updated 9/19/2008 12:24:19 PM ET 2008-09-19T16:24:19

Guests: Richard Wolffe, Eugene Robinson, Rachel Maddow, James Moore, Allen Raymond

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

Failing (ph) water: Obama down by two in last weeks "New York Times" Poll, Obama now up by five in this week's "New York Times" Poll-a seven-point swing in seven days. This as Wall Street hemorrhages another 400 points and WaMu Bank wobbles and Hotline Poll says the economy is the issue -- and McCain morphs into Herbert Hoover.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R-AZ) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I reject the doom and gloom that says our nation is in decline. America's best days are ahead of us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Man, I hope so.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D-IL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And now he tells us that he's the one who's going to take on the old boys' network. The old boys' network? In the McCain campaign, that's called a staff meeting.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Speaking of meetings, why most McCain events are invitation-only. Welcome to General Motors, senator.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WORKERS: Obama, '08. Obama, '08.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Troopergate: The obscure family feud is suddenly big enough for Senator McCain to dispatch a former top official in the Justice Department to Alaska to try to shut it down. What are they hiding?

McCain in the Membrane: She says she's an oil expert because Alaska supplies 20 percent of American energy. He says she's an oil expert because Alaska supplies of American oil. Who is lying? They both are.

Worsts: Rupert endorses the economic down-swing. "Tough times are good for big companies."

And: Bill-O the Clown's dramatic statement, "I'm not going to be the first lady."

And: From "I Carly" to "Bye, Carly." McCain advisor Carly Fiorina

said this -

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARLY FIORINA, MCCAIN ECONOMIC ADVISOR: Well, I don't think John McCain could run a major corporation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Now, a more senior McCain advisor says Carly will now disappear.

All that and more: Now on COUNTDOWN.

(on camera): Good evening. This is Wednesday, September 17th, 48 days until the 2008 presidential election.

McCain campaign manager Rick Davis declared the presidency would be decided on personalities and not the issues. Americans are tonight declaring otherwise. One issue paramount: The economy.

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: In heavy trading today, the Dow dropped 4 percent and Senator McCain dropped 7 percent.

The Dow Jones closed down by another 450 points roughly. The market is less than comforted by last night's news of the government bailout of the insurance giant AIG. The Treasury announced today would be selling bonds for the Feds to assist in its lending efforts. And if that's not enough money, the Fed might have to print more.

Against that backdrop, should it be any surprise that nearly half of those voters surveyed by the "New York Times" and CBS News, believe the economy is the most important issue in this election. More voters are now having confidence in Senator Obama's ability to handle the economy than they do in Senator McCain's.

The fallout of the economic crisis, perhaps most keenly seen, though, in the latest horse race number, Obama is now leading by five. Last week, it had been McCain by two. That margin in both registered and likely voters.

And if you ever wondered what it might look like should a McCain campaign event be open to more than just carefully screened ticket-holders, especially if some of those non-ticket-holders just happen to be some of those "fundamentals of the U.S. economy," the workers, your chance came this afternoon on the assembly line of the GM plant in Lake Orion, Michigan.

At least five "fundamentals of the U.S. economy" were there. They were seen wearing an Obama shirt, Obama button, Obama sticker, another Obama shirt and another Obama button.

Time for Senator McCain to tell those fine fundamentals what they already know they haven't done.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: I reject the doom and gloom that says our nation is in decline. America's best days are ahead of us. I want to the great employees here, I want to assure that I have faith and confidence that they're the greatest workers and backbone and the fundamental of America's economy. It's not your problem or fault.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: OK, thanks.

As for how it ended, we resume the McCain event already in progress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: Thanks.

(APPLAUSE)

(CROWD CHANTING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Senator Obama of Obama '08 making the case in Nevada this afternoon that his opponent's attempts at reform need to begin inside his own campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Yesterday, John McCain actually said that if he's president, he'll take on, and I quote, "the old boys' network in Washington." I'm not making this up. This is somebody who has been in Congress for 26 years, who put seven of the most powerful Washington lobbyists in charge of his campaign.

And now he tells us that he is the one who's going to take on the old boys' network. The old boys' network? In the McCain campaign that's called a staff meeting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Time now to call in our own Richard Wolffe, also, of course, senior White House correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine.

Richard, good evening.

We lost contact with Richard, or can you hear me?

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I can hear you.

OLBERMANN: All right. There you are.

WOLFFE: Can you hear me?

OLBERMANN: Yes. Now, we got it together.

Some of the other numbers in that "New York Times" Poll tonight, white women now for Obama by two points which sounds like a virtual tie and it is, but last week, it had been McCain by 19. Did the economic crisis just get in the way of the McCain plan to "Palin" his way to the White House?

