updated 10/10/2008 11:15:32 AM ET 2008-10-10T15:15:32

COUNTDOWN

October 9, 2008

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.

THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

Guests: Jon Soltz, Sarah Silverman, Howard Fineman, Margaret Carlson, Richard Wolffe

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

The McCain mortgage buy-up. His idea, not Senator Obama's. Except Senator Clinton proposed it first. McCain changes it again. The banks would not take the financial loss from rewriting all the mortgages, we, the taxpayers now would

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D-IL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In the course of 12 hours, he's ended up with a plan that punishes taxpayers, rewards the banks, and won't solve our housing crisis. I don't think we can afford that kind of erratic and uncertain leadership in these uncertain times.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R-AZ) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do you want to help the homeowners of America or do you want to help Wall Street?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: I can answer that, senator. Can you?

McCain's cowardice. He couldn't talk about Ayers or implied terror links at the debate, claims he's not talking about Ayers anywhere, continues to talk about Ayers at his campaign rallies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We've been seeing some pretty over-the-top attacks coming out of the McCain campaign over the last several days that he wasn't willing to say it to my face.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: What true conservatives are scared of and angry at not Obama but McCain? George Will quotes Earl Weaver, applies to McCain, "Are you going to get any better, or is this it?" And Will calls Governor Palin McCain's female Sancho Panza.

And, "The Great Schlep." Our special guest, Sarah Silverman on the Florida vote.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH SILVERMAN, COMEDIAN: If you knew that visiting your grandparents could change the world, would you do it? Of course you would. You'd have to be a douche nozzle not to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: And, Membrane: How much many international trade missions and contacts with foreign leaders has Sarah Palin had as governor? Twenty in 19 months, totaling 12 hours, including taking 30 diplomats on a tour of the ice carvings of Ice Alaska's 2007 World Ice Art Championship.

All that and more: Now on COUNTDOWN.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A snow-making shop.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening. This is Thursday, October 9th, 26 days until the 2008 presidential election.

Since Senator McCain has become fond of posing everything he says in the form of a question, with the Dow already down 17 percent for the week, so far-do you think, Senator McCain, that Americans give a crap about rehabilitated '60s radical William Ayers?

With the Dow on track towards biggest weekly percentage drop ever -

do you believe, Senator McCain, that voters would be in favor of your self-named "American Homeownership Resurgence Plan" if they realize that it would resurge only the balance sheets of financial institutions passing all their losses to American taxpayers?

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: Senator McCain cooking the books of his homeowner bailout plan.

At Tuesday's debate, the Republican nominee proposing his surprise idea to have the government buy up bad home mortgages, thus, letting struggling homeowners keep their homes. His campaign positing the plan online, the key sentence at the end of the second paragraph was, quote, "Lenders in these cases must recognize the loss they've already suffered." In other words, the government would buy the mortgages at their current devalued rate, reflecting what the mortgages are actually worth on paper.

Overnight, however, Mike Allen of Politico.com, the first to notice that the crucial sentence had been scrubbed from the Web site, (INAUDIBLE), that means that under the revised McCain plan, American taxpayers would have to pay face value for the troubled mortgages, even though they are no longer worth anywhere that. That would be a windfall for the banking industry despite their predatory lending practices which helped bring about the crisis in the first place.

The McCain campaign claiming it always meant for the plan to be this way, that the sentence about lenders recognizing the losses they have suffered was included by a mistake, as if it were some sort of typographical error and not a fundamental shift in the intent and substance of the policy.

Senator Obama pointing out today, that's not change that you can believe in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Senator McCain actually wants the government to pay the full face value of mortgages on the books, even though they are not worth that much anymore. So, banks wouldn't take a loss, but taxpayers would take a loss. It's a plan that would guarantee that you, the American taxpayer, would lose by handing over $300 billion to underwrite the kind of greed and irresponsibility on Wall Street that got us into this mess.

It's not that Senator McCain's bailout rewards irresponsible lenders, it's not his bailout would make it more likely that those lenders keep up of their bad behavior.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: In March, Senator McCain having said that Americans needed to do what was necessary, you know, work second jobs, skip vacations, manage their budgets in order to pay their mortgages. On September 15th, having declared that the fundamentals of the economy were strong. On September 24th, having pretended to suspend his campaign and return to Washington to deal with the crisis. And overnight, having revised his plan to bailout mortgage lenders, passing all of their losses on to the American taxpayers.

Senator Obama today questioning whether that is leadership you can believe in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Now, this is just the latest in a series of shifting positions that is Senator McCain has taken on this issue and just about every issue. His first response to the housing crisis in March was that homeowners shouldn't get any help at all. Then, a few weeks ago, he put out a plan that basically, ignored homeowners.

Now, in the course of 12 hours, he's ended up with a plan that punishes taxpayers, rewards banks, and won't solve our housing crisis. But, this is the kind of erratic behavior we've been seeing out of Senator McCain. I don't think we can afford that kind of erratic and uncertain leadership in these uncertain times.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: And Senator McCain today, lying about his plan and lying about Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: Let's go out and buy people that cannot stay in their homes, buy their mortgages, give them mortgages that they can afford, and stay in their homes and make the payments. Now, my friends, that's what we need to do in America. We must stabilize housing values in America. They've got to stop plummeting and until they do, we're not going to see this economy turn around.

