updated 9/11/2008 1:49:05 PM ET 2008-09-11T17:49:05

Guest: Chris Kofinis

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

The McCain campaign walks into its own propeller, summoning fake outrage over a phrase Senator Obama did not direct towards Senator Palin, but a phrase which Senator McCain did direct this year towards Hillary Clinton’s healthcare plan.

McCain today -

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R-AZ) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Probably the negativism, all these negative ads, and personal attacks, Senator Obama’s recent comments about lipstick on a pig.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  McCain in May.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN:  From 1993, we rejected the Clinton universal healthcare proposal.  The latest proposal I see is putting lipstick on a pig, as we use to—as we use to say.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  McCain tries to smear Obama with what McCain himself has said.  Obama replies, “Enough.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D-IL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I don’t care what

they say about me, but I love this country too much to let them take over another election with lies and phony outrage and swiftboat politics.  Enough is enough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  On the other hand, Obama has reportedly taken the brakes off liberal-minded 527 groups.

The Palin scandal: trooper-gate.  The news that a judge warned her before she was governor to stop harassing her ex-brother-in-law with complains to his bosses.  And that Senator McCain blamed the 2007 Minnesota bridge collapse, in part, on Palin’s “Bridge to Nowhere” pork project.

Worsts: First the Georgia Republican congressman who called Barack and Michelle Obama, quote, “uppity,” now the would-be Georgia Republican congressman who called NBC’s Ron Allen, “uppity.”

And: On the eve of the commemoration of 9/11, from making the mayor who’s failures made 9/11 worst their keynote speaker, by showing the most grotesque of images at their convention without warning, and by promising he, alone, knows how to catch Osama bin Laden but will not try to make that happen unless we make him president.

How John McCain and the Republican Party have turned our most solemn day into crass, sadistic, political terrorism.

My Special Comment and more: Now on COUNTDOWN.

(on camera):  Good evening.  This is Wednesday, September 10th, 55 days until the 2008 presidential election.

Psychology’s word for it is projection.  You take something you have done about which you are guilty or ashamed, and you accuse somebody else of it, you projected unto them.

Our fifth story on COUNTDOWN: To laugh out loud, funny results, Senator McCain and his mouthpieces took violent umbrage today at a phrase they falsely claimed Senator Obama had used in sexist fashion about Governor Sarah Palin.  A phrase which Senator McCain himself had definitely, unquestionably, and repeatedly used about Senator Hillary Clinton’s healthcare proposal.

The McCain campaign playing the gender card from the bottom of the deck calling on Obama to apologize to Palin for the “lipstick on a pig” remark he made yesterday—an analogy in which Senator Obama clearly have been mocking McCain’s policies.  But then it does not stop Team McCain to loudly trying to claim that the comment was actually sexist insult against Governor Palin.

Earlier this week in my conversation with Senator Obama, I had noted that the most compelling moment in his acceptance speech in Denver might have been his use of just one strong word—“Enough.”

This morning, on the campaign trail in Virginia, in the wake of the McCain campaign manufactured outrage over nothing, with everything at stake in the election, Senator Barack Obama, again, concluding that he has had enough.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D-IL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Before we begin

today, I want to say a few words about the latest made-up controversy—by

the John McCain campaign.  What -

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA:  What their campaign has done this morning is the same game that has made people sick and tired of politics in this country.  They seize on an innocent remark, try to take it out of context, throw up an outrageous ad, because they know it’s catnip for the news media.  I’m assuming you guys heard this, just watching the news.  I’m talking about John McCain’s economic policies as it is more of the same.  You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA:  And suddenly, they say, “Oh, you must be talking about the governor of Alaska.”

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA:  See, it would be funny—it would be funny except, of course, the news media decided that was the lead story yesterday.  They’d much rather have the story—this is the McCain campaign, would much rather have the story about phony and foolish diversions than about the future.  This happens every election cycle.  Every four years, this is what we do.

We’ve got an energy crisis.  We have education that—we have an education system that is not working for too many of our children and making us less competitive.  We have an economy that is creating hardship for families all across America.  We’ve got two wars going on.  Veterans coming home are not being cared for.

And this is what they want to talk about.  This is what they want to spend two of the last 55 days talking about.

You know who ends up losing at the end of the day?  It’s not the Democratic candidate; it’s not the Republican candidate.  It’s you, the American people, because—then we go another year, or another four years, or another eight years without addressing the issues that matter to you.

Enough.  I don’t care what they say about me, but I love this country too much to let them take over another election with lies and phony outrage and swift boat politics.  Enough is enough.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Senator Barack Obama actually explaining further to David Letterman in an interview airing tonight on his show on CBS that if his analogy had been intended for Governor Palin, which it was not, if you stretch this nonsense out to his logical conclusion, Governor Palin would have been the lipstick, the failed policies of Senator McCain, the pig.