WOLFFE: Well, I think we're seeing a couple things. First of all, the swing to McCain was exaggerated. That 19-point lead among white women wasn't actually tracked by many of the polls. It really came out of one, which was an ABC number and the movement in not just the CBS Poll, but in a bunch of others, has showed the same patent, which is a gradual shift away from McCain and Palin, a deflation of the bubble. And that's normal because we've seen in other elections that post-convention, these bubbles tend to deflate.

Remember that when Ferraro was picked by Mondale, they went up by 14 points before that bubble declined. And then you have other stories encroaching in. And I think there was a tone shift in the coverage, in the tenor of the debate, and the way it was covered in the media. It really starting just before the 9/11 anniversary, that forum that both the candidates had. And beyond that, the economy has encroaching a way that, I think, has just introduced a much more serious debate between the two people at the top of the ticket.

OLBERMANN: There's another interesting interior number there. Voters and enthusiasm harboring fewer reservations about Senator Obama; reservations about Senator McCain seem to be growing inside this CBS and "New York Times" Poll. There's been criticism throughout Obama not able to close the deal, that went through the primaries that's gone through the first part of the election. Is there evidence that he's erasing doubt in voters' minds or those numbers also reflective of the deflation of a post-convention bounce for the GOP?

WOLFFE: Well, remember-this has been part of the Obama strategy. They had come out of the convention period pushing very hard, spending money on hard hitting ads. You've got the candidate landing zingers everyday. This is an aggressive, robust, and sometimes, negative push by the Obama campaign. They are trying to raise doubts about McCain and it's been effective; in much the same way that McCain is spending money on negative advertising was effective.

Remember the bigger track of the Obama campaign was to spend money on field operation, on the grassroots effort that doesn't show up on the polls. Now, they're putting in into ads and spending heavily. It is moving the needle for them.

OLBERMANN: Is it their work or is this to some degree McCain's work in a negative sense in so much as-especially in the last couple of days, Obama has rolled out parts of an economic crisis resolution plan and John McCain has basically said, well, I don't need to tell you anything, just trust me, I'm the guy that can do this-is it more about McCain or is it more about Obama?

WOLFFE: Well, it's a combination-and McCain's blunders, his reputation of the fundamentals being sound, Carly Fiorina's comments yesterday, and, I think, the intensive coverage of Sarah Palin's record. None of these have given the McCain campaign any kind of break. There haven't really been any positive news after the first few days of Palin's announcement and the crowds there.

But, you know, that so much of Palin story that has been debunked over the last several days that the coverage has been very negative for them. I think, again, that has been an important factor combined with, obviously, the case that Obama is making.

OLBERMANN: And lastly, the videotape from the GM plant, those seem to be the sort of mistakes that a campaign makes when there is a crisis. Is that the sense with the McCain campaign-they put their guy out and as he's working his way through the crowd, an Obama chant begins?

WOLFFE: Yes. The problem here at this stage, especially going in the last few weeks of the general election, is the unpredictable moment. It will happen in the debate. It's happening now, especially with a campaign that is so tightly scripted as McCain and Palin have been in recent days. So, yes, this kind of moment can crystallize what people are already thinking.

OLBERMANN: Richard Wolffe of "Newsweek" and MSNBC, as always, great thanks. And particularly today, Happy Birthday.

WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: I'm glad you wasted some of it with us.

It's-Senator Biden termed a political epiphany, not a political-policy epiphany, rather. McCain is calling for better regulation of the financial market, a marked departure from almost everything he's done in his senatorial career, and everything he said on the campaign trail thus far.

Case in point, a little history: January of this year.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MCCAIN: We need to return to the Reagan years. We need to have fiscal conservatism. We need less government. We need less regulation.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: And in March, he told the "Wall Street Journal," that while he is aware of the argument for more oversight in cases like the subprime lending crisis, quote, "I'm always for less regulation. As far as a need for additional regulations are concerned, I think that depends on the legislative agenda and what the Congress does to some degree, but I am fundamentally a deregulator."

In April, Senator McCain managed to shoot his future self in the foot.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, APRIL 23, 2008)

MCCAIN: I don't think, frankly, someone who wants to increase the burden of government regulation and higher taxes has any real understanding of economics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Oops.

We're joined now by our own Eugene Robinson, associate editor and columnist of the "Washington Post."

Good evening, Gene.

EUGENE ROBINSON, WASHINGTON POST: Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN: So, if people who argue for more government regulation don't understand economics, does that mean Senator McCain just joined their ranks or, maybe more correctly, rejoined them?

ROBINSON: He seems to have raised his hand. I think rejoined is the word. Look, he has been a deregulator as you just established for his entire career. This is what he has favored and I think it's going to be difficult for him to make everyone forget that. You know, take the position that now-oh, yes, well, you know, we need more regulation is-it's so counter to everything we have ever heard from John McCain. It's not really plausible at this point, I think.

