'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010
Video via MSNBC: Oddball, Tea Time, Worst Persons
The toss: Paper hat
Guests: Jonathan Turley, Bob Cavnar
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Hearings into repealing the 14th Amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader McConnell. House GOP pushes a repeal bill - as Republican willingness to stoke hatred, fear, racism is pushed to the forefront.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Birthright citizenship, I think, is a - is a mistake, that we should change our Constitution.
SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: If both parents are here illegally, should there be a reward for their illegal behavior?
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
OLBERMANN: Jonathan Turley on the law; Maria Teresa Kumar of Voto Latino on the hate.
Ethics in the House, if any. Eight investigations of representatives
all eight just happened to be African-American. And the head of the independent body that refers the cases to the House Ethics Committee is Porter Goss, the Bush CIA director who approved the destruction of the torture videotapes. Gene Robinson joins us.
Day 106: The figure on the possible fines, $17,600,000,000. And a question about this - is this a rerun?
"Tea Time": The Liberty Leaders' fife and drum duo split up because the fife player doesn't think the drummer is conservative enough. The drummer got Pete-Bested.
And Sharron's new obtuse angle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARRON ANGLE (R), NEVADA SENATE CANDIDATE: We need to have the press to be our friend.
CARL CAMERON, FOX NEWS: Wait a minute, hold on a second. To be your friend?
ANGLE: Well, true.
CAMERON: It sounds not you.
ANGLE: Well, no, we wanted them to ask the questions we want answered so they report the news the way we wanted it to be reported.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The candidate believes in a free press, made up of stenographers.
All the news and commentary - now on Countdown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGLE: Will they let me say that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
The Senate Republican leader says he wants to hold hearings on repealing the 14th Amendment, one of the most important foundations of American civil rights.
Our fifth story tonight: once more, in case you couldn't believe I just said that out loud, the leader of the Republican Party in the U.S. Senate wants to hold hearings on repealing one of the constitutional amendments that his own party put in place after the civil war to prevent former confederate states from discriminating against former slaves - literally, to return us to the days of the Dred Scott decision.
Last week, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham suggested repealing the 14th Amendment, which establishes citizenship for anyone born in the U.S., except in cases, such as children of foreign diplomats or of enemy soldiers. The goal: to stop illegal immigrants from coming into the U.S., to have their children born here as citizens.
On Sunday, Senate Republican whip Jon Kyl lent his support to Graham's proposal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARRY SMITH, CBS NEWS: There is a movement afoot to rescind the law that makes anyone born in the United States a U.S. citizen, specifically aimed at the children of illegal immigrants. Do you support that?
KYL: Well, actually, there is a constitutional provision in the 14th Amendment that has been interpreted to provide that if you are born in the United States, you are a citizen, no matter what. And what I suggested to my colleague Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, suggested that we pursue that. And what I suggested to him was that we should hold some hearings and hear first from the constitutional experts to at least tell us what the state of the law in that proposition is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: A spokesman for Kyl's boss, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, told "Huffington Post" last night, he supports hearings on the issue. McConnell now confirming this to "The Hill" newspaper, but Kyl's Arizona colleague, John McCain, who's running for re-election this year with less Hispanic support than he has enjoyed in the past, seemed less than eager to respond to this today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Senator McCain, I also have a question on the 14th Amendment. Senator Kyl -
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We're talking about the stimulus right now. Thanks very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Reporters chased him to the elevator. He still refused to answer. They found him again in the basement. No, I'm not exaggerating, in the basement.
And "Talking Points Memo" asked him whether he agrees with McConnell, the quote was, "I support the concept of holding hearings."
You may remember that Senator Kyl earlier this year went after Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan for her administration of Thurgood Marshall, saying that Marshall's judicial philosophy was outside the mainstream. Well, the only example anyone seem to be able to produce was Brown v. Board of Education, in which Marshall argued to the court against racial segregation of schools. So now, after insinuating opposition to letting black children white schools, Senator Kyl, with the support of the Senate Republican leader, wants to repeal the amendment that gave freed slaves and their descendents American citizenship.
Senator Coburn, meanwhile, claiming the lawmakers of 1867 never meant for the children of nonresidents to be citizens.
He's entirely wrong. The 14th Amendment was ratified in part to undo the Supreme Court's most infamous ruling, Dred Scott, which denied citizenship to the freed slaves and to their descendents.
In the debate before ratification, though, Senator John Conness of California was asked, quote, "Is the child of the Chinese immigrant a citizen?" Conness said, "Yes." The Supreme Court agreed, ruling decades later that anti-Chinese laws violated the 14th Amendment.
