The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 05/05/10
HOST: Good evening, Keith. It is very good to be back
in New York. Thank you for holding down the fort while I was gone.
OLBERMANN: Good to see you. So to speak.
MADDOW: Thank you at home for staying with us for this next hour
Even as it is still nearly impossible to know exactly what
happened in the Times Square car bomb case, it is also nearly impossible
to not know how Joe Lieberman would react to that.
MADDOW (voice-over): The more details we learn about the failed
car bombing in Times Square, the stranger the plot seems. The only two
normal things about this story so far are the fact-free speculation and
rumors passing for news about it, and the incoherent radical anti-
constitutional proposals passing for a political response to it.
How is it going in the oil business today? Well, it‘s a fatal
fire in San Antonio and it‘s still an unstaunched, underwater oil
volcano, way worse than it was supposed to be, in the Gulf of Mexico.
As the slogan, “Drill, baby, drill,” has taken on a whole new
tone, some politicians who used to like that slogan are disowning it
now. Drill, baby—what now? Did I ever actually say that? I didn‘t
Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia meanwhile is sticking to it.
He wants oil drilling off the coast of Virginia right now. And he also
wants you to know how delicious Virginia‘s seafood is.
And, news flash, the 21-year-old Exxon Valdez oil spill still
Plus, there are statues disappearing in places you wouldn‘t
expect statues to be disappearing.
And we have videotaped evidence of actual monkeys participating
in elections. Not metaphorical monkeys but moneys—real monkeys.
Aren‘t they cute? Yes.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
MADDOW: If you‘ve been following all of the ongoing news about
the Times Square attempted car bombing, you may have heard any of these
assertions today: the suspect is connected to the Pakistani Taliban.
The attempted bombing was retaliation for U.S. drone strikes in
Pakistan. The suspected bomber is not just singing like a bird, he
won‘t stop talking. The FBI lost him for hours, they only managed to
track him down after secret army spy planes intercepted his phone call.
Any or all of these assertions about this case might turn out to
be true. But you should know that they are mostly anonymously sourced.
Some of them are anonymously single sourced. Many of them are
transparently, anonymously single sourced to people who have obvious
agendas for what they want people to think about this case and about
counterterrorism in general.
One exception to that, however, is a bit of rampant speculation
that‘s not anonymous—the former minister of Pakistan went on record
to claim that the Pakistani Taliban is behind the attempted car bomb in
Times Square and he knows why. He says it‘s retaliation for U.S. drone
strikes against terrorism targets in Pakistan.
He said, quote, “This is a blow back. This is a reaction. This
is retaliation. Let‘s not be naive. They‘re not going to sort of sit
and welcome you to eliminate them. They‘re going to fight back.”
This is finally a bit of information not from an unnamed source.
We know who is saying this.
We also know that there‘s no reason to believe that he has any
idea what he‘s talking about. At this point, there‘s no confirmation of
any of the suspected bomber‘s contacts with the Taliban. There‘s
certainly no way the Pakistani foreign minister knows the real
motivations of this guy in America who is still under arrest and still
being interrogated here.
That said, even if he‘s not contributing any reportable facts to
this discussion, I‘m not sure if they do cable news in Pakistan like we
do here, but if they do, maybe the Pakistani foreign minister has a
future there as a bad pundit.
If you ignore the dismissible stuff, the made-up stuff, the
patently self-serving stuff in the wall-to-wall news coverage of this
case, there are still some new reportable facts that we know. Many of
them pointing to how inept Faisal Shahzad was if he did indeed try to
bomb Times Square.
Remember the story how he left the keys to his house in the
ignition of the SUV that he allegedly left in Times Square? It turns
out that Mr. Shahzad had to call his landlord on the way home from New
York City in order to let him into his house. The landlord told the
“Associated Press” today he got a call from Mr. Shahzad that night, the
night of the attempted bombing, telling him he lost keys while he was
hanging out with friends in the city and—please, could his landlord
let him in.
Don‘t you hate it when you leave your keys in your bomb?
As ill thought out and ill plan as this attempted attack was, it
may be explained by the fact that the suspect didn‘t seem to have been
planning it for very long.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAY KELLY, NYPD COMMISSIONER: It appears from some of his other
activities that March is when he decided to put this plan in motion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Remember, this incident happened on May 1st. If he only
started planning for it in March, that means he was planning for it at
minimum for a month? One month?
In terms of actually seeing Faisal Shahzad, there was, again, no
court appearance today. We still don‘t know when his arraignment will
happen. Frankly, there is 10 times as much dumb, unsourced or
undersourced, politicized, fact-free chatter about this case than there
is confirmable, knowable fact.
I urge close reading of news reports or purported news reports
about this story.
But the lack of facts, the huge ratio between conjecture and fact
in this case is not stopping some really remarkable, really radical
political responses to this incident.