OLBERMANN: And it's not-and it's neither plausible nor specific and McCain's own policy advisor, the infamous Mr. Holtz-Eakin of BlackBerry fame, told the media there's no need for any of these specifics on how McCain might actually fix the economy. That it is just a, quote, "leadership issue." So, he's got no policy change for anybody to assess. What is this he's doing here these last three days?

ROBINSON: Well, what he was doing today, what his surrogates were doing today and what I suspect they'll be doing tomorrow, is emphasizing the word crisis. This is a crisis. And he's a leader and can provide leadership in a crisis. So, in trying-in other words-trying to make it a generic crisis and to make him into a kind of generic crisis manager rather than dealing with the specifics on the economy, we got to hear what McCain campaign, you know, will do to, like, fix, you know, the fact that the economy is falling apart at the moment. But, you know, it's a crisis, and so, he's going to manage the crisis.

OLBERMANN: There are two specifics in this-two changes. It was the fundamentals of our economy are good on Monday. It has become-the economy is in crisis, but the American workers are good now. And he opposed the AIG bailout very wholeheartedly yesterday morning and kind of grudgingly supported it this morning. On what economic topics is McCain, in the same place today as he was on Monday morning, or at least, what areas will he admit to being in the same place?

ROBINSON: Unclear, at this point. You know, I suspect that in his heart of hearts, McCain is where he has always been. You know, I don't think he is fundamentally changed his philosophy, you know, in the course of the a couple days. He's certainly changed what he believes he needs to say as a candidate for president. But, you know, I suspect that basically, he would like to continue deregulating the economy and, you know, let it take care of itself.

OLBERMANN: Lastly, Gene, if the economy seems to be a third rail for McCain dating back to Phil Gramm and well before that, why have we not heard, say, for the-on this topic from the vice presidential candidate? Why hasn't she chimed in with something creative?

ROBINSON: You'd think maybe she's away somewhere conceptualizing a new regulatory architecture for credit defaults watch and other derivative investments, maybe or maybe not. I'm not sure.

OLBERMANN: Eugene Robinson of MSNBC and the "Washington Post," that was said firmly with tongue and cheek, I suppose. Thank you, Gene. Take care.

ROBINSON: OK, Keith. Good night.

OLBERMANN: If they were not before the wheels are off the Sarah Palin scooter, she's not just contradicted herself in something from critically in the Charles Gibson interview from last week. Also, to try to squelch troopergate, John McCain's campaign has hired away a man, who two weeks ago -- two weeks ago was prosecuting terrorists.

Why on earth they decided it was better to make it looked like she had not just something to hide but something fatal to hide?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: Troopergate. Now comes the remarkable defense that Governor Palin fired her top lawman not because he would not fire the governor's ex-brother-in-law but because he wanted to get extra federal funds for fighting rape that Governor Palin didn't want Alaska to have.

And the big showdown: "Bill-O the Clown" and comedian Rush Limbaugh and Rupert Murdoch battling it out for Worst Persons. (INAUDIBLE) will be at the test.

You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: How easily the simplest truths are. Forget, when writing the Alger Hiss perjury case to political prominence, Richard Nixon observed the coverup is worse than the crime. Twenty years later, during Watergate, the thought, apparently, never crossed his mind.

Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: In 1991, John McCain probably saved his career by abjectly admitting to his own stupidity and impropriety in the Keating Five scandal. Now, running for president, he seems to be doing everything he can to turn whatever messy regional embarrassment comprises troopergate into a coverup of national proportions.

Exhibit A: Edward O'Callaghan, as recently as September 3rd, a top terror prosecutor, now, "Newsweek" reports joining Team Palin to defend us from the truth. On September 2nd, filing to move the state legislature's investigation troopergate-whether she'd tried to get her trooper, ex-brother-in-law, fired-over to the state personnel board, all those members were appointed by Governor Palin.

Now, Exhibit B: O'Callaghan filing for that same board not to investigate after all because, quote, "no probable cause was found by Palin's own lawyers." O'Callaghan, the appointee of a Bush appointee, not the only Bush veteran on Team Palin.

Exhibit C: The "A.P." reporting that former Bush Treasury spokesman, Taylor Griffin, now leads a dozen McCain lawyers and researchers including RNC operatives in Alaska.

And, Exhibit D: That Alaska state agencies now forward out of state media calls to the McCain campaign.

Exhibit E: Alaska House Speaker Joe Harris, Republican, who approved the probe, now proposing to delay it until after the presidential election.

Exhibit F: Palin's attorney general is now refusing to enforce the 13 troopergate subpoenas issued by a three to two margin in the State Senate Committee, a swing vote from a Republican from Wasilla.

