updated 6/18/2010 12:08:49 PM ET 2010-06-18T16:08:49

Guests: Howard Fineman, Steve Hayes, Rep. Mike Doyle, Kenneth Abbott, Dave Weigel

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST:  Hi.  The full hour of COUNTDOWN is ahead in 90 seconds and full of it is as before his colleagues can stop him, Republican Congressman Joe Barton apologizes to BP and a BP whistle-blower will be on this show to say Deepwater Horizon can happen again.

But, first, corporate synergy—you know it, you‘ll love it, you can‘t live without it.

I‘ll be back in one minute now.  But, first just tonight, if only Congressman Barton possessed some magical implement from Ollivander‘s Wand Shop with which he could turn back time.  Speaking of which—

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OLBERMANN (voice-over):  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

BP upstaged at its own public relations funeral by—the GOBP. 

Definition: a political party spewing gas and out of control.

Congressman Joe Barton, the GOBP, Texas.

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REP. JOE BARTON ®, TEXAS:  I‘m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday.  I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, participating in what amounts to a $20 billion slush fund.  I apologize.

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OLBERMANN:  Not his last apology of the day.  Not even Tony Hayward was stupid enough to agree with that.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And could we take that as a “no” in response to my question, sir, that you did not consider this to be a slush fund?

TONY HAYWARD, BP CEO:  I certainly didn‘t think it was a slush fund.

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OLBERMANN:  Even the GOBP had enough.  Talk about a shakedown.  Barton forced by leadership to retract his first apology.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARTON:  If anything I‘ve said this morning has been misconstrued in an opposite effect, I want to apologize for that misconstruction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Day 59 with Howard Fineman, with Congressman Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, with the BP whistleblower who fears there could still be worse to come in other BP wells, Ken Abbott.

The first rule of tea party is: you do not talk about tea party.

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DICK ARMEY, FREEDOMWORKS:  I think the bigger mistake Ron Paul did was saying, I am the tea party victor here.

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OLBERMANN:  Dave Weigel on why one of the puppeteers behind the tea party now tells its candidates: hide your tea bags.

“Worst”: This is how we run for office in Alabama.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hey, you!  Hey, get away from that!

(GUN FIRE)

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OLBERMANN:  And speaking of aiming high, as South Carolina Democrats convene to investigate how he got nominated for the Senate, Alvin Greene has a new goal, quote, “I am also the best person to be ‘TIME‘ magazine‘s Man of the Year.”

All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.

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ALVIN GREENE (D), SOUTH CAROLINA SENATE CANDIDATE:  OK, say that again.

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OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.

It was a brilliant day for Democrats politically, distracting attention from the White House handling of the oil spill by pulling an age-old dirty political trick: they let Republicans talk.

In our fifth story tonight: man, did it work.  Revealing the pained contortions of the GOP—now the GOBP—is going through as the defender of bill oil.  It began with an apology.

Sorry our beaches got in the way of your oil?  Sorry the birds and the turtles and the Louisianans inhaled so much of it?  Almost.

Texas Congressman Joe Barton, ranking member of the energy and commerce committee, apologized to BP‘s CEO, Tony Hayward, for what happened at BP‘s meeting with the president yesterday, at which BP agreed to create a $20 billion escrow fund for compensating Gulf Coast residents impacted by the disaster.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARTON:  And I‘m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday.  I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown—in this case, a $20 billion shakedown.  So, I‘m only speaking for myself.  I‘m not speaking for anybody else.  But I apologize.

I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong is subject to some sort of political pressure that is, again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown.  So I apologize.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Because it‘s one thing when a president puts an accused criminal in prison forever without a trial, but when he asks a convicted criminal to put some of its profits into a bank account, he‘s gone too far.

And because Republicans—the GOBP—are more concerned with the rights of criminal corporations and the rights of working class victims, Congressman Barton argued that having the Justice Department, which is investigating meeting, in yesterday‘s meeting about the escrow fund amounted to, in his words: a shakedown.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARTON:  If I called you into my office, and I had the subcommittee chairman, Mr. Stupak, with me, who was legitimately conducting an oversight investigation on your company, and said, “If you put so many millions of dollars in a project in my congressional district,” I could go to jail and should go to jail.

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OLBERMANN:  Of course, Barton is conducting an oversight investigation of BP.  And BP has, in fact, put money into his district, into his pocket, in fact: $27,000 in campaign donations.  His 1.4 million from oil and gas in total, making him the industry‘s number one recipient in the House or in jail, if he‘s as good as his word.

But it was Barton‘s apology that had Republican representatives, like Florida‘s Jeff Miller, calling for Barton to step down as ranking member of that committee.  Barton just hours after his first apology and remarks, insisting he wants BP held accountable—not quite apologizing and not quite grammatically.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARTON:  If anything I‘ve said this morning has been misconstrued in an opposite effect, I want to apologize for that misconstruction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Among the misconstrueters (ph), House Republican Leader John Boehner, calling Barton into a meeting this afternoon.  And despite Barton‘s wish to live in a country for a political pressure that amounts to a shakedown, he promptly caved to Boehner‘s shakedown.  Boehner reportedly telling Barton: apologize immediately or lose your position immediately.