Last night in the show, we talked about Connecticut Senator Joe
Lieberman‘s effort in the immediate wake of this failed bombing to strip
your citizenship from you, to make you no longer an American citizen on
the basis of some administrative government decision that you have
Now, Joe Lieberman wants to strip you of your citizenship not
because you are convicted of anything, but, again, because of your
In discussing this proposal last night, I asked our guest, Chris
Hayes, if this might be some sort of stunt by Joe Lieberman that wasn‘t
really going anywhere, if this is just another Senator Lieberman stunt
to make, you know, give a one-fingered salute to the direction of the
Constitution in order to just make liberals mad. We know he enjoys
Well, today, we have our answer about that. It turns out this is
not a stunt. Senator Lieberman is actually going to try to pass this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: I don‘t think it makes any
sense to continue to give them the privileges of American citizenship.
So, to me, this is not a major step. I mean, this, in no way, will
compromise any Americans‘ freedom of politics and political opinion and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Tomorrow at noon, Senators Joe Lieberman and Scott
Brown, along with Congressman Jason Altmire and Charlie Dent, will
introduce what they are calling the Terrorist Expatriation Act. The
Terrorist Expatriation Act will empower the State Department to
determine whether any U.S. citizen is affiliated with a terrorist
If they determine that about you, Senator Lieberman and company
believe they can give the State Department magical extra constitutional
powers to un-Americanize you, to just administratively remove your
According to Mr. Lieberman, citizenship stripping would apply to,
quote, “any individual apprehended—any individual apprehended,
American citizen, who is found to be involved with a foreign terrorist
organization as designated by the State Department.” Found to be
involved is the language that Senator Lieberman is using here. But
again, this isn‘t going to interfere with any of your rights.
Any American citizen, even if you‘re not convicted of anything,
can lose your citizenship if, say, Hillary Clinton decides she doesn‘t
like some of the phone calls you‘ve been making. Or if Condoleezza Rice
doesn‘t like who you‘ve been seen with.
The whole point of this is presumably to get defendants into
military tribunals, because U.S. citizens can‘t be tried in military
tribunals. We get tried in court—you know, courts of law. Like, as
if this is America.
You see, the point here, though, right? Heaven forbid we put
defendants in the federal court system which has convicted and put in
prison or executed people like, say, Richard Reid, Zacarias Moussaoui,
Ramzi Yousef, Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, Umar Abdul-Rahman, et
cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Rather we can‘t put anybody in that
system, that risky, risky system—rather, we must make extreme
violence on the Constitution and the whole idea of American citizenship
so we can reap this great strategic reward that Joe Lieberman sees of
putting people in military tribunals instead of the court system.
You know, the record of military tribunals is hard to argue with
here. There was, after all, this guy, who was convicted and did nine
months in prison in Australia. He‘s now free.
Then there was this guy who was given an extra four months in
prison on top of what he‘d already served. He‘s now free.
And then there‘s this guy. Who is still in jail now but that
doesn‘t really count because he refused to mount a defense at his
That‘s it. Those three guys. That‘s the whole record. Those
are all the convictions that have been obtained ever through these
military tribunals that Joe Lieberman is so excited about.
Three convictions so far and two of them are already free.
That‘s the counterterrorism prosecution record of the military tribunal
system for which Joe Lieberman and Scott Brown and these members of
Congress would like the power to strip you of your American citizenship.
That‘s what they want to trade the Constitution for. Tough guys, right?
Joining us now is Jonathan Turley, constitutional law professor
at George Washington University Law School. Full disclosure here,
Professor Turley is currently lead counsel on two terrorism cases.
Professor Turley, thanks very much for joining us tonight.
JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Thank you,
MADDOW: Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer came out today and said
he believes this proposal by Senator Lieberman would be found to be
unconstitutional. What‘s—what‘s your view of it?
TURLEY: I think it‘s manifestly unconstitutional from what I‘ve
heard. I mean, among other things, it contradicts what the Supreme
Court said in cases like Afroyim versus Rusk in 1967, the Supreme Court
has said quite clearly, the 14th Amendment was put into place to make
The reason they put in the language in the 14th Amendment is they
didn‘t want Congress to be able to strip freed slaves of their
citizenship. So, the whole thrust of the amendment—this is what the
Supreme Court talked about in that decision—is to make it permanent.
Now, the only way you can strip it is if you can show that someone acted
in a way that shows their intent to renounce or give up their
citizenship. So, it‘s a very, very high standard.
Now, we do have a provision, the 1481 provision, that does say
that if you engage in armed struggle against the United States or
treason, that those acts could be deemed as showing your intent to give
up your citizenship. So, you do have a provision like that.
