'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, June 10th, 2010
Read the transcript to the Thursday show
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Guests: Tony Kennon, Rick Steiner, Nathan Humbert
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Keith. Thank you for that, and that was an amazing interview with Alvin Greene. Congratulations on that booking and that was amazing.
OLBERMANN: Thank you. That was one word for it, yes.
We are in Los Angeles again tonight, where we were field-reporting from the needlessly oil stained beaches of Alabama, from the epicenter of truly entertaining, beyond-the-fringe Republican politics in Nevada, from the land of irony where the driving force behind the notorious cinematic disaster, “Waterworld,” Mr. Kevin Costner may be the driving force behind cleaning up the real life disaster in actual water world.
And we will bring you perhaps the best piece of tape anyone has yet put together on the BP oil disaster. Best, I say, because it is finally totally not a bummer.
That‘s all coming up.
But first, do you remember a little group called ACORN? The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now? ACORN was a community organizing group that was in some ways a lifeline to low income families looking to get help finding a job or trying to find a home or trying to get some affordable health care.
In many communities, ACORN was the group for the lowest income folks to turn to for help with issues like that. And I‘m using the past tense here, I‘m saying was, other than were, or is, because ACORN no longer exists. ACORN no longer exists in large part because of this, because of a series of undercover so-called sting tapes filmed by a pair of conservative activists last year, tapes that supposedly showed ACORN engaged in all sorts of criminal activity.
ACORN was ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing at some of the offices shown in those tapes, but after the heavily-edited tapes were peddled to FOX News and run there on a constant loop week after week after week, the damage for this little community organizing group that could was already done. ACORN became the prime target for conservatives across the country.
Republicans in Congress led the charge against ACORN. They launched
a sustained, self-righteous, vituperative campaign to end all public
funding of ACORN
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REP. DAN BURTON ®, INDIANA: We need a thorough investigation of ACORN and why they have been authorized to get up to $8.5 billion in taxpayers‘ money.
REP. JOHN CARTER ®, TEXAS: We‘ve had enough of these people and we darn sure don‘t want to pay for them. We don‘t want to pay them to go out and break the law.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: We‘ve got more work to do. And that‘s why House Republicans are renewing efforts to defund ACORN once and for all.
REP. STEVE KING ®, IOWA: Who has consistently called for the cleanup of the corrupt ACORN, the criminal enterprise ACORN and all of their affiliates? It‘s been people on the Republican side of the aisle that have done that.
REP. TODD TIAHRT ®, KANSAS: ACORN receives an outrageous 40 percent of its funding from hardworking taxpayers. This must stop. That‘s why we re fighting to defund this political machine.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Defund this political machine. Defund ACORN once and for
all. That was the Republican call to action over and over and over again
and that‘s exactly what happened. The results of all that bluster was the
Defund ACORN Act of 2009 introduced by Republican Minority Leader John
Boehner—a bill that prohibited the federal government from awarding
contracts, grants or any other federal funds to ACORN. Defund ACORN
legislation passed the House and Senate and was eventually signed into law
by President Obama.
And what followed was a race among federal agencies to see who could end their contracts with ACORN the fastest. President Obama‘s budget director, Peter Orszag, fired off this memo to all departments and agencies, quote, “No agency or department should obligate or award any federal funds to ACORN or any of its affiliates. If your agency has an existing contract, or grant agreement with ACORN, immediately suspend performance of any obligations.”
After that memo went out, the Defense Department called for the suspension of payments and sub-awards and subcontracts to ACORN and its affiliates.
Then there was this announcement from the U.S. Census Bureau a month earlier. Quote, “We are today terminating our partnership agreement with ACORN.”
And it wasn‘t even just the federal government. States tried to get in on the political act, too. Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, quote, “I am directing you to stop all state funding to ACORN.”
Of course, there wasn‘t any Minnesota state funding of ACORN at the time, but Mr. Pawlenty decided to make a big show of pretending there was anyway.
In Louisiana, Governor Bobby Jindal issues order ending funding of ACORN. Again, it was not like Louisiana was funding ACORN at the time, but the backlash against the group was so strong that Governor Jindal could not resist pretending like he was rescinding state funding even though that funding didn‘t exist in the first place.
ACORN was public enemy number one—thanks to mostly Republicans in Congress. There was a universal uprising against ACORN. These are bad people. They must be defunded. They must be driven out of business.
