updated 11/4/2008 1:45:16 PM ET 2008-11-04T18:45:16

Nate Silver, Chris Kofinis

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

As the candidates crisscross the nation of irritable blur against the edge of history, it is the eve.  Tonight‘s NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” Poll: Obama 51, McCain 43.  The final Gallup Poll: Obama 55, McCain 44.  Republican internal polls: Obama by three, with McCain viable in maybe Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, and Florida.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D-IL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I have just one word for you, Florida—tomorrow.

(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R-AZ) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Anyway, my friends, this microphone is brought to you by the Democratic National Committee.

(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Well, he suddenly got his back up career back in place.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN:  Barack Obama purchased air time on three major networks, we, however, can only afford QVC.

(LAUGHTER)

TINA FEY, ACTRESS (impersonating Gov. Sarah Palin):  These campaigns sure are expensive.

MCCAIN:  They sure are.

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  The last full day of campaigning with Howard Fineman.  The electoral math with Nate Silver.  The story of the ground game with Chris Kofinis.  And the story of the humor—gallows and otherwise with Gene Robinson.

I let Ben Affleck handle that segment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR (impersonating Keith Olbermann):  It will appear, sir, and tyranny up with which we dare no longer afford (ph).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Worsts: The big question?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What do you think of Keith Olbermann?

BILL O‘REILLY, FOX ANCHOR:  You know, I ignore all those gutter snipes because they are just in it to hurt people, whether it‘s some guy on MSNBC or talk radio or wherever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Is it easier to ignore us when you finish third behind Rachel and me for the whole week?

And tonight‘s Campaign Comment: What if it had all been reversed? 

What if Obama had said all the things like this one—

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

INTERVIEWER:   How many houses do you have?

OBAMA:  You know, I think that‘s a good question to address to my staff.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  All that and more: Now on COUNTDOWN.

(on camera):  Good evening.  This is Monday, November 3rd, hours until the 2008 presidential election.

Whatever the result after the final votes are counted, the outcome for Senator Barack Obama guaranteed to be a bitter and heart rending one, was word this afternoon that in our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: His grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, did not survive to see Election Day.

Senator Obama and his half sister announcing this afternoon that the woman they called “Toot,” short for “Tutu,” Hawaiian for grandparent, died early this morning, Eastern Standard Time, after a battle with cancer.

The two are saying of Mrs. Dunham in a statement, quote, “She was the cornerstone of our family, and a woman of extraordinary accomplishments, strength, and humility.  She was the person who encouraged and allowed us to take chances.  She was proud of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and left this world with the knowledge that her impact on all of us was meaningful and enduring.  Our debt to her is beyond measure.”

Senator Obama informed of his grandmother‘s death a little after 8:00 a.m. in Florida, a couple of hours later hitting the trail in Jacksonville for a final day of campaigning.  Earlier this evening, in Charlotte, North Carolina, talking briefly about his loss.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  I‘m not going to talk about it too long because it‘s hard to talk about.  She‘s one of those quiet heroes that we have all across America who—they are not famous, their names aren‘t in the newspapers, but each and every day they work hard.  They look after their families. 

They sacrifice for their children and their grandchildren.  They aren‘t

seeking the limelight.  All they try to do is just do the right thing.  And

in this crowd, there are a lot of quiet heroes like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Any change of subject from that one a difficult one.  But, obviously, Mrs. Dunham would want to know where things stand tonight on this almost hushed eve with breathes held and fingers crossed.

Senator Obama with an eight-point lead in the final national NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” Poll released today.  The Keith number of your depends plus not sure plus the margin of error equals 7.1 percent.  Looking inside Obama‘s lead based upon his overwhelming advantage among African-Americans, 87 points, Latinos 41 points.  The lead in 18 to 34-year-old voters, 21 points; independents, 10 points; blue collar voters, seven points.

Senator McCain with the edge among evangelicals 59 points; voters 65 and older, 13 points; white men, 12 points; and white women, one point right now.

Yet, if Senator McCain supporters merely liked him, Senator Obama‘s positively love him.  Eighty-six percent of Obama supporters have a very positive view of the Democrat compared with 56 percent of those voting for the Republican.

In the national daily tracking polls: Gallup, Senator Obama by 11 points among traditional likely voters, the number of Keith, the no opinion plus margin of error in that one is five.

The Hotline Poll: Obama by five.  The Keith number of undecideds plus margin of error is 8.3.

And in the Research 2000 for Daily Kos: Obama by six.  Keith number there is four.

In the final Quinnipiac swing state polls—the ones that the Obama camp are looking at—Obama by 10 in Pennsylvania.  Keith number there:

6.5.  Seven in Ohio, the Keith number is larger, 8.5.  Two in Florida with the Keith number of 8.3.

And before today, the McCain campaign alleging this election was about Obama‘s celebrity or his purported inexperience, or his falsely palling around with terrorists, or is supposedly being a secret socialist, today, Senator McCain and Governor Palin deciding that this election is really, definitely, positively, and finally about—coal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN:  In a new video, talking about his policies on coal, he told, strangely enough, the “San Francisco Chronicle,” quote, “If somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can.  It‘s just that it will bankrupt them,” unquote.  Now, what‘s that all about?

