Guests: Rick Steiner, David Weigel, Lewis Black
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOUG SUTTLES, BP COO: Are there large concentrations of oil under the sea and those have not been found by us or anyone else that‘s measuring this. The oil that has been found is in very minute quantities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Define large. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration now confirms subsurface oil as far as 142 miles away from Deepwater Horizon. Dive teams find it 30 feet down and lower. Oil—nothing but oil, enough to block out the sun.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Something I‘ve never seen diving in my whole life out here, these big snot balls coming through.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Damning new video damning BP‘s crap.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The stuff we saw today, I don‘t—I don‘t know of anything that would be able to live through that. Not one sits on them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Day 51. The ecological disaster with Rick Steiner, the political disaster with Richard Wolffe.
The primaries, Lincoln does pull off her Halter upset.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BLANCHE LINCOLN (D), ARKANSAS: The vote of this senator is not for sale and neither is the vote of the people of Arkansas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: How Blanche Lincoln versus Bill Halter turned into the White House versus the unions.
The Palin effect: She is taking credit, never mentioning she only endorsed candidates with big leads.
The chuckle hat (ph) meets Nevada Republicans. They‘ve nominated for the Senate a candidate who‘s against Social Security, legalized alcohol, two-income families and fluoridation?
“Worsts”: Billo reduced to infomercials for pyramid schemes?
And Baghdad Bob meets BP, giving us Baghdad BP Bob.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
BAGHDAD BOB: But what they are (INAUDIBLE) is completely baseless.
BOB DUDLEY, BP MANAGING DIRECTOR: Everyone‘s out there looking for these plumes. They haven‘t found them yet.
BAGHDAD BOB: They are nowhere.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
Our special guests on the lies that have followed the spill, Lewis Black.
All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BAGHDAD BOB: This is silly.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
BP is the new B.S. Government scientists confirming the existence of underwater oil plumes in the Gulf, BP promptly says there are no large concentrations—large in this case might mean the diameter of the moon.
Our fifth story tonight: Oil‘s reckless giant also contradicted by divers with cameras—diving into water so toxic you must wear a hazmat suit, swimming through so much crude your mask oils over, emerging from such a stew that it takes an hour to scrub it off.
NOAA, the NOAA‘s confirmation of the plume, the very proof the company asked for after it claimed there was no evidence of such oil, but BP chief operating officer, Doug Suttles, actually hails the announcement as good news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUTTLES: We haven‘t found any large concentrations of oil under the sea and to my knowledge, no one has.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But he said there were no plumes under the sea, sir, and these scientists are confirming that there are plumes under the sea.
SUTTLES: Well, Meredith, it may be down to how you define what a plume is here. But basically, what some people have asked is: are there large concentrations of oil under the sea? And those have not been found so far by us or anyone else that‘s measuring this. The oil that has been found is in very minute quantities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The best rebuttal to the semantic bull crap of Mr. Suttles coming today from a dive team in the Gulf, an “Associated Press” videographer Rich Matthews joining them for the plunge. He and the scientists he dove with describing what they found: dead jellyfish, murky chemical haze possibly created by the dispersants, as well as the absence of any fish for the first 30 feet down. The experts are calling that unusual.
And at 60 feet below, strange floating strands of what seems to be—yes, dispersed oil. The very thing BP wants you to believe does not exist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Something I‘ve never seen diving in my whole life out here, these big snot balls. Never saw it in my life ever.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s not just a normal algae bloom or something.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no. There‘s nothing natural about what we dove in today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: BP executives also providing written proof that they do not know their assets from their proverbial elbows. The “A.P.” is reporting that last year, the company provided the government with its disaster response plan should an oil catastrophe like this one ever occur on its watch in the Gulf of Mexico. Many of the phone numbers in the manual are wrong. The site specific plan for the Deepwater Horizon rig, 52 pages long, is riddled with omissions and errors. Under the heading “sensitive biological resources,” BP listing marine mammals including walruses, sea otters, sea lions and seals—none of which can be found in the Gulf of Mexico.
The 2009 report also naming Professor Peter Lutz as a national wildlife expert. Mr. Lutz died in 2005.
Not only do the dead somehow live again to advise in the manual, but fish, marine mammals and birds escape serious harm. Beaches remain pristine. Water quality is a temporary problem.
If this was a plan—that might explain why it seems as if BP has been making up the response as it goes along. To with the company still sending another ship and tanker to the Gulf to help process and offload the oil, it is now siphoning from the broken oil well, the craft will not arrive for another week to 10 days.
Meanwhile in Washington, Interior Secretary Salazar telling a Senate hearing he would ask BP to repay the salaries of any rig workers laid off because of the six-month moratorium on deepwater exploratory drilling imposed by the federal government after the spill. Admiral Allen is saying that he would be meeting today with BP officials to discuss problems and the company‘s mishandling of mounting claims.
And tonight, a BP source is telling “Reuters” the company believes it may be heading for a showdown with the White House over ever-increasing demands that BP cover costs related to the spill. Quoting the source, “At some point, a line has to be drawn.”
