Tuesday, June 8, 2010

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, June 8th, 2010, 10pm show
video podcast

Video (YouTube only): Tea Time, Worst Persons
The toss: Halter

Guests: Denny Kelso, Bob Cavnar



KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

This scenario is doomsday. More reports from Senator Bill Nelson of Florida of oil seeping up, the possible piercing of the well casing under the seabed. If true, says Bob Cavnar, an underground blowout. Plumes prove it. Great underwater clouds of oil deep in the Gulf confirmed and test a decade ago confirmed BP knew that is what could happen.

But BP's Tony Hayward says his campaign will donate net revenues from the oil they do not spill into the Gulf to restore wildlife habitats around the Gulf.


MATT LAUER, THE TODAY SHOW: He doesn't work for you, but if he did, would you want him out?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He wouldn't be working for me.


OLBERMANN: Congress returns and it is open season on BP with Richard Wolffe; the plumes with former Alaska commissioner of environmental conservation, Denny Kelso; and the doomsday scenario with Bob Cavnar.

Semi Super Tuesday. Arkansas: Halter tops Lincoln?


LT. GOV. BILL HALTER (D), ARKANSAS: She voted for every - virtually every major piece of legislation that caused us to have $7 trillion of accumulated debt over the last 10 years.

SEN. BLANCHE LINCOLN (D), ARKANSAS: The reason that I'm having all this money spent against me is because I stood up to special interest groups.


OLBERMANN: And not just GOP on GOP rhetoric in Nevada, but the Tea Party snake is eating its own tail again, from a would-be New Jersey congressman, "Michele Bachmann has sold out the Tea Party Movement."

And Rand Paul does it again. He's defending BP.


RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY SENATE CANDIDATE: I saw the full-page ad in the newspaper. And they promised to pay for the cleanup. Do we have to have a villain?


OLBERMANN: He is defending BP.

All the news commentary and primary results - now on Countdown.



OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.

As a report based on secret internal BP documents and whistleblowers came out today, it reinforced the message emerging from a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee that BP has, for years, rewarded dangerous cost-cutting in a regulatory environment that posed little danger to big oil because of limits on their legal liability. That's right.

In our fifth story tonight: In addition to greed and lax regulation, add tort reform to the list of how we got here.

Senator Dick Durbin pushing back against an oil industry employee who argued unlimited liability for spill damages may make it economically impossible for some companies to drill.

Senator Durbin seems to be OK with that.


SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: I happen to believe that if you were engaged in drilling and can create this level of damage, it carries with it a responsibility that you accept liability for the damage. If you cannot accept that liability, stay the hell out of the business.


OLBERMANN: At a briefing today, government officials confirmed what independent scientists have reported for weeks, water samples show diluted, almost invisible plumes of oil underwater, robbing the water of oxygen as far as 45 miles from the spill. This is a scenario the government and BP should have prepared for and responded to because they knew it could happen.

Countdown having obtained video from a field experiment called, yes, Project Deep Spill. A controlled release of oil in the North Sea showing that even in water shallower than the current spill, plumes do form, predicting how such plumes move through the water, and demonstrating that even clear plume cans be tracked by sonar.

The U.S. Minerals Management Service and BP are both aware of these results because they did the tests 10 years ago.

BP's prior knowledge is also at the heart of a new investigation from ProPublica, dove-tailing with Senate testimony about how liability caps encourage short cuts. ProPublica unearthing internal BP reports, chronicling a corporate culture in which neglecting equipment, faking inspections and punishing those who raise safe concerns, got you promoted.

BP having had numerous warnings about pipeline neglect before its Alaska spill and continuing to violate safety agreements even after 15 people died in a Texas refinery blast.

In an interview taped yesterday, the president was asked whether he would have fired BP's CEO Tony Hayward after Hayward's series of tone-deaf remarks about the crisis, including for one for which he apologized, in which he said he wanted his life back.


OBAMA: He wouldn't be working for me after any of those statements. First of all, we're going to have to find out why this thing went in the first place. And the fact of the matter is, is that there's going to be a thorough review and I don't want to prejudge it. But the initial reports indicate that there may be situations in which not only human error was involved, but you also saw some corner-cutting in terms of safety.


OLBERMANN: Meantime, Christopher Jones is a lawyer who testified today at that hearing about some of the laws that let companies cut corners without having to worry about liability, specifically maritime laws that limit liability for events on the high seas. Mr. Jones however was not testifying in his capacity as a lawyer expert in that field. He was speaking, as he spoke on this news hour of two weeks ago, as the brother, the only brother, of Gordon Jones, one of the 11 men who died on April 20th in the Deepwater Horizon blast, talking about losses companies might prevent if they could not calculate the downside of cutting corners, and about losses that can never be compensated for.