But this is not really just Lindsey Graham's idea, nor that new. The Republican Party platform of 1996 stated, "We support a constitutional amendment declaring that children born in the United States to parents who are not legally present in the United States are not automatically citizens." That plank of the platform came from a recommendation by a panel on immigration, 47 Republicans and seven Democrats, and it was created by then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Let's turn first to Jonathan Turley, professor of constitutional law at George Washington University School of Law.
Jon, thanks for your time tonight.
JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Thank you very much.
OLBERMANN: All right. So, he said, Kyl said, "We should hold some hearings and hear first from the constitutional experts to at least tell us what the state of the law on that proposition is." Go.
TURLEY: Well, the state of the law is pretty clear, as to the meaning of the 14th Amendment. The Supreme Court has stated in cases like Plyler and other cases, that there is this presumption that children born to illegal aliens are citizens. Now, it's true that that was in what's called dicta, was in the holding of the decision. But the overwhelming weight of the authority is that it is included.
This is the very first line of the very first section of the 14th Amendment. And it has historically been interpreted exactly this way. And it is interesting, as you say, I remember when I graduated law school a long time ago, we sat around and complained that all of the great legal issues had been debated and resolved before we became lawyers. I never thought we'd be going back to the 1860s and starting again. But apparently we are.
OLBERMANN: So, if you're a strict constitutionalist and you're the one who believes - if you're the strict constitutionalist and you believe, literally, to interpret what is in the Constitution and there is no way -
TURLEY: I'm sorry, Keith, we cut out.
OLBERMANN: All right. You can't - can Jon hear me? Jon? All right. Stand by. We'll see if we can fix this and we'll move ahead to our second guest.
Jon Turley will standby and we'll see if we fix this up here.
We'll turn now instead to MSNBC contributor Maria Teresa Kumar, also the executive director of the nonpartisan group, Voto Latino, which is devoted to increasing civic involvement by Latino youth.
And great thanks for your time tonight. Sorry about the abrupt introduction.
Senate Republican leadership, the last Republican presidential candidate, that's a large group already, pushing for hearings on the 14th Amendment, including the possible repeal of it or some sort of reinterpretation of what is plain English, to use an appropriate phrase. What are the politics of this? What is the goal of this? Can it succeed?
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: This is absolute nonsense. Basically, the Republican leadership has basically had to deal with comprehensive immigration reform for the last 10 years are saying, "You know what, we don't have the answers, we don't know how to fix the borders, so let's go after the kids," right? What is that? That's the lack of leadership and unfortunately, it's detrimental and divisive right now when we need unity.
OLBERMANN: So, Republicans are going after Latinos, and they're targeting an amendment that they themselves, their ancestors that they like to quote as the great Republicans of the post-Civil War era, targeting the amendment that they wrote to protect black people.
Is the GOP now openly saying, "Hey, scared white folks, we're your home, we won't judge you, we won't tell you that you're being paranoid, we have a place for you to come over and be fearful and judgmental" - is that what it boils down to?
KUMAR: Well, I think most - I think most Americans actually sniff that out. What I think that they're trying to do is that they're hoping to win an election in the midterms that they know that they can't, number one. But number two, they're also, like you mentioned, Keith, they're constitutionalists. They actually believe in the letter of the law.
Why are the Republicans picking and choosing which laws they're going to follow? That goes against their base and their ideology. It doesn't make any sense.
OLBERMANN: John McCain was born in Panama. He's covered by the fact that that was a U.S. territory at that point. But Mitt Romney's father was born in Mexico, to which his grandfather had fled with people who didn't like polygamy following him. Then he fled Mexico because there was violence in Mexico and he wanted to home to some place safe.
If we open up the "Who's really born American" question, don't we have to really open the "Who's born American" question and include children of American parents who happen to be in Stockholm for the weekend and she goes into labor prematurely? I mean, how far does this go, and does it go in directions that Republicans don't see?
KUMAR: Well, I think, first of all, my first question to McCain and Romney is: how's their Spanish, right? But in all seriousness, the idea of where's the slippery slope, we have 5 million of the undocumented children, that for all intents and purposes, they believe that they are American, except for that little piece of paper.
So, what are we going to do with their aspirations and their belief in the American system when we marginalize them?
What we can don't do is do what Germany did, which is they basically give the Turks, basically give them working visas, but never allowed their children to become U.S. citizens - and now all of a sudden, there's a huge population in Germany of folks that are stateless. That's not what America is about.
OLBERMANN: The origins of this, as I read from the Newt Gingrich part of the platform in 1996, it suggests this is not part of the cyclical process that we see. It's like OK, find a scapegoat, whoever they are, my ancestors, your ancestors, whoever happens to be most recent and least protected in the system at the moment.
OLBERMANN: This suggests it's not even blowback to the Obama election and other civil rights game and the - or the more prominent role of Hispanic politicians in this country in the last 10 years. If it's not that, what is it? What has incited this, in particular, now?
