The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 04/03/13
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: And Rachel, sorry, I`m throwing it to you
late, but I know how much you love stats about defense overruns. So, I
thought you would be OK with it.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Seriously, if you`re going to be five seconds
late because we have to learn that our cost overruns alone are the third
largest defense budget in the world and we learn it from Spencer, I`m with
MADDOW: I`m with you. Thank you. Awesome.
Thanks to you at home, as well, for staying with us this hour.
The president of the United States, flying about the country and
making public appearances, that is always kind of the fulcrum around which
the rest of the day`s political news tilts. And that was largely true
today with the president in Colorado and then heading to California.
But there was also big substantive news today from the new secretary
of defense, from Chuck Hagel, who gave the first big policy speech of his
time in office. Chuck Hagel talked about the military being an essential
tool of American power, but one that must only be used with a keen
appreciation of its limits. That kind of talk drives nuts all the hawks
who want wars everywhere.
So, prepare for a neocon meltdown about this speech in three, two,
Also today in Afghanistan, a Taliban attack on mostly civilians in the
western part of the country had a huge death toll. At least 53 people
Now, remarkably, that is a death toll that was not achieved thanks to
some individual, huge bomb blast. It wasn`t one giant explosion that they
killed 53 people with. They killed 53 people in a raid, just with guns. A
stunning toll in that Taliban attack today in western Afghanistan in a
province that borders Iran.
And domestic politics here at home today, President Obama announced
that he will give back 5 percent of his own presidential salary, give back
5 percent of his salary for the rest of the year in solidarity with the
other people who are being laid off in the government and furloughed
because of the sequester.
Today also in Tennessee, on this eve of the 45th anniversary of Dr.
Martin Luther King being assassinated, the Shelby County, Tennessee,
recorders office today – look at this video – released videos never
before seen, videos showing James Earl Ray, after he was arrested for Dr.
King`s murder. The tapes include, and I will admit that this is kind of
weird, the tapes include strangely, the whole very long, detailed process
of James Earl Ray being strip searched as he`s brought into the jail – as
indicated by the pixelation work that you see here. So, there`s lots going
on in today`s news, good, bad, and quite unexpectedly revealing and weird.
But we start tonight`s show with Second Amendment remedies. In the
midterm elections in 2010, Nevada Republicans nominated a woman named
Sharron Angle to run for Senate in Nevada. Sharron Angle was going to try
to unseat Harry Reid in Nevada.
Sharron Angle was a very fashionable type of candidate for Republicans
that year. She was antiestablishment, Tea Party-endorsed, super, super
conservative, and this race in Nevada was supposed to be a cake walk.
Harry Reid`s numbers were really bad. Everybody expected Harry Reid
to lose his job. Everybody knew that the 2010 election was going very
Republican overall and Harry Reid was seen as the most vulnerable senator
on the Democratic side. Sharron Angle could not lose this race.
Sharron Angle lost that race, and pinpointing exactly where her
platform went wrong and exactly how her behavior as a candidate may have
cost her that election, frankly, it`s impossible to pinpoint, even in
retrospect, because with her campaign, the where “did I go wrong”
possibilities are limitless possibilities. I mean, was it when Sharron
Angle proposed the basis for U.S. currency should be metals and oils? Was
it her position of even having a Department of Education was a violence of
Constitution? Was it her professed hatred for fluoride? It`s hard to say,
But this did not help.
(BEGION AUDIO CLIP)
SHARRON ANGLE (R-NV), FORMER SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Thomas Jefferson
said it`s good for our country to have a revolution every 20 years. I hope
that`s not where we`re going, but if, you know, this Congress keeps going
the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment
remedies. They are saying, my goodness, what can we do to turn this
country around? And I`ll tell you, the first thing we need to do is take
Harry Reid out.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Second Amendment remedies – Second Amendment as in Second
Amendment. Americans are going to shoot our way out of the political
problems that we have with the Congress.
And that wasn`t just a one off, unfortunate turn of phrase that she
said in that one interview, this was a big part of her campaign. She said
this stuff all the time.
For example, she told the “Reno Gazette Journal” in May of that year,
quote, “The nation is arming, what are they arming or if it isn`t they are
distrustful of their government? They`re afraid they`ll have to fight for
their liberty in more Second Amendment kinds of ways. That`s why I look at
this as almost an imperative. If we don`t win at the ballot box, what will
be the next step?”
That`s how she explained why she was running against Harry Reid, why
she thought it was imperative that she unseat Harry Reid in the United
States Senate, because if Americans with guns did not succeed in voting
Harry Reid out of office, they would turn to another way of doing it. They
would use their guns to get their way instead.
