'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Monday, June 21st, 2010
Video via MSNBC: Twitter Report, Oddball, Tea Time, Worst Persons
The toss: Quickly
Guests: Rick Steiner, Tim Dickinson, Robert Redford, David Corn, Michael Musto
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The most damning missed warning sign yet, weeks before the disaster in the Gulf.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TYRONE BENTON, FORMER BP WORKER: We saw a leak on the pod.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: A leak in the blowout preventer on Deepwater Horizon unfixed, just weeks before BP's cataclysm.
And more lying: the original BP claim, 1,000, maybe 5,000 barrels of oil flowing into the Gulf every day - BP internal documents show at that time, the company knew the worst case was really 100,000 barrels a day.
BP's next disaster? Tonight, shocking details about its plans to drill in the Arctic - so unproven, so unprecedented, even BP admits it is one of the company's, quote, "biggest challenges to date." So, why hasn't the project been stopped?
"Please don't stop" - the message to Congressman Joe Barton and the GOBP. The White House says Representative Barton's apology to BP isn't his personal problem, it's the policy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAHM EMANUEL, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Other members of the Republican leadership have come to the defense of BP and attacked the administration for forcing them to set up an escrow account and fund it to the level $20 billion. These aren't political gaffes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The anti-GOBP ball is rolling tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: If Bachmann lets BP off the hook, guess who's paying?
Us. Michele Bachmann, standing up for BP, not us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Tonight, the politics with David Corn and getting past the politics and making real energy policy with Robert Redford.
And Gaga saga, now ejected from both of New York's ballparks -
Michael Musto on the Lady Gaga grope fest in the Yankees clubhouse and the terrible truth. I was there when the Mets threw her out and I was there when the Yankees gave her the thumb.
All the news and commentary - now on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
Sixty-three days into the oil disaster in the Gulf and what we know about BP just keeps getting worse - in the past, in the present, in the future.
In the past: new revelations that the oil company was told of a fault in the rig's safety equipment weeks before the explosion. In the present: new hard evidence that BP has believed the well could be leaking up to 100,000 barrels per day, despite always publicly claiming far less. And in the future: a stunning new report about the oil company's plan to drill much riskier well in the Arctic Ocean this fall, and the fact that the Obama administration is doing nothing yet to stop that.
Our fifth story: we begin with the fail safe measures that themselves failed.
The Deepwater Horizon rig worker telling the BBC that he had identified a leak in the blowout preventer weeks before the disaster on a part of the safety device known as a "pod," each blowout preventer having two pods. Tyrone Benton saying that instead of fixing the problem at that time, something that would have cost time and thus money, the faulty pod was simply shut down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENTON: We saw a leak on the pod. So by seeing the leak, we informed the company, they have a control room where they can turn off that pod and turn on the other one so that they don't have to stop production.
REPORTER: So, they found the problem and instead of fixing it, they just shut down the broken bit.
BENTON: Yes. They just shut it down and worked off another pod.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The rig worker in charge of the blowout preventer having told Congress that when he activated the device that would trigger the blowout preventer, it lacked enough hydraulic pressure to operate. Christopher Pleasant telling the lawmakers last month, quote, "After I saw there was no hydraulics, I knew it was time to leave."
The failure of blowout preventer is more common than the oil industry wants us to believe. "The New York Times" reporting the company that owns the Deepwater Horizon rig, Transocean, having commissioned a strictly confidential study of the reliability of blowout preventers, that look at some 15,000 wells drilled off North America and the North Sea from 1980 to 2006. The researchers concluding that blowout preventers used by deepwater rigs had failure rate of 45 percent - just under half. "The New York Times" taking a closer look at why the blowout preventers might be failing, all of the device is at best should have multiple hydraulic valves in them called shear rams or blind shear rams.
If a blowout preventer is a purported device, then a shear ram is the safety devices safety device, its last line of defense. When all else fails, the blades of the shear ram are supposed to slice through the drill pipe and seal the well. So, offshore drillers usually equip their blowout preventers with at least two shear rams.
"The Times" reporting, however, that Deepwater Horizon had only one of them. As a result, what BP feared could be up to 100,000 barrels a day of crude still gushing into the Gulf. Democratic Congressman Ed Markey having released documents that show BP set that number, 100,000, as their high-end estimate despite given the current worst-case scenario of just 60,000 barrels a day - numbers which could look quaint.
If BP is allowed to proceed with its plan to start drilling in the Arctic Ocean this fall, something the next issue of "Rolling Stone" magazine reports the Obama administration is doing nothing to stop. The company's plans begin with building a fake island offshore, little more than a glorified mound of gravel, making it an onshore facility that would not be subject to offshore restrictions.
Quoting from the article, "First, the company will drill two miles beneath the tiny island, then in an ingenious twist, it will drill sideways for another six to eight miles until it reaches an offshore reservoir. This will be the longest extended reach ever attempted. And the effort has required BP to push drilling technologies beyond its proven limits. BP calls the project one of its biggest challenges to date - in what the company itself admits is some of the harshest weather on earth."
