THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
April 26, 2013
Guest: Cecile Richards
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you. Happy Friday.
HAYES: You too.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for joining for this hour as well. Happy
Friday to you, too.
Here in our nation`s capitol today, it has been a particularly lovely
Friday, but also kind of a sweaty one. Not because it is unseasonably warm
or humid but because it is a season for Friday nig nervousness in
Washington, D.C. And there is flop-sweat nervousness in Washington tonight
because tomorrow is the Washington, D.C. nerd prom. God forgive us.
Tomorrow is the White House correspondent dinner (INAUDIBLE) in which the
president and lots of politicians and reporters and people who work in the
media and celebrities who have been attached to this event, all cram into
the same giant room in Washington and appreciate each other.
Honestly, it is kind of a nightmare. This even exist. Let alone that it
exists every year and seemingly every year keeps getting bigger and bigger
However, there is one thing that I have always believed as sort of
uncomplicatedly excellent about both the nerd prom itself and the huge and
increasing amount of attention that it garners each year. And that is that
the nerd prom is funny. It is all organized around comedy. A comedian act
as emcee, which is usually where the best jokes come from, but the fact
that he whole event is hosted by a comedian, is kind of morphed into the
expectation that president himself will also be funny or at least try to
be. And what started as an expectation of a sort of standard presidential
speech with a few jokes thrown in for the occasion has now become the
expectation that the president of the United States will do stand-up. It is
a full-on comedy routine.
And yes, it is kind of weird that we expect the president of the United
States to perform a standup routine on c-span once a year while wearing a
tuxedo. But as far as weird things we do in our country, this is kind after
good way. We could do worse as a country than just spend one night a year
trying really hard it make the leader of the free world to be funny and
make funny things happen around him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As you know, I
always look forward to these dinners. It`s just a bunch of media types.
Hollywood liberals, Democrats, like Joe Biden. How come I can`t have dinner
with the 36 percent of the people who like me?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Dick Cheney was supposed to
be here. But he is very busy working on his memoirs. Tentatively titled,
how to shoot friend and interrogate people.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And remember, if you
really want a friend in this town, get yourself a dog. I wish somebody told
me that before I showed up with a neuter etiquette.
BUSH: Nuclear proliferation. Nuclear proliferation. Nuclear proliferation.
Nuclear proliferation. Nuclear proliferation. Nuclear proliferation.
CLINTON: I am not doing so bad. I mean, at this point in his administration
William Henry Harrison had been dead 68 days.
OBAMA: No one prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the
Donald. And that`s because he can finally get back to focusing on the
issues that matter. Like did we fake the moon landing? We all know about
your credentials and breathe of experience, for example -- no, seriously,
just recently in an episode of celebrity apprentice, at the steakhouse,
you, Mr. Trump, recognized that the problem was a lack of leadership so
ultimately you didn`t blame little John or meat loaf. You fired Gary Busey.
And these are the kind of decisions that will keep me up at night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That last clip there, President Obama saying, funny things about
Donald Trump, which Donald Trump did not find funny at all, that last
little set of jokes is probably not the most hilarious thing ever said by
president at a White House controversy dinner but it`ll make the best of
real anyway. Because we learned after the fact that while President Obama
was there at podium that night, dissecting this creepy billionaire with a
conspiracy theory about his birth certificate, while he was doing that, we
later learned he was also in the middle of overseeing the operation, the
super risky high stakes operation that sent Navy SEALs into Pakistan to
secretly kill Osama bin Laden.
They thought it would raise suspicions that something was up if president
Obama skipped the dinner that year. So they had him show up, tell jokes as
usual, and everybody was none the wiser. It puts a different spin on how
the president handles the responsibility of getting the timing right on the
implied hairdo Donald Trump related Gary Busey (ph) joke.
In one instance though, there was a presidential joke at one of the fancy
Washington dinners that did not just look different with the passage of
time, it became kind of a permanent artifact in a bad way. A permanent bit
of evidence of something that was very wrong with that whole presidency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Those weapons of mass destruction got to be somewhere.
Nope, no weapons over there.
Maybe under here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was March 2004. Almost exactly one year into the Iraq war,
which we were of course told at the time was necessary because Saddam
Hussein was supposed to have weapons of mass destruction. Nuclear, chemical
and biological weapons and we have to go get him and invade his country and
topple him before he used those WMDs before he gave them to al-Qaeda.
That`s what we were told. And, of course, it was not true and we never
found of the WMDs that were supposed to be there.