Following the logic of this illogical situation even further, “Lipstick on a Pig” is the title of a book by Torie Clarke.  The author, perhaps best known for being Donald Rumsfeld’s spokeswoman at the Pentagon, but she also worked for John McCain on his 1986 Senate race defending him against justifiable outrage when he told a joke about a woman being raped by a gorilla and enjoying it.

More recently, Senator McCain himself has uttered that phrase, “Lipstick on a pig,” at least four times to describe either Senator Clinton’s healthcare proposal or plans that advocate a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.  His daughter, Meghan McCain admitting today she has heard him say it.

But we don’t need to Ms. McCain’s word on this.  For proof, we have the Internet as well as our video library.

This is the queue for the lipstick and the pig and the senator.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MCCAIN:  It’s all about withdrawal or not withdrawal, OK?  I mean, that’s what it’s all about.  You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

MCCAIN (FEB. 1, 2007):  Whether you support what is being done in this new strategy, or you don’t.  You can put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig, in my view.

MCCAIN (OCT. 11, 2007):  There’s many things that concerned me about it.  It’s vaguely, not vaguely but eerily in reminiscent of what they back tried in 1993.  I think they put some lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.

MCCAIN (MAY 2, 2008):  Yes, in 1993, we rejected the Clinton universal healthcare proposal.  It was rejected by the American people.  I don’t like to use this term, but the latest proposal I see is putting lipstick on a pig.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

OLBERMANN:  Yet, in an interview with Telemundo this afternoon, Senator McCain seeming to claim that he finds the negative tenor of the 2008 campaign regrettable, as if he’s had absolutely nothing to do with it.  As well as entirely avoidable if only his opponent had agreed to join him at town hall-style events.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN:  Probably the negativism, all these negative ads and personal attacks, Senator Obama’s recent comments about lipstick on a pig—I wish that Senator Obama had agreed with my request to go before the American people in town hall meetings, just the two of us with the American people.  He’s refused today do that.  I’m sorry; it might have changed the tenor of this campaign somewhat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Let’s turn now to our own Richard Wolffe, who, apparently, unlike Senator McCain has been paying attention to this campaign.  He, of course, is the senior White House correspondent for “Newsweek,” and is in from Norfolk, Virginia.

Good to see you, sir.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Good to be with you.

OLBERMANN:  So, you were at an event today with Obama this morning.  Did something change?  Has he now decided when I hear bull crap, I’m going to call it bull crap?

WOLFFE:  Keith, I hope you’re not maligning bulls here.

(LAUGHTER)

WOLFFE:  And, frankly, I think, lost on all of this is the feeling of the pig involved.  I won’t talk about the steamed (ph) fish, of course, that were so unfairly smeared.

Yes, Obama is being more feisty.  He is punching back harder.  He’s been, obviously, pushed by the polls here and by the news media, for sure.  But, there is a question mark about whether he’s the best person to deliver this message.  At some point, when you’re under attack, you have to fight back.  That’s what Kerry learned in 2004.  But there are woman governors, women senators, any number of surrogates and surely some family pets who could have done this job.

OLBERMANN:  But, to this one, did this blowback to some degree on the Republicans?  I mean, ABC debunked this, “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS,” CBS did a reality check on it.  Bill O’Reilly, Mike Huckabee, both said he wasn’t talking about Palin.  Might this be a watershed moment on how the media covers the McCain campaign?  Was this an enough moment for the media today?

WOLFFE:  Did he jump the pig?

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

WOLFFE:  The media does have to look very seriously at itself here, I think, with this story.  Yes, there’s a question about McCain and his brand, as we like to put it.  Does the kind of campaigning McCain is engaged with square for instance with his convention speech.  He says he wants to bring the country together and engages in this kind of politics.  It’s very hard to do if you have that kind of divisive campaign.

But more importantly, I think, for the media here, we know the story is false.  We know we’re being manipulated here.  We know that when they put out these Web ads and the McCain campaign has used them liberally, they are video press releases.  That’s what sustained the story today.

And, it wasn’t so long ago that people in the media were wringing their hands about how things were manipulated in the runup to the war.  I think we have to do some introspection here and say—are we playing along with a campaign tactic rather than saying, “Look—it’s a campaign tactic, let’s put it in our newscast but bury it.”

OLBERMANN:  Also, on the campaign trail today, you could put it at the back.  There’s one thing here about pulling the curtain back, this may proceed in doing—is there any other conclusion to be reached now about Governor Palin that one of the reasons she was selected was to be the lightning rod, the sort of trotted out victim, false victim for charges of sexism just like today’s scenario because it’s easier to accuse somebody of sexism against women if your vice presidential candidate is a woman and not a guy?

