updated 10/31/2008 12:47:20 PM ET 2008-10-31T16:47:20

COUNTDOWN

October 30, 2008

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

Guest: Frank Rich

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

Obama plus 12 in Pennsylvania, plus seven in Ohio, plus seven in Nevada, plus six in North Carolina, plus four in Florida.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D-IL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you want to know where John McCain will drive this economy, just look in the rearview mirror.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Everything in Barack Obama's rearview mirror and Bill Clinton's is unity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Folks, if we have not learned anything, we have learned that we need a president who wants to understand and who can understand.

(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)

CLINTON: Who can understand; yes, he can.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Last night, Obama gets Bill. Today, he meets Rachel.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": You have the opportunity to say John McCain or Bush were wrong. You also have the opportunity to say, conservatism has been bad for America. But, you haven't gone there either.

OBAMA: Yes. I'll tell you what, though, Rachel. You notice, I think we're winning right now. So, maybe I'm doing something right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: And nothing seems to be going right for his opponent. The advance team MIA in Ohio. For once, Joe the Plumber doesn't make a cameo.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R-AZ) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Joe is with us today. Joe, where are you? Where is Joe? Is Joe here with us today? Joe, I thought you were here today. All right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: And the Palin advance team appears to be M.I.A. in Erie, Pennsylvania.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. SARAH PALIN, ® VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm thrilled to be here in the home state of the world champion Philadelphia Phillies.

(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Yes, they play in Eastern PA., you are in Western PA.

"Family Guy's" Seth McFarland answers Billo the Clown.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: And, tonight's Campaign Comment. How, while trying to sink Obama with Rashid Khalidi, Rudy Giuliani has now instead linked John McCain to William Ayers.

All that and more: Now on COUNTDOWN.

(on camera): Good evening. This is Thursday, October 30th, five days until the 2008 presidential election.

It was the chief rationalization of Al Gore's purported loss in 2000.

If you can't carry your own state, you didn't deserve to win, anyway.

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: Senior advisors to the Democratic nominee of the 2008 telling "Newsweek" magazine that it might be worth their while to put one more state on the table even at this late hour-

Arizona. And suddenly, those McCain robocalls on his own turf begin to make a lot more sense.

Our own Richard Wolffe reporting that senior Obama advisors considering plans for Senator McCain's home state that might include ramping up TV advertising, on-the-ground staff, or even deploying the candidate to stop there in the campaign's final days. Senator Obama is scheduled to make a western swing, in any event, making an Arizona visit possible.

If the Republican nominee's home state is under consideration, what must the battleground states look like tonight? According to the Opinion Research Poll for "Time" magazine, they look like this: Pennsylvania, Obama by 12; Nevada and Ohio, Obama seven each; North Carolina, not a traditional battleground, not in recent elections anyway, plus six; and Florida, plus four.

The Hotline Poll indicating that the Democratic ticket is doing well out west because of the support of Hispanic and Latino voters: Obama-Biden leading by 43 points in that demographic in Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico.

Nationally, Senator Obama plus 11 in a "New York Times" Poll out tonight, that is down two from last week. But still, a significant margin just five days out.

Senator McCain is still solid in the unlicensed plumber demographic of Ohio. Although, at a morning event in Defiance, Ohio, it probably would have helped to know whether Joe the Plumber had actually showed up this time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: Joe is with us today. Joe, where are you? Where is Joe? Is Joe here with us today? Joe, I thought you were here today. All right. Well, you're all Joe the Plumbers, so all of you stand-up and say-thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Maybe they were right at "Saturday Night Live," maybe he is invisible. Reached at home by CNN, Joe Wurzelbacher telling them it was, quote, "news to him" that he was supposed to be at that McCain rally, saying that no one from the McCain campaign had confirmed he was supposed to be there. He called it a miscommunication.

But by the time the McCain reached Sandusky, Ohio this afternoon, JTP with them and addressing the crowd.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE WURZELBACHER, "JOE THE PLUMBER": Get out and get informed. I mean, really know what you're talking about when you're talking about it. You know, don't take everyone's opinion. I came to my own opinions by research. Get involved in the government. That way we can hold our politicians accountable and, you know, take back the government. It's all ours.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Research. So, that's what you call it when you agree with a claim that a vote for Obama would lead to the death of Israel, a claim so outrageous that even FOX News debunked it.

The Obama campaign taking nothing for granted in the state of Florida, Al the Nobel Laureate to join Obama for campaign events there over the weekend. Last night, it had been the man Vice President Gore first shared a ticket with-President Clinton headlining at a late night rally outside of Orlando.

This morning in Sarasota, Senator Obama calling his economic plan the "Clinton Plan."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The average working family, the average working family is $2,000 poorer now than when George Bush took office. And when Bill Clinton was president, Bill was with us last night.

(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)

OBAMA: Bill and I were in Orlando last night, when Bill Clinton was president, the average wage and income went up $7,500. So, I've got an economic plan that similar to Bill Clinton's. John McCain's got an economic plan that's similar to George Bush's.

