updated 9/16/2008 6:50:07 PM ET 2008-09-16T22:50:07

Guests: Eugene Robinson, Chuck Todd, Paul Krugman, Chris Kofinis, Howard Fineman

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

The man who would be economic outrage in chief?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R-AZ) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Our economy, I think, still, the fundamentals of our economy are strong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Round two of the mortgage meltdown—“A once-in-a-century event,” says Alan Greenspan.  And this guy is doing the Herbert Hoover bit?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN:  We will clean up Wall Street.  We will reform the government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Even though the fundamentals are strong, and neither need cleaning nor reforming.

The Lehman collapse reignites when McCain‘s top guy on the economy insisted this was just a “mental recession” and called America “a nation of whiners.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D-IL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Senator McCain, what economy are you talking about?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  When the truth is found to be lies and even Karl Rove‘s belief in your advertising dies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH ADVISOR:  McCain has gone in some of his ads, similarly gone one step too far in sort of attributing to Obama things that are, you know, beyond the 100 percent truth test.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  You heard it, even Karl Rove thinks McCain is lying.

The numbers never lie.  His latest Electoral College map, Obama‘s lead down from 28 to six.  Chuck Todd is here with his pointer.

Sarah Palin‘s 15 minutes is up.  She repeated the “Bridge to Nowhere” lie and she gets sliced and diced on “SNL” by Tina Fey.  Governor, I know Tina Fey and you‘re no Tina Fey.

Oddball: Want to buy a dugout?

Worsts: Rupert Murdoch says, “It‘s OK for me to criticize Bill-O the Clown and Bill shouldn‘t be arrgh so sensitive.”

I‘m afraid, sir, if you‘re going to criticize Bill O‘Reilly, I‘m going to have to ask you to step outside, meaty (ph).

All that and more: Now on COUNTDOWN.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Arrgh.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

OLBERMANN (on camera):  Good evening.  This is Monday, September 15th, 50 days until the 2008 presidential election.

The clang of the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange this morning might as well have been the ringing of the first proverbial 3:00 a.m. phone call of the presidential campaign.

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: With an economy in crisis on hold, the Republican nominee all but calling as his chief economic advisor, former Senator Phil Gramm, anyone now complaining about or worried by the state of the nation‘s economy a whiner.

Directive number one from Senator McCain today, pay no attention to that economic crisis behind the curtain.  In case you are concerned that the Dow dropped more than 500 points today, it‘s biggest one day loss since the September 11th attacks, or that Lehman Brothers is filing for bankruptcy because of huge losses of its mortgage holdings or that soon after its purchase of Merrill Lynch, Bank of America might become the Bank of America, the only one left.

Perhaps you can take solace in Senator McCain‘s reassurance at his first campaign of the day that the fundamentals of the economy are strong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN:  You know that there‘s been tremendous turmoil in our financial markets and Wall Street.  And it is—people are frightened by these events.  Our economy, I think, still, the fundamentals of our economy are strong, but these are very, very difficult times.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  McCain economic advisor, Phil Gramm having said in July that the U.S. is facing only a mental recession and that the nation itself is a nation of whiners.

Often overshadowed since Denver, the Democratic running mate seizing on those remarks today.  America, meet Joe Biden, again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOE BIDEN, (D) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Don‘t tell me that the woman I recently met in Missouri, who worked for 13 years at the Chrysler minivan factory and then saw her job shipped up to Canada, don‘t tell me she‘s a whiner.  Don‘t tell me that the engineer who saw his job shipped overseas because the company was talking a tax break overseas instead of having tax break to stay, don‘t tell me he‘s a whiner.

These people worked hard.  These people did everything they were supposed to do.  These people are ready to work hard again.  Our job is to give them jobs so they can work hard again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  So, if you are John McCain and your economic adviser thinks Americans are whiners and you, yourself, have claimed this morning that the economy is still fundamentally strong, what do you do when that remark proves to be remarkably tone deaf?  You try to blame the Obama campaign for it.  No, I‘m not kidding.

At his afternoon stop in Orlando, Florida, Senator McCain attempted to claim that the, quote, “fundamentals of the economy” he had been talking about are American workers and that by attacking his statement, Senator Obama was attacking American workers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN:  The economic crisis is not the fault of the American people.  And my opponents may disagree, but those fundamentals, the American worker and their innovation, their entrepreneurship, the small business, those are the fundamentals of America and I think they are strong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Earlier tonight in Pueblo, Colorado, Senator Obama firing back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  I think it‘s good that Senator McCain is celebrating the American worker today.  But, it would have been nice, if over the last 26 years that he‘s been in Washington, that he actually stood up for them, once in awhile.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA:  It would have been nice if he didn‘t vote against the minimum wage 19 times or if he didn‘t vote to privatize Social Security and hand it over to Wall Street.  Senator McCain, you can‘t run away from your words and you can‘t run away from your record.  When it comes to this economy, you serve firmly with George Bush in a failed economic theory.  And what you‘re offering the American people is more of the same.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Let‘s turn to Paul Krugman, op-ed columnist for the “New York Times,” professor of economics at Princeton University.