So, Senator Obama was happy to bail out Bear Stearns, AIG, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, his pals there, and the Democrats in Congress that refused to reform Freddie Mac and enact legislation to stop this crisis, but he's opposed to us helping the homeowners of America.

Do you want to help the homeowners of America or do you want to help Wall Street? That's the question here. I want to help the homeowners of Wisconsin and all over this country.

(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.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Can you answer based on the fact Senator McCain's rhetorical question about himself? Does he want to help the homeowners of America or Wall Street in this case?

WOLFFE: Well, I think he wants to help his own campaign here. I mean, there's so much here that is difficult to sort of comprehend about how this plan emerged, how it was shaped, how it's been amended, and most especially, how it fits in with McCain's own signature brand on financial issues, which is to crackdown on wasteful government spending. I mean, by anyone's measure, this is excessively generous when it comes to valuing these assets that have clearly declined.

So, for a guy who has, actually, campaigned very effectively about earmarks and spending, why do this?

OLBERMANN: Yes. And would this plan not seem to have the potential to alienate both fiscal conservatives, that rock red group of his, and independent swing voters? You're helping the banks one way or another more than you're helping the people in the homes.

WOLFFE: Well, I think with independent swing voters, a lot depends on how it's litigated. This does remind me of the gas tax holiday dispute debate that popped up in the primaries. Actually, McCain and Hillary Clinton both supported that.

If the Obama people are successful, they can present it as another gimmick. Obviously, that's what they are trying to do here. But it could be seen as being very populist, too.

Now, it's hard to reconcile it with the fiscal conservatives. All sorts of conservative think-tanky people and opinion-makers have condemned this plan. And again, for a free market-loving, admirer of Ronald Reagan, it's very hard to see how this fits in. This is a big government plan. If it was propose in this form by Barack Obama, you can be sure Sarah Palin would have a lot to say about it.

OLBERMANN: Speaking of other people involved in this campaign-is Senator Obama right on this that seems another example of how erratic the McCain campaign has been or certainly going from-you used gimmick before, we call them plans or ideas or just gimmicks-going from one to the other in the hopes that something will stick or catch fire?

WOLFFE: Well, here's the thing. This is obviously a big shift for the McCain campaign. If you're going to roll out a big shift at this point of the campaign, then you really want to do it in a concerted presidential-style way? You have your candidate sit down with economic advisors; you may roll it out and explain it through town hall meetings, where people are focused on the economy.

But to roll it out in a debate, and then have your regular sort of rally town hall environment to explain it, to have the situation they have whether amending plans on the Web site, it does-it's not erratic, it sounds just very rush. And the question is, do you want a rushed position when things are moving so quickly in real world of the financial markets?

OLBERMANN: And, can you flush out an entirely different buying program here, buying program time, these stories that have been racing through the television industry, that Senator Obama is buying everything he can find for 30 minutes on the Wednesday night before the election?

WOLFFE: Yes, I talked to some campaign officials just recently and they said that CBS, they have bought some time on; NBC, they're talking to. And this is a substantial outlay of money. It does show what you can do when you give up on public financing, raise a lot of money. And in many ways, this is harking back to the kind of campaigning we saw back in the '70s.

I mean, Ross Perot may have done it, but this is regular bare (ph) in the '70s when TV time was much cheaper. It's a bold move. It's obviously designed to make that connection between Obama and the voters. But we don't know the content yet of what that 30 minutes will look like.

OLBERMANN: Now, we were hearing CBS, NBC, also ABC and FOX if there's no World Series game. The problem for that logistically would be they might be up against the World Series pre-game show, but not the World Series itself if there is a game. But, also, cable buys, at 8:00 o'clock. I don't know what that's all about.

Richard Wolffe of MSNBC and "Newsweek," we may be preempted that night. Thank you, Richard.

WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Big business benefiting ahead of the American middle class under a Republican would-be president. Who could have ever imagined that?

For more on that, let's turn to Margaret Carlson, political columnist at "Bloomberg News" and Washington editor of "The Week" magazine.

Margaret, good evening.

MARGARET CARLSON, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN: All right. For a candidate who is trying to belie this notion that he represents four more years of the current administration, the Bush-Cheney policies, is a mortgage bailout plan that bails out mortgage lenders and passes the loss on to the taxpayers, an odd way to try to show this?

CARLSON: Well, McCain should be kept away from the financial mess. There's so many victims, and I don't mean to belittle any of the pain that normal Americans are feeling, but the biggest victim of the financial crisis has been John McCain.

From the very beginning, he has behaved as the Obama campaign said, and I don't need to repeat their talking points, but the only word for it is "erratically." He, you know, has to race to Washington, he's suspending his campaign, but he spends another 20 hours in New York, then he comes, he shows up, and then he goes-and by the way, he phones it in. He's not been able to take any advantage in showing that he is presidential throughout this whole thing.

