'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Wednesday, June 16th, 2010
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Guests: Robert Young, Ed Markey, Chris Hayes
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST, “COUNTDOWN”: And now, to give her version of the Oval Office address that perhaps President Obama should have given—ladies and gentlemen, here the 45th president of the United States, Rachel Maddow.
Good evening, Madame President.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: I like—I prefer to think of myself as the first fake president of the United States.
OLBERMANN: No, that was the last one. You forgot already?
MADDOW: Fair enough. Thank you, Keith.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. The president hosted BP executives at the White House today. BP then let their “Swedish is his first language” chairman express to the press his concern for the “little people.” That didn‘t go over very well.
It turns out all the big oil companies‘ disaster plans are essentially exactly the same. That‘s strange. We‘ll figure out why that is in just a moment with Congressman Ed Markey.
And Dick Armey is trying to get on TV again by talking lots of smack about MSNBC.
Mr. Armey, wish granted.
That‘s all coming up this hour.
But we begin tonight with the sad, uncomfortable walk of shame that BP executives were forced to make today after being called to the White House to meet personally with President Obama. That little perp walk out of the West Wing was the visual accompaniment to a tremendously consequential set of headlines today, for anyone who is an executive at BP, or anyone who has a lot of money invested in that country.
BP is announcing today that it will set aside $20 billion—billion with a B -- $20 billion in a fund to compensate victims of their still-ongoing oil disaster in the Gulf. BP also notified its stockholders today to stop expecting billions of dollars in dividend payouts. Those payouts will not be forthcoming, not for last quarter, not for this quarter, not for next quarter.
Even as the president said today that it‘s in all of our interests that BP stays financially able to continue to bear the cost of the disaster, the future of the company at this point looks about as bright as the future of a delicate offshore barrier island. The reeds that hold its soil together, suffocating and dying now under a thick layer of hot, toxic crude.
Despite a lack of specificity in President Obama‘s big speech last night about what he wants to happen politically now on oil and energy issues, Mr. Obama did make one new commitment that could potentially be a very, very big deal for the country and for the Gulf—a commitment that is rather welcome, in my estimation—a long overdue announcement from the United States government about part of the United States that has been long neglected.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The oil spill represents just the latest blow to a place that‘s already suffered multiple economic disasters and decades of environmental degradation that has led to disappearing wetlands and habitats. And the region still hasn‘t recovered from hurricanes Katrina and Rita. That‘s why we must make a commitment to the Gulf Coast that goes beyond responding to the crisis of the moment. I make that commitment tonight. Earlier, I asked Ray Mabus, the secretary of the Navy, who‘s also a former governor of Mississippi and a son of the Gulf Coast, to develop a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan as soon as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A long-term Gulf restoration plan. Rebuild the Gulf Coast!
Because of oil and gas production and shipping and diverting the Mississippi River and dredging and canals and really bad development decisions, Louisiana—which has 40 percent of the wetlands in the Continental U.S.—Louisiana loses a football field-sized area of wetlands every 38 minutes. If we want Louisiana to continue to exist, if we want New Orleans to continue to exist as a city, that is a really big problem.
In the last seven years, between 2003, when southeastern Louisiana came up with its oil spill disaster response plan, between 2003 and now, the giant oil spill, experts say that 500 square miles of Louisiana wetlands disappeared. They just turned into open water. And that‘s before all these wetlands and barrier islands started getting slimed with oil, which will kill them and speed up their disappearance dramatically.
As I have said before and will probably say again, if we were losing this much American territory to a foreign country, we would be at war with that foreign country. But President Obama has now announced a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan, a concentrated effort to protect and rebuild the critical, critical shoreline of the Gulf Coast and the wetlands.
Very welcome, very good news that was slightly undercut by the one concrete thing that the president said the government is now doing off the Louisiana coast.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We‘ve approved the construction of new barrier islands in Louisiana to try to stop the oil before it reaches the shore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: New barrier islands. The barrier islands have been this political football that‘s kicked around in Louisiana, not just since the BP oil disaster started, but for a long time even before that.
But if you‘re going to take seriously the need to repair and protect
coastal Louisiana, if you want to take seriously the need to protect what‘s
there and bring back what‘s been lost, if you want to take care of the Gulf
you should probably not be taking dumb ideas like building these barrier islands out of sand off the coast. And I don‘t just say that as a jerk on TV. I say that because there isn‘t a single prominent coastal scientist who has endorsed this idea.
