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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/30/15

Guests: Adam Smith, Dan Moynihan

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: That is "ALL IN" for this evening. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel. RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. HAYES: You bet. MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining this hour. Busy day today and a big show tonight because of it. We just got the criteria, finally, for the next Republican debate. There has been a lot of worry about who might not make it on to the stage for the next Republican debate and there had been questions about whether or not there would be a kids table at this next debate, and if so, who would be at that kids table. Well, now after 50 million people watched the first two debates, we finally got that information tonight about the next debate. So, we have got that ahead for you. Wait until you hear who might not even make the kids table at the next debate. We`ve also got have some surprising news out of Oklahoma tonight, some surprising death penalty news. There is also a big ethical disaster of a deadline looming tonight at midnight in Washington, D.C. So as I say, big show tonight, a lot going on. But we start tonight with the place of the ban on America, the place of the ban on America. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), CALIFORNIA: It defies belief that the president would allow the ban on Iranian oil exports to be lifted. And also stand by as Russia blackmails an entire continent, all the while keeping the place of the ban on America. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The place of the ban on America. That man`s name is Jan Brewer. I`m sorry, that man`s name is Kevin McCarthy. He`s about to become speaker of the House in Congress, which means he`s about to be third in line to the presidency. So, I mean, God forbid if something happened to President Obama and Vice President Biden became president, God forbid something happened to Vice President Biden, Kevin McCarthy would become president of the United States, if in fact he gets elected speaker by Republicans in congress, which is expected to happen when they have that vote next week. If he does get elected speaker, Kevin McCarthy will be the least experienced person in modern history to hold that job. As far as we can tell, Kevin McCarthy has passed two bills since he has been in Congress. One of them renamed a post office for an awesome Bakersfield Country singer named Buck Owens. His other bill, renamed a research facility also in his district. Those appear to be the only substantive pieces of legislation he has ever passed since he`s been in Congress. The last time anyone became speaker in Congress with as little experience as Kevin McCarthy, it was 1891, "Roll Call" says today that when Charles F. Crisp became speaker of the House in 1891, that was the last time somebody as inexperienced in Congress as Kevin McCarthy rose to become speaker of the House. But this year, House Republicans think that Kevin McCarthy apparently is ready for the job. And after John Boehner unexpectedly resigned as speaker on Friday, real quick on Monday morning, they decided to roll out an effort to convince the country that Kevin McCarthy is ready to succeed him, that Kevin McCarthy is ready to be third in line to the presidency. Kevin McCarthy is ready to potentially become president if called to do so in an emergency. And so, I think for the first time in his life they rolled out Kevin McCarthy specifically to give a foreign policy address on Monday morning, which is where he got him talking about the place of the ban on America, and a lot of other things that were frankly a little hard to follow. Inn that same speech this week, for example, here was Kevin McCarthy on veterans issues. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCARTHY: And those who return home are being disrespected by the V.A., they can`t keep the simple promise to all of our heroes, to the need when they need it most. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: All of our heroes, to the need, when they need it most. Kevin McCarthy -- on the promise to the need. He also talked about war of radical Islam and how we must engage in this war of. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCARTHY: We must engage this war of radical Islam if our life depended on it, because it does. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: If. I think honestly that nobody really knows enough about Kevin McCarthy as a national figure, to know if this is how he always talks, but this is apparently how he talks when he tries to talk about foreign policy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCARTHY: This "safe zone" would create a stem of flow of refugees, unlike the surge during Iraq when Petraeus and Crocker had an effective politically strategy to match the military strategy. We have isolated Israel while embolding places like Iran. The absence of leadership over the past six years has had a horrific consequences all across the globe. In the past few years alone, I have visited Poland, Hungria, Estonia, Russia and Georgia. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: George W. Bush made such a big deal with, you know, you forgot Poland. Well, you know what, everybody forgot Hungria. Hungria. (LAUGHTER) Sorry. The politically strategy to match the military strategy -- everybody forgot Hungria. But this is a man about to run Congress. This is a man about to become speaker of the House barring something very unforeseen. Honestly, I`m sorry, just one more. I just -- I think this is important to bring home the gravity of the situation that Kevin McCarthy is about to get this close to the American presidency, just one more. Do we have one? We have one more. