updated 11/12/2008 3:57:00 PM ET 2008-11-12T20:57:00

Guest: Jon Soltz, Thomas Friedman, Joel McHale

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over):  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? Car crash: President Bush and President-elect Obama reportedly at odds during their face to face meeting over a bailout for the auto industry.  Obama urging billions for Detroit now, Bush skeptical saying, “Forget the Motor City.”  There goes the smooth handover. Barbarians over Gates: The fight over whether the president-elect should keep Mr. Bush‘s secretary of defense—nine months, four years, or not at all? Riding herd on the lobbyist: The Podesta rules.  The transition chief gets stringent yet lobbyists can still get a job in the transition. What do we do now?  Afghanistan and the hunt for bin Laden: Does it mean negotiating with Iran and even the Taliban? Sarah Palin 2012.  Ah, here we go.

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GOV. SARAH PALIN, ® ALASKA:  God, if there‘s an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I‘m like, don‘t let me miss the open door.

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OLBERMANN:  Especially if it‘s going to hit you on the way out.

Also, Matt Lauer‘s interview and Joel McHale‘s disbelief.

And Worst: Stage advice from the far-right power line to the president-elect: In public, speak more carefully than you do like your predecessor, quote, “Bush never gets sloppy when he is speaking publicly.”

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PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:  They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.

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OLBERMANN:  Quote, “He chooses his words with care and precision, which is why his style sometimes seems halting.”

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BUSH:  Too many OB-GYNs aren‘t able to practice their love with women all across this country.

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OLBERMANN:  All that and more: Now on COUNTDOWN.

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OLBERMANN (on camera):  Good evening.  This is Veterans Day, Tuesday, November 11th, 70 days until the inauguration of the President-elect Barack Obama. It was he who reminded the country we only have one president at a time.  So, what happens if on a vital point of economy policy, the “one who is but not for long” and the “one who isn‘t, but soon will be,” disagree? Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: With the auto industry now in as bad if not worse shape than Wall Street, will it get a bailout in time if the Bush-Obama vote is not unanimous? Smiling and waving, probably not enough in the two-plus months until the president-elect takes the oath, General Motors having warned a few days ago that it is running out of cash.  Ford having released a dismal financial report.  With about one in 10 jobs in this country tied to the auto industry, Mr. Obama making the case to the president in the Oval Office yesterday that something needs to be done immediately. Speaker Nancy Pelosi today announcing plans to present Congress with legislation aimed at keeping the big three automakers from running out of gas.  At an off-camera news briefing, Obama transition chief, John Podesta, today is dismissing reports that President Bush wanted something in return for helping out the auto industry—a trade deal with Colombia.  Mr.  Podesta calling those reports inaccurate. This Veterans Day morning in Chicago, the president-elect laying a wreath to honor the nation‘s fallen heroes, at his side Tammy Duckworth, director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, a woman who herself lost both her legs in Iraq. The president earlier tonight on CNN, describing the atmosphere of his Oval Office meeting with Mr. Obama as relaxed, wishing him all the best when he assumes that office.

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BUSH:  I am just as American as he is American.  And it is good for our country that the president succeeds.  And so, the transition that we‘re working with him on is a genuine effort to help him be able to deal with the pressures and the complicated issues of the presidency.

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OLBERMANN:  Time now to call in our own Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine.

Howard, good evening.

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Did the president and the president-elect actually disagree on a Detroit bailout and if so, how seriously?

FINEMAN:  They did disagree.  And it is serious.  It‘s a matter of philosophy.  George Bush is running the administration in the last weeks and the administration that let Lehman Brothers go, which accelerated the collapse of credit markets around the world.  People around George Bush are questioning whether it would be a case of throwing good money after bad to try to help prop up the big three automakers. But Barack Obama sees things entirely differently.  Jennifer Granholm, the governor of Michigan is a close advisor.  A lot of people at that financial and economic confab that Obama had the other day in Chicago are warning him that he can‘t let the American automakers go down.  They used to account for ¾ of all the cars made and sold in the United States.  It‘s now down to about half. But as you were saying, it‘s a huge, huge part of the American economy and Obama actually sees a retooled auto industry.  A remade, retooled auto industry is one of the keys to the America‘s economic future if he can get them to turn green and help them do so.  So, it‘s a big philosophical difference between the outgoing and the incoming president.

OLBERMANN:  But now, there‘s been a recent study that said the numbers of jobs loss if just one of the big three goes under would be 2.5 million.  To turn what a senior Democratic aide today.

FINEMAN:  Yes.

OLBERMANN:  . rephrase it in a form of a question: Does this president want to add the demise of G.M. to his legacy list?

FINEMAN:  Gee, I think he‘s got a long list as it is now.  And I do think it is a matter of philosophy with the president.  He‘s going to dare Congress to try to do something in the lame duck session further to help the auto industry or there‘s a lot of talk of taking the kind of reprogramming a bunch of the money out of that $700 billion bank and credit bailout, and make that available to the auto companies.  If Obama can get that out of the lame duck session, he‘ll be glad to get it.  If not, that will also be at the top of his list along with the general job‘s measure on the day he‘s sworn in as president.