KUMAR: I think, right now, our country is at a crossroads and Americans of all ethnicities are hurting. The economy's bad, we can't find jobs, and we still fear national security.
So, what is it? Let's go to the scapegoat. And it's easy politics, but it's not leadership.
OLBERMANN: Is it - is it - as we were discussing before the show started, is it a design to campaign on the, we tried, but we failed, because they know it can't work?
KUMAR: Well, I think it's more - again, exactly, they're scapegoating, but they also realize they don't have a leadership - they don't have leadership right now, so they're trying to find the lowest denominator in politics and that's divisive politics, and that's not where the American people want to go. They want people in Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, to roll up their sleeves and actually get some work done.
OLBERMANN: Maria Teresa Kumar, MSNBC and Voto Latino - good to see you again.
OLBERMANN: And thanks for coming in.
OLBERMANN: Let's pick up that interview with Jonathan Turley as we've connected the two juice cans and the string again.
So, Jon, you made a great point about this and the debate - or your belief in law school that there were no great constitutional issues left to debate. If you're a strict constitutionalist, as the Republicans claim to be, as the tea partiers claim to be, what's more - what's more unreadable between the lines than the 14th Amendment?
TURLEY: Well, I think that's right. Actually, the language of the 14th Amendment seems pretty clear on the issue. There's some debate when it talks about being under the jurisdiction of the United States. But the text itself heavily supports the argument that these children are citizens.
And I expect that a challenge to that, if they passed a law that sought to change that meaning, would lose in front of the Supreme Court.
Also, historically, you know, in England, in 1608, in a case called Calvin's case, the English courts said quite clearly that if you're born within a king's dominion, you're entitled to the king's protection and the king's entitled to your loyalty. And so, there was a history for what's called law of the ground, or the right of blood, that as we've always had this view that it was the fact this law of the ground.
And after all, in the United States, we are a nation of immigrants.
So, it fit very well with our overall perspective as a new nation.
OLBERMANN: What is the - what are the implications - are there precedents, in fact, in that Senate debate that we quoted from, when which the senator from California was asked, does that mean the son of the Chinese immigrant is an American, and he went, yes. Does that - does that have legal standing? Does the fact that the debate that preceded the 14th Amendment is clear and recorded - does that mean anything in this equation?
TURLEY: Well, it does. Now, to be fair to the other side, there have been academics that have argued that those debates have senators saying quite the opposite. And most importantly, Jacob Howard, who was author of the amendment, makes a statement on the floor where he says, this would exclude foreigners and aliens. So, the legislative history is very, very mixed in terms of what their - what the meaning was.
But you also have to remember, the 14th Amendment, it wasn't simply after Dred Scott, to reverse that horrible decision - but it also came as a response to what were called the black codes, which are enacted in the South. And these referenced to disenfranchised blacks, and that analogy could be made in many ways to the illegal immigrants.
But the Supreme Court itself in the Plyler case v. Doe that I mentioned earlier, it strongly suggested that their view was that the language of the 14th Amendment did embrace the children of illegal aliens.
What we did not want in this country is to face something like what Germany has. Germany has a great number of stateless people, particularly Turks. That creates great harm and some instability for that country.
And the United States has a very important debate to have here. I mean, it's not that there isn't a basis for the argument on the other side, but there are very important social and constitutional arguments against the positions stated today.
OLBERMANN: Yes. What happens to those kids if they're not Americans and we're going to throw them out? Or are they going - more importantly, what happens to them if they stay? Which is a great point to be examined in length at another time when we get you on for three separate interviews, rather than just the two.
Jonathan Turley of George Washington University - always a pleasure, Jon. Thanks for bearing with us.
TURLEY: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So, the House ethics investigations of Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters and all the others - all of them, coincidentally enough, African-American. Do you know who the supposedly outside neutral authority is who recommends ethics cases be investigated? George W. Bush's most infamous CIA director, that's who.
Gene Robinson - next here on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: Funny, huh? Eight congressional investigations of eight Congress people and all eight were African-American?
On day 106, this t-shirt briefly eclipses the continuing chaos in the Gulf.
The Tea Party, it's not just about hats, it's about who owns the hat.
Now, they've fired the guy with the drum.
And the free press versus the free pass. Sharron Angle's demand: only ask me questions I want asked.
Ahead on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: Members of Congress who spend their days arranging meetings for donors and constituents, raising money for themselves or other causes in their districts, as well as currying favor with members of the administration.
In our fourth story: what sounds like business as usual for what could be any one of 435 elected representatives in the House now coming under intense scrutiny from a Democratically-controlled Congress that had promised to clean up ethics issues. But so far, targeting only two lawmakers with actual charges, both of them African-American.