(CROWD BOOING)

OBAMA: So, all you have to do is just look and see what works and what doesn't. This is not complicated. We've done the experiment. You've got eight years of Bush economics and eight years of Clinton economics. It's pretty straightforward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Let's turn now to CNBC's John Harwood, also, of course, of the "New York Times." Thank you, kindly, for your time tonight, John.

JOHN HARDWOOD, CNBC: Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN: The McCain staff and the coordination of its schedule with Joe the Plumber, apart from sending the candidate into a kind of Johnny Carson, "Doc is here, doc isn't here" moment, is there any symbolism in there about the state of that campaign with five days to go?

HARWOOD: Look-they are struggling at the end and they're making it up and say, go along. I was at that Obama rally that you just show, the clip of-in Sarasota this morning, the day before, at a McCain event in Tampa. The comparison-there is no comparison. You know, Barack Obama had a rally with thousands capacity, the stadium with 10,000, but there were well over that there.

John McCain put together a little national security talk after a roundtable at University of Tampa. There were a bunch of students outside the event but they were for Obama. And they were a few small number of McCain people.

They're just way outgunned right now. The financial resources that the Obama campaign has, the level of organization is so far superior.

And John McCain, as the poll numbers that showed, Keith, a few minutes ago, indicated he has got so many places to defend while Barack Obama is on offense everywhere. It's not easy to be on the McCain campaign right now.

OLBERMANN: Yes, there was a 6,000-person event in Ohio today. It turns out 4,000 of them were kids bussed in from other schools. It doesn't require further analysis on that. But what's happening in Arizona, Richard Wolffe's reporting that the Obama campaign is actually considering doing something of a serious nature in McCain's home state. Is it-does that campaign really believed it could win Arizona or a symbolism-late campaign symbolism is what's important here?

HARWOOD: I think they do believe it and I think they have reason to believe it, Keith. Look-Bill Clinton, in 1996 became the first Democrat to carry Arizona since Harry Truman. That reflective changes in the state, demographic changes, the rising power of the Hispanic vote which has broken two to one for Barack Obama in this election, and, influx of suburban voters who were more moderate and more capable of going one way or the other depending on the political mood of the moment.

And you look at the mood of the moment, it is so strongly in favor of the Democrat that Barack Obama has got advantages everywhere. If he has a chance in Montana, which the polls indicate that he does, he certainly has a chance in Arizona, even if it is McCain's home state.

OLBERMANN: What-can you explain it to any degree the logistics, the ideas behind the McCain spending of time and resources in the last five days? A campaign rally in Lorain County, Ohio this afternoon-Gore won Lorain by 22,000 votes, Kerry took Lorain by 17,000 votes. Then there were reports that he might campaign this weekend in Maine. Every poll in Maine had Obama above 50, McCain below 40. What's going on with the use of candidate's resources down the stretch?

HARWOOD: Well, in the case of Maine, it's one of the two states along with Nebraska that splits their Electoral College votes by congressional district. And so, what John McCain is trying to do is steal an electoral vote, not steal a win, an electoral vote by winning a congressional district up there. It's going to be difficult, but that's what he's trying to do.

And in terms of Ohio, that's a state he absolutely has to win. And so, you go into some of those counties where you had a big Democratic margin in the past and you're trying tear that margin down while you're trying to build your margins in the more rural parts of the state, the more Republican parts of the state. But there are so many leaks in this dike right now. Where do you put your finger? Which ones do you plug up? That's the strategic challenge they face.

And like I said, it's a very tough time. The Republicans I talked to in Florida are more focused on trying to save down-ballot Republican House and Senate candidates than they are thinking that they can win this presidential race.

OLBERMANN: Yes. And all they had to face this week was Obama, Clinton, and Gore down the stretch.

HARWOOD: Exactly.

OLBERMANN: John Harwood of CNBC and the "New York Times," special thanks tonight, John.

HARWOOD: You bet.

OLBERMANN: In Sarasota, Senator Obama also answering criticisms today about why he has not been tough enough addressing the conservative policies of George Bush and John McCain and how that conservativism has failed America. Only he didn't do that at the podium at Ed Smith Stadium, now of the Cincinnati Reds, he said instead when he sat down for an interview with my colleague, Rachel Maddow. And he made some news perhaps with six unexpectedly confident words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: When John McCain calls you a socialist.

OBAMA: Right.

MADDOW: This redistribute the wealth idea. He go-he calls you soft on national security.

OBAMA: Yes.

MADDOW: That's not just an anti-Barack Obama script.

OBAMA: No.

MADDOW: That is his reading from an anti-Democrat, and specifically, an anti-liberal script.

OBAMA: Absolutely.

MADDOW: And so, you have the opportunity to say John McCain, George Bush, you're wrong. You also have the opportunity to say, conservatism has been bad for America. But you haven't gone there either.