Exhibit G: Five Alaska Republicans now suing to block the investigation and to prove the unanimous mostly Republican committee's investigation is too partisan, getting free legal aid from a non-profit law firm tied to James Dobson's right-wing Focus on the Family group.

And, Exhibit H: Sarah Palin herself, who first said she fired top lawman, Walt Monegan, not for refusing to can her ex-brother-in-law, but for not filling vacant positions. Then she claimed he quit, now, her people say the last straw was that Monegan was insubordinate because he tried to get federal funds for fighting sexual assault cases, in the number one state for rape in the country, Sarah Palin's Alaska.

Let's bring a longtime scholar of Bush-Rovean politics, "Huffington Post" contributor James Moore, also, of course, co-author "Bush's Brain."

Jim, thanks for your time tonight.

JAMES MOORE, CO-AUTHOR, "BUSH'S BRAIN": Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Simply put, why are they doing all this?

MOORE: Well, I think that this is probably the most illustrative example of how she would govern. I think, once all the information is out there, we probably discover that she was petty, and vengeful, and she demanded loyalty in much the same way the Bush team does, and that will simply go to Washington.

But what I would like to suggest is to the media and to Democrats that this is very much Sarah Palin's "National Guard moment." If you recall, the National Guard information was very suppressed, and if the country had known about George W. Bush and his behavior on that particular issue before we all went to the polls in 2000, he might not have even won that close election, which he clearly didn't win.

But this is an important moment, not just in Alaska's history, but, I think, in our country's.

OLBERMANN: Troopergate, though, on the face of it-there does seem to be something visceral that seems to support her position, I'm not saying legally or ethically, but there is a visceral feeling, "Oh, she was pushing back against somebody who did somebody terrible to her own sister."

MOORE: Right.

OLBERMANN: Why not run with that tactic and instead go through this incredible fusillade of obfuscation and every possible Bush/Cheney-like tactic in the books. Why choose the latter rather than seemingly the easier path?

MOORE: Because this is what they do now. They bring lawyers to everything. I find it interesting that the people who gave historic reform and talked about lawyers screwing up our civil justice system and not giving us, regular folks, access to the civil justice system, they bring an airlift of lawyers in place to shut down things that they don't want to happen.

They are the first people to pull the trigger on lawyers. And that's precisely what they're doing here, again, is they are trying to use legal tactics to suppress and scare people and destroy the messenger and the information before it gets out there.

OLBERMANN: But doesn't it also not work on a practical level? I mean, when it came out that she had this tanning bed, instead of just ignoring it, they said, "Oh, no, no, it wasn't about a tan, maybe she has it to fight depression," which would be a much more complicated explanation than that she likes to get tan now and again.

Now, troopergate comes out, and instead of saying, well, she tried to get the trooper fired because he was a bad man or whatever, now they are saying they tried to get this man, Monegan, fired because he was trying to raise more money for the state to fight rape. I thought the excuse had to be less damaging than the truth could be?

MOORE: Yes, exactly right. That's how it's supposed to work. When you have no excuse other than the really stupid one, what do you say? I mean, this is a situation where they are looking around and trying to find any kind of explanation that might be palatable that might not look stupid. And they come up with this, and it ends up making them look even sillier.

OLBERMANN: James Moore of "Huffington Post," co-author of "Bush's Brain," as always, Jim, great thanks for your insight tonight.

MOORE: You bet, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Now, it's your dumb and smart 911 calls of the day. The dumb one is from a criminal; the smart one is from that dog there.

Speaking of dumb ones, Rupert Murdoch just applauded the financial crisis because it's good for him. Worst Persons ahead on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: Bushed in a moment. And FEMA drivers are being paid $800 a day to keep their trucks full of relief supplies part far from the hurricane damage. And it's happening right now.

First, let's play Oddball.

That's right, breaking Oddball news, this is video of a live bear chase at Horse Thief Canyon Park in San Dimas, California. The bear is down there somewhere. Through these houses, streets and trees, there's pall of fear as a bear is loose in the woods.

Here is earlier videotape, the bear went over the mountain; the bear went over the mountain. The bear went over the mountain, reportedly, to see what he could see. He's disagreeing with me now.

Live videotape, well, videotape of a bear, and obviously, this is a high speed bear chase. Bear seen as you there, scratching itself. It also was doing something in the woods.

This bear, again, reported near San Dimas, California, at Horse Thief Canyon Park. There appear to be no humans within, well, the closest one is the guy in the chopper.

We are back live. I do not see the bear. I do not see the bear. I'm warning you, this is b being carried live. There could be a dramatic ending to this that you perhaps-you want to get the kids away from the television right now in case-what, those-no, those aren't bears, they are cars.

