The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/14/15
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Yes, but who among us would not pay good
money to see the actual triumph, insult comic dog among those candidates?
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: You`re thinking like a TV producer right
there, Rachel Maddow.
MADDOW: I might ask to borrow the puppet.
HAYES: That`s a good idea. I like that.
MADDOW: For the next debate.
Thanks, my friend.
And thanks to you at home for joining this hour.
So, “The Washington Post” says Hillary Clinton was, quote, “dominant”
in last night`s first Democratic debate. “The New York Times” says Hillary
Clinton was, quote, “commanding” in last night`s debate. This is the
headline at “The New Yorker” today, “Hillary Clinton wins big.”
“The Wall Street Journal,” even as they were trying to come up with a
way to criticize Hillary Clinton, the best they could do today is call her
methodical and ruthlessly efficient.
This was the headline at Politico.com today, “Clinton crushes it.”
Whether or not you are a supporter of Hillary Clinton for president
of the United States, everybody kind of has to admit she had a great night
in last night`s first Democratic presidential debate.
You want to know who else had a great night? Bernie Sanders.
CNN did a focus group right after their own debate last night and a
majority of people in the CNN focus group thought that all in all, Bernie
Sanders won that debate.
The Fusion Network did the same thing. And that focus group also
thought that Bernie Sanders won that debate.
Even FOX News did a focus group with Democratic voters in Florida and
they, too, thought that Bernie Sanders won that debate.
The Bernie Sanders campaign announced they raised nearly $1.4 million
last night after the debate ended as donations poured in to support Senator
Senator Sanders was also the most searched candidate on Google last
night. He was the most discussed candidate on Facebook. He was the most
tweeted about candidate on Twitter.
Bernie Sanders, whether or not you`re a supporter of Bernie Sanders
for president of the United States, Bernie Sanders, you have to admit, had
a great night last night in the first Democratic presidential debate.
You want to know who else had a great night? This guy who now more
Americans than ever can confidently say is a man named Martin O`Malley.
Last night`s first Democratic presidential debate was Governor
O`Malley`s chance to basically introduce himself to a much larger swath of
the American people than could have recognized him before last night. But
he did that introduction. It happened in very positive terms. There`s no
such thing as a complaint about Martin O`Malley`s performance last night in
And most importantly for him, I think it`s pretty clear that his
performance made him seem more like a Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton
caliber candidate than the kind of guy who ought to be relegated to some
Republican style kids table with Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb.
So, Martin O`Malley last night had a very good night at the first
Democratic presidential debate. Now, the aforementioned Lincoln Chafee and
Jim Webb, neither of them had a great night at the debate. Although
Lincoln Chafee I think is getting more shade thrown at him for his
performance last night than he ought to.
But even with Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb having the kind of very
quiet night, you might have expected, the big picture of what really
happened last night is that three, I guess, main candidates on the stage
all had good nights. And even with that, there was one big obvious huge
winner. And the huge winner for last night`s debate was the Democratic
“Slate`s” headline on this today rings true, “Tuesday`s debate was a
great ad for the Democratic Party.”
“The Nation Magazine” goes further today. Joan Walsh, my friend Joan
Walsh writing at “The Nation” today, quote, who run the Democratic debate?
Progressives hands down. She`s saying not only did the Democratic Party
put its best face forward but it turns out best face forward for the
Democratic Party is the liberal side of the party and, you know that, may
or may not be good for any individual candidate on that stage. But it`s
good for Democrats, good for liberals, good overall night.
“The New York Times” which, of course, is the nation`s paper of
record, but has really interesting relationship to this race because “The
New York Times” is obviously mostly liberal on their op-ed page. “The New
York Times” has this specific thing about this race. In the news pages,
“The New York Times” has its knifes out for Hillary Clinton more so than
any other mainstream media outlet in the country.
So, they`re a very interesting outlet to watch at times like this
when Democratic politics are popping live. And even with that inclination
to look for the worst in Hillary Clinton in every instance and to advance
every negative story line they can get their hands on whether or not it`s
comporting with the facts, even so, “The New York Times” news coverage of
last night`s debate was absolutely glowing about Hillary Clinton`s
And the op-ed page in “The New York Times” today was ecstatic about
what the Democrats showed off collectively in this performance last night.
They titled their op-ed about the debate last night, quote, “The grown-ups
take the stage.” Quote, “For those despairing about the future of American
politics, here was proof that it doesn`t have to revolve around candidates
who pride themselves on knowing nothing or on believing that governing is
all about destroying government.” Referring, obviously, to the Republican
candidates for president there.