Nevada was not amused. In a race that was hers to lose, in a race
that Democrats lost all over the country, Sharron Angle is the one that
lost and Harry Reid won.
With all her talk about her supporters and conservatives more broadly
getting their way in this country by using weapons to get what they
couldn`t win through the democratic process, Nevada decided to take a pass
on old Sharron Angle. Her Second Amendment remedies thing turned out to be
a failing argument in 2010.
2010 was also the year when some people who are angered by the passage
of Obamacare decided to organize retaliation and resistance against those
votes in Congress in the form of rocks thrown through the windows of
Democratic Party offices. Those incidents included an incident at Arizona
Congresswoman Gabby Giffords office in Tucson. Just hours after the vote
of Obamacare, somebody smashed a window and door in her office either by
kicking it or by shooting at it. That violence, those acts of intimidation
also did not work in the end.
We got Obamacare. We got the dreaded tyranny of private health
insurance for people with preexisting conditions.
But the people who made those threats and committed those acts of
intimidation to try to influence a big national public policy debate we
were having in this country about health care, their intention was to use
that intimidation to get their way in our political process, but obviously
it failed, of course, if failed. You do not get far in this country using
tactics like that.
It is a tactic and it recurs in different debates at different times,
but it doesn`t work. It`s not a tactic that works in this country for good
reason, we do not settle arguments by political force of arms, not since,
oh, an important time in the 1860s and the ones who had an idea to take up
arms then, too, were the ones who lost that last fight.
Yesterday, the NRA unveiled a 225-page report about school safety.
What was notable about their big presentation was not the content,
cliff notes version – more guns make everything better, obviously. What
was notable and interesting about the unveiling of their report was how
they handled the logistics of unveiling at the National Press Club. You
know when you turn on C-Span and there`s somebody talking about public
policy or a book about public policy and it looks really very nerdy in that
awesome nerdy C-Span way?
A lot of the time the visual nerd charm on what you`re looking at on
C-Span is because the people on C-Span are speaking at a place called the
National Press Club. The National Press Club does a lot of events that are
the unveiling of reports and stuff.
And as the place`s name implies, the National Press Club is a club for
the press. So, people go there to talk about their thing and they invite
reporters and photographers, they invite questions, they take questions on
this thing, and they get press coverage for it. That`s the way it works.
That`s the whole point of this place existing.
Except yesterday, when the NRA decided to unveil their school safety
report, they decided that they would unveil it at the National Press Club,
but only in the presence of 20 or so ostentatiously armed men, armed guards
to protect their presenter when he presented his findings to a room full of
note pad-wielding reporters at the National Press Club.
According to “The Washington Post,” the NRA supplied roughly one armed
guard for every three reporters. Some of the guards had their weapons
plainly exposed. Others just had obvious bulges under their suit jackets.
Quote, “It was a spectacle the likes of people who work at the National
Press Club have never seen before.”
Quoting from “The Post”, “The NRA gunmen directed some photographers
not to take pictures, ordered reporters out of the lobby when NRA officials
passed, and inspected reporters` briefcases before granting them access to
the news conference. There were so many armed men guarding the NRA guy
from the press, the press that he had asked to be there at the National
Press Club, there were so many armed men in the room, it was such an
But the NRA guy had to try to explain to the reporters what all the
guys with guns were actually doing there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASA HUTCHINSON, NRA: Well, if you go into a mall, there`s security,
and so there`s security here at the National Press Club.
REPORTER: Mr. Hutchinson, just to build on the question, though, we
don`t see this level of security for events at the Press Club.
REPORTER: We come here a lot.
REPORTER: What are you afraid of?
HUTCHINSO: There`s nothing I`m afraid of. I`m very wide open.
There`s nothing I`m nervous about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: There`s nothing I`m nervous about. After the big speech, as
everybody was shuffling out of the room, there was sounded like a
kerfuffle. Although you could not see what was going on, you could
definitely hear it clearly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the Press Club, and he`s the press. Sir,
This is the Press Club, and he`s the press. He can do that. It`s what we
do here with the cameras.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It`s what we do here with cameras. This is the Press Club.
He`s the press.
Somebody there presumably explaining to the Second Amendment guys
there`s another amendment called the First Amendment, too – short, you can
read it. This big show of how many guns the NRA could pack into the
National Press Club is not an accident, right? This is one of their
political tactics. It`s an intimidation tactic, it`s a show of force.