We did get an 8 1/2 year long war though. That part of the recent American
history looms hugely over what is going on in our politics right now. Not
only because the same President Bush is now opening his presidential
library in Texas. But also because simultaneously the current
administration, the Obama administration is saying that the intelligence
community is saying, and I quote "to some degree of varying confidence that
the country just to the west of Iraq, Syria, not only has chemical weapon
webs that much we already knew but in some small scale way Syria has used
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: And yesterday, some of you saw that I asked my people to brief
Congress about the fact that we now have some evidence that chemical
weapons had been used on the population in Syria. Now, these are
preliminary assessments. They are based on the intelligence gathering. We
have varying degrees of confidence about the actual use but, there are rage
of questions around how, when, where these weapons may have been used.
So, we are going to be pursuing a very vigorous investigation ourselves and
we are going to be consulting with our partners in the region as well as
the international community and United Nations to make sure we are
investigating this as effectively and as quickly as we can.
But I meant what I said and I will repeat that it`s obviously horrific as
it is when mortars are being fired on civilians and people are being
indiscriminately killed to use potential weapons of mass destruction on
civilian population crosses another line, with respect to international
norms and international law. And that is going to be a game-changer. I
think all of us, not just in the United States, but around the world,
recognize how we cannot stand by and permit the systematic use of weapons
like chemical weapons on civilian populations. So --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: In that press conference today, with the king of Jordan sitting
right by him, President Obama said, if it is true that chemical weapons
were used on a civilian population that would be a game-changer. In terms
of potential U.S. involvement in the war in Syria that we have thus far,
basically stayed out of.
How differently is this administration handling an issue like this as
compared to last time around we were handling an issue like this with the
previous president? And how does the previous president`s experience affect
Joining us now is NBC News chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel. Rich
and his production team were kidnapped in Syria in December by pro-
government militia men loyal to the Syrian government. A rebel group freed
them in a chuck point gun battle after being held five days in captivity.
Richard, thank you so much for being here.
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: It`s a pleasure. How are
MADDOW: I`m all right. But, I am --
ENGEL: Are you going to this prom tomorrow?
MADDOW: I don`t go to the prom.
ENGEL: You don`t?
MADDOW: I don`t. You know, what I do is I go, I told them, I`m like a dog.
I like to have a job to do. So, I told them I wouldn`t go to the prom. I
wouldn`t go and schmooze. But they want me to work so I put --
ENGEL: You bus tables?
MADDOW: I tend bar at the after party. I`m not very good at it. I`m really
ENGEL: Do you get tips?
MADDOW: No, actually. It never occurred to me.
ENGEL: I will leave you a few dollars.
MADDOW: If you tip me, I will keep it. It is deja vu because it is
contested intelligence or at least unclear intelligence about WMD in the
same neighborhood where we have fights over Iraq. What do you know about
this intelligence about chemical weapons and how solid the evidence is?
ENGEL: The evidence seems pretty solid that at least on two occasions,
maybe one but probably two. Some Sarin gas was used. Now, this is the
evidence in favor of the case. And now, I will tell you about the holes
because there are holes in this as well. That sarin gas was used. A few
people died, when I say a few, I mean less than dozens. And which when we
are talking about chemical weapons is a very small number. And that these
samples were taken from tissue samples from tissue samples that were from
victims. That is pretty much agreed upon by several different governments
and several different intelligence agencies.
MADDOW: And the tissue sample is part of is important because you really do
need physical evidence to task to determine whether these things were used,
ENGEL: You can use soil samples as well and there have been some soil
samples taken and tissue samples are more definitive because some of these
things, if you get a very minor exposure to chemical agents like sarin, you
can survive it an then you, you don`t like a few survive during the
exposure to other chemicals, you will have an impact. There will be a
ENGEL: What doesn`t make sense, however, is why and how. You don`t use
weapons of mass destruction to do minimal killing. It is like launching a
thimble sized nuclear bomb on a city. Why bother? Was this a message? Was
Bashar al- Assad trying to send a message to us, to the opposition? Why
risk so much to send a message like that when we already know he has
chemical weapons? Huge stockpiles of weapons. So that part doesn`t really
And the other part is, where does he have to go with it? So yes, something
happened. But we don`t exactly understand why and what the message might
be. There is a theory that this may have been a mistake. It is the way
chemical weapons work, as they often binary agent.
You have two chemicals. The missile goes up into the air. They mix in
flight and it becomes more caustic and deadly. And then, when they explode,
there`s the exposure. Maybe there was an improper mix. Maybe these were
supposed to have been more devastating attacks that didn`t work. There are
questions still unanswered.