Dr. Krugman, thank you for some of your time tonight.

PAUL KRUGMAN, NEW YORK TIMES:  Hi, there.

OLBERMANN:  The fundamentals of the U.S. economy, in saying he meant the American workers are the fundamentals of the economy, did Senator McCain reinforce his previous observation about himself that economics is not necessarily his strong suit?

KRUGMAN:  I have to say, you know, I guess history is not his strong suit because that‘s Herbert Hoover.

OLBERMANN:  Wow.

KRUGMAN:  I mean, how is it that 75 years later, Republicans still can‘t stop themselves from, you know, quoting Herbert Hoover about how things are OK?  I was—this was just stunning.  I mean, it was, you know, that, look (ph), ad lived.  I mean, I think that was—this is what he really believes.  Unbelievable.  I was shocked.

OLBERMANN:  So, he believes the economy is strong and the Bush

administration seems to be betting that the financial system can handle the

collapse of the Lehman Brothers and whatever is to follow without any

intervention or any major intervention at this point.  How -

KRUGMAN:  That‘s not quite right, actually.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

KRUGMAN:  Because what they‘re doing is they‘re actually throwing a lot of money at the financial system in general.

OLBERMANN:  OK.

KRUGMAN:  And it wasn‘t specific.  So, actually, the taxpayers are being put on the hook.  There‘s been a lot of moral hazard, as they say, being created.  That‘s why the Dow fell only 500 points today because there‘s a lot of money being pushed out that is ultimately taxpayer money.

OLBERMANN:  So, when Governor Palin said today, it was good to see that the government was not going to come in and spend any taxpayer money on Lehman Brothers, she was misinformed?

KRUGMAN:  Yes.  I mean, it wasn‘t Lehman, they know (ph), it was sort of what the left hand took away the right hand push onto the roulette table.  So, it was—unfortunately, it‘s not true.  I mean, we are actually—we are seeing a socialization of risk.  I‘m not sure there‘s no alternative (ph) because the deregulation policies pushed us into this.  But no, risk is still being socialized.  It‘s just they decided that Lehman was not going to be the place where they make the stand.

OLBERMANN:  The senator and the Republican campaign obviously selling themselves throughout the campaign as a break from the Bush administration on the subject of the economy and this sub-subject gigantic, disastrous black holes opening up in the middle of the economy.  Is McCain actually a difference from Bush?

KRUGMAN:  No, if he had said, at any point, look, you know, we need some regulation, we need some policing, if there was—I‘ve actually been trying to see if I can come up with anyone sort of on the Republican side who has said anything, who said anything about the housing bubble, who warned about subprime.  You know, I can‘t see it.  The fact of the matter is he‘s—and you know, what he says is, well, we‘re going to clean up Washington, and then I‘ll clean the markets.  I don‘t understand.

OLBERMANN:  And, the one connection, the one historical connection between Senator McCain and perhaps some of the things that set up the dominos that seem to be falling in the economy right now, his formerly official economic advisor now, simply the guy who draft his economic plan, Phil Gramm, the guy who coined this term about whiners in the nation and the mental recession—did his role, when he was the chair of the banking committee, did he, in fact, set up some of those dominos and some of the current crises?

KRUGMAN:  Yes.  I mean, if you‘re going to ask who is responsible for the, you know, which people in official capacity would bear the most responsibility for getting us into this mess it would be, number one, Alan Greenspan, and then, number two, Phil Gramm.  He‘s at the core of this.  I mean, it‘s—and by the way, whatever they may say officially, everybody knows that if McCain becomes president, Phil Gramm is, the odds in favor (ph) for him to be the treasury secretary.

OLBERMANN:  What would that do to the American economy, do you think?

KRUGMAN:  Oh, boy.  Well, you know, under current management, Hank Paulson, I have some sympathy for, the (INAUDIBLE) works for the czar, he can only do so much given the guy he works for.  But boy, Phil Gramm, you know, Ben Bernanke, I think Hank Paulson understand that we could manage to have another Great Depression if we work at it hard enough.  I think Phil Gramm might be just the guy to do it.

OLBERMANN:  Continuing -

KRUGMAN:  Sorry, that‘s a bit strong, but -

OLBERMANN:  But if it‘s necessary, so what if it‘s strong.

KRUGMAN:  Yes.

OLBERMANN:  The last point here.  Even in a McCain world, in that sort of bubble, where nobody in Arizona gets to buy a Budweiser without the OK of the missus, is that economy strong?

KRUGMAN:  I actually haven‘t looked at Arizona.   But, look, I mean, there are no—aside from, you know, people selling oil and the repo trade, I think, is doing really, really well.  That business is good these days.

But no, I mean, this is an economy which if this is not an economy in

recession, then the problem is with our definition of recession.  This is -

this is a lousy economy.  Unemployment is spiking, industrial production way done, according to the figures released today.  And the financial thing is got, you know, everybody is scared.

OLBERMANN:  Paul Krugman of the “New York Times” and Princeton University, as always, great thanks for your time, and more especially, your insight tonight, sir.  Thank you.

KRUGMAN:  Thanks so much.