More on the politics and meaning of that phrase presently with our own Richard Wolffe. First, the latest on the containment effort with marine conservationist, Rick Steiner, who‘s joining us from Grand Isle, Louisiana.
Rick, thanks for your time tonight. Good evening again.
RICK STEINER, MARINE CONSERVATIONIST: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Let‘s begin with the seemingly outrageous claim that BP is maintaining, that the NOAA report yesterday is good news and there aren‘t large concentrations of crude under the water surface. Your response to that is what?
STEINER: Well, there‘s an old adage that when you‘re in a hole, stop digging. And I think BP would be well advised to remember that adage. Almost everything they say these days is making the situation worse. I can‘t believe a thing that they‘re saying.
They should have known that there would be sub surface, extensive subsurface plumes from this deep-water blowout years ago. Most of the other industry knew this. The research has shown that the subsurface blowouts, particularly deepwater blowouts like this, form these huge subsurface plumes. Just because the NOAA science found low concentrations of hydrocarbons from the Deepwater Horizon in these extensive plumes, you multiply that by the huge volume of water that is potentially impacted and you find a lot of oil.
OLBERMANN: BP is now moving this, as I mentioned, a second ship—second tanker into the Gulf to enable the company to boost the capacity to collect the oil from the well to 28,000 barrels a day. But the company said not long ago that the oil was coming out at only 5,000 barrels a day from the wellhead.
OLBERMANN: If they‘re now proud of the possible 28,000 and we can still see that well gushing on the live leak cameras, any idea how much oil must really be coming out at the moment?
STEINER: Well, it could be 50,000 barrels a day. I think there‘s some talk amongst others in the industry, in the oil industry, in the offshore oil industry, that that‘s probably about what‘s coming out of the blowout. A heck of a lot more than the 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day.
But the fact that they‘re getting jammed up right now on the oil that‘s coming out of the riser and cap system on to the Enterprise, the drill ship on the surface, what were they thinking? Did they think that this wouldn‘t collect much and that they didn‘t need a second tanker to load on to? They should have had that asset out there a week ago when they started—before they started the cap and riser system.
OLBERMANN: This response plan that we‘re hearing about that is there to protect the seals and the sea otters of the Gulf of Mexico, perhaps.
STEINER: And the walruses.
OLBERMANN: And the walruses and perhaps the buffaloes with aqua lungs and the lions and everything else that lives in the water, and also to do so by contacting dead experts presumably by seance. What—is this standard practice though to just cut and paste boiler plate information as an emergency response plan? Because it sounds like something that perhaps have something to do with a spill off maybe the northern California coast or perhaps a little bit on Alaska. Is this—is this just a game to them when they file these reports?
STEINER: Absolutely. It‘s a hollow, sort of synthetic game that they play, a bureaucratic exercise that they do in order to satisfy regulation and they submit it to the federal government which then approved it. Now, obviously, neither BP nor the federal government, the MMS, Department of Interior, ever read this thing.
If you go to the link of equipment to one of their primary response contractors in the plan, the Marine Spill Response Corporation, you go instead—the link takes you to an almost comical Japanese home shopping network. And so, obviously, nobody looked at this thing.
And plus, it didn‘t have in it any contingency for actually stopping the outflow from a catastrophic deepwater blowout. That‘s priority number one that they omitted.
OLBERMANN: Wildlife rescue center today said it has gotten five times as many oiled birds, oily birds in the past few days than it had in the previous six weeks combined. What does that number tell you and should we expect it to keep rising and how exponentially or just mathematically?
STEINER: Well, certainly it‘s a sad, sad revelation that the wildlife death toll is increasing. It will continue to increase.
And also, keep in mind, if you have 1,000 dead birds ashore that you‘ve collected, that probably means you have 10,000 that have died and sunk offshore that you haven‘t collected. There‘s a ratio there that can be calculated. There‘s a massive bird kill, sea turtles, porpoises, fish offshore that haven‘t been calculated.
So, this thing is enormously impactful and devastating.
OLBERMANN: Marine conservationist Rick Steiner, joining us from Grand Isle, Louisiana, tonight—as always, Rick, thank you for your time.
STEINER: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Let‘s bring in MSNBC political analyst, Richard Wolffe, also the author of “Renegade: The Making of a President.”
Richard, good evening.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: In addition to that “Associated Press” piece on this plan that involves seances and lions and walruses, “Rolling Stone” has a devastating piece on the interior secretary‘s failure basically to change anything at his agency. There‘s a new poll that says most Americans are blaming basically the lack of federal regulation for the spill, and 69 percent now give thumbs down to the federal response on this, which is worse number than during Katrina.
Other than blaming cable news for covering this news, what can the president do at this point in terms of the politics of this in any event?
WOLFFE: First of all, let‘s have a moratorium on blaming cable news on this, as long as the cable news pundits stop blaming the president for not being angry enough. But there are—there are practical political things this president can do here.