“New York Times” continues in their editorial today, “Civility was a
big winner, the discussion of real issues.”
So, it was a really good night for Democrats. And Democrats and
liberal-minded media outlets and folk who watched it and observers of
politics right now are psyched about it. And you know what?
In life and in politics, if you`re going have a great night if,
you`re going to look your best, if you`re going to surprise and delight the
people who know you best with how much of your best you put out there to
the world, if you`re going to have a night like that, the only thing you
might also wish for in that great circumstance would be that everybody
happened to be looking at you when you had that great moment, when you have
that great night.
And last night it turns out everybody was looking. I mean, if you`re
looking for a historical comparison of a previous presidential campaign,
you can`t look at 2012, right? Because in 2012, that was the incumbent
Democratic president running for re-election. So, there is no primary
comparison there for this year.
The last contest we can compare to this year`s election was the
blockbuster Democratic primary in 2007 and 2008, between Hillary Clinton
and Barack Obama and lots of other compelling Democrats besides. And
that`s the point of comparison, right? That`s the historically compelling
recent Democratic presidential primary.
So, for comparison`s sake, at this point in that stunning race in
2007-2008, there were a lot of televised Democratic debates. And in part,
there were a lot of them because they got huge audiences every time they
were on TV. They got 2.8 million people watching in August. They got 2.2
million people watching in September, 2.5 million people watching in
October. In November, they got 4 million people watching one of these
Democratic primary debates.
In 2007 and 2008, these were just huge audiences for the Democratic
primary debates. But the biggest audience that year by far was for the
final Democratic debate which happened really late, happened at the very
end of the contest in April in Philadelphia. It was on ABC. And this was,
again this was very late in the process. This was after Super Tuesday and
And nobody, still, that late in the process had, any idea if Barack
Obama was going to win or Hillary Clinton was ultimately going to win the
nomination. So, this was their last big head-to-head brawl in that
incredible race. Unsurprisingly, that last Democratic debate in 2008, it
broke all records, 10.7 million people ended up watching that last
Democratic debate, nearly 11 million people.
Well, last night crushed that. Last night, over 15 million people
watched the debate. And I can`t give you anything official. I can tell
you anecdotally as a person who works in the TV business and talks to other
people in the TV business, I can tell you anecdotally that the estimates
within our industry about what kind of an audience was going to turn out
for that debate last night was nowhere near 15 million people. It wasn`t
half 15 million people.
But, surprise. It turns out that people care. And people want to
watch this stuff.
And, no, there are not 17 different Democrats running like there are
Republicans this year. And there`s no crazy Donald Trump character running
on the Democratic side. And so, the Republican audience for their two
debates so far, their audiences were bigger than what happened last night.
But what happened last night went way beyond the wildest expectations
for interest in the Democrats. And if you are sympathetic to the
Democratic cause and you want to put a cherry on that sundae from last
night, it probably has to be this moment.
The biggest takeaway moment from the night, the one moment that will
be remembered even if nothing is, turns out it wasn`t one of the moments
when one of the candidates hits another candidate brutally hard, or there
are some terrible gotcha moment from the moderator. This wasn`t one of the
moments when one candidate is remembered forever for having terribly
embarrassingly screwed something up on stage.
No, it turns out from this debate, the blockbuster moment, the moment
that brought the whole crowd to its feet in that auditorium in Las Vegas,
it was a moment at which one of the leading candidates expressed basically
kindness toward one of his rivals. It was the opposite of an attack. It
was a gesture of Democratic mutual support and unity against not only the
Republicans but also against the media and how this campaign has been
covered so far.
This was the big moment of the debate. I want – you probably seen
this today. But I want to play a long cut of this because I know if you`ve
seen anything about the debate either last night when it was live or today
in the recaps, I know you have seen how this ends.
But I think it`s also important to see how this thins, to see how
this windup goes here, which makes it all the more impressive and amazing
to see the way it ended.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This committee has
spent $4.5 million of taxpayer money, and they said that they were trying
to figure out what we could do better to protect our diplomats so that
something like Benghazi wouldn`t happen again. There were already seven
committee reports about what to do.
So, I think it`s pretty clear what their obvious goal is.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN MODERATOR: Thank you.