Last week at one of the events marking the big national day of action
for people who are calling for gun reform in the states, a group of people
showed up to counter-protest in Indiana. They counter-protested a group of
moms who were protesting for gun reform. These guys were protesting in
favor of gun rights, instead.
You can tell who the counter-protesters were, because they were the
ones showing off their loaded weapons, circling around the moms group that
had turned out to call for gun reform.
I can`t tell from looking at a guy doing this if his weapon are loaded
or not, but they told us to believe the guns are loaded. The guys carrying
these guns told the press, yes, these guns are loaded. Quote, “Any weapon
that is not loaded is just a rock or a club.” A reporter then said to the
man, “Which means this is loaded?” The answer, “Yes.”
You know what? It is intimidating to be in the presence of a loaded
AR-15 assault rifle, especially when it is not held by, say, an instructor
on a range or, say, a cop, or somebody else who`s there to ensure your
safety, but instead is just held by a guy who is holding that rifle
specifically because he believes it will help him win his political
disagreement with you. You see how that could be intimidating?
If you believe our nation`s gun laws are too restrictive, if you want
more guns everywhere, especially around our nation`s school children, you
are free to make that argument. You are free to protest. You are free to
be rude in your protest. You are free to be uncouth. You are free to do
anything you think will win the argument.
Our protections on freedom of speech are designed specifically to
protect obnoxious speech. Nice speech doesn`t often get suppressed, so it
doesn`t need protection. But let the record show, at the same time, that
in the United States, whether the issue is guns or anything else, you will
not win arguments that you try to win by threatening to shoot your
opponents. You will not win if the way you are trying to win is by
threatening to use weapons to get your political way.
People do it in this country. It is a tactic. People try it from
time to time. And they lose, because Americans do not settle disputes that
way. In fact, we`re pretty invested in having a political system that has
us not settling disputes that way.
Once you threaten that you are going to settle your political disputes
by use of arms, you will lose all of your political disputes. Tempting as
it may be, particularly when the issue is guns itself, threats and physical
intimidation are not how we successfully achieve change in this country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICOLE HOCKLEY: Hi, I`m Dylan Hockley`s mom. Please do what you can
do support the strongest possible.
REP. TIMOTHY LARSEN (D), HOUSE DISTRICT 11: Sure.
You just – my heart just goes out to you folks. It just – what can
HOCKLEY: There`s nothing you can say. I am just a mom. We lost our
son, and every day is challenging, but if I can do something to help save
lives of other children or other adults and help other moms not go through
this, then I have an obligation to do it. So I will do it.
REPORTER: Have you found that your voice is being heard here by the
HOCKLEY: They are listening to us, without a doubt. What that
ultimately means, we`ll find out this week, but they have been very open to
conversation and in a civilized, healthy debate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Shortly before 7:00 p.m. tonight, in a bipartisan vote that
was not close, the Connecticut Senate passed a broad package of gun reform
legislation. It includes an expansion of that state`s assault weapons ban,
background checks on all gun purchases, a ban on the sale of high-capacity
magazines, and a requirement that you have to be certified the way a gun
owner is if you want to buy ammunition for a gun.
This thing is through the Senate now. It is being debated right this
second in the Connecticut House, where it is also expected to pass.
Pro-gun protesters flooded the state capitol this morning chanting,
“Just say no.” They used their right to protest, they raised their voices
and they lost this particular side of the debate. It`s the way this
country works. You make your case, sometimes you win and sometimes you
And that is the way that it worked in Connecticut today with this
bipartisan, huge vote. Bipartisan overhaul of that state`s gun laws
following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which, of course,
is in Connecticut.
Today, President Obama traveled to Colorado, a state itself that
passed a broad set of safety legislation last month. The president today
in Colorado talked about what has been the essential part of gun
legislation that he would like to see passed at the federal level, the
issue of universal background checks for all gun purchasers. It`s newly
the law in Colorado and New York state, it`s soon to be newly the law in
The president today repeatedly pointing out that more Americans agree
with Colorado, and New York, and Connecticut on that issue of universal
background checks than Americans agree on almost anything else.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These enhanced
background checks won`t stop all gun crimes, but they will certainly help
prevent some. It`s common sense. And, by the way, most gun owners, more
than 80 percent, agree this makes sense. More than 70 percent of NRA
members agree, 90 percent of the American people agree.
