Guests: Chris Hayes, Rick Outzen, Richard Clarke, Luis Gutierrez, Jonathan
HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you
be talking about tomorrow?
The newest Gulf casualty: drilling off California. Schwarzenegger
says he can no longer support it.
As dead jellyfish begin to wash up on the Mississippi coast, B.P. says
it will clean it up. But while offering residents 5,000 bucks each not to
sue, B.P. is still passing the buck.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY HAYWARD, CEO, BRITISH PETROLEUM: It wasn‘t our accident, but we
are absolutely responsible for the oil, for cleaning it up, and that‘s what
we intend to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The person of interest in Times Square: white man who
appeared to be in his 40s seen walking in the vicinity of the vehicle,
removing a dark shirt, revealing the red one underneath. But over-the-
counter fireworks, non-explosive grade fertilizer, an old alarm clock—
one expert‘s conclusion: this guy was following online instructions.
Our special guest: former White House counterterrorism adviser,
Arizona—now the state is coming after English teachers with accents
and Mexican studies programs. And is all this a lead-up to a national
biometric workers I.D. card proposed by Democrats? Our guest, fresh from
being arrested at the White House protest—
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: -- Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois.
“Worsts”: The chicken lady is back. Her campaign manager explains: we
already all have health care.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should everybody have access to health care in
UNIDENTIFIFED MALE: Absolutely. They do. They do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, if they can afford it, they do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. If I have a bullet hole in my chest, I can go
down to UMC and get health care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Can you hold my chicken? I‘ve been shot.
And the comedian-in-chief—
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I happen to know that
my approval ratings are still very high in the country of my birth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: This is no ordinary dinner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
No confirmed reports as yet of oil having reached the shore as a
result of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico—but in our fifth
story on the COUNTDOWN tonight: Huge numbers of dead jellyfish washing up
along the beach on the Mississippi coastline.
Meanwhile, the oil conglomerate, B.P., attempting damage control for
containment, as well as for its own image—the latter might be described
We‘ll begin with the effort to stem the volcano of oil spewing from
the bed of the Gulf, B.P. claiming some glimmers of progress today. A
company spokesman is saying that crews have finished building a containment
dome—a four-story, 70-ton structure the company is going to lower over
one of the three leaks in attempt to catch the escaping oil. The other two
domes to be finished tomorrow—with all three domes to be lowered and
installed over the weekend coming up.
The “Associated Press” reporting that shipping along the Mississippi
River, though, could soon be limited, the slick moving precariously close
to a key shipping lane, the Southwest Pass, allowing ships carrying food,
rubber, and more, and, yes, oil, to enter that waterway.
The latest map from NOAA making it appears as if the massive slick has
shrunk. Tomorrow‘s projection there is in mustard yellow.
Scientists are saying that wind and currents breaking it up, but the
volume of oil is still expected to grow.
Reverberations far afield, Governor Schwarzenegger tonight announcing
he is withdrawing his support from a state plan to expand oil drilling off
the coast of California. The Republican governor is saying that the TV
images of the oil spill have changed his mind about the safety of oil
platforms in the ocean.
B.P.‘s CEO, Tony Hayward, and B.P. American chairman and president,
Lamar McKay, are arriving at the Department of the Interior this afternoon
for a meeting with Interior Secretary Salazar and Homeland Secretary
Napolitano. Among items to be discussed: what exactly was meant by a fact
sheet on the company Web site that said B.P. takes responsibility for
cleaning up the spill and will pay compensation for, quote, “legitimate and
objectively verifiable claims for property damage, personal injury and
On the “Today Show” this morning, CEO Hayward accepting the liability
while still managing to pass the buck.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAYWARD: It wasn‘t our accident but we are absolutely responsible for
the oil, for cleaning it up, and that‘s what we intend to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: It wasn‘t our accident. But if not B.P., who would be
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAYWARD: The drilling rig was a translation drilling rig. It was
their rig and their equipment that failed, run by their people, their
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Outsourcing—as American as apple pie.
White House Press Secretary Gibbs is saying today that the
administration‘s commitment was for B.P. to pay for all costs associated
with the spill. But the federal law may be on B.P.‘s side, something
called the Oil Pollution Act passed in response to the Exxon Valdez spill,
caps B.P.‘s liability at $75 million—what would be a relatively measly
Florida‘s Bill Nelson, one of three Democratic senators today
introducing legislation to raise the liability limit dramatically to $10
billion, but that could not apply retroactively. Then there are the limits
B.P. representatives were trying to impose one victim at a time,
circulating this settlement agreement among Gulf Coast residents over the
weekend—reportedly offering payments up to $5,000 in exchange for
signing a waiver in which one agrees not to sue the company.
The CEO, Mr. Hayward, claiming to National Public Radio that it was an
early misstep involving a standard contract with the team we‘re using that
was eliminated very early in the process. The misstep, we presume, not the
Let‘s turn now to Chris Hayes, the Washington editor of “The Nation”
magazine for the politics of all this.
Chris, good evening.
CHRIS HAYES, THE NATION: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Well, the news from California, does this not mean that
unless he withdraws his new drilling policy, suddenly, President Obama is
to the right of Arnold Schwarzenegger on drilling offshore?