MADDOW: Sarin doesn`t have the longest shelf life in the world either. So
you can have decayed material that is around for unknown reasons and
shouldn`t have been on the shelf.
ENGEL: Exactly. Maybe they were mixed improperly. Maybe something went
wrong. There are a lot of questions about that that I still think are
MADDOW: Well, given the tactical issue to me is been bugging me because --.
ENGEL: It doesn`t make sense.
MADDOW: The whole reason you have chemical weapons tactically is to you can
kill a large number of people and instill terror and all of these different
ENGEL: And terrain denial. You used these things if armies are coming at
you, you know. If suddenly the rebels in force, hundreds of thousands of
rebels which there aren`t hundreds of thousands, but in theory, they all
marching towards Damascus. You could launched chemical weapons to create
deadly crowd and prevent from advancing. That`s sort of what they are
designed to do.
MADDOW: Does not seem like that`s at all what happened here.
MADDOW: So, I`m just saying, there is for no apparent strategic or tactical
ENGEL: Unless you are trying to send a message or it was a mistake.
MADDOW: Could be a mistake. If it is a message, you know that the message
that you are sending is OK, I`m going to cross the red line that President
Barack Obama of the United States keeps talking about. Why does the U.S.
say there is a red line on these issues? I mean, tens of thousands of
civilians have been killed in the war. Why a red line on this?
ENGEL: Because if there to be (INAUDIBLE) incident or there was a massive
attack, chemical weapons are used and 5,000 people die, or even 200 or 400
or 600 people die, and this is the first recognized use of chemical weapons
against a civilian population in a decade and half, and there is no
response, then you are encouraging every regime in the world that what is
these horrible weapons to use them.
And this is the danger. That president, because he put this red line out
there, could make himself look weak, could make the United States look weak
and could encourage others to use these things.
ENGEL: That if you use the weapons and there is no response, then Bashar
al-Assad could feel them embolden well, I can do this more and more. Maybe
that was the message, his trial balloon, if you will. It seems ridiculous
to use a trial balloon like that. Imagine, nuclear weapon, or you know,
just to make an acorn size one and we are going to throw it at the world.
MADDOW: And see what world does.
ENGEL: And see what the world does. It seems strange.
MADDOW: There seems to be something we don`t know yet. The political way in
which I`m encouraged right now is to see the caution with which the White
House is moving on this and cautious is warranted. Better than the
ENGEL: There is movement. I think what they are going to do now is they are
going to try and use this to get Russians on board. They will say, look,
Vladimir, see what he is doing and you see what could come.
MADDOW: Whose side do you want to be on.
ENGEL: Whose side you want to be doing it.
MADDOW: Richard Engel. Yes. NBC news chief correspondent, thank you for
ENGEL: I will leave the tip.
MADDOW: I was going to say and future tipper when I make you a Manhattan.
All right, lots to come including President Obama doing something sort of
bold that no American president had done before that he did this morning.
A doozy of a follow-up story on the BP oil disaster in the gulf.
And we have some helpful hints for the love lorne conspiracy theorist. It
is kind of an excellent Friday night combo platter.
Please stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The fact is, after decades of progress, there are still those who
want to turn back the clock. To policies more suited to the 1950s than the
21st century. And they have been involved in orchestrated an historic
effort to roll back basic rights when it comes to women`s health.
In North Dakota, they just passed a law that outlaws your right to choose
starting as early as weeks, even if a woman is raped. A woman may not know
that she is pregnant at six weeks.
In Mississippi, a ballad initiative was put forward that could not have
outlawed your right to choose, but could have had all sorts of other far-
reaching consequences like cutting off fertility treatments, making certain
forms of contraception a crime.
When you read about some of these laws, you want to check the calendar, you
want to make sure you still live in 2013. That`s why no matter how great
the challenge, no matter how fierce the opposition, there`s one thing the
past few years have shown, it`s that Planned Parenthood is not going
anywhere. It is not going anywhere today, not going anywhere tomorrow.
As long as we have got a fight to make sure women have access to quality
affordable healthcare and as long as we have the fight to protect the
women`s right to make her own choices about her own health, I want you to
know that you also have a president who is right there with you fighting
every step of the way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was President Obama today addressing Planned Parenthood in
Washington, says a president who will be right there with you fighting
every step of the way.
Of course, the Obama White House and Democrats broadly, have almost always
supported the pro choice side of women`s reproductive health argument,
almost always. But since 2010, Republicans, particularly in the states but
also in Congress have made anti-abortion legislating made it one of their
top priorities in governing.
