Chris Hayes devoted most of his show last night to the unfolding disaster in Texas.
"First let me start, Beto, I know that you've traveled across this state, have connections to groups that are working across the state. What you're hearing how things are right now, because I've been seeing lots of very upsetting and desperate messages from your fellow Texans in the last 24, 36 hours," Hayes said.
"It's worse than you are hearing," O'Rourke said.
"From everything that I've learned, from reaching out to the people that I've met across the 254 counties of Texas, folks have gone days now without electricity or water at their homes. They're huddling together in their in-laws' homes or they're going to the library, which is on generator power or they're going to the Civic Center which has been converted into a warming center, at least as long as there is capacity for more people to get there.
"Folks are very desperate. They're suffering. as you know, far too many have died already. I worry what's going to happen over the next 24 hours. Almost every major city in Texas tonight will see subfreezing temperatures. Many of them will not have electricity or power, or in many instances, water."
He pointed out how much of this was avoidable. The deregulation of the electric grid created an incentive not to weatherize the plants so they can be shut down and drive up the energy prices.
"And then you have the cascading consequences of these stupid culture battles that are led by the GOP and our governor, Greg Abbott, who's focusing on making Texas a sanctuary state for the NRA. Or they're arguing with the Mavericks about playing the Star-Spangled Banner at the beginning of their games, or bathroom bills, or other kinds of stupidity, while we have very real emergencies like a pandemic that has killed more than 40,000 of our fellow Texans, a botched rollout of the vaccine where folks don't know how to get on the list, this recession that has put millions out of work and now this," he said.
"The energy capital of North America cannot provide the energy needed to warm and power people's homes in this great state. We are nearing a failed state in Texas, and it has nothing to do with God or natural disasters, it has everything to do with the leadership and those in positions of public trust who have failed us."
He urged Hayes to look at Gov. Abbott's State of the State speech, which he gave within the last few weeks.
"He listed five top priorities. In them are election fraud, given the fact that we had the safest, most secure elections in American history. There really is no election fraud concern in Texas, certainly not a top five priority.
"You had this effort to make Texas a gun sanctuary state. Nowhere mentioned in those top five priorities was covid or the vaccination rollout or the need to protect our fellow Texans against natural disasters like these," O'Rourke said.
"As you mentioned, climate change and the changing in the frequency and severity of natural disasters, from Hurricane Harvey to this cold blast right now to future weather disasters. We know this stuff is coming. What we don't know is whether our leaders are prepared to make the tough political decisions to prepare us for that."
They discussed how El Paso, where O'Rourke lives, is not on the Texas power grid,
O'Rourke said, "All of 12 El Pasoans don't have electricity right now. So this fear of federal oversight and this jealous protection of private profits over public welfare is really costing us here in Texas. It's unfortunately costing the lives of far too many in the midst of this winter storm, in the midst of this covid pandemic, in the midst of some really tough times. We need a change in Texas."
Another example of the brilliance of “we have no taxes!” Texas. This is the Texas/Arkansas border. Our state leaders laughed at them when they bought snowplows. So, on the left is the Texas side of the highway, on the right, the Arkansas side. pic.twitter.com/cHSYP217uw
— Kurt "Masks Save Lives" Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) February 17, 2021