CLINTON: But I`ll be there. I`ll answer their questions. But
tonight, I want to talk not about my e-mails, but about what the American
people want from the next president of the United States.
COOPER: Senator Sanders?
SANDERS: Let me say this.
Let me say – let me say something that may not be great politics.
But I think the secretary is right, and that is that the American people
are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails.
CLINTON: Thank you. Me, too. Me, too.
SANDERS: You know?
The middle class – Anderson, and let me say something about the
media, as well. I go around the country, talk to a whole lot of people.
Middle class in this country is collapsing. We have 27 million people
living in poverty.
We have massive wealth and income inequality. Our trade policies
have cost us millions of decent jobs. The American people want to know
whether we`re going to have a democracy or an oligarchy as a result of
Enough of the e-mails. Let`s talk about the real issues facing
CLINTON: Thank you, Bernie. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I love that he started that by saying, “Let me say something
that may not be great politics.” Maybe Bernie Sander is redefining what
great politics is.
I mean, Senator Sanders, if you know anything about the trajectory of
his career, you know two things, number one, entirely consistent on every
major policy issue throughout his career, right, number one.
Number, two he`s never been a negative campaigner in his life in any
of the campaigns at any level of government. He doesn`t personally attack
people. He doesn`t go negative. He just doesn`t.
And if you know that about him, maybe it should not come as a shock
for him to make that defense of Hillary Clinton last night, for him to
interject into that discussion in which he was not involved to say, you
know, I want in on this. I want to be on record here saying this is not a
scandal. And people are tired of it.
And he`s basically saying I`m not going to participate in the way the
media is treating this issue. I think we should interrupt this trajectory.
And it maybe shouldn`t have been a surprise that he did. But it was.
And for a moment like that to be Senator Sanders` big fund-raising
moment after this debate is remarkable. But that is the moment that his
campaign has been fund-raising on since the debate ended last night and all
Of course, the Clinton campaign has been reveling in it. Right,
they`re finally get something support on what they have been saying about
this issue for weeks and months now even as the media refuses to move on.
I mean, if you`re looking for a contrast between the two parties,
here`s the Democrats getting their biggest cheers, their biggest reaction,
their biggest take away moment that`s good for both candidates involved and
it`s on the occasion of two candidates standing together.
In contrast, the Republicans have just had two debates and which they
showed off to the country was candidates literally calling people stupid
and making fun of each other`s looks.
So, yes. Democrats are psyched about last night`s debate. It did
not go the way people expected it to on a million different levels. But
Democrats are psyched to have shown off the candidates, their differences
with the Republican Party and very psyched to have done it before an
unimaginably huge audience of 15 million people.
It was a good night for the Democratic Party overall. It was great
night for most of the Democratic candidates up there on that stage.
But – we did learn one really specific, really important thing last
night about what will change in Washington if we do elect a Democratic
president to succeed President Obama. We learned one really important
thing last night that will be really different about his presidency from a
Democratic presidency that might come next.
And I`m not sure anybody else has picked up on this yet. It was a
quick moment in the debate, but I think it is a doozy. And that`s next.
MADDOW: There was one question asked at last night`s Democratic
debate that I think was probably the most important insight we have yet had
about how the next president will govern if that president is a Democrat.
And it turns out we should expect things to be really different from what
we`re getting from President Obama.
This was a quick moment in last night`s debate, but I think it was
crucial and totally illuminating, and that`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: The other night during the State of the
Union speech, the president called out Congress for bad behavior and for
our poison political era. He included his own mistakes and promised to
talk to the other side. Well, today, he went to the other side. A meeting
of Republicans televised live where he took their questions and defended
his own position and no one who was watching had ever seen anything like it
before. It was unusual enough.
REPORTER: Into the heart of the opposition, the president traveled
today to Baltimore for the House Republicans annual meeting, anxious to
show the country he`s serious about bipartisanship.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t believe that
American people want us to focus on our job security. They want us to
focus on their job security.
REPORTER: Taking questions perfect Republican members of Congress
for more than an hour –
OBAMA: I am not an ideologue. I`m not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It was President Obama right after his first State of the
Union Address. He had been in office about a year. He`s trying to bridge
the gap with Republicans in Washington.
Last night`s Democratic presidential debate, none of the candidates
on that stage criticized President Obama. The leading candidates took
pains to praise him and talk about how they have worked with him and how
much they respect him as a person and as a president.
I mean, some Republican candidates now take shots at George W. Bush.
No Democrats take shots at President Obama.
