'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Thursday, May 13th, 2010
Video via MSNBC: Twitter Report, Oddball, Tea Time, Worst Persons
The toss: Blotchy
Guest: Ezra Klein, Mike Mason
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you
be talking about tomorrow?
Senate Republicans protecting B.P. The Senate rises to vote on
increasing the oil monolith's liability in the Gulf from $75 million to $10
billion. But Senator Murkowski of Alaska blocks the vote, insisting it
would hurt small businesses.
Senator Menendez nails it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: If you drill, you need to be
able to pay for the damages, because otherwise, imagine if this particular
spill had been done by a, quote-unquote, "small company," then who would be
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And our exclusive interview with the Alaska whistleblower
who witnessed cheating on tests for the blowout preventers on wells owned
by B.P. - as all hell blows out in the Senate.
Arrests in Massachusetts, in New York, in New Jersey. Those arrested,
says the attorney general, provided Faisal Shahzad with funding. A
significant step, he says, in the investigation.
Then why did the administration just cut New York City's anti-
terrorism budget by $100 million? They didn't. They raised it by $47
Then why is Congressman Peter King saying they cut it? I don't know,
maybe we should go to that secret briefing for senators on the Times Square
bomber and ask Senator Kit Bond, except he fell asleep for 15 minutes
Arizona's "papers please" law. The latest high profile convention
boycott, the Republican presidential convention of 2012 - it goes to
Tampa. Not Phoenix. Oops.
Lewis Black takes of on Glenn beck.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS: These are the Brownshirts.
This is what Hitler did with the S.S.
LEWIS BLACK, COMEDIAN: Glenn Beck has "Nazi Tourette's."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Hey, great ceremonial first pitch, Olympic hero.
"Tea Time": Everybody just lock hands and form a human chain around
the building. OK, everybody just stand 25 feet apart and form a symbolic
virtual human chain around the building.
And idiot woman speaks in front of a big flag sponsored by a sump pump
company, quote, "Somebody told me, 'You know you're going into enemy
territory.' I said, 'It's Chicago - it's not MSNBC.'" Yes, like you had
the courage to come to MSNBC.
All the news and commentary - now on Countdown.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN (R), FMR. ALASKA GOVERNOR: You're right.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
As oil and gas continue churning into the Gulf, more than 4 million
barrels now, Democrats today brought a measure to the Senate floor that
would increase the amount Americans hurt by this bill can get from those
And in our fifth story tonight: A lone figure dared to stand up in
defense of the oil companies.
The law spearheaded by Bob Menendez of New Jersey, a state with miles
of beaches, would have raised the current level for liability from $75
million, a drop in the oily bucket, to $10 billion. Still less than B.P.
makes in profits over half a year's time. But procedure was one used for
noncontroversial - bipartisan vote, unanimous consent, which means there's
no vote, the bill just passes, unless someone objects. Cue the Republican.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ROLAND BURRIS (D), ILLINOIS: Is there objection?
SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: Mr. President -
BURRIS: Senator from Alaska.
MURKOWSKI: Mr. President, reserving the right to object.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, campaign recipient of
more than $400,000 from the oil and gas industry, explained that increasing
liability will make drilling prohibitively expensive for mom-and-pop
operations and said existing law already permits those hurt by the spills
to seek compensation in court.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MURKOWSKI: The law expressly - expressly allows for unlimited
damages. So, you've got unlimited damages in state courts where the
compensatory, the punitive damages, are already being sought. As we speak,
there have been numerous claims filed. Back on the 28th of April, the
Louisiana shrimpers filed a class action lawsuit against B.P., Transocean,
Halliburton and Cameron for their economic losses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Senator Menendez argued that if mom-and-pop drillers
lacked the resources to cover the damage they do, maybe they ought not risk
doing the damage in the first place. He also offered Senator Murkowski a
history lesson about her own state and oil.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MENENDEZ: The suggestion that those who are harmed - the fishermen,
the commercial fishermen, the tourism companies and others - are
ultimately will be in a position to make claims in state court - well, I
know my distinguished colleague from Alaska knows what happened in the
Exxon Valdez case, that took 20 years for claimants to try to get their
just response. And some of them fell off the way because they just
couldn't keep hanging in there. And they lost everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: We learned yesterday about the faulty blowout preventer
which could not be activated because of: "A," a dead battery, "B," a loose
fitting that leaked hydraulic fluid and, "C," modifications that disabled
the key part of it and were not reflected on the schematics which caused a
whole day of wasted effort to shut down the spill. Regulators testified at
a Louisiana hearing yesterday that the blowout preventer was designed,
manufactured and installed without any government oversight at all.