In response, Democrats have a decision to make. Democrats the last couple
of years had to decide what they were going to do. Would they say with the
kind of silent partner they had been for a long time or would they step up
and let their position be known more loudly?
They have stepped up more loudly. More publicly, in a way they haven`t been
comfortable doing in a long time. And today the president putting a cap
stone on that when he became the first ever sitting president to address
Joining us now is Cecile Richards. She is president of Planned Parenthood
Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood action fund.
Cecile, thanks for being here.
CECILE RICHARDS, PRESIDENT, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: Great to be here.
MADDOW: So, how important is it to have the sitting president addressed
Planned Parenthood and why has it not happened before?
RICHARDS: I don`t know why it hasn`t happened before, but yes, today was
history for this organization. It was extraordinarily important
particularly given the attacks on a woman`s right choose, a women`s right
to access abortion in this country. But it was also important because the
thousands of men and women who work across the planet parenthood across the
country, and punishing doctors hear from the sitting president that the
work they do is important and that he stands with them and that came at a
very important time.
MADDOW: One of the things you and I have talked about before is the morale
issue. That this -- it has been a very, very pointed legislative and
rhetorical fight from the Republican party for whatever reason really over
the last three years. There`s been a sort of, a standard level of hostility
to reproductive choice, reproductive rights we have seen for a long time.
But these last three years have been intense. And you described how that
brought people who have maybe been silent supporters of reproductive rights
out of the word work to declare themselves more. How does that manifest in
your organization? How is that manifest for Planned Parenthood?
RICHARDS: Well, I think a couple things happen.
So, when the House of Representatives, when the tea party took the
leadership of the House of Representatives, they voted to defund Planned
Parenthood. As I said, it was like the great alumni association came out in
flourish of the one in five women who have been to us for healthcare, they
And that`s what I think we saw. There are a lot of folks who thought they
were issues this he didn`t have to wore about any more realized they were.
And then, of course, we saw a presidential campaign where literally the
right of women to go to Planet Parenthood even for basic healthcare, for
cancer screening, for breast exams, for (INAUDIBLE), that was on the
And of course, I think that you saw in the past election, women and men who
cared about not only about Planned Parenthood but women`s access to
healthcare calm out in droves. We saw the largest gender gap ever in the
history of Gallup polling on these issues.
MADDOW: Do you think state by state, as these things get fought out, I
mean, we have seen North Dakota, and Arkansas, and Mississippi, and other
states just this year, since the election, push things further than they`ve
ever been pushed since Roe V. Wade. Do you feel like we are entering a
patch area where there are states in which reproductive rights effectively
are not protected?
RICHARDS: Well, of course, that`s our concern, is that, you know, your
right to safe and legal abortion, your right to birth control, shouldn`t
depend on your zip code. And yet, we are seeing the worst bills. And one
bill that I don`t think that many folks were aware, was just sign need law
in Kansas were literally allows medical practitioners to lie to women about
ultra sounds, about other genetic testing, refuse to give them information
that would influence their decision about their pregnancy. This is now
signed into law. It goes into effect in July, basically, allowing doctors
to lie to women in order to influence their decisions about pregnancy. This
is the most incredible invasion in women`s privacy and their ability to
make their own healthcare decision we`ve seen.
MADDOW: Why are those fights being lost though? Laws like that, proposals
like that have been around for a long time. But all of a sudden right now,
particularly right now in 2013, we are seeing stuff pass and get sign need
law that they had never been able to pass before. What`s happening?
RICHARDS: I think we are seeing the result of the 2010 elections where
state legislatures were reshaped across the country and we are seeing
unfortunately a Republican party that is being held hostage by the most
extreme wing of the party.
It is extraordinary. We actually had many, many visits with Republican
members of Congress yesterday on the hill. There are Republicans who are
deeply concerned about this, not just shift but right word total direction.
That does not represent really where the moderate wing of the Republican
Party is. But unfortunately, I feel like that part of the party is being
completely silenced in states like Arkansas and North Dakota.
MADDOW: Places where especially there is brand new all red control of the
state is where we are seeing the furthest leaps. And I don`t know that
there is -- I don`t know if there is a strategy to start that, except
lawsuit by lawsuit, state by state. That a long hard slot.
RICHARDS: Well, I think in elections, I mean, you know, you look at the
state of North Dakota, bad legislation, incredible legislation being passed
and yet just last year when we have a ballot initiative on these issues of
North Dakota, we beat it summarily. So, it is not that people in North
Dakota changed, it is the --
MADDOW: The Republican Party, yes.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and
the Planned Parenthood action fund.
Thank you for being here. Congratulations on quo, getting the president at
RICHARDS: It was great to have him.
