'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
ShowPlug1: Another Special #OccupyWallStreet edition of Countdown. The movement becomes part of Senate testimony + the GOP campaign
ShowPlug2: My guests: @SenatorSanders (asked Bernanke about OWS) Jill Furillo of @NationalNurses on union support, student walkout
ShowPlug3: And @mruff221 Mark Ruffalo's first-person account. Also Mark on the unhappy email trail of KeystoneXL Pipeline + State Dept
ShowPlug4: Scalia to testify to Senate tomorrow. Rep @LouiseSlaughter wants questions about Justice Ethics - she joins me
ShowPlugLast: And the RW defends Hank Williams Jr, plus THE dumbest dumb criminal of all time, on video, in Worst Persons
watch whole playlist
#5 'Winning Allies', Sen. Bernie Sanders
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#5 'Winning Allies', Jill Furillo
#4 'Street View', Mark Ruffalo
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#3 'A Crude Deal', Mark Ruffalo
# Time Marches On!
#2 Worst Persons: Judson Phillips, Steve Stevlic, Steven Daniel
#1 'Cross Examination', Rep. Louise Slaughter
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
printable PDF transcript
Topics: Antonin Scalia, Ben Bernanke, Economy, Environment, Keystone XL, Labor Unions, Occupy, Occupy Wall Street, Stephen Breyer, Supreme Court
Contributors: Mark Ruffalo
Guests: Bernie Sanders, Jill Furillo, Louise Slaughter
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? Occupy Wall Street injected now into the political bloodstream of the nation.
(Excerpt from video clip) BERNIE SANDERS: I think the perception on the part of these demonstrators, and millions of other Americans, is that as a result of the greed, the recklessness and the illegal behavior on Wall Street, we were plunged into this horrendous recession we're currently in. Do you agree with that assessment?
(Excerpt from video clip) BEN BERNANKE: It had - excessive risk taking on Wall Street had a lot to do with it, and so did some failures on the part of regulators.
OLBERMANN: The chairman of the Federal Reserve on the protesters and their complaints about economic disparity.
(Excerpt from video clip) BERNANKE: At some level, I can't blame them.
OLBERMANN: The Congressional Progressive Caucus endorses the movement. Co-chairs Ellison and Grijalva, "We stand with the American people as they demand corporate accountability." On the eve of a national student walkout, with union support now buttressing the arguments, you protesters will be happy to know, you are all Nazis.
(Excerpt from video clip) ANN COULTER: All of those quotes could have been said in 1789 France before the French Revolution, or the Russian Revolution or - with only slight modification - when the Nazis were coming to power.
OLBERMANN: Occupy Wall Street. Occupy main street. The movement burgeons. Among our guests tonight, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. And with his first-person account - actor, activist, "Countdown" contributor Mark Ruffalo.
The Keystone XL scandal, the ecologically disastrous tar sands pipeline on the verge of approval thanks to the old boy and old girl pipeline into the State Department.
You've got Scalia at a Senate witness table? Are you planning on asking him any questions about he and Alito and Thomas and how they dabble in partisan politics on the side without recriminations? Our guest, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, damn well hopes so. And the dumbest criminal of all time. Listen to him, but watch the customer coming in. The customer with the badge.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Give me all of your money in the f - - register right now. Give me all the money in the f - - register.
OLBERMANN: All that and full coverage of Occupy Wall Street now on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Tuesday, October 4th, 399 days until the 2012 presidential election.
In a matter of weeks, Occupy Wall Street has grown from a small group of protesters squatting in New York's Zuccotti Park to a national movement. Support from organized labor and progressive groups is increasing by the day, while the protesters - who were once sneered at by most national media and The New York Times - are now part of the testimony on Capitol Hill, part of the conversation on the campaign trail, and part of the calculations on Wall Street.
The fifth story on the "Countdown" - Wall Street is not trembling, not yet, certainly. Though one banker did ask Times columnist Aaron Ross Sorkin if Occupy Wall Street was going to turn into "a personal safety problem."
And GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney, the one-time chief of private equity firm Bain Capital, told an audience at a Florida retirement community today, "I think it's dangerous, this class warfare." That's a job-killing venture capitalist talking about class warfare, as if he didn't practice it every day of his adult life. Trying to scare Social Security and Medicare-dependent Americans who don't realize his party would happily cut up their safety net and frame the souvenir pieces and hang them on their walls.
Meanwhile in Washington, Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke testifying before the Joint Economic Committee about the Wall Street excesses that that made Occupy Wall Street possible, necessary. With my guest in a few moments, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
(Excerpt from video clip) SANDERS: There are people demonstrating against Wall Street in New York City - and other cities around the country - and I think the perception on the part of these demonstrators, and millions of other Americans is that, as a result of the greed, the recklessness and the illegal behavior on Wall Street, we were plunged in into this horrendous recession we're currently in. Do you agree with that assessment?
(Excerpt from video clip) BERNANKE: It had - excessive risk taking on Wall Street had a lot to do with it. And so did some failures on the part of regulators.
OLBERMANN: Texas Republican congressman Michael Burgess wanted to know more about how Bernanke saw the movement.