In a moment, the author of that chilling "Rolling Stone" piece Tim Dickinson. But, first, for more on the Deepwater Horizon disaster - we'll do them one at a time - let's call on marine conservationist Rick Steiner, joining us tonight from Anchorage in Alaska.
Rick, thanks again for your time tonight.
RICK STEINER, MARINE CONSERVATIONIST: Hi, Keith. How are you?
OLBERMANN: For nine weeks, since this started, we have been told it's inconceivable that a blowout preventer would fail. Now we know that Transocean's own evidence suggested otherwise, that they have a failure rate approaching 50 percent. Have we been sold another bill of goods?
STEINER: Absolutely. I mean, we know equipment fails, we know people make mistakes. There are multiple equipment failures involved in the Deepwater Horizon disaster and there's even more human judgment errors, human errors that are involved in it. A lot of the human errors were driven by cost-cutting and time-saving. We know that now.
And it's inexcusable that that sort of risk was posed to the workers on the rig, and to the environment and the people on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico for BP to save a few million dollars in a few days of time to disconnect from that rig.
OLBERMANN: Transocean has got the study that says 45 percent of blowout preventers fail in deepwater situations. They only have the one blind shear ram on this one particular blowout preventer. There is a rig worker from Transocean who tells them there's a like in one of the pods in the one blowout preventer.
Is BP more negligent for having simply shut down the faulty pod rather than taking the time and expense of fixing it, or does that not change the overall picture of how stupidly they handled this?
STEINER: Well, it is outrageous. And there are so many places where they should have gotten the message that this was, as one of the rig workers called it, a nightmare well, the macundo (ph) well, and that they should have known that this was a disaster in waiting.
And certainly that the blowout preventer had a - had a problem and also it wasn't even constructed as designed, we understand. Plus, it didn't have the redundant system. Redundancy is really one of your number one tools in risk mitigation and prevention. There was not, as you said, the double shear ram, shear and seal ram.
Some of the companies are developing an alternative well kill system, a better blowout preventer. But even with that, you have to make the right decisions on constructing the well, and disconnecting from it, from cementing it, from using the centralizers and the wellbore, from using a liner at the bottom, and doing your cement log to make sure the cement is set up correctly. And apparently, they failed on virtually all of those. So, this was certainly pointed towards disaster from early on.
OLBERMANN: If data supplied by the rig company, it's not - this isn't - this isn't Greenpeace that came up with this 45 percent number that blowout preventers were failing, 45 percent in deepwater drilling. With that number, how could we ever again say that drilling at this depth is without risk and how could anybody have ever, at any point, honestly said in the past that it was going to be without risk or significant risk?
STEINER: You can't. Obviously, there's always going to be risk, particularly in these deepwater, high pressure reservoirs, in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico and also, you're mentioning the Arctic Ocean. In the extreme environments, particularly ones that are particularly sensitive, do we have any business drilling there when we know that there is a significant risk of a catastrophic blowout like this? We know there is. We know the industry has been deceptive, dishonest, disingenuous, and so has the federal government, all along about the level of risk and the consequence of a blowout here.
So, who are we to trust here? And I think, you know, the moratorium on deepwater drilling right now is absolutely appropriate. It probably needs to be imposed for longer than the six months that it's in place for. But until they can be absolutely certain that they have the safest system possible, they should not even consider removing that moratorium, and possibly not even then because there will always be the risk of people making mistakes and equipment failing.
OLBERMANN: Well, yes, we can always look at it the other way, that it is actually the Gulf is half-full, not half-empty of oil, since it works 55 percent of the time the blowout preventers in this situation.
Marine conservationist Rick Steiner - once again, great thanks for your insight.
STEINER: My pleasure.
OLBERMANN: About the Arctic, let's turn as promised now to "Rolling Stone" contributing editor and political correspondent Tim Dickinson, who joins us tonight from San Francisco.
Thanks for your time tonight, sir.
TIM DICKINSON, ROLLING STONE: I'm glad to be here.
OLBERMANN: This report - it's astounding that as soon as this six-month moratorium that is in place, and it sounds like we should be going for one of six centuries rather than six months, but as soon as it ends, BP is going to undertake something in the Arctic, far more risky, obviously more dangerous than anything being done in the Gulf two miles down, six to eight miles sideways?
DICKINSON: Right. What is even sicker is that the suspension doesn't even apply to this particular rig because it is ostensibly on land, even though it's just on this sort of glorified permanent offshore rig that BP has dumped a lot of gravel into the Arctic Ocean and built. So, it's - they're planning to start drilling this fall and the Obama administration won't say that they're not going to give them the red light.