WOLFFE:  Right.  Yes, that would make sense.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

WOLFFE:  And, I think, if you look at the rushed way this decision was made for the Palin pick, there was a lot of talk at the start of the Democratic convention, as you will remember, about disgruntled Hillary voters and were they up for grabs.  That didn’t really materialize that way.  But I’m sure there was some thinking about, (A), could they reach out to Hillary voters, (B), if they follow the Clinton play book, which worked, especially in the latter half of the Democratic primaries.

There’s another aspect to this, of course, which is that she was picked for her reformist credentials and those have solely been picked part by the news media, some excellent reporting there about earmarks and everything else.  Just tonight, of course, we heard about her seeking earmarks for studying halibut and baby seals.  So, there’s a story line out there that still has to be followed up that goes beyond pigs.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, don’t get in to the baby seals.  A bigger picture—was this done today, as much to paint Obama as sexist, even if it didn’t stick, but more, perhaps, just for the Republicans to cancel a day off the calendar without doing with an actual issue?

WOLFFE:  Oh, for sure.  This is a distraction, this is driving the news cycle on a day, for a start, we were hearing about Iraq and anemic troop withdrawal—yes, this is ground they want to fight on because it’s a culture war, they feel very comfortable doing it.  At some point, and I suspect it will certainly at the debates, but maybe before, this is going to come back to the issues.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, pigs are not going to be the primary topic at any of the debates, presidential or vice presidential.

Richard Wolffe of MSNBC and “Newsweek,” as always, a pleasure to see you, sir.

WOLFFE:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  That the fight will get uglier is not doubted, that it might get fairer suggested by developments about the liberal 527 groups and Senator Obama, but of all the campaign issues, none is so dark, none is so manipulative, none is so un-American as the Republican’s exploitation, transmogrification of 9/11 from a solemn memorial to a revolting, animalistic political weapon.

And in claiming he can capture Osama bin Laden, but only if we elect him president.  John McCain has made that perversion of the sacred commemoration tomorrow even worse.  My Special Comment ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Obama may have just let the liberal 527 groups take the gloves off.

In Bushed: Who knew it wasn’t blood for oil—it was oil for sex.

And tonight’s Special Comment: If Senator McCain really thinks he alone can catch Osama bin Laden, why is he refusing to tell the government how, why is he trying to blackmail us into election him?  The Republican shameful manipulation of 9/11 and its perpetrators—ahead on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  As the factual inaccuracies of the accusation by the McCain campaign increased to such a degree that even all the network newscasts noted them and debunked them tonight, the question is raised again as to whether Senator Obama is sufficiently angry or outraged.  I asked him myself—should his declaration of “enough” during his acceptance speech be amplified.

Now, in our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN tonight: Whether it’s angry or rather justifiably forceful, we are today seeing more of that from Obama.  And if the McCain campaign won’t stop its 527 groups, the Obama campaign evidently will no longer hamstring itself by discouraging its version of those groups, either.

Of the top three 527 groups already in existence, two are liberal.  And now, the Obama camp, reportedly, will no longer object to those independent efforts, according to the Atlantic.com.  Quoting a senior campaign official, “I assume with their 527s stirring, some Democratic ones will as well.”

Stirring there are on the GOP side, like the Leadership for America’s Future, a 527 group created last Thursday.  Its Web site boasts a 30-second video on the dangers of putting America in untested hands.  It montages of images incredibly includes a plane crashing into the World Trade Center.

Let’s turn to Democratic strategist, former spokesman for the John Edwards campaign, Chris Kofinis.

Good evening, Chris.

CHRIS KOFINIS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  More on the nuts and bolts of the strategy in this in a moment. But today, Obama said enough is enough.  It seems to connect if you do it just right, just briefly to the anger that a lot of people feel about the last eight years, about the tactics in this election cycle.  Is that sort of targeted dark-like form enough of pushback?

KOFINIS:  I think it’s in the right direction.  I mean, if you step back and put this in the context of what the Republicans are trying to do - - what the McCain campaign is trying to do.  I mean, listen, they don’t have any solutions—none, nada.

What they want to do is basically, you know, pursue this politics of distraction, they’re basically pursuing every, you know, underhanded brutal type of attack to distract.  Their idea is to basically distract people’s attention.  Every media cycle, you’re not talking about the issues that matter, you’re talking about the issues that don’t matter.

So, the Obama campaign has to, I think, has to walk this balancing act with the hit back and to hit back hard.  But they are also talking about their vision, their policies, their ideas—how they are going to improve lives.  That is not what the McCain campaign doesn’t want.  They don’t want you talking about your solutions and your ideas.

So, that, I think, is the challenge and, I think, it’s the one that the Obama campaign faces in the coming weeks because the McCain campaign ain’t going to run a nice campaign.  This is their strategy from here until Election Day.

OLBERMANN:  What are the risks if he gets too angry?

