Guests: Danny Kelso, Bob Cavnar
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC HOST: Which of these stories will you be
talking about tomorrow? This scenario is doomsday. More reports from
Senator Bill Nelson of Florida of oil seeping up, the possible piercing of
the well casing under the seabed.
If true, says Bob Cavnar, an underground blowout. Plumes prove it.
Great underwater clouds of oil deep in the gulf confirmed and tests a
decade ago confirmed BP knew that was what could happen. But BP's Tony
Hayward says his company will donate net revenues from the oil they do not
spill into the Gulf to restore wildlife habitats around the Gulf.
MATT LAUER, HOST, TODAY SHOW: He doesn't work for, you but if he did,
would you want him out?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: He wouldn't be working for me.
OLBERMANN: Congress returns and it's open season on BP with Richard
Wolffe. The plumes with former Alaska Commissioner of Environmental
Conservation Denny Kelso, and the doomsday scenario with Bob Cavnar.
Semi-super Tuesday, Arkansas, Halter tops Lincoln?
BOB HALTER: She voted for virtually every major piece of legislation
that's caused us to have $7 trillion of accumulated debt over the last ten
LINCOLN: The reason I'm having this money spent against me is because
I've stood up to special interest groups.
OLBERMANN: And not just GOP on GOP rhetoric in Nevada, but the Tea
Party snake is eating its own tail again too. From a would-be New Jersey
congressman, Michele Bachmann has sold out the Tea Party movement. And
Rand Paul does it again, he's defending BP.
RAND PAUL: I saw the full-page ad in the newspaper, and they promised
to play for the cleanup. Do we have to have a villain?
OLBERMANN: He's defending BP. All the news and commentary and
primary results now on "COUNTDOWN."
Good evening from New York. As a report based on secret internal BP
documents and whistleblowers came out today, it reinforced the message
emerging from a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that BP has for
years rewarded dangerous cost-cutting in a regulatory environment that
posed little danger to big oil because of limits on their legal liability.
That's right, our fifth story tonight, in addition to greed and lax
regulation, add tort reform to the list of how we got here. Senator Dick
Durbin pushing back against an oil industry employee who argued unlimited
liability for spill damages might make it economically impossible for some
companies to drill. Senator Durbin seemed to be okay with that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): I happen to believe if you are engaged in
drilling and can create this level of damage, it carries with it a
responsibility that you accept-liability for the damage. If you cannot
accept that liability, stay the hell out of the business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: At a briefing today, government officials confirmed what
independent scientists have reported for weeks. Water samples show diluted
almost invisible plumes of oil underwater, robbing the water of oxygen as
far as 45 miles from the spill.
This scenario the government and BP should have prepared for and
responded to, because they knew it could happened. "COUNTDOWN" having
obtained video from a field experience called-yes-"Project Deep
Spill", a controlled release of oil in the North Sea showing that even in
water shallower than the current spill, plumes do form, predicting how such
plumes move through the water, and demonstrating that even clear plumes can
be tracked by sonar.
The U.S. Minerals Management Service and BP both aware of these
results, because they did the tests ten years ago. BP's prior knowledge
also at the heart of a new investigation from Propublica, dovetailing with
Senate testimony about how liability caps incurred shortcuts.
Propublica unearthing internal BP reports chronicling a corporate
culture in which neglecting equipment, faking inspections and punishing
those who raised safety concerns got you promoted.
BP having had numerous warnings about pipeline neglect before its
Alaska spill and continuing to violate safety agreements even after 15
people died in a Texas refinery blast.
In an interview taped yesterday, the president was asked whether he
would have fired BP CEO Tony Hayward after Hayward's series of tone-deaf
remarks about the crisis, including one for which he apologized in which he
said he wanted his life back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: He wouldn't be working for me after any of those
statements. First of all we're going to have to find out why this thing
went in the first place and the fact of the matter is that there will be a
thorough review, and I don't want to prejudge it.
But the initial reports indicate that there may be situations in which
not only human error was involved, but you also saw some corner-cutting in
terms of safety.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Meantime, Christopher Jones is a lawyer who testified
today at that hearing about some of the laws that let companies cut corners
without having to worry about liability, specifically maritime laws that
limit liability for events on the high seas.
Mr. Jones, however, was not testifying in his capacity as a lawyer
expert in that field. He was speaking, as he spoke on this news hour two
weeks ago as the only brother of Gordon Jones, one of the 11 men who died
on April 20th in the deepwater horizon blast-talking today about losses
companies might prevent if they could not calculate the down side of
cutting corners and about losses that can never be compensated for.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER JONES: Gordon is my only brother. Gordon is survived by
his wife, Michelle, and two sons, Stafford and Max. Stafford is two, and
Max was born three weeks ago. This is the picture of the backyard fort
Gordon built with Stafford's help for Stafford and Max.
