updated 12/5/2008 10:31:03 AM ET 2008-12-05T15:31:03

COUNTDOWN

December 4, 2008

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

Guests: Howard Fineman, Jonathan Turley, Paul Eaton, Chris Cillizza

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

Russian roulette with the economy of the United States: That's what the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee says we'll be doing if we do not give the Big Three automakers the $34 bailout billions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHRIS DODD, (D) SENATE BANKING COMMITTEE: At least three of our witnesses, maybe more, have driven a long way to be here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, thank you for that, along the way.

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY, ® ALABAMA: Mr. Chairman, I wonder if they are going to drive back.

(LAUGHTER)

DODD: I think it will depend on what we do here in the next few days.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Also, whether or not their 2009 Ford, G.M. or Chrysler will start in temperatures below 50 degrees.

Birth certificate: Death of a controversy. The Supreme Court decides whether or not to even listen to the crack pot claims that the president-elect was not born in this country. Jonathan Turley on the dumbest lawsuit ever, this year.

Put it on the inaugural address, the advice from the host of retired generals to the president-elect, "Say it up front, we reject torture." One of those honored military men, Major General Paul Eaton joins us.

The Palin effect: After the fake French president fooled the governor, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was having none of this phony phone call from that phony president-elect.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, ® FLORIDA: So, he says, 'No, this really is Barack Obama." And I said, "Yes, I get it. We get the radio station prank calls all the time. I understand that you're punking me."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: No, Barack Obama wasn't.

Worsts: The pregnant woman, her contractions three minutes apart, stuck in the nightmare of Boston traffic, turning to a Massachusetts state trooper for help and he gives her a ticket for $100 and makes her wait as he writes it out.

And the latest Jack Black hit, "Prop 8: The Musical."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: All that and more: Now on COUNTDOWN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Shrimp cocktail.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening. This is Thursday, December 4th, 47 days until the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.

In the jargon of our time, the phrases, car salesmen, and especially used car salesmen, are not exactly compliments nor assurances. So, in our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN tonight: What would you call three men that went back to Capitol Hill, for the second time in a month, trying to again sell America on saving their industry at a huge public cost? Used car bailout salesmen?

"We made mistakes," said one CEO. One of them apparently is basic math. What started out as a $25 billion request last month, today, up to $34 billion. One economist telling Congress, the auto industry might actually need $90 billion more after that.

The executives-as we mentioned-admitting mistakes, not exactly the same as they're admitting responsibility.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD WAGONER, JR, G.M. CHAIRMAN & CEO: We are here today because we made mistakes which we are learning from, because some forces beyond our control had pushed us to the brink.

ALAN MULALLY, FORD CEO & PRESIDENT: I want you to know I heard your message loud and clear.

ROBERT NARDELLI, CHRYSLER CHAIRMAN & CEO: We take this very seriously. We understand our fiduciary responsibility. I can tell you I understand the weight of this meeting and tomorrow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Two weeks ago, the CEOs chastised for taking private jets to Washington in order to beg for the big bucks, this time, they were driven in hybrids, not enough to stop the jokes about how they might then get home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DODD: At least three of our witnesses, maybe more, have driven a long way to be here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, thank you for that, along the way.

SHELBY: Mr. Chairman, I wonder if they are going to drive back.

(LAUGHTER)

DODD: I think it will depend on what we do here in the next few days.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: It is not gone unnoticed that no similar concerns about profligate spending had been asked of Wall Street CEOs when they arrived on Capitol Hill to receive their bailout, with comparatively few questions of any kind asked.

Last night on this news hour, that disconnect raised by Michael Moore.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: When the three automaker chiefs went to Washington, they were treated like errant school children and then sent back to home to Detroit to write an essay on why we should get free cash. When the Wall Street bankers and thieves came down there, back in October, it was just the opposite. Nobody asked them what they flew down on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Banking Committee Chair Dodd is saying today that, quote, "There's no doubt that the auto companies have done far more than the financial companies to show that they are deserving of financial support. As for doing nothing, Mr. Dodd comparing that to a game of Russian roulette. The president of the autoworkers union telling him that a solution would have to come and come fast.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DODD: How near a term do you think bankruptcy is?

