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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/28/15

Guests: Ed O`Keefe, Nina Khrushcheva, Jennifer Dlouhy

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: That is "ALL IN" for this evening. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW with Steve Kornacki in for Rachel starts now. STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC GUEST HOST: All right. Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Rachel has the night off. So, it turns out that you can buy a lot of things if you log on to Craigslist in Des Moines, Iowa, of all places. For example, right now, there`s an antique mall that`s up for sale on Craigslist Des Moines. Now, it`s not an antique. It`s actually an entire shopping mall. And it can be yours for a cool $375,000. You can also find a surprisingly large variety of pythons on Craigslist Des Moines. This particular one is being listed as being, quote, "very docile." It will let you hold him, no problem. You can even touch him on his nose. And he`s just fine with it. Here`s a whole collection of romance books. These are books you can buy if you want to be prepared for those long winter months. And also, as of today, on Craigslist Des Moines, you can now buy a Trump campaign bus. This bus was posted on Craigslist Des Moines earlier this afternoon. It`s a bus that had previously been used by the Donald Trump campaign for some events in Iowa. Now, it`s not actually quite as exciting as you might picture a Trump campaign bus being. Under all that big "Make America Great Again" wrapping that you see there, well, underneath that it`s really just a 1998 Greyhound bus with literally a million miles on it. But there you have it. You`re looking at it right there. If you are in the market for a 17-year-old converted Greyhound bus that was once briefly used by Donald Trump`s presidential campaign and you have $175,000 to blow -- well, here`s your big chance. And all thanks to Craigslist Des Moines. The thing about Donald Trump the candidate is that he`s beginning to feel very much like your average run-of-the-mill long haul bus that`s been wrapped up in a loud, brash exterior. There was a time when he was just the renegade Republican candidate, when he was willing to buck the party on everything, to buck the party on anything. And in a lot of ways Donald Trump is still that renegade candidate. But that also might be changing a little bit right before our eyes. One of the reasons that Donald Trump alarmed the Republican establishment was because he went around this summer talking about raising taxes on the wealthy. In fact, that became a major talking point for him. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would let people that are making hundreds of millions of dollars a year pay some tax because right now they`re paying very little tax and I think it`s outrageous. You know, the middle class built this country, not the hedge fund guys. But I know people in hedge funds, they pay almost nothing. And it`s ridiculous, OK? (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: So that was not rhetoric that we`re used to hearing from national Republican leaders. This was populist economic rhetoric from Donald Trump. This was rhetoric you might actually hear from a Democrat. So that was the build-up for today. Donald Trump, the renegade Republican, ready to go to war with his party`s establishment on the issue of taxes, on how much the wealthy should be paying in taxes. And then came today. And today was the release of Donald Trump`s actual tax plan. He called it "Tax reform that will make America great again". And as it turns out, the Republican establishment doesn`t actually have much to worry about, because for all of that populist economic talk this summer, the plan that Donald Trump actually trotted out today, it may actually be more beneficial to the wealthiest Americans than even his rival Jeb Bush`s plan. Quote, "While he`s selling it as a boon for the middle class, the biggest gains would likely flow to the wealthy by cutting tax rates on capital gains and investment income the way Wall Street makes money." That is an analysis by CNBC`s Robert Frank. If anything, the biggest anti-tax crusaders in the Republican Party, the ones who maybe were most worried about what Donald Trump was going to say when he finally weighed in with a plan on taxes -- well, those anti-tax leaders in the Republican Party, they actually loved what they heard from Donald Trump today. Grover Norquist, for instance, he`s become famous for having candidates, for having Republican candidates sign an anti-tax oath. Today, though, "Politico" says that he gave the tax plan a wink. Quote, this is from Norquist, "Trump`s plan is certainly consistent with the taxpayer protection pledge." That`s the pledge he asks every Republican candidate to sign. More pointedly, Trump himself was adamant today that no one should think of him as any kind of a populist. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: No, I`m not a populist. No, I`m not. I`m a man of great common sense. I`m a man that`s built a tremendous company with the best locations in real estate, the best everything. You`re here at one of them. I have many of these. I did a great job. I`ve employed tens of thousands of people. I employ now thousands and thousands of people. I`ve done a good job, but I wouldn`t say populist at all. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: Yes, Trump remains for now the front-runner in the Republican race though his lead is in increasingly tenuous lead. Another new poll confirming this, Trump at 21 percent in a brand new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll. And Dr. Ben Carson right behind him, one point behind at 20 percent. Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina, they are tied for third place, 11 percent for each of them. The stacking of that top tier may not be all that surprising. We`ve known for a long time now that Trump has been leading the Republican field and the so-called outsider candidates have all collectively been the story of the summer. They`ve all been surging this summer. But there is also in that poll that you`re looking at on your screen right there, there is also this -- the other story of this new poll, the other big story of the Republican race so far this year. It`s a story that seemed utterly unimaginable when the campaign began. It`s the story of Jeb Bush, who began this year with his campaign promising what they called a shock-and-awe strategy. It was a strategy that was going to lock down the nomination for him almost effortlessly. And now, Jeb Bush is all the way back in fifth place. He has just 7 percent of the support in this new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll. Just take a look at this decline. In April of this year, just a few months ago, Jeb Bush was sitting at 23 percent. He was in first place. In June, he was still at 22 percent. By July, that number had been chopped down to 14 percent. And now, in September he is all the way back in single digits at just 7 percent. Just seven out of 100 Republicans saying that Jeb Bush would be their choice for president if they had to vote right now. And it would be one thing if Bush were still holding firm in the early primary states, in Iowa, New Hampshire, those places because that would offer up a bit of a lifeline for him. He could win there, then get a big bounce, then move those numbers up nationally. But that`s not the case right now. He`s polling in fifth place in New Hampshire. He`s behind Donald Trump there, he`s behind Carly Fiorina, behind Ben Carson, behind even Senator Marco Rubio. He`s been perking up lately. And in Florida, that`s the state where Jeb Bush was governor for eight years, he is also trailing. Donald Trump has nearly triple Jeb`s support in Florida. Bush trails Rubio in Florida by close to 10 points. But Bush at least in interviews is sticking with his line that there`s nothing to worry about. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m running the hard campaign, running with heart, and we`re making great progress. These polls really don`t matter. They don`t -- they don`t filter out the people that aren`t going to vote. It`s just -- I know it`s an obsession because it kind of frames the debate for people for that week. But I`m in it for the long haul. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: Whether or not Bush is actually in it for the long haul, it`s hard to accept his assertion that his campaign is making great progress. It`s hard to accept that when you`ve seen his support drop from 23 percent, just a few months ago, all the way down to just 7 percent. Obviously, in terms of polling, it`s the opposite of progress. And while Bush might be acting as if there`s nothing to see here, you get a sense that the campaign may be getting worried. His campaign has announced plans to reserve TV ad time in those key early primary states. And Bush himself signaled today, quote, "that he`s got plenty of money in the bank" to stay on the campaign trail leading up to next year`s early primaries. But all the money in the world cannot buy enthusiasm. And that is something that he`s starting to lose with his biggest supporters. "The Washington Post" reporting today that, quote, "it`s make or break time for Jeb Bush" with, quote, "top donors warning that the former Florida governor needs to demonstrate growth in the polls over the next month or face serious defections among supporters." One party fund-raiser even adding, quote, "what I hear everywhere when you say Jeb`s name is if you want to lose the general election nominate Jeb." Now, forget losing the general election for a minute. At this point, becoming the Republican nominee is looking more and more like an uphill battle for the guy who at the beginning of all this was supposed to practically coast to the Republican nomination. Joining us now is Ed O`Keefe, political reporter for "The Washington Post." Ed wrote that story today. Ed, thanks for being with us tonight. Well, let`s get to what you`re hearing from these Bush donors. How much do they need to see him move up in these polls over the next month, and what are the consequences in terms of defections? How many defections are we talking about here if he doesn`t make that number? ED O`KEEFE, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think they`re looking frankly for just positive trajectory. Instead of sliding back, as you demonstrated in those graphics, they just want to see him climbing again, out of the single digits, into the double digits again. Any example of growth, any evidence of growth they`ll be happy with. As for how many would leave, that`s unclear. But these are people who`ve given significantly not only to his campaign but also in some cases to the super PAC that is supporting his bid. They can give unlimited amounts there. They can give the limited amounts of course to the campaign. And these people are spending a lot of time in addition to their money trying to get other people to give money. And look, donors who give financial resources and their time understandably get a little skittish when they see what you were demonstrating there, the popularity is down, that the enthusiasm may not be there and even in his own home state, he`s suffering and unable to stay in front. So, whether we see it widespread or whether we see it among a few proponent ones remains to be seen, but they are saying, if this keeps up, we`re getting out. KORNACKI: Well, that`s interesting, Ed. I mean, it`s got to be worrying his campaign too. Because I mean, the old line there, good news begets good news, the opposite of that is bad news begets more bad news. And I`m just thinking you`ve got this polling decline we showed right there. If the numbers do not perk up in the next month and then the headlines move to what you`re suggesting, major