updated 9/9/2008 1:24:21 PM ET 2008-09-09T17:24:21

Guest: Barack Obama, Chris Hayes

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over):  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

Barack Obama and the latest mind-bending commercial from campaign McCain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN AD)

NARRATOR:  They’ll make history.  They’ll change Washington.  McCain-Palin: real change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D-IL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  This is the party

that’s been in charge for eight years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  My interview tonight with the Democratic nominee on getting his message past the Republican wall of noise, on Iraq, on the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailout, on whether or not Governor Palin is qualified to be president anytime soon, on returning the campaign to the essence of the contrast.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  If you like what has happened under George Bush’s presidency, you should vote for John McCain.  If you’d think that we have to move this country in a fundamentally different direction, then you should vote for me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, tonight on COUNTDOWN.

Worsts: “Bill-O the Clown,” talks to writer for reminding everybody that when Jamie Lynn Spears got pregnant at 16, he called her a pinheaded and added, “The blame falls primarily on the parents of the girl who obviously have little control over her.  Look at the way she behaves.”

Bests: He holds up his victims by brandishing a sausage and season salt.

And truth-squadding Governor Palin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. SARAH PALIN, ® VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Thanks, but no

thanks for that “Bridge to Nowhere.”

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Except she campaigned for governor by promising to keep that bridge.

And the governor’s jet she so proudly sold on eBay?  She didn’t sell it on eBay.  The chef she fired?  She didn’t fire her, she kept cooking for her.

Plus: Rachel Maddow’s first show.  Does her last few minutes of freedom on the governor’s sudden church problem, where they speak in tongue, where they believe in the rapture, where they can pray away you’re gay, where they can get your pipeline built, quickly, by a deity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  I think God’s will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get the gas line built.  So, pray for that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Oh, by the way, that speech right there by the governor was a whole long time ago—June.

All that and more: Now on COUNTDOWN.

(on camera):  Good evening, this is Monday, September 8th, 57 days until the 2008 presidential election.

It might be time for an entirely new definition of the word “maverick.”  No longer is it someone who holds independent views, nor one who refuses to conform, nor a basketball player from Dallas.

Rather, in our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: The term, as it applies to the Republican nominee, Senator McCain, which seemed increasingly to refer to the continued repetition of out and out lies.  Including the Republican ticket’s now daily assertion that the would-be vice president, Governor Palin, has always been against the world record pork barrel project that was Alaska’s “Bridge to Nowhere.”

Presently, my interview today with Senator Obama; first, the latest campaign news.  Senator McCain and Governor Palin having erased Senator Obama’s post convention bounce, basically getting their campaign a net gain of a point or two from before both parties did the big tent thing plus some gaudier outliers.

The Arizona Republican is now leading by four, 50 percent to 46 percent in the “USA Today”/Gallup Poll taken over the weekend.  But the race is tied at 48 in the new Opinion Research survey for CNN; also tied at 44 in the latest Diageo/”Hotline” Poll with a significant number of voters, 10 percent, still undecided in that survey.  And in the most recently released of the polls and other statistical dead heat, a new one from “The Washington Post,” Obama 47, McCain 46, among registered voters.

Meanwhile, the McCain campaign claimed that Governor Palin has always been against Alaska’s so-called “Bridge to Nowhere,” having been discredited since her for her first hours on the ticket, 10 days ago and counting.  That has not, however, stopped the Republicans from repeating it again and again.  Most recently and perhaps egregiously in a new campaign ad in which the Republican nominees christened themselves the original “mavericks”—plural.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN AD)

NARRATOR:  The original mavericks.  He fights pork barrel spending.  She stopped the “Bridge to Nowhere.”  He took on the drug industry.  She took on big oil.  He battled Republicans and reformed Washington.  She battled Republicans and reformed Alaska.  They’ll make history.  They’ll change Washington.  McCain-Palin: Real change.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R-AZ) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I’m John McCain and

I approve this message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  I had the chance to ask Senator Obama for his response to that new McCain-Palin ad when he joined me earlier today from the campaign trail in Flint, Michigan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Senator, thanks for your time.  I’m sorry I couldn’t join you in person, but I had to update people on the quarterback injuries or something like that.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  This is...

OBAMA:  Lousy day for quarterbacks.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, it is.  Brady is out.

This is more about campaign tactics to start with rather than issues.  But it seems sometimes like tactics have replaced issues altogether.  “He fights pork barrel spending,” said this new McCain/Palin ad, “she stopped the ‘Bridge to Nowhere.’“  I mean, it sounds a little like “Remington Steele,” but I’m confused otherwise.