Although you may not be able to tell, it is not finished. Gordon
planned to finish it when he returned home. He will never get that chance.
Lastly, I show you possibly the last picture taken of Gordon before his
death. It is taken just after Gordon gave Stafford his first golf lesson,
an experience Gordon thoroughly enjoyed.
You can see the joy in their faces. I'm saddened that neither will
experience the same joy again. I want to take this opportunity to address
the recent remarks made by Tony Hayward, CEO of BP. In particular he
publicly stated he wants his life back. Mr. Hayward, I want my brother's
life back, and I know the families of the other ten men want their lives
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: BP announced today it will create a new Gulf Coast
wildlife fund from the revenues from the recovered oil estimated currently
at about 2 million so far, the moral equivalent perhaps of pledging that
the after-tax tax profits from a string of armed robberies will be used to
compensate the victims of those robberies.
But there's more. Earlier tonight, the company's chief operating
officer, Doug Suttles, told the Associated Press that BP expects to be
capturing virtually all the oil leaking from the Gulf floor by early next
week, leaving what he calls a relative trickle, the keyword there perhaps
So for the mechanics of this, let's first bring in MSNBC political
analyst Richard Wolffe, also of course author of "Renegade: The Making of
a President." Richard, good evening.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Having heard Christopher Jones today and early on this
program, obviously he underscores the humanity of this nightmare in a way
that no politician, the way no one who is not directly affected can.
Is the White House satisfied though that the president has made a
connection with the people of this country in a parallel if not in a
similar way? I mean have they considered having him addressing the nation?
Surely as a disaster this merits some formalized comment from the
WOLFE: Well, the simple answer is they're not really satisfied, no.
I think they're fairly open about saying that this communications piece of
this has not gone according to what they hoped would be the plan, and
specifically about an address to the nation there was a report out by my
good friend Jon Alter to that end.
I'm told tonight by White House officials that actually that idea is
not under active consideration, and you can kind of understand why, in one
sense, because it really does smack of President Bush's response to
Hurricane Katrina, and it's not a very personal or emotional way to make a
connection when you have the president perhaps lit up by klieg lights
behind a podium.
So an address to the nation may not be the way he needs to fill the
gap that he's had so far. We saw a bit of an attempt at that with the
interview with Matt Lauer today, where he is expressing more emotion, but
that's not really their purpose here.
Their purpose at the moment is to express activity and show that
they're in charge, which if you wind back the tape a few weeks, was the
question-who was in charge here?
They have worked overtime to correct the impression that, well, nobody
was really in charge, but still as you point out with the question, there
is this question mark itself about the emotional piece of the president's
OLBERMANN: That begs a further question, which is why is the
president then going to the Gulf again next week Monday and Tuesday?
WOLFE: Well, look, this is something that the White House says that
they disdain. It's a pattern that we have seen over and over again. This
is something the president spoke about again on the "Today" show, this idea
that he's having to perform for the cameras.
Well, actually, that is part of the job. This is a photo op type of
situation, where he is going to demonstrate by his physical presence all
the various things they are doing and how on top of it he is.
But really whenever presidents-not just this president-when they
travel down there-I was with President Bush in New Orleans several
times. They're not really doing anything different on the ground that they
couldn't do in the White House. So it's demonstration. It's a chance to
explain things again for people who want to see the president get his hands
OLBERMANN: Richard, on the other side of the equation, what does the
first day back for Congress tell us about how the parties, relative to each
other, are going to approach this? Is it democrats blaming BP and big oil
and deregulation and republicans blame the president and nothing else?
WOLFE: Oh, pretty much, and they blame a look of regulation.
WOLFE: It's a weird situation where republicans are arguing that
there was a regulatory failure that allowed BP to drill in the first place,
but at the same time they want, yes, less regulation.
I mean this is a party that's been very consistent in its ideology.
Two decades now it has pursued less regulation as a way to free up
business, freedom and risk-taking, and there is a direct connection-no
matter who approved the actual drilling on this particular well at this
moment-there is a real connection between the deregulatory philosophy
and ideology that we have seen pursued by republicans and taken on by
centrist democrats, and where we are at right now.
Now of course, the democrats want to go after BP. It's by far a
better subject for them to talk about. There is politics there, when in
fact there is a collective failure here of both recklessness and
OLBERMANN: MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe, also the author of
"Renegade." As always, Richard, great thanks for your time tonight.
WOLFE: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Now about the plume, let's turn to Denny Kelso, Executive
Vice President of the Ocean Conservancy Advocacy Group, who was on board
the "Exxon Valdez" during that spill in his capacity as Alaska's
commissioner of environmental conservation. Thank you for your time
DENNY KELSO, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, OCAG: You're welcome.
OLBERMANN: The administration today took pains to differentiate this.
They want this is not a plume of oil. This is an underwater cloud. Does
that matter? And why might it matter?
