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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guests: Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Eugene Robinson

            RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  Wow.  Key person.  I understand you gave soccer a try, you didn‘t like it.  But there‘s no reason to turn it into geopolitical drama.

KEITH OLBERMANN, “COUNTDOWN” HOST:  Oh, he did that, too?

MADDOW:  Well—

OLBERMANN:  You‘re right about that part, but still—it‘s 43 years we‘ve been told it‘s about to be the biggest sport in this country and we‘re all morons because we don‘t accept it.  And I don‘t accept it.

MADDOW:  The first time in my life I was ever knocked unconscious, I was 10 and I took a header off a penalty kick on a field that was completely devoid of grass because it was in the middle of the northern California drought in the early ‘80s or late ‘70s—and just that moment of actually being knocked out and seeing stars is enough to make me feel romantic about it forever.  And you can‘t take that away from me, not you and not Glenn Beck.

OLBERMANN:  No, I can‘t.  But you did bury the lead there.  You said the first time you were ever knocked unconscious?  How many of those have occurred since you started doing this show?

MADDOW:  And we‘ve got to go.


MADDOW:  That‘s another conversation to make you want to keep me around.  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  OK.  All right.

MADDOW:  And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.

We are coming to you from Washington tonight where what we all expected today here on Capitol Hill was this image, the CEO of BP, Tony Hayward, one hand in the air, pledging to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about his company causing the biggest environmental disaster in American history.  That‘s the scene we were all expecting today.

What we were not expecting today was that BP—having just agreed to fork over $20 billion for the victims of their disaster—what we didn‘t expect is that BP today would receive a personal apology from a member of Congress at today‘s hearing.


REP. JOE BARTON ®, TEXAS:  And I‘m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday.  I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown—in this case, a $20 billion shakedown.  I apologize.

I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong is subject to some sort of political pressure that is, again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown.  So, I apologize.


MADDOW:  Republican Congressman Joe Barton of Texas, the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, expressing his deepest apologies to BP twice.  He‘s sorry BP is having to pay and that the U.S. government is making them BP—after BP caused the biggest environmental disaster in American history.  Just to be clear: Joe Barton is apologizing to them.

After that, after a few hours of “holy cow, he said, what” panic on the Republican side of the aisle, Congressman Barton returned to the hearing room to try to clarify his earlier remarks.


BARTON:  I think BP is responsible for this accident, should be held responsible, and should, in every way, do everything possible to make good on the consequences that have resulted from this accident.  And if anything I said this morning has been misconstrued in an opposite effect, I want to apologize for that misconstruction.


MADDOW:  I want to apologize for the misconstruction.  In other words, I want to apologize for you all getting it so wrong.

Now, politically, this is obviously a big Joe Barton problem.  Joe Barton is a former executive at the old oil company ARCO.  He is the single largest recipient of oil and gas money in the entire U.S. House of Representatives over the last 20 yeas.  His single biggest career contributor is Anadarko Petroleum, which owns one-fourth of the Deepwater Horizon well that is currently fire-hosing its contents into the Gulf of Mexico—which may explain why this isn‘t even the first time this week that Joe Barton expressed sympathy for BP.


BARTON:  This reminds me a little bit of Monday morning call-in radio talk show after the Redskins have blown another one.  Everybody has an idea what should have been done and now that they know what was done and it wasn‘t done properly, they‘re much smarter than the coach on the field and the quarterback on the field at the time.  So, it‘s very easy to second-guess and to point out the problems.


MADDOW:  Yes.  It‘s so easy to say, this was done wrong and that was done wrong.  It‘s so easy.

What exactly is the alternative to doing that, Congressman Barton?  What would you rather us be doing at this point, if not that?  Something did go wrong.  There are problems to be pointed out.  Should we just not talk about that?  Do we just say, oops, and ignore what‘s going on with BP from hear on out?

In that same hearing earlier this week, Congressman Barton also said that the Chinese are currently drilling off the coast of Florida.  And so, we can‘t just let them have all of our oil.  We have to keep drilling there.

Of course, it‘s not true that the Chinese are drilling off the coast of Florida.  It‘s not true except on right-wing talk radio.  But, hey, what, are we going to take try to make everybody walk through conspiracy theory detectors on their way to the floor of Congress now?

So, yes, this is most definitely a Joe Barton problem.  But Joe Barton is not an outlier here in the Republican Party.  And this is the most important thing about what happened today.  He is not an outlier by any stretch of the imagination.