And the Republicans who pushed for this thing got their wish. It was April 1st of this year when ACORN announced once and for all that it had shut all of its offices. April 1st.
Flash forward 19 days to April 20th of this year, and the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon oil rig explodes in the Gulf of Mexico. Eleven workers are killed. Two days later, that rig sinks to the bottom of the ocean, setting off an environmental disaster unparalled in American history. Quite literally, the worst environmental disaster this country has ever seen.
What unfolds over the next few days is the story of a company that is, if not criminally responsible for this disaster—which I‘m guessing they probably are—then they‘re something pretty close to it. Official documents filed with the federal government containing clear falsehoods in them, false disaster response plans; false estimates of worst-case scenarios; false statements of the company‘s capacity for dealing with a major problem; witnesses start showing up talking about short cuts taken by BP on that rig—shortcuts that seemed to have led to the disaster; blatantly inaccurate low-ball estimates given by BP repeatedly about the amount of oil being spilled into the Gulf day after day.
Now, it is BP that has become public enemy number one. But it‘s not because of some political witch hunt or some fraudulent misleading political stunt cooked up for FOX News or for anyone else, BP is public enemy number one because—because of this. Because look at what they‘ve done. What they can‘t fix. What they lied about. What they‘re still doing. Look at it.
When Republicans took down ACORN, this supposedly giant democracy-crippling criminal enterprise ACORN, ACORN was receiving essentially pennies in federal dollars. According to reports at the time, ACORN had received, in total, about $53 million in federal funds since 1994 -- $53 million over 15 years.
Right now at this very moment, BP gets billions upon billions upon billions of dollars in federal contracts. If you go to USAspending.gov you can find all of the different contracts that BP has with the federal government: $9 billion in contracts with the Defense Department, $2.6 million in contracts with the Veterans Affairs Department, $2.2 million with the Transportation Department, another $3 million in contracts with various other government agencies.
So let‘s hear those calls from the crusaders in Congress to immediately end all of those contracts, right? To stop funding BP.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARTER: We‘ve had enough of these people and we darn sure don‘t want to pay for them. We don‘t want to pay them to go out and break the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That wasn‘t about BP. That, of course, was about ACORN taking federal money and breaking the law. And you go get ‘em, Congressman John Carter.
For the record, 11 rig workers were killed at BP‘s oil well in the Gulf of Mexico two months ago. In 2005, 15 workers were killed at a BP oil refinery explosion in Texas. BP has chalked up criminal violation after criminal violation in Alaska, earning them a $20 million fine from the Justice Department just recently in 2007.
If the hoax undercover pimp and ho video on FOX News was enough to defund ACORN immediately and forever, what does BP have to do to get the same treatment? Republicans were basically tripping over themselves to bury ACORN last year, to put them out of business. Now, they are lining up behind BP. At least some of them are.
Last week, Dick Cheney‘s former campaign spokesperson signed on to become BP‘s new head of U.S. media relations. Today, there are reports that President Bush‘s former chief of staff, Josh Bolten, has also signed on to help advise BP through this crisis. And by crisis, he means their P.R. crisis.
Republican members of Congress are doing their level best as well to help out BP in BP‘s time of need. Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and James Inhofe of Oklahoma have both blocked efforts in the Senate to raise BP‘s financial liability after this disaster from $75 million to $10 billion.
Today, Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner, the top Republican in the House, John Boehner of “Defund ACORN” fame, the guy who introduced the Defund ACORN legislation, John Boehner backed a Chamber of Commerce effort to force taxpayers, to force you and me to help pay for BP‘s oil disaster—because heaven forbid they be responsible for itself themselves.
After a huge uproar over those comments today, John Boehner, late in the day, had to walk those comments back.
Here‘s Republican Don Young of Alaska and his take on the BP oil spill.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. DON YOUNG ®, ALASKA: This is not an environmental disaster.
And I will say that again and again, because it is a natural phenomenon.
Oil has seeped into this ocean for centuries, will continue to do it.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: This environmental disaster? No. Did you hear about ACORN, though?
This year, in the wake of the Big Defund ACORN effort, ACORN has received exactly zero dollars in federal contracts. Count them, zero dollars.
So far this year, and it‘s only June, and BP has received $837 million in federal contracts.
