'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Thursday, May 20th 2010
Video via MSNBC: Twitter Report, Oddball, Tea Time, Worst Persons
Video via YouTube: First segment (missing from MSNBC site)
The toss: Characters
Guests: Rep. James Clyburn, Sen. Maria Cantwell, Erich Pica
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you
be talking about tomorrow?
The Republicans begin to rue Paul. Their new Senate nominee from
Kentucky begins to implode on day one on Rachel's show. The landmark Civil
Rights Act of 1964? It needed modification.
RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY SENATE CANDIDATE: There's 10 different
titles, you know, to the Civil Rights Act, and nine out of 10 deal with
public institutions, and I'm absolutely in favor of. One deals with
private institutions and had I been around, I would have tried to modify
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: After that, the deluge. Our guest tonight: Congressman
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: This is absolutely appalling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: After that, begins the desperate walk back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: If you had been a member of the Senate or
House back in 1964, would you have voted yea or nay for the Civil Rights
PAUL: Yes. I would have voted yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And Dr. Paul's new problem tonight - in 2002, he wrote a
letter to the editor opposing the Fair Housing Act. "A free society will
abide unofficial, private discrimination - even when that means s allowing
hate-filled groups to exclude people based on the color of their skin."
Good-bye, Dr. Paul.
And bye-bye at the DNI - Director of National Intelligence Blair is
Leaving the cloture vote in the dust - the Senate will be able to
vote on reforming big banking. But will the bill do enough? Our special
guest, Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington.
Yesterday, geometry for presidential assassins in a Birmingham
classroom. Today, burning Obama in effigy in a Wisconsin barroom.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obama's made of plastic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And one month to the day since the disaster at Deepwater
Horizon. You can't stop the leaking, nobody can stop the leaking. And
still, we are asking the criminals to stop the bleeding they caused.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEN SALAZAR, INTERIOR SECRETARY: B.P. is moving forward. They're the
responsible party. We have our boot on their neck to make sure they get
the job done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: All the news and commentary - now on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
Only 48 hours ago, right-wing Republicans were hailing an eye
surgeon's victory in Kentucky's GOP Senate primary as, quote, "part of an
American awakening that is taking place across the country." Those are the
words from Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina.
But in our fifth story on the Countdown: Now that their tea party
candidate has reiterated his long-held position that U.S. businesses should
have the right to discriminate based on race, GOP lawmakers today all but
silent. Who is this Rand Paul, of which you speak?
The new Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate from Kentucky, after
holding Tuesday's victory rally at a private country club today is trying
to explain away his criticism of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Last night, Dr. Paul having told our own Dr. Maddow that he questions
whether the federal government should be in the business of mandating that
private business owners - you know, restaurateurs, shop keepers, hotel
owners, university provosts - cannot turn away potential customers based
on skin color - a position that Dr. Paul has advocated not just to Rachel
but also to NPR, in an interview with a Kentucky paper earlier this year,
and a 2002 letter to the editor of "The Bowling Green Daily News" that was
turned up today by the political blog "Page One Kentucky."
Dr. Paul, having written in part about the federal Fair Housing Act,
quote, "'The Daily News' ignores, as does the Fair Housing Act, the
distinction between private and public property, should it be prohibited
for public, taxpayer-financed institutions such as schools to reject
someone based on an individual's beliefs or attributes? Mostly certainly.
Should be prohibited for private industries, such as a church, bed and
breakfast, or retirement neighborhood that doesn't want noisy children?
Absolutely not. Decisions concerning private property and associations
should in a free society be unhindered. As a consequence, some
associations will discriminate."
Meanwhile, over the weekend, Dr. Paul also having weighed in on the
Americans with Disabilities Act, saying that requiring businesses to
provide access to disabled people is not always, quote, "fair to the
So how did the Republican nominee today try to mitigate all this
damage? Largely by blaming the liberal media.
Dr. Paul telling listeners of right-wing radio this morning that the
controversy is political theater dreamed up by the, quote, "loony left."
Earlier tonight adding to CNN that it was the result of a news cycle that
has gotten out of control.
Meanwhile Dr. Paul's Republican friends today all but pretending they
had never heard of him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MINORITY WHIP: Again, not being familiar
with the context of his response or his questions, I really can't opine as
to his position.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Let's move on.
REPORTER: You have no comment on that?
SEN. JIM DEMINT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Yes, I do.
REPORTER: What is it?
DEMINT: No, I support the Civil Rights Act.
REPORTER: What about the Americans with Disabilities Act? Rand Paul
says he wants to abolish that as well.
DEMINT: I'm going to talk to Rand about his positions.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
OLBERMANN: Minority Leader McConnell, Kentucky's senior senator who,
to be fair, actively recruited and backed Dr. Paul's opponent saying he is,
quote, "glad to hear that Dr. Paul supports the Civil Rights Act" - at
least the sections that deal with the public institutions.
