updated 5/28/2010 9:38:57 AM ET 2010-05-28T13:38:57


Guests: Michio Kaku, Keith Jones, Chris Jones, Dan Savage
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST:  Breaking news from the Gulf at this hour, the pause in top kill is over as we speak.  B.P. says it is now once again pumping industrial mud into the well‘s blowout preventer to once again try to stop the worst environmental disaster our nation has ever seen.
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OLBERMANN (voice-over):  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Day 37.  In Washington, the president pushes back—
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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  So, this notion that somehow the federal government is sitting on the sidelines, and for the last three or four or five weeks, we‘ve just been letting B.P. make a whole bunch of decisions is simply not true.
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OLBERMANN:  The head of the Minerals Management Service jumps and/or is pushed.
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KEN SALAZAR, INTERIOR SECRETARY: She did it on her own terms and her own volition.
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OLBERMANN:  The secretary proposes third party certification of blowout preventers.  Survivors and families of the 11 dead on Deepwater Horizon testify about B.P. shortcuts.
And the president adds a weird discordant note—
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OBAMA:  When I woke up this morning and I‘m shaving and Malia knocks on my bathroom door and she peeps in her head and she says, “Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?”
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OLBERMANN:  Day 37 with Gene Robinson on the president‘s reaction; Dr.  Michio Kaku on the science: and Keith Jones, the father of Deepwater Horizon victim, Gordon Jones, on the dead and the short cuts.
“Don‘t ask, don‘t tell,” the compromise looms, the far right goes nuts, from an accuracy in media hysteric, “disease-tainted gay blood threatens our troops.”
“Tea Time”: Sue Lowden, not chickens this time, just kind of chick-en.
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SUE LOWDEN ®, NEVADA SENATE CANDIDATE:  It‘s a simple question but it‘s a gotcha question.  Frankly, I wouldn‘t even know Rand Paul if I saw him on TV.
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OLBERMANN:  And “Worsts”: does this baseball promotional giveaway remind you of anything?
All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.
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OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.
The government‘s estimate of the Gulf oil disaster is now twice the last estimate—at least 12,000 barrels a day spilling, perhaps 19,000.  The top kill solution went from being mistakenly reported this morning as having stopped the oil flow to being stopped by B.P., to now being restarted tonight.
The president admitted his administration fell short in reforming the agency that oversees offshore drilling.  And while insisting that he was engaged, responsible and in control, he also had to acknowledge that at times of disagreement with his government, B.P. had gone and done what it wanted to anyway.
Our fifth story tonight: Now, it is contradictions flowing almost as freely and merely as unchecked as crude oil into the battered Gulf.
The president‘s theme which we will underscore, he will underscore visiting the Gulf tomorrow, was consistent, he is on the job.  In his opening remarks, announcing new crackdowns on offshore drilling.
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OBAMA:  First, we will suspend the planned exploration of two locations off the coast of Alaska.  Second, we will cancel the pending lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico and the proposed lease sale off the coast of Virginia.  Third, we will continue the existing moratorium and suspend the issuance of new permits to drill new deep water wells for six months.  And four, we will suspend action on 33 deep water exploratory wells currently being drilled in the Gulf of Mexico.
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OLBERMANN:  The president also discussed the spill in unusually personal terms, invoking his childhood and his child.
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OBAMA;  My job right now is just to make sure that everybody in the Gulf understands, this is what I wake up to in the morning and this is what I go to bed at night thinking about.
REPORTER:  The spill?
OBAMA:  The spill.  And it‘s not just me, by the way.  When I woke up this morning and I‘m shaving and Malia knocks on my bathroom door and peeks in her head and she says, “Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?”  Because I think everybody understands that, you know, when we are fouling the earth like this, it has concrete implications not just for this generation but for future generations.
I grew up in Hawaii where the ocean is sacred.  And when you see birds flying around with oil all over their feathers and turtles dying and—you know, that doesn‘t just speak to the immediate economic consequences of this, this speaks to, you know, how are we caring for this incredible bounty that we have?
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OLBERMANN:  And in his final words, he insisted again that this is his problem and he is on it.
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OBAMA:  In case anybody wonders—in any of your reporting, in case you‘re wondering: who‘s responsible, I take responsibility.  It is my job to make sure that everything is done to shut this down.  That doesn‘t mean it‘s going to be easy, it doesn‘t mean it‘s going to happen right away or the way I‘d like it to happen.  It doesn‘t mean that we‘re not going to make mistakes.
But there shouldn‘t be any confusion here.  The federal government is fully engaged.  And I‘m fully engaged, all right?
Thank you very much, everybody.
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OLBERMANN:  The assertion of personal engagement following two exchanges in which Mr. Obama could not say whether Elizabeth Birnbaum had resigned or whether Interior Secretary Ken Salazar had fired her as head of the Materials Management Service, MMS, which oversees offshore drilling.
