'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Friday, May 21st 2010
Video via MSNBC: Twitter Report, Oddball, Worst Persons
Fridays with Thurber:
The Mouse Who Went To The Country, The Moth And The Star, The Owl Who Was God
via YouTube, h/t fferkleheimer
Guests: David Corn, Taylor Kirschenfeld, Dan Gross
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you
be talking about tomorrow?
Hurry. Enjoy Rand Paul while you still can. The Republican nominee
for Senate from Kentucky talks oil spill disaster and defends B.P.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY SENATE CANDIDATE: It's always got to be
someone's fault, and instead of the fact that maybe sometimes accidents
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And Dr. Paul knows who the real villain in this is - the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: What I don't like from the president's administration is this
sort of, you know, I'll put my boot heel on the throat of B.P. I think
that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Better heel on your throat than your head up your -
assessing the candidate's chance of remaining the candidate with Richard
Assessing Senator Bunning's insistence the Republicans must embrace
Rand Paul and the tea party with David Corn.
Why B.P. lied about how much oil is being spilled. To create doubt,
because juries decide damages in oil spills based on how much oil is being
spilled. And those, quote, "dispersants," unquote?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL SAFINA, PRESIDENT, BLUE OCEAN INSTITUTE: It's a P.R. stunt to
dissolve this oil with dispersants. It's just to get it away from the
cameras on the shoreline.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: P.R. stunt in the Senate as well? Financial reform - is
this claim true?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: Never again will you be
asked to bail out those big banks when they place risky bets.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: "Worsts": Senator Reid's would-be Republican opponent is
back and lying again. Sue "Chicken Lady" Lowden proudly reveals her
$100,000 campaign bus was a gift from a donor. But the legal limit on
donations is $5,000 - so then she claims it's been leased, except her name
is on the title.
And "Friday's with Thurber." Three fables for our time, including
"The Owl Who was God."
All the news and commentary - now on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
Seventy-two hours now since a tea party-backed eye surgeon won the
Republican nomination for the Kentucky Senate seat. And not only has he
come out in favor of allowing private businesses to discriminate based on
skin color, not only has it been revealed that he opposes both the Fair
Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act, this morning, in our fifth
story on the Countdown: Rand Paul calling any pressure that the Obama
administration is putting on oil behemoth B.P., quote, "un-American" -
summarizing the unfolding, unmitigated ecological disaster B.P. has created
in three words: "Sometimes accidents happen."
Dr. Paul continuing to discover that the ideological purity of his
abstract principles are no match for the real world, complaining to George
Stephanopoulos on ABC this morning that the real world is not giving him
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: When does my honeymoon period start? I had a big victory. I
thought I got a honeymoon period from you guys in the media.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: This is your honeymoon period.
Dr. Paul's desired political honeymoon over before ever having started
because the good doctor without the good sense to keep to himself the
extremist ideas held by many small government conservatives, as when Dr.
Paul told the FOX going out of business channel earlier this year that he
believes federal agencies should reduce their regulation of the energy
industry which brings us back to this morning and Paul's views on the oil
spill. Roll it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: The thing is, is that, you know, the drilling right now and the
problem we're having now is in international waters. And I think there
needs to be regulation of that, and always has been. I think there are
hundreds of pages of regulation.
What I don't like from the president's administration is this sort of,
you know, I'll put my boot heel on the throat of B.P. I think that sounds
really un-American in his criticism of business. I've heard nothing from
B.P. about not paying for the spill.
And I think it's part of this sort of blame-game society in the sense
that it's always got to be someone's fault. And instead of the fact that
maybe sometimes accidents happen, I mean, we had a mining accident that was
very tragic and I've met a lot of these miners and their families. They're
very brave people to do a dangerous job.
But then we come in and it's always someone's fault. Maybe sometimes
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: B.P. is doing everything it can to not pay for that spill,
and those are not international waters.
Sometimes accidents happen, he said it twice. Dr. Paul also failing
to give a straight answer as to whether he stuck by the views he expressed
in that remarkable 2002 letter to the editor that he wrote, attacking the
Fair Housing Act, as well as ducking a question about whether the federal
government should be allowed to set a minimum wage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: But it's not a question of whether they can or cannot, I think
that's decided. I think the question you have to ask is whether or not
when you set the minimum wage, it may cause unemployment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Tonight, apparent proof that the Paul campaign now
realizing the candidate is not ready for prime time, pulling the full
Palin, by backing out of an interview scheduled for Sunday on "Meet the
Press," only the third time a major guest has canceled on the show in 62
years. Executive producer Betsy Fischer saying the reason cited was
A Paul campaign spokesman giving a different reason to Dave Weigel of
"The Washington post," quote, "Rand did 'Good Morning America' today, set
the record straight, and now, we're done talking about it. No more
national interviews on the topic."