OLBERMANN:  For more on the politics of this, time now to bring in our own Eugene Robinson, associate editor and columnist at the “Washington Post.”

Good evening, Gene.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  If this election ends up being as it often has threatened to be a referendum on the economy, is that ultimately good news or bad news for Senator “The fundamentals are strong” McCain?

ROBINSON:  Well, I think, you have to say it‘s bad news for McCain and probably as good as it gets for Obama.  I mean, you know, McCain has—he famously did say he doesn‘t really get this whole economics thing and to come out and say the fundamentals are strong on a day when the Dow, you know, as Dow is just inching over the cliff and heading down.  It‘s just, you know, he doesn‘t get the economy.  I think we can safely say he was right.

So, I think that‘s good for Obama and bad for McCain.

OLBERMANN:  And you just heard Paul Krugman there, comparing that language to language that Herbert Hoover used.  Herbert Hoover is the antichrist of American economics, even people who been through sixth grade history, and then gone home, know what Herbert Hoover did and did not do or at least the party to “did or did not do,” and what happened to him politically.  There‘s no greater millstone you can hang around a presidential candidate‘s neck, is there?

ROBINSON:  I can‘t think of one.  If you would think that, you know, if you were going to be a Republican candidate for president, they ought to give you a book of Herbert Hoover saying, so you can study it and work hard at never saying, you know, anything that he ever said, especially about the economy.  I mean, it‘s, you know, it was remarkably, I thought remarkably tone deaf to the reality of what‘s happening today and what‘s been happening for months in people‘s lives.

OLBERMANN:  But now this turns into something political and talk about the tone deafness and the attempt to pivot away from it.  To distance himself from his own remarks, John McCain comes back and says, “No, no, I meant when I said the fundamentals of the economy, I meant the people.  And so, when Obama attacked my remark, he is attacking the people.”

We saw political larger domain, slide of hand here, did we not?  Does it always work by simply, by redefining what the other guy said?  I mean, how far could it be taken before people go, “Wait a minute”?

ROBINSON:  Yes, I mean, you know, come on, look—some of the stuff the McCain campaign has been doing and throwing up in the past couple of weeks is, you don‘t probably have to say is diabolically clever.  But this isn‘t diabolically, it‘s not even clever.  They‘re just making stuff up at this point.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

ROBINSON:  I mean, you know, fundamentals meant the American workers and how dare he insult the American workers.  I don‘t think, you know, I don‘t think there are people who will not be able to see through, but it‘s just an all through transparent attempt to kind of change the subject and just throw stuff out there and make everybody forget that McCain said a dumb thing.

OLBERMANN:  Right.  And again, at sixth, now at sixth grade grammar. 

Nobody has eve used the word fundamentals to describe people.

ROBINSON:  Right.

OLBERMANN:  Fundamentalists maybe, but not fundamentals.

ROBINSON:  You‘re not getting a check on that one.  No, no, you‘re getting an “X” on that one.

OLBERMANN:  And last point, did we just reintroduce Senator Biden into this campaign?  Did this just revivify him?

ROBINSON:  Again, it seems to have, doesn‘t it?  I mean, it‘s certainly, where has he been, you know.  We understood that he was going to kind of go after McCain in a pretty tough way on the economy today, and presumably, he‘s going to continue that campaign.  It would be interesting to see where he does it.  Is he going to stay and, you know, and he going to do it in the northeast and some of these swing states?  But, yes, he seemed full of new energy today.

OLBERMANN:  That‘s his topic.  Gene Robinson of MSNBC and, of course, the “Washington Post,” thanks as ever, Gene.

ROBINSON:  Good to talk to you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Although Governor Palin has fought her way back into the news with the revelation that the down-to-earth politician of the people installed in her governor‘s mansion a tanning bed.

And when you are Republican and Karl Rove says you are lying in your campaign commercials, you are in trouble.  That means you, John McCain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Sarah Palin‘s political headquarters like any big city machine, Tammany Hall maybe, only with a tanning bed.  There‘s no joke there, she really put one in the governor‘s mansion.

New Electoral College map from Chuck Todd tonight.

And in Bushed: The Republicans resume trying to terrorize people into voting for them, only this time, one of the ads actually has McCain‘s and Palin‘s names on it.

That‘s next.  This is COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  It‘s not just those great journalistic institutions, the “New York Times” and the ladies of “The View” anymore.

Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: Even “fixed news” and Karl Rove are calling out the McCain campaign for lying.  The senior senator from Arizona held a series of town halls in Florida today, continuing to try to paint himself as somehow different from the current president.

The Democratic vice presidential hopeful Biden, somehow escaped from the cone of silence the media built around him to unveil the Obama campaign‘s latest nickname for its opponent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN:  Now, just as George Herbert Walker Bush was nicknamed “Bush 41,” and his son was nicknamed “Bush 43,” John McCain could easily become known as “Bush 44.”

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  And it is because Senator McCain is so closely affiliated with the current administration that the Obama campaign suggests that the McCain campaign resorts to lies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OBAMA CAMPAIGN AD)

OBAMA:  I‘m Barack Obama and I approve this message.

MCCAIN:  I will not take the low road to the high office in this land.

