updated 12/1/2008 4:30:57 PM ET 2008-12-01T21:30:57

Guest: John Dean

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?Change sometimes means bringing back the old guys who did good to replace the new guys who did bad. Former Fed chief, Paul Volcker, back to head a new economic recovery advisory board.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT-ELECT: But understand where the vision for change comes from, first and foremost. It comes from me.


OLBERMANN: And Mr. President-elect, what do we do now about torture? The outgoing administration insists it didn't do any. The incoming administration seems disinterested in finding out how not true that is. John Dean joins us.Disaster in Mumbai: The Indian financial center attacked by gunmen, at least 80 dead. They opened fire at a train station and at a popular tourist restaurant.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They wanted to-they wanted anyone with British or American passports. Is there anyone who had a British or American passport, they wanted to know. So, I guess, they were after foreigners.


OLBERMANN: Hostages taken, westerners and possibly Americans included at two major hotels. Bests: Accused drunk driver runs himself over. Worst: Urban legend accepted as fact. G.M., Ford, and Chrysler workers are making $70 an hour even though they're really only making around $38 an hour. And, give thanks that Thanksgiving is almost over and there's a year until the next round of Thanksgiving turkey pardons.


PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES: After a long, drawn out election season, when the people finally spoke, the name of the ticket sent here to the White House was Pumpkin and Pecan. Pumpkin is right there. Pecan is in an undisclosed location.



OLBERMANN: Yet, it is Sarah Palin's mastery of this topic that now inspires true artists from slate.


GOV. SARAH PALIN, ® ALASKA: Especially with so much that has gone in the last couple of months that's been so political, obviously, that it's nice to get out and do something to promote a local business.


OLBERMANN: All that and more: Now on COUNTDOWN.


PALIN: You need a little bit of levity in this job.


OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening. This is Wednesday, November 26th, 55 days until the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama. The question tonight, as it pertains to the staggering economy, is whether or not the inauguration is just a formality. Is Barack Obama already the de facto economic commander-in-chief? Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: Illustrated by two schedules of two presidents: the 44th holding this third news conference on the economy in as many days, the 43rd in his only official act of the day, pardoning a turkey. We only have one president at a time, but why does it feel like the president-elect is the only one doing the job? Mr. Obama today announcing a new economic recovery advisory board headed by former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, 81, and also, by economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee. Their task: To give the new president independent advice and keeping out of a proverbial bubble.


OBAMA: The reality is that sometimes policymaking in Washington can become a little bit too ingrown, a little bit too insular. The walls of the echo chamber can sometimes keep out fresh voices and new ways of thinking. This board will provide that fresh perspective to me and my administration with an infusion of ideas from across the country and from all sectors of our economy.


OLBERMANN: During media questioning, Mr. Obama addressing criticism that he is appointing too many former Clinton officials to his cabinet.


OBAMA: It would be surprising if I selected a treasury secretary who had had no connection with the last Democratic administration because that would mean that the person had no experience in Washington whatsoever. And I suspect that you would be troubled and the American people would be troubled, if I selected a treasury secretary or a chairman of the National Economic Council at one of the most critical economic times in history who had no experience in government whatsoever.


OLBERMANN: And anyone worrying where that promised "change" will come from, told by Mr. Obama to look no further than the Oval Office.


OBAMA: What we are going to do is combine experience with fresh thinking. But understand where the vision for change comes from, first and foremost. It comes from me. That's my job.


OLBERMANN: The president-elect also looking for change from banking executives, telling Barbara Walters of ABC News that the executives who piloted this financial titanic should forget about giving themselves any bonuses this year.


OBAMA: I think that if you are worth tens of millions of dollars, and you are having to layoff workers, the least you can do is say, "I'm willing to make some sacrifice as well because I recognize that there are people who are a lot less well-off who are going through some pretty tough times."


OLBERMANN: Speaking of tough times as most poultry in Wasilla, Alaska already know, it's tough time to be a turkey, unless the bird happens to be the lucky recipient of the political pardon. That, as we mentioned, the only item on President Bush's official schedule today, not that anything important happens to be going on in the country these days. After picking up the slack on fixing the economy, President-elect Obama and his wife Michelle brought their daughters with them to a Chicago food bank to hand out hogs and chickens, not turkeys. The president-elect saying that the number of families coming in to that food bank this year is 33 percent higher than it was a year ago. Mr. Obama also stressing on a personal level that his daughters, quote, "learn the importance of how fortunate they are and make sure they are giving back." Time now to call in our own Richard Wolffe, also, of course, senior White House correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine. Richard, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Let me start with this main point here. On the economy, is Barack Obama in effect already president?

