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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 07/07/15

Guests: Todd Rutherford, Jennifer Dlouhy

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