Guests: Matthew Alexander, Bob Cavnar, Chris Hayes, Mia Hamm
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, I accepted General Stanley McChrystal‘s resignation as commander of the international security assistance force in Afghanistan. I‘m also pleased to nominate General David Petraeus to take command in Afghanistan.
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OLBERMANN: The president, Petraeus by his side, pivots quickly to the mission in Afghanistan.
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OBAMA: Let me say to the American people: this is a change in personnel, but it is not a change in policy.
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OLBERMANN: How President Obama may have inoculated himself politically by choosing General Petraeus—with Richard Wolffe. How the men and women in the field may react and this surprise that McChrystal lasted this long—with his former colleague, the military interrogator who calls himself “Matthew Alexander.”
Day 65 in the Gulf:
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ADM. THAD ALLEN, NATIONAL INCIDENT COMMANDER: Discoverer Enterprise removed the containment cap with the riser pipe and moved away until they could assess the condition.
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OLBERMANN: Translation: a robot collides with the well cap increasing the gusher. Worse yet, you can‘t stop it. You may not even be able to hope to contain it.
The doomsday scenario posited on a petroleum geologist Website. The pipes may be leaking and there may already be leaking and there maybe no way to ever stop it.
Just back from the Gulf is our guest, Bob Cavnar.
The apology he apologized for and then retracted—he may have just retracted the retraction and then tried to hide the retraction of the retraction.
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GRETCHEN CARLSON, FOX NEWS: This is what being president of the United States is all about. It‘s these tough, huge, monumental decisions. It‘s just like our job.
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OLBERMANN: Oh, no. No, it‘s not.
So, anybody got any good news? Soccer? Yes, I‘ll take it.
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OLBERMANN: Nothing, over here for nothing, back there more nothing.
Something, something. Some—goal! Goal! Gooooooal!
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OLBERMANN: Our guest, Mia Hamm.
All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.
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OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
Late today, June becoming the deadliest month of the Afghan conflict for allied forces with 76 deaths and the month still has seven days to go.
President Obama this morning relieving General Stanley McChrystal of his command in Afghanistan.
In our fifth story: those developments in all likelihood not related in any way.
The president having accepted McChrystal‘s forced resignation because of the general‘s scornful remarks about the commander-in-chief and other administration officials in the now infamous “Rolling Stone” magazine interview.
At the Rose Garden news event, the president saying General McChrystal‘s explosive comments and those of his top aides left the general unfit to lead.
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OBAMA: Today, I accepted General Stanley McChrystal‘s resignation as commander of the international security assistance force in Afghanistan. I did so with considerable regret but also with certainty that it is the right thing for our mission in Afghanistan, for our military and for our country. War is bigger than any one man or woman, whether a private, a general, or a president. And as difficult as it is to lose General McChrystal, I believe it is the right decision for our national security. The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general.
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OLBERMANN: The first sign this morning that General McChrystal was out coming when he left the White House after his private meeting with the president in the Oval Office, not sticking around for a separate meeting on Afghanistan with the entire national security staff in the Situation Room, which was held an hour and a half later.
General McChrystal is saying in a statement that he tendered his resignation out of a desire to see the mission in Afghanistan succeed, adding that he strongly supports Obama‘s strategy and he remains deeply committed to the coalition forces, partner nations, and the Afghan people.
The president coupling the news of McChrystal‘s departure with the announcement of his replacement, General David Petraeus, perhaps the nation‘s best known military name, for having turned around the war in Iraq three years ago to the degree that it did turn around.
General Petraeus accepting what is in essence a demotion. As the head of U.S. Central Command, CENTCOM, he was McChrystal‘s boss. Let anyone convince you to relocate from Tampa to Kabul, and let‘s face, you‘ve won their gratitude.
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OBAMA: And General Petraeus and I were able to spend some time this morning discussing the way forward. I‘m extraordinarily grateful that he has agreed to serve in this new capacity. It should be clear to everybody that he does so at great personal sacrifice to himself and his family.
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OLBERMANN: Petraeus, likely to be confirmed quickly at next week‘s hearing. Today, at the Capitol, Republican lawmakers, who will vote on his nomination, hailing him almost as if he were Obi-Wan Kenobi.
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SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: We think there is no one more qualified or more outstanding leader than General Petraeus to achieve a successful conclusion of the Afghan conflict. The hearing for General Petraeus‘ confirmation will probably be the fastest in the history of the armed services committee.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Dave Petraeus is our best hope. If things don‘t change, nobody can pull it out in Afghanistan.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
OLBERMANN: Time now to call in our own political analyst, Richard Wolffe, author of “Renegade: The Making of a President.”
Richard, good evening.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The talk yesterday was President Obama had a choice to make about firing General McChrystal. To your knowledge now, did they ever entertain a choice?