HAYES: That‘s what it looks like. He‘s also going to be to the right
of Charlie Crist, the newly christened independent candidate in Florida.
And I think, you know, he‘s to the—I think Schwarzenegger now puts
himself to the prudent side of Obama. I mean, it‘s extremely difficult,
after looking at what‘s going on in the Gulf, and to conceptualize the
magnitude of the kind of risk you take on with offshore drilling.
I mean, you‘re dealing with low probability, extremely catastrophic
events like this. It‘s very hard to get your head around the risk. And
seeing this—seeing what‘s going on there, I think puts the images in
voters‘ minds of exactly what the risk looks like.
OLBERMANN: This just in, heck of a job, Brownie, said tonight that—
wait until I‘m finished before you laugh, that President Obama wanted the
oil spill to happen because this was a great excuse to shut down off-coast
First off, I guess we could address that on its merits but, I mean,
why would—why would you, if it has anything to do with anything in the
region of New Orleans, why would the former FEMA director say anything
other than next question?
HAYES: Yes, I think he should probably stay away from comments on
this sort of thing. I mean, one of the things you‘ve seen already is a
conservative means circulating that this was somehow, I don‘t know, an
inside job, Rush Limbaugh made noises in that direction the other day that
this is suspicious somehow, that actually, this is this conspiratorial
desire to stop offshore drilling, and it‘s very similar to the same kind of
conspiracy theories that were floated by members of the Congress in the
Republican Party over the SEC complaint against Goldman.
I think there is a real kind of conspiratorial bench to the way that
Republicans conceptualizes the Obama administration and it‘s moved from the
kind of extreme margins to just sort of mainstream Republican thinking now.
OLBERMANN: Yes, porpoises trained by George C. Scott.
HAYES: Yes, that‘s right.
OLBERMANN: Rah speak (ph).
The arguments also, speaking from the right, that the “drill baby
drillers,” like half-Governor Palin, that domestic drilling remains crucial
to energy independence, the oil that was—that‘s coming out very
successfully right now, unfortunately, not into anybody‘s coffers but the
B.P. oil and other companies in the Gulf and elsewhere, this is not—when
it is not spilled and destroys ecology, it does not automatically go into
the U.S. and does not automatically go into the domestic reserve. It‘s
sold on the open world market like every other—
HAYES: That‘s right.
OLBERMANN: -- barrel of crude that comes up safely out of the desert
in—you know, in Saudi Arabia. Wouldn‘t that make that entire “drill,
baby, drill” argument, what‘s left of it after this disaster, sort of
HAYES: Yes. It has been hogwash from the beginning.
HAYES: I mean, it‘s been incredibly frustrating. And you just said
this very well and we should repeat it a million times and spend an hour
talking about it because it‘s really important. It‘s a fungible global
commodity. When it comes up out of the group, it gets sold on
international exchanges. And so, there is no such thing as reducing our
dependence on foreign oil. There‘s no barrels marked somewhere, “foreign.”
What you can do is reduce your dependence on oil. When you reduce
your dependence on oil, that is something you do on the demand side. It‘s
not something you do on the supply side. There isn‘t enough supply to put
a dent in the global escalation of prices for oil we‘re going to see with
China and India, increasing demand.
What we can do is we can make our economy, our transportation much
more efficient so we just don‘t need as much oil.
OLBERMANN: And this comment from Mr. Hayward that we heard today that
“it‘s not my fault, but we‘re going to clean it up anyway”—is that sort
of the ultimate spin on this so that you look like a good guy when, in
fact, all you‘re doing is going—you‘re going to clean up your mess to
about one, what, one hundredth of the actually cost?
HAYES: I thought it was the most remarkably passive aggressive moment
I‘ve seen from a major CEO. I mean, he took great pains to say exactly
whose fault it was. But this is—it‘s not my fault is kind of the
operating ethos for the elites that screw things up in this era.
I mean, nothing is anyone, ever anyone‘s fault. It‘s Goldman guys,
it‘s not their fault. Greenspan, it‘s not his fault. No one is ever to
The only people that are to blame are poor people that are getting
their homes foreclosed on. They‘re the ones that get blamed.
OLBERMANN: Yes. Remember the old Judge Reinhold movie, “Home
OLBERMANN: It was Rick Moranis who was the executive. All he did was
pick up the phone, “It‘s not my fault, I‘ll call you back. It‘s not my
fault. It‘s not fault.”
He would make $1 million a day in this business.
HAYES: He‘d be perfect.
OLBERMANN: Chris Hayes of “The Nation”—great thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: That we know about the B.P. waiver agreement offering up
to $5,000 to Gulf Coast residents in exchange for their signatures waiving
liability before all this hit shore is due to the reporting of Rick Outzen
in “The Daily Beast,” a contributor to the Web site, also the editor and
publisher of “Independent News,” a northwest Florida alternative news
weekly. He joins us now.
Thank you for your time tonight, sir.