Bush donor switches to Rubio, major Bush donor switches to Kasich, whoever it may be, that creates maybe even a meltdown scenario for the campaign. What are they doing to respond to this? O`KEEFE: They`re raising a lot of money. Despite the fact that some fund-raisers may be saying that they`re not going to stick around if things get bad, remember, this is a guy who has raised a significant amount and continues to. He kept a breakneck schedule in the third quarter, which ends on Wednesday night, raising money all across the country. The belief among those donors, among campaign aides who are somewhat familiar with it is that they had a good quarter, they were able to keep pace with what they did when they started off in mid-June and that they will be able to demonstrate they still have significant financial support. Separate of that is his super PAC, Right to Rise, this group he was fund-raising for before he became a candidate and now is walled off and operating separately. It`s believed they also had a good quarter and will continue raising a lot of money. That group is spending about $27 million at least between now and the start of the primaries and caucuses on television ads. Today, as you pointed out earlier, the campaign itself has set aside about $8 million for ads in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Iowa in the hopes that that will help in the closing days as well. And look, they point, some of them, privately to what Kasich was doing. His super PAC starts running ads for him in New Hampshire. Suddenly his numbers bounced. Now that Bush is airing ads or his super PAC is airing ads they believe that the numbers will turn around, as well for him. KORNACKI: Yes, I can vouch for that. I was up in Boston over the weekend. You get all those ads aimed at New Hampshire in the Boston stations. I saw a ton of Jeb Bush ads over the weekend. But quick bottom line question you look at the first two states, everybody looks at Iowa and says this is a terrible match for Jeb Bush, he`s not going to win Iowa. New Hampshire, he`s got to win there or this campaign ends. Is that fair to say? O`KEEFE: I think so. I think if you had to rank the three for Bush folks they would tell you it`s New Hampshire, then South Carolina, then Iowa. Frankly, if they place, if they place third in Iowa, I think that`s a big victory for them. They would tell you, of course, publicly and even privately they`re going to do better than that, but the numbers at least right now suggest they won`t. New Hampshire, a place that he spent the most time, just a few days more than his home state of Florida campaigning by our estimates, or by our review of his schedule. South Carolina`s the place they feel can do very well because his brother and his father remain quite popular there. His national security positions expected to do well with the state that has a large military and veterans population. Iowa is a different character. And we`ve seen the numbers there go in the direction of other folks. He will continue appearing there, but they will not put in the same amount of resource that they`re putting elsewhere. KORNACKI: All right. Well, they`re putting the resources in, spending the money. We will see over the next month if they get a return on that money. Ed O`Keefe, political reporter for the "Washington Post," thanks for being here tonight. Appreciate it O`KEEFE: Anytime. KORNACKI: All right. Ahead, on the Democratic side, new polling that proves that the only thing that`s different from a couple months ago is everything. Plus, an amazing update on a story this show has been covering for a long time. It turned out in a way that these kinds of stories never turn out, ever. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KORNACKI: Sometimes we get a picture over the wires that`s worth a thousand words and it raises a whole lot of questions. Today was a perfect example. Today, the two most powerful leaders in the world attempted to say cheers. At least I think. If this picture were a martini, you might call it perfectly chilled. What happened today when President Obama met President Putin? That story is ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KORNACKI: Every year at this time, world leaders descend on New York. They make speeches. They draw attention to their favorite causes. They hobnob on the sidelines. I`m talking not about the United Nations, where they opened the general assembly this weekend, but instead I`m talking about the Clinton Global Initiative. For years now, U.N. week has also been CGI Week, a lavish, star-studded affair presided over by former President Bill Clinton. You`ll see celebrities, power brokers, heads of state, all of them gathering to talk big ideas and to pledge money to solve the world`s biggest problems. President Obama has made it a point of stopping by the Clinton Global Initiative every single year around this time. And this is how Bill Clinton has fashioned his post-presidential persona, as a jetsetting do- gooder. It`s also gone a good way toward making the Clinton family a sort of a non-partisan American institution, a family that was seen for a few years there as above the fray of the political slugfest. It`s a big part of why Hillary Clinton looked so formidable when she launched her presidential campaign. It`s why she led her prospective Democratic rivals including the sitting vice president by more than 50 points in the polls. It was a level of strength that we had never before seen from a non- incumbent president running for president. That`s how things looked when this campaign started. But six months later, of course, it`s now a very different story. For one thing, this is the first year that President Obama has not made time for the Clinton confab during U.N. week. And in the polls not only has Bernie Sanders topped Hillary Clinton in some New Hampshire and Iowa surveys. Even in the new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" national