The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 07/07/15
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Stunning, stunning interviews, Chris.
Wow, that is amazing, amazing. Great work.
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home as well for joining us this hour.
Did you watch “Zoom” when you were a kid? I grew up in California.
So, I really liked “Villa Alegre”, which is a bilingual kids program but it
competed in my life with “Zoom”. My brother liked “Zoom”.
If you watched “Zoom” as a kid, you know this zip code.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: 021 – send it to zoom! That very archival footage from the
PBS show “Zoom”, which was basically made of stuff sent in by people who
watched the show. In the case of Zoom, that means the show is made up of
stuff sent in by the kids who watched the show. “Zoom” was awesome.
“Villa Alegre” was better, but “Zoom” was awesome.
And, you know, that idea for basing a show around stuff your viewers
send you, that was a good idea when “Zoom” did it in the 1970s. I believe
it is still a good idea. At least I can assure you that as an idea, it
The other day, for example, a viewer in California told us about the
National Republican Party sending out in the mail what looks like a
presidential primary ballot complete with a due date and everything. And
had we not seen that mailer sent to us by a viewer, we wouldn`t have known
that the National Republican Party was doing this. But it is really
freaking interesting that the Republican Party is doing this, because the
Republican Party has a bazillion people running already in the presidential
race. They are running more people for president this year than have ever
run for a major party nomination than ever before.
But on top of those gazillion people who really are running, this RNC
mailer which really looks like an official primary ballot. And that will
fool some people into thinking when they have filled out their choice and
sent this thing in, they have actually voted, this Republican mailer
actually adds to the gigantic list of real candidates. It adds to the real
list, a whole bunch of other Republicans who definitely are not running
So, in addition to all the people who are running, they also say that
John Thune is a potential contender, and Sarah Palin, Condoleezza Rice, and
Nikki Haley and Herman Cain. It`s like reading a Republican mad libs, it`s
like every Republican you have heard of.
Presidential primary ballot, make sure you vote. There is no vote
actually happening here. This really is just another call for you to send
money to the Republican Party.
Because a viewer forwarded this to us, we got to see this news we
otherwise would not have known about. And because of this, we now know
that the Republican Party is further over stuffing their over stuffed
primary presumably as a way the to raise money from people who don`t want
to vote for the other gazillion people running but they do want to vote for
John Thune, or Condoleezza Rice, or Nikki Haley or whoever.
It is common wisdom that the Republican Party is embarrassed by its
giant field. This disproves that common wisdom. It shows they are not
embarrassed. They actually wish the field was even bigger.
We rely on stuff you send us all the time, but especially now,
especially in this campaign season. And so, in that spirit, in this
election season starting now, whatever you are seeing out there in your
hometown, whatever you get sent to you unsolicited in the mail, whatever
you see in terms of posters, and billboards and TV and radio ads, all of it
is potentially news, particularly about the campaign, particularly in the
campaign where the common wisdom is often blatantly wrong, this is a time
when we need the ground truth.
If you get something you think is news, send it to “zoom.” send it to
Rachel. We have www.sendittorachel.com. Can we make it less disco? It`s
not actually the `70s. Very good.
The less disco version. Senditto – that`s the stern version,
When you go to sendittorachel.com, you will see the many, many ways
there are to send us stuff. You can send us stuff by mail like this postal
ballot that we receive, you can send us stuff by email, there are other
ways to send us stuff.
If it happens in your life or in your town and it feels like news, if
it feels like, hey, somebody should talk about this, send it to us, please.
Sendittorachel.com, thank you in advance for helping us.
And, you know, we do everything we can to try to follow what`s really
going on out there. Unfortunately, some days, often in a way that`s
entertaining, but usually, it`s unfortunate. One of the ways that we try
to follow what`s going on is that we signed up for all the candidates
infernal spammy mailing lists.
And it can be a little overwhelming, but that is how we learned today
that poor Brad Pitt is being dragged into the Republican presidential
nominating process, through no handsome fault of his own. Look, the
subject line on this message today, to you from Lindsey Graham, it`s to
you, from Lindsey Graham, subject: Brad Pitt.
Dear friend. I`ll get right to the point. Under the current debate
rules supported by the RNC, Brad Pitt would have a better shot of being on
the debate stage than real candidates for president.
Poor Brad Pitt. What did Brad Pitt do to deserve this, right? But
then, Lindsey Graham actually goes on to make some good points. After
saying some good points, he makes sewer he says Brad Pitt again.
Lindsey Graham: Under the rules from the media and supported by the
RNC, the only way to get a ticket to the debate stage is to have a high
national polling number. This criteria favors celebrities and candidates
who have run previously with high name recognition.