Good to see you too, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right, lots a head including some really horrible dating
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: On September 11th, 2001, two Boeing 767 aircraft crashed into world
trade center towers in lower Manhattan. Eleven years, seven months, and 13
days later, this was found.
Today, wedged in a narrow gap between two buildings not far from ground
zero. This is believed to be part of a landing gear of one of those planes.
Police say they can clearly see a Boeing identification number on this
newly recovered part of the airplane.
The NYPD has secured the scene as if it were a crime scene. After a health
and safety evaluation is made, a decision will be made about whether they
should be sifting the soil in this very narrow alley between these two
buildings for the possible human remains of victims of the crime that was
committed on 9/11.
The part was found about three blocks from the site of the World trade
center towers. It was found by accident. There was a surveyor inspecting
the rear of one of those two buildings between which the landing gear was
found wedged. Surveying -- inspecting one of those buildings, totally
unexpectedly, he made this very, very dramatic find. We are posting links
to the pictures from the site and the parts themselves at maddowblog.com
MADDOW: Hey, guess what? Corporations are not people. If you are a
corporation, and you get into trouble, you cannot go to prison as a
corporation. Sure, your executive office or something maybe can go to
prison, but in terms of you as a corporation, paying for your crimes, is
usually literally paying for your crimes. You pay money, you pay a fine.
So our Happy Friday pop quiz tonight is this. What is the single largest
fine ever imposed on a corporation in the United States? What is the
largest amount of money that any U.S. court has ever made a company pay for
The answer? Ding, $4.5 billion, $4.5 billion to be paid by the company that
does not want you to pronounce the petroleum in their name. They just want
you to call them by their initials, BP. They want you to think of this
green, green sunflower when you think of them, and not say "British
The giant oil company, BP earned the bragging rights for being charged the
largest fine ever in American history. They earned it in part for lying. BP
of course, caused the largest accidental oil spill in world history, three
years ago this week, and their full culpability for that spill is still
being worked out, along with the other companies that are responsible. They
are currently on trial right now in New Orleans.
But the BP lying part of it, that part has been adjudicated. BP admitted in
court that while they were saying publicly, and saying to Congress even,
that their gushing well in the Gulf of Mexico, was only leaking 5,000
barrels a day, that was it, merely a flesh wound, while they were saying
that publicly, not only was that wrong, but they knew it was wrong.
BP, as a company, internally, was having all sort of sorts of discussions
about how it wasn`t 5,000 barrels a day. It was more like 60,000 barrels,
or maybe even 140,000 barrels a day. But publicly, they kept assuring
everybody that really it was no big deal, it was only five.
The important part was not just that BP was wrong, or that they didn`t know
the answer and they were guessing. The important part in their culpability
of course, the reason they ended up paying the largest corporate fine in
the history of corporate fines, was not because they got it wrong, it is
because they did know what the truth was, and they lied about it. They lied
about it publicly and they lied about it to Congress.
In the three years since the worst oil spill ever, there has been a slow
unfolding in the courts and in the Gulf, of things that we, the public, did
not know at the time of the spill. These big, unanswered questions that we
had at the time of the spill, some of them, it turns out, the oil companies
actually knew what the truth was, and were just keeping the truth from us.
Some of those unanswered questions, yes, it`s three years down the road,
and maybe now we are starting to learn the truth now, but we still don`t
know if the oil companies knew it all along, and they were keeping it from
us all this time, or if they have been in the dark until now, just like we
Well this week, Newsweek published some remarkable new reporting on the
question that I, frankly, was asked the most when I was down at the gulf
covering this story. The worry that was expressed to me the most by people
who live on the gulf coast and make their living on the water there, three
years ago in the middle of that spill, this was what those folks worried
about more than anything. And now, three years later, we are starting to
get some answers about it
For now crews are relying on the tried and true method of chemical
dispersants, these are chemicals you`ve seen dusted over the oil slick. BP
has already sprayed 160,000 gallons of dispersant on the oil slick, not to
mention the 6,000 gallons pumped down to the leak, well beneath the surface
of the ocean. That`s more dispersant than has ever been used on any oil
spill ever. The chemicals in the dispersants are themselves toxic.
Probably. We don`t really know what`s in them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are the long-term impacts of breathing this, of
touching the oil, of touching the dispersant? These are all questions that
nobody really knows the answer to. And so we need scientific data, we need
doctors down here to help people when they do come in contact with this.
