Guest: Eugene Robinson, Jonathan Alter, Robert Wexler, Paul Krugman, Christian Finnegan
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
“Charlie Black and the big advantage a terrorist attack would be for John McCain,” day three. MoveOn.org calls for McCain to fire Black, Black is still AWOL; McCain is still silent.
Obama says we should all have an interest in preventing terrorism and its political manipulation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE: I think that‘s true of John McCain; I think that‘s true of Democrats and Republicans; I think it‘s true of George Bush. So, my sense is that we should try to avoid trying to exploit the issue politically.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And the cover of the “Rolling Stone,” nice pin and nice quote on the essence of who he is, especially under attack, “Yeah, I don‘t do cowering.”
The fight against FISA. The Republicans delayed a vote one the amnesty for the telecoms who helped the president spy. Senator Reid won‘t vote for the bill, but Obama will?
McCain‘s surprising revelation, his energy gimmicks are—energy gimmicks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, ® PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE: Even though it may take some years, the fact that we are exploiting those reserves would have a psychological impact that I think is beneficial.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: So, senator, we‘ll still be paying $4.50 a gallon but we won‘t mind it as much?
Worst: Rupert Murdoch to bankroll a candidate running against habeas corpus, and no imprisonment without charges. Bill-O crushed by “Newsweek” again in the online vote to choose a title for his new book, the big leader “A Big Steamy Lump of Male Vanity” (ph).
And our newest international diplomatic crisis. Sitting next to him here is the president of the Philippines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES: I reminded the president that I am reminded of the, the great talent of our Filipino-Americans when I eat dinner at the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Oh, here we go.
All that and more: Now on COUNTDOWN.
(on camera): Good evening. This is Wednesday, June 25th, 132 days until the 2008 presidential election.
The cover photo with the lapel pin is getting all the attention; the interview has all the news.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: Asked by “Rolling Stone” publisher, Jann Wenner, about how Democrats have cowered in the wake of past Republican attacks, Senator Obama responding, quote, “Yeah, I don‘t do cowering.”
That evident today in at least three issues, not even counting the “Rolling Stone” issue and here‘s the cover, the obligatory pin thing inside and understanding how a Democratic candidate should achieve campaign finance reform, conventional wisdom be dammed. No cowering on that subject in the name of not being swiftboated, see Kerry, John, 2004.
There will also be no being for campaign finance reform before Senator Obama was against it. At his news conference this afternoon, the Illinois Democrat describing his vision of a new kind of grassroots finance campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: There‘s no single donor in our campaign or group of donors on which we depend because our donor base is the American people. And that is exactly what has always been the end of campaign reform. Now, public financing was one means of achieving that end of freeing ourselves from special interests domination. And I feel confident that we‘ve achieved it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Senator Obama also refusing to cower even on the left on the subject of warrantless wiretapping. He‘s planning to vote for the FISA compromise legislation, putting him at odds with members of his own party, including now, the Democratic leader in the Senate, Majority Leader Reid, among those saying they will vote against it, even if he brings it to a floor vote. And that‘s still an if, and about the Democrat today holding the legislation hostage, warning Republicans that if they keep blocking the housing bill, little else will pass in the chamber in the days before the 4th of July recess.
The FISA bill‘s retroactive immunity provision for telecom giants, prompting senators Dodd and Feingold to do more than just promise to vote against it, the two are now planning to filibuster the legislation to keep it from ever coming to a vote; Senators Boxer and Wyden having, Biden rather, having indicated today that they would support a filibuster. I was right the first time, it‘s Wyden.
This afternoon, Senator Obama holding the White House accountable above keeping the telecom industry in check.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The issue of the phone companies, per se, is not one that overrides the security interest of the American people. I do want accountability and making sure that, as I‘ve said before, somebody‘s watching the watchers. That you don‘t have an administration that feels it can make its own determinations about when warrantless wiretaps are applicable without going through a FISA court; can we get to the bottom of what‘s being taking place; and, most importantly, do we have safeguards going in place going into the future, so that American civil liberties are not being violated?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANNN: And the third issue: Obama‘s lengthy call out of Charlie Black and the McCain campaign claim that a terrorist attack would be good for their election chances. We‘ll review that with Florida Congressman Robert Wexler presently.
But first, it‘s time to bring in our own Jonathan Alter, also, of course, senior editor of “Newsweek” magazine.
Good evening, Jon.
JONATHAN ALTER, NEWSWEEK: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: “Yeah, I don‘t do cowering.” This is not just the man, but the campaign?
ALTER: Yes. This is part of the message that is consistent across the last couple weeks and it comes down to one word—strength. United States is not going to elect a president that perceives to be as weak. You look weak if you‘re flip-flopping. You look weak if you‘re not taking actions that seem to be securing the United States against terrorists. And you look weak if you don‘t fight back against your political adversaries.