WOLFFE: Well, I think there was a choice in one area. But, first of all, there are two areas there was no choice in. As commander-in-chief asserting civilian control over the military, there‘s no choice here. This is a question about insubordination and discipline through the ranks, so no choice there.
In terms of the strategy, I think, again, the question comes down to:
was this person the only one who could execute it? That there is a choice on.
You know, there was a question about whether McChrystal, as the father of this plan, was the only figure who could execute it. In the end, they came up with an alternative. So, I think there was a choice about that specific area.
But when it comes to discipline, when it comes to leadership, the assertion of leadership, there was no choice.
OLBERMANN: By getting General Petraeus to replace him, did the president make it almost impossible for the Republicans to criticize him on this? Did he inoculate himself to some degree politically?
WOLFFE: Politically, for sure. There is always going to be a question from Republicans about the strength of not just this president but Democrats in general. Petraeus was a stroke of genius in one sense, because as you heard from Lindsey Graham, it becomes not just a question about the president‘s determination to stick with a strategy—if Petraeus cannot make this work, then nobody can. He has—he can then go out and say, look, I tried my best on this. If it works, Petraeus is a hero and he‘s a hero. And if it doesn‘t work, you have mapped out a plan for withdrawal.
OLBERMANN: Would this have been an opportunity or would this—because of the nature of the disagreement with McChrystal—would this have been the worst possible time for the president to do anything in the way of strategic changes? Was this an opportunity to say, no, this isn‘t working and we‘re getting out? Or is the path for that conceivably advanced in the immediate future because of this change?
WOLFFE: It would have been tough to do it on any kind of timeline that we‘ve just seen, because it moved so quickly. But remember the strategy that the president outlined has in-built review stages in. There‘s going to be a full review in the fall, and then there‘s this really sharp timeline. If this doesn‘t turn around in Afghanistan anytime soon, then in a year‘s time, there will be a reversal of the troop flow and a drawdown.
And, by the way, one of the most troubling pieces in this “Rolling Stone” story was this notion that McChrystal could somehow bounce the president into adding more troops in there. Well, Petraeus has experience with that; he tried to do so when candidate Obama went to Iraq. He said his withdrawal plans were immature and he should maybe rethink them. And, in fact, those troops are going to be coming out—those combat troops will be coming out of Iraq this summer.
So, you know, it‘s not easy to bounce this guy, and a strategy reviews are really something he controls very, very closely.
OLBERMANN: So, what happens next summer presuming the president himself wants to start withdrawing troops from Afghanistan as is currently scheduled? Is it—is there—is there any softness around there? Is there more to worry about—about the possibility that somebody, if not General Petraeus, somebody would be able to, as you said, bounce this president?
WOLFFE: Well, look, when you look at that West Point speech that he gave when he added these extra troops, he was incredibly skeptical. He said this has to show its working for it to proceed. And that‘s where the question of trust, the question of team cohesion comes into place with McChrystal.
Could he trust their assessment that the strategy was working? Based on what we‘ve seen out of the offensive in Marjah, it‘s highly doubtful. And unless you have confidence in the commanders that this is going to work, the strategy is going to work, there‘s absolutely no need to move away from the president‘s plan, which is that these troops should start coming back in a year.
OLBERMANN: MSNBC‘s Richard Wolffe, the author of “Renegade”—as always, thank you, Richard.
WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: For more on the reaction to General McChrystal‘s resignation, as well as what happens next—we turn to Matthew Alexander, who has spent over 18 years in the Air Force, Air Force Reserves, has everything including the military interrogator, Special Ops helicopter pilot, criminal investigator and counterintelligence agent. He was awarded a Bronze Star medal for his service in Iraq. He‘s also the co-author of “How to Break a Terrorist.”
Mr. Alexander, thanks again for your time tonight.
MATTHEW ALEXANDER, CO-AUTHOR, “HOW TO BREAK A TERRORIST”: Thanks for the invitation, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Were you at all surprised by McChrystal‘s resignation over the comments that he made to “Rolling Stone,” particularly the nature of those comments about the president and other members of the administration?
ALEXANDER: I‘m not surprised by his resignation and I‘m not entirely surprised by the comment. To some degree, you have to allow soldiers to do some grumbling—what we call “wartime grumbling”—about civilian controls over operations. That‘s to be expected. But it‘s not to be expected by senior leaders, certainly not general officers, and not by senior members of the staff and certainly not in public.
And I think the decision for General McChrystal both to resign and for President Obama to replace him was the right one.
OLBERMANN: With this now having a finality to it, a conclusion, the general was given tremendous latitude running the most covert of black ops programs, tracking down, often killing militants, the al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was foremost on that list, he skated through the Pat Tillman cover-up as well—the latitude in both of those things, might that have led him to believe he could make that kind of, you know, in Army, in military, grumbling about the president with a reporter present and there would be not be any reporting of it?