(CROWD BOOING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  An excellent question.  More on what everything is about with our own Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine.

Good evening, sir.

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  This election was always about clean coal or is he talking about coal in the stocking at Christmas?  Who knew?  I mean, before today - - I heard there was mention of this once or twice.  But this is what the campaign was about—coal in San Francisco?

FINEMAN:  You haven‘t been following the campaign closely enough eventually.

OLBERMANN:  I knew that would happen.

FINEMAN:  Because—it finally got away from you because it‘s all about the coal fields of Southern Ohio, West Virginia, Western Pennsylvania.  Now, those are important areas and I remember 16 years ago, Bill Clinton had to make an emergency trip in there to win West Virginia, to calm people down about Al Gore and coal.

However, if you‘re John McCain, you don‘t want to finish the campaign talking about coal or something else in the ground.  You want to have a lift of the driving dream.  And Obama is doing that, McCain is going small ball here at the end.  It‘s not a good sign.

OLBERMANN:  The unbelievably sad news, especially in terms of timing this afternoon about Mrs. Dunham—is there one way of light in here that optimism that Obama did—even if this turns out to be a blow out for him, it‘s extraordinary thing to stop your campaign even for that relatively short period of time.  That has to be very meaningful tonight to those who knew her and specifically to him.  Is there—is there even a reason to talk about its political impact?

FINEMAN:  Oh, I think it‘s important because it‘s so important to Obama.  I spoke with David Axelrod, his longtime advisor, who said that it was a somber scene this morning.  But on the other hand, Obama was very satisfied with the fact, however much consolation it was that he‘d gone out to visit her.  Don‘t forget he and his sister call her the cornerstone of their family.  She made everything possible for Obama by getting him an education and sending him on his way to where no one could have imagined he would be at this moment.

OLBERMANN:  The whole issue about tomorrow.  Senator Obama has not been to anything other than a red state in a week.  Tomorrow, he will, as the polls open, to Indiana, another red, red, red state.  What does that tell us?  We‘re always told, look where they are campaigning in the last four days.  Well, that could be rephrased to: look where they‘re campaigning the last four days?

FINEMAN:  Yes, well, Indiana is key.  It hasn‘t gone Democrat since 1964.  It‘s also the first state that reports its results.  One of the—and that‘s another reason to go there tomorrow.  It‘s not in the bag for Obama necessarily.  He‘s got a grip on it because of it being near metropolitan Chicago that he wants to nail that down.

Yes, he‘s been playing this game on Republican turf for the last couple of weeks.  That‘s why he‘s ahead in the polls.  That‘s why he‘s ahead in the Electoral College right now.

OLBERMANN:  The Republican operatives who will throw out a number or bit of data, the ones—particularly, we‘re talking to our friends at Politico, they believe Senator McCain can win, but it doesn‘t require a miracle or a long shot.  That it is possible through their internal numbers that he‘s competitive in all these swing states.  He‘s within inside the margin of error.  Are their numbers right or just different?  Could it be Dewey defeats Truman?

FINEMAN:  Well, they‘ve got to win everything and then some.  They‘ve got to win all the tossup states.  Now, keep in mind, the tossup states are all red states.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

FINEMAN:  So, they‘ve got to win all those.  And they‘ve got to nail down Virginia and Ohio.  Then they‘ve got to win, at least if you look at the numbers they‘ve got to win Colorado, they got to win, maybe New Mexico and then maybe New Hampshire, and of course, they spent so much time trying to win Pennsylvania, which may turn out to be the costliest (ph) error of all time.  I could be proved wrong.  I know that state very well.

It‘s going to be hard for McCain to win it, but he needs something like that to pull up one of the great upsets of all time.  Every poll, every national poll in every compilation of state polls and every swing state—except North Carolina—at this moment have Obama ahead.

OLBERMANN:  All right.  Well, I‘m still worried.

Howard Fineman of “Newsweek.”  Good to see you.  We‘ll talk to you tomorrow.

FINEMAN:  OK, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Turning from that campaign trail to that map.  Here is the latest and the final pre-election day iteration from NBC News and MSNBC:

Obama unchanged from last week with an estimated 286 electoral votes, McCain meanwhile at 157, losing six now by virtue of Montana and North Dakota moving from “lean McCain” into tossup.  In that tossup category, they‘re remains 95 electoral votes, 270 obviously needed to win.  And that makes the Obama surplus at this point 16.

At the Web site of FiveThirtyEight.com, a similar but much more dramatic display where every state has to fall into somebody‘s win column, no tossups allowed.  Obama is projected there to win 346.5 electoral votes -- that‘s a computer for you—McCain 191.5.

Let‘s talk to real person now, Nate Silver, founder of FiveThirtyEight.com, where the election simulation is redone 10,000 times each time the Web site is updated.

Nate, good evening.

NATE SILVER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT.COM:  Yes, thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Your instructions from last night were pretty simple.  If Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Virginia slide back in the margin of error, McCain has a decent chance.  Did they, does he?

