Guests: Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Mac McClelland, Alicia Menendez, Arianna
Huffington, Rev. Al Sharpton
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Day 73, BP had eliminated its internal safety watchdog ombudsman. Senator DeMint drops his block against White House subpoena power for the investigation. And the record broken—today, it‘s the worst discharge of oil the Gulf of Mexico has ever suffered, more than 140 million gallons.
BP‘s newest public face, Bob Dudley—cliche master.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB DUDLEY, BP: The cleanup effort has not been perfect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Nor the help effort.
The stonewalling for the sick and details about how they‘re being treated with Mac McClelland of “Mother Jones.” And the first major legal challenges for the fishermen against BP on racketeering charges, the man behind both—our guest, Robert Kennedy Jr.
The president and immigration. His searing reminder: this nation was built by immigrants.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our borders are just too vast for us to be able to solve the problem only with fences and border patrols. It won‘t work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Still, an Arizona candidate with a new idea, drive out undocumented immigrants by—shutting off their electricity.
Jobless benefits not yet back but probably soon.
The Republicans go back to full crazy. Partial repeal of health care reform not enough. When the president slapped him around yesterday on the “ants” remark, he didn‘t take it very well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: The American people want leadership from this White House and not childish partisanship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: This from a man who thinks the rest of us are childish enough to believe his tan is natural.
“Worsts”: Biden compares Republicans to Nazis. Oh, no. Wait until you see who else used the same word.
And Beck‘s “I have a scheme” speech.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS: We will reclaim the civil rights moment. We will take that movement because we were the people that did it in the first place.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: I‘ll ask Al Sharpton, who‘s this “we.”
All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BECK: What the hell is wrong with you?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
The BP oil disaster is reaching a somber milestone on this, its 73rd day. Our fifth story: Already, this nation‘s worst-ever oil disaster, the Deepwater Horizon becoming the largest-ever spill in the Gulf of Mexico, surpassing the 3.3 million barrels of oil dispersed in the Ixtoc disaster off the coast of Mexico 30 years ago—and still gushing tonight.
Ahead: Robert Kennedy Jr., to discuss his multiple lawsuits against
But we begin with the latest details according to the largest government flow rate estimates, still conservative compared to some others: the oil that gushed for two and a half months from the broken well today expected to eclipse that 3.3 million barrel mark. Still weeks to go, at least, until BP finishes drilling two relief wells that it believes are its best chance at plugging the leak permanently, if they are successful. BP also attempting to break up much of the oil as it leaves the well with the chemical dispersant.
The EPA today is releasing the results of its first tests on dispersants, saying that the brands being used, Corexit, seems to be roughly equal in toxicity to all other dispersants. And while that means yes, dispersants are indeed quite toxic, they are at least supposedly less toxic than is the oil. Not the most reassuring of results. The EPA to do more testing, during which time, BP‘s heavy use of Corexit will continue. BP‘s new point man on the response today, claiming that dispersants have only the same toxicity as dish soap.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DUDLEY: The toxicity levels—many things have a toxicity level, including dish soap. So, there is a toxicity level to it. It‘s not far off of the toxicity levels of dish soap. And the lab tests show that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: If your dish soap comes in a drum with a skeleton on it.
Republicans back to apologizing to BP and for BP. Senator Jim DeMint yesterday putting a block on legislation that would give subpoena power to the White House commission investigating the oil disaster—the South Carolina Republican claiming he was doing so on behalf of other unnamed Republicans in his caucus. However, the Republican leadership today claiming it has no objection to the legislation, informing Mr. DeMint‘s office that it wants the legislation to proceed.
So, this afternoon, Senator DeMint lifted his hold. His spokesman though, stuck by the original story, quote, “He simply objected on behalf of other senators who had not been given time to review the bill. Now that they have time to review it, it seems no one has an objection.” BP also apparently is trying to block any effort to investigate itself. CNN has reported that the company has been trying to shut down its internal safety watchdog unit that it set up under congressional pressure four years ago after the Texas City explosion at the BP refinery there that killed 15 workers. The company is saying it can do a good job investigating complaints internally without the ombudsman‘s office.
To New Orleans in a moment.
First, as promised, let‘s turn now to Robert F. Kennedy Jr., senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, president and founder of the Waterkeepers Alliance, the global advocacy organization that patrols and protects over 100,000 miles of our rivers, streams and coastlines. And he‘s currently involved in three lawsuits against BP.
Forgive the long introduction. One long class action suit in
Louisiana that‘s on behalf of commercial and recreational fishermen. The second is a similar suit in Florida. And the third is RICO actions to hold BP accountable for the false assurances it gave that it could handle a worst-case disaster deepwater disaster.
All right. That out of the way. Pleasure to be with you, again, sir. ROBERT F. KENNEDY, JR., ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST: Thanks for having me, Keith. And thanks for covering this issue so regularly.