"The Wall Street Journal" today reporting that after bad test results
of the new cement seal on the well, B.P. decided to move ahead anyway. The
alternative, at least a week's delay in fixing the seal at a cost of more
than $5 million.
Transocean, owner and operator of the rig, today petitioning a judge,
arguing that its own liability should be less than $27 million, based on
19th century maritime law.
Joining us now: Ezra Klein, policy writer for "The Washington Post,"
columnist for "Newsweek" and the author of the "Wonkbook" newsletter.
Ezra, good evening.
EZRA KLEIN, THE WASHINGTON POST: How are you?
OLBERMANN: Given Transocean is hard at work trying to game the court
system against Americans who are hurt by this spill, do you have an idea
why Senator Menendez says the courts are not sufficient for providing
remedy for these spills and what the proposed remedy in his bill is?
KLEIN: Well, Keith, I'm no expert on 19th century maritime law. So,
that might disqualify me here.
But as Senator Menendez says, when you go through the courts, it takes
a very, very long time in these cases. And a lot of the people, it's a
dispersed damage. It's a lot of individual fishermen, individual
And it's hard for them to stick in there. It's hard for them to keep
up with the legal fees. It's hard for them to get away from some hot shot
lawyer bringing up 19th century maritime law.
On the other side, we have the law that makes of an expedited process
but has a $75 million cap. Now, we've had estimates of the B.P. damage up
to $14 billion. So, he's trying to move it up to $10 billion so there
could be an expedited process for these people who lost everything now to
get it back soon.
OLBERMANN: We did put in a call to 19th century maritime law expert,
Herman Melville. But we haven't heard from him back. So, we go along with
KLEIN: Yes. He's not good at responding the calls these days.
OLBERMANN: He also knows about the Customs House down here.
Senator Murkowski's other objection - she's protecting mom-and-pop
operators who wouldn't be able to afford insurance. Can you flush out or
add to that rebuttal that Senator Menendez gave? And are there a lot of
mom-and-pop oil drilling offshore operations?
KLEIN: I don't know how many mom-and-pop offshore operations there.
I mean, these mom-and-pop operations, I imagine, are a lot bigger than, for
instance, for what my mother and father own. I don't think that's the
scale we're talking about.
But it is totally conceivable that there are a lot of oil drilling
operations, that if the true cost of oil were put into the price of what
they have to do and what they have to cover, if their drilling goes wrong,
they couldn't afford to do it. And that gets to a much more important and
much larger point. What we pay at the pump does not include all the costs
on society. There's an enormous amount of pollution, dangers from global
warming, spills like this one. The National Academy of Sciences put in
just some of those and estimated that oil should be at least 29 cents more
So, yes, it is true that if you made oil reflect its true cost, some -
either some of us wouldn't buy as much of it or some people who currently
produce it wouldn't be able to produce it. I'm not sure why it should be
the government's role to encourage mom-and-pop production of oil or more
production of oil.
OLBERMANN: Correct me if I'm wrong on this last point. B.P.
literally already has a criminal record for the deadly blast in Texas City,
Texas; for the spills in Alaska, at Senator Murkowski's Alaska, for
conspiring to corner propane and manipulate the price, we assume that was
So, why are we talking about any cap on liability? I assume we don't
do that for organized crime usually. And, B, you know, why are Republicans
engage in defending habitual criminals from having to compensate their
KLEIN: Well, it's because the cap is sort of an expedited process.
And I imagine, I'm not an expert on it, but I imagine it has a lot to do
with there are probably some legal issues there, I'd guess. On the other
hand, I don't know exactly what the Republicans are doing on this. You
remember, the Senate is sort of run like a hippy commune. If as many as
one of them says, no, I don't want to continue, everybody's got to stop for
a couple days and sort of have a feeling circle on it before they take a
vote of 60.
So, what Republicans will do on this, I think, is up in the air.
Senator Murkowski, I imagine, you're seeing that there are of Alaskan oil
companies that don't like this legislation and worry that, in the future,
they will have a massive oil drilling - a massive oil catastrophe and they
don't want to be on the hook for it, and she's helping them out.
OLBERMANN: And Senator Murkowski from the hippy commune. Ezra Klein
of "The Washington Post" and "Newsweek" reporting to us tonight from
Woodstock. Thank you, Ezra.
KLEIN: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: As promised now, let's bring in Mike Mason, a veteran
Alaskan oil worker who now runs a freight service and who has been the
proverbial thorn in B.P.'s pipeline for years now - with this warning that
the satellite from Anchorage is longer than usual for some reason tonight.
Mr. Mason, thank you for joining us.
MIKE MASON, OIL INDUSTRY WHISTLEBLOWER: thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Explain briefly how a blowout preventer works and what
testing tells them before you install them.