What Senator Lieberman is suggesting, in my view, is not just
unconstitutional, it‘s un-American. I mean, this is—this is
something that goes to the core of this country. You can‘t just create
stateless people because you believe that they‘re associated with
organizations that an agency has deemed to be a terrorist organization.
MADDOW: That belief of association is the thing that makes this
frankly a top of the show story for me, that makes this such an almost
unbelievable proposal from supposedly serious members of Congress. I
mean, the government now determines who it thinks are terrorist groups.
There is a process by which it does that.
Is there anything about that process, that I know you know
something about, that tells us what kind of due process we could expect
as citizens if this Lieberman idea goes through, that you lose your
citizenship if they think you‘re associated with the wrong people?
TURLEY: Well, it‘s somewhat ironic, isn‘t it? Conservatives are
constantly complaining about big brother agencies, you know, not
recognizing deductions on their tax forms. And yet they would give an
agency the authority to strip you of your citizenship. They must think
very highly of the quality of work coming out of these federal agencies.
The fact is that we have a system now of designating
organizations as terroristic or terroristic associated. That process
has been renounced. It is a very flawed process, very few due process
protections. We‘ve seen a lot of abuses.
You don‘t get the same rights. You can see evidence that‘s used
that is very, very questionable. The agency gets a great deal of
And so, what happens is that this magnifies the problem. First,
you have an agency that determines an organization is a terrorist
organization. That‘s already a highly controversial process. Then have
you another agency say we‘re determining that you‘re associated with
such an organization, to compound the agency process.
It‘s a very dangerous concept. And, fortunately, the
Constitution won‘t allow it.
MADDOW: You represent the rights of accused terrorists in
courts, it‘s part of your legal practice. I wonder if you worry that
that might mean you have associations with suspected terrorists, ties
with terrorist groups. Are you worried that you‘re going to get your
citizenship rights stripped by Joe Lieberman?
TURLEY: Well, I also—I also consult with members of Congress
and after tonight, I‘m more concerned with that association and what
that might say about my future citizenship.
But, you know, the thing is, Rachel, I‘m so glad that you‘re
drawing attention to this because even though we can rely on our courts,
I hope, to stand up to this type of legislation, declare it
unconstitutional if it passes, we seem to be in this national trauma or
fit, and it seems to be translated in terms of attacking citizenship and
questioning citizenship. And this, I think, is a very sad part of that.
And I‘m glad you‘re drawing attention to it, because it says
something more about where we are right now as a country instead of—
and also perhaps what we should be focusing on instead.
MADDOW: I would only—thank you for saying that. I would just
add in closing that I do—I agree with you and I think that the sheer
radical-ness of these proposals and their both strategic and legal
incoherence, may mean that even as we‘re having this fit about
citizenship in this country, maybe that fit is in its last throes
TURLEY: I would hope so.
MADDOW: Jonathan Turley—
TURLEY: From your mouth to God‘s ear.
MADDOW: He never listens to me.
MADDOW: Jonathan Turley, constitutional law professor at George
Washington—thank you, as always, for your time tonight, Jon.
TURLEY: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: OK. So primaries yesterday, election ‘10 is under way.
And so far, it is not going the way it‘s supposed to. When the actual
news doesn‘t match the Beltway media common wisdom, that news that
doesn‘t match the common wisdom has a tendency to disappear. We find
that disappearing news and force it to reappear right here on this show
MADDOW: If you were in or even near San Antonio, Texas, today,
you may have seen a giant plume of smoke rising over the city. A tanker
truck exploded while it was being loaded with fuel at a south San
Antonio refinery today. That explosion is causing both a fire and a
series of smaller explosions. One worker at the refinery is described
as having been critically burned in the accident.
Police evacuated the area surrounding the refinery. The smoke
could be seen 40 miles away. More than 100 fighters battled that fire
today and crews were still on-scene tonight.
Meanwhile, we have entered week three of the environmental and
economic crisis caused by another oil industry explosion—the offshore
oil rig explosion turned spill on the Gulf Coast. Since the explosion
and subsequent sinking of the B.P./Transocean Deepwater Horizon rig late
last month, thousands of barrels of oil have been spewing into the Gulf
of Mexico every single day as B.P. has struggled to find a way to cap
the well, 5,000 feet under the water, and stop the spill.
Today, a small step in the right direction. B.P. announced that
it successfully sealed off the smallest of three leaks in the underwater
pipe that‘s pumping oil into the Gulf right now. They sealed it off
using a robot submarines.
But there are still two other bigger leaks. And stopping that
one leak doesn‘t actually mean there‘s less oil spewing into the Gulf.
It means the same amount oil, again, around 5,000 barrels a day, spewing
out now of two leaks instead of three.
Also, today, a giant box made of concrete and steel was
dispatched to the spill site. The plan is to lower it into the water—
lower into the water over the largest leaks so that the leaking oil can
be collected inside the box and siphoned up to a ship on the surface.