I‘m not saying I want ACORN to get back any of its piddling little federal contracts. I‘ve said it before in the show, I will say it again—they were definitely an imperfect organization. But the Republican argument in favor of defunding ACORN last year was essentially, this isn‘t a witch hunt, this isn‘t about prohibiting federal money from going to an organization that doesn‘t have political aims that we want, this is about prohibiting federal funds from going to an organization that‘s committed fraud and worse.
As the BP oil disaster inches toward its two-month anniversary, as the Justice Department continues its criminal investigation into the company as more evidence comes out detailing BP‘s negligence in the disaster itself, and we all every day watch the failure of the sad excuse for a cleanup afterwards, how many of the self-righteous defund ACORN crusaders do you think would get on board for the “Defund BP Act of 2010”?
MADDOW: Next time you hear someone complain about how we need to cut the red tape, we need to cut regulation of industries like, say, the oil industry, consider this one handy fact from today‘s news. This was in “The Washington Post” today: Between 1988 and 2008, the number of deepwater drilling projects in American waters increased by a factor of ten. Ten times as many deepwater oil rigs. Over roughly the same period, the number of federal employees responsible for inspecting those rigs grew by 13 percent.
So, over 20 years, we hired 13 percent more people to inspect 1,000 percent more drilling rigs. What could possibly go wrong?
MADDOW: Imagine a hurricane parked offshore for 52 straight days—with no one having any idea when it‘s going to leave. From land, we can see the oil hurricane out there, the oil being spewed toward us in slow motion. We know it‘s coming.
But can we do anything about it? Do we just have to watch helplessly as it hits shore—as it hits not only beaches which at least conceivably can be cleaned, but as it also hits wetlands and mud flats and grassy islands that can never really be properly cleaned? It‘s not like we haven‘t had plenty of advance warning that it‘s coming.
When we know the oil is coming at specific places on the American coast, can we stop it? We should be able to, but apparently we can‘t. At least we can‘t in Alabama, in Orange Beach, where locals have been watching the oil for weeks knowing it was heading their way, trying to come up with ways to stop it.
Yesterday, the oil won. It came through Perdido Pass and did this to Orange Beach, to Terry Cove and to Bayou St. John and Cotton Bayou.
We know where it was heading. We had weeks of advance notice. There is technology to divert and contain and remove oil from the water in specific areas. It‘s not great technology, but there is technology.
But, apparently, we, the United States of America, do not have the will or the coordination or the manpower or the leadership to pull something like this off—to pull off protecting part of America we knew was going to get hit by oil we knew was coming that we had weeks to prepare for.
Everybody‘s really focused on how much oil is still pumping out of the seabed, out of that riser pipe. I get it. But there is oil in the water already, tens of millions of gallons. And we are doing a disgracefully bad job keeping that oil offshore and getting it out of the water.
The technology to deal with the oil that‘s already in the water is not great technology. The oil industry has been letting the cleanup field rot for decades. But the tech we do have was probably enough to save Orange Beach in Alabama. And we blew it. We blew it this week.
Which other coastal town is next?
Joining us now is the mayor of Orange Beach, Alabama, Tony Kennon.
Mr. Mayor, thank you very much for your time, sir. I am very sorry about the oil that has hit your town.
TONY KENNON, MAYOR OF ORANGE BEACH, AL: Thank you, Rachel. We greatly appreciate your all‘s concern. Can I say something?
MADDOW: Can you walk me through—sure. Please go ahead, sir.
KENNON: The Republicans—I‘m a conservative. The Republican senator that said this wasn‘t an environmental disaster is a complete fool. He needs to come down and take a swim off Louisiana‘s coast if it‘s not a disaster.
Go ahead. I thought I‘d make a comment.
MADDOW: No, please, I‘m happy to hear it and I‘m sure you know I agree with you on that.
In terms of what‘s happened in Orange Beach, I‘d love it if you could just tell us what has happened locally when you knew that oil was offshore and you were trying to prevent what‘s since happened, what kind of information were you getting, what were your plans for trying to stop it.
KENNON: Well, unfortunately, the locals, we have absolutely zero control over the—over the process and what‘s going on. That is completely within BP‘s purview.
But for five weeks, we had been watching BP prepare. Two to three weeks ago, I began to start yelling at a fairly high volume that we didn‘t have enough assets in place to do the job. Not enough skimmers, not enough offshore skimmers, not enough boom, we just wasn‘t ready.