Yesterday, after the White House got BP to agree to set aside $20 billion for oil spill victims, the House Republican Study Committee blasted out a statement declaring, quote, “The Obama administration is hard at work exerting its brand of Chicago-style shakedown politics.”  Just like Joe Barton, attacking the White House for getting BP to set aside $20 billion for BP oil spill victims, even using the same shakedown epithet.

The House Republican Study Committee isn‘t a little outlier either. 

It‘s not some, one random congressman from Texas tied to the oil industry.  The House Republican Study Committee is 114 House Republicans.  It‘s two-thirds, nearly two-thirds of all Republicans in the House.

So, keep this in mind when you consider the huge uproar an apology over what Joe Barton said in the House today, his “I‘m sorry, BP, sorry that the Obama administration is being so tough on you”—this is not a Joe Barton problem.  This is a problem shared by a big majority of all the Republicans in the House.

And there‘s more.  When Senator John Cornyn, chairman of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee, was asked about Joe Barton‘s comments today, Senator Cornyn said, quote, “I share the concern.”

Yesterday, Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann defended BP‘s honor by accusing the White House of wanting to use BP as a, quote, “permanent ATM card,” part of a broader effort, she said, to, quote, “take over private industry.”

Last week, the top Republican in the House, John Boehner, suggested that BP shouldn‘t have to pay the full financial burden of this disaster, that taxpayers should foot some of the bill, too.  He later had to walk back those comments.

Listen, this oil spill is not a political disaster.  This is a disaster-disaster.  But the political consequences of it are turning out to be astonishing.  This is—like in boxing, you think you‘re facing off against some big, tough opponent who‘s talking lots of trash, and has a great record and he seems really impressive—and then you find out that that big, tough opponent actually has a glass jaw.

Joe Barton and the Republican Study Committee and John Cornyn and John Boehner and Michele Bachmann and Haley Barbour, and all the other Republicans who have stood up for BP since this disaster started, have revealed the Republican‘s glass jaw on this issue.  Republicans are pledging to fight Democrats to the death, to stop energy reform.

What are they going to fight with?  They‘re great speeches by Joe Barton?  Are they going to marshal public opinion to their side in their passionate defense of the company that every day continues to cause and inflict this disaster upon us?

It is one thing, just for the entertainment value, to sit back and watch politicians embarrass themselves in moments like this.  But, strategically, this is an important moment.  This shows an incredible weakness in the Republican Party.

Republicans have said they‘re going to stop energy reform.  They‘re going to stand up to Democrats on energy issues.  Their bluff has now been called.  What you saw today is what the Republicans have to offer the public in terms of an alternate vision on energy, apologies to BP, and criticism that a fund for victims of this oil spill is unfair—unfair to the company that caused the disaster.

Democrats should feel free to do whatever they want to do on energy.  In political terms, there‘s nothing on the Republican side to constrain them.  That‘s what was learned today.  You‘re not supposed to just point and laugh at the guy‘s glass jaw.  You‘re supposed to hit him there.

Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois.  She‘s a member of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, which called BP CEO in to testify today.

Congressman Schakowsky, thank you for coming in tonight.

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS:  Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  I feel like the Republican political response to the crisis changes the game politically—revealing essentially that there isn‘t a strong opposition politically to Democratic energy plans.  It will be like pushing on an open door.  Do you think that‘s true?

SCHAKOWSKY:  The reason I know it‘s true you is because they immediately reacted—they understood that what Joe Barton said—even though it does reflect what they really believe—was not a good thing to put out there.  I think there was such strong reaction that some of the Republicans themselves were saying, Joe Barton ought to step down as the ranking Republican on the committee, that he would chair, by the way, if the Republican were in charge of the Congress, and they were trying to distance himself despite what the Republican Study Committee had put out, those very words.

And what Barton also called a slush fund.  And he called it a tragedy of, what, enormous proportions or something.  A tragedy—

MADDOW:  A tragedy that the victims would be paid?

SCHAKOWSKY:  -- that BP was facing because they would have to pay.  I mean, it‘s just unbelievable.

So, I think the fact that they reacted that way, they understand that they are on very thin water, if you will.  And thin ice.

So, I think this is a moment we really ought to capture as Democrats.  And what we find is that the public, in a poll down by the League of Conservation Voters, that they don‘t just want a Band-Aid.  Yes, of course, they want BP to pay.  They want us to be very tough on the cleanup.  But they would also like to see this moment to hold polluters responsible and to pass clean energy legislation.

MADDOW:  The clean energy legislation, such as it is, has passed the House, passed the House a long time ago.  In the Senate, conventional wisdom here in Washington is that passing an energy bill through the Senate is no more possible now, maybe even less possible now than it was before this disaster.