MASON: Well, a blowout preventer works in two different ways. One,
to shear the well off and - if the primary way doesn't work, which is to
seal the pipe off; and to test the BOPs - it's what they call an integrity
test to see if they hold up to the pressures.
OLBERMANN: So, what exactly is the claim that you've made about the
testing that B.P. and its contractors have done on the BOPs, on the blowout
MASON: Well, when they test the BOPs, they're supposed to hold each
test for five minutes, at 5,000 psi. And to cut corners, they just hold
the test for 30 seconds or so on on each one. And they have a spin chart
with an ink pen on the spin chart, and they just spin the chart ahead five
minutes and then bleed the pressures off.
OLBERMANN: So, you've seen them just literally, what, move a paper
through a machine to indicate there's been a five-minute test when it
hasn't been that long?
MASON: Yes, sir.
OLBERMANN: Often? Is this - is this the regular way to get these
things tested or is it just an occasional corner cut? What would - how
would you estimate it in terms of your experience?
MASON: Well, I would say if the state inspector wasn't there to
witness it as most times, I would say - and the state inspector is there
at least maybe half the time on the test. So, they would do it if the
state inspector wasn't there.
OLBERMANN: Is there any rule or any law that says BOPs, blowout
preventers, have to meet those standards that are set for them? And who is
the testing done for?
MASON: The AOGCC in Alaska and the state of Alaska.
OLBERMANN: But are there laws that say - I mean, in other words, is
there a set of laws that says these are the standards, but there's no set
of laws that says the blowout preventers have to meet the standards? Is
there a loophole that big?
MASON: No, there is a set of laws that says they have to meet them
OLBERMANN: Provided there is an inspector there. If there's no
inspector there, they just fake it.
MASON: Yes, sir. That's correct.
OLBERMANN: You've gone public before, nationally and Alaska locally,
with these allegations about the practices in the industry regarding the
blowout protectors. I assume, senator from your state, Senator Murkowski,
has been working diligently to address your claims on behalf of the natural
pristine environment in your state?
MASON: Not that I can see, no. No.
OLBERMANN: So, is anybody interested in doing anything about this in
the government - either in Alaska or representatives nationally from
MASON: No. I believe that the commissions - the regulations
commissions up here are in the oil field's back pocket. They don't have
the strength to follow through with the regulations, and pretty much they
let the oil fields write the procedures in the first place.
OLBERMANN: Do you assume - obviously, your experience would be
primarily in Alaska. Do you assume this is the case in the Gulf and what
we're looking at with this thing, and that B.P. is continually spilling
200,000 to 300,000, 400,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf right now each
day? Is that - do you think something like that happened there, based on
MASON: Yes, I do. I think it's a culture that is within B.P., and
other drilling contractors. Yes, I do.
OLBERMANN: Is there any way out of the corruption in this system, in
MASON: No. Until we have stronger regulations and stronger
commissions and more honest politicians, I don't see that B.P.'s going to
change their ways.
OLBERMANN: It sounds like a state regulator at every one of those
tests might be of some use, or a federal one.
Mike Mason, whistleblower on the practices of the oil industry -
great thanks for your time and great thanks for your courage in speaking up
on this stuff.
MASON: You're welcome. Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: And we should note that we asked B.P. for comment on Mr.
Mason's story. We received no reply.
Speaking of spills and repairs, at an Illinois political affair
sponsored by a sump pump company, "Drill, baby, drill" Palin attacks Rachel
and boasts about what she'd do if she visited MSNBC - like she'd have the
guts to do that.
How's that whole delusiony grandeury thing working out for you?
OLBERMANN: Why is this man claiming the administration just cut
counterterrorism funds to New York - and he's talking so much he might as
well be going door-to-door - when it actually increased them? And why is
he doing it on a day of breaking news from Pakistan in the case of the
Times Square fireworks terrorist and supposed accomplice?
The leader of the statewide Arizona legislators trying to correct the
"show us your papers" law, on the irony of ironies, the first big
convention not going to Arizona - the 2012 Republican presidential
A colleague and friend inexcusably attacked and belittled in "The
Washington Post," something about her attacker which he does not want you
And there's no description better than the one on Comedy Central's own
Web site for its segment by Lewis Black. Glenn Beck plays six degrees of
Kevin Bacon, except there's one degree and Kevin Bacon is Hitler. That's
what they said.
All ahead on Countdown on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: FBI agents today raiding half a dozen locations in the
northeast as part of the investigation into the failed attempt to set off a
bomb - or fireworks - in Times Square earlier this month, amid breaking
news tonight that Pakistan has arrested a suspect who says he was an
accomplice to the Times Square would-be bomber. "The Washington Post"
reporting within the last hour that the suspect, whose arrest has not been
previously disclosed, has provided a, quote, "independent stream of
evidence that the Pakistani Taliban was behind the attempted attack."
