makes it hard to compare whether or not this is -- these numbers look good for Democrats or good for Republicans? SCHULTHEIS: Well, it`s certainly is tough to tell. That`s one of those situations where we really won`t know what the ultimate effect of some of these voting restrictions will be. We won`t know until after Election Day and we see the results in front of us. That said, I think that one thing that particularly not even just the restrictions that have been put in place or struck down, but the fact there`s been so much churn late in the game here. States like North Carolina, states like Texas that you mentioned, all of these states have seen extraordinary changes in the ways and times at which voters can go to the polls. So, that certainly doesn`t help when you are thinking about trying to make sure that people know when they can vote, how they can vote, what to do when they vote and confusion doesn`t make things easier to get people to the polls. MADDOW: I think that`s -- obviously that`s the concern that`s driving the principled reaction of the court in terms of when they`re going to intervene. They are balancing that against, you know, whether or not these restrictions are so discriminatory they have to be stopped. At this point with two weeks left, it`s such a scramble right now in terms of figuring out what`s actually happening in the elections. It`s just fascinating. Emily Schultheis, political reporter for "National Journal", Emily, thanks very much for being here. I really appreciate it. SCHULTHEIS: Thanks for having me. MADDOW: All right. We`ve got lots more ahead, including an almost unheard of moment of genuine bravery in politics -- bravery and humility together in our politics? Seriously. It happened. That`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: In the 1980s, there was a U.S. senator from the great state of Maryland named Mack Mathias. He was a Republican, but he was sort of a thorn in the Republican Party side. He`d warn that the party was drifting too far to the right. He criticized Republicans for alienating young people and minorities. Mack Mathias was a Republican, but he was sort of outcast in his own party. In 1985, Republicans got their chance to replace him. They got their chance to get a real conservative into that seat. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: Moderate Republican Senator Charles Mack Mathias said he has decided not to Republican for re-election next year. And that`s good news for the Democrats. There are two prominent Republicans being mentioned as possible candidates for it however, columnist and commentator George Will, and former U.N. ambassador, Jeane Kirkpatrick. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Conservative columnist George Will in the Senate. George Will did not end up running for the Senate that year. He opted instead to continue his career as a TV talking head, where he remains today. More`s the pity. And now though he has picked himself a fight that he is losing in a way that turns out to be great for the country. And that unexpectedly good news is coming up. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This is such a great story. You feel cynical about the news? Do you? I have the cure. This is Walter Robinson. Walter Robinson is an old time old school reporter in Boston. Charlie Pierce said today at "Esquire" magazine that Walter Robinson is, quote, "one of those investigative reporters whose names you do not want to see on your call sheet when you come back from lunch. I went looking around for recognition of Walter Robinson`s work today in the Boston press, and there`s a lot of it. It goes way back. This was him being named the best reporter in that city by "Boston" magazine back in 1983. Walter Robinson has done a lot of good and a lot of investigations over the years. But the reason he was getting all that praise in 1983 was because he blew up the gubernatorial campaign of this guy in 1982. John Lakian, really rich guy, front-running Republican candidate for governor in Massachusetts in 1982 until Walter Robinson at the "Boston Globe" turned up the fact that Lakian was telling tales about a lot of things. The one that really stuck in the craw was him lying about his military service. He`d been saying on the campaign trail that he`d received a battlefield promotion in Vietnam, which is the sort of thing you get for extraordinary behavior on the battle field in combat. It turns out John Lakian got no such thing. And Walter Robinson at the "Boston Globe" nailed him and John Lakian did not become governor. Then, four years later, time for another governor`s election in Massachusetts, and Walter Robinson does it again. Or, rather, the Massachusetts Republican Party does it again when they pick another guy with the same kind of problems as their candidate for governor. Again, this time four years after John Lakian, this time it was Republican state rep named Royal Switzler. It`s not an ice cream flavor. It`s a guy. And when it came time for him to lie about his military service, he really rolled one out. He said he was a Green Beret. He was not a Green Beret. He said he had been an adviser to a South Vietnamese battalion in the Vietnam War. He was not an adviser to a South Vietnamese battalion in the Vietnam War. He talked all the time, even in floor debates in the state legislator, about his service in the Vietnam War. It turns out he did not serve in the Vietnam War. The sum total of his Vietnam experience was he visited the country once before the war there on a 10-day vacation, while he as on leave from non-combat duty somewhere else. And Walter Robinson nailed him for it. And so, Royal Switzler did not become governor of Massachusetts, just like John Lakian didn`t become governor of Massachusetts either, and reporter Walter Robinson, who nailed them both, he is a Vietnam veteran. And for a generation now, when Massachusetts politicians have lied about their military service in order to advance their political careers, Walter