The oil moved in Tuesday evening. I thought we had closed the pass down. The pass is the opening between the Gulf of Mexico and our back bays. At 10:00 that night, the Coast Guard let me know that they were not going to close down the pass. I asked them to reconsider. They did not.
And as a result, between that decision and the ineptitude of the response by BP‘s contractor and plan, oil moved up three to four miles up into our back bays.
MADDOW: In terms of the technology that is available to try to have stopped what happened in Orange Beach—I know that it‘s not great technology. Everybody knows that boom isn‘t foolproof. But do you feel like it is possible that had it been done right, that the pass could have been protected from the encroachment of that oil, that your back bays could still be clean today?
KENNON: Right. Well, we know it‘s a difficult situation because our pass has one of the most—the fastest currents of any pass or any outlet on the Gulf. However, booming is a very simplistic approach to blocking the oil. And when have you a simplistic approach, you make up with overwhelming numbers of assets.
But when you‘ve got a simplistic approach and underwhelming numbers, that‘s when you get into trouble. That‘s the issue. Had we had everything in place that we should have had, I think there would have been a much, much better job of keeping that in place.
But there was also a component of disorganization and total malfunction where they continued to open and close the gates for boats to come in and out while we were trying to skim and pick the oil up, which allowed the oil to move out of the containment area into the back bays, which is absolutely mind boggling to me.
MADDOW: In terms of what your next steps are and what happens now -
now that the oil has come into Orange Beach, has come into these places you cannot want it to end up in, is there a plan for cleaning it up, for keeping it from getting worse? Do you feel like any of the disorganization has been overcome by the urgency of the scenes that we‘re seeing of the oil in Orange Beach?
KENNON: Well, BP knows our sense of urgency. We‘ve let them know that. And for two days now, we‘ve been very much involved in refining the process. They have promised us they‘re going to have more assets in place, and we‘re predicted to possibly have another infiltration of oil Friday and Saturday.
We better be ready. We better have the assets in place. We‘re looking to have other strategies that should have already taken place.
But for whatever reason, it did not. So, we‘re going to get them in place as soon as we can. I do think there‘s a little bit better communication now with us, the Coast Guard and BP. But if the assets aren‘t there to handle and do the job, it‘s all put off.
MADDOW: Well, Mr. Mayor, if it helps us to give you a bigger megaphone for that yelling you‘re doing, please let us know. It‘s a small thing we can offer but it‘s sort of all we can offer at this point.
KENNON: It has made a big difference.
MADDOW: Thank you, sir.
KENNON: It‘s made a big difference.
MADDOW: Thank you. Mayor Tony Kennon of Orange Beach, Alabama—good luck to you, sir. Appreciate your time.
KENNON: Thank you very much.
MADDOW: Joining us now is Rick Steiner.
He is a marine conservationist who is just back from Grand Isle, Louisiana. He was the University of Alaska‘s marine adviser for the Prince William Sound region of Alaska during the Exxon Valdez oil spill. And he now works on oil spill prevention and response around the world.
Rick Steiner, thanks very much for joining us again.
RICK STEINER, MARINE CONSERVATIONIST: My pleasure.
MADDOW: When I found out this morning what went wrong in Orange Beach, I immediately wanted to ask you what you thought about it in terms of the technological failure here. Was this a matter of the response team not tailoring their response to that specific q area? Was it just not enough resources made available? What do you think?
STEINER: Well, there‘s a lot to it certainly. I mean, the number of failures in this whole thing is becoming epic, certainly.
But first, I wanted to also underscore what the mayor just said about that, the congressman, the Republican congressman that said this was not a disaster. That is our congressman from Alaska, and I agree with his characterization—with the mayor‘s characterization, that is simply one of the most arrogant and ignorant statements I‘ve heard out of the Deepwater Horizon disaster so far.
So, most people in Alaska get that this is a disaster. So just so the mayor knows that.
Now, there are—as you‘ve mentioned, there are many things that the responders can do and could have done and still could do to protect Orange Beach and Perdido Bay and at the very back of the bay, Arnica Bay, there‘s about 20 female dolphins with their calves right now, nursing calves right at the back of the bay. That has to be protected.
But instead of trying to block off the current, which gets up to seven or eight knots through there at maximum tidal flush, they can simply try to encircle oil that‘s coming in there and go with the flow. Don‘t try to fight the flow, just drift with the oil sheens and slicks that are coming into the bay.