RON GETTELFINGER, UAW PRESIDENT: I do not believe at this point time, on the data that I've seen, that general motors will make it out of the end of the year.

DODD: So, this month. Do you think they'd be bankrupt in the month of December?

GETTELFINGER: Unless something changes dramatically, and I would hope that it does.

DODD: So, your conclusion is, by the end of this year, by the end of this month, we could lose General Motors as a corporation.

GETTELFINGER: I believe that we could lose General Motors by the end of this month.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Time now to call upon our own Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine.

Howard, good evening.

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN: The phrase used by the General Motors CEO, Rick Wagoner, today, "some forces beyond our control pushed us to the brink." Something of the Bushian sense of things, having merely happened on his watch, how much confidence did he and the other two CEOs convey today?

FINEMAN: Well, they didn't instill any confidence in the senators they were speaking to, even the Democrats. In my own survey of Senate Democrats, I found very little support and a lot of disappointment, once again. And a lot of skepticism about whether there would be any bailout bill, whatever threats of bankruptcy there are, notwithstanding.

As a matter of fact, after this meeting today, Keith, Senator Dodd and Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, joined two House leaders in sending a letter to the auto companies, basically saying-you know what, maybe you ought to go to the TARP, you know, the Temporary Asset Relief Program being run out of the treasury. See if you can get some money from there because we're really not sure-that was the implication-we're going to be able to get any for you here.

OLBERMANN: So, do you have any numerical idea on that or even where this divides politically, because it seems like you have some liberals and some conservatives on each side?

FINEMAN: Well, part of the problem is we're still dealing with the old Congress, the existing Congress, where the balance between Democrats and Republicans is very close. That makes it even harder for the auto companies. But even among Democrats, there's a lot of skepticism, Keith.

Chris Dodd, the head of the banking committee, is going to soldier on.

He's going to try to put together a bill that maybe brought up next week. But it's not clear what's going to be in it, what dollar figures are going to be in it or anything of the kind. In talking to one Senate leader, tonight, I was struck by the almost air of throwing up the hands that they seem to be having there up on the Hill after today.

OLBERMANN: I thought Michael Moore made two good points last night. One was that contrast in reaction to Wall Street and to Detroit. The other is, if all the common stock of G.M. could be bought for less than $4 billion, why are we being asked to pay $34 billion for the whole industry or if you prefer this kind of math, it's about $5 for every man, woman, and child on earth?

FINEMAN: Well, the first point that Michael Moore made is a very good one. And he knows about the auto industry from the ground up, being from that part of the world. The auto industry is unlucky in the sense. Timing is everything in politics, Keith. And as one Senate Democrat told me tonight, you know, there's bailouts fatigue up on the Hill. The bankers got there first. The big banks got there first. AIG got there first. They were too big to fail.

The irony here is that some people are claiming that the auto industry isn't too big to fail. Well, if they got there first, it might have been the other way around. And as far as the total capitalization, the total market value of the auto companies, all three of them could be purchased, all of the stocks could be purchased for a lot less than the $34 billion figure that was being floated around today.

OLBERMANN: So, if this bailout happens under these terms, I mean, would there be conditions, would be we saying to Detroit, "OK, you can't make anything more environmentally troubling than a hybrid over again"?

FINEMAN: Well, I don't think that's realistic. If it even comes to that.

OLBERMANN: Yes.

FINEMAN: If there is a bailout, if there is a bill because auto companies are going to need to make some money in the short run as well. In the short run means producing a lot of what they have. Don't forget that the G.M. leader, Wagoner, today, said, you know, they still want to produce 40 of the 48 models they were thinking of, that's not all hybrids, that's not all little cars. That's not anything close to a smart car. That's a lot of big cars.

And at a time when gasoline is now suddenly cheap again, there's all the more incentive for them to still to want to produce and sell car that are not all that fuel efficient. So, if the Congress tries to impose too many restrictions, they'll end up killing the very industries they are trying to save. It's a terrible conundrum that the Congress faces, but I got to say, the mood is still not favorable to the auto companies up on the Hill.

OLBERMANN: Yes, it sounds like the tiger or the tiger, no lady involved in this option.

