updated 7/21/2010 10:49:22 AM ET 2010-07-21T14:49:22


Guests: Jim Chukalas, Bob Cavnar, Julian Bond, Jim Moret
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LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, GUEST HOST (voice-over):  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Democrats finally beat back Republican opposition to helping the unemployed.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Mr. Goodwin—aye.
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O‘DONNELL:  The 60th vote from the newest senator giving 2.5 million Americans a desperately needed lifeline.  Will it give Democrats a theme to hit the GOP with this fall?
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REP. ALAN GRAYSON (D), FLORIDA:  I will say this to Republicans who have blocked this bill now for months and kept food out of the mouths of children.  I will say to them now: May God have mercy on your souls.
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O‘DONNELL:  Tonight, Ezra Klein on the politics of obstruction; and Jim Chukalas, who stood next to the president, tells us what it‘s like to be the face of the unemployed.
BP‘s oil crisis day 92: New signs of new leaks.  But the government says the cap stays on.  And new admissions of lax safety in the days and hours before the deadly end of the Deepwater Horizon rig.
Andrew Breitbart strikes again, saying context is everything.  He then edits a video to make a government official sound racist.
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SHIRLEY SHERROD, USDA:  And here I was faced with having to help a white person to save their land.
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O‘DONNELL:  Now, that woman is out of a job and what Breitbart didn‘t count on, the white family who was supposedly snubbed is speaking out in support of that woman.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They don‘t know what they‘re talking about would be my opinion.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  She always treated us really good.
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O‘DONNELL:  It‘s the party of parties.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  This is as close to a royal wedding as America is going to see.
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O‘DONNELL:  The latest buzz on the upcoming wedding of Chelsea Clinton.
Lindsay Lohan surrenders to the court and heads straight to jail.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We continue to believe that the sentence was unfair.
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O‘DONNELL:  But was Lohan‘s upbringing unfair?  Did she even have a shot at normalcy when she was thrust into the spotlight before she was a teenager?
All that and more—now on COUNTDOWN.
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O‘DONNELL:  Good evening from New York.  I‘m Lawrence O‘Donnell, in for Keith Olbermann.
Democrats today won the right to vote to restore unemployment benefits to millions of jobless Americans, but Republicans succeeded in stripping nearly everything else out of the bill.  Nevertheless, 2.5 million jobless Americans will receive their payments retroactively which will be small consolation for anyone who has already lost their home, foreclosed upon, or had their car repossessed.
Our fifth story: who, if anyone, really emerged a winner today in the Senate?  We begin with how it all unfolded.
The pieces starting to fall into place this afternoon when West Virginia‘s Carte Goodwin took the oath of office to fill the late Robert Byrd‘s Senate seat for the rest of the year.  Goodwin is the crucial 60th vote that the Democrats needed to break a Republican filibuster that has denied unemployment benefits to millions who have been out of work for more than six months.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Specter, aye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The Senate will come to order.
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O‘DONNELL:  When Senator Goodwin lodged his vote to end cloture, loud cheering erupted from the gallery, exactly the kind of violation of Senate decorum that Senator Robert Byrd always abhorred.
Two Republicans voting with the Democrats to end cloture Senators Snow and Collins of Maine.  Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska voting against.
But just because the filibuster has ended doesn‘t mean Republicans have stopped dragging their feet.  Majority Leader Reid says that the GOP is making him burn the 30 hours that are required but usually waived after a filibuster is broken.
Two more Republicans on record as saying that unemployment benefits only encourage Americans to stay unemployed: Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina and GOP Senate nominee Ron Johnson in Wisconsin.
But the most interesting reaction today came from the House which originally passed this bill earlier this month.  The Republicans contend that extending unemployment benefits without finding offsets just increases the deficit without actually helping people find their way back into the work force.
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REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER:  The American people continue to ask the question: where are the jobs?  And all they get from the president are attacks on Republicans.
Listen, it‘s been 18 months since the president took office.  The Democrats here in Washington have spent trillions of dollars expanding the federal government, yet millions of Americans have lost their jobs and our unemployment rate is at 9.5 percent.
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O‘DONNELL:  But because unemployment checks get spent right away, nothing in them that you can put in a savings account, economists all agree that extending benefits is one of the most effective ways of stimulating the economy in a recession.
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REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  So the Republicans are saying, you must pay for unemployment insurance which diminishes its capacity to create jobs and you must, but you must not pay for tax cuts for the wealthy, which did nothing to create jobs except to take us into an economic ditch.
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O‘DONNELL:  Last but in no way least, there is Florida Democrat Alan Grayson, who ahead of today‘s vote argued that by trying to block unemployment benefits, Republicans are looking to resurrect the America of the Great Depression.