OLBERMANN:  Let me run some of these other transitional headlines past you.  Where is “No-drama Obama” and Joe Lieberman?  Where do they stand right now?

FINEMAN:  Well, I think that‘s moving in the Lieberman direction.  Senator Dick Durbin is a key factor there and I think he‘s moving toward allowing Lieberman to stay.  Dick Durbin was somebody who was extremely angry at Lieberman for campaigning for John McCain.  But I‘m now told after having gone through a horrible week or so, where he was mourning the death of his 40-year-old daughter to congenital heart disease, he‘s come out of that and looked around and, also, heard what Barack Obama has had to say, and Durbin is now saying he‘s willing to give Lieberman a chance. I think that‘s going to go to a vote next week but I bet that Lieberman gets to keep his committee chairmanship because Obama has signaled that he wants him to.

OLBERMANN:  All right.  Well, now, in addition to the subject of staying, is Defense Secretary Gates staying?  I mean, it seems to be like there are three options on this—none of the above, maybe nine months, or maybe four years.  Where do we stand?

FINEMAN:  Well, I think from listening to what John Podesta had to say today at the transition briefing, they‘re going to send a very big and very focused investigative or transition team over to the Pentagon, as to all other agencies, to look and see where things stand there. The body language, to me, of what Podesta was saying today was that Gates shouldn‘t plan along stay there.  I think they‘re going to look carefully and I think they‘re going to be some people critical of some of the ways things have been handled.  And I think that report will determine Gates‘ fate, but Podesta was very careful not to say anything about Gates, which I took as not to be a great sign for the notion that he‘s going to be there months or, let alone, a year from now.

OLBERMANN:  And lastly and kind of briefly about Podesta and lobbying rules during the transition, is this really sending reverberations around a very small world in Washington?  Is there a reason that anybody else should be very concerned about it?

FINEMAN:  Well, I think Washington is lobbyist, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

FINEMAN:  It‘s a nice try on Podesta‘s part.  I don‘t know how well it‘s going to work.  It‘s like keeping the water from running downhill. They‘ll keep him out of the way for a while, but they run the innards of this place and if Obama is going to get good advice on the lay of the land at these agencies, he‘s necessarily going to go to the people who‘ve been in them before they came out to make money explaining them.  That‘s not going to end.  It‘s a question of whether Obama is vigilant about it and he‘s certainly going to try.

OLBERMANN:  Just apply a GPS to each one of them so we know where they are at all times.

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  Howard Fineman of “Newsweek” and MSNBC.

FINEMAN:  Learning to play basketball, Keith.  That it‘s going to be.

OLBERMANN:  Very good.  All right, have a good night.

FINEMAN:  OK.

OLBERMANN:  And unfittingly, on Veterans Day, foreign policy priorities—troops for two wars, resource allocations in the hunt for Osama bin Laden and precarious dealings with Iran and other hostile elements in the region.  According to national security advisors and already controversial, the plan to send thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan based on the withdrawal of combat forces from Iraq over the fabled 16-month period. The Obama plan also comprises a renewed commitment to the hunt for bin Laden, a focus he believes Bush played down.  According to the “Washington Post,” another element of this strategy was this is expected to cause serious domestic and maybe, international friction, dialogue with elements of the Taliban thought to be reconcilable and as alluded to during the campaign, negotiations of some sort with Iran.

Time now to turn to Jon Soltz, Iraq war veteran, chairman of VoteVets.org.

Jon, good evening.

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

OLBERMANN:  Reality check this from the point of view of troops on the ground on Veterans Day—can we withdraw from Iraq in 16 months while redeploying or deploying new troops into Afghanistan at the same time?

SOLTZ:  Well, we‘ve got to start getting out because we‘re going to need some of those troops to get into Afghanistan.  So, I think, if Obama does what he‘s campaigned on which is getting some of these troops out of Iraq, then we can simultaneously send more troops to Afghanistan. But I think it helps us militarily more than just with our own troops, it‘s going to help us with our allies in Europe, is going to engage the Western European NATO nations, and it‘s going to allow them to get their combat troops more involved in Afghanistan as well.

OLBERMANN:  Would the wars change for the soldiers if the mission changed?  I mean, if you ramp down Iraq so we can focus on getting bin Laden and the al Qaeda bases in or via Afghanistan, does that materially change things or is it just a bunch of salutes going on on the ground?

SOLTZ:  Well, look, I mean, I think the soldiers who join the military they want to fight and capture bin Laden.  So, look—I think, from a moral standpoint, there‘s a lot of people that are excited about not going to Iraq for the next five years.  From a tactical level, look—I mean, combat is combat.  So, it‘s dangerous.  But I think that it will be interesting to see inside the ranks how the troops feel about actually feeling—fighting for their country and fighting—going after the people that directly attacked our country.

OLBERMANN:  And again, on the ground, how do they respond if civilian leadership is saying one day, all right, we‘re fighting the Taliban here, and then civilian leadership changes the next day and we‘re saying, well, we may be able to negotiate with the reconcilable parts of the Taliban in a concerted effort to get bin Laden?  Does it—is that a readjustment?  Is it part par for the course?  Does it come with the territory?