WOLFFE: Well, he is trying to sound like it is. And he is trying to speak to the nation in language that they care about and understand. And it's had an impact on the markets which is an important piece of what Phil Gramm used to call the mental recession. But there is a real recession as well. And it's two months before President Obama takes office and can actually do anything about it. And this economy sorely needs some pretty vigorous action that has more purpose and strategy and ideas than what this administration is doing right now. So, he is half-president and the other guy is a half-president, too. So, I guess, between them, there's a whole one.

OLBERMANN: An unexpected claim here from me, anyway, about that, by really playing that role, lame duck to the hilt, is President Bush doing the president-elect and doing the economy and doing those who are trying to fix the economy something of a favor? Is this actually good policy as opposed to just negligence?

WOLFFE: I don't think they see it as negligence, clearly. And I don't think it really helps anyone politically. In the end, good politics is based on good policy. And the problem with the kind of action we've seen from this administration is that it hasn't had the desired effect. It costs a huge amount of money. But they seem to have come to the end of the road of their ideas. And again, two months is a long time for an economy that could spiral further into possibly deflation or a depression more than just a recession.

OLBERMANN: One quote from the Obama news conference really stood out. This one about, "Understand where the vision for change comes from, first and foremost, it comes from me." How does that phrase, in your assessment, differ from the commander-in-chief declaring himself the decider?

WOLFFE: Well, both of them have a certain hubris attached to them. So, I guess, there is an assertion of being the boss which is similar but, I think there's a big difference between setting an overall policy strategy, the vision, as the president-elect called it, and being a man of action, a self-styled decider, someone who is constantly making decisions without the follow-through to make sure those decisions are either well-planned and or executed appropriately. And that's the decider concept that the president had which has taken us into Iraq and many other dead-ends of policy.

OLBERMANN: And looking forward, on Monday next, the president-elect will announce his national security team. Is that expected to include the name of the secretary of state?

WOLFFE: Yes, it is. And it seems like it's a done deal, that it will be, indeed, Senator Clinton, and other members of the national security team, likely to be James Jones, a former marine general, as national security advisor. I think you're going to see a number of announcements next week on that foreign policy front.

OLBERMANN: Is there anything else, any surprises in there that you're aware of?

WOLFFE: Well, I think the key thing to look out for here are some of these deputy positions, see whether they get rolled out as well, because that's going to decide, in many ways, the overall direction of foreign policy and whether there is this change that we have been promised.

OLBERMANN: Richard Wolffe of MSNBC and "Newsweek"-as always, great thanks. Happy Thanksgiving.

WOLFFE: And to you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: For more on what the Bush administration did to get the economy in the dire condition it is in, let's turn now to our own Jonathan Alter, also, of course, senior editor at "Newsweek" magazine. Good evening, Jon.


OLBERMANN: Do we have any better sense tonight about Obama's assertions during the campaign that this mess was no accident? That this was conservative policy plus Bush negligence?

ALTER: And stupidity on Wall Street, people not being able to assess the real risks of these investments and decisions that they were making. But clearly, there was an ideological policy here that started with those horrible Bush tax cuts which basically screwed over the middle class in favor of the rich. It was a huge transfer of wealth from working people to wealthy people. And they talked about, you know, redistribution.

OLBERMANN: Yes, spreading the wealth (INAUDIBLE).

ALTER: That's what we had. And what's so interesting about what's going on right now is you had people who used to be centrists, like Larry Summers, who's now going to have a lot of power in the Obama White House, who, in recent years had been writing pretty radical columns, talking about this. And he describes it as, you know, the defining policy of our time-this wealth shift to the wealthy. And now, you have a situation where even now, not only are they flying in on corporate jets.


ALTER: . looking for bailouts, but very few have repudiated the idea of bonuses. What happened to the idea you only get a bonus when you make money? We're going to have people on Wall Street this year who are going to still get bonuses, not the top guys, maybe, but the people who are just making a few million dollars, not many millions of dollars are going to continue to get bonuses. It's really outrageous.

OLBERMANN: But then, you're looking at the bailout as a kind of bonus or, at least, a reward for ineptitude, which is the same thing you're just talking about, at least in overall concept. To what degree is there's still conservative economic policy in play for the last 50-plus days of the Bush administration-the idea of the bailout still is: Wall Street first, then maybe, Main Street?