So, there`s no reason we can`t do this, unless politics is getting in
the way. There`s no reason we can`t do this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Public opinion is on the side of change on this issue
The contingent of the public, the minority even among NRA members who
do not want change on this issue, people who have decided a background
check is not tyranny at a gun store, but it is tyranny at a gun show, for
some reason, they, of course, get to say that and try to explain that as
much as they want to. But their ability to be heard in debate stops when
they turn to intimidation instead of persuasion.
Nobody can hear what you`re saying when you are shadowing a peaceful
mom protest with a loaded assault rifle. Your effort to intimidate drowns
out your own words. It`s not how we do things in this country.
Connecticut`s governor joins us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The only way this time will be different is if the American
people demand that this time it must be different, that this time we must
do something to protect our communities and our kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama traveled today to Denver, Colorado. Colorado
was the second state to pass legislation designed to stop gun violence
after the Newtown tragedy in December. New York state was the first,
Colorado was the second, and tonight, Connecticut is on the verge of
becoming the third.
Just after 6:30 Eastern Time this evening, the California – excuse
me, the Connecticut State Senate passed sweeping new reforms. This
measure`s through the senate at this hour, it`s under debate right this
second in the Connecticut statehouse.
This is an innovative bill. This is an innovative thing that
Connecticut is trying – new and surprising approaches to the gun violence.
Joining us now is Connecticut`s governor, Dan Malloy.
Governor Malloy, thank you so much for being here. I know this is a
big, big night for you.
GOV. DANNEL MALLOY (D), CONNECTICUT: It is, Rachel. But it`s great to
be with you. This is an important issue for our entire country, and I`m
happy to talk about it.
MADDOW: You had listed in February what your priorities were as
governor for gun reform in your state after what happened at Sandy Hook
Elementary. Looking at what just passed out of the Senate and what is
presumably what`s going to pass in the House tonight, how does what is
passing comport with what your priorities were for the state?
MALLOY: They are pretty much in alignment. There are a couple of
things I would have liked to have gotten, an outright ban without
grandfathering higher capacity magazines. I`m not going to get that.
But if you look at this package, this is further reaching, I would
say, than any other state has done, including some really innovative ideas,
about, for instance, who can purchase ammunition. If you`re not eligible
to purchase a gun, long gun or handgun, then you`re not going to be found
eligible to purchase ammunition in our state. I think that`s an idea
that`s going to catch on as time goes on.
MADDOW: The best rejoinder I always felt to the “guns don`t kill
people, people kill people” bumper sticker was actually it`s the bullets
that kill people, those being essentially totally unregulated never made
much sense to me.
In terms of innovating that, when a lot of states have not approached
this problem through that kind of angle, did you find you had unusual
allies or unusual enemies you didn`t expect to find in discussing doing
something new like that in your state?
MALLOY: Well, what`s interesting about Connecticut is we`re doing it
on a bipartisan basis. We had stalled for a while. That`s why I put my
plan out, as you`ve referenced just a moment ago, that the House and Senate
had bipartisan commission that really could not come to conclusion about
what to do on the gun safety issue.
I had heard that, they hadn`t issued the report, but I knew it was
coming. So I put out my five points.
And then I went on the road. I`ve done town hall meetings across the
state to speak about this. And, quite frankly, most of what I was hearing
are gun owners being mad at me or with me, but the reality is that these
proposals are advanced and supported by the vast majority of the people in
We`re going to have universal backgrounds for all guns, not just
handguns, but for all guns. We`re going to require certification that
you`re eligible to buy one of those things. If you have a criminal
background, if you have a domestic violence order against you, you`re not
going to be allowed to buy them, and that`s the way it should be.
And we`re also going to limit people`s exposure to these weapons of
mass destruction. You know, this gun that was used at Sandy Hook got off
154 shots in less than five minutes. I mean, that`s truly extraordinary.
That`s not what most people in America think about when it comes to home
protection or deer hunting, for that matter, or anything being reasonable.
We have a right in this country to protect ourselves from those things
that are most destructive, and that`s what we`re going to exercise in our
MADDOW: The reason that both in Washington and states around the
country, the reason that people think that gun reform is impossible is not
because gun reform is unpopular, in fact, it`s very popular. Most of the
things you have put through tonight have very, very, very large majority
support, especially things like background checks.
The reason people think it`s impossible in spite of that popularity is
because of how vocal the small minority is that doesn`t want these reforms,
that doesn`t want any restrictions or regulations of any kind on guns or
Did you learn anything through this process about how to deal with a
very small minority that is nevertheless very intimidating at times?
MALLOY: Well, you know, when we talk about the small minority, we
also have to recognize that millions and millions and millions of dollars
are going in to get that small minority heard. That`s the reality.