As late as October of 2006, Mrs. Palin insisted to voters in Alaska that not only would she defend that infamous bridge, but she also said—and here’s the quote—”She would not allow the spinmeisters to turn this project or any other into something that’s so negative.”  What are Senator McCain and Governor Palin doing in this new commercial, do you think?

OBAMA:  They’re not telling the truth.  You know, I mean, it’s—I think we’ve all gotten accustomed to being able to spin things in politics.  But when you’ve got somebody who was for a project being presented as being against it, then that, you know, stretches the bounds of spin into new areas.

And you know, as far as John McCain is concerned, you know, I think that Senator McCain has, on occasion, broken with his party, but this notion that, as he said at his convention, that he would tell the lobbyists that they’re not going to be running Washington anymore, who is he going to tell, his campaign chairman, Charlie Black, his campaign manager, Rick Davis, two of the largest corporate lobbyists in Washington with client lists that extend into every major industry?

You know, there is just a sense that they’re making these assertions that ignore the facts of their campaigns and their past history.  And I think people should be troubled by that.

OLBERMANN:  And Governor Palin hired a lobbyist to get earmarks to the tune of $27 million for a 6,000-person town which is—in its own scope, is kind of a neat trick, but it does seem to counterbalance the basic platform of the Republican Party.  You said that they’re not telling the truth here, but when the stuff is a gross distortion, whether it’s about their own positions or yours, or facts in your history or whatever, what can you do about it? And why do people hesitate to use the word “lie” about these things?

OBAMA:  Well, look, we have been very clear about the fact that this argument John McCain and Sarah Palin are making, that they are agents of change, just won’t fly.  It defies their history and their background.  And we saw it in the convention that they wouldn’t talk about the basic issues that are really going to make a difference in the lives of middle class families.

So, you know, I’m happy to have legitimate policy debates with them on where we want to take health care, what we want to do about energy, what we want to do about education, what are we going to do about the war in Iraq.  But you know, for them to run an ad that basically doesn’t present an accurate record of their positions on issues I think should raise some questions about how they would approach an administration.

OLBERMANN:  To something from your own convention, maybe the most compelling moment of your acceptance speech in Denver was that one strongly voiced word, “enough.”  A lot of people who have felt angry about what’s been done to this country in the last seven or eight years have that same sense of urgency and simplicity to it.  Have you thought of using on the campaign trail and in your speaking engagements, more exclamation points?  Have you thought of getting angrier?

OBAMA:  Well, I’ll tell you what, with two months to go, I think everybody needs to feel a sense of urgency.  You know, when I hear John McCain suggest that he’s going to bring about change, I am reminded of the cartoon that Tom Toles did in “The Washington Post” where he has McCain say: “Watch out, George Bush, with the exception of the economy, tax policy, foreign policy, health care policy, education policy, and Karl Rove politics, we’re really going to shake things up in Washington.”

You know, the fact of the matter is, is that not only has John McCain agreed with George Bush 90 percent of the time, this is the party that’s been in charge for eight years.  And they’re now trying to run against themselves despite a few months ago having argued that—John McCain saying that, listen, I’ve been supportive of George Bush, boasting about it.

You know, I said, I think on Saturday in Indiana, the American people aren’t stupid.  They are going to get it.  But we’ve got to make sure that we are being clear, not only that they will not bring about change, but the very specific kinds of changes we want to bring, in terms of green technology jobs in America, investing in our education system, making college more affordable, making health care accessible to every American, that contrast, if we go into November, with that contrast on the minds of the American people, I think we’re going to do well.

OLBERMANN:  But clearly it must not be fully on their minds because the race is as close as it is.  And nobody’s burst into laughter at the latest Republican ad, at least not many Republicans have.

Have the Republicans succeeded in muddying up this election in kind of overcomplicating it so the point is not as simple as you just made it?  I mean, sixty years ago Harry Truman went out and campaigned very simply, looked out at people in trouble because of a Republican Congress at that point and the impact it had on their lives and he said, “How many more times do you have to be hit over the head until you figure out who’s hitting you?”  I mean, has your campaign in some way not kept it that simple?

OBAMA:  You know, we’ve actually been driving this point home and I think the convention drove it home.  But look, the Republicans can’t govern but they run smart campaigns, and frankly, they are not always policed by the media as effectively as they should be.

I was struck with how little scrutiny some of the claims that John McCain and Sarah Palin were making, how little they were subjected to scrutiny coming out of the convention.  It’s our job to press the point and make the case and I think that the Republicans have been pretty successful at working the refs during this game.

But yes, I have confidence in the American people that if we just drum home the fact that the country is off course, that middle class families are struggling, your wages and incomes have gone down under George Bush.  Under Democrats, they went up.  Unemployment has gone up.  Unemployment was down under Bill Clinton.

