Guest: Ryan Lizza, Jonathan Turley, Howard Fineman
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? The impeachment of George Walker Bush.
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REP. DENNIS KUCINICH, (D) OHIO: Resolved, that President George W. Bush be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors.
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OLBERMANN: He won‘t be, but it won‘t be for lack of trying by Congressman Dennis Kucinich, nearly five hours and thirty-five articles, it may not be Martin Luther nailing up his indictments on the church door of history, but it‘s as close as we‘re going to get.
The stupid economy: The candidates escalate.
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SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, ® PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE: Under Senator Obama‘s tax plan, Americans of every background would see their taxes rise.
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OLBERMANN: Advantage McCain.
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SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE: I have said that John McCain is running to serve out a Bush third term, but the truth is when it comes to taxes, that‘s not being fair to George Bush.
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OLBERMANN: Advantage Obama.
Disadvantage Obama: After his campaign gutted Senator Clinton for Mark Penn shoeing for Colombia, after his campaign gutted Senator McCain for Phil Gramm lobbying for the banks against the people in the mortgage crisis, should one of the three chairs of the Obama vice presidential search committee really be Jim Johnson—who‘s received $7 million in mortgages, at least of the two loans below market average.
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OBAMA: Everybody, you know, who is tangentially related to our campaign, I think, is going to have a whole host of relationships. I would have to hire the vetter to vet the vetters.
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OLBERMANN: Worst Persons: Denied communion because he‘s voting for Obama.
Best Persons: Bill O‘Reilly. You heard me.
And: Memories, misty water colored memories of the way we were. The primaries for better and worse. Mostly worse, right, senator?
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MCCAIN: Answer the question, you jerk.
RUDY GIULIANI, ® FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Change.
MITT ROMNEY, ® FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I brought change.
OBAMA: Big meaningful change.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I‘ve found my own voice.
Shame on you Barack Obama.
OBAMA: Shame on her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Shame on all of us, every one.
All that and more: Now on COUNTDOWN.
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ROMNEY: I hate to lose.
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OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening. This is Tuesday, June 10th, 147 days until the 2008 presidential election.
For four hours and 40 minutes last night, one United States congressman held forth on the floor of the House of Representatives. No bluster, no filibuster, and no filler -- 290 minutes of largely uninterrupted substance, outlining a litany of alleged high crimes and misdemeanors committed by President Bush and his administration.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: The impeachment of George W. Bush, not that it will ever actually happen but that it likely will not, will not be due to the quality of the case presented by Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich.
The Cleveland representative and erstwhile presidential candidate, introducing 35 articles against President Bush on the heels of the Senate Intelligence Committee‘s report on the administration‘s misuse of pre-war intelligence and in the wake up of former White House press secretary, Scott McClellan‘s published contentions that the president manipulated public opinion through a political propaganda campaign to justify the invasion of Iraq.
Mr. Kucinich reading out every word of his 35-count impeachment resolution, some categories of transgressions, torture, surveillance, obstruction, sheer incompetence at Iraq, especially, Iraq. Mr. Kucinich is making clear that the president has violated his oath of office and his constitutional duty that the laws be faithfully executed.
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KUCINICH: In his conduct while president of the United States, George W. Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of president of the United States and to the best of his ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and in violation of his constitutional duty under article two, section three of the Constitution—to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has both personally and acting through his agents and subordinates, together with the vice president, illegally spent public dollars on a secret propaganda campaign to manufacture a false cause for war against Iraq.
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OLBERMANN: Kucinich having introduced similar legislation against Vice President Cheney last year, that resolution was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, which has taken no action on the measure. Speaker Nancy Pelosi having consistently stated that there will be no consideration, none of impeachment proceedings against Mr. Bush, declaring the matter off the table.
Tonight, Mr. Kucinich to seek having that measure acted upon. The word is that he has agreed to a full House vote on whether to refer the resolution to the judiciary committee, in other words, to send it to the same purgatory, the other measure did, but not before the bill is read in its entirety again.
Time now to call in George Washington University law professor and constitutional law expert: Jonathan Turley.
Good evening, Jon.
JONATHAN TURLEY, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW EXPERT: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: I‘ve often argued here that even if you think the words aren‘t going to lead to any action, say the words anyway, simply to get them on the record for history, and simply because nothing has ever changed from bad to good in this country without somebody first saying—this is bad. Assess the importance of what Dennis Kucinich did last night.
TURLEY: You know, it is very important. The fact is that this is not supposed to happen the way it happened in the last seven years. The framers, I think, would have been astonished by the absolute passivity if not collusion of the Democrats in protecting President Bush from impeachment. I mean, they created a system that was essentially idiot-proof and God knows we put that to a test in the past years.