SILVER:  No, not yet.  If he‘s going to win one of the states, it might be Virginia where the polling has tightened a little bit.  Maybe it‘s a four-point projection for Obama now.  And maybe if you have a good night, you can Virginia.

But, Pennsylvania, what happened there, it was about 54 to 43, 11-point lead for Obama.  Now, it‘s, you know, 54 to, you know, 46.  So, McCain won all the persuadables, all the undecideds but there weren‘t enough in the first place.  You know, Obama was over 50 percent by a couple of points which sweep (ph) me in a bad target in the first place.

Colorado, the problem is that, about 2/3 of the state has already voted.  So, the margin might not be that wide there but it‘s pretty locked in.

OLBERMANN:  What are you going to be looking at early tomorrow evening that might give us an indication from where we‘re going to end early Wednesday morning?  I mean, is it as simple as that formula that I heard, if Obama wins Virginia at seven, and he doesn‘t lose Pennsylvania ball game?

SILVER:  Yes, Virginia plus Pennsylvania is almost certainly a win.  There aren‘t enough states where Obama is vulnerable.  You know, Minnesota and Wisconsin, states like that that McCain wanted to put in play largely are not.  He might lose New Hampshire on a really bad night, but it‘s only four electoral votes.  So, if he wins Virginia or Florida plus Pennsylvania, then it‘s game over.

OLBERMANN:  Can you measure intangibles?  Is there anything in your various formulae that measures ground game, or more intriguingly—can you measure what we might call history voters, the people who want to be able to say, “I voted for the first African-American presidential candidate”?

SILVER:  Well, if there‘s this kind of national mood tomorrow, we don‘t know what people are going to think when they actually go to the polling place and maybe, you know, stand in line for a couple hours, in some cases.  But in terms of the ground game, this is a really big experiment for the polls.  There are states like Indiana where Obama has a very good ground game, and McCain has absolutely none.  Usually, it‘s a lot more equal.

So, we‘ll have to see how much of an affect that has?  Is it a tenth of a point or is it, you know, five points?  I think either one is possible.  I know the Obama campaign feels good about states like Indiana, even Montana, where they have a ground presence and McCain has never really played in the state.

OLBERMANN:  Nate, when the exit polls leak out tomorrow as they invariably will because they come from everywhere, every organization, every politician, everybody with a modem, everybody with a computer, everybody with the bull horn, is there anything that you actually want to look at—anything that‘s a valid indicator or should you just throw them out as soon as they come in?

SILVER:  No, totally throw them out.  These things are not anything they are cracked up to be.  They‘ve had a Democratic lean for years and years.  It‘s all kind of who kind of volunteers and takes its poll.  It‘s not as scientific as a telephone survey might be.  They mislead.  Expectations is misled.  Viewers just wait for the hard counts to come in. 

It‘s where—the better kind of more sophisticated, I think, thing to do.

OLBERMANN:  Do you look at weather?  We all got weather in ball games when we analyze seasons ahead, and playoff series, and all the rest.  Have you factored in weather because obviously, the east coast is supposed to be brilliant tomorrow in terms of temperature?  Is that—might that be an odd favorability factor for the Republicans because it might make turn-out easier?

SILVER:  Well, here‘s the thing.  Usually, you know, bad weather is good for Republicans and good weather for Democrats.  But because Obama got his vote out early, literally, where he leads by about 20 points in the 30 electorate that‘s voted already, yes, they would like bad weather in a state like North Carolina, to deter people from going to the polls, or maybe in Florida, where there‘s a lot of early voting.

So, I‘m not sure quite how that cuts this year.  But, in general, I think, we‘re not quite close enough where little factors like the whether are going to make all that much of a difference.  It looks like a pretty clear Obama win—unless there‘s something really wrong with the polling problem which has happened before.  Let‘s not forget New Hampshire.  But, it‘s more a polling problem, I think, than anything McCain can really do at this point to actually win the election.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, we go over and over a million times what went wrong with the polling in New Hampshire, obviously, it was truncated and too quick a period of time.  But again, let‘s talk about that in December at some point.

Nate Silver, the founder of FiveThirtyEight.com, always a pleasure, Nate.  Thanks for your time.

SILVER:  Yes.  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  So, our primetime coverage begins at 5:00 p.m. Eastern.  The first state presidential results are coming in two hours after than at 7:00.  Chris Matthews and I will host for you.  David Gregory anchors.  Rachel Maddow and Eugene Robinson join us at the desk.  History—live.

And there‘s 30 percent of the population that has voted already and seems to be clear about its choice.  Does that choice really mean Senator McCain has to win more than 100 percent of the undecideds?  And what would this vote have been like if it had been Senator Obama who couldn‘t tell Germany from Russia, or agreeing from disagreeing, or my fellow Americans from my fellow prisoners.

Listen to that alternative world and you‘ll wonder if we‘d still be thinking the Democrat could be a decent president and we‘ll wonder why some of us are really still thinking the Republican could be one.  We will do exactly that in the Campaign Comment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The early vote, the staggering numbers continuing to hold what they mean for Obama.  What Obama so called ground game means for McCain?