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OBAMA:  With respect to Ms. Birnbaum, I found out about her resignation today.  Ken Salazar‘s been in testimony throughout the day.  So, I don‘t know the circumstances in which this occurred.
REPORTER:  I‘m also curious as how it is that you didn‘t know about Ms. Birnbaum‘s resignation/firing before—
OBAMA:  Well, you‘re assuming it was a firing.  If it was a resignation, then she would have submitted a letter to Mr. Salazar this morning at a time when I had a whole bunch of other stuff going on.
REPORTER:  So you rule out that she was fired?
OBAMA:  Come on, Jackie.  I don‘t know.  I‘m telling you the—I found out about it this morning.  So I don‘t yet know the circumstances and Ken Salazar‘s been in testimony on the Hill.
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OLBERMANN:  Mr. Obama refuted claims he has been slow to respond by calling the day of the rig‘s collapse, that first day, when it actually came two days after the rig first exploded killing 11 people and setting in motion the events that led to the spill.
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OBAMA:  The day that the rig collapsed and fell to the bottom of the ocean, I had my team in the Oval Office that first day.  Those who think that we were either slow on our response or lacked urgency don‘t know the facts.
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OLBERMANN:  President Obama took responsibility for B.P.‘s response to the spill, saying B.P. has been legally bound to adhere to U.S. government directives.
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OBAMA:  Make no mistake: B.P. is operating at our direction.  Every key decision and action they take must be approved by us in advance.  I‘ve designated Admiral Thad Allen who has nearly four decades of experience responding such disaster as the national incident commander.  And if he orders B.P. to do something to respond to this disaster, they‘re legally bound to do it.
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OLBERMANN:  That claim of government control followed about 15 minutes later by the president‘s admission that B.P.‘s use of dispersants, 850,000 gallons, so far, slammed by the EPA, again, today, has continued despite the fact that the government disagrees with it.
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OBAMA:  There may be areas where there have been disagreements, for example, on dispersants, and these are complicated issues.  But overall, the decisions that have been made have been reflective of the best science that we‘ve got, the best expert opinion that we have and have been weighing various risks and various options to allocate our resources in such a way that we can get this fixed as quickly as possible.
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OLBERMANN:  Mr. Obama said he had been wrong to believe that big oil, quote, “had their act together” when it came to worst-case scenarios, a presumption squarely in the purview of the Interior Department, where Secretary Salazar the president has, quote, “started cleaning house, but the culture hadn‘t fully changed.”  And where there had been insufficient urgency, Secretary Salazar only today tightening regulation on the blowout preventers like the one that failed more than a month ago.  Secretary Salazar on the job more than a year answering no when asked today whether he is confident MMS has the right structure and the right people in place.
President Obama, nevertheless, is confident today that the man to fix the agency is the same man who has failed to fix the agency, thus far.
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OBAMA:  I can tell you what I‘ve said to Ken Salazar, which is that we have to make sure if we are going forward with domestic oil production, that the federal agency charged with overseeing its safety and security is operating at the highest level.  And I want people in there who are operating at the highest level and aren‘t making excuses when things break down, but are intent on fixing them.  And I have confidence that Ken Salazar can do that.
REPORTER:  And his job is safe?
OBAMA:  Yes.
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OLBERMANN:  The science and latest on starting and stopping and starting again top kill ahead.  First, let‘s bring in MSNBC political analyst, Eugene Robinson, also, of course, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and associate editor of “The Washington Post.”
Gene, good evening.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN:  On the pure politics of this, what did Mr. Obama succeed in doing today?  What did he fail in doing today, do you think?
ROBINSON:  He succeeded in conveying a seriousness of purpose, his own engagement with the ongoing catastrophe.  He eliminated any ambiguity as to what he sees his role in this, I am responsible, to me, it is my responsibility to solve this.
What I think he failed to do is explain why any of the way this is working or all of the way this is working makes sense.  Why does it make sense that B.P. is able to essentially blow off the U.S. government when it comes to the use of the dispersants?
We understand that B.P. may be the only—they may be the only ones who can work at the wellhead a mile down, but why is B.P. running the containment operation that‘s supposed to be trying to keep the oil from getting to the shore.  That was not, I think, fully explained and I think there will be a lot more questions.
OLBERMANN:  Let me ask this question in an understated fashion, and I hope that you can sense the emotional head-smacking that goes into it.  How do you go into a news conference about America‘s worst oil spill ever, hours after the official who is responsible for offshore drilling has stepped down, or been fired, without knowing the details on whether she stepped down or was fired?
ROBINSON:  Emotional head-smack right back at you.
OLBERMANN:  OK.
ROBINSON:  It undercuts the message of being in control, of being the central authority in all of this.  And it was certainly a part of the news conference that raised more questions than it answered.  What about the MMS?
Now, we understand it‘s going to be split up into three separate agencies.  It—that was not a good moment of the news conference.