The House Ethics Committee announcing charges against Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California, for her role in arranging a meeting in September 2008, between Treasury Secretary Paulson and One United Bank of Boston, of which her husband is a former director, and in which he owned a quarter million dollars in stock.
The Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent board, having initiated the case against Ms. Waters, including that on August 22, 2008, One United Bank seeking the congresswoman's help in contacting treasury officials about potential losses the bank was facing on investments in the mortgage agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
September 9th, One United executives meeting with treasury officials as arranged by Ms. Waters. The bank asking for $50 million in bailout funds, the amount of money it lost in the government's takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Also in September, Ms. Waters disclosing to financial reform committee chair, Barney Frank, that she has a potential conflict of interest if she helps One United because of her husband's role as a stockholder and former member of the board. His advice to the congresswoman, "Stay out of it." It's unclear whether this conversation happened before and after the meeting took place.
December 19th, treasury approving $12.1 million in TARP funds for One United.
In a statement, Waters saying that she has not violated any House rules, that the case against her has no merit, that the Office of Congressional Ethics has drawn negative inferences where there are none and twisted facts to fill its faulty conclusions, and that she plans to fight the charges in a public hearing.
And because her charges come as fellow Democrat Charlie Rangel of New York is mired in his own ethics investigation, Ms. Waters taking to the airways of African-American based radio stations this afternoon, including Al Sharpton's show, to say she was standing up for a minority-owned bank and is now being attacked for that.
Reverend Sharpton questioning whether the investigations, plural, were designed to undermine the confidence that African-Americans have in their elected leaders.
Politico.com pointing out that at one point earlier this year, all eight lawmakers under formal investigation by the House Ethics Committee, including Rangel and Waters, were black Democrats.
A member of the Congressional Black Caucus questioning whether the process for investigating claims is fair, saying anonymously, quote, "This is stacked against you, once an accusation is made. You're guilty until proven otherwise."
Time now to call in our Eugene Robinson, also an associate editor and Pulitzer Prize columnist for "The Washington Post."
Gene, good evening.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Even if business as usual is no longer business as usual on Capitol Hill, it is - it is hard to believe that Maxine Waters is the only member of Congress who might have arranged a questionable meeting as the banks were scrambling for the TARP funds and for their lives, and that Charlie Rangel is the only member of Congress who's raised funds for an educational center that bears his own name.
ROBINSON: Well, it's impossible to believe either of those things, actually, Keith. Clearly, members of Congress were running around lobbying, trying to get TARP funds for institutions they thought that needed TARP funds. And I'm not aware of a member of Congress with the record and seniority of Charlie Rangel, who, in fact, has not tried to leave some sort of legacy as an educational center or an institute or something like that.
So, these things are not uncommon. What's different now, of course, is the atmosphere, the Democrats vowed to crackdown on corruption or appearance of corruption. There's this new Office of Congressional Ethics and Nancy Pelosi has cracked the whip.
OLBERMANN: Let's talk about that office for a second. Because it is the piece de resistance here and it may transcend any racial issue. The co-chair of the Office of Congressional Ethics, which is, as you pointed out, somewhat new independent board, recommends whether or not there should be an investigation, is Porter Goss? The former CIA director.
And as background, in 2005, which is not a long time ago, and after he served in Congress, where he had a fairly dubious reputation to begin with, he approved the destruction of dozens of CIA's videotapes which recorded the interrogation, the brutal interrogation of two of the detainees.
How does Porter Goss get to sit in judgment and decide whether or not to investigate anybody's ethical conduct, yours, mine, Maxine Waters, or some guy walking - somebody living on the street out here?
ROBINSON: You're sensing a kind of "physician, heal thyself" or "takes one to know one" kind of situation here, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Well, something.
ROBINSON: And, you know, I did one outgrowth of this discussion and others like it this week I think is going to be a lot more scrutiny of this new office and how it works and what its powers are. And, you know, I'm looking forward, for example, to hearing the detailed rebuttal that Maxine Waters has to offer. We do have a response from Congressman Rangel and it's quite fulsome. And so, yes, let's learn a bit more about this new board.
OLBERMANN: Statistically, obviously, if there were eight investigations in the course of the year and all eight were of white milk toast congressmen and congresswomen from the middle of the country or from three states, I mean, there would be no flag raised and nobody would say, well, statistically, that seems pretty unlikely.
Statistically, doesn't this set of arrangements here - these eight investigations, don't they seem, just on their face, unlikely? Is there - is there - is there a construction as which you see them being something other than a coincidence?