He apologized immediately.  In a statement distributed by Boehner‘s office, Barton is quoted as saying, “I apologize for using the term ‘shakedown‘ with regard to yesterday‘s actions at the White House in my opening statement this morning and I retract my apology to BP.”

We‘re now joined by Democratic Congressman Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, who sits on the energy and commerce subcommittee which held today‘s hearing.

Congressman, thanks for your time tonight.

REP. MIKE DOYLE (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  My pleasure, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Who is the Democratic mastermind who came of up with this strategy today of letting Republicans talk in public?

DOYLE:  I‘ve got to tell you, I‘ve known Joe Barton for a long time.  I‘ve served on a committee with him for a long time.  And he‘s a nice person.  But I think we were all shocked with the words that came out of his mouth today.  It took us all by surprise.

OLBERMANN:  Is there, by any stretch of imagination, was the White House meeting yesterday a shakedown?  And is the escrow fund a slush fund?

DOYLE:  Well, when you think about these families whose lives have been changed forever, families who have lost loved ones, people whose way of life have been destroyed and their ability to earn a living destroyed, say we‘re going to put a fund aside so that they don‘t have to litigate this for the next 10 to 15 years before these people are made whole, that they‘re able to be made whole immediately—I don‘t know how that can be described as anything but a courageous move by the president to step up to the plate and make sure that these families are taken care of and that this region can recover.

We know families of disasters back in the 1990s that are just recovering money today because these things take years and years as they‘re litigated.  All the president has done on behalf of the American people and those families down on the Gulf Coast is to say you‘re not going to wait a decade to be made whole.

OLBERMANN:  Mr. Doyle, I was wondering if you thought that there were two things that sort of got overwhelmed by Mr. Barton today.  One of them being: did it kind of overtake the point of the hearings?  Did you hear anything out of BP that you needed to hear?

DOYLE:  BP obviously wasn‘t going to tell us anything.  The CEO of BP took the equivalent of the Fifth Amendment through the entire hearing.  Here‘s a man that‘s the top person in his company, been in the oil business all this year, and couldn‘t give us any information on how this happened or who was responsible.  I was very disappointed that we had sent him a letter in advancing telling him what we wanted to talk about.  And this gentleman was incapable of answering any questions.

OLBERMANN:  Did it strike you also that because of Mr. Barton—not to try to defend BP here, we see what happens when you do that—but didn‘t BP, to some degree, lose the opportunity the to look, if not good, then at least a little bit better, because after all, this was a hearing the day after they did agree to this escrow fund and the $100 million fund for the oil riggers who‘ve been put out on of work for six months?

DOYLE:  Well, I‘m sure that they hope that the agreement that they reached with the White House yesterday would be the beginning of turning the page for a new chapter for them.  Unfortunately, Mr. Barton put through a wet towel over that right at the beginning of the hearing.

But, I think, more importantly, what we‘ve learned is, is that this so-called ultimate failsafe mechanism, this blowout protector, isn‘t fail safe.  And once this happens, they don‘t know how to cap a well.  We have to literally wait months for this relief well to be dug.  And it‘s going to be mid-August before the people of the Gulf Coast are able to see that well shut down, if they‘re able to do it then.

I just don‘t know how we can permit ultra-deep water wells in the future until we either develop a new technology that is failsafe or require these oil companies to drill relief wells so that if this happens, it can be capped rapidly.

OLBERMANN:  Lastly, a purely campaign question: considering the Republicans again today blocked an attempt to raise the liability cap on BP, do you think Mr. Barton handed every last Democrat in this country a campaign ad with that sound bite?  I mean, can you run with the idea of the GOBP?

DOYLE:  Well, I can just tell you that I don‘t think anybody thought those words were going to come out of anybody‘s mouth today over on the Republican side, least of all the Republican leadership.  I know they‘re certainly not happy with what happened today.  And I think the American public saw something, too.

OLBERMANN:  Indeed they did.  Congressman Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania -

great thanks for sticking around for us tonight.

           

DOYLE:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Let‘s bring in MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman of MSNBC and “Newsweek,” obviously.

Let me ask you this to start with, Howard.  Nobody said boo when the Republican Study Committee which Jeff Miller is on, put out a statement yesterday that called what happened at the White House yesterday a, quote, “shakedown.”  How come Miller was one of those people calling what Barton called it a shakedown, you know, this biblical disaster, was it—was it the apology that made the difference?

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  No.  I think it‘s the difference between being an ideologue, sitting around a conference table at the Heritage Foundation, or you know, delving into the DNA of the post-Ronald Reagan Republican Party in the abstract and seeing what it actually looked like on camera.  I mean, the Barton thing was politically hideous.  And the instant people saw it, they recoiled, including John Boehner, including everybody in the Republican Party practically.

It‘s one thing to be theory.  It‘s another to put that out there in the middle of the hearing.