FINEMAN: Exactly.

OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman of "Newsweek," of course, of our own political staff-as always, sir, great thanks for your time.

FINEMAN: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: And if you thought the headlines on November 5th put an end to your nightmares of the Supreme Court snatching this victory away from the Democrats, too, how do I put this? This is the case of Donofrio v. Wells, which tomorrow the Supreme Court will decide whether or not to even entertain.

Donofrio is Leo Donofrio, who sued New Jersey's secretary of state, Nina Wells, to block Barack Obama's name from the Jersey ballot because he thinks Obama is not a natural born citizen of the United States. Therefore, constitutionally barred from serving as president. Yes, this crap, again.

When a lower court declined to hear Donofrio, he went to Justice David Souter, who did likewise. On November 14th, Donofrio applied for emergency stay, asking the high court to delay the December 15th meeting of the Electoral College. This time, he asked Justice Clarence Thomas. On November 19th, Thomas scheduled the case for the full court's conference tomorrow, a conference at which the judges will decide whether or not to hear Donofrio's request.

Let's turn to George Washington University's constitutional law scholar, Jonathan Turley, about this.

Jon, good evening.

JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN: All right. Can we set those nightmares to rest? This is not Bush v. Gore again?

TURLEY: It's not Bush v. Gore. And odds are heavily against this petition. I think, frankly, some of the judges would prefer to drink molten lead than to get involved in another election. Because they are still smarting over the whole Bush v. Gore business, they're still being asked, every time one of these guys gives a speech, people ask about it.

And so, my guess is that whatever interest there is by Clarence Thomas, it's probably not going to be shared by many other justices.

OLBERMANN: Hawaii officials have said the original Obama's birth certificate is valid and it is in their vaults. The thing was shown to the independent outfit, Brooks Jackson outfit, Factcheck.org. People at the really far right Web site, World Net Daily even say they saw it and it's legit. What exactly is the Donofrio claim here? Do you know?

TURLEY: Well, this is a little different from many of these other lawsuits. Many of the lawsuits claim that he cannot be eligible for president because he was born in another country. Some say Indonesia, some say Kenya, even Canada. But this one says something different. This one says that because his father was an English citizen, that he had dual citizenship and that makes him ineligible.

But it's the type of argument that, frankly, not going to appeal to the justices. It has never been under review by the Supreme Court. And I don't think that they are going to find that this is a case with the standing or the substance to grant review. It's not saying anything about the merits, but there's a political aspect about these types of filings. And judges and justices are loathed to get involved in these types of challenges before an inauguration.

OLBERMANN: So, when the Supreme Court refuses to hear this, and the people living in denial over the election try to keep it going, and we addressed this in 2004 when some of Mr. Bush's state victories looked a little dubious at least. Once a president is sworn in, that's it, right? There's no overturning of elections whether for some legitimate reason or, you know, bogus claims of insufficient citizenship.

TURLEY: It would be very hard to make that catwalk backwards. We've never seen a case where an inauguration was obviously undone. So, the eligibility question here is likely to fall to the wayside. And, of course, this was inevitable because John McCain has his own eligibility question. Of course, there are also remain-Hillary Clinton who has her own eligibility question.

OLBERMANN: Well, that's not a citizenship one, that's question of a raise for secretary of state during her tenure in the Senate. Now, all right. Now, explain your position on it and why it matters actually?

TURLEY: Well, the problem is that the Constitution is quite clear. You cannot assume an office that you voted to give a pay raise for. As far as the anti-corruption, the anti-conflict of interest aspects of the Constitution, she did vote for a bill that created the mechanism for automatic raises. So, a vote of hers did cause an increase in the salary of the secretary of state.

Now, what is being discussed is doing a sort of "Saxbe fix." This is the guy who was attorney general under Nixon, where they went back and just reduced the salary of the attorney general and said, "Look, it really wasn't raised. At least it's not there anymore." Many people feel that didn't solve the problem. It was just never challenged.

My guess is that she will be the next secretary of state. But I must confess to you, I think that there are-this is a serious constitutional question. I think that there is doubt as to whether she qualifies because of that, I admit, rather arcane provision.