ALTER: I don't think that's conservative ideology because you have to unclog the arteries. You know, the financial industry is not the same as any other industry. It's the source of the life blood for all of the rest of the economy. And that's just the way our economy works. So, it was actually quite a liberal thing that Hank Paulson did. He did it ineptly, at first, brought up this toxic paper before they kind of reformed their plan and got it on something that still might not work, but, at least, is worth a try. But there's nothing conservative about what Paulson did.

OLBERMANN: Lastly, a variant of what I asked Richard, not only did President Bush do nothing but pardon this turkey, but he rescheduled that ceremony by half an hour.


OLBERMANN: He shifted it so as not to interfere with Obama's now daily economic news conference. Is Bush doing his best work as president by doing no work as president?

ALTER: Well, it's a great point. I mean, he is acting the most presidential in the level of his cooperation with Obama that he has for the entire term. And he's sounding more gracious and more presidential. It's really rather strange, but it is an improvement over Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt.


ALTER: . where they were yelling at each other throughout the transition.

OLBERMANN: Franklin Roosevelt, you bring him up, why, again?


OLBERMANN: What's the name of that book, again, Jon?

ALTER: You can't blame me.

OLBERMANN: Give it a plug, it's the Christmas shopping season.

ALTER: It's called "The Defining Moment."

OLBERMANN: That's right.

ALTER: Which is the phrase that you are hearing a lot these days from our president-elect.

OLBERMANN: Jonathan Alter of "Newsweek" and MSNBC and "The Defining Moment," great thanks for your time, Happy Thanksgiving.

ALTER: Thanks, Keith. You, too.

OLBERMANN: The attacks apparently focused on western tourists in India. There are new numbers at this hour and one has been increased: 82 dead now reported but the number injured has been downgraded, has been reduced from about 250 to now they say about 125 -- if I'm reading this correctly. So, that is-yes, 120 injured. The latest from Mumbai-next.


OLBERMANN: Carnage again in the Indian city once known as Bombay. Teams of armed gunmen attacked hotels, restaurants, a train station in Mumbai. Now, 82 reported dead according to officials. But the word of 250 more injured is now down to 120. Westerners targeted perhaps as hostages. The breaking news, plus, whether or not a terror warning here about New York City's subways is just more of the same old political exploitation. And later in Worsts: Glen Beck calls for secession to protest the Obama election. And why those stories about $70 an hour autoworkers are completely false by a factor of nearly 50 percent? All ahead here on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN: It began around 10:00 o'clock at night, coordinated attacks throughout one of the world's major cities. Gunmen ran into a busy train station, and two hotels, and a popular restaurant, an airport, two hospitals, and they attacked the police head-on. They killed three top officials including the state's anti-terrorism chief and at least 79 other people. Hundreds more wounded, the latest number, 120 is the estimate from the officials there including-a U.S. official tells NBC News, one American seriously injured. Our fourth story tonight: Unknown terrorists and a world financial capital under siege, Mumbai, India, the historic city once known as Bombay. At this hour, Mumbai police, the Indian army, still responding, having killed four, they say, and captured nine terrorists, but still apparently in standoffs with terrorists at those hotels. One of those hotels, the century-old Taj where terrorists were still, reported, inside, holding hostages. As daylight has broken, shots were just heard there, about dozen as you may have seen in the graphic on the report from one of the Indian networks. Fifteen foreigners there, the Taj CEO e-mailing NBC's Peter Greenberg tonight, reporting the hotel in lockdown with 200 guests and staff evacuated. Police there are cornering five armed men on the sixth floor. And word from one who escaped the Oberoi Trident Hotel, about just who the gunmen were looking for.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They wanted to-they wanted anyone with British or American passports. Is there anyone who had a British or American passport, they wanted to know.