The polls are in a number of different directions, some are positive, some are negative. They blame BP. They blame the federal government. There is much less support for offshore drilling right now.
This is an opportunity. Things are in flux. And the question here is: does the president have an overall vision? Does the White House have an overall vision for what to do here? Now that we‘re not talking about stopping the oil flow and really we‘re looking at cleanup and there is a model here.
You know, in August 2007, then-candidate Obama released something called the Gulf Recovery Plan. It was supposed to deal with Katrina. Interesting you raise the comparison with Katrina. But this is a region reeling from two disasters here.
Were there to be an overall economic plan for regeneration for Katrina and this oil spill that might project a kind of leadership? And it can be much more short term, not just medium term. There are tens of thousands of Americans who volunteered to knock on doors for this guy as a candidate.
Well, there‘s a lot of shoreline that needs cleaning up. Is there a way of channeling those volunteers and directing them towards cleanup? I suspect if they thought creatively, they could put the two together.
OLBERMANN: Under what circumstances at this point does this current disapproval spike stick to President Obama? And does it—does it reshape across other issues how voters would see him?
WOLFFE: Well, you can see a few points shaving off on his approval ratings. That can be attributed to this, although it could also be a sign of an economic dip. There are many other issues that people rank more highly than the environment.
So, I don‘t know that you‘re going to measure this as such just in the polls in terms of the president‘s fortunes. What it does come down to, though, is the projection of leadership. And the president has, like BP, got tools in his toolbox that maybe are not up to this job right now.
So, speeches, TV interviews, the normal array of things are not communicating how the federal government is engaged with this across a number of different things, I think especially in terms of the visual sight of federal officials dealing with this, whether it‘s as simple as people in federal uniforms on the shoreline. You know, that‘s just not obvious to people right now.
What you have is the president‘s word, or Thad Allen‘s briefing, which is better than it used to be, but it‘s still not getting that across of the scale of response that the metrics suggest is in motion.
OLBERMANN: Last point, though, did BP just hand, if that “Reuters” report is correct, did BP just hand the administration something to work with here because they‘re talking about—the administration wants BP to reimburse the workers who were laid off due to the moratorium and the BP source says about paying money, BP at some point, “a line has to be drawn” was the quote. Is that a golden opportunity? Because it seems exactly what this nation wants is for BP to draw the line and the president of the United States to erase it, step over it, and punch BP in the nose.
WOLFFE: One of the most reliable things in this whole crisis has been BP screwing up and they‘ve done it again. Look, the BP investors had drawn the line here. They wiped about half the value of the company off the stock markets. It‘s valued less than the total sum of its assets. It has to draw a line in one way, but in terms of the politics, it doesn‘t even know where the line is.
OLBERMANN: Richard Wolffe of MSNBC and the author of “Renegade”—as always, thank you, Richard.
WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: How egregious are these falsehoods, fabrications, distortions? Enough to invoke memories here of the only other person who lied that outlandishly, that enthusiastically, Baghdad Bob. We will compare his work to that of Mr. Suttles and Mr. Dudley and Hayward of BP, and get Lewis Black‘s assessment. In the interim, remember, BP is the new B.S.
OLBERMANN: The left, blanching visibly, not because she won last night, but because somebody at the White House decided to use her win as an excuse to bash the unions.
The tea party is crowing because she won the nomination in Nevada. Now comes its problem: she‘s anti-fluoridation, anti-Social Security and anti-alcohol. Anti-alcohol in Nevada!
“Worsts”: Billo the shill participating in an in-person scam for something called the Money Matrix Insider?
And the check is in the mail, I‘ll respect you in the morning and there are no concentrations of oil in the Gulf. Lewis Black responds to Baghdad “BP” Bob.
Ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Few advocates within the Democratic Party, even when standing firmly on principle, want to create wounds from an internal argument.
Why, then—in our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN—did the White House apparently take Senator Blanche Lincoln‘s runoff victory as an opportunity to bash the labor unions who dared to oppose her?
Senator Lincoln‘s win was still fresh when a senior White House official who did not want to be identified contacted Ben Smith at “Politico” to unleash this: “Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members‘ money down the toilet on a pointless exercise. If even half this total had been well-targeted and applied in key House races across this country, that could have made a real difference in November.”
Labor responded both to “Politico” and again in a statement: “If that‘s their take on this, then they severely misread how the electorate feels and how we‘re running our political program. When they say, we should have targeted our money among some key House races among blue dog Democrats, that ain‘t happening. Labor isn‘t an arm of the Democratic Party. My name is Eddie Vale of the AFL-CIO, and I‘m proud to fight for working families and I don‘t hide behind anonymous quotes.”
And even though labor strongly backed candidate, Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter, lost, it is not automatically lining up behind Senator Lincoln. The Service Employees International Union is saying through its political director, quote, “We‘ll see if Blanche Lincoln is made a better senator for having to answer to working Arkansans over the past few weeks.”
