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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Tuesday, June 8th, 2010, 11pm show

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guests: Chris Hayes, John Ralston
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  You think that‘s horrible, Keith.  I‘m the one that‘s been using “Lincoln Lags” and “Halter Tops” from my explanation about what‘s going on in that Senate seat.
KEITH OLBERMANN, “COUNTDOWN” HOST:  Yes.  It‘s not as bad as either of those.
MADDOW:  Yes.  I win.  Wow, that‘s a bad idea.
MADDOW:  Thanks, Keith.  I appreciate it.
And thanks to you at home for enduring this or the next hour.  It is now 11 p.m. on the east coast, 8:00 in the west coast.  And the polls are now closed here in California and everywhere across the country.  Although the polls are closed here in California, no real results to report yet.  We will have more on that in a moment.
As you know, voters in 12 states cast ballots in races for the House and Senate and a few hotly-contested governor‘s races.
The big headline right now: In Arkansas, “The Associated Press” reporting that incumbent Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln has defeated a very stiff challenge from Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter.  Again, Blanche Lincoln, it appears, will hold onto her seat in Arkansas with 73 percent of precincts reporting.  We‘re looking at Blanche Lincoln over the challenger, Bill Halter, 51 percent to 49 percent.
We will have more on that in a moment with MSNBC‘s Ed Schultz, who is live in Little Rock.
Another race that‘s gotten lots of national attention is the Republican race for governor in South Carolina.  That race will be going to a runoff, as front-runner Nikki Haley failed to win more than 50 percent of the vote.  In South Carolina, with 99 percent of precincts reporting, Nikki Haley leads her nearest challenger by a large margin, 49 percent to 22 percent, over Gresham Barrett.  But it will be Barrett and Nikki Haley in a runoff on June 22nd for the Republican nomination for South Carolina governor.
Now, polls closed in the state of Nevada about an hour ago.  Republicans there choosing a candidate to challenge Democratic Senate Majority Leader harry Reid.  Now, the early Republican Party favorite was Sue Lowden.  She was leading in the polls until her famous “pay for health care with chicken” suggestion, that started a bad slide in the polls for Sue Lowden.
But here‘s what‘s happening in the very, very, very, very, very, very early returns in the Nevada Senate primary tonight.  In Nevada right now, and again, take this with a grain of salt because it is less than 1 percent in, we‘re looking at Sue Lowden with 37 percent of the vote, Sharron Angle with 33 percent of the vote, and Danny Tarkanian, with 20 percent of the vote.  But again, don‘t jump to any conclusions there.  That is less than 1 percent of precincts reporting in the state of Nevada.
Here in California, there are two big races to watch on the Republican side.  Polls have just closed in the race for the Republican nomination for governor, which pits ex-eBay CEO, Meg Whitman, against California insurance commissioner, Steve Poizner.  Meg Whitman has spent $81 million on this primary.  At this point in California, we do not have precincts reporting that we can tell you about.  The polls are closed here in the Golden State, but we will keep you apprised as we learn more over the course of this hour.
The other race here in California is the Republican race for Senate to challenge Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer.  Now, the favorite in that Republican race is ex-Hewlett-Packard CEO, Carly Fiorina.  She made herself famous in this race by running the demon sheep inexplicable campaign ads that were maybe against one of her challengers, Tom Campbell, but were maybe just a really long strange, low production value non sequitur.
Right now, we‘ve got nothing to tell you about the California race.  Again, polls here are closed, but it‘s too early at this point to have anything to tell you about who—how the candidates are faring between Carly Fiorina and Tom Campbell and tea party favorite Chuck Devore.
In terms of the races already decided tonight, Republican State Senator Robert Hurt has won the Republican nomination for Congress in Virginia‘s 5th district.  That earns him the right to face off against Democratic incumbent, Congressman Tom Perriello.
But—this is interesting—they both may face a third candidate in that race, one of the Republicans who was defeated by State Senator Robert Hurt tonight in Virginia says that he will run as a conservative independent third-party challenger, Jeffrey Clark planning to challenge as a third party candidate in this race if he lost.  He did, in fact, lose.  And so, that might be a very interesting race, probably that third party challenge.  Great news for Tom Perriello.
Also in Virginia, in the 8th district, an interesting race in which Matthew Berry, an openly gay FCC lawyer was narrowly defeated by Iraq War veteran Patrick Murray.  As you know, very rare to have an openly gay GOP candidate in any district.  Mr. Berry however didn‘t come out ahead in this one.
There was a remarkable result in the Democratic Senate race in South Carolina to unseat Republican Senator Jim DeMint.  An unemployed military veteran named Alvin Greene won that Democratic primary.  The reason its remarkable is because Alvin Greene reportedly raised no money in this race, he had no signs, and he had no Web site.  And the Democratic Party chairwoman on the state says she hasn‘t even seen Mr. Greene since he filed to run.  Nevertheless, he won.