But, I don‘t think they ever anticipated that so many members of the opposition would stand quietly in the face of clear presidential crimes. It has many of us who study the Constitution quite worried that we have a real crisis here. This is not something that really was supposed to happen. It was not something that one would predict.
OLBERMANN: This is the list that he presented last night—a remarkably
lengthy and thorough record of the high crimes and misdemeanors. It‘s just
a cascade really. Did Kucinich successfully make his case?
TURLEY: I think he‘s made his case. I mean, frankly, some of these claims are not really impeachable offenses. Like for example, it‘s not impeachable to be negligent. If that was the case, we‘d lose half that people that sat in the Oval Office. But there are plenty of crimes there. This is a target-rich environment.
What‘s really disturbing for many of us is that it takes a real effort for Democrats to walk from the floor to their offices and not trip over crimes. I mean, they are all over the record, from destruction of evidence, to illegal surveillance, to unlawful torture programs. They‘re all over the place.
And what‘s amazing is that the president is hiding in plain view. He hasn‘t really denied the elements of these offenses. So, all that is lacking is political will.
But that doesn‘t mean that suddenly the Democrats are going to get principled and say—my God, we took an oath, and we need to fulfill it regardless of the outcome. But it does mean one member, and they‘re actually more than one, are really calling their colleagues to the floor and saying—it‘s time to pony up. It‘s time to answer the public of whether you stand for the Constitution and against its abridgement.
OLBERMANN: Have we ever seen a situation like this before, Jon? Obviously, 1868 and Andrew Johnson, there were constitutional issues but that was a political box that he was squeezed into, various laws come by that said he couldn‘t dismiss anybody who worked basically for the government. He violated those laws, they impeached him. He was kind of set up even though he‘s probably was not a very good president.
Clearly, the Clinton impeachment, whatever legalities were involved in that, that was to some degree a setup, too. This is different in that it‘s a political issue again, but it‘s not the politics of impeaching somebody, it‘s the politics of not impeaching somebody who seems to clearly constitutionally deserve it.
TURLEY: Yes. That is the most remarkable if not bizarre aspect of all of this—that President Bush‘s allies in the last seven years have been the Democratic leadership and the Democratic members that have repeatedly stepped in to protect him, not just from impeachment, but serious investigation. And it‘s part of a very cynical political strategy. It has succeeded.
The Democrats know that they can retain the Congress if they just let this guy, you know, sort of ripen on the vine. And that they are afraid that there could be a backlash if they try to impeach. But of course, that‘s literally all politics and no principle. They took an oath in the House of Representatives. And the most important thing they have to do as House members is to stand firm in the face of presidential crimes.
And I think history will be very, very severe, not just for Speaker Pelosi, but all of the Democrats, of how they could let this come to pass where they stood silent and did nothing in the face of such compelling criminal record.
OLBERMANN: Well, clearly they are going to let it come to pass in this way. So, that begs the question—is there anything to do after January 20th of next year? Is there any mechanism or precedent for dealing with the presidency that has already ended?
TURLEY: Well, there is a lot that can be done. I mean, first of all, the new administration can certainly reverse some of the more outrageous acts of this administration with regard to torture, unlawful surveillance, the misuse of the FISA accord, and misuse of the states secrets privilege. All those things can be done.
One thing that they may have to consider which would be interesting since they—it could be the Democrats controlling Congress and the White House, but they could consider bringing back the special counsel law that they got rid of after the Clinton administration.
What we‘ve seen with Attorney General Mukasey and his predecessors is that the system just hasn‘t worked, that you don‘t have attorney—when the attorney general doesn‘t have the principle and independents to allow investigations, to submit evidence to grand juries, the system literally shuts down. And we may have to re-examine whether we need a special counsel that could be called upon on such occasions.
OLBERMANN: Constitutional law professor, Jonathan Turley—as always, great thanks for your time tonight, sir.
TURLEY: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Congressman Robert Wexler of Florida today is signing on as a co-sponsor of the Kucinich impeachment resolution. Other than that support, and in volume of mainstream media coverage today, Mr. Kucinich heard crickets.
For more on the politics and the practicalities, let‘s turn to our own Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent for “Newsweek.”
Howard, good evening.
HOWARD FINEMAN, MNSBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I‘m tempted to say—chirp, chirp.
OLBERMANN: Well—and to that point, this tree, did it fall in the forest and nobody was around to hear it?
FINEMAN: Well, they‘re reading a whole darn thing again tonight, you know, under the rules, and they‘re going to have a vote. But in the exercise of due diligence, I talked to key people on the Hill on the Democratic side today, House and Senate, checked in with David Axelrod, Barack Obama‘s campaign manager.
