Via America’s Lawyer: Mike Papantonio is joined RT correspondent Brigida Santos to explain how federal agencies like the EPA may very well be taking advantage of Coronavirus bedlam to quietly roll back regulations, giving greater freedoms to big industry. Then, Legal journalist Mollye Barrows joins Mike Papantonio to audit Hollywood celebrities, as they are flooding social media by asking cash-strapped fans to donate money for Covid relief funds, all while broadcasting from their multi-million dollar homes.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio: The environmental protection agency has suspended its enforcement of environmental laws in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. The new policy gives big industry a license to pollute during this global pandemic. RTs Brigida Santos joins me now from Los Angeles with the latest. Brigida, I’m sure you see this story is, these stories tell you the same thing that they tell me. Chemical plants can do whatever the heck they want. Oil refineries can do what they want. Pipelines can leak. Offshore Wells, you know, in deep water they can leak. It’s, it’s, it’s a free for all. It is a corporate free for all, a corporate polluter free for all. Which industries are going to benefit most with this directive as you see this story, how do you see this unfolding?

Brigida Santos: Well, the EPA regulates chemical, coal, and power plants. The oil and gas industry, as you said, steel manufacturers and so on. It’s supposed to keep tabs on gas leaks, contaminants and pollution in the air as well as the waterways. But now the EPA has told companies flat out that they won’t face fines or enforcement actions from the agency if they no longer monitor and report their own pollution violations. If companies exceed clean air and water limits or leak or dump chemicals into the water, they’re not going to face consequences as long as they claim that those violations are in some way caused by or connected to the fallout from this virus.

The EPA directive comes after a plea from the oil industry’s largest trade group, the American Petroleum Institute, which expressed worry over how the coronavirus outbreak has greatly impacted the global oil industry, which now faces its deepest crisis since the 1973 oil embargo. But the energy sector was already in trouble. It was the worst performer of the last decade according to the S&P 500 and now the EPA has also granted oil refineries relief from their legal obligation to produce gas blends that are designed to reduce smog emissions. This rule gives corporations a lifeline while putting human lives on the line.

Mike Papantonio: Let, let me give our viewers something to look for. If you’re around, if you’re in a corporation, a chemical corporation, refinery corporation, if you, if you’re around that here’s what you’re going to see. I want you to watch smokestacks. They’re going to be doing unusual things in the next, next few weeks. I want you to watch the waters, the waterways around you. You’re going to start seeing things in the waterways foam that you’ve never seen, oddities that you’ve never seen, fish kills that you’ve never seen. All of this is going to be happening with this indefinite, this, this is, this is, you guys can do. What this is, get out of jail free. You can pollute as much as you want.

You can get away with it chemical industry. You can do what you want to do. Refinery industry, you can do what you want to do. If the, if the pipelines leak. So what? You know, it’s only Indian land. We don’t have to worry about that. That’s the attitude these folks are taking. I’m wondering, are there any legitimate reasons that really justify why some of these EPA policies and why they should change during this crisis?

Brigida Santos: Sure. Critics of the new policies say that in some cases, yes, there are legitimate justifications for changing some policies. You know, many regulated industries have been forced to reduce their staff just like other industries. So if there’s no staff to monitor pollution, changing the policies, there may be some argument that that could be necessary. But the problem is COVID 19 may now be used as a blanket excuse to cover up a wide variety of violations by big industry polluters. Critics say, if those industries can keep operations running, can keep staff on board and can keep burning revenue, then there’s no reason they can’t have the budget to also keep those pollution monitors and their staff on board as well.

Mike Papantonio: Well, this is their opportunity to continue trashing our natural resources, obliterate our rivers, just do whatever they want to with the air and we’re going to see it firsthand. But trust me, I do this for a living. I follow these corporations and take them to court for a living. You watch in your neighborhood, if you’re close to any of these plants, you’re going to see a real difference in what’s coming out of those smokestacks and what’s in the water. And just in the, in the next few weeks, you’re going to start seeing a real difference to this. Brigida thanks for joining me. Okay. This, to me, this story gets, you know, there’s not, I wish we had more time to talk about it so we can go back historically and show viewers what historically has happened when EPA has given reprieves like this. It’s a disaster. Thank you for joining me.

Brigida Santos: Thanks Mike.

Mike Papantonio: While ordinary citizens are having their daily lives torn apart by government regulations under this new reality brought on by coronavirus, Hollywood stars have taken it upon themselves to ask their fans to dig deep into their pocket books and donate for the covid relief. But are these multimillionaires celebrities, are they asking that of his, of their fans and what are they doing themselves? This story to me, I’ve got Mollye Barrows with me to talk about it. This story is so outrageous. I’ve had to endure, people have actually sent, they’ve sent these videos to me, Britney Spears talking about, you know, this is a woman who’s been institutionalized. I mean, she’s, she’s cuck.

Mollye Barrows: Before we go off on cuckoo Britney Spears, she’s actually one of the few that’s doing it right. Now there’s a lot that are doing it wrong that we could take a look at.

Mike Papantonio: Well, okay.

Mollye Barrows: But if you go on her Instagram page, she, because I think she’s had issues with mental illness in the past because her father keeps her money. I think she is from, I mean, she’s from Kenner, Louisiana, Papantonio. She can’t, she cannot be high and mighty for very long.

Mike Papantonio: Okay. I’ll give you Britney Spears. How about Madonna? Madonna in her weird bathtub.

Mollye Barrows: Oh, I’ll take that all day long.

Mike Papantonio: Walking around in her kimono, pontificating, about issues.

Mollye Barrows: Relating to the masses.

Mike Papantonio: And if you listen to what she’s saying, you go, this woman is cra-cra. And so this is supposed to bring, this is supposed to uplift us. Or how about.

