The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 05/19/15

Guests: Patrick Swanton, Paul Hammel

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Awesome conversation. That was great. HAYES: Thank you. MADDOW: The clips are just incredible, just amazing. Anyway, well done. Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. We`ve got a big show tonight. We have lots ahead in this coming hour. It`s one of those shows with a sort of a ten-pound show fit into a five-pound bag. But if you know anybody who works in the beltway media, tonight might be the night to ask them to go out for after-work drinks, and that is because your friend in the beltway media today is likely to be in a good mood. And people who are in a good mood are likely to pick up the tab and more fun to be around. The whole Beltway press corps today is over the moon! Because Hillary Clinton spoke to them. When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that she was -- former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when -- former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced she was starting her campaign for president. She said she would take sort of less traveled path to trying to win the nomination. Yes, she would start in Iowa and New Hampshire, just like they all do, but she would do small-scale events, many of them in small towns, meeting with small groups of voters in mostly informal settings. They described the way she was going to run her campaign at least initially as a listening tour. And that strategy does seem to have already paid dividends in terms of issues and policies and what the candidates want to be talking about. Hillary Clinton said what she has found surprising was how often people brought up the issue of drug abuse and people needing access to good drug treatment and worries in towns large and small about drug overdoses and the rising tide of heroin and opioid addiction. So, at least the way Secretary Clinton and her campaign described it, because she heard so much concern about that from regular people who she wasn`t expecting to talk to her about that, because she kept coming across that in lots and lots of conversations, she has decided to start talking about those issues as matters of policy on the campaign trail. She brought it up last month in New Hampshire. She brought it up as part of a speech she gave on criminal justice reform, during the riots in Baltimore. Now this week, she has brought it up in Iowa. The campaign had scheduled an event for her at the home of one of the first gay couples that ever got married in Iowa. And on paper, you would think that whole event would be about, you know, civil rights and gay civil rights and contrasts between her position and all the Republicans` position on the issue of marriage equality. Maybe they`d be talking about the Supreme Court at a stretch. But based on the logistics of that event, you`d think you`d know what she would be talking about. But she also ended up talking about drug use and access to drug treatment and mental health and other related issues that have come up to her on her listening tour. She said today, quote, "When I started running, when I started thinking about this campaign, I didn`t believe I would be standing in your living room talking about the drug abuse problem, the mental health problem, the suicide problem, but I`m now convinced I have to talk about it. I have to do everything I can in this campaign to raise it to end the stigma against talking about it. So, it`s interesting. If they really are running Secretary Clinton`s campaign as a listening tour, that is leading her as a candidate to talk about stuff that the Beltway doesn`t necessarily talk about or care about, but that really does matter to regular people who are getting these chances to talk to Hillary Clinton at these small events, where sometimes the press are allowed to show that the event is happening. Every once in a while, the press can overhear some of the conversation or they get treated to remarks at the close of the event or something, but mostly the press is boxed out. The press is left, you know, literally running around after her and not getting any official comment as they chase her around Iowa and New Hampshire. So, the reason they`re all so happy is Hillary Clinton today spoke with reporters on purpose in a deliberate question and answer kind of way. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hey, are you all ready? Tell me something I don`t know. Nick, bring some order. Bring some order. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why don`t we start with Nancy? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Why don`t we start -- she started with Nancy. I don`t know who Nancy is. She started with Nancy. Secretary Clinton today taking questions on a lot of different topics, questions on whether the donations made to the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of state represent some sort of conflict of interest. She took questions about her e-mails when she was secretary of state. She said she would like to have all of those to be released as soon as possible, but she said it`s in the State Department`s hands now. She couldn`t control when they come out. She took a question about being a rich person and whether that meant that she as a rich person could credibly campaign on middle class issues. Secretary Clinton also took a reporter`s question on the issue of the Iraq war. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Secretary Clinton, given the situation in Iraq, do you think that we`re better off without Saddam Hussein in power? CLINTON: Look, I know that there have been a lot of questions about Iraq posed to candidates over the last weeks. I`ve made it clear that I made a mistake plain and simple. And I`ve written about it in my book. I`ve talked about it in the past. You know, what we now see is a very different and very dangerous situation. The United States is doing what it can but ultimately this has to be a struggle that the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people are determined to win for themselves. And we can provide support but they`re going to have to do it. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Secretary Clinton on the record with reporters today about her vote to authorize the Iraq war and what she thinks about the Iraq situation now. I mean, all the Republicans candidates are also now having to talk about the Iraq war whenever they have to take questions from reporters. We`re going to have more on that later on the show tonight and also on tomorrow night`s show. But the Clinton campaign and the candidate herself going on the record with reporters honestly about anything right now is it self newsworthy in terms of the way she is campaigning for the presidency. She is mostly doing small group events with no reporters involved invited to ask questions. So, this itself was newsworthy. And Hillary Clinton today also made one other really interesting announcement about her campaign because so far, she has been focused on the two first states, Iowa and New Hampshire. But the campaign announced today that she is also about to take a swing to the important swing state of Florida. So, that all sort of makes sense, right? You know, thinking ahead about locking up the nomination, ha-ha-ha, and also to compete in the fall. Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida sort of makes sense as an itinerary. But then they also announced today that right after she is going Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida, the next place she`s going is -- Texas. What? It`s weird, right? It`s a strange choice. And here`s the great thing -- the Hillary Clinton campaign announcing today that she`s going to take this Texas trip. They said her Texas trip is going to be June 3rd and 4th, and that means that Hillary Clinton is planning her somewhat inexplicable presidential trip to deep red Texas on the same day that Texas` former Governor Rick Perry is going to be announcing in Texas that he is running for president. He is announcing his run during Hillary Clinton`s Texas visit. Oh my God! I hope they don`t end up wearing the same thing. If Rick Perry does what he is expected to do on June 4th, if he announces that he`s running for president, he will make history as the first person to ever pursue a major party nomination for president while also being under criminal indictment. And that, if nothing else, sets him apart from the very, very, very large field of candidates and likely candidates who are vying for the Republican nomination this year. We have created this had initial sort of billboard, this initial tableau of the 22 mainstream Republican candidates or likely candidates for the nomination. So far, we`ve only been able to drop two people off this list. So find Rick Snyder on this page. Look closely at Rick Snyder, because in three, two, one -- poof. There goes Rick Snyder. Now see if you can find John Bolton. Hint, mustache. Because here goes John Bolton -- three, two, one, poof. That`s it. Those are the only two we`ve been able to get rid of before today. Today, we are able to go out on a limb to poof one more tiny Republican head off this assemblage of candidates and likely candidates. Today, we get to poof Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Late last night, the chair of the Indiana state Republican Party posted a message online saying that Mike Pence next month is going to announce at an Indiana state Republican fund-raiser that instead of running for president in 2016, he`s going to run for re-election as Indiana governor. So, I do reserve the right to un-poof him and put him back if it turns out that the Indiana state Republican Party chairman is lying or he`s been misled in some way. But if that state party chairman is right and Mike Pence is going to be running for re-election as governor, that means he is no longer running for president. And so, our 20 candidates on the Republican side become 19. So, let`s just do it, let`s say good-bye to Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Three, two, one -- poof. Bye. I love how long the cloud lingers. That`s my favorite thing. I can still smell him. As a matter of American politics, though, Mike Pence getting out of the presidential race and saying he`s going to run for reelection as governor instead of running for president. It actually makes him maybe even more interesting as a political figure because there`s a real question as to whether or not Mike Pence is going to be able to get re-elected in Indiana. I mean, it`s weird. He has been a Republican Party darling forever. Once he announced that he wanted to be governor of Indiana, he basically didn`t even have to campaign for it. He just got it. Indiana is a deep, deep, deep red state. And Mike Pence has always been a very popular politician. But right now, prospects of his re-election look iffy in his home state, because his reputation is (INAUDIBLE). "The Indianapolis Star" newspaper today greeted the news that Mike Pence is going to run for re-election with a rather brutal opinion column. Here`s the lead, "The big personnel news involving Hoosiers this week is that David Letterman is retiring and Governor Mike Pence wants another four years on the job. Be honest. Who among us wouldn`t prefer to see that sentence