OLBERMANN: What is - do we know any of the - any of the specifics as to why the administration's reaction is that? Did they not know about this? Is this a plan that dates to, you know, 1994 and they're just - they just haven't gotten in the way of it yet? Or what's the rationale?
DICKINSON: MMS loves this project. They gave BP a leadership award just last year for their visionary approach to drilling. And the administration has been - you know, even before this incident, was quite eager to get companies drilling the reserves in the Arctic Ocean. And I can't explain why, you know, if at this moment, the administration doesn't have the backbone to say, no, you know, this isn't going to happen, it's just astounding to me. I don't - I don't understand it.
And when I ask the White House about this, they said, you know, they would take a look at the final paperwork when BP applied and, by the way, they had a blowout preventer on top of the water which MMS' own data shows is less safe than the one on the bottom. So, I'm not sure what the logic is here.
OLBERMANN: Well, how is that possible now that we know that 45 percent of the ones on the bottom fail? What is this? The 95 percent of the ones on the top of the water fail?
DICKINSON: Well, according to the MMS data that was used to help approved the Deepwater Horizon rig, they know that 28 percent of the blowout preventers on the bottom of the ocean failed. And 44 percent, I think, of the blowout preventers on the rigs themselves failed.
So, this is not - this is - you know, and this on a tiny little five-acre island. And if it were to blow out at 20,000 barrels a day, which is what MMS is, sort of, caged out as their worst-case scenario, this water - the oil is going to go straight in the water.
OLBERMANN: Right. And so, using the math that is used by MMS and by BP and by all of the others, too, 20,000 barrels means 200,000. That's - multiply everything.
The interior secretary swore in the director of the agency, the artist (ph) formerly known as Minerals Management Service. If the Arctic plans proceed, what could we realistically expect out of - out of a new agency in terms of oversight and reform? Is there a chance - is anybody talking about making this, you know, look what we stopped, kind of ah-ha moment, or is there - or is this just being treated like everything else with the ordinary degree of bureaucracy and a mindset that a company's bureaucracy?
DICKINSON: Everything that I'm hearing both from concerned congressmen and from concerned environmentalists is that they fear that the suspension of drilling in the Arctic, especially, is just sort of a way to kick the can down the road until they can start drilling again based on the faulty permit. Shell has plans to drill in the Arctic that don't even contemplate a blowout because they say it's too remote a possibility. And interior hasn't moved to redo that science, even in the wake of the disaster in the Gulf.
And so, you know, the White House says they're serious about this, and I - and I would really like to take them at their word. And this seems to be a serious gentleman who's taking over the helm of MMS and maybe that's what's required. But Ken Salazar seems to have prejudged this in a way. He says that we're hitting the pause button, but we're not hitting the stop button.
So, if you're taking one of the obvious solutions off the table, I don't know how you approach this with real honesty.
OLBERMANN: Yes. What could possibly go wrong two miles down and then six to eight miles across?
If the White House is not doing anything about this and Mr. Salazar has signed off on it, you mentioned concerned congressman. Who is - who is on the side of the angels and common sense on this one?
DICKINSON: Well, I mean, Raul Grijalva, who has this subcommittee, has part of the oversight of the interior, has been, you know, very concerned about this. You know, I don't - I'm disturbed watching folks like Ed Markey who is bringing all these BP documents to light, seems to have his focus only on BP and not turning this back on the White House, asking them when they knew that 100,000 barrels a day was BP's worst case estimate.
The questions sort of reflect immediately to the White House. I'm not sure why the questions aren't being asked by Democratic congressmen.
OLBERMANN: All right. Well, I could probably give you a guess here, but I think it's already occurred to every one of the viewers who's watching at the moment.
Tim Dickinson of "Rolling Stone," it's a chilling article and I urge everybody to read it. Thank you, Tim.
DICKINSON: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Is there some silver lining here somewhere? Actor and activist Robert Redford thinks maybe - maybe there is. He's our special guest, next.
OLBERMNN: This man says maybe the nation needed the BP disaster to understand the true perils of the reliance on fossil fuels. Our special guest is next.
There are no easy solutions to the Gulf cataclysm, unless you ask her. I've now read her easy solution 91 different times and I still don't believe it.
How to turn I'm sorry Mr. BP here into the face of the GOBP in the midterms. There's already a commercial.
And, first, Lady Gaga was ejected from the Mets Stadium, now from the Yankees Stadium. That's one ejection for each ga.
OLBERMANN: In a moment, a former oil field roustabout who now advocates for environmentally responsible policy will join us with his perspective on what the oil spill can and should mean for America.
And in our fourth story tonight, I should probably mention that the former oil field roustabout is actor and director, Robert Redford, now nearly as well-known for his environmental advocacy.