Let me also say that I disagree a little bit with the premise of one of your earlier questions, that this was somehow robbing Tony Hayward of an opportunity to be in the sunshine.  Based on what I saw of Hayward‘s performance today, he ought to be glad that we‘re all focusing on Barton because that was one of the most evasive, mendacious—I‘m guessing—performances I‘ve ever seen by an executive on Capitol Hill.  And I‘ve seen a lot of them over the years.

OLBERMANN:  But he‘s a CEO, he‘s not a businessman.  You know the difference between these two things.  He‘s somebody who runs a corporation and tomorrow could be in charge of Dairy Queen.

FINEMAN:  Yes.  Well—

OLBERMANN:  It‘s interchanging—they‘re just—they‘re just suits. 

And I mean—all right.

FINEMAN:  Yes.  That‘s a problem.  Go ahead.

OLBERMANN:  Back to the politics of this and my frustration with the corporation as a concept later on.  Michele Bachmann called the escrow fund redistribution of wealth.  Barbour of Mississippi worried if funds are going to make—make impossible for BP to make enough money.  Barton goes and says this.

Does it change the whole kaleidoscope for the Republicans on what they thought they were going to do by—and clearly the game plan was: defend BP.  Can they possibly do that now?

FINEMAN:  Well, I think their game plan was to attack Barack Obama.  At least guys like Haley and Bobby Jindal in Louisiana.  You know, he‘s out there trying to be General Patton, you know, and so forth.

I think what this shows is the fact that BP, as the people who lease the well, as the people who operated the well, as the main sort of general contractor, if you will, who got ahold of this sort of Moby Dick of an oil well, and who didn‘t know how to handle it.  They didn‘t know how to handle it when they were constructing it and tapping it and trying to secure it.  They didn‘t know how to prevent a disaster that occurred.

And I—to me, Keith, one of the most damning facts that emerged today, I think it was an “A.P.” story about the fact that BP knew sometime ago that the likelihood was that that well was now spewing 60,000 barrels a day.  That figure is only seeing the light of day now.  But BP knew it a long time ago.

So, for the Republicans, the problem is, they were going to practice the populism of anti-government, going after Obama, the distant figures in Washington, Obama‘s supposed incompetence and so forth.  But this puts the light on BP and allows the Democrats to be the populists—the traditional populists against big business.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, the original thing they came out with was 1,000 barrels a day.

FINEMAN:  Right.

OLBERMANN:  And they knew 60,000 was the likely number.  That‘s what they have prepared for, to the degree that they had prepared.  We‘ll get more into that with the whistleblower from BP in a moment.

But, one last thing—Congressman Doyle didn‘t exactly answer this and I know why he didn‘t exactly answer that.  The Joe Barton‘s sound bite, is that simply, and I have to make for Congress at least, one ad for every Democrat running in November, and just put that out there with that, you know, GOBP logo that we helpfully designed for them?  Just play that and go, “don‘t vote for this”?

FINEMAN:  I think they may.  But they have to be careful.  For one thing, the Democrats‘ basic strategy going to the fall is to localize each election.  They don‘t really want it to be a, quote, “national election.”

The other thing they have to be careful about here, Keith, is this:

Barack Obama, at least until yesterday, hadn‘t looked so great in this whole thing either.  And what they have to be careful about is the sort of fateful partnership, accidental but fateful partnership between Tony Hayward and Barack Obama.  That‘s not good for either one of them at this point.

OLBERMANN:  That‘s right.  The president did speak about this this week.  I‘d forgotten completely.

FINEMAN:  Right.

OLBERMANN:  Howard Fineman of MSNBC and “Newsweek”—as always, great thanks, Howard.

FINEMAN:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  During the hearing, sometime after both Barton apologies, but before the GOP rebranded itself as GOBP—courtesy of Steve Weinstein -- Congressman Markey invoked the name Kenneth Abbott.  He is a BP whistleblower whose honesty may have reshaped Tony Hayward‘s testimony today, whose knowledge of other BP mistakes and shortcuts may make you even more angry and even more anxious than you are now.  Deepwater Horizon can happen again.

Ken Abbott next on COUNTDOWN.

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OLBERMANN:  He actually scaled back his testimony today, did not say Deepwater Horizon was an unprecedented combination of failures, as his written original evidence suggests that he would.  Was it because of our next guest whistle-blowing about BP?

Yesterday, his tone deafness was just funny.  But wait a minute, one of the manipulators behind the tea party calling the tea party candidates and telling them not to confess to being tea party candidates?  Shame involved?

Steal a campaign shine in Alabama and get shot at by this guy.

And now that he‘s the Democratic Senate nominee in South Carolina, he‘s got a new goal: to be “TIME” magazine‘s Man of the Year.  Maybe it is easy being Greene.

Ahead on COUNTDOWN.

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OLBERMANN:  In our fourth story tonight: BP whistle-blower Kenneth Abbott will compare what he knows to what BP is saying.

But today‘s testimony by the CEO, Tony Hayward, demonstrated one lesson learned by the company: say less.  After Hayward previously complained about wanting his life back, after BP‘s chairman yesterday awkwardly expressed sympathy for the small people, today, BP got small, downsized Hayward‘s opening statement by 75 percent, from a planned 3,974 words to 906.

