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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/28/13

Guests: Richard Blumenthal

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Thanks to you at home as well for joining us this hour. There are new developments in tonight in the murder of the Colorado prisons chief, a second person has been arrested in conjunction with the killing. Now, the story here is this: last week, on Tuesday night, just hours before Colorado`s governor was due to sign historic new gun legislation for that state, just hours before that bill signing, the head of Colorado prison, he was at home, someone rang his doorbell, he answered the door and he was shot dead on his doorstep. The following day, Governor Hickenlooper of Colorado announced the murder at an emotional press conference early in the morning and he went ahead with the bill signing as planned. The following day, on Thursday, 600 miles away, in north central Texas, a sheriff`s deputy tried to pull over for a routine traffic violation a car that matched the description of the car that had been seen near prison chief Tom Clements` home in Colorado the night of the murder. When the sheriff`s deputy tried to pull him over for apparently running a red light, the driver of the car pulled out a gun and shot the deputy three times and then took off. There was a 100 mile-an-hour car chase through Texas. It ended in a crash and then another shootout with police. The driver of the car was shot and killed by police that day. Now, we subsequently learned the shooter was this man, a parolee who had been in and out of Colorado prisons for a decade and who was released most recently from a stint that involved significant time in solitary confinement this past January. Texas law enforcement reports that there were also bomb making materials in the suspect`s vehicle. So, obviously, Texas authorities are very interested where this young man was going next with the bomb-making materials. Crucially, authorities are also reporting that the ballistics test they did on the governor recovered in Texas showed that the gun used in the shootout with Texas police was the same gun, the same gun used to kill Colorado prisons chief Tom Clements. Now, though, a second person has been arrested in conjunction with this murder. The arrest was made last night. The arraignment was today. The "Denver Post" today ran this image of the arrestee`s lawyer trying to himself avoid being photographed at the arraignment. The person arrested in the case is this young woman, 22 years old, reportedly lives with her parents in Commerce City, Colorado. Her relationship with the dead suspect in the Tom Clements murder is as yet unknown. But what she has been arrested for or charged with is getting him the gun. Remember, he was only released from prison in January. He is a convicted felon. Convicted felons are not legally allowed to get guns. That`s what background checks are for, and that is the root of the argument why background checks should apply to all gun sales, so convicted felons will be blocked by the background check system no matter where they try to buy themselves a gun. Well, in this case, it is alleged the suspect, Evan Ebel, the way he got around his background check problem, which he could not pass a background check because he is a felon, the way he got around the problem is he got her to buy the gun, he got her to buy the gun because she could pass the background check and so then, once she had the gun, she passed it on to him. If that is what happened and what`s alleged by this arrest, what happened there is called a straw purchase. A straw purchase is illegal. But it`s not very illegal. The "Denver Post" called the head of the Denver division of the ATF to get some context on this new arrest, this new development in the case. And he told them, quote, "There`s little to no punishment for being a straw purchaser. Gang members know it, drug trafficking organizations know it." When Democrats move some elements of President Obama`s proposed gun reforms through the Senate Judiciary Committee a couple of weeks ago, the measure that would have increased in the penalties for straw purchasing that would have made it a felony and a bigger deal, that measure passed out of committee with all the Democratic votes on the committee but only one Republican, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley was the only one, all the other Republican senators on the committee voted against strengthening the penalties for straw purchases, penalties for people who buy a weapon because they can pass the background check and then they knowingly pass the weapon off to someone who cannot pass the background check. These are the senators who voted against that in committee, Orrin Hatch, Lindsey Graham, John Cornyn, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Jeff Flake and Jeff Sessions. They all voted against toughening the penalties for straw purchases. There`s that news today. Also today, there has been a huge release of new information about the elementary school shooting at Newtown, Connecticut -- information in some cases different from what we thought we had known before. In detailed, very long search warrant reports released by Connecticut prosecutors today, we learned a lot of new information about Sandy Hook. We learned about the large numbers of weapons of all kinds record from home to of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter, a lot of different knives and swords and blades. A number of guns, including the gun the shooter used to kill his mother before going to the school that morning, and a huge