RICK OUTZEN, CONTRIBUTOR, “THE DAILY BEAST‘: Oh, it‘s good to be
OLBERMANN: All right. So, this B.P. CEO, Mr. Hayward, today called
the waivers “an early misstep that involved a standard contract with the
team we‘re using that was eliminated very early in the process.”
Do you believe that?
OUTZEN: Not at all. These are guys that have already had two other
huge environmental disasters in the last five year. One in Texas, a
refinery that exploded there. Then we had a spill—a leak in Alaska that
contaminated the tundra and a pond.
These people know what they‘re doing. We have a copy of the waiver.
It specifically cites the spill that happened on April 20th.
This isn‘t something that accidentally was put into a packet of claim
sheets like they‘re trying to tell us today. This was very—part of a—
definitely, a legal strategy to limit their liability.
OLBERMANN: In addition to the waivers that would limit liability,
there is this federal law that would cap the exposure to B.P. at $75
million, based on your reporting of what the damage is likely to be. I
mean, my guess before is that‘s about one one-hundredth of the cost this is
going to turn out to be. Is that—is that a relatively good guess?
OUTZEN: You know, “Reuters” late yesterday reported that they thought
it would be $14 billion.
OUTZEN: Congressman Jeff Miller today, Keith, told the locals here in
Pensacola, Florida, that he was going to work with the other congressmen
from the Gulf States and try to get B.P. to put up $1 billion into an
escrow fund to help local and state governments do the cleanup work.
We‘ve got all our governments down here strapped for money, like they
are all over the country, and all of a sudden, they‘re going to have to
foot the bill for cleanup until B.P. puts up some money.
OLBERMANN: I understand, you got into a meeting that was held by
Florida Governor Crist over the weekend. It sounds like that was as much
fun as it sounds like from here. They discussed potential damage and B.P.
And how did—how did that come about and what did you learn at that
OUTZEN: Well, you know, I was the only person asked to leave the
meeting. It was prior to Governor Crist arriving there. B.P., who really
dominated the room—they were about six or seven B.P. representatives in
a room of only about 20 state and local officials, and the United States
B.P. came up and introduced themselves to everybody. And when he found
out that I was with “The Daily Beast” and the media, I was kindly asked to
leave. It was—actually, Governor Crist got me back into the room, I
waited by the elevator and just sort of walked in with his entourage. So,
they couldn‘t say much with the governor having his hand on my shoulder.
OLBERMANN: Is information from meetings like that trickling down?
Are local officials being briefed? Are local resources, volunteers, being
set up to be utilized to their fullest capacity as this thing becomes, you
know, a shore problem and not just an ocean problem?
OUTZEN: It‘s really more of a sham. They tell us that they want our
input. They have the Escambia County here, they‘ve put their best minds at
it and they‘ve come up with a plan to keep the oil out of Pensacola Bay and
the Santa Rosa Sound and protect the fishing beds. But they submitted the
plan on Friday, and as of 7:00 tonight, we still have yet to hear whether
the Coast Guard or DEP are going to approve the plan.
Today, we had a town hall meeting. Over 350 people on Pensacola
Beach, DEP, B.P. kept saying, we don‘t know what‘s going to happen to your
beach. We don‘t know what it‘s going to look like, what the damage is
going to be.
But then they said, but we want your ideas. Please, give us your
So for the next hour and a half, scared, anxious, upset people shared
ideas about something that B.P. told them they didn‘t know what it was
going to look like.
OLBERMANN: I‘m gathering—
OUTZEN: Nobody took notes, either.
OLBERMANN: Yes. I‘m gathering that the one congressman‘s verdict of
this is chocolate milk coming inbound, probably didn‘t carry too much
Rick Outzen, contributor to “The Daily Beast” at Pensacola for us
tonight—great thanks, Rick.
OUTZEN: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: The first serious attempt at a truck bomb in this country
since Timothy McVeigh—why some of the peripherals suggest international
terrorism but a lot of the evidence also suggests people with no training,
just using online instructions? Former White House counterterrorism
adviser Richard Clarke—next on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: He was the top counter-terror adviser to the White House.
His assessment of the Times Square incident and increasing evidence that
suggests these were not exactly trained terrorists.
As one Democratic congressman protest to Arizona by getting arrested
at the White House, the solution proposed by others is a national biometric
workers I.D. card for everybody?
Procter & Gamble and MSNBC and me accused of conspiring to keep this
man from winning a Democratic primary for House seat tomorrow. He says the
conspiracy runs on oil of Olay. And yes, I was surprised to see this
during the president‘s comedy routine Saturday night. I was more surprised
with the joke he followed it up with, it wasn‘t about us, it wasn‘t about
You‘re watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: Forty-eight hours after an SUV packed with explosives
forced the evacuation of New York‘s Time Square, the crossroads of the
world—the motive remains unclear.
But in our fourth story tonight: We already know an astonishing amount
about where the trail of evidence is leading. Police reportedly have
tracked down and interviewed the registered owner of the 1993 Nissan
Pathfinder left Saturday night in Times Square. A Connecticut resident,
not a suspect, told police he sold the car to a man in his 20s or 30s three
weeks ago for $1,300 cash via Craigslist.