And even though Bob Wexler of Florida is a big Obama guy, the Obama campaign wants absolutely nothing to do with this. And neither Nancy Pelosi on the House side or Harry Reid on the Senate side has changed their mind. They don‘t want to have anything to do with it, either. So, the bill will be read. It will be dually consigned to the judiciary committee where it will never be heard from again.
OLBERMANN: All right. But, assess what this argument—we all know that this would be expected to backfire on the Democrats in the 2008 election, could cost them the House, could cost them the Senate, could cost them the presidency. Is that - what is the substance to that if this had been pursued—now, it seems to me it‘s an issue of time—but if this had been pursued a year ago, what was the practical expectation by the Democrats of what would happen if they impeach President Bush?
FINEMAN: Well, they have not wanted to get anywhere near it. And now, the reasons are that they want to focus on the economy. That‘s what the Democrats are geared up to do as they try to attack John McCain and the Republicans in Congress and in the statehouses.
Obama doesn‘t want anything to do with it because he is running to the middle. And there are some Republicans that he wants to try to get, who may still like George Bush and who wouldn‘t want to see George Bush impeached. He can let somebody—Obama can let somebody like Wexler run wild on it if he wants to, they‘re going to have anything to do it.
Had they tried it a year ago or two, I don‘t know. I think Jonathan Turley who‘s a Constitution man also knows his politics—which is the Democrats prefer to have George Bush out there as somebody they can attack politically on the campaign trail, rather than turn it into a legal matter, and get it gummed up in the works of the Constitution. They‘re looking at it purely politically. George Bush has the lowest approval rating of any modern president. They‘d rather leave him there than turn him into a defendant in the dark, legally.
OLBERMANN: Well, obviously, that ignores the argument that the country could go to hell in a hand basket before his term ends, and perhaps already has.
But one political history, recent history, when President Clinton was impeached, the Republicans not only hobbled the sitting president, but they seemed to have succeeded in putting the Democrats on the defensive to the point that they would not even consider hearings on such a thing now, in the face of, at least, large volumes of evidence if not overwhelming evidence.
It‘s almost as if the impeachment of Clinton, if you want to be utterly conspiratory (ph) on - I‘m not saying I‘m doing it this way - but see, it reads as history, reading backwards, as if the Clinton impeachment was arranged to preclude the impeachment of the, you know, completely malevolent Republican president who followed him.
Did the Republicans achieve pretty much everything they‘ve wanted, they could have dreamt of or maybe something couldn‘t have dreamt of by impeaching Bill Clinton?
FINEMAN: Yes. Well, I don‘t even think the most conspiratorial of them could have thought this scenario up. But it is true that we have about one impeachment in this (ph) generation, it seems.
And even though I have heard as I travel around the country, people do bring this up. They do bring impeachment up. And they‘re not all wild-eyed liberals. A lot of constitutionalist conservatives are very upset with what President Bush has done.
But I don‘t think we have the political will for it right now. And also, it‘s complicated by war. Call it what you will, the long twilight struggle that we are said to be in the middle of, makes it difficult for the Democrats to risk, because they will have a president who would wrap himself in what‘s left of the flag of commander-in-chief.
And at a time when the Democrats have a nominee who‘s got to show that he‘s tough, I don‘t think they want to take that on even if they have a legal case.
OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman of “Newsweek” and MSNBC—great thanks as always, Howard.
FINEMAN: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: As to the next president, John McCain insists he will veto every beer with earmarks. Quick, hide those crazy Grolsch bottles. And as his campaign attacks Obama over not vetting one of his V.P. vetters, two of McCain‘s own campaign financial shenanigans prompt complaints to the Federal Election Commission.
And: A startling change in the nightly unendurable Bill O‘Reilly reference.
He is one of tonight‘s three finalists for Best Person in the World.
OLBERMANN: What does it tell you when the Republican candidate for president, who married into the Anheuser-Busch distributorship fortune, elaborates on his economic plan and says as he did today, quote, “I will veto every single beer—bill with earmarks”? This gaffe‘s for you.
Bill-O leaves from Worst Persons to Best. John Gibson back from wherever the John Gibsons of this world hide—into Worst.
Ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: The biggest monthly jump in unemployment since Reagan with gasoline topping $4 a gallon, John McCain today unveiled a new campaign message that Barack Obama will be bad for the economy. Also, for a second, it sounded like he was supporting the reintroduction of prohibition.
Our fourth story tonight: McCain telling a small business summit today that Obama‘s economic plans could plunge America into—well, what we have now. McCain rejected Obama‘s criticism that his presidency would be a Bush term, portraying himself as a new kind of Republican, attacking Obama with the traditional line used by the old kind of Republicans—tax and spend.
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MCCAIN: Too many Republicans in Congress became indistinguishable from the big-spending Democrats that they used to oppose. The only power of government that could stop them was the power of the veto and it was rarely used. That authority is entrusted to me I will use the veto as needed. I will veto every single beer—bill with earmarks.