OLBERMANN: Of course. It is the issue of the moment, as you note all too well.
“The Associated Press” revealed that nearly half of the judges, the federal judges in the Gulf, have financial interests in the oil and the gas industry. Do you worry how that might impact any legal progress you might be able to make against them?
KENNEDY: Well, you know, there‘s an ethical prohibition against attorneys like myself criticizing judges. And I actually wouldn‘t want to be in front of a judge who I had accused of corruption on your television show.
But I think any attorney—all the attorneys who are involved in this litigation—and there are a number of them—are mindful of the fate of the Exxon Valdez litigation. So, it‘s not just in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. But at the highest levels of our government, in the U.S. Supreme Court, there‘s an ideological, let‘s call it sympathy, for large corporations. And that in the Exxon Valdez situation, the judges consistently undermined and cut back jury verdicts against Exxon. In the state, in some of the Gulf States, and I lived in Alabama for two years. I have a tremendous affection for people in the Gulf. I‘ve spent lots of time in all those states. But in states like Louisiana, you have a situation where virtually every organ of government has been captured by the oil industry, whether it‘s the—through a phenomenon called regulatory capture, the agencies that are supposed to protect Americans from pollution actually end up as kind of sock puppets for the industries that they‘re supposed to regulate.
And you‘ve seen this with Bobby Jindal getting up there day after day and criticizing everybody except for BP and that—you know, and blaming even President Obama. I never heard during the Exxon Valdez spill criticism of President Reagan for not the doing more in the cleanup. But that‘s—I think that that is—that‘s the outcome of that phenomenon where you have the regulators and you have the politicians who are so much in the hands of the oil industry that they‘re reluctant ultimately to criticize.
OLBERMANN: The idea at the heart of the RICO action, as best I understand as a layman, is that BP could not handle a disaster of this magnitude yet gave false assurances that it could. Can any other oil company that‘s doing this kind of drilling actually handle a disaster of this magnitude? In other words, legally or otherwise, what is there to prevent this happening again?
KENNEDY: Well, I don‘t—I don‘t think anybody has come up with an idea for stopping the disaster as it is configured today, as it‘s postured today. Certainly, there are things they could have done better. They have could have multiplied the number of blowout preventers that they have at the site. They had one.
And their own internal studies—despite their assurance to the government—BP‘s own internal studies, showed that a blowout preventer at that—under that kind of pressure, under 5,000 feet of marine pressure, would work only 45 percent of the time. So, what they were betting, that in 55 percent of the time, they knew when they did this operation, that in 55 percent of the time, they have a 55 percent chance of failure of this kind. And that‘s a bet they didn‘t tell the government or the American people.
You know, one of the things I would say, Keith—
KENNEDY: -- that people should keep in mind, and particularly the media and the Coast Guard and federal agencies, is that BP at this point, has huge economic disincentives to actually deploying the kind of resources that it ought to deploy to clean up the site. Each barrel of oil that it removes from the ocean today costs the company approximately $100,000. But it does nothing—removing that drum will do nothing, that single drum of oil will do nothing to reduce the onshore liability, which is going to be the real liability for BP. The big liability is going to come from economic damages to property holders, to shrimpers, to fishermen, to banks, to hotels, and to small businesses onshore.
In the Exxon Valdez case, Exxon removed 8 percent of the oil. They spilled 11 million gallons. They only removed 1 million. And part of the reason for that is the company really doesn‘t want to remove them. It wants to appear like it‘s out there trying to remove them. But every barrel it removes comes—cuts money, $100,000, from its bottom line.
OLBERMANN: My goodness.
KENNEDY: So—and it doesn‘t commensurately the liability of the company by $100,000 onshore, probably not even $1. So, via BP‘s best bet at this point is to hide the oil, which it‘s been doing, using these dispersants, which are—you know, are dangerous on their own, but are much more dangerous when you combine them with the oil. They force the oil to sink so the public doesn‘t see them.
KENNEDY: Number two, by lying about the amount of oil that‘s actually coming from the pipe, which they‘ve been doing since day one. BP publishes a magazine called “Pioneer.” It‘s an internal trade magazine. And in 2008, BP bragged to its shareholders and to investors in the oil industry that it had a proprietary technology that could accurately count to the gallon, every single gallon of oil emitting from a pipe.
But this—from the beginning, they‘ve refused to deploy that technology at the Gulf oil spill, at the Deep Horizon site. Why? Because part of their legal strategy, their best bet, under the market forces that they‘re operating, is to simply say that, you know, that this is a very, very minor spill.
But—and then—and then to not really deploy the kind of resources that they ought to be deploying to clean it up. They‘ve ignored the fact that about nine European nations have huge fleets of skimmer ships that all want to get over here. And, you know, many, many other ways they could be cleaning up this spill that BP is not doing.
The Coast Guard really ought to be forcing them to use these resources.
OLBERMANN: Yes, each gallon cleaned up is another piece of evidence, too.