ROBINSON: Well, what, African-Americans are, what, 20 percent of the Democratic Caucus, I think, you could - it's the old thing, you know, you flip a coin 100 times and you could get eight in a row heads, but this isn't - you know, it's 20 percent of the caucus as opposed to 50 percent of the caucus and to say nothing of the whole Congress. So, it seems -
I've never been accused of being a statistician - it seems like something of an anomaly - and this is not a new complaint by African-American members of Congress. You know, we've heard in years past that they feel they're under greater scrutiny and held to a higher standard.
OLBERMANN: All right. I still - I don't see the statistics, whether you and I do our math correctly or not, I still don't see it possibly being just random chance.
But in any event, Gene Robinson of "The Washington Post" and MSNBC - as always, Gene, great thanks.
ROBINSON: Good to be here, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So, three communications directors in one campaign in one week. I'm thinking this means a problem of some kind. Can you guess which Senate candidate has set this dubious record tonight?
Ahead on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: Static kill, static videotape. In other words, is the video feed from the Gulf floor a rerun?
First, the sanity break: last night our guest George Barisich, the President of the United Commercial Fisherman's Association explains his group is now reduced to making money off selling T-shirts. The money raised from sales to benefit Gulf commercial fisherman whose businesses have been devastated by the oil disaster.
We have a link now on our Web site, Countdown@MSNBC.com [link], or as you see you can e-mail them directly to email@example.com [link], LeanWeb - one word - dot org.
And there are not swear words on the other side, just art.
And let's play "Oddball".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Germany, "Guten tag"
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The cutest animals to hit a German zoo since Knut (ph) have arrived. Four rare white tigers are unveiled today. And they're adorable and sleepy. All four cubs are doing well and are waiting to be put in with the other tigers. They'll then be raised there until they fulfill their destiny by joining Siegfried and Roy.
Let's check in on England's coalition government, Morilla (ph) the Gorilla is celebrating her 50th birthday. She has eight offspring, all of whom have moved away and never call anymore, so the zookeepers decided to throw her a party. They had presents full of treats inside her enclosure and waited for her to arrive.
And the results? No, no the treats are inside, inside the box. Well, if you took them out of the box, they wouldn't be crunchy, would they? Gorilla for sale, Morilla Gorilla for sale.
Finally, to Calura (ph), Portugal, where some local boy scouts have taken the term soap box derby back to its literal intentions. Instead of traditional vehicles made of boards of plywood, what used to be known as soap boxes, these amateur racers have gone a step farther? And the only requirement is that the vehicle be powered by foot. Braking by foot, however, was just for showing off. Yabaa-dabba-do.
If it has not occurred to you over the last 106 days that that is exactly the kind of technology we have employed in the Gulf, it's time it did. Relief wells out, jamming in mud, back in.
Bob Cavnar joins us next.
OLBERMANN: Once again, we have expanded our language at the trivial expense of just a little oil in the Gulf of Mexico - "static kill". Our third story in the Countdown, after allowing five million barrels of oil to poison the ocean, BP is once again putting its hopes into a glorified injection of mud.
The obvious question is will it work? Perhaps the more important one is how will we know?
In a moment, Bob Cavnar will join us.
Tests earlier in the day, prompting BP to go ahead with its critical so-called "static kill" effort in which, once again, heavy drilling mud is pumped into the top of the well. The operation intended to help plug the unstable well. It was sealed with a temporary cap last month. It could last, the operation, that is, until Thursday. Engineers won't know for more than a week if the procedure worked.
And while BP maintains "static kill" may be enough to seal the well, retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who's in charge there, insists the gusher will have to be plugged from two different points.
The yet to be finished relief wells will be used to execute a so-called "bottom kill". Again, more mud and more cement will be injected into bedrock two and a half miles below the sea floor. This, as new estimates are out on the BP price tag.
The company could be fined as much as $21 billion if it is found to have committed gross negligence or willful misconduct. The fine however, could drop to $17.6 billion if the government credits the company for the oil it has already recovered.
Joining us once again tonight: former oil executive, Bob Cavnar, who now writes about the industry at DailyHurricane.com. He's also the author of "Disaster on the Horizon," which is due out in October.
Good evening, Bob.
BOB CAVNAR, DAILYHURRICANE.COM: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: "Static kill". Where did this one come from? Have we heard of this before? It gets confusing sometimes.
CAVNAR: Well, that's the latest part of the most recent shape shift of BP when Admiral Allen compelled BP to go ahead with the capping stack. You'll remember that they came up with this well integrity test that ran for, supposed to be for six to 48 hours, end up running for two week.
And then suddenly we began hearing about the "static kill", where they wanted to try to kill the well from the top again. And so that - actually started this morning after a lot of discussion about whether that's actually the right thing to do. And then that's one that I actually disagree with what they're doing right now.