Lots to talk about tonight with our own political analyst, Richard
Wolffe, author of "Renegade."
Richard, good evening.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: If the spokesman is right and doctor set the record
straight this morning, what precisely did he set straight for all of us?
WOLFFE: Oh, he set a lot straight. You know, as they like to say at
B.P., this well is not yet dry.
And the problem here is not the media or it's not the format, it's not
the network, it's the man. It's the man on the microphone. You put the
two together and stuff just tumbles out like - I don't know, oil from the
bottom of the sea.
Here's the issue: if he tries to back away from his positions, as he's
done, he's shown he can learn how to play dodgeball, but he has to be like
any other old politician. He has to twist the questions about civil rights
into repealing civil rights or about Senator Robert Byrd or about the
president. His fundamental position hasn't changed. This man's problem is
that his ideology trumps his morality, if he has some.
So, you know, you put the microphone there, it's going to happen.
OLBERMANN: All right. So, we have this - if in the Gulf we're
getting the equivalent of the Exxon Valdez every three days. With the
microphone here, we're getting the equivalent of Sarah Palin every three
But, now, to dismiss that with this phrase, "sometimes accidents
happen," as well as criticizing the administration's response as un-
American - is this, in fact, is Rand Paul representative of what "drill,
baby, drill" looks like once you actually turn it into a discussion of
WOLFFE: You know, the first off, I love the echo of Donald Rumsfeld
here. I mean, stuff happens, you know? Iraq blows up and, you know,
drills just go wrong and it spreads oil everywhere.
This isn't actually really just about "drill, baby, drill." It's not
about energy policy. There's something much bigger going on, the debate
he, Rand Paul, the tea party movement, and folks on this part of the
Republican Party want to have is about business first as government. The
problem they have is that their party massively skews towards trusting
business over government and the rest of the population sees it the other
way around. Especially after Wall Street's collapse, especially after what
we're seeing with B.P.
His point of view would leave B.P. unfettered and businesses to
discriminate on the base of race and Wall Street to do what the hell it
likes. That is one point of view. It doesn't actually respect small
companies in the Gulf, the fishing industry, the tourism industry. It's an
extreme thing way out of the mainstream.
OLBERMANN: There are unknowns about Rand Paul that we know and there
are unknowns about Rand Paul that we don't know. Well, how about this one?
But the cancellation of "Meet the Press" is it likely we're not going to
hear from Dr. Paul again for a very long time?
WOLFFE: Oh, you know, they're saying they're just going to do
Kentucky media and Kentucky issues. The problem is he's running for the
United States Senate. Any reporter - and Kentucky's going to be flooded
with reporters - any reporter down there or anyone, any voter asking him a
question about national politics will be there with a recorder, with a
camera. He cannot avoid the questions or the attention anymore.
OLBERMANN: Are any of the national Republican organizations
discussing at this point cutting bait with this guy before he does
something else? Because, you know, as you suggest, he'll do something else
and somebody will record it.
WOLFFE: Well, this is the where this story goes from here. People
who have expressed support for him in the past are going to get pushed
harder and harder. Do they still stand with him? Does Sarah Palin approve
of what he thinks of the ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act? You know,
is Mitch McConnell going to do anything but have his spokesperson put out a
That's where this goes from here. So far, they're all either staying
quiet or being respectful, because remember, this is a movement that
threatens them all.
OLBERMANN: MSNBC analyst, Richard Wolffe, the author of "Renegade" -
as always, great pleasure. Have a great weekend.
WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Mixed response from Republicans in the wake of the Rand
Paul truth telling. With most all but sticking their fingers in their ears
as Richard suggested and saying, na, na, na.
Sister Sarah, where's she now pray tell? Wednesday night before the
Maddow interview, half governor of Alaska having said of Dr. Paul, quote,
"That libertarian streak of his, that is what we need to balance out the
leftist liberal overreach of government that's in power right now."
Meanwhile, the man Dr. Paul hopes to replace in the Senator, pitcher-
turned-something other than that, Senator Jim Bunning, saying Thursday that
Paul's views should be the views of the GOP. Republican leadership is
apparently wishing however that Dr. Paul would just shut up.
Jon Kyl of Arizona, the number two Republican in the Senate, telling
"The New York Times" something rather telling. Quote, "I hope he can
separate the theoretical and the interesting and the hypothetical questions
that college students debate until 2:00 a.m. from the actual votes we have
to cast based on real legislation here."
On that note, let's turn now to David Corn, Washington bureau chief
for "Mother Jones" magazine, as well as columnist for PoliticsDaily.com.