The environmental activist, Robert Kennedy Jr., of the Waterkeepers Alliance, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, as a Hudson River kid myself—as always, great thanks for your efforts and for some of your time tonight.
KENNEDY: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Take care.
There is also the public health disaster playing out as a result of the response—the repeated attempts to block the media also from reporting the aspect of the story. Including in the fishing town of Venice, Louisiana, federal mobile medical unit there has not allowed reporters to see what goes on there.
Same thing happen to Mac McClelland when she tried to get to a different medical clinic in Grand Isle, Louisiana. She‘s the human rights reporter for “Mother Jones” magazine. And she joins us tonight from New Orleans.
Thanks for your time tonight.
MAC MCCLELLAND, MOTHER JONES: It‘s my pleasure.
OLBERMANN: The press release on the facility in Venice that PBS got, said it‘s a mobile medical unit, it has a doctor, two nurses, two emergency technicians, a pharmacist. It seems innocuous enough. Yet it and the one in Grand Isle have been keeping reporters out?
MCCLELLAND: Yes, in Grand Isle, it‘s also their medical clinic is behind a lot of fences and it‘s actually guarded by the National Guard. And when I was there with a PBS producer, even though he had an appointment, he was supposed to be able to get in. The National Guard stopped him and said that he wasn‘t allowed. And we eventually managed to get in there after we called the director of the hospital, who had had to come down and have paramedics let us in and thwart the National Guard. And when we got in there, we asked them, have you guys been seeing a lot of exposure problems, a lot of sickness. They said, no, spider bites, heat exhaustion. They weren‘t hiding anything. It‘s this blanket order to try to keep as much information as possible away from the media apparently. OLBERMANN: Well, is this a clue to that? PBS reported also that the only—only responders to the oil disaster are being treated at the medical unit, not locals. Does that suggest anything to you? MCCLELLAND: Well, it‘s weird. If they were going to say, you know, nobody‘s been getting sick, you think they could just say that if that‘s the case. Their refusal to admit anything is, of course, very suspicious. OLBERMANN: The other health news out of this, that the state of Louisiana yesterday put in another $10 million request for mental health funding, mental health funding. The first had been denied. Is anybody looking at the mental health part of the rescue or repair workers disaster? MCCLELLAND: Yes. There are, of course, a lot of medical clinics down here who are incredibly concerned about the wellness of the people of this area. You know, these clinics have been still treating Katrina survivors for their trauma. And they have hundreds of these patients. And the $10 million they‘re asking for, if you read that proposal, is actually only going to cover six months. So, $10 million is a drop in the bucket for what they‘re going to need down here. All of the counselors, if you ask them, you know, what kind of money and resources are you going to need—they‘re all saying, this is going to be way worse and way bigger than Katrina.
OLBERMANN: It‘s old news that cops have been keeping people off public beaches. You reported something more disturbing. Even when cops are in uniform, they are in many cases still working for BP in uniform? MCCLELLAND: Yes. It‘s a tricky little thing about the law. There‘s a state law that if you are a police officer and you are working private security detail for a private company, you can still wear your uniform. And you can still drive your car. So, if you get pulled over by a person who‘s dressed like a cop, driving a cop car, they may not actually be a cop at the time but a BP security guard basically.
OLBERMANN: Yes, the BPPD. Or to use Bobby Kennedy‘s term, another example of sock puppets.
Mac McClelland of “Mother Jones” in New Orleans with us tonight—thanks again for your time.
MCCLELLAND: Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: The verbal equivalent of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Republican‘s xenophobic response to immigration. An Arizona candidate proposes cutting off electricity to the illegals, and the state‘s governor makes the silliest video yet seen about the debate. The president reminds them: almost all of us are immigrants here or the children of immigrants.
Next on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Immigration reform and the reminder from a president that immigrants built this nation figuratively and literally. This while the governor of Arizona creates the most unintentionally funny video yet on this deadly serious topic that will leave you asking, is it safe? You know it couldn‘t last. This Republican is back to demanding not partial but full repeal of health care reform.
And she lied during a speech at a bowling convention. Seriously, a bowling convention?
Ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: When a Republican president and Congress were in charge, they failed to pass immigration reform. Now, a Democratic president and Congress are in charge, and need only a handful of Republicans to pass immigration reform. Because those Republicans won‘t support immigration reform, border state Republicans are naturally blaming the lack of immigration reform on the Democratic president.
Even before the president spoke today on immigration, Republican political operative Karl Rove appeared on the Republican political operative news channel to criticize the speech. He called himself a supporter of immigration reform and then said this is not the time to pass it. Rove‘s argument: Obama has not talked enough about immigration reform, then he listed the times he has talked about it. And also, that he‘s not met with Republicans on the issue, apparently missing Mr. Obama‘s mention of a meeting last summer.