By late this afternoon, the doctor issuing a similar statement
declaring purportedly unequivocally that he, quote, "will not support any
effort to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964." Repeal the Civil Rights
Act? Who except perhaps Dr. Paul has even considering any effort doing
Last night with Rachel, Dr. Paul having said that had he been around,
he would have tried to modify the parts of the Civil Rights Act with which
he disagreed - earlier tonight, claiming to CNN's Wolf Blitzer that he
apparently would have voted for legislation he believed was flawed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: If you had been a member of the Senate or the House back in
1964, would you have voted yea or nay for the Civil Rights Act?
PAUL: Yes, I would have voted yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: In response to a question about whether the private
department store Woolworth's had the right to segregate at its lunch
counters in places like Greensboro, North Carolina during the 1960s, Dr.
Paul tonight claiming that he believes federal intervention had been
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: I think that there was an overriding problem in the South that
was so big that it did require federal intervention in the '60s.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: We're joined now by the House majority whip, Congressman
Jim Clyburn, the Democrat of South Carolina.
Great thanks for your time tonight, Congressman.
CLYBURN: Thank you so much for having me.
OLBERMANN: What was your first reaction when you heard Rand Paul's
views on the C Civil Rights Act and has anything that he said since during
this day changed since that first reaction?
CLYBURN: No, nothing he said has changed the first reaction which was
absolutely astounding. I just could not believe what I was watching last
night as I watched him respond to the 14th Amendment questions with a
Second Amendment answer. It was just incredible to me.
And to hear him talk about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as if there is
no 1968 Fair Housing Law, I would like to know how he feels about that law.
In fact, he wrote a letter, I understand, to the editor of his local
newspapers opposing the housing - Fair Housing Law of 1968. What does he
feel about the 1965 Voting Rights Act? That law that allowed me to be
serving here in the Congress.
I don't know that this guy isn't still parsing words by limiting his
comments to one section of the '64 Civil Rights Act, it tells me he's got
problems with other laws that we've come to accept as a part of the
OLBERMANN: Well, his defense today seems predicated on this: this was
not an issue, this is merely a red herring, a political ploy. He blamed
Rachel Maddow for the interview and then the letter to the editor that you
mentioned from 2002. He said basically the same thing. I mean, the quote
I'll read this one again, read it once.
"But a free society," he wrote, "will abide unofficial private
discrimination even when that means allowing hate-filled groups to exclude
people based on the color of their skin."
Is that a red herring, or is this now a theme to a man's perspective
on what's discrimination and what's not in society?
CLYBURN: Well, he was in the public arena with his attitude a long,
long time, and I find that kind of interesting that other leading
Republicans to include the senator from my home state have been out here
pushing his candidacy, wanting him to be the nominee of their party, for
the tea party movement, to endorse him - for him to cloak himself in the
tea party movement, set himself up as the spokesperson for the tea party
movement. I think we're now beginning a full picture of exactly what the
tea party movement is all about.
And so, I think it's time for us to ask the - Dr. Paul what he thinks
about things that have happened on Wall Street because we had people doing
oversight. What he thinks about what's going on down in the Gulf Coast,
because we need oversight of oil drilling.
He seemed to feel that his libertarian philosophy gives him the
authority to push for a regulation-free society, a laissez-faire
government, just people do as you please. This is the kind of stuff that
got us in the predicament that we're in now.
And I think that the people who voted for him should be asking for
their votes back. The people who contributed to him should be given their
money back. Because this guy is putting himself up as being something that
I'm sure they had no idea that he was.
OLBERMANN: What is that? What word is apt to describe what he is
that you're leading to?
CLYBURN: I think that he is in fact a sort of laissez-faire
government person. He calls himself a libertarian, but I don't believe he
is that. I think he's something else - something that says people should
be allowed to do as they please, except he has now said that about 50
percent of his practice is Medicare. But he wants us to - he's criticized
his opponent for being for health care reform, and he wants to cut money
out of the budget, but he thinks we ought to keep the money there for
doctors' reimbursement. That ought to tell people something.
OLBERMANN: Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina - as always,
sir, great thanks for your insight and great thanks for your time tonight.
CLYBURN: Thank you so much for having me.
OLBERMANN: For more on the politics of this, let's turn to our own
Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine,
who mentions periodically here that he started his career in Kentucky.
Howard, good evening.
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Rand Paul is blaming us from misunderstanding him when he
said private businesses should be allowed to discriminate. When someone is
running to be a federal legislator - does the media have the right to
question him about his views on the role of the federal government,
especially when it turns out he wrote letters to the editor that line up
nicely with what he said last night, but the letter was in 2002?
FINEMAN: Well, of course. That's why I was talking to my old
colleagues at "The Courier-Journal" in Louisville where I started out.