David, good evening.
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES MAGAZINE: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Is this a bit of the emperor with no clothes thing going
on here with Rand Paul? I mean, might he merely be expressing views that
many small government conservatives hold but usually keep to themselves in
order to, you know, get elected without anybody knowing they're this far
off the whack off sort of path there?
CORN: Well, I think what he needs is a blowout preventer, one that
My theory here is that Rand Paul, like a lot of us, learned a lot from
our parents, whether we wanted to or not. If you look at his dad, Ron
Paul, what characterizes him, what makes him almost charming is that he
says what he thinks. Now, that works when you come from a conservative,
quirky, libertarian district in Texas, and it got him a national following,
but not too many votes in the Republican primaries last time around.
So, Rand Paul has gotten to where he is as a Senate, you know, primary
winner by kind of acting the way his dad does. But that's not going to
work in Kentucky. It's not going to work on the national stage. So, he is
telling us what he thinks. But now, as Richard noted, he's turning into
the regular old politician and trying to dodge the consequences of his own
OLBERMANN: Are you confident it's not going to work in Kentucky?
Because Howard Fineman who worked there said that unfortunately, due to the
low levels of minority interest in that state, this might be exactly what a
lot of Kentuckians want to hear.
CORN: Well, I think he has a fighting chance. I mean, we have five
more months - maybe he'll stay away from the microphones for all that
But Jack Conway, who won the Democratic primary, is a very strong
candidate. You know, the Republicans have a leg up in Kentucky, but the
Democrats have won that seat in the past, and they have - I think they
have a good chance if Rand Paul continues to behave any way like he has the
past four days.
OLBERMANN: Tomorrow, the Republicans are to gather in Kentucky for
the - for an essential group hug, less than a literal, a figurative one,
to rally around Rand Paul at a unity breakfast in Lexington, Kentucky.
I mean, what are we going to - what is that going to look like? Or
is Dr. Paul going to sleep through it because of this exhaustion and he's
already done enough and he's tired?
CORN: Talk about shotgun weddings. I hope there's a lot of moonshine
to go around.
I mean, this, you know, at the beginning of the week, I thought it was
a bad week for Mitch McConnell. But now I think he's one of the smartest
guys on the Republican Party side. He saw what would happen with Rand Paul
and did his best to try to keep him from getting the Senate nomination.
And now, as we've seen in the last 24 hours, he's not rushing to
embrace this guy. I mean, this is like hugging a live grenade. No one's
going to know when Rand Paul is going to explode, and I don't think they
want to get too close to him.
All have you to do is look at some of the conspiracy talk shows he's
been on, and how he kind of is very sympathetic to this conspiracy notion
of the new world order taking and international cabals, you know, taking
over the Republican and Democratic Party. So there's - you know, he's
radioactive. He's red hot.
So, I think it's going to be very difficult for Republicans, even
Sister Sarah to get too close to him in the next couple of days or next few
OLBERMANN: The real threat is from the America Ophthalmological
CORN: Yes. What are they going to do?
OLBERMANN: Last thing, he's complaining that he's been trashed up and
down by Democratic talking points. But what Jon Kyl said was this kind of
funny, kind of - oh, that's hope he can separate the theoretical and the
interesting and the hypothetical questions that college students debate
until 2:00 a.m. from the actual votes we have to cast based on real
Is that - is that the loudest shout across the bow that a prominent
Republican can take right now? Or is it a warning to him? Or what is it?
CORN: Oh, it's pretty darn condescending.
OLBERMANN: Yes, that's true, too.
CORN: Listen, Mr. Paul, we do real business here. We don't want your
silly libertarian fantasies. Go rent "The Matrix" if that's what you're
So - I mean, but it is a shot across the bow for him, and I think
Republicans are going to stand back and wait and see, you know, how he'll
do this weekend by not going on "Meet the Press" and whether he can get any
momentum back. But every chance he's had this week to impress people, he's
done the opposite.
And I think that B.P. remark is, you know - how can he get through
the campaign without further explaining that, and I think unfortunately,
you know, you pegged it earlier. This is what he believes. It's - these
aren't gaffes, these aren't slips of the tongue, this is what he truly
believes. And do Kentuckians want to vote for someone when there's an
ecological disaster, he goes, "Whoops, let's not blame the company"?
OLBERMANN: Yes. In essence, he endorsed an oil spill.
OLBERMANN: David Corn of "Mother Jones" - great thanks. Have a good
CORN: You, too, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Rand Paul may have canceled on "Meet the Press," but the
nominee who is still likely to be on the ballot when Kentucky actually
votes in November will be with us. Monday night on Countdown, the
Democratic choice for senator in that state, Jack Conway, reacts to
whatever Dr. Paul says tomorrow or Sunday or in his sleep.