Mr. Greene will now face Republican Senator Jim DeMint for South Carolina‘s Senate seat in November.
Also in South Carolina, Republican State Rep Tim Scott has forced fellow Republican Paul Thurmond into a runoff election in the first district there.  What‘s notable about that race is that if he wins, if he wins that runoff, Tim Scott would become the first African-American Republican in Congress since former Congressman J.C. Watts of Oklahoma.
Not faring as well in South Carolina, with sitting Republican Congressman Bob Inglis.  Bob Inglis forced into a runoff for his own seat tonight.  Look at this.  With 96 percent of precincts reporting in the Bob Inglis race in South Carolina, Inglis, again the incumbent here, only showing up with 27 percent of the vote.  He‘s the incumbent.  Trey Gowdy, his challengers, beating him at this point by 13 points.  They will go into a runoff.
It has been a remarkable night so far, and it‘s still not over.  But, of course, the big headline tonight is the Democratic race for Senate in Arkansas: Blanche Lincoln fending off a strong challenge from Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter.  At this point, “The A.P.” calling it for Senator Blanche Lincoln.  With 85 percent of precincts reporting, Lincoln is ahead of Halter, 52 percent to 48 percent.
Joining us now is MSNBC‘s Ed Schultz, host of “THE ED SHOW.”  He‘s live tonight in Little Rock.
Ed, thanks very much for joining us.  It‘s good to see you.
ED SCHULTZ, “THE ED SHOW” HOST:  Thank you, Rachel.  It‘s been a very eventful night for the Lincoln campaign.
I just spoke with Chuck Rocha, who was one of the big organizers on the ground for progressives who are supporting Bill Halter.  He says that 90 percent of the votes in Little Rock are in and she apparently has won that with 60 to 40, as far as the percentages breaking down in Little Rock.  So, it looks like Little Rock put Blanche Lincoln over the top her in Arkansas, which is a big win for her.
MADDOW:  I know that you‘re outside Halter‘s campaign headquarters there in Little Rock.
Can you describe at all the mood there now?  I mean, it‘s strange to talk about this being an upset, but a lot of people were expecting Bill Halter to be able to pull this off tonight.
SCHULTZ:  Well, I think you‘ve got it right.  I mean, this is an upset.  I mean, let‘s tell it like it is.  There were a tremendous amount of resources that came in from out of state that were poured in here to Arkansas to help Bill Halter.  He made a strong pitch, but not strong enough.
Bill Clinton still has legs in Arkansas.  And Blanche Lincoln, of course, with her amendment in dealing with Wall Street reform, did connect with people, and she also made the strong case against Bill Halter that he just would not define himself on the Employee Free Choice Act, which, of course, was the big issue with a lot of progressives.
This is a big victory for Blanche Lincoln.  She was not expected to win here.  Eight million dollars was pumped into this race for Bill Halter from unions.  The PCCC, and also the blogosphere was heavily in favor of Halter.  And basically what it comes down to, as I see it, on the quick here, Rachel, is that Blanche Lincoln leaned on conservative Democrats to come out in 90-degree weather.  And that‘s exactly what they did.
And, of course, there‘s going to be a lot of questions about Garland County where there used to be 40 precincts voting and now, today, there were only two.  So, I‘m sure that that is going to be something that‘s going to have to be dealt with.
MADDOW:  Yes, let me ask you about that.  Garland County, Arkansas, as you said, 42 polling places open during last month‘s primary election.  The county decided to open only two of those 42 for today‘s runoff.  I watched a lot of local news coverage in recent days of people being turned away, trying to early vote in that county.  That‘s one of those rural districts in which Bill Halter had done very well on primary day.
Are there murmurs?  Are there accusations?  Is there anybody who‘s coming out from the Halter campaign saying that they‘re dissatisfied with the way the election itself was conducted?
SCHULTZ:  Well, Mr. Halter did talk to election officials in that county, and they did open it up on a Saturday, but, of course, you can‘t vote on a Saturday in Arkansas.  There really has been no very good explanation as to why it was reduced other than expenses.  But then again, that gets reimbursed by the state.
So, it looks like he got Bubba‘d here in Arkansas in a sense, and there were some pretty heavy-handed politics going on.  Now, there hasn‘t been much conversation here in the last 20 minutes about what—how they‘re going to handle this, but tomorrow should be a very big news day for the Halter campaign at decision time as to whether they‘re going to challenge this or not.
It seems very unusual that something like this would take place.  It was a county that came in very strong for Halter in the primary.  They were encouraged by the fact that they had 60,000 people vote, you know before today, in the early voting.
And I think if you look at the total number, there‘s a lot of talk
about how progressives and Democrats in general as a party are not engaged
by count, there‘s going to be close to 250,000 Democrats that will have voted in Arkansas.  And I know the party chair has got to be thinking that, you know, this is a pretty doggone good turnout.