CHRISTOPHER JONES, BROTHER OF DEAD RIG WORKER: Gordon is my only brother. Gordon is survived by his wife Michelle, and two sons, Stafford and Max. Stafford is 2 and Max was born three weeks ago.

This is a picture of the backyard fort Gordon built with Stafford's help for Stafford and Max. Although you may not be able to tell, it's not finished. Gordon planned to finish it when he returned home. He will never get that chance.

Lastly, I show you possibly the last picture taken of Gordon before his death. It is taken just after - just after Gordon gave Stafford his first golf lesson, an experience Gordon thoroughly enjoyed. You can see the joy on their faces.

I'm saddened that neither will experience the same joy again.

I want to take this opportunity to address recent remarks made by Tony Hayward, CEO of BP. In particular, he publicly stated he wants his life back.

Mr. Hayward, I want my brother's life back. And I know the families of the other 10 men want their lives back.


OLBERMANN: BP announced today it will create a Gulf Coast wildlife fund from the revenues from the recovered oil estimated currently at 2 million so far. The moral equivalent pledging after tax profits from a string of armed robberies will be used to compensate the victims of those robberies.

But there's more. Earlier tonight, the company's chief operating officer, Doug Suttles, told the "Associated Press" that BP expects to be capturing virtually all the oil leaking from the Gulf floor by early next week, leaving what he calls a "relative trickle." Key word there perhaps, "relative."

To the mechanics of this in a moment, let's first bring in MSNBC political analyst, Richard Wolffe, also, of course, author of "Renegade:

The Making of the President."

Richard, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Having heard Christopher Jones today and earlier on this program, obviously, he underscores the humanity of this nightmare in a way that no politician can, the way no one who's not directly affected can.

Is the White House satisfied though that the president has made a connection with the people of this country in a parallel if not in a similar way? I mean, have they considered having him address the nation? Surely, as a disaster, this merits some formalized comment from the president.

WOLFFE: Well, the simple answer is they're not really satisfied. No. I think they are fairly open about saying that this communications piece of this has not gone according to what they hoped would be their plan and specifically about an address to the nation there was a report out by my good friend Jon Alter to that end.

I'm told tonight by White House officials that actually that idea is not under active consideration. And you can kind of understand why in one sense because it really does smack of President Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina.

And it's not a very personal or emotional way to make a connection, when you have the president perhaps lit up by clean lights behind a podium.

So, an address to the nation may not be the way he needs to fill the gap that he's had so far. We saw a bit of an attempt at that with the interview with Matt Lauer today where he is expressing more emotion. But that's not really their purpose here. Their purpose at the moment is to express activity and show that they're in charge, which if you wind back the tape a few weeks, was the question. Who was in charge here?

They have worked overtime to correct the impression that, well, nobody was really in charge. But still, as you point out with the question, there is this question mark itself about the emotional piece of the president's engagement.

OLBERMANN: Well, that begs a further question, which is - why is the president then going to the Gulf again next week, Monday and Tuesday?

WOLFFE: Well, look, this is something that the White House says that they disdain. It's a patent we have seen over and again. This is something the president spoke about again on "The Today Show" - this idea that he's having to perform for the cameras.

Well, actually that is part of the job. This is a photo-op type of situation where he is going to demonstrate by his physical presence all the various things they are doing and how on top of it he is.

But, really, whenever presidents, not just this president, when they travel down there, I was with President Bush in New Orleans several times, they're not really doing anything different on the ground that they couldn't do in the White House. So, it's demonstration. It's a chance to explain things again for people who want to see the president get his hands dirty.

OLBERMANN: Richard, what does - on the other side of this equation, what does the first day back for Congress tell us about how the parties relative to each other are going to approach this? Is it Democrats blame BP and the big oil and deregulation, or Republicans blame the president and nothing else?

WOLFFE: Well, pretty much and they blame a lack of regulation. It's a weird situation that Republicans are arguing that there was a regulatory failure that allowed BP to drill in the first place. But at the same time, they want - yes, less regulation.

I mean, this is a party that has been very consistent in its ideology. Two decades now, it has pursued less regulation as a way to free up business freedom and risk-taking and there is a direct connection. No matter who approved the actual drilling on this particular well at this moment, there is a real connection between the deregulatory philosophy and ideology that we've seen pursued by Republicans and taken on my some centrist Democrats and where we are right now.

Now, of course, the Democrats want to go after BP. It is by far a better subject for them to talk about. There is politics there, when, in fact, there is collective failure here of both recklessness and incompetence.

OLBERMANN: MSNBC political analyst, Richard Wolffe, also the author of "Renegade" - as always, Richard, great thanks for you time tonight.

WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: How about the plume. Let's turn to Denny Kelso, executive vice president of the Ocean Conservancy advocacy group, who was on board the Exxon Valdez, during that spill, in his capacity as Alaska's commissioner of environmental conservation.