(Excerpt from video clip) MICHAEL BURGRESS: What does that protest say to you? What are you hearing from that activity in New York right now?
(Excerpt from video clip) BERNANKE: People are quite unhappy with the state of the economy and what's happening. They blame, with some justification, the problems in the financial sector for getting us into this mess. And they are dissatisfied with policy response here in Washington. And at some level, I can't blame them.
OLBERMANN: As for Occupy Wall Street, it plans to keep clear of any direct political affiliations, tweeting today, "We don't want to be the Democratic tea party or Liberal tea party. We want to be our own movement separate of any political affiliation."
Separate or not, Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairs, Representatives Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Raul Grijalva of Arizona today applauded the movement, and its calls for corporate accountability and expanded middle class opportunity.
While back in Zuccotti Park, Occupy Wall Street protesters planned a major march for tomorrow with student and labor support. A national student walkout has been planned for tomorrow as a component of Occupy Wall Street. Noon, 1:00 P.M., basically whenever you can do it. And unions, including the transport workers local 100, 1199, SEIU Health Care Workers Union - with more than 300,000 members in the Northeast - and National Nurses United, with more than 170,000 workers nationwide, will take part in the march. Protesters "Countdown" spoke to were thrilled.
(Excerpt from video clip) BOBBY MORENO: I think that's amazing. I think this is ultimately - it's a movement for the workers.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Bringing in these organizations with people from different backgrounds, different class, ethnic, racial backgrounds, gives us all types of new voices, advice, structural support.
OLBERMANN: Jill Furillo of National Nurses United will join me in a few minutes. With plans for Wednesday's march in New York moving forward, protests continue around the country, though some are now having problems with local police.
Occupy Chicago has been asked to move its tents and placards off the sidewalk at its location between the Federal Reserve Bank and the Bank of America there. And Occupy Seattle has posted that the mayor asked them to move or face arrest. The protestors say they are not moving. Occupy San Francisco, however, says it will march on the Federal Reserve building in that city tomorrow. And Occupy Los Angeles plans to collect trash from abandoned, foreclosed homes and deliver it to the doorsteps of the banks responsible. And my guest last night, Michael Moore, says there is more to come.
(Excerpt from video clip) MICHAEL MOORE: I mean, this is - this is only going to spread. And it's all kinds of people. It is the 99 percent who had a boot on their neck by the one percent that occupy these buildings that are surrounding this plaza.
OLBERMANN: And for more on the extraordinary growth of the Occupy Wall Street movement and its impact on the national debate in Washington, I'm joined, as promised, by Senator Bernie Sanders, the Independent of Vermont. Good evening, Senator.
SANDERS: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: You asked chairman Bernanke about Occupy Wall Street and its connection to the great recession today. And Congressman Burgess of Texas did so. What did you think about Bernanke's answers? And were you surprised at that one part of it in which he said, "At some level, I can't blame them"?
SANDERS: Yeah, I was. But I think what he said was accurate. I think these demonstrators are touching a nerve. And the nerve is that people all over this country understand that the middle class is collapsing, poverty is increasing and that this horrendous recession which has caused so much pain - so many millions of people have lost their jobs, their homes, their life savings - was caused by the greed on Wall Street. And now, three years later, how - what kind of punishment have we seen for the crooks that caused this recession? Well, you know what? Keith, they're making more money than they ever made before. So, I think what the demonstrators are saying is "Enough is enough. Wall Street has got to be accountable to the American people. We cannot continue the status quo, and we need some change."
OLBERMANN: Mitt Romney today called Occupy Wall Street as I quoted, "dangerous" and "class warfare." On the campaign trail, I guess a little hyperbole is always appropriate. But were you surprised to hear that, given what it seems that that one percent has been doing to the 99 percent for the last 30, 40 years?
SANDERS: Exactly. I mean, the reality is that, in a sense, Romney is right. Class warfare is being waged in America today. The problem is that the wrong side is winning. I mean, what we have seen in recent years - and actually for the last several decades - is the middle class is disappearing, we've got millions more people who are falling into poverty and yet the people on top are doing phenomenally well.
So that in America now, you have the most unequal distribution of income and wealth of any major country on Earth with the top 400 wealthiest people owning more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans. And with that wealth, these economic royalists, if you'd like - which is what FDR called them - exercise enormous political power. And that is, they make incredible campaign contributions. They have lobbyists. They are going to use Citizens United to elect their friends and defeat their enemies. So, that is what class warfare is about, a few people on the top exercising enormous power and enormous amounts of money in order to push down the rest of the population.
OLBERMANN: Ten days ago, Occupy Wall Street looked like something that was coming to an end, that had been successful, but a fairly small ripple in the vast the ocean of money that the area both represents physically and symbolically. And then something changed. Do you have any idea what's happened? Why it has - why it has rolled out further? Why are there unions involved now? Why there's going to be student walkout tomorrow? What nerve was touched and how much further can they be touched?
SANDERS: Well, I think what happened, Keith, is - people are really, really hurting. I mean, not just economically, they're hurting emotionally. People know that something is wrong, but they're not seeing the manifestation of what they're feeling out there in the public. They're not certainly hearing Congress or the president addressing these issues. And now you see a bunch of people standing out there and saying, "Hey, you know, Wall Street are the people who caused this problem. We've got to start addressing it. And I think people are saying, "Yeah, that's right."