They had an op-ed page board meeting there in April, and they asked him all
these questions. And sure, they had a right to do it, and they did do it.
And you know, the interesting thing is that they published the answers
and they based their editorial in "The Courier-Journal" not endorsing
either Republican primary based on those answers. The interesting thing is
that even Mitch McConnell's endorsed candidate, Trey Grayson, as far as I
know, didn't make an issue of those comments. In other words, it wasn't a
factor in the Republican primary in Kentucky.
But I think "The Courier-Journal" and other people are right to ask
about it. By the way, don't forget that Rand Paul basically announced his
candidacy on Rachel's show a year ago and a half ago, or a year ago. So,
it was fine for him then, it's not fine for him now.
OLBERMANN: Yes. I guess that was a red herring, too.
OLBERMANN: So, the comments were made on that show, to NPR, to two
Kentucky newspapers. He's now gotten the Civil Rights Act involved, the
Fair Housing Act. The Americans with Disabilities Act, too, we haven't
mentioned that. He said he still disagreed with that on CNN tonight. He
doubled down on that.
He had a spokesman who had to resign in December because of the heavy
metal band that he belonged to that dressed up in outfits that reference
the Ku Klux Klan.
OLBERMANN: Is the sum total of everything here so potentially
damaging? Because it doesn't seem it's - like these are the proverbial
collection of isolated incidents here.
FINEMAN: Well, it's always interesting as to Sherlock Holmes used to
write about the dogs that don't bark.
FINEMAN: I'm waiting to hear from Karl Rove on this one. I haven't
heard him rush to the microphone to defend Rand Paul. That should tell you
I think - I called the RNC today. Michael Steele, the head of the
RNC, he didn't really know much about it because he was traveling in Tampa,
Florida. Tampa, apparently not, you know, being penetrated by the national
You know, the Republicans are hunkered down because they know that
watching this guy cling, cling, cling to the last vestige of libertarianism
on the Civil Rights Act is something that is not good for the Republican
Party. Wolf Blitzer sort of backed him into the corner but not fully,
because as you did in your sound bite there, Rand Paul is still saying that
the Civil Rights Act and its public accommodations stuff was necessary for
the South in the '60s.
Does that mean he doesn't think it's necessary now in the whole
country? That question is still out there. The Republicans don't like
that question being out there.
OLBERMANN: Does this - certainly, as this is the start of his
campaign and his national stage, does it put Rand Paul's candidacy in
jeopardy? Is he not going to be on the ballot in November?
FINEMAN: Well, interestingly, I talked to a top Republican staffer.
I said, what about it? Is he going to stay on the ballot? That's about an
hour ago. The guy said, well, he can always resign.
But there's a, quote, "unity rally" that's to take place in Frankfort,
Kentucky, this Saturday which will be one of the more amusing events in
recent Kentucky political history, which is going to be Rand Paul and Mitch
McConnell who tried to defeat him. And again, in fairness to Mitch, this
is a guy who worked for John Sherman Cooper who was a key vote in the old
Republican moderate coalition for the Civil Rights bill in 1964.
Now, McConnell's being careful, too, because even though Jeff Sessions
of Alabama and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have both said that Rand
Paul is wrong on the law about public accommodations, McConnell's been a
little more careful and circumspect because he's got to go to that unity
rally on Saturday.
I got to say that I'm not convinced that this controversy will kill
Rand Paul in Kentucky. There's a small African-American vote there,
unlike, say, Alabama -
FINEMAN: - Sessions, and South Carolina, Graham.
OLBERMANN: Last point - does this controversy do anything to the -
this read of Tuesday's vote that there was tea party ascendancy, or does
that - these two things remain separate?
FINEMAN: Well, what it shows you, Keith, is the tea party giveth and
the tea party taketh away. It can help with the grassroots and energize
the Republican grassroots. But especially in states with big Hispanic or
African-American populations or, quote, "liberal" populations in the
cities, in Senate races like Pennsylvania, or other state races in like
Ohio, or Illinois or whatever, this could be poison for the Republican
Party if Rand Paul becomes the emblem of the GOP, which is, of course, what
the Democrats are trying to do right now.
OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman of "Newsweek" and MSNBC and vast - member
of the vast Kentucky political reporters alumni association.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, Howard.
FINEMAN: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: The director of national intelligence confirms tonight he
will resign. Republicans try to make that look like a man prevented from
defending his country. White House sources are saying they just didn't
like the way he did his job. Roger Cressey on Dennis Blair - next.
OLBERMANN: The Blair ditch project, director of national
intelligence, Dennis Blair, out. The Democrats finally get the cloture
vote on the big bank reform bill. Scott Brown voted for it. This
Democratic senator did not. She's scheduled to join us.