OLBERMANN:  This is the devil‘s advocate question or perhaps it is the question not being asked that should be asked, which is this: Of all the criticisms of the president‘s attitude or his politics or his handling or his ownership of this, exactly what is expected of him that he‘s not doing?  What in retrospect could he have done that he did not do?  And I mean it almost as a literal question.
ROBINSON:  And that‘s a very good question.  I think in terms of fixing the leak, I can‘t think of what the president could have done that he hasn‘t already done.  That has to be the responsibility of B.P., seems to have assembled the best minds to try figure out how to do it.
Thad Allen is—Admiral Thad Allen is no pushover, he‘s a man used to command.  He‘s on the case, he‘s on the scene.  He‘s trying to get that done.
I think legitimate questions could be asked about the containment strategy, all sorts of discussions have been raised about ways that that might have been done.  Again, there might be answers for all of that.  But I think there‘s some legitimate questions there.
And then in the larger sense, I think you could ask: where are the environmentalists in all this?
OLBERMANN:  Yes.
ROBINSON:  The law says the Coast Guard responds at sea, the EPA on land.  Fine.  We understand that.
But the oil is going to the land.  The EPA is responsible for at least to an extent for our environment, for our waters.  Where—where is the environmental protection conscience and impulse and moral imperative of this, how is that being expressed?  And I frankly wish we were hearing more of that and hearing more from EPA.
OLBERMANN:  Something emotional, I want to show you lastly here this minute of the Louisiana congressman whose loss of the ability to speak this afternoon might have in some ways been more eloquent than the president‘s speech today.
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REP. CHARLIE MELANCON (D), LOUISIANA:  Our culture is threatened, our coastal economy is threatened, and everything that I know and love is at risk.  Even though this marsh lies—along coastal Louisiana, these are America‘s wetlands.  Excuse me.  I‘ll just wish to submit for the record.  Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We thank the gentleman and every member of our committee and every American is praying for the people of Louisiana and the people of the Gulf.  It‘s just an unimaginable tragedy.
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OLBERMANN:  Gene, has something changed now about this crisis because of Mr. Melancon there?
ROBINSON:  That was an incredibly eloquent expression of I think what people are coming to feel.  We learned today there‘s enormous quantity of oil in the Gulf of Mexico already.  If it were stopped tonight, we would still be left for—not for months, but probably for years with this—these noxious plumes of oil, some of which are under water and whose extent is unknown, fouling the coast, killing the animals.  It is the enormity, and I use that word in its proper sense, to mean size and monstrousness of this disaster I think is just beginning to sink in.  It is for people in Louisiana before the rest of us.  I think we‘ll all get there pretty soon.
OLBERMANN:  Gene Robinson of “The Washington Post” and MSNBC—when we‘re fortunate enough to have him.  Thanks, Gene.  Good night.
ROBINSON:  Great to be here, Keith.
OLBERMANN:  The human toll so secondary in the first month of the disaster leap to the forefront today in Washington.  The father and brother of one of the victims at Deepwater Horizon will join me.  And the meaning of the so-called pause in British Petroleum‘s solution top kill as assessed next by Dr. Michio Kaku.
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OLBERMANN:  The assessment of the stopped and now restarted top kill by one of the most forward thinking of today‘s scientific minds and what to do next if this doesn‘t work.
For 36 days, the human toll at Deepwater Horizon has been overshadowed.  Not today.  The story of the late Gordon Jones as told by our guests, his father and brother.
Nevada‘s chicken lady with a new challenge, trying to fend off a rival who says, “I am the tea party,” while she admits she doesn‘t know who Rand Paul is.
And why is this former presidential candidate siding with opponents of repealing “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” who now claim it could lead to an all gay army—an all gay army like the kind they claim Hitler had.  I wish I was kidding.
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OLBERMANN:  To repeat, the biggest development of the day from the Gulf, what is considered to be the best short term hope of stopping the flow of hydrocarbon poison, top kill, was itself stopped overnight by B.P.  and then restarted this evening after an interval of about 16 hours.
But in our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: At this hour, we still don‘t know if it‘s going to work and we may not know if it has worked or is working for some time.  B.P. moving the goalpost by stretching its original timetable on this fact, it could be another 24 to 48 hours before anyone knows whether the operation will, in fact, be considered a success.
Just hours after reports surfaced that top kill had already worked, technicians at the B.P. command center telling “The New York Times” that the procedure had to be temporarily halted because too much of the mud used to plug up the leak was escaping along with the oil.
Meanwhile, at a news conference, B.P. chief operating officer, Doug Suttles, offering a slightly different version, telling reporters the company‘s temporary suspension of top kill was part of the operation process done in order to evaluate its progress.  Top kill resumed after interval of several hours.
And the procedure began yesterday afternoon, B.P. using heavy drilling fluid or manufactured mud, pumping that into the top of the well in an effort to stop the gushing of oil.  If that works, cement would then be used to seal the well shut.  The leak is more than twice as powerful as previous estimates and at a mile under water, the procedure has never been attempted this deep.