SOLTZ:  Oh, that comes with the territory.  I mean, one of the greatest successes we‘ve actually had in Iraq was the Sunni awakening where—which stop (ph) the Sunni insurgency that was fighting us for the first couple of parts of the war—now we‘re having more success in Anbar.  So, I think, this military of the last five years, I mean, it‘s not like the guys that are going to Iraq or in Afghanistan haven‘t been to Iraq before. So, I think that comes with the territory and I think that‘s going to be something that‘s necessary because there seems to be parts of the Taliban now that are not as loyal to Mullah Abdul they were three or four years ago, and I think that that‘s a basic tactical counterinsurgency that we‘ll see this administration go after.

OLBERMANN:  Jon Soltz, the chairman of VoteVets.org—many thanks for your time, and obviously, on this whole holidays, great thanks for your service to the country, sir.

SOLTZ:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  And, international diplomacy: Can Obama improve?  Did just the fact of his election improve it or is it too late?  Our series: “What do we do now?”  And our special guest: Thomas Friedman.

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OLBERMANN:  Thomas Friedman on our nightly question to the president-elect: What do we do now about international diplomacy?

Sarah Palin and seemingly now given more interviews since last Friday than she did during the entire campaign and they were all exclusives and each had a different timeline about the remorseless and unending news story—those clothes. Also, Worst: A congressman compares Obama to Hitler and then says, “But I‘m not comparing him to Hitler.” You‘re watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

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OLBERMANN:  Pop quiz, hot shot elect.  George Bush just handed you two quagmires, on top of that, he piled Pakistan, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Russia, and China.  Then he let India and other smaller developing nations get a nice fat head-start on the 21st century.  The only upside to the fact that he lost all of their respect, too, as the looming possibility that he‘s helped screw up the atmosphere so badly we‘ll all drown or burn to a crisp before their economies overwhelm you. So, on our fourth story, our nightly question, until the inauguration:  Mr. President-elect, what do we do now?  Obama‘s global popularity easily outstripping that of his former rival, and of his predecessor, but he inherits a war in Iraq, deeply unpopular with the rest of the world, and unfinished and in some ways advocated, the war on terror in the rest of the world which relies heavily on the cooperation of the rest of the world. Much of the developed world is already ahead of the U.S. on the subject of climate change and other issues on the global stage, such as clean, alternative energy.  So, how can President-elect Obama change all of that, any of that, once he becomes just plain old President Obama? With me tonight: “New York Times” columnist, Tom Friedman, whose many awards include a Pulitzer Prize, a Pulitzer Prize, and a Pulitzer Prize.  And he was the author of the most recently of “Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America.” Thanks for being here.

THOMAS FRIEDMAN, NEW YORK TIMES:  Great to be here.

OLBERMANN:  This segment is called “What do we do now?”  When we‘re talking global diplomacy after eight years of Bush, should we be re-titling it—What the hell do we do now?

(LAUGHTER)

FRIEDMAN:  Also, what can we do now?

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

FRIEDMAN:  It opens up a huge number of possibilities.  I think the thing that I‘m hoping President Obama will focus on is, you know, I will start with China and Russia—China, Russia, and India.  And what I mean by that, Keith, is, if you look at the world and all those problems you ticked off, I say to myself, are there any of those problems or are any of those problems ones we can solve without the help of China, Russia and India? And that‘s where I‘d really start, because, with this administration, this was never prioritized.  They said, oh, Russia, we‘re on trip (ph), we want your help with Iran, but, by the way, we‘re putting a missile shield right in your face.  I mean, this administration said the Cold War is over for you, but not for us.

OLBERMANN:  Right.

FRIEDMAN:  And I think you‘ve got to start out—this will be the big challenge for Obama.  Set your priorities but start with the people who we can really leverage their power if we can agree on what to do.

OLBERMANN:  But what part of the respect that we used to enjoy was based on occupying this position of strength and leadership, and to what degree is that position out of reach for us at this point?

FRIEDMAN:  I don‘t think it‘s out of reach, Keith.  The people are really starved off.  But you know what, living abroad, lived in Beirut, lived in Jerusalem, is that, you know, people love to make fun of America.  You‘re so naive.  You‘re so—you actually believe every problem has a solution.  You know, but deep down, they‘ll really envy and appreciate American optimism, because a lot of these are really cynical societies. And we were the straw that stirred the dream.  And when we shifted after 9/11 from exporting hope to exporting fear, from going into the kind of the pessimism business, that actually had a real fall on the whole world.  People—there was a sense of theft.  You took that America that I really believed in and identify away from you. That‘s why it was very personal with Bush and Cheney.  There was a sense that you took something away from me.

OLBERMANN:  Right.

FRIEDMAN:  And I think you saw that in the response to Obama.

OLBERMANN:  So, is that seeming silver lining of last week correct?  Was the mere election of Barack Obama and what it represents, you know, to some degree, a foreign policy boost for this country?

FRIEDMAN:  Yes.  I mean, I think it gives a chance for a new start, OK?  Now, it‘s a question of: can we agree on what road to go on.  But there‘s no question there‘s a chance for a new start here.  The problem, Keith, is that it‘s all happening in the context of this economic crisis which is so serious, so complex, that just sorting that out, before we talk about, you know, the war on terrorism, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran—it‘s going to be really difficult.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, it goes without saying.  But something you pointed out in Sunday‘s column that the rest of the world now has to step up to the plate because they got the guy that they wanted.  In fairness, though, why does hiring the right guy to clean up our mistakes oblige anybody else to do anything to help us clean up our mistakes?