Mr. Rove then suggested Mr. Obama is talking about immigration now not because it will pass and not even to help Democrats in November, but because he thinks failing to pass immigration reform this year will help Mr. Obama in 2012.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH ADVISOR: It‘s cynical and it is hypocritical and it‘s political with an issue that ought to be treated sincerely, honestly, and outside of politics as much as possible. I don‘t think the president is really interested in passing comprehensive immigration reform this year. He wants a political issue to jazz up Latinos and to get them to vote, maybe not for Democrats this fall but for him in 2012.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Mr. Rove‘s (inaudible) about the infusion of politics and immigration oddly not including Arizona‘s governor, whose new web ad criticizes the president for not protecting America‘s border—a web ad paid for by her political campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JAN BREWER ®, ARIZONA: Two weeks ago, I met with President Obama. He promised that we would get word from his administration on what they were going to do to secure the border. Well, we finally got the message, these signs—these signs calling our desert an active drug and human smuggling area.
I‘m 80 miles away from the border and only 30 miles away from Arizona‘s capital. This is an outrage.
Washington says our border is as safe as it has ever been. Does this look safe to you?
We need to stand up and demand action.
Washington is broken, Mr. President. Do your job. Secure our borders. Arizona and the nation are waiting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: “Does this look safe to you?” she says. Yes, well, pretty much. Yes, unless the sign is going to come over.
As the “Associated Press” reported last month, crime is down along the border. It‘s one of the safest regions in the country, in Phoenix, only 30 miles away. One of the country‘s top four safest big cities, along with El Paso, Austin, and San Diego, all near a border.
Maybe she thinks she‘s in a remake of “Marathon Man.” Is it safe?
And those signs requested by federal rangers who work in the area, not
by the Obama administration.
The president, having assigned more than 1,000 additional troops to the border, pointing out today that politics seems to be reason Republicans are now abandoning reform.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Under the leadership of Senator Kennedy, who had been a long-time champion of immigration reform, and Senator John McCain, we worked across the aisle to help pass a bipartisan bill through the Senate. But that effort eventually came apart. And now, under the pressures of partisanship and election year politics, many of the 11 Republican senators who voted for reform in the past have now backed away from their previous support.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Let‘s turn now to Alicia Menendez, senior adviser with the progressive think tank, the New Democratic Network, also daughter of Democratic Senator Bob Menendez.
Great thanks to your time tonight.
ALICIA MENENDEZ, NEW DEMOCRATIC NETWORK: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: There were political aspects to this speech from the president today. But what were they?
MENENDEZ: Well, I think he called Republicans to the table, listen, this is an issue that a Republican president brought to prominence in 2006. It‘s a piece of legislation that 23 Republicans, just like the president said, 11 of whom are still sitting in the United States Senate, voted for. So, are we supposed to believe that in the last three or four years, these 11 senators have just changed their mind? Or are they playing politics with an issue that‘s clearly of importance to the American people. So, I think President Obama was, you know, saying to Republicans, “I‘m going to need you to do this because there‘s no other way we carry this over the finish line.”
OLBERMANN: And speaking of Republicans, the founder of the group Hispanic Republicans of Texas told “The Washington Post” after the speech, quote, “This was the speech we wanted.”
If that was the speech he wanted with his credentials on this, how come it was not the speech John McCain wanted?
MENENDEZ: You know, I want to say this is an excellent question because that gentleman, Juan Hernandez, was actually the director of Hispanic Outreach for John McCain in his 2008 presidential campaign, which shows you just how far John McCain has fallen on this issue—someone who was a champion in 2006. In 2008, wants to win the Republican primary, moves to the right on immigration. Now, he has this commercial op about the dang fence.
And so, we see something that‘s happening across the Republican Party, which is that they‘re in disarray. In order to win their primaries, they need to appeal to this subset of their base that‘s very angry and very activated. But then we see them come into their general like we‘re seeing with Meg Whitman and they‘re saying, “Oh, Latinos, I love you. I do care about immigration.” And we‘re supposed to believe it.
You know, just because Latinos speak two languages, that doesn‘t mean that these Republican candidates get to have two faces. And so, what we‘re seeing with John McCain, we‘re seeing with other Republican candidates. OLBERMANN: Does that explain why that statistic that suggest that the border area is safer than it has been in a couple of decades, why we would get this Arizona law and its copycats to come, or is there more to it with the Arizona law?
MENENDEZ: I think there is more to it. But, you‘re right, listen, we have Jan Brewer saying that this has nothing to do with the border. On top of that, I think we have to be fair, that most Arizonans are concerned about their safety, they‘re worried about their state. And because the federal government refuses to act, they‘re allowing their local leaders to pass pieces of legislation that are misguided, are going to make Arizonans less safe, less secure, are not going to solve the problem, are going to cost their state a ton of money.
And then I think there‘s another issue here, which is beyond apparent
all of these pieces of legislation are being offered up by Republicans.