OK. Now, back in the area where we last saw the bear. Is Conan Nolan there, is anybody, are any of our correspondent, Laurel Erickson anywhere in the neighborhood? Is Fred Roggin in the neighborhood there? There's nobody there from KNBC.

Again, you're looking live at Horse Thief Canyon Park in San Dimas, California, where there used to be a bear, before it went over the mountain.

We now rejoin Oddball already in progress.

And we go to the Knoxville Art Museum in Tennessee. Early this morning, police were tipped off by a 911 call. That a burglar named Richard Anthony Smith was trapped in the museum's ventilator shaft. Police figure the tip was good because the informant was burglar Richard Anthony Smith. The po-po, arrested Mr. Smith, who explained he was not burglaring.

Listen to this - he had been sent on a secret mission, this is verbatim from the police report, Mr. Smith said his mission was to, quote, "defuse and confiscate a Soviet made warhead with 14 ½ kilograms of enriched uranium and a plutonium trigger, capable of delivering a 40 kiloton yield. This was said to have been concealed in a blue plastic cow sculpture in the basement of the museum.

Why didn't you say so?

The other 911 call, this time in Scottsdale, Arizona. This time a dog was on the line. Joe Stalnacre (ph) has suffered seizures ever since sustaining injuries during a military training exercise. So he trained his dog Buddy to grab a phone with his teeth if ever he saw Stalnacre on the floor. Mr. Stalnacre has a special phone program so that any button pushed dials 911.

Last Wednesday, he had a seizure an his German shepherd called the police.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, what is your emergency? Do you need the paramedics? Hello? I've got help on the way if you need it.

OLBERMANN: The correct answers were given there, woof, woof and woof. This is the third time buddy has phoned police for his owner. He recovered after a hospital visit. Buddy is just beginning to make a dent in his life time supply of Snausages.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: What about the bear? Coming up, the latest Republican attempt to cage minority voters. Get the list of people in Michigan whose homes have been foreclosed on, then say they have no legal addresses to vote from.

And caging in a different respect, Carly; the McCain adviser may think John McCain doesn't know how to run a business. But guess what, McCain does know how to make her disappear. These stories ahead, but first the headlines breaking in the administration's 50 running scandals, Bushed.

Number three, culture of lying-gate. We have gotten so used to this that even candidates for national office can utterly contradict themselves in their first two national interviews and nobody is saying boo. Remember Governor last week when Charlie Gibson asked her if she hesitated at all in accepting the VP nomination? She said I didn't hesitate, no. He pressed her. That's when she said her spiel about the mission and you can't blink. So I didn't blink, and even when he was asked to run as his running mate.

Tonight, in a kind of conversation, a critic of a fawning local sports caster, once perfectly described as a flatulent lap sitting interview, Governor Palin insisted to Sean Hannity that she did not immediately accept the spot on the ticket, that she hesitated and put it to a family vote. the quote, "it was time of asking the girls to vote on it, anyway, and they voted unanimously yes. Didn't bother asking my son, because, you know, he's going off to be doing his thing anyway, so he wouldn't be so impacted by at least the campaign period here. So asked the girls what they thought and they were like absolutely, let's do this, mom."

For god's sake, governor, you're coming across as an out of control liar. That's another 100 bucks I get to donate to the Alaska Special Olympics.

Number two, Katrina redux-gate from Carville, Louisiana, south of Baton Rouge, comes the story of Ray Cronin, a truck driver from Tampa. He was sent to Richmond, Virginia by FEMA to pick up supplies to aid victims of Hurricane Ike. He and 500 other trucks arrived, fully loaded, in Carville, Louisiana at midnight on Monday, which is where they sit still. No bathrooms or running water. No food. The drivers are eating army rations. FEMA is paying them 800 bucks a day each. That's our money. The only sign of FEMA at Carville, Louisiana is a trailer next to all the trucks, which has a sign on it reading, no truck drivers come near trailer.

Heck of a job, Bush.

Number one, anthrax-gate. The same day that Senator Patrick Leahy, one of the targets of the 2001 attacks, said he's convinced that late Dr. Bruce Ivins did not act alone and the case is not really closed, the government scientist who just happened to get the most crucial detail of the case wrong back in 2001, he now says, addressed that. Peter Jarling (ph) had examined the anthrax spores using an electron microscope, concluded that silicon had been added to the stuff to make it easier for the anthrax to be taken in by the lungs, making it more deadly.

Only three countries were supposedly able to do add silicon to anthrax, the U.S., Russia and, bingo, Iraq. The White House and Senator McCain turned around and took the added silicon idea and turn that it into Iraq done it. The problem is, nobody thinks Doctor Ivins had the wherewithal to add the silicon himself, making him an unlikely suspect, or at least an unlikely sole perpetrator. Now, this Dr. Jarling says his conclusion in 2001 about the added silicon were wrong and the silicon had occurred naturally. He says now he made an honest mistake. In retrospect, I believe I was mistaken and I defer to the experts.