And now, he comes up with the plan-by the way-that Bush and Cheney wouldn't touch because it's too much, or I guess Bush would because he turned in, certainly, to a big spender. But within the debate the other night, Keith, McCain is talking about cutting spending, and then within the same hour and a half, he's talking about a huge, enormous new program.

And the other thing is-don't get me started-is that people want to punish somebody. And I think that's healthy because someone should be punished, especially when AIG executives are going off to a spa in California after getting $85 billion and spending nearly $500,000. And it's a place, by the way, that has rooms for dogs.

OLBERMANN: Yes.

CARLSON: . that start at $545 a night. The mortgage lenders should be punished. They shouldn't be rewarded as they will be by this McCain plan.

OLBERMANN: But, there's no reason to punish the dogs.

Listen, in the sound byte from Senator McCain that we played earlier, once again, he kept trying to tie his opponent to Freddie Mac, when it was the lobbying firm of his own campaign manager, Rick Davis, the firm that was taking payment from them as recently as this summer-any reason why these attempted attacks from McCain on the economy don't seem to be working?

CARLSON: Well, because he doesn't have clean hands. By the way, a lot of people have dirty hands in Washington on both sides of the aisle with Fannie and Freddie. But, nobody has been more implicated than Rick Davis, his campaign chairman or manager-whatever his title is now-because he was being paid up until a month ago, at the firm he is still an officer of.

So, either McCain didn't know the mechanics behind or he's just going to keep on saying that it's the Democrats are to blame for it when his own party and his own campaign manager is as implicated as anybody.

OLBERMANN: Last point here, I guess. Why are we talking about Senator McCain's mortgage plan when the only thing anybody actually cares about in the United States of America is William Ayers?

CARLSON: Well, he's trying to make us care about William Ayers. Now, I went back and looked at an earlier debate in which William Ayers came up, and Obama he called what Ayers did "despicable" and that he didn't even realize any of it when he was on the board with this person. By the way, I've been on board where I virtually never see the other people and I certainly don't look at who they are or what they've done.

This looks-even Republicans, George Will is saying that McCain is going off the rails on this. I think Will called him operatic.

OLBERMANN: And David Frum, as well, today.

Margaret Carlson of "Bloomberg News," as always, great thanks, Margaret.

CARLSON: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: And, "Time was," a columnist writes, "the Baltimore Orioles' manager was Earl Weaver, irascible, Napoleonic figure who, when cranky, as he frequently was, would shout at an umpire, 'Are you going to get any better or is this it?' With, mercifully, only one debate to go, that is the question about John McCain's campaign." Who was the columnist, Maureen Dowd, Marcus Moulitsas? George Will. And he also called Sarah Palin, McCain's, quote, "Female Sancho Panza." Check please.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: George Will writes an epithet for the Republican campaign a little early and places Governor Palin as the rogue sidekick to the diluted retiree in the John McCain version of "Don Quixote." Breaking tonight, Mrs. Quixote suddenly gets post-traumatic stress disorder wrong, insisting Senator McCain has never suffered from it and that's because he had the proper training to avoid it and then blaming those who have suffered from it.

And, how much international stuff has Governor Palin done as governor? Conveniently, there are public records about how much a governor spends the time during her day and the hint to the answer is: you could get all she's done in 19 months done in two days, tops. McCain in the Membrane, next on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: If the bulls were not bad enough, if the economy were not dragging you down, if both Democratic candidates were not calling you out, if all did not spell trouble for your campaign, how about one of the nation's leading conservative thinkers comparing you to Don Quixote-and not in a good way?

The fourth story tonight: Tilting windmills, it's not an alternative energy proposal. The conservative in question, George Will, in not his first shot at the McCain campaign only his first since McCain dismissed those Georgetown cocktail party conservatives, quote, "Are you going to get any better, or is this it?"

He's quoting the Orioles' manager, Earl Weaver about umpiring, and saying, "With, mercifully, only one debate to go, that is the question about John McCain's campaign. Before Tuesday night's uneventful event, gall was fueling what might be the McCain-Palin campaign's closing argument. It is less that Obama has bad ideas than that Obama is a bad person. This, McCain and his female Sancho Panza say, is demonstrated by bad associations Obama had in Chicago such as with William Ayers."

"But in this economy," Will writes, "the McCain-Palin campaign's attempt to get Americans to focus on Obama's Chicago associations seem surreal or, as a British politician once said about criticism he was receiving, 'like being savaged by a dead sheep.'"

Sancho Panza, we are all fiddling around with Dolores umbrage or a contestant on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" and it's George Will who hits the homerun-Sarah Palin as the illiterate peasant sidekick to a retired country gentleman who suddenly goes nuts, Sancho Panza.