Investigators are, obviously, interested in talking to the purchaser,
also interested in talking to this man, believed to be in his 40s captured
on tape walking away from the area where the SUV was left shortly after
looking back toward the area, removing a long-sleeved shirt and stuffing it
in his bag.
Congressman Peter King, ranking member on the intel committee, is
saying today there was no intel chatter picked up prior Saturday, although
the National Joint Terrorism Task Force has taken lead on the
investigation. An unnamed government officials reportedly saying
investigators are looking at possible foreign elements of the attempted
bombing which resembled in some ways the 2007 attempts to bomb Glasgow‘s
airport and London nightclubs. Claims by Pakistani Taliban had been
largely discredited because both tapes appear to be predating Saturday and
because of previous false claims.
The bomb itself appears to have been prepared in less than expert
fashion, using common fireworks as a fuse, which apparently failed, relying
on two gas cans in the backseat and three propane canisters which were not
left open and probably would not have detonated, even if there had been a
fire, as well as an estimated 100 pounds-plus of fertilizer, which sounds
terrifying except police now say it was not of explosive grade.
Let‘s bring in Richard Clarke, chairman of Good Harbor Consulting,
former chief counterterrorism adviser to the National Security Council,
author of “Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do
Great thanks for your time tonight, sir.
RICHARD A. CLARKE, FMR. NSC COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISOR: Great to be
with you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. The apparent mistakes and from the outside, it
seems like the proverbial trail, a mile wide. What did they tell you about
CLARKE: Well, they told me that this was someone who probably went
online to get instructions about how to make a bomb, had never probably had
a class in how to make a bomb.
But that doesn‘t make me feel that much better. And the fact is,
someone was able to drive a truck bomb into Times Square, pull up on the
sidewalk, leave the car running with its flashers on and get away. They
could have done that with a bomb that worked.
OLBERMANN: Now, the fact that they did get away—does that not
violate supposedly the first law of what would actually work, which is you
can‘t leave any evidence? You can‘t leave a truck-full of evidence? You
have to make sure it goes up even if that means you‘re in it when it goes
CLARKE: No, not necessarily. I mean, the Oklahoma City bombers
managed to get away too, although they were relatively close when the bomb
But I think the disturbing thing here is that the materials you need
to make a real bomb are readily available. It‘s, you know, fertilizer can
turn into a bomb. Not all fertilizers, as this guy probably thought. But
some fertilizers can.
And you don‘t need to use M-80 fireworks. You can get dynamite in
this country. All the ingredients to make a bomb are available in this
country and nothing would have stopped someone from driving right into the
heart of that crowd of several tens of thousands of people probably on
We have to expect that this sort of thing will work some day. The
fact that we were lucky on Christmas Day with the underwear bomber and we
were lucky on Saturday night doesn‘t mean we will always be lucky.
OLBERMANN: So what, if anything, in this says to you we should now be
doing X or Y? What can we back-engineer from this particular thing?
CLARKE: Well, it‘s tough. If this guy is—as I suspect he is—an
Islamist jihadi who spontaneously became a terrorist, and there‘s no cell
behind him and no direct organizational control, it‘s very hard to find
these people—like the doctor in London, who suddenly decided he was a
jihadi and made a very similar bomb and went after a nightclub three years
ago in London.
You know, if there‘s no record of them, if they‘re not in a cell, how
the heck do you find them? And if they can go out and buy the materials to
make this stuff, commercially, without getting noticed, how do you find
them before they‘ve set it off? It‘s a very, very difficult problem—
much harder than finding a terrorist cell.
OLBERMANN: Is there comfort in this that—as available as the
correct materials are and presumably the correct means of attaching them
and making the thing work as opposed to simply sit there and give off some
smoke and a couple of pops, is there an encouragement in the fact—not
suggesting to reduce vigilance by any stretch of imagination—but is
there encouragement in the fact this is still a relatively tough thing to
pull off physically, to make it actually work? Beyond intent, cells,
origins, just the actual process of even somebody who decides this is a
good thing to do somehow, that it doesn‘t always work very well?
CLARKE: It doesn‘t always work very well if you haven‘t had
CLARKE: But if you have had instruction, either in some terrorist
camp in Afghanistan or Pakistan, or even in some terrorist cell here in the
United States, then it‘s not that difficult. So, we have to get ready for
this succeeding some time and we have to think now about what we‘ll say
when it happens—because we have to avoid the political overreaction that
occurred after 9/11.
You know, if there is a terrorist attacks that‘s successful, let‘s run
out and pass another Patriot Bill. We need to start now to have that
dialogue in the country so that we do not have a massive overreaction and
right-wing swing when someone gets through.
OLBERMANN: All right. Briefly, since Mayor Bloomberg said this at
3:00 in the morning on Sunday morning after having not been here for any of
it, and just arrived and stood there still in his tux from the White House
Correspondents‘ dinner—from that point to this one, there has been an
assumption that this is somehow internationally situated if not exactly
impacted. Why is that assumption being made?
CLARKE: Well, I think there‘s probably evidence that the police and
FBI have in their possession right now, the fact that the action was
transferred from the NYPD to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force means they
know something. They probably know a lot. Stay tuned. This is not going
to take long.