All those efforts are certainly moves in the right direction right now.
Consider that a top B.P. official told Congress yesterday that
the leak rate could grow—it could grow to be more than 10 times what
it is right now. Instead of 5,000 barrels of oil a day, we could be
looking at 60,000 barrels of oil a day – 60,000 barrels of oil a day
being pumped into the Gulf of Mexico 41 miles off the Louisiana coast.
As the bad news from the Gulf Coast oil spill gets worse and the
good news proves to be more symbolic good than actually good, it has
become politically instructive to watch the varied reactions from the
“drill baby drill” caucus.
Some Republicans are backing away from their support of offshore
drilling. Alabama Governor Bob Riley, for example, is admitting this
week that he may reconsider his support for offshore drilling. Some
Republicans, though, are—some other Republicans, though, are really
just trying to back away from “drill, baby, drill,”—from the catch
Republican Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, for example, telling
“The Hill” newspaper, quote, “I don‘t know about the slogan. The slogan
was, what, two, three years ago and basically we had a lot of opposition
to it anyway.”
Senate Majority Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona said, quote, “That was
not a Senate Republican phrase. I think there was a candidate that used
that. I think our phrase was ‘drill here, drill now,‘ meaning here in
the United States and as quickly as oil and gas leases are going.”
So, in other words, we never said “drill, baby, drill,” that was
some candidate in some political party. I don‘t even remember that. We
weren‘t “drill, baby, drill.”
Don‘t call us “drill, baby, drill.” We weren‘t “drill, baby,
drill.” We were “drill here, drill now.” Totally different.
Here now to dramatize, the least effective political walk back of
the year thus far, is THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW‘s metaphor theater in a
brief meditation on the Jon Kyl/Pat Roberts “drill, baby, drill” walk
back. Ready? Go.
MADDOW: No executive producers were harmed in the making of that
metaphor. We had a really good time filming it, though.
All right. So, to recap, some Republicans are actually
rethinking their positions and backing away from full support of
offshore oil drilling as a matter of policy in the wake of the
catastrophe in the Gulf. Those Republicans include California Governor
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Alabama‘s governor as well.
Some other Republicans are walking back from the actual words,
“drill, baby, drill” and apparently hoping that everyone has just
forgotten about the single most repeated Republican catch phrase of the
2008 election. That political instinct, to get away from “drill, baby,
drill”—both the policy and the rhetoric—it does make sense. I
mean, there‘s an environmental and economic catastrophe underway right
now in the Gulf Coast, it is threatening to become a mega catastrophe—
thousands of barrels a day being pumped into water off the coast of the
region of this country that produces half of all our shrimp and oysters
and as much as a quarter of our total seafood as a nation. About 40
percent of our nation‘s wetlands are in the path of a massive and
growing oil slick—a massive and growing oil slick that‘s brought to
you by offshore drilling.
And that brings us to Virginia‘s governor, Bob McDonnell. Bob
McDonnell is governor of another major seafood state. And he has taken
the strangest, most inexplicable position of anyone in the “drill, baby
drill” caucus, preaching about the importance of the seafood industry in
his state, while doubling down on his pro-offshore drilling stance.
Governor McDonnell—I‘m not making this up—speaking at the
groundbreaking for a new agricultural complex in Virginia today.
He said this, quote, “Virginia‘s seafood industry is one of the
oldest industries in the United States and one of the commonwealth‘s
most economically important. The annual economic impact of the industry
is over half a billion dollars a year, and there are approximately
11,000 full and part-time jobs in Virginia connected to the seafood
industry. It is a vital part of the economy today and tomorrow.”
No argument there, right? Seafood industry a vital part of the
Virginia economy. Who could argue with that?
Well, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell made this proclamation
about the importance of Virginia seafood in the same week that he called
for oil drilling off the coast of Virginia to begin as early as next
We‘ve learned over the last few weeks that while the oil industry
has figured out how to drill really, really, really, really deep under
water, it has not figured out how to stop a leak really deep under
water. And because of that, 40 percent of the nation‘s wetlands and a
quarter of the seafood industry of this nation are in danger of being
wiped out right now.
But, yes, full speed ahead on offshore drilling near other
sensitive fisheries. Drill here, drill now—and dry the grouper.
MADDOW: So yesterday, there were a bunch of primaries, in Ohio,
in North Carolina, in Indiana. It is highly likely you did not hear
much about them. Among other reasons, that may be because those
elections did not fit the Beltway media political narrative of 2010.
That narrative is pretty simply and incredibly consistent. It
goes like this: You can‘t win in this climate unless you are an anti-
establishment candidate at the least and a tea party candidate if
possible. According to everyone whose zip code starts with 200, in both
parties, it‘s insurgent candidates with nontraditional backgrounds who
are going to be upending incumbents all over the country left and right.