Senator Lincoln meantime claims to have received this message from last night‘s victory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LINCOLN: I have heard your message and let me tell you: I cannot feel any stronger than I feel today as a daughter of the Delta in Arkansas to know that your message is loud and clear that Washington—Washington needs to work for us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Let‘s bring in “Washington Post” staff reporter, columnist for “Newsweek” magazine, MSNBC contributor, Ezra Klein.
Ezra, good evening.
EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: How are you?
OLBERMANN: The White House, or somebody at the White House, had a choice last night—unity at a m0oment when the White House would seem to need all the unity it could get, or a quick, cheap shot at labor. Why was the shot a quick cheap shot a labor?
KLEIN: I‘ve been trying to figure that out today and been having some trouble with it. I‘d like to say that what happened to someone‘s emotions got the better of them, but it was echoed in another statement to Marc Ambinder over at “The Atlantic.” Robert Gibbs said something similar and he was, you know, he‘s face in front of the camera. In his briefing this morning, it was a little bit softer, his way of putting it. It was the same sentiment.
And I can‘t figure it out. When I ask people, they pretty much said, look, we want to work with labor. We agree on policy. But we disagreed with what they did here.
And what I just can‘t figure out is what the White House thinks they get for communicating this disagreement publicly.
OLBERMANN: They get a lot of pissed off progressive.
OLBERMANN: And Mr. Vale spoke for us about this. What—is there
any indication that anybody in the White House understands that they need -
that they just created unnecessary damage and they need to repair it before they lose the last people who at the moment are still giving this president a kind of automatic benefit of the doubt?
KLEIN: Well, I‘d say two things on that. One is that the president I think remains, you know, fairly popular. I don‘t think he‘s quite in that bad shape so—which is why they feel safe enough to do this with labor. This has not been an administration that has treated labor with kid gloves. In fact, the Employee Free Choice Act, which is what labor is so pissed off at Blanche Lincoln, has not been a priority of this administration.
And number two, the whole thing bespoke a really sort of inattention to what labor was doing here. What labor did, by almost defeating Blanche Lincoln in a primary—I mean, it rally almost happen, and everybody else in the Democratic Caucus knows it almost happened—was they made clear to people if they cross us on things you said you‘re going to be with us on, we will come after you, come after you to the point we will spend $10 million and face White House anger and do all the rest of it.
So, the point isn‘t even beating Blanche Lincoln. It is making sure that Blanche Lincoln and others like her don‘t want to face this type of challenge from labor in the future. The White House‘s comment wasn‘t just sort of fractious. It was strangely disassociated from what labor is actually attempting to do.
OLBERMANN: Yes, it seemed like a dare at that point. And the other part is that, as you point out here, it‘s not just about Senator Lincoln in a primary, Democrats desperately need key elements of the Democratic base to want to come out and vote in November across the country. Is the White House still intending to pivot towards the midterms at this point or is it just sort of hoping that it‘s going to go well?
KLEIN: Well, you know, I‘m sure they‘ll have a big midterm strategy. But one, I think, broader question that it raises, is that it is very hard to see Democrats doing well in this country if organized labor deteriorates in any sort of sharp way. And it is hard to see a progressive agenda doing well in this country if the union movement does not, at some point in the future, begin to strengthen again.
And it has been striking, I think, to many that the White House has not done more or not been more public in any sort of belief that it would be good for them to be more allied and to see labor as a bigger party of their coalition. I mean, pretty much they‘ve asked them to swallow a lot of hits, like the excise tax, and they‘ve gotten some small things. But it‘s not—White House has not sort of played the long-term game in hoping to get a larger, broader labor movement.
So, what is interesting about this midterms, about midterms 10 years from now, for Democrats, if don‘t have, labor is down to 3 percent of the private sector by then, Democrats are going to be in a lot of trouble.
OLBERMANN: An excellent point, Ezra.
Democrats may have less of a practical problem in South Carolina, but a more symbolic one in South Carolina, as Alvin Greene wins the nomination to go against Jim DeMint. And today, the “Associated Press” tells the South Carolina Democratic Party that Mr. Greene had been arrested last November and charged with a felony allegedly showing obscene Internet photos to a student at the University of South Carolina.
So, today, the state party, having found out about this, has asked Mr.
Greene to withdraw? That‘s about as bad a plan as I‘ve ever heard.
KLEIN: Yes. What was—Alvin‘s response? That we need to be pro-Alvin or pro-South Carolina and not anti-Alvin? Look, it doesn‘t seem that they were going into it.
And one thing I think you do see there is that this is, I think, a tactical mistake borne of a bad strategy in some ways. They‘ve decided they‘re not going to beat Jim DeMint. So, they‘re not even going to look into the race at all. And it‘s one thing to not want to put 5 million, 10 million, 50 million bucks into a race you can‘t win, but it‘s another not to even to have a credible candidate for the event that something happens with Jim DeMint, a major scandal.
So, I think this bespoke a mistake on more levels than just one.