KELSO: I think the idea is that a cloud may have less concentration
of oil. Frankly, that doesn't make much difference to me. During the
"Exxon Valdez" spill, a great deal of damage was done and after the spill,
the science showed that concentrations as low as 1 part per billion was
sufficient to kill fish eggs, and of course that harms the whole population
of fish that people depend upon.
So whether we call it a cloud or something else, it's still a toxic
cloud, and the concentration, the duration of exposure, the kinds of
organisms that are caught in that plume or in that cloud are all going to
And all those pieces of that exposure are what make the difference,
not whether we call it a cloud or something else. A toxic cloud still has
adverse effects, and we still have-even at the lowest estimates-
between 23 and 50 million gallons of oil that's been spilled. We should
hold BP to their promise to go after every drop, but let's wait and see
what they do.
OLBERMANN: I used a somewhat cumbersome analogy before; that BP
announcing today that they would use the spilled oil proceeds-that what
had been reclaimed in any event-for a wildlife fund, this was akin to a
robber compensating his victims with the proceeds of the robbery, but in a
way is the analogy cumbersome because it because it doesn't go far enough?
Meaning is the spill the robbery? Or is the real robbery the years of
cost-cutting and why aren't we looking at having BP take the proceeds from
that and restore the ecosystems that are being destroyed at this hour?
KELSO: Well, Keith, you're right. BP makes $62 million a day, and
some portion of that, maybe a significant portion of that is profit that
comes from cutting corners. And when those corners are cut, the people of
the Gulf who depend upon fishing and tourism and other uses of the coast
and the ocean, bear the costs.
They pick up the tab, and frankly it's like picking the pocket of the
fisherman and then giving them back some change. So this should not be
acceptable. We should not be distracted. BP has an obligation to do
everything possible to bring this area back to its former product activity.
OLBERMANN: The Supreme Court when it ruled on the "Exxon Valdez"
relied on existing liability laws, slashed the verdict from $5 billion to
half a billion. Does having that kind of cap in fact let big oil like BP
weigh the profits of cost-cutting against what are now very definable and
very finite risks?
KELSO: Those costs can simply be rolled into a business plan. I
think the cap, the liability cap that we should look at right now is the
liability cap that was enacted as part of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990
after the "Exxon Valdez" spill.
It is way too low. It just needs to be removed. Otherwise what you
simply have is the ability to plan for spills as occurrences that, though
they're rare, are extremely hurtful to communities as well as to the
environment, and we simply shouldn't tolerate a cap like that. Right now
it's set at $75 million for the kind of spill that this was-this kind of
facility-that's wrong, and Congress needs to fix it. They need to fix
OLBERMANN: Denny Kelso, the Executive Vice President of Ocean
Conservancy, great thanks for your time.
KELSO: You're welcome.
OLBERMANN: Of course it can still get worse-much worse-doomsday
kind of worse. It was forecast on this news hour two weeks ago by our
analyst Bob Cavnar, and it was raised again today by Senator Nelson of
Florida. Reports he said of oil seeping up from the seabed, which would
indicate-if that's true-that the well casing is actually pierced
underneath the seabed.
What is one gusher today could be a dozen gushes tomorrow. Bob Cavnar
returns on that and also this late claim by BP that it will be able to cut
the flow to a relative trickle by early next week.
First, the latest on this primary night when Countdown continues.
OLBERMANN: Primary night. The Arkansas senator and her challenger
fight to the end over who closed 38 of the 40 polling places in one
Arkansas county. What this Florida senator has heard about holes in the
well casing that has led one expert to suggest we may be on the verge of a
doomsday scenario in which the crisis of the moment might remembered
fondly, even nostalgically.
Who leaps onto Fox News to defend BP? Who else, Dr. Kill Patient over
there. And the next Secretary of State in California? Well, they let her
into a Beverly Hills fundraiser along with Norm Coleman. Maybe they all
just wanted to feel less crazy, ahead on "COUNTDOWN."
OLBERMANN: Voting in today's Democratic Senate runoff in Arkansas now
closed, polls there having shuttered nearly two hours ago, but for
democrats in much of Garland County, most polls there never having opened
in the first place.
Out of the 40 polling stations that were available in the democratic
primary three weeks ago, today election officials opening only two of them.
Our fourth story tonight, if elections are won or lost by a campaign's
ability to get out the vote, the Senate runoff in Arkansas may possibly be
remembered for how somebody succeeded at keeping out the vote.
Of course, if Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter, who easily took Garland
County three weeks ago were to win tonight's runoff against Senator Blanche
Lincoln, all might be forgiven if not forgotten.