What we have to do though, I think, Keith, is not only demonstrate - these guys - the demonstrators are pointing a finger at the problem, we're gonna have to come up with some specific solutions to the problem.
Among many other things, you got the six largest financial institutions in this country, who have assets equal to 60 percent of the GDP of the United States of America. Some $7 trillion. Well, what do you do about that reality? That enormous concentration of economic power? I think you got to start breaking these guys up.
You have the Fed - that provided $16 trillion in low interest loans to every Wall Street company and many others around the world during the financial collapse. Well, what should The Fed be doing now when real unemployment is 16 percent? Maybe it has got to respond with equal vigor, equal urgency and help small businesses with low-interest loans so that they can create the millions of jobs we need. Maybe we've got to lower the outrageously high interest rates on credit cards that Wall Street is charging us.
OLBERMANN: Do think Washington is reacting to this - taking this seriously at this point? Do you have any sense that Occupy Wall Street has made an impact on the political game?
SANDERS: I think - I think that, you know, politicians are getting a little bit nervous that maybe the American people are waking up, and they want Congress to stand up to the big-money interest and protect working families here. I think that consciousness may be creeping up even on Capitol Hill.
OLBERMANN: All right. When you see the ones that are still asleep, poke them in the side for us. Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont, as always, our great pleasure and honor to have you here, sir.
SANDERS: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The National Nurses United Union has announced plans to work with Occupy Wall Street to take part in tomorrow's big march. I'm joined now - as also promised - by Jill Furillo, registered nurse and the union's bargaining director. Thanks for coming in.
JILL FURILLO: Welcome.
OLBERMANN: You have been at Zuccotti Park. You've been not just protesting, but also serving in a professional capacity as well. What did you see and what have you told your fellow nurses?
FURILLO: Well, first of all, what we've seen is amazing in Zuccotti Park. What we've is the numbers of people have been growing, and we see the kinds of people that are participating is also becoming diverse and more of the demographics are growing. And so we're seeing that this is a movement that's gaining a lot of momentum. That's what I've seen for the last two weeks that I've been in Zuccotti Park. People are angry about the misdeeds of Wall Street, and people are not going to take it anymore. That's the mood in Occupy Wall Street.
OLBERMANN: So, the process by which your association became associated with this movement were what, and to what end?
FURILLO: Okay. Well, basically we have been - had our eyes on Wall Street for many, many months and we have been acting - mobilizing nurses and this movement against Wall Street. We had a rally in June on Wall Street that had almost 2,000 nurses that came from throughout the country to demand a financial-transaction tax be passed to - so that Wall Street pays us back for the money that they've taken out of our economy. And we also had a demonstration in Washington, D.C. in front of the Chamber of Commerce. We had in September over 60 different Congressional offices. We had actions involving soup kitchens and mock debates like, for example, in front of Michele Bachmann's office. We had a mock debate with her.
OLBERMANN: Perfect place for it.
FURILLO: It was a great - great action -
OLBERMANN: Her absence I'm sure did not diminish from the dialogue at all.
FURILLO: Not at all. Not at all. We actually had - there was a large puppet representing her that day, and it was great fun. But, also, you know, we pointed out who she is, and who she represents. So, we had been at this for a long time, and we have continued this movement because what we've seen with our patients is that this economic crisis is making our patients sick.
OLBERMANN: So, in the other way that your patients come into this equation, the people to whom you have been tending at Occupy Wall Street. There have been a few rough moments involving the NYPD. We just heard, in fact - - there's a breaking story at this hour - that an unknown group has filed a class-action lawsuit against Mayor Bloomberg, about the arrests over the weekend - Saturday - at the Brooklyn Bridge, which we'll get into more later in the show as the developments occur. But from your professional sense, are you worried about conflict there? Because it seems to be the thing that is attracting the media, and really we have a couple of major instances of some rough moments, but for the most part has it been somewhat cooperative there?
FURILLO: Well, you know, the demonstrators have made a pledge of non-violent demonstrations. And everyone has been getting along very well. But the police have been overactive there. All the days that I've been there, they're have been arrests of people. Each day they find some reason to arrest someone. We would have a march to Wall Street and they would arrest two or three people. Then they would release them later. But it just seemed unnecessary. We've had to - certainly care for people who have had incidents with pepper spray, for example.
OLBERMANN: So, give me your estimation here having seen this, that it's grown to the degree that it's grown. Again, this is the sort of question I asked Senator Sanders. It seemed to be tailing off ten days ago. What happened?
FURILLO: I think that the word has gotten out through the different social-media networks. And through your network and other supportive networks that this is - that this is something that's important. That people are joining up and people are angry at Wall Street, and they want to be able to voice their opinion. People are upset about the - what's happening with our economic crisis, and specifically how Wall Street needs to pay us back for what they've done, and so this is a growing movement and it's gained momentum not just in New York now, but in cities throughout the country. We're hearing reports of our nurses in San Francisco, in Los Angeles, throughout the country. In Boston, for example, there was a demonstration of 3,000 people yesterday. So, this is gaining momentum, it is not losing.