ALEXANDER: There might have been some of that. There might have been some complacency in terms what he felt he could say as the commander of forces in Afghanistan and his prior successes.
You know, I think General McChrystal—to be fair—he deserves some credit for having conducted the operations, you know, that I took part in to find and kill Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other operations which saved thousands of lives. At the same time, he skated through his Senate confirmation after admitting that mistakes were made when asked about detainee abuse and even homicides that happened under Jay Stockwell (ph), he was commander.
So, I think, you know, maybe there was some complacency in making these comments, but in the end, the right actions were taken.
OLBERMANN: You mentioned the confirmation hearing—his. Looking ahead to the Petraeus one, Senators McCain and Graham said today that those hearings would be the fastest ever on record. Shouldn‘t there be some level of scrutiny before we go ahead even if it‘s General Petraeus with the reputation he had from Iraq? I mean, say what they said, why even hold the hearings?
ALEXANDER: Well, I think that the part that we have to remember is that when McChrystal was a practitioner of COIN or counterinsurgency strategy, Petraeus is an author, along with other men like Colonel John Nagl and Andrew Exum, and David Kilcullen. These are the men who have authored the modern COIN strategy. And so, we‘ve already had the discussion about the strategy in Iraq or - sorry—Afghanistan, and we‘ve already decided we‘re going with this COIN strategy. So, in that respect, I don‘t think so.
But, also, we have to remember that General Petraeus doesn‘t have the skeletons in his closet that General McChrystal did that he was asked about during the Senate confirmation hearings.
OLBERMANN: Deadliest month in Afghanistan. It‘s on track to be the deadliest year in Afghanistan for U.S. troops. Marjah is, in McChrystal‘s own words, “a bleeding ulcer.” They‘ve delayed the planned operation in Kandahar and the Karzai government is still, as it seems and always is, threatening to cut a deal with the Taliban. None of those are good and encouraging signs.
What happens if General Petraeus cannot turn that mess around? And what particularly could a man, even of Petraeus‘ previous stature, hope to accomplish on some sort of personal level?
ALEXANDER: Well, I mean, Afghanistan is going to be a challenge no matter who‘s in charge. But I think what Petraeus brings to this fight and I think optimistically, that this is a good change, is two pillars of COIN strategy have to be turned out. The first is corruption in the government, which is absolutely necessary to eradicate if you‘re going to build faith in the people to support the COIN strategy. And the second is the civilian side of support to military operations, you know, whether it‘s social services or building schools or providing jobs. You can‘t conduct that type of COIN without that type of support.
And I think General Petraeus is one of the people who‘s been the biggest advocates of that type of activity support and military operation.
OLBERMANN: Isn‘t it—is it true—I‘ve heard this before, and I‘ve never had this verified by anybody who knew the subject—is it true that the cost of putting the Afghans in charge of their own security, of their own military, of having somebody replacing our troops there is several times the gross national product per year in Afghanistan? That it‘s almost an incomprehensible—it would be as if something here cost $700 trillion a year?
ALEXANDER: Well, I‘ve heard the same rumors that it would be an incredible cost. Maybe they can use some of the money from these trillion dollars of worth of minerals to support that. But the bottom line is, eventually, Afghans do have to step up and take over responsibility for their own security. But they‘re not going to do that if they don‘t have faith in a government.
And so, I think what General Petraeus has to do when he steps into Afghanistan is he‘s got to restore the Afghan people‘s faith in their government and bring in the social services that they need to support the COIN strategy.
OLBERMANN: A former U.S. military interrogator using the pseudonym Matthew Alexander—as always, we thank you for your time, sir.
ALEXANDER: You‘re welcome.
OLBERMANN: From something the president can stop to something he cannot: an accident makes the disaster temporarily worse, fixes in progress in the Gulf, but one assessment makes the disaster permanent. No fix possible.
And the congressman who apologized to BP and then apologized for apologizing to BP flip-flopped again and got caught and tried to hide the flip-flop.
The story of Joe “the human bottomless barrel of oil” Barton—ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: OK. When the robot starts screwing up the oil head, it is time to ask whether the oil flow in the Gulf cannot be stopped. We will ask the expert, Bob Cavnar.
Speaking of Gulf robots, this guy is apologizing for the apology for the apology.
This is fabulous. She believes her job is just like the president‘s.
No, the president of the country, not of like Kiwanis.
And he shoots and he scores—the U.S. wins a big up on the big day of big downs—assessed by American soccer legend Mia Hamm.
Ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: The containment cap on the BP gusher off today for most of the day after an accident, oil spilled freely.