OLBERMANN: Yes. We‘re not asking—we‘re not asking for the full vet, but just find out whether or not he‘s been arrested in, say, the last eight months.
Ezra Klein of “The Washington Post,” “Newsweek,” and MSNBC—thank you again, Ezra.
KLEIN: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: And, of course, the Republicans have their own crosses to bear tonight, like the nominee for the Senate from Nevada. Anti-Social Security, pro-deregulation of big oil right now, anti-fluoride in the drinking water—ahead.
OLBERMANN: The fusion of Baghdad Bob and BP B.S: Baghdad BP Bob‘s B.S.—ahead.
First, the tweet of the day from Senator John McCain to Snooki. “You are right. I would never tax your tanning bed. Pres Obama‘s tax/spend policy is quite the situation. But I do rec wearing sunscreen.” To which she replied, “Haha yes.”
I think we just recreated now McCain chose Sarah Palin.
Let‘s play “Oddball.”
To Arlington, Virginia, Reagan National Airport, where a vintage 1943 biplane demonstrates why we like today‘s planes better. Landing seems fine, until—oopsy daisy, pilot, passenger not injured. There was even a view from a camera on the plane, since the aircraft was there to promote a new movie about historic planes of the last hundred years. They fell down. The runway had to be closed for more than an hour after the unfortunate flip. Wait, anybody know where balloon boy‘s father is?
To Winnipeg, hello, to our neighbors to the north, where an itty bitty baby squirrel ain‘t afraid of no stinking cat. In fact, the squirrel might think the cat is its mommy. But Nikki the cat, as she‘s known in those parts, is having none of it. Nikki kicks it old school, cat and mouse. After a brief attempt at showing whose boss, the cat is bested. Victory is mine.
Sarah Palin taking credit where no credit is due. And Lewis Black on our newest character, Baghdad BP Bob. You‘re watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: For those keeping score, Sister Sarah is six up, three down in her midterm election picks. In our third story on the COUNTDOWN, the half term governor of Alaska explaining to “Time Magazine” her recipe for success. “I inherently root for the underdog and I end up going with my gut.” If by root for the underdog she means picking candidates who already have the backing of the GOP establishment and are leading the polls by double digits. And I have some sure fire winners to predict for you from the 2009 NFL season.
Describing her knack for picking winners, “oftentimes I‘m looking at the candidate who shares the circumstances in which I‘ve been, under funded, up against the machine, no big endorsements, running a grassroots campaign with the help of volunteer friends and family.”
She must be referring to the under funded Carly Fiorina of California, who had over 7.3 million on hand to win the GOP nomination for Senate, outspending her opponent four to one. Fiorina‘s camp feeding into the myth by telling “Politico” that Palin, quote, “provides the good housekeeping seal of approval for conservative outsider candidates.”
And the up against the machine Nikki Haley of South Carolina, a Governor Mark Sanford, who hopes to succeed him, got a 400,000 dollar boost and TV ad blitz from the political action campaign of Governor Mark Sanford. On the no big endorsements, Terry Branstad—his name is practically synonymous with the Republican establishment, because prior to being the current GOP gubernatorial candidate in Iowa, Branstad was the four-term Republican governor of Iowa. Polls showing Branstad had a 28-point lead when Palin endorsed him. No one seemed more confused by Mrs. Palin‘s sudden support than Terry Branstad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to return the endorsement?
TERRY BRANSTAD, GOP CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR OF IOWA: I‘m not taking sides in that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Joining me now, political reporter of “the Washington Post,” Dave Weigel. Dave, good evening.
DAVE WEIGEL, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So, David, in college, I had this government class and it was a laboratory, and it was a pretend city, and I was a councilman, and I learned very early, whatever actually happened, I either had to issue a press release claiming credit for it or issue a press release announcing my plan to fix it. To your knowledge, was Sarah Palin in the advanced class of this, when you learn to pick winners by only endorsing winners?
WEIGEL: That‘s—I wish I‘d thought of that simile. I was thinking of the tag team wrestler who comes in after the other guy gets hit by a chair. No, what happened here, I think you summed it up pretty well, is that Palin has endorsed a few candidates who crashed and burned. Vaughn Ward in Idaho, Doug Hoffman in New York, Tim Burns in Pennsylvania. She endorsed Scott Brown, but that‘s a wash, because he won because his opponent was so bad.
In the week before these primaries—well, Fiorina is a different case. But in the week before Branstad‘s primary, endorsed him, and by a lot of reporters was given credit for his win. It wasn‘t actually that impressive a win. It was curious.
Palin‘s people pushed back a little bit on this today, that the time was representative. But they didn‘t really explain away all the angry Palin fans who have been commenting on Facebook and complaining that she has the power to lift up somebody like Bob Vander Plaats, who lost to Terry Branstad, or Chuck Devore, who lost to Fiorina. Instead, she‘s just keeping a good win percentage by endorsing the establishment.