MADDOW: One of the response technologies that has been so controversial for
this disaster, Congressman, is the issue of dispersants. And one of the
complications in -- around dispersants, is the fact that dispersants are
seen as proprietary technology, that the companies who make them, don`t
disclose what`s in them ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot allow for these companies to be using
dispersants, chemicals in ways that could ultimately have profound impacts
on not only the food that is provided from that region, from the fishing,
but also the impact that it could ultimately have upon human beings.
MADDOW: Are you also hearing concerns voiced about the long-term impacts of
dispersants? That`s one thing that I know a lot of fisherman, when I was
down there, were talking to me about, and the government essentially still
saying now, "yes, they are doing long-term
studies, but they don`t know."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right, very much so. They don`t know the long-term
impacts and that`s what really scares people here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s what really scares people. Well now, three years down the
road, some of those very ominous unanswered questions that were being asked
down on the Gulf coast when that spill was happening, and when they were
dumping all that dispersant into the sea, to make it better, some of those
questions are finally starting to be answered.
Joining us now is Mark Hertsgaard. He`s an independent journalist, he`s a
contributor for the daily beast. His latest article for Newsweek is called,
"What BP Doesn`t Want You to Know About the 2010 Gulf Spill". Mark, thanks
very much for joining us. It`s nice to have you here.
MARK HERTSGAARD, JOURNALIST, DAILY BEAST: Thanks for inviting me.
MADDOW: So I -- I know you`ve been in the Gulf coast talking to folks who
came into physical contact with this dispersant, which is called Corexit.
What did you find?
HERTSGAARD: That people are still suffering from this and that the
illnesses at the time were very, very severe, basically, an odd combination
of illnesses, striking the skin, lungs and the brain, all at once. And
above all, what I found, is that BP knew this at the time.
BP was told that this Corexit dispersant, told by the manufacturers of
Corexit, exactly what was in those chemicals -- what chemicals were in
there, and that the workers and anyone who came in contact with it, this
was extremely hazardous stuff, and that they needed protective gear, they
need training and information, and BP buried that report in order to
further its goal of basically making the oil appear to disappear, to cover
up this oil spill and to get it off of TV screens and the front pages.
MADDOW: Well is -- that has always been one of the political conundrums,
thinking about the use of dispersant, literally from a political
perspective. There is an impact to seeing oil that is lessened if you don`t
see the oil, even if it`s still there, and it`s maybe been made into
something that you can`t see, by addition of another chemical that might be
just as toxic.
But isn`t there an argument to be made for using dispersants, simply for
the purpose of breaking the oil down, like they say, dispersing it,
allowing it to be exposed more to the elements that might make it -- might
make the spill actually go away faster?
HERTSGAARD: Well, to be fair, I interviewed the EPA administrator, Lisa
Jackson, who was in charge at that time and that was exactly what she said.
She said we faced a choice between bad and worse. We did not like the idea
of this Corexit dispersant, but we thought that it was better to apply it
to keep the oil from hitting the coast lines, to keep it from hitting the
beaches, and the oyster beds, and so forth.
And EPA administrator Jackson also said that the National Commission
appointed by President Obama to look into this, "did not find fault", quote
unquote, with the decision to use dispersants. So hardly a ringing
endorsement of it, but not finding fault.
But let`s remember, EPA did not have the legal authority to force BP not to
use this. Administrator Jackson wrote them a letter, we wrote about this in
the story on May 19th, asking them to stop using this toxic dispersant, but
she did not have the opportunity to force them to stop it, and BP wrote
back the next day and essentially said, sorry, we`re going to continue.
MADDOW: But people who were made sick by exposure to Corexit, and again, a
lot of the ways they were made sick, were exactly the ways, as you point
out in your reporting, that were predicted, or described, by the company
that makes it, which is why they said that they should be used in such
Are the people who were made sick by this chemical seeking redress? What
are they trying to doing in order to try and get their medical expenses
covered, and are they settled in some of the settlements with Gulf coast
residents, that cover the rest of the oil spill?
HERTSGAARD: Yes, they are trying, Rachel, but it`s going to be an uphill
path, because you know, BP set aside last year, roughly $8 billion for
medical claims, but unfortunately most of the illnesses that these people
are suffering from, are not covered under that settlement, and that`s
partly because they were not well represented by the plaintiff`s committee,
the attorneys who were handling that. And so it`s a kind of a tragedy that
Some of them have already taken buyouts from BP, but they are getting paid
pennies on the dollar, and at $60,000 and their medical bills are way
beyond that. And -- so, you know, I think that`s part of the reason that I
felt so strongly about getting this story out, is that these people were
basically treated as collateral damage by BP.