It‘s easy to understand why.  The original testimony prepared was self-serving, was all over the place, and included this choice critical passage: “The truth, however, is that this is a complex accident caused by an unprecedented combination of failures.”

Today, in Hayward‘s actual opening statement, he said he was deeply

sorry for the explosion and the resulting spill and personally devastated

by the loss of life.  But, as for the cause—

           

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAYWARD:  Right now, it‘s simply too early to say what caused the incident.  There is still extensive work to do.  A full answer must await the outcome of multiple investigations, including the marine board.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  But during question time by the House panel, Hayward came off much like the Gulf spill itself, elusive and highly frustrating.  Mr.  Hayward utterly failed to explain the rationale behind key decisions which probably led to the Deepwater Horizon explosion, including whether such decisions were made to save time and money.  Hayward didn‘t remember or didn‘t know, or he didn‘t have a personal involvement in key decisions, he said.

Let‘s bring in as promised, Kenneth Abbott, former project control supervisor contracted by BP.  Mr. Abbott has filed a lawsuit demanding the government shut down another BP oil platform in the Gulf which risking yet another catastrophe in the area.  Mr. Abbott was laid off shortly after he raised his concerns with BP management.  You see him here accompanied by his attorney, David Perry.

Gentlemen, thanks for your time tonight.

DAVID PERRY, KENNETH ABBOTT‘S LAWYER:  Glad to be here.

KENNETH ABBOTT, FORMER BP EMPLOYEE:  Glad to be here, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Mr. Abbott, is there another risky BP operation out there that we should know about?

ABBOTT:  Yes, there is.  I was control supervisor for the Atlantis platform, which is about 80 miles south of the Deepwater.  And what I found was that BP is not completing their engineering.  And this is something I‘ve never seen on any other, you know, major company I‘ve worked for, engineering and owner companies.

And because of that, they‘ve created a very dangerous situation, dangerous for the operators because, you know, they don‘t have the latest information to shut down the rig in an emergency and very dangerous for the whole Gulf.  It‘s a time bomb waiting to explode.

OLBERMANN:  This comment that was in the original testimony that Mr.  Hayward submitted that then did not get said today.  “The truth, however, is that this is a complex accident caused by an unprecedented combination of failures.”  What part of that statement do you disagree with, if you do indeed disagree with it?

ABBOTT:  Well, you know, I can speak to what I know about it, what happened on Atlantis and the tremendous problem with drawings not being reviewed and completed by BP engineers and management taking shortcuts and setting the tone for that to happen.  And all I can say is, I‘ve seen several similarities on the BP rig, the Explorer.

And I think that there are similar problems with drawings not being completed.  There are several examples we‘ve all heard that you‘ve announced in some cases.  And I think they have the same problem there and quite possibly on other rigs.  And the MMS is not looking into those drawings.

OLBERMANN:  Today, what Mr. Hayward did say—he was, in fact, asked about you.  Of course, he was asked about many things.  But for you listening to this, what stood out?  What was the most important information that maybe the rest of us missed?

ABBOTT:  About Tony‘s comments?

OLBERMANN:  Correct.

ABBOTT:  Well, the thing that struck me the most is that, you know, Tony is still denying that there is a problem on the Atlantis.  He‘s denying that there was ever any problem with the drawings.  They were the right the day the rig started up and they‘re still right.

And, you know, the truth is, Keith, that his own—other employees, other than me, Barry Duff, for one, had said unequivocally and in writing, there are engineering—engineering is not complete.  It could result in catastrophic error—operator errors, which is what we‘ve seen on Deepwater.

And his own federal judge, Judge Sporkin, who‘s the head of his ombuds office has said in a letter and in a press release to the “A.P.” that he did a complete investigation, which is he is supposed to do, because I complained to him about the problem.  And he came back and said: you‘re right.  The drawings are not done.  They weren‘t done when the units started up and they still aren‘t done.

And if Tony wants to ignore that and use his own better answer, that‘s his decision.  But I‘m really kind of sorry that that‘s the approach he‘s taken.

OLBERMANN:  So, let me—let me guess and I don‘t want to put words in your mouth here.  But if they actually put this rig into the situation that it wound up being with in, and did not have any kind of long-term or worse-case scenario to solve it other than the ways we‘re seeing right now, that kind of lack of planning for worse-case scenarios might, in fact, be true you at other BP facilities?

ABBOTT:  Well, I know that the problem I saw at the BP Atlantis on incomplete engineering appears to have happened on the Deepwater.  And I know—I have some evidence that shows it happened on the Thunder Horse.

And, you know, I think the first thing the government and the MMS should do, Keith, is go in there and check those drawings and find out if it‘s—if they did a final design and if it‘s a correct design.

OLBERMANN:  Hard to believe it hasn‘t happened already.

Former BP project control supervisor, Ken Abbott—thank you for coming forward.  Thank you for spending some of your time with us tonight.