Lindsey Graham in this email, this blast he sent out today, he set it
up as a petition. So you sign the petition by which he means you have to
send your e-mail address if you agree that the criteria for getting into
the Republican debates this year is stupid criteria.
And then here comes Brad Pitt again in the P.S. “If we don`t act
now, Brad Pitt with his celebrity status would have a better chance of
getting on a debate stage than blah, blah, blah.”
Did I mention Brad Pitt? Brad Pitt, Brad Pitt, Brad Pitt.
It`s kind of a weird way for Lindsey Graham to try to get elected to
be next Brad Pitt. I mean the next president.
But if one big obvious way, his – think of me when you think of Brad
Pitt strategy, in one obvious way, that strategy does make sense. I mean,
as of last night, we are one month out from the first debate which the
Republican Party and the FOX News Channel say will only include ten
Republican candidates based on who places highest in national polling.
The Republican primary debates will exclude five, or six or seven,
maybe more serious candidates purely on the basis of their national poll
At “Bloomberg Politics” today, they crunched the latest national
polling data and found that basically if you take a snapshot right now,
these seven candidates are fairly safe when it comes to their prospects for
making the top 10 FOX News cut-off in national polling so they can compete
in the debates. They say the sort of safe top seven are Jeb Bush, Donald
Trump, yes, Donald Trump, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio,
and Mike Huckabee.
So, at least by one calculation, and who knows how FOX News is going
to calculate it, but at least by one calculation at “Bloomberg” today,
these top seven are fairly safe in terms of making the debate.
But in terms of the last three slots it`s a war. These nine
candidates at least will be competing for the last three slots. And
statistically speaking, in terms of their national poll numbers, they are
all infinitesimally close to each other. Any of them could make it.
But FOX News says only three of them will be allowed to compete for
the presidential nomination by appearing in the Republican debates. Only
three slots to be chosen from among Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Rick Perry,
Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham,
George Pataki and whoever else jumps in.
And the only grounds on which they are allowed to compete for those
three spots, the only grounds on which they are allowed to compete over the
course of the next month – national poll numbers. National poll numbers,
So, forget how you`re doing in Iowa, or New Hampshire or South
Carolina. Forget how you`re doing with endorsements, forget how you`re
doing with money, forget how you`re doing with anything. National poll
numbers, that`s it. How do you make national poll numbers?
Well, Lindsey Graham conjuring up the old Brad Pitt handsome magic.
Maybe it`s not that weird an approach. I mean, how else do people notice
you and starting say yes to pollsters when they hear your name. Think
I mean, next time the e-mail from Lindsey Graham won`t just have
subject line, Brad Pitt. Next time, it will be Brad Pitt naked! Right? I
mean, click here, click here, one weird trick to see Brad Pitt with his
clothes off. Also, my name is Lindsey Graham.
And I don`t think that Senator Graham is happy about this being the
way he has to run or this being happy about this being the way FOX News
says Republicans have to run for president this year. I don`t think he
likes it. But at least he understands, at least he understands that this
really is how the presidential nominating contest worked this year in the
United States of America.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It`s a methodology that excluded
how you perform in Iowa, South Carolina, New Hampshire, where all 16 of us
go. So, nationalizing the terms of entry into the debate, marginalizes the
effect of the early primary states. We should have polling based on how we
do in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. That`s the one place we can
compare to each other.
So, the nationalization of this debate by the RNC and FOX Network is
going to basically over time erode the early primaries, because if I`ve got
a choice here, I`ve got to bump up my numbers, where do I spend money?
Where do I spend time? I`m going to be focusing on getting my numbers up,
coming to New Hampshire less.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: If I`ve got a choice here, I`ve got to bump my numbers up.
Where do I spend money? Where do I spend my time? I will focus on getting
the numbers up. I`m going to be in New Hampshire less.
That`s Lindsey Graham speaking with a New Hampshire radio station
yesterday, saying that FOX News and their debate criteria mean that it`s no
longer rational for presidential candidates to keep going to Iowa and New
Hampshire. It`s no longer rational for them to keep going to the early
voting states, if the thing that determines whether or not they`re allowed
to compete for the nomination isn`t votes in the early voting states, but
instead just national poll numbers.
And so, naturally, actually quite nationally he then in that same
radio interview went on to bring up Brad Pitt again.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GRAHAM: If the goal to get into the debate is to have a national
polling number, number one Brad Pitt would be in the debate because it`s
just a name we know.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: I think there is a new campaign slogan here: Brad Pitt and
Lindsey Graham. At some level, it makes sense. Feel free to use that.
