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Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Friday, March 11th, 2011

Read the transcript from the Friday 6 p.m. hour

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Guests: Kaori Enjoji, Martyn Williams, Tom Byer, James Acton, Ed Markey, Ed Rendell,

Jonathan Alter

CENK UYGUR, HOST:  Good evening.  I‘m Cenk Uygur.  Welcome to the show, everybody.

In a moment, we‘ll go live to Japan to cover the historic disaster there. 

But also on tonight‘s show, President Obama hits back hard at Republicans who are trying to blame him for rising gas prices.  Who‘s right and who‘s wrong?  We actually have the proof. 

And we‘ll expose the Republicans‘ war on education around the country with former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell. 

But we begin with a powerful earthquake that struck northeastern Japan.  We‘re just getting the first live pictures of damage in the daylight in Japan.  You‘re seeing it right there. 

There was obviously mass devastation in many cities.  You‘ve probably seen some of the pictures at night, and we‘ll have more of those for you as well.

You see people hanging out on the roof there.  Obviously, lower ground is much more dangerous, higher ground is safer. 

And you see whole sections of town, cities, buildings, et cetera, devastated.  And the earthquake was an 8.9 magnitude quake, and it struck near the coastal city of Sendai overnight.  The earthquake is the largest ever recorded in Japan. 

Skyscrapers started shaking, debris went flying, and people went running for their lives.  Witnesses say the reverberations were so powerful and prolonged, that they got motion sickness. 

It triggered a 23-foot tsunami that washed out entire neighborhoods.  Look at that.  Man, that is amazing footage.  The tsunami wave sent houses crashing into other houses, you can see there, and pushed entire streets into a wall. 

You know what?  I heard stories of ships flowing in out of the water, running into houses, running into bridges, taking out power cords.  The electricity in obviously large sections of the town—of different towns were devastated.  We also have a nuclear problem we‘re going to tell you about in a second. 

But as you see it washing in, it is an amazing sight.  And we see the unbelievable devastation. 

We‘re going to talk about the death tolls, casualty tolls.  We‘re going to have reports from Japan itself in just a second now. 

All day, people in the region have been dealing with dozens of aftershocks.  There was even a separate earthquake in Nagano this afternoon.  Some of the aftershocks were as high as 6.0 throughout the country. 

Now, this is a live picture in Japan.  As you say, it‘s unbelievable, the reach of the damage in some of these towns. 

Search teams are still trying to rescue survivors.  Reports estimate that as many as 1,000 people are presumed dead.  Tens of thousands more have been displaced.  And there‘s an alarming new threat at this hour at a Japanese nuclear plant, where the emergency cooling systems have failed, and the pressure and temperature is rising. 

There are now reports that the amount of radiation is 1,000 times normal levels inside the Fukushima plant.  And authorities are scrambling to prevent a nuclear meltdown. 

We‘ll have a complete report on the nuclear threat coming up. 

But first, let me turn to the CNBC‘s Tokyo bureau chief, Kaori Enjoji, in Tokyo. 

Kaori, give us a full update as to what‘s happened in Japan today, the latest that we know. 

KAORI ENJOJI, CNBC TOKYO BUREAU CHIEF:  Well, Cenk, it‘s been 18 hours since the first earthquake hit, the biggest on record ever in Japan.  And morning is just breaking across the country. 

Public broadcaster NHK is reporting that the number of people either dead or missing is likely to exceed 1,000 people.  Most of the government efforts this morning seem to be concentrated on this nuclear facility in Fukushima prefecture.  And the prime minister of Japan, Naoto Kan, headed that way about two hours ago. 

There has been no information from TEPCO, the electric utility power company that runs this nuclear reactor for the last 45 minutes.  What it said 45 minutes ago, that the company had lost the ability to control the pressure at two of the nuclear reactors in Fukushima. 

There are four nuclear reactors across the eastern shore of the northeastern region.  And the focus now seems to be on the two of them right now.

What‘s also worrying is that the amount of aftershocks not only in the northeastern region, but across Japan.  This morning there was a large quake in Nagano, which is inland, a 6.7 magnitude quake in Nagano prefecture.  Also in Niigata prefecture, which is on the western coast of Japan. 

So, until this morning, most of the quakes and aftershocks and the damage was reported on the eastern coast of Japan.  But now, this morning, as we‘re waking up, a quake which may or may not be related to the one that hit 18 hours ago, hitting inland as well. 

Bear in mind that the temperatures there are still around freezing point this morning.  There‘s a lot of snow on the ground. 

I‘m seeing pictures of rail lines being disrupted and completely derailed. 

I‘m seeing pictures of people on rooftops of buildings. 