But there is a thing about the Obama presidency that at least one
major candidate is now signaling, will not happen again if Democrats win
another shot at the White House to succeed him. And it has to do with
Republicans. It has to do specifically with this president`s view of who
Republicans are and what they want and how Republicans should be treated by
The last time – OK, let`s be honest – the only time I have
interviewed Mr. Obama when he was the Democratic nominee for president,
that issue of how he feels about Republicans ended up being a focus of our
discussion and it has stuck with me ever since. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Senator, you criticized the Bush administration frequently.
But you almost never criticize the Republican Party itself. Other
OBAMA: Much to your chagrin.
MADDOW: Well, yes, actually. Other Democrats you hear them talk
about the GOP as the party that`s been wrong on all the big stuff.
Creating Social Security, civil rights, war in Iraq. But you don`t really
Do you think there is a stark difference between the parties?
OBAMA: Well, I think there`s a difference between the parties. But
here`s my belief. I`m talking to voters. I think there are a lot of
Republican voters out there, self-identified, who actually think that what
the Bush administration has done has been damaging to the country and what
I`m interested in is how do we build a working majority for change? And if
I start off with the premise that it`s only self-identified Democrats who
I`m speaking to, then I`m not going to get to where we need to go.
If I can describe it as not a blanket indictment of the Republican
Party but instead describe it as the Republican Party having been kidnapped
by a incompetent, highly ideological subset of the Republican Party, then
that means that I can still reach out to a whole bunch of Republican
moderates who I think are hungry for change as well.
MADDOW: They did not see you the same way. When John McCain calls
you a socialist –
MADDOW: – redistribute the wealth idea. He calls you soft on
Social Security. That is not an anti-Obama script. He is reading from an
anti-Democrat and specifically anti-liberal script.
MADDOW: So, you have the opportunity to say John McCain, George
Bush, you are wrong. You also have the opportunity to say conservatism has
been bad for America. But you haven`t gone there either.
OBAMA: Yes. I tell you what, though, Rachel. You notice I think
we`re winning right now. So maybe I`m doing something right.
I know you`ve been bruising, you know, cruising for a bruisin` for a
while here, looking for a fight out. There I just think people are tired
of that kind of back and forth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: For the record, I`m against bruising.
But I`ve always felt like that was a really important thing to know
about Barack Obama, the candidate, and how he tried to win and then
ultimately how he won the presidency, and also ended up being really
important part of how he approached governing as well once he got into
office. I mean, even while he was in the transition period as president-
elect, he was already reaching out to Republicans for advice. When
conservative Senator Joe Lieberman bailed on the Democratic Party and
instead endorsed John McCain against Barack Obama, President-elect Barack
Obama told Democrats in the Senate to not retaliate against Joe Lieberman,
to not strip of his committee chairmanship, let that slide.
When Republicans started calling the new president a Bolshevik, and
lining up against everything did he in the first year in office, President
Obama really did go to the Republican retreat to try to reason with them.
He took direct questions and talked things through with them for an hour
and a half on their turf. He tried and he tried and he tried and he tried
because he really sincerely believed that Republicans would work with him,
and could work with him to do constructive things for the country if he
just gave them enough space and enough time and enough decent encouragement
to do so.
And – well, Barack Obama has been a consequential and I think a very
successful president of the United States. But that whole first term
phenomenon of him waiting for Republicans to work with him, it is what gave
rise to some of the biggest disappointments of his presidency.
I mean, in the first summer he was in office, summer of 2009.
Democrats hold commanding majorities in the house and Senate. Nancy Pelosi
and the Democrats in the House has this strong progressive health reform
bill in the Senate, they could just pass that.
But Republicans say, no, they want to be in on it, too. They didn`t
really. They were taking advantage of the new president wanting to work
with Republicans, and so, they used that to stretch out these fake bad
faith negotiations for months and months and months and months just as a
way of trying to kill health reform altogether.
And the result was a seriously weakened bill that could barely pass
at the last moment and that took all the political capital in Washington
and then some to drag that thing across the finish line. It could have
been passed months earlier. They could have passed a fast good bill
without the Republicans, could have saved all the drama. They never got
any Republican votes in the end anyway.
But, no. They were trying for Republicans and it made everything
that much harder. Then it was the fiscal commission which was going to
take on big structural fiscal issues, remember? And the Democrats didn`t
really want President Obama to do. That he said he would do it anyway
because he was sure the Republicans would be willing to work constructively
on this issue.