Joining me now, the host of “Sci Fi Science” on the Science Channel, author of “Physics of the Impossible,” and physics professor at city college here in New York, Michio Kaku.
Welcome.
DR. MICHIO KAKU, SCI FI SCIENCE:  Glad to be on the show.
OLBERMANN:  Competing versions explaining the suspension of this process here, it‘s normal or the mud was in essence blowing back?  Do we know which is right?  But does it really matter?
KAKU:  It matters but we don‘t know because we are in uncharted territory.  Realize that we‘re witnessing the biggest science experiment of modern times and we are the guinea pigs.  Remember that most of these are done at the depth of a few hundred feet, few hundred feet.
Down a mile pressures are 2,000 pounds per square inch.  Take a car and put it on every square inch of your chest.  Every square inch and then let go.  You‘d be flattened within a fraction of a second.  That‘s we‘re up against.  That‘s why we are clueless about what‘s really happening down there.
And if an explosion takes place, we could be in worse shape than before.
OLBERMANN:  What kind of explosion and to what degree could we be in worse shape?
KAKU:  If you pump too fast, too quickly, you over-pressurize—you over-pressurize the chamber and it could explode, rupture the pipe, and then it starts all over again with a new rupture.
OLBERMANN:  You‘ve got 16 of them suddenly coming up from the floor of the ocean.
KAKU:  That‘s right.  That‘s why we‘re very, very cautious.  That‘s why they cannot go too fast with this, because like I said, we‘ve never done this before at this depth.
OLBERMANN:  Have we ever done this before?  We‘re just talking about this.  Have we ever—has science ever attempted to apply or industry attempted to apply science to a situation without having the plan B?
The analogy I used to you before was that it was beginning to sound like the collapse of the earthen dam that led to the Johnstown flood in the 19th century or when the sand hogs used to go before they knew about caisson disease, the bends, what they used to put the supports for the Brooklyn Bridge or other deep water bridges and they didn‘t know what would happen when men tried to work this those pressures.
Have we ever been in this kind of—as you said—science experiment before to this degree?
KAKU:  Well, it sounds like the three stooges are in charge of this operation, running around hitting each other and not knowing what to do.  It‘s not quite that bad, but basically, we are in uncharted territories.  Realize that we‘ve never done something at this pressure and this depth with this temperature, and as a consequence, it‘s learn-as-you-go, with the economy of the Gulf States at stake.
This is inexcusable.  There is no plan B.
OLBERMANN:  And that‘s the crime here.  What‘s—everything since this happened is the best possible solution, I guess, that they‘re doing the best that they can.  But the crime is not having planned for this or to proceed with drilling at this depth without a plan B.
KAKU:  That‘s what‘s so pathetic.  The fact that what they are doing is the best they can do with our given technology.  So that—that is really pathetic.
Remember, if this thing fails, then we go to a relief well.  That takes three months.  So, we‘re talking about August before they can pump cement into a relief well.  And remember, this accident could go on for years.  There‘s enough oil down there to last for years—and as we cap it or siphon it or something.
OLBERMANN:  So, this is as if we sent men to the moon without ever contemplating how to get them back?
KAKU:  In some sense, yes.  It‘s a science experiment, and we are the guinea pigs unfortunately.
OLBERMANN:  The late news that we‘re just getting, literally, in the last few seconds from the Gulf is that the other thing B.P. may do as soon as tonight is this so-called junk shot.  Do have you any faith in that?  Do we—has that been tried in anything deeper than a swimming pool?
KAKU:  It‘s been tried, basically you throw everything but the kitchen sink—you throw tires, you throw rubber, waste, everything at that thing, hoping to entomb it.  And remember when Chernobyl happened in the former Soviet Union, they sent out the Red Air Force.
OLBERMANN:  Yes.
KAKU:  The military finally stopped the Chernobyl accident.  It wasn‘t the civilians, it wasn‘t people or the scientists, it was the Red Air Force which stopped that raging reactor accident.  Something similar may happen here.  Obama may have to call out the military at some point.
OLBERMANN:  One would think that would be an alternative to stuffing old tires into it, but perhaps old B.P. executives could be of some use here.
Michio Kaku, professor of physics and host of “Sci Fi Science” on Science Channel, I‘ve been an admirer of your work for many years—thanks for coming in.
KAKU:  Thank you.
OLBERMANN:  Amid further reports of corners cut by both B.P. and the rig operator, Transocean, money saved by cutting preventive maintenance and inspections.  The father and brother of one of the victims aboard the oil platform join me next.
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OLBERMANN:  The intense and multiple investigations into the Deepwater Horizon Explosion have only just begun.  But those investigations are already unearthing further evidence of possibly widespread and avoidable mistakes.  Our third story tonight, at one of those hearings today, one man spoke of the loss of his son in that oil rig explosion.  Keith Jones, father of Gordon Jones, who died aboard the Deepwater Horizon, joins me in a moment, along with Gordon‘s brother Chris. 