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCARTHY: It had to be hundreds of thousands of grandchildren to make that decision. We don`t have the same as difficult decision, but this White House is managing the decline in putting us in tough decisions for the future. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The decline in putting us in tough decisions for the future. Peanut butter jelly, banana, banana. I mean, all the while keeping the place of the ban on America, and Hungria. He`s about to be speaker of the House, probably the second most powerful job in Washington. And the more we learn about Kevin McCarthy, the more we see him perform as a politician in public, it is becoming more and more amazing that he`s about to become speaker of the house. But just stick a pin in that for a moment, hold that thought for just a moment, about him ascending to third in line to the presidency. Because today in Baghdad, today in Baghdad, the giant fortified U.S. embassy in Baghdad that we taxpayers paid for to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, the U.S. embassy today in Baghdad got an unexpected visitor, it was a Russian, a Russian official of some intermediate rank in Iraq, walked into the U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad today, unannounced, and made a startling pronouncement to U.S. embassy personnel. The Russian who walked into the embassy today said without warning, without preamble, the United States military should please get all its airplanes out of the air space over Syria right away because Russia was about to start sending in its own airplanes into Syria to start dropping bombs there within the hour. And so, they demanded that all American planes get out of Syrian air space because the Russian missions were already under way. Surprise, that was their announcement. So, like, China at this point, is having the best day of their life. China is psyched because China woke up to this news today with the realization that now, they are the only major international military power that`s not fighting in the war in Syria, because as of today, Russian and U.S. planes are both dropping bombs in Syria, now, only they`re dropping them on different sides of the war. What could possibly go wrong? The U.S.-led coalition, which is mostly U.S. service members with support from other countries, the U.S.-led coalition has been bombing in Syria for a year in support of the rebel forces that are fighting against the Syrian government. Today, Russia started bombing in support of the Syrian government. And, yes, Russia has been showing lots of signs and making lots of noise about getting more militarily involved in supporting the Syrian government, right, on the opposite side of the war that our own military is fighting there, but nobody thought it would go like this with somebody randomly walking into the Baghdad embassy and announcing it had started. As recently as yesterday, the Pentagon and the U.S. government were announcing high level talks between the U.S. military and the Russia military so as to deconflict, so as to avoid any circumstances which our country`s warplanes would be in the same place as that country`s warplanes. These talks were supposed to open up lines of communication, to make sure there were no crossed wires, no miscommunication, no accidental war between Russia and the United States with the Russian and United States militaries operating in conflict, in such proximity. Those talks, they announced yesterday, were supposed to start very soon. Instead, Russia this morning just started bombing. And the way they announced it was by sending a guy into one of our embassies in the Middle East to announce that it was under way and please get out of the way. And even though that Russian official who marched into the embassy to make this announcement said all American planes should be grounded in Syria, to make way for Russian planes, the U.S. didn`t ground U.S. planes. They kept up U.S. strikes today. And so, both Russian aircraft and American aircraft were simultaneously in Syrian skies today, both dropping bombs and not in pursuit of the same objective, both dropping bombs on opposite sides of this war. Like I say, what could possibly go wrong? Meanwhile, two doors down in Afghanistan, there are not only U.S. airstrikes going on in Afghanistan, but U.S. troops, American Special Operations Forces were on the ground and, we`re told, in combat today, against the Taliban forces that have taken back an Afghan city of significant size for the first time since the U.S. started a war against the Taliban in Afghanistan 14 years ago. U.S. forces are not supposed to be in combat in Afghanistan anymore since last year, the U.S. combat mission ended, remember. U.S. forces are supposed to be gone altogether from Afghanistan except for a small contingent left at the embassy as of the end of next year. But as of today, the city of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan is controlled by the Taliban and U.S. special forces are not only calling in air strikes there, they`re apparently engaging in combat on the ground, around Kunduz, supposedly in support of an Afghan military operation that`s designed to take that city back from the Taliban. But it doesn`t really seem like there is much of an Afghan military operation to really try to take that city back. Reports on the ground on Afghanistan indicate that the next likely occurrence in that country is probably not going to be that Kunduz will fall back under government control, it seems like a more likely outcome will be that the Taliban will hold on to that city and then start to take even more territory in and around that part of the country. It is days like these when, you know, simmering tensions and worries and bad signs break open into full on open warfare with live ammunition and real bombs and people getting hurt and dying, right? It is days like these when no matter which party is in power and what your ideological stripe is, days like these make you value having people in decision-making roles who are solid and sober and experienced and they know what they`re doing. These are days and these are circumstances that call to question, that call the hard question of whether or not we as a country are up to the challenge of wise and capable governance on issues of national security. And that brings us back to keeping the place of the ban on America. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCARTHY: Keeping the place of the ban on America. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: In his role, in house Republican leadership, Kevin McCarthy helped create the special select committee to investigate the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in Libya in 2012. Special select committees really only happen for the big stuff, right? I mean, special select committees happen for 9/11, for Watergate, for the JFK assassination, for Iran/Contra. I mean, the House Republicans choosing to make the Benghazi committee a special select committee, not only puts the Benghazi attack on the level of those other, you know, world changing national scandals and catastrophes, the House Republican Special Select Benghazi committee has also now outlasted all other select committees on all those other topics. And it was really was the Republicans` creation. Democrats did not want to create that committee, but once the Republicans went ahead and created it anyway, the Democrats did in a controversial decision, they did appoint Democrats to sit on the committee. And those Democrats have long suspected that the reason this thing is stretching out so long, this Benghazi committee is stretching to a longer investigation than Watergate, longer investigation than the JFK assassination, longer investigation than the 9/11 attack, the reason the Democrats have suspected it has stretched on so long, they said, is because they think the Republicans are trying to get their Benghazi supposed investigation as close as possible in time to the 2016 presidential election because they want to use it as a way to hurt the likely Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton. Democrats on the committee have suspected and have outwardly alleged basically from the very beginning that Benghazi committee was not about doing a real and substantive investigation, it was about trying to hurt Hillary Clinton and, you know, fund-raising on the issue and making partisan politics out of the issue. Democrats on the committee, like Elijah Cummings and Adam Smith have said over and over again that Republicans waited half a year before they ever even requested their first document in this supposed investigation. They`ve said over and over again that Republicans seem to be stretching it out as long as possible. Adam Smith at one point called it not a legitimate investigation. He said it was a $3 million publicly financed political attack committee. Republicans have always rebutted those allegations and said that that`s an improper allegation, how dare you, there is nothing political about this at all, they`re just trying to get to the bottom of what happened in Benghazi, nobody should importune their motives, to think there`s anything partisan about it. Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy has been very pious about this. He put out a statement on the 9/11 anniversary this year saying affirmatively that this Benghazi investigation has absolutely nothing to do with Hillary Clinton or her running for the presidency. He said on 9/11 this year, quote, "While much outside attention has been paid to the former secretary, this investigation has never been about her and never will be." Well, now there is Kevin McCarthy who is getting a lot of air time because he`s about to be speaker of the House and nobody has any idea -- well, yeah, who is he? And speaker may end up being an ironic title for him since when he does speak, he says things like keeping the place of the ban on America, and he talks about visiting somewhere named Hungria. It is weird if you talk like that and your title is speaker. But Kevin McCarthy in his new high profile role of about to be speaker of the House, he has just admitted on tape on camera that actually the Democrats are right, and the whole point of this supposedly solemn Benghazi investigation all this time has literally just been about getting Hillary Clinton and trying to hurt her run for the presidency. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCARTHY: The question that I think you really want to ask me is, how am I going to be different? What are you going to see -- SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: I love how you ask my questions, but go ahead. That was one of my questions. Go right ahead. MCCARTHY: I knew you would want to ask it. What you`re going to see is a conservative speaker that takes a conservative Congress that puts a strategy to fight and win. And let me give you one example. Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee, what are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she`s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened had we not -- HANNITY: I agree. That`s something good. I give you credit for that. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The Democrats have said from the beginning that the Republicans perverted this issue, they took this solemn and serious national security matter and they took one of the most serious things a Congress can do, this special select committee process, and they just turned it toward partisan purposes. They turned it into just a way to try to hurt Hillary Clinton in the next election. That`s that Democrats have been saying about this thing for a year and a half, since the Republicans first brought up the whole idea. And Republicans have spent the whole year and a half saying, no, no, no, that`s not when we`re doing, how dare you? And now on the cusp of becoming speaker, Kevin McCarthy has just admitted, yes, this was all to hurt Hillary Clinton, didn`t we do a good job? And FOX News said, yes, I give you credit for that. And so now, there are two questions that emerge from the ensuing inevitable outcry today. Number one, if you`re a Republican, do you really want this guy to be your speaker? They set the election for next week. So, I guess that means there is still time for Republicans to decide that maybe somebody else might be a better choice than Kevin McCarthy. I don`t say that because I have any interest in whether or in the Kevin McCarthy is speaker, Republicans get to decide this on their own, but it would seem to me if I were a Republican, I would worry that a gaffe like this on an issue this important, this central to the Republican mission, a gaffe on an issue this important with timing this terrible, this much of an unforced error, seems like that`s the kind of thing that might give me pause about choosing Kevin McCarthy to be the highest profile Republican in America. So we`ll see. The other question this raises, as Democrats from Hillary Clinton to Nancy Pelosi to the White House to members of this committee supposed to be investigating Benghazi and doing something else, Democrats up and down the line are now not just outraged, they are calling for the farce of this Benghazi investigation to be called off. They`re calling for the select committee to be disbanded. Should Hillary Clinton still testify to that committee next month? And should the Democrats who are on that committee stay there and keep warming those seats on a committee they say should not exist or should they leave in protest? (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Hey, you know Al Sharpton, Reverend Al, his weekend show starts this weekend, this Sunday. And today, in preparation for his new show starting, he got to interview presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton for his new show. I`m very jealous. It was a really good interview. And she jumped right into it with Rev Al and threw a few sharp elbows including one right on today`s news and that`s ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: What`s your response to McCarthy`s comments? HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have to tell you, I find them deeply distressing. I knew the ambassador that we lost in Benghazi. Along with him, we lost three other brave Americans who were representing us in a very dangerous part of the world. So, when I hear a statement like that, which demonstrates unequivocally that this was always meant to be a partisan, political exercise, I feel like it does a grave disservice and dishonors not just the memory of the four that we lost, but of everybody who has served our country. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Hillary Clinton speaking with my MSNBC colleague Reverend Al Sharpton earlier today. That`s her reacting to statements from Kevin McCarthy, the soon to be speaker of the House, that he`s very proud of having playing a role in creating the House Benghazi special select committee because that committee has done its job, that committee has done a great job in that it has hurt Hillary Clinton`s poll numbers. Joining us now is one of the top Democratic members of that committee, who has long criticized the effort as in his words as a witch-hunt, Congressman Adam Smith of Washington. Sir, thanks very much for being with us. I appreciate your time tonight. REP. ADAM SMITH (D), WASHINGTON: Thank you, Rachel. Appreciate the chance. MADDOW: When Kevin McCarthy made those comments last night, obviously, he`s not on the committee himself, but he was part of making the committee exist in the first place, do you feel like he was telling the truth that you have long suspected or were you actually shocked to hear him say it? SMITH: Well, there`s two interesting things about it. I mean, first of all -- yes, he was telling the truth and that`s been obvious for a long time. As you mentioned, I have been saying this, you know, for, gosh, from the very beginning as they dragged this out on and on, as they interviewed witnesses without telling Democrats as the focus increasingly has been nothing but Hillary. But the other interesting thing about it is the point that you are making at the top of the hour, this is the guy who`s going to be the third in line to the presidency. And what Kevin McCarthy is, quite frankly, is - - well, I guess, a political hack is the best way to put it, he raises money and he recruits candidates. He is purely focused on partisanship and has been from the moment going to into Congress. Yes, that`s OK. There`s -- you know, we have a DCCC campaign chair and that`s what he does. But now, he`s going to be speaker. And the fascinating thing is he didn`t realize that he was talking to a different audience. Now, I`m sure that`s the answer that he gives at Republican fund- raisers all across the country. MADDOW: Right. SMITH: But he`s speaker. He`s supposed to be caring about policy. And to blatantly give what we have all known was the truth for some time, it is