And in our fourth story tonight: the ominous Internet posting from someone who appears to be an oil industry expert, claiming that the well structure beneath the seabed is failing which would mean the gusher might be unstoppable.
This morning, an undersea robot bumped into the containment cap system, closing one of the vents, gas rose through that event, what Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen called a, quote, “burp in the system.” This forced BP to remove the containment cap in order to check it for crystals that might fatally clog the system. But now, operations have begun to re-install the cap. Thus, the containment cap which was capturing only a portion of the gusher‘s oil had been containing none of it for most of the day.
But what if the well beneath the seafloor is itself failing? The warning was posted on the Oil Drum, an Internet sounding board for petroleum geologists and oil industry professionals. Someone identifying himself as DougR wrote lengthy piece, a caveat that we cannot identify DougR.
Some excerpts: “All the actions and few tidbits of information all lead to one inescapable conclusion. The well pipes below the seafloor are broken and leaking. The more they try and restrict the oil gushing out the BOP, blowout preventer, the more it will transfer to the leaks below, just like a leaky garden hose with a nozzle on it. When you open it up? It doesn‘t leak so bad. You close the nozzle? It leaks real bad, same dynamics.
What eventually will happen is that the blowout preventer will literally tip over if they do not run supports to it as the currents push on it. It‘s a race now—a race to drill the relief wells and take our last chance at killing this monster before the whole weakened, wore out, blown out, leaking and failing system gives up its last gasp in a horrific crescendo.”
Meantime today, the beachfront of Pensacola Beach covered in oil.
Cleanup workers struggling as the oil kept coming all day.
Let‘s bring in oil and gas industry expert, Bob Cavnar, who recently accompanied our Kerry Sanders to the site of the Deepwater Horizon blowout.
Thanks for your time tonight, Bob.
BOB CAVNAR, OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY EXPERT: Good evening.
OLBERMANN: We have talked with you before about that possibility that this DougR. raised. Is there any evidence of the worst-case scenario that was described in that posting?
CAVNAR: Well, you know, Keith, I happen to agree with whoever DougR is. I believe that the best option for BP right now is to keep the well flowing as much as they can. Any effort to close the well in or to restrict the flow, I think, could cause more damage down in the hole and cause that flow around the wellhead that we talked about earlier this month.
OLBERMANN: So, is it potentially, if not unstoppable, virtually unstoppable?
CAVNAR: On the surface, Keith, it‘s essentially unstoppable. The best they can do now is to gather as much of the oil as they can from the seafloor through these different risers that they‘re installing. They really need to get the latching cap on it so they can gather more of the flow. But the only thing that‘s going to kill the well is the relief wells that are being drilled now.
OLBERMANN: The “New Orleans Times-Picayune” reported another potential disaster that the wellhead, the broken wellhead, is tilting over. Admiral Allen has confirmed that the riser package is, in fact, tilting 10 to 12 degrees off perpendicular.
How big a concern is that? Could it be an indication that there is, in fact, some sort of structural problem with the portion of the well that still lies below the seabed?
CAVNAR: I think, there‘s real damage to the blowout preventer, which is made up of the lower riser—lower marine riser package and the blowout preventer itself. Remember, there‘s a tremendous amount of stress put on that when that 5,000 foot of riser went over to the seafloor, and the connectors are severely damaged examine flowed through now for several weeks. So, if it comes off, it won‘t be a surprise to me.
Now, they can‘t just lower the cap down over the next connector looking up, as long as there‘s something looking up to settle it over.
OLBERMANN: We saw you last night on the barge with Kerry Sanders, obviously, near the site of the Deepwater Horizon. Give us your impressions with 24 hours to think about it of the operation that you were able to see in person?
CAVNAR: You know, I was really privileged to be able to go out with Kerry and to see this up close. We first stopped—the Coast Guard stopped us as the five-mile limit, and the water—it was dark when we got there, but the water looked fairly nice, fair blue. It looked—the scene itself was magnificent in terms of all the flames and all of the vessels there.
But right after the sun came up, a big sheet of real heavy weathered oil engulfed the boat, and then as the Coast Guard moved us in closer, we moved in within a mile and a half of the Enterprise and oil was everywhere. And not only these sheets of heavy oil moving through, the dispersed oil and the dispersant itself was everywhere. It smelled like a refinery. And I‘m really used to that odor so it doesn‘t bother me. But the film crew—the television crew—was really having a tough time with it.
OLBERMANN: Having seen it in the—is your impression worse than it was from a distance? Have you gotten any encouragement or discouragement from what you saw?
CAVNAR: You know, the scale of the operation, Keith, this has got to be the largest offshore operation ever undertaken. There‘s three semi-submersibles there, plus a drill ship, plus 30 other ships. The Coast Guard to us that they have over 700 people in this operation on a continuous basis. And the effort is massive.