Membrane: Governor Palin says she‘s experienced racial discrimination because of her husband.  And Senator McCain comes within one or of calling his ubiquitous pal “Joe the Bomber.”

And tonight‘s Campaign Comment in which you will listen into the world in which it was Obama who said the “fundamentals of the economy are strong” and called McCain, “that one.”

You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  If Barack Obama does win the election tomorrow, it will be in considerable measure because he managed to teach Sarah Palin what a community organizer is capable of.  Namely in this case, it would be organizing enough people to send her back to her community.

Our fourth story tonight: As many as 27 million Americans have already voted, most of them, polls tell us, for Obama.

Tonight‘s new NBC/”Wall Street Journal” Poll finding that 30 percent of Obama supporters and 30 percent of McCains have already voted.  In other words, according to this poll, Obama is not just leading when you talk to people, about how they will vote tomorrow, he is also leading among the real votes already.  That lead among all likely voters including those definite already voters, it is now standing at 51 percent to 43 percent, putting Obama well outside the 3.1 percent margin of error.

And meaning, if the numbers are right, that to win, McCain just has to win 112 percent of all undecided and third party votes.

Speaking of the math, even Karl Rove yesterday acknowledged the key component to Obama‘s success so far is the ground game in the battleground states.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KARL ROVE, REPUBLICAN POLITICAL STRATEGIST:  What Obama did however is: he did better in the earlier stages.  He got organized earlier.  They did a lot of registration that the Republicans did not do this year.  And then on the persuasion, they really did do a good job of improving on what they had tried to do in ‘04.  And again, they were moving earlier on than the Republicans and probably as a result, have an advantage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Joining us tonight, Democratic strategist, Chris Kofinis, formerly, communications director for the Edwards campaign, and here in person.

Good to see you, sir.

CHRIS KOFINIS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  The Obama campaign reports it knocked on 1 million doors in Ohio today, 1.8 million in Pennsylvania this weekend.  How far from average is that?  Give me a gauge here.

KOFINIS:  I think the Obama campaign has broken the curve for every future campaign.  It really has, arguably, the most dominant campaign on the ground in history if not probably, potentially, the most dominant campaign ever.  What I think is so fascinating is not just simply the door knocks, it‘s not simply, you know, the various calls they are making, is that they‘ve be able to do this in dozens of battlegrounds, all at once.

And when you‘re talking about 1,500 Obama offices just in battlegrounds and you couple that with an incredibly organized passionate staff and set of volunteers, it just tells you, he built a ground army to win a campaign.  It was really smart strategy and they started early.  And it‘s paid enormous dividends.

OLBERMANN:   The Web site Five Thirty Eight, which we just mentioned, Nate Silver was just here, likes to pose these photos of desolate, almost abandoned-looking McCain campaign offices, does that tell us anything about the ground game from the Republican side?

KOFINIS:   It‘s pretty telling.  When you get to the last few days, imagine if you were in Obama headquarters or any of these state offices, what you would see are, you know, dozens and hundreds of volunteers energized and excited, trying to get every vote out.  When you think you have a chance to win, you don‘t ever want to stop, you never want to sleep.  You want to get every vote out to give your candidate a chance to win.

What you are seeing from the McCain campaign is basically a staff that is defeated.  A staff that thinks there‘s nothing to fight for.  And that‘s probably more telling than anything.  And that‘s, really, I think, a terrible statement because, imagine if you‘re a voter going by a McCain headquarter at 7:00 o‘clock or 8:00 o‘clock and it‘s closed, it just basically says to you, why should I bother.

OLBERMANN:  Well, their event in Tampa today was an indicator of that one.  They expected 10,000 people and got 1,000.  They‘ve been having their signs.

KOFINIS:  Right.

OLBERMANN:  Let‘s say John McCain wins tomorrow, what is a legitimate explanation of that—that the churches did the heavy-lifting for him, that the bishop of Kansas City said, if you vote for Obama, you‘re going to hell?  Is there—are there a reasonable set of explanations that don‘t involve fraud at polls, to quote the old Seth and Kane (ph) line?

KOFINIS:  Well, John McCain‘s campaign would have employed one super-secret get out the vote strategy because no one seen it.  I mean, if you look at what would have to happen, it would have to be—the undecided all break his way.  It would have to be people going to the voting booth who said they‘re going to support Obama switching and saying they are going to support McCain.  And it would have to be, basically, a perfect strength.  He would have to win almost every one of these key battlegrounds.  It‘s almost impossible to believe.

But at the end of day, here‘s what I think to keep, you know, caveat to keep in mind: Polls don‘t decide elections, voters do.  One of the smartest things that Obama has done has been hammering the message everyday that if you want change, you have to go out tomorrow and vote for it.

OLBERMANN:  If he wins, should the first thing he say as the victor be, I want to thank Hillary Clinton, not just for the roughness of the campaign that sort of knocked off any stiffness I might have had, but more importantly, for testing my ground organization and giving me the opportunity to see what I was going to need to win in a presidential campaign?

