Interview with Senator Sherrod Brown

By Rachel Maddow Show, Rachel Maddow Show - September 24, 2012

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW September 24, 2012

Guest: Sherrod Brown


THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thanks, my friend.

And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.

This is the logo of the China National Offshore Oil Corporation. It`s kind of cool, right? I like to call this CNOOC. The businesspeople the businesspeople call it CNOOC -- I think CNOOC is better. It`s sort of cuter.

But as you can tell, the CNOOC logo is kind of a pictograph, explaining what they do. The first big arch of the capital N I think it`s supposed to look like an oil derrick and the big C is the platform that the NOOC it`s sitting on. The whole thing is in blue water because they are an offshore oil company. So, it`s oil and water, right?

CNOOC, this Chinese company is a huge company. It`s almost entirely owned by the Chinese government.

And in 2005, CNOOC tried to take over an oil company based in California. So big Chinese, state-run company trying to take over a California oil company. Because these are oil companies we`re talking about, and because this is the Chinese government, a big business deal like that actually does have national security implications for us as a country.

So, that is the kind of international business deal that`s subject to review by something called the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States. It`s a big inter-agency committee and it reviews this stuff. The treasury secretary heads it up. It exists under every president.

When that committee was reviewing this deal, with CNOOC trying to buy this California company, Congress went absolutely nuts over it. And in the end, that deal did not go through. It didn`t happen. That was in 2005. China was not allowed to come in and buy that company.

Well, now, CNOOC is trying good. They are in the process of trying to buy a Canadian oil company. But again, the Committee on Foreign Investments in the U.S. has some jurisdiction here because the Canadian company does a lot of business in the Gulf of Mexico, our Gulf of Mexico.

So, this is again a Chinese government-owned giant oil company trying to buy up a chunk of American oil infrastructure.

Think the deal is going to go through this time? It`s a $15 billion oil deal. You think it`s going to go through? It didn`t go through in 2005, how about this new version?

Well, since the last time the United States said no to CNOOC, CNOOC has s also made itself famous for going into business with Iran. They are in the process of developing a huge Iranian natural gas field.

I know it`s China and China doesn`t follow the same rules as everybody else, but why would they get into bed with the international rogue state that is Iran? Apparently, they did it specifically to annoy us, as described in the "Financial Times" today. The Chinese government told CNOOC to go ahead with their big Iran deal, quote, "immediately after the U.S. agreed to sell arms to Taiwan."

So we agreed to sell arms to Taiwan. We did something that annoyed China. And China then responded by saying, fine, we`ll have our giant state-owned oil company hook Iran up then. How do you like us now?

Well, since then, t chairman of this giant oil corporation has started talking about that company`s deepwater oil drilling rights that they bought up all over the world. He started talking about the rights as, quote, "mobile national territory." It`s also described as a strategic weapon.

That`s how they get criticized. That`s how they talk about themselves.

So if you believe them, China is sort of essentially weaponizing its oil industry. At least this part of it. That`s the way they talk about it.

And they are doing business with Iran, in a giant one-fingered salute to the rest of the civilized world. And, by the way, they would still like permission to buy this Canadian oil firm that has a lot of interest in the United States. Is that going to be OK with the United States?

It`s probably not going to be OK with the United States. I mean, it`s a $15 billion deal. So, who knows, right? But everybody would understand that this is not going to be OK. If that kind of thing doesn`t get the green light from the United States, given this company and their history and their intentions here.

And the only people who would not understand that not going through, the only people who wouldn`t understand about that being kyboshed by the U.S. government for obvious national security reasons would probably be the people who are invested in CNOOC, right? People who are invested in this Chinese oil company that calls itself a weapon.

One of the investors in CNOOC happens to be running for president of the United States. Guess who it is? If you guessed Gary Johnson, no. Also, It`s not Virgil Goode. Actually, it would be Mitt Romney.

Mitt Romney is an investor in this Chinese state-owned oil company. Or at least he was, as recently as a year ago.

Mr. Romney`s tax returns that were just released late on Friday showed that seven months after it was widely reported that this company was doing this huge deal with Iran, nobody is supposed to be doing energy deals with Iran, right? Seven months after that was reported, it was not a secret, seven months after Mitt Romney invested in that Chinese oil company that was doing business with Iran. And then he invested some more with then. Then went back a third time and invested some more again.

Then it was roughly this time last year when he was well on his way of securing the Republican nomination for president of the United States that Mr. Romney finally sold those shares. He sold his shares the day before he appeared at this Republican debate in Iowa.

I don`t know if he thought he would get asked about them or what.

Now all of the reporting on Mr. Romney being invested in this Chinese firm notes that he`s not necessarily personally making the call on these individual investments. All of his money is kept in a blind trust.

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