Fire continue to erupt throughout the country.  Villages have been swept

away.  I also saw a sign in an open field in the northeastern area of Japan

with the letters “SOS” and then initial “H” circled, signaling for a

helicopter crew to come and rescue them, because as this earthquake struck

18 hours ago, people have been in some areas—these are very rural areas

remote, mobile phone access has been very sporadic, and calling for SOS help from the south defense forces, which has been deployed to the region. 

UYGUR:  Kaori, these pictures and these videos are unbelievable.  It looks like one of the movies you see where the world is ending.  And given what we‘re seeing here, thousands seems—you know, it‘s a horrible, horrible number, but it seems relatively low given what we‘re seeing. 

Do you know if they had advanced warning to evacuate people and how much advanced warning they had?  I know that details are tough to come by just 18 hours after, but do you know about that? 

ENJOJI:  As far as I know, there was no warning of the actual quake itself.  There was a warning of about 30 minutes‘ lead time on some of the tsunamis that hit first and washed up on the shores of the northeastern coast.  But again, when these tsunamis hit, you‘re talking about an area that is relatively flat, relatively agricultural, apart from some major fisheries in that area. 

So, even if you were to evacuate to higher ground, in situations like these they were advising people to be on ground about 10 floors above, so a building 10 stories or above.  So that would have been difficult with a 30-minute warning notice.  Again, as I mentioned, they‘re continuing to report aftershocks throughout this region, and people look like they‘re stranded in buildings, on top of rooftops. 

You mentioned the possible casualties.  I think it‘s still early days.  Not many people have been able to get into the center as the quake continues. 

So as far as the official death toll is concerned, it continues to amount.  The official is 200, but the public broadcaster is saying that combined with the missing, it‘s likely to exceed 1,000. 

Remember that in the Kobe earthquake of 1995, which most of Japan still remembers very vividly, this was a quake of 7.3 that killed 6,400.  So now we‘re talking about a magnitude far beyond those levels that we saw in Kobe back in 1995. 

UYGUR:  Right.  It is the largest in 1,200 years, the largest one in recorded history in Japan.  And then there‘s the tsunami as well.

Kaori Enjoji, CNBC‘s bureau chief in Tokyo.

Thank you so much for joining us.  We really appreciate the information.

We‘re now joined on the phone by Martyn Williams.  He‘s the Tokyo bureau chief for IDG News Service.  I want to get more on this here. 

Where were you when the earthquake happened, Martyn? 

MARTYN WILLIAMS, IDG NEWS, TOKYO:  I was in my office. 

UYGUR:  In Tokyo?

WILLIAMS:  Yes, that‘s right.  In central Tokyo.

UYGUR:  And how—you know, this did not happen in Tokyo, but obviously it was felt in Tokyo.  How profound was it in Tokyo? 

WILLIAMS:  In Tokyo, it was a very strong earthquake.  I‘ve been in Japan for 15 years, and this was easily the strongest earthquake that I‘ve felt.  So I can only imagine what it was like further up north. 

UYGUR:  Is there a sense in the country of how bad the devastation is in the areas that are hit the hardest?  Is Tokyo in mourning already over not just what happened in Tokyo, but in those areas that seem to be absolutely wiped out? 

WILLIAMS:  I think the scale of the devastation is only just starting to dawn on people.  All the trains were canceled in Tokyo last night.  A lot of people spent the night in the office and a lot of people haven‘t gone home yet.  But as the dawn has come and the trains are about to restart, I think people are going to get home, get some rest. 

And the TV pictures are just staggering, what we‘re seeing up in northern Japan.  Also, a lot of the areas that we didn‘t see last night, but with the morning light, helicopters flying over.  We‘re starting to see fresh pictures, and the devastation up there is just incredible. 

UYGUR:  Have the authorities told people yet whether all the aftershocks are done?  Do we know that for sure, or is there a possibility of more to come? 

WILLIAMS:  The possibility of aftershocks is definitely still with us.  In fact, all of Japan‘s eastern sea coast is not just under a tsunami warning, but under a major tsunami warning, which is something that‘s very rare here.  And this morning, in the neighborhood where I live, the city came over the loud speakers they have and told us all to conserve power because electricity supply is very strained in Tokyo at the moment. 

UYGUR:  Now, Martyn, I know it‘s really difficult to know at this juncture, but any sense of whether the earthquake caused more damage or the tsunami caused more damage? 

WILLIAMS:  It‘s looking right now like the tsunami definitely caused more damage.  The earthquake was off shore, and that‘s what caused the tsunami, obviously.  And while it shook and will have destroyed some buildings, there was some damage, although very light damage in Tokyo that was caused directly by the earthquake. 

It was the tsunami washing ashore and those pictures you were talking about earlier that really caused all the damage.  That was the incredible part.

UYGUR:  Well, let‘s focus on that for a second.  Because how does Japan recover from this? 