KOFINIS:  Yes, in part, absolutely.  I think what happened—it was a long, tough primary.  We all remember.  But what it ended up doing, it‘s made the Obama campaign, I would say, even Senator Obama, a better candidate.  It made their campaign more focused, more aggressive on the ground (ph), it made them more disciplined.

And you saw these advantages both on terms of, you know, creating a grassroots organization in 50 states, as well as this ability to translate that into real power in the fall.  And so, I think, when you look back, you know, not only, I think, did the Obama campaign benefit from this, but the Democratic Party benefited from this.  We were divided at some points, but from that division came a real strength and energy to fight in November.

Whereas, the McCain campaign kind of took five or six months off in wondering what they were going to do.  And I think that was the key distinction.  When you kind of look back at the key moments, that‘s going to be one of those moments—what were they doing for five months.

OLBERMANN:  Battle-tested by Mike Huckabee.

Chris Kofinis, former communications director of the Edwards campaign, good to see you in person.  Thanks for coming in tonight.

KOFINIS:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  And a quick, rare bit of good news for Governor Palin this evening.  The state personnel board of Alaska in a brief statement, announcing it found, quote, “no probable cause to indicate that Palin violated the state executive ethics act in her handling of troopergate.  The allegation was that Palin pressured the state official to fire an Alaska state trooper who was also the ex-husband of Palin‘s sister.

In a statement released tonight, Governor Palin says she is pleased with the findings.  The board exonerating Palin is appointed by the governor, unlike a previous bipartisan legislative panel that previously found Palin did violate the state ethics law.

And Senator McCain would again like to thank “Joe the Bomb.”  Opps—his oops.  I‘m thinking, there was one too many sympathizing with terrorist memo.

And no offense to Richard Wolffe, but when they made the fictional version of him into the Worst Person in the World, I about wetted by pants.

Plus, actual news out of the governor‘s “Saturday Night Live” appearance, three shows ago—this is me talking not Ben—COUNTDOWN continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Worsts: And you only get Halloween candy if your parents support one of the presidential candidates, and not the other.  And the unexpected development from the comedy world: which nice thing would Sarah Palin not say about Tina Fey?

The alternate universe in which Barack Obama suspended his campaign, he saying, “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,” and he changed his story about his time as a POW.  We‘ll let you listen in to that universe in 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.  This is some collection.  This is some collection. 

Number three, what if they held a rally and nobody showed up.  The quote from a reporter on the scene at a McCain event this morning in Tampa, “it‘s a small crowd, only about 1,000.  I can tell you, It Looks like it was set up, with the perimeter and all, for about ten times this crowd.  In addition, you‘ll not that there are no actual McCain signs here.” 

The reporter, Carl Cameron of Fox News.  Damned literal media. 

Number two, as Steve Martin said, it was tough being raised a poor, young black kid.  One of those citizen reporters noting the paleness of another McCain-Palin crowd.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (INAUDIBLE)

PALIN:  (INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Todd Palin, as we know, is part Yupik (ph).  But when she says he‘s Alaskan, I‘m thinking she means his years registered in that wacky Alaska Independence Party founded by the guy who wanted to secede from the United States of America. 

Number one, Joe the who?  Last Thursday, on the air with WVEC-TV in Norfolk, Virginia.  Oops. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  With Virginia having been a reliably red state dating all the way back to 1964, how come you are not doing better in the polls in Virginia? 

MCCAIN:  We‘re doing much better.  Actually, there‘s a poll out today that shows we‘re within about three.  So we‘re moving up and moving up fast.  Joe the bomb—Joe the plumber turned the whole thing around. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Another Freudian slip?  Joe the bomb?  Bomb, bomb, bomb Joe the what?  I knew there was something about that guy Joe that don‘t sit right with me.  Don‘t sit right with me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Traveling with the McCain campaign and writing in the “Time Magazine” blog Swampland, Anna Marie Cox reports a rather startling development about “Saturday Night Live”: what really tickled the McCain campaign wasn‘t the senator‘s comic stylings, but rather this devastating Keith Olbermann parody.  It‘s hardly a whitey tape or early November surprise, but it might be the most gratifying piece of news the McCain campaign has received in the past 24 hours. 

Our third story in the COUNTDOWN, if that really was John McCain‘s most gratifying piece of news since Saturday and they felt the need to spend more than seven seconds telling reporters about it, wow, happy to have helped. 

It was a weekend of comedy in which the planned was probably exceeded by the unplanned, the planned first.  Senator McCain and Tina Fey subbing for the governor. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN:  Good evening my fellow Americans.  I‘m John McCain. 

TIN FEY, “SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE”:  And you know, I‘m just Sarah Palin. 

MCCAIN:  The final days of any election are the most essential.  This past Wednesday, Barack Obama purchased air time on three major networks.  We, however, can only afford QVC. 

FEY:  These campaigns sure are expensive. 

MCCAIN:  They sure are. 