I don`t know if Lindsey Graham is going to up his national poll
numbers enough for FOX News`s tastes just by mentioning celebrities over
and over again. We will find out.
It seems like a more rational strategy, though, than the Bobby Jindal
strategy, where his super PAC just spent $700,000 very precious Bobby
Jindal supporting dollars running TV ads in Iowa as of today. And that
might be a fine strategy if you have a place at the debates and you are
looking ahead to February because you want to try to win the Iowa caucuses.
But Jindal isn`t going to make it to a month from today in the
presidential campaign. Forget February. He`s not going to make it to mid
August, unless he makes it to the first debate stage August 6.
His approval rating in Iowa promised votes at the Iowa caucuses will
have nothing to do with that whatsoever. It`s only national polls.
Somebody in the Jindal, they want the to suggest some of Lindsey
Graham`s Brad Pitt magic, right, instead of Bobby Jindal continuing to dump
money down what is now an Iowa rabbi hole, thanks to the FOX News Channel
and how the FOX News Channel has killed the early nominating states and
their role in choosing who is a contender for the Republican nomination for
Now, down with Bobby Jindal and Lindsey Graham in the not going to
make the cut part of the Republican field, today, Ohio Governor John Kasich
gave the world`s saddest presidential contender press conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: As you probably know, I will have a big
announcement on the 21st. Anybody coming? Yes.
And, you know, it could be about my political career or it could be
that I`m going to Hollywood. We`ll see. We`ll have a little bit of fun
that day, I hope. It will be a busy day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Governor Kasich may be did not get the enthusiasm he wanted
when he was talking about his expected announcement for president. But
then he opened it up for questions. And, you know, generally speaking,
John Kasich is great with the press. This should have been fun. This was
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: How concerned are you that the presence of Mr. Trump in
this race is going to keep you off the debate stage in a couple weeks?
KASICH: I`m not thinking about that. I got other issues that I have
to think about.
REPORTER: Governor, how much of a hindrance will it be if you don`t
get into the debate August 6th?
KASICH: Well, let`s not put carts before horses. We have a month to
go. We`ll see what happens. We`ll see. And then –
REPORTER: With the party and the campaign, the two-term sitting
governor of Ohio is uncertain it will be a Cleveland debate less than a
month from now and someone known for being a reality TV star will certainly
be on the stage. What does it say about the party and about the campaign?
KASICH: You judge that.
KASICH: You judge it.
REPORTER: How about you, sir?
KASICH: I don`t have any comment on that.
REPORTER: It`s your state.
KASICH: Yes, it`s my state. There are going to be a debate. We`re
going to have the convention. We are excited. Next year, we hope the Cavs
are going to win the title.
KASICH: I`m not going to put carts before horses here. We have a
month to go. We`ll see what happens.
REPORTER: Will you be there, you think?
KASICH: I don`t make predictions. I left it to Muhammad Ali years
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Muhammad Ali and Brad Pitt may help them. Might not.
But at least the end of the candidate list they have psychological
comfort. These guys who are now in a community of candidates who FOX News
is not allowing to compete in the presidential primary debate. In that
little community, they can take psychological comfort today, because today,
they got another addition to their number.
Today, another candidate says he is jumping to that end of the
candidate pool, and it`s my guy! It`s Jim Gilmore. The former governor –
he`s only my guy because his press office calls us back and nobody else
Jim Gilmore, former governor of Virginia, he was chairman of the
National Republican Party in 2001. He ran for president for a hot minute
in 2007. In 2008, he was in the debates and everything before dropped out
of the presidential race. Later that year, he ran for is that the in
Virginia where he lost to Mark Warner by 31 freaking points in that Senate
But be not afraid, Jim Gilmore, former governor of Virginia. He`s
in. He told “The Richmond Times Dispatch” today that he`s running. He
will declare that he is running around the time of the first debate which
he and lots of other Republican presidential contenders will not be allowed
into because FOX News says they can`t.
He will be I think the 17th major candidate to announce. FOX News
says they are only taking ten. And by that dictate from FOX News, that
makes the next three weeks something of – not just critical, but
existential importance for these candidates and my man Jim Gilmore. These
guys plus Jim Gilmore, only three will make it to the stage. This is now a
dog eat dog, zero sum game. Only three of the people can make it.
And the only way they can compete for three spots is by being
outrageous enough or Brad Pitt enough or something else odiously newsworthy
enough to make themselves pop in national polls within the next three
weeks. Otherwise, politically they are dead. That`s it. Over.