And that‘s a great story as long as you don‘t look at the actual
news, the actual facts. In Ohio‘s Democratic Senate primary, for
example, the candidate backed by the state and national party defeated
the Democrat who was running to his left.
In North Carolina, North Carolina‘s incumbent Republican Senator
Richard Burr drew three primary challengers. He ended up winning 80
percent of the vote. But the prototype for this anti-incumbent common
wisdom could be found in none other than the great state of Indiana.
There you had the ultimate Republican insider, a former senator turned
uber-lobbyist, Dan Coats running against the - for lack of a better
term, the tea party candidate, Marlin Stutzman.
Now, before we all say Marlin, Martin - Stutz(ph) who, let me
remind you of Sen. Jim DeMint - Sen. Jim DeMint Republican of South
Carolina, and the man behind the Senate Conservative‘s Fund. The
mission of that fund is to elect conservatives to the United States
Senate, not just to help them poll better than they otherwise would have
without his help. Not just to raise lots of money for them. The goal
is to elect them.
Sen. DeMint is responsible for propping up the candidacy of Mr.
Stutzman. According to a statement by Sen. DeMint today, his fund
raised more than $200,000 for the failed candidate, Mr. Stutzman, in the
last two weeks alone.
You will recall again that Mr. Stutzman lost to the establishment
guy, Dan Coats. Sen. DeMint‘s record as an electoral soothsayer is not
merely 0 for 1. He should be so lucky. Sen. DeMint also has that
infamous New York congressional race to not boast about - New York 23.
Sen. DeMint backed the tea party guy, Doug Hoffman, who, despite
flash-in-the-pan media coverage, lost that one, too. Actually, the
Democrat ended up winning that one after Sen. DeMint got involved. Good
going, Sen. DeMint.
Back in Washington, Sen. DeMint also took the lead on a policy
issue that‘s being promoted as a huge electoral winner for Republicans
and conservatives by party leaders like Newt Gingrich.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FMR. REP. NEWT GINGRICH (R-GA), FMR. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES: Every Republican running in ‘10 and again in ‘12 will
run on an absolute pledge to repeal this bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Everyone‘s going to run on this. Everyone‘s going to run on
this. Hours after President Obama signed health reform into law, it was
Sen. DeMint who introduced a bill to repeal it.
So far, he‘s got not a majority of Republican senators to sign up
as his co-sponsors. He‘s only got 20 even though the Republican
minority leader on the house side said it was going to be his number one
So is it possible, is there any way that you‘re not hearing about
the conservative insurgent candidate, anti-incumbent face plant
yesterday because it doesn‘t fit the narrative, because it‘s a square
peg and the actual political environment is a round hole? A round hole
lot of politics as usual?
Joining us now is “Washington Post” columnist, Ezra Klein. Ezra,
thanks very much for being here.
EZRA KLEIN, COLUMNIST, “WASHINGTON POST”: Good evening.
MADDOW: So Jim DeMint wants to be a king-maker in bringing up insurgent
conservative candidates against mainstream Republican candidates. The
beltway media has sort of celebrated his efforts in this regard. Do you
think they have been oversold?
KLEIN: Well, maybe. You can take it two ways, right? Certainly, he
has not been very successful at knocking off incumbent candidates. What
he and others have been successful at doing, though, is getting
incumbent candidates to be very afraid of being challenged by tea
partiers, challenged from the right.
And one thing about a primary is if what you‘re trying to do is
change the way Republicans in the Senate and in the Congress vote, you
don‘t need to win that many of them. You need to make them afraid of
being primaried and that much is working.
You had Sen. Bob Bennett lose his primary in Utah. And you know,
you‘ve had Coats in Indiana. I think he only won 40 percent of the
vote. People don‘t want to go through that. So they say, you know
what? Tell their chief-of-staff, don‘t let that happen to me. We‘re
going to vote the way that we need to vote such that we don‘t get that
primary. And then you might have sensible Republicans but they‘re not
voting like them.
MADDOW: Does a strategy like that depend on the appearance, though, of
Jim DeMint and other sort of insurgent stokers‘ effectiveness, that his
press, essentially, his effectiveness at selling himself as a king-maker
is more important than his ability to pull it off as long as nobody
knows he might be more bark than bite.
KLEIN: In theory, although I wouldn‘t say politicians are exactly the
bravest species of man. You know, they don‘t trouble, right? They like
the quiet life to some degree. And if they‘re going to - well, it‘s
going to be a tough election anyway. They don‘t want take the primary
from the right.
I‘ve really been surprised doing a lot of this supporting, how
often you will get the rationale from someone when you‘re asking why
they‘re doing something that - look, they‘ve got a primary. I mean,
Chuck Grassley, very safe guy in Iowa. And he sort of went much further
to the right during the health care reform debate than people expected.