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GRAYSON:  There was no unemployment insurance back then.  There was no state benefits back then.  There was no help for the people who had jobs.
All they could do like, my grandfather, in desperate straits supporting a family of seven was to go to the dump and desperately try to find something he could sell.  And that, my friends, is the America that the Republicans are trying to revive—the America of desperate straits and for them cheap labor, the America where people have nothing, hope for nothing, and are desperate to live to the next day.
I will say this to Republicans who have blocked this bill now for months and kept food out of the mouths of children.  I will say to them now: May God have mercy on your souls.
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O‘DONNELL:  Lots to talk about tonight with “The Washington Post” staff writer, “Newsweek” columnist, and MSNBC contributor, Ezra Klein.
Ezra, to Alan Grayson‘s point about what economists call the stabilizers in our economy—meaning, when we go into recession, unemployment payments kind of automatically kick in and increase because there is more unemployment.  They therefore provide stabilizing spending into the economy.
Have those stabilizers that have come into our economy through the government since the depression actually worked too well—worked so well that Republicans don‘t even realize they are working in these situations?
EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Well, one of the issues economists will point out and particularly the politically oriented kind is that what we do now because we think they work better, what are called indirect job creation.  We do things like unemployment benefits.  We do things like infrastructure investment.
If you just gave everybody a job through the works progress administration, like they did during the Great Depression, nobody would be uncertain about the effect of the stimulus, but it wouldn‘t work as well.  We don‘t think it‘s as efficient.
So, in trying to do the more efficient thing and trying to save money and create the maximum number of jobs for the minimum amount of spending, what the administration did was create a program that might have worked quite well—the estimates say about 2.5 million jobs from the stimulus—but was not as politically bulletproof because it was not as visible to the average American.
O‘DONNELL:  Now, the Republicans did succeed in getting a lot of things stripped out of this bill as it made its way toward final passage, toward the cloture vote today.  And in so doing, what is left in terms of a political victory for the Democrats?  They‘ve got an unemployment extension that looks like it, itself, will probably have to be renewed and extended in November.
Are the politics of this working for the Democrats or the Republicans at this stage?
KLEIN:  For the Republicans.  I mean, at this point, the American people are down by 20 and Republicans held Democrats to a field goal.  This bill is not big enough.  I mean, it‘s unemployment insurance and it went down from state and local tax relief or state and local fiscal relief to where you save teachers‘ jobs, where you would save Medicaid money.
It went down from job creation to a very small couple of month extension of unemployment benefits.  And even that extension is smaller than it was before.  We‘ve been doing a $25 increase in unemployment benefits since the stimulus.  That is now dead.  We are also not creating a fifth tier for people out of work more than 99 weeks.
So, insofar as what the election will actually be decided by is the economy, not political jockeying in Washington.  Things that keep the economy from getting better—and I‘m not saying this is their reason for doing it—but things that keep the economy from getting better simply do result in large Republican gains.
O‘DONNELL:  Now, the president and Democrats are clearly by any reasonable economics viewpoint, doing the right thing, trying to push more unemployment benefits into this economy that needs them.  But when they do it, I wonder if there‘s an echo out there, the political echo effect is, when you‘re fighting for more unemployment benefits, you are emphasizing that this recession continues, the job gains aren‘t there, that the unemployment is continuing?
KLEIN:  Right.  And you give Republicans a way—you saw it with Boehner on the clip earlier—you give Republicans a way to say continually, where are the jobs?  Where are the jobs?
And, you know, the administration is in a bit of a bind here.  The initial beliefs about the recession, the ideal projections, were that it would be a lot milder than it actually was—that unemployment would go even if we did nothing up to 8 percent, almost 9 percent.  In fact, if we had done nothing, unemployment would have been more like the 11 percent or 12 percent probably.  So, it was worse.
We had a stimulus too small for what we thought was coming, and then what did come was much, much worse and we though—so the stimulus was much too small.  And so, in reply, Republicans say, well, where are your jobs?  And the fact Democrats can say it would be worse if not for what we had done isn‘t an incredibly compelling political argument.  People don‘t vote based on how much worse things could have been but on how things actually are.
O‘DONNELL:  Ezra Klein of “The Washington Post,” “Newsweek” and MSNBC
thanks for your time tonight, Ezra.

KLEIN:  Thank you.
O‘DONNELL:  When the president took to the Rose Garden yesterday to blame Republicans for blocking unemployment benefits, he appeared alongside three Americans who are among this nation‘s jobless.  One of them, Jim Chukalas, who lost his job in September 2008 when a New Jersey Honda dealer eliminated his job as parts manager.
Jim, thanks for joining us tonight.