And I—every time I come to Washington, I hear that as a common wisdom.  I don‘t think it makes sense anywhere in America, except within the Beltway here.  I—

SCHAKOWSKY:  On a number of things, yes.

MADDOW:  But what I want you to tell me is that that common wisdom is wrong and that the energy legislation can pass the Senate.  What all the pundits say is wrong.  What do you think?

SCHAKOWSKY:  Well, actually, Harry Reid has said that it will be on the calendar in the next work period.  That he wants to see a vote.

We are hearing some talk from Republicans, like Dick Lugar, that it would be good—maybe not the full energy bill that we—like the one that we passed in the House, but something that sets us off in a new direction toward clean energy.

And the other thing is, the 66 percent of the people who think we should do more, this is the moment, Rachel, that they need to be contacting members of Congress and senators, particularly, and saying: don‘t let this moment pass.

MADDOW:  In the house, in your committee, hauling up Tony Hayward today and asking him a lot of questions, many of which he did not answer, profess an inability to answer, left me wondering what the next step is for your committee and your investigation.

SCHAKOWSKY:  Well, we are going to continue to look at: are there holes in our legislation and regulation that we need to fill?  For example, taking off the legislative cap on liability for companies.

MADDOW:  Right.

SCHAKOWSKY:  What are those?  Obviously, we have to do more enforcement, and just more oversight.  I think we have to make sure—we called in the rest of the oil companies and found out they don‘t have any plans either.


SCHAKOWSKY:  These are the kinds of things we need to do.

But it was stunning to see Tony Hayward sit there and say over and over again things like: I was not involved in that decision.  It‘s impossible for me to answer that question.  I‘m afraid I can‘t recall that.

Finally, Henry Waxman had to say, did you read the letter we sent you that had the questions?  What‘s the matter that you come here with nothing?

So, obviously, we‘re going to have to sit on BP, despite this fund, to make sure they‘ll do what they‘re supposed to do.

MADDOW:  Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, from the subcommittee on oversight investigations in the House—it was an incredible—incredible spectacular today.  Thanks for joining us.

SCHAKOWSKY:  Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Nice to see you.

SCHAWKOSKY:  Appreciate it.

MADDOW:  Still ahead—


NARRATOR:  Watching the captains weave the long black boom as seamlessly as a professional ballet troupe performs an intricate dance, I found it definitely to believe that the rehearsals only started some weeks ago.


MADDOW:  That is the BP oil disaster story as told by BP.  Turns out when they tell it, it comes out so much nicer.

Also, later on this hour, a five-minute attempt to eradicate the oldest, most appealing and most baseless argument about energy in all of American politics.

But, first, “One More Thing” about Joe Barton: someone started today—because not everything about modern life isn‘t awesome.  Among leading entries on that example of excellence were these: “Joe Barton would like to apologize to England again for the war of 1812, and in particular, the Battle of New Orleans.  We should just have let you guys have North America.  You obviously really wanted it.”

Also, “Joe Barton would like to apologize to England for tying you guys in the World Cup.  If there was a do-over, we‘d totally give you back that goal.”

I have deep admiration and a little envy for whoever started today.  Well done.

We‘ll be right back.


MADDOW:  You‘ve heard about BP blocking real reporters from covering the BP oil disaster.  Have you heard about the fake news that BP has produced itself about the disaster?  That‘s next.


MADDOW:  So BP has what‘s known in the trade as a P.R. debacle on its hands—as in, they are responsible for pretty much destroying the Gulf of Mexico in reckless pursuit of some of the greatest profit margins in the history of the world.  We have a flower for our logo.  Does that help you not hate us?

In the 59 days since their private spigot of money became the American public‘s toxic underwater volcano, BP has done two things to try to manage press coverage.  The first was to try to keep the news media from covering the scene on the shoreline and interviewing cleanup workers.  BP did this at least in part by hiring private security firms like the menacingly named Talon Security to block media access.

BP‘s COO, Doug Suttles, said charges that the company was blocking media access were totally untrue, but then the great WDSU in New Orleans shot this footage.


REPORTER:  If there‘s something on break, I‘m interfering with his job?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  You‘re interfering with his rest.

Sir, you cannot talk to anybody there.

REPORTER:  Can I yell from a distance?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No.  I‘m sorry, but that‘s the way it is.  Sir, you cannot interview the workers.


MADDOW:  That‘s one way BP has tried to control the media story.

The other is less obviously threatening and would be hilarious if not for, you know, the environmental Armageddon it‘s trying to whitewash.  But it‘s the fact that BP has its own media, its own fake media.  We found BP‘s preferred story lines about the cleanup effort under the heading, “Reports from the Gulf,” at

Oh, they‘re reports all right.  I wouldn‘t call them useful, but I would say they‘re worth noting and worth dramatizing, we felt.