If they want to do this, they can do it and then have the skimming assets and sorbent booms put in there to absorb this stuff out of the water. They are ways you can to do it. You might not get it all, but they can certainly do a heck of a lot better than just sitting on the beach watching it.
MADDOW: When you talk about—understanding those relatively subtle dynamics, at least to those of us who are outside that area, thinking about the rate at which water is coming through that pass, thinking about the specifically vulnerable areas, wildlife vulnerable areas in those back bays—what I‘m hearing is the locals need to be involved in planning and carrying out this response, because they may know those subtleties best. Is that one of the lessons of what happened with the Exxon Valdez response, that locals need to be involved?
STEINER: Absolutely. And that‘s one of the biggest failures in this response, the BP response so far, and the unified command. There‘s no unified command if they don‘t have local input in that command structure, and they don‘t. So, that‘s a huge failing here.
One of the—one of the one only things we got right in the Exxon Valdez response is that the local fishing industry was represented in the emergency command team. There were several of us that sat in those—sat in the command team for several months, telling them what we thought was possible and what we thought was not possible and where we wanted the response assets to go.
These folks that live in the parishes in Louisiana and the places like Orange Beach, they know what‘s possible. They know what the boats can do, where the currents go and such like that, what deserves to be protected and what can‘t be. And the fact that the responders come in there in this kind of cowboy attitude and start telling the local people what they‘re going to do—I mean, it‘s—everything‘s kind of flipped upside down.
So, that still can be corrected. There needs to be local people involved in the unified command to this thing.
MADDOW: Yes. And especially considering that this is going to be going on for months, this is not something that is a done deal and has been screwed up forever. Stuff can improve. And the more I hear about this, the more we know it needs to improve.
MADDOW: Marine conservationist Rick Steiner—thank you so much for your time. I have a feeling we‘ll be asking you back some time soon, Rick. Thanks.
STEINER: Glad to, Rachel. Thanks.
MADDOW: So, if you have been feeling mad or despondent about the BP oil disaster, I have a prescription to ease your pain. It‘s the Upright Citizens Brigade versus BP. And it will make you feel better. At least it made me feel better.
And Nevada Senate Republican nominee Sharron Angle‘s Web site before she won Tuesday‘s primary looks nothing like it does after she won that primary. Someone hit the control, alt, delete keys on the kook factor five stuff from Sharron angle‘s past. But we found it anyway.
Please stay with us.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Now that Sharron Angle has won the Republican nomination for Senate to run against Harry Reid in Nevada - now, the fun part. Now, the fun part is watching the national Republican political establishment try to figure out what to do with Sharron Angle.
Try to figure out how to balance that national Republican frothing, clamoring, heart-racing desire to beat Harry Reid with the fact that their candidate against Harry Reid thinks that fluoride in drinking water is a conspiracy and recently suggested that beer should be illegal. Sow‘s ear, can you become a silk purse? Can you?
Let‘s start with your Web site. Here was Sharron Angle‘s Web site before she won the Republican primary this week. Here is Sharron Angle‘s new and improved, “Oh, my god. She‘s actually the candidate now” Web site after it was hijacked and scrubbed by the same online Republican PR company that brought us Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, and Virginia Governor “just say no to fornicators” Bob McDonnell and Americans for Prosperity, the corporate-funded, fake grassroots group that hosted those bus tours against health reform featuring speakers who compared health reform to the holocaust and to the Khmer Rouge.
The same online PR company that put a shine on those folks is also now putting quite a shine on beware-the-fluoride Senate candidate Sharron Angle. So in the place of Angle‘s old pre-spin-doctored Web site, which sort of looked like a MySpace page for a local John Birch Society softball team, there is now a pretty professional-looking splash page which has got a fancy online donation feature with scrolling names of recent donors.
On the old Sharron Angle Web site, she pledges that, quote, “The well being of those in the theater of war should not and cannot be minimalized.” On the new Sharron Angle Web site, “The well being and safety of those in the theater of war should not and cannot be minimized.”
Depending on your point of view, that‘s either Sharron Angle becoming more ready for prime time or that‘s Sharron Angle totally selling out to the man. As this campaign goes on and the national Republican establishment has to decide whether they are really going to hitch their wagon to Sharron Angle, whether they‘re really going to consign every other Republican in the country to saying whether or not they agree with Sharron Angle on issues like fluoridation and making beer illegal.