But the possibly headline at this hour, with now 47 percent of the
vote in, Lincoln may now pull off Halter upset. She's up by nearly 21/2
points with almost half the vote counted. This morning top democratic
sources in Arkansas told Politico.com they expected Senator Lincoln to lose
In Nevada polls have closed at the top of the hour in the race for the
republican Senate nomination there, the chickens for checkups candidate,
Sue Lowden having blown a considerable lead there, and the latest polling
before of today's vote showed that Sharon Angle was at a slim lead over
Danny Tarkanian, but there are no hard numbers yet out of Nevada.
Tea Party favorite Angle having benefited from lots of out-of-state
donations there, the Lowden campaign today telling John Rolston, our NBC
affiliate in Los Vegas that Mrs. Lowden believes her get-out-the-vote-
effort can save her from the chickens that came home to roost.
To South Carolina again, the race to replace Governor Marc Sanford has
been marked by its own scandal of late. The Associated Press now reporting
that the republican front-runner Nikki Haley and Gresham Barrett are to
head for a runoff. No candidate getting over 50 percent of the vote-
that's not official yet but very close to being so -- 95 percent of the
vote in, and Ms. Haley failing to get 50.1 percent to avoid that runoff
against Mr. Barrett.
Mrs. Haley having said in a radio interview that she will resign if
she is elected governor and allegations of infidelity against her that she
is now facing are then proven to be true. I don't suppose anybody got that
bit of monkey business in writing.
And in the republican race for the South Carolina 4th, the incumbent
Bob Inglis eking out a spot in a runoff against Tea Party challenger Trey
Gowdy. At this hour, among other things, Congressman Inglis has told Tea
Party activists to turn Glenn Beck off.
He's called for action on climate change, and he said Representative
Joe Wilson should apologize for yelling you lie during one of President
Obama's addresses to Congress. Time now to assess what we've seen so far
tonight, calling our own Chris Matthews, the host, of course of "Hardball."
Chris, good evening.
MATTHEWS: Keith, we've got good news tonight.
MATTHEWS: And that's the probable nomination of Orly Tate in
California for Secretary of State. This is a true malignancy on the
republican party. She will bring down the other two candidates for high
office out there. She'll probably bring down Carly Fiorina, and may well
bring down Meg Whitman because she is unacceptable to any reasonable voter.
She came to the United States from the former Soviet Union. She has
this almost a tribalist attitude against the president which bears no
connection to any facts that she has in hand. She simply wants to believe
he's not an American, and she is, and she's going to make this guy pay for
It is tribalist, it's malignant, and I believe if I were a democratic
officeholder out there or had anything to do with the party with Jerry
Brown's campaign, I would tie her to them like a fencepost.
I would tie her up-I should say like a witch at the stake. This is
a malignancy. There is no way to defend her as a candidate. No way. By
the way, she's the star of our upcoming documentary on the Tea Party crowd.
She is really awful as a politician. I don't know how they're going to
OLBERMANN: It would be funny if her opponent in this primary were to
then produce documents later on that showed that she was somehow ineligible
to stand for election.
MATTHEWS: Well, the thing about it is-and it is ludicrous-she
believes the president is an illegal immigrant. She believes the president
should be thrown out of the country like some people believe Mexicans that
come here should be thrown out of the country.
She really believes it. Well, at least she says she believes it.
There's something really in her attitude. I don't know-a shrink will
have to figure it out. Where did she come from? But she's a recent, you
know, she comes to America, it is a land of immigrants, and yet she will
not treat the president as an American.
Well, there it is. You have to just look at it. You get the message.
OLBERMANN: Let me move on to-
MATTHEWS: There's something really crazy about this person, and I do
think-I heard you earlier tonight, I think that's wonderful news that
she's been included in the inner sanctum of the republican ticket out
MATTHEWS: She's been attending their events.
OLBERMANN: Karl Rove did not get up and walk out. Let me ask you
MATTHEWS: He should have.
OLBERMANN: We were told early in the day that even-
MATTHEWS: By the way, she's fair game.
OLBERMANN: Apparently, well, if she wasn't before, she certainly is
now. Let me turn over to Lincoln and Halter in Arkansas.
OLBERMANN: Where we're now at 55 percent of the precincts reporting
and a 51/49 split in favor of Lincoln. This is not going the way people
had predicted. What's happening there? Do we have any idea?
MATTHEWS: Well, you mentioned that irregularity perhaps in that
county, but let me tell you what might happen. This had the look from the
outside not just as an ideological battle between perhaps progressive and
centrist, but it has a kind of a generational aspect to it.
It reminds me of the fight between Conan O'Brien and Jay Leno on our
network, and I really sense that; that there's the people who have a deep
commitment to Bill Halter and then there are people who have sort of a
broad commitment to the potential to win a general election of Blanche
She is sort of a Jay Leno in her appeal. It's broader, but not
perhaps as deep as his. He, however has great strength on the progressive
side and may not be as electable as her. But then all that said, neither
one of them are by any means a favorite in the general election.