As to what Dr. Paul calls the Gulf accident, why does the amount of
oil spilling per day keep changing? That's because juries decide damages
based on how much oil is spilling per day. First the disaster, then the
swindle - when Countdown continues.
OLBERMANN: The B.P. oil spill might merit description as an accident,
the legal reasons though why B.P.'s continuing changing of the amount of
oil being spilled is not an accident.
His promise: never again will you be asked to bail out those big banks
when they place those risky bets. Is that true or just hype?
"Friday's with James Thurber": three of the fables for our time,
including the cautionary tale, "The Owl Who was God."
And Justin Bieber. Oh, there's more to that. Justin Bieber runs head
first into a glass door. The inanimate object is undamaged and so is the
door. The video of the assault on mankind's last best hope - ahead on
OLBERMANN: From the beginning, we were told by British Petroleum and
the American government that giving - accurate estimate rather of the
amount of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico did not matter because they
were responding with everything they had anyway.
In our fourth story tonight - we were lied to. B.P. knew determining
the amount quickly was critical, but the company had a financial incentive
to prevent anyone from learning what it was. We were also told that
dispersants, both under sea and from the air, are the best way to deal with
the oil to prevent it from reaching shore, but environmental advocates
testified today that dispersants which are themselves considered toxic,
make it more difficult to remove the oil from the water, not less.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL SAFINA, PRESIDENT, BLUE OCEAN INSTITUTE: It would seem that you
would want it as thick and as concentrated as possible to deal with it
right there. Instead of circling it with numerous booms that are made for
ocean wave conditions, we seem to be saying we're going to take this
concentrated oil, we're going to dissolve it, so we have no ability to
touch it or deal with it. For the most part, we won't see it. It's an
out-of-sight, out-of-mind strategy only.
It's a P.R. stunt to dissolve this oil with dispersants. It's just to
get it away from the cameras on the shoreline.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But yet something even more dangerous might be
taking place under the ocean?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Dispersants also make measuring the spill more difficult.
"McClatchy Newspapers" reports B.P. has financial incentives to do just
that. After weeks of B.P. and the government telling us the amount did not
matter, "McClatchy" quotes B.P.'s own internal oil spill response plan
which says, quote, "The following actions are critical to initiating and
sustaining an effective response: locate the spill, determine size and
volume of the spill."
Quote, "In the event of a significant release of oil, an accurate
estimation of the spill's total volume along with the spill location and
movement is essential in providing preliminary data to plan and initiate
cleanup operations. Generating the estimation as soon as possible will aid
in determining: equipment and personal required, potential threat to
shorelines and/or sensitive areas."
"The priority issue will be to estimate and report the volume and
measurements of the spill as soon as possible."
B.P., one month and one day later, is still preventing anyone from
measuring the oil at the source.
According to "McClatchy," B.P. has a massive financial incentive to
figuratively muddy the waters, about how much oil is in the water because
juries base damage awards on the amount of oil released just as they did
against Exxon after the Valdez spill. This coming as B.P. suddenly reduced
by half yesterday's estimate of how much oil it was sucking up through the
siphon, after admitting that its previous estimate of 5,000 barrels a day
would mean the total spill itself had to be more than that.
And as "The New York Times" reports, the volunteer who offered to
treat birds and collect data on the spill were told the work can only be
done by contractors for B.P. - which again has a financial incentive,
fines and penalties to lowball the volume numbers.
And the U.S. government ordered local officials to send all their
samples for testing - the results of which might also be used against B.P.
to an oil and gas services company that includes among its biggest
Joining us now, a key source for that "New York Times" report, Taylor
Kirschenfeld, senior water quality scientist and division manager for
Escambia County, Florida's Water Quality and Land Management Division.
Thank you kindly for your time tonight, sir.
TAYLOR KIRSCHENFELD, WATER-QUALITY SCIENTIST: Good to see you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. You were - you told "The Times" that you
refused instructions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration to send water samples to this TDI-Brooks International
Company for testing. Can you explain why you did that?
KIRSCHENFELD: In Escambia County, the sampling that we were doing,
the pre-impact analysis, this was the base line sampling, collecting water
data, also data for sediment and oyster tissue, we wanted to make sure, as
scientists, that we were doing the best that we could for the citizens of
Escambia County. And that includes making sure that the samples are sent
to a laboratory that doesn't have any perception of any kind of conflict of
And we felt like the laboratory in Texas just had too close of ties
with the oil industry and B.P. So, instead of sending our samples there,
we sent them to a laboratory in Pensacola, Florida.