And so, if they‘re not playing politics with this, I don‘t know what they‘re doing.
OLBERMANN: Alicia Menendez, the senior adviser with the New Democrat Network—great thanks for your time.
MENENDEZ: Thank you so much, Keith.
OLBERMANN: And we‘ll see you again.
OLBERMANN: On health care reform, having failed to block it, the Republicans are back to promising to repeal it entirely, even though that would require them to win a veto-proof Congress. Genius, I tell you, genius.
Arianna Huffington joins me.
OLBERMANN: The Republicans talk partial repeal and now, they‘re back to total repeal. Why? Because they‘re stupid.
First, our sanity break, starting with the Tweet of the day from Justin Stangel (ph) of “The Late Show.” “New audio tapes feature Mel Gibson using the N-word. Danny Glover couldn‘t be reached for comment. He was stuck looking for a cab.”
And the number one reason Danny Gibson couldn‘t be reached for comment about Mel Gibson using the N-word, he was stuck atop an exploding toilet. Let‘s play Oddball.
It‘s my top two list. We begin in Dali (ph) City, China, home of the nation‘s first-ever religious games. Nearly 1,000 participants, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Taoist, and Muslim. This, of course, the first time that religions have ever competed with each other, so, you know, very exciting. They had bicycle racing, where the slowest cyclist won, ping pong, where you got to hear the sound of one paddle paddling, and chess. One player prayed really hard for his pieces to move by themselves.
Winners got a white robe. Losers get eternity in a lake of fire. Captain Park, England, hello. Another religious game of sorts, a race between a man and a man reincarnated as a horse. Or perhaps it was just a horse versus a horse reincarnated as a man. In any case, it‘s man on the outside, with horse coming up on the outside. This is—it‘s man. No, it‘s horse. They‘re neck in neck. It‘s going to be a photo finish. Only he‘s not appearing in your picture. Let‘s go to the replay. Yes, it‘s horse by a nose, an incredibly huge nose, as long as 13 regular horses. The horse paid 47, 22, 22.90 and 11.30.
Sanity break over. Back to the attempt to repeal health care reform and the insane Republican posse next.
OLBERMANN: First, they guaranteed health care reform would not pass and it would be the president‘s Waterloo. Then after they lost at Waterloo, they vowed a full repeal of the reform. Then somebody said that voters like a lot of the reform, so they went back to partial reform. In our third story, in today‘s GOP, no bid of temporary sanity goes uncorrected. Congressman Steve King of Iowa, a man who suggested secession after reform passed, back to campaigning for a full repeal of the law, by filing a discharge petition. No jokes, please.
The petition, which would need 218 signatures to force House Speaker Pelosi to put the repeal bill up for a vote, went largely ignored. As “Talking Points Memo” reports, on Monday it had only 30 signatures. That is until the right wing group Club For Growth e-mailed its members, explaining Mr. King‘s discharge petition will be considered as a key vote on the club‘s annual Congressional scorecard.
That scorecard considered one of the gold standards of conservative rankings. That and the Spanish Inquisition. So by Tuesday, the petition had 22 more signature, with the conservative Heritage Foundation adding pressure of its own. No one expects the Spanish Inquisition. Wednesday, an additional 14 Republicans climbed on board, including House Minority Leader Boehner, and Minority Whip Cantor. They issued a joint statement, “The American people asked Congress and President Obama not to pass the massive health care overhaul and they were ignored. Three months later, they remain opposed to it, worried about the consequences of it” -- Republican speak, blah, blah, blah.
Except quite the opposite is true. A new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that health care reform is gaining public support; 48 percent of Americans support the legislation. It was 41 percent in May. The increase also reflected in polls from Gallup, AP, NBC/”Wall Street Journal.” Mr. Boehner supported the full repeal, following his comments earlier this week comparing the nation‘s financial meltdown to an ant. President Obama calling out the minority leader‘s remarks at a town hall yesterday.
Today, Mr. Boehner taking the approach of I am rubber and you are glue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER ®, MINORITY LEADER: For someone who asked to be held to a higher standard, President Obama spends an awful lot of time making excuses and whining about others. The American people want leadership from this White House, and not childish partisanship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And your tanning tax just went into affect today. Time now to call in co-founder and editor in chief of the “Huffington Post,” Arianna Huffington. Good evening, Arianna.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, “HUFFINGTON POST”: Good evening, Keith. OLBERMANN: The Republicans, I thought, steered out of the total disaster. They had gone back to just pushing for partial repeal. Even Marco Rubio, for crying out loud, was saying, let‘s leave some of it. Now they‘re back to full repeal. Is there some sort of strategy here that the rest of us can‘t see?
HUFFINGTON: I don‘t think there is a strategy. I think that, as you said, the Club for Growth is pushing and they‘re responding. I think it‘s more like congressional chaos theory. It‘s all like grandstanding. It‘s producing an enormous amount of noise and heated rhetoric, and hoping that the public will forget that, in fact, health care reform passed. It‘s not perfect, but it‘s much better than what we had.