Another day, another example of what hate speech makes people think
it's OK to do - burning the president in effigy in Wisconsin.
And if we're told on the one-month anniversary the oil spill is only
spewing 5,000 barrels a day, but B.P.'s straw is capturing 5,000 barrels a
day, then what's this stuff here? Chocolate syrup?
You're watching Countdown on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: After a series of public intelligence failures and private
political failures, America's director of national intelligence, the
retired four-star Admiral Dennis Blair, is resigning.
Our fourth story tonight: A U.S. official tonight telling NBC News the
White House had been unhappy with Blair for some time, asking for his
resignation following a blistering Senate Intelligence Committee report
that put Blair in the crosshairs for a series of failures connected to the
attempted Christmas Day airplane bombing in Detroit. The official adds
that the administration has already begun potentially - interviewing
potential replacements. There is a lead candidate.
The DNI had come under criticism from other quarters before, even as
some acknowledged that the position created in 2004 after a recommendation
from the 9/11 Commission was defined too vaguely, leading to power
struggles most notably with CIA Director Leon Panetta, who reportedly was
winning those power struggles when the White House was called on to
The White House is also putting out for public appearances, adviser
John Brennan rather than Blair after the Christmas Day bombing attempt.
The attempted Times Square bombing is not helping Admiral Blair's cause,
nor did the Fort Hood shooting allegedly committed by a major already in
contact with a radical Muslim cleric overseas.
As recently as yesterday, 9/11 Commissioners Lee Hamilton and Tom Kean
called on President Obama to strengthen and define the DNI position, saying
it remains unclear, almost a decade after 9/11, who actually runs the U.S.
Retired Lieutenant General James Clapper is a leading candidate to
take the post now - this according to senior two senior U.S. officials
speaking to NBC News tonight. CIA Director Panetta has reportedly asked
not to be considered for the DNI post.
Let's call in NBC News terrorism analyst and the president of Good
Harbor Consulting, Roger Cressey.
Roger, good evening. Thanks for your time.
ROGER CRESSEY, NBC NEWS TERRORISM ANALYST: You bet, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Why now with Blair? What ultimately prompted this
CRESSEY: Oh, I think this has been in the works now for some time.
This was about fit between Blair, between the Obama White House, and
whether or not the Senate report or it's a culmination of all the events
last year, including the Christmas Day bombing attempt, triggered it now,
it was going to happen sooner or later. You know, a lot of people in D.C.
had the over/under on Blair being the first member of the national security
team to leave, and it looks like that was the right bet.
OLBERMANN: Are the 9/11 commissioners right about the position being
ill-defined? Is the administration addressing that or is the next person
just going to have the same problem?
CRESSEY: They're going to have the same problem. The DNI position is
The bottom line is, the DNI is one of these concepts that sounded
great in theory and has been really bad in practice. The true authority,
the true resource still rests with the CIA director. And in every example
where Admiral Blair and Leon Panetta clashed, ultimately, the CIA won.
They won for a good reason, because they have a truly-defined mission.
The DNI's job has been to better integrate, to bring all the elements
of the intelligence community together and do their job better. But the
DNI has never been truly in power, either a case of having the proper
resources or having the White House back the DNI in any type of interagency
So, whoever takes this job next, unless the president gives him or her
specific guidance about what they want that person to do, you're going to
be in the similar situation.
OLBERMANN: Statement from Congressman Hoekstra who always jumps in on
anything like this, from Michigan, said the administration's rampant
politicization of national security outright disregard for congressional
intelligence oversight pertain to the resignation of Mr. Blair, Senator
Bond placed the blame on the attorney general - is this going to be what
we're going to see from the GOP over the next several days, that Blair
couldn't stomach the Obama approach to counterterrorism and is there
anything to that?
CRESSEY: Yes, that's really constructive. The answer is: of course,
not. Admiral Blair has a distinguished public service. He's worked hard
for this administration. He's not leaving over political issues. This is
more of an interagency problem.
The Republicans on the Hill are going to try to define this as yet
another example of how the Obama administration is putting us greater at
risk in our national security and that's simply wrong. There are
fundamental structural issues here about whether the DNI is really a good
idea and how to make it a positive contributing factor in the national
security bureaucracy. That problem hasn't been solved yet and it's going
to be up to the next DNI director to identify a path to do it.
OLBERMANN: And if that's Lieutenant General James Clapper, other than
invoking the old John Carson joke about the copper clapper caper, what can
you tell us about it?
CRESSEY: I can't beat that.
Former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, former director of
the National Geospatial Agency, as you said, current undersecretary of
defense of intelligence - what is very impressive about General Clapper is
he understands the intelligence community, much like Admiral Blair's
predecessor did, Admiral Mike McConnell, who is also a career intelligence
So, if you put someone in that job who understands all elements in the
intelligence community, the important point there, Keith, is they'll know
which fights to take and which fights to avoid regarding CIA, regarding the
NSA and regarding the Pentagon. That would make for more collegial
environment and in theory might support the president even better.