NARRATOR:  What‘s happened to John McCain?  He‘s running the sleaziest ads ever.  Truly vile.  Dishonest smears that he repeats even after it‘s been exposed as a lie.  The truth be damned.  A disgraceful, dishonorable campaign.  After voting with Bush 90 percent of the time, proposing the same disastrous economic policies, it seems deception is all he has left.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  That is not just the Obama campaign calling out McCain for lying.  A FOX News anchor chastised McCain‘s spokesman Tucker Bounds for falsely accusing Obama of wanting to tax the middle-class.

(BGIN VIDEO CLIP, FOX NEWS)

TUCKER BOUNDS, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN:  You‘re giving him an enormous amount of a credit for a guy that has voted only to raise taxes in the United States Senate for now for him to make a new claim.  Now, keep in mind that during the Democratic primaries, he‘s run on tax increases on the middle class.

MEGYN KELLY, FOX ANCHOR:   No, no.  Let‘s stay on point.  I‘m not giving him credit.  I‘m saying what the independent analysts say.  They say that claim is false and if that‘s false, why would John McCain do that, Tucker?

Why wouldn‘t he just level with voters and say, “Look, he‘s going to raise taxes on the wealthy or whatever you consider somebody who‘d be making more than $250,000 and that‘s going to have a trickle down effect that may not be good for the middle class.”?  But why say he‘s going to raise taxes on the middle-class when he‘s not?

BOUNDS:  Well, his record said that he will.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Megyn Kelly, you have unsuspected depth.  Even Karl Rove after accusing Obama of running ads that, quote, “go too far,‘ had similar criticism for McCain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FOX NEWS SUNDAY)

KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH ADVISOR:  McCain has gone in his ads, similarly gone one step too far and sort of attributing to Obama things that are, you know, beyond the 100 percent truth test.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  See (ph), look there, but his head almost came off.

I‘m  joined now by Chris Kofinis, Democratic strategist, former communications director for the John Edwards campaign.

Chris, thanks for your time tonight.

CHRIS KOFINIS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  All right.  Read those two clips for us.  There were no injections of truth serum in either of those cases with Ms. Kelly or Mr.  Rove.  Is that campaign preparing its supporters through a back pedal? 

What was going on there?

KOFINIS:  Yes.  I think there are red sirens that are starting to go off in the McCain campaign, and, you know, today‘s comment about the economy being fundamentally sound, I think, was kind of the icing on the cake.  I mean, I think, the McCain foolishly ignored the fact that you can‘t go out there and lie again and again and again and think that no one is going to call you out on it.  It‘s just not reality.

So, I think we should start preparing for the fact that the McCain campaign is going to go out there and say, you know, we really didn‘t mean to lie.  We actually meant to run an honorable campaign.  Of course, that would be a lie, but nonetheless, I think, the back-pedaling is going to start and it‘s going to start pretty quickly.

OLBERMANN:  But where is and why is Karl Rove coming from and coming to this?  What is his—what could his motive be since we know he is both a commentator and working for the McCain campaign simultaneously?

KOFINIS:  Well, when—you know, Karl Rove is a tough political operative.  So, when he says you‘ve gone too far, you‘ve gone too far.  I think there actually is, you know, two key points that are kind of driving this.  One, I think he‘s a good read of the public and the media and what he‘s seen in terms of this blowback is a real danger for the McCain campaign, that they‘re losing credibility and no matter what they say in the coming weeks isn‘t going to fly.

And then the other part of this, and I think this is where it‘s really interesting, that, you know, the McCain‘s dirty tactics may have backfired.  You know, this Palin bubble that had been building and building, I think that it‘s burst and the irony of it, and I think, is the McCain campaign, with its tactics is the one that burst it because they changed their story from one that was actually positive for their campaign to one that was incredibly negative to their campaign—one about their lies, their deception, and their misstatements.  That a stunning statement and I think that‘s what‘s really kind of driving these concerns.

OLBERMANN:  I would assume there‘s never been a political campaign that has gone 100 percent accurate.  We‘ll call it accurate rather than lie versus truth.

KOFINIS:  Right.

OLBERMANN:  But, degree really does matter because if you tell 300 lies and only one person notices each of your lies, maybe you may get away with 10 lies, if you get away or try to get away with 300 lies, you got 300 different people each walking around and saying you lied about this.  It‘s volume, right?

KOFINIS:  It is volume.  I mean, the McCain campaign right now is suffering from what I call a “farmhouse thinking.”  You know, they think they can go out there and say stinking lies, pretends it‘s the truth and that no one is going to notice that it‘s a lie.  I mean, it‘s just not realistic.

And what‘s happening now because we live in a 24/7 media cycle, is that every word that you say of the candidate, or every statement you put out as a campaign, is going to get dissected.  And what they have done and it‘s not simply just exaggerations, they‘ve been gone beyond the pail.  And when go out there and say lie after lie after lie on some of the most fundamentals issues in this country, you lose credibility.

And this campaign is really—and this is good for the Democrats—the McCain campaign, I think, is in a dangerous spiral right now.  And they have no one to blame but themselves.