On top of it, as you said, with the Kaiser and the other polls indicating that the American public is actually now much more in favor of the bill that passed, the usual refrain that Congressman Boehner uses, which is the will of the people—the Democrats did not listen to the will of the people. It would be very hard for him to continue with. OLBERMANN: One thing about this—I am wondering if he didn‘t let a cat out of the bag here, because to repeal health care reform, you don‘t just have to win the House and the Senate, you have to win a veto-proof House and Senate, which would mean more than a 100 swing in the House, which would be an all time record by nearly double, and 26 seats just in this year‘s Senate midterms. If you‘re not going to get that, why not promise them the Moon of the full reform? Is that what Boehner is unintentionally signaling here? He‘s not going to get it, so, what the heck, shoot for the Moon?
HUFFINGTON: Yes. But you‘re being so logical, Keith.
OLBERMANN: I know.
HUFFINGTON: This is not—this is not really logical. Because even the discharge petition would need the 218 votes. Really, nothing is going to be done. So this is purely about changing the subject. And right now, it‘s also incredibly irresponsible. There is a very important subject which needs to be discussed, which is what‘s happening on Main Street with people losing their jobs. Instead of having that real debate, and even passing a bill for unemployment benefits, which still has not passed congress, they‘re creating all this noise.
Of course, the one piece of good news is there is enormous amount of dissension, growing dissension within the Republican ranks. We‘ll see where that leads.
OLBERMANN: To that point, “Politico” reports that there is a second discharge petition from Wally Herger, the congressman from California and the proud right wing terrorist infamy, from one of his town halls last year. Mr. King‘s deal would repeal what the Senate passed before reconciliation. Mr. Herger‘s deal would repeal and replace portions of the bill that were included in reconciliation. Both Boehner and Cantor have signed both of these. The right wing blog Red State said that the two leaders are implementing a strategy that makes it look like they‘re on your side , but are, in fact, stabbing you in the back.
Why would these two guys be supporting conflicting positions and angering the smarter members of the right wing that they otherwise seem to be courting?
HUFFINGTON: Because they really continue to hope that they are not going to notice or they‘re going to be quiet and not say so. It‘s not just members of the right wing who are complaining. You also have Lindsey Graham, who is supposed to be one of the more moderate Republicans, complaining in the upcoming “New York Times” profile of him on Sunday, about the Tea Party movement. Really the question he asks about the Tea Party movement, which is OK, they want the party back; what are they going to do with it once they get it—is the question we should be asking of the Republican party. OK, they want the country back. What are they going to do once they get it?
OLBERMANN: They‘re just the dog chasing the car at this point.
Arianna Huffington of “the Huffington Post,” always a pleasure, Arianna.
Thank you kindly.
HUFFINGTON: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: “We will reclaim the civil rights moment; we will take that movement because we were the people who did it in the first place.” The words of Glenn Beck defending his “I have a scheme” speech. Al Sharpton reacts.
Did the half governor actually lie about her childhood during a bowling convention?
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, her special guest, Tim Kaine on whether the GOP is giving in on reestablishing jobless benefits. There is good news on that next, as well, in Tea Time.
OLBERMANN: Vice President Biden accused of comparing Republicans to Nazis. It turns out the bad word he used had just been used by Michele Bachmann about Democrats.
First, thought, that is not your water coming to a boil. It‘s our nightly checkup on the something for nothing crowd. It‘s Tea Time. It almost certain now that extended benefits for the long-term unemployed will resume. Ironically when depends on how soon a job vacancy is filled. Though the latest Baucus/Reid bill yesterday was filibustered again by the corporation party—I‘m sorry, they call themselves the Republicans now. Two members just could not sustain the inhumanity anymore. Senator Collins and Snowe of Maine voted with the Democrats. So once West Virginia appoints the successor to the late Robert Byrd, that senator will become the filibuster buster. And the whole Republican exercise in torturing the afflicted will mercifully come to an end. Perhaps just as happily, we have yet another new high in Tea Party low. Underground electronic border fences, says Rand Paul. I‘ll see you those fences and raise you land mines, says Tom Mullins. Gather your army, says the voice in Rick Barber‘s head. No abortions, says Sharron Angle, because rape and incest are part of God‘s plan.
Enter Barry Wong. Hello, Mr. Wong. He‘s running for a seat on the Arizona Corporation Commission. His plan to reduce utility costs for his would-be constituents, shutting off power to illegal immigrants. I know, it sounds crazy. Don‘t worry, it gets crazier. Wong wants to require electric companies to verify the immigration status of customers. Then, if they find an undocumented immigrant wasting our precious American electricity, you shut it off. This way, Wong says, there would be more electricity for Americans and the power companies wouldn‘t have to build new plants and prices would go down.