OLBERMANN: What happened with the relief wells which - which have been portrayed until the last few days, as the ultimate solution to this. That no matter what else you did, if you got those relief wells, that was the one way we would be sure that this thing would be - would be mastered?
CAVNAR: This is the one thing that I just don't understand, Keith. These relief wells, one is just standing by in case the first one doesn't work. I understand that. This deepest relief well is only four feet from the intercept point. They have to drill about another 100 feet to intercept.
They're right there and they've lost three weeks of operations due to first this well integrity test, then, of course, there was a - the tropical storm, which nobody could help, but now we're sitting, circulating, doing nothing, waiting on this "static kill" that's going on now.
Had they just kept going, I think they could have already had the well killed instead of doing all this nonsense from the top.
OLBERMANN: And the - the prospects, as you said, it's going to be a while before we have any idea if the "static kill" has worked. What is the definition of success and how is it to be determined?
CAVNAR: Well, the way Kent Wells described it in his very brief briefing today was that they think it's successful if there's zero pressure on the well. And that's - that's the classic definition for a killed well, is one where you have zero pressure showing on the wellhead.
Of course, here, since it's in 5,000 feet of water, there's going to be hydrostatic pressure, but that pressure on the very top of the well should read zero.
But having said that, you don't know if that well is actually killed down below, because all the damage down below, it could be flowing into another zone. It could be flowing someplace else into the substrata. The only way you kill this well is with the relief well from down below.
OLBERMANN: Is there danger in this mud? I mean, it's nicely described as mud, that's not mud, that's drilling mud. Is there a danger to this the way the Corexit or the euphemistically known Corexit which turned out to be such a danger?
CAVNAR: You know the Corexit dispersant is highly toxic. In fact, it's more toxic than the crude oil itself. Drilling mud, in itself, the vast majority of it are fairly inert minerals, but they do run things like caustic soda and other chemicals in it that - that could be toxic.
So if it gets on the ocean floor, it can have effect on the sea life there.
OLBERMANN: That video feed, given how much we've been lied to in the last 106 days, do we know that that's legit, and is there anybody with any motive to make it not legit?
CAVNAR: You know, it was very interesting. I got up early this morning and I've been working on the book and I have the feed stays up on the screen all the time. And I watched - as I was very concerned about this connector I've been talking about for the last couple of weeks and they had a good shot of that.
So I watched that for a while and turned back to my book and came back about 30 minutes later, and it replayed. And I noticed that the time was an hour and a half behind the current time.
So they were re-running - they were re-looping some of the video feed and it was not live.
OLBERMANN: Any idea why?
CAVNAR: You know, I always wondered if they want you to see what they want you to see -
CAVNAR: - and sometimes if they have something else going on, they'll just loop the tape for a while before they go back to live.
OLBERMANN: Well, you know, put on "The Three Stooges," something interesting and fitting to the occasion.
Bob Cavnar of "The Daily Hurricane" and working on the book on this subject; good luck with both and thanks for your time tonight.
CAVNAR: It's great talking to you Keith.
OLBERMANN: And to help the Gulf - Gulf Coast residents this reminder; we're still raising funds for a two-day free health clinic in New Orleans coinciding with the 5th anniversary of hurricane Katrina, August 31st and September 1st.
Again, the address is FreeClinics.us. And don't forget tomorrow's clinic in Washington.
One step away from the Senate and she doesn't understand that a, quote, "free press does not mean her personal free publicity service".
I would like you to the meet John and Mel, Tea Partiers with a difference - and what a difference. They broke up the band, man.
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, the Tea Party wants to know your story of losing your job to an illegal. She wants you to know what they have done to you on their, quote, "safe online forum", unquote.
OLBERMANN: Sharron Angle is happy to take your questions provided they're actually her questions. First know this is not your water coming to a boil. It's our nightly checkup on the something for nothing crowd. It's Tea time.
Historians may little note nor long remember what they said here but clearly the Tea Party has left an indelible legacy of dressing up in funny hats.
Rachel told you last night, while wearing a funny hat, about the new trend at colonial Williamsburg; people asking the actors playing the founding fathers about the political issues of today. And some of them, seeming to be surprised to learn, that those are actors.
Then there was the Alabama Tea Party maroon running for congress on what appeared to be a platform of I see dead founding fathers in hats. In a short burst of common sense, Mr. Barber here got his clock cleaned in the primary.
But now we move to the liberty leaders. Two men who formed one of those little side shows at tea party events, until you realize that tea party events are nothing but side shows. They were a fife and drum band. Their names are John Wines (ph) and Mel Hildenberg (ph) and they just broke up. Because in the primary for sheriff of Larimer County, Colorado, Mr. Hildenberg supported the conservative candidate, but Mr. Wines supported the very conservative candidate. Fifer Wines has now fired the Drummer Hildenberg because Mr. Wines owned the fife and the drum and the costumes and presumably Mr. Hildenberg's green polo shirt. And most importantly, because he also owned the hats.