He eventually began sort of parroting the death panels nonsense.
Any explanation he got from pretty much everybody which he‘s getting
challenged from the right. And you say, well, how can he lose? He‘s an
institution in Iowa.
Then you look at John McCain and then you look at Bob Bennett and
you say, you know, you don‘t need too many of these guys or institutions
to lose for everybody to be afraid it will be them next. It doesn‘t
need to be likely for them to be next. But if it‘s a one in 10 chance,
that‘s still one in 10 chance and they vote to make sure they‘re not the
MADDOW: I guess the more likely - the more easily scared you are, the
less actually scary the threat has to be.
MADDOW: Is there a Jim DeMint equivalent on the left? Or are there
efforts on the left to try to move policy to the left through primary
threats the way that DeMint has?
KLEIN: The left is not as aggressive about primaries, at least at this
juncture. I mean, one thing, of course, is the left is in governance
mode so that induces sort of a different road to compromise.
I‘ve always sought the Rosetta Stone to understanding Jim DeMint.
There‘s a comment he made a number of months back where he said, and I‘m
paraphrasing him here, but quite closely. He said, “I would prefer 30
true conservatives to 60 essentially Republicans who aren‘t true
And when you‘re saying that, what you‘re saying is that, “I would
prefer to have a pure party as opposed to a governing coalition that can
move policy in my direction but we‘d have to make a sort of dirty, messy
frustrating and annoying compromises that governance tends to require of
That works (AUDIO GAP) the way to sort of get people on your side.
It‘s a great way to fire up the base. When you get into power, it
doesn‘t - A, it is hard to get into power based on that. But, B, when
you get into power, it leaves you very painted - it leaves you painted
into a corner.
It becomes very unclear what you can do without breaking faith with
the people who brought you there because you promised them the type of
purity that governance does not allow for.
MADDOW: That said, I‘m sure Democrats would be delighted to help Jim
DeMint with his dream of 30 Democrats - 30 Republicans that
(UNINTELLIGIBLE) if they could.
KLEIN: It‘s the one thing Democrats and Jim DeMint agree totally on.
MADDOW: Exactly. Ezra Klein, columnist for “The Washington Post,” it‘s
always great to have you here, Ezra. Thank you very much.
KLEIN: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: So the unintentional hilarity of tomorrow‘s elections in
Britain have - has met the inexorable hilarity of monkeys. We have the
monkey election video to prove it.
And the story I couldn‘t get my mind off today comes actually out
of the state of Alabama. It has not made national headlines. It‘s
about a place that is charged with getting rid of weapons that our
military no longer needs or wants and disposing of stuff that nobody
really knows how to dispose of.
The work itself can be lethal. There was an accident at a very
big, very little-known plant in Alabama today. Stick around for the
most compelling news I found today. That‘s next.
MADDOW: If you don‘t remember the Exxon-Valdez oil spill - well, first
of all it‘s way past your bedtime, junior. Second of all, you can go to
Prince William Sound in Alaska today and still see that oil spill.
Twenty-one years later, it is still going on. The moral of that story,
still ahead tonight. Please do stay tuned.
But first, it‘s one of the strangest recurring headlines in
environmental news. Rocket fuel found somewhere you wouldn‘t expect it
to be found. Rocket fuel found, for example, in baby formula. Rocket
fuel found in lettuce. Rocket fuel found in cow‘s milk. Rocket fuel
found in the water supplies of at least 35 states. Rocket fuel found in
Why is there rocket fuel everywhere? It‘s because we make rocket
fuel for rockets out of something called perchlorate. And once you make
perchlorate, it‘s really hard to make perchlorate go away.
Standard operating procedure for disposing of solid rocket
propellants has been to burn it. But burning it really only gets rid of
it in a very geographically and temporally specific way. Once in the
atmosphere, it reappears in water supplies, in the bodies and the milk
in the offspring of animals who drink that water, including the human
animals who do so.
Perchlorate just persists. At the Red Stone Arsenal Military
Facility in Huntsville, Alabama, they have been working on a pilot
program to find a way to dispose of perchlorate rocket fuel through a
means other than burning it.
Today, this morning, at that facility, there was a major chemical
explosion of some kind. Two contractors reportedly severely burned.
That area is represented by Congressman Parker Griffith who recently
made news for switching his party affiliation from Democratic to
Congressman Griffith released a statement today saying the
explosion occurred, he said, “In building 7352 where Amtec contractors
working on a U.S. Army aviation and missile command pilot program were
removing ammonium perchlorate from multiple launch rock systems.
If you‘re thinking building 7,352, that sounds like a pretty big
facility, you‘re right. It is a 40,000 acre facility containing 12
million feet of office space. More than 30,000 people work there.