If we just keep on being clear about how we are going to rebuild this economy, then I think we are going to end up winning this campaign.

OLBERMANN:  And there are extraordinarily large developments in terms of that economy, especially in the last couple of days, especially about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  They were created as a kind of gentle encouragement by government to more home ownership, to make it more possible.

There is nothing gentle about it now, it is essentially fully taxpayer funded subsidization of home interest rates and home ownership.  I mean, should this be the way it is?  Is this a permanent solution or did we just add $5 trillion to the national debt?  What do we do now about this?

OBAMA:  Well, I don’t think it’s going to be $5 trillion.  That’s the amount of debt that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are holding.  But a lot of those are good mortgages.  People are paying them.  We are going to see some losses.  Taxpayers are going to take a hit.  How big it is, we don’t yet know.

And I have to be fair on this one.  You know, Republicans and Democrats, I think, in Congress did not pay enough attention to the structural problem with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac which was, they are quasi-public, quasi-private institutions.  They are making big profits and their CEOs are taking in big bonuses when times are good.  But there is this implicit federal guarantee when times are bad.

And that was a structural problem that needs to be fixed.

But the problem of not regulating the financial markets effectively generally, not seeing that the subprime lending crisis was leading to a mess, not updating some of our financial regulations since the 1930s, that’s been, I think, an example of the neglect on the part of the Bush administration over the last eight years whose view is basically anything goes and the government just has got to stay out of the way.  That, I think, has ironically hurt the market and one of the things that we got to rediscover is is that a little bit of well-applied regulation and transparency and accountability actually helps the market, helps the economy grow.  And that’s what I want to restore when I’m president.

OLBERMANN:  You pointed out last week how little time at their convention the Republicans spent talking about the economy.  I think the time might have been zero, zero, zero.  I’m not sure.  We weren’t running a clock.  But if the election does, in fact, hinge on the economy, on how Americans are doing, has there been thought given to breaking this down to its simplest element, in much the way one of the Republican icons, Mr.  Reagan, did during the 1980 campaign, and ask the voters if today, are you better off now than you were eight years ago?

OBAMA:  Oh, absolutely.  And I often do that on the campaign trail. 

And we’re going to just keep on repeating that.

I mean, this is—this should not be complicated.  Here’s what it comes down to.  Under George Bush’s stewardship, with an assist from John McCain and the rest of the Republican Party, the economy is weaker now than it has been in a very long time.  Unemployment is higher.  Poverty is higher.  More people are uninsured.  Wages and incomes have flat-lined.  Middle-class folks who used to feel secure now feel unstable.  We’ve got more homes being lost to foreclosure than at any time since the Great Depression.

And John McCain does not have any discernible difference from George Bush when it comes to economic policy.  He’s got the same economic policy.  So if you like what has happened under George Bush’s presidency, you should vote for John McCain.  If you think that we have to move this country in a fundamentally different direction, then you should vote for me.  And that is going to be the case that we make throughout this election, and frankly, that’s not the conversation that the McCain campaign wants to have.

Rick Davis was very explicit.  John McCain’s campaign manager said this campaign is not going to be about the issues.  That was his assertion.  Well, I think that the American people expect it to be about the issues.  They deserve it to be about the issues.  That’s what we’re going to keep on pressing in the weeks that will remain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Should Senator Obama not have recalled (ph) those liberal 527 groups?  Is Governor Palin qualified to be president?  Among the remaining questions to the senator about the governor videotaped tonight for her addressing fellow parishioners just two months ago at a church in which they speak in tongues, believe in the raptures, think God can make a pipeline happened, and that they can pray away the gay.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Senator Barack Obama on Sarah Palin as candidate and Sarah Palin as president?  Part two of our interview.  Then in Worsts, Bill-O versus Chris Wallace versus a FOX football broadcaster, dabbling in subliminal politics.  That’s next.

This is COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Senator Obama told a crowd of voters in Missouri earlier this summer that Republicans would try to scare voters by saying he doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills, McCain’s campaign manager, Rick Davis, accused the Democratic nominee of, quote, “playing the race card from the bottom of the deck.”  A reminder that last week, Senator Obama’s race was injected into this campaign by a Republican, Congressman Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia, who called Senator Obama and his wife, Michelle, quote, “uppity.”

Asked further if he really meant to use that word often used in connotation with another word, Mr. Westmoreland saying, quote, “Yeah, uppity.”