In a new online video for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Mr. Redford, a long time NRDC trustee, argues that maybe we, the nation, needed this kind of spill to be this bad to wake us up to put pressure on politicians, especially those that he says are in collusion with big oil. That big oil's pro-green spin makes him want to throw up, that the spill will help America get to the truth about the oil industry, stop what's going on, move to a clean energy policy and stop listening to the oil companies and, quote, "their parrots in Congress." This sequel of sorts to his web video last month calling on the president to take the lead in putting America on the path to clean energy.
As promised, with us now, former oil field roustabout, Robert Redford, better known as actor, director and environmental activist.
Thank you, again, for your time, sir.
ROBERT REDFORD, ACTOR/ACTIVIST: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, criticized the president, saying he was using the spill to advocate for clean energy policies. I think that's a fair characterization of what you're doing in a sense, if not using - using might be the wrong word. But what's your response to Senator McConnell's proposition there?
REDFORD: Well, my response is: what do you expect? If you follow his track, it's totally predictable. I mean, to me, that's a voice along with a few others that's coming out of the Ice Age. But you would expect that, they're basically that - those folks are just trying to - they'll do anything to stop Obama no matter what he does. So, I don't any pay attention to that because it's predictable.
What I'm interested in is, all of the truth that is coming out now about this spill I think is good. I'm sad that it took this kind of a disaster which is not over yet to get us there. But what I'm interested in is connecting the dots historically.
And if we had believed - if we had believed the propaganda coming out of the people, or not believed it, we would have realized that there would have been many disasters - they were saying, no, we're safe, we got it all figured out, don't worry about it. And we bought that song.
Had we been aware of the dots prior, we would have said, well, wait a minute, what about the BP disaster in Texas? What about Exxon Valdez? What about Santa Barbara 1969? What about Texaco, Chevron in the Amazon?
What about Niger? What about Britain and so forth?
So there have been disasters. They're not telling the truth. We weren't focused on it. Why? Because of the collusion between government, Congress and the oil companies. It's time to break that up and it'd better be done quick.
And the current president, I'm sympathetic to what he's dealing with because I don't think anybody was prepared. I don't think the government or BP was prepared. And so, they're really scurrying around trying to figure out what to do about it.
I think he's doing OK. He's doing the best he can. He's got to do more and he's got to do it in a very, very strong, clear, decisive way and he's got to articulate exactly what needs to be done and what the government is going to do.
For me, it's plain and simple. We've been dependent on nonrenewable energy for most of a century. When are we going to get on an alternative of renewable energy resources? It's been sitting in the wings waiting to be adhered to.
We haven't done it because of the collusion. And so, it's time to end that and get a new energy policy. Get rid of the sick and dangerous energy policy that Cheney put in there. And that was a disaster.
But you knew it was going to be a disaster because he closed doors and had the oil, gas and coal companies design it for him. That kind of cynicism, you got to get rid of because the American people are the ones who are paying the price for it.
OLBERMANN: When - when we talk about politicians and as you call it, the collusion between the oil companies and the politicians, is it a value to discuss that without throwing people - people's names out there to just say politicians, is that sufficient, or is it incumbent upon you to name specifically who you mean?
REDFORD: I'm not into - I don't want to get into names because I think those people speak for themselves. When a guy comes up and bellows about apologizing to BP, I don't have to mention his name. I think it comes across.
It's those voices are all going to be saying the same thing as long as they can. And we have to get past that. And Congress has to get past it. And Obama has to push Congress in a new direction.
And for them to use the old sob, well, it's an election year, we can't do it now, let's get a commission, I'm personally and very much against that because if this disaster calls for anything, it calls for immediate action on an energy bill. They're getting the call in those voices. They will always try to kill something like that.
But we need it. And now is the time. Not later. If we don't do it now, God knows what the consequences will be later.
We have already had enough damage to our environment - enough damage to people's livelihood, their jobs, their safety, their health, their well-being. It breaks my heart to see that. We better change that and the way to change it, in my mind, is to get a new energy bill now, not later.
OLBERMANN: So, in terms of individuals, your ideal viewer sees the new video that you've done at NRDC.org, and in a perfect world, the viewer of that video turns around and does what?
ROBERTS: Well, I would hope that, for me, you know, I'm for the American people. I think that I would like to see the American people have more of a voice in their future, that this situation was involved in, and I think that to be able to have that voice, they got to first get the truth. They got to get the right information.
They can't be getting information from Chevron that says we're in the human energy business or BP saying we're beyond petroleum. Come on. I mean, that's crap.
And so, therefore, you got to get the people - you got to give them the information, the truth. That's part of the responsibility of our government and the media. And whatever voice is out there can help.
And so the more people get the information, the more they will raise their voices, I hope, to push the president, to push Congress in a direction we were so overdue in going to.
Last point, the references to your early career as an oil field roustabout were not just gratuitous in hopes of getting people to watch this. You mentioned this in your own video about - that you learned things and had opinions that came to you during that time. Give me a highlight as we go. What - what did you learn there?