FEY:  Why not do your holiday shopping with us.  OK, listen up, everybody, I‘m going rogue right now, so keep your voices down.  Available now, we got a bunch of these—just try and wait until after Tuesday to wear them, OK?  I am not going anywhere. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Then, in a sketch that might still be going—I haven‘t checked recently—Ben Affleck gets my amazed props for having done all this with no teleprompter, only cue cards. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR:  Now, as promised, a special comment.  The letter was brief and to the point.  Dear Mr. Olbermann, it read, the co-op board, having reviewed your request for an exception to its no pets policy in order to accommodate your cat, Miss Precious Perfect, regretfully concludes that in consideration of the rights of other co-op residents, such an exception is not possible at this time. 

How dare you, sir?  How dare you?  Where, sir, in any this were the rights of Miss Precious Perfect considered?  Damn you, Mrs. Lieberstein (ph).  Damn you to hell. 

No, Mrs. Lieberstein, your decision was based not on consideration but on fear.  It is the fear, sir, and the tyranny up with which we dare no longer put. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Seriously, he‘s not even dressed like me.  Or—Senator McCain was hilarious at least for the cold open, update not so much.  Nobody whose work gets an eight and a half minute satire on “Saturday Night Live” right before the election that can say anything but nice things about it.  Also, afterwards, I got this lovely card from Mr. Affleck.  Have a look at this.  He wrote, “remember, A, I didn‘t write this.  And B, it took years of study.  Fondly, Ben.”  Wasn‘t that nice?

But the weekends comedic winners had to be the Canadian team known as the Masked Avengers, Montreal radio yucksters Sebastian Trudell (ph) and Mark Antoine Udette (ph), who managed to convince Governor Palin that she really was talking to President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, even when he started to talk about pornography. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I must say, Governor Palin, I love the documentary they made on your life?  You know, Hustler‘s “Nailing Palin?”

PALIN:  Oh, good, thank you. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That was really edgy. 

PALIN:  Good. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I really love you.  And I must say something, governor.  You have been pranked by the Masked Avengers.  We are two comedians from Montreal. 

PALIN:  Oh, have we been pranked?  What radio station is this? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is for CKOY in Montreal. 

PALIN:  In Montreal.  Tell me their radio station call letters. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hello? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘m sorry, I have to let you go, thank you. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Let‘s bring in “Washington Post” associate editor and columnist, MSNBC political analyst Eugene Robinson.  Good evening, Gene. 

EUGENE ROBINSON, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Hi, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Palin‘s handlers are not putting up any—to their credit, I think, any contention about this.  She was punked.  How can that possibly happen a couple days before the election? 

ROBINSON:  You can‘t blame this on Sarah Palin. 

OLBERMANN:  It‘s the handlers.  Exactly. 

ROBINSON:  It‘s criminal malfeasance, misfeasance, lack of feasance, call it what you will.  It should be a crime.  They should be in jail at this point, not just fired.  You can‘t possibly let this happen to your candidate, punked by a couple of Montreal DJs who sound about as Parisian as I do.  That‘s not very Parisian.  Nicolas Sarkozy? 

OLBERMANN:  She should be able to see and hear Canada from her house. 

It just occurs to me, of all the voices she should have recognized—

ROBINSON:  It‘s not the French part of Canada.

OLBERMANN:  I understand that.  How upset were you that they didn‘t include you in the “Saturday Night Live” sketch and is Richard Wolffe in hiding at this hour? 

ROBINSON:  My attorneys are filing a complaint at this point.  I was devastated.  I, as you know, have been consistently the COUNTDOWN “Saturday Night Live” correspondent.  To be left out of the skit is an outrage, up with which I shall not put. 

OLBERMANN:  That‘s from Churchill.  That‘s a Churchill, “arrogant pedantry up with I shall not put.”  The McCain campaign says neither his performance nor the sketch was that big of a deal to them.  They did say things to reporters about the sketch that was more or less about me, like about time.  How could anybody ever waist as much as ten seconds in the immediate days right before the presidential election talking about anything as trivial about that sketch, unless you are me?  If you‘re running for president, why would you waste talking to a reporter rather than, say, a voter?  Wouldn‘t one voter somewhere be of more value?  

ROBINSON:  Yes, it would be.  Look, it‘s just that maybe you don‘t have a lot else to talk about or something has been sticking in your craw. 

OLBERMANN:  Really? 

ROBINSON:  You‘ve been—

OLBERMANN:  Just because you didn‘t get it out during the Al Smith Dinner. 

ROBINSON:  Apparently not.

OLBERMANN:  With the banner and put in the—last point is kind of show and tell.  Point it out to Miss Cox of “Time” that when Governor Palin was on “Saturday Night Live” something had happened; she was supposed to compliment Tina Fey and she would not, did not do it.  I should say, did not do it.  Miss Cox today then wrote, “Mark Salter, who is the group‘s point man when it comes to SNL, responded by a Blackberry that he personally approved all of Palin‘s scripts and, quote, there was no such line in the script, ever.” 

Mr. Salter, perhaps this will refresh your memory.  This is a discarded cue card from the Palin sketch with Lorne Michaels.  Her line is in red here at the time: “I do like her impression of me.”  Then there‘s a Lorne Michaels line that he didn‘t say, then there‘s the cue for Mark Wahlberg to walk in, “Mark In.” 