I know it‘s really early on.  But, first of all, mass devastation.  Second of all, this could happen again.  Japan suffers from earthquakes all the time.  Obviously, this is the largest one they‘ve ever had.  They‘ve got to be constantly worried about a tsunami, let alone what it‘s going to do to their economy. 

WILLIAMS:  Exactly.  I mean, we‘ve had some tsunamis also this morning as well, much, much smaller than yesterday and not very destructive, but they are still occurring this morning as the aftershocks continue every five or 10 minutes.  We can feel an aftershock here in Tokyo.

This is something that Japan has faced in the past and something that Japan has coped with in the past.  We‘re talking about a large impact to the economy of Japan.  It‘s still a little bit too early to tell just quite how long it‘s going to take for the economy to bounce back form this. 

It will definitely have a large effect on the country, but yes, it‘s the nature of Japan.  It knows how to live with this kind of thing, and it knows the way to recover. 

UYGUR:  But, Martin, I was just reading a financial report before all of this happened about Japan saying that their deficit is totally out of control, maybe beyond repair.  And now with this added on, is it possible that this deals an unrecoverable blow to the economy? 

WILLIAMS:  I‘m not sure it will be unrecoverable.  But the size of the blow could definitely be very significant, you‘re right. 

Japan does have a lot of economic problems at the moment.  The economy is in stagnation.  And this will deliver a huge hit to the economy.  So I haven‘t seen any figures yet.  I don‘t think anyone has gotten around to crunching any possible numbers.  But, yes, it‘s going to have a large effect on the economy, for sure.

UYGUR:  One last thing on the psyche of Japan.  You know, God, they have suffered through so much, whether it was, you know, obviously the nuclear bombs during World War II, the constant earthquakes, some tsunamis, et cetera.

Does it make it more hardened to this?  I mean, you can‘t possible be ready for something like this, but do they feel besieged in some sense historically? 

WILLIAMS:  I‘m not sure the feelings that came in at the war have anything to do with this.  But natural disasters are something that occur frequently in Japan, whether it‘s earthquakes, tidal waves, mudslides at different times of year during the monsoon rains and things like that. 

People are very aware of the devastation that natural disasters can cause.  And Japan did a very good job trying to guard against it, has very good warning systems.  But yes, at the end of the day, the Japanese people know very well that you just can‘t fight nature. 

All right.  Martyn Williams, thank you so much for joining us.  Really appreciate it, and appreciate the report.

WILLIAMS:  Thank you.

UYGUR:  Now joining us by phone from Tokyo is Tom Byer.  He has been living in Japan for over 20 years and was with his wife and two small children when the earthquake struck. 

Tom, tell me about how it felt.  Did you have a sense of how gigantic this was as it was happening? 

TOM BYER, CAUGHT IN EARTHQUAKE:  Well, I‘ve been living here over 25 years, so just as the previous person was speaking, I mean, we learned to kind of live with these experiences.  But, I mean, this one was just a completely different level. 

I mean, the length of it and the power of it was just overwhelming compared to what we‘ve been through in the past.  And the aftershocks, I mean, these aftershocks have just been continuous.  Only within about the last hour—and it‘s 8:30 in the morning.  To put it in perspective, the earthquake hit around a little bit before 3:00 in the afternoon yesterday. 

The aftershocks have been just continuous, all night long, all day long.  I mean, like, almost never ending.  And so I‘ve never experienced anything like this in 25 years. 

UYGUR:  You know, Tom, I live in L.A. normally, and I live in a high-rise.  And we‘ve suffered some minor earthquakes while I‘ve been there.  And it‘s scary as the building sways back and forth. 

You‘ve got your family there.  You‘ve got your wife, you‘ve got your kids. 

What did you do at that moment? 

BYER:  Well, you know, I‘ve been in the same situation when I‘ve been in the high-rises, but then I‘ve been actually now at ground level where my home is.  And the feeling is magnified almost 10 times. 

You know, it was scary.  I‘ve got two little boys, a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old. 

You know, we kind of trained for this.  We think we‘re prepared.  But when the moment hits, just everything goes out the window. 

You really are in a panic trying to figure out what the next move is, of whether you open up windows or you open up doorways.  Do you go outside?  Do you stay inside?  Do you get under tables? 

UYGUR:  Out of curiosity, Tom, what did you do?  Like, did you stay inside? 

Did you leave?

BYER:  Well, what we did was—no, because, you know, usually when this happens, it happens, you‘re in the moment, and then it finishes.  But this thing was, like, the never-ending—it went on for a couple of minutes. 

So, through the entire time, I was trying to open up the windows.  We were watching the kids.  My wife went and put bicycle helmets on top of—for the kids.  At one point we put them under the table. 

Then glasses started flowing out of the cabinets and breaking on the floor. 

So it was just mayhem. 

UYGUR:  Tom, as you‘re telling the story, I‘m thinking, God, if you were in the towns that got hit by the tsunami, the fear and the panic that must have been there, I mean, it‘s chilling.  In Tokyo, which is apparently over 150 miles away, it had that kind of effect on you guys. 