More practically, both Obama and his running mate have in the last 24 hours, effectively dared Quixote-rather McCain to wage his attacks on Obama in person at next week's debate. Obama going first after he was asked last night about the fact that McCain failed to tell his largest TV audience yet about Obama's supposed terrorist ties.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, ABC'S WORLD NEWS WITH CHARLIE GIBSON)

CHARLIE GIBSON, ABC NEWS: Were you surprised that, (A), he didn't bring it up last night at the debate and use that line of attack?

OBAMA: Well, I am surprised that, you know, we've been seeing some pretty over-the-top attacks coming out of the McCain campaign over the last several days, that he wasn't willing to say it to my face. The notion that people don't know who I am is a little hard to swallow. I've been running for president for the last two years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Today, Joe Biden reiterated that point a little more loudly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOE BIDEN, (D) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: By the way, all of the things they said about Barack Obama in the TV, on the TV at their rallies, and now on YouTube and everything else they are doing, before the debate, and all the things they are saying after the debate, as recently as this morning-John McCain could not bring himself to look Barack Obama in the eye and say the same thing to him.

(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)

BIDEN: Look, folks, Claire said, Claire said your neighborhood's like mine. Or in my neighborhood, when you got something to say to a guy, you look him in the eye and you say it to him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Let's turn now to MSNBC political analyst, Howard Fineman, also, a senior Washington correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine.

Howard, good evening.

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN: We got David Frum saying today that anger is a poor political advisor and that the Republican should emulate Obama's coolness under fire. In George Will's column, you spoken to him, is he warming up to coming out and saying not only is McCain going to lose this election, but maybe he should?

FINEMAN: Yes, I did ask him that and he said "no." First of all, he compliments you on your work on ESPN. That's as far as he would go.

(LAUGHTER)

FINEMAN: But he said, lighten up, Keith, and the answer is "no." But he laid down some pretty heavy wood on McCain. I think, there are two kinds of conservatives here, Keith. There's a "Georgetown cocktail party set," the cherry-sippers, if you will, the George Wills, the David Frums. And then there's the red-meat-on-the-open-pit kind like Rush Limbaugh. And McCain is taking criticism from both.

The Georgetown set is saying, "Hey, you're not talking about the issues, you're being personal when you shouldn't be. And, by the way, your huge bailout idea is a really bad idea for home mortgages."

And then the Rush Limbaughs of the world are saying, "Why don't you mention Ayers by name? Why don't you do Ayers and Rezko, and Wright and all of that?"

So, McCain is taking it from both wings of the conservative strategic camp at this point. But I don't-Will is not going to write another column, at least, this week calling for-hoping for McCain to lose.

OLBERMANN: And to that point, the second part of that, I mean, we've all known about this link tenuous link with Ayers for months. Only in the last week, the McCain camp apparently figured out the dire implications of this. They just out put a new Ayers Web ad today. Not so much why did he not do this at the debate, but why is he pretending his campaign, outside of that debate, has largely devolved into all Ayers all the time? Why that illusion?

FINEMAN: Well, because, I think, before the last couple days, he thought he wanted to talk about the economy, going into the debate as the economy was melting down day-by-day. He was kind in a no-lose position in a way. If he took Ayers on directly, everybody would say, "Well, you're ignoring, why are you talking about the economy?"

But then, it was clear after the debate the other night, that when he did talk about the economy, he really wasn't doing himself much good with the conservatives, as I say, and because Obama has projected a more steady sense of leadership in the midst of this campaign. And as a Democrat, he is benefiting from what most people think is a Republican-led excursion into chaos in the economy.

So, McCain, at this point, has no choice left. I think, when I asked his campaign people about this, you know, I said, "Where are you going next," they said, "Stay tuned," which to me means, not only with the RNC have ads about Ayers, I think you're going to be hearing more on that by name directly from McCain and then at the debate next week.

OLBERMANN: And is that why Obama and Biden essentially dared him to do that because they want him to do that? And if so, why would they want him to do that?

FINEMAN: Well, because then, the other thing kicks in and everybody says to McCain: why are you talking about Ayers when we should be talking about the economy?

Also, it's personal now, Keith, I think. McCain and Obama spent a lot of time in recent weeks calling each other liars, essentially, and other bad names. And I think it's personal. And, I think, Obama, who's a very cool customer, reaches a point where he says, "You know, I better respond and I better show some toughness here." And I think he's inviting it and I think that's what he is going to see at the debate at Hofstra next week.

OLBERMANN: And there's always that wild card effect at the debates that the candidates sometimes forget, which is the other guy's supporters are always watching. And if your information doesn't live up to the sniff test, you may get beaten in front of your own supporters. So, I guess, that's very (INAUDIBLE).

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: It could very well happen. You expect to hear all about Ayers.

OLBERMANN: Right.

FINEMAN: . as well as Rezco, and the D-list (ph), and you name it, next week in Long Island.

OLBERMANN: Well, I'm sure Obama has his little sheet of papers pertinent to the guys in McCain's past, too.

FINEMAN: Absolutely.

OLBERMANN: And if you talk to George Will, say I always love his baseball work and his kind words about sports center.

FINEMAN: OK.

OLBERMANN: Thank you, Howard. Howard Fineman of "Newsweek" and MSNBC.