FRIEDMAN:  Yes.  It‘s a fair question, but I think it‘s because the policies that they‘re advocating are the ones that Obama‘s advocating.  I mean, they are advocating different approach, say, to Iran, because they believe it‘s in their interest, not just ours.  And therefore, I think, helping Obama make that possible is something they should want and we should want. And I don‘t think it‘s unfair to call them to do that but, obviously, it‘s going to require a lot of discussion.  Take Iran, for instance, Keith, I mean—I think everyone wants to avoid a war with Iran under virtually any circumstances.  And after I got done talking with China, India and Russia, I hope Obama does follow through on his pledge to engage the Iranians.  Because basically, there‘s been a cold war in the Middle East for the last eight years between the United States and Iran, actually, before the last eight years. If we could unlock that cold war—I don‘t know if we can—you deal with Iran nuclear issue, you deal with the Hezbollah question, you deal with Hamas question—you unlock 10 different possibilities.  And for me, I don‘t know if it‘s possible, Keith, but if we can have a different relationship with Iran.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

FRIEDMAN:  .that would be hugely important.  Because you don‘t want this presidency caught up and ensnared in the Middle East for the next four to eight years.  You just don‘t want that.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.  Try to write your own map there, and it‘s possible. All right.  Your new book, “Hot, Flat, and Crowded,” all right, global warming, globalization, energy issues, all of them coming back together in some sort of apocalyptic fashion, I remember Earth Day, 1970.  We were told the planet would not survive because of overpopulation before the year 2000.  Is there a chance that humanity survives even if it fails to heed Tom Friedman?

FRIEDMAN:  It‘s a good question.  And we‘re not just - heed me, but heed the argument here.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

FRIEDMAN:  Obviously.  You know, what‘s different from Earth Day back then?  Or the early, you know, Malthusian Polarlic (ph) arguments, whatever—is that we added two new things to population.  One is climate.  We know a lot more now, Keith, what we‘re doing to the climate than we did back then. And the second is the number of people—and this really what the plot is about—who are living like Americans.  That is a blessing that so many living like Americans.  But the energy, climate, natural resources implications of that are enormous.  And at the end of the day, I do believe that innovation is the answer. We‘re not going to regulate our way out of this problem.  Regulation is necessary but it‘s not sufficient.  I‘m a believer in innovation.  I believe that there is no Malthusian nightmare necessarily waiting out there for us if we can innovate.  But the population—you know, I was born in 1953, 2.61 billion people on the planet, 6.2 today, if I live to be 100, keep working out, eating yogurt, they‘ll be 9.2 billion.  At the end, numbers matter.

OLBERMANN:  They do, indeed.

Thomas Friedman of the “New York Times,” author now of “Hot, Flat, and Crowded”—again, a pleasure to see you in person, sir.

FRIEDMAN:  Appreciate it, Keith

OLBERMANN:  Thank you, kindly.

FRIEDMAN:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  If you enjoyed 2008, the election, coming soon -- 2008 the election video game. And the congressman who actually believes in Obama speech about civilian construction work forces means he‘s going to impose a socialist dictatorship.  Paul Brown and his paranoia of renown in Worst Persons.  Ahead on COUNTDOWN.

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OLBERMANN:  Best in a moment and he started it.  So, when he says there‘s not enough laughs on CNN, you better believe him. For sad news about a man who never complained, the first two seasons of Herb Score were as good as anybody else‘s in the history of baseball.  He led all Major League pitchers in strike-out each year, and won 20 games his second year.  He was so good, the Boston Red Sox offered to buy his contract from Cleveland for $1 million, at a time when the average Big Leaguer salary was $15,000.  But the third year, he took a line drive off his right eye, never approached greatness again.  He retired less than six years later. He not only did not bemoan his missed chances at all-time greatness, he insisted the injury was incidental.  He was already developing a sore arm that would therefore shorten his career.  And he moved on to another field, broadcasting Indians games from 1964 through 1997. Herb Score had been in a wheelchair since a 2002 stroke, he didn‘t complain about that either.  He died in his home in Ohio today.  He was 75. Let‘s play Oddball. We begin on the Internets where now you can relive all the drama of the 2008 presidential campaign through the miracle of old tiny video games.  Think of it as an eight-bit version of Chuck Todd‘s upcoming book or of mine.  From the people at BarelyPolitical.com, watch as this little Barry-O eats a campaign logo and turns into Super Barry-O, bouncing over political foes on the road to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, zapping opponents after eating fire flowers.  Super Barry-O takes all comers even yes, there they are, the smear merchants of fixed news until he finally hops off the flag pole into the White House.  Yes, that‘s—I remember that‘s exactly how it happened. Staying on the Internets, it‘s bound to happen sooner or later.  Obamamania is toast, sold on eBay.  The hope toast.  The seller says, quote, “Barack Obama has miraculously appeared on a piece of toast when I was preparing for breakfast.  Yes, big deal.  John McCain appears on my box of oatmeal every morning.  And he‘s shaking his fist at me.  At last check, bidding was $20 and my oatmeal is not for sale. Lastly, to the White House dog problem.  If you will recall that senator and now President-elect Obama promised his youngsters a puppy if he‘d won the presidential election but 10-year-old Malia Obama is allergic to dog hair.  Well, the government of Peru has a solution.  They‘re offering the Obamas one of their national dogs, the Peruvian Hairless.  Sure, they are as ugly as the hatful of behinds, but because the dogs are all skin and bones, and often don‘t have any teeth, the breed could be a perfect fit.  No hair, no allergies, no teeth, and no mulling the press corp.