But it shows the weakness in our system where the technology, when it works well, is wonderful. When it fails, it‘s just massive and the damage is gigantic. And this just shows a real weakness in our lack of energy policy that we‘ve been talking about for 40 years, but done nothing about to really build one.
OLBERMANN: Yes. I mean, you hate to analogize anything from World War I. But it sounds like that, it sounds like all the destructive capability that mechanize man had was 50 years ahead of his ability to defend against it and we‘re seeing it again in an oil rig off the Gulf.
Bob Cavnar, oil and gas industry expert—as well, great thanks for both yesterday‘s report and your time tonight.
CAVNAR: Happy to be with you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Has Congressman Joe Barton apologized again? Now, this would be an apology for hiding a tweet that linked to a story that said he shouldn‘t have apologized for his first apology to BP.
OLBERMANN: Congressman Joe Barton now at tertiary syphilis stage of compulsively apologizing.
First, the Tweet of the Day from Jason Sousa during a Twitter discussion of what he would call it out when Lonesome Rhodes Beck inevitably hands our or expands out and claims he has started his own religion. Quote, “How about cry-anetics? Cry-entology?” and you could you use cry-eugenics to preserve Glenn‘s tears.
Let‘s play “Oddball.”
We begin with the bane of civilized society, ubiquitous vuvuzela, plastic horn used by World Cup enthusiasts, actually available at Yankee Stadium in New York 43 years ago. Produces a loud, mind numbing monotone only a soccer could love. That‘s if you play it right. In an attempt to prove vuvuzelas can do more than sound like a giant swarm of constipated bees, the German newspaper “De Zeit” commissioned three classically trained horn players from the Barginall (ph) concert house to play collections from Brahms and Ravel on this most original of instruments.
And it mixes well with Strauss. It‘s still annoying. The horn players, commended for their unique mastery of sports paraphernalia, only to be outdone by the ballerina performing “Swan Lake” with a foam finger.
To Washington, and the First Lady visiting a local school to highlight the work of the president‘s Council on Physical Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. After trying out juggling and yoga, she showed off her jump roping skills. They are prolific. Alternating between jumping on one foot and crossing her arms, Mrs. Obama was reportedly able to jump rope 100 times in a row, which would have been considered impressive had it not been the records set by Mamie Eisenhower, the White House staircase and a Slinky.
To Abuja, Nigeria, with another exciting session of parliament, already in progress. This would be somebody‘s question time. A look inside the country‘s national assembly. Somebody has accused someone else of corruption, a little peavage (ph), punches thrown, shirts torn. Four members ejected from the session; 11 lawmakers have been us suspended indefinitely, giving new meaning to the ago old formality, will the gentleman yield? No, but I bet he‘ll yield for this. What was he running away with.
All of human history appears to divide evenly into two ears: the times in which Congressman Joe Barton is apologizing for something, and the times in which Congressman Joe Barton is apologizing for his last apology. Another one of sorts next.
OLBERMANN: It‘s official, if not redundant. Congressman Joe “I apologize” Barton has now said he‘s sorry to both BP and the GO-BP, said he‘s sorry now to just about everybody except the Gulf Coast, whose compensation escrow fund from the BP Mr. Barton opposed. Our third story, Barton‘s apology in hand, the GOP let Barton retain his position as ranking member of the Energy and Commerce committee, declaring the matter over.
The party, however, still spewing out both sides of their blowout preventers, including the congressional office of Joe Barton. On the same morning Barton was reportedly telling Republican congressional leaders sorry behind closed doors, his press office was Tweeting a different tune, saying, “Joe Barton was right,” linking to an article reiterating the GOP argument that President Obama shook down BP. And then they deleted the Tweet when it got caught.
Republican Congressman Steven King explained to “Talking Points Memo” not just that he agrees with Barton‘s comments, the first ones, but that quote, a lot of others privately, read secretly, agree with them too. Or not so secretly. Republican Congressman Louis Gohmert comparing Mr. Obama‘s push for the escrow fund to—wait for it, that‘s right—the beginning of the Nazi movement in 1920s Germany.
Oklahoma Tea Party gubernatorial candidate Randy Brogdam (ph) saying BP should be given more freedom to do what it wants. And Tea Party favorite Mike Lee, who won Utah‘s Republican Senate nomination last night, just told the “Salt Lake City Tribune” he wants to limit how much damages people can claim from BP and have taxpayers pick up the bill.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that something you would be supportive of, increasing that cap on the liability for environmental damage?
MIKE LEE, CANDIDATE FOR SENATE FROM UTAH: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is that?
LEE: This company has relied on assurances provided by law.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does that leave taxpayers on the hook for part of the damage?