Since right after 9/11, this facility in northern Alabama has also
been home to our National Center for Explosives Training and Research,
the sort of bomb squad university. The center‘s first class graduated
just last year.
Again, despite initial reports of fatalities in this chemical
blast, no one was killed. It‘s described as a chemical explosion at
this little known but giant facility in Alabama. Two are people are
described as seriously injured.
One paramedic who described - who was on scene, described the
explosion scene as horrific. Officials from Redstone Arsenal telling
local press in Huntsville, Alabama that the facility that had the
explosion is designed specifically to contain the impact of possible
explosions. We will keep you posted on this intriguing and worrying
story as we learn more.
Also, there‘s news to report at the hutaree militia trial. Federal
prosecutors today appeal the judge‘s ruling to let the nine accused
militia members out of jail. The nine are accused of plotting mass
murder of police officers in order to incite war against the U.S.
U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts did rule earlier this week
that the nine militia members can be released until their trial. But
she also agreed to a temporary stay of that ruling, meaning the accused
will stay behind bars at least one more night, but they might be out
The ruling came after a two-day hearing in which the judge grilled
the prosecution about its evidence against the militia including
audiotapes of some of the suspects talking about killing police
Judge Roberts‘ ruling expressed skepticism about the merits of the
government‘s case, saying, quote, “The United States is correct that it
need not wait until people are killed before it arrests conspirators.
But the defendants are also correct. Their right to engage in hate-
filled, venomous speech is a right that deserves First Amendment
protection. Discussions about killing law enforcement officer and even
discussions about killing members of the judicial branch of government
do not translate to conspiring to overthrow or levee war against the
United States government.”
The judge‘s order stipulates that if the hutaree militia members
are released, they must remain under home detention and they have to
wear electronic monitoring devices.
They will also have to at least temporarily surrender their many,
many, many, many, many, many weapons and will not be allowed to use
police scanners or communicate with anyone associated with militia
groups or para-military groups. A pre-trial hearing is set for May
14th. We will stay on this story.
But finally, like on most days, there was stiff competition on THE
RACHEL MADDOW SHOW news meeting today for best foreign news story about
statues. On the one hand, Ukrainian communists rather inexplicably
unveiled an eight-foot stall statue of Joseph Stalin today.
About 200 protesters showed up at the unveiling. Things were
pretty peaceful until one communist reportedly threw eggs at the
protesters. What is it with Ukrainians and the egg-throwing? Remember
them throwing eggs at each other in their legislator really recently,
Anyway, the other foreign statue story is less of a - huh? And
more of a - what? The other headline in contention for best foreign
news story about statues today is that someone has stolen 11 big bronze
statues in Tehran, in the capital of Iran, over the past few weeks.
This is according to Iranian state-run media.
The first statue to go missing of a contemporary poet. It was
stolen in late March. Since then, several statues of prominent
historical figures have just disappeared. Even some abstract statuary
art has been stolen in Tehran.
The 11th statue reportedly stolen yesterday. It was this bronze
which is called yellow wagtail breeds seven broods. It weighs half a
ton. Who‘s taking these things, and why? And how? It weighs half a
One local official said the Iranian news agency that the thieves
are motivated by religion, that for religious reasons, they don‘t like
depictions of the human form in art. They didn‘t explain that last one.
One other possible motive was floated by an artist who told the
“L.A. Times” today that bronze sculptures are selling very well in
Persian Gulf art markets. The crack pure speculation team here at THE
RACHEL MADDOW SHOW is betting that these bronzes are being stolen for
Iranian police are reportedly launching an actual investigation and
some surviving neo-conservatives somewhere in this country, no doubt,
has already figured out how this, too, demands that we bomb Iran right
now. Do it for the statues. That argument due on “The Washington Post”
op-ed page by Sunday at the latest.
MADDOW: The “New York Times” yesterday front-paged a story about how
the giant oil disaster in the gulf might not be that bad. The paper
quoting the director of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation saying, “The sky
is not falling.”
Awkwardly, “Propublica” soon reported that this Gulf of Mexico
Foundation - their board of directors is like an all-star team of the
oil industry, including one director from Transocean, which owns the
Deepwater Horizon rig, the one that blew up and sank in the gulf and
started the disaster.
Today the “Times” published an editor‘s note saying that the
article should have, quote, “noted that while the group says the
majority of its funding comes from federal and state grants, it also
receives some money from the oil industry and other business interests
in the gulf and includes industry executives on its board.”
Mea culpas are hard. I had to do them myself from time to time on
this show. It stings, but essentially, you just get it over and - get
over it. You just do it. You just rip the band-aid off. Just do it.
Ow. Ow. Ow. I know it hurts.
