Guests: Richard Wolffe, John Harwood, Hillary Mann Leverett, Michael Musto
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The swing states swinging blue. Colorado, Obama by five. Michigan, Obama by six. Wisconsin, Obama by 13. Minnesota, Obama by 17. And numbers are even bigger amongst independents.
The conclusion: An emerging Democratic coalition. Even within the Democratic Party, the “AP” Poll, Clinton supporters -- 23 percent for McCain; 53 percent for Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to be determined to chart a new course and we cannot do that without electing Senator Obama our president.
(END VIDEOE CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And here‘s your “thank you” card.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, SEN. OBAMA‘S WIFE: Because of Hillary Clinton‘s work, the issues of importance to women and to working families are front and center in this election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Charlie Black and John McCain‘s belief that a terrorist attack here would be good for their campaign now says an ex-McCain strategist, it was just a big joke caused by the reporter‘s bust line.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MIKE MURPHY, FORMER MCCAIN STRATEGIST: I think there must have been tremendous reporter cleavage involved or something.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: (INAUDIBLE), the reporter was a guy. But thanks for keeping the story alive.
Two years ago, the Bush administration mocked the Clinton administration for negotiating with Kim Jong-il. Six weeks ago, President Bush mocks Obama, saying, “to negotiate with the terrorists and radicals was the false comfort of appeasement.”
Today, President Bush cut a nukes deal with Kim Jong-il.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES: So, I‘m - it‘s been, multilateral diplomacy is difficult at times.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And: Bill-O‘s vendetta against me and NBC and GE reaches new heights.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BILL O‘REILLY, TV HOST: I‘m not objective here; I‘m trying to get this guy. I‘ll admit it; I‘m trying to get him.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: He‘s also lying about him.
And: Mini-me shows off his mini-me-ness. The bird show you sex tape and a sound byte taken totally out of context.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is great, to show people that I can do other things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: All that and more: Now on COUNTDOWN.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
O‘REILLY: He‘s a bad number (ph).
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening. This is Thursday, June 26th, 131 days until the 2008 presidential election.
If you had the sneaking suspension that as a presidential candidate, John McCain might be slowly turning into Bob Dole, but that if this was the suspension you did not dare give voice to, hit the mute button quickly and keep it off until I give you the “hi” sign.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: Never mind Dole. After the first comprehensive polling in the swing states today, he might be turning into Alf Landon. And again, this could always be June for Barack Obama the way it was June for Michael Dukakis.
The Quinnipiac Poll, for the WashingtonPost.com and the “Wall Street Journal,” showing what its own directors described as an emerging Democratic coalition of women, of minorities, and of young voters propelling Obama to lead up to 17 percentage points among likely voters and 21 percentage points among independent voters in four states that could well decide the election.
In Colorado, Senator Obama is leading Senator McCain by five among likely voters, 49-44; among independent voters by 12, 51-39. In Michigan, Senator Obama is topping Senator McCain by six among likely voters, 48-42; among independents by eight, 46-38.
In Minnesota, where the presumptive Democratic nominee is up by 17 percentage points over his Republican rival among the likely voters 54-37, and looking at independents, the lead grows to 21. And in Wisconsin, Obama is up by 13 among the likelies, 52-39; and the same margin among the independents of 13, 50-37.
“In short,” says the assistant director of Quinnipiac, “November can‘t get here soon enough for Senator Obama, he has a lead everywhere, and if nothing changes between now and November, he will make history.”
All right. Here‘s that “hi” sign to those viewers still on mute.
There‘s even evidence of a Democratic coalition inside the Democratic Party. Another new poll from the “Associated Press” and Yahoo! Today, Senator Obama is winning over more than half of Senator Clinton‘s former supporters, 53-23 for McCain. In April, only 40 percent of Clinton supporters having said they would back Senator Obama over Senator McCain.
Obama‘s outreach to Clinton supporters is just now picking up steam. Tonight in Washington, Senator Clinton introducing her former rival to her financial backers, the so-called “Hillraisers”; his top fundraisers having been asked to garner five or six checks each to help pay down her campaign debt.
In Washington, Senator Clinton telling a group which supported her in strong numbers during the primaries, a gathering of Hispanic leaders, that the best way to help their communities would be it, “to make sure that we have a Democratic president taking the oath of office.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: We cannot afford four more years of the same. It won‘t be good for any of us, and, therefore, we have to be determined to chart a new course. And we cannot do that without electing Senator Obama our president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: In New Hampshire, where senators Clinton and Obama will campaign together tomorrow—new video for everybody. Senator Obama‘s wife, Michelle, is getting a head start on the healing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
M. OBAMA: Because of Hillary Clinton‘s work, the issues of importance to women and to working families are front and center in this election. And tomorrow, as I said, she and Barack are going to be right there together, right here in this state in Unity, New Hampshire, and we are so incredibly proud and pleased to have her support.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: A few caveats about those poll numbers. The Quinnipiac pollsters noted that Senator Obama‘s lead nationally is not hugely different from where Senator John Kerry stood four years ago at this time. And our friend and colleague, Howard Fineman writing that “June polls of a horse race that ends in November aren‘t all that reliably predictive as the survey experts say.”