And I know that when I—the small earthquake that I lived through in L.A., I was so glad my wife and kids weren‘t at home when it hit us, because I thought maybe being in the tower was a worse situation.  I didn‘t know what to do in that brief period of time.

But to have this kind of devastation—so, in Tokyo, is there a sense of, my God, how do we help the people who are absolutely wiped out in the other towns? 

BYER:  Well, not yet.  I mean, you‘ve got to remember, it‘s just early morning here.  People are just starting to get up.  We‘re starting to see the devastation on television. 

You have got basically kind of two scenarios.  You‘ve got the people who were stranded yesterday because, like I said, at 3:00, when the earthquake hit, like clockwork all the train systems stopped, mass transit.  So everybody was stranded. 

So you‘ve got those people who are struggling to get back home now.  It‘s a weekend, Saturday.  And then you have people like myself who are home and we haven‘t gone out yet. 

We‘re glued to the TV.  We‘re trying to find friends and loved ones out there. 

UYGUR:  Right.

BYER:  One thing, for me personally, I‘m actually quite well known in Japan because I appear on national television every weekday morning for the last 13 years.  I‘m a former professional soccer player, and I travel around the country doing soccer events. 

And these most heavily devastated areas, Sendai City, Fukushima, along the coastline, I‘ve been there many, many times at events.  In fact, the nuclear reactors that were built by the company have actually hired me over the years to go in and do soccer events for kids as a PR event—

UYGUR:  Right.  So you must know a lot of people in those towns, and that‘s got to be tough to deal with. 

BYER:  I do.  I do.  I have got several soccer schools I actually created there. 

UYGUR:  Tom, I hope they‘re all right.  I hope you get in touch with them soon.

Tom Byer, thank you so much for your time tonight.  Really appreciate it. 

All right.  As we‘ve been reporting, Japan has suffered a major disaster. 

Now not one, but two nuclear plants, are under the threat of a meltdown. 

We‘ll tell you about that when we return.


UYGUR:  Now to the nuclear threat in Japan.  Authorities are desperately trying to cool down a reactor at the Fukushima number one plant.  The area within a two-mile radius has already been evacuated. 

Experts are trying to vent the plant by letting out steam.  That steam is slightly radioactive. 

Now, here‘s something you don‘t want to be around, something that is slightly radioactive.  This is obviously a very dangerous situation.

One nuclear expert told the “Los Angeles Times” this has the potential to be “worse than Three Mile Island.”

And breaking news right now, there are reports that authorities have lost control of pressure at a second nuclear reactor.  We‘ll tell you why that‘s so dangerous with our next guest. 

That‘s James Action.  He‘s with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  He‘s been following the nuclear situation in Japan today. 

James, first of all, I understand that once you lose, as they say here, the power to the cooling supply, that there is an hour before basically you have coolant boiling off and possible meltdown. 

Is that right? 

JAMES ACTON, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE:  That‘s basically right, Cenk.  I mean, the problem we have is that when you scram a reactor, when you essentially turn it off, it continues to produce heat.  And so you need a source of water to cool that while the reactor cools down over the course of a number of days. 

What appears to have happened this morning is that the external power supply and internal backup diesel generator has all failed.  And that‘s caused a series of events which we don‘t fully understand at the moment.  But the end result of that is a lot of steam is being produced because the core isn‘t being cooled properly.  That‘s building up inside the reactor containment vessel, and it had to be vented. 

UYGUR:  Right.  Now, if this—our figure scares me, because I don‘t know if it means that if it doesn‘t happen—if you can‘t call it off within an hour, there‘s a meltdown, or if then the meltdown would take a longer period of time, because obviously a meltdown would be disastrous. 

So do we have a sense of how much time we have or they have as we all try to—and I know the U.S. is also bringing in things to cool this off, although, of course, it‘s going to take way longer to get there.  I know they‘ve got trucks coming in with material to cool it off.

Do we know how much time we have before the meltdown happens? 

ACTON:  There isn‘t really a single number.  And, you know, the fact that steam is being produced means that there‘s some type of coolant there within the system.

What we don‘t know is how much there is and what the core temperature is. 

There‘s a whole series of variables we don‘t know.  The bottom line is this

if they cannot restore whatever is wrong, be that the power supply, be that the coolant systems themselves, then at some point over the course of the next hours, or perhaps even days—this could be a very slow-moving crisis—then it is possible that the core will start to melt.

UYGUR:  What happens if the core melts?  What happens—what are the consequences of a meltdown? 

ACTON:  Well, “meltdown” is a very scary word that covers actually a very wide range of possible scenarios.  It‘s possible that the fuel in the core, at least the metal surrounding the fuel, starts to melt, but very little radioactivity goes into the outside—into the environment.  That‘s kind of the best-case meltdown scenario. 