OBAMA: Yes. I tell you what though, Rachel. You notice, I think we're winning right now. So, maybe I'm doing something right. I know you've been bruising, you know, cruising for a bruising for a while there, looking for a fight out there. But, I just think people are tired of that kind of back-and-forth, tit-for-tat ideological approach to the problems.

Now, there is no doubt that there is a set of premises in the reigning Republican ideology that I just think are wrong. This whole notion, and then it's been captured by this back-and-forth about whether I'm a redistributor, I think is a great example. The notion that the progressive income tax which was instituted by Teddy Roosevelt, supposedly John McCain's hero, is somehow un-American, I think is an example of how people have gone way off track.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: The rest of that interview, of course, at the top of hour, on "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW." In the interim, Rachel herself is kind enough to peel away from those preparations to join us now from the ballpark in Sarasota.

Good evening, Rachel.

MADDOW: Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN: So, you got-I guess, I think you got some news in there. I don't know if we've heard him quite that boldly confident, "I think we're winning right now." Was his mood like that throughout the interview and the time he spent with them?

MADDOW: If he was any more relaxed, I would have thought he was on ambient (ph). It's just a very relaxed, confident, good-humored, energetic atmosphere when you are with him. He seems like-it seems like he doesn't have a care in the world.

And everybody talks about his staff being the no-drama Obama staff. It's very, very true when you see them in person. But he, himself, just seems to be comfortable, easy with where he is. They were running slightly early all day today. And with all of the hullabaloo around the big event like this, a big rally, a lot of interviews, a lot of stuff going on, he was absolutely calm and confident.

And I think, obviously confident about the election to the point where I wasn't asking him how he's going to win the election and he brought up, essentially, by himself, the idea that he thinks he's going to.

OLBERMANN: Well, this dovetails to-with the point that I've been making since, at least, last winter that I think the pros are overlooking but the voters sure aren't. I'm gathering, you got the same sense-it is strange, almost. This is the calmest, least perturbable guy in the room and that doesn't just start when the camera comes on, right?

MADDOW: That's exactly right. I mean-and it's a relaxedness and a sort of confidence especially even around time issues. I mean, when you're being handled, you're going to be handled by that many people, when you got that many people working around you to make sure you are in the right place, to make sure you're talking to the right person, to make sure you are moving through the right door at the right time all the time, I think that can create a sense of anxiety.

But he's asking people about their kids, asking people what their kids are going to be for Halloween. He is-we're talking about lunch, we had a long back-and-forth about Boston basketball. He's he doesn't seem to be caught up in the hurriedness of the-inevitably, how hurried it has to be this close to the end of the campaign.

OLBERMANN: Infer from that-that answer we played to your question about conservative policies of Bush and McCain. If he wins, if he's president, may he prove to be more conciliatory, more of a compromiser than many in the base might be expecting? I mean, we've had hints of this, the NSA FISA Bill for example. Do you think it's pervasive?

MADDOW: I think that in that answer, I'm glad you guys went with that, that segment of the interview, that was right at the top of the interview, and you can sort of see not only his mood but what he was willing to get into right away. That is essentially him saying, "I know how to win." It's not him saying, "I know how to change the country."

And I think that represents why a lot of liberals, a lot of progressives, a lot of people who are sort of unabashedly on the left, don't see him as-don't see him necessarily as their guy. They may want to vote for him, they may see him as the best chance for ending the Bush administration, they don't see him as a progressive standard bearer.

When he said, "We are winning," again, I had not asked him about the election.

OLBERMANN: Yes.

MADDOW: I was asking him about essentially telling America that conservativism has been bad for the country, as a way of changing the country, changing Americans' ideas about conservatism and liberalism. And his reaction to that was, well, I'm winning this election. Almost, we were talking in two different paths. I'm talking, I guess, as a liberal; he's talking as a candidate. But the twain were not meeting in that interview.

OLBERMANN: Yes. Then, again, if you beat conservativism to some degree, you have beaten conservatism. Sell me on the rest of it.

MADDOW: Yes.

OLBERMANN: Not that I'm not going to watch, but what else is there that you were stoked about?

MADDOW: I was excited to hear him talk about some stuff that I think is very sexy policy that nobody ever thinks is interesting enough to talk about on television. Something you and I cover on our shows, but doesn't get a lot of broad coverage. Things like infrastructure. He went to a lot of detail about how countries like China are sort of putting us to shame, leaving us behind when it comes to investing in their own infrastructure.

He made some interesting comments about what George Bush has to show for his deficit. It'd be one thing to have a deficit like this and have invested as much as you could have invested in this country.

He also, I think, makes some news about Afghanistan, talking about how he doesn't-even while he thinks that there will be more the troops in Afghanistan, he doesn't think that Afghanistan will end up being a troop presence like Iraq. I think that some interesting stuff.

OLBERMANN: All right. Sexy policy with Rachel Maddow and Senator Barack Obama coming up in just about 43 minutes. We'll see you then. In the interim, please take some swings in the batting cage.

MADDOW: I will. Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Thank you, Rachel.