OLBERMANN: The Oberoi Trident and the Taj hotels, the CST railway station, the Leopold Cafe were the sites of the main attacks with others reported elsewhere in the nation's financial center, carried out with AK-47s and grenades. President Bush, tonight, in a statement condemning the attack, the White House is saying U.S. diplomats are safe, but cannot say whether any Americans are among the hostages. And we have report that an American has been seriously injured there. An unknown group claiming responsibility but India has been in fierce struggles with multiple terrorist groups for years. Today, not even the worst of it. Forty-five died on 18 bombings across Assam on October 30th, 17 dead on October 21st, eight on the 14th, 35 dead in four September attacks, 209 killed in seven coordinated bombings on July 11th, 2006 at trains and train stations also in Mumbai. The precursor for all of this: The devastating coordinated attacks on a single day in 1993, 257 died after 13 bombs went off also targeting India's financial capital of Mumbai. With us tonight: MSNBC terrorism analyst, Roger Cressey, former staffer at the National Security Council. Roger, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Do we learn anything from the similarities and the differences between today's attacks and the past attacks in India?

CRESSEY: Well, I think, one thing that is very different right now is the separating of western hostages and holding them. Most of the attacks we have seen have been a function of the suicide bombing phenomenon or remotely-detonated bombs. So, as the hostage drama plays out right now at the Taj, I think that is the real, unique component to all of this. And it really gets the issue of who was behind it. If this was truly homegrown, then it would not be a scenario where they would look to separate the westerners. If there's outside influence, and that's far more likely, that said, Keith, al Qaeda's M.O. in past has not been to go for hostages, it's to go for as many casualties as possible. So, there's a lot of competing potential scenarios here. And I think we all are going to wait and see exactly how it plays out before we start assigning blame.

OLBERMANN: Yes, but you're-I'm reading into what you said there, that your concern out of this might be is that if this is international terrorism as opposed to something domestic for India, this is perhaps al Qaeda-related or inspired, that we might have just seen their tactics change because they don't go for confrontations with the police, they apparently went head to head in pitched battle with policemen on the streets of Mumbai. And as you point out, al Qaeda has never gone for hostages, it's body count.

CRESSEY: That's right. The other thing to keep in mind is that India, as you've said earlier, has a huge ongoing terrorist problem. It's not just external groups, Pakistani-sponsored groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba. There are a lot of homegrown, domestic groups that have serious grievances, be it with the Muslim community or other issues. So, the operational tempo, unfortunately, has been quite high in India. So, sorting out who actually is going to be responsible for this is a key issue for the police service. And that's why the individuals they have in custody right now are going to be so important. Start to interrogate them, identify who might they've actually been working for.

OLBERMANN: And there is another report at this from India that more shots have been heard at the Taj Hotel, that would be two just before 7:00 local time in the morning of Thursday. There's another unrelated story to this, Roger, that needs your expertise. New York put on notice after a man who was detained in Pakistan told the FBI he had heard al Qaeda's operatives talking about their interest in attacking trains in New York. This is that "boy who cried wolf" moment that we've always talked about because that exact warning has been used politically in the past, we know that that's happened. Why do we give this more credence or do we give this more credence tonight?

CRESSEY: Well, this was low level. I don't think it was that serious. It's what we used to call in the community, "aspirational," not operational (ph). What you know is that this was a real operative who was captured, did not have current threat information but talked about how individuals had said, boy, wouldn't it be nice if we could blow up a subway or railway. That information was passed on to state and local authorities in New York. I think what's important, Keith, is that nobody spun it out of control and said, "Oh, my God, yet another plot." This was low level. I think the system worked well. And hopefully, people won't politicize this one for a change.

OLBERMANN: Roger Cressey, MSNBC terrorism analyst-thank you, Roger, and have a good holiday.

CRESSEY: You too, Keith.