In the fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: When I asked Senator Obama about that in passing in our interview today and he answered my larger question, he was not, Rick Davis, playing the race card.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Rachel Maddow wanted me to ask this question, so I’m doing this on her behalf, because her new show is starting tonight.  Given—given the tone that the campaign has taken, I mean, this Georgia congressman last week, Mr. Westmoreland, who called you and your wife, quote, “uppity.”  In that context, do you regret putting the brakes on the 527 groups who would have produced or could have produced hard-hitting ads that would have been sharing your sympathies?

OBAMA:  You know, I’ll tell you what, Keith, I am confident that the American people, once the dust has settled, are going to say to themselves, “Do we really want to do the same thing we’ve been doing for the last eight years?  Or do we want something new?”  I think there’s a genuine sense of anxiety out there, not just about immediate economic prospects but the sense that we are not living up to what’s possible in America, that we’re not delivering on the American promise.

And I think that understandably people are saying to themselves, gosh, we like Obama, we like his message, but we haven’t known him that long, let’s really lift the hood, kick the tires, you know, take them out and watch them work hard.  And you know, let’s take a look at these debates and then we’re going to make up our mind in mid-October.

And I think that by the time this thing is all over, the contrast is going to be clear and I believe the American people are going to make the choice for a new direction in the country.  And I’m looking forward to helping to lead that.

OLBERMANN:  One more campaign question.  It pertains to not knowing someone or something.  This is a question I have not really heard asked directly of anybody in a position perhaps to answer it, let alone answered.

In your opinion, is Governor Palin experienced enough and qualified enough to become president of the United States in the relatively short-term future?

OBAMA:  Well, you know, I’ll let you ask Governor Palin that when I’m sure she’ll be appearing on your show.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA:  But rather than focus on a resume, I just want to focus on where she wants to take the country.  As far as I can tell, there has not been any area, economic policy or foreign policy, in which she is different from John McCain or George Bush.

In many ways, in fact, she agrees with George Bush even more than John McCain.  So if John McCain agrees with Bush 90 percent of the time, maybe with her it’s 97 percent.  And so my—the thrust of our argument is going to be that the McCain/Palin ticket is offering the same stuff that has resulted in the middle class struggling, not seeing their incomes go up, seeing their costs go up, falling deeper into debt, at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure, unable to save or retire.

You know, those are going to be I think the issues that ultimately matter to the voters, and that’s why I’m trying to offer to them a very clear set of prescriptions, very clear ideas about what we intend to do, how we want to change the tax code, stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas, give 95 percent of Americans tax relief.

Have an energy policy that is serious about climate change, is serious about weaning ourselves off of Middle Eastern oil, investing in solar and wind and biodiesel so we’ve got energy independence and creating jobs here in the United States, having a health care system that makes sure that we don’t have 47 million people without health insurance.

That message of possibility is, I think, the one that the American people are looking for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  More of my interview with Senator Obama tomorrow night.  Why conservatives making less than $250,000 still think he will raise their taxes and not lower them?  And as we look ahead to Thursday, how did 9/11 become a campaign issue?  And whether the Republicans have the right to run that graphic videotape of the destruction of the World Trade Center as part of a political campaign?

Barack Obama on COUNTDOWN, again, tomorrow night.

I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like about penguin painting.

And something else that doesn’t make too much sense.  Is America ready for a vice president who attends a church where they speaks in tongues and believe in the rapture and trust in God to make pipelines?

All ahead on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Bests in a moment.  And the burglar did not have pepper spray, so he just used regular pepper.

First, a lot of funny born on September 8.  Peter Sellers of “Pink Panther” fame in 1925, he’s “Goon Show” co-conspirator, Harry Seacomb in 1921, and Sid Cesar of “Your Show of Shows,” and “Cesar’s Hour,” and we probably, our audience in 1922.

Happy Birthday to Sid Cesar.

And now Uncle Goofy will narrate Oddball.

(INAUDIBLE), Tennessee, hello.  We tried Uncle Goofy, it’s now Larry King.  We begin at the Tennessee aquarium where these are penguins doing art.  They do that when (INAUDIBLE) move at Taco’s last night.  It is the painting penguins program using their feet and tails as brushes.  These spikeless, clever, web-footed little bastards are coax to the pools of paint with dead fish unto a papered floor.  The resulting masterpieces will be auctioned off later month, and the documentary version of this story, narrated by Morgan Freeman, is already in the works. 

To San Antonio Texas, where 26 years after the Ozzy Osborne incident, they’re scrubbing the Alamo clean.  Millions each year come to the place where Texans were defeated by the Mexican Army in 1836.  Apparently those tourists have been messing the place up.  The limestone edifice is being eroded by airborne salt and moisture, and is turning black from the oil in people’s hands.  So volunteers are now scrubbing the walls.  When they’re done with that, they’re going to clean all of the brick and brack out of the Alamo basement. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Small problem developing for the Republican vice presidential candidate.  She appears to be a liar.  I mean, a lot!