REDFORD: Well, first of all, I learned the role of money, how important the role of money is in all of this because I took that job because it offered good money for me as a teenager to work. I worked in Yosemite National Park, but this paid so much more money and that was a big deal for me as a kid. You know, I came from a lower working class background.
My father worked for the company in the accounting department. That was - had its painful moments when I worked in the field and daylight pipes and dug trenches and saw all the oil that was seeping into the ground all around El Segundo. And on the transport ships where we transport oil back and forth, I would see the leaking and so forth. And it struck me as wrong.
And so, therefore, what I learned there was - well, I, of course I took this job because it paid well. But what I saw when I took the job put me in contest with why I took it. And I think, eventually, I realized that the most important thing was to look at the consequences of what this all meant and it created a tough thing for me and my dad.
There's some good people working with that company. There were good people. And still are, you know, working with that company. But they had to buy the - they had to buy the company's song, and, you know, the song was wrong, I felt.
OLBERMANN: As perhaps it still is and perhaps that you just also summarized the political situation at the moment.
Robert Redford, trustee with the national - Natural Resources Defense Council. The video is at their site. Great thanks once again. We appreciate it.
REDFORD: You're welcome.
OLBERMANN: There is a new solution, of course. The Gulf problems could vanish in a moment if God simply ordered a miracle that closed the underwater gusher. Even to the religious, that sounds a little out there, not to say it might be a little blasphemous. The ex-politician who has seriously suggested it - any guesses?
KEITH OLBERMAN, HOST: The Democratic plan to make Joe "I'm sorry Mr. BP" Barton the face of the Republicans in the midterm is next.
First, the Tweet of the Day. A World Cup one after North Korea's seven-zip loss to Portugal from our friend Jeremy Scahill: "Kim Jong-Il shifting focus of secret, invisible cell phone communications from the game to duty free order." You are worthless, Alec Baldwin.
Let's play "Oddball."
OLBERMANN: Nothing personal, it's a song lyric.
We begin in Kiev in the Ukraine where word of Orville and Wilbur's accomplishments have been kind of slow to filter down to the grassroots level. The weekend, involving a 26-foot high ramp with homemade aircraft, the phrase aircraft is aspirational. The other element was gravity. The goal, as in the old chicken joke, to get to the other side.
The winner: the vaguely ear of corn plane which soared to a majestic 39 feet, but failed to get to the other side - failing in this case better than the others. In this competition, every jet blew.
(INAUDIBLE) India, hello! Who can take a sunrise, sprinkle it in dew, cover it in chocolate or a miracle or two, the Gandhi man. The Gandhi man can, because he mixes it with passive resistance and makes the disobedience civil. That message - without singing - the point of more than 250 students in southern India dressing up as Mohandas K. Gandhi, the nonviolent crusader for Indian independence as you know. Fifty-two of them actually shaved their heads; the others practiced nonviolence on their own hair.
And because this is India, you may as well set a world record, which they did, upsetting the previous Gandhi dressing record holder so much that a massive fight broke out.
OK. Don't tweet, don't complain, I know that was terrible. And Gandhi is one of the best people ever. I know that. That was a bad pun. And I like Sammy Davis, Jr. Too, I'm apologizing to everybody in the world.
We'll be right back to beat up the Republicans some more. I'm sorry.
OLBERMANN: Joe Barton's clarion call for the Republican Party to stand up for BP still echoes across the land.
And in our third story tonight: the GOBP is trying to pretend it is not the GOBP and is grabbing at this - the Democrats are taking political advantage. It's now abundantly clear from Speaker of the House Pelosi that the Democratic message will be: it's not just Joe Barton.
The speaker is releasing a statement today detailing other Republicans who agree with Congressman Barton's charge that the president engaged in a shakedown of BP like congressman Steve King, Congressman Tom Price and 100 House Republicans of the Republican Study Group and other Republicans making similar expressions of sympathy for BP, Congressman Darrell Issa, Congressman Trent Franks, Congressman John Fleming, and, of course, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann - more on her in a moment.
The calls continue for Congressman Barton to step down as ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. But the House GOBP leadership hasn't decided yet whether to force him to do that.
House Republican leadership aides telling the "Huffington Post's" Ryan Grim that Republican members will listen to what their constituents say and will report back to leadership tomorrow.
You'll recall, Congressman Barton apologized to BP and then under pressure from Republican colleagues, who must have known that they just found out. Barton retracted the apology, kind of.
White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel explains how Barton's defense of BP is more than just a political gift to Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAHM EMANUEL, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The approach here expressed and supported by other voices in the Republican Party sees the aggrieved party as BP, not the fishermen and the communities down there affected, and that would be the governing philosophy. And I think what Joe Barton did is remind the American people in case that they forgot, this is how the Republicans would govern.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And the GOBP is scrambling. Senate Minority Leader McConnell saying over the weekend that he could not disagree with Barton more. Today on the Senate floor -
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Two months of delays and bureaucratic red tap have done nothing to solve the crisis. But they've done a lot to discredit the kind of big government solutions that Democrats continue to promote. And every day the oil continues to flow is a day Americans' faith in government ebbs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: So now, wait, Republicans are going to campaign on how smaller government is the solution to BP Gulf oil spill type of situation?