Months spent, tons of political capital wasted it turns out. And it
turns out that Republicans were not actually willing to be constructive on
that issue after all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: This law failed by seven votes. When seven Republicans who
had co-sponsored the bill had co-sponsored the idea, suddenly walked away
from their own proposal after I endorsed it. So they make a proposal.
They sign on to the bill. I say great, good idea. I turn around –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This happened to President Obama time and time again in the
first term. I mean, the things he wanted to get done in Washington that he
couldn`t get done, time and time again, it was because he believed
Republicans wanted to work with him on these things. But they really,
really truly, truly did not.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I genuinely believe that Speaker Boehner and a number of
House Republicans, folks like Paul Ryan really do want to get a serious
immigration reform bill done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No, they do not. They don`t want to get an immigration
reform bill done.
And it was good electoral politics for candidate Barack Obama to
pledge to work with Republicans and to refuse to criticize Republicans as a
group. It really helped his electoral chances. He did win because he
would describe conservatives or Republicans as somehow unreasonable, as
unwilling to work constructively to better the country. He would never
describe them as an unreasonable adversary.
But it turns out, they`re an unreasonable adversary. They have been
to the nth throughout his presidency – to the point of disowning their own
policies when President Obama got too close to adopting them. I mean, they
are really, really not interested in being friends or colleagues with him
as a Democratic president. They want to do nothing with him.
And if he wants to do something by definition, that means they don`t
want to do it. They see him as an enemy. They treat him as an enemy. And
it turns out the person most likely to be nominated by the Democratic Party
to succeed President Obama President Obama, she thinks of them as the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Governor Chafee, Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said, “I ask
you to judge me by the enemies I have made.” You`ve all made a few people
upset over your political careers. Which enemy are you most proud of?
LINCOLN CHAFEE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I guess the coal lobby.
I`ve worked hard for climate change and I want to work with the coal lobby.
But in my time in the Senate, tried to bring them to the table so that we
could address carbon dioxide. I`m proud to be at odds with the coal lobby.
COOPER: Governor O`Malley?
MARTIN O`MALLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The National Rifle
COOPER: Secretary Clinton?
CLINTON: Well, in addition to the NRA, the health insurance
companies, the drug companies, the Iranians.
Probably the Republicans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The Republicans. Big smile.
Badge of honor to have the Republicans as an enemy.
This is a stark and important contrast with the way that our current
president talks about Republicans. And however you feel about the
similarities and differences in the policy positions, this is a really
stark signal about a very different approach to government.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: If you look at the Republicans versus the Democrats when it
comes to economic policy, there is no comparison.
COOPER: Thank you.
CLINTON: The economy does better when you have a Democrat in the
White House and that`s why we need to have a Democrat in the White House in
There is such a difference between everything you`re hearing here on
this stage and what we hear from the Republicans who have – it`s always
the Republicans or their sympathizers who say you can`t have paid leave.
You can`t provide health care.
They don`t mind having big government to interfere with a woman`s
right to choose and to try to take down Planned Parenthood. They`re fine
with big government when it comes to that. I`m sick of it!
You know, we can do these things. We should not be paralyzed. We
should not be paralyzed by the Republicans and their constant refrain big
government this and big government that, except for what they want to
impose on the American people.
I know we can afford it because we`re going to make the wealthy pay
for it. That is the way to get it done.
I certainly am not campaigning to become president because my last
name is Clinton. I`m campaigning because I think I have the right
combination of what the country needs at this point and I think I can take
the fight to the Republicans because we cannot afford a Republican to
succeed Barack Obama as president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This is not the same approach to Republicans that was taken
by candidate Barack Obama or President Barack Obama. So, now, this is an
interesting thing to move forward with, right?
Is there anything about presidential history that tells fuss this is
likely to work as a campaign tactic? Is there a chance it will scare
people to hear this kind of rhetoric about the fight that needs to happen
and that needs to be won?
Is it likely to work as a governing principle? Is it likely to scare
people and likely to work as a governing principle? Is it all of the
above? I don`t know, but it`s going to be a big change.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: (AUDIO GAP) presidential candidate Jeb Bush said last year
when deciding whether or not to run for president he would not get in the
race unless he could run joyfully. That would be his barometer. Can be a
Jeb Bush does not appear to be running with a whole lot of joy in his
heart now that he`s sitting at single digits in the polls regularly.