As part of BP`s cover-up, they were willing to sacrifice the health of the
workers, hundreds and possibly thousands of them, and also coastal
residents, a little 3-year-old boy we write about in this story, who was
fine until he started breathing this stuff in, and now he got terribly
And, let`s not forget, the Gulf ecosystem where 33%, one-third of the
seafood that We Americans eat, come out of that gulf. And that too was --
was terribly damaged by this use of Corexit, which is an Orwellian term, by
the way, if I`ve ever heard one, Corexit, as a name for a dispersant. Once
you put that with oil, it becomes 52 times more toxic.
MADDOW: Mark Hertsgaard, contributor for the Daily Beast, also the author
of "Hot Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth". Mark, this is an
important story, thanks for your reporting on this, thanks for taking time
to talk with us about it tonight.
HERTSGAARD: Thanks for airing it.
MADDOW: I appreciate it. All right, are you a deeply suspicious, deeply
suspicious person, but you can`t seem to find your soul mate? I have some
very bad advice for you, just ahead.
MADDOW: Programming notes, we are about to air something on MSNBC here
tonight, in just a few minutes, that we have never aired before. Right
after this show tonight, you should stick around because we are premiering
a special about what happened in the Boston Marathon bombing last week, but
it`s using material that you likely have not seen before.
It is the story of what happened in Boston, told using surveillance camera
footage, the video that is available from the scene, and still images, a
lot of which you will not have seen. It is essentially the visual story of
what happened in Boston and how that bombing went down. It is striking
material, put together in a way that you will find striking, and it is
premiering tonight, right after this show, so we`ve got something important
coming up, but you have to plan to stay on MSNBC thereafter, OK? Deal?
Good, we`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Happy Friday. OK, so this is not exactly best new thing in the
world territory, but it`s close. Because starting last night, and then
carrying on all through the day today, this -- can I point at it? Yes, I
can -- was one of the hashtags that was trending on the Twitter machine.
And even if you do not use Twitter, and so the idea of something trending,
doesn`t really resonate with you as a measure of volume, I`m telling you,
you will still get this, I promise. The hashtag is #infowarspickuplines.
People are making up imaginary pickup lines for conspiracy theorists.
The idea is that if you like info wars, which is a show hosted by a man
named Alex Jones, if you like Glenn Beck and you like Alex Jones, who says
we faked the moon landing, and that 9/11 was an elaborate hoax and that it
was secretly the White House that bombed the Boston Marathon, Michelle
Obama was totally in on it and also there was no massacre at Sandy Hook
Elementary School, all of those things were hoaxes, they were all faked by
the government so we can be enslaved in FEMA concentration camps, with the
black helicopters, and have our organs harvested for the aliens or
If you are one of those folks, if you are a conspiracy theorist who
believes in the Glenn Beck, Alex Jones view of the world, well, that
doesn`t mean you don`t need love. And so, hashtag #infowarspickuplines.
"What`s your sign? Mine is Trespassers Shot on Sight" #infowarspickuplines.
"Girl, are you a secret government orbital mind control laser? Because I
can`t get you out of my head." Or this one, "have we met somewhere before?
No seriously, who sent you?"
The whole thing started, I think, when someone outside the conspiracy
theory world, realized last night, that within the conspiracy theory world,
within specifically the conspiracy theory online Alex Jones world, there is
a dating service, called "Dating Freedom Lovers". And so you can browse all
the publically available profiles at this dating site, to browse guys and
gals who might think to advertise in their dating profile, that they live
just far enough outside the major cities to relocate easily (with multiple
safe routes) to the less-populated parts of the continent. Or that -- this
woman says that she experienced her political awakening in 2006, after a
It`s a little different than most dating sites, in that some folks identify
themselves geographically in unfamiliar ways. This gentleman, who in his
picture is holding a big fluffy kitty, he says in his profile, that he
lives in FEMA Region 9. So you have to know where that is, if you want to
meet up with him.
So it`s a whole world out there, people. Life is a rich, paranoid tapestry
for the conspiracy theorists among us. But the fact that they have a
conspiracy theorists-only dating site, organized as part of the online
scene for this website and talk show, it is a reminder that there`s money
to be made here, right? There is money to be made in feeding the ragged
edge of America`s long-standing conspiratorial mindset.
If you can get enough people freaked out enough, to believe that you are
the only person who will tell them the truth, that is a captive audience
that kind of needs you for everything. So, you know, dating. If you`re on
the Glenn Beck side of the conspiracy empire, that means pants. Literally,
Glenn Beck will sell you patented Glenn Beck freedom pants.