OLBERMANN: Indeed. Jill Furillo of National Nurses United. Great, thanks for coming up.
FURILLO: You're welcome.
OLBERMANN: Somebody else who has been and seen joins us on the eve of that student walkout tomorrow - the actor and activist Mark Ruffalo's witness account. And analysis of the news also from Mark breaking on the Keystone XL pipeline, next.
OLBERMANN: More on the breaking news of the class-action lawsuit against Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York after the arrests at Brooklyn Bridge on October 1. This story breaking as we speak.
Also the first-person account from his visit to Occupy Wall Street from actor, activist and "Countdown!" contributor Mark Ruffalo.
Secretary of State will be essential in green-lighting or stopping the disastrous Keystone XL pipeline, unfortunately there's a cozy e-mail trail between a key player in that department and the lead lobbyist for the pipeline.
If he were not on the Supreme Court, he would be considered a right-wing wacko with very intermittent ethics. When he sits in front of a Senate hearing tomorrow, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter wants somebody to ask him about those ethics.
And, he analogized President Obama to Hitler, but he's got an explanation. That was your fault. "Worst Persons" ahead on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: As we've been telling you, a class-action suit by five of the protesters arrested Saturday at the Brooklyn Bridge part of Occupy Wall Street has been filed. They speak unspecified - or seek, rather - unspecified damages. Ironically, this is being reported by Bloomberg News and the - the person against whom the suit has been filed is Mayor Bloomberg of New York.
To quote the news organization's report, "Five of the protesters seeking to represent about 700 people arrested in the march filed a civil-rights complaint in federal court in Manhattan today, protesters claiming officers from the New York City police department lured them onto the bridge's roadway to trap and arrest them from the street after escorting and leading a group of demonstrators and others well out of the Brooklyn Bridge roadway. The NYPD suddenly - and without warning - curtailed further forward movement, blocked the ability of persons to leave the bridge from the rear and arrested hundreds of protesters in the absence of probable cause."
There's no response from the city of New York.
Continuing the fourth story - unsurprisingly, one major group that has taken a negative tilt against the protesters on Wall Street - Fox News, sending correspondents asking leading questions in a vain attempt to paint the protesters as ignorant and naïve children, until the protesters hit back and instead showed the correspondent for the right-wing hack that he happened to be. But if all else fails, cut to the studio, and play the Hitler card.
(Excerpt from video clip) COULTER: All of those quotes could have been said in 1789 France before the French Revolution, or the Russian Revolution. Or - with only slight modification - when the Nazis were coming to power. In Cuba under Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. This is always the beginning of totalitarianism.
OLBERMANN: Before you dismiss that, it has spread to CNN - which last night had its newest anchor dismiss the entire movement because one protestor did not know that the government actually earned interest on the bank bailouts. Then, the woman brought on a right-wing analyst - who they continued to permit to portray himself as a neutral observer - who stated that all liberal protests alienate real Americans, and that the Occupy Wall Street crowd would probably get violent at some point in the near future.
Meantime, a CNN business reporter named Alison Kosik has today tweeted, then deleted, as an answer to somebody's question about the purpose of Occupy Wall Street in 140 characters or less - "Purpose in 140 or less. Bang on the bongos, smoke weed!"
Joining me now, as promised, is none of the above. Actor, activist and "Countdown" contributor Mark Ruffalo - good to see you again, sir.
MARK RUFFALO: Great to be back, thank you.
OLBERMANN: Back from the New York protests. Any of that represent what you saw?
RUFFALO: I didn't see any of that, I didn't smell any weed and -
OLBERMANN: How about the bongos?
RUFFALO: I did hear some bongos.
OLBERMANN: Okay, so guilty as charged then.
RUFFALO: Yes, yes, terribly so. Those terrible bongos that are making the world a lousy place to live in.
OLBERMANN: All right, so, but - what are people not seeing that they should know about it?
RUFFALO: You know, this is a - is a movement that started with the idea that - what I saw down there is a celebration of democracy. I saw the celebration of justice, freedom, freedom of speech and - and the rule of law over all men. And - and I saw - there's a real sweetness there, a real kindness. And all kinds of different people - I saw moms, single moms with their kids, I saw single dads with their kids. I saw old grannies, I saw young people, I saw - I saw - people out of work, kids out of work. Kids graduated from college with degrees who can't find work, because our work's been taken overseas. And it was a - to me, a - just a beautiful celebration of democracy.
OLBERMANN: What do you get out of the idea that they're being portrayed nationally - in reputable, supposedly neutral news organizations, not what we just saw there - but as ineffective, meriting the juvenile simplifications on CNN one moment, then portrayed as likely to become violent, and when all else fails - "That's right, they're Hitler and the French Revolution" -
RUFFALO: They forgot the 1776 - the American Revolution.
OLBERMANN: Okay, good point.