reversed?" Citing homemade "dump Mike Pence" signs and Mike Pence must go signs that have apparently been popping up recently in Indianapolis front yards. "Indy Star" columnist Matthew Tully continues, quote, "The problem with Governor Pence running for a second term is that it is still unclear why he ran for a first term. If he thought it was a stepping stone to higher office -- well, he certainly stepped in something." What "The Star" is referring to there I think mostly is this: Governor Mike Pence making himself and the state of Indiana nationally famous and not in a good way earlier this year when he signed into law a bill that would make it effectively legal for Indiana businesses to discriminate against and refuse to serve people because they are gay. The prospect of Indiana becoming the "we don`t serve gays here" state led to a national uproar and boycott threats from across the country and in some cases, across the world, and businesses large and small threatening to yank themselves out of the state and refuse to do business or allow travel there. And that backlash shook Indiana and shook Mike Pence so visibly, it sometimes seemed he might just seize up and fall over. Governor Pence eventually signed into law revisions that somehow softened the law but really the damage was done. Mike Pence`s poll numbers is one measure, fell off a cliff. One Indiana pollster saying the drop in Mike Pence`s approval ratings after the whole RPRA thing was, quote, "historic". In the 20 years that this pollster said his firm has been publishing poll data, quote, "an Indiana governor has never experienced this kind of survey decline in this short a time frame." So, now, he is not only not running for president. He`s running for re-election as someone who is way more vulnerable than anybody thought a guy like Mike Pence ever could be in his home state. And it turns out that a politician like Bobby Jindal looks at that wave crashing over Mike Pence and his political career and decides that he, Bobby Jindal, would like to be the guy who figures out how to surf that wave. When Mike Pence was crumbling in public and Indiana was hemorrhaging, convention bookings and business of all kinds, as that state was earmarking an emergency $2 million appropriation to pay an out-of-state PR firm to try to rescue Indiana`s newly terrible reputation from what Mike Pence had done to it with the discrimination bill, in the middle of that political disaster, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal surveyed the Mike Pence situation in Indiana and said, yes, I`ll have what he`s having and let`s make it a double. In the middle of all that, Bobby Jindal wrote this op-ed in "The New York Times", supporting what Mike Pence had done in the first place and condemning him for having weakened the bill under pressure. Bobby Jindal has since put together this campaign ad which at one point shows him standing in the church nodding sort of his head yes, also talking to more or less enthusiastic audiences about how important it is for businesses to be able to discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation. Well, today in the Louisiana legislature, their Louisiana state version of the Mike Pence bill actually failed -- failed in committee. And there have been a lot of opposition from some of the biggest business interests in the state of Louisiana, including big companies like Dow Chemical. Maybe that was part of the reason the discrimination bill failed today in the Louisiana legislature. But for whatever reason Louisiana`s version of the it`s OK to discriminate against gay people bill, it died today in their legislature. And then within two hours of that bill dying in the legislature, heroic anti-gay Governor Bobby Jindal swooped in like Superman and said that he would enact that policy for the state anyway by means of an executive order, this afternoon out of the blue. So, I mean, Mike Pence actually got to share the blame with his legislature, with the Republicans in the Indiana state legislature, when they economically blew up their own state and made themselves into a national and international pariah, right, at least he got to share blame with the legislature. Bobby Jindal`s legislature refused to do that. Refused to go along and so now, today, this afternoon, in a surprise move, he has done it alone, by Bobby Jindal executive order. And you know what? Maybe he has nothing to lose. Yes, Mike Pence`s numbers went off the cliff when he did something half as aggressively anti-gay is what Bobby Jindal just did. But Bobby Jindal`s numbers are already down in Mike Pence territory anyway. The proportion of Louisiana voters who think that Governor Bobby Jindal is doing an excellent job as governor stands at 4.6 percent. His overall approval rating is so bad right now in his home state that Governor Jindal actually has a lower approval rating among Louisiana voters than President Obama does. Now whatever you think about Bobby Jindal or President Obama just for context here, President Obama lost Louisiana by 17 points in the last election but Louisiana voters like him a lot more than they like their own governor right now. And now, their own Governor Bobby Jindal has done something that has been in the approval rating torpedo for politicians even more skilled than himself. We will see how this pretty radical surprise action by Governor Jindal tonight in Louisiana affects him with his home state voters. Who knows? But if you are not running for re-election, Bobby Jindal is not going to run again in Louisiana. Just like, you know, if you`re not doing that, if you are going to give up on your home state and instead run for president rather than