'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Tuesday, August 18th, 2015
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Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: August 18, 2015
Guest: Robert Costa
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: Josh Barro, Lynn Sweet, thank you both
for joining us.
That is "ALL IN" for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts now.
Good evening, the one and only Rachel Maddow. It is wonderful to see
you. Welcome back.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thank you very much. I had a good time.
I missed you and yet I still wish I was on vacation.
HAYES: I -- that`s -- I missed you and I wish I was going back to
MADDOW: This is the way of adult life. I know.
HAYES: Yes, that`s right.
MADDOW: Thanks, man. Appreciate it.
And thanks to you at home for joining with us this hour. I will say
it is -- it is nice to be back. But you come back and there is a sort of
feeling of, like, oh, what happened? When I was gone? Did I miss
I mean, I took a few days off right after -- right after the first
Republican presidential debate. And I now know that I was gone just long
enough to get the results of that debate. It sort of took a few days off,
but it was exactly the right days to take off because now, I have just come
back in time that we`ve had enough time to take the polls and get the data
and crunch the numbers. And declare, as of today, the definitive bottom-
line result of the first Republican presidential debate, and that is that
this guy won.
There have been two full national presidential polls that have been
taken since the debate, big national polls that reflect the impact of that
debate on the Republican race for the presidential nomination. New York
real estate developer Donald Trump stays on top nationally in the first of
those polls. That was the one from FOX News. Donald Trump stays number
one in the FOX poll. Jeb Bush incidentally drops like a stone in that
But one poll is just one poll. Now, we have the second one, the
second national poll since the debate. It just came out today. This is
from CNN. And not only in the CNN poll does Donald Trump stay on top in
their poll as well, in the CNN poll, Donald Trump not only stays number
one, he spikes. Support for him has gone way up.
And at one level, this is getting to be a little bit of a dog bites
man story, right? I mean, Donald Trump has been the clear Republican
front-runner in basically every national poll taken since the Fourth of
But the Beltway and the Republican elites who are really freaked out
by Donald Trump being their party`s front-runner, they`ve all been pretty
confident all along that Donald Trump wouldn`t really be able to hold his
own at the debate. He wouldn`t really look presidential at the debate. He
would not fit in in a bad way once he got up on that formal stage in a
formal debate context with other real Republican politicians.
But the debate happened. Twenty-four million freaking people watched
that debate. And it turns out the clear result of that debate is that
Republicans like him even more than they did before.
In this latest CNN poll, Donald Trump`s lead is stronger than it was
before. If you compare the last CNN poll done before the debate with this
new one came out today. So, it`s the same poll. You`re comparing apples
to apples, just the same poll before the debate and after. You compare
Basically all of these candidates highlighted here, they all
basically stayed the same, in terms of their pre-debate polling and their
post-debate polling. All of these candidates stay either exactly the same
or their support only rises or falls by one point, before and after the
debate. Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Lindsey
Graham, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, Jim Gilmore, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio,
Rick Perry, all of those guys are in a situation in which they are standing
in the polls, whether it was good or bad, it was basically unchanged by
their performance in the debate. All of those candidates basically static.
Now, these are the candidates who do worse since the debate. These
are guys who do worse comparing the CNN poll before the debate and the new
Pew poll out today, which was taken after the debate -- Jeb Bush, Scott
Walker and Ted Cruz all do worse. Their standings in that poll all fell
after that debate.
And then these are the three candidates who do very well, right?
Whose poll numbers at CNN went up after the debate. Carly Fiorina got a
big jump. Ben Carson, he got a big jump.
And good for them. But you know who got the biggest jump of all was
the guy at the top, Donald Trump. Not only is he still winning in that
poll, he was the prohibitive front runner before, and he still is the
But Donald Trump also gets the largest increase in support. He was
already on top. And even so, his numbers go up more than anyone else`s.
And let this be a stake in the heart of beltway common wisdom about
Republican voters and what Republican voters think about and what they like
in a candidate, because we keep getting all these premature obituaries for
Donald Trump`s status as the Republican Party`s presidential front-runner.
I mean, when he made his disgusting comments about Mexican immigrants all
being rapists, the Beltway common wisdom was that he had gone way too far.
Republican voters would turn on him, that was it. It turns out that was
When he made his disgusting comments deriding John McCain`s heroic
Vietnam War record, the Beltway common wisdom, in particular all the
Republican elites who make up Beltway common wisdom, they said, oh, McCain
comments, that has really gone too far, Republican voters are not going to
like that, Donald Trump`s moment is over. It turns out that was wrong.
The most recent one was after the FOX News debate, when Mr. Trump
made again quite disgusting comments about one of the debate moderators,
who is a FOX News host. And they, you know, in the Beltway, they cranked
up the old Victrola again to play that same old song about how Donald Trump
this time had gone too far. Republican voters would not like it. His
moment was over.