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OLBERMANN: Or beer-marks. McCain slipped if not a hint at reinstating the 18th Amendment, was possibly a Freudian (ph) reference to his wife‘s wealthy family which owns a beer distributorship, occasionally propping up his ailing campaign when trouble broad (ph), whining aides worth logger heads (ph), and his speeches got boos, even among crowds that were mostly suburban.
Today, McCain is still struggling to convince voters that the economic plan of a candidate so close to Bush won‘t be full of slits (ph).
Obama today responded to the claim that his tax policies, including opposition to extending the Bush tax cuts amounts to a tax increase.
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OBAMA: My tax plan will cut taxes for 95 percent of workers, because we need to put money back into the pockets of struggling middle-class families and close the egregious tax loopholes that have exploded over the last eight years. My plan eliminates capital gains taxes entirely for the small businesses and startups that are the backbone of our economy. As opposed to John McCain‘s plan which would tax these businesses.
Now, I‘ve said that John McCain is running to serve out a third Bush term, but the truth is when it comes to taxes, that‘s not being fair to George Bush.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: McCain‘s campaign at odds with itself over how to refute that claim as McCain himself told NBC‘s Brian Williams, Obama is running for Jimmy Carter‘s second term while a top adviser suggested Obama resembles Bush.
This despite McCain‘s lockstep with Bush on tax cuts for the wealthy, big business, and gas companies against more health coverage for children, for deregulating mortgage and investment firms, privatizing social security and more. That confusion understandable as McCain himself once said he could not, in good conscience, support the Bush tax cuts.
Well, today, he told those small business owners the estate tax was unfair just two years after defending it. And as Huffington Post reports, six years after refuting the GOP talking point that the estate tax destroys small businesses.
As our head spin over that, let‘s bring in the Washington correspondent for the “New Yorker” magazine, Ryan Lizza.
Thanks again for your time tonight, Ryan.
RYAN LIZZA, NEW YORKER MAGAZINE: Thanks, Keith. How are you?
OLBERMANN: The “Wall Street Journal” concluded that the McCain tax cuts require massive deficits or unprecedented cuts in spending. Both of which would gut an economy that‘s in the weaken state as ours is now. Is it conceivable that John McCain actually does not even have a serious plan?
LIZZA: Well, look, he‘s following the same path as Reagan and the current president as far as promising two things that no Republican president has been able to deliver and that is—huge tax cuts offset by huge spending cuts. And, look, this happened in the ‘80s and what did we get? We didn‘t get the spending cuts, we‘ve got the tax cuts and we‘ve got huge deficits. The same thing has happened over the last eight years.
So, unless you see a politician, unless you see John McCain outline line-by-line, earmark by earmark, program by program, exactly what he‘s going to cut as president, you know, just don‘t buy this. It‘s not going to happen because to do that he would have to cut things that he knows are very popular and are going to cost him the election.
OLBERMANN: As we‘re entering into this twilight zone in which Mr. Obama said that calling—comparing Bush and McCain on tax cuts and taxes was now unfair to Bush, and the Obama adviser suggested or the McCain advisor suggested that Obama was acting like Bush in terms of taxes. On merits, those three names—Bush, McCain, Obama—which one of these things is not like the other?
LIZZA: Well, clearly Obama is not—is unlike McCain and Bush. I mean, look, McCain has had a long evolution over the last eight years on tax cuts. In 2000, he represented a completely different wing of the Republican Party. He ran to the left of George Bush on taxes. He‘s a deficit hawk. During the run-up to the war, same thing, he was arguing that we shouldn‘t cut taxes in wartime.
As he became closer and closer to be his party‘s nominee, he became more doctrinaire on this issue. And look, let‘s be frank, he couldn‘t have been elected. He couldn‘t have won the nomination unless he had changed his position on tax cuts and embraced the Bush tax cuts. I mean, that‘s just an iron law of Republican primary politics. He would have been able to be where is unless he had done.
OLBERMANN: But that necessarily leads him to being in the position where he opposed the tax cuts, the Bush tax cuts when they were popular and now he‘s defending them when they‘re not popular.
LIZZA: Yes. That‘s right. I mean, he‘s sort of unlucky here. You know, the tragedy is that he represented a wing of the party that at this moment in the Republican Party—a party that needs a little freshening up—he could have defended that position and sort of made the case, I think he would have been given a lot of credit for taking on his own party on this issue.
But as you point out, he‘s in this very weird position where he‘s now defending the president‘s, you know, signature policy at a time when what his campaign would like to do is disassociate him from that president as much as possible. And you know, it‘s a bind that he‘s kind of stuck with for the rest of this campaign.