RUFFALO: And that was a - that was a turning point, that created this democracy that we live under today. And, it was based on the same principles that are guiding us here. There was - people were being oppressed by a ruling class. There was no justice. There was no - there was no sense of law. It was a lawless land. The noblemen had all of the cards, and the common man was just made nothing more than a slave. We came to America for these principles. These principles have been - over the course of time have not been promised. They've been promised but not delivered upon. And, what we're seeing is - right now - is Americans waking up. What I - what I really love about what I'm seeing is this is - this is a movement that's transcending political ideologies. It's a movement that's touching people all over the United States. And, you know, like all great democratic movements, it takes time to ferment.
RUFFALO: You come forth with your grievances first. It takes time if it's a true democracy. You don't hand the democracy over to a leader, okay? We happen to live in a time where we can have a leaderless revolution. We see it happening all over the world, where actually people's voices from disparate parts of the world - disparate parts of the country are able to speak out.
In a true democracy, those voices are heard. The marginal voices are heard, the center voices are heard, the left, the right, everyone is heard. And so, yes, you might say "Well, why don't they have their demands?"
RUFFALO: "What are these people not doing with demands?" Well, you know what, when you're creating a new world, when you're creating a better place when you're actually honoring the promises of democracy - it takes time to hear those voices. But we're hearing them. And the things that we're hearing is that they want justice. They want - the people who are losing their homes to - you know, robot bank signings, robo-mortgage signings. They want justice. People who are losing their jobs because corporate America is sending them overseas and then making record profits - they want justice. You know, people are being left out in the streets. They can't pay their health care. This is not the America that we were promised, that certainly my generation and the generation before that was promised. With this great, burgeoning middle class that had a growing income, that had a life that was livable, that was enjoyable, that - where they could pursue happiness. And this is what - this is what's striking a tone for people.
OLBERMANN: Has it struck you to the people who want to be involved where they're in no position to come to Zuccotti Park or to even one of the Occupy - Fill in the Blank - Your City Here -
OLBERMANN: - events around the country. What can you do from home?
RUFFALO: People have been going to - you know, what's wonderful about this is people have a voice now from sitting at home. They can engage in a conversation through their social media, reach out to their family and friends, touch people, create another kind of movement. When you see the twitter feeds on this thing, it's amazing. On my twitter, I was asking people - the 99 percenters. The - someone said who - what's a 99 percenter? And I said the 99 percenters are the people who are doing worse since the economic downturn in America. That's the 99 percent. If you're doing better since the economic down point in America, then you're one percent.
The rest of us - our moms, our dads, our grandmothers, out grandfathers - they are the 99 percenters. I don't care what your political beliefs are. And so, I was asking people for 99ers stories. And I was getting streams of people - "My mother is living - buys all of her food at a dollar store." You know, "she can't live" - you know, "My parents lost their home." I mean on and on and on. Hundreds of them, hundreds of them. And I think sharing those stories - seeing that this is - we're Americans.
OLBERMANN: Right. And this is universal.
RUFFALO: This is universal.
OLBERMANN: This is not 20,000 people somewhere who have a complaint.
OLBERMANN: This is 200 million people who have complaints.
RUFFALO: No, this is a deep dissatisfaction and a loss. And what I'm saying is - if you have your dignity intact, if you have your decency, if you are able to still muster that up and remember what it is to be a human being, and know that you have a place in the world, that you have a voice, that you're important in this world - then stand up and use that voice. Because now is the time. We are the change that we're waiting for. We have put President Obama into the office because we wanted change. That's why he overwhelmingly went into office. That change didn't happen to come about for many, many different reasons.
RUFFALO: But the spirit of change, the idea of change, the promise of change is more alive in people today than it was four years ago.
OLBERMANN: I think you are right. All right, conveniently there is a second huge story breaking that is in your wheel house, the Keystone XL Pipeline. So let me take a break. Then, there's a huge scandal developing over the buddy-buddy system that could get this thing approved by the State Department, and thus by the White House. And we'll return with that next.
OLBERMANN: More evidence tonight that the overlap between government andthose who lobby government could kill democracy. This time it's a disturbing paper trail concerning the infamous Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline.
Our third story in "The Countdown" - because of that paper trail, the State Department might wind up approving the project that will pipe heated sludge from western Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Nothing could go wrong there. Much is revealed in State Department emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act filing by the environmental group Friends of the Earth. They show a cozy, congratulatory correspondence between a TransCanada lobbyist in Washington and an American official in Ottawa.
TransCanada, the group behind the pipeline company. Paul Elliott, the lobbyist, worked for Secretary of State Clinton when she was running for president in 2008. The State Department, under Secretary Clinton, will make the final decision on the seventeen-hundred-mile pipeline this year.
When that pipeline project won the support of Montana Senator Max Baucus, Elliott got an email from the American embassy that said, "Go, Paul!" It was written by Marja Verloop, the Counselor for Energy and Environment. Part of her job is to listen to environmentalists who say extracting the crude from oil sands creates heavy emissions, destroys forests, and endangers a critical aquifer.
Back with us is Mark Ruffalo in his role as environmentalist. All right. I'm going to try to see if I can do this right. The official responsible for listening to the objection of environmentalists - just to the extraction process, never mind the crazy Rube Goldberg heated pipeline across two countries - that person is congratulating the lobbyist for the pipeline company for scoring the support of a senator?