And once again, the Beltway common wisdom, the sort of national elite
media, political view of what Republican voters would think and what they
would do turns out to be 180 degrees totally wrong. It`s not even like
Donald Trump is like not sinking as much as he thought or just maintaining.
Donald Trump is still on the ascent.
Beltway common wisdom has been wrong about everything concerning
Donald Trump`s campaign so far. And the Beltway common wisdom about Donald
Trump will be wrong again, the next time he says -- the next time he says
something spectacularly offensive. I hereby predict that no matter what
that is, no matter what spectacular offensive or even disgusting thing he
says next, Republican voters will like it. They will not mind. They will
not punish him.
Republican voters said in this latest CNN poll that not only do they
prefer Donald Trump as their party`s presidential nominee by a huge margin,
they also prefer him to all of the other Republican presidential candidates
when you ask specifically about policy issues, on every single specific
policy issue that pollsters ask them about, they like Donald Trump the
Every one -- on the economy, Republican voters trust Donald Trump the
most. On illegal immigration, Republican voters trust Donald Trump the
most. On ISIS, Republican voters trust Donald Trump the most.
Keep in mind, Donald Trump`s plan to defeat ISIS is, in his own
words, a secret. But that`s OK. Republican voters trust him and his
secret plan more than they trust any other Republican running for president
on the issue of ISIS.
And here is my favorite part of the new polling, which is that
Republican voters tell CNN in this new poll out today that Donald Trump is
their first choice for the Republican nomination for president. OK. But
not all of them say that, right?
If you ask all of those Republican voters who don`t want Donald Trump
as their first choice, they want somebody else as their first choice, they
want Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio or Mike Huckabee or Jim Gilmore or someone.
You ask all of the Republican voters who don`t want Donald Trump as their
first choice. You ask all of those voters who they would want as their
second choice, you know who they want as their second choice? They want
So he is the number one choice of Republican voters. He is also the
number two choice of Republican voters. It`s, like, what do you guys want
for lunch today? Ham sandwich. OK, everybody who doesn`t, what do you
guys want for lunch? OK, ham sandwich.
It`s amazing. If you can`t have your first choice, who do you want?
Donald Trump. This led to the excellent succinct headline at Wonkette.com
today. Quote, look at this, do we have it? Here it is -- Republicans want
Trump. And if not him, then maybe Trump would do.
And because it`s Wonkette, they go on to explain in their inimitable
Wonkette way. Quote, "At this point, people are simply barking `Trump!
Trump, Trump, Trump!" at anything a pollster asks."
Mr. Trump is also named Americans` favorite flavor of ice crime.
Americans` pick for most likely to win the World Series. And Americans`
preferred method of contraception. Donald Trump wins everything, which is
I think it`s because I`ve been away for a few days I`m sort of coming
at this with fresh eyes. This is truly amazing. People wonder why other
people aren`t getting a lot of press.
It is amazing that Donald Trump is winning the Republican
presidential primary contest and by so much. It is actually an amazing
thing. This should not exist in nature. But here we are. Life`s great.
But it`s early days yet. And, you though, who`s ahead in national
polling really shouldn`t matter that much right now at all in the process.
On the Democratic side, for example, it really doesn`t much matter what`s
going on in the national polls. Hey, Hillary Clinton`s ahead.
I mean, it won`t -- it won`t matter for a long time yet. Right? If
ever. In terms of the national polls. We don`t have a national primary.
So national polling, the primary level, it just shouldn`t matter, certainly
not now and definitely not for a long time. The Democratic Party isn`t
even going to start its primary debates until October.
But the Republican Party has already started its debates. FOX News
had the first one this month. CNN has the next one coming up quickly next
And the Republican Party set up its debate process this year in this
very early and screwed-up way that appears to now be culling candidates out
of the huge Republican field this summer, culling them right now, culling
them now when Republican voters are gripped in a fevered frenzy of love for
Donald Trump which precludes them from seeing much of anything else about
any of the other candidates.
I mean, it`s a strange strategy, right? I mean, when a reality TV
show star who makes fun of war heroes and uses menstruation as a political
epithet, when Republican voters are in a mood, that has them staying that`s
the guy they like right now, you might want to -- you might want to wait
until that mood has passed before you ask those same people who they don`t
If people on the Republican side are picking Donald Trump as their
front-running candidate right now, maybe they are not in a great frame of
mind to be kicking people in and out of the race. You know what I`m
But the Republican Party hasn`t set things up that way. And so while
Republican voters are in love with Donald Trump, the cull of the other
candidates has already begun. Rick Perry appears ton the first candidate
on his way out. His campaign letting it be known over the past few days
that they stopped paying their staff, all of their staff.