KOFINIS:  Well, you don’t want to get too angry, I think then you kind of hurt your brand.  You don’t want to become just another politician.  I think what we saw today from Senator Obama was, you know, determined passion.  And I think that’s a good thing and that, I think, that resonates with the American people.

The American people want you to hit back.  They want you to be strong, but, I think, what you don’t want to do is fall into this trap that the Republicans want.  It isn’t simply just Senator Obama’s responsibility to hit back.  It’s obviously the campaign’s, the vice president, nominee Biden and it’s also the surrogates, to hit back and hit back hard.  This is not simply about push back, it’s about pushing forward and hitting the McCain campaign hard on key issues and forcing them to respond.

OLBERMANN:  As for the 527 groups, a campaign has no control over message, which is why Obama initially was discouraging them.  Will the liberal-minded 527s actually level a playing field with the conservative 527 groups?

KOFINIS:  I think they’re definitely going to help.  I mean, it all depends on what type of strategy and what type of media campaign they run, and also, what type of resources they’re able to organize in the next few weeks.  I mean, the challenge here is timing.  You basically are entering a two-month window of the last, you know, last 55 days plus of the election, where most of the media attention—let’s be honest—is going to focus on the horse race and these two candidates and these two campaigns.

So, your ability to penetrate through a 527 ad is going to be challenged, not impossible, you can do it, but you have to hit hard pretty fast.  I think, where they are going to help is in some key battlegrounds where they can go up and really make this message very clear about who John McCain is, who Sarah Palin is, and hit them hard and hit them fast.

OLBERMANN:  And what is the risk here of trying to maybe keep track of all the McCain issues?  Do you run the risk of staying on the defensive or do you just ignore the things that McCain has thrown against the wall and throw your own things?

KOFINIS:  Well, you know, like I said before, it’s always this balancing act.  I mean, sometimes in this campaign business, we’re so fixated on the media cycle, we never want to lose a media cycle so we always want to hit back.  It’s kind of like chess sometimes.  You got to lose a piece in order to win the game.  Sometimes it’s better to lose a media cycle than extend it.

For the Obama campaign, I think, the challenge here and the strategy here, and I think, you’re going to start seeing this and you saw this today, is they’re going to start hitting back and making the agenda more about John McCain and his vision.  This isn’t about Sarah Palin, this isn’t, you know, this isn’t anything like that, this is about John McCain and the fact that this candidate, and these policies that he’s proposing would make this country worse off.  I think you got to hammer that message in every day.

And there’s another angle, I think, you can take on this.  And this, I think, goes to what, you know, Barack Obama said today about enough is enough.  The American people have a serious choice in this election.  It ain’t simply between Republicans and Democrats, Barack Obama and John McCain; it’s a choice about what kind of campaign they want, what kind of country they want to live in.

If they let people like John McCain and those kind of tactics work, we are going to be worse off.  That’s the choice, I think, you’re to make very clear.  The choice about whether you’re going to live in a better country or worse country, and I think that is something you can hit and you can hit very hard.

OLBERMANN:  Chris Kofinis, a Democratic strategist and former spokesman for the Edwards campaign.  Thank you, Chris.

KOFINIS:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Some of Butler University’s mascots are missing.  Well, their mascot outfits are.  They worth thousand of dollars, they offered $100 reward.

And we have lost from our sad and solemn remembrances of September 11th, more correctly, what has been taken from us by the Republicans and by John McCain’s carrot on a stick secret plan to catch bin Laden, if we elect him.  My Special Comment ahead.

But first, the headlines breaking in the administration’s 50 running scandals—Bushed.

Number three: FCS-gate.  FCS stands for future combat system—another one of these administration’s schemes that has been the proverbial Pentagon nightmare with overruns and procurement problems and bribes and kickbacks and whatnot.  The debate has now reached the campaign, the debate between senators, McCain and Obama, and Senator McCain and Senator McCain.

McCain recently blasted Obama, claiming he would slow the progress of future combat system.  But in July, McCain senior economic advisors sent the “Washington Post” his campaign’s detail a plan to balance the federal budget by 2013.  Included in the McCain plain—slower discretionary spending at the Pentagon, including lots of procurements that should be ended.  One on the McCain list to be ended?  Future combat system.  Oops.

Number two: Exactly which homeland are you defending-gate.  The assistant secretary for infrastructure protection at Homeland, Robert Stephen, while attending a domestic counterterrorism trade show: “The number one killer in the United States,” Mr. Stephen says, “government bureaucrats.”  They are, quote, “more clever than al-Qaeda in many respects.  Most of them every day, I spend most of the bullets in my 30-round magazine that I bring to work every day shooting into the backs of our own bureaucracy trying to clear a field of fire.  So, I have one bullet left to either pump at al-Qaeda or save it for me because the bureaucracy is about to overwhelm me.