distressing that it is the truth. No question about that. But it is equally distressing that we have someone who is about to be speaker who doesn`t know any better than to not say it on national television. So, it was a fascinating moment. MADDOW: In terms of what happens next here, I remember thinking when the Republicans first created this committee, and Democrats were faced with the decision about whether or not they were going to participate in something they believed was a farce from the beginning, this is a difficult question for the Democrats whether or not to actually put Democratic members on this committee and give it the appearance of bipartisanship simply by your presence. Do you think it was either a mistake for you to be there from the beginning or do you think that you all should quit now? SMITH: Well, at the beginning, my opinion was that we should boycott it. We shouldn`t be on the committee. I actually think that as time evolved, that I was wrong about that, because if we had done that, we would have sort of given them the high ground, for lack of a better word, we basically had to give them enough rope to hang themselves. And I think speaker -- sorry, speaker -- wishful thinking there, Leader Pelosi was absolutely right that we needed to be on the committee, to -- all right, we`ll take you at face value. We`ll give you a chance. And, you know, we did and I think that helped prove just how partisan and how embarrassing this is. Keep in mind, as, you know, as Secretary Clinton said, four people died. Benghazi is enormously important. And to turn it into this partisan side show is an absolute embarrassment. Now that we have been at this for a while, and, again, I will yield to my leader and yield to the ranking member on the committee, Congressman Cummings before I -- and go with whatever they say, I would argue with this point that we should say this is a waste of money, a partisan political exercise, and, yes, we should walk away. They are not trying to learn anything about Benghazi. I mean, look at the people they have interviewed. They`re going after all of Hillary`s people. They`re not focused at all on what happened in Benghazi, which means the committee is a joke and I think Democrats ought to call it what it is. And say we`re not going to participate in this anymore. And that`s my initial reaction but I`ll listen to my leadership on this and perhaps they will again have greater wisdom. But it is just -- it just has been an embarrassment. They spent like $4 million now on a partisan witch-hunt and, you know, Congress is not what it was when I got here in 19 years ago, but I really didn`t think it would sink this low. MADDOW: Congressman Adam Smith, member of the Benghazi Select Committee, we will wait with bated breath to find out for how long. Thank you very much for your time tonight, sir. It`s nice to have you here. SMITH: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: All right. We got a lot more ahead tonight. It`s been a big news day, including the brand-new explanation of who is going to get into the next ginormous Republican debate and how, and who is likely to not get in it. That`s fresh off the presses tonight. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, today, as I mentioned at the top of the show, Russia started bombing Syria at the same time that the U.S. is bombing Syria, but on opposite sides of the war. Also, the Taliban took over the sixth largest city in Afghanistan and now the Afghan security forces have shown no signs of being able to take it back. When you think of war, and international chaos in the Middle East on days like this, do you find yourself thinking of George W. Bush? And if so, do you mean that in a bad way? Or do you mean it in a good way? Because the Jeb Bush for president campaign is betting that you mean it in a good way, because they chose today as the day to send around a fund-raising e-mail for Jeb Bush from George W. Bush. And maybe it is no surprise, I mean, Jeb Bush`s campaign has been going like this for a while now, he`s gone from saying I`m my own man at the start of his campaign to now saying that part of the reason he would be a good president is, quote, "because I`m a Bush." That said, with that strategy, Jeb Bush also has dropped six points into fifth place in the "USA Today"/Suffolk poll that`s out today. If people are thinking of him as the next Bush, they aren`t thinking of that as a good thing. Looks like the Jeb folks, though, are sticking with this as their strategy anyway. I mean, what else are they going to do? (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: From the "it`s the very least they can do" department, big news from Washington, Congress didn`t shut down the government accidentally this evening. This has been a worry for months with Republicans threatening yet another government shutdown, this time over wanting to destroy the Planned Parenthood women`s health clinics of the country. After threatening a shutdown as part of that crusade for months, tonight in the final hours of the fiscal year, they managed to pass a bill to keep the lights on, for now, temporarily. They only funded the government through December 11th, so that`s when the Republicans will undoubtedly threaten to start to shut down the government again. But they do in addition to that shut down fight, they have one other really, really important thing that they are supposed to do by midnight tonight. And it is one of those things that if they don`t do it, we will never, ever, ever, ever, ever on the merits be able to explain why they couldn`t get it done. It is midnight tonight, tick-tock, and that story is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: In the winter of 2010, it was right before Christmastime, Congress was trying to skip town for its long winter nap. But as Congress was trying to sneak away that year, they were getting absolutely pounded on TV by a very, very good comedian. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: The House of Representatives passed it and it would pass in the Senate, but came to an up or down vote. They have more than the 50 votes they need. But Senate Republicans filibustered it, won`t allow the bill to come up for a vote. Luckily yesterday there was good news from the Senate, logjam broke. TV ANCHOR: Today, the Senate passed that bill to extend tax cuts to all Americans including the wealthiest by an overwhelming 81-19 vote. STEWART: Yes! That is astoundingly good news for firefighters that make over $200,000 a year. Of course, all non-millionaire firefighters are still (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of luck. I would like to see one of the senators have the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) to explain why somehow getting a tax cut extension for wealthy Americans is more important than suffering Ground Zero workers. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was Jon Stewart, December 2010, manhandling Congress into passing one very specific bill, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. It is very simply for 9/11 first responders, people who got sick after helping in the rescue and cleanup effort after 9/11. For the people who spent days and weeks and months on that pile of wreckage in southern Manhattan at the World Trade Center site. Jon Stewart, more overtly than any other political thing he did at the daily show, he made this his personal cause to get this bill passed, to help the 9/11 first responders. And he got it done. Right before Congress skipped town for the year, they finally got dragged across the finish line to pass the 9/11 first responders bill. Honestly, it is basically because he forced them to. Republicans did not want to do it. That tide of shame, that rained down on Congress, from Comedy Central of all places, it worked. It worked. That was 2010. But because Congress, they passed that bill with a big asterisk on it. Republican Senator Tom Coburn, my buddy, remember him? He personally made sure that that bill had a quick expiration date on it. Five years from the day it passed, it expires. And we right now, tonight, are at that five year expiration mark. 9/11 first responders who are getting funding for their medical treatment because of this bill, the bill authorizing that money expires tonight at midnight. And Jon Stewart has now left "The Daily Show", of course. But he has been back on this issue, this time he`s been back at this issue at Congress, with 9/11 first responders again, standing side by side with them, hammering Congress again to pass this thing again. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEWART: I`m embarrassed. I`m embarrassed for our country. I`m embarrassed for New York. I`m embarrassed that you, after serving so selflessly with such heroism, have to come down here and convince people to do what`s right for the illnesses and the difficulties that you suffered because of your heroism and because of your selflessness. (END VIDEO CLI) MADDOW: That was two weeks ago today, former "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart that day went door to door through the capital, personally lobbying members of Congress to get them to permanently extend funding for this program. He was, of course, joined by 9/11 first responders themselves, including a man named Dan Moynihan. He`s a former fireman who rushed to ground zero. He spent 13 hours digging through the debris that first day, only to return day after day there after for weeks to help with the recovery effort. Many of the people he worked alongside on that pile in the years since, they have been diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses linked to their time on that pile. In Dan Moynihan`s case that included a tumor near his brain. He was one of the first responders who went door to door on Capitol Hill earlier this month. And from their experience that day, it kind of seemed like the lobbying was working. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised action on the bill that day, which is a big deal considering that Senator McConnell voted against the legislation when it came up five years ago. But in the two weeks since that apparently successful lobbying effort, the thing still has not been brought up for a vote, despite surprising overwhelming support in both chambers. And it`s not like there isn`t some urgency here. Since September 11th, 2001, more than 1,700 first responders have died from 9/11-related illnesses. And since this past September 11th, alone, the anniversary we hit a few weeks ago, another seven first responders have died. We learned of the latest one just tonight, seven first responders in the past 19 days as Congress continues to complicate an unnecessarily -- an unnecessarily uncomplicated decision, right? Continue to decide whether or not, you know, ponder whether or not, pontificate whether or not 9/11 first responders really deserve ongoing medical care for what they did. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DEPUTY CHIEF RICHARD ALLES, UNFIORMED FIRE OFFICER ASSOCIATION: Do you remember when the government told us that the air was safe to breathe? CROWD: Yes! ALLES: I do too. And now it`s time for Congress to get off its butt and do its job because that`s what they`re paid for. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Just a little over two hours now until this law starts to expire. Congress will pass this law if they just bring it up. Why won`t they just bring it up? Joining us now is Dan Moynihan, former volunteer fireman who worked at Ground Zero and who`s been fighting on Capitol Hill for the extension of the 9/11 health benefits in the bill due to expire in a couple of hours tonight. Dan, thank you very much for being here. It`s nice to meet you. DAN MOYNIHAN, 9/11 FIRST RESPONDER: Thank you for covering this story, Rachel. We really appreciate it. MADDOW: Can I just ask about what I was sort of supposing about that lobbying effort? It seems like lawmakers are not telling you no. It doesn`t seem like they`re giving you a lot of resistance to the bill. It seems like they think it will pass. They`re just not working on it. MOYNIHAN: You know, I`m not so worried about the bill itself passing. It is going to pass. I`m more concerned with their lack of urgency -- MADDOW: Yes. MOYNIHAN: -- on the hill about when it does pass. The bill that is on our door tonight, the money will start to run out, but they`re worried more about this winter -- letting doctors go and staff go at the hospital. So, it`s really an urgent matter. My friend`s cancer does not run out tonight at midnight. My illnesses, all of our illnesses do not run out tonight at midnight. MADDOW: Can I ask you what you did in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and what kind of health issues it has caused for you? MOYNIHAN: Well, I was in the city working with my friend Jim Carney and I just -- I went down to the site from uptown, got on the subway, went downtown. Being on the subway delayed me getting there a little bit, the South Tower came down either when I was getting off the subway or going across on 14th Street. At 14th and 7th I jumped into the back of a pickup truck and the North Tower came down then. So I was -- got down there, drove at Murray and East Broadway, and just chaos. Went to work from there. Got taken to the hospital sometime the next morning, smoke inhalation, dehydration, heat exhaustion, the whole laundry list of things. And since then, the first thing to go were my lungs, COPD, asthma, got a few things going on. The next thing I got was -- well, PTSD, although I didn`t really recognize it early on. MADDOW: Right. MOYNIHAN: Then I got the first of what I later found out are cluster headaches, which are unimaginably painful and they are the large reason of why I wound up in the hospital last year, emergency room and being admitted about 42 times. So I got chronic migraines, chronic clusters, which I never had before, no family history of, the acoustic neuroma, the brain tumor they found because they do MRIs on my head for the migraines. They lasered out my nasal passages and I`m still not right. I`m still in pretty good shape. I mean, there are so many folks we worked with who have so much more going on -- MADDOW: Yes. MOYNIHAN: -- and I personally know three people who are no longer with us who were there. MADDOW: How old are you? MOYNIHAN: I`m 50. MADDOW: You said that you think that when this bill expires tonight, the money will start to run out. Do you actually have confidence? Do you feel optimistic that Congress will get it done before there is too much material impact on people? It is unbelievably outrageous to me they can`t hit the midnight deadline for reauthorizing it. Do you feel optimistic they`ll get it tonight? MOYNIHAN: By midnight tonight? MADDOW: No, not by midnight tonight. But in time to do damage? MOYNIHAN: I think in the end we will. I think it won`t have that much real damage on people. I would like to really make sure the 9/11 community kind of takes a deep breath, and -- because I know there is a lot of worry out there, a lot of excitement. Take a deep breath and know we`re working very hard, very diligently to get this law passed. Next Tuesday, we`re back down in D.C. again, it will be our 16th trip down since January to get the bill reauthorized. MADDOW: Amazing. MOYNIHAN: We are met with a lot of how much money does it cost, where is the funding coming from -- that`s more of what we`re met with instead of how can we help? MADDOW: Right. Daniel Moynihan, former volunteer fireman, 9/11 first responder, it`s an honor to have you here. It makes me mad. MOYNIHAN: If I could put one thing out, just please have everybody call their senators, their representatives, and make sure that they not only support the bill, but sign on as co-sponsors as well. MADDOW: We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So the first Republican debate this year was run by FOX News. The second event was basically the same format where they also had the, you know, main debate, but also the side event that was kind of a kids table for the other candidates. That second debate was run by CNN. And the day after the second debate, the CNN debate, the Republican Party`s chief strategist went on TV and said basically that what the Republican party had done in the previous two debates on both FOX and CNN, it probably wouldn`t happen in the next debate. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TV ANCHOR: Our next debate is when? October 26? SEAN SPICER, RNC: October 28. In Colorado, in Boulder. It`s going to be a CNBC debate. We look forward to that. TV ANCHOR: Eleven candidates on the main stage last night, four candidates on the undercard debate. Will there be that many candidates on October 28? SPICER: I hate -- I doubt there will be an undercard. I think that the criteria will still be going forward. CNBC has yet to publish it. We`ll be talking to them in the coming days. TV ANCHOR: What does that mean there won`t be an undercard? TV ANCHOR: What does that mean? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: What does that mean? That was the day after the second presidential debate. The Republican Party chief strategist admitting in the same interview, it was the Republican Party`s call, it had been their decision to have the weird format where you had a main debate and then also a secondary debate of candidates who didn`t make the main event, but were nevertheless invited to a secondary thing. The Republican party before that interview had tried to blame that on FOX and CNN. But after the CNN debate, they admitted that actually it was them. But they also said that in this next debate, the third debate, which will be hosted by CNBC, they said the whole undercard thing, that whole kids table thing, that wasn`t going to happen again. Well, now, today, we have found out that the kids table is going to happen again in the next debate. And we have also found out that Lindsey Graham might not be even allowed to sit at the kids table. CNBC and MSNBC are both part of the larger NBC organization. You can tell from the acronyms but I should just tell you, they are doing this debate totally on their own. It has nothing to do with us here at MSNBC. We have no insider information about it whatsoever. So, it was just as much a surprise to us today as it was to everybody else when CNBC announced both the format for the next debate and the way that people are going to have to qualify to get into. The first big surprise was that there is going to be a kids table, even though the RNC had suggested there wouldn`t be. The way you qualified to get into that is by hitting 1 percent in just national poll that drops sometime between September 17 and October 21. You don`t need to have an average of 1 percent. You just need to hit 1 percent in one poll. CNBC also put out a list of the polling they will accept towards these qualifications. They`re only looking at polls from NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, CNN and Bloomberg. So, anybody who hits 1 percent in one of polls over this month-long qualification period will get into the kids debate. Anybody who averages 2 1/2 percent or more in all of the polls taken during that time period will get into the real debate. They`ll get into the real prime time event which will start at 8:00 that night. Well, right now, if you look at the polling that fits the criteria for the CNBC debate, the polling that has happened since the start of their qualifying period so far -- right now, this is who`s in and who`s out. On the main stage, you would have ten candidates, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, and by a squeaker, Rand Paul. Rand Paul currently averaging in these polls at 2.75 percent. You need to be at 2.5 percent or higher in order to get in. Don`t teeter any further Rand Paul or you might fall off the edge. At the kids table, because they have received 1 percent in some poll along the way, the kids table right now is shrinking. Its only qualifiers are Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal and George Pataki. Under the new rules just announced today by CNBC, even though they`re keeping this bifurcated format that can be seen as embarrassing and undermining for the people at the kids table, under the CNBC debate inclusion rules, Lindsey Graham won`t even qualify to balanced budget insulted and undermined by being sat at the kids table. As of right now at lest, neither he nor my friend Jim Gilmore will be allowed on the stage for the kids table debate because neither of them has hit 1 percent in a national poll that meets the criteria for this next debate. So, that`s seriously worth watching now. I mean, every time a new national poll comes out being now and mid-October, that poll is going to affect materially the existential hopes of these candidates who are either fighting now to be on the main stage or fighting to be on any stage at all, even the little insulting one. Watch this space. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This is just crazy news today from one American state, from the state of Oklahoma. People gathered there today outside an Oklahoma state prison for a very high profile execution. The prisoner who had been set to die today, he had challenged the way Oklahoma intended to kill him because they planned to use the same three-drug cocktail that had led to a gruesomely botched execution in Oklahoma last year. The prisoner, though, his name is Richard Glossip. He took that case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. But he lost to the Supreme Court last June. So, Oklahoma had it on the calendar today that they were going to kill him at 4:00 Eastern. But then, Oklahoma`s governor issued an emergency stay minutes before the execution was supposed to start, and the reason why is fairly nuts. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin called off this execution today after all of this because they didn`t have the right drugs. The protocol said they`re supposed to use a drug called potassium chloride to stop the heart. Instead Oklahoma apparently realized at the last minute they didn`t have any potassium chloride. Instead they had something called potassium acetate. Astounding. Oklahoma invented lethal injection 40 years ago. They went through the disaster and that ethical nightmare of that terribly botched execution last year. They defended their specific three-drug cocktail all the way to the Supreme Court and won that case. But then this -- they show up to this execution with the wrong drug, having no idea until the last minute that this was there. This was a drug they didn`t mean to have there, one that has apparently never been used in an execution in any state at anytime. Seriously, Oklahoma? That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL". Good evening. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END