Cross-posted from the Wonk Room.
On Monday, May 17, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews erupted in anger at the oil disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. Matthews expressed his rage at the profits BP continues to reap as it fails to fix the growing environmental apocalypse. He also criticized the behavior of the Obama administration, which has let the foreign oil giant control much of the disaster response. Matthews wondered why President Obama doesn’t “nationalize that industry and get the job done” and noted that in the “brutal society” of China, “they execute people for this”:
It is maddening that our government is — everybody says, “Capitalism is great. Unbridled free enterprise is great.” Look at it!
The moral hazard created by privatized profit and socialized risk has allowed bankers to cripple our economy and energy companies to destroy our planet. Matthews concluded by calling out the “millions of people in the American right” who deny the threats of climate change and other environmental catastrophes from our dependence on fossil fuels:
Millions of people in the American right who sit around and say there’s no such thing as mankind destroying his environment through climate change or whatever — there’s an example of what we’re doing right now. We can destroy our habitat on this planet, and it’s the only one we got.
Rush Limbaugh fired back, saying Matthews is “basically asking for a dictator” with his “delusional, deranged” commentary. Matthews has repeated his criticism of BP and the administration, telling Jay Leno on May 21 that President Obama is acting like “a Vatican observer here.” On May 19, Matthews asked for “Harry Truman to come back and do the job” — making reference to Truman’s seizure of the steel industry in 1952.
I have a hunch that the reason they don’t want to fix this mess down there is because they would admit who did it if they fix it. Nobody is down — if this was a nuclear bomb ready to go off, we would be down there. I am so angry — I don’t even want to talk about it. I get so mad at this oil company. Why aren’t they fixing it, first of all?
You know, I have a suspicion — I will go back to it again — I don’t think they’re doing their best. I don‘t think there’s — the government is doing its best. Why doesn’t the president go in there and nationalize that industry and get the job done for the people? There’s a national interest in this, not just a BP interest. We’re letting BP fix a national problem.
In China, it’s a more brutal society, a more brutal society, Kate, but they execute people for this. Major industrial leaders that commit crimes like this. Failure like this.
This is a serious, serious problem. It is not over. It continues to destroy a part of our planet, basically. Part of our habitat, our American habitat. And everybody just sits and watches television every night and says, “Oh, well, that‘s interesting.” And these guys are still drawing their paychecks, still making their profits. The oil industry has been ballooning in profits this year, and nobody is doing anything about it, except — what are we, the Vatican observers now? We just watch? It is maddening that our government is — everybody says, “Capitalism is great. Unbridled free enterprise is great.” Look at it!
Millions of people in the American right who sit around and say there’s no such thing as mankind destroying his environment through climate change or whatever, there’s an example of what we’re doing right now. We can destroy our habitat on this planet, and it’s the only one we got.