First, some of the evidence being offered at these hearings; just 11 hours before the April 20th explosion of the rig, a BP company official overruled the drillers from rig owner Transocean on how to proceed on a potentially critical issue.  This according to the chief mechanic of the Deepwater Horizon rig, Douglas Brown.  Mr. Brown testified at the Coast Guard hearing in Louisiana.  Quoting, “I recall a skirmish between company man, the OIM, Offshore Installation Manager, the tool pusher, and the driller.  The driller was outlining what would be taking place.  Whereupon the company man stood up and said, no, we‘ll be having some changes to that.  The OIM, tool pusher and driller disagreed with that.  But the company man said this is how it‘s going to be.  And the tool pusher, driller and OIM reluctantly agreed.” 
The significance of the disagreement is that it could amount to further evidence that BP officials continued drilling despite evident problems.  That chief mechanic, Mr. Brown, he testified again today in Washington.  At a House liability hearing, he described how his company, Transocean, seemed to be putting profits above safety, and how over the years preceding the explosion, his crew had been cut in half. 
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DOUGLAS BROWN, CHIEF MECHANIC, DEEPWATER HORIZON:  Three people are left to do six people‘s jobs.  While this often made it difficult to timely complete our daily preventive maintenance, we worked hard and did the best we could. 
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OLBERMANN:  Even after one of those three critical positions of first engineer was reinstated, Mr. Brown described the team as understaffed.  And Mr. Brown said they did speak up about the problem. 
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D. BROWN:  Over the years, after Transocean began lessening the crew, I and others complained that we need more help.  They just kept telling us they would see what they could do. 
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OLBERMANN:  And today “the New York Times” reported that just a few days before the explosion, BP used a type of casing seal for the well that the company knew was the riskier of two options, according to a BP document, proving the company made that choice at least in part for financial reasons.  The internal document describing it as the, quote, “best economic case.” 
Let‘s turn now to Keith Jones and his son Chris Jones.  They‘re both Louisiana natives and are practicing attorneys in Shreveport.  But they appeared at today‘s hearing not as lawyers, but as the father and brother of Gordon Jones, one of the 11 victims of the Deepwater Horizon explosion.
Gentlemen, thanks so much for your time tonight and our deepest sympathies for your loss. 
KEITH JONES, SON DIED IN DEEPWATER HORIZON OIL RIG:  Thank you very much. 
CHRIS JONES, BROTHER DIED IN DEEPWATER HORIZON OIL RIG:  Thank you, Keith. 
OLBERMANN:  If you would, please, tell us about Gordon and what work he was performing on Deepwater Horizon. 
K. JONES:  Gordon was a mud engineer.  And mud engineers advise what mud—drilling mud should be used during the drilling process.  One of the sadder and more ironic things about this is that the well had been drilled.  There was no need to have a mud engineer there, except, I suppose, that the rules say you have to have a mud engineer.  But there was nothing for Gordon to do there because they weren‘t drilling anymore. 
OLBERMANN:  Did he ever express to you any concern about his workplace? 
C. JONES:  Not to me personally.  I know he had expressed some concern about some things coming up in the mud to my father. 
OLBERMANN:  Can you elaborate on that, Keith? 
K. JONES:  He had—he didn‘t spell it out.  I think I know what he meant now.  But he said then that some things were coming up that weren‘t supposed to come up.  And obviously looking back on it, he had to mean the hard rubber pieces from the annular, because nothing else could be coming up that wasn‘t supposed to be coming up.  They weren‘t drilling through rubber down there. 
OLBERMANN:  At the hearing today, you spoke about the only, in your opinion, truly effective way to get the attention of these companies to correct at least in advance their future practices.  Would you describe that again, please, for us? 
K. JONES:  In general, what I said was that all these companies do one thing well, and that is to make money.  And if their stock has gone down, they‘ll all be back.  The only way to get their attention is through a system that requires them to pay money, and that means punitive damages.  I said this morning that you have to hit them where their heart would be, if they had a heart.
OLBERMANN:  Do you think that there is still a large amount of critical information that needs to be expanded upon, details that have not yet come out about what‘s happened, in order for you to fully understand what went wrong?  And in particular, is there anything that stands out as an area of lack of information? 
C. JONES:  Well, as attorneys, we know that it‘s going to take years to get the real story.  So I know that things are going to be coming out on a daily basis.  We know there are hearings in other committees going on on the Hill.  And we expect new information to come out daily for years to come, I‘m sure. 
OLBERMANN:  Last point, and I hate to—under these circumstances to speak in such stark terms, but a lot of people have suggested exactly this.  Keith, Chris, either of you, think—do you think that this is or should be considered a murder investigation, given what happened to all the men on that rig? 