There are a lot of people making a lot of money in selling very, very
dangerous weapons. In fact, they are so dangerous that that same group of
people spent millions of dollars to pass laws and make sure we could not
take those gun manufacturers to court when they sold defective products or
products that would be or are likely to be used in such a way to commit
mass murder. They passed that law and they used those millions of dollars
the same way they are using millions of dollars now to defeat reasonable
They, you know, by and large own the Republican Party in Washington,
let`s be quite clear. The Tea Party, which is even more extreme, I think,
pledges allegiance on a daily basis to the NRA, at least that`s what it
certainly sounds like. And so, yes, they make people fearful to do that,
which is supported by 92 percent of the American public, 92 percent of the
American public wants there to be universal background checks.
I cannot get on – I`m a governor. I can`t get on a plane in the
United States without someone doing a background check on me, but I could
go places in this country and buy a weapon and not have that done, it makes
no sense to anybody, quite frankly. Or all but 8 percent of our population
agree that there should be universal background checks.
MADDOW: Governor Dan Malloy of Connecticut, who is right now in the
midst of what will be seen as a legislative triumph for you, given the
priorities that you laid out before this all happened, sir. I know this is
a big night. Thank you for your time tonight.
MALLOY: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. Lots coming up tonight, including the day in
toxic sludge. The good news about toxic sludge is that the story of the
day about toxic sludge comes with an extra helping of roller derby. Stay
MADDOW: “If we refuse to lead, something, someone, will fill the
vacuum. The next great power may not use its power as responsibly or as
judiciously as America has used our power over the decade since World War
II. We have made mistakes and miscalculations with our great power, but as
history has advanced, America has helped make a better world for all people
with its power. A world where America does not lead is not the world I
wish my children to inherit,” closed quote.
That is how the new Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel closed his first big
policy speech today, America must lead. That said, conservative media will
presumably now report only the parenthetical clause in this one sentence
towards the end of the speech where he said, “We have made mistakes.”
Presumably, that`s the only thing they will report about the speech, but
now you know what at least the rest of that sentence was.
We`ve put a link to Chuck Hagel`s speech at “Maddow Blog” today. It`s
Ahead of the speech today, Secretary Hagel and his deputy announced
they`ll each give up a portion of their salary this year. They`ll return a
portion of their salary to the federal treasury because of all the Pentagon
workers having to take unpaid furlough days thanks to the sequester. That
announcement came first, but after President Obama said today he`s going to
do the same thing.
Quote, “The president has decided that to share in the sacrifice being
made by public servants across the federal government affected by the
sequester, he will contribute a portion of his salary back to the
So, President Obama is giving up 5 percent of his presidential salary
for the whole year back to the Treasury. And that will not make a
difference to the workers forced into pay cuts and furloughs, because
Congress has not yet undone the sequester, but it will put a spotlight on
it. It will remind us all that that sequester is happening and it`s
causing real pain.
One other thing that reminds us the sequester is happening and causes
us real pain is the nation`s largest nuclear contamination site leaking
radioactive contamination all over the place. That`s also turning out to
be a nice string around the finger for this story.
Hold on, there are pictures coming up.
MADDOW: OK, this fellow right here is named “Fat Man”. “Fat Man,”
you may recall, is one of two atomic bombs that we as a country dropped on
Japan at the end of World War II. One was called “Little Boy”. That was
the one we dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. That was uranium
bomb. “Fat Man” was the bomb we dropped on Nagasaki. “Fat Man” killed
more than 170,000 instantly and tens of thousands more people in the years
Now, unlike “Little Boy”, which was a uranium bomb, “Fat Man” was a
plutonium bomb, and the plutonium that was used in “Fat Man” came from this
place right here, the Hanford Nuclear Facility in Hanford, Washington.
During the 1940s and 1950s, Sanford was essentially a factory compound
designed to produce nuclear material. It had nine nuclear reactors. It
employed tens of thousands of people. It created a practically endless
supply of plutonium for the ginormous nuclear arsenal that we built up
during World War II and throughout the Cold War. And while all of that
nuclear material ultimately created the most famous nuclear weapons in
human history, one of the only two nuclear weapons that everybody knows the
nicknames for, all of that material being created at Hanford also created
This is what it looks like at Hanford now, barrels and barrels and
barrels and barrels of nuclear waste that we have pretty much no idea what
to do with, nuclear waste that we have not figured out how to make safe,
how to keep it from leaking, how to even stabilize some of it.