FINEMAN: OK. Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: It may be the most amazing number crunch of the campaign. "Mother Jones" magazine goes into the governor's official schedule and discovers just how much time she's actually spent dealing with international trade missions and diplomats, even just on the phone -- 12 hours.

And, just park that anywhere, Bob. A moment in dash cam history, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: Membrane, in a moment. And according to her official schedule, 10 percent of all of Sarah Palin's foreign policy interactions as governor have been at the annual Fur and Ice Festival.

First, on this date in 1890 -- I wish I was making it up. First on this date in 1890, Aimie Semple McPherson was born. She was an acutely popular evangelist in the 1920s. Governor Palin has even been compared to Sister Aimie, hugely popular until 1926 when she disappeared near Venice Beach outside Los Angeles and was assumed to have drowned.

Thirty-five days later, though, she popped up in Senora, New Mexico, claiming she'd been kidnapped, drugged, tortured and held for ransom before she escaped by walking 13 days across the dessert. Except there was no wear and tear on her shoes. And it turned out a male employee of hers had been missing for the exact same time span.

Putting two and two together, the public turned its back on Sister Aimie.

Let's play "Oddball."

Hail, hail, hail your motor vehicle. Beginning in suburban Illinois with this newly released dashcam footage from back in May. The police cruiser pulled over 70-year-old Henry Raskin, for a speeding violation. The officer issued a ticket and walked back to the car, and not long after, Mr. Raskin did a smashy-smashy.

Oh, there's a special reward in heaven for that dashcam footage. Turns out Mr. Raskin whiffed on telling the old "B" from the old "R" and gave the copper a full-on piggyback ride. Raskin was charged with reckless driving and also with watching the "Blues Brothers" movie one time too many.

To Silver Spring in Maryland, where this guy has a going problem. It is the toilet scooter. The vehicle combines smooth touring of a motorbike with the cool comfort of an oval-shaped American standard toilet.

Brett Hill created this to market his plummet-plumbing business, or plummet business, perhaps. This video shows him using the bike for transportation. It's not clear if the potty part actually works. But we're going to suggest if you're going to try, find a long stretch of straight and rural highway, and do not bring the newspaper.

Breaking news tonight, another late campaign fumble from Cindy McCain. She blames posttraumatic stress disorder on those who suffer from it and their bad training. Support the troops, you say.

And Sarah Silverman tries to win Florida. She will join us ahead.

First, the most outrageous or untrue things said by or on behalf of the Republican nominee for president. McCain in the Membrane.

No. 3, Hugh Hewitt is out of print, the "New York Observer" reporting that his literary agent has given up trying to sell the latest book proposal from the lunatic fringe's favorite guy who really only has one and a half names.

The manuscript was being delivered about one week after the election and the book to be published before the inauguration. But nobody will buy Mr. Hewitt's book, entitled "How Sarah Palin Won the Election and Saved America."

No. 2, they still haven't told Senator McCain, have they? He has now publicly demanded a retraction by Senator Obama of Obama's remarks on August 2007 that the war in Afghanistan, quote, "requires us to have enough troops so that we're not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians."

Senator McCain has apparently forgotten his remarks during the 2000 presidential campaign, quote, "In the most obscene chapter in recent American history is the conduct of the Kosovo conflict when the president of the United States refused to prepare for ground operations, refused to have air power used effectively because he wanted them flying at 15,000 feet where they killed innocent civilians because they were dropping bombs from such-in high altitude."

Senator McCain has now said of the air-raiding village and killing innocent civilians remarks, quote, "That's so insulting to the men and women who are serving in the military."

We're assuming he means Obama's "air-raiding villages and killing innocent civilians" remarks and not his own "air-raiding villages and killing civilians" remarks.

No. 1, touring the ice sculptures, you say. As the campaign continues to tout Sarah Palin's foreign policy experience as governor of Alaska, "Mother Jones Magazine" has quantified it by getting hold of the 562 pages worth of public records of the governor's daily schedule and all her trade missions and conversations with foreign leaders and stuff.

In 19 months, not counting her brief trip to Kuwait, she's had 20 meetings, events, phone calls with foreign officials, totaling 12 hours. Twelve hours in 19 months.

Included in the log, March 10, 2007. The governor hosts the annual Fur and Ice Reception in Fairbanks for about 30 diplomats and international tourism representatives, quote, "to view the ice carvings of Ice Alaska's 2007 world ice art championship."

And March 8, 2008, the governor welcomes diplomats from the Philippines, South Korea, the Slovak Republic, South Africa, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Poland, Finland, Germany and Egypt to the annual Fur and Ice Reception, but does not escort any of them to view any ice carvings.

So leading these tours of the ice carvings for the foreign diplomats was so taxing in '07 she had to cut it out in '08?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: It was one thing when Cindy McCain said that Barack Obama had voted against her son because he voted against a troop-funding bill that failed to include a time line, just as her husband had voted against a troop-funded bill that had a time line. That was just a mendacious attack on a politician.