JIM CHUKALAS, VISITED WHITE HOUSE YESTERDAY:  Thank you, Lawrence.
O‘DONNELL:  I‘m sorry that this is your debut, in live primetime network television.  I‘m sure you wanted to come on as parts manager of the year, but this is where we are.
CHUKALAS:  Right.
O‘DONNELL:  What was it like to be standing there yesterday having suffered this plight for as long as you have and find yourself standing beside the president of the United States taking up your cause?
CHUKALAS:  It was awe-inspiring.  It really was.  I was nervous.
I mean, as I told someone I spoke with yesterday, when he—when I walked into the Oval Office and he extended his hand to shake mine, you could have asked me my first name and I probably would have forgotten it.  But it‘s—you know, it has to be put out there.  You know, people need help at this point in time.  It‘s sad that we do but we still do.
O‘DONNELL:  You know, I remember the first time I walked into the Oval Office with the president there, I couldn‘t tell you anything that was happening in that room or what anything looked like.  It‘s really kind of dizzying, isn‘t it, to be in there.
CHUKALAS:  It is.  It is very.
O‘DONNELL:  And the president was there to extend unemployment benefits to workers like you who have been in protracted unemployment conditions.  You hear Republicans saying they don‘t like it.  You hear Republicans saying, give him more unemployment benefits?  He‘s just not going to go to work.  He‘s not going to look for work.
CHUKALAS:  See, I don‘t think that‘s true.  As I explained yesterday, the last thing I want is to continue collecting benefits.  I‘d love my children to see me walking out of the house every morning collecting a paycheck and contributing to the family‘s income.  You know, I don‘t think that‘s reality.
I think people need to realize that, you know, most Americans that are not working and there are millions of us now, we all want to start working again.  It‘s not that we don‘t.  We want to.  It‘s just that, you know, right now, things aren‘t panning out that.
O‘DONNELL:  You have a son, 8 years old.
CHUKALAS:  Yes.
O‘DONNELL:  Does he know what the word unemployment means?
CHUKALAS:  No.  He still wants everything he sees and I was joking with the president yesterday that, you know, we go shopping and he doesn‘t understand, no, Nicholas, we can‘t get that.  You know, he doesn‘t realize that, you know, I‘m not working and there is not much money coming in.  You know, we have to rely on, you know, the benefits I receive and my wife‘s salary just so we can make ends meet.
You know, he‘s 8.  He doesn‘t get it.  My daughter is 4.  So, she definitely doesn‘t get it.  But—
O‘DONNELL:  Now, with this extension it will take you to November, is that—
CHUKALAS:  I believe so.  Yes.
(CROSSTALK)
O‘DONNELL:  In the meantime, you‘re looking for work.  How‘s it going?
CHUKALAS:  It‘s been a challenge.  You know, I‘ve been looking in the car business.  When I first lost my job, I was going out door by door, you know, county by county, dealership by dealership, and dropping off resumes on a first person basis.  From there, I had my resume posted on CareerBuilder and Monster.
And then I guess the resume people at Monster.com said, rather than looking just in the car business, look in logistics, you know, inventory planning, purchasing, warehouse management, things of that nature.  So, I‘ve been looking.  Unfortunately, I‘ve had no bites.  But, you know, I am persistent.  I need to get back to work.
O‘DONNELL:  How long were you in the auto parts business?
CHUKALAS:  All my professional career, about 21 years.  That‘s all I‘ve been doing.
O‘DONNELL:  Yes, so making a transition now to something else is not some easy, seamless thing to do.
CHUKALAS:  True, because when I look into logistics positions, even though, you know, I‘ve been working with inventory management and purchasing supplies, managing a parts warehouse, it‘s not specifically doing, you know, a logistics job, you know, for a different company.  It‘s working in the car business.  So, they don‘t see it as sufficient experience.
O‘DONNELL:  Now, you‘re standing there yesterday with the president, and I‘m sure the secretary of labor was around somewhere there.  Did you feel like there was some possibility here for you job-wise that wasn‘t there?
CHUKALAS:  I‘m always optimistic.  I have to be.  I can‘t let my wife or my children see me, you know, fall into a negative state where, you know, woe is me.  You know, the world is going to come to an end because—you know, I just—I have to stay positive.  I have to stay as calm and upbeat as I can so it doesn‘t wear off on my children.
O‘DONNELL:  All right.  Well, I don‘t know what‘s going on with hiring at NBC, but let‘s see if we can get you into the H.R. office here and see if there‘s anything to apply for.
CHUKALAS:  I appreciate that.  Thank you very much.
O‘DONNELL:  You know, the automobile business is not where I would want to be trying to make a living right now in this economy.
CHUKALAS:  It‘s tough.  But, you know, it‘s all I know.  But it‘s a tough business right now.  It‘s a tough time.