And you will see how they do it. You are going to see campaign stuff
over the next three weeks that is going to be unexpected and deliberately
outrageous. If it comes to you in the form of direct mailer or you see it
the in your town or you see it on your local news or you see it in your
local paper, you see it on a freaking billboard, let us know.
Save the mailer. Take a picture of the billboard. Taped the
newscast. Let us see it, because these next three weeks are going to be
off the charts bizarre. We`ve never tried to run a presidential nominating
process like this before.
FOX News has made it this ways. It`s is unprecedented in American
history. We have no idea how it`s going to go. But it`s the end of the
line for at least six candidates. Seven, maybe more.
So, big name candidates, they`ve got to fight to the political death
over three weeks. Whatever you see, sendittorachel.com. These next three
and a half weeks are absolutely crucial. Sendittorachel.com, let us know
what you see.
MADDOW: Today is day two of Pope Francis`s trip to Latin America.
So far, he`s held gigantic, look at that, gigantic masses for hundreds of
thousands of people in two different places in Ecuador.
Tomorrow, he`s going to get very, very high. Tomorrow, Pope Francis
is going to the highest altitude national capital in the world. He`s going
to La Paz in Bolivia. La Paz sits at about 12,000 feet above sea level.
It`s so high that visitors to La Paz frequently get altitude sickness while
they are there.
Now, fortunately, the Bolivians have a traditional cure for that –
the coca leaf, not cocoa, but coca, as in the leaf from which you make
cocaine. And while cocaine is illegal in Bolivia, chewing coca leaves is
not. In fact, it`s kind of a national pastime. There are festivals
celebrating coca leaf.
Bolivia`s president makes a point of being seen to chew coca leaves
Ahead of the pope`s visit to La Paz, Bolivia`s culture minister
recently spilled beans to the press, told reporters that in advance of this
visit from the pope, the pope specifically requested that coca leaves be
made available to him during his trip to help with altitude sickness.
Now, the Vatican said the pope might chew the coca, he might not.
Quote, “The pope will do what he thinks is right.” Presumably, that`s
For the record, if the pope does partake of Bolivia`s national
stimulant, he would not be the first pope to do so. John Paul II drank tea
brewed with coca leaves during his trip to Bolivia in 1988, for the same
reason. It apparently did help him cope with the altitude.
Pope Francis will arrive in La Paz tomorrow afternoon where
apparently there will be coca leaves waiting for him. But according to the
Vatican, the bottom line here is that His Holiness will do what he thinks
is right with the leaves.
I would tell you to watch this space. But on this one, it seems
almost rude, right? I mean, he`ll do it if it seems right. Otherwise,
none of our business.
MADDOW: Well, this was a very moving thing today.
You know that Clementa Pinckney, one of the nine people killed in the
Charleston, South Carolina, church massacre a few weeks ago. Clementa
Pinckney was the pastor at the Mother Emanuel Church. He was also a
beloved, and very well-respected Democratic state senator in South
Well, look at this. Today in South Carolina his widow, Jennifer
Pinckney, you see there on the left side of your screen. Clementa
Pinckney`s widow, Jennifer, she came to the floor of the State Senate. Her
late husband served in the Senate nearly 15 years. He had not been
replaced in the State Senate since he was killed. His desk is still there
in the Senate, draped in black.
But today, his widow came to the Senate herself to show thanks to all
of his colleagues for the support they have shown her and her family since
Senator Pinckney was killed.
Jennifer Pinckney did not speak publicly today on this visit to the
Senate, but the outpouring of support for her from other senators was very,
very public and very, very moving.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE SEN. GERALD MALLOY (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: If you know, Ms.
Pinckney, this state loved Senator Pinckney, and this state loves you and
your girls. They love the entire Pinckney family. We can keep our arms
wrapped around you and this family forever. It`s the least we can do for
our brother Clementa.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Members of the Senate today formed a receiving line for
Jennifer Pinckney. And one by one, the members came forward to pay their
respects. It was just an incredibly moving moment there on the Senate
floor today in South Carolina. That`s what happened in the South Carolina
Immediately after that same body, the Senate, gave final approval to
legislation that would remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the
state capitol. The third and final vote today was 36-3 and they followed
it up with a receiving line with Clementa Pinckney`s widow.
Having passed the Senate, the legislation now crosses over to the
other house of the South Carolina legislature. It goes to the House. And
for a little while this afternoon it looked like the House would take it up
immediately and pass it as quickly as the Senate did. I mean, think about
how quickly the Senate moved.
The Senate took it up yesterday and passed it in final form today.