Doc, how do we know you weren't an expert then and not now. How do we know you weren't deferring to somebody then and not now? Because it sure sounds like the silicon story was of great use to Mr. Bush and Senator McCain in trying to smear Iraq in 2001. But now that same story might ruin the Ivins did it, he's dead, case closed line. Dr. Jarlin, it does sounds like you are not being forthright about something.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: The Republican party office for Macomb County, Michigan just happens to be in the same building as the state's leading foreclosure firm. The company's boss there has donated and raised a couple hundred thousand dollars for the GOP. So our third story in the COUNTDOWN seems, in retrospect, inevitable. The Macomb County Republicans decided to try to deny the vote to people, most of them African-Americans, whose homes have been foreclosed on.

Macomb is a key swing county in what we know is a major battleground state, Michigan. It's Republican chair is James Carabelli (ph). According to the notes from a reporter the online news site the "Michigan Messenger," here's how the interview for a story about election challenges went down. The question was, "how will they know if the addresses match? How will you know which addresses to check?"

"We will have," he said, "a list of foreclosed homes and we will make sure people aren't voting from those addresses." Last week, the Michigan GOP demanded a retraction and threatened a lawsuit, but the editors at the Messenger say they standby their story as 100 percent accurate. As of 4:00 Eastern, they had yet to receive any legal documents.

The Obama campaign filed legal documents, a lawsuit, but noted that without the newest variation of caging, the Republicans might have gotten some of what they wanted, to scare off those who have been foreclosed on from even trying to vote.

As to the bigger picture, a group of civil rights lawyers today launched protection, mobilizing thousands of volunteers, including lawyers, to man the polls on election day, November 4th.

Allen Raymond knows more about this stuff than is good for him. He spent three months in prison in 2006 for his involvement in an illegal phone jamming operation during the New Hampshire Senate race in 2002. A year ago, he wrote, "How to Rig An Election, Confessions of a Republican Operative."

Mr. Raymond, thanks for some of your time tonight.

ALLEN RAYMOND, AUTHOR, "HOW TO RIG AN ELECTION": You're welcome.

Thanks for having many.

OLBERMANN: About Macomb County in Michigan, is this a big play, or is this, as the Obama campaigners suggested, that you probably couldn't do this on election day. You couldn't strike those voters. But simply the media coverage of this might suppress voters to some degree?

RAYMOND: Well, it's a big play now because you're getting headlines. So ironically, it's actually something that the Obama campaign can use to gin up intensity. It can send headline from the "Michigan Messenger," whether it be through phone calls, direct mail, whatever it might be, and they can tell people who want to make sure who vote on election day to say, look, the Republicans are going to go to no end and no depth to stop you from voting. So you have to get out and vote.

In this way, it's a bit of a jujitsu move. It's going to work against the Republicans. You have to keep in mind, Kerry won Michigan by 165,000 votes, roughly, in 2004. Last year alone, there were 155,000 foreclosures in Michigan. It's a real tactic.

OLBERMANN: I mentioned caging. For somebody who might not be familiar with what that term means, could you define it and tell me whether or not this stuff meets the definition of caging?

RAYMOND: Sure can. Caging is this, you send a first class letter to a household where you suspect that person no longer lives there, but where they're still registered to vote. That letter comes back. You take that name and address. You put it on a list. That list gets distributed for election day. It goes to the appropriate polling place. And someone there then challenges that vote if that person comes in to vote.

So it's a way to build a list and certainly you can go down to the county recordation office and build foreclosure list, just like you can build any other list.

OLBERMANN: Does this initiative, like the one launched by this group of civil rights lawyers today, deploying thousands of volunteers, costing millions of dollars, is that the tactic to use against these tactics? Or does it turn out to be a game of a national whack a mole?

RAYMOND: Well, you're probably going to whack a couple of moles. But in a close election like you're likely to have this year, if you don't do it, you're certainly going to be kicking yourself Wednesday after the election. You have to do it, whether it be for Republicans or Democrats. It's such a close election. You better be doing everything. It's all hands on deck and all tactics, legal, I might add, that you want to be employing.

OLBERMANN: Anything voters should look for in the way of red flags leading up to election day and actually at the polls on the 4th?

RAYMOND: It's always going to be the same old shenanigans. For instance, a direct piece of mail or a phone call that says, if it rains, you can vote on Wednesday, that type of thing. You had the Ballot Security Task Force in 1981, which essentially was set up in New Jersey in the governor's elect. Off duty cops wearing black arm bands and sidearms, in certain urban polling places, essentially there to scare off a certain vote, minority votes, Democratic vote.