As for another Republican who felt really, really sorry for BP, the ad from her opponent is already out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE SEN. TARRYL CLARK (D), MINNESOTA: I'm Tarryl Clark and I approve this message.
ANNOUNCER: America's worst ever environmental disaster, killing thousands of jobs, costing billions. It's BP's fault and they should pay.
But Michele Bachmann calls making BP pay for the clean-up, extortion, and said, "If I was the head of BP, I would let the signal get out there, we're not going to be chumps." If Bachmann lets BP off the hook, guess who's paying? Us. Michele Bachmann, standing up for BP, not us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Even corporate water carriers like Rush Limbaugh are going as fast as a bull with gas, trying to convince us that they're not actually defending BP. "I'm not defending BP here. I'm trying to defend the U.S. Constitution, the American way of life, the American exceptionalism, what it was that made this country great." But Limbaugh kept calling the BP fund a shakedown and never explained how the American Constitution, the American way of life, or the American exceptionalism means we have to defend a British corporation.
Let's turn now to D.C. bureau chief from "Mother Jones" magazine, columnist for PoliticsDaily.com, David Corn.
David, good evening.
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES MAGAZINE: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. So, I'm trying to follow this: the Republicans are pro-business. They just aren't pro-BP. And if they'd been in power, they would not have been pro-BP in this particular instance. That it?
CORN: Well, I think so. I mean, I think, you know, Mitch McConnell showed that they don't like big government. They don't like regulations, and they think that there are fewer regulations and fewer safeguards put in place, then none of this would have happened. I just don't see the logic in that.
They want to use the BP oil spill to discredit government, and then what are they saying? We should let corporations have even more latitude than they have already in Washington, with all the, you know, lobbyists running around and all the influence peddling that has made the regulatory scheme that governs BP and oil drilling and also financial regulation and everything else, making that weaker will make us safer? It's very - you know, it's almost Orwellian.
OLBERMANN: It is. The word occurred to me. Either that, or that's the one line from "Catch 22," we will - we will win by being defeated.
To that point, who's rooting for Joe Barton to not step down as the ranking member of the energy committee? Is it - is it the Democrats?
OLBERMANN: And if he does step down, is he no longer of any use?
CORN: I think it's every single Democrat in America. They're saying, Joe Barton, you go for it. You keep that ranking member position. Don't - you know, stick to your guns. I mean, after all, I mean, you made this point, I've written about this, others have made this point - it wasn't a gaffe. Joe Barton said what he believed.
In the face-off between the Obama administration and BP, he saw good and evil. And the good was BP and the evil was the Obama administration. And that comes out of a hatred or, you know, or an antipathy towards Obama and out of bias in favor of corporations and giving them, you know, personhood and letting them have rule of the roost in Washington.
So, right now, I mean - I mean, the Democrats don't want this to go away. Rahm Emanuel made that point very clearly yesterday as you just showed. And the more that Barton stays in the focus, the better off the Democrats are because they need something to run on in November, and it's very hard for them with unemployment being 10 - nearly 10 percent.
OLBERMANN: A downside for the Democrats running on this?
CORN: If there is, I don't see it. You know, maybe amongst, you know, the large block of votes amongst BP lobbyists.
But other than that, I mean - I mean, it is, as Rahm said, a reminder - the whole Democratic strategy before BP was: we want to remind voters that while we're working on financial reform and health care reform, the Republicans, when they were in power, you know, gave corporate power, you know, free reign. They didn't look out for the middle class and we've done this and there is a choice in this election.
Joe Barton came along and made that abstract concept very real and personal. And I don't know if that's going to carry through into November. You know, these things come and go very quickly. But right now, there's no downside for the Democrats beating up on BP and pointing to Joe Barton and the House Republicans as being, you know, the hand maidens of industry.
OLBERMANN: Yes, quick commercial. One shot of Barton talking, other shot of the spill going.
David Corn of "Mother Jones" - as always, thank you kindly.
CORN: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: When Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, the oil spill and how it's actually dividing the Republicans.
Sarah Palin, of course, has her solution for the Gulf: all we need is a miracle. "Tea Time" is next.
And our old sports center phrase was ga! Which means what's happening at both New York City baseball stadiums is ga - Gaga. Ga?
OLBERMANN: So, this administration just gave a military contract to the company formerly known as Blackwater. "Worsts" is next.
First, no, this is not your water coming to a boil, it's our nightly checkup on the something for nothing crowd - it is "Tea Time."
And we go back to citizen zero of the plague, Sister Sarah herself. She has a solution for the Gulf. Pray, baby, pray. "Gulf disaster needs divine intervention as man's efforts have been futile. Gulf lawmakers designate today day of prayer for solution/miracle."