OLBERMANN: Yes. Extraordinary, and one of the voters the AP talked
to afterwards saying that she voted for Senator Lincoln, sort of holding
OLBERMANN: I mean that's-even if you don't know exactly what that
means, it certainly is a picture, a word picture of what might be going on
in Arkansas tonight.
MATTHEWS: And the fact that this might be a close race tonight tells
that neither of the democratic candidates has a strong mandate out of this
runoff. The idea of a runoff is to get some mandate. I don't even like
these runoffs, do you? I don't know why they have them.
It goes back to the old days of the democratic party trying to make
sure there's a white candidate or whatever. I don't know what the gizmo in
this whole thing is. But why do they have to have runoffs?
I guess it was back when they were a one-party state and they were all
democrats. They wanted to have someone with something like a mandate for
the general, but I don't get it.
OLBERMANN: Well here perhaps is the explanation. We're now up to 55
percent of the vote in Arkansas, and it just flopped. Bill Halter is ahead
51 percent to 49 percent by less than 3400 votes he's ahead in one that I
suspect we will not be hearing the result of for quite some time. So maybe
that's our answer.
OLBERMANN: Chris will be back with a live late edition of "HARDBALL"
OLBERMANN: And a complete analysis of those results, and another
meeting of the Orly Tate's fan club. So we'll look forward to that, Chris.
MATTHEWS: You said it. You said it.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, Sir.
MATTHEWS: I can't wait for the general.
OLBERMANN: all right, thanks, Chris. We'll see you later.
MATTHEWS: Take care. Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Back to the Gulf. A BP chief suggests the Gulf oil flow
will be down to a trickle by next week while several news organizations
report there are additional breaches perhaps in the well, below the ocean
floor, and they could form new blowouts, new underwater gushers.
These two statements could seem to be in conflict. An expert analyzes
and we'll keep following the primaries, ahead on "COUNTDOWN."
OLBERMANN: What if there has been or there is about to be another
blowout far below the spot at which all efforts are being made to stuff the
BP disaster. Bob Cavnar is next.
First, the tweet of the day, not brand new but still funny, from our
friend Dave Weigel, "Breaking," he tweets, "White House offered more than
400,000 jobs to potential Senate candidates in shadowy "Census" scheme.
Ah, when you satirize Drudge, you don't really have to change anything
from reality to make it funny.
Let's play "Oddball."
OLBERMANN: We begin with yesterday's commencement address from
President Obama to Kalamazoo Central High School in Michigan which turned
into an unwitting reprise of the old Letterman bit, George W. Bush
invigorating America's youth. You may recall a few years ago when "The
Late Show" compiled a montage of President Bush speaking as a yawning
youngster fought the urge to snooze, unsuccessfully.
Yesterday, President Obama had his own sleeper agent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's a contest to
highlight schools that promote academic excellence and life won't be
determined just by what's-you have an alum who plays for the Yankees.
Derek Jeter wasn't born playing shortstop for the Yankees. You come of an
age in a popular-it's the easiest thing in the world to start looking
around for somebody else to blame. You're going to spend years pointing
fingers, blaming parents, because that's how you'll end up learning what
it's like to walk in somebody else's shoes. That's how-
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Or sleep in somebody else's chair.
Sidney, Australia, good day. Another entrant into the "Oddball" Hall
of Fame obscenely large food division. Behold, it's the world's biggest
burger, 178 pounds, 12 hours to cook, four men to flip, 160 slices of
cheese. And if you want to eat it, it will cost you $1,200. Hold the
pickle, hold the lettuce, gluttony does not upset us.
The good news, there has been some success capping BP's ruptured oil
well to the point where its people think they can stop it to a trickle by
next week. The bad news: the pressure in that well may have been forced
back in on itself, causing well ruptures underground and leading to the
prospect of additional blowouts or to dumb it down, doomsday-next on
OLBERMANN: When it comes to describing the disaster unfolding still
in the Gulf of Mexico, the 11 people killed, the untold damage to the
environment and people's livelihoods. The term "doomsday scenario" is not
Our third story: what then is the next step worse than doomsday? As
forecast here two weeks ago, evidence now of the possibility that something
called an underground blowout might be happening-oil seeping outside
BP's damaged well through the ocean floor. That new information coming
from Senator Bill Nelson of Florida referencing fears he addressed in a
letter to BP.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: Andrea, we're looking into something
new right now that there's reports of oil that's seeping up from the seabed
which would indicate-if that's true-that the well casing itself is
actually pierced underneath the seabed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: That said obviously to Andrea Mitchell on this network.
Last week, "The Washington Post" reported sources at companies
involved with the well said that BP discovered damage inside the well,
below the sea floor during the initial top kill procedure, the failed
measure to plug the leak with mud. A BP official is speaking on condition
of anonymity and told the newspaper that, quote, "We discovered things
broken in the subsurface and that the mud being pushed in to the will to
prevent oil from coming out was making it out to the side into the
The formation is their term for the rock surrounding the well. The
fear is that, now, oil is making out or making out to the side, into the
rock formation, and that any further attempts to contain the spill will
pressurize the already damaged well well below the sea floor, causing an
underground blowout. And if that were to happen, subsea containment of the
spill would get exponentially more difficult.