OLBERMANN:  And don‘t forget, the word fundamentals refers to the American workers, it doesn‘t mean anything else.

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  Democrat strategist, Chris Kofinis, as always, Chris, thank you for your time.

KOFINIS:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Ballpark for sale.  Want to buy an entire dugout?  How about the “H” in Shea Stadium?  The price on that is $5,000.

And it‘s Rupert Murdoch on my side against Bill O‘Reilly.  Watch for ice on the equator.  Worst persons up ahead.

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

Number three: Unitary executive-gate.  You know the drill Mr. Bush has since, at least, September 12th, 2001, thought he was closer to being king and president.  This is disguised by that pleasant euphuism, the unitary executive.  Guess what?  Americans think it‘s nonsense.  The “Associated Press” and the National Constitution Center have told us, 2/3 of Americans oppose strengthening the presidency by altering the balance of power among these three branches of government, even if it‘s for national security purpose, even if doing so would strengthen the economy.

Number two: Stop giving me such good material-gate.  The president‘s fundraiser in Florida on Thursday for controversial Republican congressional candidate Tom Rooney has been moved from the home of John Boswell.  Mr. Boswell and his Boswell House Ministries is under investigation by the IRS.  So, the Florida GOP has moved the president‘s fundraiser to Jupiter.  OK, Jupiter, Florida, a private home in Jupiter, Florida.

And number one: GOT-gate.  That would be “grand old terrorism” party founded by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and if you think this country‘s disgust with counterterrorism being used as, well, terrorism against voting Americans, has sunk in with the Republicans, you‘d be wrong.  They are polluting the nation with more neocon pornography today.  Hundreds of thousands of copies of DVD have been or will be distributed as paid for advertising supplements in newspapers in 14 swing-voting states, from Florida to New Mexico.

he disc is of a lunatic fringe, right-wing film called “Obsession:

Radical Islam‘s War against the West.”  It was originally shown on where else—“fixed news” in 2006.  A year later, it was screened on college campuses by David Horowitz, the hysteric and faker (ph).  In it, scenes of Muslim children are intercut with Nazi rallies.  The organization behind the hate DVD has endorsed Senator McCain.

Also, from outside the McCain campaign event in Jacksonville, Florida today, you‘re seeing it, a sign in the yard called and created by a group called “The Ronald Reagan Republican Assembly of Central Florida.”  It really is a McCain-Palin sign, complete with an image of the World Trade Center exploding and message, “Keep America safe.”

So, keep that message in mind whenever you think of Senator McCain or Governor Palin, won‘t you?  Remind yourself that when we were attacked, the government that led us down was Republican and that their new candidate has a secret plan to capture the guy who masterminded 9/11 but he won‘t tell anybody about it until we elect him president.

What?  That isn‘t the point of the new ad?  Wow, they‘re going to need a new ad.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Bests in a moment.  Who had the nerve to call her Sarah Plain?  First on this date in 1889, one of America‘s favorite wits was born, Robert Benchly (ph), writer, editor, unlikely movie star of the ‘30s and assassin of pretense.  “There are two kinds of people in the world,” he once observed, “those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don‘t.” 

Let‘s play Oddball. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  We begin at Shea Stadium in Flushing Queens, in New York.  This winter this will be torn down.  The New York Mets will move over to City Field.  Before that, everything must go!  The Migrave (ph) Group is selling over 2,000 Shea Stadium fixtures and trinkets, from trainers tables to stadium napkin holders.  The list is exhaustive, includes bargains such as the bull pen phone.  Pretend your the coach who just got the call to warm-up Lois Ayallah (ph) and Dwanner Sanchez (ph) and then Scott Shoenweis (ph) and Joe Schmidt and finally Brian Stokes. 

Only 1,995, as in a thousand nine hundred ninety five dollars.  Need a cozy place to spit freely and bash water coolers?  How about the entire visitors‘ dugout, your price 50,000 dollars.  Act now and get the home dugout for just another 100 grand.  The outfield walls, the retired numbers of Casey Stengel, Tom Seaver and the others, the turn stiles, the lockers, the managers desk, all for sale. 

You say you want foul poles?  We‘ve got two of them for the low, low price of 25,000 dollars each.  Lord knows how you‘ll get them home on the subway.  The public sale begins sometime after the last Mets home game.  Please, no early birds. 

To Pittsburgh, where their coffee is not fresh ground.  It‘s fresh ground hog.  This is what happens when you jam a venti head into a grande hole.  Or it could be just be a Pirates fan.  Sorry.  Photographer for the NBC affiliate WPXI happened to have his camera handy when the ground hog with the coffee cup stuck on its head wandered by.  Blinded and befuddled, the rodent pin balled around a construction sight before he saw his venti shadow and he disappeared behind some heavy equipment. 

The camera crew later observed an empty cup behind the machinery, suggesting that the critter either wiggled free or he was sucked into a black hole. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  New electoral college numbers and a new gizmo to show them to you on.  Chuck Todd is next. 

It‘s confirmed now, one of those down-to-Earth, non-elitist candidates installed a tanning bed in her governor‘s mansion.  Can you guess which what?  These stories ahead, first time for COUNTDOWN‘s top three best persons in the world.