So, we now present THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW‘s BP press release theater, a visually enhanced version of an actual report from the Gulf by BP‘s own reporter.  This actual report from the BP reporter is titled “Ballet at Sea.”  Seriously.  That‘s what they called it.  “Ballet at Sea.”



NARRATOR:  Though there isn‘t oil close to the show, practices and rehearsals occur almost daily in preparation.

I was on a jack-up boat observing the practice operations several miles out of Bayou a la Batre on a day when the ocean was calm, except for the groups of dolphins swimming around us—even as shark came along to watch the show.

Hot, humid conditions intensified by bright sunlight on a cloudless sky were actually made pleasant by the salty sea breezes, topped of with lots of sunscreen and bottles of water.

Over about four hours, we, all guests of Gulf Coast native Captain Wade, and his local crew enjoyed the spectacular ballet at sea.  Mind you, these drills are executed by local shrimping captains on shrimping boats who know these waters and how to catch shrimp.  Until a few weeks ago, they didn‘t work in tandem, making shapes with Navy-grade boom attach to skimming boats and equipment designed to capture oil.

Watching the captains weave the long black beam as seamlessly as a professional ballet troupe performs an intricate dance, I found it difficult to believe that the rehearsals only started some weeks ago.

From the relative comfort of a large square deck with a cold bottle of water always at hand, and an air-conditioned TV room with comfy sofas a level below, I witnessed beauty preparing to face the beast.  Miss Jasmine, the most experienced shrimping vessel, beautifully painted with a colorful dragon streaming along her side, pulled the folded boom in place.  Then generally pulling along her side, another vessel took on a rope from Miss Jamine.  With barely a pause, the two boats moved apart at the same speed, spreading the boom into a V-shape just like birds form in the sky.

As this unfolded, a Navy skimmer craft attached itself to the point.  Generally caressing the sea surfaces, the three vessels circled and swirled, guiding the boom without changing the design.

A ballet at sea as mesmerizing as any performance in a concert hall, and worthy of an audience in its own right.

SUBTITLE: Two weeks later, oil hit Alabama shores.


MADDOW:  Who needs real reports from the Gulf when there are BP‘s reports from the Gulf?  Please, God, save journalism.  Oh, God, oh, God, oh, please, oh, please, oh, please.


MADDOW:  Tonight, shortly after 2:00 a.m. Eastern, a man in Utah named Ronnie Lee Gardner is set to be executed by firing squad.  Utah technically doesn‘t kill prisoners that way anymore, but because that punishment was still on the books when Mr. Gardner was convicted of murder, he had the option of choosing that as his way go.

The U.S. Supreme Court has announced that it will not intervene.  So, barring divine intervention, just after midnight local time, just after 2:00 Eastern, Mr. Gardner will be sat down, a hood will be put over his head, five people with .30 caliber rifles will position themselves behind a brick wall on the other side of the room for Mr. Gardner and at the same time, all five people with guns will shot at Mr. Gardner‘s heart.

Even though there are five people who will be shooting at Mr. Gardner, only four of their guns will be loaded with live ammunition.  One of the guns, no one knows which one, will be loaded with a blank.  A blank makes a gunshot noise and feel sort of like a real bullet when you fire it, but it doesn‘t actually shoot a projectile out of the muzzle of the gun.

So, all five will shoot at Mr. Gardner, but only four will actually shoot a bullet at him.  The possibility of being the one member of the firing squad who maybe shot the blank is supposed to be a sleep aid for you for the rest of your life.

One another story to bring you tonight from the opposite end of the same morbid spectrum perhaps—you know what I hate?  I hate when you‘re an airline employee and you‘re dealing with a cargo shipment and you opened up a box that seemed to have been packed wrong.  It turns out what that box contains is 40 to 60 human heads, just the heads.

That‘s what happened to some poor Southwest Airlines employee last week in Arkansas.  A giant box of human heads was on its way apparently to a research lab in Fort Worth, Texas.  And according to a Southwest spokesperson, quote, “It wasn‘t labeled or packaged properly.”

How was it packaged?  I really need to know.  Forty to 60 human heads

that‘s kind of a wide range in the number there, you know?  I‘m guessing maybe whoever‘s job it was to count them sort of lost their appetite for the job once they got up to roughly 40.