We'll try to translate that. We'll once again turn to oil and gas
industry expert and veteran, Bob Cavnar, the contributor to "The Huffington
Post," as well as founder and editor of the "Daily Hurricane Blog."
Bob, thanks again for your time tonight.
BOB CAVNAR, OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY EXPERT: You bet, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. You've had your own fears of underground
blowouts. Do you think BP and the federal government are as full afraid of
it as you are?
CAVNAR: I certainly hope that they are. The stories that are coming
out, the one in the "New York Times" and the "Washington Post" that you
talked about square with what I heard last week from those who are closer
to the operation, that they experienced some kind of a failure during the
top kill operation and that's one of the reasons they shut down so quickly.
You'll recall Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, they said it would be
48 hours more before they heard it was successful. And then they suddenly
announced that afternoon that they were shutting down the operation.
OLBERMANN: This would make Mr. Suttles' remark tonight to the
"Associated Press" particularly strange, the chief operating officer said
today that they would have the leak's flow down to a relative trickle by
Monday or Tuesday. Is that possible and how does that, you know, jibe with
this prospect that there are already other leaks further underground that
would perhaps make or certainly end the exclusivity, the monopoly that this
one leak has on our attention?
CAVNAR: Right. That certainly was a surprise that he said that
today. We do know that their biggest problem here right now is keeping the
well flowing since I believe they probably can't shut it in for the fear of
an underground blowout. So, they've got to keep oil coming to the surface
and they overran the capacity of the Enterprise yesterday.
So, the idea of bringing another ship in that can take the rest of the
flow and put a new cap on by Tuesday sounds pretty ambitious to me.
OLBERMANN: Is it possible there's already been underground blowout or
blowouts, and BP doesn't know it or isn't telling us? And is there
anything you've seen in terms of what they are doing that makes you believe
that's a possibility or is not a possibility?
CAVNAR: I think they certainly probably-they likely had a casing
failure during the top kill procedure. Remember, they had 30,000
horsepower pumping mud at about as much as 80 barrels a minute. And that
kind of casing was probably already damaged, could have certainly failed.
What tells me that they have a down hole problem is that they're
working a cap that latches on to the top of the blowout preventer rather
than just setting a new blowout preventer. And so, that means they can't
shut the well in because of pressure buildup. And so, they have to keep
the well flowing to minimize oil and gas going out into the formation on
OLBERMANN: Senator Nelson talked about reports of oil seeping through
the seabed and there have been rumors about that on the Internet for at
least two weeks, and you saw what you saw when they tried the top kill and
the mud came back out the way it did.
OLBERMANN: Do we know if it's true? Or is it still at the rumor
CAVNAR: I certainly would like BP to just come out and say what they
think. This subsurface failure that's been talked about several times, I
would believe that they need to address to either calm those fears and show
that it's not an underground blowout or disclose that they had that problem
and help us understand more of what's going on.
OLBERMANN: A subsurface blowout changes the relief wells idea how, or
does it not change it at all?
CAVNAR: It just emphasizes how important the relief wells are. The
relief wells are the only way to control this blowout, because it will kill
the well at the source, which is what they've got to do to kill a surface
blowout or a subsurface blowout.
OLBERMANN: And if there are other subsurface blowouts and there are
other-excuse me-leaks through the floor of the ocean at that point,
how much-how much worse would this be? Do we know?
CAVNAR: Well, the real doomsday scenario here, Keith, is if that
casing gives up and it does come through the other strings of pipe.
Because, remember, it's concentric pipe that holds this well together. If
it comes into the formation, basically, you've got uncontrolled flow to the
seafloor, and that is the doomsday scenario. There is nothing they can do
except the relief well, and it could likely flow for some time until they
get it killed.
OLBERMANN: Bob Cavnar, oil and gas industry expert-again, thanks
for helping us understand some of this tonight.
CAVNAR: Happy to be with you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Well, if it's doomsday, we got the right woman to help.
Have Republicans actually nominated Orly Taitz as their candidate to become
secretary of state of California? Or did they nominate a guy who used to
play in the XFL Football League?
Well, they nominated Rand Paul, who makes it back on camera just in
time to make "Worsts" because he's taken sides in the Gulf disaster. You
want to guess who he's defending?
And when Rachel joins you a the top of the hour, her special guest on
the Tarkanian, Angle, Lowden race in Nevada, reporter Jon Ralston, also
known as the wall that the chicken lady keeps running headfirst into.
OLBERMANN: Did you know the crisis in the Gulf was a natural
disaster? Ask Dick Armey's FreedomWorks Foundation. "Worsts" is next.