K. JONES:  I don‘t know enough to know that.  I know that what appears to be so—and we get our information from the news media, whether it‘s television or the newspaper.  And we know that a lot of the things that have been said amount to what could certainly be regarded as criminal negligence.  At least that would be what we‘d call it if it were a state law case that I‘m more familiar with than maritime law.  I assume the U.S.  attorney has jurisdiction.  I don‘t know what the federal statute says exactly. 
But I know that the things that I‘ve seen described go far beyond mere negligence. 
OLBERMANN:  Last thing, we noticed this with Congressman Melancon as he choked up and left the hearing today.  The ribbons you‘re wearing, can you tell me what they‘re for and what they represent? 
C. JONES:  I went to a memorial service two days ago that was put on by Transocean.  Transocean actually, I think, did an honorable job in putting the memorial together.  All the families were there.  And I came face to face with a lot of the families for the first time.  They handed out these ribbons.  There‘s 11 stars for the 11 victims that died on the rig.  And we‘re wearing them to honor Gordon and the others that were killed that day. 
OLBERMANN:  Keith Jones, Chris Jones, again, our condolences on your
loss in the Gulf.  There‘s nothing we can say beyond that that will be of
any value to you other than our nation says the same thing, and we thank
you for your time
K. JONES:  You‘re welcome.  Thank you. 
C. JONES:  Thank you. 
OLBERMANN:  We‘ll continue.
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OLBERMANN:  Break absolutely necessary here.  The tweet of the day properly belongs in the Tea Time segment tonight.  They‘re both about Sue Lowden.  That‘s all I need to say.  Here it is, let‘s play Oddball.
Thank goodness for a dumb criminal when we need one.  In Boston, we‘ve become used to seeing them do dumb things, but for a robber not even getting past the door might be a first.  The crook first tried to enter the convenience store simply by bending back the metal grate of the doorway.  But it wasn‘t as simple as that.  When his entry was looking to be more time consuming, he took a moment to move some trash cans around in an effort to hide what he was doing.  No one can see you now, Mr. Invisible.  But when he tried to climb through, he got stuck between the metal grate and the Plexiglas of the door.  A neighbor called 911 and six coppers soon followed.  And yes, they had to pull him out of his own break-in before they took him to the big house.  Leaving the garbage can.
To Lima, Peru, offering further evidence that people all around the world will do just about anything for no good reason, especially when it comes to “Thriller.”  This group is not a high school theater troupe.  It‘s not prisoners with nothing better to do.  Rather, supporters of the Peruvian presidential hopeful Keku Fujimori (ph).  She has to do something special.  Her dad, the ex-president, was removed, banned, jailed and then fled Peru.  Fujimori the younger was celebrating her 35th birthday and this was meant as some sort of homage.  Four of these dancers are themselves Peruvian lawmakers.  We won‘t tell you which four.  The performance also featured an interpretation of the king of rock ‘n‘ roll, Elvis Presley, mercifully not shown in your picture. 
The latest argument against repealing Don‘t Ask Don‘t Tell is that Hitler‘s army was 100 percent gay.  Why is John McCain siding with people who believe this crap? 
Worsts, the Indiana congressman who resigned after being caught in an affair with the staffer with whom he had made a pro-abstinence video says he wasn‘t going to stand for re-election anyway. 
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, Geek Week takes her to Lower Manhattan to see firsthand how they‘re rebuilding the World Trade Center site, floor by floor.  She‘s wearing a helmet.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
OLBERMANN:  Giving away statues of African-American baseball players, statues that look surprisingly like lawn jockeys.  Worsts next.  First, no, that is not your water coming to a boil.  It‘s our nightly checkup on the something for nothing crowd.  It‘s Tea Time. 
As promised earlier tonight, the Tweet of the day moves here.  From Mr. Universe, “why did the chicken cross the road?  Sue Lowden had a doctor‘s appointment.”  There‘s actually Sue Lowden news, where chicken bartering would be Republican senator from Nevada that has nothing to do with chickens, maybe metaphorically.  Of late, Lowden has been busy with her conservative rival, Sharron Angle.  Angle announced, quote, “I am the Tea Party.”  Lowden is trying to prove she actually is a Scientologist.  During this, a reporter from “Politico” asked Lowden her she agreed with Kentucky‘s Rand “I am the Tea Party” Paul that the Civil Rights Act and related law should not apply to private businesses.  She wouldn‘t answer, saying “I have no idea what another candidate says.” 
So now she‘s gone back on TV in Las Vegas with the same interviewer who previously caught her lying about what she previously said about bartering for health care, John Ralston. 
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN RALSTON, REPORTER:  Answer the question that he asked you.  Do you think that Rand Paul was right that the Civil Rights Act should not extend into private businesses? 
SUE LOWDEN ®, CANDIDATE FOR SENATE IN NEVADA:  This is what I say. 
I‘m more interested in what we‘re doing here in Nevada. 
RALSTON:  It‘s a simple question. 
LOWDEN:  It‘s a simple question but it‘s a gotcha question.  And frankly, I wouldn‘t even know Rand Paul if I saw him on TV. 