And what’s this?  A pregnant teenage girl in liberal Hollywood is fair game for Bill-O.  But a pregnant teenage girl in conservative land, he must defend her honor.  Worst persons ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN’s top three best persons in the world. 

Number 3, best irony, Quarterback Matt Cassel of the New England Patriots.  Not only did he have to come in in the first quarter of the first game to replace reigning MVP Tom Brady, injured and now out for the season.  But today the MRI on Brady’s knee meant he could not do his weekly radio show either.  So substituting for Tom Brady on the air was Matt Cassel. 

Number 2, best dumb prisoner, Antonio Vasquez.  He broke into a Fresno home, stealing 900 dollars from two residents there, distracting one of them by throwing Pappy’s Brand Seasoning in his face and hitting the other one in the face with an eight inch sausage. 

And number one, best insight, lunatic right wing radio host Mark Levin, phoning in to correct lunatic and no so smart right wing radio host Sean Hannity.  Hannity was blasting NOW, the National Organization for Women, calling it the national organization of liberal women.  Levin corrected him saying it was actually national organization of ugly women.  Look carefully at this guy.  He owns a mirror or he listens to his own psychotic program and can see his own soul.  He knows his ugly.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Nothing beats injecting a brand new not battle scarred, broadcasting trained, sarcastic zingers and one-liner machine into any political campaign.  There’s only one possible problem with such an entity.  If those sarcastic zingers and one-liners aren’t true, as in mistakes and lies.  Our third story in the COUNTDOWN, and you can make it worse, especially it turns out the sarcastic zingers and one liner machine has only the one speech, which she repeats again and again and again. 

Because that means the machine, in this case Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, repeats again and again and again her mistakes and lies.  Speaking in Colorado Springs, Governor Palin said that the lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had, quote, “gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers,” end quote.  However, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were not taxpayer-funded, since they were private companies.  The first taxpayer funds are the ones being injected right now in the bailout.  So much for her grasp of economics and the mortgage crisis.

But that’s nothing compared to one of Palin’s most repeated lines about the infamous Ted Stevens bridge to nowhere, the pork barrel Congressional earmark that quickly became a national, albeit international symbol of waste.  Palin again today in Missouri. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  I told Congress, thanks but no thanks for that bridge to nowhere. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  As we mentioned earlier, that new ad from the McCain campaign asserts that Palin, quote, stopped the bridge to nowhere.  But Palin was unquestionably for the project before she was against it.  Here’s what she said as a candidate in 2006 during the Alaska gubernatorial debate, when asked if she would cancel what by that time had become the road to nowhere. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  I wouldn’t.  I’m not going to stand in the way of progress that our congressional delegation, in the position of strength that they have right now, they’re making those efforts for the state of Alaska to build up our infrastructure.  I would not get in the way of progress. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  When she became governor, her eventual so-called opposition was at best wishy-washy.  She only abandoned the actual bridge after costs rose and it became a national embarrassment.  But the money for the original earmark, 223 million dollars, had already been approved by Congress.  So Sarah Palin’s Alaska began spending it on other transportation projects, like the 25 million dollar road to nowhere, which leads to the empty beach where the bridge would have begun, according to the newspaper the “Anchorage Daily News.”

By now, you’ve also heard about the previous governor’s private jet, which she announced to great applause at the Republican Convention she had sold by putting it on eBay.  It turned out A, it wasn’t just the governor’s jet.  It was used to transport the large percent of Alaska’s prisoners, who have to be farmed out to other states because Alaska doesn’t have enough cells.  B, three separate times Governor Palin tried to sell it on eBay, but not once did anybody pony up the minimum bid.  The state actually sold the jet, not on eBay, but through an aviation broker. 

Why aren’t you applauding?  Remember her heart warming story about how her kids were disappointed, but she had to fire that chef at the governor’s mansion?  Not true.  That chef, Stephanie Marnone (ph), was first reassigned as a constituent relations assistant in the governor’s office, and later to the state museum and legislative lounge, still cooking all the time. 

Let’s welcome into our lounge, the Washington editor of “The Nation” magazine, Chris Hayes.  Good to see you in the flesh, sir.

CHRIS HAYES, “THE NATION”:  Good to see you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Why do Democrats fear Governor Palin?  I mean, she seems perfect to me.  The world seems to divide to her in those times where she’s uninformed or when she’s lying. 