And I got yelled at for claiming FOX News had done more damage to the U.S. than al-Qaeda?  Mr. Stephen, I hate to break it to you, but by definition, anybody with your job title, assistant secretary for infrastructure protection, Department of Homeland Security, that makes you a bureaucrat.

And number one, sex for oil-gate.  Three separate reports by the inspector general at the Interior Department say today that 13 employees in the departmental offices in Denver and Washington rigged contracts for oil revenues with private companies in exchange for golf, and ski trips, and dinner from, and sexual relationships with employees of oil companies.  No, no, no.  It’s screw the taxpayer, trading lucrative royalties in oil deals for sex with oil company employees.

No wonder all the Republicans were shouting last week, “Drill, baby, drill.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Oddball, in a moment.  And did a giant black hole destroy the earth today?  I mean, I haven’t been able to check it ain’t cool news, yet.

First, on this date in 1935, John Spencer Palmer was born, now a host on Retirement Living Network.  John reported for NBC News from 1962 to 1990, and again, from 1994 to 2002.  He was everything from Paris correspondent to White House correspondent to “TODAY SHOW” news anchor, to host of “NEWS AT SUNRISE,” to back to the White House where he brought, otherwise, inaccessible credibility to a little program we used to have here called “THE BIG SHOW on MSNBC.”  So, Happiest of Birthdays, John Palmer.

Let’s play Oddball.

We begin 300 feet below Switzerland, where scientists are either preparing to explain the origins of the universe or to destroy the planet.  Using the world’s largest atom smasher, scientists will try to determine origin of the universe by using protons at the speed of light in a 17 mile tunnel that crosses the border from Switzerland to France.  After years of planning and building, finally the magical moment came this morning when they powered the contraption up. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Five, four, three, two, one, zero. 

Nothing.  Yes. 

OLBERMANN:  Did he forget the order there?  Five, four, three, two, science.  The real atom smashing at the large collider gets going in a few weeks.  Stay tuned to Oddball to find out if the world is, in fact, been eaten by a black hole. 

To Indianapolis, the campus of the Butler University Bulldogs, where someone has let the dog out.  Two Blue the Bulldog mascot costumes have been lifted from the field house.  School officials suspect foul play.  An email sent to the student body asks co-eds for the Butler suits back.  The school is offering a 100 dollar reward.  Although Butler co-eds may be interested to know that the school says the costumes are worth 13,000 dollars.  Dude, you’re not getting those back. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The scandals of Sarah Palin.  New ones and new evidence that Trooper-Gate started long before she was even elected governor. 

And in worsts, Bill-O severely challenged by a reporter and a Congressional candidate using the U word.  That’s all ahead on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  When she and the ongoing scandal Trooper-Gate were introduced to the national stage, it seemed pretty open and shut.  Whatever she might have done wrong, Sarah Palin was entirely in the right trying to defend her sister and niece and nephew from an abusive ex-husband.  Our third story in the COUNTDOWN, you can forget the entirely part.  Reports that an Alaska judge twice expressed concern that the Palin family, including the governor, before her election, continued to harass her former brother-in-law by filing a series of complaints against him to his bosses. 

“Newsweek Magazine: got its hands on court records from the divorce case between Palin’s sister Molly and her now ex, Alaska state trooper Michael Wooten.  From an October 2005 settlement hearings on alleged attacks Wooten by the Palin and family, the honorable John Suddick wrote, “disparaging will not be tolerated.  It is a form of child abuse.  Relatives cannot disparage either.”  Child, as in these children of Palin’s sister, Molly.  Just three months later threatening to curb Molly’s child custody rights, the judge flagged again flagged the quote, “disparagement of the father, Wooten, by her mother and her family members.” 

As recently as last week, in a press release issued by her attorney, Sarah Palin insisting she would not repeat details about Trooper Wooten’s behavior, repeated details about Trooper Wooten’s behavior.  Instead of reiterating themselves, or them, I will let that graphic speak for itself.  It is perhaps fitting that we turn to this nugget, where the tables of trash talk are turned. 

Sound bite number one, Sarah Pain November 2nd, 2006, on the Bridge 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 are 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:  Senator Palin supporting the Bridge to Nowhere before she was elected.  Sound bite, two, John McCain August 4th, 2007.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN:  Maybe the 200,000 that crossed that bridge every day would have been safer than spending 233 million of your tax dollars on a bridge in Alaska to an island with 50 people on it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  That Governor Palin supported.  Considering that this campaign is not about issues, that dispute could very well be moot. 

By the way, as of tomorrow, every time Senator Palin repeats one of her standard lies about the Bridge to Nowhere or the plane she sold on eBay that she didn’t sell on eBay, or the fired chef she didn’t fire, I will donate 100 dollars to charity.  If will be 300 dollars is she somehow says a chef on eBay.  I will also donate fictional cans of Aunt Sarah’s canned moose chunk stew to a lucky viewer. 