Robinson has been there at the "Boston Globe" to tack them up to the wall and make them pay for it. He is not kidding around. And Walter Robinson is still around, still at "The Globe", and he just broke a story that`s the antidote to all of that dishonorable muck that he has had such a great career muck-raking through. Get this. All right. This is Seth Moulton, served as a U.S. marine in Iraq. He`s running for Congress now in one of the Massachusetts congressional districts that`s actually a competitive district. He beat out long Democrat John Tierney to get the Democratic line on the ballot for that seat this year. Seth Moulton has not been shy about his military career. He talks all the time about being a U.S. marine. He talks about volunteering to go to Iraq as a marine even though politically he opposed the war in Iraq. But what Seth Moulton actually did in Iraq during his tours there, it has been a little vague on the campaign trail. And you know what? There`s a reporter at "The Boston Globe" who is really good at digging stuff up about politicians and their military records. So, Walter Robinson took a look at Seth Moulton and decided he would dig in and find out. He`d dig in to Seth Moulton`s military records. And what he found, it speaks for itself. This is an amazing story. All right. Here`s Walter Robinson in "The Globe" this weekend. Quote, "The American political graveyard has more than a few monuments to politicians who embellish details of their military service, in some cases laying claim to medals for heroism or other military honors they never received." And then uniquely, there is Seth Moulton, the Democratic nominee for Congress in the sixth district, a former marine who saw fierce combat for months and months in Iraq but Seth Moulton chose not to publicly disclose that he was twice decorated for heroism until pressed by "The Globe". So, yes, right, he was lying about his service. I mean, that`s the story Walter Robinson has had to write over and over again about these politicians lying about their service. In this case, it is a lie only by omission because the guy didn`t want to tell people about the rewards he received for combat heroism and for bravery. So, what`s the opposite of scandal, right? Here it is. He received the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for Valor, both with extensive commendation narratives about his heroic achievement, fearlessly exposing himself to enemy fire, zealous initiative, courageous action and exceptional dedication to duty. In an interview with "The Boston Globe", Seth Moulton said he, quote, "considers it unseemly to discuss his own awards for valor." He told this to Walter Robinson at "The Globe". "There`s a healthy disrespect among veterans who served on the front lines for people who walk around telling war stories." Seth Moulton has been so closed mouthed that only his campaign manager, a former marine, knew of the awards before "The Globe" asked for the citations on Wednesday. Even Seth Moulton`s parents did not know. This doesn`t happen, right? I mean, this is not dog bites man. This is man bites dog. Candidates keep something out of the public eye because of humility. Veteran, literal veteran investigative reporter forces candidate to fess up to his medals for bravery that he otherwise told no one about, not even his parents. This is how Walter Robinson closes out the piece. He says, "In the interview, Seth Moulton asked `The Globe` not describe him as a hero. `Look,` he said, `we served our country and served the guys next to us. It`s not something to brag about.` `The greatest honor`, he said, his voice choked with emotion, `had nothing to do with the medals. The greatest honor of my life was to lead these men in my platoon, even though it was a war that I and they disagreed with.`" So god bless "The Boston Globe" for having a reporter who all these years follows up what candidates say about their military service and keeps them honest about that of all things. And I don`t know if Seth Moulton is going to win this race for Congress in Massachusetts. But this happening over the course of his candidacy is a defeat for cynicism. I mean, if he`s the model for public service, there`s hope for us all, right? So, thank you Walter Robinson at "The Boston Globe". We never would have known. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: If you think of Georgia as a conservative state, a red Republican state, you do have to make a couple exceptions. The county that includes Atlanta, for example, went for Barack Obama last time by a 2-1 margin. Also the county that includes Athens, home of the University of Georgia, land of REM and the B22s. Athens, Clark County, also went for Obama by a 2-1 margin. But spilled between those two islands of blue is Georgia`s 10th congressional district. And their congressman Paul Broun is amazing. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. PAUL BROUN (R), GEORGIA: I`ve come to understand that all that stuff I was taught about Evolution and embryology and Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell. And it`s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Lies straight from the pits of hell. Evolution, the Big Bang Theory, all of it, just lies from the pit of hell. House Republicans saw fit to put that man, Paul Brown, on the House Science Committee because, ha, ha. The last time Paul Broun defended his seat in the House in 2012, 4,000 people in his district wrote in this name as a write-in candidate against him. Charles Darwin got 4,000 votes against Paul Broun. That was fun. But now, Paul Broun has taken up a new pastime. Look, from the desk of Congressman Paul Broun, ban travel from Africa. Keep us free from Ebola. Quote, "Ebola travels. This petition has to travel faster." And by travel faster, what Paul Broun means is that you should get up out of your seats and send him money. Look, please chip in $5 or $10 to help us distribute this petition to literally millions of American citizens. So, if you are concerned about Ebola, send money to a Georgia Republican congressman who is leaving the House this year. That`s kind of how things are going on the right in Congress. Here`s how things are going on the right on TV. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: In fact, there are doctors who are saying that in a sneeze or cough, some of the airborne particles can be infected. NEERA TANDEN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I`m sorry, who are the doctors saying? This is what I think is really important that facts about this disease do not lead to panic. So far, every expert that I have seen have said -- WILL: Every expert that you`ve seen. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Every expert that you -- I`ve got experts who say Ebola is airborne. Asked to clarify where he was getting his information that Ebola is airborne, commentator George Will said he was getting his information from specifically the University of Minnesota. The University of Minnesota in response released this statement saying, no, that`s not us. Don`t put that on us. They said George Will is getting their work wrong and they have, quote, "not made claims that Ebola is airborne." So, we do have that bit of good news about the worst thing in the world, right? Science says George Will is wrong. Thank you, science. Paul Broun still wants your $5 and Ebola is still scary even without George Will making it up as he goes along. But we are getting around to some good news about this terrible story. The freelance cameraman Ashoka Mukpo, the guy who was working for NBC News, he is reportedly on the mend. Doctors at the hospital in Nebraska say he may be able to go home in a few days. Mr. Mukpo tweeted tonight that his long recovery has been humbling. He feels lucky and very happy to be alive. Also, the special high level ward at Emory Hospital says the anonymous patient they`d been treating since September 9th is finally free of the virus and well enough to go home as well. That patient leaving, if nothing else, will open up another bed for an Ebola patient if we need that bed in that high capacity ward. We still have dozens of health workers an the watch list in Dallas in terms of potential Ebola exposure. But amid them, we have dozens who have reached the 21 days of monitoring without getting success. So, that`s also good news. Also, the news that Thomas Eric Duncan`s fiancee and the rest of that family, they also reached the 21-day mark today. None of them got sick even though they`d been confined in difficult conditions, including some infectious waste from Mr. Duncan getting so sick. That family is now off the watch list. Four of the kids went back to school today. The school superintendent said they were obviously eager to get back into class. That`s good news, too. This crisis is a long way from over. Most acutely where it`s epidemic in Western Africa. But also the United States, part of this crisis, seems to have turned a more positive corner at least for today. But with the good news starting to come in of patients recovering and health care workers and loved ones not getting the disease, is it right to look at this as a good day? Have we got the worst of it behind us at least here? Can we tell whether we`ve truly turned a corner? And if we have, what do we need to do now that we`re turning it? Joining us now is Dr. Zeke Emanuel, he`s chair of medical ethics and health policy at UPenn. He`s former of the Obama administration and he`s an MSNBC contributor. Dr. Emanuel, it`s nice to see you again. DR. ZEKE EMANUEL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Lovely to be here. MADDOW: Is it fair to think of this as a good day, as hard as it is to say in Ebola news? Are we turning some sort of corner? EMANUEL: Well, it`s early to say whether we`re turning a corner, but we have a lot of good and positive news going in the right direction. So, directionally correct is the way I`d put it. I think you summarized it exactly well. People who have Ebola seem to be recovering and doing better, a lot of people taken off the watch list, obviously, didn`t get infected despite being very close to patients. I would also mention two pieces of good news out of Africa, which is Nigeria over the weekend said that it was reported, confirmed by the WHO. They had no more Ebola there. It was caught and confined to just 19 patients in Nigeria. So, very well done. And Senegal a week ago was said to be Ebola-free. So, we do have a number of elements of progress, I think. And, you know, whether this is exactly what tom Frieden said stops in its tracks, you know, we only have three or for people in the United States who have the disease. And out of 300 million, that`s pretty small number. MADDOW: And honestly, more people who don`t know they have it might arrive in this country and be diagnosed here. Same way it happened with Thomas Eric Duncan. There`s no way to stop that hermetically, right? EMANUEL: Right. Remember, he got off a plane. He didn`t have a fever. He was feeling well. Didn`t know whether he had the disease or not and then he shows up a few days later in an emergency room with a fever. You`d never have caught him at the airport. MADDOW: Yes. EMANUEL: The idea that we`ll seal the borders and keep Ebola out is just not going to happen. MADDOW: It makes for a great petition if you want people to send you 5 bucks. EMANUEL: Well, it`s a kind of hysteria. We need to be more realistic about the situation. MADDOW: In terms of what would happen in this country if we got another patient, either because one of the people who`s being monitored turns out to be exposed and gets sick or because someone else arrives from the disease from where it`s epidemic somewhere else, do you feel like we`ve learned enough just over the course of the past few weeks in how a person should be handled right up front in terms of limiting their exposure to other people and maximizing their chances for recovery that we would do a better job than we did with poor Mr. Duncan? EMANUEL: I don`t think it`s possible in an emergency room in the United States to have someone who comes from West Africa with a fever and being put out on the street. That`s just not going to happen. So, identifying people, definitely going to be better. Isolating them, I think definitely going to be better. And then having the health care workers don the personal protective equipment better with a buddy system. I think we definitely have learned something very rapidly. It`s too bad we`ve had to make mistakes and at least two nurses have had to get infected before we did a better job of it, and Mr. Duncan had to die. But I think it`s -- it is the case that we`re certainly more knowledgeable about that situation. I wish we just again put it in perspective and the panic level was down. Having students who were on a boat with a worker who may be possibly handled the specimen but didn`t have any confirmed Ebola and was quarantined besides being denied access to school seems like not an abundance of caution, just like hysteria. And I think again, we`ve had three cases. Duncan, two nurses, that have contracted the disease or one brought it in here and two contracted here. Out of 300 million people. That is 0.001 percent of people in the country. We should really chill. MADDOW: The more it gets use for political purposes, the stupider the hysteria will get around. EMANUEL: Well, Mr. Will`s comments obviously citing not a research study, not even a credible -- I mean, they weren`t even talking about people who might -- they were talking about treating a patient who has confirmed Ebola in a hospital and they weren`t saying don`t do it or that it might be -- they said wear a respirator. That`s not a common opinion in the medical community. We do have some disagreement. And I think rather than listen to Mr. Will, we should listen to some infectious disease experts. MADDOW: Or the experts who say they are being misquoted by Mr. Will. Dr. Zeke Emanuel of the University of Pennsylvania, an MSNBC contributor -- thanks for being here. Appreciate it. EMANUEL: Thanks. MADDOW: We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: We have some junk to debunk tonight, including a puzzling strategy in one governor`s race that a lot of Democrats can`t believe the Democratic Party does not already have in the bag this year. It`s a weird strategic choice but we`re going to make some news with our update on it. Debunktion Junction is straight ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Debunktion Junction, what`s my function? We are now deep into political debate season across the country. This debate season has been an odd one when it comes to governors races specifically. There was, of course, this lively and eclectic gubernatorial debate earlier this month in Vermont. That`s not Vermont. We`ve got Vermont there, featuring quotes from Karl Marx and also a lot of expressed outrage about the number of bathrooms at Vermont`s highway rest stops. That`s was a weird thing to be angry about. There was also, as we showed you there a second ago, the little incident involving a fan at the Florida debate last week. There was tons of attention to the fan incident in that debate last week. And to capitalize on that, Florida Democrats have just turned the fan thing into what I think is a great campaign add. It`s sort of is a normalish campaign ad until the end and then has a perfect punch line at the end. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHARLIE CRIST (D), FL GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Are we really going to debate about a fan or talk about education and the environment and the future of our state? I mean, really. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It`s going to be cool. Florida Democrats trying to get people psyched for the next Charlie Crist/Rick Scott debate after the last one was derailed by Charlie Crist having a fan under his podium and Rick Scott deciding that was a reason not to show up. It`s been a weird year for governor`s debates. But in this weird year, the great state of Massachusetts has been trying to provide the nation with the strangest debate of them all. The race for governor is between Martha Coakley and Republican Charlie Baker. The two of them were expected to face off this Thursday in a debate in a local news station out by where I live in Western Massachusetts. I say expected to because late last week, Martha Coakley decided she would decline the invitation to that debate. Her campaign pulled out of the debate citing a scheduling conflict. But here`s the thing. That didn`t mean the debate wouldn`t happen. Martha Coakley`s decision to decline that invitation meant her Republican opponent Charlie Baker would get a full hour on TV himself, an hour of free air time by himself across a huge swath of the state a week and a half before the election, all because Martha Coakley decided she had something better to do. Hard to believe, right? Is it true or false, though? Republican Charlie Baker will be appearing in a debate on Thursday this week with no opponent to debate. Is that true or false? (BUZZER) MADDOW: It`s now false. That story about Charlie Baker getting a whole hour of TV time to himself was correct when it ran. Martha Coakley did pull out citing a scheduling conflict and that did mean Charlie Baker was going to be alone on TV in Western Mass for an hour. But we reached out to the Coakley campaign and Martha Coakley`s schedule cleared up. And so, she will debate this Thursday against Charlie Baker. She will not apparently cede an entire hour of air time to her opponent in one whole half of the state. That`s frankly the better half. The Coakley campaign apparently came to see that was against their best interests. So, Massachusetts, you won`t have a one-person debate called the Charlie Baker show this week. Sorry. Amazing. That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow. 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 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.