First, though, that is not your water coming to a boil, it's our
nightly checkup of the something for nothing crowd. It's "Tea Time."
Once again, snake eats its own tail, film at 11:00. "Michele Bachmann
has sold out the tea party movement. She put out a robocall against tea
party supported Alan Bateman," writes New Jersey congressional hopeful Alan
Bateman doing that creepy third person thing, "in support of cap and
traitor Chris Smith. Bachmann showed her true colors in that she is
nothing more than a politician using the Tea Party Movement for her own
Well, look here, some of the patsies just figured out they were
Of course, poor Mr. Bateman would be further shock to discover that in
Nevada, two mainstream Republicans were fighting over which had pandered to
and used the tea partiers. Tea Party Express endorsed Sharron Angle for
the Senate. Tea Party Nation endorsed Danny Tarkanian for the nation.
Nation said Express had disseminated misinformation about Nation.
Express said Nation were all bitter, sarcastic, snide, back-biting
people. Nation said Express had a liberal mentality. Express called
Nation nasty, nasty, nasty. Nation called Express turncoats to the Tea
Can't we all just get along? No way. To correctly quote the dialogue
from "Monty Pythons Life of Brian," Eric Idle disparages another leftist
group, "People's Front of Judea, splitters." John Cleese looks at him in
amazement, "We're the People's Front at Judea." Idle answers, "Or I
thought we were the Popular Front." Cleese laughs. Michael Palin then
asked Cleese, "Whatever happened to the Popular Front?" Cleese answers,
"He's over there." They all shout at the lone figure, "Splitter!"
OLBERMANN: Orly Taitz for secretary of state of California? To quote
Judy Tenuta, "It could happen!" That's next.
But, first, pitchforks and torches, time for tonight's "Worst Persons
in the World."
The bronze to Dr. Rand Paul, slapping the training wheels back on and
getting interviewed in the news again. Oh, no, sorry, my mistake. He was
interviewed by Neil Cavuto. On BP's Gulf disaster, he said the president
sounds really un-American in his criticism of business.
"It bothers me, I saw the full page ad and they've promised to pay for
the cleanup. Do we have to have a villain?
That's my whole point-do we have to have an administration that
says outlandish things like we're going to put our boot hell on BP? I want
BP to pay, everybody wants them to pay for cleaning up the oil mess. But
the thing is, is that sometimes people are well-intentioned and bad things
So, let's just take their word for it, like we took their word for it
that they had a plan in case the damn thing blew up. Dr. Paul, what are
you, like six? But by all means, keep defending BP in the Gulf. Racist
extremism could still get you elected in some backward corners of this
nation, defending the oil company during seven weeks of an uncontrolled
oil-gasm will not.
Speaking of which, our runner-up, Matt Kibbe, president of Dick
Armey's Astroturf lobbying group, FreedomWorks. And based on this quote,
another victim of misspent education. Mr. Kibbe revealed to an ABC
interviewer something that only he knows about the Gulf disaster. Quote,
"If you look what's happened down there, it's a sad story of government
incompetence as well as negligence on the part of BP. And I think what you
have to look at is, when there is a natural disaster like this, we do
expect our government to do some things and to do them well."
A natural disaster-unregulated, untested deep-water mining without
a backup plan and then everything goes kablooey, and 11 men are killed, and
the ecosystem is on life support until further notice. That's about as
much of a natural disaster as is the Republican Party.
But our winner: Rupert Murdoch. His "New York Post" has been beating
the drum of race hatred here in New York. A columnist inspired a protest
of a Muslim county center in lower Manhattan which the newspaper has
incorrectly described called the "ground zero mosque."
Well, Rupert got what he wanted, 500 protesters showed up at our most
hallowed ground as they hated Muslims as hard as they could hate them.
That's when they spotted two dark-skinned men who were speaking Arabic to
each other. Part of the group surrounded the pair and witnesses report
shouts of "get out" and "go home."
Then as it bordered on true ugliness, New York's Finest stepped in and
pulled the men out for their safety even as one of the men with an Egyptian
shouted, half fearful, half startled, "I'm a Christian." Both of them
were. Joseph Nassralla and Karam El Masry, immigrants from Egypt to
California where they work for a Christian satellite TV station. They are
Egyptian Coptic Christians.
"I flew nine hours in an airplane to come here," Nassralla said, "to
protest the community center." He repeated, "I'm a Christian."
The problem, sir, is not what you are, but what the rest of them are.
They were brought there by Rupert Murdoch, today's "Worst Person in the
OLBERMANN: Nearly three quarters of the vote now reported in
Arkansas, per "Politico" and Senator Blanche Lincoln is leading her
challenger, Bill Halter, the lieutenant governor, by 2 ½ points.