OLBERMANN: Well, the raise was like less than $10,000. Is there not some other solution to this? Do we not need to somehow-in this day with millions upon millions in politics-don't we need to somehow change the Constitution so we don't have these things coming up for $10,000?

TURLEY: I'm pretty sure she's willing to give up that money.

OLBERMANN: Yes.

TURLEY: Although, it would raise an interesting pay priority (ph) conflict that she'd be paid less than men in the cabinet, but I think she'd live with that.

OLBERMANN: And someone could write a book about it and make her all the money that needs to be made in the difference.

Jonathan Turley of George Washington University-as always, great thanks, Jon.

TURLEY: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: $30,000 on accessories for a vice presidential candidate - $30,000 more. And we don't mean Joe Biden.

And if you were in Congress and the phone rang and the voice on the other end said he was Barack Obama calling to congratulate on your reelection, what would you do-say, "Thanks, Mr. President-elect," or hang up? And after you hang up, and he called back, hang up again. And he wasn't even collect.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: The Iraq-U.S., status of forces deal in place, but what about something in place in the inaugural address, in which the president-elect repudiates on behalf of this nation, torture? Retired U.S. Major General Paul Eaton, part of the meeting with Obama on the topic yesterday, joins us to answer the question: What do we do now about torture and Iraq?

Also, ticketed for DWIL, driving while in labor. And maybe Sean Hannity shouldn't have been fun our network's ratings the same week he finished fourth both me and Rachel. Worst Persons is ahead.

You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: There's news tonight that includes the words "troop," "withdrawal," and "Iraq." The deal is calling for the U.S. to pull out of that country by December 2011, bringing to mind another word, "timeline."

In our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: With still over a month to go before Barack Obama takes office, we wonder out loud-what do we do now when it comes to the war in Iraq and when it comes to torture?

The aforementioned deal, known as the Status of Forces Agreement, SOFA, calling for our troops to leave by the end of three years-it was signed into legislation this morning by Iraq's three-member presidency council. It should be signed into law. The pact replaces the current U.N. mandate expiring the end of the month. Meantime, it still faces congressional approval here at home.

For his part, Obama, who was bound to wait until January 20th, before announcing policy or diplomatic decisions, did speak to Prime Minister Maliki to congratulate him on passage of the agreement. Obama's team also issued the following statement, quote, "He-Obama-is committed to responsible redeployment of American troops from Iraq and to respecting Iraq's sovereignty and that he looks forward to visiting Iraq as president. There is one president at a time. And no date has been set for this trip but President-elect Obama looks forward to seeing our men and women in uniform serving in Iraq."

As for that one president-White House Spokesperson Dana Perino.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think that the fact that their representative leadership has signed this agreement, that they recognize they are going to continue to need our help for the next little while. But we have a path now to help our troops get home. And we've already bringing troops home and we're going to be able to continue to do that as long as we solidify the gains that we've made.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: The new SOFA comes just as a dozen retired senior military leaders met with members of President-elect Obama's transition team yesterday. They discussed ways to restore the U.S. image tattered by allegations of torturing terrorism suspects.

Among those who are at that meeting, retired U.S. Army Major General Paul D. Eaton, who joins us now from Washington.

Thank you for your time this evening, sir.

MAJOR GENERAL PAUL D. EATON, U.S. ARMY, RETIRED: Keith, great to be with you again. Thank you very much.

OLBERMANN: And we will get to yesterday's meeting in the moment. But first, I want your reaction to today's news. How difficult will it be to get our troops out of Iraq and what will that country look like when we do get them out?

EATON: Well, Keith, we got rational actors on both sides right now. The Iraqis are practical and the Americans definitely want to make sure that this works. So, we got a marker on the table. We wanted that for a long time. It will help discipline the process. And if we have to accelerate or retard the program, I think that the leadership on both sides will make this thing work.

OLBERMANN: On the subject of both Iraq and the issue you met with the Obama team about yesterday - torture. Are you concerned at all that the president-elect's commitment to either issue might be wavering or might be de-prioritized because, for instance, of the economic crisis he has to deal with firsthand?