They are done. In the House, it looked for a while today like they might
also move that fast, especially when voted to consider it on a fast track.
They voted to avoid the committee process. Just put it straight to
the floor. That could put the House on schedule to move it tomorrow to
have it done by the day after that, to have the Confederate flag brought
down forever by Thursday of this week, by day after tomorrow. They were on
track to do that.
But then Republicans started adding amendments onto the bill that way
you would attach an anvil to a speeding car, then a millstone and then a
ton of bricks.
And in retrospect, maybe we should have known this was coming. You
might remember that just very shortly after the massacre, Republican
Governor Nikki Haley held that remarkable event in South Carolina. She
made this major political statement that now because of the massacre, it
was time for the Confederate flag to come down on the state capitol
grounds. It was this remarkable display of bipartisanship and unity. The
governor making the call next to the biggest political names in the state,
not only Republicans but also Democrats, the congressional delegations in
South Carolina. Both U.S. senators came home to South Carolina to be there
But not everyone was there. Even that day, one Republican in the
House told “The Courier”, “I`m for leaving the flag where it is.
Absolutely. If I have to put 500 amendments on this thing to keep it
there, then I will do it.”
Five hundred amendments if that`s what it takes. Well, it turns out
that`s how they are trying to stop it. As of tonight, 26 amendments have
been piled on it. Most of them by one Republican lawmaker.
According to the list that we got tonight, he`s offered amendments to
take down monuments, to put up monuments, to fly half a dozen different
flags from the old confederacy, he pledged to bring this debate to a
grinding halt with a cascade of amendments.
The question now in North Carolina is whether the House is going to
follow what the Senate did in the looming moral shadow of Senator
Pinckney`s death, and with the tacit support today of his widow. Whether
that will happen in the House or whether this group of Republicans in the
House will find a way to stop everything.
Joining us now is South Carolina House Minority Todd Rutherford.
Representative Rutherford is the top Democrat in the legislature.
Sir, thank you very much for helping us stay apprised to this story.
It`s nice to have you here.
STATE REP. TODD RUTHERFORD (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: Thank you for having
MADDOW: So, we talked about it last night as a strategy. Am I right
to say that these amendments are the thing that conceivably could not just
slow down the process of taking down the flag but it could even stop it?
RUTHERFORD: You`re exactly right. One of the reasons why we had a
press conference this morning was to talk about the fact that we need a
clean bill. We need to make sure that not one single amendment passes
tomorrow, because that would delay the process.
What we are hoping is that tomorrow, we can get second reading on the
bill which we only need a majority for. And then on Thursday, we can get a
third reading and we need two thirds of that, just to meet with the
requirements of the statute, even I believe it`s unconstitutional.
I do believe that we are still on track to get it. I think the 26
amendments put up by Representative Mike Pitts to talk about everything
from the flag upside down on top of the dome to a nonbinding referendum
which are both unconstitutional, that those will be cast by the wayside and
we will be able to embrace Senator Pinckney`s widow the same way the Senate
MADDOW: In terms of the process here. The representative you just
described added those more than 25 amendments today. Has the process of
suggesting amendments, adding amendments to the bill, proposed amendments,
is that process now over? Are we going to see more than 25 plus amendments
that we saw today? Is that process conceivably going to continue tomorrow?
RUTHERFORD: It is not over. It will continue tomorrow as long as we
are debating the bill. The only thing that can stop additional amendments
is the if we invoke cloture. Cloture will take the debate from what is 20
minutes per amendment per member, to three minutes for and three against
per amendment. It will stop any new amendments from being added.
I don`t anticipate doing that, however, I think a lot of us want to
hear the debate. We want to hear why it is that Representative Pitts
thinks this is necessary and why the flag should not come down. Most see
it as a symbol of hate. It is time for it to come down.
MADDOW: Do you think that he`s a one-man band at this point, or do
you think it`s going to be tough to get that 2/3 vote in the end?
RUTHERFORD: He will have several amendments which have some buy-in
from other Republicans. In fact, I was told one of the amendments had as
many as 50 Republicans on it. I don`t know that they are still there. But
I do know that at one point, there were up to 50 people. That`s still not
enough a majority. That`s still not up to sway the debate. And I can tell
you that the Republican leadership is working to make it a clean bill as
MADDOW: That`s fascinating. South Carolina State Representative
Todd Rutherford, thanks for helping us understand that. Those partisan
contours are particularly interesting. Thanks a lot. I appreciate you
RUTHERFORD: Thank you.