But there is one Republican candidate that makes him look happy in
contrast, a man who is enjoying himself less than Jeb Bush and he`s doing
so in a really exhibitionist way and that story is ahead tonight with lots
MADDOW: In February of this year, two days after Valentine`s Day, a
man named Randy Fitzwater and his wife were at home in West Virginia just
outside Charleston when they looked out their window and they saw this.
Ms. Fitzwater said the noise was so loud and the explosion was so
big, he was sure a full size jet liner had crashed into the ground across
the river from their house. He only learned when they got through to 911
that it had actually been a train derailment, an oil train derailment, a
train with 107 tanker cars hauling crude oil from North Dakota had been
flung off the tracks, 27 cars derailed, at least 15 ruptured.
Amazingly, only one person was injured in that huge conflagration,
but more than 1,000 people had to be evacuated from their homes for days
while that oil train fire burned itself out. The fire was too big and too
hot to put out for days. They had to let it burn.
That oil train derailment in West Virginia was the latest a string of
disasters like that across the country. A string of oil train apocalyptic
crashes led the federal government to crackdown on things like oil train
speed and they beefed up standards for the tanker cars transporting the
But this crash in West Virginia turns out this was not about speed or
the rail cars. Turns out this one was caused by something more galling.
The Federal Railroad Administration has just released the findings of their
investigation into that Mount Carbon, West Virginia, derailment across the
street from Randy Fitzwater`s house.
And what they found was that what happened there was caused by the
railroad tracks. It wasn`t some mysterious problem. It wasn`t some
unforeseeable freak thing. It was something the railroad knew about.
CSX owns those tracks. They hired a contractor to inspect the rails.
The good news, I guess, is that contractor did detect something being wrong
in the rails there, twice. Not once but twice that contractor detected a
flaw in the rail in the specific spot where that derailment happened.
The contractor hired to inspect the rails said she did see a problem
during an inspection in December last year then they saw it in the same
spot again a month later in January of this year. Oh, good. You can see
Except in both instances, even though the inspector noticed there was
something wrong, the inspector never got out of his vehicle to check it
out. He decided to let it slide without any further investigation.
And then one month later at that exact spot on the tracks – boom.
The exact same place where it – oh, it looked like there was probably a
fault here. Probably some trouble. There following month, yes, probably
trouble there but nothing worth doing anything about. That exact same
So, federal officials just went to Mount Carbon to announce their
findings, announce that essentially this was incompetence that caused this
And a statement responding to the rail agency`s findings, CSX said
they fully complied with all regulations. They say the company is
“committed to continuously improving our ability to detect and correct rail
defects before they can cause an incident.”
But in Mount Carbon, the feds said if this is how the company`s in
charge are going to handle the task of keeping oil trains from blowing up,
well then maybe the companies can`t be trusted to handle this all on their
So, the feds have now announced that in the wake of this debacle,
there will be new rules. When conservatives complain about regulations,
this is what they`re complaining about. This is what they hate.
But this is kind of the reason that we have regulations. Federal
Railroad administrator Sarah Feinberg said, quote, “What this broken rail
incident shows us is that we need to insert ourselves and put some pretty
high standards in place.”
Standards don`t even need to be that high. If you detect a problem
on the tracks, maybe get out of your cab and look at it! I mean this
really was just simple negligence and incompetence but it resulted in a
firestorm that burned for four days.
So, the federal government will issue a safety advisory now, urging
better inspection and stronger training. They may tighten the rules on
when railroads are required to replace rails, all of which are progress,
all of which are good things.
But here`s the amazing part of the story. For having not fixed this
flawed rail, for having detected that flaw twice and ignored it for having
caused through sheer negligence a giant fireball and evacuation of 1,000
people, for all that, under the old rules under which they were operating,
CSX and the contractor were both fined in this case. They`re both fined a
grand total of $25,000 – $25,000 which at least CSX will presumably find
in a couch cushion at company headquarters.
It has been a really heartening development that federal government
is getting tougher with companies that operate the bomb trains, the ones
bringing apocalyptic fireballs to a town near you. But if a fine for a
crash like this one caused by negligence like this stays at something like
$25,000, prepare for more really terrible fireworks all year long.
MADDOW: We now know that this gigantic oil train explosion in West
Virginia earlier this year was caused by a defect on the tracks,
specifically a broken rail that had been detected twice by a contractor
hired by the rail company but even though it was detected twice, it was
never fixed. And then it caused this terrible accident in this terrible
We know this thanks to an investigation by the Federal Railroad
Joining us now is Sarah Feinberg. She`s the Federal Railroad
Administration`s acting administrator.