O‘DONNELL:  Jim Chukalas—thanks for joining us tonight and good luck on that job search.  And if we can help you here, let‘s see if we can.
CHUKALAS:  Thank you.
O‘DONNELL:  Coming up: the explosion on Deepwater Horizon.  Rig workers tell of broken safety devices that went unfixed and toxic chemicals dumped in the well because that was the easiest way to get rid of them.
And later, what passes for journalism by the right-wing, a hatchet job by Andrew Breitbart gets a woman fired for appearing to be racist—yet another case of selective right-wing video editing.  Julian Bond of the NAACP joins us.
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O‘DONNELL:  Coming up: what triggered the environmental disaster in the Gulf.  Even more revelations from oil rig workers about the deadly practices onboard Deepwater Horizon.
And Andrew Breitbart creates another phony controversy on the right.  The government blinks without gathering the facts and now a USDA employee is out of work for sounding racist when she was anything but.
Details ahead on COUNTDOWN.
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O‘DONNELL:  Despite the concern of government scientists that keeping the well capped will force the oil out from the floor of the Gulf, itself, the government decided today to keep it capped for another 24 hours—the original 48-hour capping being extended almost a full week now.
And in our fourth story tonight: we also learned that there are five drips on the stacking cap now.
Response coordinator Thad Allen said today, the drips are inconsequential and he is considering allowing BP to push the oil and gas further down by pumping in drilling mud—essentially the same method that failed once before because now there is less oil and it‘s no longer flowing upward.  Allen also said the seepage from the Gulf floor, less than two miles from the well, is not coming from the well but is coming from another well, one of two inactive wells within two miles of the spill.
And Republicans in the Florida legislature today refused to allow the people of Florida to vote on a constitutional amendment banning offshore drilling despite overwhelming support for such a vote—and despite the fact that 87 miles of Florida beach have been oiled by this spill.
The Bush administration‘s interior secretaries, one of them, now a lawyer for big oil, testified today that offshore drilling should resume, that everything went just swell while they oversaw offshore drilling, including overseeing the approval of the lease for this spill and waiving environmental rules.  And just like the Bush administration never could have predicted al Qaeda‘s attacks or the breached levees in New Orleans, no one could have predicted a big oil spill.
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REP. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  In retrospect now, was the advice wrong?
DIRK KEMPTHORNE, FORMER INTERIOR DEPARTMENT UNDERSECRETARY:  The advice that I was given?
MARKEY:  The advice that you were given with regard to whether or not there should, in fact, be a closer inspection of a potential for a blowout scenario?  Was it right or wrong, at—the advice you got?
KEMPTHORNE:  At that time?
MARKEY:  No, today.
(CROSSTALK)
MARKEY:  Today, was it—as you look back, are you willing to say, the advice you received was wrong and the policy should have been changed back in 2006 or 2008?
KEMPTHORNE:  Mr. Markey, I don‘t think we have that hindsight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL:  In other words, Dirk Kempthorne and everyone in the Bush administration, including the oil men, all religiously believed that blowout preventers always prevent blowouts.
During testimony at the hearings in New Orleans, meanwhile, we learned that the blowout preventer was years past its inspection date and BP officials knew it was leaking days before the blowout, but kept drilling anyway.
Joining us once again tonight, former oil executive Bob Cavnar, who now writes about the industry at Dailyhurricane.com.
Welcome back, Bob.
We heard the Bush administration today—Bush administration officials today saying that it was impossible, just impossible for them to imagine an event like this.  Now, when the key piece of technology is called a blowout preventer, that certainly suggests the possibility of a blowout, doesn‘t it?
BOB CAVNAR, FMR. OIL EXECUTIVE:  That‘s exactly right, Lawrence.
Blowout preventers have been called blowout preventers since they were invented in 1922 by two oil men in Houston and they‘ve been used for that purpose for all these years.
I think what you were seeing here, what we‘re beginning to see in this extended testimony is the evidence of the complacency that we‘ve been talking about here for the months that this has been going on.  This confidence that the technology is perfect, this will never happen, we can waive these environmental regulations, and these companies will just do the right thing.  And you‘re seeing the result of that after—over three months now of this disaster in the Gulf.
O‘DONNELL:  Now, catching up to where we are today, BP seems to be saying it can safely pump drilling mud into the well at high pressure without spilling any more oil, but it cannot safely pump out oil at a lower pressure without spilling oil.  Is that essentially their position?
CAVNAR:  That‘s what they‘re saying and it doesn‘t make sense to me, Lawrence.  We‘ve got—they have two high pressure lines coming from that stack, the old stack that they used for the top kill, where they pumped it up to 8,000 pounds on Memorial Day weekend.  The fact that they can‘t turn that around at 6,000 pounds and flow it back confuses me.