But Garland County will get a lot of attention tomorrow and obviously a lot of attention from the Halter camp as to how they want to handle it if they challenge it in any way, shape or form.
MADDOW:  Ed, let me ask you about one other political factor here that may play into the way the general election unfolds in this race now.  Senator Lincoln—looking at this race from the outside—it felt like her stance against the public option was ultimately what—one of the main things that attracted this primary challenge.  Jane Hamsher actually came on my show and said, “I dare Blanche Lincoln to filibuster the public option.  She‘ll get an opponent so fast.  It will make her head spin.”
Did health care come up—did the public option come up as a real decisive issue in this race?  Was that motivating people?
SCHULTZ:  Well, it was motivating people.  And the public option, which was an element of the health care bill, it didn‘t make it, always polled very well in the state, because basically, Arkansas is a low wage state.  And it doesn‘t have very high union membership in the state.  People with union membership, obviously, they have health care, but the low wagers don‘t.  So, the public option would have been a big benefit to the people of Arkansas, but she opposed it.
But the bottom line is that she did vote for the health care reform, and she could ride that, and obviously, it worked.  During the primary, before May 18th—
MADDOW:  Hey, Ed, I‘ve got to cut in here for a second.  Hey, Ed, I‘m sorry to interrupt.  We just—Blanche Lincoln is just about to start giving her victory speech.  We want to go to that live just for one second, Ed.  I‘m sorry to have interrupted you there.
SCHULTZ:  No problem.  Certainly.
MADDOW:  Blanche Lincoln giving her victory speech right now.
SEN. BLANCHE LINCOLN (D), ARKANSAS:  I want to again thank each and every one of you across this great state for such a tremendous job in letting a message out that‘s loud—loud and clear.
LINCOLN:  And that message was that the vote of this senator is not for sale, and neither is the vote for the people of Arkansas.
LINCOLN:  We have worked so hard, all of you all, all of these wonderful folks here, everybody across this state, in reminding one another what this is all about.  This is about us.  This is about who we are as Arkansas and who we want to do and be.
LINCOLN:  And I have heard—
MADDOW:  Senator Blanche Lincoln just ebullient and excited tonight—giving her victory speech.  And the look on her face, in my estimation, is the look of a very happy candidate who did not expect to be giving a victory speech tonight.  But, clearly, very excited saying there that her vote is not for sale as a senator.
Ed, I‘ve got to ask you—sorry to have interrupted you there to be able to go to the senator.
SCHULTZ:  No problem.
MADDOW:  But let me just ask you—looking ahead to November, a lot of people saying that Blanche Lincoln is going to have a very hard time in that general election race.  Anything lessons from her unexpected win tonight, somewhat unexpected win tonight heading into November?
SCHULTZ:  Well, I think that this is an opportunity for Blanche Lincoln right now.  She knows how strong the progressive movement is.  She‘s going to have to reach out to them because she‘s going to need them to beat Bozeman come November.  There‘s no question about that.
But there are some distinct differences between Blanche Lincoln and Bozeman.  He, of course, voted against the stimulus package, voted against the health care package.  And so, that distinction will be made.
Also, Blanche Lincoln has to close out this amendment in dealing with Wall Street reform and dealing with derivatives.  I mean, if she can get those three things on her side of the ledger and drive home that populist message that you just heard her say, that her vote is not for sale, that may resonate with enough centrists here in Arkansas and bring Bill Clinton back again.
And let‘s point out that there‘s been so much talk about President Obama not having coattails.  This is a victory for the White House tonight.  No question about it.  Barack Obama, the president of the United States, he did robocalls for Blanche Lincoln, and they were supportive of Blanche Lincoln throughout all of this.
And so, this is one where the centrists Democrats, the corporate Democrats, if you may, have pulled out a victory.  And it‘s going to be a very interesting race in November.  And she has not been polling very well against a number of Republicans and Bozeman is one of them.  In fact, Bill Halter was telling me today that he thought he would have a much better chance against Bozeman than Blanche Lincoln would.  In fact, he said that he polled 7 percent better than Bozeman.  So, who knows how it‘s going to go?
But this is a big win for Blanche Lincoln tonight and she needs to be congratulated.
MADDOW:  MSNBC‘s Ed Schultz reporting live tonight from Little Rock, Arkansas—Ed, thanks very much for your time.  Enjoy the rest of your trip down there.
SCHULTZ:  Thank you, Rachel.  Appreciate it.
MADDOW:  I will say, heading into November that as—in politics, as in life, what doesn‘t kill you often makes you stronger.  And Blanche Lincoln pulling off an unexpected, relatively unexpected victory tonight over that strong challenge from Bill Halter does in a way give her a boost of strength as a candidate, gives her that fighter image that might give her a better shot against the Republican in that race on November, than she might otherwise have had had she coasted into this primary win.  I‘m just saying.