During the latter half of the 21st century, we got really good as a
country at creating radioactive material. We created it to build nuclear
weapons. We created it to fuel nuclear power plants, and we did that
without ever really figuring out how it was all going to end, how we were
going to clean it up – the end products, right, the radioactive deadly
mess produced inherently by these processes.
We never figured what we are going to do with that when we got to that
point in the process. We built something that we could not ultimately
handle, and now we don`t know what to do with it.
Well, now in Hanford, Washington, here`s what we got, six nuclear
waste tanks that are leaking radioactive material into the ground. That
alarming headline came out a little more than a month ago.
See, the best idea we had for what to do with all of our nuclear waste
to store it in big tanks, and now those big tanks are leaking their toxic
contents into the groundwater in Hanford, Washington, which happen to be in
very close proximity of the Columbia River, which is sort of the freshwater
life blood of the entire Pacific Northwest.
What`s happening in Hanford, Washington, is scary, but it was sort of
predictable, right? This is a manmade crisis. It was a crisis of our own
making. I mean, here`s the technology we think we need as a country, we
don`t know how to handle it that well or how to clean it up if something
goes wrong or if something goes right, then we just produce all the
byproducts we`re expecting to produce.
But what the heck? Full speed ahead! Sorry, Hanford.
All right. This right here is Canadian tar sands oil. See how it
kind of looks like a solid? That`s part of the problem.
We are currently having a big debate in the country about tar sands
oil, mostly about whether or not we want to build the infrastructure in our
country to facilitate the delivery of more of that chunky stuff to market.
I mean, it is oil. We use a lot of oil. We need oil, we love oil.
But we also happen to have no freaking clue how to handle that particular
kind of oil when something goes wrong with it in transit.
Tonight in Mayflower, Arkansas, here`s what local officials are
dealing with. That is diluted tar sands oil all over the streets,
reportedly encroaching on a local lake after an ExxonMobil pipeline
ruptured on Friday, dumping all over Mayflower, ArKansas.
And while it is an absolute mess for emergency response crews to try
to clean it up, turns out it is a special kind of mess because it is tar
sands. I mean, crude oil spills, we are bad at dealing with. We are bad
at dealing with spills of crude. The technology has not gotten much better
at dealing with spills of crude in 40 freaking years.
But this isn`t crude. This is tar sands, and tar sands leaks, turns
out they are way harder to clean up and we really have no idea how to do
We`ve only ever had to try it once on a big scale.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: There is another oil cleanup under way in
this country tonight in Michigan, following a leak in a pipeline.
REPORTER: Good evening, Brian, from the banks of the Kalamazoo River
outside of Battle Creek. As you can see, there is a thick coating of oil
on the water here. The boom stretch is right over to the other side, and
you can smell it, Brian. Oil is in the air.
This is where they are skimming. The oil is coming up. It`s coming
into the skimmers. And they are bringing it on shore here. What is
happening now, Brian, is that they say they are going to be here
approximately for the next month so they can clean this up and get it back
to the recreational use that it was before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: They say they are going to be here approximately for the next
month. They in this case was the Canadian oil company Enbridge. It was
their tar sands pipeline that ruptured in Marshall, Michigan, in July 2010.
But cleaning up that oil spill along the Kalamazoo River did not take one
month, as the company predicted. It didn`t take two months, or three
months, or four months, or five months, or six months, or 10. It has now
been 32 months since that oil spill and there is still oil in the Kalamazoo
And that`s because tar sands oil doesn`t pick up neatly with the kinds
of boom and skimmers you saw in that report. Tar sands oil doesn`t just
float to the top of the water where you can skim it off, it sinks where it
has to be physically dredged out. When that oil spill happened, the EPA`s
incident commander on scene said they were literally writing the book on
how to respond to a tar sands oil spill of significant size while they were
doing it. They had never done it before on that scale.
The oil company Enbridge originally estimated the cleanup process, as
you heard, would take about a month. They thought it would cost somewhere
north of $5 million. Today, they have spent somewhere north of $765
million, three-quarters of a billion dollars to clean up that one spill in
the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.
This is a new technology, a new resource that we are told we need to
have immediately, tar sands oil. Build the pipeline right away.
How does it affect that debate to know we don`t have any idea how to
deal with this thing if by some chance something ever goes wrong?
Joining us tonight for the interview are two women who experienced the
Kalamazoo River oil spill in their own backyards. Deb Miller`s business
was 20 feet from the Kalamazoo River oil spill. Susan Connolly`s children
were at a daycare center about a mile from the Tallmadge Creek in the
Kalamazoo River, at the time of the spill.