So there's a history of this stuff in the country. I can attest to it. I'm an example of it. That's why I wrote the book, so people can read the book and understand what to look for.

OLBERMANN: It's invaluable. Allan Raymond, the author of "How to Rig an Election," thank you.

RAYMOND: You're welcome. Thank you.

OLBERMANN: Political lesson number one, whatever you do, do not tell the truth about your candidate's limitations. While Carly Fiorina, who spoke for John McCain at his convention two weeks ago tonight, will not be speaking for him in the immediate future.

Fortunately, there's always comedian Rush Limbaugh, so desperate to carry the McCain water, he is insisting that there is sexism by Alaska's Republicans. But first, once again, our newest feature, the most outrageous or untrue thing said by or on behalf of Republican nominee John McCain, McCain in the membrane.

It slipped past. What with her not knowing the Bush doctrine and asking, in what respect, Charlie. But Governor Palin claimed to ABC that she's an expert on oil and power because Alaska, quoting her, produces nearly 20 percent of the US domestic supply of energy. Yes, 3.5 percent, 3.5, according to the official energy figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Now comes the take two. McCain/Palin surrogate Roy Blunt, the Missouri Congressman, says, right here on MSNBC, she does understand energy; 20 percent of all our oil comes from Alaska. Fourteen percent. Keep trying. Don't know much about history, don't know much economy, don't know much about a science book. Don't know much about donations I took.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: Back to tonight's COUNTDOWN exclusive live coverage of the drive time bear incident in southeast California, where a bear-those are the live pictures on the left. The helicopter photographer seems to have lost his bearings. No pun intended. That's the bear on the right, scratching himself against a tree. If you've never actually seen that, there it is. It actually does happen. And it happens in the woods.

This bear was reported in the neighborhood of San Admis, California outside Horse Thief Canyon Park. He got close to some homes. He was seen vaulting a one-foot berm near a swimming pool. There it is. The swimming pool is off to the right in that taped picture. You're not seeing it. He is reportedly looking for picnic baskets. We have not been able to confirm that with our reporter, Fernel Chapman (ph), who may or may not be on the scene.

This is the live coverage. If you think this is ridiculous, again, it's 5:48 Pacific daylight time. This is probably the highest rated show right now in Southern California. Continuing bear updates as necessary.

It's like when Karl Rove said John McCain wasn't being 100 percent truthful in his commercials, and neither was Barack Obama. Nobody heard that part about Obama or nobody believed it. McCain financial adviser, fired Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina first said Sarah Palin couldn't run a company. Then she said Sarah Palin and John McCain couldn't run a company. Finally, she said Sarah Palin and John McCain and Barack Obama and Joe Biden couldn't run a company.

Too late, Carly has been down sized. That's ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN's number two story, tonight's worst persons in the world.

The bronze to Rupert Murdoch. You may be worried about AIG or Lehman Brothers or WaMu or whatever is next. Not Rupert, who said today, "hard times are good for big companies." Arrgh. Comforting thought for people trying to decide whether or not to withdraw their money from an account in an endangered bank, and trying to figure out if there are any banks that aren't endangered. You can sleep well knowing News Corp. is safe.

Our silver, Bill-O the clown, reading the GOP talking points attacking Michelle Obama, describing her by using the word angry five separate times, even as both his guests disagreed with him, said she was not angry. But as ever, he stepped on that side show Bob rake of his. "Now I have a lot of people call me on the radio and say she looks angry. I have to say there's some validity to that. She looks like an angry woman. Did you ask her about that?"

One of his guests then replied, don't they say that about you, too. Bill O. was flummoxed. He started to answer, yes, but I'm not running for then suddenly realized what he was saying. He added, I'm not going to be the first lady. Viewer participation day, think of your own joke here.

Our winner, comedian Rush Limbaugh, back to his full time job of carrying the water, explaining that Sarah Palin and her trooper gate scandal is, quote, the good old boys of Alaska being upset that a woman had upset the apple cart. About the good old boys of Alaska saying, we're not going to sit here and be run by a damn woman. We're going to take care of it. This is pure sexism in Alaska on the part of these old boys trying to get rid of Sarah Palin. And she didn't put up with it. She didn't bend over and let them have their way.

Seriously, the man who has made million off the phrase feminazi is now crying sexism. On the Seventh of January this year, in New Hampshire, after Senator Clinton's voice got low and she seemed to choke up talking about her campaign, comedians said, "all right, that's enough. We have heard enough of it. Here's the thing, this is the sympathy play. This is the gender card again. Emotional black male, this is calculated."