We‘ll also tell you, we‘ve gotten one new, if not unexpected, still a
very big deal result tonight.  In Nevada, the Republican governor of
Nevada, the scandal-ridden Republican governor there in Nevada, Jim
Gibbons, has been handily defeated in the Republican gubernatorial primary
the first time in Nevada history that a governor has lost his or her seat by losing his or her own primary.

As we discussed earlier tonight with Jon Ralston from Las Vegas, the Republicans actually recruited Brian Sandoval, a sitting judge with a lifetime appointment, to go run against Jim Gibbons, because they were so eager to get rid of Jim Gibbons.  Gibbons, seemingly heading into this race knowing that he was going to lose, described the prospect of him losing this primary and getting kicked out of the politics as a cause for personal celebration.
The polls just closed here in California where candidates have been spending jaw-dropping amounts of money on the primaries here.  We will have the latest from California with “The Nation‘s” Chris Hayes—as our election night coverage continues.  This is all very exciting.
MADDOW:  The polls have just closed here in California.  Unless something really unexpected happens, two very rich Republican women will face two California Democratic icons in the fall.  And we await the most seriously wackadoodle possibility of the night, that Republicans might nominate Orly Taitz to statewide office.  That could happen.
Chris Hayes is coming up next with that.
MADDOW:  Polls closed just minutes ago in California and the governor‘s race, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown has basically been able to sit out this round and prep his general election campaign, raising and saving campaign cash for the general.
But the race on the Republicans side has been battle of the kazillionnaires.  State insurance commissioner Steve Poizner has spent $24 million of his own money so far, $24 million just in the primary.  Even in California, that‘s a lot of money, which is too bad for Mr. Poizner because his opponent spent three times that amount of money.  Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay, has, thus far, reportedly spent $81 million on the race.  Think about that $71 million out of her own account.  She‘s used that money to hire folks like the campaign staff who advise her that this would be a good press strategy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Let‘s go, clear the room.
MADDOW:  Let‘s go, clear the room.  That was supposed to be a press event.
Meg Whitman also used her considerable fortune to buy a lot of campaign signs, many of which have the words “Sac” on them.  From close, they say “Take Sac back.”  But from a distance, they --- do we have a picture of the signs over there?  No?  We don‘t—oh, there we go.
From a distance, they appear to just say “Sac.”  So, even from like five feet away, unless you got really good vision.  That‘s supposed to make you want to vote for Meg Whitman.  Sac.
In the Senate race in California, the Republican side, it‘s Carly Fiorina, aka, the demon sheep, spending $6.7 millions of her own money to likely defeat, although you never know, lifetime professional reasonable Republican guy, Tom Campbell, as well as the tea party favorite, Chuck Devore.  Chuck Devore spent a significant amount of time on his campaign fighting with Don Henley, because Mr. Devore ripped off several Don Henley songs to turn them into jingles against the other candidates.
But the Senate race and the governor‘s race aren‘t the most amazing Republican races in the Golden State today.  That honor goes to the contest for the otherwise not usually that remarkable race for the California secretary of state.  This year, that‘s the contest in which the winner might actually be Orly Taitz.  Orly Taitz, queen of the birthers, the woman trying to lead the quest to have President Obama declared secretly foreign and therefore, secretly not really president.
After even tea party groups in California had refused earlier this season to have Orly Taitz at their events for fear of looking too crazy, Orly Taitz, against all odds, has started to be welcomed by the California GOP.  She appeared at a California Republican event two days ago with Republicans like Carly Fiorina, and Chuck Devore and Karl Rove and former Republican senator from Minnesota, Norm Coleman, who usually tries to look like a reasonable Republican guy, too.  Those Republicans all appeared publicly two days ago with this Republican.
ORLY TAITZ ®, CALIF. SECRETARY OF STATE CANDIDATE:  A number have called each and every hospital in Hawaii, and no one had any record of either Obama or his mother ever being hospitalized there.
MADDOW:  Orly Taitz is running for secretary of state against former NFL player Damon Dunn, against whom Orly Taitz has, of course, filed a lawsuit challenging his eligibility for office, because that‘s what she does.
It is conceivable that Orly Taitz might win this race.  Orly Taitz could conceivably tonight become the Republican candidate to be the top elections official in the state of California.  Wow.
And we‘re getting our first results in from California right now, very early results.  At this point, what we‘re looking at in the governor‘s race with Meg Whitman versus Steve Poizner, we have less than 1 percent of precincts reporting, 0.5 percent, Meg Whitman, of course, the heavily favored candidate in this race with 65 percent of the vote, and Steve Poizner at 27 percent of the vote.  But you all know better math than to extrapolate from 0.5 percent of precincts.