Tonight, though, in our third story, Cindy McCain's mendacious attack on the troops themselves. In an interview with "Marie Claire" magazine, of all places, she was asked whether McCain's POW experience is still with them.

Quote-the question, "No cold sweats in the middle of the night?"

Cindy, "Oh, no, no, no, no, no. My husband, he'd be the first one to tell you that he was trained to do what he was doing. The guys who had the trouble were the 18-year-olds who were drafted. He was trained. He went to the naval academy, was a trained United States naval officer, and so he knew what he was doing."

Translation, if you enlisted in the military, if you did get training, if you were, say, 19 years old, you're not supposed to have cold sweats. This, during Mental Illness Awareness Week, coming as news we assumed the estimated 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan troops facing depression or posttraumatic stress disorder.

At this point, let's turn to Jon Soltz, who served as an Army captain in Iraq and is now, of course, chairman of VoteVets.org.

Jon, thanks for your time tonight.

JON SOLTZ, CHAIRMAN, VOTEVETS.ORG: My pleasure, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Even if we grant some element of truth here, that training might mitigate psychological impacts of injuries and combat experience and captivity. What should we make of Mrs. McCain's statement there?

SOLTZ: You know, I was floored when I heard it. It's absolutely offensive. I mean, you know, in Iraq we had a saying: "IEDs don't discriminate." That they affect young people, they affect old people. You know, higher rank, lower rank. You know, soldiers of all-the Army, the Marine Corps.

So it's just set this debate back 30 years. We fought so hard for people to accept PTSD as an illness, where one in three people were having problems coming home. And it just shows that she doesn't really understand the issue at hand. And that's a big concern if she becomes the first lady.

OLBERMANN: And to say nothing of the civilians. I mean, PTSD in New York was-I mean, estimates have been through the roof about that since 9/11 of the undiagnosed cases, let alone diagnosed ones.

But back to this point, she seemed to-and it's a little vague, but she seemed to attribute these views-her views to the senator himself.

Are we seeing something of internal military elitism at work here, that the

you know, the admiral's son could handle this; the grunts could not?

SOLTZ: Well, I think for her, it's ignorance. And, you know, obviously one third of the soldiers coming back from Iraq are, you know, aviators from the naval academy. They're ground troops. So it's a certain ignorance.

And something that Beau Betz (ph) has worked on here is this issue of diagnosis of PTSD and the Veterans Administration. We have got some letters from a V.A. in Texas. At least we were saying, "Let's give people adjustment disorders." And say they're just not adjusting OK.

So it's hard to define whether or not someone actually has PTSD. And if they don't code you with PTD, then you don't get veterans benefits. You don't get disability. You fall out of the system. And that's where we get homeless veterans. That's where we get higher suicides.

So I think that's the real concern for veterans across the country right now, is that how can you help, you know, all these troops coming back with PTSD if you don't think it exists? And so it's a huge concern looking forward.

OLBERMANN: And the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America just put out its grading of senators on vets' issues. McCain got a "D"; Obama got a "B." Is that fair? Is it unfair to ask whether the callousness in this interview is reflected in the policy?

SOLTZ: You know, that rating should send-that should send the cold chill down Cindy McCain's spine. I mean, I stand by the score card that IAVA put out.

I mean, Senator McCain carried the water for the White House. An opposition to the G.I. Bill this year. He has not led on veterans' issues in the last four or six years since these vets have come home. He voted against body armor, not once but twice in 2003, when there were shortages in Iraq. He was against the Webb-Hagel Dwell Time (ph) Bill in 2007. So, his issue is spotty.

And to be honest, Senator Hagel and Senator Webb led the fight for the

G.I. Bill. And of all people, Senator Biden is really the leader in the Senate who took on the MRAP issue to get the newest up-armored equipment to Iraq to help our troops.

So Senator McCain's record on veterans' issues recently has been abysmal. And I think his wife's statements give us some insight on that.

OLBERMANN: I think you're right. Jon Soltz of VoteVets.org. Thank you, Jon.

SOLTZ: My pleasure.

OLBERMANN: Coming up, Sarah Silverman's push to win Florida, "The Great Schlep." She joins us.

And those international phone calls the president eavesdropped on to catch them terrorists. Guess what they actually caught? Members of the military on the phone, heavy breathing. "Worst Persons" ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: Recent polling in Florida shows Obama over McCain by 21 points among voters under 29 and McCain over Obama by 21 points among voters over 65, which is where Sarah Silverman's video comes in. She'll join me here at headquarters.

First, the "Worst." A hockey owner turning his partially taxpayer arena into a free photo-op for Governor Palin. And the president who's illegally eavesdropping on international phone calls turns out to have caught couples, separated by thousands of miles, who really miss each other. Really miss each other. "Worst Persons" next on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: "The Great Schlep," Sarah Silverman's viral campaign video and its impact. And she's here to talk about it. That's ahead.

But first, time for tonight's No. 2 story, COUNTDOWN's "Worst Persons in the World."