OLBERMANN: But this cuts, I mean, this terminology cuts in more than one direction here. Not cowering to Republicans is one thing in the Democratic, recent Democratic history, it‘s a thing that I think anybody who has a “D” near their name cheers, but not cowering to the left, not going along with the conventional, the new conventional thinking on the FISA bill, that‘s something altogether different, isn‘t it?
ALTER: Yes. I don‘t really think it is. It was only a matter of time before the left was disappointed in Barack Obama, at least in a limited way. No politician is ever going to do everything that somebody likes.
And I think some folks in the networks in particular on this FISA bill who are, you know, pulling their hair out over this, they have to realize, he‘s always been a politician, he‘ll always be a politician, and politics is the art of the possible. And he‘s a legislator. He knows that you can‘t always get everything that you want in a bill, even if he personally believes that the immunity for Telcos is a bad idea. The larger idea of the bill was important.
And I actually think one of the big points, Keith, that hasn‘t been made about this bill is that currently, as of last August, since last August, we‘ve been operating in an unconstitutional environment, clear violation of the Fourth Amendment.
So, there was tremendous urgency to get the FISA court back into the game. And does this bill do it in perfectly? Yes. But it does do it and it restores the Constitution, which is a point that‘s not getting made very much.
OBLERMANN: All right. A devil‘s advocate question on this one phrase and wherever it applies: When does “I don‘t do cowering” begin to sound like something that was said by President George “My way or the highway” Bush?
ALTER: Well -
OLBERMANN: Is there a risk of that?
ALTER: That‘s in the eye of the beholder. Yes, there‘s clearly a risk of that. And I think sometimes you can, in doing that, you can seem too political as Obama did on the Muslims this week, you know, where he seemed like he was essentially cowering in front of the possibility of a bad photograph of him going to a mosque or with American Muslims. And in that sense, I think that was the real weakness for him, this week is that you can—sometimes, in trying to look strong, you can actually look weak, like you‘re playing too much defense.
OLBERMANN: Well, to that point, what‘s that flag pin? I mean, you know, you are seeing a lot more of it now, notably with him laughing almost at it or smiling at it on the “Rolling Stone” cover. Would the true non-cower among us keep his lapel flag free?
ALTER: No. There are certain kinds of things that when you go out into a general election, which has as many as 130 million Americans voting, a large percentage of whom have not been paying any attention. They are low-information voters, many of them. You have to make some concessions like a flag pin.
OLBERMANN: No. I guess that step falls into the “what‘s the difference” category.
OLBERMANN: Jonathan Alter of MSNBC and “Newsweek,” as always, sir, great thanks for coming in.
ALTER: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. Cowering, not a synonym for finding common grounds, Senator Obama reaching out to Senator Clinton and her supporters in advance of Friday‘s unity event at the less than subtly designated DMZ, Unity, New Hampshire.
Senator Obama is making a plea to his donors to help Senator Clinton pay off the more than $10 million of her campaign debt that it‘s owed to vendors. Last week, Senator Clinton having told her top fundraisers that she would concentrate on the money owed to others and not her personal loans to herself.
Tomorrow, the two are planning a closed door meeting together with fundraisers. Last night in Los Angeles, Senator Obama having addressed what was by rights (ph) a Clinton crowd, a Hollywood crowd—emphasis on was, past tense—Senator Obama telling the crowd, including Samuel Jackson, Dennis Quaid and others, sorry others, “That because of Senator Clinton‘s campaign, my daughters take for granted that a woman can be president.” A full list of credits will appear on the Web site.
This afternoon, he was outlining why he wanted her with him on the campaign trail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I want her out there, talking to people about how we‘re
going to provide universal health care. I want her to talk about what‘s
going to be required
required for us to get on a serious energy footing in this country. I want her to talk about her passion for children and early childhood education, and making sure that college is affordable. And I think we can send Senator Clinton anywhere and she‘ll be effective.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Let‘s turn now to our own Eugene Robinson, also, of course, associate editor and columnist of the “Washington Post.”
Good evening, Gene.
EUGENE ROBINSON, WASHINGTON POST: Good to be here, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Senator Obama adopting much of Senator Clinton‘s platform, at least in those areas. Should there be any mistaking that this is now Senator Obama‘s candidacy and, in fact, it‘s Senator Obama‘s party now?
ROBINSON: No, I don‘t think there‘s any mistaking that fact and I think what you‘re seeing, at least the reaction from Hillary Clinton, has been absolutely correct in this. I mean, she is, you know, she says she will go out and campaign for him as a surrogate and do everything she can to get him elected, starting with the, you know, somewhat cornball but perhaps effective media. The joint appearance they‘re going to make in Unity, New Hampshire.
OLBERMANN: Somewhat. Does this look like a candidate, I mean, it took them—that‘s why the campaign went on this long, they were looking for the location of that town. Does this look like a candidate who‘s going to be bullied into putting anybody on the ticket with him, not the least of them, Senator Clinton? And is there any indication that that‘s still actively being tried?