MADDOW: The last two nights of this show, we broadcast from Louisiana,
from New Orleans, on the banks of the Mississippi and from Venice in
Plaquemines Parish, two hours south of New Orleans at the place where
water and land get confused, where the mouth of the Mississippi and the
marshes and the gulf hang out and negotiate and mix.
As the federal government, the coastguard and BP keep trying
unsuccessfully to cap the well that continues to gush an estimated 5,000
barrels of oil every day into the gulf, weather patterns appear to have
held the resulting mass of water-borne oil off shore for the most part
for the moment.
The people of Plaquemines Parrish are taking no chances, planning
locally to deploy secondary absorbent booms and openings between fingers
of marsh to help keep oil out of interior wetlands and waterways.
They have recruited local fishermen to try to lay down what they
think will be the shore‘s last line of defense. Why is that so
important to keep the oil offshore? Well, consider this. The spill
from the Exxon-Valdez that came ashore in Prince William Sound in Alaska
is still not over.
That spill came ashore 21 years ago. That spill of over 11 million
gallons affected 1,200 miles of Alaska coastline. It killed more than
35,000 birds, 1,000 sea otters, 250 bald eagles, 22 killer whales,
billions of salmon and herring eggs.
And that accounting of the carnage does not include the carcasses
that sank to the seabed. Today, researchers have found that oil from
the Exxon-Valdez spill 21 years ago is still now being ingested by
Alaskan wildlife like sea otters and ducks. They have tested beaches
where oil is still in the sand. According to the Associated Press this
week, oil a few inches below the surface remains. These are current
Students on field trips to islands in Prince William Sound that
were devastated by the spill often uncover rocks soiled in oil with
little effort. Again, this spill happened in 1989. That is the
environmental impact still resonating 21 years later.
Now, consider the economic impact. Like BP today, Exxon said it
would compensate Alaska fishermen and land owners devastated by the
Valdez spill. The total package was going to be $2.5 billion. The
Supreme Court cut that number by 80 percent to just over $500 million
many years later in 2008, while people were still waiting for that
A good proportion of the people whose lives and livelihood were
ruined by Exxon‘s disaster died before they saw even a pittance in
Exxon, of course, went on in 2005 and 2008 to set records for the
all-time highest quarterly profits ever earned by any American company
ever in the whole history of this country while the company paid
fishermen who lost their careers because of Exxon pennies on the
dollars, if anything, 20 years later and while sand in Alaska still
weeps Exxon oil today more than 20 years after Exxon spilled it there.
Shareholders are doing great, though. Good for them. Looking back
at the Valdez spill, looking warily at the future of the Deepwater
Horizons disaster, what seems clear is that land fall by a giant oil
slick on environmentally sensitive shorelines is the end.
I mean, recovery is a euphemism once the land is coated in sticky,
toxic, un-degrading petro-sludge. If and when it hits land, there will
be efforts to clean the shore.
But even the worst apologists for this disaster admit that once
that delicate, fecund land has been sludged, there is not much to say
about the future of that land in any of our life times.
I had the privilege this week to be in Louisiana covering the
story. I want to thank MSNBC actually for paying to send me and a crew
down there. You guys did not have to do that. Thanks, you guys,
But I want to leave you with this one observation. I talked to a
ton of people in Louisiana all with different connections to the
disaster in the gulf. And the answer to almost every question I asked
anyone was the same.
The answer, no matter what I asked, was, “We‘ve got to cap that
well.” I‘d ask, do we know how to do that? And the answer would be,
“We‘ve got to cap the well.” I would ask, how do we deal with the worst
case scenario here? The answer would be, “We‘ve got to cap that well.”
I‘d asked, what is the worst-case scenario here? And the answer
would be, long pause, “We‘ve got to cap that well.” Nobody seems to
believe we can cap that well anytime soon.
Everybody says we must cap that well. No one is willing to
speculate what happens if we don‘t, if we don‘t cap that well. If past
is prologue, the only answer, the only acceptable answer is indeed to
cap that well and to never, never, never let this happen again.
MADDOW: The U.K. is holding a big important election tomorrow. They
may get a new prime minister. That is not the most important thing,
though. This is.
KENT JONES, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you.
JONES: You know, if only the British electoral policy somehow involved
a monkey. Yes. Thank you. There he is. This patriotic macaque is
making a house call for a brilliant get-out-the-vote effort called
A London-based advertising agency in New York wanted to help
British citizens over here cast their absentee ballots for tomorrow‘s
election. So using unassailable logic, they sent monkeys to gather
ballots and mail them to England, and drool on it. There you go. Make
those tiny, little bite marks.
MADDOW: Yes. If only we had macaques to help us cast our ballots, we‘d
have better turnout.
JONES: Life would be better.
MADDOW: Thank you, Kent. “COUNTDOWN” starts right now.
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