Meanwhile, in our fourth story on the Countdown: The president's visit
to New York tonight setting off a bizarre round of bipartisan accusations
that his administration is shortchanging the city on homeland security
funding, even though basic math suggests that that is not the case.
We begin with arrests, the ones here in the U.S. today. Federal and
local officials are searching homes and businesses this morning in the
suburbs of Boston, Philadelphia and New York. Three men arrested being
held tonight for immigration violations. Two of them believed to have
helped suspect Faisal Shahzad receive money from Pakistan. But officials
adding, there is no evidence to suggest they knew Shahzad was planning to
set off a bomb in Times Square.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: There's at least a basis to
believe that one of the things that they did was to provide him with funds.
And so, we are trying to trace back to see what exactly was the nature of
those transactions, the purpose of the sharing of that - of those moneys.
And so, this is just part of the ongoing investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: As we mentioned, the president in New York tonight
visiting police headquarters in order to thank the officers for their
response to the bombing attempt. Local politicians of both parties today
are complaining about the administration's homeland security funding.
Republican Congressman Pete king and Democrat Anthony Weiner upset
that New York's share of grant money for beefing up rail and port security
has been cut from $198 million last year to $145 million this year. But
the White House pointing out that New York got an extra $100 million for
rail and port security in economic stimulus money. The net increase: $47
million from the city of New York.
Then there's Republican Senator Kit Bond of Missouri who, having
accused the Obama administration of, quote, "executing a hostile takeover
of the intelligence community" by purportedly failing to cooperate with the
intelligence committee on which he sits. He appeared to fall asleep for 10
to 15 minutes yesterday during a closed door intelligence briefing on the
Times Square bombing attempt.
Senator Bond's office telling MSNBC the accusation is a baseless
personal attack, but Senator Orrin Hatch who sat next to Mr. Bond during
the briefing confirmed that Hatch's eyes were indeed shut. He told "The
Wall Street Journal," quote, "I can tell you he was awake," adding that
sometimes, the lights in the room are so bright, quote, "You have you to
rest your eyes for a bit; you get light burn."
My future's so strong, I get light burn.
Lots to talk about tonight with our own Jonathan Alter, "Newsweek"
magazine national affairs columnist and author of the upcoming book, "The
Promise: President Obama Year One."
Jon, good evening.
JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Net increase of $47 million in overall counterterrorism
funds to the city of New York. Some of it coming from a different place
than it did last year. What explains the bipartisan outrage?
ALTER: I think it has to do with the fallout from the Khalid Sheikh
Mohammed case where Attorney General Holder wanted him tried, you know, the
mastermind of 9/11, tried in New York City. They blindsided the local
authorities. The police commissioner was upset, the mayor was upset.
Everybody was upset.
So, that's part of what the president's visit is tonight, to try to
mend fences with law enforcement in New York. You have to remember that in
the president's first budget, they changed Bush's priorities on funding for
terrorism money. It used to be spread around the country like pork.
ALTER: And with all due respect to Kansas, for them to get a lot of
post-9/11 money was pretty silly because there was not likely to be an
attack in Kansas. New York was short-changed for that whole period, for
eight years, and that was rectified in the president's first budget. But
there are still these hard feelings as a result of the poor politics of the
way they handled the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed case.
OLBERMANN: We don't know what happened in terms of this arrest in
Pakistan, and it is fascinating to hear them describe this suspect as a
self-described accomplice of Shahzad. But we know that the ones today in
this country, the searches anyway, came from information that officials say
Shahzad gave to them.
Is it still difficult now to claim that this was a mistake to have
read him his Miranda rights?
ALTER: Well, you know what happened is, Dick Cheney said, he dissed
law enforcement and he thought this is a military problem, terrorism.
It's both. You have to fight it militarily with drone attacks and so
forth overseas. But at home, especially after an attempt, it's a law
enforcement issue. There's nothing wrong with reading folks their Miranda
rights, especially if they're American citizens. There are waivers that
you can get if you think it's a real national security threat -
OLBERMANN: Which they used in this case.
ALTER: Which they used.
But here's the thing to understand - remember that the Christmas Day
bomber, Abdulmutallab, he was treated through conventional law enforcement,
Cheney and the rest of them went crazy. The only reason that they cracked
all the details of that case is because - by using classic police
techniques, they convinced him that he should cooperate, they brought his
ALTER: And once his father came over to the United States, they were
able to get all of the details. If that had been the military handling
that, do you think that the father in Africa would have come over to the
United States? The police department - particularly the New York City
Police Department really know what they're doing on terrorism.