OLBERMANN: And we'll keep our eyes and ears open here for any further developments out of Mumbai. Counterterrorism in the most extreme sense of the term, the subject of tonight's version of our question to the president-elect: What do we do now? Bush probably won't pardon torturers and Obama won't prosecute them. And execution, not of turkeys behind Governor Palin, but by those who have substituted other images for those turkeys. You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: Bests in a moment and a classic final line to an "Associated Press" news story, quote, "She was released to her husband and the man was released to his girlfriend." First, rather than mentioning an anniversary, our best wishes tonight from everybody here to our dear friend, our principal make-up artist here at MSNBC since the beginning, Alicia Gernari (ph), who is in the last place you want to be on a holiday, in the hospital. One of the things everybody in this shop is thankful for this Thanksgiving, Lily (ph), as there are every year is your friendship and your professionalism. Get better, kid. Let's play Oddball. We begin near Cochiti Lake, New Mexico. This will put a smile on your face. Police on hot pursuit of a clearly intoxicated driver who swerves all over the road before finally driving right off of it, and then, a moment of sublime poetic justice. As the police approach, the perp falls out of the truck and in a moment right out of Monty Python's Upper Class Twit of the Year competition, the truck runs over his own legs. After a few hours in the hospital, this boy racer is now cooling his heels, at least what's left of them un-bruised in the big house. How could he not get seriously hurt doing this? Moving from the sublime to the ridiculous-this is a civil war roadside attraction created by Mr. Mark Cline of Natural Bridge, Virginia. And, no, you are not hallucinating. It is an Allosaurus eating a Union soldier, right next to a T-rex trying to eat a man and a woman. And the Triceratops knocking a soldier out of the tree. Mr. Cline says he wanted to create an imaginary chapter of the civil war in which the north found a lost valley of dinosaurs and tried to deploy them against the south with disastrous consequences. And that picture, Abraham Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg's address while riding a Stegosaurus, nor whatever it is Mr. Cline grows on his property there at Natural Bridge, Virginia. What do we do now? Our nightly segment with a remarkable hypothesis: Bush and Obama may both believe they will be no prosecution of torturers. And you might call this the torture of Sarah Palin. The online satirist so speculate on what else she didn't see going on behind her at the good old turkey farm. These stories ahead. But first up: COUNTDOWN's Top Three Best Persons in the World. Number three: Best explanation from the municipal zoo in the city of Kushiro, Japan, which has been wondering why its female polar bear, Korimi (ph), has not mating with its new male polar bear, Shoishi (ph), even though the male arrived to zoo in January of 2005. The obvious answer finally occurred to the zookeepers after they noticed that Siyoshi (ph) and Kurumi (ph) were both urinating in the same fashion. They are both females. Number two, best final line of an AP story, courtesy two fans at the University of Minnesota game last Saturday who were cited for misdemeanor indecent conduct after having sex in the handicap stall in the men's bathroom in the stadium having sex while a crowd of equally intoxicated fans cheered them on. The conclusion of the story, the police chief, quote, said, "The woman initially gave a false name to officers. She was released to her husband and the man was released to his girlfriend." And oh, wouldn't you have wanted to hear what happened after that. Number one best dumb criminal. Francis Clifton Marshall, Washington, DC. Police accused him of robbing a bank on K Street this morning and making a series of poorer choices. The first the getaway car, a cab he hailed on the street outside the bank, the driver took him to the destination, then went back to the bank to tell the police what the destination was. Second the dye pack, it was one of those gas propelled ones. So when it went off, not only did it color him red but it continued to spray him with a fine mist as he walked down the street. And third, according to witness, as the cloud of red dye dust enveloped him, Mr. Marshall tried to run away, which is when his pants fell down. First, he had forgotten mom's warning, not only was he not wearing clean underwear, he wasn't wearing any underwear.


OLBERMANN: This is not that complicated. A, the Bush administration has acknowledged it waterboarded some terror detainees. B, even John McCain acknowledged that waterboarding is torture, therefore C, the Bush administration tortured people. But in a flabbergasting irony, because the administration cannot accept that irrefutable chain of logic, the president is not believed likely to issue sweeping pardons for those who authorized or did the torturing. On the other hand, the Obama administration may not prosecute them. Our third story on the COUNTDOWN, our nightly question to the president elect, what do we do now, when it comes to torture? According to the "Wall Street Journals" White House officials believe the blanket pardons are quote, "unnecessary" citing what have become to be known as the torture memos. Written by their own Justice Department, the documents contained language flouting international treaties and federal law forbidding torture to permit tactics just shy of homicide. In turn, they provided broad legal authority and cover for some of the atrocities carried out at Gitmo for example. Further, some former administration officials have argued that a pardon for post 9/11 activities would be tantamount to an admission of wrongdoing. As for what President-Elect Obama will do as president, he's not expected to pursue criminal charges or take high level investigations in the absence of specific news evidence but he is said to consider a 9/11 style commission eventually making many of the findings on torture public. All quote, "bad ideas" says former assistant attorney general from 2003 to 2004 Jack Goldsmith, himself a possible candidate for prosecution if any there is. Writing today in the "Washington Post" quote, "They would bring little benefit and further weaken the Justice Department and the CIA in ways that would compromise our security." Time now to call in John Dean, White House counsel in the Nixon administration, columnist now at findlaw.com. And also the author of "Broken Government" and "Worse than Watergate." Good evening, John.


OLBERMANN: Are you surprised by the president-elect's idea of this commission? Does it seem that it's treating this issue a little academically?