LEE: Yeah, it probably does.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Isn‘t that equivalent to a bailout?
LEE: I don‘t think—well, I don‘t think that‘s equivalent to a bailout.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Democratic Congressman Charles Melancon of Louisiana, meanwhile, wrote to BP yesterday, asking them to suspend executive bonuses indefinitely, and use those funds to instead compensate rig workers sidelined by the moratorium on new drilling, a moratorium that Interior Secretary Salazar repeated today he will revise and try to restore, after a New Orleans judge overturned the first one yesterday.
The Justice Department tonight saying it will ask for a stay on that judge‘s order until it can be appealed.
Now let‘s bring in Chris Hayes, the Washington editor of “The Nation Magazine.” Good evening, Chris.
CHRIS HAYES, “THE NATION”: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Mr. King said he agreed this was a shakedown, but he did not necessarily agree that Barton should have apologized for it. So shakedowns are OK?
HAYES: Yeah. Steve King comes out strong pro-shakedown. Look, I think you can gut tangled up trying to thread through the logic of this entire episode. The fact of the matter is that the story here is pretty simple. Barton said something that a lot of people in the Republican, and particularly the base of the conservative movement in the Republican party, are feeling. He said it out loud. He got caught for it. He had to walk it back, because of the toxic politics.
But that doesn‘t change what they fundamentally believe. Everybody is saying that, and it is the truth. Everyone is trying to run these circles around and try to have it both ways. This is sort of standard. There‘s a lot—one of the things that Dick Armey and the people who sort of stand at the nexus between the party establishment and the base have to constantly do is figure out how to translate, tamp down or hide these remarkably unpopular ideas that are sort of bubbling up through the Tea Party movement.
OLBERMANN: How is this balanced? I‘m trying to understand who they think would vote. I know who they think will help fund their campaigns for this. The tradeoff between being on the record, as Mr. Barton is, as Mr. King is, as this fellow who won, Mr. Lee, in Utah, to essentially be saying, you know, no, screw the people in the Gulf; screw the taxpayers; let‘s defend BP. There must be a downside to this electorally. or I‘m missing something fundamental about our political system.
HAYES: No, there is a downside electorally. The reason they know that is because the Democrats pounced on it and Boehner and McConnell walked it back and apologized for the apology, prompting another apology from Barton. So, immediately, you saw that everybody understood the politics of this. The problem, though, is the politics are hatched from this incredibly zealous ideological commitment to—I don‘t even know what it‘s too, frankly. The oil companies are these awful crony capitalist enterprises anyway. They‘re totally, inextricably bound up with subsidies. It‘s not like you‘re defending John Galt and his little firm somewhere bravely plugging away.
But there is this sort of reflective, tribal affinity to defend business in these kind of conflicts. That‘s not going to go away. No matter how bad the politics are there, that‘s still there. There are people in the right wing media who are urging that on, because that‘s what they believe.
OLBERMANN: When you get to somebody like Mike Lee, you have this additional wildcard factor, the Tea Party. These are essentially people who have never been out in the real world before, the real political world, and don‘t know—have not hit that moment that all the rest of us have, that our own personal views that we developed when we were six and a half years old are not, in fact, the exact identical views of everybody else in the world. We may need to control the id a little bit. That‘s the wildcard here, correct?
HAYES: That is the wildcard. I think that‘s why you have seen it in terms of the press strategy Sharron Angle has pursued in the wake of the Rand Paul implosion. If I were running an operation that was trying to get past this, elected to office, I would be savvy enough to understand that that is not a majority view that we should never go to war for any reason. If you send them out there and you have reporters ask them questions like, was World War II worth fighting, they‘re going to get chewed up.
What you have to do is you basically have to figure out this way of sort of squaring the circle. It‘s interesting to see that tension be publicized as much as it is. At a certain point, I also wonder how much of this gets kind of lost in the noise? People are focused—ultimately, I think the politics of this are going to continue to center around is the leak going to stop? That‘s the problem the Democrats have.
OLBERMANN: Indeed. Chris Hayes of “The Nation.” As always, thank you, Chris.
HAYES: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Well, put this in their Vuvuzela and smoke it: US One, Algeria zip. World Cup rapture. The great Mia Hamm will give us context.
When Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, she will talk to Landan Donovan, the man who scored all the goal.
And in Worsts, not to say they‘re full of themselves over there, but she has just said her job is just like that of the president of the United States.
OLBERMANN: Fox News announces that being a Fox News host is just like being president of the United States. First, no, that is not your brain coming to a boil, it‘s our nightly check-up on the something for nothing crowd. It‘s Tea Time.
That a candidate is more right or more left in the primaries than he is in the general election is no surprise. But when one of them flat out repudiates one of his own pre-primary declarations of political independence from the man, as we move into the pre-general, that‘s something special. Hello again, Dr. Paul.