Thank you for your time, sir.


OLBERMANN: The administration took pains to differentiate this. They said this is not a plume of oil. This is an underwater cloud. Does that - does that matter and why might it matter?

KELSO: I think the idea is that a cloud may have less concentration of oil. But, frankly, that doesn't make much difference to me. During the Exxon Valdez spill, a great deal of damage was done. And after the spill, the science showed that concentrations as low as one part per billion were sufficient to kill fish eggs and, of course, that harms the whole population of fish that people depend upon.

So, whether we call it a cloud or something else, it's still a toxic cloud. And the concentration, the duration of exposure, the kinds of organisms that are caught in that plume or in that cloud are all going to suffer. And all those pieces of that - of that exposure are what make the difference, not whether we call it a cloud or something else. A toxic cloud still has adverse effects.

And we still, even at the lowest estimates, between 23 million and 50 million of gallons of oil that's been spilled. We should hold BP to their promise to go after every drop. But let's wait and see what they do.

OLBERMANN: I used a somewhat cumbersome analogy before, BP using - announcing today that it was going to use the spill oil proceeds, that what had been reclaimed in any event for wildlife fund, that this was akin to a robber compensating his victims with the proceeds of the robberies. But in a way, is it - the analogy cumbersome because it doesn't it doesn't go far enough? Meaning, is the spill the robbery or is the real robbery the years of cost cutting and why aren't we looking at having BP take the proceeds from that and restore the ecosystems that are being destroyed at this - at this hour?

KELSON: Keith, you're right. BP makes $62 million a day. And some portion of that, maybe a significant portion of that, is profit that comes from cutting corners. And when those corners are cut, the people of the Gulf who depend upon fishing and tourism and other uses of the coast and the ocean bear the cost. They pick up the tab.

And frankly, it's like picking the pocket of the fishermen and giving them back some change.

So, this should not be acceptable. We should not be distracted. BP has an obligation to do everything possible to bring this area back to its former productivity.

OLBERMANN: The Supreme Court when it ruled on the Exxon Valdez relied on existing liability laws, slashed the verdict from $5 billion to half a billion. Does having that kind of cap, in fact, let big oil, like BP, weigh the profits of cost-cutting against what are now very definable and very finite risks?

KELSO: Those cost cans be rolled into a business plan. I think the cap - the liability cap that we should look at right now is the liability cap that was enacted as part of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 after the Exxon Valdez spill. It is way too low. It just needs to be removed. Otherwise, what you simply have is the ability to plan for spills as occurrences, though they are rare, are extremely hurtful to communities as well as to the environment. And we simply shouldn't tolerate a cap like that.

Right now, it's $75 million for the kind of spill that this was, this kind of facility. That's wrong. And Congress needs to fix it. They need to fix it now.

OLBERMANN: Denny Kelso, the executive vice president of Ocean Conservancy - great thanks for your time.

KELSO: You're welcome.

OLBERMANN: Of course, it can still get worse, much worse, doomsday kind of worse. It was forecast on this news hour two weeks ago by our analyst Bob Cavnar and was raised again today by Senator Nelson of Florida, reports he said of oil seeping up from the seabed which would indicate, if that's true, that the well casing is actually pierced underneath the seabed. What is one gusher today could be a dozen gushers tomorrow. Bob Cavnar returns on that.

And also, this late claim by BP that it would be able to cut the flow to a "relative trickle" by early next week.

First, the latest on this primary night when Countdown continues.


OLBERMANN: Primary night. The Arkansas senator and her challenger fight to the end over who closed 38 of the 40 polling places in one Arkansas County.

What this Florida senator has heard about holes in the casing that has led one expert to suggest we maybe on the verge of a doomsday scenario in which the crisis of the moment might remembered fondly, even nostalgically.

Who leaps on FOX News to depend BP? Who else, Dr. Kill Patient over there.

And the next secretary of state in California? Well, they let her in to a Beverly Hills fundraiser along with Rove and Fiorina and Norm Coleman. Maybe they all just wanted to feel less crazy.


OLBERMANN: Voting in today's Democratic Senate runoff in Arkansas now closed, polls there having shuttered nearly two hours ago, but for democrats in much of Garland County, most polls there never having opened in the first place.

Out of the 40 polling stations that were available in the democratic primary three weeks ago, today election officials opening only two of them.

Our fourth story tonight, if elections are won or lost by a campaign's ability to get out the vote, the Senate runoff in Arkansas may possibly be remembered for how somebody succeeded at keeping out the vote. Of course, if Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter, who easily took Garland County three weeks ago were to win tonight's runoff against Senator Blanche Lincoln, all might be forgiven if not forgotten.