Or this way the power companies would suddenly have to add thousands of researchers, investigators, immigration experts and lawyers, all so they could get rid of customers, and so prices would go up. Clearly Mr. Wong just hasn‘t thought big enough here. If you‘re in the Tea Party and hate the immigrants crowd, what he really wants to see is for the electric company to be able to find out who the illegals are, see? Then you don‘t give them less electricity, you give them more. So when they plug something in, ZZZ. That‘s Mr. Wong‘s ultimate solution right there.
OLBERMANN: The Reverend Al Sharpton on the Glenn Beck rally next. But first, get out your pitchforks and torches. Time for tonight‘s worst persons in the world.
The bronze to Kathleen Parker, a conservative columnist of the “Washington Post.” There have been some dumb columns written this year. This could be the dumbest. Highlights? “If Bill Clinton was our first black president, as Tony Morrison once proclaimed, then Barack Obama may be our first woman president. No, I‘m not calling Obama a girly president, but”—she then proceeds to call him a girly president. “He may be suffering a rhetorical testosterone deficit when it comes to dealing with crises, with which he‘s been richly endowed. His approach is feminine in a normative sense. That is we perceive and appraise him according to cultural expectations. He‘s not exactly causing anxiety in alpha-male-dom. We could say that Obama displays many tropes of female-ness. I say this in the nicest way possible.—possible way, sorry. Obama‘s Gulf speech featured 13 percent passive voice constructions, the highest level measured in any major presidential address this century.”
So Obama‘s not just the lunatic far right‘s Hitler. He‘s their Hitler in drag. And these insults about women, by the way, are written by a woman. What would this Kathleen Parker do for a living if the “Washington Post” folds? What? CNN? When? You mean replacing Larry? No? What time then?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 8:00.
OLBERMANN: 8:00, seriously?
Our runner-up, Sister Sarah, speaking at the International Bowl Expo in Vegas. According to the online “Bowling Examiner,” quote, “Palin recalled her youth when her father set pins in Idaho. ‘My dad was on a Thursday night bowling league,‘ she said. ‘He bonded with his buddies. I have memories of that point of my life which mean very much to me.” When her family moved out of Idaho, she was three-months-old. She can‘t even get through a damn bowling convention without lying? That woman is an idiot.
Our winner, Matt Drudge. The vice president warned Democrats in a mass e-mail about the campaign to come. “As things heat up, you can expect House Democrats will be hit with a GOP blitzkrieg of vicious Swift Boat style attack ads.”
Drudge‘s headline? “Biden compares Republicans to Nazis.” First of all, I only recently found out there was a Drudge. I thought it was like a fictional figurehead, like Mr. Clean, or Snap, Crackle and/or Pop. Anyway, western journalists essentially coined that term blitzkrieg in the ‘30s, meaning lightening war, and applied it to what the Nazis tried. Then the Nazis started using it.
Do you know who else has used it lately, presumably to compare people to Nazis, Carl Cameron of Fox News in 2006: “Democrats blitzkrieg on the air.” Chuck Norris a year later, “Obama‘s Blitzkrieg.” Conserva-nut Roger Hedgecock, “Obama‘s Blitzkrieg against the Constitution.” Michele Bachmann last July about the Democrats, “Blitzkrieg path.” Breitbart this year about Media Matters, “Blitzkrieg,” about James O‘Keefe. News Busters in 2007 about “NBC‘s global warming propaganda Blitzkrieg.” Of course, there is also the problem of blitz, which is short for blitzkrieg. So every NFL announcer, player, coach, they‘re Nazi-ing. And Blitz Beer, Wolf Blitzer, Chicago Blitz of the USFL, “Ballroom Blitz” by Sweet, Blitz and the reindeer, “The Blitz” on ESPN News. Nazi comparisons, every damn last one of them.
Matt Drudge, ass hat, today‘s worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: Former editor and publisher ace Joe Struff (ph) has an article at Media Matters today about whether or not the Washington bureaus of the major news organizations will cover Glenn Beck‘s glorified book party on August 28th, at or near the exact spot where Martin Luther King gave his “I Have a Dream Speech” exactly 47 years earlier. Our number one story tonight, most answers Struff got, probably. Editors noting Congress will be out of session and news will be scarce.
While the jury is still out on whether or not Beck will obtain a permit for the event at the Reflection Pool—he won‘t actually be on the steps of the Lincoln memorial, as was Dr. King—one apparent hurdle seems less of one today. Major remodeling will close the Reflecting Pool. However, that—although it won‘t take place for two years, it won‘t start before October, apparently.
Conservatives today are hotly pursuing the idea that Dr. King was not a socialist. As if that fact somehow alone condones Beck turning “I Have a Dream” into “I Have a Scheme.” in some cases going so far as to suggest Dr. King was actually a conservative.