Congressman Ron Paul, who has a lot of interesting things about him, but
who has also always counted on the conspiracy theorists to be part of his
base, now that Ron Paul has left Congress and he`s out of office, he`s
decided to go back into business with the conspiracy theory guys, who used
to do his overtly racist Ron Paul branded for profit newsletter in the
1990s. He`s kept those guys on board for his new institute that he`s
And then naturally today, Ron Paul went on the Alex Jones radio
show. Remember, the chief Alex Jones conspiracy theory right now, is that
the White House bombed the Boston marathon. The government did it as a
false flag attack as part of a new world order conspiracy, involving
Marxism and fascism and helicopters, and I think there was something about
Mexico, but honestly, I got a little lost trying to figure it out. That`s
what Ron Paul did today, he spent the day with Alex Jones.
And you know, I`m sure it`s good for business. These guys have a good
racket going and they have all been in the racket for decades. You know,
it`s always -- it`s always the end of the world, but not quite yet.
Subscribe for one more month, because then it will be the end of the world,
only $19.95 and yes, you can pay in gold.
But what do we do when it is not just the hilarity on the internet, when it
is not just your personal sadness that your crazy uncle sends Glenn Beck
part of his social security check every month because he`s terrified? What
do we do when this stuff gets so mainstreamed on the American Right, that
it seeps out of the far edge of your a.m. radio dial at three in the
morning, it seeps out of that lucrative fringe market, and it leaks into
say, the U.S. Congress?
Last week, four Republican members of congress sent a letter to the
Department of Homeland Security, demanding that the Department of Homeland
Security respond to the latest Glenn beck/Alex Jones conspiracy theory,
which is that the real Boston marathon bomber was being protected by the
White House, by Michelle Obama. The republican chairman of the homeland
security committee in the house, signed on to that letter.
They moved on from that last week, to now this week, the Republicans
convened a whole Congressional hearing, a house committee on government
oversight hearing, on the right-wing conspiracy theory that the government
is stockpiling ammunition to kill us all, or something, or to at least buy
all the bullets, so that you can`t get any, so that you can`t stop them
from killing us all. This is a longtime favorite cause of the Infowars
world, and now it`s playing in Congress.
The congressman you see on your screen is republican Kerry Bentivolio, of
Michigan. You`ll remember him as a reindeer herder, last seen on this show,
shirtless, and kissing a stuffed reindeer. You may also remember his role
playing a doctor in a movie about how 9/11 was an inside job. Now that same
Kerry Bentivolio plays a Republican congressman in real life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY BENTIVOLIO, REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN OF MICHIGAN: I have a lot of
people calling me up and saying that there`s all these conspiracies and so
forth and so forth. You probably heard them. Doomsday events, civil unrest,
you`re preparing for that. Do you have operational plans in the event
there`s a major -- or civil unrest, that you`re going to arrest innocent
civilians and put them in FEMA camps. Do you have any plans like that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No plans.
BENTIVOLIO: The answer is clear, you have no plans whatsoever.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: None.
BENTIVOLIO: Great. How about anything else like that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No plans at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Congressman Bentivolio got the guy from homeland security on the
record, admitting no plans to enslave the people of America, yet. But they
better not try. Because today, Oklahoma Senator, James Inhofe, introduced a
bill to block government agencies from buying ammunition, along with
Oklahoma congressman Frank Lucas, because, you know, I live in FEMA region
9 or whatever, want to meet my kitty?
Conspiracy theories are not new. They are not even the exclusive providence
of the American Right. There are left-wing conspiracy theories too. But
right now anti-government conspiracy theories are anti-the Obama
government. And that appears to be too convenient and too appealing for the
supposedly mainstream right to leave un-harvested. And so the fringe has
become the center.
And so the Republican chairman of homeland security is writing conspiracy
theory letters about the real bomber, and they`re convening conspiracy
theory hearings, and Republican senators are introducing conspiracy theory
legislation that actually posits that the government is stockpiling bullets
so they it can kill us all.
And they`re doing it upon the advice from the folks who say that the
Newtown shooting was a hoax, it didn`t really happen, and Michelle Obama is
shielding the real bomber of the Boston Marathon, because it was an inside
job, just like 9/11. I get that the guys who sell this stuff for a living,
have a reason to sell this stuff.
There`s always going to be a very, very, very exciting market for these
things. But when a political party sees profit, when a political party
decides to seek political advantage, by trafficking in this stuff, and
courting it and popularizing it, that is a different thing and I am not
sure we know how that ends.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again Monday night. Now it`s
time for the premiere of "Caught on Camera, Terror in Boston". Please have
a great weekend.
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