ABBOTT:  You‘re very welcome, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Well, we all got a big laugh out of Dick Armey mangling my name last night and suggesting I was rooting America in the U.S./USSR Olympic hockey “Miracle on Ice.”

But then it hit me, the son of a gun said, tea party candidates should not identify themselves as tea party candidates if they want to get elected.  That might be the second most interesting political story of the week.  Dave Weigel joins me for it—ahead.

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OLBERMANN:  Be very, very quiet.  Tea partiers advised by their mastermind not to tell anybody that they are tea partiers.

First the Tweet of the Day which might represent all that is wrong with our nation at the moment, in a debate over the aftereffects of the Exxon Valdez, from otherwise unidentified Conservative Gal, quote, “I hate to tell you this, moron, but Bill Clinton was POTUS in 1989.  In fact, until 2001.  Next time, get your POTUS‘s correct.”

The corrections of her misstatement were loud, fast and hilarious.

Her answer: “You‘re right, I was thinking 1999.  Got messed up when the poster claimed GHWBush.  Thank you for correcting me.”

Got messed up long before that.  Still messed up, the poster who claimed George H.W. Bush was president in 1989 was, of course, messed up.

And lastly, the “I might have been wrong but I‘ll still insist I‘m right,” “If you have a problem with how the Valdez victims were handled, you need to deal with the eight years Clinton was POTUS following the crisis.”

As we mentioned earlier, Steve Weinstein, GOBP.

Let‘s play “Oddball.”

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OLBERMANN:  To an undisclosed location, and a bear cub featured by Andrew Sullivan today.  We think this is it sneezing.

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OLBERMANN:  Which, of course, invokes the sneezing panda.

(VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  But for sheer oomph, the winner is still the sneezing baby panda.

(VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  It‘s alive!

To Chili, New York, where a deer broke into the home of Melinda and Eugene Wilson.  It evidently busted through a glass door.  The Wilsons and their kids were home and thought someone was breaking in so they called 911.  Police arrived, they blocked off the rest of the house with chairs.

The deer simply came in asked: Hey, Mr. Wilson, if the town is spelled C-H-I-L-I, how come you pronounce Chili?

Eventually, it skedaddled out the back door, leaving in its wake extensive damages.  Well, as this mysterious music reference.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I saw the deer.  I saw the back end of the deer and it‘s in this wide.  I‘m like, wow, that thing is huge.  And it was, you know, a female deer.

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OLBERMANN:  That would be doe, a deer, a female—deer.

Tea partier puppeteer, Dick Armey, tells tea party candidates not to call themselves tea party candidates.  You think a guy named Dick Armey would be long past the point of worrying about what people are called.  Next.

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OLBERMANN:  This is the line‘s third use, nevertheless it is the new first rule of tea party: Do not talk about tea party.

In our third story: A day after Dick Armey‘s curious, self-repudiating “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” edict to Republican candidates with tea party backing, Sharron Angle, the Republican candidate for Senate in Nevada, has been announced as the headliner of the next tea party convention.  Maybe she didn‘t get the memo.

Yesterday, we told you about Mr. Armey‘s comments in a Washington luncheon instructing candidates who identify themselves as members of the tea party to keep it a secret and nearby stay under the lame-stream media‘s radar.  Armey pointed to Rand Paul as an example, claiming that Paul‘s mistake last month was not having stated his position that, you know, private businesses should be allowed to discriminate on the basis of race, a position he later claimed he didn‘t have.  Instead—

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK ARMEY, FREEDOMWORKS:  I think the bigger mistake that Rand Paul said was saying, I am the tea party victor here.  I think that hurt him more than that because the principles of liberty won that position and he won by adhering to them.

It wasn‘t by affiliation.  He ran as a Republican.  He won the Republican primary.

So, he said, all right.  I don‘t have a big enough target on my back since the left hates the tea party and they hate me.  Let‘s see if we can get them to double down on me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Is that a before and after picture hair-wise?

That pesky media scrutiny may be to blame for a recent dip in tea party favorability numbers.  “The Washington Post”/ABC News Poll from earlier this month pointing out that between March and June of this year, the favorable rating of the party sank from 41 to 36; unfavorable numbers went from 39 percent to half.

Let‘s turn now to “Washington Post” political reporter, author of the blog, “Right Now,” David Weigel.

Dave, good evening.

DAVID WEIGEL, WASHINGTON POST:  Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Armey made some cracks about me and Rachel and MSNBC and Olympic hockey.

WEIGEL:  Yes.

OLBERMANN:  And we all had a good time.  We all had a good laugh.  I mean, last night, I was saying, wait, this is—this is really fascinating.  He of all people saying tea partiers should not identify themselves as tea partiers.  What‘s this all about, do you think?

WEIGEL:  It‘s all in that second part of the answer.  He sees—and I think a lot of Republicans see—that Democrats have tried to find the most extreme elements of the tea parties and make them politically toxic.  They did this after the health care vote when they pointed out the occasionally members of the crowd who were really, really rude to members of Congress.  And they‘ve done this with the birther conspiracy theorists and things like that.