The worst case of meltdown scenario is that there‘s a very extensive leakage of radiation into the environment.  There‘s actually a huge range of possible outcomes here. 

UYGUR:  Right.  And that‘s why I brought up the fact that there were nuclear bombs, of course, that went off in Japan earlier, because it seems like they‘re—you know, it‘s the nuclear issue again in Japan.  It‘s a shame.

And just one more thing here.  As they let off that radioactive steam, how

dangerous is that?  Because they‘re telling people within a six-mile radius

two miles, you have to evacuate.  Six miles, they say just stay inside your house. 

I don‘t think I would do that.  I mean, is that OK?  How bad is the radioactive steam? 

ACTON:  Well, listen, when you have radiation leaking out of a plant, then that‘s an extremely serious accident.  I mean, you can‘t play this down. 

That said, the radiation within the steam is not terribly intense.  It will dissipate.  Away from the plant, people are unlikely to be adversely affected by it. 

So, of course any time radiation is leaking from a power plant, that‘s a cause for extreme concern.  But again, what I want to emphasize is there‘s a huge range of possible outcomes. 

Mildly radioactive steam, where the core is not damaged, may not cause any fatalities outside of the plant.  If the core starts to get damaged, and the steam continues to flow, then you‘re in a very different situation. 

UYGUR:  All right.  James Acton, thank you for your expertise tonight.  We really appreciate it.

ACTON:  Thank you for having me.

UYGUR:  I‘ll tell you, if I was there, you know what?  I would go, man.  I would go and get out of there as quickly as possible.  I don‘t know, maybe that‘s just me, but that‘s really scary. 

All right.  We‘ll be right back. 



SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL ®, MINORITY LEADER:  Americans looking at the price of gas at the pump these days are justifiably upset.  What they may not realize is that some in the administration are actively working to prevent us from increasing our own oil production here at home.  


CENK UYGUR, HOST, MSNBC LIVE:  The GOP is slamming President Obama as you just saw over rising oil prices.  And in my opinion, and according to the facts with we‘re about to show you, that is absolutely ridiculous.  And it wasn‘t just Mitch McConnell.  John Boehner also piled on this week, saying Obama has consistently blocked with efforts to increase domestic oil production.  They‘re saying it‘s Obama‘s fault that gas prices are high.  Now, it‘s true gas prices are up, now average costs per gallon is now three dollars and 54 cents.  Up seven cents from a week ago and 76 cents from a year ago.  President Obama argues this is because of what‘s happening in Libya and the rest of the Middle East.  


PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES:  There‘s also uncertainty in terms of what‘s happening in the Middle East.  A lot of this has to do with uncertainty in the market.  


UYGUR:  So who‘s right?  The Republicans or President Obama?  Now, if you watch this show on a regular basis, you know that I often disagree with the president.  This is not one of those times.  In this case, he‘s only 100 percent correct.  Look at this the chart.  The day before the uprising in Libya, February 14, oil prices were covering just around the $90 mark.  The first protests in Libya happened the next day and prices soon started hitting new levels being at just under $107 a few days level.  Now they‘re around the $100 ballpark.   Libya is now producing less than a million barrels of oil per day than it had been.  And as you saw in that chart, it‘s an open and shut case.  Libya happens, prices go up.  You would have to be crazy or a republican to disagree.  And as always, the answer with the republican leadership, besides blaming Obama is more drilling at home.  The theory is that if we drill, baby, drill, prices will come down.  


REP. JOE BARTON (D), TEXAS:  We want it to be $60 a barrel or $50 a barrel.  And the way to do it is to produce more in America.  


UYGUR:  Now, I will say this for the billionth time in a row, until it gets through their thick skulls.   When we drill in America, we don‘t get the oil.  They don‘t drive up to your house and go, hey, Bob, thanks for all the oil in the Gulf of Mexico.  Here it is.  No, the oil companies keep it and it makes bigger profits from it.  But then the Republicans know that because that‘s who they‘re working for.  You want proof?  Look at that same Joe Barton defending subsidies for huge oil companies right here.  


BARTON:  Over time, if you put some disincentives against any U.S.  manufacturing or production company or oil and gas exploration, they‘ll go out of business.  


UYGUR:  Did you hear that?  Congressman Joe Barton just said that they would go out of business.   That was in the context of hey, should we give them oil subsidies and all of those tax breaks?  He‘s saying if we don‘t give them the tax breaks, the oil companies will go bankrupt.  What a joke that is.  Look at these numbers.  ExxonMobil made profit of $19 billion in 2009.  It was the second most profitable company in the world.   Chevron made almost $11 billion.  It was the world‘s 29th most profitable company.  And Conoco Phillips, oh, poor guys.  They‘ll small potatoes.  They only made $4.9 billion in 2009.  And these guys need tax breaks or they‘ll go out of business?  They can‘t possibly believe that.  In fact, they don‘t.  The Republicans have just become shameless.  They think that they can‘t lose, so they‘re pretty much admitting yes, we work for the oil companies.  