OLBERMANN: Roger Cressey of Good Harbor, MSNBC terrorism analyst -
great thanks for your time and sorry about Josh Beckett.
CRESSEY: Oh, you kill me.
OLBERMANN: The Democrats get closure for the financial reform bill.
Senator Maria Cantwell, next on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: The big bank reform bill and Senator Cantwell of
Washington - ahead.
First, with a reminder that "Tworst Persons in the World" will be
tweeted starting about 20 minutes hence.
The "Tweet of the Day" from Martha Stewart. "It is early morn here in
Kuala Lumpur, which means muddy estuary - the river looks like cappuccino
or the tarik - tea. The city is just waking."
Around us the jungle is alive in revels - in nocturnal sounds - rain
in places, fog patches on the coast. So bring a light jacket. L.A. Lakers
124, Phoenix 112.
Let's play "Oddball."
OLBERMANN: Who writes this? Oh, I do.
We begin outside St. Louis, Chesterfield, Missouri - report of the
migratory pattern of Cardinals filed by Josh Brown of FOX station KTVI.
Part of Brown's demonstration involved holding an actually red bird named
after St. Louis Cardinals' first baseman Albert Pujols. Albert the bird
usually keeps a coffee stirrer in his beak to prevent him from biting.
Usually. Sometimes he spits it out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's Albert. He was captured - ahh! Ahh! OK!
Ow! OK, he's got to go. Albert has to go right now. Albert! Albert!
Ow! Go. Go. Go. Fly! I'm John Brown, Fox 2 News.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Somebody screams like a girl.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Well, that was nice. Probably wouldn't have hurt as much
if the bird wasn't using - oh, never mind.
To the island of Guam, American territory, hello. This video from a
hearing in the Guam legislator. The man wearing blue is the mayor of
Mangyao (ph), Nieto Blass (ph). Before taking his seat, Mayor Blass gave
his fellow mayor, Ben Gumatoutou (ph) a tap on the leg. Only Mayor
Gumatoutou didn't care for the unwanted contact and returned fire with a
jab. Down goes the mayor. Well, not really. Mayor Gumatoutou later said
he doesn't like people touching him and apologized. Mayor Blass said,
quote, from now on I'm not going to touch him, I'll just kiss him.
Finally, to London, site of the 2012 Olympics, also site of the
unveiling of the mascots. Yes, what do these faces mean? Behold Wenlock
and Mandville (ph), two doughy, asexual, Olympic Cyclops things. They were
unveiled Wednesday with children at an elementary school on the BBC in the
form of an animated cartoon. Pokemon styled thing named after two towns in
England, it's supposed to be relate to kids who can follow their exploits
on Twitter and Facebook. Don't mind the thing only having one eye.
Even though the pair look like relatives of Kang and Kotus (ph), the
Cyclops aliens from "The Simpsons," they still present a marginal upgrade
from former Olympic mascots, like the guys from Turino, and the ones from
Athens, and whatever that was from Atlanta.
This just in, Britain's Liberal Democrats say they will form a
coalition with Wenlock and Mandville.
Where we are reforming the big banks, with Senator Maria Cantwell,
next, when we resume.
OLBERMANN: At this hour, the Senate has just begun voting on whether
or not to pass what could be the biggest overhaul of financial regulation
since the Great Depression. But, in our third story tonight, will the
bill, in plain terms, prevent the kind of wild Wall Street gambling that
got us into this mess in the first place? Democratic Senator Maria
Cantwell, who will join us in a moment, thinks the bill could be and should
The vote for cloture already passed earlier today, reaching the
threshold of 60 it had failed to attain just yesterday. Republican Senator
Scott Brown changing his vote to yea, joining the two Republican senators
from Maine and all but two of the Democrats. The vote for passage of the
actual bill, as we said, has just begun.
President Obama, on the verge of another legislative victory, said the
bill creates new consumer protections without being bad for business.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The reform I sign will
not stifle the power of the free market. It will simply bring predictable,
responsible, sensible rules into the marketplace. Unless your business
model is based on bilking your customers and skirting the law, you should
have nothing to fear from this legislation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Just a side note, Senator Tom Harkin tried and failed to
get the Senate to vote on an amendment that would limit ATM fees to 50
cents. The problem, according to the "Omaho World Herald," may be that
some senators have no appreciation for those fees, as Nebraska Senator Ben
Nelson confessed, quoting, "I've never used an ATM, so I don't know what
the fees are. But I could learn how to do it, just like I've learned to
swipe my to get my own gas, buy groceries. I know about the holograms."