OLBERMANN: Senator Bond came out of that intelligence briefing about
the Times Square situation - or as he would call it, nap time, and said he
was not convinced of the claim that Shahzad was trained and directed and
financed by Pakistani Taliban militants, which is looking like a fairly
foolish remark in the light of tonight's developments. But he said that
beforehand - to be fair to him.
But might it really be the case that now there is a Democratic
president, a Republican, a prominent one on this issue, would not want to
prevail in the so-called war on terror?
ALTER: Now, you know, look - I mean, they want to win the war or
terror, too. But what's happened is the partisanship has just gotten so
ramped up, they have to oppose on every issue. And it reaches a kind of a
mindlessness where the same people who were saying that Harriet Miers' lack
of experience on the bench was a positive when Bush nominated her for the
Supreme Court are now turning around without batting an eye and saying that
Elena Kagan's lack of experience on the bench is a problem.
So, what you get here is a - an almost sort of absurd knee-jerk
reaction and that's what you saw with the senator.
OLBERMANN: Or - which suggests perhaps more naps, not fewer, during
ALTER: Well, if he thinks he's just resting his eyes or he's having
light burn, maybe he should wear sunglasses in the hearings.
OLBERMANN: It would look like those '50s -
OLBERMANN: - mobsters hearings, what, Genovese wearing the glasses.
ALTER: Yes. Yes.
OLBERMANN: The author of "The Promise: President Obama Year One"
Jonathan Alter of "Newsweek" and MSNBC - good to see you, Jon. Thank you.
ALTER: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The intention of the 20 different tea party organizers was
to form a human chain around the building at the heart of the state
government. Instead, they didn't have enough people to crowd the hallway.
Tensions do not come to a boil on "Tea Time" - ahead on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: Whoops. Arizona Republicans and their anti-Hispanic law
costs Phoenix a big convention get, the Republican presidential convention.
First, today's Twitter report. Day - I've long since forgotten.
Followers, just under 60,000. Tweet of the Day from Marcus Noble, part of
the hashtag festival on Twitter, "Palin's new book title, 'Chicken Soup for
the Isolated Conservative, Alaska Soul'?" No, chicken soup for those
without a soul. Reminding you the Twitter exclusive "Tworst Persons in the
World" follows "The Worst Persons."
And let's play "Oddball."
OLBERMANN: We begin in a bear park in Switzerland with the greatest
non-human, non-trampoline bear in a tree rescue ever. A mother of two has
one cub on the ground and one cub stuck atop a tall tree. Clearly the
little critter too scared to climb down, so mama expedites the whole
process. With a crowd gathered and the videotape rolling, mama bear gets
her cub down the hard way.
And down goes bear cub. Baby bear was fine, but he'll have to pay to
replace the tree out of his allowance and he gets no for porridge.
More Cubs, the Iowa Cubs, Chicago's AAA affiliate, recently asked Des
Moines native and gold medal winning Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson to throw
out the ceremonial first pitch. After a big introduction, a round of
applause, Johnson took the hill and proved that she never heard the advice
I got, it is better to throw the ball over the catcher's head than - you
Shawn Johnson, everybody. Mayor of Cincinnati and Howard Stern's
producer, Gary Belaponti (ph), thank you for making their ceremonial first
pitches look like strikes.
The opponents of Arizona's show us your papers law predicted this.
Little did they know the irony provided by the first big name convention to
take a pass after the bill passed. Phoenix loses the Republican
presidential convention. Please try to stop laughing by the end of these
OLBERMANN: The RNC has chosen Tampa, Florida, as the site of its 2012
Republican National Convention. Phoenix, Arizona, was in the running for
the convention, but RNC organizers insist new Arizona's Draconian
immigration law had nothing to do with its choice. Coincidence, no doubt.
In our third story tonight, more protests in Arizona, this time yet over
another provocative over-reaching law.
First to the RNC's inspired choice of Tampa. A Florida Republican
committeewoman credited the two previous bids as having improved its
prospects this time around. Fair enough, Tampa is a great city.
But after the RNC's recent trouble, does Chairman Michael Steele
really want to contend with this? That Tampa has a Reputation among some
as the lap dance capital of the world? Fifty six adult-oriented clubs in
the greater Tampa area, according to the founder of "Night Move Magazine,"
who edified "Politico's" Ben Smith on this subject.
Three of the four major companies that supply dancers are based in
Tampa. Phoenix, as well as Salt Lake City, not chosen for the GOP
convention. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer explaining the RNC was, quote,
"looking for a state with more electoral votes." RNC Chairman Michael
Steele said the choice of Tampa over Phoenix was, quote, "purely a business
Other business decisions are affecting the city of Phoenix. They have
been tallied at the request of its Mayor Phil Gordon. Mayor Gordon
commissioned a study by city officials showing that Phoenix could lose up
to 90 million dollars in revenue from events that might be canceled due to
the new immigration law. Four events have already been canceled. A dozen
are listed as vulnerable. The lost revenue would create a near economic
crisis, according to the study prepared for the mayor.