HAYES:  Look, the reason they fear her is because they fear the culture war.  That’s what Sarah Palin represents.  Look, the campaign—we saw what happened in Minneapolis.  The campaign diverged from a campaign about where the country was going to go and what has happened to a campaign about shooting mooses (sic) and selling planes on eBay and firing chefs and all this kind of symbolic rhetoric that Republicans are incredibly expert at and that she wields very deftly. 

OLBERMANN:  She loves moose stew.  I don’t know if you heard about that.  This claim that she made that she, as governor, did not make any requests for earmarks and Senator Obama did.  That doesn’t hold up either? 

HAYES:  It’s a lie.  It’s frankly a lie.  Look, she hired—not only did she request earmarks.  She hired a lobbyist to sort of game the system, which is the whole problem, right, if you listen to McCain and Palin with the earmark system, and brought home 22 million dollars. 

OLBERMANN:  Twenty seven.  

HAYES:  Twenty seven million dollars for this town of 6,000 people. 

That’s orders of magnitude bigger. 

OLBERMANN:  That’s a lot. 

HAYES:  Right.  So even the most basic—here’s the thing.  Look, they’re scouring around to find a maverick, quote/unquote, because they have to run against their own party.  The best they could come up with is a woman who is a complete business as usual politician in every respect. 

OLBERMANN:  What strikes me about the lying—and, again, a lot of research has gone into the use of whether or not that word lie is OK.  Unfortunately it is.  This isn’t just wrong details.  This is lying to embellish yourself.  I fired the chef.  I sold the governor’s jet.  I stopped the bridge to nowhere.  I mean, is she eventually going to be claiming, I’m the one who discovered gold in the Yukon in the 1890s? 

HAYES:  Look, at this point it matters whether the media calls her on it, frankly.  They are constructing a mythology from day one.  They construct a mythology around what Sarah Palin is.  The question is whether reality catches up or not.  That’s largely in the hands of reporters to call her out. 

OLBERMANN:  To that point, her first TV interview is going to be on Thursday.  This is two weeks after her announcement as VP.  Apparently, it’s all we’re going to do for a while unless she does really well.  What would your top three questions to her?  And how likely is Charlie Gibson to give her a pass on these questions and instead talk about that vital issue that is hockey mommery. 

HAYES:  Well, I’m eternally hopeful and optimistic about Charlie Gibson’s performance.  I don’t know if that’s justified.  I would ask her did anyone from your campaign or the McCain campaign have interaction with those subject of the abuse of power investigation in Alaska?  You have said that you don’t believe climate change is man-made.  What accounts for the cause of global increases in temperature?  And if it’s not man-made, then what can we do to stop it? 

OLBERMANN:  I know the answer to that one.  It’s a rival church. 

HAYES:  This is the most important.  What percentage of the federal discretionary budget is spent on the military and what percentage is spent on earmarks? 

OLBERMANN:  I don’t think she has an answer for any of those. 

HAYES:  I would be curious to see what she said. 

OLBERMANN:  Then we’ll hear more about do you feel you were a victim of sexism?  Do you feel you were perhaps a victim of sexism?  And do you feel perhaps you were a victim of sexism?  Is that not the point ultimately of this, that they saw what happened in the Democratic campaign, and said, no, we’re not going to get many of Hillary Clinton’s voters, but we can grab the martyrdom of many people by portraying her instantly—it was instantly assumed that any criticism of her was sexism.  That’s what this is about.

HAYES:  It’s a blatant, craven attempt to essentially reverse engineer what happened in the primary with the Clinton campaign.  And it’s so sort of—you can see Senator Obama and a lot of people are just gob-smacked by the whole thing because it’s so obvious and so blatant.  Sometimes obvious works in politics. 

OLBERMANN:  And this is, to borrow an old joke from a friend of mine’s old show “Arrested Development,” that’s why you always vet your vice president, because all of these things—some of these were disproved in 30 minutes.  It’s fascinating.  Chris Hayes, the Washington editor of “The Nation” magazine, in New York for some reason.  Thank you, Chris.

HAYES:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  But wait, there’s more.  At her church, the pastor says, the people speak in tongues and are preparing for the rapture.  And there’s tape of her talking about this, like this year tape. 

And worst persons; Chris Wallace insists Senator McCain never had any doubts about the surge.  Oh, boy, Chris, are you about to be surprised. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Another day, another Sarah Palin story.  This time it’s about her church and god’s will to put up a pipeline across Alaska and how you can pray away the gay and the rapture.  There’s videotape and unfortunately for the governor, it ain’t videotape of Debbie, Harry and Blondie.  That’s ahead with Rachel Maddow in her studio, I might ad.  But first time for COUNTDOWN’s number two story, tonight’s worst person in the world. 