It`s hard to know exactly what has apparently killed the presidential
prospects of Rick Perry. It could have been the death knell for him when
FOX News would not allow him into the primetime Republican candidates`
debate. Maybe that was it.
To be fair, though, Rick Perry is also the only major candidate in
either party who`s been trying to run for president while also being under
indictment. That`s his mug shot. So maybe that`s part of it as well.
When the currently serving Texas attorney general was also indicted
right before that first Republican presidential debate, that was an
unwelcome reminder of Rick Perry`s own legal troubles at home. It was
referenced in basically every news article written about the Texas A.G.
getting indicted and getting his own mug shot taken. That couldn`t have
helped things for Rick Perry.
And maybe Governor Perry has some plan to stick it out and run, you
know, I guess it would be the first successful volunteer-based campaign for
president while under indictment. Maybe he`ll be the guy who pulls that
off. Who knows? But it feels like Rick Perry may be toast.
The polling results after that first hugely watched debate also
suggest that the other person who may be toast is New Jersey Governor Chris
Christie. Governor Christie has been at the rugged edge of irrelevance
throughout this campaign all year long. Latest results show him not only
getting a bump out of his debate performance but, in fact, dropping even
further than he already was in the polls.
His numbers are now low enough that if a candidate like Carly Fiorina
continues to do well, as she has been in recent polling, Carly Fiorina may
very well bump Christie out of the top ten so he will only be in the kids`
table debate next month when that debate is hosted by CNN.
Like Rick Perry, though, to be fair, it`s not totally clear that you
can blame the first debate for Chris Christie`s woes, right? People
thought he would be a good debater. He didn`t make any splash at the
debate at all.
But in addition to that debate stuff, he also has a lot of home state
baggage that you can`t discount. I mean, the bridgegate scandal is still
following Chris Christie around like cans tied onto his bumper. The
criminal trials in the bridgegate scandal are due to start this fall. That
can never be too far from his mind on the campaign trail.
And as he continues to serve as New Jersey governor, yet another
ghost of Christmas past popped up and made spooky noises in Christie world
today. Governor Christie attended a meeting today with New Jersey`s two
Democratic senators and the Obama administration`s transportation secretary
to talk about supporting a new train tunnel between New Jersey and New York
Now, it sounds like just a typical policy matter that a governor
might handle, but this is a ghost of Christmas past kind of issue for Chris
Christie because when he game governor in 2010, years of planning and $600
million worth of work that had already been completed all had to get thrown
out the window when Chris Christie kyboshed another train tunnel that he
had previously supported.
This was something that was already in progress. It`s this
bottleneck in the Northeast and the busiest corridor in the whole country
after he became governor, after he had supported it, Chris Christie stopped
that tunnel in his tracks, and then he took the money for that tunnel and
put it in his own budget so he wouldn`t have to answer for any tax rise
when he ran for president.
That sounds like a New Jersey issue, and it is a New Jersey issue,
but it`s very fresh in the minds of everybody in New Jersey, in Chris
Christie`s home state. I mean, especially because transit, over the course
of the summer, has basically collapsed between New Jersey and New York
city, in large part because that infrastructure is terrible and everybody
in New Jersey blames Christie for it because he did individually, single-
handedly, stopped something that would have made it better.
So, this stuff from home tends to follow these guys around. I mean,
he`s trying to run a national campaign for the presidency, but he`s dealing
with editorials like this one in the largest paper in his home state today.
Look at this. This is from the largest paper, "The Newark Star
Ledger" in New Jersey today.
Quote, "Governor Christie today is finally attending a high-level
meeting to discuss the need for new rail tunnel into the Hudson River. Let
us give thanks.
What woke him from his five-year slumber? Maybe it was the agonized
cries of stranded commuters during this hellish summer or the fresh
warnings of economic carnage should the old tunnels give out before the new
ones are built. Or the shock therapy of the nation`s highest transit
official calling his neglect, quote, `almost criminal`.
Maybe he heard a whisper from some deep corner of his soul telling
him that he really must leave New Hampshire once in a while to earn his
salary in Trenton.
Make no mistake, though, this is on Christie. He killed the ARC
tunnel project in 2010, creating this vacuum. And he grabbed the money and
If memory serves, Christie has the skill set to find the common
ground and get a deal done. He just hasn`t exercised those muscles during
his second term, which he has devoted to his hopeless quest for the
Hometown press. Yes.
So, at the bottom tiers of the Republican presidential nominating
process, guys like Chris Christie and Rick Perry look like they are on the
verge of elimination.
And, you know, maybe it`s not just the process and this early culling
that the Republican Party and the cable networks have forced on the
Republican field. Maybe in the case of these two guys, they just had such
terrible home state baggage, they were never going to be able to cram it
into the overhead compartment in time for takeoff.