MADDOW: This South Carolina process has been remarkable. Obviously
the state has been through hell and high water. But watching the Senate
move the way that they did, especially in an incredible moving way today
and now seeing it go into a different culture in the House, it`s
And what the representative just said there, yes, these are
Republicans trying to stop it but the Republican leadership is trying to
outmaneuver them and get this done, working with the Democrats. It`s a
South Carolina is going through something I think nobody could have
ever, ever anticipated in a million years.
All right. We`ll be back.
MADDOW: The Bermuda Triangle, one of the great mysteries of planet
Earth. Also, the mystery of Bigfoot. Also the mystery of the Lochness
Monster. What happened to Jimmy Hoffa? How many licks does it take to get
to the center of a tootsie pop?
Why do Alabama and Mississippi look alike except backwards? Magic
Governor Jan Brewer, explain that one to me. Come on.
Also, why did Seattle throw instead of handing it to Marshawn Lynch?
Did Jeff White ever finish that guitar solo or is it still going on
somewhere? If you know where to listen, is it still?
So mysteries on planet Earth. We have a new one today. A real
mystery, totally baffling, perhaps you can help. It involves Florida
naturally, but it is a really, really, really unsolved true history. And
that story is coming right up at the end of the show. It`s amazing.
Please stay tuned for that.
MADDOW: Do you want to see something sort of terrifying and very
This is a Russian-made nuclear powered monster ship, essentially.
You know monster trucks? This is monster ship. The whole purpose of the
ship is to crush stuff in its path. It`s the name translates in English to
“50 years of victory”, a reference to Russia`s great military triumph.
Its entire purpose in life is to destroy everything in its path,
specifically to destroy ice in its path. Check this out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ship is breaking through the ice. It`s
remarkable. The ice here is probably a meter and a half to meters thick.
That`s six, seven feet thick and it`s cutting through at the moment.
There is a strong wind and biting cold, with huge chunks of ice. We
are moving through the hard packed ice around 15 or 16 knots.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Russia`s nuclear powered ice breaker ships are pretty
The U.S. Coast Guard does have a small fleet of ice breaker vessels.
I think they have two.
But we have is really nothing compared to what Russia has. These
particularly ice breakers though are neither Russian nor American. They
are Finnish. They`re from Finland. These ones are used primarily to
escort other ships through the Baltic Sea.
But these icebreakers from Finland are also available for rent. Have
having a party soon? These specific Finnish ice breakers have recently
been rented to an international company that currently is in the market for
ice-breaking services in the northern climes of the earth. That would be
Shell Oil has contracted out the two ice breakers from Finland to
help then start drilling the Arctic. If you are already sensing how the
story ends, that`s because you know how things go for Shell in the Arctic.
This is crunch time right now in terms of their plans to the drill for oil
up there. I mean, nature waits for no man, right? They don`t have a long
season in which they can be put there. They would like to start Arctic
drilling this month.
Part of the holdup so far, though, has been getting all of their
ships into place like the Finnish ice breaking ship. But another part of
the holdup has been getting the permission to drill and that has been slow-
going mainly because of how badly Shell keeps botching things in the
In 2012, the U.S. government gave Shell this historic go ahead to
start doing exploratory drilling in the Arctic. It went very badly. This
is Shell`s drilling rig the Noble Discoverer after it ran aground in
Alaska`s Aleutian Island. The ship started drifting out of control toward
the shore and then it crashed into the island.
A few months later, that same ship briefly caught fire while in port
after it had some sort of explosion on board. A few months after that, the
U.S. Coast Guard boarded the ship and then detained it port after they
turned up more than a dozen potential safety violations which ultimately
led to eight felony convictions from the U.S. Justice Department. That was
one of two rigs that Shell sent to drill the Arctic in 2012.
This was another one, a drilling rig called the Kulluk which crashed
into an island in Alaska after breaking free from its towline. That`s how
it went for Shell the first time around, just a comity of errors, including
one of their critical pieces of safety equipment being crushed like a beer
can during a safety test.
It was just a nightmare and it was a nightmare of their own making.
They were not up to the task. Shell said they were the best in the world
at this. If anybody could be trusted to drill the Arctic for the first
time ever, surely they are the company to do it. And they got permission
and then promptly their equipment all melted down when they got the chance
Three years later, Shell is trying to try again. But guess what has
just happened. No, really. Guess.
Today, we learned one of the icebreakers, one of the Finnish
icebreakers Shell is renting from Finland has a giant hole in it. It`s
been seriously damaged on its way to Shell`s drilling site in the Chukchi
Sea. They haven`t even started drilling but the ship has a three-foot-long
hole in the hull discovered by crew members when it left port in Alaska.