I’m joined now by Eugene Robinson of the “Washington Post,” also, of course, an MSNBC political analyst.  Good evening, Gene. 

EUGENE ROBINSON, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Evening, Keith.  You can give

my moose stew to Rachel.  I think she likes it.  Give it to her.

OLBERMANN:  OK.  Did Trooper-Gate suddenly change today? 

ROBINSON:  Well, I think it changed for me.  I mean, you know, the narrative I had in mind was similar to the one you just laid out.  She was protecting her sister against this bad guy, Michael Wooten, the former brother-in-law.  But today I think we realized that there are two narratives that are not mutually exclusive.  He could be a bad guy.  But she also could have abused her office and done other improper things in an attempt to get him fired and, otherwise, ruin his life.  You know, those two narratives can co-exist.  They can both be true. 

OLBERMANN:  I guess the relevant part of this is that before she was governor, she was smacked down by a judge who said, you know, don’t start trying to get this guy fired every hour and a half, filing these series of complaints to the trooper’s office.  And then she gets elected and winds up firing that trooper’s boss in the chain of command, which suggests sort of using your office to, I don’t know, trying to explode a situation involving your relatives? 

ROBINSON:  Exactly.  That’s certainly the impression that’s created, and, you know, I think you don’t want to be in the position of running for the second highest office in the land to be demonstrated to have, essentially, blown off the order of a sitting judge.  That’s not exactly rule of law. 

OLBERMANN:  The connection here—the unfortunate connection between Governor Palin continually referring to how she tried to stop the Bridge to Nowhere and then the sound bites from the debate about supporting the Bridge to Nowhere, now have a third component to them, which is Senator McCain saying, you know, the Bridge to Nowhere may have in some, at least philosophical way, contributed to the 35-W bridge collapse in Minnesota.  Everything gets—the more things get complicated for this candidate, the more trouble they seem to be for her.  Am I wrong in that assessment? 

ROBINSON:  I think that’s true.  I mean, you know, are people paying attention to the facts that are coming out, as opposed to what she says?  She continues to say, I oppose the bridge to nowhere.  And I’m against earmarks.  And, meanwhile, evidence—conclusive evidence to the contrary keeps pouring out and gets reported and gets put on the front pages.  And one has to hone that people notice this, and that actual—that fact-based reporting is, at least, recognized as that, rather than just another—another voice competing for the air waves. 

OLBERMANN:  Never mind the reporting.  If you are talking to Senator Joe Biden in anticipation of the vice-presidential debate, are you saying to him, senator, I want everything that you say at that debate to be printable on one page of person.  And it should just be a series of facts and you just say what’s about it governor?  Is that the advice?  Just back off and just a couple of quick words?  This is what you said on August 6th, 2006? 

ROBINSON:  Kind of Jack Web approach, just the facts, ma’am.  You know?  And, you know, just kind of run down it, because, at this point, there are enough of those kind of dead-pan facts you can throw out there that one wonders how she would answer.  I suspect that she would answer them the way she has thus far, which is just by repeat what is demonstrably not true. 

OLBERMANN:  That’s going to be a long debate if she just repeats the same five facts.  I’m going to owe 100 dollars every time she repeats them because they’re not facts.  Gene Robinson of MSNBC and the “Washington Post,” thanks you  gene. 

ROBINSON:  Great to talk to you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  A strong collection of worst persons tonight.  A Republican Congressional candidate calls a reporter who dared to question Newt Gingrich at the convention, quote, uppity.  The reporter is African American. 

And what the convention told us about the Republicans, continued exploitations of 9/11, the co-opting of a memorial to sell a product.  My special comment ahead. 

But first, our newest feature, the most outrageous or untrue thing said today by or on behalf of Republican presidential nominee John McCain, McCain in the membrane.  The semi-monthly Fred Thompson sighting at a Republican rally in Virginia, as he insisted that Governor Palin is undergoing the most vicious assault anyone has ever seen in public life.  He claimed she is hated by the media. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRED THOMPSON ®, FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The east coast media

says, but we don’t know her.  She hasn’t been on the talk shows on Sunday. 

She hasn’t been on the cover of “Time Magazine.” 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Fred, she’s—how do I break this to him?  She’s—just show it.  She’s on the cover of “Time Magazine” now.  Also, Fred, it is 50 to 60 percent of the media who love her because their ideology or the bosses demand it.  The rest of us, the journalists, we love her because will all these scandals, she’s like covering an explosion at an unmanned fireworks factory. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The Republicans again turn our solemn remembrances of 9/11 into divisive, disgusting political advertising.  My special comment ahead.  First, time for COUNTDOWN’s number two story, tonight’s worst persons in the world. 