But as Donald Trump continues to completely dominate the Republican
race, there is not just trouble at the bottom of the heap. There is also
trouble at the top of the heap. Jeb Bush is losing as much support in each
new poll now as Donald Trump is gaining.
Scott Walker`s path to the presidency was supposed to be all about
Iowa. He led the polls in Iowa strongly and clearly for about six months
before the Donald Trump surge pushed Mr. Walker down to second place even
in Iowa. But as "The New York Times" notes today, since that first
Republican debate, there have been three polls taken in Iowa. And in those
three polls taken in Iowa since that first debate, not only is Scott Walker
still losing to Donald Trump in Iowa, he`s also now losing to Ben Carson in
Iowa. He`s been pushed down to third place.
So, whether you are a bottom-tier candidate about to get eliminated
like Governor Perry or Governor Christie, whether you were thought to be a
top-tier candidate like Jeb Bush or Scott Walker, whenever you are in the
pile, the Donald Trump phenomenon in the Republican Party right now at
least is crushing everybody else`s hopes.
And as hilarious and amazing as that may be to watch from the
outside, for the candidates who are on the inside of that dynamic, how do
they get out of this cycle? How do any of them win? Hold that thought.
MADDOW: This is a thing that happened. Here is Senator Marco Rubio
of Florida hitting a young Iowa boy in the face with a football.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I think that`s -- we just call that incomplete, right?
Incomplete! Incomplete -- oh, oh, now it`s second down and the -- in this
case I think the quarterback owes that receiver a lollipop, at least.
A lot more show on the way. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`ve watched Donald
Trump just spew out some of terrible accusations and now his latest so-
called plan for deporting 11 or 12 million hardworking people is just
outrageous, offensive, and I will do everything I can, you know, to
actually draw a line there.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: You`re not in the top contenders. You
are somewhere down at 11th. I think you have 3 percent.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes.
CAMEROTA: So how are you going to change that that?
CHRISTIE: Campaigning. That`s why campaigns matter.
The question they ask in those polls is if the election were held
tomorrow who would you vote for? If the election were held tomorrow I
would be shocked because it`s not going to be held tomorrow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Governor Chris Christie boldly checking the calendar.
Talking about his standing in the polls where he is one of several
substantial contenders on the Republican side, he`s essentially being
squeezed out of contention and off the debate stage in part by the
persistent dominance of Donald Trump as a Republican presidential front-
And Mr. Trump is not only dominating the Republican field, he`s also
dominating the whole political conversation, those comments from Hillary
Clinton that we just showed, that was her today speaking with Telemundo
after a campaign event in Las Vegas saying she will absolutely draw a line
there with what she called terrible accusations and outrageous and
offensive plans by Donald Trump to deport 11 million or 12 million
Joining us now is Robert Costa. He`s a national political reporter
at "The Washington Post."
Mr. Costa, thanks very much for being here. It`s nice to see you.
ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST: My pleasure.
MADDOW: So the verdict seems to be in on the results of the first
presidential debate. Donald Trump cementing his role as the fairly distant
front-runner. But as he shores up the top of the pile, who`s at the
bottom? Is it fair to be looking at Chris Christie as one of the people
who`s really scrapping for his life at this point?
COSTA: I think you have to look at Christie. This is someone who is
the establishment favorite and in 2011, when he was looking at running was
the establishment favorite, even a few years ago before bridgegate.
So I checked in with Ray Washburn a couple hours ago. He`s
Christie`s national finance guy. He`s keeping all the donors in line and
he told me Christie had fund-raisers over the weekend in Southampton.
And he put on a brave face, he said Christie is going to continue to
move forward and tell it like he does on the debate stage. But the thing
is, he`s got to go beyond that because his personality at the center of his
campaign and if he can`t showcase it there, where is he going to showcase
MADDOW: Is money the answer? I mean, in terms of how these guys --
I`m not thinking about people in the middle tier, I`m not thinking about
people, like, I guess, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker right now, I`m sort of
thinking about more luminal characters like Rick Perry and Chris Christie.
They both are well-connected in terms of fund-raising and big dollar
Is money enough to keep them in contention?
COSTA: No, not at all. The Ted Cruz strategy which is having this
national fundraising, national activist base out there with all these super
PACs funding it. But if you`re a Bobby Jindal, if you`re Chris Christie,
you have to pick a state. It`s not about money.
So, I talked to Jindal people today, they say it`s all about Iowa.
Same with Rick Perry, run a Rick Santorum type campaign in Iowa. For
Christie, it`s New Hampshire. Try to have this town hall revival but it`s
Bush is strong, Kasich is getting even stronger.