The Web site and its cached copies and the screen shots that are available online via stuff like the Way Back Machine, that‘s stuff that is evidence of what she used to admit to is going to be the place to stay apprised of just how much the man is going to be able to homogenize the pure, brazen, ideological hit of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that is the political genius of Sharron Angle.
When Sharron Angle pledges that the 67,000 pages of IRS tax code designed to reward friends and punish enemies must be abolished, who among the Republican establishment is going to say, “Yes, Sharron Angle, our standard bearer in Nevada, is someone who we agree with on this. We too believe the tax code has been designed as a giant conspiracy and must be abolished?”
Will that be you, John McCain, Mitch McConnell, John Ensign? How do you feel about your would-be home state Senate vetee? Do you also think the IRS is a giant conspiracy?
When Sharron Angle pledges that Sharron Angle - you know, it‘s awkward, but she really does always refer to herself in the third person online.
When Sharron Angle pledges that Sharron Angle will work toward making a basket of commodities, metals, oils, et cetera, as a basis for maintaining the value of the U.S. currency, Sharron Angle on record pledging that basket of commodities, would that have to be excised from her newer, shined-up Web site?
Or will the John McCains and Mitch McConnells and John Ensigns and Michael Steeles of the world also have to pledge that Republicans agree with her, that the price of oil and gold and - I don‘t know what kinds of other metals? Tin? Zinc? The price of zinc also determine the value of the dollar? Some cross maybe between the price of zinc and the price of a barrel of oil?
That‘s going to determine the value of the dollar? Everybody on board with that? What Sharron Angle pontificates aloud about a shortage of ammunition in America and asks whether Americans are preparing to fight for their liberty in more Second Amendment kinds of ways, when she says if we don‘t win at the ballot box, what will be the next step?
National Republican Senatorial Committee, do you agree? Are you in agreement with the candidate retiring in Nevada who says maybe a Second Amendment kind of fight is at hand if you don‘t get your way in the elections and that‘s maybe why people are buying lots of ammo?
Is everybody on board with that? The scrubbing of Sharron Angle‘s political history is already well underway. In this day and age, though, the effort to erase history and turn Sharron Angle into a mainstream conservative sort of depends on everyone mass-forgetting how to use the Google. I mean, that could happen if we are all brainwashed because of the fluoride, you know. Be careful.
Joining us now is Jonathan Humbert, investigative reporter with KLAS in Las Vegas, Nevada. Jon, thanks very much for joining us.
JONATHAN HUMBERT, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, KLAS-TV: Absolutely, Rachel.
Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: So the rest of the country is just getting to know Sharron Angle, and, boy, howdy, is it nice to meet you. But to Nevadans, is she already a household name?
HUMBERT: Well, she has been up north. But this was really the first exposure that people have to Sharron Angle. But for those folks up in the north, they have to realize that Sharron‘s Angle‘s experience in the assembly and then later in a Senate run was to go after one of the scions of politics out in the north, Bill Raggio, the state Senate leader for many years, the voice of moderates.
She wanted to push him from the right and this is a man who has a bust of himself in the Reno-Tahoe international airport. He is so beloved. And instead, she went after him for not being conservative enough despite his steady leadership in the Senate in Nevada.
So have you to think about what Sharron Angle represents to the folks up there. They certainly did not appreciate her efforts to try to join the state Senate. And now, you have to look at the evolution that she has had over the last few years.
And not even a year ago, just under a year ago, she was in a backroom cloistered in the back of an off-strip casino talking with who eventually became one of the big leaders in the tea party movement. And there are maybe 15 people in the room, elderly folks who are supporting Sharron Angle, who knew who she was.
And she was still tinkering around with the idea of joining the campaign going after Harry Reid. And there was a collective sigh almost or shrug of the shoulders as to who this candidate was. So it speaks very well. So her cozying up with the tea party folks and the success that that has brought her to make her a household name. But definitely, Pandora‘s Box has opened for her.
MADDOW: In terms of the tea party angle - angle, forgive me - on how she got elected and the sort of playbook she put together toward winning the Senate nomination, was that something that was mostly from out of state? Was she essentially supported by national activist tea party conservatives more than she was by any homegrown tea party movement?
HUMBERT: Well, the homegrown tea party movement is relatively small in Nevada. So for all this groundswell of support and people talking about having the hats and the parties and the rallies, these were out-of-state folks who came in who helped with the campaign, who pushed her at the last few weeks and pushed her over the top in a convincing fashion.