Of course, that was still not the craziest example of turning something on its head here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: We are the inheritors and the protectors of the civil rights movement. They are perverting it. We are on the right side of history. We are on the side of individual freedoms and liberties. And damn it, we will reclaim the civil rights moment. We will take that movement, because we were the people that did it in the first place. Whites don‘t own Abraham Lincoln. Blacks don‘t own Martin Luther King.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The Reverend Al Sharpton will lead a “Reclaim the Dream” rally and march on August 28th, as his group, National Action Network does every year to commemorate the 1963 March on Washington. He is here with us now. Good evening to you, sir.
REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: Good evening. OLBERMANN: Read that phrase again: “we will reclaim the civil rights moment. We will take that movement, because we were the people that did it in the first place.” To your knowledge, who‘s this we he‘s talking about?
SHARPTON: I have no idea. From my study of history, those that claim to be the Tea Partiers and the followers and supporters of Mr. Beck and Mrs. Palin were the ones that today advocate the things that that march was against.
First of all, that march was to appeal to government to intervene and protect the rights of people. They are against big government. I mean, you don‘t have to get to race. Their idea of government and the idea that Dr. King and Roy Wilkins of—and others espoused is the exact opposite of what they‘re calling for. Dr. King met with Caesar Chavez and talked about how we protect people, no matter who they are, that come into the borders, and have a sound policy. They‘re the ones that are rallying against that. So I think that they are absolutely, unequivocally—I don‘t even have to get to the race side of this. They are against the concept of what the march was about in ‘63. And for them to now talk about we‘re going to reclaim or we‘re going to take back a movement, that they are the philosophical children of the Barry Goldwaters, who opposed it—I think it would be laughable if it wasn‘t so arrogant.
OLBERMANN: Yeah. What do you think—is there an attempt in here to desecrate Dr. King‘s memory and what everybody stood for then? Or is this just a publicity stunt by some sort of a megalomaniac?
SHARPTON: Well, whether it‘s an attempt to do the desecration or whether it‘s a publicity stunt, it can desecrate. The fact of the matter is the march was 47 years ago. So people that are middle-aged and younger would not understand what it was about if we did not do our rally that we do every year. And Urban League, Marc Morial and others that have inherited those organizations, as I came out as a kid in the aftermath of Dr. King‘s death from his movement—that‘s not what the movement is about.
The movement is about what they talked about them. Martin Luther King talked about America giving blacks and poor people a bad check. These people are the ones that don‘t want to even give you an unemployment check today. He talked about us having a judicial system that was fair. These are the people that defend brutality.
So I think that it will be a classic case of they‘re trying to hijack something. But there will be some of us in Washington, at another location. We‘re not going to confront them. We‘re going to do what we always do, affirm the dream to try to complete it, because we‘re not there yet.
OLBERMANN: Your advice to people who are appalled at the prospect of this spectacle that would be—that presumably will happen. We‘re presuming that they get the permit on it. What is your advice for the people who want to protest it?
SHARPTON: My advice is don‘t protest that. Don‘t give them the energy. Come and affirm at the Reclaiming Rally with those that are in the civil rights movement, blacks, whites and all.
He‘s right, blacks don‘t own Dr. King. We never did. If he looks at the video, it was not just blacks marching in ‘63. It was not just blacks that will be rallying with us today. It was not blacks that was at the immigration speech today of President Obama. It was not just blacks that voted for Mr. Obama. We knew all along that it is about bringing the country together. They‘re the ones that are saying, no to government. Let‘s go back to states rights. Let the unemployed go uninsured. Let us pit people against immigrants.
We are the ones saying, let‘s bring the country together under some sound judgment. Come and affirm it at a rally of affirmation, not some joke that is saying they‘re reclaiming a moment that I don‘t think they understand. And I‘m being kind.
OLBERMANN: Are you going to do anything different at your march this year? Or is going to be what you normally do?
SHARPTON: It‘s going—certainly it‘s energized by this distortion. I‘ve talked to Martin Luther King III. He‘s coming and others. A lot of us are offended by it. But we‘re not going to play into that. We‘re going to put a clean glass next to whatever they do, wherever they do it. OLBERMANN: It‘s a fascinating point that you can subtract the entire element of race out of this, and they‘ve still gotten it wrong, from what Martin Luther King said in 1963.
SHARPTON: And if we had another hour, I could bring the race part up. If you just use government and what Martin Luther King said—read the whole speech. It is the exact antithesis of what they represent and what they‘re saying in the Tea Party.
OLBERMANN: Perfectly put. The Reverend Al Sharpton, always a pleasure. Thanks for your time.
SHARPTON: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: That‘s COUNTDOWN for July 1st, the 2,618th day since President Bush declared mission accomplished in Iraq, the 2,207th day since he declared victory in Afghanistan, and the 73rd day of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf.
I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck. Now to vet that possible good news on the restoration of jobless benefits, with former Governor Tim Kaine, ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow. Good evening, Rachel.
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