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All the clothes is in the belly of the plain.  Matt Lauer tackles the belly of the beast.  The Sarah Palin interview—with subtitles—and with explanatory humor.  Joel McHale of “The Soup” is here.  These stories ahead. But first on COUNTDOWN, our three Best Persons in the world. Number three: Best farewell.  The late Joanne Alter, our friend Jon‘s mother passed away Sunday at her home in Chicago.  She was the first woman Democrat elected to public office in Cook County, Illinois, broke the glass ceiling there, winning the seat as trustee of the Metropolitan Sanitary District in 1972.  Her last public act as her son proudly notes, was five days before her death, to insist that she be wheeled into the nearby polling place so she could vote for President-elect Obama. Number two: Best sequel.  Tony Dow, the actor who portrayed Wally on “Leave It to Beaver,” one of the abstracts sculpture he has created will be displayed in Paris at the Louvre.   Don‘t spoil this great moment by suggesting it depicts Larry Mondello (ph) beating the shinola out of Lumpy Rutherford.  Number one, best TV criticism, Ted Turner, my old boss, on with David Letterman last night, and sharper perhaps than ever, observing, quote, “there‘s not enough laughs on CNN.  You ever watch Lou Dobbs?  It‘s not funny, is it?” I don‘t know, boss, I may have to disagree with you.  If you look hard enough, it‘s pretty damn funny, actually. 

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OLBERMANN:  For a vice presidential nominee who was notoriously reticent to be interviewed, it would, at first blush, seem to be an astonishing about face.  For a woman whose first career goal was a Sportscenter, maybe not so much.  At three different one on one national TV interviews, each of them, by the way, an exclusive, and numerous press availabilities, all in the weeks since she returned to Alaska.  Our third story on the COUNTDOWN, Governor Sarah Palin talks, and talks, and talks.  On Friday, she told our Alaska affiliate that the RNC clothing had been picked up by a staffer.  Over the weekend, she told Fox it had all been sent back.  Then Monday, after her father revealed that the governor has spent Saturday sorting through the clothing, she elaborated on the story to our Matt Lauer. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  We don‘t have any of the campaign‘s clothes in our possession, and it was never anybody‘s intention to keep those borrowed clothes from the RNC.  When staffers traveled with us, from the lower 48 up to Alaska, and we had boxes of campaign stuff, which include like stickers and campaign buttons and hats and t-shirts, loading all that stuff back up, after emptying the belly of the plane of all this stuff, and that took place in our living room over the past couple of days. 

We put it all in boxes, put it in the Fed-Ex plane and sent it back. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  So the stuff that was all packed up Friday and shipped out Sunday, she just went through it all over the past couple of days.  As to those pesky rumors about her behavior prior to the campaign -- 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  One of the examples that they gave was that the media was just sure that one of the books I tried to ban was Harry Potter.  Of course, it hadn‘t even been written when I was the mayor of Wasilla. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Except she was mayor of Wasilla from 1996 until 2002, during which time the first four Harry Potter books were published in the U.S., the first of them in 1998. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  And then rumors right off the bat too, that, you know, I was some wacko that as a city manager I tried to ban the books in our local library and they listed the books that supposedly I tried to ban.  Books like Harry Potter that hadn‘t even been written when I was the mayor and manager. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Except her resume does not include the title city manager.  She was a city counselor, until she became mayor.  And then, according to Salon.com, she hired a city manager.  Also, she never fought Mohammed Ali for the heavyweight championship, also.  As to some of the other rumors that had floated around her candidacy—

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT LAUER, “THE TODAY SHOW”:  There were whispers when it was revealed that Bristol was pregnant that she and Levi were going to get married because of political reasons. 

PALIN:  Well, see—

LAUER:  That this was the politically correct thing to have happen. 

PALIN:  Well, you know, there again, lots of rumors and lots of speculations.  But at the same time, you know, when those darts and those arrows started flying, I knew still, though, that we were on the right path in terms of offering ourselves up, me, my family, in the name of service to our country. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  I don‘t want to interrupt while you‘re waving the flag, governor, but did I miss it or did you not answer that question?  The report that she wanted to give a pre-concession speech before Senator John McCain spoke, true. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAUER:  So you walked up and said to somebody in the campaign, look, I‘ve got these comments I‘d like to make.  I want to, as you say, brag on him a little bit.  Who said no? 

PALIN:  Somebody said no.  They said that it would be unprecedented that VP candidates wouldn‘t introduce someone in a concession speech and, you know, all I could—

LAUER:  Were you disappointed. 