And Republicans feel it‘s been an effort to drag down this element of the coalition that wasn‘t unpopular.  It seemed like a nice grassroots, all-American thing.  So, he‘s complaining about that and trying to reverse the damage that I don‘t think is going to be reversed as you‘ve got these candidates now getting asked questions by the press, you know?  The only way to stop this from happening is for them to not to talk to the press, which sometimes they do.

OLBERMANN:  Within Mr. Armey, there‘s a 180, isn‘t there?  I mean, he camouflaged the establishment of Republican roots that he had to lead this supposed grassroots tea party movement in the beginning.  Now, he‘s asking tea party people to shed their tea party identification.

Was this a plan all along or is this just his reaction to a changing, shifting sands or perhaps quicksand?

WEIGEL:  Oh, and the plan all along was to remain within the Republican Party and to make sure that these activists stayed Republicans and helped elect Republicans.  It was just to remake the Republican Party in his own image.

Another thing he said at the luncheon was that, was he‘s one of the few Republican politicians whom tea partiers take seriously.  He really thinks—and I think he‘s kind of right—that people like him who bailed out of the Republican revolution in 2002 and weren‘t there for all of the compassionate conservative stuff and the Iraq War, they can press the reset button and just come up with a sort of idealized version of conservatism and run on that.

And, again, the problem is it hits reality.  And you have issues like getting grilled on the Civil Rights Act.  Issues like the oil spill, issues like talking about the revolution, like Sharron Angle does and it doesn‘t work like that.  You can‘t manage the media.

OLBERMANN:  About Sharron Angel, you reported it on your blog today, that she‘s been announced as a speaker at the upcoming tea party convention.

WEIGEL:  Right.

OLBERMANN:  Could that possibly do her any good at this point?

WEIGEL:  Well, she‘s had a curious strategy.  I didn‘t think talk to her while she was in D.C. because no one could.

(LAUGHTER)

WEIGEL:  I mean, honestly, I saw her dodge a question from FOX News, which I didn‘t think, you know, could ever happen with a candidate like Sharron Angle.  But her pitch to a lot of people is that she‘s going to unite independents and bring all people to her side.  The example she gives of independents are groups like Gun Owners of America, which is to the right of the NRA, and Phyllis Schlafly, who‘s to the right of almost everybody.

And she hasn‘t—I mean, Republicans are saying publicly, they think she‘s actually a better candidate than she‘s been given credit for.  But she‘s really bought in to this idea that the tea party composes maybe the entire electorate.  Everyone in America is as angry as people in her rallies.

I don‘t think that‘s been borne out because she‘s leading Harry Reid in some polls.  But Democratic and Republican strategists tell you that, you know, she‘s not reaching out to these people that she needs.  She‘s losing Republican endorsements in Nevada.

If she thinks that the tea party is going to carry her to victory without more outreach, she‘s totally wrong.

OLBERMANN:  Do we have any—lastly, mixing this in with the news of the day from the GOBP hearings, to use it one more time—any idea where the tea party-based Republicans are going to be wind up or they‘re going to be, you know, free Joe Barton?  Are they going to be defending his original statement and condemning his second one?

WEIGEL:  I mean, Republicans are never going—are never going to let Joe Barton say this again.  I mean, the message I was given is, if he—you know, if he brings this up again by Republicans inside the Congress, they‘re going to review of whether he should be ranking member.

But tea partiers think he was right.  And they think that this is another example of President Obama bullying an industry under his will, bringing it under his thumb.  You know, Michele Bachmann was saying two days ago; that Tom Price, was another tea party favorite, was saying this one day ago, that it was a shakedown.

They were ahead of the curve.  That is what the base believes.  And they need to make sure that more Republicans don‘t actually admit that they believe that.

OLBERMANN:  David Weigel of “The Washington Post”—as always, great thanks.

WEIGEL:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  Has the time come for the man who would be “TIME‘s” Man of the Year?  It‘s about Alvin Greene and he‘s campaigning for the award and campaigning for the Senate.  The details on that meeting—ahead.

“Worsts”: what is this Alabama candidate hunting?  Varmints who steal yard signs.

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, she takes on Glenn Beck for going after what seems to be the entire planet.  Lonesome Rhodes is saying the sport of soccer is being jammed down our throats by the rest of the world.  Actually, of course, he is right.  They have been jamming it down our throats for 40 years at least.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Now, Alvin Greene is running for “TIME” magazine‘s Man of the Year Award.

First—no, it‘s not your water coming to a boil, it‘s our nightly check up on the something for nothing crowd, it‘ “Tea Time.”

A heck of job Brownie‘s Deepwater Horizon conspiracy theory that the Obama administration wanted it to happen so it could punt the president‘s announced support for more deep drilling?  Haven‘t heard much about that lately, have you?

Remember Rush Limbaugh‘s Deepwater Horizon conspiracy theory that it was destroyed by environmentalist who somehow went a mile down and blew it up or something?  When he realized how stupid that sounded, even he shut up.  But not the tea party.

