The Rachel Maddow Show | January 04, 2013
>> going to be kind of an epic show. all right. are you familiar with the concept of wild card weekend ? this is wild card weekend . it's the opening weekend of the nfl play-offs, which is important to know because even if you are someone who does not care at all about football, you should know that the people in your life who do care about football are going to be very distracted this weekend, because there are four really good games. two on saturday, and two on sunday. it's called wildcard weekend for reasons that are mostly too boring to explain here. suffice it to say it's the first weekend of the play-offs that includes teams that did not all win their divisions, but they got into the play-offs anyway as wildcards. on the occasion of this wild card weekend in football land, the man who has decided to make himself washington 's political wild card is the brand-newly retired massachusetts congressman barney frank . barney frank kicked off the weekend by going on tv this morning and said he would please like to be picked to be the new senator for massachusetts . he said he would like to be the interim replacement for john kerry , who is expected to be confirmed soon as president obama 's new secretary of state.
>> a month ago, a few weeks ago in fact i said i wasn't interested, which is kind of like you're about to graduate and they said you got to go to summer school . but the deal now means that february, march and april are going to be among the most important months in american financial --
>> so you're going to consider it?
>> yeah. i'm not going to be coy. it's not anything i've ever been good at. i told the governor i would now like, frankly, to do that.
>> i told the governor that i would like to do that. barney frank then said to massachusetts governor deval patrick on national tv , he said, quote, coach, put me in. this is not usually how these things work, right? most people don't publicly lobby for this kind of job. you're supposed to say something diplomatic like oh, i'd be honored to accept the position if it's offered to me. but really, that's a decision for the governor to make. that's what everybody else does. barney frank , though, wild card , which is why everybody loves him. here is how massachusetts governor deval patrick reacted to that rather surprising development just a couple of hours later.
>> would you have preferred that he not go public?
>> well, would i have preferred. does it matter in the case of congressman frank what i would have preferred. i have treated those conversations as confidential. and i think in every other case the person has treated them as confidential. and in congressman frank's case, he has chosen not to on his end. i'm going to keep my end.
>> it is probably true that deval patrick has had the conversation about the senate seat with a bunch of people. but barney frank is just going on tv and talking about it and saying that he wants the job. really, nobody does it that way. the serving massachusetts senator john kerry of course has been nominated to replace hillary clinton at state. we learned this week he is starting to prep for confirmation hearings. he was at the state department all day wednesday. the staff there now say they expect him to start reporting to the department regularly. they say they're now working with the foreign relations committee to pick a date for his confirmation hearings. should he be confirmed, what happens to mr. kerry's senate seat is this. the massachusetts governor you see on the right side of your screen there, deval patrick will appoint somebody to fill the seat. so without any sort of political contest, that person gets to hold the senate job for a few months, until a special election will be held this spring or summer in massachusetts . now barney frank is saying that while he would like to be the interim senator for a few months, he doesn't want the permanent gig. he says he will not run in the special election when it happens. the democratic party in massachusetts , including barney frank , have now pretty much coalesced behind who they -- or coalesced around who they want their senate candidate to be for the senate seat in the special election . who they want to hold the seat long-term, right? and it's this guy. his name is ed markey . ed markey is currently a member of the house from massachusetts . and what ed markey is doing right now to prepare for a potentially very difficult, very high stakes battle for this very high profile senate seat, a race that stand alone on the political calendar in the springtime, a race that will get a ton of national attention. what is ed markey doing now to get ready for that? he is picking a huge fight with the single most profitable industry on the face of the earth, woo-hoo! ed markey is known in washington for essentially being the sheriff of the oil industry . he is the top democrat in the house on energy issue, and he has been really confrontational with the oil industry , particularly on safety issues. at a time when lots and lots of his colleagues in congress have been quietly and happily awash in oil money. but ed markey has just been a bulldog on the oil industry over the years, particularly on public safety . during the deepwater horizon disaster in 2010 , for example, it was ed markey who brought national attention to the fact that the big oil companies, including bp , had basically just mailed it in when it came to their oil response plans. these documents that were supposed to describe in great detail exactly what they would do in the event of a disaster, ed markey hauled the oil industry 's executives up to capitol hill to call them on what was really in those plans, to do this --
>> these five companies have response plans that are virtually identical. the plans cite identical response capabilities and out the identical ineffective equipment. like bp , three other companies include references to protecting walruses, which have not called the gulf of mexico home for three million years. two other plans are such dead ringers for bp 's that they list a phone number for the same long dead expert. it just it seems to me that for each of your companies, the only technology you seem to be relying upon is a xerox machine to put together your response plans.