OLBERMANN: OK. Richard Clarke, of Good Harbor, former chief
counterterrorism to the NSC, author of “Cyber War”—as always,
tremendously informative. Thanks for your time, sir.
CLARKE: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Arizona, and instead of seeing the cataclysm they‘re
bringing to their own state, the latest effort there to purge English
teachers who have accents. Congressman Luis Gutierrez joins us when
OLBERMANN: The latest from Arizona ahead.
First, a hurried Twitter update. Big guest here tomorrow, the tweeter
and now author “Stuff My Dad Says,” only it‘s not stuff.
After the frantic weekend, two sets of Tweets of the Day, Arizona
division first, the bronze, @armavirumque, “Do these shoes make me look
illegal?” You shall know them by their shoes.
Runner up from @kelbrooks, “I guess Sammy Sosa saw this Arizona thing
coming all along.” For purposes of refreshing your mind—ouch. Ouch,
Arizona Tweet of the Day from @Johnker218 -- Johnker? “Arizona
D‘Backs present Hispanic Heritage Day on Saturday, September 4th, first
10,000 fans will have to show their papers.” That is hilarious. It would
be more hilarious still if it all were a joke.
Saturday, September 4th, 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. local, Astros versus
Diamondbacks, Hispanic Heritage Day. It‘s also Miguel Montero Bobblehead
Tweets of the day, Gulf edition; third place, @MattMurchison: “GOP‘s
not worried about oil spill. They know that all you have to do to clean up
black water is change its name to XE.” Nice, work in the evil contractor.
Runner-up, @NickBaumann, “where in the Constitution does it say that
the federal government has the power to cap run-away oil wells?”
Damn straight. Don‘t blowout prevent on me.
Winner, Gulf division, from @JElvisWinstean, our “Cinematic Titanic”
friend, “maybe if people wouldn‘t have brought up the Boston Tea Party
again, the British wouldn‘t have felt the need to retaliate with oil.”
JElvis is a pro.
And Arizona and another crisis that has barely gotten notice, amid a
swirl of crises, Nashville when COUNTDOWN continues.
OLBERMANN: As Americans on all sides grapple with the immigration
debate that Arizona has forced to the forefront, conflicting word today on
whether a killing which helped the law pass might have been committed by an
American. Our third story tonight, the footprints led from the crime scene
to the Mexican border, and sometimes, just sometimes, American criminals
flee to Mexico through the porous border.
Arizona rancher Rich Krantz was shot down near the border on March
27th. “His death made him a martyr,” said Republican ex-Congressman and
Senate candidate J.D. Hayworth for the passage of Arizona‘s new law
requiring all immigrants to carry papers proving their legal status.
This weekend, thousands of Americans marched and rallied in dozens of
U.S. cities opposing the law, including 60,000 attending in Los Angeles.
And a civil disobedience outside protest outside the White House, where 35
people were arrested for refusing to leave while protesting President Obama
for not pushing immigration reform into law.
One of those arrested, our next guest, Illinois Democratic Congressman
Luis Gutierrez. Among the rights of Democrats now pushing a new
controversial element of reform, advocating creation of new biometric I.D.
card. Biometric meaning it incorporates a unique biological signature,
such as your fingerprint, that would be required in order to work legally
in this country.
All of this as “the Arizona Star Newspaper,” quoting unnamed high
ranking officials, reporting that Sheriff Larry Deaver is now focusing on
an American suspect in that March border killing of the Arizona rancher.
Deaver‘s office not confirming this, nor a conflicting report from the
Associated Press tonight that the suspect is actually a Mexican national.
With us now, as promised, Democratic Illinois Congressman Luis
Gutierrez, who joins us again, the second time in a week. Thank you, sir.
REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: I don‘t say this often, but let me start with a question
that is similar to that that raised by Jonah Goldberg at “The National
Review.” If police asking for papers immigration papers is akin to
Naziism, how is employers asking for some sort of work biometric I.D. card
GUTIERREZ: Great question. I don‘t know that it is, Keith. But
here‘s what it does tell you: it tells you that there are those of us that
are reaching across the aisle, that are for enforcement, that are for
ending illegal immigration as we know it. So here‘s my point: I think we
need to debate it and to discuss it so we don‘t create a national I.D.
But here‘s what I do think we might agree on: my grandfather in the
‘30s was the first one to get a Social Security card, right? Then my dad
got one, I got one, my daughter got one, and now Lucito, my grandson, seven
years old, a gorgeous kid, he has a Social Security card. Same technology
as his great grandfather got? I think we can do better.
All we‘re trying to say as Democrats is, look, we understand that the
border is porous. We‘re against the criminal element. We want to end that
magnet system that brings undocumented workers into this country, because
here, I‘ll tell you, I think it does reduce the wages for American workers
and undercuts them. But at same time, I want to bring their wages up.
That is, allow them to enter into legality, so that we can tax them, they
can learn English, and they can incorporate themselves.
It‘s the other side that really doesn‘t want to end the problem. So I
guess in all this debate and discussion, I think the important thing,
Keith, in all of this is to say, we‘re ready to say, we‘re going to find
And let me put this in there: if you‘re an employer, I want you to go
to jail if you hire people undocumented in this country. Because you‘re
exploiting them, because you violate the law. So it‘s a holistic approach.