To recap this primary election night, and our number one story, the
polls, of course, closed in Arkansas, Nevada, and South Carolina-
Lawrence O'Donnell joins me in a moment.
First, here are the details. The Democratic Senate runoff in
Arkansas, with the incumbent ahead in what had seemed to be her fighting
for her political life against Lieutenant Governor Halter, 2 ½ points as
I said, with now 73 percent reported-no, make it 77 percent, and the
percentage is holding exactly at 51.3 to 48.7 per "Politico."
There is also an additional report tonight that a brief Halter lead of
about a half hour ago may have been a clerical error that, in fact, brought
Blanche Lincoln has had about a two-point lead throughout the evening,
since the first votes were counted. Also, 38 of 40 polling places closed
in one county that went for Halter in the primary, certainly to be part of
the discussion of what has happened here throughout the evening and in the
days to come.
Nevada, the winner of the Republican Senate primary there will face
Majority Harry Reid in November. Reid has wrapped the renomination. No
surprise there, but it's very early on, 1 percent in the chickens for
checkups versus everybody else candidates, Lowden, Angle, the tea party
candidate, and son of the great basketball coach, Tarkanian, as the distant
runner-up with less than 1 percent in.
That leaves the race for to replace Republican Governor Mark Sanford
in South Carolina among the marquee events of the night. Mr. Sanford's own
lieutenant governor, Andre Bauer, an afterthought in what will shape up as
this primary runoff that will be necessary for Nikki Haley, given that her
own scandal having been recently accused by two different men of adultery
without proof, denying the claims, pledging to resign if she's elected
governor, and she's about to speak after not holding off a challenge by the
runner-up in this-show the vote panel again so we have an idea of where
we stand here.
Forty-nine percent, she needs 50.1 percent to avoid a primary runoff
against Gresham Barrett. And it looks like she's not going to get that.
She's also said, as I was saying, denying claims of adultery, pledging to
resign if she is elected governor and the allegations are proven true
Joining me now from Los Angeles, MSNBC political analyst, Lawrence
Good evening, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. Arkansas, explain what happens.
O'DONNELL: Well, look, this is still very close. There's 25 percent
of the vote hasn't been counted. When you're thrilling this lead, 51-49,
there's time for Halter-
OLBERMANN: I'm going to interrupt you because it's being called for
Blanche Lincoln by "Politico," at 51.7 to 48.3, with 80 percent of the
precincts in yet. So, I'm sorry to have interrupted you with just that
moment, but that's what they're reporting.
O'DONNELL: The important news here, Keith, is that a southern
Democrat can be challenged on the left. This is just squeaking by. She's
winning by a hair. This kind of political mathematics never existed in the
south before with Democrats. They only had to worry about their right.
They only had to worry about the general election.
Bill Halter and the progressives that went into Arkansas to try to
take this away from Blanche Lincoln have completely changed the political
calculus of how southern Democrats have to make their vote calculations in
the United States Senate now. If she had to do it over good, would she
support the public option? Would that have been a better move for her
especially since politically, in the end, the public option was not going
to be in the health care bill that she ended up voting for.
She has to completely reorder her political calculations in the Senate
if she's going to be able to stay in the Senate.
OLBERMANN: What practical impact does have that have anywhere else,
though? Because, obviously, in Arkansas, if this holds and the projection
is there that Lincoln has won the runoff over Halter, it's not going to
make any difference in Arkansas.
O'DONNELL: Well, but it means that progressives can come into a
Democratic primary and damage the Democratic incumbent, damage another
Democratic nominee in such a way that they will probably not be able to
make it through the general election. No one is betting now on Blanche
Lincoln to win the general election. If she didn't have this challenge in
a Democratic primary-if the party had been able to unite around her,
where would she be at this point in her general election campaign?
OLBERMANN: Thirty seconds on this topic before we sign off.
California-and you couldn't dream this up if you were stoned race of the
night, Orly Taitz on the GOP ballot for secretary of state, a possible
nominee as state Republicans try to pretend she doesn't exist.
O'DONNELL: This is the nightmare for Republicans in California, and
though there has been no public attention to this race, and so, Republicans
in California don't really even know the names of the other people running.
Damon Dunn is the Republican that the party wants to get, but when you go
to that voting booth today, there's going to be something oddly familiar
about that name Orly Taitz, and she may very well pull this thing out. She
will be a disaster for the Republican Party to have on the ticket with them
going into November in the state.
OLBERMANN: Ironic if she beat someone named Dunn, as in he is.
Lawrence O'Donnell of MSNBC and "The Huffington Post" and great thanks
for staying late with us.
O'DONNELL: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. That's COUNTDOWN for this, the 50th day of the
Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf. The headline, I guess, to this
hour in Arkansas, it appears Lincoln removes Halter.
I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.
And now to continue our late night primary coverage-ladies and
gentlemen, here, following that horrible joke, is Rachel Maddow.
Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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