ROBINSON: No. He‘s clearly not going to be bullied into putting anybody on the ticket. I just never thought that particular match was going to work out. It didn‘t seem to be enough in either person‘s advantage to make this marriage. So, I think it‘s still unlikely and I think he‘s certainly not going to be pushed into it and why should he? He‘s the nominee and he‘s the, you know, he‘s kind of the alpha male of the Democratic Party right now.
OLBERMANN: The Bill Clinton part of all this, the senator said this afternoon that the former president is—issued that famously short or infamously short 27-word message yesterday through an aide of support because he doesn‘t want to upstage his wife in the unity process. I mean, it may be a rationalization; it‘s like a great rationalization, if it is. But was that going to be enough to explain away this rift between the last Democratic president and the guy who hopes to become the next Democratic president?
ROBINSON: Well, speaking of the alpha male of the Democrat Party or the erstwhile same (ph), look, I think, here‘s what I think is really difficult for Bill Clinton—he‘s a famously nimble politician and I think he regained his footing. I mean, he can easily come out and be, you know, Barack Obama‘s best surrogate, but the thing that‘s difficult for him is that Obama, in some ways, ran against the Clinton legacy.
In running against Hillary Clinton, he couldn‘t very well say that the Clinton years were, you know, were some sort of Palsian (ph) days where every single thing was perfect. And he did run against, you know, or at the very least, indicated that he hopes to surpass the Clinton years and be a more transformative figure. I think that gets under Bill Clinton‘s skin and still does. And I think that‘s a difficult thing for him to get used to.
OLBERMANN: Well, yes, I mean, he beat not one, but two Clintons.
Eugene Robinson, columnist, associated editor of “Washington Post,” always a pleasure, sir. Thank you, Gene.
ROBINSON: Good to talk to you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: And Obama versus Charlie Black‘s claim that a terrorist attack here would help John McCain‘s chances of getting elected—
Congressman Robert Wexler about that.
McCain himself answers charges that his energy ideas are gimmicks by agreeing with those charges and Rupert Murdoch throwing 200 grand behind a political candidate who was a stated opponent habeas corpus and the right to trial.
OLBERMANN: Charles Black and the McCain campaign belief that another terrorist attack here would be good for the Republican candidate. Senator Obama calls for a bipartisan front against terrorism and calls out Charlie Black.
You know who thinks McCain‘s energy gimmicks are energy gimmicks?
And in Bushed: Karl Rover rips the “New York Times” for identifying a CIA agent. Wait a minute.
Next on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Bin Laden may have just given us a little boost. Amazing, huh? Senator John McCain‘s observations of the release of a new al Qaeda made in 2004, made while he was stumping for Congressman Chris Shays in Connecticut.
At least, the third of such documented evidence where he has said that terrorism could help the GOP, raising tonight still more questions about why when his own chief strategist, Charlie Black, concluded, “A terrorist attack could increase McCain‘s chances of getting elected,” Senator McCain reacted by saying, quote, “I cannot imagine why he would say it, it‘s not true.”
Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: Maybe that explains why Mr. Black still has a job and why misters Black and McCain are still maintaining silence on this admission.
Senator Obama today, calling Mr. Black‘s analysis inaccurate, saying he was looking forward to a debate with the authors of this disastrous policy in Iraq, and calling the political playing of the terror card, “unacceptable.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Everybody, all of us, have an interest in preventing a terrorist attack on our homeland. I think that‘s true of John McCain. I think that‘s true of Democrats and Republicans. And I think it‘s true of George Bush. And so, my sense is that, we should try to avoid trying to exploit the issue politically.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Meanwhile, Senator Obama has himself stopped short of calling for Charlie Black to get off or being thrown off of the Straight Talk Express, saying he would leave that up to McCain to decide who he wants to run his campaign; MoveOn.org called for his ouster, asking supporters to phone the McCain campaign and ask for Black to be summarily dismissed.
We‘re pleasure to be joined now by Representative Robert Wexler of Florida, author of “Fire Breathing Liberal: How I Learn to Survive and Thrive in the Contact Sport of Congress.”
Thanks for your time tonight, congressman.
REP. ROBERT WEXLER, (D) FLORIDA: No, thank you.
OLBERMANN: Senator Obama said that the American people aren‘t looking for the specter of a terrorist attack to be used as a political wrench; that the tactics of 2000 and 2004 won‘t work this time. Is he right about a shift in perspective by American voters or does he have to go out and make that happen in the next few months?
WEXLER: I think he is both right about the shift because the Bush administration and John McCain have lost their credibility, but, still, Senator Obama has to go out and aggressively make the argument.