OLBERMANN: Mr. Kirschenfeld, you also told "The Times" that federal
officials are telling the volunteer that only the companies hired by B.P.
are allowed to collect the data about the wildlife that's been affected by
the oil coming in from this disaster.
Which officials are saying this and what's the rationale behind what
KIRSCHENFELD: The officials at the unified command in Mobile,
Alabama, are telling local volunteers and local wildlife sanctuaries,
people that are trained in the care of animals, they're telling them to
keep their hands off and they're telling them to back up and not touch
those oiled sea turtles, marine mammals or birds. Instead, they have their
own contractor that will take care of these animals and also their own
contractor will be revealing those numbers of oiled and dead wildlife.
OLBERMANN: But surely, this all has added up in your mind and I guess
in the mind of others to being more - B.P. being more interested in
containing the information and what's actually happening and the numbers on
which penalties and/or legal fees will be based, more interested in
containing that information than they are in containing the actual oil
spill. Do you think that's correct?
KIRSCHENFELD: Well, that's certainly a concern, Keith. You know, for
all we know, this laboratory in Texas is the best laboratory in the world.
It may be.
But there is that cloud of doubt. There is that perception that there
just may be this conflict of interest. And as scientists, we did not want
to even have to answer those questions from the public as to whether the
data that we're giving them is valid and unbiased or not. We just want to
avoid all those questions, and we know the way to do that was to send it to
the laboratory that we've dealt with for many years.
OLBERMANN: What's your position - we hear this testimony questioning
the use of dispersants - what's your position on the use of these
KIRSCHENFELD: Some of those dispersants, as we've seen, are very
toxic. They contain very toxic chemicals. And I was very glad yesterday
to see that the U.S. EPA finally ordered B.P. and their contractors to use
less toxic dispersant and I believe they gave them until Sunday to do that.
OLBERMANN: Lastly, we heard this Senatorial nominee from the
Republican Party in Kentucky, Dr. Paul, say that these things just happen,
sometimes accidents just happen. What's your reaction to that, seeing that
KIRSCHENFELD: Accidents do happen. We all know that.
But also, as scientists, we need to be prepared for anything that does
happen. We need to be able to deal with that.
You know, I was talking to some citizens there in Pensacola yesterday.
The analogy is, it's like driving down the highway at 80 miles an hour
knowing your brakes don't work. You know, there's no backup plan. There's
no plan B.
And it seems like B.P. did not have that contingency plan in place
that they needed to have.
OLBERMANN: Now, I'll go you one further on an apt analogy, I'd say
it's going down 80 miles an hour and there are no brakes.
Taylor Kirschenfeld, the environmental official working for Escambia
County, Florida - great thanks for your insight and your time, sir.
KIRSCHENFELD: You're welcome, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Thank you.
"The Mouse Who Went to the Country," by James Thurber.
First, the mouse who went to the White House, by Robert Gibbs.
OLBERMANN: The promise that we'll never have to bail out a bank
again, is that the truth about the financial reform bill or just an
exaggeration? First, reminding you the Twerst persons will be Tweeted
about 20 minutes, it's the Tweet of the day from Robert Landrum, "I think I
just saw a new Twitter account called SpitRandPaulSays." It'd be a lot
funnier if it would prove not to be true within 24 hours.
Lets play Oddball.
We begin in the White House Rose Garden, where yesterday, as the press
awaited the president's speech on Wall Street fat cats, some type of
woodland creature wanted to rub it in. During his speech, the little guy
scurried by again. The president kept on going. Vice President Palin
would have had that terrorist gone with one shot, you hippy. After a
thorough investigation, the White House issued this statement.
(BEGNI VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Judging the size of the
animal, based on the diameter of the seal, I've got to tell you, that's a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: But apparently it isn't a rat. It isn't a rat. It's most
likely just a vole, a rodent with a stout body, or it's a member of the
Frankfurt, Germany, Gutentach (ph), checking in with 16-year-old pop
sensation Justin Bieber - I've heard Mr. Bieber is a hit with the kids,
but, anyhow, it looks like he's in a little trouble checking out of the
Radisson here. OMG, are you OK? That's glass there, pal. The hair helmet
can't protect you all the time. The door was diagnosed with a case of
Bieber fever. Fortunately for America, the injured Bieber still makes more
sense than Rand Paul. He's all right.
(BEGNI VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yo, what up. I just walked into that door. I
don't know if you've seen it. But my forehead hurts. I thought - what
happened was I pushed and I thought it opened, but obviously it didn't.
And I walked right into the window. Peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And peace be with you, too, Justin. Sorry.