OLBERMANN: Mitt Romney also endorsed both Nikki Haley and Terry Branstad, and in both cases did so well before Mrs. Palin came on board. Where‘s his credit? Where‘s his share of this?
WEIGEL: Oh, it‘s buried on page A-8 or something. It‘s sad, because he‘s working behind the scenes. And at this point in time he‘s a more likely 2012 presidential candidate than Palin is. So maybe he‘s laughing all the way to the Iowa caucus. We don‘t know. But it just speaks to the obsession that conservative base and the media have with Palin, that everything becomes a narrative about her vision quest to become an important person.
I mean, I don‘t—I don‘t fault her for not wanting to lose a bunch of elections she endorsed in. It‘s more reporters rush to, you know, put her up as a anti-Obama, who is endorsing all the candidates who are going to take him on and has a team of mama grizzlies. I think you should give more credit to the candidates, their managers, the many, many other groups that endorsed. And be realistic about Palin‘s role here.
OLBERMANN: The lame stream media here will now move away from the subject for a second, because we have what amounts to breaking news for the Republicans. A sound bite from Carly Fiorina in California, who apparently didn‘t know that when you sit in front of a camera with a microphone on, just because they aren‘t talking to you, it might be recorded somewhere or played somewhere else. This has gotten out. It‘s been broadcast everywhere. It was before an interview that was supposed to occur with the ABC station in Sacramento. This is what she said beforehand.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARLY FIORINA, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR SENATE IN CALIFORNIA: I find it really surprising that on the first day of the general Meg Whitman‘s going on Sean Hannity. Did you hear that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That‘s weird.
FIORINIA: I think it‘s bizarre. I mean, she‘s never been on Sean Hannity. I think it‘s a very bad choice, actually. You know how he is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Well, it‘s like Christmas for a whole bunch of different people there. Who‘s going to grab the biggest part of that gift and run with it?
WEIGEL: I think the Barbara Boxer campaign will have to. Fiorina looks like she‘s a pretty solid bet to replace Gordon Brown as prime minister. That‘s already been done. Yeah, I think right there you have one of the reasons why Democrats are not happy that they have to run against somebody with a lot of money, but not particularly terrified that Carly Fiorina has the wherewithal to dispatch Barbara Boxer, even if it‘s a bad year.
That‘s one of the least impressive election day debuts I‘ve seen. It‘s a little uncool for people to release that video, but it‘s a little bit lacking in strategy for a candidate to talk like that when they know the camera‘s on. Didn‘t we learn anything from Joe Biden?
OLBERMANN: No, especially the day after all of the primaries. It‘s just like, shut up that morning. Dave Weigel of “the Washington Post,” remember the camera also sits staring at us too. So—
WEIGEL: Please don‘t release the audio of me before this. It was awful.
OLBERMANN: OK. Just—shhh.
WEIGEL: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: If Bob Dudley of BP meets Baghdad Bob of Iraq, what do you get? That‘s right, Baghdad BP Bob. We‘ll show you and then Lewis Black will comment.
On the same topic, when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, Congressman Ed Markey to call BP on the claims there are no significant amounts of oil in the water.
First, who is the guy on the left doing the bad racist impression of a Latino? That would be the rabbi who ended Helen Thomas‘ career. That‘s who.
OLBERMANN: Bill-O reduced to doing the equivalent of TV infomercials live? Worsts next. First, no, this is not your water coming to a boil. It is our nightly checkup on the something for nothing crowd. It‘s Tea Time.
And another Tea Party triumph in Nevada. Maybe not. Conventional wisdom was that Sue Lowden‘s come from ahead defeat to Tea Partier Sharron Angle would hurt Senator Harry Reid. Turns out Ms. Lowden was the sensible one. Ms. Angle‘s resume is startling, or if you prefer, cartoon-like.
She told “Liberty Watch Magazine” that she‘s opposed to legalizing
alcohol. Las Vegas. Eleven years ago, she proposed a bill requiring
doctors to tell women that research suggested abortions might increase
their risk of breast cancer, even though, you know, it doesn‘t
. Two months ago, Mr. Angle said she was a member of the Oath Keepers, a group preparing itself not just for government internment camps, but for the day that someone issues a, quote, order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.
Last October, she said a traditional home is not just spouses of different genders, but one in which one parent stays home with the children and the other provides the financial support for the family. Last October she said that, not 1968.
She endorsed a plan for a prison drug treatment that would be like sweat lodges, saunas with massage, that would cost 15,000 dollars for a prisoner. It was developed in part by the Church of Scientology. Oh, and Ms. Angle wants to end the Department of Education, believes income tax is unconstitutional, plans to phase out Social Security, two weeks ago, after BP, she said she favors more deregulation of the oil industry.
Oh, and Ms. Angle voted against fluoridizing the water, because she thinks fluoride might be poison. And you thought Orly Taitz had lost.
OLBERMANN: You and Lewis Black meet BP Baghdad Bob, live right here on COUNTDOWN. That‘s next, but first get out your pitch forks and torches, time for tonight‘s Worst Persons in the World.