amount, myriad of different kinds of ammunition -- a lot of shotgun ammunition, some handgun ammunition and ammunition for the rifle with which the shooter killed 20 1st graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary. We also learned more today and different details than we have been told previously about how the shooter at Sandy Hook was able to do so much damage, to kill so many kids, to shoot so many rounds into so many people so quickly that it was over before police could arrive even though police responded within minutes. We had previously been told that the killer shot 152 bullets in less than five minutes. We`re still told that it was less than five minutes but now we`re told it was 154 bullets. Quoting from the prosecutor today, "The shooter shot his way into the building and killed 20 children and six adults with a Bushmaster .223 caliber model XM 15. One hundred and fifty-four spent .223 casings were recovered from the scene. It`s currently estimated that the time for when the shooter shot his way into the school until he took his own life was less than five minutes. Recovered from the person of the shooter were three 30-round magazines for the Bushmaster, each containing 30 rounds, located in the area of the shootings were six additional 30 round magazines containing zero rounds, zero rounds, zero rounds, 10 rounds, 11 rounds and 13 rounds respectively." So, this is the really new information here. The new and potentially important information, about the masks not all being empty when they were found. They were all 30-round magazines, extended magazines, the kind of extend size magazines that used to be banned for sale under the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. Presuming that all the 30-round magazines started full, that he put 30 bullets in each one, that means he shot through all 30 bullets in the first magazine, all 30 bullets in the seconds magazine, all 30 bullets in a third magazine, but with the other three, he did not shoot all the way through them before he discarded them and loaded in a new full one. I mean, if there were 10 rounds and 11 rounds and 13 rounds left in those magazines that he ejected that they found on the scene, that means he didn`t shoot all the way through them, he didn`t shoot all 30. He shot 20 bullets, 19 bullets, 17 bullets, before popping out that magazine and getting a fresh one. There were also still rounds in the rifle when they found him. "The Hartford Courant" reporting today that the shooter only stopped shooting because the gun apparently jammed. "The Courant" also reporting today, quote, "police have the theorized that the shooter may have been simulating the video games that he loved to play by switching out the ammunition in the bushmaster as he moved from room to room and before the magazine was empty. It is a characteristic of hard core gamers to constantly switch magazines so that they are never out of ammunition when entering a room." Whether or not that is actually what he was doing -- remember that "Courant" is subscribing that as police theorizing, whether or not that`s actually what he was doing, we now know with certainty that the shooter used only high capacity magazines at Sandy Hook and we know that was a choice. Governor Dan Malloy of Connecticut noting today, we know he used 30- round magazines to do it and they allowed him to do maximum damage in a very short period of time and we now know that he left the lower capacity magazines at home. Remember, we`ve now got the search warrants and so now we know what was there. Every bit of ammo, every firearm in the shooter`s home is thought to have been purchased legally. His mother was not out there on the black market buying illegal or illegally modified weapons. She bought firearms and ammunition like a law abiding citizen. She bought what was legal. She would have only been able to buy 10 round magazines if the assault weapons ban had not been allowed to expire in 2004 or that had been brought back after it expired. She and her son did have at least one of those not extended magazines lying around in their well- armed home. But think about it, why bring that to the scene you want to kill as many first graders as possible? Why bring it bring to the elementary school? Why bring the little 10-round magazine? Why handicap yourself with a 10-round magazine when you can instead kill so many more people so much faster with the big magazines? So leave that one at home but bring the 30-rounders. Part of the Beltway common wisdom that nothing is going to happen, but there is a Connecticut effect and it`s wearing off and people don`t care anymore and so, the NRA will win again because nobody cares to insist on even very popular policies that they opposed -- that the NRA opposes. One of the constituent parts of that common wisdom is that presidents cannot stay focused on issues like this for very long. Presidents don`t stay focused on this stuff after the immediate impact wears off. A president will not stick with it to fight the inertia the NRA is counting on. This president has not been like that. This president has been pretty much relentless on this issue for 100 straight days now. Today, President Obama hosted families from Sandy Hook, from Newtown at the White House. And he took on, head on that common wisdom if you just wait long enough, we will all stop caring. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I read an article in the news just the other day wondering is Washington -- has Washington missed its opportunity because as time goes on after Newtown, somehow people start moving on and forgetting? Let me tell you -- the people here, they don`t forget. Grace`s dad is not forgetting. Hadiya`s mom hasn`t forgotten. The notion that two months or three months after something as horrific as what happened in Newtown happens and we`ve moved on to other things -- that`s not who we are. That`s not who we are. I want to make sure every American is listening today. Less than 100 days ago that happened and the entire country was shocked. The entire country pledged we would do something about it and this time would be different. Shame on us if we`ve forgotten. I haven`t forgotten those kids. Shame on us if we`ve forgotten. Tears aren`t enough, expressions of sympathy aren`t enough. Speeches aren`t enough. We`ve cried enough, we`ve known enough heartbreak. What we`re proposing is not radical. It`s not taking way anybody`s gun rights. It`s something that if we are serious, we will do. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Joining us now is Senator Richard Blumenthal, senior senator from the state of Connecticut. Senator Blumenthal, thank you very much for being here tonight. I really appreciate your time, sir. SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Thank you. Great to be with you again. MADDOW: President Obama said today if we are serious we will get something done on gun safety. You and I have talked a hot about whether or not that`s going to happen. Hundred days in, at over 100 days in now, what`s your assessment of the trajectory that we`re on? BLUMENTHAL: We are going to have votes. The president called for votes for the sake of the victims and their families for all Americans and those votes will be in April. We have a critical task during these next few weeks which the president described very, very eloquently and powerfully, which is to mobilize that majority of Americans, the 90 percent, and 80 percent, that are for common sense and sensible measures on gun violence and make sure that their voices are heard. The president said very movingly, nothing is more powerful than millions of voices calling for change. But those voices are a silent majority that needs to be vocal and need to be galvanized and organized. So, I think the votes can be there for a ban on illegal trafficking. The instance you described earlier involving Evan Ebel who killed Tom Clement, the correction officer in Colorado, and killed another person on his way to shooting the police officer who tried to apprehend him. Classic straw purchase and should be banned, would be banned under the Senate bill. Background checks to prevent him from having weapons, deranged people like Adam Lanza from having access. You know, the sheer volume of bullets and ammunition and rounds in that war arsenal is absolutely stunning. And we need to make sure that we keep those ammunition and firearms out of the hands of dangerous people. And, finally, school safety and mental health issues, those core provisions I think have a lot of support. We need Americans to remind my colleagues in the Senate their voices have to be heard. MADDOW: It struck me today that we`ve been chronicling on this show the relentless political activism on this issue, that the Beltway common wisdom implies that people are going to forget about it because people are just going to stop talking about it. And people haven`t stop talking about it, in part because there has been so much organized political pressure. At a grassroots level, people are not letting this go. But it struck me today in following these new revelations, both from the Newtown shooting but also from Colorado corrections police shooting, part of the reason the pressure doesn`t feel like it`s letting up is because everyday, there`s a new revelation about a new horrific national implications piece of gun violence. And it seems like the mere prevalence of the amount of gun violence in the country is enough to keep this in the headlines provided that we see those as having political consequences. I wonder if you see it that way. BLUMENTHAL: I think that these kinds of rampant violent acts. And, remember, it`s 2,500 more people have been killed since Newtown alone. Thirty thousand, I think, a year are killed as a result of gun violence. This problem afflicts our neighborhoods and streets throughout the country in urban environments and suburban. All across the country, everybody has a stake in it. And the repeated acts, I think, do have a political impact. But the revelation`s also about the Newtown search warrants drive home the fact that the size of the magazines makes a real difference. As you put it very well, Adam Lanza left at home the small capacity magazine because he knew the more bullets he could fire more rapidly more lethally, the more destructive he could be. And the same is true of the AR-15. So, that`s why I am going to be helping to lead a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines that will be offered as amendment. It may not be part of the core bill that goes to the floor of the Senate, but it will offered and I`m hopeful there will be votes on it. MADDOW: Senator Richard Blumenthal, senior senator from Connecticut, member of the Senate Judiciary Committee -- thank you for being here tonight, sir. I really appreciate your willingness to coming back. Thank you. BLUMENTHAL: Thank you. MADDOW: People in the gun reform debate who say there`s no functional difference between assault rifles and other kinds of rifles, between extended magazines and normal magazines and the people who commit mass shootings think there`s a difference. The shooter in Newtown left his 10- round magazine at home and took the 30s when he went to that school. He also left a bolt action rifle at home and took the semi-automatic assault rifle. They make these decisions when they`re being strategic wanting to kill a lot of people all at once. We can be strategic about that, too. I`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Today was the day the group formed out of the Obama-Biden reelection, the group Organizing for Action, today was the day they did gun reform events all over the country. Across the country today, people from West Palm Beach, Florida, to Norristown, Pennsylvania, to Indianapolis, to Phoenix to lots of other cities around the country, rallies and events reportedly more than 100 of them, planned by Organizing for Actions and Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Mayors Against Illegal Guns also released this rather powerful new ad. Check it out. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We dropped Jesse off in the morning December 14th, gave me a hug and kiss and said, I love you dad and I love mom, too. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our daughter, Grace, was 7 years old. She couldn`t wait to go to school. She would skip down the driveway. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My sister loved teaching at Sandy Hook. Every student would say, I hope I get Ms. Soto next year. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lauren loved children and she always wanted to be a teacher. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got a 911 call there was a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to remember the 26 victims who lost their lives. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She just wanted to teach little kids. That was her goal and she died doing it. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was the last day I ever saw Jesse alive. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to prevent any other family from having to go through what we`re going through. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don`t let the memory of Newtown fade without doing something real. ANNOUNCER: Demand action now. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That ad is supposed to air on cable TV and on broadcast TV, specifically in Connecticut. It`s targeted at the Connecticut state legislature. It`s meant to get them to enact gun reforms like comprehensive background checks and ban on high capacity magazines in their state, in the state where Newtown happened. New York state and Colorado have taken those kinds of actions since Newtown but Connecticut has not. Connecticut Democrats say they planned to but yet to pass any new legislation since Newtown. Mayors Against Illegal Guns frankly not just with this ad but everything they`re doing are kind of in overdrive right now. In addition to these ads and 100 events today around the country with OFA, they also earlier this week announced a $12 million ad buy, which is a huge buy particularly we`re not at an election, right, a $12 million ad buy for ads to run in states where the group says they think they can most influence, the upcoming Senate vote on gun control efforts. Mayors Against Illegal Guns have timed this huge ad buy specifically to the congressional recess that is happening right now. The House and Senate are not in session right now. They`re on break. And the idea with running the ads now is that senators are home in their districts and they will see this ad airing in their hometown media, and so will their constituents. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For me, guns are for hunting and protecting my family. I believe in the Second Amendment and I`ll fight to protect it. But with rights come responsibilities. That`s why I support comprehensive background checks so criminals and the dangerously mentally ill can`t buy guns. That protects my rights and my family. ANNOUNCER: Tell Congress don`t protect criminals, vote to protect gun rights and our families with comprehensive background checks. Demand action now. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s the ad with the $12 million buy. It`s targeted specifically at 15 senators, 10 Republicans and five Democrats. One of those five Democrats, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, has now come out this week to say he supports background checks. If you`re wondering if this strategy is likely to be more broadly effective, well, one metric there is the right thinks it`s going to be effective. It seems they`re worried enough about it potentially being effective that they`re freaking out about it. The FOX News Channel, our friends across the street, have taken to denouncing the ad as fake -- as obviously, fake because obviously no real responsible gun owner would advocate for background checks for gun purchases. They have decided on FOX dayside now and on FOX`s morning show now that the reason you can tell this ad cannot possibly depict an authentic, actual gun owner, is because as you can see in the ad, he`s pointing his gun at the children. Seriously, that is the argument FOX News Channel is making to assure its viewers in these states who are going to be seeing $12 million worth of this ad that it cannot possibly be an authentic gun owner would support background checks. FOX says you can see in this ad isn`t a real responsible gun owner who owns a shotgun because as you can see in the ad he`s pointing the ad at the children. That`s the way it`s being described on FOX News now. And that is a great argument for the blind people who watch FOX News, who cannot actually see the ad themselves and have it described to them by someone who will not lie to them about what the ad actually shows, the way that FOX News will lie to them. Kind of makes you think it`s getting under their skin, doesn`t it? (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: My guest coming up on the show tonight is Mr. Eight O`clock, Chris Hayes, 8:00. Chris Hayes, 8:00. Chris Hayes, 8:00. Just keep saying that. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: March 29th, 1973 was a chaotic day in this exact building I sit right now. And I know it was chaotic not because I was here on March 29th, 1973. I was a couple of days away from being born. I know it was chaotic here that night because of what happened on the air that night from this building which broadcast to NBC News. This is how "NBC Nightly News" started that night broadcast. Now, as a general rule of thumb in television, keep in mind that a black screen with no pictures on it is not a good thing, particularly during "The Nightly News." But that`s what they had that night. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TV ANCHOR: This day will go down in history on the 29th of March, 1973, any United States ended its active involvement in the Vietnam war, the day Americans had prayed for has finally come. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: A complete lack of pictures. The visuals all fell through for the lead story on the "Nightly News". But that was not enough reason to kill the lead story because the lead story was a huge historic harry deal. March 29th, 1973, 40 years ago tomorrow, the very last American combat troops left Vietnam, nine years after the Gulf of Tonkin incident in which we were told that a North Vietnamese boat fired on an American destroyer unprovoked and for no reason at all. After nearly 60,000 Americans were killed in that war, the last of our combat troops left Vietnam 40 years ago tomorrow. We think of the Vietnam War as having fundamentally changed us as a country. It really did. I mean, it changed us in a bunch of different ways, even for people who did not fight in the war. The movement to stop the war ended up having a profound social impact on our country, defined a decade or more for people in the anti-war movement and people who weren`t in the movement but who saw our nation`s politics changed by it. In foreign policy terms, Vietnam changed us to the extent that something like a Gulf of Tonkin disaster was not supposed to happen. We weren`t supposed to get into another war in which our leaders were not honest with us about why we were getting into it in the first place. We were not supposed to do that again. We did, of course, do that again but we at least thought that was not supposed to happen. The other way that Vietnam changed us was supposed to have changed us as a country, specifically about the Americans who fought there -- long, very bloody, guerrilla conflict fought significantly by men conscripted to go there, who did not want to fight it, but who were made to. And then after our troops got home from the war that we sent them to fight, too often with too much regularity, we failed to separate the men who had no choice to fight or the men who chose to fight from the fact that the war they fought was an unpopular war. The more than 2.5 million veterans of the war in Vietnam were not welcomed home the way they should have been. And that translated too much of the time into them also not getting medical care and benefits and policy attention they deserved and been promised when they went over there. After Vietnam, however else it did or did not change us as a country, we vowed that the way that Vietnam veterans were treated when they came home, we vowed that would not happen again. We would not make that mistake again. We will no longer and never again compound the impact of war itself on veterans by disrespecting their war-time service, even if we didn`t like that war. The aftermath of the Vietnam War made that a nonpartisan commitment in our country. And yet right now, with the war in Iraq over and with the end of the war in Afghanistan, at least in sight, we are screwing some stuff up when it comes to how we`re treating our veterans, coming home from our generation`s long wars. It`s not at all like it was after Vietnam. It has very different contours, there is still a problem. When our veterans return home with disabilities and they cannot work because of their service connected disabilities, they file for disability benefits. Those new first-time claims are taking nine months on average to process, for some people taking years. There`s a benefits backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs that is embarrassing. The problem did not start under President Obama but it also did not get better over the course of his administration and thus far. It`s gotten worse. And part of the problem is that in the last few years, we have had way more veterans who are eligible for all sorts of benefits. But those were policy changes that were made. And so, they are made overtly and we knew that the consequences would be way more veterans in the system. We`ve also had way more veterans returning from war than any time in the last decade. But, again, that was foreseeable. The Obama`s administration`s V.A. just has more claims to process. That is true, but also on purpose. And it`s true that the V.A. knew that more veterans would be coming home and filing disability claims but they didn`t come up with a system that could handle it. And now, in terms of the coverage of the story and national awareness of the story, it may seem a little bit silly, but I think it`s actually really important as to how many people know about this story and can repeat to you the basics of it. I think it`s important with the story that last night, Comedy Central did it. "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" picked up on this story and as they always do over there, they did an amazing job with it. And because of that, tons more people know about this than otherwise would. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JON STEWART, COMEDY CENTRAL: The Defense Department uses a medical tracking program called AHLTA, while the V.A. uses a generally superior program called VistA. Those two programs are unable -- I swear to you, this is true -- those two programs are unable to communicate with each other. How insane is this complication? Even the analogy explaining why the two computer systems can`t work together is fundamentally flawed. REP. JEFF MILLER (R), FLORIDA: Let me use this analogy. An Xbox and a PlayStation can play the same game on the same TV screen but they don`t talk together. STEWART: Right. That makes sense. Here`s the thing: an Xbox and PlayStation don`t talk because they`re competitors. Their mission is to destroy each other, which is not the relationship we expect from the part of government that takes care of our disabled veterans and the part of government that creates them. (CHEERS) STEWART: So while I guess you could spin the thing there, so I guess you could spend a billion dollars over four years, trying to get one kid`s Xbox games to work with another kid`s PlayStation games, or as the family`s parent or commander-in-chief, you could just command we`re going to use the Xbox. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The V.A. knows it has a problem. The V.A. does not defend the backlog or say it`s not a problem, but they do say it`s going to get better even though so far, they`ve been saying that for a long time and there`s no evidence that that`s true. It`s not getting better, it`s getting worse still. A couple of days ago on the show from the V.A. to talk about it after covering his for a very long time. Tommy Sowers, himself an Iraq war veteran, now an assistant secretary at the V.A., he came here to talk to us about the backlog. I`m grateful he did it, because that has not been the V.A.`s way of dealing with this problem. For a very long time, they have very unwilling to talk to national press. So, as happy to have Dr. Sowers to talk about it instead of me just screaming into the ether about it for 12 more months. But I have to say, there is now a stitch from that interview that we need to pick up. On Tuesday might, I asked Dr. Sowers what would the typical new veteran coming back from Afghanistan, say a new veteran coping with PTSD unable to work because of it, what could that hypothetical new veteran expect from the V.A.`s disability claims process. And here`s what Tommy Sowers said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SOWERS: When it comes to actual treatment, there`s immediate assistance out there. So, we`ve got a veterans crisis line, 1-800-273- TALK. And over 700,000 veterans, active duty service members and their families have called this number. They can walk into any of our 1,300 points of care. Here in New York, there`s five vet centers. This is for veterans, their families to help with readjustments. So I want to make sure that`s clear they can get the help they need. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I want to make sure it`s clear they can get the help they need. The version of this voiced by the secretary of the veterans affairs, General Eric Shinseki is, we are open for business. The implications that veterans can just walk into any V.A. hospital or clinic and get health care, immediately, particularly new veterans coming, I have to make clear that is not always the case. In fact, according to the V.A.`s own numbers, under half, just under half of new veterans get to see a doctor within the time period that the V.A. itself says is acceptable within two weeks. That`s according to the V.A. You ask the Government Accountability Office, they actually have no idea how long they`re waiting to see doctors, quote, "The bottom line is it is unclear how long veterans are waiting to receive care in V.A. medical facilities because the reported data from the V.A. are unreliable." That`s from the Government Accountability Office. We`ve contacted the V.A. today and they reemphasized that they do offer emergency services for veterans at vet centers and that calling crisis line that Tommy mentioned, 1-800-273-TALK, that is a way to get immediate emergency crisis care, and that is great. Beyond emergencies, though, it is not at all clear people are getting the help they need or that the V.A. itself says they ought to be getting, nor is it true they`re getting their benefits any time near they should be getting their benefits. This is a screwed up situation and it is one we promised as a nation to never screw up again. How does this get fixed? Joining us now is the smartest guy I know, Chris Hayes. Chris Hayes` new show has a name. It`s called "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES." It premieres Monday night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on MSNBC. Mr. Hayes, congratulations. CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Thank you very much. MADDOW: Are you completely swamped with preparations? HAYES: Yes, yes. I`m swamped. I was going to say overwhelmed. Not quite overwhelmed, but there`s a lot of work. MADDOW: You were planning an ambitious show that is unlike anything else, anybody has ever done in cable. And it`s a lot like what you do in the weekends but not exactly the same. HAYES: That`s right. Yes, I think -- with some adjustments made for the timeliness