And the list of prominent coastal scientists who have said this idea is dumb, that it‘s maybe worse than doing nothing is a list that is growing by the day. And they have not been quiet about it.
The idea here is to build six-foot-high sand barriers—sand berms—that would supposedly stop oil, somehow, from getting the shore. It‘s a multi-million dollar project that involves dredging sand from nearby waters to build about, maybe, 40 miles, maybe more of these sand berms. It‘s something that some local politicians have been demanding throughout this disaster.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL ®, LOUISIANA: Once dredging begins, we would literally begin to see land—or sand booms in about 10 days. This is an extremely important component of our own plan to protect our coast from this oil. And, by the way, this plan will also help to protect Louisiana from future hurricane surge as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: If only that were true, if only that were supported by the available scientific informed opinion in evidence.
Gulf Coast scientists and geologists who have been watching the sand berm idea gaining traction have been furiously waving all sorts of red flags trying to stop this thing—red flags about new trenches in the water that they would cause that could forever change wave patterns in the area and prevent the all-important life-sustaining sediment that the coast needs from ever reaching the coast; red flags about the sand berms eroding almost immediately after they‘re built.
These six-foot-high berms are about to come face-to-face with hurricane season. You could spend months building them, only to have them disappear in a large tropical storm.
Red flags about oil that gets into coastal areas potentially getting trapped in there behind these new berms; red flags about the sand barriers potentially channeling incoming oil-soaked water to go faster and therefore further into shore. Not to mention the fact that this project will take months and months and months to complete.
And yet after sustained political pressure from folks like Louisiana‘s governor, the Obama administration has given into the sand berm idea. Despite the fact that even their own scientific experts, their own environmental experts, say it‘s dumb as well.
As “The Wall Street Journal” put it, quote, “EPA says the sand piles probably won‘t protect coast, but Louisiana leaders want them and government signed off.”
It would be one thing if this was just some local proposal, something that one community was trying, maybe it was a good idea or not, but they were trying something. But when it‘s being touted by the president of the United States in an Oval Office address as the thing that we‘re doing as a nation—the fact that it‘s a bad idea, that no one who understands the science of this idea supports this idea, that seems important.
We supposedly have an administration now that values science, right? We‘re all bragging about the fact that our Nobel Prize-winning energy secretary has a Nobel Prize. Do we mention he won a Nobel Prize? He‘s Nobel Prize-winning. We‘re all bragging about the fact that he and his Nobel Prize are personally involved in calculating the flow rate at the oil pipe right now.
But if we supposedly have all of these super-smart science-driven folks in high levels of government and we‘re privileging science over political expediency—finally—why are we OK‘ing this dumb idea? Even if you don‘t care about the stupidity of this idea itself, it does raise concerns about the process.
There should be a point at which somebody says, “Hey, that‘s stupid. Look at the science here.” And then the idea should get stopped. Who‘s supposed to be doing that? And who isn‘t doing that?
Joining us now via Skype is Robert Young, professor of coastal geology and director of the program for the study of developed shorelines at Western Carolina University.
Professor Young, thanks very much for your time today.
ROBERT YOUNG, WESTERN CAROLINA UNIVERSITY: Happy to be here, Rachel.
MADDOW: What is your assessment of these berms? Do you think that it‘s likely that they would work?
YOUNG: No. I think you summed it up pretty good. You know, I think that there are a number of problems with the efficacy of the project and the design, what little design we‘ve seen. It‘s going to take too long to build them. They‘re going to begin to erode as soon as they‘ve been constructed.
And, you know, there are just a lot of missing details to help us understand how effective they would be at trapping the oil. You know, are they going to be cleaning these things immediately upon completion? Or are they going to let them sit there and gather oil and risk being redistributed by a storm.
So, you know, there are some real questions about the efficacy of the project and there are so many questions remaining in how they complete the design and what they‘re planning to do that it‘s almost impossible to evaluate how well this is going to work.
MADDOW: When I look at all of the bad technology that we‘ve got for containing spilled oil, for isolating it, for cleaning it up, for keeping it offshore—it‘s just comparing different degrees of bad to a certain extent. I mean, booming, when done well, can work. But it‘s hard to do it right and we don‘t seem to be able to do it right, at least right now in the Gulf Coast.
Is this just another idea that‘s not ideal? Or are you worried that this will actually cause more oil-related trouble than it is likely to solve?
YOUNG: Well, you know, I think there are a couple problems with it. I mean, look, if I thought that this was going to block a tremendous amount of oil from reaching the estuary and the wetlands, then some of the ancillary environmental concerns or some of the uncertainty might be worth taking the risk.