MADDOW: On the issue of Iowa, part of the reason that Scott Walker
has been seen as potentially nationally viable even he has very low
national name recognition, you compare the national media mentions to him
whether or not people know who he is and it`s quite a chasm, part of the
reason the national press has been so convinced that he`s viable is that
people think he will win Iowa. He`s now polling third place in Iowa not
just behind Donald Trump but also behind Ben Carson.
Is that a -- is Iowa turning out to be harder to predict or at least
harder to see from a national perspective than we thought it would be?
COSTA: Very much so. Every strategist six months ago was telling
me, it`s just going to be just like it was in 2000 and 2012. Huckabee,
Santorum, an evangelical favorite, is going to be in Iowa and that put
Walker in the favorable position.
But now, it looks like the outsiders are favorite. Carson, Trump,
their numbers are strong in Iowa and that`s a threat to Walker`s entire
MADDOW: Robert, as you talk with these Republican fundraisers and
operatives and partisans of all stripes on the Republican side, do you get
the sense that there is an emerging consensus as to what they ought to do
about their front-runner? About the best Donald Trump strategy?
Is it keep your head down and wait and hope that he goes away or does
anybody have a plan for how they might be able to capture some of what he`s
COSTA: It`s amazing, Rachel. I called 10 campaigns today and
there`s allied super PACs, I asked them what they`re doing about Trump and
they say, "We`re just waiting to see, we`re hoping he implodes."
Whether that`s a viable strategy, whether that made sense, we`ll have
to see. A lot of these super PACs don`t want to spend their money right
now. They want to husband their resources and hope Trump fades away, but
that`s not happening.
MADDOW: Robert Costa, national political reporter at the "Washington
Post" -- really appreciate your time tonight, Robert. It`s nice to have
COSTA: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Still ahead tonight, the controversial decision
that caused Hillary Clinton and President Obama to part ways today very
I`m not sure people saw this coming, but Hillary Clinton and Barack
Obama are now totally at odds on an important issue. That happened today.
We`ve got that next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton
today made a big break with the Obama administration and she did it on a
topic that I`m not sure people were expecting her to break from President
Obama but she did it. And she did it dramatically and she did it on tape.
Her stance on this is already drawing criticism from her Republican
rivals in the presidential race which weirdly allies them with President
Obama. It`s a little awkward. We`re going to have that tape in a moment.
But in order to explain that, I first have to do a little bit of a
correction. I got something sort of wrong on the show recently. But it
turns out the way I got it wrong is awesome and fascinating, way better
than the initial story or the mistake itself.
So, here`s what it is -- we`ve been talking for weeks on the show
about Shell Oil`s plans to start drilling the arctic for oil. We have
reported on the protests that Shell has encountered this summer as they`ve
tried to start drilling up there. We`ve reported that part of the reason
Shell`s drilling plans have come under such scrutiny is because nobody has
ever really offshore drilled the Arctic before, at least not in the way
that shell is now planning to.
But on that last point that nobody has ever offshore drilled in the
Arctic before, I was sort of wrong about that. And I love how I was wrong.
Check this out. This is a place called Oooguruk Island. Oooguruk.
It starts with -- look in the lower left-hand corner there. Those
three "Os," not a typo. It starts with three of them.
Oooguruk Island is located on the Alaskan Coast. It`s this tiny,
tiny little place. You can see it`s loaded up with all sorts of oil
Oooguruk Island with three O`s, it is not a naturally place on a map.
It`s located in Alaska`s Beaufort Sea. They do drill for oil there.
So, when I said Shell wants to be the first company to drill offshore
for oil in the Arctic, technically, that wasn`t true, because technically
that drilling at Oooguruk is kinds of offshore drilling. It was a little
bit wrong about that.
Here`s the thing the thing, that island doesn`t exist in nature. It
is not a naturally occurring island. The oil industry built that island.
It`s a manmade island they constructed in about five feet of water
specifically for the purposes of oil drilling in that five feet of water.
Nobody knows how to drill for oil offshore in the Arctic, so when
they wanted to do it, they built a new shore! They built new land, a new
island and drilled from that. Even though they were only in about five
feet of water, they had to build an island to drill from because that`s
what it takes if you want to drill the Arctic. You apparently need to
build an island.
In water you could stand up in. And then once you`ve done that you
have to sort of hope that your manmade island doesn`t get eaten up by the
elements because these are the elements out there. This is that same
island, that manmade island essentially being devoured by sea ice one
So, yes, you can build yourself new land but you can`t get in the way
of nature if nature wants to go somewhere. This is in five feet of water.
Drilling the arctic is foreboding and scary, not just because of the
prospect of burning all these fossil fuels that are otherwise not going to
get burned. It`s scary because of the logistics to do it and how hard it
is to do it safely.