OLBERMANN: Yes, it‘s a buy high, sell low strategy.
But the final point on this when he‘s claimed - maybe this is now self-defense—this argument, I really don‘t - I don‘t know much about the economy when he sticks to that interpretation of his own previous words because it‘s better than saying—well, I do understand something about it, or at least Phil Gramm does, and he understands how to manipulate it to the benefit of the corporations at the expense of the people.
LIZZA: Well, look—I think whether he cares—I don‘t know how much he cares about it. I do think that he thinks a lot more about foreign policy and he does believe that right now, the key challenge for the next president is going to be abroad, not domestically. Unfortunately, this campaign may hinge a lot more on domestic policy. And he‘s brought in the usual suspects that you bring in when you‘re a Republican nominee. And he hasn‘t shown a lot of independence on the issue the way he did in 2000.
OLBERMANN: I think he‘d have better luck bringing back prohibition.
Ryan Lizza, Washington correspondent for the “New Yorker” magazine—thank you, sir.
LIZZA: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: We show you a lot of robots here and we show you a lot of bears here. Deep inside, we all knew this day would come—robot bears.
And: Best Persons in the World. No, I‘m not kidding—him.
That‘s next. This is COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Best persons in a moment. And yes, Bill-O is chosen the best.
First, 44 years ago this morning, at 9:58 Eastern daylight time, on the 10th of June 1964, the manager of the Civil Rights bill in the Senate, Hubert Humphrey, called for another cloture vote which would terminate the filibuster, even though no southern filibuster against a civil rights bill had ever been broken in the history of this country. Humphrey needed 67 votes to do it. He got the 67th when Senator Williams of Delaware voted yes.
But the indelible moment of the vote had come moments earlier, when the clerk called for the vote of Mr. Engel (ph) of California, and there was silence. Senator Claire Engel slowly raised his finger and pointed to his eye. The only yes vote he could muster because he had been stricken with a malignant brain tumor, had been paralyzed, had lost the ability to speak, but came in for the vote anyway.
The filibuster ended. The Civil Rights Bill was signed on July 2nd, 1964. California Senator Claire Engel died on July 30th. Let‘s play Oddball.
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OLBERMANN: We begin in Finland with the latest in Homeland Security innovation, a robotic bear. It doesn‘t do much except scare the local canine population. That is about it. We are sure Michael Chertoff has several thousand of these on back order for the Canadian border.
In Tokyo the housing crisis is so bad people are resorting to sleeping on the sides of buildings. After just a short repel from the rooftop, a cozy queen bed with great views awaits. Perfectly safe, just, please, remember, don‘t get out of the bed in the middle of the night. Didn‘t I see this in that Coneheads movie?
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OLBERMANN: It ain‘t Phil Graham and it ain‘t Mark Penn, but the Republicans are trying to make hay out of one of Obama‘s three vice presidential searchers. And if you‘ve been out of the country since last October, we have distilled the entirety of the presidential primaries into nine and half minutes of video juxtaposition history. You will want to see this. These stories ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s top three best persons in the world.
Number three, best waste of time, for 66 days District Court in Sydney, Australia, Judge Peter Zara (ph) presiding, had been hearing the case of two men facing life sentences on drug conspiracy charges at a cost of just under a million. That‘s when somebody noticed four or five of the jurors were writing things down, not horizontally like notes about the testimony, but vertically, sudoku. They were playing sudoku. That is a mistrial.
Number two, best timing, the president. A new book by Paul Alexander, formerly of “Time Magazine,” reports that he indeed fired Karl Rove last august, telling him there‘s too much heat on you. It‘s time for you to go. He did this, says Alexander, while Rove was attending services at the Episcopalian Church. Nice.
Number one, best help, Bill O‘Reilly of Fox News and the “New York Post.” In light of the news that last week COUNTDOWN beat Bill-O in the ratings, ending his 270-week winning streak over us, all of us here just wanted to say a sincere thank you to our friends in Rupert land, Bill-O especially, who keep publicizing us and every time they do, get us another 10,000 viewers.
Bill, Rupert, you guys at the Post, we could not have done this without you.
OLBERMANN: Seventeen months into the presidential candidacy of Senator Barack Obama, less than one week after he announced his vice presidential search team, questions have been raised about one of the three people on that team. Other third story in the COUNTDOWN, if the standard is to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, Senator Obama needed to address that question and he has. While Senator McCain‘s campaign was trying to accelerate the story into a controversy, two more campaign lobbyist leaks sprung out of the McCain campaign dam.
Senator Obama‘s vice presidential search committee comprised of Caroline Kennedy, former Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder and James Johnson, who vetted running mates for presidential candidates John Kerry and Walter Mondale.