The bronze to good old Virginia Foxx, congresswoman from North Carolina, better known as the fool from Winston Salem. Held a telephone town hall meeting as part of the GOP listening tour. After agreeing one woman who said it wasn‘t immigration, it was invasion, she had this exchange with Lessy, who was troubled by, quote, “seeing all these illegals streaming into the country from Mexico and Afghanistan. How many of them are terrorists? We should use a dragnet and round them all up.”
The congresswoman‘s answer? Lessy‘s sentiments were, quote, “very much in the majority.” Yeah, the Blue Ridge of North Carolina is just stinking with Afghans taking those six-figure jobs away from Lessy.
Runner up, Rabbi David Nessenoff (ph). He‘s the man who precipitated the end of Helen Thomas‘ career, got the video of her saying the Israel‘s in settlements in Palestine should go home to Poland and Germany and the U.S. It was sad. It was narrow minded. I can‘t defend it.
On the other hand, Rabbi Nessenoff doesn‘t exactly have clean hands. On his website, he posted a video of himself doing a weather report, delivered in a really bad Hispanic dialect that is flatly racist. This would be the rabbi on the left.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is a really nice man. (INAUDIBLE) I was an immigration officer with three Gringos down on the Mexican border.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God bless America.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My friend, God blessed America. But he‘s sure not looking after (INAUDIBLE) I haven‘t seen god down there in a long time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: An opinion writer had to retire from opinion writing because she gave an opinion. Shouldn‘t a man of God have to retire from being a man of God when he starts insulting some of God‘s children?
But our winner, Bill-O the clown. The panicky website News max reports, quote, “on June 17th, an esteemed panel led by Fox News‘ Bill O‘Reilly and Dick Morris, along with global investor Jim Rogers and News Max CEO and editor in chief Christopher Ruddy, will convene to discuss inflation, higher taxes, our fragile economy and real solutions that average Americans can take to ensure their wealth is safeguarded and positioned to prosper in an uncertain future.”
You know what happened at the least three of these News Max panels? News Max tries to sell the huddled masses a product of theirs called the Money Matrix Insider, usually for just 1,495 bucks, 1,000 dollars off the list price. It guarantees you a potential reward of 137,000 dollars.
Good lord, Bill-O‘s been reduced to hyping pyramid schemes. Bill, look, I know I haven‘t been paying that much attention to you lately. I‘m sorry, you just seem to be fading out. But this desperate plea, this TV equivalent of cutting yourself. No, Bill O‘Reilly, no. How can I say this? You‘re too good for the News Max Money Matrix insider pyramid scheme.
All right. Who am I kidding. You‘re not bad enough for the News Max Money Matrix insider pyramid scheme. Bill, please, go back to bashing undocumented immigrants and announcing you won the Peabody Award from the “Paris Business Review of Frenchmen,” your boycott that destroyed France and made it into a cinder. Please, leave this crap to Matthew Lesko and G. Gordon Liddy and the Sham Wow guy. If you are a laughing stock, how can I possibly take you seriously? Semi seriously? Just barely seriously? I‘m saying, you‘re still slightly more credible than the Sham Wow guy. Don‘t blow that.
I am Bill O‘Reilly and I‘m here to sell you a bamboo steamer, today‘s Worst Person in the World.
OLBERMANN: Today, in a letter to the president, Congressman John Culberson, of the well-lubed oil state of Texas, declared his opposition to a moratorium on offshore drilling, because the Deepwater Horizon disaster was, quote, a statistical anomaly. Our number one story, it‘s almost stupid and insensitive enough to qualify the congressman for a job working a spokesman for BP. Lewis Black, spokesman for sanity, will join us in a moment. He‘s actually sitting right there laughing.
First, back to the question of underwater oil plumes, with which we began this hour. On “The Today Show” this morning, BP COO Bob Suttles would not concede their existence, even when presented with testimony from government scientists. Instead, Suttles defended his position by saying, quote, it may down to how you define what a plume is.
It is that kind of evasion in the face of hard evidence, a hallmark of so many BP executive in the past 51 days, which reminded us of another infamous flack. Here now is the verbal swill from BP CEO Tony Hayward and his friends juxtaposed with a guy named Bob. Don‘t worry, you‘ll recognize Bob.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY HAYWARD, BP CEO: Well, everything we can see at the moment suggests that the overall environmental impacts of this will be very, very modest.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is the situation today here in Baghdad?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As you see, as you see, everything is good. As you see.
HAYWARD: We‘re fighting the battle on the sea floor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We‘re bombarding them. We‘re chasing them.
HAYWARD: And the fact is that we are winning the battle on the surface.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They hold no place in Iraq. This is an illusion.
HAYWARD: We‘ve actually done quite a good job of containment in the offshore.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are not near Baghdad. Don‘t believe them.