I don‘t know if they cut it for time or she refused to say it.  But could that have turned peoples‘ impressions of her around to any great degree?

ROBINSON:  No.

OLBERMANN:  You don‘t think so?  If she had said I like the impression. 

ROBINSON:  Here‘s what this says to me, there‘s an old saying that you shouldn‘t pick fights with people who buy ink by the barrel full.  You shouldn‘t pick fights over cue cards with people who work at the same cue card factory as the relevant cue card was made in. 

OLBERMANN:  You‘re suggesting this was obtained by some sort of—I didn‘t just find this on the street?  Is that what you are saying? 

ROBINSON:  I have no idea where you got it, Keith, but just a thought about the cue card factory thin.  

OLBERMANN:  To what degree is ridicule an actual important consideration in the waning days of an election? 

ROBINSON:  The thing about the “Saturday Night Live” appearance, which parts of which were very funny.  I thought the opening was very funny.  I thought Weekend Update was a mistake.  I thought John McCain sounded like a defeated candidate, frankly.  He was—begging, but almost acknowledging that something, I wonder what, had passed him by.  That‘s not the impression you want to give. 

My thought was, if you were a Republican volunteer, is that going to motivate you to get out and work the streets. 

OLBERMANN:  I‘m taking a three day weekend is what you hear when you‘re a Republican volunteer.  I‘ll go with your word there, rather than mine.  Eugene Robinson of the “Washington Post” and MSNBC, we‘ll see you tomorrow night for the big show. 

ROBINSON:  See you tomorrow night, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  And the rehearsals resume at 9:00.  Before that, what would we be thinking tonight if it had been Barack Obama who suspended his campaign without suspending it, and called us his fellow prisoners and couldn‘t tell you how many homes he owned?  A campaign comment, listening in on an alternative universe.

And same old universe, Bill O the Clown says he doesn‘t engage people like me, giving us another excuse to engage him about the latest ratings.  COUNTDOWN continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Tonight‘s campaign comment; what if Senator Obama had said the fundamentals of the economy were strong and all those other McCain gaffes?  Would we still take him seriously?  We‘ll let you listen to this mirror image world next.  But first, time for COUNTDOWN‘s number two story, tonight‘s worst persons in this world. 

The bronze to Bill O. the Clown.  Interviewed by Harry Smith of CBS, who played a clip of me and then asked “what do you think of Keith Olbermann.”  To which Billy replied, “you know, I ignore all those gutter snipes because they are just in it to hurt people.  Whether it‘s some guy on MSNBC or talk radio or wherever, why would I engage that?” 

For crying out loud, Bill, you do engage it and non-stop.  After five years and seven months of this, I have to give you the right answer for that question.  They ask you that and you say, never heard of him.  By the way, thanks for not engaging us last week.  MSNBC tied Fox News for prime time viewer leadership aged 25-54.  COUNTDOWN was the number one rated show on cable news.  Rachel was second.  Bill was third. 

Our runner up, Bill Cunningham.  This was the whack job from radio in Cincinnati who goes on Thursday and says, quote, Jews for McCain because Obama wants to gas the Jews like the PLO wants to gas the Jews, like the Nazis gassed the news.” 

Big deal, a lot of crazy people have right wing radio shows, except Cunningham was the one who did the warm up act for McCain in February and kept using Obama‘s full name, calling McCain—McCain then called to repudiate him, and to say that the use of Obama‘s middle name was inappropriate.  You did a nice job slowing that crap down, didn‘t you, senator. 

But tonight‘s worst person in the world, Shirley Nagle (ph) of Gross Point, Michigan.  Halloween, for all its troubles, is still another holiday for kids.  But Detroit TV station WJBK reports Miss Nagle posted a large sign outside her home reading, “no handouts for” and then there was the name of one of the presidential candidate, doesn‘t matter which “supporters, liars, tricksters or kids of supporters.”

Now, kids trick or treating age don‘t all yet read.  When asked if she actually had turned away kids and made them cry because she wouldn‘t give them candy, she indirectly confirmed it, telling the TV station, “oh well, everybody has a choice.” 

You know, they do, Miss Nagle.  It isn‘t even relevant which candidates name was on your sign.  You have chosen to be a jerk to children at Halloween.  Shirley Nagle of Gross Point, Michigan, today‘s worst person in the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  For the final campaign comment before this nation votes, with thanks to the technical inspiration of David Letterman‘s producers, and thanks to the technical accomplishment to my producer Brendon Omelia (ph), I ask you to imagine an alternative of universe where the candidates are the same, but what each has said and done has been reversed.

What would be happening tonight if Senator Obama had stumbled, over everything from arcane details, to sweeping policies of the utmost importance, and not just once or twice, but endlessly?

What if Senator Obama couldn‘t tell Iran from Iraq?  Iraq from Afghanistan?  Sunni from Shia?  Somalia from Sudan?