EATON: Well, absolutely not. President-elect Obama has been absolutely consistent for-ever since I have seen this man show up on TV for the first time, that he is going to turn this torture thing around. He's going to get the United States back into the international community in a proper fashion, adhere to the Geneva Conventions, get the ICRC involved. He has never deviated from that.

When Human Rights First gathered all these retired generals, it was an effort to educate America. Educate the United States that torture is bad. It's bad for the Army, it's bad for America, it's bad for our standing in the world.

OLBERMANN: General Eaton, specifically about torture and specifically in that subject about its repudiation, one of your colleagues, General Fred Haynes said that the president-elect should make that repudiation, should begin, at least, in the inaugural address. Do you share his sense of urgency on that point, and if so, why?

EATON: Well, General Haynes is a national hero. What he went through in World War II was the clearest example of: treat your prisoners right, high payoff. And to get the wording in the inaugural speech would be a very quick, very high payoff repudiation of the past practice, and, "I am President Obama and this is what I stand for. These are my values, these are America's values."

OLBERMANN: Do you think that would have more impact at home or abroad?

EATON: Well, we did ask, "Who is the audience?" And, frankly, it needs to be said to those who follow Jack Bauer and "24," who believe that torture works, it doesn't. The rational management of detainees will earn you far more information faster than what we are seeing in popular culture here. But it also is going to transmit very heavily overseas.

OLBERMANN: As we heard from that Special Ops interrogator who's using the name Matthew Alexander in his new book about the practical impact of switching from torture to cooperation, to say nothing of what he found to his shock about how the freedom fighters who were showing up or the foreign freedom fighters-we want to show that term-who showed up to oppose us in Iraq were explaining that their primary motivation for doing that was vengeance for torture at Gitmo and in Abu Ghraib.

EATON: You got it, Keith. And I-if everybody could read that article, showed up two or three days ago in the "Washington Post," a quick read, quick article, but it absolutely repudiates the abuse, the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" as inappropriate and ineffective.

OLBERMANN: Do we have to, do you think, at this ending any foothold for torture in this country's policy means simply ending the torture in the present and future, or does it require going backwards as well in some kind of either prosecution format or documentation format of what has happened in our name?

EATON: Well, Keith, two parts. We have one standard. No torture, period. No exceptions. Otherwise, you dilute the standard and you lower the standard, and then that creates a real problem in understanding what the president wants, all the way down to the youngest private. With respect to your other part-taking a look at how we got here-we are a very forward-looking organization. But we believe that an examination of the past would be helpful. How did we get here?

We had one of the retired generals liken it to a class A or a serious accident investigation where you are not looking for culpability, you are looking for how did that accident happen? How did it unfold? And when we know that path, we'll be better prepared to deal with future wars and future challenges.

OLBERMANN: And our responses to them especially in times of great stress at home as we saw on the last seven years.

Retired Major General Paul Eaton-great thanks, once again, for your time tonight, sir.

EATON: Thanks, Keith. Super thank you.

OLBERMANN: What good is watching a pole dance if you cannot tell which is the pole and which is the dancer? And the worldwide recession is easily explained according to a liberal Australia politician tonight-God did it.

Worst Persons is ahead on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: Bests in a moment. And before politicians vote, how about forcing them to take breathalyzer tests?

First, a quick clarification. In the last segment, I used the term "freedom fighters," and also, "foreign freedom fighters," referring to the insurgents in Iraq. That is one of their self-descriptive terms, not one I would agree with personally, if there was confusion about that.

Let's play Oddball.

And we begin right here in New York City while I manage to successfully follow the countdown and light the tree here at Rockefeller Plaza, our friends at CBS over the Bryant Park, they were not so lucky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five, four, three, two, one -

OLBERMANN: Cut backs in TV. Textbook tree lighting without the actual lighting part. Let's try it again, shall we?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Five, four, three, two, one --

OLBERMANN: And in the business we call that pretty mature elucidation. Well done.

In London, tough economic times have forced local strip clubs to replaced their girls with robots, which makes good financial sense given that unlike the real thing these metal moneymakers can pole dance 24/7 without tiring and without dollar bills. Just remember to bring a can of WD-40. Well that's always a good advise, wherever you are going.

Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen and this is Barack Obama, congratulations on your - why did she hang up on me?