It had already been a big trip to Florida for the senator. The Bill Clinton impact, his first appearance with Obama and it could not have gone better. Frank Rich of the "New York Times" is here.

And tonight's Campaign Comment: Only Rudy Giuliani could have pulled this off and messed this up, seeking to slime Obama with Rashid Khalidi. He instead winds up linking John McCain-to Bill Ayers?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: When he is on, nobody is better than Bill Clinton. And last night, six days until the election, finally appearing with Barack Obama, he was on. Frank Rich joins us.

Later in Worsts: Governor Palin discovers after the fact that not all of Pennsylvania likes your world champion Philadelphia Phillies.

And tonight's Campaign Comment: William Kristol was right. Did I really say that? William Kristol was right, John McCain needs to fire his campaign staff, and Palin and Rove and Giuliani who so botched a smear attempt that they have just linked McCain to William Ayers.

You're watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: After a long bruising primary fight which pitted his wife against the eventual nominee, it is now former President Bill Clinton who may have served up the most telling insight into Senator Barack Obama's leadership style.

In our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: Senator John McCain's leadership style apparently leading him to already pre-blame somebody should he go down to defeat.

At the outdoor rally in Kissimmee, Florida last night, 35,000 people in attendance, the former president campaigned for the first time along side Obama, he pointed to the two presidential decisions made by each candidate thus far, the vice presidential pick and their responses to the financial crisis. President Clinton noted that on the latter, Senator Obama sought the advice of economists, business icons and other political leaders including Clinton, himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: Folks, if we have not learned anything, we have learned that we need a president who wants to understand and who can understand.

(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)

CLINTON: Who can understand; yes, he can.

(CROWD CHANTING)

CLINTON: Now, wait a minute.

The second thing-and this meant more to me than anything else and I haven't cleared this with him. And he may even be mad at me for saying this so close to the election but I know what else he said to his economic advisers. He said tell me what the right thing to do is. What's the right thing for America, don't tell me what's popular. You tell me what's right and I'll figure out how to see it. That's what a president does in a crisis, what is right for America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: And though President Clinton did not say so explicitly, the comparison was obvious, Senator "Pretend to suspend my campaign" McCain had failed both of those tests. His vice presidential choice now rather (ph) a constant thorn in his side.

A pleasure to be joined tonight by the "New York Times" columnist Frank Rich.

Good to see you in person, sir.

FRANK RICH, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Good to see you.

OLBERMANN: Was that one nugget from Clinton worth the wait? I mean, the premise of the president who might in this order, (A) listen, (B) contemplate, © decide, and then, (D) announce to everybody?

RICH: Well, absolutely. And so, it would be better for the country to have someone like that but also, Clinton is astute politically.

I think we look back and when the McCain campaign started to really run downhill would be this two hasty decisions that are political, Sarah Palin and that incredible circus he staged in Washington where he, quote, "suspended" his campaign and threatened to hold his breath if there were a debate. And, he was not putting country first, he was putting politics first.

The other thing about these two decisions is that they were whimsical. He didn't vet them, like, it doesn't seem he even know as to what he got with Sarah Palin. He didn't know her record, doesn't seem to know who she is now. Maybe, he's already working to forget her but it's just sloppiness. It's like the Joe the Plumber thing today. They just can't get a two-car parade going.

OLBERMANN: There was something else in there that I thought watching that last night from Kissimmee, that Clinton pointed out-the diversity of the crowd. It's a nice polite way of saying something that is part of something unpleasant, I think, but true, I think. If you looked at the McCain crowds early on, it was not the darker faces were totally missing, but there were few, but there were those scattered.

RICH: Yes.

OLBERMANN: If you watch now, it seems to me-and maybe I'm wildly wrong about this-almost done, almost none and especially at the Palin events. There's homogeneity to those crowds. And again, I'm trying to be as nice as possible about this, but there's (ph), only Clinton could get away with saying that in that way, don't you think?

RICH: I agree. And I don't think we have to be quite so nice about it.

OLBERMANN: Yes.

RICH: The fact is, this isn't South Africa 25 years ago, this is a major political party that is essentially all white. And the hierarchy of it is definitely all white, but there hasn't been a new black Republican elected to federal office, I think, in six years. And so, what does that tell us about the party and how does that look to voters? I think it looks like it's the party of the last century. It looks bad-not only is it morally bad, but politically. I think it's idiotic because it's against the whole demographics of this country and where they are going.

OLBERMANN: Right.

You alluded to the Palin issue. Is a big takeaway from this election, regardless of the outcome, maybe V.P. picks matter more than they used to, if not for being the decisive, that they can, at least, set a trend of momentum going, as you pointed out, these two critical decisions by McCain seemed to reverse any motion towards a tie or leadership that he might have had in the polls?

RICH: The Palin pick is fascinating because, originally, it was thought to be this wild success both by the Republican Party, by McCain, and also by the media. Now, it's blowing up in their face and I think it has set a new precedent. Usually, vice presidential picks don't matter much. But in this case, I think, it established the template for erratic decision-making, whimsical decision-making that haunts them in everything that's happened since.