I would like to give them more of your money.  Now, for the record, as they blame Obama for high gas prices, how did George W. Bush do on the same issue?  Well, when we came into office in 2000, the average gas price was $1.48.  By 2008 when he left, it was $3.25.  And that‘s over an eight-year period.  It doesn‘t have anything to do with fluctuations over Libya or the Middle East.  That was huge discrepancy.  You know what we call that?  Oops.  I guess if you want to blame a president for it, you‘ve got the wrong president.  You should be blaming George W. Bush. 

Now with me is democratic Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Congressman Markey is on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  First of all, I mean, really?  Really?  They think if we don‘t give the oil company subsidies that they‘re going to go bankrupt, and they can‘t see that chart where after Libya, the gas prices take off?  So, my question to you Congressman is, are they, I mean, are they on the level?  Do they actually believe what they‘re saying or do they think, oh they‘re not going to find out.  Let‘s just lie.  

REP. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  Look, they‘re blaming Obama when they should be blaming OPEC.  This is not an act of God.  It‘s an act of Gadhafi which has led to this price spike.  And they are contending in Congress that the answer is larger tax breaks for oil companies.  Well, at $100 a barrel for oil, subsidizing the oil companies to drill for more oil would be like subsidizing a bird to fly or a fish to swim.  You don‘t have to do it.  They‘re going to do it anyway in their own economic interest.  But they‘ve already bid for public lands in the United States where there is oil that is the size of New Mexico and they have yet to begin their drilling on that land.  And I think what we should do is instead of giving them tax breaks to start putting tax burdens on them unless and until they start drilling here in the United States on the land that the American people have given them to drill.  

UYGUR:  Yes.  You know, you have an interesting theory, I believe.  Do you think that the Republican Party is interested in keeping us addicted to foreign oil?

MARKEY:  I think that they really do the bidding of the oil industry.  Look at it, we only produce seven million barrels of oil a day in the United States.  We import 13 million barrels oil a day.  Of that, about half of it comes from OPEC.  We should be telling OPEC, we don‘t need your oil any more than we need your sand.   And the only way to do that is to have a wind, a solar, a geothermic and all electric vehicle revolution in our country that just backs that oil out of our system.  Instead, the Republicans in the budget which they passed in the House of Representatives just two weeks ago kills all of these programs.  Tells the EPA that they won‘t be able to increase the fuel economy standards of the vehicles which we drive.  

That we can‘t have higher standards for airplane fuel economy standards, for trains, for all of the places where we put the oil we consume.  And OPEC grins and smiles as their profits go up.  The oil companies grin and smile as their oil profits get up.  And the Republicans on the floor and the Senate blame Barack Obama for what is happening.  But the one thing they‘re wrong on is the American people know that it‘s the oil companies, and OPEC and there‘s no way that they‘re going to be blaming Obama.  

UYGUR:  Well, Congressman Markey, that‘s a really interesting point.  Because, you know, if you think they‘re interested in the American people, then it doesn‘t make sense.  But if they‘re interested in the people who are paying their bills, the oil companies, well, then you wouldn‘t want alternative energy, you would want us to be addicted to those oil companies that are financing the Republicans.  So that‘s a very interesting point.  And my last point on this is, what happened to the free market?  I thought these guys said that they‘re in favor of the free market.  All of a sudden, they say no, no, no, give all the tax breaks and the subsidies to the oil companies.  

MARKEY:  Well, that‘s what happened in the last Congress.  President Obama proposed an energy revolution of using new technologies.  And Henry Waxman and I, we were able to pass that bill through the House of Representatives.  But over in the Senate, it was Oklahoma oil and Kentucky coal that mounted the campaign, that killed the bill that would have well underway to this energy independents revolution right now but big oil, big coil, they got what they wanted and we‘re now paying the price at the pump.  

UYGUR:  All right.  Congressman Markey, thank you so much for joining us tonight. 

MARKEY:  Thank you.

UYGUR:  Now, Republicans are waging a war on education in America, the president is fighting back at the national level, but GOP governors are killing education funding throughout the whole  country.  I want to ask Ed Rendell whether he thinks they‘re doing this on purpose to deny your kids an opportunity.  That‘s an interesting question, and that‘s next.



OBAMA:  There are going to be certain things that House Republicans want that I will not accept.  The notion that we would cut, for example, Pell Grants, when we know the single most important thing to our success as a nation long term is how well educated our kids are. 