Number three, best domestic dispute, Naomi Masuda of Port St. Lucie, Florida, accused of throwing a vase at her boyfriend and hitting him in the nose.  This was during an argument over his porn collection while he was watching his favorite TV show the E! Entertainment Network‘s “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”  Wait a minute, somebody watches “Keeping Up With the Kardashians?” 

Number two, best cliches illustrated, Deputy Daniel Foote of the Martin County Sheriff‘s Office in Stewart, Florida.  The deputy was removing a .38 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver from the trunk of a driver he had pulled over when the weapon discharged, striking him in the leg.  Thus did Deputy Foote shoot himself in the leg. 

And number one, best typo—we‘ll identify the culprits in a moment.  But a prominent political website has slurred the inviolable Republican VP candidate.  “Beyond that, Crowley‘s wrong, Plain did stop the Bridge to Nowhere.”  Plain?  Sarah Plain.  That must be a reference to her looks.  That‘s sexism.  Oh, wait, this was in the conservative “National Review” online.  Forget it then, it must just have been a typo. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  As he has admitted, the economy is not his strongest subject.  So, too, have numbers not been Senator McCain‘s best friend, final numbers anyway.  The campaign claimed a fire marshal estimated the crowd at its rally five days ago at Fairfax City, Virginia at 23,000 people, but the city‘s fire marshal‘s office says it has made no such estimates.  Reporters there say it was closer to 8,000.  Our third story in the COUNTDOWN, other estimates the McCain campaign hopes does not undergo similar shrinkage, estimates of the electoral college votes. 

Obama with 233 projected votes and John McCain at 227.  As NBC political director Chuck Todd will explain presently.  The changes are measurable from the totals to new math in Florida and New Mexico, and the fact that what were 18 battleground states are seeing dramatic shifts.  As promised, here‘s Chuck in Washington deployed behind the new surface machine.  It must be hell in there.  How you holding up? 

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR:  I‘m hanging in there.  I‘m not inside the machine just yet.  I don‘t think that that‘s what NBC is going to do to me yet.  Here‘s the old map.  This is what we were last week, 228 to 200.  Here‘s the new one, our little crystal ball here of the White House, very predictive here.  Let me show you the changes as you pointed out.  Two big ones in McCain‘s favor, 27 electoral votes in Florida.  This is the Palin bomb.  We‘re seeing some of these what I wall I would call lean—they were toss up states but they still always wanted to tilt Republican.  Two weeks ago, we saw Missouri sort of move in that direction.  This week we see Florida. 

One state that did move in Obama‘s direction was New Mexico.  That was one, frankly, that maybe that maybe we should have had in the Obama column a couple weeks sooner.  I want to point out a couple other states.  Washington and Oregon had been dark blue for months, frankly, in our board.  The saw the Palin effect bounce up there in the Pacific northwest.  Double digit leads went down to single digit leads.  We‘ve seen a Minnesota poll show it close to tied, one actually has it tied.  Others have very small leads for Obama.  I want to wait another week or so to see if this is a Palin bump and if it‘s going to start subsiding.  You see it like a tide, you start seeing the receding of the tide.  Or is it going to be long lasting?  If it is, then we could move on Minnesota.  We could end up moving in Oregon. 

Right now, it feels like this is what we‘re dealing with as far the map.  It could be this map for quite some time, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Do you have any sense of how to measure that shelf life?  Is it really just a question of looking at the polls to determine how long the shelf life lasts for the Palin bump? 

TODD:  I‘ll tell you.  In the 24-hour news cycle the shelf life—Tom Brokaw likes to say every poll has a half-life of about 20 minutes.  I think this new economy story could absolutely wipe off the Palin story.  It just moves it to page two.  You know what, let‘s see.  McCain and Palin are getting back together.  They‘re going to be going this trip through the Midwest.  You want me to keep drawing on here?  I have a little John Madden in me.  I can‘t help myself. 

Let‘s see how those rallies go.  Will they get—whether it‘s an inflated number or not, they have been getting thousands of people to show up for McCain/Palin rallies, when before they were only getting hundreds. 

OLBERMANN:  You mentioned the economy, the el foldos under way and we hope it‘s the last.  But the expectation is certainly there will be other adjustments to the economy, if not actual other Lehman Brothers to go out.  What, if anything, specifically on that map could tip to or tip back towards Obama because of this lack of confidence in the economy? 

TODD:  Look, I think there‘s four states in particular, actually five where the economy could, if it pops in Obama‘s direction, you would see it quickly.  I think the three obvious in the Rust Belt, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, particularly Michigan and Ohio.  I‘d throw in Indiana.  This state leaned red, but has had a beating on manufacturing jobs. 

Then I‘d take a look at Nevada and Florida, two states that have been hit hard on the foreclosure front.  And this is what a lot of this credit crunch that is hitting Wall Street has to do with sort of over-leveraged people on their homes or maybe second homes, investment properties.  Nevada and Florida, two places where people do a lot of investment properties.  That‘s where you could see if there is a shift in the economy and it goes toward Obama‘s direction. 