It is not clear what ripped the hole in the hull. Depending on how
significant the damage is, what it`s going to take to repair the hole, this
could leave Shell to have to revise their drilling plans which would
require a whole new authorization to drill, specifically because Shell has
proved yet again how they really can`t pull it off.
I mean, there has been a huge determined activist effort to try to
stop Shell from drilling the Arctic, right? The kayak protests in Seattle,
individual activists boarding Shell`s rigs bound for the Arctic. There is
a huge political fight to try to stop Shell from drilling the Arctic. And
that ahs been fascinating to watch.
But maybe the thing that stops Shell from drilling is Shell can`t
figure out how to drill the Arctic. They can`t operate their equipment,
keep ships working. They can`t operate their own equipment. They might
just physically be incapable of doing what they are trying to do.
And if they say they are the best the in the world, maybe this just
can`t be done.
Joining us now is Jennifer Dlouhy. She`s an energy reporter for the
Ms. Dlouhy, it`s nice to have you here. Thanks very much for being
JENNIFER DLOUHY, HOUSTON CHRONICLE: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Let me ask you first, am I saying Dlouhy right?
DLOUHY: You are.
MADDOW: Oh, very good. Well, let`s just cut it off here. We`re
Let me ask you on that high note. Let me ask you if we know anything
about what caused the damage in this ice breaker. I think – the reason we
showed some of that macho Russian footage is because I think of ice
breakers as fairly impenetrable macho vessels. It`s hard to believe this
has a three-foot long hole in it without anybody knowing how it got there.
DLOUHY: Right. And we still don`t know what happened to cause it.
As you said it is a meter long gash in the hull of the vessel. And it
doesn`t appear that it was caused by a grounding, because the path it took,
the water was essentially deeper than the vessel. But it could have been
caused by scraping against another water hazard that is undocumented in the
area that hadn`t been charted.
MADOW: In terms of what this means for Shell`s overall project here
– obviously, there`s more than a couple dozen ships that are supposed to
be involved in the drilling effort.
Do you have a sense of what the cut off is in terms of whether or not
this incident with the ice breaker is going to be an existential challenger
for the project? Does it – do we knee what would be a permissible amount
of time for repairs that would allow Shell to go forward with the plan is
DLOUHY: Yes, I think a lot depends on how significant the damage is
and really how much repair work needs to be done. If it can be repaired on
site, it can be done quickly, be ready to go again. That`s obviously what
Shell is hoping for.
The question really is, is this vessel going to go to a dry dock for
significant repairs? And if that`s the case, you`re looking at, you know,
two weeks to get down to a port in Washington state to do the work. You
know, the repair time and coming back. That`s a significant time. And as
you noted, it`s crunch time for Shell. They`ve got basically three months
to operate in these waters. So, they may be looking at trying to get a new
vessel if again the Fennica is damaged so much that it needs dry dock
MADDOW: If they get a new vessel, if they have to do that. Would
they then need a new set of permissions in order to go ahead?
DLOUHY: What`s interesting is we are in uncharted territory here.
Most operations in the Gulf of Mexico don`t have the large fleet that Shell
is having to bring to the Arctic and don`t deal with this kind of
challenge. So, what you have here Shell has gotten its exploration plan
approved by the Interior Department. But that exploration plan
specifically outlines what ships are going to be used in all cases,
including emergencies. The Fennica is part of that exploration plan.
So, if the Fennica is sidelined, Shell might have to get the
department`s approval for significant departure from that exploration plan.
That could include a new vessel. Regulators have also indicated that the
emergency equipment that`s on the Fennica would have to be used in case of
an emergency. So, they`re going to be looking for that change no matter
MADDOW: Jennifer Dlouhy, energy reporter for the Houston Chronicle,
this is going to be fascinating to watch. I have no idea how this is going
to turn out. But Shell seems very star-crossed in these ever efforts.
Thanks for helping us understand tonight. Appreciate it.
DLOUHY: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Still ahead, a mystery – a deep, weird
legitimate mystery. Stay with us.
MADDOW: We have some – we have some – I`m sorry. I got excited.
We have genuinely almost purely happy news about for you tonight about
which I`m very excited. It comes with champions and a xylophone, and then
we have a mystery coming up for you at the end of the show. You might help
us solve it. Please stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HAYES: It`s not too smart to start smoking. So next time
somebody offers you a smoke, just tell them where to stick it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Thanks, Sean Hayes from “Will and Grace.”
NBC`s “The More You Know” campaign has always been amazing. We have
developed our own somewhat lame version of it for when a story lands on a
cliff hanger, where you think you know what will happen but you don`t know
for sure until you do.