OLBERMANN: And as you sow, so shall you reap. I mean, you've heard diva about her, whack job, going rogue, and those were all from outside the McCain campaign. That's not me talking or you writing. Roger Simon now at Politico today is suggesting that the operative word will be scapegoat, that McCain is-it suddenly dawned on him, it's all her fault.

RICH: As if he didn't pick her after what? One meeting and one phone conversation and no vetting. That's preposterous and it won't fly in the aftermath of this fiasco.

OLBERMANN: But why-as she seemed to be looking forward towards 2012 and making statements that seem to be off the reservation relative to what the campaign wanted to do and that was look at as bad politics. Why would anybody, why would McCain, why would anybody in that campaign voice aloud the idea that we are going to lose on Tuesday and here is who's at fault? Why not hold it in until Tuesday night?

RICH: I think, you know, if the Titanic is going down, they are all throwing each other overboard and that's what we are seeing.

OLBERMANN: Well, I hope everybody can swim.

RICH: Got it.

OLBERMANN: Frank Rich of the "New York Times," great thanks. Keep your fingers crossed.

RICH: Thanks.

OLBERMANN: Thanks, Frank.

Billo versus Seth McFarland from "Family Guy," our pal Seth's response tonight, he wants us to play a little clip from a previously, never broadcast little list. If you're a Gilbert Sullivan fan, you'd be delighted.

And in Worsts: The lunatic fringe's lunatics scoop the real identity of Barack Obama's father, thinking maybe it's Darth Vader. Worst Persons is ahead on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: Membrane, in a moment. And the campaign assault of sleaze. It has now tried to slime Obama by linking him to an anonymous person.

First, tonight's special on ball, breaking news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SETH MACFARLANE, PRODUCER, "FAMILY GUY": Breaking news. Oh, this should be rich. Must be something of monumental, earth-shattering importance. Why would they have that earth there? Shattering. Is it shattering? It's earth-shattering breaking news. Oh, do tell me. Tell me, tell me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Bill O. has picked another fight with a cartoon. Last week, he singled out friend of COUNTDOWN and "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane for giving the business to the McCain-Palin campaign.

"The FOX program, 'Family Guy,' is run by a notorious left-winger named Seth MacFarlane, who often uses the program to promote his causes."

Mr. MacFarlane points out to me that, in a never broadcast DVD extra from an episode last season, he had, in fact, foreseen last week's attack and has already exacted a cartoonish revenge on Loofah Man.

To set the scene briefly, Stewie Griffin has taken over the world and breaks into a song about his enemies list, using Gilbert and Sullivan and "The Mikado" as inspiration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MACFARLANE: I have no doubt that perhaps there may exist some mild discontent amongst some of us at the recent changes I have implemented. Lest you be considering any sort of uprising, I warn you, I am quite prepared to make an example of any undesirable elements, and don't think I don't know who you are.

(singing) As some day it may happen that a victim might be found, I've got a little list. I've got a little list of society offenders who might well be underground and who never would be missed. Who never would be missed.

There's the white kid with the baggy clothes who's talking like he's black. The girl you date who doesn't get the jokes in "Caddyshack." The Asian guy who cuts in front of every single line. And Britney Spears for accidentally showing her vagina. And then O'Reilly's ineffective dermatologist. They'd none of them be missed. They'd none of them be missed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Thanks, Seth.

The old joke from Chicago was vote early, vote often. Turns out nearly a third of American voters will fulfill the first half of that aphorism.

And the Republican slime machine utterly backfires as Rudy Giuliani ties John McCain to William Ayers. Tonight's campaign comment.

But first, the most outrageous or untrue thing said by or on behalf of the Republican presidential nominee, "McCain in the Membrane."

No. 3, the "B" actress update. Ashley Todd cut a view (ph) in court today. As a first-time offender, she'll be released from jail, undergo mental health treatment. If she stays clean, keeps seeing the shrink, and keeps authorities apprised of her whereabouts, her record will be expunged, except for the 147,000 hits on Google and the 700,000 or so views of various clips about her on YouTube.

No. 2, when Neil Cavuto bails on you. The fixed news reactionary commentary, neither campaign's economic numbers add up to him, but he says "a consistent pattern in Obama's. For the life of me, Senator Straight Talk, I see no such straight thing with yours. You rail against big government, yet continue to push cockamamie spending plans that make a mockery of it. That's why you're losing right now, Senator McCain. Not because you don't have the courage of your convictions but because on economic matters you have no convictions, period."

Holy Don Pardo's pants.

And No. 1, when you can't think of a name to slime, pretend only the hip people know. This is McCain spokesman Michael Goldfarb. And if you've never seen a guy's career end on live TV before, watch how Rick Sanchez of CNN just lets him do it. You go, Rick.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL GOLDFARB, MCCAIN SPOKESMAN: Look, you're missing the point again, Rick. The point is that Barack Obama has a long track record of being around anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, and anti-American rhetoric.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Can you name one other person besides Khalidi who he hangs around with who's anti-Semitic?