Well, there you have it, a Palin presidency preview in microcosm.
Oh, crap. Something bad happened, don't worry, God will fix it. A quick miracle and presto chango the oil stops. We should even have the "department of homeland miracles" also.
If you want to point to the success of prayer in your own life, I'm not going to argue with you, and I think I can offer my own examples. But I think even Billy Graham would admit that relying on honest to goodness structural miracles, fires stopping themselves, buildings falling up, 100,000 barrel a day oil cataclysm sealing themselves, that's pretty poor public policy.
But who am I to criticize Mrs. Palin? I mean, I learned the other day that I have no political disagreements with her, no questions of right or wrong, people versus corporations, intelligence or idiocy because as AWR Hawkins writes at the Web site Human Events, "Liberals hate Palin because she's beautiful." "They despise her," he writes, "beauty. It pushes them over to the edge to know that she doesn't just shoot an assault rifle but makes an assault rifle look good when shooting it."
Uh-oh, even Rich Lowry can see where this one is going.
"This was obvious when she was running for vice president on the McCain ticket and it became known that she'd taken part in beauty pageants to get money to pay college tuition. How dare her she is not only beautiful, but she used that beauty for profit."
Oh, no, Mr. AWR Hawkins, you didn't just write "she used that beauty for profit," did you?
"So when a Keith Olbermann-type moron refers to Palin as an "idiot" again, or a Chris Matthews-type repeats his belief that she's frightening, we just need to remember that the left criticizes that which they fear. We also have to keep in mind that the fact that all the names they throw at Palin are really code words for 'Dang, that woman looks good.'"
How can I be both honest and gentlemanly about this? OK. Code words: No, no, they're not. When I say that woman is an idiot, I mean, that woman is an idiot.
I'll leave out the gratuitous shots Mr. Hawkins then takes at Hillary Clinton and Eleanor Roosevelt. But I did want to circle back to the headline. "Liberals hate Palin because she's beautiful." I wonder if Mr. Hawkins understands the admission contained in his dubious premise. It is, in short, the climax of Mr. Lowry's fevered review of Mrs. Palin's performance at the vice presidential debate, and he wrote about her, watching her winking, winking at him, winking only at him.
To wit - this is how the right wants us to pick our leaders. This is their criteria for our women leaders? I think I might prefer Mrs. Palin's idea. Start praying for divine intervention because man's efforts to find intelligence among conservatives has been futile.
OLBERMANN: Lady Gaga has now done something not even Yogi Berra accomplished, ejected in both New York City baseball stadiums in one season - season, whatever. Ga, gone, gone. It's next.
But, first, get out your pitch forks and torches - time for tonight's "Worst Person in the World" - along with my enunciation.
The bronze to the Pentagon - that's right - the Obama Pentagon, to whom did it just give a $120 million contract for work in Afghanistan, Xe, the mercenaries formerly known as Blackwater. Incredible. Military industrial complex abides (ph).
The runner up: Congressman Steve King lying about how the president favors, quote, "the black person." Crazy cat King was disinvited by a Republican Colorado congressional candidate, even the northern Colorado tea party canceled his speech there this weekend.
What did Steve learn? To be crazier and louder. Speaking in front of a sign reading, "Political correctness equals intellectual fascism," he said, "We needed to build a border wall that not even a cockroach could get through." He added he did favor some amnesty on one condition, "Every time we give amnesty for an illegal alien, we deport a liberal."
How about every time we provide a hard-working immigrant a path to legality, we turn Steve King into - to use his metaphor - a cockroach.
But our winner, Governor Rick Perry of Texas. Under his careful, Republican, conservative, almost secessionist fiscal guidance, the state has a budget shortfall of at least $11 billion for 2011 but Texas still went ahead with its Orwellian rewriting of history textbooks to turn slave trading into the Atlantic triangle trade, and to imply Joe McCarthy was right, and to glorify more Confederate figures in the Civil War. Their cost: $888 million for the textbooks.
"The Texas Observer" reports the state doesn't know how it's going to find $888 million but it thinks it will be able to get out of the other $400 million deal it made to replace all its science textbooks with ones proving that Theory of Evolution is full of holes.
Why were they going to spend that kind of money in the first place from the very concept of evolution would be seemingly disproved by Governor Rick Perry of Texas? Today's "Worst Person in the World"!
OLBERMANN: Tonight, there is news pertaining to the semi-naked lady in the New York Yankees clubhouse last Friday night. She will be allowed to return to the clubhouse, but only after Yankees victory.
Our number one story: Michael Musto explains to me why pop singer Lady Gaga is no longer persona non-gaga in the Bronx, even though I, too, was at the game on Friday, and if they just listened to me, none of this would have happened, you're out.