Time now to call on our own Richard Wolffe, senior White House correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine.
Richard, good evening.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. Howard‘s point first, it‘s only June. But the McCain campaign has spent a lot of energy and is throwing out a lot of math in trying to debunk all these very pro-Obama polls. Why is that? Is it because the one tangible right now is the effect that polls like these have on fundraising right now?
WOLFFE: Well, first of all, Howard‘s right. It‘s early, and it was early on the day of the election in 2004 when people in the Kerry campaign headquarters, where I was at the time, were cracking open champagne on the basis of the exit polls. So, you know, people need to take a deep breath here. But the debunking process is important for the McCain campaign because these kinds of numbers are depressing for their own turnout, they‘re depressing for volunteers, they‘re depressing for yes fundraising.
And you can debunk any number of polls. People did that with a “Newsweek” Poll earlier, the problem is, it‘s not just “Newsweek,” it‘s the “L.A. Times” Poll, it‘s the state-by-state numbers. And if this congeals, if these numbers keep flowing for a month or so, then, the race starts to take on a dynamic, just because of the numbers.
OLBERMANN: Where is it not congealed? Is there anything seen so far in any of the polling that the Obama people think is soft, in doubt, even unlikely to hold?
WOLFFE: Well, they do think some of these state-by-state numbers may be overstated. But, say in Florida where they have been put up four or five points, and they haven‘t really campaigned, they think it may be pretty much dead even and certainly the Gallup tracking poll has the two candidates nationally dead even.
But they have mapped out a game plan across these states on the back of these polls that is very ambitious, because they do put some credibility, a lot of credibility, in fact, in the numbers they‘re seeing from places like Georgia and Alaska. It‘s not just a head fake here; this is serious campaigning they‘re planning to do.
OLBERMANN: All right. Richard, as to the demilitarized zone among the Democrats, “New York Times” reported that Bob Barnett, the Washington lawyer, was brought in to negotiate between the Obama and Clinton camps and the things on the table, Hillary‘s role at the convention. Why hasn‘t Obama yet written his $2,300 check into the Clinton sinking fund? How many Clinton staffers will latch on with the Obama campaign?
The Obama people are dealing with this minutia perhaps if those poll numbers are correct. But why are they doing it? Is it because if they‘re up nationally by 15, they actually want to be up nationally by 50 because they don‘t think they have any margin for error in the long run?
WOLFFE: Well, that‘s true. They‘re very competitive and they don‘t want to take anything for granted. There is still room for them to grow in terms of the Hillary Clinton base, also among women voters, but more immediately, they need money. They need to raise primary dollars which could most easily come from the Clinton folks right now.
Of course, the Clinton folks want to reach out to the Obama base and there is some friction there. There‘s friction because the Clinton folks don‘t think that Obama has done enough in terms of, for instance, sending an e-mail out to his whole base saying, “Please, help Hillary.” So, they need each other right now just in terms of the money. But, moving forward, the Obama folks are pretty confident they can pull the party together on their own.
OLBERMANN: The polling here suggested that if Clinton is the running mate, 28 percent said they‘d be more likely to vote for the Democratic ticket; 25 percent said they‘d more likely to vote for the Republican ticket. Once again, second or third poll like this looks like a wash if she‘s on the ticket. In that light, do we look at tomorrow‘s event in Unity, New Hampshire, Unity festival, as a closing chapter or some sort of preface?
WOLFF: Well, I don‘t think it‘s a closing chapter on the veep side because actually, that‘s already closed. You know, if you talk to Clinton supporters, the people who really stuck with her, they don‘t hold out any hope.
You know, all that talk of demanding a place or at least being considered strongly on the short list, that‘s all faded away here. What they want is respect. They want an acknowledgment of what she‘s done and, of course, some discussion about what her future role should be. So, you know, moving forward, they‘re trying to figure this out, but there are no demands being made right now.
OLBERMANN: Richard Wolffe of MSNBC and “Newsweek,” as always, sir, great thanks.
WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: And apparently, you have to get up pretty early in the morning to try to beat Senator Obama. Well, try 6:45 a.m. That was the hour this morning in which McCain senior adviser, Steve Schmidt sent out a memo accusing Obama of partisanship.
And we‘ll quote from it, “There has never been a time when Barack Obama has bucked the party line to lead his on an issue of national importance. He has never been part of a bipartisan group that came together to solve a controversial issue. We don‘t need to trade Republican partisanship for Democratic partisanship.”
The memo does not mention Senator Gordon Smith by the name, it might as well could have. The message, coming one day after the Oregon Republican in the middle of a tough reelection fight released a TV ad touting his bipartisan work with, you guessed it—Barack Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, POLITICAL AD)
NARRATOR: Who says Gordon Smith helped lead to fight for a better gas mileage and a cleaner environment? Barack Obama. He joined with Gordon and broke through a 20-year deadlock to pass new laws which increase gas mileage for automobiles. Governor Ted Kulongoski praised their bipartisan partnership on this critical issue. Gordon Smith, bipartisan leadership for energy independence.