So, in the end, unlike J.D. Hayworth, who just simply thinks that if we
pass enough severe laws, so that we question everybody‘s identity or
possibility of being here legally in this country, all of the undocumented
will go away, you know, we‘re not waiting or hoping for that. We have a
way. We bring them out.
Lastly, the Congress of the United States, our political structures,
don‘t have the political will, will not commit the requisite resources to
the 12 million people. But I‘ve got a way to legalize them so that we know
what they are, so we can bring sanity to this debate.
OLBERMANN: That is?
GUTIERREZ: That is we legalize them, we tax them. And the first
thing we‘re going to do under our program, under the Democratic program, is
we say to the 12 million, OK, here‘s your chance. We know you committed a
violation of the law. We want to make sure the violation of the law has
some relationship with your punishment. And we understand that, as I said
earlier, nobody‘s going to round up 12 million people. So we‘re going to
allow them to come into the light of day.
First thing we‘re going to say is we‘re going to check your
fingerprints out. We‘re going to make sure you‘re not a criminal, you‘re
not a murderer, you‘re not somebody that‘s violated the law, you‘re not a
felon. Then we‘re going to let you in the program. Then you‘re going to
have a fine. Fine might be 1,500. Whatever the fine is, there will be a
fine attached to this.
Then we‘ll put you in a program for seven years. You‘re going to pay
your taxes. You‘re going to take English classes. You‘re going to take
civics classes during that time. After seven years, if you come out of
this paying your taxes and following all the laws, we‘re going to say you
paid your debt. You‘re at the back of the line. Now you can become a
permanent resident, not a citizen, a permanent resident.
And six, seven years later, maybe if you still on the road and on a
good path, become a citizen. That‘s the way we deal with the undocumented.
But at the end, we also say, look, so that we‘re clear, somebody‘s got to
pick the garlic. It‘s hard work. Somebody‘s got to do the poultry in
these plants across this country, the meat-packing plants. Somebody‘s
going to do the gardening. Somebody‘s got to burp that baby in the morning
while you and I—not using us as examples—while people like you and I
go to work.
Somebody‘s got to take care of our kids. Maria‘s got to be there,
right, to take care of the kid, burp the kids, beat him, make sure he‘s OK.
And we feel a strong sense of confidence. Somebody is going to have to do
that. And as we get older, Keith—because guess what‘s happening?
Something unprecedented in our population. We‘re getting old quickly, a
lot of us, by the tens of millions. Somebody‘s got to care for us.
So what we‘re saying is, as those needs—let‘s make sure we allow
people to come here legally, because then they don‘t have to cross those
borders with those drug dealers and with those human smugglers, with the
criminals in this country.
OLBERMANN: Congressman Luis Gutierrez, the Democrat of Illinois, and
once again great thanks for your time tonight.
GUTIERREZ: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: You heard the native country joke and the death panel
joke; did you hear the mainstream media organization the president savaged
on Saturday night?
The chicken lady‘s campaign manager has today, as hard as this seems
to believe, made her position on health care seem worse, in worsts.
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, she‘ll be reporting
the latest to you from the Gulf Coast city of Venice, Louisiana.
OLBERMANN: Worsts next and then the comedy stylings of Barack Obama.
First, a very quick comment tonight about Tennessee. If there‘s anything
worse than your community being hit by a disaster, it‘s being hit by a
disaster while other and bigger disasters unfold.
This is Nashville. And if you‘ve heard nothing except the Gulf and
Times Square and Arizona, rains in middle Tennessee have absolutely
devastated the area; 22 dead in Tennessee and adjoining states. The
Cumberland River cresting this hour at 52.5 feet.
The major symbols of Nashville impossibly flooded out. The Opryland
Hotel under ten feet and rising. The Country Music Hall of Fame in similar
shape. The football stadium inundated up to the first row of seats. The
hockey arena, the event level below ground level in danger. The town of
Bellview, near a river but never thought of as a prospect for catastrophic
flooding, under water with most homeowners never having even thought of
buying flood insurance.
The Red Cross had opened shelters across Tennessee, Kentucky and
Mississippi, as of this morning. That we cannot give those displaced or
endangered our full attention this day, it does not mean we cannot give
them our help. If you text Red Cross to 90999, 10 will be donated towards
relief of the flooding and the other storm damage in the south, or just go
to RedCross.org for further instructions.
OLBERMANN: Besides himself, and the right wing nut jobs who believe
he‘s actually Lucifer, who was the principle target of the president‘s
humor at the White House Correspondent‘s Dinner Saturday night? You may
have missed it. Jonathan Alter and I will correct that next.
First, reminding you that starting moments hence, three who did not
make the cut to appear in our new Twitter segment, the worst persons in the
world, easiest if you follow me, as the kids say, @KeithOlbermann,
tonight‘s worst persons in the world, TV version.