But according to the “Wall Street Journal,” Mr. Johnson has received seven million in loans from Countrywide Financial. At least two of those loans below market average. And while that is not illegal, Mr. Johnson may have gotten the favorable deals as the former CEO of Fannie Mae, which is the biggest buyer of Countrywide‘s mortgages. Mr. Johnson has not commented, but his lawyer told ABC News that the loan terms were well within industry norms.
Senator Obama has been highly critical of Countrywide Financial in discussing the mortgage crisis. Even though there are distinctions to be made, Mr. Johnson did not work for countrywide; Mr. Johnson is not a lobbyist for any mortgage company or any company; and Mr. Johnson is not on Obama‘s team to help create a policy with regard to the mortgage crisis. No one can argue helping to choose a possible vice president is more important than that.
Senator Obama today emphasized his vice presidential research committee is performing discreet tasks.
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OBAMA: First of all, I am not vetting my VP search committee for their mortgages.
There‘s a game that can be played. Everybody, you know, who is tangentially related to our campaign, I think, is going to have a whole host of relationships. I would have to hire a vetter to vet the vetters.
It is a volunteer unpaid position. They are giving me information and I will exercise judgment in terms of who I want to select as a vice presidential candidate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: But the Obama campaign is trying to set a high standard, and the senator may want to portray legitimate questions as games. So the McCain campaign pounced. McCain himself today saying, quote, “I think it suggests a bit of contradiction, talking about how his campaign is going to be not associated with people like that.” Yes, that is how he said it.
And RNC spokesman Alex Conant said in a statement, quote, “despite all his rhetoric, he won‘t even vet his own senior aides.” Of course, there is danger in a taking a legitimate issue and inflating it beyond reason. Senator McCain‘s own man on this job, the one who will vet his vice presidential hopefuls is Reagan White House counsel Arthur Covahouse. He has been a Washington lobbyist until about a month before joining the McCain campaign. That according to the newspaper “The Hill.”
Mr. Covahouse a partner at the law firm of Omelviny (ph) and Meyers. And in that capacity, he has lobbied for various organization since 1999, like Lockheed Martin in 1999 and Time Warner in 2003, and as recently as 2004, he lobbied for Fannie Mae. All of this according to public record. If the accusations of the unpaid vetters are going to be an issue in this campaign, it would still seem Obama‘s hands are the cleaner, especially in so much as ABC news reported today that a watchdog group has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, asking for investigations of payments by a lobbying firm to McCain‘s finance director, Susan Nelson, and a separate inquiry into how a computer company, partially controlled by campaign manager Rick Davis, wiped out about 10 percent of the debt the McCain campaign still owed it.
It was just like a quick dance in the spring rain. The primary season just flew by. If you like deja vu, you‘ll love this.
And this guy says Barack Obama looks nerdy? Glass houses and stones in worst persons, next on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: You watched every moment of the primaries did you? Which candidate got pranked called? Which candidate caused another public figure to have to dance? Which candidate asked his audience to give him a round of applause? We‘ll put a bow on the primary season. That‘s next. First, time for our number two story, COUNTDOWN‘s worst persons in the world.
The bronze to John Gibson of Fixed News. I‘m sorry, Fixed News Radio. They dumped him from TV, sorry. Of course, this does allow him to be even more of a racist than usual, telling an African-American caller, quote, you don‘t know what Barack Obama stands for. You just like him because he‘s—he‘s—he‘s like you and you want to see one of you up there and you don‘t care what he stands for. You know, like the way Republicans voted the last two times.
How patently, by the way, is Fox making stuff up to get McCain back in the race? This patently; our runner up is Griff Jenkins (ph), a correspondent of some sort over there. Commenting on the images of Obama riding a bicycle. Here is what no one said yet, where is he going? I was thinking, maybe to get a pocket protector for his nerd pencils? What is that?
Hang on. Can we see that picture of Mr. Jenkins again, please. Uh-huh. You might want to go easy on the nerd references.
Our winner, an unidentified Catholic priest who denied communion to Douglas Comack (ph), a former Reagan Justice Department official, former dean of the law school at Catholic University, a staunch anti-abortion Republican with an encyclopedic knowledge of Papal pronouncements. Mr. Comack tells our friend E.J. Dionne of the “Washington Post” that he was the speaker at a mass for a group of Catholic businessmen on April 30th when the priest refused to give him communion because he was a willing participant patent in a grave, moral evil.
His sin? He‘s supporting Barack Obama and Obama believes in a woman‘s right to choose. Comack disagrees with that stance, Obama‘s on abortion, but thinks his position on personal responsibility on sexual matters underscores that the best way to end abortion is to prevent the causes of it. And of the meddlesome priest whose identity he is protecting, he says it far better or far more generously than could I, the entire incident reminds him of the danger of, quote, using communion as a weapon.