SEN. GORDON SMITH, ® OREGON: I‘m Gordon Smith and I approve working together across party lines and this ad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Wow. Let‘s bring in CNBC‘s chief Washington correspondent, also, a political writer for the “New York Times,” John Harwood.
A pleasure, John, good evening.
JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So, the McCain strategy is now to go after Obama on partisanship despite, say, the Richard Lugar testimony about having worked with him, and that Gordon Smith combination of campaign commercial and love letter?
HARWOOD: I‘ve got to tell you, Keith, that‘s going to be a pretty difficult strategy to pull off. Right now, Republicans are so concerned about the negative environment here, that it‘s really every man for himself. Gordon Smith is not going to follow the party line.
And I think one of the realities of this campaign year is that Republicans do not hate Barack Obama. It‘s not going to be easy to demonize him. And by the same token, Democrats don‘t hate John McCain. So, I think that old element of the playbook may not work so well.
OLBERMANN: There‘s something else that doesn‘t fit the partisan idea, it‘s really not to Obama‘s credit, but obviously, it won‘t help McCain either.
I know the practical politics of the FISA bill. He shuts off a whole line of your soft on terrorism attacks if he doesn‘t vote against it; and you get as hot about the issue as I have, you would rather see a President Obama prosecuting the telecoms criminally, rather than a Senator Obama throwing away a vote to keep open the civil suits from most of the other Democrats already caved in.
But regardless, Obama kicked the left in the teeth on telecom immunity.
HARWOOD: Exactly so. Barack Obama loves to get attacked from the left on being too moderate on the war on terrorism. And there have been other things, Keith, too, where he‘s tried to make signals to the middle, saying, “I‘m a free trader,” and saying he might cut corporate taxes, saying he might delay some of those tax increases on the wealthy.
All of that is aimed on telling swing voters: You cannot put Obama in a far left box or paint him as a rigid (INAUDIBLE). That shows the difficulty John McCain is going to have making that argument that Steve Schmidt offered making it stick.
OLBERMANN: And the other one, the sort of the dark politics here. The “Washington Post” said the Republican strategists in the House are backing off their attempts to demonize Obama. The Smith ad obviously suggests that Republicans on the ground may not go along with the partisanship argument. Is there another McCain strategy at this point?
HARWOOD: I think, at the end of the day, what John McCain has got to try to do is persuade Americans that it‘s simply too risky to put this young, relatively inexperienced senator in as president. Not an easy argument to make there.
There‘s such a powerful Democratic wave right now, unhappiness with Bush, concern about the economy, unhappiness and weariness with the Iraq war. But that‘s what they‘ve got to do. It‘s going to be change versus risk and they‘ve got to try to make that argument sell.
OLBERMANN: Can the Obama people come back, John, with bipartisan or partisan arguments of their own, given that McCain‘s voting record over the last two years is consistent with the administration -- 100 percent this year and 95 percent last year?
HARWOOD: Well, it‘s very difficult for them to impeach John McCain‘s reputation as a maverick, but one way that they can prevent him for making the partisan argument against them is to say, “Hey, look, you voted against the Bush tax cuts when you were in the Senate in the early part of the decade, but ever since you‘ve been running for president, you‘ve been embracing those tax cuts.” So, John McCain‘s got some flip-flops that he has to deal with, as well.
And, of course, one of the thing and realities about Barack Obama is much of the time that he‘s been in the Senate, he‘s been running for president in a Democratic primary. That pushes you to the left just as John McCain in the last couple of years has been pushed to the right by the Republican primary process.
OLBERMANN: John Harwood of CNBC and the “Washington Times,” it‘s always a pleasure, John, thank you.
HARWOOD: You bet.
OLBERMANN: Funniest doggone thing, President Bush implied Obama was an appeaser because he wanted to talk to tyrants rather than just blow them up. Senator McCain called Senator Obama naive because he wanted to talk to tyrants rather than just blow them up.
Today, North Korea backed off it nuclear program after we talked to their tyrant.
And the McCain campaign claim that “a terrorist attack in this country would be good for their candidate” takes a bizarre twist. An ex-McCain advisor blames the comment on the cleavage of the reporter of the story. The reporter is a guy.
OLBERMANN: In 14 days, it will be exactly two years since the Bush administration mocked the Clinton administration for having sent flowers and chocolates and a Michael Jordan autographed basketball to Kim Jong-il, in the naive hope that it could talk him out of his nukes programs. Today, the Bush administration actually succeeded in talking Kim Jong-il out of his nukes programs.
Plus, you‘re on the Supreme Court and you don‘t know what the Second Amendment is?
And Bill-O‘s admission that he‘s not objective and he is trying to get the CEO of a major corporation. It could explain he lied about him last night. Worst Persons is ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: The Bush doctrine: If you do it, it‘s appeasement. If we do it, it‘s diplomacy.