BOB SCUTTLES, BP COO: We haven‘t found large concentrations of oil under the sea.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What they are alleging is completely baseless.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone is looking for the plumes, haven‘t found them yet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are nowhere.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the air, we‘ve got a small air force.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Saddam Airport.
HAYWARD: I think we‘ll be seen as a textbook example of how to do an emergency response.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is—yeah, this is silly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Lewis Black‘s Comedy Central special “Stark Raving Black” debuts Saturday the 12th of this month. That would be this Saturday at 9:00 p.m. And he joins us here now. Good to see you, sir.
LEWIS BLACK, COMEDIAN: Good to see you.
OLBERMANN: So, there it is. It is Baghdad Bob revisited.
BLACK: It‘s perfect. I love these things. I do this—we can bring all of these things together now and just—that‘s unbelievable. That‘s just—they‘re extraordinary.
OLBERMANN: I know.
BLACK: And we could have been CEOs. Seriously, apparently stupidity is the number one thing on the resume. Yes, I‘m stupid, and if you don‘t put yes, I‘m stupid, yes, I‘m greedy.
OLBERMANN: But it‘s the same thing as John Cleese‘s old joke about I wanted to go into television management, but I have a degree. So what we‘re seeing here is trying to make this the catchphrase of this horrible event, BP is the new BS.
OLBERMANN: It is—everything they have said has been either disproved or already disproved or disproved within days. There is a tenacity to this, a willingness to say, oh, no. Just like Baghdad Bob, there are no bombs falling; get out of the way, there‘s a bomb falling. Is it a different species?
BLACK: Or it‘s the same kind of thing that the guy who is caught in bed with the woman, and the wife comes home, who‘s denying that the woman‘s in bed. No, what are you talking about?
OLBERMANN: This isn‘t what it looks like. It‘s an oil spill. That‘s it. BP is saying that‘s just—they‘re just in bed with a walrus down there.
BLACK: Exactly. But I have a theory I‘ve been postulating and I think you‘ll like this.
OLBERMANN: Yes, I know I will.
BLACK: We went into Iraq because there were supposedly these nuclear weapons there. Now—and that we might get attacked, might. Now, we have BP, which is a multi-national corporation, and they act like countries.
BLACK: They basically are countries. And they, as far as I can tell, are attacking us with oil. And so I propose we declare war and invade them. I think we take their—they‘ve got no standing army. We take over their buildings. We put the workers, their folks in internment camps, those in the offices, and then we just get their checks and do what we can with the money to solve the problem down there.
OLBERMANN: So you‘ve just resolved the debt crisis. We probably could save Greece with this money. At least.
BLACK: Exactly. I think I‘ve found the answer. But, of course, no one listens. No one listens to me.
OLBERMANN: Why not?
BLACK: They are attacking us. And what‘s amazing, you know, you watch—I was watching the thing with the—you know, this is an anomaly.
BLACK: The two days afterwards I get an e-mail saying, you know—as this thing just begins, you know, this doesn‘t mean we shouldn‘t continue to drill. Yes, it does!
OLBERMANN: Yes, it does.
BLACK: What does it take? What does it take to see that it means you have to stop? And at when is the point reached where you treat this like a catastrophe in the same kind of way in which we treated—when the Russians said we‘re going to get to the—you know, going into space before us, how do we get—how do we get people to go, hello, emergency, emergency? This is what we‘ve got to do. We have to figure stuff out. We have to do alternative energy, like tomorrow.
OLBERMANN: When you get somebody like Sharron Angle in Nevada saying oh, no, this is a reason to have more deregulation, so the oil industry is not encumbered by the government and can take care of these problems itself.
BLACK: Oh, man. What about splitting the country down the middle, 50 percent of the people who appear to be playing in her ballpark live there, and the other 50 percent who don‘t agree on that live on the other side? They compete. But meanwhile, you and I live on the Mississippi until the competition is done. You let the left and the right in this country split.
BLACK: And compete against each other. Practice what it is that they think is going to make it all work. Let them do it, and I‘ll live on the Mississippi.
OLBERMANN: But wouldn‘t the left wind up bailing out the right with now international aid, rather than just the national tax money goes back.
OLBERMANN: That‘s why you‘re not going to be living on the Mississippi.
OLBERMANN: I‘m sorry. I hope you have a nice time there. Last question. This woman Sharron Angle is anti-fluoridation. Is she also proposing to protect our precious body fluids?
BLACK: Isn‘t that—that‘s exactly what I thought of, the great moment when he says—it‘s—the women—after he began to drink pure water, women could sense my essence.
OLBERMANN: Lewis Black, his brilliant work in “Stark Raving Black” and his essence debuting Comedy Central Saturday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Good to see you.
BLACK: Always a pleasure.
OLBERMANN: That‘s COUNTDOWN for this, the 51st day of the Deepwater horizon disaster in the Gulf. I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
And now, joined by her special guest, Ed Markey, to connect the dots and show just how far off Baghdad Bob BP‘s falsehoods are, ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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Guests: Rick Steiner, David Weigel, Lewis Black