If they have troubles controlling the pressure on the surface, there are valves that are variable in the way they can open them that they can put on top to help control that.  So, I don‘t understand why they‘re not agreeing to flow the well.
O‘DONNELL:  Bob, the testimony coming out of New Orleans—you know, I think people get used to the idea there are so many inspections that they have to go through, inspections for their cars, inspections for construction at their homes and things like that—that‘s just routine stuff, inspections.  And there‘s nothing ever important that‘s done there.
It turns out the information we‘re getting in these hearings is that there was a lethal disregard for safety.  There was an absolute deadly disregard for safety that was building in the processes and the checks that they were not doing and the checks that they were doing on this—on this system the day before—
CAVNAR:  Right.
O‘DONNELL:  -- and days before this was happening.  This seems to me to be the most condemning information that we‘re getting these days is what was going on there before the blowout, the blowout that killed 11 people.
CAVNAR:  I believe that‘s right, Lawrence.  The damning piece of evidence here is continuing to drill with one of the control pods on the blowout preventer leaking.  The MMS regulations, now the BOEM—whatever we call it today—regulations clearly say that if both of those pods are not operational, you must discontinue drilling, discontinue operations until it‘s repaired.
The leak was reported several times and they went ahead and drilled anyway, rather than shutting down operations, and that‘s—that‘s a bad piece of information for both BP and Transocean.
O‘DONNELL:  And just to drill this point home, to borrow a phrase, these rules are about saving lives.  They are not about following some needless detailed government or industry regulations.  If you don‘t do them, people can die.
And by not doing them in this particular instance, this company did kill people.  This was industrial homicide by not following the accepted practices on these platforms, wasn‘t it?
CAVNAR:  Well, that‘s the direction this is going, Lawrence.
During the Bush administration years, especially, but even in years before then, the rules began to be—even though the rules were very strict, they were all self-reported and self-regulated.  There‘s very little in the way of actual inspection by authorities or third parties to certify that what the companies were doing was correct.  And so, that‘s how you got into the situation where the blowout preventer was not inspected for five years before this happened.
O‘DONNELL:  Bob Cavnar, oil and gas industry expert—thanks for your time, once again, tonight.
CAVNAR:  Great talking to you, Lawrence.
O‘DONNELL:  Coming up: Lindsay Lohan is behind bars.  Is she the latest victim of childhood stardom?  New details tonight on who‘s trying to cash in on her latest predicament.
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O‘DONNELL:  An African-American federal worker has been forced to resign by the Obama administration because a speech she gave supposedly shows that she is a racist, and that she allowed that racism to affect her treatment of a white farmer in need of federal assistance.  But in our third story, that employee, Shirley Sherrod, says that the speech she gave was edited and that the point of her full speech was just the opposite.  The edited video in question put on a website yesterday by Andrew Breitbart. 
Mr. Breitbart tells TPM that he received the video already edited, and that he does not have the full video.  Here is part of what Mr. Breitbart posted on BigGovernment.com.  It is a portion of Shirley Sherrod‘s speech before the Georgia chapter of the NAACP.  She describes her interaction with a white farmer in 1986 in her role as the USDA director of rural development in Georgia. 
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHIRLEY SHERROD, FMR. USDA APPOINTEE:  What he didn‘t know, while he was taking all that time trying to show me he was superior to me, was I was trying to decide just how much help I was going to give him.  I was struggling with the fact that so many black people had lost their farm land and here I was faced with having to help a white person save their land.  So I didn‘t give him the full force of what I could do. 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL:  In the video, Ms. Sherrod goes on to explain how she directed the white farmer to a white lawyer, but later within the same video that Breitbart posted, she said this. 
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERROD:  That‘s when it was revealed to me that it‘s about poor versus those who have.  And it‘s not so much about white.  It is about white and black, but it‘s not—you know, it opened my eyes. 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL:  And Ms. Sherrod has since defended the full, unedited speech.  Quote, “my point in telling that story is that working with him helped me see that it wasn‘t just a black and white issue.” 
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERROD:  No, I did not discriminate against him.  In fact, I went all out.  I had to frantically look for a lawyer at the last minute, because the first lawyer we went to was not doing anything to really help him.  In fact, that lawyer suggested they should just let the farm go.  All of that process—that‘s why I tell it, because everything that happened in dealing with him—he was the first white farmer who had come to me for help.  Everything that I did working with him helped me to see that it wasn‘t about race. 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL:  The farmer and his wife, Roger and Eloise Spooner have come to Ms. Sherrod‘s defense, saying they consider Sherrod a friend for life who kept us out of bankruptcy.  And now the full speech has been released by the NAACP, and it backs up Ms. Sherrod‘s version of the speech and provides context for how this particular case helped her deal with those in financial trouble. 