To Brecht, in Belgium. The town is undergoing some renovations there.
Item one, move the 100-year-old statue of the great Flemish Jurist
Gabrielle Ledais (ph). Time to call in the professionals. Look, they've
got a crane. Let's watch the workers care - oh. Oh, dear. His head came
right off. Judge Ledais, Judge Ledais, Judge Ledais.
Worst persons, wherein John Stossel agrees with Rand Paul. Is he
bailing out on "Meet the Press" too? Ahead on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: The new financial regulation bill, passed by the Senate
yesterday, is not of course the final act. The Senate and House versions
of the bill must be merged now, giving Wall Street one last shot at
lobbying hard to water it down. In our third story tonight, once the bill
becomes law, will Democrats be able to sell it to a restive public as the
big accomplishment they think it is?
Today, Congressman Barney Frank and Senator Chris Dodd, chairman of
their respective finance committees, met with the president. Congressman
Frank predicted that the two bills could be merged within one month.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I can't remember ever seeing
two major pieces of legislation, really historic pieces of legislation,
come out of the two houses so close. That's not accidental. I would thank
the Republicans who voted for the bill in the House, if there were any.
And I would hold out to them the prospect of being thanked if any of them
decide to break party discipline.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Congressman Frank had, on March 31st, on this news hour,
called for a formal public conference once the legislation passed the
Senate. Mr. Frank made a similar statement on CNBC. And House Minority
Leader John Boehner has evidently accepted the challenge, sending a letter
to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging her to support an open, bipartisan,
House/Senate conference on the bill, with C-Span covering. Quoting, "in
short, we need to ensure that the process going forward does not turn our
mutual interest in regulating Wall Street into a bill with unintended
consequences, root causes left unaddressed or the federal government's
unwanted hand reaching in to Main Street."
This from the leader of the House Republicans, none of whom voted for
the House version of the bill. In other words, let the games begin. It's
not too late for the GOP to portray this bill as another government
takeover. But last night, Senate Majority Leader Reid heralded the bill as
just the opposite.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: It's a choice between
learning from the mistakes of the past or just letting them happen again.
We can't let things like that happen again. What took place brought down
this country economically. We can't stand by and let it happen again. For
those who wanted to protect Wall Street, it didn't work. They can no
longer gamble away other people's money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: To analyze this reality versus what is being spun, the
senior editor of "Newsweek," Dan Gross, joins us. Dan, thanks for your
DAN GROSS, "NEWSWEEK": Good to be here.
OLBERMANN: Some of the politics of this in a moment. But one thing
in particular is was there an over-promise in there? At one point, Harry
Reid insisted that Main Street will never again be asked to bail out the
big banks. Is that correct?
GROSS: Well, Keith, I have no doubt that 30 years from now, if you
and I are alive and well, God willing, and we are communicating with the
Skypee that is implanted in our brain stem, we will be discussing some
other financial debacle that will require some form of government
intervention. One of the things that Wall Street is ingenious at is coming
up with new ways to screw things up in such a large degree that they need
It may not be for another ten, 20, 30, 40 years, but to say that this
categorically rules out the possibility of any type of bailout ever again I
think probably is over-promising.
OLBERMANN: Our second topic in that conversation 30 years hence will
be when that oil spill stops in the Gulf.
GROSS: Or what we had for the early bird dinner.
OLBERMANN: Is there anything else lacking, in your view, that could
make this thing stronger and more relevant, meatier, if you will?
GROSS: Sure. Aside from the tar and feathers and the stockades,
which were removed from the Senate bill at the last minute, the Volcker
rule - this was Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman's idea
that banks that are getting money from the Federal Reserve and that have
insured deposits should not be allowed to take that money and sort of
gamble it on proprietary trading. That is not in the Senate bill per se.
In addition, the House had this large fund. They were going to assess
banks in advance to establish a fund that would help pay for things like
the rescues we had. That also is not in the Senate bill. I think this
notion - it's not simply punitive. It's basically saying to the banks, if
you want to be big and you want to be risky, we're going to require you to
sort of purchase some insurance on the event that one of you will screw it
up big time.
OLBERMANN: The conference, the idea that the merger of the two bills
would be televised live, would that decrease the chance that the bank
lobbyists can dilute it further?
GROSS: We saw what that health care summit that Obama had and the
Republicans and the Democrats showed up. There was a lot of Kabuki Theater
going on there, not particularly constructive. I think one of the strange
things about this process is that the longer it has gone on, the more time
we have for banks to sort of pay bonuses again and do the sorts of things
they do, and Goldman Sachs running into trouble - the longer this process
has gone on, the tougher it has become on Wall Street. So usually sort of
drawing it out gives lobbyists more time to get their interests in there.