When Shell was given the go ahead to try to start drilling in the
Arctic back in 2012, really offshore, not just on some fake island, they
built themselves in an arctic kiddie pool, right? When shell got the go
ahead to start drilling offshore in 2012, Shell executives went on the
record, they said out loud that they thought the task of drilling offshore
was going to be, quote, "relatively easy." That was their quote. Don`t
worry, it`s going to be relatively easy.
What it turned out to be was a complete disaster. Shell had a rig
that ran aground, they had a rig that caught fire and was ultimately the
subject of felony convictions. Shell ended up pulling out of the Arctic
altogether because they had such a disastrous time there.
But now, they`re back. Shell gearing up to try to drill the Arctic
once again. Guess what they`re saying about how it`s going to go this
year? I swear to you this is not the same article as 2012, but Shell
executives are saying drilling the Arctic will be, quote, "relatively
easy." Saying that again.
No big deal. No big deal just like it was in 2012 when it was
actually a disaster and a failure and a crime and did I mention it was a
True to form, Shell`s adventures in the Arctic this year have already
gotten off to a rough start. One of their ice breakers had a three-foot
long hole ripped into its hull, when it was on its way to the drilling site
last month. The ship had to go back to Portland, Oregon, for repairs and
almost didn`t make it out of Portland when it was surrounded by a sea of
protesters in kayaks and dangling over a bridge there.
But now that the ice breaker is back on site in Alaska, the Obama
administration has just given Shell the final authorization it needs to
start offshore drilling for oil up there.
That decision came down yesterday. And today, the Obama
administration was publicly rebuked for doing that by Democratic
presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton has not broken
within the Obama administration on many things during this presidential
But today, she came out and said she would not have given Shell the
OK to start drilling. After the decision was announced, Hillary Clinton
sent out this tweet, quote, "The Arctic is a unique treasure, given what we
know it`s not worth the risk of drilling." She sent out that tweet earlier
And then this is what she told reporters tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I think the very grave difficulties that Shell encountered
the last time they tried to do that should be a red flag for anybody. I
have been to the Arctic, I have been to Barrow, our most northernmost
outpost in the United States and I think we should not risk the potential
catastrophes that could come about from accidents in looking for more oil
in a pristine -- one of the few remaining pristine regions of the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We should not risk the potential catastrophes that could
come about from Arctic drilling. Hillary Clinton, her speaking earlier
tonight in Las Vegas, just a day after the Obama administration gave Shell
the final permit they need to start drilling offshore in the Arctic, which
is pretty much never been done before -- unless you count the oil companies
having to build themselves an island to drill from because actually
drilling offshore in the Arctic doesn`t seem like it would be an easy thing
to do even if Shell keeps saying that it is.
Joining us now is Tony Dokoupil. He`s an environmental reporter for
Tony, it`s great to have you here. Thanks.
TONY DOKOUPIL, MSNBC REPORTER: Glad to be here.
MADDOW: So, shell has the go ahead to start drilling. The season up
there -- literally, the season up there is very short.
DOKOUPIL: Really short, yes.
MADDOW: Do the people who oppose Shell doing this have any sort of
strategy? Any sort of plan to stop this or is this done now?
DOKOUPIL: It`s not done. Remember when the Russian oil company
tried to drill in the Russian part of the Arctic in 2013 just ahead of the
Sochi Olympics, Greenpeace, which owns boats and has lots of money, got all
the way out there and tried to scale the rig and the Russian coast guard
rounded them all up.
Greenpeace will not tell me for certain, they don`t want to tip their
hand that they`ll do something like that but they have said, "We have to
run out the clock, we have to create another delay" like the one you
previewed in the intro where they dangled from the bridge "to push this
season back." it`s only four weeks that Shell has to go a mile into the
seabed and start touching oil.
MADDOW: Once they get to the end of that four-week period, what
happens? They stick a cork in it and come back next spring?
DOKOUPIL: They`re going to put some kind of a cap on it. They want
to get it started so they can work next spring. That`s what they wanted to
do in 2012 as well and it went horribly wrong.
I love "relatively easy". Can we come up with the things that can be
harder than the Arctic?
MADDOW: Well, the amazing thing -- so this guy in 2012 says it will
be relatively easy. Then it`s a complete disaster for them. That guy gets
fired and disappeared. They replace him with a new guy who comes back and
says, yes, we think it`s going to be relatively easy.
DOKOUPIL: Right. They have this special containment system so in
case there`s a blowout -- by the way, 57 percent chance they admit that
over the decades, if they continue to work there, there will be a blowout.
So, they have a special capping stack, that`s what they had to bring up
there if there`s a blowout.
They tested in 2012, it came out looking like a crumpled can. They
tested it again, refused to release the results.