Ms. Feinberg, great to you have here. Thanks for being here.
SARAH FEINBERG, FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION ACTING ADMINISTRATOR:
Thank you for having me. Good to see you.
MADDOW: So, let me ask you first about the fine in this case. Is it
true that company in charge of the tracks and the contractor in charge of
checking them, they only got fined $25,000 for this disaster?
FEINBERG: That`s right, $25,000 each. That`s actually the limit of
our statutory authority for failure to identify and mitigate a defect like
MADDOW: And as you`re taking these new steps to try to improve track
safety, you`re taking multiple steps to try to make oil trains a safer
thing, but specifically looking at the track safety improvements that
you`re making. Is that potential fine, are those potential penalties also
going to go up? Is that even under consideration?
FEINBERG: Well, the Congress would probably have to step in on that.
But what we`ve said is we have a zero tolerance policy for these crude
routes. So, whether it`s track, whether it`s the way you are operating the
train, we`re taking everything that could happen on these crude routes
In this case, as you said, we`re putting out a safety advisory urging
railroads to do closer inspections. If there`s evidence or indication of a
defect or a flaw, they need to be getting out of the vehicle. They need to
be doing a hand inspection.
We`ve also urged better training for the inspectors who would be
detecting these flaws. We`ve taken, you know, more than two dozen actions
at this point to improve safety on these crude routes and we`ll continue to
do more as well. This was one accident and one investigation but we`ll
just continue to do more as we go along.
MADDOW: Is what`s happening overall here, this is not first
conversation we`ve had about oil train safety. It`s not first time we`ve
covered it. And it`s a concern to so many communities aren`t country
whether or not they`re anywhere near oiled fields because so many towns
have oil trains rumbling through, you know, past schools and main streets.
MADDOW: Is what`s happening here that we`re getting a slight
reorientation in terms of who is responsible for safety, it feels to me
like the companies that make money off shipping the stuff have been in
charge of sort of voluntarily keeping this stuff safe in the past but the
federal government under your administration in particularly is now
increasingly stepping in so say you`re not doing enough on your own. We
have to make you do it.
FEINBERG: Well, we`re certainly being very aggressive. You know,
moving this kind of quantity of crude across the country is a relatively
new phenomenon. It was with the discovery of the Bakken crude and moving
it to the coast from North Dakota that we so massively increased the
quantity that was moving.
So, I wouldn`t go so far as to say the railroads have been regulating
themselves. We`ve been on the field for a long time. But we are being
incredibly aggressive to make sure we`re doing everything it we can to keep
all of the communities safe.
MADDOW: Is our infrastructure around this issue, our infrastructure
around rail, is it safe enough, is it modern enough, is it upgraded enough
to sustain the level of oil train traffic, so-called bomb trains, right?
Is our infrastructure good enough to sustain as much traffic as we got or
do we actually need in order to be safe a big overhaul of this rail
infrastructure that we got all over the country?
FEINBERG: Well, look, I think anyone who didn`t argue that we need
to overhaul our infrastructure across the country not just rail but every
form of infrastructure would be crazy. We clearly need a huge
infrastructure package and we need a big bill to move throughout Congress.
I term of rail specifically, the railroads are responsible for that
rail infrastructure. In fact, they`re investing billions of dollars every
year. Is it enough? You know, it depends on the amount of tonnage that is
moving. It depends on the kind of track and what kind of product you`re
moving on it.
But they certainly need to be doing more and we`ll be urging them to
MADDOW: Sarah Feinberg, acting administrator of the Federal Railroad
Administration, really appreciate you being here tonight to talk to us
about this. Thanks for being here.
FEINBERG: Great to be with you.
MADDOW: We have these esoteric fights about regulation and the role
of government and whether or not business needs to be free to use the
invisible hand of capitalism to make everything safe and fine. Somebody
like the Federal Railroad Administration is the sharpened of the stick in
terms of trying to figure out what needs to be done by government because
it won`t be done by industry.
We have all these esoteric fights about it. But this is the stuff
that it comes down to in real life, in real safety, and real people`s
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: We have an update on our earlier story about how much money
Senator Bernie Sanders has raised since last night`s Democratic debate.