The Catholic priest who denied communion to Douglas Comack, today‘s worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: October 1, 2007; it is doubtful anybody realized it at the time, but it may have been a milestone day in the history of the presidential primaries. That was the day newspapers reported a poll which actually showed Barack Obama ahead of Hillary Clinton for the first time anywhere. “Newsweek” had him over Clinton 28-24 among likely caucus goers in Iowa.
Of course, the same papers carried a University of Iowa poll showing registered Republicans in that sate supported these candidates in these orders, Romney 21.8 percent, Giuliani 10 percent, Obama 6.7 percent, Fred Thompson 5.2 percent, John McCain 1.8 percent. That‘s right, as of October 1st, Obama was getting more than three times the support from registered Republicans in Iowa as was McCain.
In our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, and that is our last serious part of our flashback for the now officially over presidential primary season. To set the tone for the rest of it, I remind you that also on that October 1st, Fred Thompson literally asked a crowd at his speech to applaud.
FRED THOMPSON ®, FMR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I appreciate very much you being here today and listening to me. I will give my thoughts about it. First of all, can I have a round of applause.
CHRIS DODD (D), FMR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Think about it, Rudy Giuliani, there‘s only three things he mentions in a sentence, a noun, a verb and 9/11.
RUDY GIULIANI ®, FMR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: September 11.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you ever worry that you might die in office?
MCCAIN: Thanks for the question, you little jerk.
BILL CLINTON, FMR PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What‘s the winning song?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You‘ll see.
B. CLINTON: My money is on smash mouth.
OBAMA: I‘m not going to change who I am just because it‘s Halloween.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, that‘s great.
MITT ROMNEY ®, FMR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: PETA was after me when I went quail hunting in Georgia and they are not happy that my dog loves fresh air.
Who let the dogs out? Who, who?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have the chance to ask you a bunch of questions. I want to have them answered immediately.
ROMNEY: Go right ahead and shoot.
MCCAIN: There are stark differences. I‘m a proud conservative liberal Republican—conservative Republican. Hello. Easy there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chuck Norris—
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God answered our prayers and sent us Rudy Giuliani.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), FMR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I‘m in it to win it! When I‘m president --. When I am president—it will be over by February 5th.
ROMNEY: Don‘t touch the hair.
OLBERMANN: Well, then, we shall start.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: The Iowa caucuses, it all happens tonight.
TIM RUSSERT, “MEET THE PRESS”: Some facilities are just bursting at the seams.
OLBERMANN: NBC News is calling the Republican straw vote as a victory for Mike Huckabee.
MATTHEWS: There it is. Barack Obama, the junior senator from Illinois, has won.
OBAMA: Together ordinary people can do extraordinary things.
JOHN EDWARDS (D), FMR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And you have created and started a tidal wave of change.
THOMPSON: Talking about change.
ROMNEY: America wants change.
GIULIANI: Change for good or change for bad?
ROMNEY: Talk about change.
MCCAIN: You are the candidate of change.
MIKE HUCKABEE ®, FMR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They‘re looking for change.
CLINTON: Deliver the change.
OBAMA: Our time for change has come.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- seem to like Barack Obama more.
CLINTON: Well, that hurts my feelings.
OBAMA: You‘re likable enough, Hillary.
CLINTON: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there it goes.
OLBERMANN: Eight hours to go before the polls closed and they were running low on ballots.
MATTHEWS: There‘s been a huge turnout in New Hampshire.
RUSSERT: You talked about independence. They are flexing their muscle tonight.
OLBERMANN: We now have a call to make in the Republican part of this primary.
GIULIANI: We‘ve got a lot of work to do.
ROMNEY: Well, another silver.
MCCAIN: Tonight, we sure showed them what a comeback looks like.
MATTHEWS: OK, we are about to make a projection here. Hillary Clinton has won the New Hampshire primary for the Democratic primary. She has pulled a stunning upset.
CLINTON: I listened to you and in the process, I found my own voice.
In a few minutes I‘m going to switch off the fasten your seat belt sign. However, I‘ve learned lately that things can get awfully bumpy when you least expect it. So you might want to keep those seat belts fastened.
OBAMA: I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory in America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and Bill Clinton did not.
B. CLINTON: I thought he was running against me in Nevada for a while when he said the Republicans had most of the new ideas.
OBAMA: He continues to make statements that are not supported by the facts.
CLINTON: You talked about Ronald Reagan being a transformative political leader. I did not mention his name.
OBAMA: Your husband did.
CLINTON: I‘m here. He‘s not.
OBAMA: Well, I can‘t tell who I‘m running against some times.
OLBERMANN: Senator Barack Obama the projected winner in the South Carolina primary tonight.
CLINTON: Jesse Jackson won South Carolina twice in 1984 and 1988.