And our fourth story tonight: President Bush today lifted some of the U.S. sanctions on North Korea, a member of the “Axis of Evil” about which Vice President Cheney once said, “We don‘t negotiate with evil, we defeat it.”
Mr. Bush said he lifted the sanctions after extensive multi-party negotiations, including the U.S., evil, China, Russia, Japan and south evil. Bush‘s appeasement to “evil” including lifting the provisions of the trading—with the enemy act and 45 days from now, ending evil‘s status as an official state sponsor of terrorism. Mr. Bush defended his weakness, claiming that diplomacy with America‘s enemies works.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Multilateral diplomacy is the best way to peacefully solve the nuclear issue with North Korea. Today‘s developments show that tough multilateral diplomacy can yield promising results. And so, it‘s been—multilateral diplomacy is difficult at times.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Just two years ago, the White House ridiculed the Clinton administration for its previous efforts at diplomacy on this very issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JULY 10, 2006)
TONY SNOW, THEN-WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECY: Bill Richardson went and look for flowers and chocolates and he went with light-water nuclear reactors, and he went with promises of heavy oil and a basketball signed by Michael Jordan and many other inducements for the dear leader to try to agree not to develop nuclear weapons and it failed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Of course, Kim Jong-il did not have nuclear bombs until six years into the Bush administration, and despite Mr. Snow‘s contempt for the Clinton offer of oil, National Security Adviser, Stephen Hadley today confirmed that part of the current U.S. offer includes jet fuel.
In return, Kim today gave China a partial declaration regarding his nuclear program, promised access to facilities for verification, and released 19,000 nuclear documents which U.S. officials will now translate into English from their native evil.
Mr. Bush compared today‘s capitulation to his previous deal with Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi, after Libyan agents blew up a plane load of Americans out of the sky over at Lockerbie, Scotland.
We‘ll turn now to Hillary Mann Leverett, the former National Security Council director for Iran and the Persian Gulf.
Thanks for your time, once again tonight.
HILLARY MANN LEVERETT, FMR. NSC STAFFER: Thank you for having me.
OLBERMANN: I don‘t mean to mock engaging North Korea, I‘ll even applaud the administration for getting done what it‘s gotten done. But how on earth can they do it while they insist that engagement with tyrants is automatically appeasement?
LEVERETT: It‘s a very good question. You know, as a realist, I support this deal. I support the progress on this deal with North Korea, as I supported the deal with Libya when I was in the Bush administration and as I continue to support and advocate a similar deal with Iran.
But for this administration, particularly at this point, this is pure hypocrisy. Less than a month ago, President Bush went to Israel, stood before the Israeli Knesset and invoked holocaust imagery by calling these types of talks—appeasement. He and the presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain, have both called these types of talks appeasement.
But, of course, these are the types of talks that actually work to minimize threats and allow the U.S. to take advantage of opportunities worldwide. It worked with Libya and it worked with, I think it will work with Iran and it is working with North Korea. It is hypocrisy in terms of the politics.
There‘s also hypocrisy in terms of the substance. Keep in mind that on Iran, the big pre-condition, the big thing that we insist Iran has to do, is suspend uranium enrichment before we‘ll even talk to them, let alone have a deal with them. This deal today goes forward not only having talked to the North Koreans but an actual deal with actual awards even though North Korea, I guess, to continue its uranium enrichment.
OLBERMANN: And, do we also do something else with this by refusing to talk with North Korea and now doing it in earnest after they have a bomb? Do we worry that the administration has given incentive to rogue nations that, you know, get the bomb and that will force us to the table?
LEVERETT: Yes, absolutely, particularly in this case. I remember in the first term, when I was at the White House, Secretary Powell at the time made the terrible political mistake of going public saying that our policy with North Korea would be to continue the talks that had been initiated under the Clinton administration. For that, he was scolded inside the White House internally, and then was forced, really, to go public to apologize for making such a mistake.
Of course, then, when North Koreans tested their nuclear device and demonstrated to the world that they had enough material for six bombs, then we were willing to sit down and talk to them, have a “give and take,” come to a deal and defuse the crisis.
OLBERMANN: You mentioned Iran. Does this change anything today with the Bush administration and Iran, or do people like Dick Cheney see no connection between some sort of successful negotiation with North Korea and not bombing Tehran?
LEVERETT: Well, that‘s a very—that‘s an important question. I mean, I think what‘s happened here is there is a demonstration that unconditional, direct bilateral talks actually work to defuse crises, to deal with our adversaries, and to take advantage of opportunities. We have been unwilling to do that with the Iranians.
So, here, I think the Iranians will take the message that they need to up the ante both in terms of their rhetoric and their action and then, that‘s the message the Iranians are getting. Internally, inside the U.S. government, my concern is, that the—for lack of a better word, hard-liners epitomized, I think, by Vice President Cheney, they don‘t ever give away nothing, something for nothing.