Senator Nelson later clarified that by holograms he meant the whole
bar code and scanner system or possibly Princess Leya and the whole help
me, Obi Wan Kanobe, thing. Let's bring in, as promised, having just cast
her vote on the bill, Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington, who is also a
member of the Senate Finance Committee. Thanks for your time tonight,
SEN. MARIA CANTWELL (D), WASHINGTON: Keith, great to be with you.
OLBERMANN: May I ask how you voted and why?
CANTWELL: I voted no, as I did earlier today, because I think this
bill needs to be improved. At the heart of this issue is really making
sure that derivatives, which caused the collapse of our economy, are
properly regulated with exchange trading and clearing. And this bill
doesn't quite do that. So I'm going to be advocating for the improvements
needed to close those loopholes.
OLBERMANN: Do you expect the little to pass anyway? And do you
expect to have a second shot at derivatives?
CANTWELL: It will pass and it will go to conference with the House.
I hope we will get a second shot in conference to say that when people have
the chance to look at the language, to look at how these things can have
exemptions - we don't want the exemption to be so big that it becomes the
rule. That is to say that you can have thousands of pages about rules, but
two or three pages about exemptions, and then, thereby still not having
derivatives into the bright light of day, which is where we need them.
OLBERMANN: Ezra Klein of the "Washington Post" suggested here last
night that as this bill has moved through the amendment process, unlike
many reform packages, it has some times appeared to grow stronger with
Democrats and even some Republicans responding to general anger among the
public over the abuses of wall street.
Despite your misgivings, despite your vote tonight, would you agree
with that assessment, that things got stronger rather than weaker?
CANTWELL: Well, you know what it is? I think it's things like Dick
Durbin, who for three years tried to fight the banking industry and finally
gave up and said, you know what? They're stronger than even people here in
Congress. And then finally got a vote the other night on that and actually
got a change. So, you know, there's some long, hard battles that are
related to banking in general that have been strengthened in this bill.
But when you look at what brought on the crisis, the fact that we have
dark derivative markets that have now turned into a 600 trillion dollar
industry - Keith, that is a huge size. And if we don't get them properly
into the transparent marketplace that we need them, we're going to have
this situation happen again.
So it doesn't really matter if we figure out, OK, well, what's the new
consumer entity or how is the Fed going to handle it if we don't prevent it
from happening with the proper regulation.
OLBERMANN: I should add here, we're hearing from the floor that
senators Grassley, Brown, Collins and Snowe have voted yes for this among
the Republicans. This is just an incidental fact. That's not something
I'm asking for comment on. What I would like to know is this: in trying to
strike a sense of balance, did the Obama administration fail to get behind
measures, including like the ones you've proposed that would have given the
bill more teeth?
CANTWELL: Well, I think what you're going to find now that this
legislation has passed is everybody's going to have a chance to look at it,
that is the manager's amendment, which was a very big piece of this today.
And they'll be able to look and see where the loopholes are. And just as
we saw with Tarp - you know, Tarp was a voluminous bill. It had lots of
different pieces to it. So we'll have much time to look at that and have
the debate. And hopefully we'll be able to strengthen it and close some of
the loopholes that exist.
OLBERMANN: Senator Maria Cantwell, the Democrat from Washington, as
this vote is going on, having rushed over to our cameras after casting her
vote, we appreciate the extra effort tonight particularly. Thanks for your
CANTWELL: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The oil disaster in the Gulf is a month old today. The
gift that keeps on giving. We're still asking BP nicely to please fix it
What does this next grainy video from a Wisconsin bar look like to
you? Burning the president in effigy? That's what it looks like to me
too. Worst persons ahead.
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the our, just a little follow
up on her interview with Rand Paul. Rather a lot, really, including the
reaction of the president of the NAACP.
OLBERMANN: First, they're teaching the geometry of assassinating the
president; now they're burning him in effigy in Wisconsin. Worsts next.
But now, no, that's not your water coming to a boil. It's our nightly
checkup on the something for nothing crowd. It's Tea Time.
And I'd like to remind you again, there is no racism in the Tea Party.
It is a figment of my imagination and yours. Stick your fingers in your
ears and go, na, na, na.
I read you this yesterday from the blog of the chairman of the Tea
Party Express, about a proposed mosque two blocks from Ground Zero. He
wrote, "the monument would consist of a mosque for the worship of the
terrorists' monkey god. Repeat, terrorists' monkey god. If you feel that
fits the description of Allah, then that is your own deep seated emotional
baggage, not mine. Talk to the terrorists who use Allah as their excuse,
and the Muslims who apologize for and rationalize them, and a cultural
center to propagandize for the extermination of all things not approved by
their cult," end quote.
That leader, fired Albany, New York, radio host Mark Williams, has now
hidden that post behind a password. He has also had to correct the hate
speech because he got one of the hate details wrong. "I described the God
worshipped by terrorists as a monkey god. I was wrong and that was
offensive. I owe an apology to the millions of Hindus who worship Lord
Hanuman, an actual monkey god."