of the news of the day and also the necessary logistical exigencies of being on nightly. MADDOW: Yes. HAYES: In terms of how many people we can book, and how far ahead we can book them. But the kind of multi-vocal and conversational, a lot of different voices and a lot of curiosity together and kind of finding areas of tension and disagreement and conflict that are surprising or new or aren`t the ones that we rehearse everyday in our national politics. MADDOW: Right. In all the press, which has all been good press, I would say, knock on wood, about your launch, everybody says that you and I are so much alike, that we`re peas in a pod, or that, you know, you be -- you having this 8:00 show, shows this. We think -- we approach how to do this work very, very differently. HAYES: Yes. MADDOW: And our shows are going to be very different. And I -- one of the reasons I like talking to you about big difficult problems that don`t have easy answers like this, is I feel like you have a good multi multi-variant approach toward difficult things. When -- as -- when you look at the V.A. backlog, you look at getting all this renewed attention, you look at the fact that there`s no bipartisan disagreement on this whatsoever and yet it is getting worse, what do you think is the way out of it? HAYES: So, I think there`s a few fascinating things here. One is it makes us think what is the actual political power that veterans in our society have because in some ways the proof is in the pudding, right? So, there`s the rhetorical honor they are granted and then there`s the actual power that they have, right? And the way you look at power in a political system like ours is outcomes. And this says something about the power and the stature that veterans actually have in American society as opposed to the society -- the amount of power or stature we tell ourselves they have. MADDOW: All the lip service we pay and all the emotional comfort we gain from entertaining ourselves from the idea we are treating veterans well is worth very little to someone who can`t get in the V.A. to get a first mental health appointment. HAYES: The proof is in the pudding. MADDOW: Yes. HAYES: The proof is in the pudding. The other thing I think it says is there are institutional limitations that we are bumping up against because of the sheer volume. This is not to excuse it. But it massively changes the bureaucracy and that bureaucracy`s operation to scale it at the scale that we are right now asking the V.A. to scale. It doesn`t matter what institution it is and what it`s processing, whether it`s a factory making widgets, whether it`s a court docket that goes from having 1,000 cases to 10,000 cases. In all of those cases, there are institutional limits you`re going to run up against in trying to scale it. And that goes back to the sort of original sin here, right, which are the wars themselves. I mean, we were able to marshal a level of social consensus and marshal a level of resources on the front end. And we told ourselves we wouldn`t forget about it on the back end again. But there`s something fundamental and deep about the way a nation goes to war and its kind of politics when it`s going into a war and when it`s coming out that is being revealed here, I think. What we are able to marshal in the frenzy of the nation getting together to go to war is -- it looks very different on the other side of that war no matter how committed individuals are or citizens are which I think they are. I mean, politicians are committed. I think citizens are committed to this, right? MADDOW: Yes, the feeling is real. HAYES: Yes, it`s not faked. But it is a very different thing on the front end than it is on the back end. MADDOW: So, how -- in terms of veterans` political power, veterans I think know -- when you talk to veterans` groups, they realize that the -- I mean, lip service ,and I say and it sounds cynical, but the emotional appeal that they can engender, the way they can get people to feel about their service, the fact we marketed in commercials to make people feel good about homecomings and all these things when they are the ones trying to turn that into something that is more concrete, that is more policy based, are there any examples? Is there anything that we know from social movements in America or from balance of power in America about how best to make those things work? HAYES: I think, look, I mean, I think, (a), marshaling shame, right? MADDOW: Yes. HAYES: Our shame, the shame of the country for failing in the sort of photos we`ve seen has been effective in the past, right? I also think what we`ve seen is -- and this is something you`ve covered a lot -- a lot of veterans coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan have organized as a political force and done the things that organizing any constituency in American politics does to organize, which is to put direct pressure on elected officials to join your voices together in coalition. And there have been many effective interventions by IAVA among others on discrete policy issues to do that. It`s just the fact there`s no solved problem at the end of it, right? MADDOW: Yes. HAYES: No one is going to -- I mean, the way the hydraulics of American democracy work is they come to rest in a place of either apathy or more for the people in power. And you just have to keep working against that. (CROSSTALK) HAYES: No amount of conceptual rhetorical or emotional commitment by our leaders or citizens is going to permanently secure for veterans what they deserve. MADDOW: Yes. And hearing them speak for themselves as articulately and forcefully as they have been through groups like IAVA is the thing that gives me hope that we`ll get solved, not all the platitudes. HAYES: Yes. MADDOW: Chris Hayes, see you. I like talking to you about this stuff. I can`t wait for your new show. We`re also excited. Really, the whole building is a thrum (ph). We`re very excited. Chris Hayes` new show is "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES." It premieres here on MSNBC, Monday, at 8:00 Eastern. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Last week in the Texas Panhandle, this happened. We are the first news organization to show you these pictures. Look at this. Oil and gas workers were fracking in Hemphill County, Texas. That is, they were forcing water and other chemicals down a pipe into the ground, at very high pressure to get at oil they otherwise could not get at. But in this case, this happened last week, something went wrong, and the casing failed. A seven-inch-wide pipe failed catastrophically, basically explosively, and that launched what they call the frac stack into the air. Javelining it into a nearby truck, as you can see in this picture. Amazingly, nobody was killed. There was only one injury associated with this accident, one concussion. Oil industry veteran Bob Cavnar who blogs at "This Small Planet" is the one who put us on to in this week. These pictures are just incredible. That frac stack which went applying which Hemphill County now is purposively part of that nearby truck, the frac stack is sort of like a blowout preventer. You might remember blowout preventers from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, right? For onshore drilling like this, the frac stack is supposed to function sort of like that, to keep the wellhead under control if something goes wrong. Well, this is the hole where the wellhead used to be after this kerfuffle in Hemphill County. A spectacular and very visible failure in the world`s most profitable industry is often a very, very visible form of failure. And in that regard, I see you Hemphill, Texas, fracking accident and I raise you the career of one very senior Shell oil executive. It`s a very weird story. That`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: America, meet David Lawrence. David Lawrence, meet America. David Lawrence has been a high-level executive for the Shell Oil Corporation for 29 long glorious and profitable years. He is the executive vice president of exploration and commercial for Shell`s upstream Americas division, which is a fancy way of saying that he drills the Americas for Shell. Last year, Shell`s drilling operations in the Americas got a big boost when the federal government gave Shell specifically the OK to start drilling in the Arctic. Lots of oil companies wanted that, but Shell is the one who got the go ahead. And it was David Lawrence who was put in charge of that. As Shell was gearing up to start drilling in the Arctic, Mr. Lawrence gave an interview to Dow Jones, in which he predicted drilling in the arctic would be, quote, "relatively easy." That turned out to be relatively wrong. After getting the permits to start drilling, Shell just made a hash of it. These are the two rigs they sent up there to start drilling. The one on of the left is called the Discoverer, the one on the right called the Kulluk. Last summer, the Discoverer ran aground after dragging its anchor through the Aleutian Islands. Four months after that, it had a fire break out in its engine room. Then, the U.S. Coast Guard boarded it and found more than a dozen violations involving the rig`s safety and pollution equipment. For example, the main engine pistons cooling water was contaminated with sludge and oil. The crew was dealing with it by skimming off the oil in a ladle in a bucket. That`s nice. Nice. Safety violations led the Coast Guard to essentially detain that rig in port. And then they referred it to the Justice Department to see if Shell was guilty of criminal violations there, too. So that was the Discoverer. The other Shell drilling rig is the Kulluk. And the Kulluk did not just almost run aground. It did run aground. Earlier this year, the Kulluk lost power, went to drift and eventually crashed into an island off the coast of southern Alaska, stranded there for days before they were finally able to drag it away. Well, there`s new news to report tonight on the Kulluk. The news is that it too is now facing a federal criminal investigation. Coast guard officials saying today they have completed their investigation into the Kulluk. They`ve now asked the Justice Department to review potential violations they turned up. So both of Shell`s two arctic drilling rigs, the only two they sent up there, now find themselves under the eye of the United States Justice Department. But remember, drilling in the Alaskan Arctic is relatively easy. This is probably a good time to tell you that earlier this week, Mr. "Don`t worry we`ve got this/Arctic drilling is going to be easy peasy" announced he is stepping down from Shell after 29 years with the company. There has long been an effort in this country to open up the Arctic for drilling. Let`s let the oil companies run wild up there. Nobody knows how to deal with the stuff better than they do. So far, one company has been allowed to do it. Both of its rigs are facing federal investigations. The executive in charge is out of a job. And Shell has announced that it is calling off all of its drilling operations in the Arctic for the rest of the year. Why is this not a bigger story? Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL." Thanks so much for being with us tonight. Have a great night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END