No. 3, Annie Carney of "Page Six" of "The New York Post." They have not attacked us lately. Unfortunately, she has left a paper trial-trail a mile wide about the next one. It will be Sunday, and it will trash me and Rachel and apparently Luke Russert and be about, quote, "the current crisis at NBC News," unquote.

There isn't a crisis at NBC News. "The Today Show" is in first place by 14 percent. "Nightly News" is in first place. MSNBC jumped from the 21st most watched network in all of cable and primetime to the 10th most watched in one month. And COUNTDOWN's video podcast is eighth on iTunes. The audio version if 15th. Bill O. is 21st.

But there is no crisis at NBC News means only this to Annie Carney and "The New York Post": they have to make one up.

The runner up, Ed Snider, the owner of hockey's Philadelphia Flyers. He has invited the self-professed hockey mom, Governor Palin, to drop the ceremonial first puck at Saturday's Flyers game against the New York Rangers.

Mr. Snider does not mention that he's not only a maxed-out GOP donor, but also the backer-a backer of the infamous Freedom's Watch, one of the outside hit squads working against things like the Democrats and getting our troops home from Iraq.

He also does not mention that the arena he is turning over to the Republican ticket for a photo-op was paid in part-a $20 million part-by taxpayers of the city of Philadelphia and the state of Pennsylvania, and it probably should be a campaign-free zone.

But our winner, President Bush. Not to say we told you so on this, because you knew it as soon as I did or sooner. The president repeatedly assured us he was not spying on Americans when he was unconstitutionally spying on Americans' international phone calls and that, certainly, nothing that wasn't terror-related was not being dropped upon.

ABC News reporting that the NSA, the National Security Agency, hundreds of U.S. citizens overseas have been eavesdropped on as they called friends and family back home. In fact, two of the intercept operators who worked at the NSA center at Fort Gordon in Georgia said they not only listened into civilian conversations or contacts among members of organizations like the International Red Cross but that they also shared salacious or tantalizing calls they had spied upon.

David Murphy Fawkes (ph) said he would be told by colleagues, "Hey, check this out. There's good phone blank or there's some pillow talk." It would be some colonel making pillow talk.

So, President Bush you were eavesdropping on Americans after all, including our own military. Support the troops.

President George W. Bush, today's worst person in the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: If voting, as the bare minimum of participating in our democracy, can be doubled by persuading somebody else to vote, and in our No. 1 story on the COUNTDOWN, if you fly all the way to Florida to do it, you're either a great patriot or you are the comedian Sarah Silverman, who will join us presently.

Even with an electoral map that is leaning heavily in Senator Obama's favor, Florida's 27 electoral votes cannot ever be taken for granted, even if after they have counted, as you know.

So a political action committee called the Jewish Council for Education and Research came up with a plan" a video. The PAC's co-founder is saying, quote, "It's not a think tank white paper. It's meant to be a conversation starter." And that is an understatement, considering the video has been viewed on the Web more than seven million times in just two weeks. Sarah Silverman and "The Great Schlep."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH SILVERMAN, COMEDIAN: If you knew that visiting your grandparents could change the world, would you do it? Of course you would. You'd have to be a douche nozzle not to.

If Barack Obama doesn't become the next president of the United States, I'm going to blame the Jews. I am. And I know you're saying, like, "Oh my God, Sarah, I can't believe you're saying this. Jews are the most liberal, scrappy, civil rights people there are." Yes, that's true. But you're forgetting a large group of Jews that are not that way. They go by several aliases: Nana, Papa, Zadi (ph), Bubbie (ph), plain old Grandma and Grandpa. These are the people who vote in Florida.

The Florida vote can make or break an election. If you don't think that's true, why don't you think back to two elections ago when a little man named Al Gore got (EXPLETIVE DELETED) by Florida.

I'm making this video to urge you, all of you, to schlep over to Florida and convince your grandparents to vote Obama.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN: The whole four-minute pitch is, of course, online along with talking points for conversations with your grandparents or anybody else, for that matter.

Right here, right now, as promised, deep thinker Sarah Silverman. The second season of her show, "The Sarah Silverman Program," airs tonight on Comedy Central.

Welcome.

SILVERMAN: Hello.

OLBERMANN: So how did this-how did "The Great Schlep" come about?

SILVERMAN: Well, the guys from "The Great Schlep" Web site came to me, and they explained that the people that vote in Florida, it's such an important state, right?

OLBERMANN: Indeed.

SILVERMAN: They-the people that vote there are the old Jews. They make up, really, just a small percentage of Florida, but they vote.

OLBERMANN: But 97 percent of them vote.

SILVERMAN: Yes. And-and they're not going to vote for Obama, because his name is scary to them, old fears that may not be relevant anymore. And they think he's, you know, not pro-Israel and all this crap. So there's a lot of misinformation going on around there.

OLBERMANN: Yes.

SILVERMAN: But the good news is probably 100 percent, if you round up, of their grandkids love Obama.

OLBERMANN: All right.