A research firm called Medtronic says the heads are for them.  But the county coroner in Arkansas now is not giving them up, at least not yet.  He‘s got the heads in custody at the morgue and he says he‘s awaiting proper paperwork now to prove the heads really are for research—as opposed to, you know, the idea that that box of 40 to 60 human heads on a Southwest Airlines plane in Arkansas is for something other than research.

You know how I always say, everybody freak out, and I‘m always being sarcastic?  This time, I‘m not being sarcastic.  Everybody freak out.


MADDOW:  He‘s got the heads in custody of the morgue.  And he says he‘s awaiting proper paperwork now to prove the heads really are for research as opposed to, you know, the idea that that box of 40 to 60 human heads on a Southwest Airlines plane in Arkansas is for something other than research.

You know how I always say, everybody freak out and I‘m always being sarcastic?  This time I‘m not being sarcastic.  Everybody freak out.


MADDOW:  Imagine a candidate running for U.S. Senate who suggests that if a specific group of Americans don‘t get their way through politics, that group of Americans might start killing people in this country. 

They might start using force to get their way.  The candidate raises that possibility not apparently because they think it‘s a bad idea.  They‘re not condemning that possibility.  They just keep threatening that it might be true. 

Republican primary voters in the great State of Nevada gave the nation the privilege of no longer imaging that scenario but rather watching it unfold when they elected Sharron Angle as the Republican nominee to run against Harry Reid in Nevada. 

Greg Sargent at the “Washington Post” posted a clip this week of Ms. Angle on a conservative radio show in January making this threat. 


SHARRON ANGLE ®, NEVADA REPUBLICAN SENATORIAL NOMINEE:  You know, our Founding Fathers, they put that Second Amendment in there for a good reason and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government. 

In fact, you know, Thomas Jefferson said it‘s good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years.  I hope that‘s not where we‘re going.  But, you know, if this - this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying, “My goodness.  What can we do to turn this country around?”  I‘ll tell you, the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out. 


MADDOW:  The Second Amendment, just as a refresher, is the right to keep and bear arms.  So how does Sharron Angle mean it when she says people are looking to that right to keep and bear arms for a remedy if, quote, in her words, “Congress keeps going the way it is?” 

How is the right to keep and bear arms help with that?  Then it emerged that Sharron Angle also said the same thing to the “Reno Gazette Journal” last month. 

She said, quote, “The nation is arming.  What are they arming for if it isn‘t that they are so distrustful with their government?  They‘re afraid they‘ll have to fight for their liberty in more Second Amendment kinds of ways.  That‘s why I look at this as almost an imperative.  If we don‘t win at the ballot box, what will be the next step?” 

What will be the next step, Sharron Angle?  Do you mean?  If you don‘t get what you want through politics, what does “fighting for liberty in more Second Amendment ways” mean? 

Now that‘s another instance that‘s been turned up by Sam Stein at “Huffington Post.”  See if this sounds familiar. 


ANGLE:  I feel that the Second Amendment is the right to keep and bear arms for our citizenry.  This is not for someone who‘s in the military.  This is not for law enforcement.  This is for us. 

And, in fact, when you read the Constitution and the Founding Fathers, they intended this to stop tyranny.  This is for us when our government becomes tyrannical. 

BILL MANDERS, HOST, “THE BILL MANDERS SHOW”:  If we needed it any time in our history, it might be right now. 

ANGLE:  Well, it‘s to defend ourselves.  And you know, I‘m hoping that we‘re not getting to Second Amendment remedies.  I hope the vote will be the cure for the Harry Reid problems. 


MADDOW:  I hope the vote will be the cure for the Harry Reid problems. 

But if not, then there‘s always the right to keep and bear arms. 

What is the Republican Party going to do with this?  Sharron Angle is their candidate.  She‘s not candidate for dog catcher or polemicist or something.  She‘s their candidate for United States Senate. 

Hello, Republican candidate X in state Y, do you agree with Sharron Angle that if things don‘t work out in the next election, the country should expect conservatives to turn to Second Amendment remedies? 

What are Republicans going to do with this really?  There is no spinning this.  There is no spinning this unless you are Dick Armey.  Here‘s his explanation for what‘s going on with Sharron Angle and her Second Amendment remedy prescription. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER:  Sharron Angle talked about Second Amendment remedies to Harry Reid.  And I‘m wondering if that sort of language will turn off the voters that you‘re going to need in the general election?  The mainstream voters you‘re going to need to - you know, moderate Republicans who want to support somebody like Sharron Angle but are turned off by that kind of talk? 