But the possibly headline at this hour, with now 47 percent of the vote in, Lincoln may now pull off Halter upset. She's up by nearly 21/2 points with almost half the vote counted. This morning top democratic sources in Arkansas told Politico.com they expected Senator Lincoln to lose tonight.

In Nevada polls have closed at the top of the hour in the race for the republican Senate nomination there, the chickens for checkups candidate, Sue Lowden having blown a considerable lead there, and the latest polling before of today's vote showed that Sharon Angle was at a slim lead over Danny Tarkanian, but there are no hard numbers yet out of Nevada.

Tea Party favorite Angle having benefited from lots of out-of-state donations there, the Lowden campaign today telling John Rolston, our NBC affiliate in Los Vegas that Mrs. Lowden believes her get-out-the-vote-effort can save her from the chickens that came home to roost.

To South Carolina again, the race to replace Governor Marc Sanford has been marked by its own scandal of late. The Associated Press now reporting that the republican front-runner Nikki Haley and Gresham Barrett are to head for a runoff. No candidate getting over 50 percent of the vote - that's not official yet but very close to being so - 95 percent of the vote in, and Ms. Haley failing to get 50.1 percent to avoid that runoff against Mr. Barrett.

Mrs. Haley having said in a radio interview that she will resign if she is elected governor and allegations of infidelity against her that she is now facing are then proven to be true. I don't suppose anybody got that bit of monkey business in writing.

And in the republican race for the South Carolina 4th, the incumbent Bob Inglis eking out a spot in a runoff against Tea Party challenger Trey Gowdy. At this hour, among other things, Congressman Inglis has told Tea Party activists to turn Glenn Beck off.

He's called for action on climate change, and he said Representative Joe Wilson should apologize for yelling you lie during one of President Obama's addresses to Congress. Time now to assess what we've seen so far tonight, calling our own Chris Matthews, the host, of course of "Hardball."

Chris, good evening.

MATTHEWS: Keith, we've got good news tonight.


MATTHEWS: And that's the probable nomination of Orly Taitz in California for Secretary of State. This is a true malignancy on the republican party. She will bring down the other two candidates for high office out there. She'll probably bring down Carly Fiorina, and may well bring down Meg Whitman because she is unacceptable to any reasonable voter. She came to the United States from the former Soviet Union. She has this almost a tribalist attitude against the president which bears no connection to any facts that she has in hand. She simply wants to believe he's not an American, and she is, and she's going to make this guy pay for it.

It is tribalist, it's malignant, and I believe if I were a democratic officeholder out there or had anything to do with the party with Jerry Brown's campaign, I would tie her to them like a fencepost. I would tie her up - I should say like a witch at the stake. This is a malignancy. There is no way to defend her as a candidate. No way. By the way, she's the star of our upcoming documentary on the Tea Party crowd. She is really awful as a politician. I don't know how they're going to defend her.

OLBERMANN: It would be funny if her opponent in this primary were to then produce documents later on that showed that she was somehow ineligible to stand for election.

MATTHEWS: Well, the thing about it is - and it is ludicrous - she believes the president is an illegal immigrant. She believes the president should be thrown out of the country like some people believe Mexicans that come here should be thrown out of the country.

She really believes it. Well, at least she says she believes it. There's something really in her attitude. I don't know - a shrink will have to figure it out. Where did she come from? But she's a recent, you know, she comes to America, it is a land of immigrants, and yet she will not treat the president as an American.

Well, there it is. You have to just look at it. You get the message.

OLBERMANN: Let me move on to -

MATTHEWS: There's something really crazy about this person, and I do think - I heard you earlier tonight, I think that's wonderful news that she's been included in the inner sanctum of the republican ticket out there.


MATTHEWS: She's been attending their events.

OLBERMANN: Karl Rove did not get up and walk out. Let me ask you about Arkansas.

MATTHEWS: He should have.

OLBERMANN: We were told early in the day that even -

MATTHEWS: By the way, she's fair game.

OLBERMANN: Apparently, well, if she wasn't before, she certainly is now. Let me turn over to Lincoln and Halter in Arkansas.


OLBERMANN: Where we're now at 55 percent of the precincts reporting and a 51/49 split in favor of Lincoln. This is not going the way people had predicted. What's happening there? Do we have any idea?

MATTHEWS: Well, you mentioned that irregularity perhaps in that county, but let me tell you what might happen. This had the look from the outside not just as an ideological battle between perhaps progressive and centrist, but it has a kind of a generational aspect to it.

It reminds me of the fight between Conan O'Brien and Jay Leno on our network, and I really sense that; that there's the people who have a deep commitment to Bill Halter and then there are people who have sort of a broad commitment to the potential to win a general election of Blanche Lincoln.