RUFFALO: Once again, here we are, part and parcel. We have the corporation and the people who work for the corporation now infiltrating the process of how we protect our people. Now, if that isn't a conflict of interest, what is?
OLBERMANN: Yeah, exactly.
RUFFALO: And it's endemic. It's happening everywhere. It's happening with the - this is - this is all - this is a branch off the same tree. There is a - there is a corporate cronyism. People say that this movement is against capitalism. This movement is actually more capitalistic than the capitalists here.
Corporate cronyism, corporate welfare, corporate favor, these things are what are ruling this country right now. And we see this guy, who should be recusing himself, and this is the embarrassment. Look at the embarrassment of the American system - that this is all being exposed. The same thing is happening here in New York state with hydrofracking. We have - we have the people who are supposed to be looking to see if this is actually safe are people who work for these gas companies.
OLBERMANN: Right. In the past, they would have said - something in them intuitively would have said, or somebody would have said it to them, if they didn't have the morals - they would have said, as you said, "Got to recuse myself on this, because I own the company." Instead you get hired to be the independent expert based on the fact you own part of the company.
RUFFALO: Yes. That's what they're after. That's what she told him. He said, "I don't know if I should be on this panel. Don't they know I work for TransCanada?" And she said "That's exactly why we want you." Now, the same thing - so then they say, "Well, let's rely on the science." Forget the science. You have 40 scientists coming out to say that is hugely destructive as possible. Okay? You have economists coming out and saying "That isn't going to be energy independence." That pipeline is going from Canada down to the Gulf Coast so that they can put it on a ship and sell it on the international market.
OLBERMANN: Right. Yeah, there is no great crisis where they need this stuff in Texas, is there?
RUFFALO: No, please.
OLBERMANN: No, no.
RUFFALO: No, they would be better off piping water into Texas because of global warming.
OLBERMANN: Seriously, to knock down the fires that started once Rick Perry had the prayer session. Was there an outcome - an impact - to the protests and the arrests outside the White House?
RUFFALO: You know, this is the problem. You have the people coming out - 2,000 people were arrested. It's one of the biggest civil disobedience actions in the United States, certainly since the civil-rights movement, okay? Does the mainstream - does anyone hear it?
RUFFALO: Do they care? Who is speaking for the American people? Who is protecting us? The people we've put into charge to protect us are the ones who are, like, making money hand over fist off of our tax dollars. It's insane. The system is deeply, deeply corrupted by corporate influence, and it's time that we change this around for the better - for our kids, for my kids, for your kids, for my kid's kids, for my parents.
OLBERMANN: And how?
RUFFALO: It's going to take a major reworking.
RUFFALO: But you know what? It's all there. We have smart people who have been working on these problems for a long time. There's - there's really great programs that would take care of a lot of this. It just isn't getting - it's getting lip service. They look at it, and they throw it away, okay? Because they don't want change.
OLBERMANN: Of course not.
RUFFALO: So, unless you have a ground swell movement from the disaffected masses - from the people who are suffering - who know they can't eat their food anymore, they can't drink their water, they can't breathe their air. They can't, you know, they can't make a decent living. They can't go to a hospital. Until that movement begins, they are not going to listen. And that's what this moment is for you, for me - for all of us. It's time to create the world that we want to live in. The world we envisioned when we elected Obama. It's time. And you know what? Everything is in place to do it.
OLBERMANN: Yep. All right, well, we have to go do it now. So we're gonna cancel the rest of the show, and go out and do it the next 25 minutes.
RUFFALO: Tomorrow's a huge - the huge march. I will be there. It's gonna be fun. There's gonna be a lot of really fun people - beautiful girls.
OLBERMANN: So come on down.
OLBERMANN: Right, come down for the protest, and stay for the beautiful girls. Actor, activist, and "Countdown" contributor, Mark Ruffalo.
RUFFALO: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Always a pleasure, sir.
RUFFALO: My pleasure.
OLBERMANN: Thank you.
Two justices of the Supreme Court - including one who's apparently reading a different Constitution than all the others since Oliver Wendell Holmes was still pooping in his diapers - will testify to the Senate tomorrow. And one congresswoman has this sinking feeling that nobody's gonna ask him about his near-constant state of apparent conflict of interest. She joins us, coming up on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: We interrupt Chris Christie's eight-hour-long news conference to announce he's not running for President to instead bring you "Countdown." Wherever, and whenever, you are watching us, we are live 8:00 P.M. Eastern time, and as good as we think the show is at any hour, at any venue - live gives it that certain "uh-oh" excitement that cannot be replicated elsewhere.
Asking that they ask Justice Scalia about his potential conflict of interests - his thousands of them. Congresswoman, Louise Slaughter, joins me.
First the "Sanity Break." And on this date in 1949, three full seasons after Major League Baseball admitted and accepted Jackie Robinson, the American Contract Bridge League voted on integration among card players. It voted against it. 58 1/2% said no.
"Time Marches On!"
We begin with the TMO Adorable Clip of the Day - the little puppy trying out the new water bowl. Takes a few sips, puts a paw in there to test out the water - you know what, might as well really test out the water. Everybody out of the pool. He spent the rest of the day wondering why everything smelled like wet dog.