Don't worry any apology is purely a gimmick. The TPM muckraker site
found this previous Tea Party Express chairman blog post: "Islam is a
seventh century death cult coughed up by a psychotic pedophile and embraced
by defective tail sprouting, tree swinging, semi human bipedal primates
with no claim to be treated like human beings, or even desirable mammals,
for that matter."
Response to this from the Tea Party Express that Williams chairs,
nothing to do with us, his personal blog. But you have a lot to do with
his person. Of course this has nothing to do with the Tea Party buffoon
running for the House in Florida who stuffed every racial stereotype and
paranoid hate message against Muslims and Middle Easterners as he could get
into his 30 seconds, and neither the Tea Party Express nor the Tea Party
candidate has anything to do, even just philosophically, with the middle-
aged white terrorist caught on surveillance video carrying a can of
gasoline and a pipe bomb into the Islamic in Jacksonville, Florida, and
detonating it, without much result, nine days ago.
They're just isolated incidents.
OLBERMANN: In from Washington, the health care - rather the
financial reform bill has passed now - Freudian slip - 59-39, four
Republicans, at least, voting yea, along with some Democrats. We know that
Senator Grassley of Iowa joined the three who voted for cloture this
afternoon. Brown of Massachusetts and the two Maine Republicans; 59-39
financial reform passes the Senate. On to discussions with the House over
their version of it.
A new dispersant to replace the first dispersant that was designed to
replace the spilled. A month to the day since the eco-disaster in the gulf
and they're also again fudging how much oil is spilling per day. That's
next, but first tonight's worst persons in the world.
The bronze to comedian Rush Limbaugh. Not an ounce of racism in his
body. "The Mexican president is Senor Wences. Remember Senor Wences, the
ventriloquist dummy from "The Ed Sullivan Show" way back when? He's just
Senor Wences. Have any more salt? He comes here to lecture us, the
president, about the way we're trying to enforce our own immigration law.
What is this racial profiling anyway? Mexico's not a race. What's the
race in Mexico? It's not Mexican. Hispanic or whatever. We're not
profiling Mexicans because they can't - there's not a race there."
Racist, drunk and stupid is no way to grow up, Rush.
The runner up, more or less on the same topic, Dana Perino, the former
White House press secretary, self described eternal Bushy, Fixed News
contributor. Listen to this, President Obama's decision to take just two
questions during his news conference with President Calderon, this offended
her. She said it showed his "disdain for the press. If Obama had taken
questions from the American press, it probably would not have been on
One of the two questions was from Univision, the American TV network,
depending on the category, the fourth or fifth most watched TV network in
this country, America. It's in Spanish, so naturally Ms. Perino doesn't
think it's an American network. The exits are here, here, here and a
pillow costs a dollar.
But our winner, Karen Schoenfeld, the owner of Yesteryear's Pub and
Grill in West Alice, Wisconsin. Neither she nor her bartender has yet
offered any explanation of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here it comes. Ready? Woo!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: That's right. They're burning a statuette of the
president with what appears to be duct tape around his neck, possibly meant
to represent a noose, at a bar. While we are reminded once again that a
whole lot of people in this country just have no idea merely about even lip
service respect, they also don't even know what they're going to do is so
inappropriate that the law will have to get involved. Local police are
investigating that. The Secret Serve is is investigating that. The bar
owner and the bartender are not commenting. And the rest of us are left
wondering how close West Alice is to uber-Alice.
Karen Schoenfeld, the owner of Yesteryears Pub and Grill, where they
burn U.S. presidents in effigy, today's worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: Here's how math works a mile below the surface where no
one can see it: BP and the government tell us the oil spill is releasing
5,000 barrels a day, and then today BP tells us the pipe they inserted like
a bendy straw into the spill is suctioning out 5,000 barrels a day; 5,000
minus 5,000 is zero, at all pressures still, right? So then how come, in
our number one story tonight, this is what BP's live video feed of the
spill looked like before the site crashed a little while ago. Oil still
gushing out at a rate of presumably zero barrels a day. Plus the estimated
zero barrels a day still gushing out from another breech in the pipe. The
phantom oil spill raising questions and accusations of cover-up today on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: In fact, most of the oil is
gushing like mad out there, with just a little bit being siphoned off,
which would tell you there's a much greater volume than BP said.
SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: I'm not sure that we have had the
truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth out here, and that would
suggest why BP was so reluctant to reduce - to release the video.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: As National Geographic today released video of the fire
following the explosion one month ago today, the "New Orleans Times
Picayune" reports that on the morning of the blast, BP sent home a team of
contractors without asking them first to conduct an acoustic test, similar
to sonar, that might have revealed flaws in the cement casing. That is now
blamed for the deadly blast that killed 11 people and sank the rig itself,
severing the pipeline and causing the spill.