She is sort of a Jay Leno in her appeal. It's broader, but not perhaps as deep as his. He, however has great strength on the progressive side and may not be as electable as her. But then all that said, neither one of them are by any means a favorite in the general election.

OLBERMANN: Yes. Extraordinary, and one of the voters the AP talked to afterwards saying that she voted for Senator Lincoln, sort of holding her breath.


OLBERMANN: I mean that's - even if you don't know exactly what that means, it certainly is a picture, a word picture of what might be going on in Arkansas tonight.

MATTHEWS: And the fact that this might be a close race tonight tells that neither of the democratic candidates has a strong mandate out of this runoff. The idea of a runoff is to get some mandate. I don't even like these runoffs, do you? I don't know why they have them.

It goes back to the old days of the democratic party trying to make sure there's a white candidate or whatever. I don't know what the gizmo in this whole thing is. But why do they have to have runoffs?

I guess it was back when they were a one-party state and they were all democrats. They wanted to have someone with something like a mandate for the general, but I don't get it.

OLBERMANN: Well here perhaps is the explanation. We're now up to 55 percent of the vote in Arkansas, and it just flopped. Bill Halter is ahead 51 percent to 49 percent by less than 3400 votes he's ahead in one that I suspect we will not be hearing the result of for quite some time. So maybe that's our answer.


OLBERMANN: Chris will be back with a live late edition of "Hardball" -


OLBERMANN: And a complete analysis of those results, and another meeting of the Orly Taitz fan club. So we'll look forward to that, Chris.

MATTHEWS: You said it. You said it.

OLBERMANN: Thank you, Sir.

MATTHEWS: I can't wait for the general.

OLBERMANN: all right, thanks, Chris. We'll see you later.

MATTHEWS: Take care. Thank you.

OLBERMANN: Back to the Gulf. A BP chief suggests the Gulf oil flow will be down to a trickle by next week while several news organizations report there are additional breaches perhaps in the well, below the ocean floor, and they could form new blowouts, new underwater gushers. These two statements could seem to be in conflict. An expert analyzes and we'll keep following the primaries, ahead on "Countdown."


OLBERMANN: What if there has been or there is about to be another blowout far below the spot in which all efforts are being made to stop the BP disaster. Bob Cavnar next. First, the Tweet of the day, not brand new, but still funny from our friend Dave Weigel. "Breaking," he Tweets, "White House offered more than 400,000 jobs to potential Senate candidates in shadowy census scheme. Developing."

When you satirize Drudge, you don't really have to change anything from reality to make it funny. Let's play Oddball.

We begin with yesterday's commencement address from President Obama to Kalamazoo Central High School in Michigan, which turned into an unwitting reprisal - reprise, rather, of the old Letterman bit, George W. Bush, invigorating America's youth. You may recall a few years back when "The Late Show" compiled a montage of President Bush speaking as a yawning youngster fought the urge to snooze, unsuccessfully.

Yesterday, President Obama had his own sleeper agent.


OBAMA: This is a contest to highlight schools that promote academic excellence.

Life won't be determined just by what's -

You have an alum who plays for the Yankees. Derek Jeter wasn't born playing shortstop for the Yankees.

You come from an age in - it is the easiest thing in the world to start looking around for someone else to blame. You could spend years pointing fingers, blaming parents, because that is how you'll end up learning what it's like to walk in somebody else's shoes. That's how -


OLBERMANN: Or sleep in somebody else's chair.

Sidney, Australia, good day. Another entrant in the Oddball Hall of Fame, obscenely large food division. Behold, it's the world's biggest burger, 178 pounds, 12 hours to cook, four men to flip, 150 slices of cheese. If you want to eat it, it will cost you 1,200 dollars. Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce, gluttony does not upset us.

The good news, there has been some success capping BP's rupture oil well, to the point where it's people think they can stop it to a trickle by next week. The bad news, the pressure in that well may have been forced back in on itself, causing well ruptures under ground and leading to the prospect of additional blowouts. Or to dumb it down, doomsday, next on Countdown.

OLBERMANN: When it comes to describing the disaster unfolding still in the Gulf of Mexico, the 11 people killed, the untold damage to the environment and people's livelihoods, the term doomsday scenario is not far off. Our third story, what then is the next step worse than doomsday? As forecast here two weeks ago, evidence now of the possibility that something called an underground blowout might be happening, oil seeping outside BP's damaged well through the ocean floor. That new information coming from Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, referencing fears he addressed in a letter he addressed to BP.


SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: Andrea, we are looking into something new right now, that there's reports of oil seeping up from the seabed, which would indicate, if that's true, that the well casing itself is actually pierced underneath the seabed.