RALSTON:  I‘m not asking about Rand Paul. 
LOWDEN:  I haven‘t been watching that race. 
RALSTON:  Do you think the Civil Rights Act should apply to private businesses.
LOWDEN:  I think you want to change the subject from what‘s really happening.  Nobody‘s asking that question, John.  Nobody. 
RALSTON:  So you‘re not going to answer?  
LOWDEN:  No. 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN:  After the thing, Lowden issues a statement saying, “after reviewing the comments and news stories from Kentucky, I want voters to know that I strongly support all aspects of the Civil Rights Act, just as I strongly believe it applies to my private business and all others.  My focus has been on campaigning here in Nevada.  And therefore I have not paid close attention to races outside of our state.” 
This raises two further questions.  A, why didn‘t she just say that in your interview?  And B, maybe more importantly, why does she keep going on this guy‘s show?  And C, how many times can one candidate self-destruct on camera?      
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
OLBERMANN:  One of the Accuracy in Media clowns spreads out into the Don‘t Ask Don‘t Tell debate with disastrous consequences.  “Disease-tainted gay blood,” he warns, “threatens our troops.”  That‘s next with our guest, Dan Savage.  But first, get out your pitch forks and torches, time for tonight‘s worst persons in the world. 
The bronze to Newt Gingrich, profiled by Tom Schauer (ph) of 538.com, managed to support and oppose the same thing in the same interview, the bailout.  “I thought it was totally wrong for the former chairman of Goldman Sachs to be funneling billions of dollars from the taxpayers to Goldman Sachs.”  But on the subject of the bailout, “candidly, there was a period there when you had the Federal Reserve chairman and the secretary of the Treasury saying if we don‘t do X, Y and Z, the entire world economy is going to collapse.  That‘s pretty good grounds for stopping and trying to do something.” 
To paraphrase Ian Hunter‘s old album, you‘re never alone with Newt Gingrich. 
Runner up, Kevin Skilnarick (ph), director of operations for the minor league baseball team the Redding Phillies.  Apparently he signed off on a promotional giveaway featuring a former Redding player for the game on August 3rd, the Ryan Howard Garden Gnome.  Oh, dear.  Mr. Skilnarick told the “Philadelphia Inquirer” “he is there to protect your garden.  People in general think all gnomes are pretty.” 
What‘s the matter?  Wouldn‘t they make you one where he is actually dressed up like a little jockey and he‘s carrying a lantern? 
But our winner, resigned Indiana Congressman Mark Souder, who now explains he was going to not seek re-election anyway, because he was burning out on the job.  And he only won the primary by a little.  And he decided that long ago.  He was going to announce it soon, when suddenly his affair with his staffer was revealed.  And you made that abstinence video with your mistress because the two of you were going to start practicing abstinence soon? 
That makes Congressman Mark Souder today‘s worst person in the world.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
OLBERMANN:  It still faces a full vote in the Senate.  But tonight the Senate Armed Services Committee has voted 16 to 12 to repeal the 17-year-old ban on gays serving openly in the U.S. military.  Fifteen Democrats, joined by Republicans Susan Collins of Maine in favor of repeal, 11 Republicans along, with the Democratic Jim Webb of Virginia, voting against it.  The House expected to vote tonight or possibly tomorrow.  Either way, Speaker Pelosi telling reporters today, quote, “the votes are there.” 
But in our number one story, before Don‘t Ask Don‘t Tell becomes don‘t remember it, it‘s history, John McCain is marshalling his own resistance to the Senate amendment, inexplicably siding with right wing fringe groups who are attempting to out homophobe each other to prevent historic progress for gay Americans.  Dan Savage joins me in a moment. 
First “the New York Times” reports that the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Mr. McCain, solicited and received letters from the chiefs of four branches of military calling for the vote to be delayed until after a Pentagon review.  That‘s after the secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs already had endorsed repealing the law. 
A new CNN poll out this week indicates nearly eight in ten Americans, and nearly 60 percent of Republicans, favor allowing gays to serve openly in the military, 60 percent of Republicans.  Speaking for the minority opinion, Family Research Council, Peter Sprigg.  He told reporters yesterday, quote, “protected class status for homosexuals would make victims hesitant to report assaults and make commanders hesitant to punish them for fear of appearing homophobic.” 
According to Mr. Sprigg, quote, “the most common type of homosexual assault is one in which the offender fondles or performs oral sex on a sleeping victim.” 
Cliff Kincaid of the America‘s Survival Group, also of Accuracy in Media, warns of an Army of cross-dressing corporal clingers.  His group also produced a ten-minute long Youtube video which warns, “disease-tainted gay blood threatens our troops.  Open and active homosexuals in the U.S.  military could very well result in the spreading of HIV tainted blood throughout the ranks.” 
And when all else fails, there‘s always the Hitler card.  This is Bryan Fischer from a group called the American Family Association. 