poll, it`s out just today, Sanders is giving her a real run for her money. Hillary Clinton now holds just a seven-point lead over Bernie Sanders, 42 percent to 35 percent. And that`s with Joe Biden, who hasn`t even decided whether he`s going to run for president, pulling in 17 percent and siphoning votes away from Clinton to do it. When the vice president`s taken out of the mix, by the way, Clinton`s lead does go to 53 percent to 38 percent over Sanders, a healthier margin for her, although again, worth noting, that is still much closer than anyone thought things were going to be at any point in a Clinton-Sanders race. That`s not the only way a potential Joe Biden candidacy is upsetting Hillary Clinton`s standing in the polls, take a look at these head-to-head match-ups also from today`s NBC News poll. Hillary Clinton beating Donald Trump by 10 points, but Joe Biden beating him by more than 20 points. Clinton just barely leading Jeb Bush, 45-44. Biden clobbering him by eight points. Republican Ben Carson actually beating Hillary Clinton in a general election trial, but Biden coming out eight points ahead of Carson. Carly Fiorina besting Clinton by a point. Biden besting Fiorina by six. Just a few months ago, the idea that Hillary Clinton would be just barely beating a socialist from Vermont in the Democratic primary, that she would be doing worse, substantially worse in some cases in head-to-head match-ups than someone who isn`t even in the race, that idea just a few months ago was inconceivable. Now, let`s be fair. There is good reason to think that Joe Biden`s strong poll numbers right now are a lot like Hillary Clinton`s six months ago. Joe Biden right now is largely above the political fray. He is not actually in the campaign. He`s been getting great press, all of this clearly undoubtedly boosting his numbers. But still, if you`re Joe Biden, if you`re agonizing over whether to jump in this race, whether to run one last campaign for president at the age of 72 -- well, these poll numbers have got to be awfully tempting for you. Without lifting a finger, Biden has already qualified for the first Democratic debate that`s going to be held next month. According to the criteria that CNN, which will be airing it, according to the criteria they have announced, the vice president wouldn`t even have to file paperwork to run until the day after the debate. Now, in personal terms, we know this is a wrenching decision for Biden. As he told Stephen Colbert earlier this month, the grief over losing his son this year may just be too much for him to wage a national campaign. But this is also a tough call for Biden in strictly political terms because for all the temptation in those poll numbers we just showed you, there`s also the potential for disaster, because it`s possible that Biden could lose not just to Hillary Clinton but also to Bernie Sanders in those early primary states, that Biden would finish a distant third place, that he`d be forced to make an embarrassing exit, an especially humbling way for a sitting vice president to exit the political stage probably for good. So there`s that on the one hand. But then on the other hand there is another possibility. What if Biden gets in? What if he pulls off a win in one of those first two states? What if he wins Iowa? What if he wins New Hampshire? What if he proves that he really is a viable candidate, that he actually can beat Hillary, that he really does have a shot at the Democratic nomination for president? What if he then takes that credibility and creates a one-on-one race with Hillary in South Carolina? Think about this. The Clinton team right now thinks of South Carolina as their firewall state. They think of it right now because of their strong standing with African-American voters. African-American voters barely exist in New Hampshire and Iowa but they make up about half of South Carolina`s Democratic primary electorate. Right now, they`re very strong for Hillary Clinton. But remember, South Carolina was Barack Obama`s breakthrough state back in 2008. It`s the state where he crushed Hillary Clinton and decisively turned around the Democratic race. And those same African- American voters keyed that victory, and with them Obama remains deeply and immensely popular. So what if Joe Biden, what if Barack Obama`s loyal vice president comes to South Carolina next February with a real chance to knock off Hillary Clinton, to do exactly what Barack Obama did back in 2008? And what if, and this is a big, big, big if, but what if the president then at that moment decided to reward his ever-loyal vice president, a man with whom by all accounts he has grown very close to personally, what if the president used that occasion, that moment to recommend to those South Carolina voters that they cast their ballots for his vice president, for Joe Biden? Again, it`s a huge, huge if. But it`s the kind of thinking, it`s the kind of gaming all of this out, that will get any ambitious politician`s mind racing. It is the kind of thinking that maybe could make Joe Biden look at those polls we showed you at the top of this segment and say yeah, you know what? I am going to take a shot at this. While Biden mulls and agonizes, the clock is ticking. His time to make a decision to get in this race or to stay out, it is quickly running out. He`s going to need to say something. He`s going to need to say something soon. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KORNACKI: This was the scene in Portland, Oregon, this summer. A dozen protesters dangling from the St. John`s Bridge. They rappelled over the side of that bridge suspended in mid-air at various heights over the river, right directly in the path of an icebreaker belonging to a giant oil company. That company, Shell Oil, needed to get that icebreaker under the bridge on its way up the Oregon coast into the Arctic. It was an amazing standoff between the environmentalists on one side and Shell. And tonight, we have an amazing and a surprising conclusion to that story. That`s ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KORNACKI: One way to get the pope to notice you or at least to glance your way during one of those huge papal parades is to do this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The pope says that you have a sense of humor. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: So there you go. Dressing your baby up as the pope will get her noticed by the pope. That happened on Saturday at the papal parade on the Ben Franklin Parkway down in Philadelphia. Before he went to Philadelphia on Friday, the pope spoke at the United Nations General Assembly. And he seems to have had an impact on many. Then he left yesterday. And today, it seems like the gloves are off at the U.N. That started this morning at the United Nations, where again, the pope spoke just days ago. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Consider Russia`s annexation of Crimea and further aggression in eastern Ukraine. America has few economic interests in Ukraine. We recognize the deep and complex history between Russia and Ukraine. But we cannot stand by when the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a nation is flagrantly violated. If that happens without consequence in Ukraine, it could happen to any nation gathered here today. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: President Obama went on to criticize Russia`s support for Syria`s president. That happened first thing in the morning today. Then, a little more than an hour after that, Russian President Vladimir Putin took to the same podium and he fired back. He essentially accused the United States of enforcing its will on others. He said that it`s an enormous mistake to refuse to cooperate with the Syrian government as they try to fight ISIS. He talked about creating a broad international coalition to fight ISIS, a competing coalition of sorts, something President Obama and the United States didn`t see coming. Then, a couple of hours later, those two leaders, Presidents Obama and Putin, sat down for lunch. The U.N. secretary-general`s table, and this is how that toast between them looked. And yes, part of that awkwardness has to do with Ukraine and Russia annexing Crimea and the sanctions we`ve imposed on Russia because of that. But as of late, it also has to do with Russia deploying warplanes and tanks and weapons in Syria to support the Syrian government. After all of that, today, President Obama and President Putin sat for their first private meeting in two years. And this is what happened right before that meeting. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: Thank you, everybody. REPORTER: Will you work together? REPORTER: Can you make progress on Syria? REPORTER: Can you make a deal? (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: That entire photo op lasted, and I`m being generous here, maybe 15 seconds total. And from the moment they walked in that door to the moment that they stood in front of the cameras and rigidly shook hands, then made their way back to the door, 15 seconds total right there. Now, that big meeting between Obama and Putin, the first of its kind again in two years, that private meeting was scheduled to last for an hour, but reportedly it did run for just over 90 minutes. Now, we don`t know exactly what happened in the meeting, but we do know it`s their first private face-to-face meeting in two years. We know that it went longer than planned. Initial readouts from the meeting indicated the first half focused on Ukraine, the second half on Syria. Reports indicate that President Obama and President Putin agreed to discuss a political transition in Syria but that they don`t agree on how to move forward. So, will tonight`s meeting change anything? Joining us now is Nina Khrushcheva. She`s a professor of international affairs at the New School University. She is the author of "The Lost Khrushchev: A Journey Into the Gulag of the Russian Mind." She is also, I should mention, the granddaughter of former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. Thank you for joining us, Nina. Appreciate it. NINA KHRUSHCHEVA, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS/NEW SCHOOL UNIVERSITY: Thank you. Thank you. KORNACKI: So -- well, first of all, that photo op we just showed, I mean, I guess it`s obligatory that they come out and do that. That`s as obligatory as it gets. We weren`t inside that meeting. But what do you think that meeting was like tonight? KHRUSHCHEVA: Well, I think the meeting was positive because they spent 90 minutes talking, which is already a good thing. Expecting that they would have warmer body language I think was pretty much ridiculous. I mean, they did not talk. They really have disagreements. But also, they clearly have a personal dislike of each other. Barack Obama calls Putin the slouchy kid at the back of the classroom. Vladimir Putin never insults Barack Obama personally but always says, well, it`s actually a bad idea to insult leaders, what if you need something from them, really shooting at the United States, at the fact that he`s personally insulted by the Americans. So I think that should have been expected. We`re probably even wasting our time discussing the bad relationship. I think what`s important is that they claim their stakes. I mean, they really set it out in their speeches at the United Nations. However, both said that they want to cooperate, they want to create some sort of coalition, especially Putin, wanted to lead an international coalition in Syria and cooperate with Iraq and the United States and whatnot. And the same thing said Barack Obama. So, in this sense they`re actually talking which is already a great step forward, and then privately for 90 minutes. And Putin said the meeting went very well. After the meeting, he gave a few interviews. He said it was a very cooperative meeting and also they had disagreements but it was