When he was merely the Tea Party‘s vacant scare voice in Kentucky, proudly and loudly pledged he would never accept contributions from any United States senator who had voted for the bank bailout of 2008. He not only called the bailout wrong, he said it was a violation of Constitution, and, quote, “it‘s a transfer of wealth from those who have earned to those who have squandered.”
And then he won the primary. Tomorrow night, Dr. Paul will be the beneficiary of a fund-raiser by the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Tickets are a thousand a pop, sponsorships five. The invitation is signed by 12 GOP senators, including nine who voted for the bank bailout of 2008. You might think this was ordinary hypocrisy, but no. Dr. Paul‘s campaign manager, Jesse Benton, has a major league rationalization ready for you. “We considered that the primary was a fight over the direction and the soul of the Republican party. By Rand taking that hard stance in the primary, we think that those ideas won.”
Now that the hard stance and those ideas won, it‘s time to get rid of them as quickly as humanly possible, and start raking in the dirty, dirty money. You know what fund-raising is, right? To borrow Dr. Paul‘s quote, it‘s a transfer of wealth from those who have earned to those who have squandered.
OLBERMANN: So everybody complains there isn‘t enough good news. Today, our scrappy American team proved we are better at our fifth best team sport than is a nation with the population smaller than that of California. The mighty roar goes up from the crowd. That‘s next, but first get out your pitchforks and torches, time for tonight‘s worst persons in the world.
The bronze to Monica Crowley of Fixed News. Here we go. “The remarks we saw in this ‘Rolling Stone‘ piece were not tantamount to insubordination. And, in fact, there was only one sort of off-the-cuff, flippant, dismissive remarks attributed directly to General McChrystal. And that was the crack about Vice President Biden, the bite me comment. To sacrifice the nation‘s leading counter-insurgency expert over this I think is a huge mistake. This is a blow opportunity for President Obama. It‘s going to look like he‘s reacting out of anger, and out a thin-skinned response to this.”
It doesn‘t matter that she‘s crazy. It doesn‘t matter that the Republican politicians are all saying supportive thing. Watch, this will be the next meme, McChrystal Mc-Martyr.
Runner up, RNC Chair Michael Steele, back with a vengeance. ABC News reports that Steele‘s RNC has given its fired chief of staff a little parting gift, 100 grand. Kenneth McKay was Steele‘s right hand man. He was not at the voyeur lesbian bondage themed nightclub when the RNC spent 1,900 bucks there one happy night. But he was in the chain of command as the expense report was approved. The 100,000 dollars is reportedly so McKay will not publicly discuss Steele‘s management style. One GOP insider, ABC reported, described the six finger payment as, quote, hush money. Hush money is kind of a bizarre term to use in the context of a bondage club.
Moving on, our winner, Fixed News beauty pageant winner Gretchen Carlson. Some things need explanation. Others, less so. This was supposed to be here talking about General McChrystal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRETCHEN CARLSON, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: This is what being president of the United States is all about. It‘s these tough, huge, monumental decisions. It‘s not about how you run a campaign. It‘s not about whether you‘re popular. It‘s not about whether or not you‘re a celebrity or you‘re good-looking or tall or short. It‘s in a time of crisis making these executive decisions.
It‘s just like our job. From a day to day basis, a lot of times, when there‘s not big breaking news, we just sort of roll along. But what‘s the role of an anchor during huge breaking news? Remember growing up? You tune to the television, and that one moment during the year they would have to carry a story all along. It‘s the same thing as being the president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Ladies and gentlemen, President Gretchen Carlson. Now Fox News is saying the president should read off the teleprompter? President Gretchen Carlson, handling those crises for you at home, today‘s worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: As you know, I have no background in sports, but I do know this: last week, Glenn Beck and I coincidentally agreed that the international community has been shoving soccer down our throats, in fact, has been since about 1967, and using only their feet. However, in our number story, that was before I knew that we, as a country, were any good at soccer. We beat Algeria, 59 to 59. That was the tennis match? I‘m sorry, that was the tennis match.
Who cares what it was? USA, USA, you‘ll never walk alone! One-nil, one-nil.
OLBERMANN: I thought it would be a lower note than that. Pretoria, South Africa, the US-Algeria match so important that former President Clinton was on hand. An American win and they advance to the next round. With Algeria still reeling from the whooping we gave them during the Barbary wars two centuries ago, nothing was a guarantee. No scoring until the 20th minute. Striker Clint Dempsey get one past the Algerian net minder, puts the big biscuit in the big basket, but the goal disallowed because of, quote, a off sides penalty. Replays showed the referee‘s call to be, like every other call of this entire cup, questionable. Just like the phantom call that nullified the potential game-winning goal against Slovenia last week.