This is from the senator himself in Los Angeles tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: Just as the results of last night`s debate, I am told that
we have raised $2 million.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Two million dollars since last night`s debate. The campaign
says in contributions of roughly 30 bucks or so on average.
At the top of the show this hour, we knew it was $1.4 million raised
since the debate. Now, Senator Sanders says it`s not $1.4 million, it `s
So, it`s no wonder that the senator not only sounds so happy, but at
look him, he also – look at him – he looks very happy. This is Senator
Bernie Sanders backstage at the Ellen show for an appearance with Ellen
DeGeneres that will air tomorrow.
The show posted this today without sound and without music. But with
this much happy, maybe no sound track required.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The more I see of
Washington, the more unhappy I am of how things are dysfunctional and don`t
work. I`m a huge proponent of term limits. I would throw everybody out,
myself included. I`m serious.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: “I would throw everybody out, myself included.” Senator
Rand Paul of Kentucky hates being a senator and he wants to throw himself
out of that job, which is a strange way to campaign to hold on to that job.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: You know what you have now? You have a minuscule, a tiny,
tiny impotent and inconsequential Congress and I`m embarrassed that I`m
even part of it. We observe nothing. We do nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So send me back!
Rand Paul is simultaneously running for president and running for
reelection to the Senate. Part of the pressure on him from Republicans to
drop the presidential bid and focus on the Senate is because he`s been
campaigning for president in part by talking about how much he hates his
Senate job. And that`s an awkward way to keep that job.
Senator Paul to be fair has bad numbers which make that race look
like a waste of time and money and effort. He gets 3 percent nationwide in
the latest FOX poll. He`s at 1 percent in Connecticut and 1 percent in
Pennsylvania, and polls that just came out in those two states, he`s at 2
percent in Nevada. He`s at 4 percent in South Carolina which counts as a
boon for him. Four percent is above his average these days.
So, those bad numbers are part of the reason that some Republicans
are pushing him to give up on the presidential bid, focus on the Senate
reelection effort instead. He is still in both races, though. And
yesterday as the criminal trial started in Iowa over the bribery scandal in
his dad`s last presidential campaign, this is the case where the head of
one of Rand Paul`s super PACs had to resign from the super PAC in order to
face these federal charges.
Yesterday, Rand Paul decided to maybe distract from all that a little
bit by mounting a Rand Paul presidential campaign stunt in which he live-
streamed a day on the presidential campaign trail with Rand Paul.
And it turns out, that is kind of a small, sad place to be.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Joe Banana tweets, “@RandPaul, talk about hair style. Rand,
that looks like a bucket of French grease on his head.” Now that is mean
and I want to see your hair, Joe, if you`ve got any.
At Madison Show tweets, “@RandPaul`s hair looks like ramen noodles.”
Hmm. I guess that`s an insult and I`ll just accept it.
Oh, gosh, Donald Trump – who put Donald Trump in this thing?
@RealDonaldTrump tweets, “Watching Rand Paul for the entire day? I would
sail that would be one of the lowest-ranked shows in history.” Well, we`ll
just see, won`t we, Donald?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Senator Rand Paul reading mean tweets during the miserable
live-stream of his presidential campaign day yesterday. And partly it was
miserable because he seems miserable. Partly it was miserable because, as
his day was streamed on a Web site called Ustream, it emerged that after a
full day of behind-the-scenes access to Senator Paul on Ustream, he still
has only 148 total followers on Ustream.
But mostly it was miserable because this kind of just is what misery
looks like, I`m guessing, from a candidate. And fair warning, there is a
little swear here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: They also tell me because I`m just doing what I`m told riding
around Iowa looking at corn fields and answering silly questions that I`m
now supposed to answer the top Googled questions about me.
The first question is, how tall is Rand Paul? And it`s 5`8”, but I
look a lot taller on TV.
The next question is how old is Rand Paul? The answer is or the real
answer I guess is 52, but I sometimes feel about 10 to 20 to maybe 30 to 40
to 50 years older after a day of this.
The third question, most popular question from Google is, is Rand
Paul still running for president? And I don`t know, I wouldn`t be doing
this dumb ass live streaming if I weren`t. So, yes, I still am running for
president. Get over it.
Where`s Rand Paul in the polls. This is not live? We can`t edit
this, right? All right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No, this is live, we all heard you just say you feel like
you`re 102 when you`re doing this with your life these days.
This is your life, Senator, we can all see you. Honestly though
we`re starting to feel bad about it at a human level.
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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