And I think the best way to start is to point out if this were just one comment by John McCain or one comment by his chief strategist, that might be forgivable, or their apology might be credible; but this is now the second, possibly, the third instance in which the mindset of John McCain is becoming quite evident. And that is, he appears to be calculating the value of a terrorist attack or the assassination to his campaign. And that‘s quite eerie.
Back several months ago, when Ms. Bhutto was assassinated tragically in Pakistan, both Senator McCain and Charlie Black talked about how it would bolster up his security credentials. That‘s a frightening concept, particularly more frightening when we then start calculating as Senator McCain and Mr. Black apparently have what would be the value of a terrorist attack in America to the McCain campaign.
I don‘t think we should just focus on Mr. Black. We ought to focus on Senator McCain himself because this seems to be a joint effort.
OLBERMANN: Well, that raises the very obvious question, congressman—why is nobody calling McCain on any one of those remarks?
WEXLER: Well, I think the chorus of calling on Senator McCain will now become more aggressive, because, again, when we thought it was only once, you could forget it and just cast it aside as a misstatement. But now, when I hear you talk about what is the third instance, that‘s a pattern of attempting to use fear.
And we know, of course, that George Bush used it in 2000 and 2004. And what I would respectfully suggest is that Senator Obama needs to go out and say, “You know what, these guys‘ credentials on security matters aren‘t any good anyway. Senator McCain and President Bush, they were wrong on the Iraq war. Senator McCain was wrong on Afghanistan in terms of taking our sights off of Osama bin Laden.
And guess what? McCain was wrong in Pakistan, too, because they put all their eggs in Musharraf‘s basket. That turned out to be not correct and McCain is wrong about handing off the negotiations with respect to the Iranian nuclear quest to the Europeans. We ought to be doing that directly ourselves to thwart the Iranian nuclear threat.
OLBERMANN: As you well know better than I do, congressman, facts are facts and politics are politics, and they often don‘t overlap at all. Senator Obama told “Rolling Stone” as we quoted earlier, that he doesn‘t do cowering. How can he best go after combating this terror card playing Republican attack machine, while they‘re at the same time trying to paint him and Democrats, as usual, as soft and ineffective on terror?
WEXLER: I think two things need to happen. Senator Obama himself needs to go directly after the security issue. He‘s got a convincing argument to make that the McCain/Bush policies, in fact, have not made America safer. They‘ve actually made us less safe.
And then what it needs to happen in the Congress is we need to hold the Bush/McCain positions accountable and engage, on my view, an inquiry of impeachment with respect to the lies that the Bush administration foisted upon the American people as they took us to war in Iraq.
Scott McClellan came into the judiciary committee last Friday and essentially cast doubt on the veracity of this administration. We need to follow it up.
OLBERMANN: Good luck in doing that, sir. Democratic Representative Robert Wexler of Florida, our thanks for your time tonight again.
WEXLER: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: It‘s deep and, Dan, I don‘t think it‘s playable. There has to be more to this highlight than just the ball girl making the catch.
And there‘s much more to this story. Why is Rupert Murdoch bankrolling a candidate who‘s running against habeas corpus, the Magna Carta and the right of a prisoner to be charged or released? Worst Persons is ahead.
But first, the headlines breaking in the administration‘s 50 breaking scandals - Bushed.
Number three: Afghanistan-gate. Secretary of Defense Gates and the president keep portraying this as a year of success there, but this week, the Pentagon disclosed that, in fact, insurgent activity is up by 40 percent in the eastern provinces alone and American fatalities are at 50 for the first of this year compared to 28 in the first half of last year.
Folks at all levels are really taking a hard look at those statistics and saying, “What are they telling us?” A senior military officer told the “L.A. Times,” after the letting the progress against the Taliban from 2001 deteriorate for 6 ½ years, the administration is actually surprised that that progress didn‘t just magically hold up by itself.
Number two: Gitmo-gate. The CBC, Canadian Broadcasting, asked the lawyer for a former an enemy combatant named Huzaifa Parhat, a Chinese national, how his client felt about the Supreme Court ruling that those guys weren‘t enemy combatants any more and did have the right of habeas corpuses after all.
The Lawyer‘s response, “My client doesn‘t know about this ruling because I‘m not allowed to tell him. He‘s sitting in solitary confinement today. He has no idea what happened as far as I know.”
This may explain why 200 former U.S. government officials, religious leaders, and retired generals issued a joint statement today, demanding a presidential order to outlaw the interrogation and detention practices the Bush administration uses.
One of the signees said, “It‘s a good time to take a step back, take a deep breath, and set a standard. If you have served in the armed forces as I did in the Pacific in World War II and you‘ve been secretary of state, you understand reciprocity.”
Which secretary of state said that? George Shultz, secretary of state for Ronald Reagan.