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRYAN FISCHER, AMERICAN FAMILY ASSOCIATION:  Hitler himself was an active homosexual, taught soldiers to be savage, brutal and vicious enough to carry out his orders.  But that homosexual soldiers basically had no limits in the savagery and brutality they were willing to inflict on whoever Hitler sent them after.  So he surrounded himself—virtually all of the Storm Troopers, the Brown Shirts were male homosexuals. 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN:  We get a bonus tonight.  We got to see the audition tape of the guy who finished second to Glenn Beck.  Joining me now, as promised, the author of “The Commitment, Love, Sex, Marriage and My Family,” columnist Dan Savage.  Good evening, Dan. 
DAN SAVAGE, AUTHOR, “THE COMMITMENT”:  Good evening, Keith. 
OLBERMANN:  Can you—I know this is—it‘s like asking people to explain—I don‘t know—mythology or something.  But can you explain how Hitler, who had people murdered for being gay, also had this all gay army that did his murdering for him in between their assaults on straight soldiers, who were surprisingly sound sleepers? 
SAVAGE:  It‘s inexplicable.  It‘s a big lie.  Hitler treated gay people the way these right wing bigots would like to treat gay soldiers, the way these right wing people would like to treat gay people and gay services.  They were driven out of the armed forces.  They were locked up in concentration camps.  And they were murdered. 
And particularly the Brown Shirts on the night of the long Knives, Hitler disbanded the Brown Shirts and had Ernst Rohm murdered, who was their leader, murdered, who may have been gay.  Hitler was not an active homosexual.  He was married to a lovely female named Eva Braun and had a very strange relationship with her. 
But there‘s no evidence, none whatsoever, that Hitler was a homosexual, active or otherwise.  This is a measure of their desperation.  They‘re losing the battle and sort of trotting out all these really appalling and easily disproved lies.
OLBERMANN:  Are you ever surprised at the lies or how absurd they are or the venom that comes from these groups of idiots? 
SAVAGE:  No.  Whenever they‘re on the verge of losing culturally, the outcome—you know, the most appalling, bigoted statements.  We‘ve been hearing this sort of hyperbole for 40 years, 30 years.  Back when the first gay and lesbian civil rights legislation—laws were being enacted, we heard that we couldn‘t let gays and lesbians be teachers.  And we had Anita Brian in Florida, the Briggs initiative in California.  We couldn‘t let gays and lesbians be teachers because gays and lesbians were crude and they were going to recruit your children.  All of that is not true.  These laws have been passed.  There aren‘t gay teachers out there recruiting or raping your children.  There won‘t be gay soldiers out there recruiting or raping other soldiers. 
HIV positive people can‘t serve in the armed forces.  There will be not be HIV positive blood on the battlefield.  Soldiers are required to wear what they‘re required to wear.  So there aren‘t going to be an Army of corporal clingers, although that would probably terrify our opponents in al Qaeda and Afghanistan, if we did send an Army of Colonel Clingers over there. 
OLBERMANN:  Is there something you think specifically about gays
serving in the military that these people don‘t like?  Or is it, as you‘re
suggesting, this is like a timeline in which wherever they encounter the
gay, these bizarre straight people, presumably straight people—who knows
have to overreact just because this is the latest battlefield, no pun intended? 

SAVAGE:  First, that‘s a really great point.  Who knows whose lifting these people‘s luggage, these folks who are so paranoid—
(CROSS TALK)
SAVAGE:  I‘d like to see what‘s going on in their heads.  I think they‘re projecting, some of them.  Whenever they‘re on the verge of losing, they trot out these desperate nightmare scenarios.  And they really on the verge of losing the last two final issues when it comes to gay rights, which is service in the military and marriage.  Increasingly, the country is ever more supportive of full marriage rights for gays and lesbians, perhaps not using the word marriage, perhaps civil unions, as in the United Kingdom, but full marriage, full civil enfranchisement for gay lesbian citizens, and military service for gay and lesbians. 
We‘re seeing the end of official government discrimination against gays and lesbians.  And it‘s really sending them over the edge. 
OLBERMANN:  Briefly, if 60 percent of Republicans say it‘s fine by them, why is John McCain doing this?  And why is he on the side of these nut bags?  
SAVAGE:  John McCain is doing this to appease the Tea Party whack-a-doodles in Arizona, and to run to the right, and appeal to the hard, crazy, bat crap conservative right that is tossing incumbents—ancient incumbents, like McCain, are particularly at risk.  This is just a crass political move on his part.  He said during the election, the very recent election that he lost, that if the head of the military—heads of the military service supported a repeal of DADT, he would support it and now he doesn‘t. 
The man is a liar and the last dishonest man—the first dishonest man right now in Washington, D.C.  And it‘s appalling.  His 180 on this issue is appalling and transparent. 
OLBERMANN:  Agreed.  Dan Savage, columnist and author of “The Commitment,” many thanks as always. 
SAVAGE:  Thank you. 
OLBERMANN:  That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 37th day since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill began.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
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