>> to the extent that ed markey is nationally famous, it is for that sort of thing. and he is now -- think about this for a second. he is now look at a hugely high profile senate race in a couple of months that depending on who he is running against, maybe scott brown , it could be a multi, multi, multimillion-dollar special election involving lots of outside cash. elizabeth warren was just officially sworn in as a u.s. senator yesterday. in her run for u.s. senate for massachusetts , she made herself the nation's most high profile opponent of what is second the most profitable industry in the nation, the banking industry . the only industry that is scarier than that in terms of the power and influence they throw around in washington is the most profitable industry on earth, the oil industry . and the most pugnacious confronter of that industry is now going for the other massachusetts senate seat. wow. ed markey has not just been an aggressive watchdog on the oil industry at times when there are high profile spills like the deepwater horizon spill, but also when the industry has stuff going on that does not get as much national attention, like, for example, the situation we have going on right now in remote, hard-to-get-to alaska , where a shell oil rig laden with 150,000 gallons of oil and fuel has run aground in unof the most pristine, ecologically sensitive bodies of water in the country. emergency response teams have been dropped on to that rig in each of the last three days. they report that the rig is upright and stable. they say that no fuel has leaked out to the ocean yet. but this is an ongoing crisis. and the response so far from washington , led by congressman ed markey , has been swift and rather loud. congressman markey is now demanding that shell turn over whatever contingency plans they had for this rig operation. he provided a statement to us tonight in which he says that given this accident, given the safety failures in the past, he does not support any -- he does not support issuing any new permits to drill in the arctic. yesterday more than 40 of his colleagues in the house came out and publicly called for a federal investigation into this incident. and over the course of this ongoing situation up there, the news has just gotten worse and not better for shell . shell currently has two rigs in operation in the arctic. the one on the left is the one that just ran aground off the coast. the one on the right is now as of today reportedly the subject of a criminal investigation . cbs news reporting tonight that the u.s. coast guard has opened up a criminal investigation into that shell rig as a result of, among other things, serious issues with the ship's safety management and pollution control systems. tonight shell personnel in alaska who are responding to this latest accident appear to be doing everything they can to limit press coverage of what is going on up there. a report were the anchorage daily news, which is a great paper and has been doing intensive coverage on this, the reporter attempted to get close to the command center today for this incident, and reported that, quote, guards are stationed outside a meeting room that has been turned into a command post . they said no reporters were allowed inside and they wouldn't even let a photographer snap a quick picture or allow a reporter to glance at the sign-in sheet. this industry that has been facing pressure from washington over and over again in recent years, again with yet another one of these incidents is in full damage control . again. joining us now is jerry bailenson, editor at popular mechanics . with a no-fly zone by shell , it is impossible to get firsthand reporting from the scene . but he follows the gas and oil industries for popular mechanics . and he spent four days on board this specific shell rig in october. he is well versed in the technological challenges that a company in oil exploration and drilling in the arctic. you're looking at some of his footage of the culex pipe desk as it passes through the beaufort sea north of alaska . you obviously know these things better than i do. it's nice to have you here.
>> thank you.
>> the unified command team in alaska which includes the coast guard and shell , they have put up five-mile no-fly zone, a one-mile no boat zone around this stranded rig. i tend to trust the coast guard , even if i don't trust the oil companies , but i don't know if that is overkill or that is appropriate given how much that will crimp the ability of any reporters to actually cover what is happening there.
>> yeah, it's a little hard for me to second guess the coast guard , which i really love. those guys are really good, especially in alaska . their helicopters are flying around and they are putting people on and off that rig. i would assume that it's for safety, and those helicopter pilots are risking their lives every time they go out to that rig. so i would assume that they're trying to keep tourists and probably journalists away, but not so much to limit information as to limit access for safety reasons. i don't read too much into that.
>> and i don't know whether or not or not to. i'm inclined to trust the coast guard in situations like this if only purely on the basis of expertise. it is also striking to see how much shell is trying to keep this quiet, and trying to keep reporters out, and trying to keep journalism away from this, trying to downplay it. how big a risk do you think this is to this ecologically sensitive area? we're talking about 150,000 gallons of fuel and oil.
>> it's a really great question. so there are two different issues, i think. one is this oil rig with this amount of fuel on board in this area. and the other one is arctic drilling. and they're really two separate things.
>> so this is not a large amount of fuel compared to freighters that run aground a coupe of years ago or several years ago there was a freighter in the allusions that ran aground. and often those carry a lot of fuel, bunker fuel, which is very bad. it's dark, gooey, disgusting stuff, and it's terrible to get into the water. freighters and tankers also run aground pose great risk. so i think that the kulik has run aground. we don't want any of that fuel in the water. the thing that pollutions will be looking at and regulators will be looking at is whether or not we want drilling in the arctic, which is entirely different and much bigger in my mind issue.
>> and that has sort of a new pointiness to it with the prospect of ed markey not just being the top democrat in the house on this issue, and as a person who is being so willing to be confrontational with the companies on this. but potentially going into a very high profile race and joining the senate . that puts a real political edge on it. do you feel the political concerns expressed around the arctic are well informed? do you feel there is reason to have real political concern over that?
>> oh, well sure. one of the things that happened this year, shell wener. and just had a terrible year. there was air permits that they weren't able to comply with, a containment vessel that broke in a really dramatic fashion. and a lot of shell 's biggest critics were surprised shell didn't do better this year. everyone thought they would be able to pull off drilling really smoothly. there is a lot of well informed in alaska and especially on the north slope about whether we should be drilling for oil oil in the arctic or not. shell is only the first of several companies that have leases out there, and they're kind out out in front. behind them is conocophillips, statoil and other companies. they're talking about real offshore industry which has really existed up there. that's an issue that will be a big one in the next few years.
>> it's going to be continually a big one in the next few days has this situation continues to not get resolved in alaska . we hope that it will. will you come back and talk to us about this more?
>> sure. there is some reason to think if kulik will be pulled off where it was grounded in the next few years. that isn't confirmed, but that's what they're hoping to do. jerry beilinson spent four days aboard the kulik in october. appreciate your time.
>> thank you.
>>> lots ahead tonight, including an end to the show tonight that is slightly epic. hold on. 8. waking the baby.