GOLDFARB: Yes. He pals around with William Ayers, who is a domestic terrorist.

SANCHEZ: William Ayers is not-no, no. The question I asked you is can you name one other person that he hangs around with who's anti-Semitic? Because that's what you said.

GOLDFARB: Look, we all know that there are people who Barack Obama has been in hot water.

SANCHEZ: Michael, I asked you to name one person. One.

GOLDFARB: Rick...

SANCHEZ: You said he hangs around with people and it doesn't matter. OK. We've got Khalidi on the table. Give me No. 2. Who's the other anti-Semitic person that he hangs around with that we, quote, "all know about"?

GOLDFARB: Rick, we both know who No. 2 is.

SANCHEZ: Who? Would you tell us?

GOLDFARB: No, Rick. I think we all know who we're talking about here.

SANCHEZ: Somebody who's anti-Semitic that he hangs around with?

GOLDFARB: Absolutely.

SANCHEZ: Well, say it.

GOLDFARB: I think we know who we're talking about, Rick.

SANCHEZ: All right. All right. Again, you charged that Khalidi is anti-Semitic. He would say that his policies on Israel differ from those of Barack Obama and many other people. But either way, I guess we'll have to leave it at that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN: Look, Mr. Goldfarb, you're saying Joe the plumber is anti-Semitic. I'm going to have to ask you to step outside.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: In Nevada, they go from the produce aisle to the slots to the ballot box. In California, they're doing it, drive-through style. In Ohio, they arrive at the board of elections by the busload. They are the early voters. And our third story on the COUNTDOWN, they are turning out in droves, some waiting in lines as long as six hours. In Georgia, one woman collapsed in line.

Thirty-two now allowing residents to vote early without a special reason. In 2004, 22 percent of the electorate did that. This year, a third expected to take that advantage.

Good news for the party whose mission has been get out the vote. Dubious, however, for Republicans trying, and in most cases failing, to suppress early voting and keep Democrats away from the polls on Tuesday, especially in the key swing states.

Though, in one rare case, a Republican has done the truly small "D" democratic thing. Florida Governor Charlie Crist, as you heard, extended early voting there from eight hours to 12 per day.

Let's turn now to MSNBC's own David Shuster, as usual, following an election, we are in a sense, joining already in progress.

Good evening, David.

DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC NEWS: Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Well, first of all, the early voting numbers are astonishing. What's the-what's the accepted explanation for that turnout?

SHUSTER: Well, three major factors, Keith. First of all, Organization, convenience and then fear. As far as organizations are concerned, both campaigns have put much more of an emphasis on early voting. And that's particularly the case with the Obama campaign, which sort of uses it as a way to keep track of precinct by precinct, if they're getting their people out that they're supposed to. It's a lot easier if they do that over two weeks, as opposed to, just say, 12 hours on election day.

As far as convenience is concerned, with all of the talk of historic nature and expected massive turnout on election day, a lot of people, anecdotally, simply, would rather spend the six hours trying to wait in line now, than worrying about what might happen on Tuesday.

And then the other factor, Keith, is sort of fear. Because there have been some changes in terms of requirements in many states. And because a lot of people remember Florida in 2000 or Ohio in 2004. There's a great fear among a lot of people, anecdotally, that they don't want to show up and suddenly realize maybe they need their I.D. and they don't have it.

So if they show up now and there's a mistake or a problem, they can always fix the problem and then come back tomorrow. So those three factors are pretty much driving the early voter turnout, according to most political analysts.

OLBERMANN: In the key states, David, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Democrats outnumber Republicans among the early voters. Is there a conclusion to draw about fortunes holding up like that on Tuesday?

SHUSTER: Well, certainly, with North Carolina and Iowa, the Democrats are outnumbering the Republicans early voting by two to one. And that certainly backs up the idea that Obama is doing very well in terms of this get-out-the-vote organization in those states and is likely leading in those two states.

In Colorado and Florida, it's a bit more complicated, because the Democrats have the edge overall in early voting, but the edge is more pronounced in terms of the actual in-person early voting, whereas the Republicans have the edge in those two states, Colorado and Florida, in terms of absentees.

And when you look at the ratio, it's usually about 60 percent now, actual in person early voting, 40 percent absentee ballots. And so again, it's a little more complicated in those two states. And another reason why a lot of people, of course, are looking at what's the actual turnout going to be on election day in those two states.

OLBERMANN: The Republican intimidation tactics, suing to shut down the early voting centers, sending private investigators to homes of people they suspect of fraud, the lawsuits challenging voter eligibility.

While they don't necessarily expect to win, and in many cases they haven't won, is the goal really sort of an ad hoc P.R. campaign designed to intimidate voters and still paint the Democrats as corrupt?