Deb Miller and Susan Connolly joining us tonight from Marshall,
Thank you so much for being here. It`s really nice to have you here.
DEBRA MILLER, OWNS BUSINESS NEAR OIL SPILL: Thank you.
SUSAN CONNOLLY, LIVES NEAR KALAMAZOO RIVER OIL SPILL: Thank you.
MADDOW: Susan, let me start with you and ask you to go back to the
day of the spill. What did you and your children experience in the hours
after it happened? What did it feel like and smell like after a tar sands
oil spill like this?
CONNOLLY: The smell was overwhelming. We dropped off our children at
our daycare center about 7:30 in the morning, and even at that time the
odor was very strong. By the time we picked them up from daycare, the
health effects were instantaneous.
So, we knew right away that there was something wrong. We didn`t
realize there was an oil spill, but we just knew something wasn`t right.
MADDOW: When you say that the health effects were instantaneous, what
kind of health effects did you experience?
CONNOLLY: There was a burning sensation in your eyes, burning in your
throat. You could feel it all the way down into your lungs, headaches,
migraines, nausea, upset stomach, lethargy. Within days of the spill, my
children and several children developed a very strange rash, so you knew
right away there was something wrong.
MADDOW: Deb, let me ask you about how the process of the cleanup and
what you have been told by EPA or any of the other folks who have been
involved in the cleanup about how that`s going.
MILLER: Well, unfortunately, we`ve not heard anything. I am directly
impacted. I`m a strong throw away from one of the three significant oil
spots that remain. The new corrective order is asking for dredging in one
of those three spots, and as I said, it`s a stone`s throw away.
I`ve heard nothing. I know nothing. On my way here tonight, I see
there`s a government truck parked in what used to be my business driveway,
and they are in the river putting up poles, but I have no idea what they
are doing or what it`s for or anything.
I found out about the corrective order because it was e-mailed to me
by a media source.
Susan, let me actually go back to you for a second in terms of trying
to understand – the national significance of the Kalamazoo River spill is
both that you guys are Americans and as Americans, your problems ought to
get national attentions when they are big enough problems. But also
there`s a big debate going on about tar sands oil versus other kinds of
Do you – either of you I guess, have any sense how it is to deal with
a tar sands spill than a regular oil spill?
CONNOLLY: Well, this is the largest spill that no one knows about,
which is quite concerning. As EPA said, they are writing the book as they
go along. Within days of the spill, the first thing – the unified command
did was put boom.
As we`re learning about tar sand, and I know I`m not expert, I`m just
a mom that`s been impacted, the tar sand, it either evaporated, which we
all breathed the chemicals in the air, became sick. The remainder of that
oil, which is so heavy, it sank. It went right underneath the boom, it
went underneath and continued to flow downstream.
So, that is a severe difference from your conventional or mom`s good-
old type of crude.
MADDOW: Your mom`s kind of oil spill. This is not your father`s oil
spill. Let me ask –
MADDOW: Deb, thinking about this and thinking about what seems
evident, which is that nobody really seems to know anything about exactly
how to deal with this kind of spill, do you have any advice, do you have
anything that you`ve learned from this experience that you might share with
the people in ArKansas who are dealing with this in their town right now?
MILLER: Unfortunately, we do. The communication between Enbridge and
the community was limited at best. There was – the transparency was
ridiculous. So, as an impacted resident, for me not to know what`s going
on and to have to attend a public meeting, I think they`ve had four or five
of them in the last three or four years, is really quite incredible.
And for the people in ArKansas, I can tell you, for 950 days today, we
have been dealing with this. I went from having to go through a police
escort to get to my property for a whole summer. This year as they start
the re-drudging in my neighborhood or next to my house, I don`t know what
that means. I may have to do that again.
You need to document everything. Do not take anything at face value.
I`m sure Exxon may be wonderful to some people. They are an oil
company and until our government realizes that this is for profit, we need
to be concerned about the residents of our country and not for the profit
of these big oil companies.
MADDOW: Deb Miller and Susan Connolly from Marshall, Michigan – I
know you did not start off intending to be activists or even advocates on
this issue, and you got put here by somebody else`s screw up and not your
own. I thank you for stepping up and also helping us understand what`s
going on there. Thanks to you both.
MILLER: Yes, thank you.
MADDOW: All right, thank you.
All right, we got a lot still ahead tonight, including Alabama
breaking new ground on civil rights in a bad way. That`s still to come.
But first, just one more thing about who we just had on as our guests,
Susan Connolly, who was sitting on the right, on the side of your screen.