DOKOUPIL: So --
MADDOW: Given complaints like that, was it a surprise that the Obama
administration said, go ahead? I mean, they`ve been expressing concerns
about climate change all along but they have -- it seems like they`ve been
enthusiastic about this work going forward.
DOKOUPIL: Somebody in the Obama White House must have been very
disappointed to see the way that the calendar was colliding here because
Obama earlier this month, big climate change speech, strongest action any
administration has ever taken and then somebody must have whispered in his
ear and like, "By the way, that Arctic thing, you`re going to have to
approve it," and it`s one week before you go to Alaska and make your pitch.
DOKOUPIL: So he looks -- I mean, Hillary comes out and mostly looks
bad for Obama because the other two Democratic contenders for the
nomination have already said -- Bernie Sanders and Martin O`Malley, they
both said we don`t need to be drilling in the arctic. So, it`s mostly bad
news for Obama.
MADDOW: Tony Dokoupil, environmental reporter for MSNBC -- Tony,
thank you for this. Appreciate it.
MADDOW: It is going to be fascinating. President Obama is due to go
to Alaska within a week to talk about climate change when he`s just
approved this drilling in the Arctic plan for Shell. That is either the
most ill-timed and awkward thing he has done in a long time, or some sort
of magical 3D chess and we won`t understand it until he does it.
We shall see. Stay with us.
MADDOW: It hit 96 degrees in Reno, Nevada. And look at this, at the
University of Nevada in Reno people turned out three hours early in that
96-degree heat to wait for Bernie Sanders. It`s possible it was shadier in
the parking garage, but still.
Look at this. People lined up across the campus waiting for Bernie
Sanders to give his speech at Reno tonight. Senator from Vermont, of
course, has been drawing huge crowds, biggest crowds of the campaign season
in either party, 28,000 people turned out to hear Bernie Sanders in
Portland, Oregon, last week. More than 27,000 people turned out in L.A.
Eleven thousand people in Phoenix, Arizona.
Bernie Sanders continues to be his own phenomenon in this campaign.
These outsized crowds, his persistent rise in the polls, and who knows what
political thermodynamics are here and how they might carry him. But right
now, Bernie Sanders and these huge crowds, it`s an amazing thing to watch
and nothing else like it is happening in presidential politics.
This event tonight, again, University of Nevada at Reno. We`re going
to get you the turnout numbers for this Reno even tonight once we`ve got
them coming in.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, when oil trains crash, when train cars full of oil turn
into smoke clouds and fireballs and conflagrations so hot they have to be
left to burn for days, when that happens again and again and again in our
country, the first thing we do is figure out where the closest newsrooms
are so we can start following their reports. We need our local papers, and
sometimes our local papers need us. We`ve got one remarkable story of that
variety coming up next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: In central North Dakota, there`s a little town called New
Rockford. It`s home to about 1,400 people. It is the self-proclaimed
steam engine capital of North Dakota. New Rockford hosts the annual
Central North Dakota steam thresher`s reunion. It features a threshing bee
-- a threshing bee.
This is one from 2012. It`s an old steam engine and tractors all up
and running, very loud and stinky and confusing and awesome, it will make
you want to be an engineer. The North Dakota steam thresher`s reunion is
coming up next month.
New Rockford, North Dakota, is about 30 miles down the road, actually
about 20 miles down the railroad tracks from the town of Heimdal, North
Dakota. We talked about Heimdal, North Dakota, on the show in May because
that town had to be evacuated when a train carrying crude oil derailed and
several cars burst into flames.
Exploding oil trains are kind of a fact of life in America these
days, especially in the oil fields of North Dakota.
So, last month, some local volunteer firefighters in New Rockford got
some training how to respond in case the next time an oil train blows up,
it blows up not in Heimdal or Casselton or one of these other towns that
have had train crashes.
The volunteer firefighters in New Rockford trained for how to respond
to an oil fire in their town. And we know about that training and we have
great photos of that training, thanks to the local paper, which is called
"The New Rockford Transcript."
"The New Rockford Transcript" is the local newspaper and served the
town since 1883. It`s been there for more than 130 years. They cover the
North Dakota junior high rodeo state finals. They cover the construction
of the new swimming pool. They list all the sales during the big city wide
garage sale weekend.
And this weekend on Saturday, "The New Rockford Transcript" had to
cover a big fire in downtown New Rockford, North Dakota. This was not an
oil train fire, but with high winds and temperatures near 100 degrees, it
took hours to get it out and this is a particularly difficult fire for the
staff of "The Transcript" to cover because the fire was at "The
It was in the newspaper`s office. The building was a total loss.
The staff salvaged precisely one computer and a couple of hard drives.
Everything else used to create the newspaper was gone. That paper has been
there more than 130 years.