SHUSTER: Yes. It's really two-fold, Keith. First of all, there is the effort, of course, to try to keep a lot of voters away from voting, especially in urban areas, traditional Democratic precincts, by either suggesting, for example, to people who are poor and uneducated, "Oh, if you bounced a check, you're going to get arrested on election day." That's not true. But that kind of effort does have the impact of keeping some away from the polls and diminishing some turnout.

But beside all of that, there's also, of course, at least according to some Republicans who are willing to talk about it, this idea that, if the Democrats are going to win, they're going to control, of course, Congress. And if Obama's going to win, the Republicans, a lot of them, don't want there to be a mandate.

And the idea is, well, if Obama wins and it's close, it makes it easier for Republicans to argue, "Wait a second. The Democrats sort of won this unfairly. They don't have the mandate. If it had been a clean election, maybe there had been a different outcome."

And the irony, of course, is if that's sort of a political tactic, post-election, it's particularly ironic, given the way that the Democrats after 2000, that didn't sort of keep them from saying, "Wait a second. We're going to essentially try to block everything that the are Republicans trying to do."

OLBERMANN: And last point, Charlie Crist, the Republican governor of Florida, once on the short list for the vice-presidential nomination of the Republican Party, voting hours, extending them. He extended them. The motivation, he's just being a good governor?

SHUSTER: Well, this is the second time he's actually put his finger in McCain's eye. You'll recall the first, of course, was regarding ACORN, when Charlie Crist went off the talking points and said, "Oh, no, voter fraud is not a problem down here in Florida."

Part of it is sort of simply driven by the fact, the political reality, that when you do see these pictures of people waiting for six hours or long lines in Florida, obviously that it makes it easier if they can extend the hours.

The other part is Florida, clearly, Crist does not want to go through the same thing that Florida went through back in 2000. The idea is, if he can solve some of the problems now, lengthening the hours, perhaps that means Florida won't be the poster child of a bad election day, as it was eight years ago.

OLBERMANN: MSNBC's David Shuster. Thanks, David. Have a good night.

SHUSTER: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: In a campaign of glass houses, Rudy Giuliani just threw the biggest stone. How he has just linked John McCain to William Ayers.

And the Sarah Palin version of another old cliche: when you're assuming, you're making an ass out of you and me, you betcha. The governor, the world champion Philadelphia Phillies, and "The Worst Persons in the World," all ahead and interconnected on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: Bill O. takes a swipe at Charles Barkley while he gets hit hard again in the ratings. The startling swoop from the right wing. You won't believe who they think Barack Obama's father is. And Governor Palin gets booed again over a sports gaffe. "Worst Persons" next.

And the nightly "Campaign Comment." Nice job, Rudy Giuliani, managing to link John McCain with William Ayers.

COUNTDOWN continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: The Republican slime machine manages to connect the dots between John McCain and William Ayers. The "Campaign Comment" is next.

First, on COUNTDOWN's No. 2 story, tonight's "Worst Persons in the World."

Bronze, Bill O., the clown, ran a clip of ex-basketball star Charles Barkley, noting correctly that Republicans have been playing the race cards, quote, "And they use code words like welfare and things like that. And they just use code words. Those are racial innuendoes."

Bill O.'s well-thought-out, reasoned argument? "Well, Charles.

Here's a word not in code: 'pinhead'."

What Bill is actually upset about is Barkley's criticism of fixed news, which Barkley calls corrupt, and the ratings which have been corrupted, I suppose. For the sixth time in 12 nights, COUNTDOWN beat Bill O. last night. First Obama beat him with a million, two hundred eighty thousand viewers. Then we beat him with a million, seven hundred and thirty-nine thousand to Bill's million, two hundred and twelve last night.

The runner up, Pamela Geller, the lunatic fringe blogger most of the lunatic fringe will not touch, who has now reached the startling pre-election bombshell delusion: Barack Obama is actually the love child of Malcolm X because, quote, "the common physical features of the Kenyan Luo tribe: modest stature under six feet, round faces, small chins, wide set eyes, slanted-back foreheads, and retracted hairlines. None of these features are shared by Malcolm X or Barack Obama!"

You know, I don't have any of those features of the Kenyan Luo tribe.

Maybe I'm Barack Obama's father.

But our winner, Governor Sarah Palin's got to learn that geography a little better down here in the lower 48. Gets her butt booed in Erie, Pennsylvania, this afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), VICE-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I am thrilled to be here in the home state of the world champion Philadelphia Phillies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Nice try. Maybe you've heard about Pennsylvania having those two halves, eastern and western. In the eastern half, they love the Phillies. In the western half, they hate the Phillies. Western P.A. is Pittsburgh Pirates country or, in some areas, Cleveland Indians territory.

If you just lost Erie, Gov, now you know why. Try palling around with a map. Huh?

Governor Sarah Palin, today's "Worst Person in the World."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: Finally, as promised, tonight's "Campaign Comment" and Rashid Khalidi. Now, it is one thing, one stupid cataclysmic thing, to slime your opponent because of his relationship with some guy only to then find out that your own candidate has a stronger relationship, still, with that guy.