Here is part of the video that Mr. Breitbart did not want you to see and did not post on his website. 
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERROD:  Working with him made me see that it‘s really about those who have versus those who don‘t. 
You know.  They could be black.  They could be white.  They could be Hispanic.  It made me realize then that I needed to work to help poor people. 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL:  Joining us now, the chairman emeritus of the NAACP, Julian Bond.  Thank you very much for your time tonight. 
JULIAN BOND, CHAIRMAN EMERITUS, NAACP:  Thank you for having me. 
O‘DONNELL:  The NAACP at first actually criticized Ms. Sherrod, like the Obama administration, but has since changed its position.  What happened? 
BOND:  What happened was we found out we had been snookered.  We had been taken in by this man Breitbart who deliberately tried to attack the NAACP through promoting this edited video that put a decent, decent woman in a very bad light and made us, in fact, behave badly by condemning her, for which we are so, so sorry.  And we‘ve apologized to her for it. 
We‘re sorry that she has lost her job.  And we think that if we‘re big enough to admit our mistake, we hope that Secretary Vilsack will be big enough to admit his and reinstate her in her job. 
O‘DONNELL:  Now, we have reports that the—there was urgent communication that seemed to be coming from the White House over to her department where she was being told, we need your resignation immediately.  Can you just pull over in your car and text a resignation to us.  Is it your understanding that there was that kind of urgency from the Obama administration to get this resignation? 
BOND:  I don‘t know that.  I have heard her say she was told the Obama administration wanted her to vacate her job, but I don‘t know that to be so. 
O‘DONNELL:  It seems what we were hearing in that story is an honest step through a thought process.  And early in her thought process was something that sounds like bias when you hear it.  But as you get through her story of her thought process, you get to her understanding and her learning curve comes to a clear understanding that color should have nothing to do with what she‘s doing.  And in the way the story unfolds it seems to have had nothing to do with what she‘s doing. 
Is there anything peculiar about that story?  Is that a story for which a white person or a black person should be condemned, about the road their mind went on to get to where they were going? 
BOND:  Not at all.  If you know her, if you know her family and what decent people they are, then you know she could never do anything like this.  She could never behave in this way.  So it‘s all the more wrong for her to have been treated this way, because she is not the kind of person who would do that. 
O‘DONNELL:  What should we be thinking of?  What racial lessons are there in this?  What racial lessons are there in the story that she tells, that she actually tells in the unedited version of the video, and then in the story that we are now processing here in the news media? 
BOND:  The story is that reconciliation is possible.  It is possible for people who believe they are enemies to become friends.  It is possible for people to hold out a helping hand one to the other.  Shirley Sherrod did it.  This family, this white family did it.  If they did it, all of us can do it.  So these kind of changes are possible. 
O‘DONNELL:  What would you say in the White House tonight?  You know, admitting a mistake in politics seems to be more difficult than admitting a mistake anywhere else.  They clearly wanted this resignation.  They wanted it quickly. 
BOND:  They wanted it quickly.  They had a different set—they were working under a different set of facts then.  Now they know the truth.  They know that she was a victim.  They know that she was manipulated.  We know her speech was edited.  We know that she didn‘t do or say the things we were meant to believe she said or did.  We know she was treated badly.  And we know she needs some recompense.  She needs some apology. 
I mean, she needs to have a bad situation made right and I think the Department of Agriculture, which has troubles enough by its own, can make this right, too. 
O‘DONNELL:  In a White House where the president found himself willing to step up quickly to the defense of a Harvard professor who found himself in the mix of a racial situation with the Cambridge police, does it feel odd out there that someone, low ranking official in the USDA, would be pushed out the door as fast as possible by this very same White House? 
BOND:  It may seem odd, but it shouldn‘t.  This was a terrible mistake.  It was a mistake all around.  It doesn‘t have to remain a mistake.  It can be corrected.  She has been treated badly.  And she needs to have this wrong set right.  And I think the Obama administration, Secretary Vilsack, the Department of Agriculture, all the people who did the wrong thing can do the right thing now. 
O‘DONNELL:  Julian Bond, chairman emeritus of the NAACP, it is an honor, sir, to have you join us tonight. 
BOND:  My pleasure.  Thank you. 
O‘DONNELL:  A quick programming note; Rachel will add her perspective to the Breitbart hatchet job when her show begins at the top of the hour.  Don‘t miss that. 
Ahead on COUNTDOWN, the imprisonment of Lindsay Lohan; why this story is really another Hollywood child star tragedy. 