Over on the Senate side, the Republican primary there, with 3 percent of precincts reporting, Chuck Devore, the tea party favorite, at 17 percent, Tom Campbell at 23 percent, and Carly Fiorina, the “demon sheep,” at 58 percent.
Joining us now to talk about the very, very expensive and occasionally entertaining and politicking in California is Chris Hayes, Washington editor of “The Nation.”
Hi, Chris.  How are you?
CHRIS HAYES, THE NATION:  Hey, Rachel, how are you?
MADDOW:  I‘m good.  And we‘ve also just learned, I should mention, that Jerry Brown has won the Democratic nomination in California.
HAYES:  That was a nail-biter.
MADDOW:  -- although we pretty—yes, we pretty much knew that was going to happen.  I mean, Jerry Brown, looking at Carly Fiorina, Tom Campbell and Chuck Devore, obviously, he‘s got to be rooting for Chuck Devore if he got to pick his own candidate here.
But how does Jerry Brown look at a potential Carly Fiorina candidacy and think about November going?  What does the race end up looking like here?
HAYES:  Well, you know, I think the two cards he has is obviously experience.  I mean, it‘s hard to get more experienced than Jerry Brown, who‘s occupied basically every elected office in the state of California, and has occupied the governor‘s mansion 30 years ago.
Carly Fiorina, obviously, is a political novice, and she comes out of the business world.
It‘s unclear whether the experience card under the conditions in which things are, are going to be helpful, given how the kind of general distrust of people in office right now.  But, I think, also, you might see this kind of anti-corporate card played.  And that was something that, you know, both Whitman and Fiorina might be vulnerable to in general elections.  And they didn‘t get probe so much in the primaries and certainly a Republican primary—Republican primary race is not the most receptive to that kind of message.
MADDOW:  I should say, Chris, that I fouled you up by asking the question backwards.  Jerry Brown, of course, running for governor against Meg Whitman.  Carly Fiorina running in the Senate race presumably Barbara Boxer.  But actually, the analysis holds perfectly, because both of them are very, very wealthy Republican businesswomen in this race.
HAYES:  I trust you so much, Rachel, that I thought, oh, I must have it completely backwards.
MADDOW:  Lamb chop goes to lemming.  I‘m sorry.  I led you off that cliff there.
But, on the issue of the amount of money that these candidates—does it ever hurt candidates, Republican or Democrat, does it ever hurt candidates for everybody to know that they have spent the GDP of a small country in order to get elected, to (INAUDIBLE) essentially buying their place on the ballot?
HAYES:  You know, this is interesting.  There are some political science work on this, which has been sort of interesting.  It‘s found that it‘s actually harder to buy yourself an office than you might think.  And, you know, part of the reason for that might be exactly that kind of backlash effect.
I mean, in the primary case, I think, particularly with Meg Whitman, it‘s clearly worked.  I mean, Meg Whitman, I don‘t think—she was not doing particularly well politically at the beginning of this and I don‘t think was a very strong candidate and has basically just deluged Poizner so much she most likely going to emerge ahead tonight.
I think there might be a difference between how effective that is in a primary and how effective that could be in the general.
And there‘s also the question of just how deep the pockets go.  I mean, there‘s a difference between sending $6 million, or somewhere around there, like Carly Fiorina did, and spending $71 million.  I mean, that is a lot of money.  That buys a lot of airtime.
MADDOW:  In terms of the Senate race with Barbara Boxer looking at a probable challenge from Carly Fiorina—and I‘m getting that right this time, I‘m not mixing them up again—Barbara Boxer, obviously, a long-standing institution in California, Democratic voters not showing much dissatisfaction with her, though.
Any vulnerability that Boxer might be facing in November?  Is it just to the general climate of midterm “throw the bums out” sentiment?  Or is there anything specific about Boxer that might give her any trouble?
HAYES:  I think—I think she largely has been caught up in the general anti-incumbent sentiment there has been in the country.  I mean, the advantages she has now going to the general are that, you know, as is often the case—I mean, California is an interesting case.  The case is on the whole liberal, but it has some of the most right-wing reactionary Republicans in the whole country.  And so, Fiorina emerges with very conservative take, particularly on the Arizona immigration law, which may be really difficult for her to overcome in a state that is as heavily Latino as California is.
So, Boxer, I think, emerges with a little bit of an advantage that her opponent will have had to tack to the right in the primary coming out into the general.
MADDOW:  Of course, facing Fiorina, facing the—in that primary, the Republicans tacking so hard to the right on immigration right now, some of them pledging to be more Arizona than Arizona on that issue.
HAYES:  Yes.
MADDOW:  It‘s just hard to believe that it‘s possible to run on a state like California after saying that.
Chris Hayes, Washington editor for “The Nation” magazine—thank you very much for your time tonight and for being so polite about leading me off a cliff.
HAYES:  Thank you, Rachel.  It‘s always a pleasure.
MADDOW:  All right.