Number one: Rove-gate. Any remaining doubt about this man‘s mental state should be erased by this development. On FOX noise, Karl Rove complained that the “New York Times” used the name of a CIA agent Deuce Martinez who was never undercover and never used an alias and who interrogated Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
“Basically,” Rove belched, “it sounded to me like they were saying, we put his name out there because we decided we could. They‘ve got a very callous view about our nation‘s security and interest.”
You sure do, sorry, they sure do, seriously, Rove? You gave up Valerie Plame, a CIA to Matt Cooper per Cooper‘s testimony, you‘d confirmed she worked at the CIA to Robert Novak, per Novak‘s writing; and the “Times” has a very callous view about our nation‘s security and interest? Your concern, Mr. Rove, is a little bit more troublesome than that, it‘s about the same level as Osama bin Laden‘s.
OLBERMANN: Best Persons in a moment and hijacking stuff off the back of a truck while the truck is going like 60.
First, on this date 105 years ago, in Motahari (ph), India was born Eric Arthur Blair, great-grandson of a wealthy British plantation owner in Jamaica, whose descendants had run through the fortune; he turned to writing. The best of it came under a pen name, but he was buried and still lies beneath a headstone in Oxfordshire reading Eric Arthur Blair, 1903-1950, no mention of that pen name nor the year with which it and he are indelibly associated, George Orwell, “1984.” Let‘s play Oddball.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: We begin on the Internets, in another entry in the we wish this was not fake category. This is supposed to be coverage of a minor league baseball game with the batter slugging one deep and foul down the left field line. The left fielder gives up on the ball and the ball girl does not, pin balling up the wall, Ken Griffey Jr. style, snatching it before it leaves the field. It‘s good enough to fool some. We can report though it is a viral ad campaign by a certain thirst quenching beverage. Regardless of that, the young lady is starting in left field for the injury stricken New York Yankees tonight in Pittsburgh.
To Cheddar, in England, mmmm, Cheddar, England, where John Ridson (ph) is attempting to walk a 95-foot long rope suspended 550 feet in the air across Old Cheddar Gorge. It‘s called slack lining, like a tight rope only limp. Ridson was so confident that he could complete the span that he had a news crew cover the attempt. Unfortunately, he didn‘t tell anybody, hey, you know what, I‘m not really that good at this. He‘s tied to the rope, don‘t worry, kids.
Three hours afterwards, Ridson gave up, blaming high winds. He also admitted he has a fear of heights. He won‘t be up in the air that long if you do it like this, buddy. For his next slack line, Ridson will forget about the wide Cheddar Gorge and try the nearby, much smaller, Gouda Canyon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: John McCain‘s energy gimmicks, they‘re so silly that somebody has admitted they would have no possible impact for years and years. That somebody was John McCain.
This is not quite Earl Butts‘ joke about the Pope not making the rules, but didn‘t the president just sweepingly insult Filipinos and Filipino Americans? These stories ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s top three persons in the world.
Number three, best product placement, John McCain; in March, the then CEO of eBay told “60 Minutes,” quote, we have around the world about 1.3 million people who make most if not all their living selling on eBay. Whitman then quit her job at eBay to became an adviser to Senator McCain‘s campaign. And now one of Senator McCain‘s suggestions on how Americans can fix the Republican strangled economy is that they should note, quote, that 1.3 million people in the world make a living off eBay.
Number two, best frat boy unnamed, overweight, unshaved man in Newport Beach, California who has now twice broken into unlocked homes there and told the women living there that he had to dance for them as part of a scavenger hunt for his college fraternity. The women noted that despite the frat claim, the guy appeared to be in his 30‘s? Ludo, is that you?
Number one, best, hardest working criminals, six Rumanian men who have been arrested in Dortland, in Germany, accused of stealing laptops and cell phones from a truck on the Autobon. The twist is the truck was moving at the time. Two car scam. This is all done with everybody going about 60 miles an hour. One car pulls up to the left just behind the truck, the headlights are off. He blocks that lane. The other car drives up behind the truck, headlights off. A passenger climbs out the window of the second car on to the hood of the car, produces a bolt cutter from some where. Mind you, they‘re all going 60 miles an hour at this time. He produces the bolt cutter. He breaks the lock on the trailer door. Then he opens the door and climbs from the roof of the car into the truck.
Now, a second guy gets out of the car and climbs on to the hood and the first guy starts handing him boxes of laptops and computers. Truck driver never even knows he has been robbed.
I don‘t want to tell you guys how to earn your living, but if you just performed this trick at a monster truck show, you could probably make more money than you could stealing crap and they wouldn‘t arrest you.
OLBERMANN: In a major speech on gas prices and energy policy today, Senator John McCain had good news and bad news. The good news is he knows exactly how to lower gas prices for consumers. The bad news is he knows how to do it for consumers living in the year 2024. Our third story tonight, the Lexington Project, McCain‘s new name for his slate of energy proposals which he outlined and fleshed out today in Las Vegas, reversing his past opposition to off shore drilling, of course, and doubling the number of American nuclear plants to 200, with 45 new ones to be built by the year 2030, developing clean coal at the cost of two billion a year from now until 2024, without mentioning how or how to pay for it, setting cap and trade limits on green house gases, as well as tax credit for zero emission vehicles, and re-regulating trading of oil futures.