very constructive, as they put it, constructive disagreements. And also in private conversation apparently, there`s already Russian stories coming out that Barack Obama showed respect, which is very important for Putin. And therefore I think maybe this conversation actually will move things forward. KORNACKI: So, what about -- let`s take the issue of Syria because there`s a fundamental difference here. Putin wants to support Assad, doesn`t think we should be actively trying to overthrow him. He wants to prop him up. And the United States says it`s absolutely unacceptable for Assad to remain in power. Can you see any way to reconcile those two positions? KHRUSHCHEVA: Well, I think we can reconcile because when the United States says it is unacceptable, it has been unacceptable for three years. So, Assad is still there. So it is acceptable then, so there must be some sort of condition for him not to stay as long as Russia wants but stay for the time period to convince Russia and the world and the Middle East in general is that it`s not going to go the Libya way, it`s not going into that whole disarray of the Gadhafi way. So, when Barack Obama says Putin annexed Crimea and the international law, Putin shoots back and says, fine, we can actually support your strikes in Iraq because Iraq requested those air strikes, but when you`re striking Syria, it`s against the law because they never accepted that. So, I think somewhere there is a military international cooperation that they can figure out. But I think what`s important here is if Putin -- I mean, if Barack Obama showed respect as Putin said is Putin is saying you can only deal with me the way I am. I`m telling you what I am. And if you agree with that, then we can come to mutual understanding and I may even make concessions. But it`s only if you agree to deal with me the way I am. And I think today that`s what happened. Putin set out his claims and Barack Obama said fine, I`m going to talk to you anyway. And that I think could be a way to cooperate further. KORNACKI: A lot of people would love to have been in that meeting earlier today. Again, the first time in two years they sat down -- KHRUSHCHEVA: You and I. KORNACKI: -- face to face and talk. Nina Khrushcheva, professor of international affairs at New School -- thank you for joining us tonight. KHRUSHCHEVA: Thank you. KORNACKI: Appreciate it. And next up, a reminder that every once in a while, goliath actually loses. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: All right. This is something exciting we just found out about moments ago. We want to give a huge congratulations to our friend Chris Hayes and to the crew at "ALL IN" because they just won an Emmy tonight for outstanding news discussion and analysis. It`s for their show "50-Year War: The Changing Face of Poverty." They did amazing work on that. We are so happy they were recognized tonight for all of that work. We`re going to post a link to their award-winning work at Again, congratulations to Chris Hayes and his fantastic team over at "ALL IN." We are all very proud of you. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KORNACKI: All right. It was the last week of July in Portland, Oregon. High over the famous Willamette River, environmental protesters were hanging out under the St. John`s Bridge. They had rappelled over the side of that bridge. They were hanging there like trapeze artists. And they were doing that so they could try to stop a giant icebreaker run by Shell Oil from leaving port and heading to the Alaskan Arctic to drill for oil. This wasn`t the first time they`d put themselves between a Shell vessel and its destination. Back in April, as Shell moved a drilling rig across the Pacific, heading for its Arctic drilling patch, back then, Greenpeace activists climbed aboard that rig in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, to try to get Shell to drop their plans. Then, in May swarms of kayakers in Seattle protested a Shell rig coming into port before it was supposed to go to Alaska. In June, a month after that, they tried to block it from leaving for Alaska. And in July, it was that protest under the bridge that caused shell`s icebreaker to stop. Shell had to get an emergency court order to have those activists physically removed from the bridge so that the company could get the rig on its way. Shell Oil has been working for seven years now to drill for oil in what is basically uncharted territory off the northern coast of Alaska. For the company, the project has basically been a nonstop, $7 billion, seven-year headache. Three years ago, one of Shell`s drilling rigs lost its moorings and nearly ran aground in Alaska`s Aleutian Islands and also briefly caught fire after some sort of explosion. The other drilling rig Shell brought with them that year broke free from its tow line and crashed into an island. In May, the Obama administration approved permits for Shell to drill off the coast of Alaska. That seemed to finally clear the way. And then this summer, Shell did start to drill. And today, we got the first big announcement from Shell as to what they found after all those years, after all those billions of dollars spent. And the answer is, well, not much. Shell executives today say they drilled down 6,800 feet, about 80 miles offshore in the Chukchi Sea of Alaska, excuse me, and turned up basically nothing. And so, Shell announced today that the company is giving up the expedition altogether. Quote, "Shell has found indications of oil and gas, but these are not sufficient to warrant further exploration. The well will be sealed and abandoned in accordance with U.S. regulations." One Shell executive calling it, quote, "a clearly disappointing exploration outcome" -- which is kind of amazing when you think about it. Shell has been absolutely determined to drill for oil in the Alaskan Arctic. No matter the political cost or the cost of getting started or the cost of months and years, all that