PALIN:  A little bit.  Not for me permanently to get up there on the stage and give one last speech, but to be able to say this is an American hero. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  What about word of bad blood between herself and senator American hero? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  We have a great relationship, had from day one, had from the first time that I met him last year, he and his wife. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Except they didn‘t meet last year.  They met for the first time February of this year.  How about their relationship over the past two months? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  Never once was there any inkling of tension between the two of us.  Perhaps within the campaign, there were campaign staffers. 

LAUER:  Describe that for me.  Who was butting heads? 

PALIN:  You know, I don‘t know.  That inside baseball stuff regarding the way a campaign works on that level, I certainly didn‘t get bogged down in any of the potential skirmishes. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Inside baseball stuff, a recurring theme for this governor.  Sportscenter, I keep telling you, Sportscenter.  The governor, while preparing dinner, also invoked IBS, inside baseball stuff, as the reason she did so few media interviews as a vice presidential candidate. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAUER:  I‘m curious.  Was there someone saying to you, no, no, let‘s not do a lot of interviews? 

PALIN:  You know, I‘m not going to get into that inside baseball strategy that was used with those who are calling the shots in the campaign.  I‘m going to let them answer that. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Maybe, just maybe, governor, they were trying to stop you from saying anything that might hurt the campaign? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  If I went off script once in a while, I can‘t, for the life of me, remember any one time where it would have harmed him or the ticket.  So I don‘t regret it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  She can‘t remember one time when going off script harmed McCain or the ticket, even though one of those times, reportedly, was when the governor launched her own campaign about Bill Ayers, the palling around with terrorists stuff, with the consent or knowledge of senior McCain staff.  To say nothing of the errata, like the inability to recognize the Bush doctrine or name any Supreme Court decisions besides Roe v. Wade or list any newspapers she read or correctly describe what the vice president did, or the continuing variations on how she is, isn‘t, is the F word. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  Sometimes I consider myself too as a feminist, whatever that means. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  And just as Sarah Palin credited God and the Kenyan witch-hunter Pastor Moothe (ph) with paving her way to the governorship, and predicted that God‘s hands would ensure the, quote, right thing was done on November 4th, so she now believes God will show her what might happen in 2012. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  I don‘t know who is going to be a part of it.  You know what?  I have—faith is a very big part of my life, and putting my life in my creator‘s hands, this is what I do.  I‘m like, OK, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere—this is what I always pray.  I‘m like, don‘t let me miss the open door.  Show me where the open door is.  Even if it‘s cracked open a little bit, maybe I‘ll plow right through, maybe prematurely plow through it.  But don‘t let me miss an open door.  If there‘s an open door 12 or four years later, and if it‘s something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I‘ll plow through the door. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Thus encouraging her supporters on the right to envision themselves plowing with Sarah in 2012.   The gift that keeps on giving, more Palin-tology as assessed by the great Joel McHale live in studio.   And the right wing website that warns President-Elect Obama better stop making so many verbal gaffes, better start speaking like President Bush.  Yes, that President Bush.  But first, because they‘re not going away soon enough, the headlines breaking in the administration‘s 50 running scandals, Bushed.  Number three, open the floodgates-gate.  “Wired Magazine” with an impressive piece on or about on January 20th we‘re likely to get an incredible surge of detail about Mr. Bush‘s abuses of the so-called terrorist surveillance program.  You know, domestic eavesdropping, listening in on military phone sex, that Internet splitter room in San Francisco.  Some sort of Obama led commission?  Whistle-blowers.  A lot of career employees in the intelligence agencies will be glad to see Obama take the oath so they can finally speak out against all this illegal spying and get back to their real mission, says a legislative director of the ACLU.  The great investigative reporter Sy Hersh is a little bit more direct.  “You can‘t believe how many people told me to call them on January 20th.  They say, you want to know about abuses and violations, call me then.”  Number two, bailout-gate.  Like I said yesterday, now we call it the bailout.  Later, we‘ll call it why daddy went to jail.  I‘m guessing it‘s going to start at AIG.  You will remember that as we loaned the insurance company 85 billion, it was spending 440,000 on a luxury retreat for company executives in California.  Now, AIG has done it again.  Another gathering at another luxury resort, this time at Squaw Peak Resort in Phoenix last week, just as AIG was insisting the government give it 40 billion more.  Presumably for hors d‘oeuvres.  Number one, the nexus of politics, terror and laziness-gate.  The Justice Department has audited the records of its own prosecutors at the U.S. attorney offices around the country who were working on terrorism cases.  It has discovered we, the taxpayers, paid for 250 terror prosecutors.  We got 204 terror prosecutors.  What happened to the other 46 guys?  They apparently were pre-purposed and went out and prosecuted health care fraud and drug trafficking.  So we turned the fabric of the nation inside out to hype terror and the Bush administration won re-election and ran the mid-terms in ‘06 on a counter-terror platform, and it has been hitting over the last few weeks that there are not enough U.S. attorneys out there to check on whether or not any of the bailout companies were ripping us off, and they didn‘t even utilize these resources we gave them?  