Tea partier Bill Randall is its candidate for the Republican nomination for the House in the North Carolina 13th.  Wait until you hear his Deepwater Horizon conspiracy theory.  It was the administration and BP!

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL RANDALL ®, NORTH CAROLINA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE:  Now, I‘m not necessarily a conspiracy person.  I do not think enough investigation has been done on this.  Personally, I feel there‘s a possibility that there was some sort of collision, I don‘t know how or why, maybe they wanted it to leak.  But then, it got beyond what was anticipated and we had an explosion and loss of life.  And, oh, man, now we have panic.  Is there a cover-up going on?  I‘m not saying there necessarily is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  But he‘s also not saying there necessarily isn‘t and neither is his invisible friend Arturo.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  South Carolina‘s hearing today into the Senate nomination of Alvin Greene was missing one thing, Alvin Greene.  But it has been decided.  That‘s next.

But, first, get out your pitch forks and torches, time for tonight‘s “Worst Persons in the World.”

The bronze: Rudy Giuliani—back in the morning show circuit, describing the president as “off of a vacation in a middle of a crisis” after Deepwater Horizon exploded.  Reagan and Bush, he said, never went on a vacation in a middle of a crisis.  Nor did, St. Rudy of 9/11.  “On Christmas evening, that first year that I was the mayor, I left the house and I went to the hospital and I spent five hours there because I was the mayor of New York City, and I should be on the spot taking charge of something since the beginning.”

And don‘t forget what he did after 9/11.  Between September 25th and November 4th, he spent 58 hours at Yankees games or flying to Yankees games in other cities.  Salon.com calculated that that was twice as long as he spent at ground zero in the three months beginning on September 17th of 2001.

The runner up: Congressman Pete Olson, GOBP, Texas, missing no opportunity to drum up the war beat about Iran and its evil president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETE OLSON ®, TEXAS:  I mean, the—Mr. Khatami and Iran is scary.  I mean, he‘s trying to get a nuclear weapon.  He was here at our country a couple of weeks ago, at the United States, at the U.N., at the United Nations, sat down with George Stephanopoulos and literally—this is the leader of Iran, told him that the Osama bin Laden is here in Washington, D.C.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Gabby Olson is right.  That Iranian president, Mohammed Khatami, is scary.  We must keep him in front of mind all the time.  And—what, Khatami hasn‘t been president of Iran since 2005?  And he was a reformer, he‘s kind of pro-West?  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, did you say?

Well, whatever.  Be irrationally afraid of Iran, that‘s the point!

But our winner: Dale Peterson, former candidate for commissioner of the agricultural commissioner of Alabama.  If you don‘t know about him—well, here‘s a clip from his first commercial.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DALE PETERSON, AG CANDIDATE OF ALABAMA:  Here we are losing three family farms a day, illegals bust in by the thousands, Alabama‘s unemployment at an all-time high.  And what are my opponents doing about it?  Stealing yard signs in the dark of the night from my supporters!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Yes, sir, he‘s the Marlboro man.  Before you think about the reference there, the stealing yard signs, is just some kind of distraction or fancy on Mr. Peterson‘s part—he lost in the primary, did not make the run-off.  But he‘s back on TV, more commercials, endorsing one of his rivals and his yard signs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETERSON:  Hey, you!  Hey!  Get away from that!

(GUN FIRE)

PETERSON:  I‘m endorsing John McMillan because he gives a rip about Alabama.  I better not catch any thugs or criminals stealing his yard signs.  So, vote for the big guy, John McMillan, on July 13th.  And let‘s show Alabama we mean business!

ANNOUNCER:  Don‘t you wish you had Dale Peterson watching your back?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Actually, I just wish I had Dale Peterson watching his gun.  A lot of yard signs in this nation of ours.  And, right now, all of them is worried.

Dale Peterson—no, he didn‘t get his nomination but he still has his gun—today‘s Worst Person in the World.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  At this hour, South Carolina Democrats have decided the fate of perhaps the most unlikely Senate nominee ever—a candidate who held no rallies, raised no campaign cash, yet despite being unemployed, try to pay his entire $10,000 filing fee with a personal check.

Our number one story tonight: The nomination of Alvin Greene for U.S.

Senate will stand.

Does that make it seem any less audacious that Mr. Greene has nominated himself to also be “TIME” magazine‘s Person of the Year?

The state party‘s executive committee is rejecting the formal protest filed by former state legislator, Vic Rawl.  The party endorsed Mr. Rawl, who lost by 18 percentage points, despite logging some 17,000 miles, campaigning across the state.  He lost to a man who never left his living room.

The state newspaper reporting Rawl told the committee, faulty electronic voting machines were to blame for his loss, requesting a new vote with paper ballots.  Despite several party officials urging him to attend, Mr. Greene was a no-show.

Party chairwoman, Carol Fowler, telling the committee, she asked Mr.  Greene not to run.  “Not because I knew of something in his past, but because he seemed so naive about what it took to run for office.”