it`s spent on the bet that you could drill for oil safely in the harshest and most remote places, that you could drill for oil, that you would find it and that that bet would pay off big for you for doing all of that. But today, Shell essentially said that for all they`ve poured into this project, they`re better off just taking a loss. This is a huge turnaround for a corporate giant on one of the most environmentally sensitive issues in the country. And joining us now is Jennifer Dlouhy, energy reporter for the "Houston Chronicle." Jennifer has been covering had. Thanks for being here tonight. Well, Jennifer, first of all, from your reporting, is this as big a deal, as big a turnaround for Shell as it would seem, to spend all this money and then sort of throw up their arms and say all right, we`re leaving? JENNIFER DLOUHY, HOUSTON CHRONICLES ENERGY REPORTER: It`s a tremendously big deal. It`s not that often that an oil company invests $7 billion in a project and that one well determines its outcome and then they walk away. This doesn`t happen that often. KORNACKI: And how much more expensive is it to extract oil in Arctic waters versus, say, the Gulf of Mexico which we hear about much more often? DLOUHY: Right. So, the Gulf of Mexico has been under exploration and under oil development for decades, since the 1950s. And by contrast, you know, the Arctic does not have -- the U.S. Arctic anyway doesn`t have pipelines. It doesn`t have production facilities. So, any oil company doesn`t just have to find the crude that they want to produce and sell. They need to find a way to get it to market. So they have to build all of those facilities. And that`s an extraordinary undertaking, the amount of environmental analysis that would go into it is huge. It`s quite costly. KORNACKI: So, is there -- is there a ripple effect to this? Shell isn`t going to do this. Does this mean that no one is going to be drilling in the Arctic or is somebody else going to take a shot at? DLOUHY: There are some drilling in other parts of the Arctic, the Russian Arctic, for instance, and there`s been some interest in the Canadian Arctic although that has diminished lately among low oil prices. But for the U.S. Arctic, it doesn`t look likely that anyone`s going to be up there actively drilling far away from shore anytime soon. There are a couple other companies that hold leases in the Chukchi Sea, but they`ve held back. They`ve, you know, cited regulatory concerns, you know, concerns about evolving mandates, federal mandates that would govern Arctic drilling. And so, it seems unlikely that they would follow Shell`s pursuit out there. I mean, this is a cautionary tale for anyone else who wants to drill out there. KORNACKI: And what is it you think? I mean, obviously, this was always going to be a complicated process. But what pushed Shell over the edge to at this point say, all right, that`s it? DLOUHY: Well, Shell has a new CEO. Royal Dutch Shell has a new CEO from a couple of years ago. He came in. He was a little skeptical of this big spend on the Arctic drilling campaign. He was willing. He was convinced to see it out for a few more years. Always said if we don`t get the results we want, being Shell, we will walk away. For Shell, not getting the results, that means not getting gas, that`s not very lucrative to sell right now or they don`t enough crude. We`re talking, you know, a multibillion dollar cash of crude. They basically said, "We`ll walk away. We cannot sustain this when we`re cutting capital expenditure, we`re cutting oil drilling everywhere else around the world. KORNACKI: All right. Jennifer Dlouhy, energy reporter for the "Houston Chronicle" -- appreciate the time tonight. Thank you. DLOUHY: Thank you. KORNACKI: All right. Straight ahead, a special report about the congressman who wants to become the next speaker of the House, including a very memorable cow. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN DICKERSON, FACE THE NATION/CBS: Well, are they unrealistic about what can be done in government? That`s the dysfunction -- REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Absolutely, they`re unrealistic. But, you know, the Bible says beware of false prophets. There are people out there, you know, spreading noise about how much can get done. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: That was soon to be former House Speaker John Boehner this weekend on "Face the Nation", talking about some of his fellow Republicans and what he says are their unrealistic expectations about how government should work. And it`s those issues, that inability to reconcile with the far right contingent of his own party that has now led Boehner to step down as speaker. The passing the gavel probably won`t make the problems he faced from his own party go away. As we`ve seen during this presidential campaign, one of the issues that has driven the deepest divide within the Republican Party is immigration. Today, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, he is currently the second ranking Republican in the House, he`s right behind Boehner. Today, Kevin McCarthy announced his intention to run for speaker. He did it just after delivering a notably hawkish foreign policy speech. Was that speech, was that hawkish speech an effort to court some of the more conservative members of the House Republican conference? Probably a little too early to tell and we should say that McCarthy right now is the overwhelming favorite to replace Boehner and to become the next speaker of the House. And the fight over immigration that`s dividing his party is one that definitely does hit home for him. McCarthy`s house district is based in Bakersfield, California, a district one-third Latino that he represents. It depends heavily on agriculture, on oil. This weekend, MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff went to Bakersfield to find out how the locals feel about their congressman, a man who very soon may be just two heartbeats away from the presidency. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JACOB SOBOROFF, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Greetings from Bakersfield, California, the 23rd congressional district, also known as Kevin McCarthy country. So, this is the Buck Owens Crystal Palace. It`s pretty much the main attraction in Bakersfield, founded by country music superstar Buck Owens. You know the reason I came up here is because Bakersfield is about to become like the center of American politics because your local congressman might become the speaker of the House. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, yes. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s right. SOBOROFF: It`s pretty exciting. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s an excellent person, too. SOBOROFF: What are these, apples? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. SOBOROFF: They`re so good. We don`t call 911. What does that mean? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We handle our business -- SOBOROFF: In Bakersfield. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. SOBOROFF: Do you know your local congressman? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we`ve got, got Kevin McCarthy. SOBOROFF: That`s right. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s a good guy. He understands Bakersfield. SOBOROFF: What do you think of Kevin McCarthy? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like him. CHRISTIE VARGAS, BAKERSFIELD RESIDENT: He zipped into a parking lot in front of me, and it was a compact parking space. SOBOROFF: No. VARGAS: Yes, he did. SOBOROFF: Come on. VARGAS: In an SUV. I said, that`s it. Don`t like him. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We like Kevin. SOBOROFF: Sounds like he might be the next speaker of the House of Representative. LYNDA SAVELBERG, BAKERSFIELD RESIDENT: I think that would be a really good move. I think he has the valley`s interest at heart. SAL SAVELBERG, BAKERSFIELD RESIDENT: Relates to the common man, I think, too. SOBOROFF: What do you guys do here? S. SAVELBERG: Well, I`m kind of semi retired, oil and gas, land man. She`s an educator. SOBOROFF: Oil and gas is extremely important to this area? S. SAVELBERG: And ag, yes, too. SOBOROFF: Agriculture, oil and gas. S. SAVELBERG: Yes. SOBOROFF: Do you want to see him tackle things like immigration reform? L. SAVELBERG: I think immigration reform is important? SOBOROFF: What is important here? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For her, fairies are important. SOBOROFF: Fairies? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In Bakersfield. SOBOROFF: Fairies are so important. Do you want to see immigration reform passed? ISAAC DENNIS, BAKERSFIELD: People know the reality if we send -- SOBOROFF: Eleven million people. DENNIS: Yes, are we -- the price of strawberries is going to quadruple, like produce is going to go through the roof. SOBOROFF: This morning, I was at a farmer`s market on other side of town, and it seemed to be Kevin McCarthy country. If I ask you guys today, is Kevin McCarthy going to support immigration reform, what would you say here? ARTURO RODRIGUEZ, UNITED FARM WORKERS PRESIDENT: Well, I would say that he`s got a choice to make and he`s got to decide. Is he going to represent his business? Agri business is the number one business here within his district. Immigration reform is critical to the success of ag and throughout the district, as well as throughout the state and country. SOBOROFF: So you`re the chairman of current county young Republicans. PHILLIP PETERS, KERN COUNTY YOUNG REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT: That`s right. SOBOROFF: That`s a position that Kevin McCarthy once held? PETERS: That`s a fact. SOBOROFF: What is the number one people here want to see him take up in Washington? PETERS: I think immigration is a big issue. I think it`s really going to be a tightrope for Kevin if he gets elected to the position. SOBOROFF: Will we see comprehensive immigration reform in the Congress and will it pass under Kevin McCarthy? PETERS: I don`t know that I can answer that. I think Kevin is definitely going to work towards something that`s going to benefit the people in his district. SOBOROFF: Sounds like a maybe. PETERS: It sounds like a maybe. (END VIDEOTAPE) KORNACKI: Joining us now from Los Angeles is MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff. Jacob, you spent the weekend in Bakersfield. Really interesting some of the quotes you collected or some of the interviews. The thing about Boehner that he wouldn`t do these last few years, Republicans and even some pro-reformed Republicans not in the Congress, always saying he should do is take that comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate and put it on the floor, the House for a vote. John Boehner wouldn`t do that, too much resistance in the right of his own party. Here comes Kevin McCarthy, looks like he will be the next speaker. Look at this district, it`s one-third Latino. Is there a reason he would approach this issue differently than John Boehner as speaker? SOBOROFF: You know, I can`t answer that question for you. But what can I tell you, Steve, is the fact on the ground in Kern County is that the agriculture industry there is incredibly important as the people told me in the piece, the local residents there. And without migrant labor, both documented and undocumented migrant labor, that industry would not be the same as it is today. And I think that`s why you see people so supportive there regardless of what Kevin McCarthy is going to do of the idea of comprehensive immigration reform. KORNACKI: Jacob Soboroff, MSNBC correspondent, that was a very fun and informative piece. Thank you for doing that. Appreciate it. SOBOROFF: Thank you, sir. KORNACKI: And that does it for us today. Rachel Maddow will be back tomorrow. 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