But to the rescue, Sarah Palin, who has remarked on the decision by an
Illinois high school refusing to send its girls basketball team to a
tournament in Arizona to protest the immigration law. Palin says the girls
should go rogue and figure out a way to get there on their own, you know,
without the approval of the school or their parents also.
Meantime, Governor Brewer is just getting warmed up. She signed
another brand new bill into law. This one restricts ethnic studies classes
in the state's public schools. And that has already spawned this protest
at the state office of education in Tucson. Hundreds of students and
parents and educators staging a sit-in, 15 of them arrested for
Let's turn now to Arizona State Representative Kyrsten Sinema, who is
also the assistant leader of the Democratic caucus in the Arizona House of
Representatives. Thanks for your time again tonight.
REP. KYRSTEN SINEMA (D), ARIZONA STATE LEGISLATURE: It's great to be
here with you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The Republican National Committee not choosing Phoenix a
month after this law passed, is that coincidence, irony or harbinger?
SINEMA: I think that it's ironic considering it's thanks to the
Republican party in Arizona that SB 1070 actually passed. Even though
high-ranking Republicans all across the country have indicated that this
bill is bad for our country and is unconstitutional.
OLBERMANN: How significant is it that Mayor Gordon from Phoenix is
concerned enough to begin assessing potential economic losses to his city?
SINEMA: Well, you know, I'm glad he did a study to assess it, but
we're already feeling the effects of the boycott. We've lost already 10
million dollars at least in economic revenue in Phoenix. And that doesn't
even consider the entire state. So I think it's important we're doing this
research. And hopefully we can use it to show legislators who have made
this bad decision that it hurts us in more ways than just in the reputation
across the country.
OLBERMANN: This new law restricting ethnic studies classes, what is
it? Who's for it? And what are the impacts of that going to be?
SINEMA: This bill was drafted by a current superintendent of schools,
Tom Horn, who happens to be running for attorney general. The bill outlaws
any optional program of study that concerns a specific racial or ethnic
group. So for instance, African-American studies, Asian-American studies
and Latino studies are banned under this program. It's important to note
that those existing programs in Arizona are all optional programs for
middle school and high school students to learn about the culture and
heritage of our country.
OLBERMANN: You're in Washington now, obviously. You've been seeing
the national reaction to this new law and to 1070. What is it like? I
guess I'm more concerned with the off the record stuff that can't be
quoted, but what's your sense from people of both parties about what's
happening in Arizona and what it means for that state and this country long
SINEMA: I just came from an event with folks from both political
parties and they are just aghast at what's happening. Not only is this bad
policy, but it's unconstitutional and the state had no right to do it. And
everyone really agrees that this sets a bad precedent for our country and
could encourage copy cat measures across the nation. And that's a great
danger to not only immigrants, but all people, even people like me, across
OLBERMANN: These laws have been passed. They have been signed by the
governor. They are going to take effect at the conclusion of the
legislature, after a certain given period. Looks like the end of August,
beginning of September. What are lawmakers like you who oppose this doing
SINEMA: Right now, I'm working with a group of organizations to bring
a lawsuit to SB 1070. We have until July 29th to bring this suit and seek
an injunction to stop the law from going into effect. I'm working with the
ACLU, MALDEF, the Mexican-American Legal Defense Education Fund, and the
National Immigrant Law Center.
We're also urging the Department of Justice to look carefully at this
law and either consider bringing a suit or intervening in an existing suit
to seek injunction, so this law does not go into effect and violate the
civil liberties and protections of all Arizonans.
OLBERMANN: Good luck with it. Arizona State Representative Kyrsten
Sinema, joining us once again tonight from Washington.
SINEMA: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Great thanks and good night.
SINEMA: You too.
OLBERMANN: You can't spell Lewis Black without B-E-C-K. Oh, I'm
sorry, that would be you can't spell Bleck without B-E-C-K. Well, after
what he did to Lonesome Rhodes last night, close enough.
Miss bendy straw of 1989 takes shots at Rachel and at MSNBC and does
so at a political event sponsored by a sump pump manufacturer.
When Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, you already know that
the sheriff in this John McCain ad is not from the border town in which the
ad was shot. She will interview the town's actual sheriff, the one whose
experience didn't fit John McCain's script.