DICK ARMEY, FORMER HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES MAJORITY LEADER:  Well, it is a problem.  It‘s always a problem.  People in public - in the public arena that I have (UNINTELLIGIBLE) are oftentimes going to say things they wish they hadn‘t said.  Lord knows, I have.  We all do that.  You have to get past those things, forgive yourself and move on. 

Maybe she shouldn‘t have said it.  I bet you five minutes after she said it, she said, “Dang, I wish I hadn‘t said that.”


MADDOW:  Admirable spin, which might work if Sharron Angle hadn‘t been making the “we‘ll shoot you unless you give us what we want” threats over and over and over again.  Do you think every time she said it, she said, “Dang, I wish I hadn‘t said that”? 

When she told “The Reno Gazette Journal” she was afraid “people will have to fight for their liberty in more Second Amendment kinds of ways,” did she right after that say, “Dang, I wish I hadn‘t said that?” 

And then this -


ANGLE:  If this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies. 


MADDOW:  After she said that one, too, again, “Dang, I wish I hadn‘t said that.”  And then, there was this one. 


ANGLE:  I‘m hoping we‘re not getting to Second Amendment remedies.  I hope the vote will be the cure for the Harry Reid problems? 


MADDOW:  Again, “Dang!  dang! I wish I hadn‘t said that again.”  So far that‘s the “Elect Sharron Angle” spin.  Every time she makes the same threat of Second Amendment remedies for when the politics don‘t work out the way you like, she‘s just misspeaking over and over and over again.  Dang, I wish I hadn‘t said that. 

Aside from that, she‘ll be an awesome senator.  In theory, Republicans should have a shot at taking back the Senate in November.  In reality, this is what they‘ve got. 

Joining us now is MSNBC political analyst and Pulitzer Prize Winning columnist, Eugene Robinson.  Gene, thank you for joining us. 


MADDOW:  Was it all a mistake?  Sharron didn‘t mean any of that? 

ROBINSON:  Dang.  I can‘t imagine THAT that‘s the case, to tell you the truth.  I mean, you know, we have all said things we wish we could take back.  But I can‘t think of a lot of things, embarrassing things, that I‘ve said three times in a row with such conviction and the same phrasing. 

And this creepy formulation that she has of Second Amendment remedies, as if we‘re talking about a sip of a tonic or an elixir or Mr.  Carter‘s Little Liver Pills or something like that.  You know, you‘re talking about shooting people, basically. 

MADDOW:  Yes. 

ROBINSON:  And this is scary stuff. 

MADDOW:  They are trying, at the national level. to scrub her image, revamp the Web site.  But when she said all these things that she said about getting rid of social security, getting rid of the Department of Education, getting rid of the EPA, considering alcohol prohibition again and now this, will - at the national level, will Republicans - some of them give up and say, “Actually, Sharron Angle, just run as yourself.  We can‘t clean you up”? 

ROBINSON:  Republican professional politicians, meet the tea party.  And this is going to be a problem.  And I think this is going to be handled kind of on a case-by-case basis.  Some of the candidates probably will be able to be scrubbed up and buffed and polished and brought back closer to the mainstream. 

Some will be hopeless cases, I think.  And some will have records of statements, of actions, of who-knows-what that are so extreme, that I think the Republican Party is not going to be able to stick with them. 

MADDOW:  And I think you‘re right on the case-by-case basis.  I mean, one of the things on the horizon for Sharron Angle is that she‘s due to speak at one of these tea party, for-profit conventions, one of these national conventions. 

And you just think if she‘s headlining that in Las Vegas next month, how is that crowd going to receive all this talk about Second Amendment remedies and a revolution?  They might want the old Sharron Angle back. 

ROBINSON:  Exactly. 

MADDOW:  They might not like it if the scrubbed Sharron Angle shows up? 

ROBINSON:  Exactly.  They might not like that.  And so then where is she, if she loses her base and she‘s, you know, not quite trusted by her new patrons in the Republican Party? 

It puts her in a very difficult and precarious position.  But I think you‘re absolutely right.  This is what that tea party convention is going want to hear.  They‘re going to want to hear about Second Amendment remedies. 

MADDOW:  Yes.  It‘s amazing to me.  Looking at the overall picture, I feel like we‘re shaping up into a November in which theoretically Republicans do have a real shot at taking back the Senate. 

Theoretically, when you look at these things in terms of historical patterns, Republicans should have a huge surge this year.  The problem seems to be their specific candidates. 

ROBINSON:  Absolutely.  And the larger problem is the identity crisis that the Republican Party is going through.  We saw this developing in 2008.  Republicans suffered this crushing defeat. 

And frankly, because of the economic collapse and all that has happened so far, I think the party has done better in this kind of elections than it actually had any right to do.  It‘s done better politically than theoretically it should be doing. 