Obama has not figured out how to connect on the economy the way Bill Clinton did in the ‘90s.  We haven‘t seen that yet.  If you see that shift, those would be the sort of five states I‘d look on, those three in the rust belt, Florida and Nevada. 

OLBERMANN:  Paul Krugman just analogized what Mr. McCain said today to Herbert Hoover.  So Obama may not need to connect on anything if that‘s the language. 

TODD:  And the expectation is they‘re going to amplify this and we may see that phrase in a TV ad soon.  You look at the speed of these two campaigns.  The McCain campaign might already have the TV ad out.  We‘ll see by the morning—the assumption is by the morning Obama‘s campaign now is pivoting a lot quicker these days.  We‘ll see if we see the TV ad with the fundamentals quote in it. 

OLBERMANN:  Chuck Todd on the new gizmo, which is not, despite appearances, a giant iPhone on its side. 

TODD:  Don‘t say that.  Microsoft services it.  We‘ll be in trouble. 

OLBERMANN:  We‘re in trouble as it is.  Relax. 

TODD:  In the tank.  All right, Steve Jobs on line one. 

OLBERMANN:  Our thanks, Chuck.  Maybe get a phone out of it. 

Guess which one of the four people on the national tickets has had a tanning bed installed in their governor‘s mansion. 

And Rupert Murdoch gives away my secret to success in worst persons. 

But first our newest feature, the most outrageous or untrue thing said by or on behalf of Republican presidential nominee John McCain, McCain in the membrane.  A quick one tonight; the Associated Press asked the senator in Jacksonville today about Senator Obama and Governor Palin.  Question, did he call her a pig?  McCain‘s answer, no. 

No?  You can‘t mean that!  You‘re saying he didn‘t call her a pig or allude to her like that, then Senator McCain, you‘re saying the entire last week of umbrage and allegations of sexism was all just part of a naked, cynical, manipulative—oh, yes, right.  The John McCain phony outrage threat level is orange. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The would be vice president who installed a tanning bed in the governor‘s mansion in Alaska; the Sarah Palin story keeps getting better and not for the Republicans.  Plus, there‘s breaking news about trooper gate.  That‘s ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s number two story, tonight‘s worst persons in the world.

The bronze to Sean Hannity from Fixed News, questioning Senator Obama‘s qualifications to be commander in chief by criticizing Obama‘s plan to end the Pentagon pipe dream, or to slow it down, anyway.  Quoting Hannity, “slow development of future combat systems.”  In July, Senator McCain‘s budget guy told the “Washington Post” that if elected McCain would cancel the program known as Future Combat Systems. 

Our runner-up, Bill-O the Clown.  An advanced copy of his latest book, “A Bold Fresh Piece of Inanity”—I‘m sorry, “A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity” has been obtained by the “New York Post.”  Hard to believe, I know.  In it, per gossip columnist Cindy Adams, is Bill‘s quote mantra.  His mantra.  “Living well is not the best revenge.  Succeeding in your career and humiliating your critics is.”  You read Republican talking points on television for a living and you reveal yourself as a hypocrite roughly every 12 minutes.  So succeeding in your career is out. 

Since your critics make millions off criticizing you, humiliating your critics is out, too.  Better luck next life? 

But our winner, Rupert Murdoch, wading into the fray in the pages of “Esquire.”  “Keith Olbermann is trying to make a business out of trying to destroy Bill O‘Reilly.”  Arghh.  “He‘s done certain things to Bill O‘Reilly that I believe are way over the line.  I think that‘s bad behavior.  But it‘s OK for him to criticize Bill.”  Arghh.  “and Bill shouldn‘t be so sensitive.  He should ignore that.” 

Rupert, what are you thinking?  Why are you telling him?  I mean, I know you and I have had words.  I mean, I know you think I‘m crazy and you know that I know that you‘ve ruined one country and you‘re trying to ruin another country.  But I gave you value for money launching Fox Sports Net.  And now you‘re telling O‘Reilly to ignore my bait, the bait that the poor dumb fish takes every time and—and you call yourself a businessman? 

Rupert Murdoch, arghh, today‘s worst person in the world!

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  You like ice cream?  Would you like to have it every meal for two weeks?  Everybody eventually would get sick of it, especially if it turned out it wasn‘t really ice cream but just frozen paint.  Our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, hence the dismissive phrase flavor of the month, and hence its applicability to Governor Sarah Palin. 

Among the latest pieces of frozen paint, she appointed a high school classmate to the top agricultural position in her state after that applicant cited her childhood love of cows.  And just confirmed tonight, she‘s installed a tanning bed in the governor‘s mansion. 

After Tina Fey portrayed her on “Saturday Night Live,” a McCain supporter called Miss Fey‘s performance, quote, sexist even though Miss Fey, Miss Palin and the adviser, Carly Fiorina, are all women. 

The vice presidential candidate campaigned solo in Colorado today as more reports emerged of her governing hallmarks like cronyism over competence.  As governor, Palin filled many key government positions with high school and childhood loyalists, according to the “New York Times”  specifically appointing to state attorney general, a person virtually unknown to the legal community with no supervisory position. 