But if we have a project, where as you say, you know, I haven‘t spoken to a coastal scientist who thinks that this is going to be effective. And if that‘s the case, then all of these unknowns become very important. I mean, if the governor‘s office is permitted to build out the project the way they‘d like to, then we‘re talking about more than 100 miles of berm wrapping around the Louisiana coast and how that will impact hurricane storm surge or currents or the way the oil flows into and out of the estuary is anyone‘s guess, because, you know, we haven‘t had the time to evaluate that.
So, again, if we thought the project was going to work very effectively, then it might be worth the risk. But there‘s, you know, a huge doubt as to whether the project will be effective. So, all of these secondary questions become very important.
MADDOW: One last, I guess, specific, but quick design question for you. It seems to me that the berm design—it just doesn‘t make sense to me, as a person who‘s just a layman, who doesn‘t understand the details. But it seems to me that the design is flawed, because if you have to have space between these berms, between these islands, then oil can obviously get through those spaces. But if you don‘t have space and you build a berm wall, essentially, then that blocks the tides going in and out, which itself could kill the wetlands.
Isn‘t that just a basic conceptual flaw with this plan?
YOUNG: Well, one has to assume that what they‘re trying to do is use these sand berms to seal off some of the shallow passes that were formed in areas like the Chandeleur when the islands were flattened by Hurricane Katrina, and that they will develop a plan to attack the deepwater inlets and passes in between the berms in some very aggressive fashion with booms and skimmers and things like that.
Now, that‘s what I‘m assuming, but, you know, I can only assume that, because it certainly wasn‘t in the permit application. You know, the permit application consisted of two paragraphs and a drawing. And so, I think that the process, as you also mentioned earlier, is a big problem here.
I mean, this spill is going to be with us for years and not just days. And we really need to make sure that we establish a much better process for getting scientists involved on the front end for ideas like this and get scientists involved in vetting them very, very quickly, once they‘ve been proposed.
And right now, we‘re just relying on the Army Corps of Engineers under their emergency order to basically make that call and, you know, they‘re giving agencies very little time to consult and, quite frankly, you know, it says they don‘t even have to listen to them. And, obviously, they didn‘t listen to the agencies when they permitted this berm project.
MADDOW: Professor Robert Young, expert on coastal geology from Western Carolina University—thanks very much for your time tonight, Professor. I really appreciate it.
YOUNG: Sure. My pleasure.
MADDOW: So, as I was listening to President Obama‘s address last night—
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Tonight, I‘d like to lay out for you what our battle plan is going forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: While I was listening to that, I kept saying, OK, I‘d change that, I‘d change that, I‘d change that. So later on this our, from the pretend Oval Office in my head, I will deliver the president‘s speech again with revisions—lots and lots of revisions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Rachel Maddow is the person you‘re talking about with the Civil Rights Act interview, and he announced his candidacy on her show. So he had obviously found her to be a trustworthy person?
DICK ARMEY, FREEDOMWORKS: Well, again, had he told me, I‘d have said don‘t—I‘d have said, don‘t do that. Pick a news show. Find somebody who is a legitimate, honest, professional news person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A legitimate look at my old friend, Dick Armey—coming up in just a moment.
MADDOW: The mythical Caribbean walrus, already one of the most powerful symbols of failure to emerge from the BP oil disaster, just became an even more powerful symbol. For those of you keeping rack at home, the mythical Caribbean walrus came into being when it was discovered on BP‘s regional oil spill response plan for the Gulf of Mexico. This response plan—the one specific to the Gulf of Mexico—included walrus in a list of animals that might be affected by a spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Walruses, of course, only live in super cold places and don‘t actually exist in the Gulf of Mexico. Apparently, the folks at the BP have just copied and pasted their oil spill response plan for the Gulf of Mexico from a response plan they‘d already written for somewhere else, somewhere cold.
Besides being really embarrassing for BP, that fact also gave us all a clue as to why the company‘s Gulf of Mexico actual response—not planned, but real response—has been so underwhelming. But it turns out BP does not have a corner on the “cut and paste, just fake it” oil response spill plan market. It‘s not even the only company that includes the mythical Caribbean walrus in its Gulf of Mexico oil spill response plan.