Not a single one of the sheep listening to him talking out of face number two today said of Limbaugh, this guy is the biggest fraud on the radio dial. Comedian Rush Limbaugh, today's worst person-how's that bear doing-in the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: Two weeks ago, a little before 9:00 p.m. Eastern time, the fired Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina spoke, albeit not very well, on behalf of John McCain at the Republican National Convention. In our number one story of the COUNTDOWN, to quote one of McCain's senior advisors, "Carly will now disappear." Yesterday one of Senator McCain's advisors said something true about the candidate on this network, is now being banned from making further TV appearances. Based on that logic, the McCain advisers who are still allowed to show their faces are, well, all of them except Ms. Fiorina.

A top economic adviser to Senator McCain, Fiorina, said this yesterday to our own Andrea Mitchell.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARLY FIORINA, MCCAIN ADVISER: I don't think John McCain could run a major corporation. I don't think Barack Obama could run a major corporation. I don't think Joe Biden could run a major corporation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: And though she nominally included Obama and Biden in that judgment, McCain evidently did not like being dissed by his own adviser, who had categorized Governor Palin the same way earlier in the day.

"Carly will now disappear," an unnamed top campaign adviser told CNN.

"Senator McCain was furious."

Asked to define the "Sopranos" like word choice, the source said that Ms. Fiorina would not be on TV for awhile. Interviews have been canceled. Another campaign sources said, quote, it was another bad day for her and important because people are mad because the timing was horrible.

Let's bring in Rachel Maddow of her own show, moments away. More on that breaking bear story. Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: Hi, Keith.

LBERMANN: This was terrible, horrible timing because of the economic crisis, or it was horrible and terrible because there was a camera on her at the moment? MADDOW: We don't know what she says about him when a camera is off her. I'm not sure if we can judge. The timing of the economic crisis seems to be sort of the issue for them. Or maybe it's just the fact that the economic crisis happening at all. John McCain for 26 years has been the I hate regulations guy, I'm a deregulator guy. Even just two weeks ago, we had Mitt Romney at the Republican National Convention saying that John McCain would take a weed whacker to regulations. And now John McCain is out there trying to convince America that despite everything we have seen from him, he is going to be the new regulator we all have been dreaming of.

Maybe it's timing. Maybe its events catching up with what his politics have been all these years.

OLBERMANN: They have quite a streak going regarding economic advisers, Phil Gramm and the nation of whiners, Doug Holtz-Eakin and the Blackberry invention, and Carly as in honest Carly. Is this why McCain is choosing not to offer any specific solutions to this economic crisis, because he can't be overheard over his own economic advisers' gaffes?

MADDOW: Holtz-Eakin, in that same interview, where he said McCain invented the Blackberry also said that there's no reason to write down a plan at this time. It's not imperative to write anything down? I guess. That was awkward. And then actually the day that Merrill Lynch sold itself for a nickel and Lehman Brothers disappeared because it couldn't find anybody to buy itself for a nickel, that same day, that Sunday, another McCain economic adviser, Donald Lufkin, had an op-ed in the "Washington Post" in which he said that Phil Gramm was right, we really are a nation of whiners. And everybody should stop all this sad talk about the economy, everybody is obviously fine.

I don't know where he picks people. Carly Fiorina, before she got thrown under the bus, had raised the issue about Viagra being covered in health plans, which was awkward for McCain. She said that McCain favored fully funding No Child Left Behind, which he didn't. She said that he might want to raise taxes on rich people, which he then decried. So I guess this was the straw that broke the camel's back. But he's been through a lot with his advisers.

OLBERMANN: As American political consumers, should we be mourning this, that as soon as somebody lets a fact slip through the spin, they get offed?

MADDOW: I don't know that Carly Fiorina would be a great hope for American consumers. I think yes, it's true that I think we should worry about the demise of straight talk. That was one of the things that was always really politically appealing about John McCain, that he would say something that he knew wasn't politically perfect, wasn't necessarily the best focus group tested, spun message. But if it was true, he might let himself get away with it. And there is something to mourn in even the pretense of that being gone.

But I don't know that anybody's going to miss Ms. Fiorina herself.

OLBERMANN: Rachel Maddow, who gets about 40 seconds off. Thanks.

See you soon.

MADDOW: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: That's COUNTDOWN for this the 1,967th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.

Before we go, let's go back to San Dimas, California for one last bear update. I don't see him anywhere. There's not even a car moving down there. There's nobody around. I think they may have evacuated the entire community. Probably not. It was just a bear. He wasn't moving very fast. I saw this dingo that was running much-there's the videotape of the bear again.

You could walk past him and he wouldn't even wave at you. That's how slow-this is a slow-speed bear pursuit in San Dimas, California. Alert no one and do not be alarmed, the bear didn't even stop very long at that fence. He didn't even think about jumping that fence or tying to go see a human being.

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

END

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