trying to get your home state to elect you again, does it really matter if your home state hates you? If your case to your party nationwide and your case to your whole country is that so far you have been a governor and on the basis of that experience as a governor you think you are ready to be president, does it affect your viability as a presidential candidate if the people you served as governor now hate your guts and think you`ve been doing a terrible job? Politically, it is kind of an open question. Mitt Romney ran for president after being governor of Massachusetts. He ran for president in part by telling the rest of the country and in particular Republicans around the country how much he freaking hated Massachusetts. And, therefore, he was able to wear his own home state voters` hatred of him as kind of a badge of honor. He ran Massachusetts and then while he was still governor pivoted to telling the country how terrible it was to have to live and work in Massachusetts because Massachusetts was such a terrible state. Vote for me, Iowa. The last group of people who voted for me hate my guts now and I hate them back. Those jerks. But it seems weird but Romney won the nomination with that argument. It kind of worked for him. So, maybe it doesn`t matter. If you`re not running for re-election at home, you instead want to run for president, maybe it doesn`t matter. But deeply, deeply, deeply, deeply, deeply unpopular home state governors like Bobby Jindal and also Chris Christie are about to test that political hypothesis in a big way this year. I mean, a lot is happening in politics right now. Even just today, a lot is happening on the campaign trail, the 2016 campaign trail, but even with everything that`s going on, I have to say, what we are about to show you is by far the greatest thing that has happened at least in the last 24 hours on the campaign trail, maybe in as long as a week. Well, Ben Carson did have his front teeth fall out. But still, this is like a hall of fame politician moment. The context here is New Jersey. Last month, the Quinnipiac polling firm polled on Chris Christie`s approval rating in New Jersey. Quinnipiac doesn`t poll everywhere. They poll in nine states, Florida, Connecticut, Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Jersey. But they did this poll on Chris Christie`s approval rating among New Jersey voters and what they found is Chris Christie, out of all the states they poll, Chris Christie is definitely the governor who was more hated by his own constituents than any other governor. Nobody has poll numbers as bad as he does within his home state. And so, you would think that is awkward if you want to run for president on the basis of what a great job you`ve done as governor in your home state. It`s awkward if your home state thinks you`ve done a terrible job -- unless you have a secret decoder ring that explains how your seemingly terrible numbers are actually excellent numbers if you only look at them the right way. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS HOST: The polls in New Jersey right now say by a 65 percent to 29 percent margin, the New Jersey voters say you would not make a good president. Now, they know you the best. Why shouldn`t we trust them? GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: They want me to stay. A lot of those people in the 65 percent want me to stay, and I`ve heard that from lots of people at town hall meetings. Don`t leave to run for president because we want you to stay. KELLY: But they say you would not make a good president. CHRISTIE: No, I think people hear the question they want to hear. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: No, no, no, we know exactly what question people heard. It`s not a hypothetical. There`s a specific question they were asked. Do you think Chris Christie would make a good president? The answer from an overwhelming number of New Jersey voters is -- no, Chris Christie would not make a good president. Now, in Chris Christie`s mind, is that somehow secretly a good number because people only think he would be a bad president because they love him as governor so much? No, no. There`s no conceivable way that something like that could explain these terrible numbers. In the same poll, New Jersey voters were asked, is your governor, Chris Christie, trustworthy and honest? A majority of New Jersey voters say, no. They were asked. Has your governor, Chris Christie, done a good job handling the state budget? A majority of New Jersey voters say, no. They were asked, has your Governor, Chris Christie, done a good job handling the state`s economy? A majority of voters say, no. This is a particularly nice one. Does your governor, Chris Christie, care about the needs of New Jersey voters? A majority of New Jersey voters say this guy, seriously, forget about it. Chris Christie is despised in his home state, hated by his own constituents as governor, believed by them to not only be disinterested in them as people but unsuited for the job of president of the United States. So, Governor Chris Christie and Governor Bobby Jindal and a few others of these guys are going to give us a good test this year as to whether or not being hated by the people who know you best is as insurmountable of a political hurdle as it would seem. As we await the results of that test, though, in the meantime we do have now forever for prosperity the thing people will use forever as a device for calibrating the machine that measures exactly how much fantastical self-regard it takes to do something like run for president. This will forever be the end of the number line in terms of how much these guys have to like this themselves in the face of undeniable data that unequivocally shows them why they shouldn`t. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KELLY: The polls in New Jersey right now say by a 65 percent to 29 percent margin, the New Jersey voters say you would not make a good president. Now, they know you the best. Why shouldn`t we trust them? CHRISTIE: They want me to stay. A lot of those people in the 65 percent want me to stay. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, it turns out there has been a big oil spill on the coast near Santa Barbara, California, tonight. We`ve got the latest on that, including some very worrying pictures from the scene that we`re just getting in. We`ve got that news ahead. Again, an oil spill apparently, an oil pipeline spill in California tonight on the coast. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: There are lots of ways to tow a car. There`s the hook and chain tow truck. There`s the trucks that use a T-bar to lift up two of your wheels. Those kinds of trucks have the added benefit when they are not towing cars of reminding you to go to church because when they are at rest and not towing something, they look like trucks hoisting a giant cross. There`s also the highfalutin flat bed style two tracks that your wreck or ticketed automobile can get towed in comfort and in style. When it comes to towing not a car but a motorcycle, it turns out the trick is you can tow a lot of them at once as long as you do it very carefully. You can tow a lot of them at once even if a lot of them are big and freaking expensive giant American bikes. These are scenes from the parking lot of that Waco, Texas, restaurant this week that had a massive biker gang shoot-out on Sunday leaving nine people dead and 18 more people injured. Over 100 motorcycles were left in the parking lot after that mass killing and the mass arrests that followed. And so now, in the wake of that biker gang blood bath, just one of the things local law enforcement is having to deal with is towing away 135 high-end motorcycles that belong to multiple violent biker gangs. They`ve actually had to put SWAT teams as escorts with the tow trucks, escorting the tow trucks and protecting them while they`re towing away these expensive Harleys. Investigators at the crime scene have been protected by police snipers who have been stationed on the roof of the restaurant over watching the crime scene. They`ve also had snipers and SWAT teams stationed at highway overpasses nearby. They were still there today on overwatch while investigators work the scene. Now, this crime in Waco itself is a big enough deal for law enforcement to handle, right? But they are also now are dealing with the logistics of having 170 biker gang members taken into custody all at once. Everyone was arrested on Sunday. They originally were brought to the Waco convention center and then move to the jail. They were still arraigning people today, as many as 50 people arraigned today after a justice of the peace went to the jail to do the arraignments rather than trying to arrange getting all of those people into court one by one. At one point in the process, they apparently decided that what they should do is set a blanket bail for all of the suspects rather than going through each case one by one. They set that bail at $1 million each. That has the knock-on effect of simplifying things a little bit for local authorities because there`s not a single bail bondsman in Waco who will do a million dollar bond. So, unless you happen to have a million dollars cash on you and you`re also an outlaw biker, you can`t really get help. There`s no real way that you can get out of jail on a million dollars bond. So, that leaves all of the suspects there in jail. Before that policy was set, though, they let three out on lesser bonds, less than $1 million, bail amounts they were able to post. Today after they set the million dollar blanket one for everyone, those bonds for these three guys were revoked. They put out an arrest warrant for these three who had been released. They have been rearrested today and tonight. In terms of those killed in the blood bath, police identified all of the nine people who were killed. Preliminary autopsy results were released for all of the nine victims. They died of gunshot wounds, 18 people were also wounded in had this fight on Sunday, people wounded badly enough to be hospitalized. Gunshot wounds and stab wounds. In terms of thinking about this police challenge, think about it this -- one of the things they have to think about now is about those 11 people who were shot or stabbed and hurt badly enough to have to go to the hospital but have since been released from the hospital. Now one of the things the police have to think about whether those 11 people should be arrested now, too, along with the other 170 people that they have in jail, now that those people are well enough to be out of the hospital. There`s also the matter of funeral plans for the nine people who died. Police say they will be keeping an eye on the funerals in the days ahead as well in case the funerals themselves end up being an occasion for more revenge killing or attacks by rival gangs. Cancel the overtime, right? A lot of the national coverage of Waco has focused a lot on why this happened, what might have set it off, what the territorial disputes might be between the rival gangs and that will be interesting to find out. But there is a more proximate and are more pressing question for the people who are dealing with this not just as a news story but as their daily work right now. And the question they`re dealing with as they investigate what happened and try to cope with having all these folks in custody, they also have to worry now as to whether or not this thing is actually even over. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SGT. PATRICK SWANTON, WACO, TX POLICE DEPARTMENT: I will tell you that in the gang world and in the biker world, that violence usually condones more violence. Is this over? Most likely not. There has been enough tragedy and there`s been enough bloodshed in Waco, Texas. We would appreciate there not being any more. Are we asking for cooperation from known criminal bike gangs? Absolutely we are. We are asking them to stand down. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Sergeant Patrick Swanton out of Waco Police Department speaking earlier today in Waco. His police department is both coping with the aftermath of this massacre and also worried that they might still be in the middle of an ongoing very dangerous thing. Joining us now is Sergeant Patrick Swanton with the Waco Police Department. Sergeant, I know you`re very busy. I appreciate you taking the time to be here tonight. SWANTON: Yes, ma`am. Thank you for having us. MADDOW: Those three people who were released earlier today and then had their bond revoked, am I right to say that they`ve all three been rearrested, all been brought back into custody now? SWANTON: Yes, ma`am, that`s correct. The last one, the third, Mr. King, was taken into custody about an hour ago. It`s my understanding he turned himself in to an Austin area jail. MADDOW: I realize that you as law enforcement have a strategic interest in not glorifying these gangs, not hyping them. I know there`s been an effort to not talk about these gangs by name. One of the things, though, I find fascinating is there were so many shots fired, this was such a big fight, with but it seems like no bystanders were hurt. It seems almost remarkable no police officers were hurt or even killed in this melee. Can you say that all of those who were killed were gang members who were involved in this conflict? SWANTON: Yes, we can tell you that the nine individuals that are confirmed deceased, they were all wearing colors, which is their insignia showing they are in a biker gang. MADDOW: Were they from a number of different gangs or just one or two? SWANTON: Yes, ma`am, that`s correct, they were from at least five known gangs -- five different, separate -- different, separate gangs. We know that there were two majorities, if you will, of gang members and then there were branch-offs or small factions. MADDOW: In terms of the suspects you`ve got in custody, this remarkably large number of people in custody on potentially very serious charges, you said today at one of your press briefings that some of these suspects in custody aren`t cooperating with investigators or they`re lying about who they are, making this as difficult as possible. Can you explain what you meant by that, how that`s going? SWANTON: Yes, obviously, typically people commit murder and are involved in gang activity -- they are not always honest and especially with police officers. So obviously we have to do some very serious investigation to determine if what they tell us are truths, half-truths, or no truth whatsoever. MADDOW: Are there people who you still don`t have clear identification for, but you do have in custody? SWANTON: No. It`s my understanding that every one of the individuals we have processed and booked into the county jail have all been identified. Obviously, the McLennan County Jail has a huge resource available to them as far as staff and being able to process those individuals. We do what we call two-finger lookups. We can check through fingerprints. We have the full capabilities of state and federal agencies that have assisted us in identifying individuals as well. MADDOW: Can you tell, sir, if this is going to lead to another round of bloodshed among gangs? Do you have intelligence, access to information, are you getting intelligence from the suspects in custody that tell you if this was a flare-up of the kind we`re not going to see again, or if this is actually going to be the start of something? SWANTON: You know, the unfortunate side of this, had history often repeats itself. And what we know in the past is typically when biker gangs or criminal gangs have a turf war or a blood war or a fight, it usually is preceded by another event somewhere. That`s why we said earlier -- we were asking, we`re appealing to them to stand down. We`re asking them not to have any additional further violence. Will they ever get along? No. But we`ve seen enough bloodshed here. We`re asking for no more and hopefully we`ll get their cooperation with that. MADDOW: Sergeant Patrick Swanton with the Waco Police Department -- I know how hard you`re working there right now, sir. Thank you for taking the time to talk with us tonight. Good luck. SWANTON: Yes, ma`am. Thank you. MADDOW: Thank you. All right. We`ve got lots more ahead tonight, including that breaking news I was just talking about from this California oil spill. We`ve got images from that spill just coming in and we`ve got that next. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)( MADDOW: So here is breaking news out of California tonight and it is ugly. This is Refugio Beach, California, this evening. That giant splotch that you see spreading across the water is oil. The U.S. Coast Guard saying an oil pipeline has ruptured Refugio Beach this afternoon, created this spill that stretched down four miles of the California coast. Refugio Beach is about 20 miles southwest of Santa Barbara. It`s about 120 miles up the coast from Los Angeles. I think you can see here, this is where the oil pipeline apparently burst. It didn`t burst in the water, it burst up on the land, but it appears the spill, the oil, traveled down under a highway and ultimately into the water, into the ocean. Authorities say the pipeline leaked today for about three hours. It was reportedly stopped by about 3:00 local time, which should be 6:00 Eastern Time. This is the pipeline operated by Plains All America pipeline. There`s no word yet on how much oil spilled or, more importantly, what type of oil has spilled into the ocean here. Refugio Beach is a state park. I should mention that its camp site is fully booked for Memorial Day weekend this weekend. I guess that might not happen. We`re watching the situation, the size of the spill, and now, efforts to contain it. We`ll let you know as we learn more. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, we`ve got a very unusual political story ahead. It is a big and remarkable vote that is about to happen in one of the reddest of all the reddest states of all. The vote is going to happen tomorrow, we think. It`s going to make major national news when it happens. And we`ve got a live report from there next. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Somewhere in the world right now, in the fervent wishes of the governor of Nebraska, a batch of drugs is about to make its way from India to Lincoln, Nebraska, because Nebraska is out of lethal injection drugs for killing prisoners and you really just can`t buy lethal injection drugs in our country anymore. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts therefore dialed up a pharmaceutical company he found in India and placed an order, a $54,000 -- $54,400 order. It was $51,000 for the drugs themselves and $3,400 for shipping and handling. And that`s, of course, because the drugs are coming all the way from Indiana. The governor`s office told us tonight they are hoping to get that first shipment of drugs from India in mid-June. If this works, if it turns out that states can order execution drugs from India they can`t otherwise get in this country, Nebraska will have figured out how to get around the nationwide shortage that is putting execution by lethal injection out of reach for death penalty states across the country and even for the federal government. The FDA has also told us this week they are looking into what Nebraska is trying to do bringing in these drugs from India. But while Nebraska`s governor is waiting for his shipment from India and the FDA is checking it out, wondering if it`s legal, Nebraska lawmakers seem poised to take things in a wildly different direction. This is a remarkable thing that is about to happen. The Nebraska legislature is technically a non-person legislature, but it is a very conservative state and it`s a very heavily Republican group of legislatures in Nebraska. But for whatever reason, though, by huge margins in this session in Nebraska, those legislators have voted repeatedly to abolish the death penalty in that state. The Republican governor of the state wants to keep the death penalty. After all, he`s working himself to try to get Nebraska a new death penalty drugs even if he has to get them by means that will probably be found illegal down the road. But even as the governor is doing that, Nebraska`s conservative legislature is voting so strongly to abolish the death penalty that it looks like they will have enough votes to override his veto of the repeal if it comes to that. They`ve taken two of the three votes they need to do this are already. We have just learned that the third and final vote is scheduled for tomorrow. But that means that the lethal injection drugs and the bill abolishing the need for the lethal injection drugs are both on their way to Governor Rickett`s desk and it looks like the bill might get there first in Nebraska. Amazing, right? Joining us now to help us understand is Paul Hammel. He`s Lincoln bureau chief for "The Omaha World Herald" newspaper. Mr. Hammel, thanks for being with us tonight. Thanks for your time. PAUL HAMMEL, THE OMAHA WORLD HERALD: Yes, thank you for having me. It`s an interesting time in Nebraska. MADDOW: Do you think this repeal bill is going to pass? HAMMEL: I think it`s got the best chance it`s ever had to pass. There`s still a lot that could happen and the governor has been putting kind of a last-minute full full-court press on the issue. He said he would veto the bill, but so far the bill has passed with 30 votes. We have 49 senators in our one-house legislature and it takes 30 votes to override a veto. So, so far they have enough votes to override a governor`s veto. Now, he`s trying to pick off a vote or two here. As you mentioned in a dramatic and well-timed move last week the governor announced, wait a second, I`ve got some drugs coming to restore the with ability to carry out a lethal injection. That happened last week. That happened right before second-round debate. I think there was one senator kind of wavering. So, we`ll see. I mean, funny things can happen, you know, we have to advance it to the governor and if he vetoes it like they promise and they`ll override the veto. So, they have two more votes yet to go. MADDOW: Is this getting a ton of attention in the state? And is it clear what public opinion is on this matter or is this kind of happening in legislative space and nobody knows what people are gong to think about it until it`s done? HAMMEL: Well, we`ve got a senator here, Senator Ernie Chambers, who has made repealing the death penalty his goal over 40 years in the legislature for long -- for many years, he was the only African-American senator here. So he sees it as a penalty that`s handed out unequally, discriminates. So I mean, he`s