Despite his past claims that new off shore drilling would help in the short term, part of McCain‘s energy theme this week, it‘s only short term if you‘re talking about geological errors. McCain admitting now that ending the moratorium on new off-shore rigs would do nothing for motorists struggling tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: I don‘t see an immediate relief. But I do see that exploitation of existing reserves, that may exist in the view of many experts, that do exist off our coast, is also a way that we need to provide relief, even though it may take some years. The fact that we are exploiting those reserves would have a psychological impact that I think is beneficial.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: McCain‘s notion that poverty or economic distress might be pyschosematic, but a stretched dollar is a stretch of the imagination is not a new one for him. He said in April his gas tax holiday would give a psychological boost and in rejecting warnings of recession, said in January, quote, a lot of this is psychological.
While Obama today reiterated his opposition to some of McCain‘s plan, he called some of it commendable. The McCain camp nevertheless depicting Obama as rejecting all of McCain‘s proposals, despite just days ago accusing Obama of copying McCain‘s call for new regulations, not to mention Obama‘s support for cap and trade, clean coal and nuclear power.
Let‘s turn now to “New York Times” columnist Paul Krugman, also an economist, of course, and author of “The Conscience of a Liberal.” Mr. Krugman, thanks for your time tonight.
PAUL KRUGMAN, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”: Hi, there.
OLBERMANN: McCain and the Lexington Project, just the name is a nod to the Manhattan project, and he also likes comparing it to the Apollo moon launch. As I recall, those were like government projects or did we get to the moon by giving corporate tax credits to somebody?
KRUGMAN: Well, I mean, he has some break there. It‘s—there‘s a little bit of government price. It‘s amazing—little sad. There‘s this grand name and then there‘s a collection of mice that he has there. Nothing big, it‘s a bunch of small tax breaks that might or might not make people change their behavior a little bit.
OLBERMANN: Drilling here is not going to lower prices, certainly not any more quickly than drilling in Iraq has lowered prices. Why is new and additional drilling in areas that were being held out for environmental reasons central to a McCain plan?
KRUGMAN: Yes, it‘s mostly just for the psychological impact, as he would say. Look, there‘s probably some oil out there. It would arrive 10, 15 years from now. It would have an infinitesimal effect on the world‘s price of oil. We could debate whether it is a good idea, but it does nothing for the crisis we‘re in. It‘s trivial compared with things like energy conservation, alternative sources of energy. This was just to be able to say that he‘s doing something, which he isn‘t, actually.
OLBERMANN: And that raises that part of the answer in which he is suggesting that our problems are and the solutions are psychological in nature, or even psychosomatic as we interpreted this.
KRUGMAN: I‘m not sure that‘s what he is saying. Let me say, I think McCain has bought into the notion that there is a panic, that speculators are buying up energy resources and that‘s what‘s driving up the price, and if you do something that‘s psychological, that says there‘s going to be a gusher of oil coming off the continental shelf, then that would drive the prices down. The problem is that‘s not right. It‘s actually very strange for someone who supposedly believes in free markets to think that there is this psychological thing that speculators are driving it.
Aren‘t we supposed to believe that markets get things right? So he‘s got this idea that if we can just do something, even if it‘s basically irrelevant, is somehow going to make a big difference in the current situation. And this is not good policy.
OLBERMANN: I can‘t decide in my own mind if this is more Norman Vincent Peal (ph), and the power of positive thinking, or it‘s the Mighty Python sketch about the magician who puts up the housing apartment complexes by himself and the way they stay up as long as they stay up—they don‘t fall over as long as the tenants believe that they are actually standing.
KRUGMAN: Yes, and the trouble is, you know, oil is this black stuff that you kind of need to burn and belief won‘t do it. This is the problem. I thought the stuff about McCain believing that speculators, evil speculators is the problem is the most amazing thing about all this. It‘s not what you expect from a Republican, except a Republican who‘s looking for something, anything to say.
OLBERMANN: There does seem to be an idea per day, and they don‘t seem to have been rolled out in any kind of—any kind of logical, illogical pattern. And if that strikes somebody who doesn‘t know a thing about the subject, it must get you to pull your hair out.
KRUGMAN: It‘s really strange. Look, there are no easy answers. The fact of the matter is if either candidate had an idea for bringing down gas prices now or even next year, they would go with it. But McCain is kind of -- you know, he wants to be saying something different, but he ends up sounding basically like Bush over again. If only you would let me drill some more stuff, open up some natural resources, forget about the environment, this will be good.