There’s a theme here.  See if you can spot it. 

The bronze to Bill-O the clown, lying about the ratings again; “the interesting thing here is that MSNBC’s ratings continue to be abysmal.  Fox and CNN beat them badly at both conventions.”  In what Fox calls the all important advertising demographic, 25 to 54 year old viewers, for the Democratic convention, MSNBC beat Fixed News in prime time an average of 917,000, 820,000, 12 percent, Fox last.  Eighty six years in television, Bill, and you still don’t understand the ratings? 

The runner up, Felix Gellete (ph) of the “New York Observer,” made-up quote made or printed a quote made up by someone else.  Claims at dinner in Washington with the GE chairman Jeff Immelt, Andrea Mitchell of NBC got up and, he writes, “noted on behalf of her colleagues that there was some ongoing uneasiness about who was anchoring our political night coverage.” 

Not only does Andrea say she never said that.  She says she never said anything at that dinner, and Mr. Gellete and the “New York Observer” never contacted her or anybody at NBC News for a comment or a denial.  One of the reason Andrea Mitchell is 8,000 times the reporter he is. 

But our winner, Rick Goddard, the Republican candidate for Congress from the 8th district in the state of Georgia.  You will recall that last week an already elected Georgia Republican named Lynn Westmoreland called Barack and Michelle Obama, quote, uppity.  On a radio show in the town of Macon, candidate Goddard complained about part of MSNBC’s coverage of the Republican National Convention, quote, “last night, Newt Gingrich disarmed a very uppity newscaster, who tried to question him on the capabilities and leadership of Governor Palin.  There is simply no comparison between a governor and a community organizer.”

The reporter who conducted the interview with Gingrich was our Ron Allen, who is African-American.  Candidate Goddard, who, by the way, is a retired Air Force major general, must obviously be in trouble with his own party because, A, he was watching us and not Fox. 

But to the big point, by uppity, General Stoddard’s campaign claims, Stoddard meant arrogant or presumptuous.  Great, general.  But you said uppity, which is traditionally followed by the N word.  Rick Goddard, would be Republican Congressman from Georgia, today’s Worst Person in the World!

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  This programming note, COUNTDOWN and “THE RACHEL MADDOW

SHOW” will not be seen tomorrow night.  I’ll be off.  We’ll be televising the Service Nation Presidential Candidates Forum with Senators McCain and Obama live from New York.  Please join David Gregory at 8:00 pm Eastern for the pre-event and post-event coverage.

Thus tonight, as promised, a Special Comment about our sad anniversary tomorrow.

Or, more correctly, what our sad anniversary tomorrow has been turned into by the presidential administration, and the current Republican candidates for President and Vice President.

This is supposed to be a day of remembrance, remembrance of the attack, remembrance of the national unity which followed it.

Most important of all, remembrance of the dead.

Instead, 9/11 has become a brand name, a Republican campaign slogan, propaganda of the lowest form.  9/11 has become 9/11 with a trademark logo.

9/11 ™ has sustained a president who long ago should have been dismissed or impeached.  It has kept him and his gang of financial and constitutional crooks in office without literally any visible means of support.

9/11 ™ has made possible the greatest sleight-of-hand in our nation’s history.

The political party in office at the time of the attacks, at the local, state and national levels, the party which uniformly ignored the warnings, and the presidential administration already through twenty percent of its first term, and no longer wet behind the ears, have not only thus far escaped any blame for the malfeasance and criminal neglect that allowed the attacks to occur, but that presidency and that party have managed to make it seem as if the other political party would be solely and irredeemably responsible for any similar catastrophe in the future.

Thus, Sen. McCain, were you able to accomplish a further inversion of reality at your party’s nominating convention last week.

There was the former Mayor of the City of New York, the one who took no counter-terrorism measure in his seven years in office between the first attack on the World Trade Center and the second attack.

Nothing, except to insist, despite all advice and warning, that his Emergency Command Center be moved directly into the World Trade Center.

Yet there was this man, sir, Rudolph Giuliani, quite succinctly dismissed as “A Noun, a Verb, and 9/11,” and repudiated even by Republican voters, transformed into the keynote speaker, Sen. McCain, at your convention.

And his childish, squealing, braying, Tourette’s-like repetition of 9/11 ™, was greeted not as conclusive evidence that he is consumed by massive guilt, hard-earned guilt, in fact, but rather as some kind of political tour-de-force, an endorsement of your Vice Presidential nominee, a rookie governor, a facile and slick con artist.

The blind endorsing the bland, to a chorus of 9/11 ™, 9/11 ™, 9/11 (TM.)

Your ringing mindless cheer of “We’ve Kept You Safe Since Then.” 

While nobody asks “doesn’t then count?”