But this is not a local Nevada movement from what everyone has been able to see. These are folks, as you saw with the Web site, you brought up some of those issues that out-of-state elements are getting involved in helping that.
But those out-of-state elements are also going to try to refocus this campaign. She‘s going to be going to D.C. in the next couple of weeks and working with some of those bigwigs back there, meeting with John Cornyn and others.
And they‘re going to hopefully cajole and push her to try to get closer to what they want to see, because it doesn‘t appear right now that what she‘s saying, a huge list of issues that hasn‘t changed other than a few dramatic points definitely could be weighing her down. But this is an outside campaign helping her out at this point.
MADDOW: Is it possible as Republicans, national Republicans, establishment Republicans try to sort of take some of the rough edges off of her, make her seem maybe less ideologically out there, is it possible that Sharron Angle will try to resist that, that she‘ll sort of try to keep it real? Keep the fluoride stuff and the U.N. conspiracy theories and stuff, to keep those things in her campaign?
HUMBERT: Well, again, they talked about the grammar and fixing some of those issues today. But we went through the policy once again to see if any wording had changed there, now that some folks have had a couple days to pore over Sharron Angle‘s record, try to fix things perhaps and focus on it.
But again, these are untenable positions for many Nevada politicians, supporting Yucca Mountain, 100 miles away from Las Vegas, a nuclear dump right in our backyard. That‘s something not even incumbent Gov. Jim Gibbons, who lost in resounding fashion, would support.
So you have to look at those policy positions, literally saying transitioning out of social security. We have a large elderly contingent here in Nevada, particularly in Las Vegas, veterans as well.
And to hear the fact that she wants to move away from social security or downplay the benefits that those folks get, that‘s no way for a politician to be running for a lot of those Republicans. They have to look at that and look at that elderly base and be scared that she‘s talking about some of these issues.
Those aren‘t just two of the many positions that‘s don‘t quite jibe with what the folks here want.
MADDOW: Jonathan Humbert, an investigative reporter with KLAS in Las Vegas, Nevada, thanks for your reporting on this and thanks for your time tonight, Jon. It‘s nice to see you.
HUMBERT: Absolutely. Thanks a lot, Rachel.
MADDOW: So imagine what would happen if BP had spilled coffee over a conference table instead of oil all over the gulf. How would they respond?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: According to the charts, this is the best plan of action we have. That will be great. Don‘t worry about it. It‘s a small spill on a very large table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The Upright Citizens Brigade provides the first piece of tape about Tony Hayward and BP that is more funny than it is infuriating. That‘s ahead.
MADDOW: As you probably know, a man named Alvin Greene won South Carolina‘s Democratic primary for U.S. Senate this week. Alvin Greene did not have a Web site, did not appear to have any campaign funds.
And it‘s been reported that the South Carolina Democratic Party did not see or hear from Alvin Greene between the time he filed papers to enter the race and Tuesday night when he very surprisingly won the race.
On a night of very strange election results, Alvin Greene was the very strangest. And the story has since become even more strange, including details of his facing felony charges involving obscene photos allegedly being sent to a woman and Greene allegedly entering her college dorm room without consent.
Tonight on “COUNTDOWN,” Keith Olbermann had a rather incredible interview with Alvin Greene. Here‘s a part of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST, “COUNTDOWN”: What was your campaign like? Did you have a lot of campaign meetings?
ALVIN GREENE, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR SENATE: I had quite - I had just a few meetings, not many.
OLBERMANN: Did you have campaign rallies?
GREENE: Nothing formal, just informal rallies. Just informal meetings, rather.
OLBERMANN: Did you go door to door to meet the voters? How did they find out who you were?
GREENE: I just conducted a simple, old-fashioned campaign, you know, all across the state of South Carolina.
OLBERMANN: The charge of felony obscenity last year, would you care to address that with this opportunity to do so?
GREENE: I have no comment on that.
OLBERMANN: Can you say whether or not a public defender was assigned to you?
GREENE: That I‘m not commenting on.
OLBERMANN: Do you think that between now and the campaign, the vote, when you‘re campaigning against Mr. DeMint, that at some point you‘re going to have to address that question?
OLBERMANN: Congressman Clyburn suggested that you were planted in this campaign, possibly by Republicans. Why should we believe he‘s not telling the truth and you are?