And I have to say, you know, not my expertise but even politically I think it‘s a bad idea. He‘s making himself sound more like the guy that most Americans would really like to see the end of.
OLBERMANN: To McCain not versus Bush, but McCain versus Obama; Obama hits McCain for wanting tax payers dollars to subsidize nuclear plants, not wind, not solar. McCain hits Obama for relying on corn, on ethanol, not uranium. Are there real meaningful differences between these guys and what do we read into those differences, if they exist?
KRUGMAN: Well, Obama is proposing to spend really quite a lot of money by the standards of this thing. He‘s proposing to spend 150 billion dollars over 10 years on clean energy. And that‘s not a lot by comparison. That‘s one year in Iraq. But it‘s a lot by the standards of energy stuff.
So, that‘s a fairly big program.
McCain is right to give Obama a hard time on ethanol. That‘s not Obama‘s finest moment. He was being a politician. This is one of those things. Ethanol‘s a really bad idea. It‘s about corn. It‘s about Iowa being the first caucus. I like to say, if only the first caucuses were in New Jersey, we would have extravagant subsidies for diners, instead of for corn. This is a problem, not Obama‘s best thing, but nuclear—there is this notion on the right that nuclear is serious and wind is not. But the fact of the matter, given what we know, is wind is every bit as serious, and maybe more so, as an alternative to burning fossil fuels.
OLBERMANN: Drive from Los Angeles to Palm Springs some time and tell people there that wind is not a good answer. Paul Krugman of “the New York Times,” a great pleasure, sir. Thanks for your time.
KRUGMAN: Thanks so much.
OLBERMANN: George W. Bush‘s place in history; in San Francisco that place may well be at the George W. Bush Presidential Sewage Treatment Plant.
After more than 5,000 responses, there is an early big leader in the bid to rename Bill O‘Reilly‘s new book, a big steaming lump of you know. Worst persons next on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: The city that has proposed naming a sewage treatment plant after President Bush, and the nationality the president dismissed with the president of the nation in question standing right next to him. That‘s next, but first time for our number two story on the COUNTDOWN, our worst persons in the world.
The bronze to Gretchen Carlson of Fixed News, interviewing New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who mentioned that Obama‘s willingness to help Senator Clinton with her campaign debt was a, quote, magnanimous gesture. Carlson then taunted Richardson with, did Senator Obama offer to pay off your debt when you endorsed him? The governor was too much of a gentleman to replay, no, Gretchen, did your bosses offer to give you a job you‘re not qualified for in exchange for accusing Democrats of bribing other Democrats?
Number two, Bill-O, continuing an attack he, as the old joke, goes will only regret once, and that will be continuously. “As for ‘Newsweek,‘ it‘s a disaster,” he railed. “From year to year, ‘Time Magazine‘s‘ ad pages are up about 95 percent. ‘Newsweek‘ is down five percent, a stunning failure in a political year.” Sadly, no, more made-up stats from Bill-O. Magazine industry insiders say the ad revenues of both publications are down in double digits. But, in fact, “Time” is down about one percent more this year than “Newsweek” is.
But here are some stats you can depend on, the voting to give Bill-O a new and better name for his next book, “A Bold, Fresh Piece of Humanity,” conducted by Newsweek.com. You can vote there. A Big Steaming Lump of Male Vanity is comfortably in the lead. A Large Bag of Gas Who is no Hannity is a distant second with about 25 percent. And A Deep Barking Voice of Inanity is third. Just for extra laughs, “Newsweek” has enabled you to write in your own choice.
And our winner, Rupert Murdoch; last week David Davis resigned from the British Parliament. A conservative, he was protesting that the House had just approved a new law that allows the British government to hold terror suspects for seven weeks without any charge. Mr. Davis cited the Magna Carta, habeas corpus and the encroachment of the police state in his resignation. His seat in the parliament will now be up for special election. He‘ll run again, asking voters, in essence, to endorse his protest. Davis was expected to face no oppositions. However, that‘s when Calvin McKenzie, the former editor of Murdoch‘s London tabloid, “The Sun,” declared he would run against Davis because Murdoch has promised to fund McKenzie‘s campaign to the tune of 200,000 dollars. McKenzie claims it‘s all Murdoch‘s idea, saying Murdoch told him, in effect, “I suggest that if the Labor Party doesn‘t put anyone up, you run. I‘ll put up the money because it isn‘t cheap to run as a candidate.”
So Murdoch is bank rolling a candidate who is opposing the Magna Carta, habeas corpus, the erosions of freedom in the western democracies, the rule of law, governmental abuse of political power, and the right to be charged or freed. Sounds like the average day at the office for Rupert Murdoch, today‘s worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: Despite his status as a the political equivalent of a pet rock, lame duck President Bush still manages to intimidate the opposition and put troops in harm‘s way. But in our number one story in the COUNTDOWN tonight, it is neither coercion nor corruption, rather the gaffes that keep on giving. Yesterday‘s media availability with the president of the Philippines, Gloria Arroyo, a leader whose country recently suffered devastation caused by a typhoon, and now has been hit by something more like a buffoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I‘m reminded of the great talent of our Philippine Americans when I eat dinner at the White House. And the chef is a great person and a really good cook, by the way.