I think in terms of their agreeing with this deal on North Korea today, we could very well see and my concern is, that we could very well see a more militaristic push on dealing with the Iranians. Potentially in another unnecessary war dealing with Iran because the administration is not really coming clean with the American people in terms of what works—unconditional direct talks versus their ideas of what could work in theory.
OLBERMANN: So, we may have been seeing internal diplomacy with the “republic of Cheney” in addition to what we just saw with Kim Jong-il.
Hillary Mann Leverett, former staffer on the National Security Council during the current Bush administration, once again, great thanks for your time.
LEVERETT: Thank you very much.
OLBERMANN: The graduation ceremony at which the initials B.A. did not stand for Bachelor of Arts.
And: That word militia in the Second Amendment, “Forget about it,” says one of tonight‘s Worst Persons in the World.
But first: The headlines breaking in the administration‘s 50 running scandals—Bushed.
Number three: Rigging the election-gate. Lost in the Supreme Court‘s misunderstanding of the Second Amendment today, another whopper from Justice Alito, the “millionaire‘s amendment” has been ruled unconstitutional. It was the act that balanced funding in the House and Senate races when a rich guy was using his own money to run against a not so rich guy. If a candidate funded his own campaign, he or she had to submit extra disclosure forms about it and the opponent could start raising funds at twice or even three times the usual legal limits.
Justice Alito and the four other chowder heads threw that out today because it discriminates against the rich guy.
Number two: More oil drilling-gate. Senator McCain favors it who voted him in is Congressman Issa from famed Tim Russert‘s name while he argued for it in the House and now a criticism saying, “Drilling in U.S. waters offshore would produce nothing for five or 10 years and even then only add a minimal amount of oil for the supplies. And so, in the year 2018, it would not knock more than a nickel off your gallon of gas.”
Which Democrat said that? Well, not a Democrat, rather Guy Caruso, the head of Mr. Bush‘s Energy Information Administration. He is the administration‘s top forecaster on energy. You figured it out, haven‘t you? Who the only people are who could possibly benefit from more drilling, right? The people who make money when you fuel your home with oil products and not say—wind.
But our winner support the troops-gate, this is about private first class Isaac Stevens 3rd infantry division, 11 Bravo Company. That‘s where he started. And he suffered a head injury and spinal damage during training. Last November, PFC Stevens was discharged with his claim for medical benefits not yet processed.
You heard me, he was removed from the army, no longer received his army pay and had not yet been granted any army benefit money. Did I mention the injury have left him in that wheelchair? That was last November. By February he was broke. By March, he was in a homeless shelter. By April, from his wheelchair, he had had to fight off the sexual advances of another man in the homeless shelter.
Fortunately, for Private Stevens, a social worker at an army base, working in her spare time, got him into an apartment with help from a non-profit, non-governmental organization. But nearly 20,000 disabled soldiers like Isaac Stevens were discharged in the last two years, and most of them had to navigate or fall through cracks between the last day of pay and the first day of benefits, a gap of up to a year.
You let this happen, Mr. Bush and it‘s your critics who are not doing enough to support the troops?
OLBERMANN: Best persons in a moment, and he wanted to apologize for breaking out of their jail, so he turned to flowers. First, 45 years to the day since President Kennedy‘s famous speech in Germany in protest of the Berlin Wall, in which he expressed the west‘s solidarity with Germans imperiled by the Soviets. “Ich bin ein Berliner,” he said, translation, I am a Berliner.
Since June 26, 1963, it has gradually become an unaccepted fact that the president unknowingly committed one of the great bloopers in political history, that to residents of Berlin, Berliner was not their term for themselves but rather for a local jelly-filled doughnut, the Berliner. In point of fact, Berliners called those doughnuts (INAUDIBLE), although Germans in other towns did call them Berliners. So JFK did not actually make a gaff the equivalent of standing in occupied Denmark and saying “I am a Danish.”
Let‘s play Oddball.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: We begin in Briarcliff Manner, New York with a high school prank gone horribly wrong. This is a Youtube video of last week‘s Briarcliff High graduation, featuring senior David Toronto, who before he grabbed his sheep skin dropped trou and lifted gown. The crowd was shocked. The principal was angered and after he refused to give Toronto his diploma, he called the cops. Monday, Toronto, surrendered to the police on disorderly conduct and exposure of a person charges. Not just any person, today he pleaded not guilty, as we look at a loop of Toronto shooting the moon. Toronto was released. He still has no diploma. He faces another court date in July. Let‘s hope he faces it.
Finally, to the nation‘s capital, where no watermelon is safe this time of year. Not to mock the idea of fireworks safety. Just imagine a day without thumbs, let alone a lifetime. But every year the Consumer Product Safety Commission releases these weirder and weirder and wicked awesomer videos. The CPSC once again reminding us not to hover directly over your fireworks after you light the fuse. Letting mother pull up a lawn chair next to your pyrotechnics remaining a bad idea. And when you‘re sitting down to do some light summer reading, make sure to sweep the desk for live ammunition. The CPSC says last year 10,000 people were treated for fireworks-related injuries. That‘s not even counting these brave, innocent, vulnerable dummies. Put your fingers in your ears. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: McCain‘s chief strategist Charlie Black‘s claim that a terrorist attack would help McCain‘s chances of election taking a weird turn. A former McCain strategist says the remark must have been inspired by the reporter‘s cleavage. The reporter was a man.