Lots to come tonight as we continue to watch the election results roll in on this, if not Super Tuesday, then at least pretty good Tuesday.  Our MSNBC coverage is live through the night.  News on the BP oil disaster, and more election coverage—all to come.
MADDOW:  On nights like this, politics sometimes feels like the world, until you remember that politics is not even the worlds - it‘s not even that important in the largest scheme of things.
Thirteen NATO troops, including nine Americans, nine Americans have been killed in Afghanistan since yesterday.  Ten of those troops died yesterday in separate attacks in eastern and southern Afghanistan.  It was NATO‘s bloodiest day of the year so far, the worst since 11 U.S. troops died back on October 26th.
Yesterday‘s death toll was seven American troops, two Australian troops, one French soldier, an American contractor and a Nepalese contractor.  Today two more American troops died as well as a British soldier.  Insurgents appear to be stepping up their attacks on Afghanistan as coalition forces prepare for a move on the Taliban strong hold of Kandahar very soon.
All told, western forces have lost 24 troops this month and it is only June 8th.  The Pentagon has not yet named all of the casualties—of the Americans identified as lost since June 1st, the average age was a heartbreaking 22-1/2.
MADDOW:  We are back in Los Angeles, where the polls are still open tonight.  Voters going to the polls in 12 states today.  We‘ll update the status of all those races as the hour goes on, but first we want to give you an update on the oil still gushing into the Gulf of Mexico tonight.
The government has finally confirmed the existence of one of those undersea plumes of oil that BP officials have been denying existed.  A 10-mile long plume, 42 miles northeast of the gushing well discovered by a team from the University of South Florida.  Last night on this show, we talked to the head researcher of one of the teams testing another plume, Dr. Samantha Joy from the University of Georgia.
And today, at a press conference, she presented her team‘s conclusive documentation of their second plume.  So for the implications of the plumes are opaque at best, but as Dr. Joy explained to us last night.  The atomization of these particles of oil and this big undersea plumes means that microbial bacteria, microbes are working to essentially eat the oil, which on the one hand sounds good, but that microbial action also has a downside as it sucks the oxygen out of the water.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The oxygen is getting drawn down to very low levels.  The lowest concentrations that we measured were about three milligrams per liter.  Basically, the level where animals begin to get stressed out is two milligrams per liter.  So we‘re almost to the point where fish and other organisms that require oxygen will be stressed in this water.
MADDOW:  Just to be clear, and forgive my—the speed at which I absorb these things, because I‘m not a scientist, but what you‘re saying is when microbes essentially eat the oil, they‘re also using up the oxygen in the water.  So while that sort of viral mediation of these microbes going through the oil is a good thing in terms of getting rid of the oil, it also can create potentially dead zones where this water can‘t sustain living things?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  That‘s precisely correct.  Things will survive in the low oxygen water, but any higher organism that requires oxygen won‘t be able to survive in that water.  It will avoid it if possible.
MADDOW:  So now we have confirmation of two giant plumes.  One of which is at least 10 miles long, two miles wide and 600 feet thick and another, which 22 miles long, 6 miles wide, and 3,300 feet thick.  Which means that if those huge plumes in the gulf cease to be able to support life, we are potentially talking about areas of 150 square miles of water that can support no life that are big moving dead zones.
And no, in all of the decades of oil spills and of oil profits, oil companies never bothered to develop any technology for removing oil from the water when it‘s in deep undersea plumes.  That cleanup technology doesn‘t exist because they never bothered to work on it.
I need to do a quick correction on a couple items, on Friday, I said deepwater horizon was involved in oil production when it blew up.  It wasn‘t really in the technical sense.  When deepwater horizon blew, it was supposed to be sealing up after the drilling process so that a production rig could pump out the oil later.  I‘m sorry for that misstatement.
Last night at one point on the show, I also inadvertently said barrels when I meant gallons.  When talking about the total amount of oil in the gulf.  What was in the script that I should have said, but I blew through, because I was really hot under the collar, was an estimate of 39 million gallons of oil in the Gulf so far.  I actually said 39 million barrels.  I‘m sorry for that.  That said I probably wasn‘t as wrong as I wish I had been.
We still don‘t really know how much oil is leaking into the gulf.  BP had estimated that cutting that ricer pipe in the seabed in order to put the containment cap on might lead to a temporary 20 percent increase in the flow of oil.  But today “New York Times” front paged an interview with one of the scientist who‘s part of the team estimating the oil flow for the government.
He said that cutting the pipe may have led to a several fold increase in the flow rate from the well not just 20 percent, quote, “the well pipe clearly is fluxing way more than it did before.  By way more, I don‘t mean 20 percent, I mean multiple factors,” end quote.  To which the appropriate technical scientific response is, man, holy mackerel.