SEN. TED KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I know that he‘s ready to be president on day one.
OLBERMANN: A surprise endorsement for Senator Obama from the actor Robert Deniro. You stumping for me? You stumping for me?
OBAMA: We will win all across this nation on Tuesday.
CLINTON: We will make history tomorrow! Thank you all so much.
MATTHEWS: Our first day of super Tuesday night. Mitt Romney, no surprise.
OLBERMANN: Romney is the winner in --
MATTHEWS: Mike Huckabee.
OLBERMANN: Mike Huckabee.
MATTHEWS: Mike Huckabee.
OLBERMANN: John McCain. John McCain. John McCain will win that one.
HUCKABEE: The people of this country need a choice.
ROMNEY: In this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.
MATTHEWS: Barack Obama is the winner.
OLBERMANN: Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton. Barack Obama.
MATTHEWS: Hillary Clinton.
OLBERMANN: Barack Obama.
MATTHEWS: Hillary Clinton has won California.
CLINTON: I‘m still ahead in popular vote and in delegates.
OBAMA: We won more delegates and we won more states.
CLINTON: I did. I loaned the campaign five million dollars from my money.
OBAMA: I have a dream, just words.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a dream, just words.
OBAMA: This is where we start getting into silly season in politics.
CLINTON: It is not change you can believe in. It is change you can Xerox.
OLBERMANN: The “New York Times” is reporting tonight that top advisers to Senator John McCain had, quote, intervened to protect the candidate from himself. As for a romantic relationship with Miss Iseman—
B. CLINTON: If she wins in Texas and Ohio, I think she‘ll be the nominee.
CLINTON: Shame on you, Barack Obama.
OBAMA: Yes, we can. Si, se puede.
CLINTON: Enough with the speeches and the big rallies.
OBAMA: It is not a choice between speeches and solutions.
CLINTON: Everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect.
OBAMA: And I would reject and announce.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is 3:00 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. But there is a phone in the White House and it is ringing.
OLBERMANN: Somebody answer the damn phone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What foreign policy moment would you point to in Hillary‘s career where she‘s been tested by crises?
OLBERMANN: Vermont, Ohio, Texas, and Rhode Island, big wins, at least in terms of the total vote count, for Hillary Clinton. Texas Republicans will go to John McCain.
HUCKABEE: I called Senator McCain a few moments ago.
MCCAIN: I will be the Republican nominee for president of the United States.
OLBERMANN: He is to go to the White House to get the endorsement tomorrow of President Bush.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If he wants me to say I‘m not for him, I will.
CLINTON: I think it is imperative each of us be able to demonstrate we can cross the commander in chief threshold. And I believe that I‘ve done that. Certainly, Senator McCain has done that. And you‘ll have to ask Senator Obama with respect—
GERALDINE FERRARO, FMR. VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Somehow, I was addressing his qualifications. I was not.
CLINTON: I rejected what she said.
REV. JEREMIAH WRIGHT, TRINITY UNITED CHURCH: America‘s chickens --
CLINTON: He would not have been my pastor.
OBAMA: I have never been so naive as to believe that we could get beyond our racial divisions in a single election.
CLINTON: I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport. But instead, we just ran with our heads down.
B. CLINTON: They acted like she was Monte Harry (ph), just making up all of this stuff.
OBAMA: It‘s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns and religion.
CLINTON: I was taken aback by the remarks that Senator Obama made the other day.
OBAMA: She knows better.
CLINTON: My dad took me up behind the cottage that my grandfather built and taught me how to shoot when I was a little girl.
OBAMA: She is talking like she is Annie Oakley.
CLINTON: People are looking for a president who stands up for you, and not looks down on you.
Relationships with Reverend Farrakhan, with giving the church bulletin over to the leader of Hamas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania—
OLBERMANN: As the polls closed in North Carolina, where Senator Obama
RUSSERT: We now know who the Democratic nominee is going to be and no one is going to dispute it, Keith.
BUSH: We have heard this foolish delusion before.
OBAMA: That is the kind of fear mongering we have to put to an end.
B. CLINTON: If they thought she couldn‘t win, the other side wouldn‘t be so desperate to disenfranchise Florida and Michigan.
CLINTON: We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June.
OLBERMANN: We interrupt Senator McCain‘s address with this breaking news, Senator Barack Obama is as of this hour the presumptive Democratic nominee for president of the United States.
CLINTON: I will be making no decisions tonight.
So today, I am standing with Senator Obama to say, yes, we can!
OBAMA: Because of you, tonight I can stand here and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for the president of the United States of America.
OLBERMANN: And just think, that was spring training. The real season just started yesterday. With thanks to Brandon Omelia (ph), who shepherded that piece. That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 1,867th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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