GREENE: Like I said before, I‘ve always been a Democrat, and I still will be a Democrat in the future and support Democrats.
OLBERMANN: The state chairman of the Democratic Party has asked you to withdraw from the Senate race. Will you withdraw?
GREENE: No. No, sir.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You can see the rest of that remarkable, remarkable interview coming up on “COUNTDOWN.” It will be a story that you‘ll be talking about tomorrow. I guarantee it. We‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: Still ahead, the Upright Citizens Brigade takes on BP.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘ve got Kevin Costner on the phone. He‘ll know what to do for sure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How big is the spill?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pretty major, Mr. Costner.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have a golf ball?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a big -
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That‘s coming up next. Please stay with us.
MADDOW: As cartoonishly greedy and opaque and misleading and quasi-contrite and totally inept as BP executives appear to have been before and during the oil disaster, the task of mocking them while the disaster is still unfolding remains a delicate task that is best left in the hands of experts.
Thankfully, the professionals at the Uprights Citizens Brigade have dispatched a crack team to address the challenge for the mission. Here are BP executives or totally unreasonable facts (UNINTELLIGIBLE) dealing with a big spill as interpreted by the freakishly talented and awesome Upright Citizens Brigade.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: According to the charts, this is the best plan of action.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don‘t worry about it. It‘s a small spill on a very large table.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, I think you‘re underestimating just how much coffee was spilled.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that‘s a lot of coffee. But we‘d better hurry up because it‘s almost reached my laptop.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Calm down. Calm down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s also going to destroy all the fish.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, boy. Oh, boy. Look, look at that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My god. It‘s encroaching on my map of Louisiana.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. OK. Oh, no. OK, I‘m sorry. Oh, no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait, wait, wait. I‘ve got a brilliant idea.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh. OK. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I think the public is getting suspicious.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All is set. Damn. Didn‘t work.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my god. We are really screwed now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, garbage will fall into the coffee cups stopping further spillage.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, there‘s just coffee and garbage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait, I‘ve got an idea. Damn, I really thought that would work.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe it doesn‘t work right away. Let‘s observe it for three hours and then reassess it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
TEXT: Three hours later.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just wasted three hours.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That‘s everything I‘ve got.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentlemen from Halliburton are here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Send them in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gentlemen, we‘ve - oh my god!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys are partly responsible for this. You provided the styrofoam cups knowing they were unstable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no, no. Don‘t blame this on us. You know what?
Halliburton doesn‘t have to listen to this. We are out of here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Quiet down! I‘ve got Kevin Costner on the phone.
He‘ll know what to do for sure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How big is the spill?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pretty major, Mr. Costner.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have a golf ball?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a ping pong ball.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good. Now, throw it at the spill. What happened?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys are (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
TEXT: Forty-seven days later.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: America, behold the Upright Citizens Brigade. We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN COSTNER, ACTOR AND ENVIRONMENTAL ENTREPRENEUR: My enthusiasm for what the machine could do was met with apathy, a refusal to move off the status quo. The list of government agencies, oil companies and foreign companies we contacted reads like a who‘s who of those who needed it, those who should have been looking for it and probably, more to the point, those who should have been developing it themselves.
I was told that it was too expensive, that there was no need, that the spills were becoming less frequent, at least, the ones we could see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I really, really, really want to be able to make fun of this story. Yes, that‘s Kevin Costner, the actor, the “Dances with Wolves” guy. Yes, he has the “Waterworld-y” get the oil out of the water machine that he funded, apparently inspired by his movie, “Waterworld.”
Yes, there is so much about this story that is begging to be snarked at. But it turns out this one does not deserve snark. This is for real.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COSTNER: I‘ve been to all these oil response conventions around the country and around the world. And all I see are booms and the latest helicopter. But I‘ve never seen one machine that deals with getting the oil out. That‘s me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Mr. Costner invested $20 million of his own money in this technology and he appears to be on to something. This is the machine. It sucks up oily water and then spins it using centrifugal force to separate the water from the oil.
The company Costner invested in that makes the machines is called Ocean Therapies Solutions. BP tested the devices last month and has now ordered 32 of them. Ten of them should arrive next week. Ocean Therapy Solutions says when all of them are deployed, they will be able to clean six million gallons of water a day.
The machines are already working apparently at separating me from my inborn snarky-ness and mainly irrepressible desire to make fun of famous people. So at least, we know they are powerful. “COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN” starts right now.
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