As is Verne Troyer, Mini-Me. He has a sex tape. For it, they want a price of 100,000 dollars. These stories ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s top three best persons in the world.
Number three, best bad joke and/or on-air loss of mind, right wing water carrier Hugh Hewitt, asking his listeners to find him two tickets to next fall‘s USC/Ohio State football game, because, quote, it is probably the last football game we‘ll ever get see before the United States gets blown up by the Islamists under Obama.
In the event you were joking, gosh, you sound almost like Thurber. In the event you weren‘t, gosh, you sound almost sane.
Number two, best improvisation, nobody seriously hurt, but Frederick Duane Mckainy (ph) of Jackson, Michigan has been arrested for first stabbing his mother in the back of the neck with a regular kitchen fork and then getting in an argument with a passerby and hitting her in the head with ten pounds of frozen chicken.
Number one, best manners, Luis Camacho-Mendoza. He broke out of the county jail in Van Buren, Arkansas. Jailers believe his heart wasn‘t really in it, not just because when they found him a day later hiding in a private home in a pile of clothes, quote, he wasn‘t hiding too good because you could see the outline of his head in the pillowcase. No, not because of that, but because when they discovered him missing, he had left on his bed a flower, which he had fashioned out of toilet paper.
Upon his recapture, Mr. Camacho-Mendoza explained he left the flower because he felt sorry for all the trouble he was causing the captain at the Van Buren Jail.
OLBERMANN: John McCain has yet to address it seriously. Charlie Black has yet to resurface since it was revealed. In our third story in the COUNTDOWN, former McCain chief strategist Mike Murphy is now talking about Mr. Black‘s revelation to “Fortune Magazine” that a terrorist attack on U.S. soil between now and the election would be, in his opinion, would be good, good for McCain‘s chances of becoming president.
Mr. Murphy has somehow turned it into a sexist joke. In 2004, of course, McCain made similar remarks about the impact of a bin Laden video on George Bush‘s election chances. He is silent now, but not so Mr. Murphy, going on Dennis Miller‘s radio show to defend his friend offer a preposterous rationale for his behavior.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DENNIS MILLER, COMEDIAN: Charlie Black, the aide decamp for McCain who (inaudible) it here, does he have to go, do you think?
MIKE MURPHY, FMR. MCCAIN STRATEGIST: He‘s an old friend of mine, so I‘ll defend. I don‘t know what happened. I think there must have been tremendous reporter cleavage involved or something. Charlie got of his focus. He‘s a good guy. He‘s apologized for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Tremendous reporter cleavage. Except that Charlie Black was not talking to a female journalist when he made that statement. He was talking to “Fortune” editor at large David Whitford, who, as far as we can tell from this photo, has zero cleavage. I‘m joined now by the senior editor of “The Atlantic,” Joshua Green. Thanks for your time tonight, sir.
JOSHUA GREEN, “THE ATLANTIC”: Good to be with you.
OLBERMANN: Mike Murphy was obviously trying to be funny. Not knowing the reporter was mail shows a notable sloppiness, but not a big deal. But at heart here, a cleavage joke about terrorism, I‘m missing something about why that is appropriate.
GREEN: Well, not just cleavage, man cleavage. I don‘t think it is. I think it was, obviously, you know—it compounds the gaff. They‘re trying to diffuse it. You can sometimes do that with humor. This, obviously, isn‘t a subject and the joke misfired. Look, there‘s a ritual that you follow in these situations if you step in it the way that Charlie Black did. You take your lumps. You let the candidate attack you, distance himself from your comments, and then you disappear for a couple weeks.
So, if I had to guess, I would imagine Charlie Black is in the northern Marianna somewhere, getting some R and R. In a couple weeks, if this blows over, he‘ll be back on the campaign trail.
OLBERMANN: The Obama camp has said repeatedly it‘s not up to them. They‘ve been very hands-off here about whether Black should continue on the McCain campaign. Are we beginning to on day four of this understand their position, because the Republicans are keeping the think alive by themselves. And if Black does not get fired, he and his remarks become lay-ups for Obama in the debates?
GREEN: That may be it. I don‘t see why you couldn‘t bring this up in the debates even if he did get fired. I think they‘re focused on the economy this week. They wanted to hew to that message, the Obama campaign has. The McCain campaign hasn‘t had any trouble kind of keeping in the news themselves with help from Mike Murphy. So, I think they‘ll wait and let this play out on its own.
OLBERMANN: Another familiar refrain about this one; why isn‘t the Charlie Black remark itself or McCain‘s non-reaction to it or the two 2004 McCain remarks that seem to presage what Charlie Black said, why are all these things not getting that much media attention? And how different might that equation be if one of Obama‘s key campaigners made an equivalent remark of some kind about a terrorist attack in this country before the election?