DEAN: Frankly, I am. I'm not sure it's academic the way they're thinking about it. It's clearly contrary to what we talked about earlier in a prior broadcasts how he told Will Bunch earlier this year, that immediately upon becoming president if he were elected, he would have his attorney general investigate this very question as to whether these war crimes are just stupid policies or very serious and egregious crimes. A commission is far away from that. A commission is passing the buck. And I've got to tell you also, Keith, in the unraveling of Watergate, we had many high level discussions about how to make it all go away without anybody having liability. We considered many times a commission.

OLBERMANN: I saw that coming down Broadway with its doors open. Say Obama were to pursue some sort of prosecution or high level investigation as we had discussed, as he had said as candidate Obama to our friend Will Bunch, are there legitimate downsides to this? Is there anything here in the criticism by Mr. Goldsmith?

DEAN: Well, I think the biggest downside, potentially is the fact given the timing, if he went early, it could change the atmosphere in Washington. He has a lot of things he needs to do before he turns to an issue like this, like the economy, Iraq, and that could make the atmosphere very difficult. That's what he has to consider and that's what he is considering in talking about a commission.

OLBERMANN: As for President Bush and his reported conclusion about no sweeping, preemptive pardons, is he do you think he's playing a game of chicken or do you think he thinks there was no crime here?

DEAN: I suspect the latter. I read a lot on the Internet in the last few days about this where there were very heated discussions about how he should be prosecuting these people and just nailing them because they have obviously committed very serious war crimes. What everyone is forgetting is how much Bush has already done with Congress when the republicans control in two pieces of legislation. One was the Detainee Treatment Act of '05 and then again in the Military Commissions Act. Both of those, Keith, seriously narrow the criminal liability of anybody that was involved in these. And indeed they let them rely statutorily on these Department of Justice memos that John, Yoo wrote. So this is a very difficult thing to prosecute these people.

OLBERMANN: And the cliched $64,000 question, I know the idea of prosecuting a president after their presidency is a black hole, but is Bush himself in trouble, even theoretically?

DEAN: Not really. I really think it's very remote. Sadly, because he is up to his eyeballs as is Cheney in all this, and they probably are directly involved in what could be a very clear conspiracy, it's not going to happen. It's just another bit of evidence that Richard Nixon might have been right that when a president does it it's not illegal and that's kind of a sad commentary.

OLBERMANN: Well, now that I have hours to contemplate what life is like with a Nixon appointed Watergate commission, I will thank you, as always. John Dean, the author of "Worse than Watergate", "Broken Government." Thanks for your time, have a great Thanksgiving, John.

DEAN: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Thanksgiving turkeys. Not these people - the birds that they - well, maybe these people.Plus genius boy here posits that states that did not vote for Obama should consider secession. Apparently because he has not heard about that Civil War thing where the dinosaurs came and ate the Northern troops. But because they are not going to go away soon enough, the headlines breaking in the administration's 50 running scandals, "Bushed." Number three, Pardongate, more analysis of the first cluster of Bushian last minute magic wand waving showing the continuation of an intriguing thread, Mr. Bush had already pardoned John G. Smith of Texas, formerly of Burnham Savings and Loan, one of the thrifts that collapsed in the 1980s savings and loan scandal. Mr. Bush also pardoned Kenneth Foner (ph) of Texas, convicted of embezzlement of a bank officer in the 1980s saving and loan scandal. Mr. Bush had also pardoned David McCall of Texas on his death bed four years ago for his role in the role in the 1980s savings and loans scandal. Mr. Bush had also pardoned Mark Hale (ph) of Texas, convicted of $5 million worth of fraud in the 1980s savings and loan scandal. And now, Mr. Bush has just pardoned William Hoyle McWright Jr. (ph) of Texas who had been fined and jailed for making false entries, reports or statements of bank during the 1980s savings and loan scandal. I don't want to sound paranoid, but I think I'm beginning to detect a pattern here. Number two, Mukasey gate. Washington State Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders has now admitted yes, he was the guy Attorney General Michael Mukasey addressed to Federalist Society last week, defended Gitmo, defended opting out of the Geneva Convention. Justice Sanders finally stood up and shouted, "Tyrant. You are a tyrant." The judge now says he should not have gotten up and yelled but he simply had had enough. And also to be honest, he shouldn't have shouted tyrant, but rather, he should have shouted "tyranny." The number one, delusion-gate. Karl Rove on Fixed News actually claiming at the intersection of politics and policy, quote, "At least in the White House I was in, policy went out. The president I worked for, George Bush, said you know what, let's do right. And the politics will take care of itself." He said that Karl? What a guy. It was policy, not politics when the U.S. attorneys were purged? It was policy not politics when the White House tried to blocked the climate change findings from James Hanson from NASA. It was policy, not politics when you urged the president to stop stem cell research, it was policy not politics when the White House eviscerated Dr. Julie Gerberding when she tried to address global warming at the Centers for Disease Control. It was policy, not politics when the White House insisted every federal scientist had to clear any federal testimony with the Office of Management and Budget? "At least in the White House I was in policy went out." I'm afraid that White House, Mr. Rove, existed only in your imagination.