Congressman Ed Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, called on executives from the nation‘s top five oil companies to testify on Capitol Hill yesterday. Before they arrived, Congressman Markey checked into each of their Gulf of Mexico oil spill response plans and found something truly remarkable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: These five companies have response plans that are virtually identical. The plans cite identical response capabilities and tout identical ineffective equipment. The covers of the five response plans are different colors, but the content is 90 percent identical. Like BP, three other companies include references to protecting walruses, which have not called the Gulf of Mexico home for 3 million years. Two other plans are such dead ringers for BP‘s that they list a phone number for the same long-dead expert.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Not only do they all have cribbed, cut and pasted ineffectual response plans for the Gulf, they all have the same cribbed, cut and pasted ineffectual response plans for the Gulf. Do you believe this?
Apparently, once upon a time, years ago, somewhere cold with walruses, someone from the oil industry actually sat down and thought about responding to an oil spill, and no one has thought seriously about it since. They‘re all—industry-wide—just turning in that one response plan over and over and over again, like a test they bought on the Internet.
But there is a silver lining here: the oil industry is filing this bogus 90 percent identical nothing-to-see-here oil spill response plan with the federal government because that‘s all the federal government has been requiring them to file. There is a reason the oil companies are treating their oil spill response plans for the Gulf of Mexico like a formality. And it‘s because that‘s the way the government has been treating it, too.
Government expectation creates industry response—uniformed industry response. It works when government expectations are dramatically low. Could it also work if government expectations were high?
Joining us now is Congressman Ed Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, chairman of the energy and environment subcommittee.
Congressman Markey, thank you very much for your time tonight.
MARKEY: Thank you for having me on.
MADDOW: How did you discover that these plans were basically identical?
MARKEY: Well, by the time you‘ve read—if you‘ve given a five-book assignment, and by the time you‘re halfway through the second book, it reminds you of the first book and then the third book and the fourth book and the fifth book are all identical. You don‘t really have to be Dick Tracy to figure it out, that the only new technology that these oil companies had invested in was a Xerox machine. And the amount of thought which they put into preparing a response plan was exactly equal to how much MMS, the federal agency, had required them to put in, which was exactly zero.
So, each one of them figured out that they could pretend that they could drill in ultra-deep waters, but they didn‘t have to have an ultra-safe technology or an ultra-fast response in the event that something went wrong. And so, this is just, unfortunately, the problem that exists because of the cozy cooperation between MMS and this incredibly successful oil industry.
MADDOW: And is there a flip side to that expectations—low expectations being met with low performance coin? If the government, if the MMS was a real agency and actually regulating the oil industry and had high expectations for what the companies had to prove before they‘d be allowed to risk all of us by drilling in deep waters off American shores, if there were high expectations, could they really raise the bar in terms of what‘s expected from these companies on safety?
MARKEY: Of course, they could. If the cop on the beat is, in fact, threatening to punish, severely, an oil company because they are running the risk of endangering the entire Gulf Coast, I think there‘s no question, that they would have seen a response. But after a while, this boosterism led to complacency, and the complacency always leads to disaster. And the complacency which was allowed to be created inside of the oil industry resulted in, in fact, no response plans being put in place that could be effectuated in a timely fashion.
And by the way, every one of the oil companies conceded that point at the hearing yesterday.
MADDOW: Congressman Markey, in terms of America‘s big, big energy issue, in terms of our overall orientation to energy, I know you co-authored the energy bill that passed in the House last year. When the president gave his Oval Office address last night, did you want to hear more specifics from him about what he wants the Senate to pass? Do you feel like his leadership is pushing things as fast as they can be pushed right now?
MARKEY: Well, you are right. Congressman Waxman and I, along with Speaker Pelosi, passed the most historic energy and climate bill ever to go through the House of Representatives. That was last June 26th. We have been waiting for the Senate to act.
I think what President Obama did last night was to lay out a plan for victory. He called on the country to move towards wind and solar and biomass and geothermal, all electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, doubling the efficiency of all new buildings in our country. He laid it out. Now the challenge is to repeat this message, day after day, until it gets done before Election Day.
I think if this challenge is not only uttered—issued last night but repeated on a daily basis, we will, in fact, have this final victory that we need to move to a clean energy agenda, and I think last night was the turning point. It was the battle plan for success on an agenda which will change our relationship with fossil fuels forever.
MADDOW: Congressman Ed Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts—thank you so much for your time tonight, sir. I know you‘re very busy right now. I really appreciate it.
MARKEY: Thank you for having me on, again.
MADDOW: OK. Most of the time, my reaction to a President Obama
speech is—wow, good talker. But after last night‘s oil disaster
address, my reaction was not like Congressman Markey‘s. It was more like -
this isn‘t working for me. Get me re-write. So, I re-wrote.