To Russia, where this industrious man has turned his vehicle into some sort of mobile rock band. Look, it's Ringo Car! Moscow resident Alexander Ishutin, has re-purposed his motorcycle sidecar to fit a drum kit, the guitar, and the amp. "The Rolling Rockers" entertain passersby who are stuck in traffic. They specialize in covers of Band on The Run, and Bay City Rollers, and anything by the Traveling Wilburys.
In sports, part of a Mini Cooper promotional event, British long jumper, 2012 Olympic hopeful, J.J. Jegede is attempting to leap over three Mini Coopers. He's clear for takeoff, and I believe I can fly - whee. The roughly six-meter jump would've earned him eighth place in 2000 Beijing - or 2008 Beijing - Olympics, if Mini Cooper-jumping was a sport. For his next stump - stunt - he will attempt to jump over Alice Cooper.
"Time Marches On."
The tea party races to defend Hank Williams Jr.'s comparison of the President to Hitler. And of all the dumb criminals in the world tonight we have the dumbest. Ahead on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Two Supreme Court justices are to testify to Congress tomorrow about - anything. Congresswoman, Louise Slaughter wants some of that anything - just some of it - to be about the startling lack of ethical accountability on the part of Supreme Court justices. She'll join us.
First, the "Worsts."
Hank Williams Jr. explains his analogy between President Obama and Adolf Hitler. It was your fault - and the tea party nation defends him. Are you ready for some rationalizations? Ahead on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Justices of the Supreme Court testifying to the Senate, no holds barred. Congresswoman, Louise Slaughter wants to know - "Anybody gonna ask about the ethics of the justices?" She joins me next.
First, because ethics have nothing to do with these next people, here are "Countdown's" nominees for today's "Worst Persons in the World."
The bronze - tea party nation founder, Judson Phillips. After singer Hank Williams Jr., analogized President Obama and Hitler yesterday, then called Obama "the enemy," ESPN television dropped his song from the opening of Monday Night Football. Williams later defended his remarks, blamed everybody else for "misunderstanding them," and revealed he thought that calling the president of the United States "Hitler" was the same as criticizing the racists and extremists in the tea party. You know, like him.
"Every time the media brings up the tea party it's painted as racist and extremist, but there's never a backlash, no outrage to those comparisons." No, there's never any outrage on Fox News.
Naturally, today, Phillips of the tea party attacked ESPN. "I stand with Hank. If ESPN will not have Hank Williams because of his political beliefs I will not watch ESPN. No Hank, no football." Liar. You're gonna watch. Other than the fact that he was wrong, that explanation was self-serving nonsense, and you're wrong, you're gonna watch. I said I would never watch them again, and I wound up working for them again. Liar.
The runner-up - holier-than-thou Chicago tea party head Steve Stevlic. This is the guy whom conservative castrati Mark Levin called "terrific," and organized the Wonderful Tea-Con 2011 last weekend. He's one of those family-values sorts with the wife and two kids, who spent a lot of time on Twitter in September 2010 mocking Congressman Jesse Jackson Junior's reported infidelity even though Jackson had confessed it to his wife long before it became public and they had saved the marriage. Tea Partier Stevlic tweeted that Jackson had "secured Tiger Woods' endorsement," and he made more of the kind of insults that pass for humor on the right. That was September, 2010.
This was June, 2010, as it turns out. That would be Steve Stevlic in a mug shot after he had been arrested for soliciting a prostitute on 1600 South Kilborn Avenue in the beautiful city of Chicago. Kilborn Avenue? Seriously? After which the tea party family-values champ tried to humiliate Jesse Jackson Jr.
But our winner - 21-year-old Stephen Daniel of Gwinnett County, Georgia - moron. There are dumb criminals. There are desperate people for whom you might have sympathy if they had not put others at risk. There are the impaired and the inebriated and the not-all-there. But I've never seen any of them do this.
At the convenience store in Snellville on the left? You see the policeman? That's Lieutenant B.W. Brown. The guy you'll now hear doing the talking at the counter, this is Stephen Daniel.
(Excerpt from video clip) STEPHEN DANIEL: Yo, give me all the money in the f - - register. Right now!
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: You want me to do that now?
(Excerpt from video clip) DANIEL: Give me all of the money in the f - - register.
(Excerpt from video clip) B.W. BROWN: I know what's going on, but he's not dumb enough to do this with me standing right behind him.
OLBERMANN: Oh, yes, he is! As the manager tries to literally avoid laughing, the robber exits stage right, where the cop is waiting for him. And as if you could make it worse for Mr. Daniel - who has already experienced the shortest interval on record between crime and capture - it is what they have charged him with that sends it over the top. Stephen Daniel - accused of robbery by fear. Which is going to sound pretty funny when they show that tape in court at the trial of the "Worst Person in the World."
OLBERMANN: Tomorrow afternoon, two Supreme Court justices will go where few justices have gone before, to testify to Congress.
In our number-one story, Justices Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer - regarded as the intellectual leaders of the Court's liberal and conservative wings - are set to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee. They rarely testify after they are confirmed, so the hearings will provide members rare access to Justices.