Mollye Barrows: She’s in it with us.

Mike Papantonio: How about the Gal Gadot?

Mollye Barrows: Oh, I don’t know and I love me some wonder woman, but they’re just out of touch. It’s like, I think these are people that just don’t know how to connect because they live in a world that’s completely different from three quarters of the rest of the global population who are struggling from paycheck to paycheck. Are living hand to mouth, are now suffering without jobs because of the economic slowdown that we’ve had due to the coronavirus. And then you’ve got guys like Bobby Flay, that chef TV star, he’s got sitting on 150 million or something and he’s like, oh, I’ve started to go fund me page to help you help me pay my employees. You know, welcome to capitalism.

Mike Papantonio: It’s, here’s the heart of it. Okay. And I, I, to me, I come back to this all the time. They’re in a celebrity bubble. Okay.

Mollye Barrows: Yes.

Mike Papantonio: These are people that, while, you know, I guess while most people are studying humanities and calculus and history and things that we, we actually focus on in, in high school and college, they’re studying how to play the role of Macbeth, or King Arthur. So they’re not really high information to begin with. They really aren’t. So they’re in the celebrity bubble and what I was talking about that Gal Gadot is we’re all celebrities are singing John Lennon’s imagine. First of all.

Mollye Barrows: Does not comfort me.

Mike Papantonio: No, it doesn’t come from me. Half of them are about a step and a half off on range.

Mollye Barrows: Right.

Mike Papantonio: And then second of all, and second of all, is the question, is the question, gee, if we do this, are the people watching are going to feel better about it? I mean, what, what, what is this mentality, this celebrity mentality we see with politics, don’t we?

Mollye Barrows: Absolutely. I mean, look at the, the accusations of people jumping lines to testing when it came to different sports league. Same with the ultra wealthy. Same with politicians. Even in New York, there were stories coming out where people were paying to get tested or even paying to have access, early access to vaccines and that sort of thing. So it shows, again, the disparity between access of healthcare, but social media is an outlet that you know, as other people pointed out, the coronavirus levels the playing field. But nothing really exonerate or highlights that any better than social media because these celebrities, if you don’t have it to give genuinely, it’s going to show. If you’re a selfish self centered, living in a bubble type person and this is what seems like something good for you to share and it’s completely out of touch, then all you’re doing is giving the public an insight into just how shallow and terrible the human being you really are.

Mike Papantonio: Pharrell Williams, give your money to help. Okay, now most people are out of jobs. They’re wondering, can I pay my rent? They’re wondering, can I even buy food for my family?

Mollye Barrows: That’s right.

Mike Papantonio: And you have these folks that are in this ridiculous.

Mollye Barrows: You’re right.

Mike Papantonio: Laughable, ugly, ugly celebrity bubble. Low information because really if you really consider what’s their background, it’s not like they came up as real intellectuals. These folks aren’t real intellectual.

Mollye Barrows: It’s hard work in their own business. I’m sure a lot of these entertainers strugg to get up there. So I hate to throw them all into the uneducated pot, but I do know what you mean. I mean, it attracts certain people to a certain field that they might not be as well read as other professions. So I completely agree with you about that. But I think you will appreciate this. You know, David Geffen had to, a billionaire, had to delete his whole entire Instagram account because he was like, hey, you know, kicking it with corona. You know, on my, self isolating on my $560 million yacht.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah. A yacht, exactly.

Mollye Barrows: And so people were furious and that’s what you’re seeing. Jennifer Lopez, hey, I’m self isolating with my family and my boyfriend, A Rods cool compound in Miami, you know.

Mike Papantonio: Okay. They’re self aggrandizing. They’re narcissistic. They are low information and more importantly, the most dangerous, they’re bored. They don’t have anything to do. So Madonna’s sitting in her frigging bathtub.

Mollye Barrows: I thank her for that, really.

Mike Papantonio: Walking around, walking around in her kimono, pontificating like we really care about what Ma, what Madonna’s take is on this whole thing.

Mollye Barrows: Well, and what they could be doing is donating that money to make sure tests get to everybody. That vaccines are vetted. That we have access to health care the way they have access to health care.

Mike Papantonio: And we have to do the same thing. Taking care of employees, taking care and that’s a policy that we’re solid on.

Mollye Barrows: Absolutely right.

Mike Papantonio: But we don’t go doing commercials about. Thanks for, thanks for joining me. Okay.

Mollye Barrows: Thanks Pap.

Mike Papantonio: Finally tonight, some good news. The Supreme Court actually did something good this past week and they potentially created a little more transparency for our elections, after they’ve destroyed the electoral process. The court decided to let a lower court ruling stand and this previous ruling had allowed the federal election commission to reveal the name of a trust fund that had been pouring money into dark money groups. These dark money Super PAC groups are not required to reveal the names of their donors, but this new ruling could change all of that. Ever since the Supreme Court demolished our rights as voters with Citizens United and the McCutcheon cases, billions of dollars have flowed to politicians through Super PACS and the public has been forbidden from accessing the names of these donors. With this new ruling, those dark money rules, well, they’re going to change providing at least a little bit of transparency and finally allowing us to see who is buying our politicians.

That’s all for tonight. Find us on Twitter, at Facebook on You can watch all RT America programs on Direct TV, Channel 321. Also stream them live on YouTube and be sure to check out RT’s new portable app where you can actually watch any, any program you want. Your favorite shows. I’m Mike Papantonio, and this is America’s Lawyer, where every week we tell you the stories that corporate media is ordered not to tell, like the ones we told tonight. They can’t tell those stories because their advertisers or the political connections don’t allow for it. Have a great night.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.