OLBERMANN: Used to be a simply little photo-op. President pardons turkey at Thanksgiving, gobble, gobble, camera's roll, everyone goes home. Now, it is an epic biblical proportions starring George W. Bush and Sarah Palin and Dan Aykroyd and Julia Child and Kerry. That's next. Bit first time for COUNTDOWN's number two story, tonight's "Worst Persons in the World." The bronze Ladonna Hail Kurzen (ph), executive director at WS Radio which describes itself as the world leader in Internet talk radio and says it has launched a new radio show or network or something called "Sarah Palin Radio." It's supposed to be an hour a week, not featuring the governor of Alaska, but about her. The proprietors suggest that herself might appear occasionally by phone. Maybe she could get the French President Nicolas Sarkozy to phone in, too. Whatever the plan is, as of this afternoon, going to the Sarah Palin Radio Web site and clicking on the listen to Sarah Palin button brings you ironically enough to "John McCain Radio", with your host John McCain and the advisory that you can listen to John McCain's final broadcast on "John McCain Radio." And so long until tomorrow. Our silver medallist tonight, Glenn Beck who recently dropped out of reality based media to join Fixed News and to whom the last election is neither positive nor something he believes really happened. "So the question is," he asks on radio, "do states have the right to succeed anymore? Because it's a compact, it's not perpetual. In fact in the Declaration of Independence it says it's our right. It's our responsibility to get away from a government who doesn't listen to us any more. Do you have the right to do that as a state anymore? Do you have the right to say you know what, you guys are going down a path I don't even agree with. Is that even possible?" Of course it is, Glenn. They did it in 1860 and 1861 and it only led to a civil war that killed 600,000 Americans. It's called treason. And coming from a guy who more than once has shouted into his microphone, "This is America, love it or leave it." It's also undeniable, indefensible, stupid hypocrisy. But our winner, Andrew Ross Sorkin and "The New York Times." There are far worse transgressors, it's even been done on this network in the morning, afternoon and the evening. But he started it. Mr. Sorkin was the one who wrote, quote, "At General Motors, the average worker is paid $70 an hour including health care and pension costs." This has been picked up by Charles Krauthammer and Newt Gingrich and every facts optional conservative and sadly a lot of effort optional liberals and independents. And it's bull crap. It's a way to come up with a big outlandish sexy number and a way blame the workers in the union for the disaster in Detroit. The Center for Automotive Research said that the average hourly wage at GM, Chrysler and Ford last year was not $70 an hour, but $28 an hour. Where does that crazy figure of $70 come from? If you take all the hourly wages the Big Three are paying their employees and add the health benefits they get and you add in their pensions and you add in what the companies pay in health care to their retired workers and you add in the pensions they pay to retired workers and you add in the money they pay to the surviving spouses of the dead retired workers, you take that big number and then you divide it by the number of hours actually worked by just the active auto industry employees, your answer is then 70. It's like asking what is the average salary of everyone in the United States. Then you add in the Social Security check being sent to anybody who is retired but then you only divide it by the number of active workers. It's mathematically and intellectually dishonest. The guys who are spending this Thanksgiving in Detroit in dread of their jobs vanishing before Christmas are making $28 an hour, maybe $38 with benefits and pension. Now they are also getting this $70 an hour crap thrown at them. All thanks to Andrew Ross Sorkin and "The New York Times." Today's worst persons in the worlds.