And the upbringing of a much different kind.  Chelsea Clinton, sheltered from the media spotlight by her famous parents, will now try to shield her wedding from the same media glare.  Details next on COUNTDOWN.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
O‘DONNELL:  America spent the ‘90s watching her grow up in the White House.  And in less than two weeks, as Chelsea Clinton gets married, America will be—well, in our number two story tonight, you will be about as far away as the Clintons can keep you.  As NBC‘s Natalie Morales reports, your invitation has not come yet, and it‘s not going to. 
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
NATALIE MORALES, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  The Clinton family knows a thing or two about national security.  But keeping all the details of Chelsea‘s wedding under wraps?  That‘s near but impossible. 
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  This is as close to a royal wedding as America is going to see. 
MORALES:  Chelsea, now 30, is marrying Marc Mezvinsky, an investment banker whose parents were both Democratic members of Congress.  The bride and groom first met as teens but didn‘t become a couple until several years ago.  The vows are set for the last day in July.  Word leaked this month that it‘ll be held in a beautiful, secluded Versailles-style mansion two hours north of New York City. 
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Astor Court is located in Lineback.  And it is beautiful.  There are 30 acres that surrounds it and it overlooks the Hudson River. 
MORALES:  There‘s plenty of curiosity about the elite guest list ,with reports it will include A-listers from Washington to Hollywood. 
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We‘ve heard Kate Capshaw, Steven Spielberg, Ted Turner, Barbara Streisand.  President Obama has been invited.  His press secretary, however, has said he will not attend.  Who knows if that will change? 
MORALES:  In Pakistan this weekend, Secretary Clinton, the mother of the bride, spoke to Andrea Mitchell. 
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT:  Your message to all of these people out there waiting for that invitation?  A-listers, B-listers? 
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE:  Well, we love you all, but this is her wedding. 
MORALES:  Chelsea, the Clintons‘ only child, has come a long way from the teenager who grew up in the White House.  Today, she has an elegant poise and style, and an impressive career as a hedge fund manager to match.  A bride who knows who she is and what she wants on her big day. 
CLINTON:  My daughter has really taken hold of it.  She knows what she wants and how she wants to have it come off. 
MITCHELL:  The former president, your husband, performed a wedding ceremony.  Should we assume he is not going to be officiating? 
CLINTON:  You should assume that if he makes it down the aisle in one piece, it‘s a major accomplishment.  He is going to, you know, be so emotional, as am I.  But we‘re both looking forward to it and very—you know, very happy about it. 
(END VIDEOTAPE)
O‘DONNELL:  That was Natalie Morales reporting for us.  Coming up, today Lindsay Lohan surrendered to the court and was sent directly to prison.  How growing up as a movie star put her on course to disaster.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
O‘DONNELL:  Imagine being 12 years old and suddenly becoming not only a movie star, but your family‘s meal ticket.  Lindsay Lohan didn‘t need to imagine it.  It was her reality.  And in our number one story tonight, 12 years later, she is in a California jail. 
Ms. Lohan arriving at Beverly Hills Court ten minutes late this morning.  The actress turning herself in for violating probation on a drunk driving conviction.  Her lawyer, Shawn Chapman Holley, who had previously quit the case, by her side.  And after Judge Maureen Revel mercifully ordered cameras to stop rolling, Ms. Lohan was handcuffed, transported to the Century Regional Detention Center in Lynwood, California. 
Originally sentenced to serve 90 days, she is now scheduled to be released in two weeks due to prison overcrowding in California.  She will spend most of it in this isolated, 12 by eight cell.  TMZ reporting the particulars.  Ms. Lohan will get to exercise three times a week, but shower only every other day.  She will be served two cold meals, one hot per day.  On tonight‘s menu, turkey tetrazzini. 
Earlier, Ms. Lohan‘s attorney told the crush of reporters the actress is scared but resolute. 
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHAWN CHAPMAN HOLLEY, LOHAN‘S ATTORNEY:  I think Lindsay is a talented young woman.  And I appreciate very much the fact that she‘s accepting responsibility and stepped up to the plate and is doing what‘s been asked of her. 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL:  That talent seen in Tina Fey‘s “Mean Girls,” as well as Robert Altman‘s last film, “A Prairie Home Companion,” where this young, gifted artist played the troubled daughter of a singer portrayed by Meryl Streep. 
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MERYL STREEP, ACTRESS:  Read me some of your poem. 
LINDSAY LOHAN, ACTRESS:  It‘s not finished. 
STREEP:  Huh? 
LOHAN:  OK.  Death is easy like jumping in the big blue air and waving hello to God.  God is love, but he doesn‘t necessarily drop everything to catch you.  Does he?  So when you hook the hose up to your tail pipe, don‘t expect to wake up and get toast for breakfast.  The toast is you. 