UYGUR:  Today, President Obama put his foot down on republican plans to cut education spending on the federal level as you just saw.  But most of the damage to our education system is already being done by republican governors who are systematically handicapping the public school system.  In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker‘s new budget cuts nearly $900 million in aid to public schools.  And in Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Corbett‘s budget includes a billion dollar in cuts for public schools.  Not to mention the $644 million he wants to cut from higher education.  Which would mean a 50 percent reduction in funding for Pennsylvania State Universities like Penn State and Pitt. 

The association of Pennsylvania State College and University faculties says the cuts could force schools to raise tuition by 33 percent.  Now, this is the kind of thing that‘s going around all around the country.  And the Republicans are implementing these cuts even though they are wildly unpopular.  A recent poll showed that only three percent of Americans want to cut education funding.  Let me repeat that.  Three percent.  But they do it anyway.  Now, you might be asking, how can that make any political sense?  What you have to remember is, you are not their constituency.  They believe that their rich donors get them elected and that‘s their constituency.  And if you look at, that was pretty logical.  The tax cuts go to the rich and you don‘t get any education for your kids.  Now, why would they want that part, though?  That‘s interesting, right?

Because education cuts could mean that people aren‘t as well educated, right?  Because educated cuts could mean that people aren‘t as well educated obviously, right?  Unless educated people equals a cheap labor force and no opportunity for others to challenge the power of the already wealthy.  Also, they just cut bargaining rights.  So, when you put all that together.  You don‘t get an education or your kids don‘t and they don‘t have any bargaining rights and they‘re at the mercy of the already rich and powerful.  Look, this is un-American.  And the reason un-American is, not because we‘re against the rich.  I want to be rich, you want to be rich.  That‘s the American dream.  And there‘s of course great rich people all throughout the country.  Bill and Melinda Gates are doing wonders for education, now the places.  And it‘s not about being against the rich.  It‘s that we all want the opportunity at that.  And that‘s what education gives us.  It gives us all the belief that our kids can do it as well.  I hope that‘s not what they‘re trying to take that away from your kids and my kids. 

Now, let me bring in some guests to talk about this.  Ed Rendell is of course a former Pennsylvania governor and now an NBC News political analyst.  And Jonathan Alter is the national affairs columnist of Newsweek, and an MSNBC political analyst.  First, Governor Rendell, you know, obviously you‘re from Pennsylvania.  Corbett is now the new governor of Pennsylvania, he replaced you, did he indicate in election season, maybe he did, I don‘t know, that‘s why I‘m asking you, that he was going to go for these incredibly deal cuts in education. 

ED RENDELL, NBC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST:  No, but to be fair to Tom Corbett, he did say that he was going to have to cut significant portions of the budget, no question about that.  But this staggered everybody across the state.  And it‘s systematic of what‘s happening around the country.  And remember, federal government only gives seven percent to K through 12 education.  Seven percent of the funding comes from the feds.  The rest is the state or local property tax. 

UYGUR:  Jonathan, look, I have put out there an interesting theory, right?  And I‘m not saying that‘s definitely it, and I‘m surely not saying it‘s there conspiracy-filled room where, you know, they say OK, let‘s, you know, get the little kids.  But I mean, the first thing they cut is education and three percent of the people are in favor of it.  So, I‘m trying to figure out why in the world they would do that if it‘s not this. 

JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  I kind of think you‘re half right.  I mean, it‘s just idiotic of them to cut education.  Because they‘re screwing us for the future.  They‘re screwing the country.  But the reason that they‘re cutting is because every state has to balance its budget by law, right?  And so, they have to get the budget into balance.  And when they make a choice between their wealthy constituents as you point out, and school kids, they pick the wealthy.  It‘s not because they want cheap labor, in fact, a lot of them run businesses where they need skilled labor and they‘re having to import them from overseas. 

They don‘t want to—they‘re not trying to keep cheap labor by, you know, holding down the people on their state.  They‘re just pound foolish.  They‘re not even penny wise, they‘re just pound foolish.  They‘re not looking to the future of the country.  So, the question then becomes, how do you build a movement to use that three percent, the fact that only three percent want to cut education and use the other 97 percent, see I did learn a little bit of Math in school, and build a political movement based on that, to throw these guys out of the office, so this doesn‘t continue. 

UYGUR:  Right.  But then you see, I think what you incredibly right about is that priority.  That, we can all agree on.  So, Governor Rendell, you‘re in the same situation in Pennsylvania, and your instinct wasn‘t, let me chop off $1 billion from education, actually more than $1 billion when you combine the public schools and higher the education that he‘s talking about immediately.  And let‘s make sure we never give, you know, any tax raises to the rich or anybody else.  You went in a different direction.  What does this tell us about the republican priorities whether it‘s in Pennsylvania or across the country? 