OLBERMANN: That said to Andrea Mitchell on this network. Last week, the "Washington Post" reported sources at companies involved with the well said that BP discovered damage inside the well below the sea floor during the initial top kill procedure, the failed measure to plug the leak with mud. A BP official, speaking on condition of anonymity, had told the newspaper that, quote, "we discovered things that were broken in the sub-surface, and that the mud being pushed into the well to prevent oil from coming out was making it out to the side, into the formation."

The formation is their term for the rock surrounding the well. The fear is that now oil is making out to the side into the rock formation, and that any further attempts to contain the spill will pressurize the already damaged well, well below the sea floor, causing an underground blowout. If that were to happen, sub-sea containment of the spill would get exponentially more difficult.

To try and translate that, we'll once again turn to oil and gas industry expert and Bob Cavnar, contributor to "Huffington Post," as well as founder and editor of the Daily Hurricane Blog. Bob, thanks again for your time tonight.


OLBERMANN: You have had your own fears of underground blowouts. Do you think BP and the federal government are as fully afraid of it as you are?

CAVNAR: I certainly hope they are. These stories that are coming out now, the one in the "New York Times" and the "Washington Post," that you talked about, square with what I heard last week from those who were closer to the operation, that they experienced some kind of a failure during the Top Kill operation, and that's one of the reasons they shut down so quickly.

You'll recall, Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend, they said it would be 48 hours more before they heard it was successful. They suddenly announced that afternoon that they were shutting down the operation.

OLBERMANN: This would make Mr. Suttles' remark tonight to the Associate Press particularly strange. The chief operating officer said today that they would have the leak's flow down to a relative trickle by Monday or Tuesday. Is that possible? And how does that jibe with this prospect that there are already other leaks further underground that would perhaps make or certainly end the exclusivity - the monopoly this one leak has on our attention.

CAVNAR: Right. That certainly was a surprise that he said that today. We do know their biggest problem here right now is keeping the well flowing, since I believe they probably can't shut it in, for the fear of an underground blowout. So they have to keep oil coming to the surface. And they over-ran the capacity of the enterprise yesterday. So the idea of bringing another ship in that can take the rest of the flow and put a new cap on by Tuesday sounds pretty ambitious to me.

OLBERMANN: Is it possible there's already been underground blowout or blowouts and BP doesn't know it or isn't telling us? And is there anything you've seen in terms of what they are doing that makes you think that is a possibility or not a possibility?

CAVNAR: I think they certainly probably - they likely had a casing failure during the Top Kill procedure. Remember, they had 30,000 horsepower pumping mud at about as much as 80 barrels a minute. That kind of casing was probably already damaged, could have certainly failed.

What tells me that they have a down hole problem is that they are working to fit a cap that latches on to the top of the blowout preventer, rather than just setting a new blowout preventer. That means they can't shut the well in, because there's a pressure buildup. So they have to keep the well flowing to minimize oil and gas going out into the formation on the side.

OLBERMANN: Senator Nelson talked about reports of oil seeping through the seabed. And there have been rumors about that on the Internet for at least two weeks. And you saw what you saw when they try the Top Kill and the mud came back out the way it did.

CAVNAR: Right.

OLBERMANN: Do we know if this is true? Or is this still at the rumor stage?

CAVNAR: I certainly would like BP to come out and say what they think. This sub-surface failure that has been talked about several times, I would believe they need to address, to either calm those fears and show that it's not an underground blowout, or disclose that they had that problem and help us understand more of what is going on.

OLBERMANN: A sub-surface blowout changes the relief wells idea how?

Or does it not change it at all?

CAVNAR: It just emphasizes how important the relief wells are. The relief wells are the only way to control the blowout, because it will kill the well at the source, which they have to do to kill either a surface blowout or a sub-surface blowout.

OLBERMANN: If there are other sub-surface blowouts and there are other leaks through the floor of the ocean at that point, how much worse would this be? Do we know?

CAVNAR: Well, the real doomsday scenario here, Keith, is if that casing gives up, and it does come through the other strings of pipe. Remember, it is concentric pipe that holds this well together. If it comes into the formation, basically, you've got uncontrolled flow to the sea floor. And that is the doomsday scenario. There is nothing they can do except the relief well, and it could likely flow for some time before they get it killed.

OLBERMANN: Bob Cavnar, oil and gas industry expert. Again, thanks for helping us understand this tonight.

CAVNAR: Happy to be with you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: If it is doomsday, we have the right woman to help. Have Republicans actually nominated Orly Taitz as their candidate to become secretary of state in California? Did they nominate a guy who used to play in the XFL football league? Well, they nominated Rand Paul, who makes it back on camera just in time to make Worsts, because he has taken sides in the Gulf disaster. Want to guess who he is defending?

When Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, her special guest on the Tarkanian, Angle, Lowden race in Nevada, reporter John Ralston, also known as the Wall that the chicken lady keeps running head first into.