But the U.S. would eventually break through, Landan Donovan firing home the stoppage time rebound. The U.S. wins one-zip to advance. It is perhaps the biggest win for a United States men‘s team on any international stage since, well, the Miracle on Ice in 1980, when the U.S. Olympic hockey team upset a favored Russian juggernaut, a bunch of pros, and went on to beat Finland for the gold medal two days later, when a young reporter working for UPI radio was there to capture that feel-good moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: With that cheer, the biggest upset in Olympic hockey history was complete. The United States four, the Soviet Union three. The fans in the Olympic Center felt as much a part of the win as the players did.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really thought Russia would win.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don‘t know what else to say. I‘m so psyched.
OLBERMANN: After the game, thousands spilled onto the streets. There were tremendous firecracker displays and chants of “we‘re number one.” Keith Olbermann, Lake Placid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Mia Hamm knows just a little something about winning a World Cup. She did it twice with Team USA in 1991 and 1999. She‘s also the two-time women‘s FIFA world player of the year. A pleasure to talk to you, Mia. Thanks for your time tonight.
MIA HAMM, FMR. TEAM USA SOCCER PLAYER: Thanks for having me, Keith.
OLBERMANN: How big was this win? It know it sounds like the start of a joke. In terms not just of soccer, but of American sport, where do you place this?
HAMM: I think this is huge. For the guys over there competing, but for the sport of soccer. I think you look at 2002, what the guys accomplished there in Korea was phenomenal. That momentum has just continued to build. And I think for us as a sport in this country, it‘s so important to be successful in the biggest stage.
OLBERMANN: I was exaggerating before about American sports fans having soccer shoved down their throats for 43 years.
HAMM: No way.
OLBERMANN: Yes. But to live up to the terrible reputation I have among soccer fans, I had to say that. Having said that, the real world context really makes a difference in terms of a sport making that final push from one thing to the other. You have the Gulf oil crisis, the stuff with General McChrystal. If you give the country good news today, the country says, we‘re watching. Is there any context for that that you agree with?
HAMM: I think so. And I think the U.S. is seen in the world of soccer as such an underdog. You saw that in the first match against England, and here going forward is the rest of the world waiting for us to fall on our faces. Here‘s a group of men that continue to fight. Today they played—had to play 94-plus minutes, had to overcome in their last match a questionable call. Tremendous leadership with Carlos Pocanegra and Tim Howard in rallying the team, and basically saying listen, we have to leave that behind. What‘s in front of us is Algeria. And for each other and for the pride of our country play as hard as we can, and that‘s what they did today.
OLBERMANN: You mentioned the officials. These refs, I have a theory that they get to this position because these are the men who happen to own the referees‘ shirts and uniforms. Is that how they find these referees? They certainly don‘t look to be the equivalent cream of the crop that the players and the countries represent.
HAMM: Well, my history and my relationship with referees has always been, you know, terrific. So for me to comment about referees is nothing new. But obviously, you know, they go through a lot of training. And today, to me, wasn‘t as questionable as the call in the previous game. You know, I mean, Clint wasn‘t five yards onside. It was a narrow, narrow margin for error. We got to see it 100 times on the replay. And after you see it that many times, yes, you‘ll say, he‘s on side.
It‘s part of the game. It‘s not—as a player, you don‘t really love it. But at the same time, to stop the game for so many, you know, let‘s go back and look at the film, that game would last forever.
OLBERMANN: You‘d have to add video replay times to the other unknowables in the timing of the match. There‘s two ties and a win in the first round. The U.S. now needs four straight to win the cup. Is it—where do you rank it? Is it possible, plausible, impossible? How is it?
HAMM: Well, I think if you look at this World Cup, anything is possible. You know, just ask the guys that played those last three games. You assume that certain matches you might have a greater success rate. But, in the end, every player that is at that World Cup is fighting for the same thing. I think the U.S. has just as good a chance as any other team. It‘s going to be a strong test for them against Ghana. But then, as a player, I know those guys don‘t want it any other way.
OLBERMANN: Last question. You had 150 and more goals internationally. How many would you have scored if in every one of those game they were playing these damn Vuvuzela?
HAMM: That‘s what that referee from the last game should get. That‘s his penance, is to sit in a very small room with about 50,000 Vuvuzela and hopefully he‘ll get the next call right.
OLBERMANN: Or at least won‘t hear it anymore. U.S. soccer immortal, two time top women‘s player in the world, Mia Hamm, thanks for putting up with me.
HAMM: All right, Keith. You‘re going to a game with me.
OLBERMANN: All right. We‘re on. Thank you, kindly.
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'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010
Read the transcript to the Wednesday show