RENDELL:  Well, Cenk, in eight years as governor, I raised our basic education funding by about $4 billion a year annually.  In Pennsylvania, I went from the bottom third of states in the national test into the top  five and our eighth graders last year finished first in the country.  So, money properly targeted makes a big difference.  The priorities are terribly skewed and they‘re skewed, I think, Jonathan made a good point that yes, business does need an educated work force.  It‘s shocking that they‘re making those cuts.  And it‘s not just Pennsylvania.  Across the country, higher education.  Because we need a competitive highly skilled work force.  But it shows that they‘re so obsessed with not raising revenue.  With reducing the deficit, and sure, we have to have a balanced budget, but Jonathan, there are ways to raise revenue and there are ways to race revenue that aren‘t even that unpopular with the public. 

For example, in Pennsylvania, you could impose a tax on shale drilling which the public supports by 70 percent, and raise a couple hundred millions of dollars.  So, there are ways to raise revenues and balance this.  Look, the best approach, every governor republican or democrat has to cut this year.  So, give all of the governors that nod.  They have to cut.  Because as Jonathan says, we have a balanced budget retirement.  But joint package of some reasonable revenue increase is with cuts is the way to do it.  Share the pain.  What‘s wrong Cenk with what‘s going on in the states is there‘s no pain sharing. 

UYGUR:  That‘s it.

RENDELL:  In Wisconsin, Governor Walker is putting all the pain on the workers and yet cutting business taxes by $100 million. 

UYGUR:  Now, it‘s unconscionable.  And that‘s the real problem right there.  Governor Rendell and Jonathan, we‘ve got to leave it right there because we had the breaking news earlier in the show.  But, look, one last note on this, the drilling tax that Governor Rendell was talking about is exactly right.  Corbett says that the companies would go elsewhere.  The gas is in Pennsylvania.  They can‘t go anywhere else.  What a terrible excuse.  All right.  We‘ll be right back.


UYGUR:  The latest on the showdown in Wisconsin is next.  Stay right here.                         


UYGUR:  Wisconsin‘s 14 democratic state senators are on their way home tonight after spending the last three weeks in Illinois in an attempt to stop the republican colleagues from stripping Wisconsin‘s worker of their rights.  They would join an expected crown of thousands of the capitol in Madison to thank people of Wisconsin for their support.  They have vowed to do all they can to keep fighting.  Today, Governor Scott Walker signed the anti-union bill into law, after Republicans used shady proceedings to jam it through the legislature this week.  But well, the Democrats may have failed to stop the bill from becoming a law, they succeeded in exposing beyond a reasonable doubt the Republicans‘ real agenda, to make the rich richer while the middle class pays.  You know what it‘s time for tomorrow?  It‘s rally time.  Now, start practicing with me, say it home, stay down your treadmills.  Recall!  Recall!  Recall!  Are you saying it?  Recall!  Recall! 

All right, we‘ll be back.        


UYGUR:  Yesterday, during the hearings of so-called Muslim-American radicalization, Congressman Peter King lied.  Now lie is a strong word.  Am I sure that he lied?  Well, yes.  And you will be too when you see this.  He‘s been accused of saying that there are too many mosques in this country.  Yesterday, he denied that. 


REP. PETER KING ®, NEW YORK:  I said one time, there are too many mosques that don‘t cooperate with law enforcements, and I think testimony today has backed it up.  I never said there were too many mosques in America. 


UYGUR:  Now, that was very clear, he said, I never said that, right? 

Except when he said this. 


KING:  Unfortunately we have too many mosques in this country.  There are too many people who are sympathetic to radical Islam. 


UYGUR:  You know, we have a technical term for that in the news business.  It‘s called oops.  Another term for it is stone cold busted.  Dude, you‘re on tape.  It‘s not like we can‘t look it up.  Peter King, both dishonest and not particularly bright.  Now, finally, you might be wondering where in the world did Congressman King get the idea for these crazy hearings?  Are you ready for this?  It turns out that Peter King early in his career worked for Roy Cohn, yes, that Roy Cohn, who was council to Joe McCarthy during his hearings.  I guess he learned to defeat the master. But now that he‘s taking these huge hits for these hearings, King seems a little hurt by all the connections to people like McCarthy. 

And you know what?  Did your feelings get hurt?  I love the logic of, I do one racist hearing and all of a sudden I‘m a racist!  Yes.  That‘s kind of how it works.  When The Daily Beast asking about losing some of his Muslim friends over the hearings, he said, quote, “I don‘t lose any sleep over it, Pat Moynihan used to quote some Irish philosopher, probably himself saying that being Irish means that somewhere, somehow, the world is going to break your heart.  We expect this stuff.  You‘re not supposed to be happy in this world, and unfortunately, that‘s true.” 

Dude, he looks like he is hurt, dog.  For a second there, I almost felt sympathy for him.  Then I remembered he‘s Peter King and he just tried to smear an entire community.  Sad day for you, my friend.  That‘s how it works.  The show is over.  “HARDBALL” is awesome and it‘s coming up right now. 

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