SILVERMAN: And who's more influential over grandparents than their own grandkids? So it's just about getting-you know, and I-by the way, I think this is a gift to the grandkids, to the kids today. Because I can't believe I'm saying kids today. But, they're fat and they're lazy and they're apathetic. And here's-this election is such a chance to really make a difference at any age. And I think it's kind of a gift to everybody.

OLBERMANN: It will only affect them for the rest of their lifetimes.

SILVERMAN: Yes.

OLBERMANN: Which is the change election of their lifetimes, we presume. It probably is with ours, as well.

SILVERMAN: That was a good point I made, though, right?

OLBERMANN: That was an excellent point. But now, you also mentioned that just the name is scary. The name-his name is scary.

SILVERMAN: Barack Hussein Obama. But you would think that, you know, a people whose common name is, you know, Moshe Lipschitz or whatever would have a little compassion for a crappy name.

OLBERMANN: Yes. For-for a name that isn't just the average one you pull out of the phone book.

SILVERMAN: Yes. And by the way, the name John, plenty of bad people have been named John.

OLBERMANN: Yes.

SILVERMAN: Serial killers are named John.

OLBERMANN: That's true. Very few serial killers out there named Barack.

SILVERMAN: Yes. Maybe one or two. Or none.

OLBERMANN: Now, speaking of names, I've been meaning to-and I don't know a lot of Sarahs, but you qualify, and we have suddenly have a political figure on the national scene named Sarah. Yes. Do you have a-is it a mixture of pride and shame or just shame?

SILVERMAN: Just shame. Sarah Palin, she is the worst combination of she is as off-putting and gross as a pageant contestant but without the desire for world peace.

OLBERMANN: That's true.

SILVERMAN: And you know what? She cannot even think for herself or just come up with-when you talk to me, I just think of an answer and then I say an answer. Ask me what magazines I read. I mean, I'll show you how easy this is.

OLBERMANN: Can I-can I just throw you off here and say what magazines do you read?

SILVERMAN: Let's see. "In Style," "Domino," "Lucky," "Cat Fancy," "Big Natural," and the "Wasilla Gazette." How about that? That's the top of my head. How hard can it be?

OLBERMANN: Apparently, very. Yes, I wouldn't...

SILVERMAN: "Top Water."

OLBERMANN: I would stick, to like, Red Bull or something. You were -

I was at the Democratic convention. I got to see Danny Glover. Did you see anybody when you were out there, have a big time at the Democratic convention?

SILVERMAN: I saw so many people out there. I had a great time. I just went.

OLBERMANN: Yes.

SILVERMAN: And-well, I have a picture. I don't know if they're going to show it. I met Al Gore.

OLBERMANN: Man in the white suit here. Taking off his jacket. I get it.

SILVERMAN: I-yes, he does the over-the-shoulder thing.

OLBERMANN: "Nice to meet you." Yes.

SILVERMAN: It's very every man.

OLBERMANN: Yes.

SILVERMAN: I love Al Gore, so at the Democratic National Convention, I decided it would be a good idea to eat half a pot cookie. I didn't want to go crazy. And just as it hit me, somebody called me over to meet Al Gore.

And if you see-show the picture one more time. It had just hit me, and I think, right there, I'm saying-I don't know what I'm saying, but it looks maybe like, "Rah! I'm a monster" or something. "I'm going to eat you."

OLBERMANN: Great. And he-and he is not-he's not backing away or anything from you.

SILVERMAN: He was really nice, the way I remember it.

OLBERMANN: All right. So now you've gone into-you've been an instant political hit on the Intertube.

SILVERMAN: Yes, I'm political now.

OLBERMANN: Are you going to do more?

SILVERMAN: I think I'm going to go back to doody jokes.

OLBERMANN: Which is safer material these days? Or are they the same?

SILVERMAN: I don't know. I do pretty cerebral doody jokes.

OLBERMANN: It's the same.

SILVERMAN: I don't like that the "Post" is going to be mean to you tomorrow.

OLBERMANN: Please. I'm so used to it. It's like without-if it doesn't happen once a month, I get twitchy.

SILVERMAN: What happened to the liberal Jew media?

OLBERMANN: I have no idea. I have no idea.

The comedian Sarah Silverman, also mastermind of "The Great Schlep," pleasure to have you here.

SILVERMAN: Thank you. Nice to be here. Do you shake hands?

OLBERMANN: Absolutely. Always. Not...

(SILVERMAN SHAKES OLBERMANN'S HAND THEN SMELLS HER HAND)

OLBERMANN: Uh-oh.

All right. That's COUNTDOWN for this, the 1,989th day since the declaration of "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq. Sarah will be joining me in "The New York Post" now. I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck. Thank you.

Our MSNBC coverage continues now with Rachel Maddow live tonight from Los Angeles, and this is big, blockbuster news as to why she's in Los Angeles, on "The Tonight Show."

Very nice, Rachel. Very nice.

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": Thank you very much, Keith. I wore my glasses, too, so nobody will know it's the same me.

OLBERMANN: Can't wait. I'm racing home to TiVo it now.

MADDOW: Thank you, Keith.

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

END

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