So, for us here, it`s not the more you know. For us, it`s – you
know more now.
Thank you. Thanks, Nick.
The U.S. women`s national team, the newly crowned World Cup
champions, today they were greeted by thousands of fans in L.A., a big
party celebrating their World Cup win.
The party will keep rolling, because tonight, New York City Mayor
Bill de Blasio announced that the women`s national team is going to get a
ticker tape parade down Broadway in New York City this week, Friday
morning, 11:00 a.m. I`m so excited I could throw up. It`s going to be
amazing. Ticker tape parade in New York.
One person, who we know is not going to be there is the man
responsible for forcing the women to play the World Cup on artificial turf
and once suggested the women should wear tighter shorts if they want to
draw bigger audiences. He is, of course, the president of FIFA. His name
is Sepp Blatter.
Sepp Blatter is in the middle of a massive American-led corruption
investigation, which has already resulted in nine FIFA officials getting
indicted. Sepp Blatter himself did not attend any of the World Cup games
and it was widely speculated that the reason he didn`t go is he was scared
of getting arrested if he set foot on Canadian soil.
But we don`t have to speculate about that anymore, because Sepp
Blatter has now stated quite clearly that in fact the reason he skipped the
World Cup is because he was scared he would be arrested if he went. He
told the German newspaper, quote, “Until everything has been cleared up,
I`m not going to take the risk of traveling.” Not going to take the risk.
See, we thought Sepp Blatter would skip the World Cup games because
he was afraid of getting sent to the clink. Now, we know he was afraid of
being sent to the clink. And if he was afraid of going to Canada he is
probably not riding a float down Broadway on Friday either.
So – you know more now.
MADDOW: Mystery. Along the Gulf Coast of Florida, there`s a tiny,
tiny place, cluster of islands really called Cedar Key, home to around 700
people. Its biggest draws are the annual spring arts festival, it has
pristine beaches, good fishing opportunities, and particularly bird
watching. That`s because Cedar Key is also home to one of the bird refuges
along the Gulf Coast of Florida. It is called Seahorse Key.
Seahorse Key is a small island, about five miles from the shore.
Nobody lives there. It is hard to get to. It`s accessible only by boat.
It`s basically 150 acres of federally protected land and over the years,
Seahorse Key has been home to thousands of birds.
And some years up to a half million birds during nesting season. It
is all kinds of species, too. It`s brown pelicans and double crested
cormorants and yellow crown herons and more rare birds, like the white
ibis, or tricolored herons and rosy spoonbills.
All of these birds species flock to this one island and build nests
wherever they can. They build nests on shrubbery, in a tree, on top of a
cactus, anywhere. And they get their privacy from March through June. No
human is allowed to set foot – no human is allowed to disturb the birds
nesting on Seahorse Key. This has been the case for decades.
And this year, like every other year, went like clock work. By mid-
April, the birds were nesting, thousands of eggs have laid, everything was
going as it should, but then, all of a sudden, they were gone – 15,000
birds vanished in a matter of hours. One of the island`s caretakers showed
up and noticed that there were literally no more birds left on the island.
There were thousands of abandoned empty egg shells along the ground,
there were also dozens, not thousands but dozens of dead birds. Local
biologists were shocked. They collected bird carcasses and tested them for
traumatic injury to see if somebody got on the island and shot the birds,
or injured them somehow, they tested for parasites or disease. It turned
They then started looking at potential reasons. Usually when birds
leave like that, in droves, all species at once, it`s maybe because a food
source has moved away. That doesn`t appear to have happened.
Maybe a storm scared them off. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
biologist told us today it`s Florida in the spring, storms happen all the
time and again birds have been coming here every year for 50 years.
Nothing is unprecedented in terms of that weather.
So, they have turned to other theories, maybe one of the helicopters
or drones that fly near the island, looking for drug runners, came too
close and scared the birds away. So far, there`s no evidence that
And so, this question remained, what happened? And also, where did
they go? This Fish and Wildlife Service biologist tonight told us a dozen
or so returned since the disappearance but nowhere near the tens of
thousands they are used to seeing around this time.
We also know a few hundred birds fled to a smaller island a couple of
miles away, called Snake Key that is a couple hundred, a couple dozen and
the rest are unaccounted for.
And the locals are very upset. That local biologist we spoke to told
us they have been fielding calls nonstop from folks trying to help them
solve the mystery but so far no dice.
If this were fiction, thousands of birds suddenly fleeing their home
leaving no trace behind for no apparent reason, this would be with followed
by and alien landing or something. But this is real life. I am
legitimately stumped. Amazing story.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
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