GREEN: Two things at play. Number one, I think there is a bias on the part of a lot of people that what Charlie Black said probably, you know, more or less is right. So therefore, people don‘t get that excited about it. Number two, you know, just about the only thing the McCain campaign has been talking about is national security. Had the shoe been on the other foot and an Obama adviser made that line, it would certainly be, you know, in the front of the Drudge Report, and it would be a message that Republicans would be pushing.
You know, again, Obama has chosen not to do it. The issue has sort of dragged out a bit on its own. But it really isn‘t getting the kind of impact and the kind of play that you would expect, certainly not if it was a Democrat that made the remark.
OLBERMANN: This might be my wishful thinking, and I‘m stating that as a disclaimer up front, but between this and the deal between Mr. Bush and North Korea after McCain was calling Obama naive for wanting to make a deal with nations like North Korea, is Senator McCain getting some bad luck on these national security issues, or is it some bad policy making or what is it?
GREEN: I think it‘s sort of a whole perfect storm of just GOP badness. He‘s not getting any favors out of the White House, who are negotiating with evil. He‘s not getting any help his Senate colleagues. Gordon Smith is practically begging Barack Obama for an endorsement. He is kind of out there on an island on his own. I think that‘s one reason why his campaign seems to be having so much trouble functioning.
OLBERMANN: By the way, just to clarify that‘s the People‘s Democratic Republic of Evil when we‘re talking about that particular kind of evil.
GREEN: My bad.
OLBERMANN: Joshua Green, senior editor of “The Atlantic,” great thanks on this.
GREEN: Good to be with you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Tremendous reporter cleavage, seems more applicable to the story of Mini-Me‘s sex tape.
Who can hear those magical words sex tape without thinking of this guy? He‘s back in worst persons ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Mini-Me having mini relations caught on a mini-cam. The Verne Troyer sex tape, provided I don‘t change channels myself, next.
But first, time for our number two story, COUNTDOWN‘s worst persons in the world. The bronze to Sean Hannity of Fixed News. On the Rupert Murdoch network talking about those carbon off-sets you purchase to off-set your carbon footprint; “those off-sets, that is the biggest hoax in the world. You know what it‘s like, you go cheat on your wife and then say, honey, don‘t worry, I bought an off-set. Good luck.”
This is the second time Hannity has dismissed off-sets and going green and climate change. Apparently utterly unaware that his boss pledged to make News Corp carbon neutral by 2010; “while we reduce our own carbon footprints, some emissions will be unavoidable. As a last resort, we will off-set these emissions. The carbon off-set is a financial tool to support projects that prevent carbon from being released in the atmosphere. Done right, they will widen the implementation of carbon saving technologies and give an incentive to create new solutions.”
Murdoch has also boasted that the telecast of the most recent Emmys was carbon neutral and added, watch your arse, Hannity, me boy.
Our runner up, Bill-O. Having exhausted his company‘s supply of fiction for direct attacks on me and Matthews and the late Tim Russert in the “New York Post,” Bill O is back to his GE Iran fantasy, saying on TV, “when Goodyear stops selling tires to Iran in 2006, GE, the parent company to NBC, became the only major company to continue dealing with the Mullahs. CEO Jeffrey Immelt admits the situation, saying GE can‘t quit Iran cold turkey.”
No one is dealing with the mullahs, you simpleton. There‘s international firms still working in Iran. One of them has a contract to use GE stuff and has promised it expires next Monday. I know this is complicated for anybody whose brain still runs on steam, Billy, but there are no GE deals with the government of Iran. Not that this interrupts Bill. On the radio, he lied this way about Immelt: “He‘s selling stuff to Iran who are killing American soldiers.” Nice grammar. “But that shows you how corrupt the whole operation is. And, remember, they‘re the parent company of NBC News, the most corrupt news agency in the history of the United States, so it all links in. I mean, I‘ll tell you, I‘m not objective here, I‘m trying to get this guy. I‘ll admit it. I‘m trying to get him.”
This just in, Bill-O is not objective. “I‘m trying to get him.”
Stick to what you‘re good at, trying to get your women producers.
And our winner, Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court. You‘ve got around 30,000 gun deaths in this country per year, another 75,000 non-fatal gun wounds, half the suicides are by gun; and this clown and his four colleagues decided that the 32-year-old ban on handguns in Washington, D.C., and the demand that firearms kept in the home be locked or disassembled was unconstitutional based on the Second Amendment. You remember the Second Amendment, “a well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
Despite years of fog created by the NRA and right-wing organizations, that isn‘t very complicated; for the purposes of forming a state militia, you‘re entitled to keep and bear arms. Obviously, those would have to be the kind of use in arms since 1791, when the Bill of Rights was passed, the musket, the wheel-lock, the flint lock, the 13th century Chinese hand canon. Stuff like that.
Scalia, of course, simply decided that the militia part of the Second Amendment is some sort of quaint anachronism that he could happily ignore. There‘s the beautiful thing about our country, they say anybody can grow up to be a Supreme Court justice. And in Antonin Scalia, there‘s your proof, and tonight‘s worst person in the world!