OLBERMANN: Did you know the crisis in the Gulf was a natural disaster? Ask Dick Armey's FreedomWorks Foundation. "Worsts" is next.

First, though, that is not your water coming to a boil, it's our nightly checkup of the something for nothing crowd. It's "Tea Time."

Once again, snake eats its own tail, film at 11:00. "Michele Bachmann has sold out the tea party movement. She put out a robocall against tea party supported Alan Bateman," writes New Jersey congressional hopeful Alan Bateman doing that creepy third person thing, "in support of cap and traitor Chris Smith. Bachmann showed her true colors in that she is nothing more than a politician using the Tea Party Movement for her own advancement."

Well, look here, some of the patsies just figured out they were patsies.

Of course, poor Mr. Bateman would be further shock to discover that in Nevada, two mainstream Republicans were fighting over which had pandered to and used the tea partiers. Tea Party Express endorsed Sharron Angle for the Senate. Tea Party Nation endorsed Danny Tarkanian for the nation. Nation said Express had disseminated misinformation about Nation. Express said Nation were all bitter, sarcastic, snide, back-biting people. Nation said Express had a liberal mentality. Express called Nation nasty, nasty, nasty. Nation called Express turncoats to the Tea Party Movement.

Can't we all just get along? No way. To correctly quote the dialogue from "Monty Pythons Life of Brian," Eric Idle disparages another leftist group, "People's Front of Judea, splitters." John Cleese looks at him in amazement, "We're the People's Front at Judea." Idle answers, "Or I thought we were the Popular Front." Cleese laughs. Michael Palin then asked Cleese, "Whatever happened to the Popular Front?" Cleese answers, "He's over there." They all shout at the lone figure, "Splitter!"


OLBERMANN: Orly Taitz for secretary of state of California? To quote Judy Tenuta, "It could happen!" That's next.

But, first, pitchforks and torches, time for tonight's "Worst Persons in the World."

The bronze to Dr. Rand Paul. Slapping the training wheels back on and getting interviewed in the news again. Sorry, my mistake, he was interviewed by Neil Cavuto. On BP's Gulf disaster, he said the president sounds really un-American in his criticism of business. "It bothers me. I saw the full page ad in the newspaper. They promised to pay for the clean up. Do we have a to have a villain? That's my whole point. Do we want a presidential administration that says outlandish things like we are going to put our boot heal on BP? I want BP to pay. Everybody wants them to pay for cleaning up the oil mess. The thing is that sometimes people are well intentioned and bad things happen."

So let's just take their word for it, like we took their word for it that they had a plan in case the damn thing blew up. Dr. Paul, what are you like six? By all means, keep defending BP in the Gulf. Racist extremism could still get you elected in some backward corners of this nation. Defending the oil company during seven weeks of an uncontrolled oil-gasm will not.

Speaking of which, our runner-up, Matt Kibby (ph), president of Dick Armey's Astroturf lobbying group Freedom Works. Based on this quote, another victim of misspent education. Mr. Kibby revealed to an ABC interviewer something that only he knows about the Gulf disaster. Quote, "if you look at what has happened down there, it is a sad story of government incompetence, as well as negligence on the part of BP. I think what you have took at is, when there is a natural disaster like this, we do expect our government to do some things and to do them well."

A natural disaster. Unregulated, untested deep water mining, without a backup plan, and then everything goes kablewey (ph), and 11 men are killed, and the eco-system is on life support until further notice. That is about as much of a natural disaster as is the Republican party.

But our winner, Rupert Murdoch. His "New York Post" has been beating the drum of race hatred here in New York. A columnist inspired a protest of a Muslim county center in Lower Manhattan which the newspaper has incorrectly described as the Ground Zero Mosque. Rupert got what he wanted; 500 protesters showed up on our most hallowed ground, and they hated Muslims as hard as they could hate them.

That's when they spotted the two dark skinned men who were speaking Arabic to each other. Part of the group surrounded the pair and witnesses report shouts of get out and go home. Then, as it bordered on true ugliness, New York's finest stepped in, and pulled the men out for their safety, even as one of them, with an Egyptian shouted, half fearful, half startled, I'm a Christian. Both of them were. Joseph Nasrallah (ph) and Karim al Masri (ph), emigrants from Egypt to California, where they work for a Christian satellite TV station. They are Egyptian Coptic Christians. "I flew nine hours in an airplane to come here," Nasrallah said, "to protest the community center." He repeated, "I'm a Christian."

The problem, sir, is not what you are, but what the rest of them are. They were brought there by Rupert Murdoch, today's worst person in the world.


OLBERMANN: Nearly three quarters of the vote now reported in Arkansas, per "Politico" and Senator Blanche Lincoln is leading her challenger, Bill Halter, the lieutenant governor, by 2 ½ points.