STREEP:  Hey, what was the name of that song? 
LOHAN:  Well, did you like it? 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL:  Lindsay having a difficult relationship with her own
parents, Tweeting this past weekend, “I don‘t want Michael Lohan Sr.
anywhere near me, no matter where I am.  I am in a great place and he only
brings negativity in my world.‘ 
Ignoring his daughter‘s wishes, Michael Lohan showed up to court today, his attorney in tow.  And he has spent the better half of the day making the media rounds, shouting, “we love you, Lindsay,” while his daughter was handcuffed.  Unfortunately, he missed his cue.  The cameras had already been turned off.  His pathetic stab at courtroom stardom denied and the tragic victim of his parenting skills is now a target of media ridicule around the world. 
COUNTDOWN has learned Lindsay Lohan‘s mother, Dina, has been asking for 50,000 dollars to appear on television news shows to discuss her daughter‘s incarceration.  With parents like these -- 
Joining me now is chief correspondent for “Inside Edition” and the author of “The Last Day of My Life,” Jim Moret.  Jim, when you and I were 11 years old, we were in sixth grade trying to get a little more math into our heads, trying to learn a little more English grammar.  Lindsay Lohan at 11 years old was on the set of a big, big budget movie, “Parent Trap” that was going to make her a movie star when she was 12 years old. 
Here we are, 12 years later.  Is this an inevitable road?  Is this what the story of Hollywood child stardom tells us? 
JIM MORET, “INSIDE EDITION”:  I think it can be.  I think when you
have a world of celebrity and entitlement and enablers and poor parenting -
look, Michael Lohan admitted today outside court that he is responsible in many ways for this failing of his daughter‘s life so far, that he is an alcoholic, admittedly.  He‘s been in jail.  He got divorced and he let his daughter down in that regard.  He is very open about that. 

Lindsay‘s mother goes to clubs with her.  I think there‘s a lot of issues here, not just the fact that Lindsay‘s been in a movie and been a star.  But we‘ve seen so many times before that celebrities can get whatever they want in terms of drugs, in this case prescription drugs.  And many stars who are addicted, I‘ve been told by folks who treat them, have doctors on call for 50,000 dollars a month to get anything they want.  That‘s a big problem. 
O‘DONNELL:  Jim, it‘s a vexing problem in the business.  I‘ve written parts for children that I‘ve had to cast in television series.  I‘m sitting there in casting sessions and I see these little kids come in.  And part of me is thinking this kid should be in a classroom, shouldn‘t be in a casting session with me at 2:00 in the Warner Brothers lot.  And I worry about them.  And there‘s nothing in the system to take care of these kids. 
These kids depend entirely upon their parents.  And their parents, I think, are misguided allowing them into that position in the first place.  There‘s nothing that substitutes for the normal environment of a classroom.  There‘s nothing a movie studio can provide you that will be anything like normal.  Is there? 
MORET:  No.  I don‘t really think there is.  You know, in Lindsay Lohan you see something that you don‘t generally see.  And that is enormous potential. 
O‘DONNELL:  Yeah. 
MORET:  And talent.  And so, look, maybe that‘s her calling.  I can‘t say that she shouldn‘t be an actress.  This is what she is perhaps born to do.  But she‘s surrounded by people that are enabling her.  And for too long she‘s gotten away with whatever she wanted.  You know what?  Today was the end of the line.  And I think that she left that courtroom resigned to the fact that she was going to spend time behind bars, and not just that, but then 90 days in rehab. 
O‘DONNELL:  Now, drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs often believe in the notion of the rock bottom moment.  And is this her rock bottom moment?  And can she find herself at that rock bottom moment and climb up?  What‘s the evidence on her?
MORET:  Well, the evidence is she likes to be around people.  She likes to smoke.  She likes to be on her Twitter account.  She can‘t do any of that.  She‘s going to be in solitary confinement.
She‘s being treated differently in this regard.  Because she‘s a celebrity, she‘s a target.  So she can‘t be in the general jail community.  She‘s going to be in solitary for two weeks.  That‘s going to be hard for her.
O‘DONNELL:  Jim Moret of “Inside Edition,” thanks for your time tonight.
MORET:  My pleasure.  Thanks for having me.
O‘DONNELL:  That will have to do it for this Tuesday edition of COUNTDOWN.  We have one clarification before we go.  In the Breitbart manipulation story about Shirley Sherrod‘s speech, we seem to have given the impression that Ms. Sherrod was working for the federal government at the time in the story.  She was actually helping these people by working in a state program and the state government of Georgia at that time. 
Now, with much more on that story, here is Rachel Maddow.  Good evening, Rachel. 
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