OLBERMANN: At the top of the hour, Rachel Maddow with the full coverage of the attacks today in Mumbai, India, the city once known as Bombay. The headlines for the moment, at least a handful of terrorists still believed to be holding hostages, possibly westerners at two hotels. Gunfire reported at what is about 7:30 a.m. Local Time at the Taj Hotel. Gunfire reported this morning there. A U.S. official telling NBC News and MSNBC that this nation knows of one American seriously injured. The various reports put the total death toll of these attacks, mostly guns and grenades at 82 to 86. But the original count of 250 injured has now been reduced to 120. Full details in a moment with Rachel Maddow. Sometimes the politically bizarre is so bizarre that even political satirists need some time to recover and get back to the serious business of satire. Such it is as Slate finally marries the Sarah Palin turkey atrocity video to such as things as, oh, nuclear holocaust, the movie "Carrie" and Dan Aykroyd portraying Julia Child as an accident victim. Our number one story on COUNTDOWN, that bit of brilliance ahead. But first the continuing bizarreness of reality. Fresh from his pardon of Leslie Owen Collier, who killed three bald eagles in 1995, President Bush today did not try to top Palin's almost out of body experience, but did the turkey pardon thing anyway. The president no stranger to the traditional Thanksgiving bird having bowled with a frozen one while governor of Texas.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This will be the death of any thoughts this man ever had as being president.



All right!


OLBERMANN: Man, that explains the last eight years, turkeys do vote. The president paying them back this morning with the official annual pardoning of the national Thanksgiving turkey after the requisite dig at the media.


BUSH: Turkeys are not only the ones on edge this morning. You see, it turns out the Rose Garden is Barney's turf, so the press corps is a little nervous as well.


OLBERMANN: It was then on to the actual pardoning of two lucky turkeys.


BUSH: After a long, drawn out election season, and when the people finally spoke, the name of the ticket sent here to the White House was Pumpkin and Pecan. Pumpkin is right there, Pecan is in an undisclosed location. This is my final Thanksgiving as the president. In recent weeks I've talked a lot about sprinting to the finish. Yet I've assured these turkeys they will not be trotting to their finish. That's because in keeping with a long standing tradition, Pumpkin and Pecan are granted a full and unconditional presidential pardon.


OLBERMANN: Is that the president's ride I heard approaching in the background there? Take note, Governor Palin. He did no post pardon interview like you conducted without realizing the incongruity of the grisly backdrop. Slate's brilliant video satire of that, but first a refresher and the governor's possible excuses, courtesy of David Letterman. A reminder, it was pretty graphic, this is uncensored, so it's time to get kids, vegetarians and squeamish people out of the room. Ready? Roll it.


QUESTION: What are you going to cook for Thanksgiving?

GOV. SARAH PALIN, ® AK: I'll be in charge of the turkey. My sisters and mom will bring everything else. I'm always in charge of the turkey so I am where I need to be today to prepare for that.


OLBERMANN: For the grand finale send up as to what excuse the governor of Alaska could possibly have for allowing such an interview to take place, here is Dave.


DAVID LETTERMAN, TALK SHOW HOST: Number 10, I can see Russia, but I can not see what's going on five feet behind me. Number nine, not thinking straight after spending all night reading every newspaper and magazine. Number eight, damn, gotcha media got me again. Number seven, my Remington shotgun says I don't need an excuse. Number six, those were al Qaeda turkeys. Those were al Qaeda turkeys, ladies and gentlemen. Number five, I thought they were just torturing the little guy. Number four, I mean doggone like you know we have to lower taxes and like it all falls under job security and we need to drill you know. And number three, stomach flu? Number two, I'll get right back to you, I'm still adorable, America. And Sarah Palin's number one excuse. Don't blame me, blame Joe the Turkey Slaughterer. There you go.


OLBERMANN: Bad, indicative of a few blind spots for the governor, political and maybe optical, you betcha. But as some creative folks at slate.com remind us, it could have been worse and she could have ignored much more.


PALIN: It was just a blast out there on the trail. I don't think it's changed me at all. I have the same values and convictions and positions and policies and just a greater appreciation for what other candidates go through. It's pretty brutal. Oh, well, this was neat. I was happy to get to be invite today participate in this. And for one, you need a little levity in this job, especially with so much has gone on in the last couple months, political, obviously that it's nice to get out and promote a local business and to just participate in something that isn't so heavy handed politics that it invites criticism.

Certainly we will probably invite criticism for doing this, too, but at least it was fun.


OLBERMANN: Save the liver. That's COUNTDOWN for this, the 2027th day since the declaration of "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck. And as our MSNBC coverage continues, a Happy Thanksgiving in advance to Rachel Maddow. Rachel?



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