The bronze to Brian Bollinger (ph) of Fox sports.  During yesterday’s San Diego Chargers/Carolina Panthers Game, Bollinger threw out a compliment to one of the new figures on Fox’s studio show, quote, Michael Strahan has energized the halftime show like Sarah Palin has energized the Republican party.”  They thought it was some other idiot on some other network who was going to bring the presidential race where it didn’t belong under the football broadcast.  Actually, this one is a two-fer.  Michael Strahan is no Dan Patrick.

Tonight’s silver, Chris Wallace of Fixed News; be careful of those sweeping, declarative statements, Chris.  Astonished when told Senator McCain had his own doubts about the surge, Wallace said, where did John McCain say the troop surge—I’m going to support it, but I don’t know that it’s going to really work?  On “Meet the Press” in January 2007, McCain said, I am concerned about it, whether it is sufficient numbers or not. 

A month later, worrying about Iraq Prime Minister Maliki, he added, I’m very nervous about this new strategy.  I don’t know if the Maliki government will be strong. 

Chris, Senator McCain was doubtful about the surge, before he was for it, before he took credit for it.  The talking points don’t come with footnotes, do they?

But our winner, Bill-O the clown.  The pattern now emerged.  Criticize him in a newspaper and he’ll send out little Jesse or little Port-O-Poddy, or little buddy, one of his stalker producers out to follow you around with a camera.  The latest victim, Pulitzer Prize winner Cynthia Tucker of the “Atlanta Journal Constitution.”  She had the nerve to remind her readers that on the occasion of a previous teenage pregnancy in the news, Bill O followed the talking points, just as comedian Rush Limbaugh immediately announced of the bun in the Jamie Lynn Spears oven, quote, “the parents here are the culprits,” Bill O echoed, “on the pin head front, 16 years old Jamie Lynn Spears is pregnant.  The sister of Britney says she is shocked.  I bet.  Now, most teens are pin heads in some ways.  Here, the blame falls primarily on the parents of the girl, who obviously have little control over here.” 

The 17-year-old daughter of a political figure gets pregnant, announces she’s going to marry the father, out of bounds as a story for analysis, something with which I entirely concur.  But 16-year-old television actress gets pregnant, announces she’s going to marry the father, a field day for naked, flabby hypocrites like Bill O the Clown, today’s—sorry about the naked and flabby part—worst person in the world. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Perhaps the fate of the McCain/Palin campaign lies in the hand of a power much greater than America’s constitutionally designated democracy.  In fact, your votes may not matter at all.  Your prayers, however, that’s a whole different ball of wax.  In our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, Sarah Palin, messenger and messiah.  The governor, in June of this year, addressing a graduating student—graduating class of students at her one time church, the Wasilla Assembly of God.  Here she recalls how one pastor set the stage for her to win the gubernatorial election. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  He’s praying, ‘lord, make a way, lord make a way.  And I’m thinking, this guy is really bold.  He doesn’t even know what I’m going to do.  He doesn’t know what my plans are.  And he’s praying not, oh, lord, if it be your will, may she become governor.  He just prayed for it.  He said, lord, make a way and let her do this next step. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Just like voters in the presidential election.  This begs the question, of course, why bother?  If you want to get something done, ask the lord.  He or she probably doesn’t have much else to worry about besides oil pipelines. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  I think god’s will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built.  So pray for that. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Meanwhile, for the past six years—meanwhile, for the past six years, Mrs. Palin has been praying at the Wasilla Bible Church, which is now—is my mic now open?  For the last six years, Mrs. Palin praying at the Wasilla Bible Church, which is now promoting a seminar that will turn, it says, gay people into straight people.  According to the brochure, “you’ll be encouraged by the power of god’s love and his desire to transform the lives of those impacted by homosexuality.” 

Oh, no, I’m not going to say it.  For the record, the governor has not made any public statement about the pray away the gay movement, nor yet about the report tonight from the former pastor there and a fellow parishioner that worshipers not only believe in the rapture and that Governor Palin has spoken of Alaska as being a refuge for that supposed lifting up of those true believers, but also that they speak in tongues, in other words, in word or sounds neither they or anybody else understand, kind of like Fox News. 

I’m joined now by Rachel Maddow—or should I say I’m joining Rachel Maddow.  We’re here on the new set—all right, it’s the sets of your new show in anticipation of the debut of her conveniently titled news hour, “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW.”

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Hi, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  How are you? 

MADDOW:  Thank you for coming over here.  It’s nice to see you. 

OLBERMANN:  It’s near my office. (INAUDIBLE) Should we be terrified? 