OLBERMANN: The senate candidate who wants reporters to only ask the questions the candidate wants to answer so they'll report the news the way the candidate wants it to be reported. See if you can guess who that might be. That's next.
But first, get out to pitchforks and torches, time for tonight's "Worst Persons" in the world; brought to you by - Lonesome Roads brand foolproof invisible dog fence, official electronic wireless fence of Glenn Beck's desecration of the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, August 28th. The Lonesome Roads brand dog fence. It always works.
The bronze again to Tom Shales of the "Washington Post". You will recall that he took - look at the - this clip from the Christiane Amanpour first edition of ABC's "This Week" and then asked after it, did she mean to suggest that our mourning extend to members of the Taliban?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIAN AMANPOUR, ABC'S "THIS WEEK": We remember all of those who died in war this week, and the Pentagon released the names of 11 U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: After a deluge of criticism over his delusion that that was an extension of American mourning to the Taliban, Shales decided to take the course of, "You don't understand me, so I'll yell louder."
In an online chat today, quote, "This portion of the program had traditionally included the names of U.S. servicemen and women who had given their lives for their country. Now suddenly Amanpour decided it should be a tribute to all those who died in any wars and presumably that would include those who died fighting against the United States as well as for it. Which I think is taking pacifism or magnanimity too far. If this were 1943, we would hardly think it appropriate to mourn Nazi casualties."
Well, it's not 1943 and now that he's already gone to the mourn Nazi casualties card something Aaron Barnhart of the Kansas City "Star" blogged about today, "Shales isn't even right about what he implies about the way American service loses were mourned on the pre-Amanpour version of 'This Week'."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This week the Pentagon released the names of five service members killed in Afghanistan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Holy crap, Jake Tapper didn't say "just Americans" either.
He must be one of Tom Shales' Nazi mourners too.
The runner up, Marc Thiessen, the rather simplistic former Bush speechwriter now inexplicably writing in "The Washington Post," doesn't like the WikiLeaks, has a solution, kidnapping and rendition of WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange.
"Assange is a non-U.S. citizen, operating outside the territory of the United States. This means the government has a wide range of options for dealing with him. It can employ not only law enforcement but also intelligence and military assets to bring Assange to justice. The United States should then work with its international law enforcement partners to apprehend and extradite him. If they refuse, the United States can arrest Assange on their territory without their knowledge or approval".
Asked then how to deal with Lebron James leaving Cleveland for Miami, Thiessen reportedly suggested kidnapping and rendition.
But our winner and I know this may not seem very serious in comparison but just think about this guy for a while - Jason Anthony Brown, arrested in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. He and an unidentified woman had agreed to go out on a date at the Olive Garden on the Miracle Strip Parkway.
Mr. Brown allegedly greeted the lady in her car and joined her inside of it. That's when, she says, he pulled out his gun and demanded her money. She says she gave Mr. Brown, her date, $90 bucks. He got out of the car, left on foot. She drove the hell out of there as quickly as she could.
This is already bad enough. But what Mr. Brown then did transports this to a new level of worstitude. Police say he took her $90 and then went into the Olive Garden and had dinner.
Jason Anthony Brown - I want to know about the tip - today's worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: Speaking to the Nevada Republican Men's Club last night, Republican senate candidate Sharron Angle promised the crowd she would take GOP filibustering to new heights if elected. I guarantee, she said, that I can talk most anything to death.
In our number one story, anything, including her own campaign. Angle's latest verbal overshare, she has blown the whistle on her campaign collusion with right-wing media, especially Fox News, during an interview with Fox News.
Since her primary victory in June, Angle's media strategy has been apparent, although perhaps not thought out. She does interviews with outlets that are politically sympathetic to her, and when the local news asks questions, she literally runs or trots away.
Sunday, Fox News aired a taped profile of candidates in the Nevada senate race. During the spot, Angle was interviewed by reporter Karl Cameron, who asked the candidate about her serial evasion of media. Angle then explained to Cameron how this whole interview thing is supposed to work out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARL CAMERON, FOX NEWS: There was a tremendous amount of discussion about Sharron Angle's taking a defensive posture.
SHARRON ANGLE, SENATORIAL CANDIDATE, NEVADA: We needed to have the press be our friend.
CAMERON: Wait a minute, hold on a second. To be your friend?
ANGLE: Well, truly -
CAMERON: That sounds naive.
ANGLE: Well, no, we wanted them to ask the questions we want to answer so they report the news the way we want it to be reported. And when I get on a show and I say, send money to sharronangle.com, so that your listeners will know, that if they want to support me, they need to go to sharronangle.com.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: That doesn't sound fair and balanced. It would be naive if it wasn't exactly what was happening.