We will bring my completely unauthorized, reprioritized, take two version—coming up.
MADDOW: American combat forces are due to withdraw from Iraq by next December. When combat forces are gone, the State Department will be left behind, presumably to be protected by Iraqi security forces—which may be why the U.S. State Department now says it wants its own combat gear.
The “Associated Press” reporting that State has put in a request to the Pentagon for military vehicles, aircraft, and equipment, including Blackhawks, bomb-resistant MRAP vehicles and surveillance systems. According to the “A.P.,” the State Department says it needs the new military gear because the equipment State has is, quote, “inadequate to the extreme security challenges in Iraq.” And without the equipment, quote, “we can expect increased casualties.”
The idea is that the gear would be transferred from the U.S. Military, much of which is leaving Iraq, to the State Department‘s Bureau of Diplomatic Security. So the equipment stays in Iraq. State still has a Bureau of Diplomatic Security, but in the 1990s, they started outsourcing much of their work to private contractors, contractors like, say, Blackwater, who are working for the State Department when they killed 17 Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square in Baghdad.
State now isn‘t saying they will get rid of security contractors, because after decades of outsourcing, a movement that really started to hit its stride under then Defense Secretary Richard Bruce Cheney in the first Bush administration, we are still, as a nation, totally incapable of protecting our own diplomats.
We have to depend on for-profit companies to do that for us. So the new military equipment the State Department wants for Iraq, if they get it, will still be handled by contractors, who will do the work of protecting our diplomats for profit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
P.J. CROWLEY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: As they transition out, we‘re going to have the same security requirements. And we will be doing that, you know, beefing up our diplomatic security efforts. A lot of this will have to be done by contractors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A lot of this will have to be done by contractors, because we neutered our own ability to take care of ourselves as a nation, when for decades we paid corporations to do it for us.
And now that we‘ve realized that they don‘t do that great a job and they‘re really expensive, it doesn‘t matter that we want to stop paying them because we are dependent on them. We‘ve lost our ability to do for ourselves. And that is the ballad of privatization of core government functions. And a ballad is a sad, sad song.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK ARMEY, FORMER HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Rand Paul made an amateur mistake, a freshman mistake. A rookie mistake. He thought MSNBC was a legitimate news operation. God bless his heart. You don‘t want to talk to anybody in the press that is unprofessional or lazy.
Now, basically, what he did in that case was he - he walked right into a buzz saw. Any legitimate news person would be embarrassed to see them pretending to be news people. They‘re not news people. They‘re political hacks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was former house majority leader, Dick Armey, speaking at a luncheon today, and was trying to argue that it was the venue in which Rand Paul exposed his views on the Civil Rights Act, as opposed to the views themselves, that is Dr. Paul‘s big political problem.
Not what he said, but to whom he said it. Specifically, the problem was that he said it to me after he‘d also been asked about it by the “Louisville Courier Journal” and by National Public Radio. But me - I was the real problem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. RAND PAUL (R-KY), REPUBLICAN NOMINEE FOR U.S. SENATE: There‘s 10 different - there‘s 10 different titles, you know, to the Civil Rights Act. And nine out of 10 deal with public institutions and I‘m absolutely in favor of. One deals with private institutions, and had I been around, I would have tried to modify that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Leaving Dr. Paul‘s desired modifications of the civil rights aside for the moment, I have to say that while it is very flattering to be singled out, out of the blue, by somebody like Dick Armey, I think his comments are a little patronizing to Rand Paul, who, after all, characterized his interview with me as fair.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAND: It really wasn‘t the interview so much that was unfair. The interview, I think, was very fair.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The fact is people like Dick Armey are very invested in trying to needle MSNBC to make us the story, to make us the problem. Not the ideas or the things said by people interviewed here - oh, no. It‘s the place, the host, the liberal lighting, the kind of desk I have, the nefarious communist order of our call letters, perhaps. Have you looked into that?
Of course, it‘s possible that I genuinely ambushed and bamboozled Rand Paul by asking him if he agreed with the Civil Rights Act after two other news outlets have asked him the same thing. It is possible that was (INAUDIBLE) unfair and Dick Armey is just calling it like he sees it and Dick Armey doesn‘t like the way that we reported on him and how he makes his living.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(on camera): Last week, Freedom Works came out with an August recess action kit, directing people to town hall events and arming them with questions to ask. Freedom Works is a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group that is chaired by the former Republican House majority leader, Dick Armey.