OLBERMANN: Sarah Palin jokes about coming to MSNBC, as if she had the
courage of her convictions, or merely just some convictions. First, that
isn't your water coming to a boil. It's our nightly checkup on the
something for nothing crowd. It's Tea Time. Now they're just the nothing
for nothing crowd. This is just getting sad.
It was a mass Tea Party rally at North Carolina's General Assembly
building. The goal? Show the man the unmitigated force of all the
protesters banding together, putting aside their differences and nuances to
form a united front to demand the repeal of health care reform. This was
the chance to illustrate the evil that socialism, fascism, Nazism and
Botulism have inflicted upon our fair land and tell the legislators who's
The methodology is simple. Bring the membership of 20 different Tea
Party groups to the center of North Carolina's state government, and have
each patriot link hands and form a human chain around the building. It was
only about nine seconds worth of video of the vast multitude, this mass of
mankind that stepped up to meet history's moment.
Oh, the humanity, 50 People, with long arms, I guess. OK, OK, I've
got another one. It was a mass Tea Party rally at North Carolina's Bank of
America headquarters in Charlotte. The goal, show the man the unmitigated
force of all the protesters, banding together, putting aside their
differences and nuances to form a united front, to demand the defeat of the
Congressional financial reform bill. This was the chance to illustrate the
let's just cut to the chase and show this picture.
Looks like the crowd's thinned out a bit. That was it, seven people.
Seven people and a flag. Do you have a flag? If it's that bad, to invoke
the late great Bill Hicks, have some self-respect. Stay home and you can
look up the last word online.
OLBERMANN: Lewis Black makes me look like Glenn Beck's best friend.
That's next, but first tonight's worst persons in the world.
The bronze to Tom Shales of "the Washington Post." He has been an
acerbic but largely fair TV critic for several decades, but his time seems
to be at an end. In his review of the new PBS show "Need To Know," he
fully and colorfully described his contention That he doesn't need to know
it, fine. Then he wrote this about my friend, colleague and previous guest
host for this program. "First show included a fawning, fatuous interview
with Bill Clinton. The show's at best semi-competent anchors were Jon
Meacham and NPR veteran Alison Stewart. He looked forlorn, as if having
been left out in the rain. And she looked as though she would have been
much more comfortable in Clinton's lap."
The sexist and offensive imagery about Alison Stewart is one thing.
Dragging a former president into it is another. For those remarks, alone,
the "Washington Post" should terminate Mr. Shales. Dismiss it for a moment
and consider if Mr. Shales had just substituted some less offensive analogy
addressing Alison's journalistic ethics. This is from the same man, Mr.
Shales, who was or perhaps still is involved in the writing of a book about
the ESPN Network, where his co-author was dating one of the ESPN hosts, and
one of her shows was virtually the only topic in at least one 90 minute
interview with a former staffer, even though neither Shales or his co-
writer disclosed that fact before the interview was conducted.
Mr. Shales is not qualified to be lecturing anybody on journalistic
The runner-up, the crack road sign team of Sparks, Nevada. ACcording
to local TV station KWLO, two signs have been placed along Vista Boulevard
telling drivers to yield to bike traffic. Unfortunately, on each of them,
the word is misspelled, Y-E-I-L-D. Both of them. This is the same
municipal sign department that, two years ago, painted a school warning on
a street and left out the H. Spelled school, S-C-O-O-L. It's Nevada. I
wonder if the sign men are paid in chickens.
Our winner, Sister Sarah. The maestro of the bendy straw spoke to a
crowd of 4,000 in Rosemont, Illinois, outside Chicago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN, FMR. GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: A gal walked up and asked him
where he was from. He said Alaska. And all of a sudden, the clerk turned
beat red and the veins popped out in her neck, kind of like Rachel Maddow
does sometimes. Now watch, that clip's going to be on air for her dot com.
Increase her ratings.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: For her dot com. It's pronounced Maddow, Ms. Palin. She
continued, "I'm glad to be here on the president's home turf. Somebody
told me you know you're going into enemy territory. I said, it's Chicago.
It's not MSNBC." That woman is an idiot. The event at which that idiot
spoke was sponsored by an Illinois firm that specializes in battery-
operated backup sump pumps. So it's not just a sump pump political event,
it was a backup sump pump political event.
Moreover, to put it plainly, this is a matter of record, that woman
does not have the courage, personal or political, to appear on MSNBC, not
without an army with her. I mean that literally. The half governor of
Alaska, now celebrating two years without holding an actual news
conference, nor having the guts to be interviewed on a network like this
one, but the toast of America's backup sump pump political circuit, today's
worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: Constant viewers will agree when it comes to political and
social satire, it's nearly impossible to watch stuff from comedian Lewis
Black that is not the A material. But in our number story, often it
happens that Lewis outdoes himself with his "Back in Black" segment on "The
Daily Show." Such an occasion? Last night's monologue about Lonesome
Rhodes Beck. Here, a few weeks back, Lewis was positively placid compared
to his eruption last night. Viewers of this program are also familiar with
Glenn Beck's I see Nazi people routine . You may recall expose on my
expose on his expose outing NBC as a communist organization, because the
headquarters are in Rockefeller Plaza. Of course, Fox News and Glenn Beck
are also headquartered in Rockefeller Plaza.