MADDOW:  You know, I think that a lot of people’s religious beliefs seem terrifying or creepy or unknowable or whatever from outside the faith.  That’s why our founding fathers had this brilliant idea to say that government can’t interfere in religion, because when you’re looking at somebody else’s religion outside, it often seems alarming.  What Sarah Palin believes religiously isn’t really any of our business.  What she needs to be asked about, what we need to figure out whether it’s worth worrying about is whether she thinks that god is directing her public policies, whether she believes in the separation of church and state, whether she believes that she’s been elected to public office in order to do the will of her religion and if god is speaking through her.  Then I think there’s cause to worry. 

OLBERMANN:  We just had one of those presidents, and it hasn’t worked so out.  Listening to her, and this doesn’t just apply to the tape we just saw, but throughout the ten days of Sarah Palin, she’s Elmer Gantry.  She’s Amy Simple McHockey Mom.  Which group is larger, do you think?  Do we have any idea, those who will look at those tapes, whose eyes will then roll back in their heads and in tongues they will say, I like this woman or this candidate, or Americans who will then shout a three-word question, beginning with what the—

MADDOW:  Well, we are one of the most religious countries in the world, in terms of the privately held religious beliefs of our citizens.  But we’re also not that psyched about extremism.  Extremism of any kind, particularly religious extremism, particularly in this world.  So I think having faith is seen as a nice thing to know about a person who is running for office.  Of course, there’s no religious test for office, but Americans think that says something nice about your character and what kind of person you are.  But if you believe that god is directing troop movements in Fallujah, I think that Americans, by and large, will react with the what the reaction rather than the neat-o reaction to that. 

OLBERMANN:  Is it not safe to say—and I mean absolutely no disrespect to the belief in god.  In fact, it’s quite to the contrary.  Some of these things that are addressed to her deity, doesn’t he, she or it have better things to do? 

MADDOW:  And if god really is working on this stuff, wouldn’t god be better at it than god has apparently been?  If god prefers Sarah Palin’s specific Alaskan pipeline idea, why hasn’t construction started?  You think that god could just like zip, zip, you know. 

OLBERMANN:  That’s the theory, anyway.  Now, here’s an interesting thing from this church.  What about this converting gay people into heterosexuals?  Where does that actually stand on the list of good idea, bad idea in the public persona at this point, in this advanced stage of our civilization? 

MADDOW:  I think that being gay may be caused by any number of different things.  I can pretty much assure you that not praying enough isn’t one of the things that causes the gay.  I’m just—I feel like, you know, nobody is a total authority on this subject.  But I don’t think that’s what does it.  When you say that you can pray away the gay, what that does is it terrorizes gay people.  And it makes people who hate gay people feel better about hating gay people, because really all they’re doing is hoping for the salvation, which could so easily be achieved by just the right amount of prayer. 

I don’t know if you try to pray away the gay and you pray too much, what becomes of you after that. 

OLBERMANN:  David Duchovny. 

MADDOW:  Sure. 

OLBERMANN:  Too much of that.  He had too much of that pray. 

MADDOW:  They’ve got services for that as well. 

OLBERMANN:  Oh, man.  It’s—I—I don’t know.  All right.  Look, I’m going to spend the last minute of the show promoting your series.  What’s coming up on your show, Rachel? 

MADDOW:  Thank you for asking, Mr. Olbermann. 

OLBERMANN:  Apart from these hypnotizing graphics that make everybody stay and watch.   

MADDOW:  Doesn’t it look like you might win me in roulette? 

OLBERMANN:  Or somehow I’m thinking of the British flag.  I don’t know why. 

MADDOW:  I can see that.  Well, this guy on our network scored an interview with Barack Obama.  So we’ve got—we’re going to be talking about the Barack Obama interview. 

OLBERMANN:  You’re starting with that guy?  He’s on way too much. 

MADDOW:  We’ve also got some weird news tying T-ball—yesterday was the seventh and final T-ball game of the Bush administration—tying T-ball to the Iraq war and some of the unfinished business between the Bush administration and the Pentagon. 

OLBERMANN:  This is the joint chiefs of staff T-ball league, right? 

MADDOW:  That’s right.  They needed a third base coach.  They knew where to look.  We have bishop T.D. Jakes, who is a mega church pastor, going to be joining us to talk about some of these issues about Sarah Palin’s religiosity in government.  And I think the Democrats are leaving some low-hanging fruit on the vine in terms of electoral opportunities.  We’re going to be talking about them screwing up in Congress.  There’s a lot to get to. 

OLBERMANN:  What are you going to do tomorrow night and the rest of the year, the year after that?  Have you thought about that at all?  OK, don’t answer that question.  Our own Rachel Maddow, host of “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” on MSNBC.  Great thanks.  Why is she running away?  That’s COUNTDOWN for this 1,958th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. 

I’m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.

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