Finally, this is day 50 of the BP oil disaster an occasion marked in Louisiana by the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints going to Plaquemines Parish.  They hung out with residents and cleanup crews.  They announced that they would auction one special Super Bowl ring to raise money for gulf coast recovery.  You can buy raffle tickets for $2 at  The winner will be announced before the Saints Viking‘s game, the first for the season, on September 9th.  Believe that.
MADDOW:  Polls are closed here in California and there is one not unexpected, but very important race to tell you about, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman wrapping up the Republican nomination for governor in California.  She will face off against Democrat Jerry Brown in November.
Right now there are not very many precincts reporting, but Meg Whitman with a very large lead ahead of Steve Poizner in the Republican primary for governor in the state of California.  Whitman having already spent $81 million in that primary, but when you‘re Meg Whitman, spending like that, you don‘t even feel it.
Results are still coming in from Nevada although one important race in the silver state is decided.  Republican Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons is losing his job in the GOP primary.  Jim Gibbon has been plagued by scandal for essentially his entire term.  The GOP hand-picked Brian Sandoval, a judge, to challenge Governor Gibbons in tonight‘s GOP primary.
Mr. Sandoval has won handily over Governor Gibbons.  He will be the first Nevada governor turfed out in a primary challenged within his own party.  And tonight Senate primary in Nevada, Republicans are picking a candidate to challenge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this fall.  Polls closed in Nevada at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, and here is where the Republican primary stands right now.
At this point in Nevada, we‘ve got 21 percent of precincts reporting.  Sue Lowden ahead 31 percent, Sharon Angle—excuse me, I‘m sorry Sharon Angle ahead with 36 percent, Sue Lowden with 31 percent and Danny Tarkanian in third with 22 percent.  That‘s with 21 percent of precincts reporting.
Right now, Sharon Angle in the lead.  To put this race into context, Republicans have been very excited about campaign 2010 in Nevada, because it‘s their chance, they think to take on a very politically weak majority leader in his home state.
But it turns out over the course of the primary season, the Republican Party‘s top two candidates became famous for things that candidates don‘t usually want to be famous for.  Sue Lowden was seen early on as the Republican establishment candidate, the prohibitive favorite in the race until the chickens for checkups controversy.
UNIDIENTIFIED FEMALE:  You know before we all started having health care, in the olden days, our grandparents never bring a chicken to the doctor.  I‘m not backing down from that system.
MADDOW: I never understood the before we all started having health care preamble to that.  As you might imagine Sue Lowden poll numbers started slipping pretty soon after those comments.  Enter Sharon Angle, the Conservative Tea Party backed candidate who stole the lead from Sue Lowden, who became pretty famous herself in the process.
Policy wise, Sharon Angle is pretty hard right.  She wants to get rid of social security.  She wants to close down the Department of Education, but she probably most famous for something she said in 2006 about Booze.  How she was against Booze being legal.  Quote, “I would tell you that I have the same feelings about legalizing marijuana, not medical marijuana, but just legalizing marijuana.  I feel the same thing about legalizing alcohol.  The effect on society is so great that I‘m just not a real proponent of legalizing any drug or encouraging any drug abuse.”
John Ralston of “The Las Vegas Sun” questioned Sharon Angle about that stance last month.  Sharon Angle backed away from her earlier stance.  Her earlier stance that Booze should be illegal.  Like presumably beer and everything.  So those are the top two Republican candidates in the Nevada Senate primary.
Their most famous positions are we should be able to pay doctors with chickens and maybe beer should be illegal.  Harry Reid‘s 2010 is turning out to be a way more fun than I‘ll bet he thought it was going to be.
Joining us now is John Ralston, columnist for the “The Las Vegas Sun,” host of “Face to Face with John Ralston.”  John, thanks very much for your time tonight.  It‘s good to see you.
MADDOW:  So how are things shaping up so far in the Republican Senate primary between Sue Lowden and Sharon Angle and Danny Tarkanian.
RALSTON:  Sharon Angle has now moved out to a lead of almost of six points statewide, Rachel, which means it‘s very, very grim news for Sue Lowden.  She needed to have a fairly lead after the early (inaudible) ballot totals came in Clark County where Las Vegas is by far the most populous part of the state.  She only had a 3 point lead that‘s slowly sliding away from her.  And Angle is crushing her in Washoe County, which is (inaudible).  She‘s winning in Nevada.  So it‘s not looking good for Sue Lowden.
MADDOW:  Is Danny Tarkanian doing better than expected at this point?  We have lost John Ralston‘s audio to the ether of satellite.  This is what happens when everybody crams into the same time zone.  We‘re going to go to a quick break and try to fix that.  Stay with us.
MADDOW:  We have reconnected the can and string that connects me to John Ralston, columnist for “The Las Vegas Sun and host of “Face to Face with John Ralston.”  I‘m sorry that we lost your audio earlier, John, you were explaining to me whether or not Danny Tarkanian is doing better than expected in the Nevada primary?