ANGLE: Well, first of all, Neil, it's great to be on your show to talk about this campaign against Harry Reid, he need 25 million, I've been saying I only need 1 million people to send $25 to sharronangle.com.
I need 1 million people with $25 and they can send that to sharronangle.com.
ANGLE: You may not be able to vote for me, but you can send money to sharronangle.com.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, you're good at the Web site.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: But not so good at the communications director; the one who oversaw the Karl Cameron interview, kicked upstairs today after six whole days on the job. A new relief director has been brought in from California to plug the propaganda spiel.
Time to call in (INAUDIBLE) reporter, MSNBC contributor, Dave Weigel.
Dave good evening.
DAVE WEIGEL, MSNB CONTRIBUTOR: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So she won't talk to media who won't give her a pass, or she doesn't know the difference between the free press and the free pass?
WEIGEL: Well, she's actually started to talk to more press, I think, because she's getting comfortable with this line of weird meta-questioning about her unavailability. She actually, according to the "Review Journal", opened up her speech by being a little out of breath and saying, I'm so tired, I've just been running from the press so much, and then she ended up talking to a couple reporters afterwards.
Now, this isn't really a problem for her. What she's saying about how she handles the media is what Tea Party activists I think and Republicans would like their candidates to say. They don't trust most of the media that's not Fox News or the Christian Broadcasting Network, et cetera. They don't mind that she's doing this.
OLBERMANN: On the other hand, somebody must mind it, because they made another change in communications directors today, and this will be three in seven days. The other guy lasted six days and was kicked upstairs. What exactly is a communications director supposed to do with a candidate who has this bit already down pat? And what does it mean when you've had three of them in one week?
WEIGEL: She's actually on message. She's been saying the same thing for weeks. I talked to the communications director who had this sort of short tenure on the job, and they just found this guy who had a lot of experience. He was going to work somewhere else. He was available now.
Let's take that for granted, because she's not actually doing anything that she considers a gaffe, really. For her to tell Fox News that she wants everyone to give her money, yes, we all laugh at this little clip, but Fox News aired the clip of her saying she wanted people to give her money.
And according to the campaign, they're raising enough to be on the air to compete with Harry Reid for the rest of the campaign. I mean, I think is it Liberace who said he was laughing all the way to the bank. I think that's what she's doing here.
OLBERMANN: Is she? Because, obviously, the day she was nominated, she was significantly, or at least, three or four points ahead beyond the margin of error if I remember correctly.
WEIGEL: Well, as much as 11 points.
OLBERMANN: But then now she's down by four. Where is this trending, do we know?
WEIGEL: Well, again, they think they have enough money, but Reid is running this semi-classic incumbent who's not very popular strategy of just bombarding his opponent. And he has more to go on than they usually do. Remember, Chris Christie beat Jon Corzine after having his negatives raised, but Christie didn't go as far out on a limb as Angle did on things like Yucca - well, there's no Yucca Mountain in New Jersey, that helps.
But your social security, what government organizations to abolish, whether God wanted him to run for office or not; and so Reid has so much material that they're going to keep hitting this. The sense is that she took a race that should be a Republican give-me, turned it into a toss-up, and she hasn't yet broadcast a strategy to pull it out of that.
OLBERMANN: That raises that last question, which is if the - supposedly it's the GOP, one of the national organizations, forgive me for not knowing off the top of my head which one, that sent in this latest communications director. Surely, somebody, if she thinks she's on message, somebody in Republican hierarchy thinks she's not. How does that play out?
WEIGEL: There's a lot of worry about this. I mean, when she won the nomination, John Cornyn was very, you know, very honest with reporters and said she needs a few weeks to get on message. And clearly, she thinks she's on message. She's just not saying things that Republicans want a candidate in a marquee race. They really expected to win. I mean six months ago, they really thought this guy was toast, Harry Reid.
They want to run an emergency mission without looking like they're running an emergency mission, very subtly. That's happening. But, you know, she started to get feedback at rallies now from people who really do think she's blowing it. And I think that's affecting it more than anything national Republicans say.
OLBERMANN: It may not be subtle if you have three communications directors in a week.
OLBERMANN: Dave Weigel, great thanks, Dave.
WEIGELL: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: That's countdown for this August 3rd. A programming note for tomorrow: the California court hearing the case says it will issue a ruling tomorrow on Perry v. Schwarzenegger. That would be the challenge to the state's infamous Prop 8 and we will be covering it.
I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck. Missed completely.
Now to discuss why the Tea Party is asking people to turn in undocumented immigrants via the Internet, while wearing hats; ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow. Good evening Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END