Interview with Senator Claire McCaskill

By Rachel Maddow Show, Rachel Maddow Show - September 13, 2011

Guests: John Yarmuth, Claire McCaskill, Andrew Siff

O`DONNELL: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW is up next. Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Lawrence. Thank you.

And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.

Debunktion Junction, what`s my function? First up.


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will tell you that I had a mother last night come up to me here in Tampa, Florida, after the debate. She told me that her little daughter took that -- took that vaccine, that injection and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter. It can have very dangerous side effects. The mother was crying when she came up to me last night. I didn`t know who she was before the debate.

This is the very real concern. And people have to draw their own conclusions.


MADDOW: That was Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann on NBC`s "Today Show" this morning following up on her criticism of Texas Governor Rick Perry in last night`s Republican Tea Party debate for having supported vaccination of Texas schoolgirls against the virus that causes cervical cancer.

Ms. Bachmann arguing in essence to millions of viewers on the "Today Show" that that vaccine causes mental retardation.

Is that claim true or is that false?


MADDOW: False. Despite Michele Bachmann`s clear implications, there is no accepted medical evidence suggesting the vaccine she is describing causes mental retardation.

In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics put out this statement today. "The American Academy of Pediatrics would like to correct false statements made in the Republican presidential campaign that HPV vaccine is dangerous and can cause mental retardation. There`s absolutely no scientific validity to this statement. Since the vaccine has been introduced, more than 35 million doses have been administered and it has an excellent safety record.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Family Physicians all recommend that girls receive HPV vaccine around age 11 or 12. That`s because this is the age at which the vaccine produces the best immune response in the body and because it`s important to protect girls well before the onset of sexual activity.

In the United States, about 6 million people including teenagers become infected with HPV each year and 4,000 women die from cervical cancer. This is a life saving vaccine that can protect girls from cervical cancer."

What Michele Bachmann was citing on the "Today Show" was not evidence about side effects of the HPV vaccine but rather just an anecdote from a specific person, who she heard from.

In terms of drawing conclusions from that kind of anecdote, NBC`s chief science correspondent Robert Bazell reported, quote, "There is no evidence of an association between this vaccine and mental problems. It`s not impossible the Bachmann story is true. Sometimes B follows A. But A didn`t necessarily cause B."

That claim from Michele Bachmann about the HPV vaccine causing mental retardation -- that is false.

Next up, true or false -- America`s embassy in Iraq dwarfs the Vatican?


REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There`s a little embassy we built over in Baghdad, cost us $1 billion, is bigger than the Vatican. That`s what`s bankrupting this country.


MADDOW: Ron Paul said the U.S. embassy cost $1 billion and is bigger than the Vatican. Is that true or is that false?


MADDOW: False. The price tag for building the U.S. embassy in Iraq is actually hundreds of millions of dollars shy of a billion and the Vatican is, in fact, bigger than said embassy.

So, I`m sorry, Ron Paul. I still want you to come back on the show. But what you said about the Vatican embassy thing -- false.

During a debate, politicians screw up. Politicians get stuff wrong. That happens in every single debate, right, left and center. But Republican debates these days are particularly fun to fact check, not because of the one-off screw-ups like the Vatican thing and the HPV vaccine conspiracy claim this morning on the "Today Show."

But they`re more fun to fact-check than usual because of something much more interesting than the one-off screw-up. What you`re looking for in a debate in normalsville is for a difference of opinion between two candidates on some agreed upon set of facts. We have this problem as a nation, candidate A wants to fix it this way. Candidate B wants to fix it this way. That`s how debates in normalsville typically work.

It`s more interesting when candidate A and candidate B don`t agree exactly on the same facts. Social Security is going bankrupt, one of them will say. Actually, no, another one will say. Social Security is not going bankrupt.

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