But we can tell you within 48 hours of their building burning to the
ground, the staff of "The New Rockford transcript" was back at it working
on the next edition of the paper, and that`s because "The Transcript" has
Local real estate company gave them temporary office space. "The
Transcript`s" publisher says ten other newspapers offered office equipment
and anything else they needed. They started rolling out pages of the new
edition yesterday. Monday, after the fire completely destroyed their
offices on Saturday.
"The Transcript`s" general manager, Amy Wobbema, sent us this video
showing us the burnt-out office and taking the short walk to their new
space where the staff is working on the next issue. The next issue is due
out this upcoming Monday. Clearly, it will take more than a devastating
fire to stop "The New Rockford Transcript."
That`s a good thing for New Rockford. It`s a good thing for the rest
of us. Every town, every hamlet in this country is in some way part of our
One of the local journalistic resources we have near the North Dakota
oil patch covered the fire in their own building as their own building and
all of their history turned to ash.
Inside that building, they had a big walk-in safe. In that safe were
the newspaper`s archives. The history of New Rockford all the way back to
the beginning, all the way back to the 1800s. "The Transcript`s" publisher
told us he does not know if the archives survived because his first
priority is getting the next edition out. And so, he has not had time to
search the wreckage. We will let you know what he finds when he looks.
And in the meantime, we can all be grateful that "The New Rockford
Transcript" is so resilient and their friends are so generous. Local
heroes for the good of us all.
If you do not subscribe to your local paper, if you do not pay to get
behind the pay wall of your local paper`s Web site, do so.
If you need to give a kid a gift, give them a subscription to your
local paper. Really. Do it. Your country needs you to.
MADDOW: Here`s what you need to do on day one. It begins with a
light workout before sunrise. Within two minutes, you need to do 49 push-
ups. Within two minutes, you need to do 59 sit-ups. Then, within 40
minutes, you need to do a five-mile run, then you need to chin-ups after
that. That`s how day one begins well before dawn.
About 20 percent of people trying to pass that first test fail that
first test. That`s just before 8:00 a.m.
If you do pass that first test, this is what immediately happens to
you right afterwards as your reward. You scale a 35-foot tower. And you
commando crawl along a rope suspended above water. When given the order,
you drop -- you drop 35 feet into the water and then you swim to shore.
And now your day is really getting started, because this all has been
the warm-up for the afternoon, which is combat water survival. That`s when
you are completely submerged underwater with all of your gear including
your army boots and your rifle. You need to calmly remove your 35 pounds
of equipment while underwater and swim back to shore. If you panic or if
you flail, you fail.
And that is just the start of day one of Army Ranger school and it
keeps going nonstop for at least 60 more days after that, and it only gets
more grueling, more taxing, because on average, throughout this process you
get three or four hours of sleep a night. You are also only getting two
meals a day.
By the time the course is over, most of the candidate will have lost
20 pounds and they were all unbelievably fit to begin with. Mock patrols,
marches that cover a distance of the equivalent of walking from Boston to
New York, often while wearing packs weighing up to 90 pounds.
It includes rappelling off mountains, sometimes at night wearing
night-vision goggles, parachuting into the swamps of Florida and the good
news, I guess you can call it good news, if you fail a section, they
sometimes give you an option to start again, so just do it again from the
beginning, pick up where you left off.
Ranger School happens year round. Part of the challenge with this
current class in ranger school is that it has been such a hot summer.
That`s been a particular challenge they say in the mountain phase which is
conducted in Georgia. It has been worse this year because of the extreme
One of the other things that`s been different in this year`s ranger
class right now has been the media attention, because the Army for this
ranger class that is finishing up right now, the army has been letting the
media in every few days to observe this particular ranger class, to show
that it is no different than any other one in the past. That nobody is
getting any special treatment.
When this current group of graduates from this current ranger school
graduates this coming Friday, they are expecting dozens of media outlets,
not just from the United States but from all over the world to cover that
graduation because something makes this class different.
This class includes women. Nineteen women started on day one. Two
of them have just completed it and will graduate. Three hundred eighty-one
men started this class, 97 of them will finish.
But this is the first time women have been allowed to compete in
Ranger School and the first time that any will graduate. The Obama
administration said in 2013 that the Pentagon should open up all service
branches to women in combat roles by 2016.
This Ranger School test has been the first test of whether it would
work for the Rangers. These two women who are about to graduate are among
the first to prove it can.
Right now, these two women will not be allowed to apply to the
Special Forces Command to join the Ranger Regiment because the army has not
yet opened those jobs to women even as it now has its first Ranger
But maybe that will change, because just tonight, very late-breaking
news, the top admiral in the Navy just said the Navy Special Warfare
Command will allow women to become Navy SEALs if they pass Navy SEAL
training, which is just as brutal as Army Ranger training. But that news
being broken tonight by "The Navy Times", that the Navy is open to women
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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