Bronze would be Cincinnati Democratic congressional nominee David
Kerkorian. Friday, he won for rhetorically asking, allegedly twice,
whether someone with the name like that of his primary opponent, Suria
Lalamanchali (ph), could actually get elected. Mr. Kerkorian responded.
And as you‘ll find out shortly, may have just taken the hit and stayed
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID KERKORIAN, CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESS IN ILLINOIS: Keith Olbermann
is a buffoon for not checking his sources, for not even bothering to check.
But here‘s one thing I will state for the record, last night‘s program was
sponsored by Proctor & Gamble‘s Oil of Olay Brand, which is the exact brand
that Suria Lalamanchali worked for. So how did they cover that story last
night, who—because I‘m sure Keith Olbermann is not reading “the
So our folks think that the Oil of Olay brand people and Proctor &
Gamble, in particular, were advancing their former employee, and that‘s how
it got in there.
I think he was reading from his script. So somehow that got put in
there. And how did it get put in there? Well, if you look at the
relationship between the story and the show‘s sponsor, I think it‘s pretty
clear how it got in there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Or maybe it was in the Cincinnati newspapers, bub. We
don‘t have a sponsor. We‘re not brought to you by anything. There are
commercials during the show, but, in fact, I don‘t see the commercials in
the studio. We could be running ads for Glenn Beck and I‘d never know. We
checked with commercial traffic department. There were no Oil of Olay ads
on the TV show Friday night. If you go to MSNBC.com and you watch
COUNTDOWN online, you might get an Oil of Olay commercial or a Toyota
commercial or Oscar Mayer. They rotate them somehow. I don‘t know. I
don‘t know how. In fact, I don‘t even know anybody who works at MSNBC.com.
I‘m sure they‘re lovely people. There‘s no conspiracy to keep David
Kerkorian out of Congress, except if hot dogs start driving Toyotas over
slicks made out of Oil of Olay. Or maybe tomorrow when the voters go to
Runner-up, comedian Rush Limbaugh. Last week, the oil rig disaster in
the Gulf was possible sabotage, he said, even though he didn‘t have a shred
of evidence, even though sabotaging a rig 52 miles out to sea and then
sabotaging a blowout preventer 5,000 feet down in the ocean would be a
pretty neat trick. Today, faced with the absurdity of that idea, he
switched to minimizing the out-of-control spill‘s importance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I‘m not trying to minimize it
here. But we do have all these, you know—ecology does take care of it.
Sea water is pretty tough stuff. Try living in it for a while. Oil has a
tough time surviving in it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: I guess he spent a lot of time trying to live in it. You
know what else is natural, according to Rush? Hemorrhoids. Our winner,
though, the chicken lady. Why has Sue Lowden‘s campaign to unseat Harry
Reid in Nevada mismanaged the chickens for health care story? Because this
next guy is her campaign manager, Robert Utoban (ph). And he may be more
tone deaf than she is. This just in from Channel 3 in Las Vegas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should everybody have access to health care in
ROBERT UTOBAN, CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR SUE LOWDEN: Absolutely. They do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, if you can afford it you do.
UTOBAN: No. If I have a bullet hole in my chest, I can go down to
UMC and I‘m going to get health care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Doctor, can you staunch the bleeding long enough for me to
bring in your chickens? Nevada senatorial candidate Sue Lowden, with
campaign manager Robert “Chickens for Bullet Hole Repair” Utoban, today‘s
worst persons in the world.
OLBERMANN: The modern benchmark for going too far with humor in a
presidential address was infamously achieved in March 2004. President
Bush, one year into the war in Iraq, narrating a slide show at the Radio
and Television Correspondent‘s Association Dinner in Washington; “those
weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere.” Not everybody
In hindsight, it has gotten less funny still. Our number one story,
President Obama‘s second address to the White House Correspondent‘s
Association was on Saturday. Jonathan Alter will rate his performance.
First, “Politico” reporting that the address was written by White
House speech writers John Favreau and John Lovitt (ph), with help from
senior adviser David Axelrod, spokesman Tommy Vitter (ph), and “Daily Show”
writer Kevin Blier (ph). More writers than I have.
For the president‘s first address to the association last year, with
the hope of bipartisanship still somewhat alive, Mr. Obama largely spared
his political adversaries of ridicule, with the exception of John Boehner
and his tan. A year later, the president roasted more than a few
Republicans, the right wing lunatic fringe, the cable news media, and John
Boehner‘s tan again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: It‘s been quite a year since I‘ve spoken here last. Lots of
ups, lots of downs, except for my approval ratings, which have just gone
But that‘s politics. It doesn‘t bother me. Besides, I happen to know
that my approval ratings are still very high in the country of my birth.
The Jonas Brothers are here. They‘re out there somewhere. Sasha and
Malia are huge fans. But boys, don‘t get any ideas. I have two words for
you: Predator Drones.
Unfortunately, John McCain couldn‘t make it. Recently, he claimed he
had never identified himself as a maverick. And we all know what happens
in Arizona when you don‘t have I.D.
You might have heard, we passed a health care bill and—was that
Roger Ailes applauding out there? There aren‘t a few secret provisions in
the health care plan, there are, like, hundreds.