Sound familiar to you?  How about secrecy over transparency.  Her inner circle established a practice of using private e-mail accounts, classic Karl Rove, an assistant said, it would be, quote, confidential and not subject to subpoena.  With that classic us versus then mentality infusing it all, as mayor of Wasilla, she fired a city attorney who had issued a stop work order on the home of the campaign supporter.  She fired the museum director to the evident delight of a local and vocal conservative.  And when she was running for governor and a reporter noted that Palin had improperly conducted campaign business from the mayor‘s office, Palin reportedly replied, quote, “yes, what I did was wrong.  Then she issued a press release accusing the local reporter of smearing her.” 

Thus when Miss Palin becomes parody with Tina Fey‘s impeccable performance on “Saturday Night Live,” it is barely one step removed from Miss Palin‘s parody of self, again today repeating her bridge to nowhere lie.  That‘s another 100 dollars I owe.  Meantime, the former Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monnegan told ABC News Palin was not telling the truth in the recent televised interview when she asserted that neither she nor her husband pressured Monnegan into firing a state trooper. 

Tonight, just in, a McCain campaign spokesperson says Governor Palin will not speak to the state investigator hired by the state of Alaska in the trooper-gate story, the so-called trooper-gate story, even though there‘s no subpoena against her.  He just wants to talk to her before the election in November, just to talk. 

At this point bring in “Newsweek Magazine” senior Washington correspondent and political columnist, our own Howard Fineman.  Howard, good evening.

HOWARD FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK”:  Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Trooper-gate is a Democratic witch hunt, according to Governor Palin.  I‘m trying to figure out how that works, since the committee is five people and there are three Republicans on it. 

FINEMAN:  The detail I love is that the deciding vote to subpoena the first dude, her husband, was cast by a Republican state senator named Charles Huggins, who is from her hometown of Wasilla.  And he left a moose hunting trip and arrived at the committee hearing in camo so he could cast the vote.  And he said there was a lot of sort of duck paddling going on under the water.  He said let‘s get it out there in the light. 

I think there are some Republicans who would like to know about this also.  It certainly plays in politics, but this didn‘t start out as a Democratic witch hunt. 

OLBERMANN:  I‘m maxed out on hunting references and analogies.  Rachel Maddow will have a lot more on this story as it evolves in the next couple of minutes.  As usual, there are 19 Palin balls in the air.  The “New York Times” piece, is there a perceived disconnect coming here between her so-called brand, this renegade maverick, clean everything up, and what borders on Tammany Hall North politics?  Or is that too subtle for voters? 

FINEMAN:  I don‘t think it‘s too subtle.  I think voters are on a crash course to learn everything they can about Sarah Palin, just as the media is.  The McCain campaign and conservatives dismiss it all as huffing and puffing by Obama camp followers and the press.  But all everybody is trying to do is just figure out who this lady is and how she operates.  And the fact is she may think of herself as a maverick and she may be one, but the way she‘s operated is in the best tradition of old big city politics, where, you know, what‘s yours is yours and what the other guy‘s is yours.  And you keep your friends close and your enemies closer.  That‘s what she‘s doing. 

She was known for her personal style of politics, for her reliance on loyal people, people from her high school, people she had grown up with.  I mean, the joke around Alaska was, you look at her high school yearbook to find out who is in her administration.  And that‘s the way she‘s operated.  And that‘s—people should know that. 

OLBERMANN:  All right.  But now the visceral stuff, the imagy kind of stuff.  Like it or not, the country responded to the elitist angle they were playing on Obama and the 400 dollar haircut on John Edwards.  That stuck.  What self respecting hockey mom governator wants to get caught within 100 miles of her own tanning bed? 

FINEMAN:  In defense of Alaska, I will say that there‘s a lot of night up there.  And I know from spending a fair amount of time up there that everybody goes to tanning beds all the time.  But not everybody has one in their own home.  So it‘s not quite as crazy as it sounds.  So you could argue that she could go to—like everybody else to the strip small to the tanning bed. 

OLBERMANN:  How about a sun lamp if it‘s a question, or just extra lights in the house?  This is a tanning bed in your own house. 

FINEMAN:  I don‘t think—as I said, tanning beds are common.  Everybody goes.  Whether you should have one in your own house at public—whether it is or is not at public expense is another legitimate question. 

OLBERMANN:  Apparently it was not.  But let me ask you in the time we have left too much.  Carl Fiorina used the word sexism about the Tina Fey cameo on “Saturday Night Live.”  How much more line do they have in this reel before the fishing rod breaks off in their hands? 

FINEMAN:  I think it‘s enough.  I think “Saturday Night Live” has sort of been the accidental arbiter of the media and media coverage.  I think Amy Poehler playing Hillary Clinton had a pretty good line, which was to the media grow a pair or I‘ll lend you mine.  So I think that should be the advice we all follow as we frantically try to figure out who Sarah Palin really is before election day. 

OLBERMANN:  Passed on without comment.  Howard Fineman of “Newsweek” and MSNBC.  Thank you, Howard, have a good night. 

FINEMAN:  OK, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 1,965 day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

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