Apparently, that‘s not true in the least.  Mr. Greene was arrested in November on a charge of felony obscenity, but maintains his innocence.  The 32-year-old unemployed veteran providing some insight into what an Alvin Greene for Senate campaign would be like to “TIME” magazine.  His focus:

jobs, education, and, quote, “justice in the judicial system.”

Mr. Greene says he‘s the best candidate to face Republican Senator Jim DeMint in November and adds, “And I am also the best candidate to be ‘TIME‘ magazine‘s Man of the Year.”

Joining us now, MSNBC contributor and Washington editor for “The Nation” magazine, Chris Hayes.

Good evening, Chris.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  So, is this final?

HAYES:  Well, I think it is.  I mean, first of all, in Greene‘s defense, if he did win, he would be a strong candidate for “TIME” magazine‘s Man of the Year.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

HAYES:  No.  I mean, I think it is largely done.

I think there‘s two separate issues.  One is: you cannot essentially reject a Democratic election because the outcome is so bizarre.  There has to be some kind of credible or substantiated allegation of fraud or misconduct or error, and there were none as far as we can tell.  And so, you just have to live with the result.  You can‘t reverse-engineer or sort of work backwards from a strange outcome.

That said, I think it‘s worthwhile that some kind of investigation look at the voting software be conducted, you know, irrespective of Greene‘s candidacy.

OLBERMANN:  What about the investigation into the filing fee and FEC filings that he didn‘t make?  What happens to those, do we know?

HAYES:  Well, I think what happens is the FEC will process the complaint.  I mean, the FEC is notoriously takes forever.  I remember in ‘08, there were sanctions.  Usually what happens is, an FEC complaint is filed, they go through it, and then after the election, there are some fines or sanctions.

So, I don‘t think it‘s going to have—there is no injunctive relief from the FEC that‘s going to come—that‘s going to, you know, kick Alvin Greene off the ballot.

OLBERMANN:  The “TIME” magazine thing of the year—I didn‘t mean he‘s a thing, but, you know, “TIME” magazine Man of the Year, Charles Lindbergh, Pope John Paul II, Alvin Greene.  Now, my argument is, it makes sense because it is, at this point even, the immaculate election.

HAYES:  Well, it is—it is sort of miraculous.  I mean, look, you know, it‘s very hard to make heads or tails of this.  And, obviously, you interviewed the man.  You—I‘ve never talked to him.

OLBERMANN:  Nor have I.

HAYES:  I think—well—

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  I did my best.

HAYES:  So, you did.  You did.  It was admirable.

I mean, look, I think that—I think, ultimately, what it does show -

and this is a somewhat serious point to be made—which is that, you know, our campaign financing system is such that, you know, even in this year that we talk about the year of anti-incumbent fervor, 90 percent of the people in Congress are going to face essentially uncontested races.  It costs so much money to challenge an incumbent.  Those resources are so scare that essentially, head honchos at the DSCC and the DCCC and their counter parties in the Republican Party make decisions about how to target and they essentially say to the other races, who cares.

           

If we had a more sane campaign financing system in this country, we had public elections, you could have competitive races in which you had actual, credible candidates in every race, running against someone like Jim DeMint, who, you know, Democrats made a calculation he was too strong to take on simply because of the amount of money they would have to raise, to kind of get behind a credible candidate was too high.

That‘s insane.  There‘s no reason that we should have a democracy in which incumbency is self-perpetuating just because of the cost of running against an incumbent.

OLBERMANN:  Do we think perhaps, if this turns out not to be the result of—you know, everything getting hit by lightning all at once or something, “The Washington Post” reporting on this may prove to be the most accurate, that several people who voted for Mr. Greene without knowing who he was simply saw him first on the ballot or the spelling of the name was relevant in terms of the social structure of South Carolina?  Could it be really something quite that simple?

HAYES:  I think that—I absolutely think that‘s most likely.  I mean, that‘s Occam‘s razor explanation here.  And I think that‘s likely the case.

I mean, you know, one thing I learned as a political reporter interviewing a lot of voters and having done some work as an organizer, you know, you can—there is no accounting for the idiosyncrasies of voters.  And this is especially true.  I mean, if you go to Chicago, and you look at an election for, you know, local Cook County judges, I mean, people are flying blind, right?

So, if there is not a very heavily contested race with a lot of money into it that‘s putting the race in front of people‘s eyeballs through paid media, if there‘s not a massive press infrastructure that‘s looking into it, people essentially are flipping a coin.  And so, this is the kind of outcome you can expect from that sort of blind decision.

OLBERMANN:  Chris Hayes of “The Nation”—as always, great thanks.

HAYES:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  That‘s COUNTDOWN for this, the 59th day of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf, I‘m Keith Olbermann.  Goodnight and good luck.

And now to discuss Glenn Beck versus the world at large over soccer—

Beck, of course, being right, not only does the world tells us we must love soccer, but it tells us we‘re too stupid to understand this game in which almost nothing happens, which the referee keeps how much time there‘s left a secret.  And by the way, vuvuzelas was on sell at Yankee Stadium in 1967, they stole it from us, ladies and gentlemen, here is soccer apologist Rachel Maddow.

Good evening, Rachel.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

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