To recap this primary election night, and our number one story, the polls, of course, closed in Arkansas, Nevada, and South Carolina - Lawrence O'Donnell joins me in a moment.

First, here are the details. The Democratic Senate runoff in Arkansas, with the incumbent ahead in what had seemed to be her fighting for her political life against Lieutenant Governor Halter, 2 ½ points as I said, with now 73 percent reported - no, make it 77 percent, and the percentage is holding exactly at 51.3 to 48.7 per "Politico."

There is also an additional report tonight that a brief Halter lead of about a half hour ago may have been a clerical error that, in fact, brought Blanche Lincoln has had about a two-point lead throughout the evening, since the first votes were counted. Also, 38 of 40 polling places closed in one county that went for Halter in the primary, certainly to be part of the discussion of what has happened here throughout the evening and in the days to come.

Nevada, the winner of the Republican Senate primary there will face Majority Harry Reid in November. Reid has wrapped the renomination. No surprise there, but it's very early on, 1 percent in the chickens for checkups versus everybody else candidates, Lowden, Angle, the tea party candidate, and son of the great basketball coach, Tarkanian, as the distant runner-up with less than 1 percent in.

That leaves the race for to replace Republican Governor Mark Sanford in South Carolina among the marquee events of the night. Mr. Sanford's own lieutenant governor, Andre Bauer, an afterthought in what will shape up as this primary runoff that will be necessary for Nikki Haley, given that her own scandal having been recently accused by two different men of adultery without proof, denying the claims, pledging to resign if she's elected governor, and she's about to speak after not holding off a challenge by the runner-up in this - show the vote panel again so we have an idea of where we stand here.

Forty-nine percent, she needs 50.1 percent to avoid a primary runoff against Gresham Barrett. And it looks like she's not going to get that. She's also said, as I was saying, denying claims of adultery, pledging to resign if she is elected governor and the allegations are proven true later. Wow!

Joining me now from Los Angeles, MSNBC political analyst, Lawrence O'Donnell.

Good evening, Lawrence.


OLBERMANN: All right. Arkansas, explain what happens.

O'DONNELL: Well, look, this is still very close. There's 25 percent of the vote hasn't been counted. When you're thrilling this lead, 51-49, there's time for Halter -


OLBERMANN: I'm going to interrupt you because it's being called for Blanche Lincoln by "Politico," at 51.7 to 48.3, with 80 percent of the precincts in yet. So, I'm sorry to have interrupted you with just that moment, but that's what they're reporting.

O'DONNELL: The important news here, Keith, is that a southern Democrat can be challenged on the left. This is just squeaking by. She's winning by a hair. This kind of political mathematics never existed in the south before with Democrats. They only had to worry about their right. They only had to worry about the general election.

Bill Halter and the progressives that went into Arkansas to try to take this away from Blanche Lincoln have completely changed the political calculus of how southern Democrats have to make their vote calculations in the United States Senate now. If she had to do it over good, would she support the public option? Would that have been a better move for her especially since politically, in the end, the public option was not going to be in the health care bill that she ended up voting for.

She has to completely reorder her political calculations in the Senate if she's going to be able to stay in the Senate.

OLBERMANN: What practical impact does have that have anywhere else, though? Because, obviously, in Arkansas, if this holds and the projection is there that Lincoln has won the runoff over Halter, it's not going to make any difference in Arkansas.

O'DONNELL: Well, but it means that progressives can come into a Democratic primary and damage the Democratic incumbent, damage another Democratic nominee in such a way that they will probably not be able to make it through the general election. No one is betting now on Blanche Lincoln to win the general election. If she didn't have this challenge in a Democratic primary - if the party had been able to unite around her, where would she be at this point in her general election campaign?

OLBERMANN: Thirty seconds on this topic before we sign off. California - and you couldn't dream this up if you were stoned race of the night, Orly Taitz on the GOP ballot for secretary of state, a possible nominee as state Republicans try to pretend she doesn't exist.

O'DONNELL: This is the nightmare for Republicans in California, and though there has been no public attention to this race, and so, Republicans in California don't really even know the names of the other people running. Damon Dunn is the Republican that the party wants to get, but when you go to that voting booth today, there's going to be something oddly familiar about that name Orly Taitz, and she may very well pull this thing out. She will be a disaster for the Republican Party to have on the ticket with them going into November in the state.

OLBERMANN: Ironic if she beat someone named Dunn, as in he is. Lawrence O'Donnell of MSNBC and "The Huffington Post" and great thanks for staying late with us.

O'DONNELL: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: All right. That's Countdown for this, the 50th day of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf. The headline, I guess, to this hour in Arkansas, it appears Lincoln removes Halter.

I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.

And now to continue our late night primary coverage - ladies and gentlemen, here, following that horrible joke, is Rachel Maddow. Good evening, Rachel.