I think, in this case, they would have gotten the better deal if they had
cut something three months or six months ago.
OLBERMANN: And when it gets through conference, gets signed, doesn't
the debate actually really begin just then? Won't this be re-enacted
throughout the fall political campaign?
GROSS: Clearly, I think if you see the fall campaign setting up, it's
going to be about the economy. It's going to be about health care, where
again you have this - the government is taking over versus the government
being tough on the insurers. And there's a similar sort of rhetorical
troupe going on here, where the Republicans are saying, here they are
taking over a big portion of the economy, and Democrats saying, no, we're
being tough on these people that nobody likes.
OLBERMANN: Dan Gross of "Newsweek," many thanks. Have a good
GROSS: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Three Thurber fables tonight, including the story of trust
misplaced, "the Owl Who Was God." Speaking of which, the man who has four
times this week compared the president to Nazis, and what he had said
previously decrying those who compared presidents to Nazis.
And on "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" at the top of the hour, the next front
in the immigration wars; will Arizona now try to deny citizenship to
children born in the U.S.?
OLBERMANN: Three James Thurber fables, including the famed, "The Owl
Who Was God," next. But first, tonight's worst persons in the world.
In third place, John Stossel of Fixed News - in the head for a long
time - contributing to the assessment by saying, quote, "I'm in total
agreement with Rand Paul. And I would go further than he was willing to
go, as he just issued the statement, and say it's time now to repeal that
part of the law."
This is where the Fox anchor interjected, what? "Because private
businesses ought to get to discriminate. And I won't ever go to a place
that is racist. And I will tell everybody else not to. And I will speak
against them. But it should be their right to be racist."
Got Dr. Paul on the line for you, John. He'd like to express his
thanks for setting him back on fire right after he'd started to tamp
Runner up, Newt Gingrich, check out the evolutions of his comparisons
of the president to Nazi Germany. A, in his new book, he wrote, quote,
"the secular socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as
Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did."
B, last Sunday he was asked if that was wildly over the top. He
answered, "no, just listen to President Obama's language. He gets to
decide who earns how much."
See? Last night he was asked by Greta Van Susteren, "go a little far
on that one?" "No," he answered, "because I'm not talking about moral
equivalence of the people. I'm talking about the end result. I argue in
this book - and I think it's a pretty reasoned and compelling argument -
that the fact is the values of a secular socialist movement are
antithetical. And you hear from President Obama all the time."
D, this morning, asked about how he compared Obama to Mao and to
Hitler, "no," he said,, "I didn't do that. What I said was that the threat
to American civilization posed by the secular socialist machine is fully as
grave as the threat of totalitarian systems in the past."
But E, the Gingrich quote of quotes on this topic? In 2005, he was
asked by Sean Hannity about alleged statements by Democrats, quote,
"comparing George Bush to Adolf Hitler." And Gingrich, who has compared
Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler four times this week, said of all the supposed
Nazi/Hitler comparisons by Democrats, quote, "maybe they're becoming the
Better check your own hinges, Newt.
But our winner, the chicken lady, who became the liar lady, who is now
the double liar lady, Sue Lowden, Republican wannabe for the Senate from
Nevada. Asked about her campaign bus, which is an RV worth about 100,000
dollars, she said, quote, "let's talk about my RV. It was donated. I'm
really fortunate. Anyone can have an RV if they had a supporter who wanted
That's when it was pointed that the campaign donation limit for a
Senate seat is like five grand. She then said she misspoke. It wasn't
donated. It's a privately leased vehicle. Unfortunately, her name is on
the title, which legally can't be if she's leasing it. Meaning Ms. Lowden
either lied about it being a donation or it's an illegal campaign donation,
or she bartered for it by paying an RV dealer 12,500 chickens.
Sue "it's donated - it's mine - no, it's not, it's leased" -
Lowden, today's worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: Again we close with some of the best humorist writing of
the 20th century, Fridays with Thurber, James Thurber, author, illustrator,
essayist, reporter. This started, if you don't know, when I would read him
to my late father in the hospital. Dad said you would enjoy this. And by
all indications, he was right, as usual.
This week, three gems from Thurber's "Fables For Our Time" and "Famous
Poems Illustrated," published first in 1940. And I'm again reading from
the Library of America "Thurber, Writings and Drawings," just reprinted
because you asked for it.
First, "The Mouse Who Went to the Country," by James Thurber.
Once upon a Sunday, there was a city mouse who went to visit a country
mouse. He hid away on a train that the country mouse had told him to take,
only to find out that on Sundays it did not stop at Beddington. Hence, the
city mouse could not get off at Beddington and catch a bus for Cybridge
(ph) Junction, where he was to be met by the country mouse.