All of this, sadistically disrespecting the dead of New York, and Washington, and Shanksville.  Endorsed, Sen. McCain.  Exploited, Sen.  McCain.  Trademarked, Sen. McCain by you.

And yet, of course, the exact moment in which Sen. McCain’s Republicans showed the nation exactly how far they have fallen from the Better Angels of Mr. Lincoln’s Nature, came the next night.

The television networks were told that the Convention would pause early in the evening, when children could still be watching, for a 9/11 Tribute, and they were encouraged to broadcast that tribute.

What we got was not a tribute to the dead of 9/11, nor even a tribute to the responders, or the singularity of purpose we all felt.  The Republicans gave us sociological pornography, a virtual snuff film.

Years ago, responsible television networks, to the applause of this nation, and the relief of its mental health authorities, voluntarily stopped showing the most graphic of the images of the World Trade Center, except with the strongest of warnings.

And yet, the Republicans, at their convention, having virtually seized control of the cable news operations, showed the worst of it.

This is all anyone with a conscience can show you of what the Republicans showed you.  The actual collapse of the smoking towers.

A fleeting image of what might have been a victim leaping to his death from a thousand feet up.  And something new, from this angle, ground-level, perfectly framed, images, of the fireball created when the second plane hit the second tower.

It was terrifying.  After all, its object was to terrify, not to commemorate, not to call for unity, not to remember the dead, but to terrify, to open again the horrible wounds, to brand the skin of this nation with the message, as hateful as the terrorists’ own, that you must vote Republican or this will happen again and you will die.

And just in case that was not enough, to also dishonestly and profanely conflate 9/11 with the 1979 Iran Hostage Crisis, to stoke the flames of paranoia about another Middle Eastern Nation.

This was a 9/11 Tribute.  Not to the dead, nor to the unity.  But a tribute to how valuable 9/11 has been as a political tool for the Republican Party. 9/11 (TM.)

Sen. McCain, you had promised us a clean campaign.  You could be Snow-White the rest of the way, sir, yet that manipulative videotape from your convention should tar you always in the minds of decent Americans.

And still, as this seventh 9/11 ™ approaches that, sir, is not the worst of your contributions to the utter politicizing of a day that should be sacrosanct to all of us.

Hard to believe, but the senator has done worse with 9/11 and the evil behind it.

We heard it last week in Minnesota.  We’ve heard it off and on since January, but Senator McCain said it most concisely in June.

“Look,” he said. “I know the area.  I’ve been there.  I know wars.  I know how to win wars.  And I know how to improve our capabilities so that we will capture Osama bin Laden.  Or put it this way, bring him to justice.  We will do it. I know how to do it.”

Sen. McCain seems to be quite serious, that he and he alone, not the CIA, nor the U.S. Military, nor the current President can capture bin Laden.

Thus we must take him at his word that this is no mere ludicrous campaign boast.  We must assume Sen. McCain truly believes he is capable of doing this, and has been capable of doing this, since last January.  “We will capture Osama bin Laden.  We will do it.  I know how to do it.”

Well then, Senator, you’d better go and do it hadn’t you?

Because, sir, if a man or woman in this nation, Democrat or Republican, had a clear and effective means of capturing or killing Osama bin Laden, if that person had been advertising his claim, Senator, for eight months, but if that person not only refused to go to responsible authorities in government and advise them of this plan to catch bin Laden, but further announced he would not even begin to enact this secret plan to corral the world’s most hated man until the end of next January, what would be your description of such an individual, Senator?  Charlatan?  Do-nothing?  Opportunist?

Sen. McCain, if you have, if you have had a means of capturing Osama bin Laden, and you do not immediately inform some responsible authority of the full scope of that plan, you are to some degree, great or small, aiding and abetting Osama bin Laden.

If you could assist in capturing him now, Sen. McCain, but you have chosen not to, you, sir, have helped Osama bin Laden stay free.  Free to inspire and supervise the terrorists.  Free to plan or execute attacks here.

You, sir, are blackmailing some portion of the American electorate into voting for your party, by promising to help in the capture of bin Laden only if you are made president!

I’d rather win an election than catch bin Laden!  No more cynical calculation has ever been made in this nation’s history, sir.  If you lose the election, senator, are you not going to tell the President-elect?

Are you intending to keep this a secret until the next election and your party’s next nominee?  Senator, as you and your Republicans shed your phony, crocodile, opportunistic tears tomorrow on 9/11 ™, in front of the utterly disingenuous banner “Country First,” the fact is, you have shown that it is John McCain first, and the country last.

The fact is, sir, by holding out on your secret plan to catch bin Laden, by searing those images into our collective wounded American psyche at your nomination last week, terrorists are not what you, John McCain, fight.  Terrorists are what you, John McCain, use.

Good night and good luck.

Content and programming copyright 2008 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2008 ASC LLC ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user’s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and ASC LLC’s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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