But this graduates to the level of fatal political malpractice, when the ultimate result of your effort to slime your opponent is to, in fact, draw a parallel between your candidate and William Ayers.

The huffing, puffing, panicking McCain noise machine has really done it this time. John McCain and William Ayers both gave money to this man, Rashid Khalidi.

Senator McCain, you may want to get a pad and pencil here and write all of this down.

I'm actually going to agree with William Kristol when he wrote in "The New York Times" that you should fire your entire campaign staff. In three short steps, while trying to link Senator Obama to Rashid Khalidi, they have instead linked you to Rashid Khalidi and to Bill Ayers. Watch, Senator.

Step one, get the running mate who thinks she's smarter than everybody else to throw out the first pitch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN: It seems that there was yet another radical professor from the neighborhood who spent a lot of time with Barack Obama, going back several years. This is important, because this associate, Rashid Khalidi, he, in addition to being a political ally to Barack Obama, he's a former spokesperson for the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Now, Senator, if you're seeing that clip for the first time, take a minute to clean up whatever you were drinking and whatever you hit with your spit take.

As you'll remember, Senator McCain, Rashid Khalidi is also the guy you gave $448,873 to ten years ago, when you were the chairman of the International Republican Institute and Khalidi wanted grant money to spend in the West Bank for his Center on Palestine Research and Studies. As you know, Senator, $448,000 goes a lot further than friendship.

You've got to tell Governor Palin stuff like this, Senator. Unless, of course, she already knew and she said it anyway, which means that those stories about how she's stabbing you in the back are just scratching the mavericky surface.

But to continue this long, dismal tide of self-destruction, Senator McCain, that was step one. Step two, get the drum beat really rolling with the most overrated strategist in the history of American politics, Karl Rove, on the echo chamber of choice, Fixed Noise.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS ANALYST: What bothers me about this is where was the McCain opposition research when this came out last April that talked about Obama's presence and mentioned in the story the tape. This would be a lot better if this drumbeat had been started last spring.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Senator. Senator, put the bottle down, Senator. You may know all too well, and I may just be guessing that Rashid Khalidi had to have come up last spring. But what used to be the cooler heads in your campaign said, "Ixnay on the Alidikay." Because your campaign had to have known that you mainlined directly back to him, not just the $448,000 grant in 1998, but another series of other grants from your group to Khalidi's group in 1993. You'd know how much those were for; we haven't found out-yet.

But the smart folks are all gone now. All you've got left are Sarah Palin and Karl Rove and Rudy Giuliani. Steps one and two having been completed, he was step three.

I know. Let's ask Rudy. He'll try anything. Honestly, Senator, I know you like this man, but frankly, if he's talking anything west of Hoboken, New Jersey, or anything more complicated than how to speed cross-town traffic, he's lost.

The problem is, when Rudy Giuliani starts talking Rashid Khalidi, not only is Rudy going down, but he's taking you with him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: What I do know is that Khalidi has made very incendiary remarks about Israel, about Israel being racist. He has a connection with the PLO. He worked for an organization called WAFA. I think it's W-A-F-A. He was their spokesman. I believe Khalidi's wife was the translator for that organization, which was affiliated with the PLO.

And he has been, I think, you can debate-there's no dispute about the fact he has a very hostile view to the state-to the state of Israel. And he was-he was given a party, I guess it was sometime in the early 2000s, and Senator Obama appeared at that party and said laudatory things about him.

Also, Senator Obama and Ayers, sitting on the Woods board, gave something like $70,000 or $80,000 to Khalidi's organizations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Senator, Senator, Senator, morals aside, this is the classic problem of guilt by association. Obama and Ayers gave Khalidi's organizations $80,000. McCain gave Khalidi's organizations $448,000. Obama and Ayers. Obama and Ayers. Obama and Ayers and McCain. Obama and Ayers and McCain. Ayers and McCain. Ayers and McCain?

So now, not only is Rashid Khalidi your problem and not Obama's, but now you're connected to Bill Ayers. The only difference is who gave this nebulously nefarious guy with the Arabic name more money: you or Ayers. Golly, Senator, that would be you a figure of at least five to one, which is also the ratio of your campaign sleaze bombs that blow up in your own face.

Retire them, Senator, and also this clown college you've got, before they, quote, "advise you," unquote, into trying to link Obama to the Keating 5 or something. Because if you lose on Tuesday, Senator, you're going to have a long time to think about not only why you sold your soul but why you sold it to these chowder heads.

And if you win on Tuesday, you're going to go into office with more blowback sleaze on you than any president in our history. And the White House is no place for a brain trust consisting of very few brains and nobody worth trusting.

I've got an idea, Senator. Maybe you should turn to a guy who evidently thinks like you do, at least on funding Palestinian think tanks. Maybe you could get some late help from William Ayers.

That's COUNTDOWN for this, 2,010th day since the declaration of "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.

Now, fresh from her interview with Senator Obama, but reporting to us tonight from Sarasota, here is Rachel Maddow and her show.

Good evening, again, Rach.

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

END

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