OLBERMANN: An update on a story we told you about earlier. Senator Obama and Senator Clinton after their meeting tonight with Senator Clinton‘s donors at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington; Senator Obama telling them he will personally donate the legal maximum 2,300 dollars to the Clinton campaign to help clean up its 22 million dollar campaign debt. There is Senator Clinton leaving. Neither of them spoke to the assembled media.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Due to mature and graphic subject matter, viewer discretion is advised.
OLBERMANN: If that doesn‘t get the point across, number one story on the COUNTDOWN tonight, the return of stories my producers are forcing me to cover. And Verne Troyer, AKA Mini-Me, has made a sex tape. Let‘s start out team coverage with a sound bite gratuitously pulled out of an interview that has nothing to do with the topic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VERNE TROYER, MINI ME: This is great to show people that I can do other things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: You bet. Yes, the 2‘8 thespian, whose most recent project “The Love Guru” has been a flop at the box office appears to be exploring alternate sources of income. This according to TMZ.com, which posted a sex scene co-staring his former live in girlfriend at its website. Smiley face modesty affects courtesy of our editors. The video, mysteriously leaked to the public, is being shopped around reportedly by Kevin Blatt (ph) of Paris Hilton sex tape brokerage fortune fame. It could fetch anywhere from 100,000 dollars to, you guessed it, one million dollars.
When gravitas is imperative in a story like this, we always know where to turn; Michael Musto, who pens “La Dolce Musto” in the Village Voice and joins us now. Good evening.
MICHAEL MUSTO, “THE VILLAGE VOICE”: Was he ingesting helium there?
OLBERMANN: No, I think it‘s always like that.
MUSTO: OK. He‘s cute.
OLBERMANN: Mini-me resorting to a sex tape. Is this a sign of troubled times for our planet?
MUSTO: Keith, this is known as a documentary short subject. But even so Verne needs a step ladder to give somebody a hickey, let‘s say that little people do have stuff going on sometimes. In fact, I heard that Herve Villache (ph) was so endowed that they could use his stuff as a ramp to the plane. True story.
OLBERMANN: I‘m still back in documentary short subject. If the Screen Actors Guild authorizes this reported strike, we might start to see more of these videos. Could that turn into something of a commodity and suppress the market value of something like the exquisite and beautiful expression of the human love act here?
MUSTO: If so, I‘m totally for the strike. Let‘s suppress the market value of this trash. The problem is that Verne‘s girlfriend, when she pops her eyes when she sees his business, that is going to be called acting. Therefore, she‘ll be called a scab. By the way, if you want to see more scabs, check out Amy Winehouse‘s new sex video.
OLBERMANN: The notion that this tape was leaked, would it be Machiavellian to suspect this was all deliberate for some reason, including the fact that one of the most highly trafficked gossip website just happens to have a sneak peek promo.
MUSTO: Yes, the only thing that legitimately leaks in Hollywood is Pamela Lee‘s left breast. By the way, her sex video now looks like “Gone With the Wind” compared to this. And Screech‘s looks like “Citizen Kane,” Citizen Candy Cane. It‘s ridiculous. Obviously, this whole thing was totally planned and marketed, even more than when Ryan Seacrest impulsively kissed Terri Hatcher in public.
OLBERMANN: The last check of the TMZ online poll that went with this had 90 percent saying that they would not buy the tape, which leaves this terrifying fact, that 10 percent say they might.
MUSTO: They‘re liars. The whole 100 percent are going to buy it. I wouldn‘t believe they wouldn‘t buy it when it was Tonya Harding‘s tape, which looked like two guys doing it. I don‘t know, when Joey Buttafuoco rolled over onto Amy Fisher. That was like a snuff film. But in this case, they‘re going to want it. This is more alluring than when Dudley Moore fondled Linda Hunt.
OLBERMANN: Verne‘s co-star is this, according to “In Touch Weekly,” we can now report is 22-year-old aspiring actress and model Renee Schrider (ph). Do we know anything about her other besides the obvious joke that size doesn‘t matter?
MUSTO: Right, she‘s not a size queen. There is a picture of her on TMZ, interestingly, with Paris Hilton. So she doesn‘t only like people with small privates. Also, she has a dog which is bigger than Verne. Also, here‘s an exclusive, Keith, I overheard her saying to Verne, if you have sex with me and I hear about it --
OLBERMANN: She‘s so big, two guys could make love to her at the same time and never meet. Is the ultimate lesson on this, Michael, please leave pornography to the professionals?
MUSTO: Yes, like Pamela Lee. No, the message is when you hear that an “Austin Powers” star is doing a sex tape, don‘t excited that it might be Heather Graham, or even Seth Green. It‘s going to be the midget.
OLBERMANN: All right, fine. I know him. He‘s a great guy, but you just threw me with that one.
MUSTO: He‘s taller than Verne.
OLBERMANN: The one and only Michael Musto. Thank you, Michael.
That was COUNTDOWN for this, the 1,884th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
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