The city mouse, in fact, was carried on to Middleburg, where he waited
three hours for a train to take him back. When he got back to Beddington,
he found that the last bus for Cybridge Junction had just left. So he ran
and he ran and he ran and he finally caught the bus and crept aboard, only
to find that it was not the bus for Cybridge Junction at all, but was going
in the opposite direction, through Pells Hollow and Grum, to a place called
When the bus finally stopped, the city mouse got out into a heavy rain
and found that there were no more buses that night going anywhere. To hell
with it, said the city mouse. He walked back to the city.
The moral? Stay where you are. You're sitting pretty."
"The Mouse Who Went to the Country."
And now, "The Moth and the Star," by James Thurber.
"A young and impressionable moth once set his heart on a certain star.
He told his mother about this, and she counseled him to set his heart on a
bridge lamp instead. "Stars aren't the thing to hang around," she said.
"Lamps are the things to hang around."
"You get somewhere that way," said the moth's father. "You don't get
anywhere chasing stars."
But the moth would not heed the words of either parent. Every evening
at dusk, when the star came out, he would start flying toward it. Every
mourning at dawn, he would crawl back home, worn out with his vane
One day his father said to him, "you haven't burned a wing in months,
boy. Looks to me as if you're never going to. All your brothers have been
badly burned, flying around street lamps. And all your sisters have been
terribly singed flying around house lamps. Come on now, get out of here
and get yourself scorched. A big strapping moth like you without a mark on
The moth left his father's house. But he would not fly around street
lamps and he would not fly around house lamps. He went right on trying to
reach the star which was four and one third light years, or 25 trillion
miles, away. The moth thought it was just caught in the top branches of
He never did reach the star, but he went right on trying night after
night. And when he was a very, very old moth, he began to think that he
really had reached the star and he went around saying so. This gave him a
deep and lasting pleasure, and he lived to a great old age. His parents
and his brothers and sisters had all been burned to death when they were
Moral? Who flies afar from the sphere of our sorrow is here today and
"The Moth and the Star."
And lastly tonight, and best tonight, "The Owl Who Was God," by James
"Once upon a starless midnight, there was an owl who sat on the branch
of an oak tree. Two ground moles tried to slip quietly by unnoticed.
"You," said the owl. "Who," they quivered in fear and astonishment, for
they could not believe it was possible for anyone to see them in that
darkness. "You two," said the owl.
The moles hurried away and told the other creatures of the field and
forest that the owl was greatest and wisest of all animals, because he
could see in the dark and because he could answer any question. "I'll see
about that," said a secretary bird, and he called on the owl when it was,
again, very dark.
"How many claws am I holding up," said the secretary bird. "Two,"
said the owl. And that was right. "Can you give me another expression for
that is to say or namely," asked the secretary bird. "To wit," said the
"Why does a lover call on his love," asked the secretary bird. "To
woo," said the owl.
The secretary bird hastened back to the other creatures and reported
that the owls was, indeed, the greatest and wisest in the world, because he
could see in the dark and because he could answer any question.
"Can he see in the daytime too," asked a red fox. "Yes," echoed a
door mouse and a french poodle. "Can he see in the daytime, too?"
All the other creatures laughed loudly at this silly question, and
they set upon the red fox and his friends and drove them out of the region.
Then they sent a messenger to the owl and asked him to be their leader.
When the owl appeared among the animals, it was high noon and the sun
was shining brightly. He walked very slowly, which gave him an appearance
of great dignity, and he peered about him with large staring eyes, which
gave him an air of tremendous importance.
"He's god," screamed a Plymouth rock hen. The others took up the cry.
So they followed him wherever he went. When he began to bump into
things, they began to bump into things too. Finally, he came to a concrete
highway and he started up the middle of it. All the other creatures
Presently, a hawk, who was acting as an outrider, observed a truck
coming toward them at 50 miles an hour. And he reported to the secretary
bird, and the secretary bird reported to the owl.
"There's danger ahead," said the secretary bird. "To wit," said the
The secretary bird told him, "aren't you afraid," he asked. "Who,"
said the owl calmly, for he could not see the truck.
"He's God," cried all the creatures again. And they were still
crying, "he's God when the truck hit them and ran them down. Some of the
animals were merely injured, but most of them, including the owl, were
Moral? You can fool too many of the people too much of the time."
"The Owl Who Was God."
And that is Countdown, portions written by James Thurber. And now to
discuss Arizona's expanding fight against the illegal immigrants and now
their kids, ladies in gentlemen, in for Rachel Maddow, here is Chris Hayes.
Good evening, Chris.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED. END