The EPA, late last night, giving BP 24 hours to identify new chemicals
it can use to disperse the oil, after Louisiana residents and numerous
politicians, as reported on this news hour, complained that BP was using a
chemical to disperse the oil that had been banned in Britain, found to be
more toxic and less effective than others, a chemical produced and sold by
a company whose board includes members of the BP and Exxon boards, even
though its use in this quantity, at this depth, has never been before
BP after its deadline tonight getting an additional 72 hours to start
actually using a less toxic dispersal. The White House today writing to
BP, asking the company to start releasing data the company has about the
spill, even as the Obama administration comes under growing scrutiny and
criticism for its own failures to do its own testing, with no vessels
deployed to measure the underwater oil plume, and failure to release any
deep water test results it has, and for failing to override BP's decision
to prevent scientists from deploying equipment that could gauge the rate of
The Coast Guard saying only last night that the government would put
its own measuring devices on the sea floor as soon as they figure out how.
BP now expected this weekend or early next week to try its top kill method
of plugging the leak, far too late as far as Louisiana is concerned. The
oil has reached the shore.
Let's bring Erich Pica, the president of the environmental advocacy
group, Friends of the Earth. Great thanks for your time again tonight,
ERICH PICA, PRESIDENT, FRIENDS OF THE EARTH: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Why is the U.S. still asking BP for anything at this
point? We're a month into this exactly. Where are the subpoenas and the
warrants and the executives being dragged off to jail, instead of being
allowed to decide how this is treated and given more time when they fail to
meet their own deadlines?
PICA: That's a great question and one that we're trying to figure
out. BP, - you know, these executives should be treated as criminals. Yet
the Obama administration is basically saying, OK, we have an eco-disaster
going on, but BP, you're going to be the judge and jury, and you're going
to tell the American public exactly what you want them to hear. And by the
way, the administration, we're going to back you up. We're going to be
your PR people, at least for these last 30 days.
And finally, though, we're seeing that with the House of
Representatives and the Congress pushing the administration to actually get
a backbone to be BPA, by pushing them on the dispersants and the chemicals
that are being released into the water, by pushing them to disclose how
much oil is being spilled, more than the 5,000 barrels that we have. It's
about time the administration is finally getting a backbone.
Unfortunately, I think it may be too late.
OLBERMANN: Why does it matter that BP claims its sucking up all 5,000
barrels a day, when there's clearly other oil still gushing out? Among
other things, there's a video that shows there's other oil gushing out.
And 5,000 minus 5,000 still equals zero.
PICA: That's a great equation that you have there. And unfortunately
the facts and the video don't prove BP's point. We're glad that BP is
sucking out 5,000 barrels a day. But unfortunately, it's 30 days too late.
What this amounts to is just mere damage control. This spill is out of
control. BP never had the resources or the ability to actually cap this
well or deal with the spill. And so this 5,000 barrel figure, to me, is
just damage control 30 days too late.
OLBERMANN: Flesh out for us, if you would, the concern about the
PICA: Yes, look, these dispersants are highly toxic. The UK
government banned these things ten years ago. We're looking at
carcinogens, mutogens, other toxic chemicals. We see that in - to be
frank, EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, doesn't have I bet, to our
knowledge, the health and human impact studies that actually tell us how
toxic these chemicals are. So its dispersant oil. We have no idea exactly
what chemicals are in there, what they will do to not only the wildlife and
the sea life that's in the ocean, but also when it comes into human
We know from the Exxon Valdez spill, they used a very similar
dispersant where there were respiratory problems. There were kidney
problems. There were liver problems. Yet, we trusted BP - the federal
government trusted BP. EPA condoned and allowed BP to disperse nearly a
million gallons of this toxic chemical in the water.
OLBERMANN: Last point, Erich, Saying the government will put its own
measuring devices on the sea floor as soon it's it figures out how, how do
we allow drilling under these companies as a government if we don't know
how to fix it if the company screws it up?
OLBERMANN: It's outrageous. This goes to the point that we shouldn't
be drilling on the offshore coasts of America. We just don't have the
technology to deal with the spill. We know, time and time again, oil
spills - oil rigs spill oil. We saw that in Australia. We're seeing that
right now in the Gulf of Mexico. And it's going to cost billions of
dollars and it's going to take decades for us to clean it up.
OLBERMANN: Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth, great
thanks again for your time.
PICA: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: That's Countdown for this the 2,576th day since the
previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith
Olbermann, good night and good luck.
And now, as the last dying echoes of the Rand Paul implosion reach out
towards the horizon of Venus, ladies and gentlemen, here with just a little
bit of a follow up is Rachel Maddow. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED. END