This provision ought to put a common misconception to rest. It says
right here: if you do not like the ruling of your death panel, you can
A few weeks ago, I was able to throw out the first pitch at the
Nationals game. And I don‘t know if you saw it, but I threw it a little
high, a little outside. This is how Fox News covered it: “President
panders to extreme left wing of batter‘s box.” On the other hand, MSNBC
had a different take, “President pitches no hitter.” And then CNN went a
different way altogether.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: I was just asking Chad, how can you get a
volcano in Iceland? Isn‘t it—when you think of a volcano, you think of
like Hawaii and long words like that. You don‘t think of Iceland. You
think it‘s too cold to have a volcano there.
OLBERMANN: I guess that‘s why they‘re the most trusted name in news.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Joined now by Jonathan Alter, of MSNBC and “Newsweek.”
His latest book “The Promise, President Obama, Year One,” will be out later
this month. Good evening.
JONATHAN ALTER, “NEWSWEEK MAGAZINE”: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: You were there. Last year, he poked fun at himself and
the critics. He did the teleprompter bit, where he said he was going to ad
lib a few remarks and throw away the speech. And up come loudly these two
teleprompters. This was a little edgier, wasn‘t it? I mean, country of my
birth jokes, Arizona I.D., death panels. This was a little sharper point
to it, wasn‘t it?
ALTER: Yes, it went over really well actually. There wasn‘t a person
in the room, anybody I know or I saw, who thought that Obama didn‘t out-
class Jay Leno, which is saying something. You might just say that “the
Daily Show” has better writers than “the Tonight Show,” and maybe that
explains it. But Obama‘s timing was good, and Leno seemed kind of stale.
And these jokes had a little bit of edge, in part because I think at this
point the Tea Bag, Tea Party movement, all that stuff has become a bit of a
We now have polling showing that it‘s the same 20 percent right wing
extremists, as we‘ve always had in this country, that have gotten a
tremendous amount of publicity because they have a new name. But it‘s the
same old—same old folks that, you know, the fearful fifth of America,
who can‘t handle the future. They used to be called reactionaries. So he
made a little sport of them, and it went over well.
OLBERMANN: From the ashes of the Tea Party—you mentioned “the
Daily Show,” writers. Do all presidents use ringers for these?
ALTER: They do, actually. There was a guy named Landon Parvin who
wrote all of the Republicans jokes. A guy named Mark Katz wrote jokes for
the Democrats for many years. So that‘s a common thing. But there‘s a guy
named Jon Lovitt on the White House staff who is kind of the in-house gag
man. They have both insiders and ringers.
OLBERMANN: Did he or do we know who did the Predator Drones jokes
about the Jonas Brothers? And did you think they were in bounds? Because,
frankly, I thought that was over the edge. I thought that was almost in
the where‘s the—where are the weapons of mass destruction under the desk
ALTER: Well, Keith, I would submit that you are not like me, the
father of two daughters.
OLBERMANN: All right. OK.
ALTER: And if you are—
OLBERMANN: So you‘re saying it wasn‘t a joke.
ALTER: It was a joke.
OLBERMANN: It was threatening to send Predator Drones against the
ALTER: If someone comes after your pre-teen daughters, Predator
Drones are actually a mild response.
OLBERMANN: I thought he could have gone with the Drones Brothers.
But to me the most misunderstood Joe was the one about the cable news
networks. Somebody said, oh, you got a shout out from the president. That
wasn‘t even a rip of Fox. He gutted CNN. And it just went right past
people, I thought.
ALTER: For Rick Sanchez to say that Hawaii was a big word, it was
rather cruel and perfectly usual punishment.
OLBERMANN: Rick is a wonderful guy. I used to work with him. The
first guest host on this show was Rick Sanchez. Lovely guy. I just
thought the line about, that‘s why they‘re the most trusted name in cable
news, I was just like—ahh!
ALTER: He doesn‘t cross out much. Last year, when Hillary Clinton
broke her elbow, there was a joke that said Hillary Clinton fell again on
her way to the White House. And the president, before the speech, he
crossed that out and did not deliver that joke. So there are certain lines
that he won‘t cross. But if you don‘t have any edge, then you get bad
reviews like Jay Leno. Who wants that?
OLBERMANN: You keep trying to get me to say something about that,
don‘t you? I‘m not going to.
OLBERMANN: It was a fun night. Was the meal better this year?
Because I won‘t go because there‘s some people I won‘t be in the room with
ALTER: look. Politics is show business for ugly people. That‘s what
they‘ve always said. This brings politics and Hollywood together. It‘s
kind of the Oscars on C-Span. It‘s a ridiculous evening on many levels,
but it‘s also kind of fun.
OLBERMANN: If it was held in Iowa.
Jonathan Alter, the new book is “The Promise.” It will be on store
shelves later this month. Please do what you can to get it off the store
shelves, so that Jon makes money off it.
LATER: Thanks. It is be on store shelves May 19th.
OLBERMANN: That‘s COUNTDOWN for this, the 2,559th day since the
previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. I‘m Keith
Olbermann, good night and good luck. Now, joining you from Venice,
Louisiana, with the latest on the impact of the oil spill there, ladies and
gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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