been pushing it every year since he`s been here. Two years ago, there were enough votes to advance the bill, but not enough to defeat the veto. This year, it`s been kind of a surprise. It`s a brand new legislature, supposedly a more conservative legislature. And it came out 8-0 from a committee. That`s the first time it ever happened. And lo and behold, when they got to the vote, 30 votes. I think it may have caught the governor, our attorney general, who is pro death penalty, by surprise. So, it`s really some interesting dynamics going on right now. MADDOW: It`s fascinating. And watching -- I mean, we expect this vote will happen tomorrow. We`ll watch to see what happens, but this is an unexpected and fascinating process to watch. Paul Hammel, Lincoln bureau chief for the "Omaha World Herald," thanks for helping us understand it. Thanks for your reporting. All right. Still ahead, why you just got a big public apology. Oh. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Just checking back in on this breaking news we`ve been covering in terms of this oil spill in southern California. This spill at Refugio Beach, it`s an oil pipeline that ruptured and it leaked for about three hours today. This is about 20 miles from Santa Barbara. The latest thing we`re told is this is about a four-mile slick on the coast. And the direction it`s moving, it`s moving south towards El Capitan State Beach in Southern California. This is a big spill, as we say, it`s about four miles wide. The response is under way right now, but we`ll keep an eye on it over the course of the night. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Hey, look! You just got a full page apology from the power company. Duke Energy put these full page apology ads in North Carolina`s biggest newspapers yesterday and in "USA Today" and in "The Wall Street Journal." What Duke is apologizing for is having spilled nearly 40,000 tons of toxic coal ash into North Carolina`s Dan River last year. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONNA LISENBY: Can you get out a sample? I can try. He just asked us to move. (INAUDIBLE) LISENBY: Go ahead. All right. Let`s go. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: We got this new video a couple days ago of Duke Energy`s disastrous coal ash spill last year. The people you see taking samples from the spill are Waterkeepers. These folks who watch dog the lakes and the rivers. They turned over to federal prosecutors this video that they took and also the results of their sampling in that river during the spill. Well, last week, the federal case about the spill wrapped up and so now we can see that evidence, too. We could see what federal investigators got to see. In that federal case, Duke Energy pled guilty nine times. The company agreed to pay $102 million fine, which is the largest criminal fine in North Carolina history. So, Duke`s coal ash spill was a crime. Duke pled guilty. But ever since that spill, one central question has been whether the state government of North Carolina itself was in some way criminally involved. North Carolina`s governor, Pat McCrory, spent 28 years working at Duke Energy before he went into politics. As the new governor of North Carolina, he and his state government stepped in three times to stop, effectively, to big foot lawsuits against Duke. Environmentalists sued to force Duke to cleanup their coal ash pits around the state, but the McCrory administration stepped in over and over again to basically block those lawsuits in North Carolina. Now, next door in South Carolina, the coal ash problem there did not play out the same way. Next door, they didn`t have a former Duke Energy executive as governor. And in South Carolina, the state didn`t intervene when environmentalists brought their lawsuits. So now, in South Carolina, literally this past week, you can see Duke Energy trucking away coal ash as part of a voluntary out of court settlement. In South Carolina, they got a Duke cleanup that started last week. In North Carolina, though, the state intervened to stop the lawsuits. What they got in North Carolina was a disaster and then it was the feds who stepped in and now that disaster has Duke Energy apologizing in the papers and paying the biggest criminal fine in North Carolina history. And what does that mean for the state government? And when that case got settled, it appeared maybe Duke`s admission of guilt and this big fine would be the end of it. Maybe Duke would take all the blame and the McCrory administration would skip away. That was how it looked. But check this out -- the lawyer for Duke Energy now says federal prosecutors are still investigating and they`re investigating the state government`s role in all this. Duke`s lawyer says the federal criminal probe is ongoing and duke is helping the prosecutors as part of their plea deal. So, maybe Governor McCrory and his state government are not off the hook at all. Tonight, the question of whether North Carolina regulators broke the law in the run-up to this coal ash calamity appears to be very much alive. Prosecutors wouldn`t talk about that part of the investigation last week in the local press in North Carolina. They wouldn`t respond to us about it. But Duke Energy officials confirmed to us that they are helping federal prosecutors. North Carolina regulators told us that they are continue to go cooperate. And for the record, I cannot wait to learn more about what is happening in this story. The Duke Energy coal ash thing in North Carolina remains very, very, very interesting and alive as an investigation. 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. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END