I feel compelled to tell you, in order to be on the show tonight, Susan
Connolly had to skip out on something very important tonight.
She had to skip roller derby. Susan`s Marshall, Michigan, roller
derby team is called the South Central Michigan Renegade Roller Girls.
They are gearing up for their next rock `em, sock `em battle against
Lansing Mitten Mavens next Sunday.
So, yes, Enbridge oil company and the Michigan state government
blowing off the Kalamazoo River pipeline spill, did you know who you`re up
against here? Are you sure?
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: That big Alabama story still to come. But before that, a
programming note, through the miracle that is TV and wonder of geography
that is midtown Manhattan, I will be on TV again later tonight. Mr. David
Letterman was kind enough to invite me to be a guest on his show tonight.
It probably comes on after your late local news wherever you are.
But even if you do not like me and are only watching this right now by
accident, I should tell you that the other people that are not me or David
Letterman on the show tonight are Louis C.K. and the Flaming Lips.
Seriously, the Flaming Lips.
Official rock song of the state of Oklahoma Flaming Lips? Yes, those
Flaming Lips, seriously, right now.
MADDOW: Big significant news out of Wichita, Kansas, tonight. News
that was four long scary up and down years in the making.
Four years ago next month, Dr. George Tiller of Wichita was
assassinated. Dr. Tiller was the only abortion provider in Wichita. An
anti-abortion activist had physically attacked him, tried to kill him and
waged a national witch hunt against him for years.
When Dr. Tiller was finally shot and killed at his church by an anti-
abortion activist in 2009, the Tiller clinic shut down in Wichita. The
murder of Dr. Tiller ended abortion access in that part of Kansas – or at
least it ended its safe, legal practice seemingly indefinitely. That was
four years ago next month.
After Dr. Tiller was killed, a woman that used to work for him, Julie
Burkhart started a foundation, a foundation that raised money to buy Dr.
Tiller`s clinic. She bought it from his widow. Well, this week, the
clinic opens again. A new clinic, but on the same site offering physical
exams, and pap smears, and contraceptive care, and treatment of STDs, and
pelvic exams, and, miscarriage counseling, and yes, they will provide
Julie Burkhart has found three doctors to work at the clinic and she`s
working on hiring more.
For four years, George Tiller`s murder got what he wanted by murdering
George Tiller. This week with the reopening of that clinic in Wichita, he
stops getting what he wanted by murdering George Tiller. That`s what`s
going on in Kansas.
Here is what`s going on in Alabama. The Alabama state senate has
joined the statehouse now by passing purposely impossible to achieve
standards for abortion clinics in Alabama. They call these things TRAP
laws. They`re laws that put new regulations on clinics specifically for
the purpose of shutting them down. The TRAP law in Alabama passed through
the statehouse earlier this year, the state senate passed it yesterday,
which is why these people, hundreds of them, were at the state capital
protesting against that anti-abortion bill.
This is Alabama. But now, the bill is going to the Republican
governor who has said he will sign it.
We watched this same tactic at work in Mississippi this year, the
effort to close down the last single remaining abortion clinic in the state
of Mississippi through the same, same type of legislation. These bills all
look the same. It`s impossible to meet regulations designed specifically
to shut down the clinic. For awhile, we watched in Mississippi as though
it were an anomaly, as if Mississippi were some sort of a pioneer.
Since then, though, North Dakota used that same language to shut down
its last remaining abortion clinic. Mississippi`s is already in effect.
The clinic`s future is in limbo as a federal judge considers whether or not
the new regulations are even legal. North Dakota passed it, in addition to
flat out banning abortion at six weeks, before many women know they`re
And now, as of today, Alabama passed the same language, too. This
apparently is the new normal in Republican controlled states. Unlike
Mississippi and North Dakota, Alabama doesn`t have just one abortion
clinic. It has four. It used to have five. But the fifth abortion clinic
in Alabama lost its license last year and it`s now closed.
The one that lost its license was the same clinic that anti-abortion
activist Eric Rudolph bombed in the late 1990s, killing a police officer
and seriously wounding a nurse.
The point of the Mississippi TRAP laws is to shut down clinics, to set
the bar for new regulations so high that nobody can reach it on purpose.
But we can`t call those laws Mississippi-style laws, because now, they are
the new normal for Republicans. Now, they`re Mississippi-style, North
Dakota-style, Alabama-style laws.
They kept saying the war on women thing is something that the
Republican Party was going to repent from after the 2012 election. It`s
just a new front opening all the time.
That does it for us tonight.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Have a great night.
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