What if Senator Obama had gotten up before a crowd and started off by

saying, “You know, I think you may have noticed that Senator McCain‘s

supporters have been saying some pretty nasty things about Western

Pennsylvania lately.”  And who then finished by saying,

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  I could not agree more. I could not disagree with him more.  But I could not agree more with the explanation that Senator McCain offered a few weeks ago.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  What would we be asking ourselves about his capabilities, if it had been Senator Obama who had identified Gen. David Petraeus as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff?  And Vladimir Putin as the President of Germany?  And Spain as a country in Latin America?

What if it had been Senator Obama who not only used his POW experience at every turn, but wrote of giving to his captors not the names of his fellow servicemen, but of the offensive line of the Green Bay Packers football team, only to, when he spoke in Western Pennsylvania, change the story so that he gave to his captors the names of the offensive line of the Pittsburgh Steelers football team?

What if it had been Senator Obama who, out of nowhere, had blurted out an inexplicable, perhaps Freudian, slip, while intending to say “My Fellow Americans?”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  To Chairman Dean and my great friend, Dick Durbin, and to all my fellow—prisoners—I accept your nomination for president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  What would be happening tonight in the minds of tens of millions of voters if it had been Senator Obama who had his people negotiate, behind the scenes and off the record, to force favorable coverage of his campaign at three television networks?

Or if it had been Senator Obama repeatedly mocking a research study about the DNA of bear until he was suddenly reminded he had voted for it?  Or if Senator Obama had an adviser who claimed that Senator Obama‘s work on a sub-committee had led to the invention of the Blackberry?

Or if Senator Obama had tried to get one of the presidential debates postponed or canceled, and threatened to boycott another one of them, the Town Hall, because he didn‘t like the network the moderator worked for, all the while complaining that the other guy wouldn‘t debate him or agree to ten Town Halls?

What would be happening tonight in America, in the souls of this nation, if after all that, at the first debate, it had been Senator Obama who would not as much as look at Senator McCain, and when finally addressing him at the second one, did so in a weird and cryptic manner?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  If we could have intervened effectively in the Holocaust, who among us would say that we have a moral obligation not to go in?  That one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  What would a country heading into the most important vote in its modern history be thinking tonight, if it had been Senator Obama who viewed a collapsing economy and insisted that if in office, he would fire immediately the head of the SEC, even though a president cannot, and then the next day tried to correct himself by calling on the head of the FEC to resign?

What if it had been Senator Obama who, on September 24th, had, quote, suspended his campaign so he could focus only on the cratering economy, just nine days after having insisted that there was little wrong?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  The truth is that the fundamentals of the economy are strong.

We were just suffering from a mental recession, you nation of whiners.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Where would America‘s collective head be tonight, if it had been, in the middle of a campaign, in part focused on elitism and celebrity and personal wealth, if Senator Obama who couldn‘t remember, or wouldn‘t admit, how many houses he owned?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How many houses do you have?

OBAMA:  Uh, you know I think that‘s a good question to address to my staff—I mean, you‘d have to ask my staff.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  What if Senator Obama had deflected all serious questions about the troubled finances of this worried nation by virtually concocting a preposterous every-man, a fictional character, a plumber without a license, a small businessman who owned no business, an average Joe who had a lawyer, a book agent, a publicist, and maybe a recording contract?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  I would love to see the next three weeks devoted to talking about Joe the Plumber, who is an American hero.

MCCAIN:  It‘s not true.

OBAMA:  It absolutely is true. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  What would the national psyche be like tonight if it had been Senator Obama who had sung a mocking song about “bombing Iran?”

What would be happening if Senator Obama had accepted the endorsement of Pastor John Hagee, or Pastor Rod Parsley, or had a running mate who attributed their big break in politics to the laying on of hands by a minister who began his career in Kenya by slandering a woman as a “witch” and hounding her out of her home?

What would we be thinking if it had been Senator Obama who, at a critical moment, exaggerated a public claim about the “suspension” of his campaign, and lied to a national television figure about it?  And what if it had been Senator Obama who had been somehow nominated by his party, anyway, months and months ago, even though it had been he who had not reproached the use of the rankest of sexist terms in public about Senator Hillary Clinton?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  I‘m going to call on this young lady right here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  How do we beat the bitch?

OBAMA:  I‘ll have that stick!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  We all know exactly what would be happening tonight if Senator Obama had done all those mistakes, contradictions, gaffes, Freudian slips, and hypocritical pronouncements.  He would have long since ceased to be taken seriously by any measurable part of the voting public, as a viable, responsible, self-aware, mentally vigorous, non-dangerous, non-risk.

We‘d all be going home to our beds well before midnight tomorrow night.  But while all that is hypothetical, this is not: this cascade of incompetence and irresponsibility I have enumerated here tonight, all the sound bites, all the foot-in-mouth moments, all the no-brainers-gone-wrong, all these John McCain has said.  No hyperbole and no hypotheses are required.  This is who John McCain has showed us he is.

That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 2,014th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq.  A reminder, our prime time election coverage tomorrow at 5:00 Eastern.  Chris Matthews and I host, along with anchor David Gregory.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.

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

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