There is in here one kernel of good news.  The Justice Department official in charge of those 94 U.S. attorneys offices explains that one of the reasons all 250 of the terror prosecutors weren‘t prosecuting terrorists was because investigators reviewed fewer national security cases for prosecution.  In other words, when we all looked at these crackpots who thought they could blow up JFK airport by starting a fire near a gas pipeline 25 miles away, or the morons who expected to sneak into Ft. Dix as pizza delivery guys, kill soldiers, even though all the soldiers have these big guns, and still get out alive, those were the terror plots plausible enough to prosecute.  The other ones, all the other ones are really far-fetched. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  If Sarah Palin is frantically sorting through the family underway, who better than Joel McHale of TV‘s “The Soup” to help us understand that process?  He‘s next, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s number two story, tonight‘s worst persons in the world.  The bronze to Bill-O the clown.  Devoted a segment to a new commercial showing supermodel Heidi Klum running around in lingerie.  He asked two female guests, this is going to be shown when kids are there and everybody‘s there.   Is that appropriate?  Each guest said, yes, kind of.  And Bill said he didn‘t have a problem with it.  End result?  It was a cheesy excuse to show Heidi Klum in her lingerie three times before 9:00 Eastern.  The runner-up, John Hinderaker, blogger at the right wing site “The Power Line.”  Observing that the president elect, quote, thinks he is a good talker, but he is often undisciplined when he speaks.  In this regard, President Bush is an excellent model.  Obama should take a lesson from his example.  He‘s serious.  Bush never gets sloppy when he‘s speaking publicly. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Yesterday‘s positive report card shows children‘s do learn when standards are high and results are measured. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  More from Mr. Hinderaker, Bush, quote, “chooses his words with care and precision, which is why his style sometimes seems halting.” 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  Our enemies are innovative and resourceful and so are we.  They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people and neither do we. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  And more from Mr.. Hinderaker.  “In the eight years he‘s been president, it is remarkable how few gaffes or verbal blunders he,” Bush, “has committed.  If Obama doesn‘t raise his standards, he‘ll exceed Bush‘s total before he‘s inaugurated.” 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  Too many docs are getting out of business.  Too many OB/GYN‘s aren‘t able to practice their love with women all across this country. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  And I left out the time he said his best day in office was when he caught a fish or how he explained that the hardest part of his job was to connect Iraq to the war on terror.  But our winner, Congressman Paul Brown of Georgia.  In July, Obama proposed a Civilian Reserve Corp that would help with rebuilding infrastructure in the event of a national emergency.  Congressman Brown has concluded that, actually, Obama is proposing to introduce the Gestapo as precedent to establishing a dictatorship.  Quoting the congressman during a cameo back here on this planet, “that‘s exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it‘s exactly what the Soviet Union did.  When he‘s proposing to have a national security force that‘s answering to him that‘s as strong as the U.S. military, he‘s showing me signs of being Marxist.”  Brown adds, helpfully, that he, quote, “may sound a bit crazy and off base.”  In fact, Congressman, it sounds plenty off base.  In fact, it makes you sound like the representative from crazy and off base.  Brown also added here, “you have to remember that Adolph Hitler was elected in a Democratic Germany.  I‘m not comparing him to Adolph Hitler.  What I‘m saying is there‘s the potential of going down that road.”  Congressman, maybe you need a little help of your understanding of English.  You see, what you just did there, that is, in fact, comparing him to Adolph Hitler.  If you do it, just because you then say I‘m not doing it, that does not mean you did not just do it.  You just compared Obama to Hitler, and you just took the idea of federally funded construction workers and decided it really is the first signal of a dictatorship.  I‘d call you paranoid, congressman, but that would be an insult to people getting treatment for paranoia.  And I wouldn‘t want you to think I just compared anything.  Congressman Paul Brown of Georgia, today‘s worst person in the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Spring cleaning has arrived early in the household of Governor Sarah Palin, since, as we told you earlier, she‘s reportedly trying to figure out which clothes in her closet are leftovers from a lost campaign and therefore property of the RNC. And, in our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, her father has helpfully advanced the story by wondering out loud about the family‘s underwear.  Joel McHale with me here in just a moment.  The Alaska governor took some time this past Saturday to go through her clothing, according to her father, Chuck Heath (ph).  He told the Associated Press that the clothes controversy was ridiculous, that his daughter told him the only clothing or accessories she personally purchased in the last four months was a pair of shoes.  But Heath added, quote, she was just trying to frantically sort stuff out.  That‘s the problem.  The kids lose underwear and everything has to be accounted for.  Nothing goes right back to normal.” Governor Palin is busy with a slate of new interviews.  Her father tried to make her feel at home with a pot of moose chili.  Joining me now, as promised, the host of the pop culture show of record, the E Network‘s “The Soup,” Joel McHale.  Good evening, Joel. 

JOEL MCHALE, “THE SOUP”:  Nice to see you, Keith.  Thanks for having me. 

OLBERMANN:  You seem to have a baby here? 

MCHALE:  Yes, he‘s my prop tonight.  I found him downstairs on 49th Street.  And it‘s working out great. 

OLBERMANN:  Good, OK. 

MCHALE:  Can we get him started? 