Her majesty's first baseball related-incident was at a Mets game on June 10th at the Citi Field in Queens. Gaga attended the game dressed incognito, dressed as Madonna from "Desperately Seeking Susan." Photographers somehow noticed her so she started flipping him the bird after stripping down to a bra and underpants, her own, we think.
Yes, I was at that game, too. I keep wondering why people weren't shouting for me to get out, but shouting at somebody else. Friday at the Yankee Stadium, Gaga was, again, in attendance, this time wearing a loose-fitting pinstripe jersey over her brassiere and, again oops, forgot my pants. After the Yankees lost to the Mets, Gaga and her entourage somehow gained access to the home team's clubhouse where she mingled with Yankees like second baseman Robinson Cano and, of course, Alejandro Rodriguez.
It was reported that the singer had been drinking. She was also reportedly groping herself or that she was trying to grope them and just missed.
Yankees co-chairman, Hank Steinbrenner, was said to be furious about the Gaga interlude, banned her from a return visit. However, Yankees general manager, Brian Cashman, now says Lady Gaga did nothing wrong. He says that celebrities are welcome in the clubhouse but only after a Yankee win.
Michael Musto is columnist for "The Village Voice," the author of the daily blog, DailyMusto.com. Michael, good evening to you.
MICHAEL MUSTO, THE VILLAGE VOICE: Hello, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Explain this whole Lady Gaga thing to me. I mean, I know she's a singer. She looks like Madonna, behaves like Amy Winehouse. She sings songs about baseball? Is that it?
MUSTO: No, no. She is a singer. And, actually, unlike Britney, the voice comes from her own vocal cords. It's an amazing thing.
MUSTO: But she actually sings more about celebrity and paparazzi and poker faces and the need to dance. Though, as you note, her new song is called "Alejandro." And if that is a reference to Alex Rodriguez, A-Rod's current girlfriend, whoever that is, needs to worry. But then, again, she needs to worry anyway.
OLBERMANN: I don't wear my on-camera dress suits to her concerts. So, why should she be allowed to wear a bra and panties to my baseball game?
MUSTO: Well, she had a sort of a jersey over it and she was surrounded by all of jersey. But I agree with you, this - you know, a lady should not behave this way. Dame Judi Dench certainly wears her undies and drinks, but there's a beaded curtain in front of her. Same with dame Maggie Smith. Sir Elton John, bad example. He's a whore. But, no, I agree that you should not disgrace yourself in front of the low life degenerates in the locker room.
OLBERMANN: It's a very nice locker room. By the way, Lady Gaga -
MUSTO: I'm proud of you, by the way. Not since you were in Carrie Prejean's lawsuit.
OLBERMANN: Thank you very much. She was allowed into this locker room even before the "Rolling Stone" cover image was released today. And we're going to see that at some point? Yes. Could this - the Yankee security is pretty thorough. But could she have gotten that past, you know, the crack guys at the gate?
MUSTO: She would definitely have to have taken off her shoes and she would have anyway. Total panty search, background search, cavity search, even her crowns. But then, again, the Yankees has just lost four-to-zero. So it's quite possibly they might have said, come right on in, honey, and work those killer breasts.
OLBERMANN: One of the papers reported that in front of Yankees' players she was groping herself. And I'm wondering is, why is that notable? Because during games, all players do, as most women will tell you when they accompany you to a game, is all players do is grab their crotches during the game. Isn't fair is fair?
MUSTO: Yes. But at least Gaga was not spitting when she groped because that's what baseball players do. But I have to say, to grope yourself in a locker room in your undies when you're drunk, bad idea. That shows that you're desperate, to wait until someone gropes you. I mean, the groping itself is a legacy of Michael Jackson that won't go away. Josh Groban doesn't do that? Dame Judi Dench is what I'm thinking, does not grope herself in public.
OLBERMANN: The Mets, despite the experience with her the other day, which I was also at, which is like I missed that one, too. They're having a "Go Gaga for David Wright" night. Wednesday, fans get a foam index finger to encourage them to vote in this year's all-star ballots. Is giving them a really large ga finger a good idea or could this lead to unfortunate activity the kind of which we saw in the clubhouse?
MUSTO: Well, I love how everybody is still upset with her behavior but they're all marketing it for cute little gimmick. And this is certainly more tasteful than marketing like a vial of her menstrual blood that she used to once. I assume that's foul. Meanwhile Madonna is sitting at home wondering how she could expose herself in the baseball box. Is that redundant? Maybe she needs to rekindle without a (INAUDIBLE).
OLBERMANN: Yes, there you go. Well, if you've seen one baseball game, you've seen them all. The only - the one and only Michael Musto, on behalf of dame Judi Dench, thank you kindly.
MUSTO: I don't do fingering jokes, thank you.
OLBERMANN: Well, that's Countdown for this, the 63rd day of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf. I'm Keith Olbermann. I thought we'd gotten through that one. Good night and good luck.
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