(END VIDEO CLIP
OLBERMANN: Yes, thanks a lot.
Meantime, as the president continues to worry about his place in history and the funding for his presidential library, another option has opened on the west coast. A group calling itself the Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco proposing that the public utilities commission there rename the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant the George W. Bush Sewage Plant. Their petition with more than enough signatures to date seems to be headed to the ballot. The name change could come as early as January. Just think, instead of something obvious like Mt. Rushmore, we could hear in the year 2025, attention all San Franciscans, please reduce flushing, the Bush has overflowed again.
For some cultural context, let‘s turn to Christian Finnegan, comedian, contributor to VH-1‘s “Best Week Ever.” Good evening, sir.
CHRISTIAN FINNEGAN, COMEDIAN: Hi Keith. Nice imagery, by the way.
OLBERMANN: Thank you very much. Working backwards, I don‘t want to neglect to mention that the water treatment plant is actually largely underground and has a zoo on the roof. So, it‘s the Bush sewage plant and the Bush zoo?
FINNEGAN: Actually, I think it‘s the Bush sewage plant and the Cheney zoo. They‘ll build a beautiful natural habitat and then immediately begin drilling in it. For an extra five bucks, they‘ll let you water board the pandas.
OLBERMANN: The Philippines chef comment from the president, I‘m just going to open this up to questions; what on Earth was that?
FINNEGAN: Hey president lady, my chef is Filipino. His name is Edgardo. Do you know him? The new diplomacy policy for the White House some of my best friends are blank. It‘s nice to see him reaching out. In fact, the last time Vladimir Putin visited, President Bush told him he thought Ivan Drago (ph) got a bad rap in “Rocky IV.”
OLBERMANN: Very nice. We have Scott McClellan, meantime, who has seemed to have been utterly liberated. Not only did he write this book. Now he‘s tweaking his old colleagues by suggesting they follow him with truth-telling books. He‘s even giving them title suggestions. We‘ll go through these one by one. For Cheney, “I Upped Halliburton‘s Income, So Up Yours.”
FINNEGAN: First off, you‘re right about his new found liberation. I don‘t think Lance Bass came out with this much fan fare. He truly is the new Jan Brady. As far as the Cheney book title goes, kind of a play on words, pretty good. As long as there is a swimsuit photo spread, I‘m happy.
OLBERMANN: The next one, “Well, Pardon Me,” by Scooter Libby.
FINNEGAN: There it is with the word play again. You set that to music and we may have our ourselves the next Mark Russell. I hope if Libby writes a book, that he includes the chapter on the series of atomic wedgies he received after deciding to call himself Scooter.
OLBERMANN: Karl Rove‘s book, according to Mr. McClellan, “The Lies I Told To Whom and Why.”
FINNEGAN: All right, Scott, kind of ran out of gas on this one. You couldn‘t think of a good Rove pun, “Rover and Out,” or “For Whom the Bald Tolls,” something like that. The problem is that Rove already published a book under his pen name, Niccolo Machiavelli.
OLBERMANN: Very nice. Mr. Rove has this way with words, as we discussed the other night. Described Obama as coolly arrogant; “even if you never met him, you know this guy. He‘s the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and cigarette, stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by.” I‘m getting a little bit of jealousy there off the beautiful date part, right?
FINNEGAN: If you‘re trying to nail some other guy as being a snob, you sort of undermine your argument by saying, you know, the guy at the country club. No, not really. You know, the guy who never wants to play doubles croquet, the guy who eats all the quail legs. If you‘re at a country club standing off to the side and making fun of people is exactly what you should be doing.
OLBERMANN: That‘s all they have. They have nothing but the sides to stand by. There‘s nothing in the middle. One more time, the greatest Bush video of all-time, the thing from Friday in Raleigh, in North Carolina, the hey, hey, I‘m the president. I‘m waving at you. Christian, how does an elected official of any sort ever recover from this?
FINNEGAN: So beautiful. I could watch this on a loop for hours. What you can‘t hear is that the two men in the clips are actually saying, don‘t look, don‘t look—oh, I think he saw us. How do you go from being leader of the free world to being the guy who thinks he‘s invited to your birthday party. Hey, who invited President Bush and why he is playing a Toby Keith CD?
OLBERMANN: Christian Finnegan, contributor to VH-1‘s “Best Week Ever,” and our little clam bake here on occasion. Thank you, sir.
FINNEGAN: Good night, sir.
OLBERMANN: That was COUNTDOWN for this the 1,883rd since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
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