In addition to being the head of Freedom Works, Mr. Armey a senior policy adviser at a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm, called DLA Piper. Among DLA Piper‘s clients and former clients, who just might be interested in what happens with health care reform, pharmaceutical maker Bristol-Myers Squibb, who paid DLA Piper through the end of 2008.
Medical device suppliers, Sleep Med, Incorporated, who also ended their arrangement with Piper just last year. Health care provider, Metropolitan Health Networks and the pharmaceutical firm, Medicines Company.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
After that reporting and some others like it, Dick Armey ended up stepping down from that paid position at DLA Piper. But he has not stepped down from his belief that enumerating the facts is a wicked liberal plot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARMEY: And I‘ve been bushwhacked. What the heck. You know, I‘ve never been really embarrassed about anything that I‘ve ever said or did. But I‘ve been embarrassed about things I‘ve been alleged to have said and done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now is Chris Hayes, Washington editor of “The Nation” magazine. Mr. Hayes, thank you for your time.
CHRIS HAYES, WASHINGTON EDITOR, “THE NATION” MAGAZINE: Thank you, Ms.
MADDOW: It is possible that Dick Armey has a grudge against me, and that‘s fine. But he‘s also making a bigger political point here, that politicians on the right should stick to Fox, essentially, stick to friendly territory. And that‘s not just a Dick Armey point. That‘s sort of becoming a mainstream conservative‘s strategic idea, isn‘t it?
HAYES: It absolutely is. I mean, Karl Rove bragged - after Rand Paul
became the first person to cancel a “Meet the Press” interview since Louis
Farrakhan, Karl Rove bragged that he was the one that basically called up
Rand Paul and said, “Don‘t go on ‘Meet the Press.‘”
Now, you know, whatever they want to say about MSNBC, you know, I don‘t think there‘s anyone who says that “Meet the Press” or NBC News is anything other than the most kind of establishment, kind of mainstream media outlet. And they didn‘t want to go on that.
It‘s not - forget MSNBC. You know, forget giving interviews to us at “The Nation.” We don‘t really get along with those folks. You know, they‘re avoiding what are the kind of main pillar, staple, mainstream outlets, because even those are going to ask basic questions about people‘s beliefs.
And the fact of the matter is, what this is a tip-off of, Dick Armey and Karl Rove understand that a lot of these candidates and a lot of the conservative movement have very unpopular beliefs. And they have to figure out a way to kind of cloak them until Election Day.
MADDOW: Well, is there, though - I mean, this came up in the context of Sharron Angle, right? Dick Armey is advising Sharron Angle to avoid shows like, say, this one. So far, she seems to have taken his advice. She‘s done a straight down the right-hand side of the margin talk radio only, Fox News only media strategy. Is there a downside for conservative politicians showing that they‘re only willing to talk to people who are going to ask them friendly questions?
HAYES: Well, one would hope, right? I mean, I think there is a downside, because I do think that people are going to begin to wonder. The problem is, there are two problems.
One is that the conservative media universe is really large. It‘s massive. It can reach a really big audience. And I think they think it‘s just big enough that they can get the people they need to get by just - you know, just talking to that audience.
And then, there‘s also the problem that I think Sarah Palin has kind of pioneered this novel way of interfacing with the press that totally avoids ever having to pay the price of a tough interview, and yet manages to reap all the gains of notoriety and attention.
I mean, she communicates through her Facebook page. She goes on Fox News, and everybody - you know, she‘s the most covered politician in America aside from Barack Obama. That has provided, I think, a model that you can get all the benefits of what used to be mainstream press coverage with none of the costs of actually having to face tough questions.
MADDOW: I don‘t know if she pioneered it, though. Remember when the Bush White House gave a press credential to that hooker guy from the Republican (INAUDIBLE).
HAYES: That‘s right.
MADDOW: To get the questions about, “How awesome are you, sir? Are you as awesome as I think you are?”
HAYES: Oh, I had totally forgotten that episode.
MADDOW: Thank you, Chris. I really appreciate it. Sorry about saying “hooker.” I didn‘t mean to mess you up with her and get you all flustered.
HAYES: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Chris Hayes, Washington editor of “The Nation” magazine. OK, I started mentally editing President Obama‘s oil disaster speech, right about here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Over 5.5 million feet of boom has been laid across the water to block and absorb the approaching oil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: 5.5 million feet of what? 5.5 million feet of uselessness, or of something that might actually do something? Stick around for the annotated Maddow-fied 75 percent radio version of this speech in just a moment.