RALSTON:  He‘s doing worse than expected, Rachel.  He was hoping to slip in between Angle and Lowden, and he‘s trailing very far behind, double-digits behind both of them.  He has no chance to win this race.
MADDOW:  In terms of the prospect of a Sharon Angle versus Harry Reid race, obviously that‘s something that Harry Reid is probably more excited about than a Sue Lowden race, although, who knows, things have been so unexpected in Nevada this year.  What do you expect the contours of that race to be if Sharon Angle does pull it out tonight?
RALSTON:  We‘re going to stop by Reid headquarters after this, to see if they had pulled out the confetti because they must be celebrating a little bit tonight with Sharon Angle‘s victory.  I mean, Harry Reid is going to come after her right away, I guess, as being completely out of the mainstream.  Some of the things you‘ve already brought up.
There are a lot things in her record to bring up.  The real conundrum now for the national Republicans is, do they pour a lot of money into this state.  They want to beat Harry Reid, but can they prop up a candidate who has never won anything outside of an assembly district and does have these problems that make her look like a far right Republican, and you have to get back to the middle to win this race.
MADDOW:  John, what are some of the issues that Sharon Angle—that the national Republicans might see as problematic with her.  Obviously, we‘ve discussed that she‘s - the fact that she‘s made some controversial comments about the legalization of alcohol.  There are her comments about wanting to get rid of social security, wanting to abolish the Department of Education.  Is there anything else out there that‘s going to be blinking red lights for national Republicans?
RALSTON:  Well, of course, she has ties to the church of scientology going back to this prison program, which involved using massages to help drug offenders that got a lot of play out here.  Sue Lowden ran a brutal ad about that.  I would guess Harry Reid might just rerun that ad.  She wants to pull the U.S. out of the United Nations, there‘s a whole bunch of federal agencies she might want to abolish.  These are great things in a Republican primary, once you come back into the real world, it‘s going to be a little more difficult.
MADDOW:  John, one last thing, I know it‘s not unexpected, but it‘s still striking to see a sitting governor turfed out in a primary, what happens to Jim Gibbons now.  I imagine there‘s no future for him in politics?
RALSTON:  I don‘t think he wants a future in politics, I suppose if John Ensign were to get indicted or resign, Jim Gibbons could still appoint himself as a U.S. senator.  This is Nevada, Rachel, anything could happen.  But to be crushed as he is in this race, the thing you have to remember, though, he still has six months left being governor.  Imagine the damage he can do in six months as a lame duck.
MADDOW:  Incredible.  John Ralston, columnist for “The Las Vegas Sun,” host of “Face-to-Face with John Ralston,” and political dean of the press corps in Nevada, you‘ve got one of the best jobs in American politics.  Thank you for joining us.
RALSTON:  Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW:  Coming up, a special live edition of Hardball with Chris Matthews.  But first on this show, the very latest results of all the primaries tonight, we‘ll be right back.
MADDOW:  Twelve states are holding primaries tonight.  And the biggest deal of the results is that incumbent Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln has won the runoff election against challenger Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter.  At this point in Arkansas, with 98 percent of precincts reporting, it‘s Lincoln over Halter 52 to 48 percent.  Bill Halter has just officially conceded that race.
Here in California, polls closed just under an hour ago and the Republican race for governor, the AP calling it for ex-eBay CEO Meg Whitman.  Even though there‘s just 5 percent of precincts reporting, Whitman is ahead of Steve Poizner, 64 to 26 percent.  Again, AP calling that race for Meg Whitman.  Whitman has spent $81 million in this primary.
And the Republican race to challenge Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer, ex-Hewlett-Packard CEO, Carly Fiorina, with 6 percent of precincts reporting has a 58 to 23 percent lead of her nearest challenger Tom Campbell.  Chuck Devore, the Tea Party favorite coming in at third at17 percent.  But, again, just 6 percent of precincts reporting.
In Nevada, two hours after polls closed, the results coming in for the Republicans vying to challenge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  In Nevada, we‘ve got Sue Lowden, Sharon Angle and Danny Tarkanian facing off with 32 percent of precincts reporting.  Sharon Angle six points up over Sue Lowden.  Danny Tarkanian behind with 22 percent of the vote.
And Republican Governor Jim Gibbons just made history tonight in Nevada, becoming the first Nevada governor to ever lose in a primary.  Judge Brian Sandoval will be the Republican Party‘s nominee to hold on to that governorship.
The big story tonight again, Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas withstanding a primary challenge from Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter.  Out here in California, of course, the night remains young.  We‘re getting our first results in the race for the GOP nomination for California secretary of state (inaudible) at this point has 26 percent against Damon Dunn with 74 percent just 9 percent of precincts reporting.
Lots of intriguing results to track both here and in Nevada, which is why Chris Matthews and the Hardball team are standing by live right now.
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