Somehow Lonesome missed that one. Fortunately for comedians, and only
for comedians, Glenn Beck keeps bringing the stupid. So as a public
service for the increasingly smaller number who take Beck seriously, here's
Lewis Black on Glenn Beck.
LEWIS BLACK, "THE DAILY SHOW": Arizona's new immigration law has a
lot of people outraged. Some people more than others.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some have likened having to carry papers around to
BLACK: That's a little bit of a hyperbole to compare Arizona to Nazi
Germany. First of all, Nazi Germany had a much nicer climate. But now all
this outrage has people outraged at the outrage.
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: You're out of your mind. Are you
comparing the systematic, cold blooded extermination of millions of Jews to
America making sure that people are here legally? Arizona sure is putting
the AZ in Nazi, aren't they?
BLACK: Oh, didn't think it was going to be him, did you? Glenn Beck
is offended. Glenn Beck thinks playing the Nazi card is going too far.
Glenn Beck. This is a guy who uses more Swastika props and video of the
Nuremberg rallies than the History Channel. For god's sake - for god's
sake, he compared global warming to Nazi Germany.
BECK: That was Hitler's plan. His enemy, the Jew. Al Gore's enemy,
the U.N.'s enemy, global warming.
I'm not accusing Al Gore of being a Nazi or anything like that.
BLACK: Yes, you are! You just did it! Note to Glenn Beck, I've met
Al Gore. Al Gore is no Adolf Hitler. Hitler had charisma. All Glenn Beck
needs is a single word to send him into a Nazi tizzy. Especially when it
comes from President Obama talking about his Supreme Court justice.
OBAMA: I view that quality of empathy, of understanding, and
identifying with people's hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient
for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.
BLACK: Did you catch it? Neither did I. But guess who did?
BECK: Hitler decided that it was the only empathetic thing to do is
to put this child down and put him out of his suffering. It was the
beginning of the T-4, which led to genocide everywhere. It was the
beginning of it. Empathy leads you to very bad decisions, many times.
BLACK: In one paragraph, Glenn Beck tied one of the most positive
words in the English language to Hitler's genocide. It's six degrees of
Kevin Bacon, except there's just one degree, and Kevin Bacon is Hitler.
Oh, can I play? Let's see. Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa had a
mustache. Hitler had a mustache. Mother Teresa is Hitler.
This is easy. And it works for anything. The National Endowment for
BECK: Advocating through art is known as propaganda. Should look up
the name Goebbels.
BLACK: Teaching kids about climate change.
BECK: Some may believe we're on the road to the Hitler youth.
BECK: These are the Brown Shirts.
BECK: It's what happened in the national socialist country of Germany
in the 1930s under Hitler.
BLACK: The Peace Corps. Seriously, the (EXPLETIVE DELTED) Peace
BECK: This is what Hitler did with the SS.
BLACK: Glenn beck has Nazi tourette's. My goodness, this is
delicious. Hitler! That's a lovely tie you're wearing, Jon. Goebbels.
I'll give Glenn Beck this, he's got style. He can even make a paranoid
Nazi comparison using poetry.
BECK: you ever heard the old poem, first they came for the Jews?
Well, first the banks, then it was the insurance companies, then it was the
BLACK: Glenn, get a grip. There's a difference. They came for the
Jews to kill them. They came for the banks and the car companies to give
them 700 billion dollars. If that's coming for them, then come for me.
Hell, for 700 billion dollars, I'll go to you. Unless it's not me they're
after. Gee, I wonder who they could be after?
BECK: First they came for the Jews and I stayed silent. Next, I'll
show you the very latest attacks on me.
BLACK: Yes. Glenn, the Nazis are everywhere. And you're not safe.
So here's what you do. And take it from me, my people have been through
this before. First, you've got to find an attic. Then hide there for the
next three years. And whatever you do, don't make a sound. We'll let you
know when it's safe to come out.
OLBERMANN: Glenn Beck has Nazi tourette's. That's Countdown for this
the 2,569th day since the previous president declared mission accomplished
in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
Now to discuss Senator McCain's campaign commercial plea to finish the
dang fence with the actual sheriff of the Arizona county he was standing
in, not the stand-in, ladies and gentlemen, here's Rachel Maddow.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED. END