MADDOW: President Obama‘s BP oil disaster speech, re-imagineered - re-imagineered into something that I find more satisfying. The should‘ve, would‘ve, could‘ve version, direct from the not even remotely official Oval Office of my mind. That‘s coming up next.
MADDOW: You know how sometimes after you get into an argument or a confrontation with somebody, you can‘t help afterwards thinking of all the things you wish you‘d said. You run it over and over in your mind, imaging the perfect comeback or the perfect way to have made your point.
Well, last night after the president‘s big Oval Office speech on the BP oil disaster, I had a version of that experience. I hadn‘t, of course, been in an argument with the president or anything, I just couldn‘t stop running tape in my head of what I wish that speech had been like, what I wish he‘d said.
An Oval Office address is a priceless chance to get the nation to stop what it‘s doing, to stop every other TV show in the country, to get us all to pay attention, all at once, to this crisis and to what the president has to say about it.
What if he had started off by saying, “Good evening”? OK, actually, he did start off by saying, “Good evening.” But what if right after he said, “Good evening,” he said, I‘m here to announce three major developments in the response to the BP oil disaster that continues right now to ravage the beloved gulf coast of the United States of America.
I wish I could tell you that the first development is that BP has capped the well, stopped the leak. They haven‘t. They can‘t. They don‘t know how. And no one else does either. Their best hope is a relief well, which poses its own risks and challenges and which, even in a best-case scenario, affords no relief until August.
All this, the might of this, the mightiest nation on earth and the combined expertise of the richest, most technologically ambitious corporations the world has ever seen cannot, it turns out, cannot cap an oil well when it breaks 5,000 deep in the ocean.
It‘s something that mankind does not yet have the technological capability to fix. And that brings us to the first development in this disaster that I am announcing tonight.
Never again will any company, anyone be allowed to drill in a location where they are incapable of dealing with the potential consequences of that drilling.
When the benefits of drilling accrue to a private company, but the risks of that drilling accrue to we, the American people, whose waters and shoreline are savaged when things go wrong, I, as fake president, stand on the side of the American people and say to the industry, “From this day forward, if you cannot handle the risk, you no longer will take chances with our fate to reap your rewards.”
Our nation‘s regulatory oversight of the oil industry has been a joke in many ways for decades, from the revolving door of industry apparatchiks taking supposed oversight jobs in the government in which they just rubber stamp the desires of the industry to which they were loyal, to energy industry lobbyists themselves being allowed in secret meetings to write our nation‘s policies.
In light of the state of the gulf right now, my fellow Americans, the details of how industry has infiltrated and infected the government that was supposed to be a watchdog, protecting the American public from them, those details are enough to turn your stomach.
But no detail tells you more about the corroding power of the industry against the interests of the American people than the simple fact that they have been allowed to drill in American waters without being forced to first prove that that drilling is safe.
That will never happen again, as long as I am fake president. When I announced in March that my administration‘s energy policy would include expanded offshore drilling, that policy change was predicated on our acceptance of the oil industry‘s assurances, our acceptance of their assurances that they knew how to do that kind of drilling safely.
They were lying. It cannot be done safely, not when no technology exists to cap a blowout on the sea floor. Offshore drilling will not be expanded in American waters. The moratorium will be held firm and in place, unless and until this industry conclusively demonstrates major advances in safety.
Oil industry jobs are important and I will work with industry to mitigate the impact on American families who survive on oil company paychecks. But in the 21st century and in the name of the 11 oil workers who were killed when the Deepwater Horizon rig blew out, we will not play Russian roulette with workers‘ lives and we will not play Russian roulette irreversible national environmental disaster for the sake of some short-term income.
The second major development I‘m announcing tonight, my fellow Americans, concerns another oil industry assurance we can no longer believe. The industry has long assured us that they were capable of handling spilled oil.
In BP‘s own disaster response plan for the Gulf of Mexico, they claimed they were perfectly capable of containing and cleaning up to 250,000 barrels of oil a day, that no significant of amount of oil spill of even that size would get to shore, would foul beaches, would kill wildlife or destroy wetlands. They were lying when they gave that assurance.
And the industry is lying when it says it takes seriously its responsibilities to contain and cleanup disasters that they cause. The same low-tech ineffective equipment and techniques are being used to respond to this oil disaster today that were used in the 1960s and ‘70s to respond to spills back then.
That‘s because the industry has not invested in any new containment and cleanup technology in all of these decades, because they haven‘t cared too much about it as an issue and it shows. It shows both in the inept technology that we have to deploy, to contain, to clean up a spill like this.