Our next guest, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, says the Senate should not let that opportunity go to waste. The Justices accepted an invitation from Senator Patrick Leahy, the Democrat of Vermont, to testify about the role of Justices in American democracy. Afterwards, they'll take questions.
In a letter to committee leaders today, Representative Slaughter and fellow Democratic House members asked Senate leaders to push the Justices on ethics concerns, writing, "We urge Committee Members to use this rare forum with two Associate Justices of the Supreme Court to address outstanding questions regarding the adequacy of current ethics laws and procedures for the Supreme Court."
Slaughter has been calling for an investigation of Justice Thomas for failing to report income and travel on disclosure documents. Specifically, the Justice did not list his use of a conservative donor's private airplane and yacht, and also did not disclose the $700,000 his wife earned working for the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation. The Supreme Court Justice calling that oversight "a result of misunderstanding of the filing instructions."
Joining me now, as promised, Representative Louise Slaughter, the Democrat of New York and ranking member of the House Rules Committee. Good to talk to you again, Congresswoman.
LOUISE SLAUGHTER: Hey, Keith, nice to see you.
OLBERMANN: So your first question to Justice Scalia would be what?
SLAUGHTER: "Shouldn't you recuse yourself?" Keith, we've got some new information, too, on the amount of money not disclosed. It's $1.6 million that she made that were not disclosed.
OLBERMANN: Oh, Lord.
SLAUGHTER: There were years that he did disclose her income, and then took what I think is an affirmative action to checkmark "None" for the rest of the years. It's not that he just ignored it or anything. He really took an action and said "No income." That's against the law, Keith. That's against the law of 1978, the ethics law.
We've written, of course, as you know, to - Justice Roberts actually is the head of the Judicial Commission, he heads that up. And we've asked if they would refer it to the Attorney General. We can't do that. The courts will need to do that. But it is one of the most appalling events I think that we've ever seen. First, he won't answer any questions about it. But second, the idea that a Justice of a Supreme Court cannot read a legal form is really hard for us to tolerate.
OLBERMANN: There is another letter that you've signed that's being unveiled tomorrow. That asks -
SLAUGHTER: Right. We've asked both sides. We've written to the Republicans and the Democrats, the majority and minority heads of that committee, to ask them to please find out what happens to a Supreme Court justice who flaunts the law. As you know, being Supreme is supreme. They are not bound by ethics laws like the rest of the judiciary. I am on a piece of legislation to try to change that, because this, I think, has made it absolutely necessary. But we're not judging guilt or innocence. We want the people who are able to do it to make that judgment. But it is really quite startling to us that this has gone on all these years. As I point out, there were years when he did fill it out. But I know we're kind of - I have got something really important I want to tell you tonight. We're learning about a whole new thing we want be able to do here. But first I need to tell you that we released that letter to the judiciary - the Commission - Friday at about 10:00. By 4:00, before I caught the plane to Rochester, 800,000 people had clicked on that on Huffington Post.
SLAUGHTER: Seventeen thousand left comments. Almost 8,000 on Facebook. It has been an astonishing thing. I'm not sure whether people thought we were moribund up on the Hill, and they were happy to see we weren't. But whatever it is, this is really something the public cares about. But what I'm very interested here, as you know, the votes that he has cast that I think may be in conflict.
And, of course his wife can work. But the fact is there are only nine Justices on that Supreme Court, and it certainly should be a given that a family member of any of those people lucky enough to be a Supreme Court Justice should not in any way involve themselves in matters that will go before that court. Now, we all know she worked very hard for the Citizens United case, which I think is one of the most egregious things that's ever happened in the United States Supreme Court.
SLAUGHTER: There is such a thing as a retroactive recusal. We're looking into that. That case, if you remember, was decided 5-4. If we could take away his vote, we could wipe that out. It would lose.
SLAUGHTER: How about that?
OLBERMANN: That's only the future of democracy there, isn't it?
SLAUGHTER: Yes, indeed. And we are - You know, the judiciary is the last place for all of us to go. We are only as good, all of us, as the courts are - only as safe as the courts are good. Their interpretations are really what give us the freedoms, when you come down to it. They have enormous power. I know the attempt is always made to put the very best persons on that court. And I, as I said - again, I'm trying not to prejudge him - but you can't say in my view that what he did was not willful, by failing to report her income. And I think there is no question about it. It is against the law. So we're hoping that the Judiciary Commission will turn this over to the attorney general.
OLBERMANN: Goodness. Retroactive reversal. We'll look more into that.
SLAUGHTER: Did you ever hear of that? Isn't that great?
OLBERMANN: Trust me, we'll do a segment on it tomorrow night.
SLAUGHTER: Retroactive recusal. Yes.
OLBERMANN: Representative Louise Slaughter of the 28th District of the State of New York. As ever, Congresswoman, great thanks for your time tonight.
SLAUGHTER: Thank you. It's a pleasure. Thanks.
OLBERMANN: Retroactive recusal. We'll have a feature on it tomorrow night. That's "Countdown" for Tuesday. 399 days until the presidential election. I'm Keith Olbermann. Give yourself a round of applause for another day of getting through another day of this crap. Good night and good luck.