And eventually, the party is going to have to figure out what it is, what it stands for and more important, how it can speak to moderates, to independents, to Reagan Democrats in the future, how it can speak to Latinos in the future. 

MADDOW:  Yes. 

ROBINSON:  There are a lot of issues with this party, if it wants to be the national force that it has been.  And so this election - although Republicans will do well, this is going to be phase one of a several-phase process. 

MADDOW:  MSNBC political analyst, Pulitzer prize-winning “Washington Post” columnist, Eugene Robinson.  It‘s always great to see.  Thanks, Gene. 

ROBINSON:  Great to be here, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Good to have you here.  Have you taken advantage of the awesome at-work distraction that is the three-World Cup soccer matches available every day?  So awesome, the spectacle, the drama, the whole planet sharing a peaceful experience, right?  Right? 


GLENN BECK, HOST, “THE GLENN BECK SHOW”:  We don‘t want the World Cup.  We don‘t like the World Cup.  We don‘t like soccer.  We want nothing to do with it. 


MADDOW:  Could World Cup soccer be a left-wing conspiracy?  The serious answer to that ostensibly daffy question coming right up.


MADDOW:  Our word of the day today is “fungible,” as being of such a nature that one part or quantity may be replaced by another equal part or quantity in the satisfaction of an obligation.  Examples include wheat, lumber and oil. 

Why is “fungible” the word of the day?  Because it means that every time any politician says, energy independence, people, energy independence for an applause line.  Instead of applauding them, you should yell “fungible” at them from the back of the room.  It won‘t win you any friends in the room, but you‘ll be right.  Stay tuned.


MADDOW:  For an American xenophobe, the World Cup must press every single panic button.  All nations and races gathering in one place to passionately celebrate a sport in which our country has been, until recently, (UNINTELLIGIBLE). 

A sport that is played and enjoyed by both poor and rich alike - no - that requires patience to understand and often ends in a tie - no.  The idea that the rest of the world could be so thoroughly engrossed in an event that is not even remotely about us has some right-wing pundits in a soccer-phobic tizzy. 

For more, we ask our soccer cricket and Aussie rules football correspondent, Kent Jones, to look into this.  Hi, Kent. 

KENT JONES, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hi, Rachel.  You know, as far as the World Cup goes, some right-wing pundits should be given one of these, red card. 

MADDOW:  You have one. 

JONES:  I do.  I‘m holding it. 


(voice-over):  America‘s latest threat comes wearing a uniform and shorts.  Trumpet-blasting foreigners and their liberal American stooges are once again trying to impose their so-called World Cup on the United States of America. 

BECK:  we don‘t want the World Cup.  We don‘t want like the world cup.  We don‘t like soccer.  We want nothing to do with it.  They continually try to jam it down our throat. 

JONES:  Luckily, right wing pundits are there to stop this no-hands-

allowed United Nations from achieving their -


JONES:  Never mind that the U.S.-England match drew more than 14 million viewers.  America just doesn‘t want this.  Football, not football.  Have you noticed that both soccer and socialism start with the same three letters? 

Matthew Philbin at NewsBusters has, quote, “The liberal media have always been uncomfortable with American exceptionalism and they are no happier with American soccer than with America‘s rejection of soccer than with its rejection of socialism.”  And soccer is not just un-American, it‘s evil. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This game I think originated with the South American Indians.  And instead of a ball, they used to use the head, the decapitated head of an enemy warrior. 

JONES:  So watch out, America.  If the liberals have their way, everyone will be forced to play their game.  Everyone. 


MADDOW:  Thank you, Kent. 

JONES:  Sure. 

MADDOW:  All right.  Coming up on “COUNTDOWN,” Keith, who hates soccer, gently makes note of Republicans apologizing to BP in public on the record.  What could possibly be in it for these particular Republicans? 

Coming up on this show, every (UNINTELLIGIBLE) BP drillers favorite argument, independence from foreign oil.  It‘s 100 percent meaningless.  Once oil is out of the ground, where it comes from it irrelevant.  A good debunking coming up next. 



RICHARD NIXON, FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT:  Let this be our national goal.  At the end of this decade, in the year 1980, the United States will not be dependent on any other country for the energy we need to provide our jobs, to heat our homes and to keep our transportation moving. 


MADDOW:  President Richard Nixon addressing the nation in 1974.  That national goal he laid out for the year 1980 has become our perennial presidentially-endorsed national goal ever since. 

Energy independence, the single-most agreed-upon issue in modern American politics maybe.  Everyone, left, center and right, wants energy independence for America. 


BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT:  One of the reasons I ran for president was to put America on the path to energy independence. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  To protect our energy crisis at levels which will achieve energy independence. 

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT:  We have gone from a position of energy independence to one in which almost half the oil we use comes from foreign countries. 

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT:  We can‘t conserve our way to energy independence. 

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT:  By deregulating oil, we have come closer to achieving energy independence. 

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA):  It‘s time to get off this roller coaster ride and time to chart a new course to energy independence. 

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ):  We are going to have energy independence and we are going to have it in 10 years. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We must declare our independence again, our energy independence. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think most people in America think that our energy policy ought to have a goal of energy independence. 


MADDOW:  Want to know why the ever popular bipartisan, no-dissent, all-American issue of energy independence is still a campaign slogan and not something that we have achieved, even today, 36 years after Nixon declared it a goal to be accomplished 30 years ago. 

It‘s because it‘s not a real thing and it‘s not the way everybody‘s been talking about for the past four decades.


KERRY:  A strong America begins at home with energy independence from the Middle East. 

MCCAIN:  We are going to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don‘t like us very much.  It‘s going to stop. 

OBAMA:  For the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as president.  In 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East. 

FMR. GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK):  We will set this country firmly on a course towards energy independence. 



MADDOW:  From a totally nonpartisan standpoint, that is awesome campaign rhetoric - awesome campaign rhetoric that is not related at all to how stuff actually works in the real world. 

Oil that is drilled here in America isn‘t just trucked down the road to mom-and-pops-made-in-America gasoline store where we can do our patriot duty and fill up our tanks with totally safe, domestically-drilled, American-only oil. 

It goes instead to a place called the international market where all the rest of the world‘s oil goes, too, even if the stuff from the Middle East.  And that‘s what we bought it from. 

And we don‘t American oil.  We buy world oil like everyone does.  So when your friendly neighborhood politician tells you we need to drill more oil at home so that we won‘t be so dependent on Saudi Arabia or your bull pucky dictator of choice, your bull pucky detector should be going off wildly. 

Because the thing is, oil companies are international companies.  And the market for oil is in international market.  And oil is fungible, which means there‘s no such thing as our oil supply or the Middle East oil supply.  There‘s only the oil supply. 

And that all goes to the same place and we have to buy it.  We all buy it from that one world marketplace which kind of makes you wonder what the great advantage of drilling more of it here at home is if we know we are just going to have to buy it back from the international market and these global corporations anyway. 

It can‘t be that we think it‘s safer to drill it here.  And yet, we are so desperate to send more of this country‘s oil to the international market that we are giving oil companies subsidies to the tune of billions of dollars to drill offshore in America in the gulf coast where we now know it‘s really not safe. 

If we want to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) this country now that we have to buy it from the same place no matter what, wouldn‘t we want oil to be drilled in the safest way possible and for America - sorry to be shortsighted here, but wouldn‘t that be not in our backyard and not in the backyard of 40 percent of our nation‘s wetlands? 

There is, of course, a marginal risk associated with tankers, with transporting oil and using tankers.  But frankly, I‘ll say that‘s not the argument everybody is making here.  That‘s not the grounds on which people say we need to be energy independent so we don‘t have to move the oil far away. 

That‘s not the grounds on which domestic drilling is being promoted.  The argument is that if we drill the oil here, we will have energy independence from other countries and it‘s a well-meaning, good-hearted argument being made from all over the political spectrum. 

But it is not a well-thought out argument.  Energy independence is not the issue.  The issue is dependence on oil, period.  And it‘s an important distinction because we are at a point where we actually need to do something about our dependence on oil. 

And we can‘t do anything meaningful about it unless we change the grounds on which this argument is taking place unless we have the argument we should be having, we are capable of having, which is an argument not about where and whether and how much oil we drill. 

It‘s about the fact that we use too much oil.  If we are really truly going to try to solve the energy crisis, the energy crisis we are actually in, in this country, we need to be precise about what the crisis is.  And that means ditching the platitudes and the speechifying about energy independence and admitting that the crisis is oil. 

It‘s not where we get oil or how we get oil.  It‘s just oil.  And an oil crisis cannot be solved by drilling more oil anywhere.  If we as a country are ready to fire that one extra synapse, and think seriously about the real problem at hand, the problem of oil the fact that we need too much of it, then we can start talking about we can do, what we are actually capable of doing to solve our oil problem.

And then, we can face up to what we are going to have to sacrifice in order to do it.  It‘s going to be a pretty painful conversation.  But here‘s the thing - it‘s only going to get more painful the longer we put it off. 



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