And it also shows in the lackadaisical, uncoordinated, unprofessional way this inept technology has been deployed by BP. Beaches have been fouled. Wetlands have been destroyed. Wildlife has been killed that should have been saved. Pensacola Bay in Florida, if properly boomed, should never have been breached by oil. Perdido Pass of Orange Beach, Alabama should never have been breached by oil.
Queen Bess Island, the pelican nesting ground and Barataria Bay in Louisiana - Barataria Bay itself - none of these areas should have been breached by oil even given the sad state of existing technology to stop it. But the fact that those areas were breached is BP‘s human error.
And tonight, as fake president, I‘m announcing a new federal command specifically for containment and cleanup of oil that has already entered the Gulf of Mexico with priority of protecting shoreline that can still be saved, shoreline that is vulnerable to all that has not yet been hit.
I‘ve asked the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to assist me in the diplomatic side of this, in soliciting, green lighting and expediting all international offers of help, from experts in booming and skimming all over the world.
We will bring in the best experts and the best equipment from anywhere on earth to dramatically increase our efforts to get the oil out of the water and off the coast. Oil industry workers are often trained in booming and skimming.
I‘m hereby directing BP to fund booming and skimming crash academies for all available oil industry personnel anywhere in the world to radically overhaul what has been a haphazard, halfhearted, totally unacceptable protection effort starting immediately.
No expense will be spared and no excuses will be brooked. Even if the oil leak is capped today, the oil in the water will continue to surge towards shore for weeks if not months. As fake president, I will personally issue a public update on cleanup and containment efforts every single day until this disaster is under control.
And finally, the third development I have to announce to you tonight in the response to this oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is about how we got here and how that will change.
Every president in the modern era has complained that America must get off oil. Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and now, I, fake President Obama - we have all intoned solemnly that we must get off oil.
Now that we have, at the hands of the oil industry, experienced the worst environmental disaster in American history, the time for talk is over. The world is different now. Our country is different now. The scales have fallen from our eyes.
People say we‘re not ready. They‘re right. We‘re not ready. We also weren‘t ready to fight in World War II before Pearl Harbor happened. But events forced that upon us and events have forced this fight upon us now.
I no longer say that we must get off oil like every president before has said, too. I no longer say we must get off oil. We will get of oil and here is how. The United States Senate will pass an energy bill this year. The Senate version of the year will not expand offshore drilling.
The earlier targets in that bill for energy efficiency and for renewable energy sources will be doubled or tripled. If senators use the filibuster to stop the bill, we will pass it by reconciliation which still ensures a majority vote.
If there are elements of a bill that cannot procedurally be passed by reconciliation, if those elements can be instituted by executive order, I will institute them by executive order.
The political cowardice that has kept politicians from doing right by this country, finally, on energy - finally, standing up to the oil industry - that cowardice has been drowned in oil on Queen Bess Island.
There is a new reality in this country that has been forced on us by this disaster. As president, I pledge to you that the land and sea and livelihood and lives of American people will be put first as with the other thing that is humanly possible to stop this disaster.
We will never again let the oil industry put America at this kind of risk. We will save what can still be saved that is directly at risk in the gulf and we will free ourselves as a nation, once and for all, from the grip of this industry that has lied to us as much as it has exploited us, as much as it has befouled us with its toxic affluent.
The oil age, America, is over. If you are with me, let your senator know it. I will next speak to you about the BP oil disaster tomorrow with my first public update and the cleanup effort in the gulf. God bless you and God bless the United States of America.
Oh, and one more thing. I‘ve also decided I‘m not a White Sox fan anymore.
I‘m a Red Sox fan and I‘m closing Guantanamo. Thank you. Bye.
So in my mind, last night, that‘s what the president said which is why I will never run for anything because I say stuff like “toxic affluent” and I get all weepy when I‘m mad. Also, when I‘m mad, I get blotchy and nobody likes a blotchy president.
MADDOW: Late on Monday night, Natalia Osipova, an internationally famous ballerina, was mugged. She was leaving an American ballet theater performance in New York. The muggers came out behind her. They punched her in the nose, the bastards, and they took her bag. That is the very bad news.
The good news is that she is OK. The truly great news is that the only thing in the ballerina‘s bag that the muggers got as their loot were two tiny, teeny, teeny, tiny little toe shoes. Take that bad mugger karma.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you tomorrow night from Washington.
“COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN” starts right now. Have a great night.
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