OLBERMANN:  Which one of you answers these questions? 

MCHALE:  I don‘t think you‘ll hear a word I have to say, but I‘ll let him crawl across to you. 

OLBERMANN:  All right, great.  Thanks to her dear dad and we‘re speaking of dads here, the words problem, underwear and frantically all sort of got collided into one sentence.  Do you have any advice on this score? 

MCHALE:  You shouldn‘t be asking me, because to avoid these situations, I stopped wearing underwear years ago, because my father was screaming at me, pick a pair, Joel, pick a pair.  And now, for different—the political campaigns that I want to support, I send my underwear to them, with my name in it or Ryan‘s underwear and the day, of course, and once the campaign is done, I expect them to send it back, Ralph Nader.  So that‘s how I usually—

OLBERMANN:  So you can take it back to the place where you bought it and say, look, these are broken.  I want my money back?

MCHALE:  Yes.  I take it back to Sears or Victoria‘s Secret. 

OLBERMANN:  To return family underwear to the RNC, to lawyers and to auditors, is this a realistic possibility in anybody‘s experience? 

MCHALE:  Oh, yes. 

OLBERMANN:  Really? 

MCHALE:  I can‘t believe you‘re not taking this seriously, Keith.  They‘ve already formed a committee.  It‘s the Sarah Palin Underwear National Committee, or SPUNC.  They‘ve already formed one for her bras and for her support hose.  So it‘s a lot bigger than you think. 

OLBERMANN:  You may have heard this clip before of Palin saying the possibly that she‘d run in 2012 for president or later would be in god‘s hands.  If there is an open door, she‘ll plow through.  Have we just distilled this back to her appeal to her conservative base, that the prospect of—

MCHALE:  Plowing? 

OLBERMANN:  Well, yes.  I wanted you to put your hands over the child‘s ears, but too late now. 

MCHALE:  I was going to say.  I would say, I‘m not sure what‘s going to happen over the next four years.  But if I‘m Mike Huckabee and I hear a helicopter hovering overhead, I‘m ducking for cover, because there is going to be an (INAUDIBLE) plowing through somebody. 

OLBERMANN:  The Bush/Obama meeting that we saw the other day, they apparently talked substance.  There were some disagreements. 

MCHALE:  You‘re kidding? 

OLBERMANN:  Yes.  Apart from the substance, what do we think happened during that meeting? 

MCHALE:  I heard this inside story that I‘ll break to you now, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Please. 

MCHALE:  Bush actually showed Obama this really neat trick.  If you throw an M-80 in the Oval Office toilet, then you can flood the Lincoln Bedroom. 

OLBERMANN:  Wow!

MCHALE:  That‘s pretty awesome.  Speaking of flooding, look at that. 

OLBERMANN:  That‘s fabulous.  I do that on television every night.  The late news tonight is John McCain is on “The Tonight Show.”  They recorded it already.  We don‘t have a clip or anything, but there is a quote, which is absolutely apropos.  Let me just read this to you and get your reaction.  He said to Jay Leno, “I‘ve been sleeping like a baby.  Sleep two hours, wake up and cry.  Sleep two hours, wake up and cry.”  Your thoughts? 

MCHALE:  Well, if he‘s really sleeping like a baby, then apparently he‘s breast-feeding, as well and then gagging a lot of it up, which is about as disturbing an image I‘ve put into my head in a while, since I saw you on “The View.”

OLBERMANN:  Now I have to ask you about that.  You have done this show prior to the point I did it yesterday. 

MCHALE:  Yes. 

OLBERMANN:  Had they adjusted for your height at any point, or, like me, did they sit you on the same kind of chair so that you looked to be the kindergarten teacher sitting with the kids on their chairs? 

MCHALE:  Yes.  It looked like you had eaten Star Jones before you walked on set.  Look at that. 

OLBERMANN:  There it is. 

MCHALE:  You look like—you‘re in the Cyclops chair.  As if you were in the Shire and they were little Hobbits.  That‘s how I appear with Ryan Seacrest all the time.  I just look like a larger person. 

OLBERMANN:  It looks like somehow I‘m the leader of a brownie troop. 

MCHALE:  Did you bring a battle ax with you?  You look like some large gladiator who just—

OLBERMANN:  As you know, on “The View,” the battle axes are already there.  Thank you, thank you.  You‘re here all week.  Apparently, you‘re not. 

MCHALE:  What are we going to do with this guy? 

OLBERMANN:  Joel McHale of “The Soup,” who couldn‘t find a sitter. 

MCHALE:  I need to borrow this right here. 

OLBERMANN:  I don‘t know.  That‘s the end of the script. 

MCHALE:  You need to read that? 

OLBERMANN:  No, you can keep it.  What‘s your son‘s name? 

MCHALE:  He‘s Isaac. 

OLBERMANN:  That‘s not Eddy, who is your older son, who has already gotten out of the business? 

MCHALE:  He was begging to come on. 

OLBERMANN:  He‘s very good. 

MCHALE:  Great job on “The View,” by the way.  I can‘t wait to see you on “Tyra.” 

OLBERMANN:  Thank you, kindly.  That‘s COUNTDOWN for this 2,022nd day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq.  We‘re Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.

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

END   

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