Proposition 8. First it was a ballot initiative and then an injustice now. A Jack Black musical? These stories out. First, the best persons in the world with the best common sense. Shepherd Smith of Fox News. Yes I said it, others around you may foam in the mouth, over imaginary war zones on Christmas but you still avoid the paranoid. The graphic in the lower right corner says holiday spirit. Thank you.

Number two, best political idea ever. The leader of the conservative opposition in the safe government of New South Wales Australia Barry O'Farrell. One of his colleagues had to give up his leadership role after drunkenly shoving a female worker during a Christmas party. The minister of police meanwhile lost his gig after drunkenly dirty dancing a top woman at a party in September. O'Farrell and a couple of guys from the Green Party have a new idea for oozy lawmakers. They should have to pass breath tests before they can enter parliament on the occasion of a vote.

And number one best environmental disaster. Conservationists around Sydney, Australia, are on the lookout for tens of thousands novelty items that appeared to have gone overboard while they are being shipped by sea from Beijing to Sydney. They were supposed to be included as free gifts with the January issue of an Australian Men's magazine called "Ralph." But the ship turned up in Sydney this week, it's container empty and the items presumably adrift. 130,000 inflatable breasts. Look at the bright side. Maybe there are shipwrecked victims floating around holding on to them somewhere.

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OLBERMANN: From saying the soon to be Homeland Security Secretary is perfect for the job because she has no life to hanging up to the president-elect out of fear that you are being punked at that time like the fake President Sarkozy call. Our third story in the "Countdown," a plethora of political faux pas. Beginning with the best political faux pas of the year, playing color forms with presidential nominee on the party's dime. The Republican National Committee now reporting that it spent $30,000 more than previously acknowledged on Governor Palin's campaign wardrobe and accessories which brings the grand total spent on her $280,000. Or about a grand for every electoral vote Team McCain-Palin picked up. That much money would have thought one of her outfits would have glowed in the dark or flashed on and off like a Broadway marquee.

And Sarah Palin is still costing republicans albeit indirectly thanks in part to her failure to recognize that it was not French President Sarkozy who called her while on the campaign trail but rather two French-Canadian radio comedians. Republican representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida is now particularly sensitive to prank radio calls, even when the person calling is actually the future president of the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN ®, FLORIDA: I would have never thought President-elect Obama would call me. I'm in my congressional office in Miami, my cell phone rings, I get it and it's President-elect Obama. He introduces himself, he starts congratulating me for my victory, he says he wants to work with the house foreign affairs committee in a bipartisan manner and on and on.

And I said, look, before you go on, let me congratulate you, you're the best Barack Obama impersonator I have heard yet. And you should really audition for the role on "Saturday Night Live" because the guy they have there doesn't come close to matching your tone and your pitch." And he laughs a little, but he's thinking maybe he's serious. So he says, no, this really is Barack Obama. And I said, I get it. We get these radio station prank calls all the time. I understand it. You're punking me, I'm a politician. It's wonderful. But really, I'm not falling for it. And he continues to talk and boom, I hang up on him.

And then a minute later, Rahm Emanuel, his chief of staff designate, gets on the line. He says I have President-elect Barack Obama on the line with me. Again, Obama says, Congresswoman, this really is Barack Obama. Remember that we've met. And he starts on again.

Look guys, I said, I know this bit. We play this all the time in Miami radio stations. I'm not falling for it, have a great day. Clunk. I hang up twice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: We actually took a call from the chairman of house committee on foreign affairs, Representative Ros-Lehtinen. She finally accepted that she was not being punked. And she spoke to Obama properly. As to why she assumed his call was a radio show prank.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEHTINEN: The day before, I had gotten a call from Hillary Clinton. But the way these calls are, they are structured. Meaning Hillary calls my office to find out what's a good time for her, what's a good time for me. And so when the call happens, it's not a surprise. But, this was not a structured call. It's him calling me on my cell.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Well, it's a decent explanation. Although she's probably going to hear from Fred Armisen from "Saturday Night Live."

Slightly further up the creek, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell after his comments about Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, after accidentally getting caught on an open mic saying the Homeland Security designate "Janet is perfect for that job because for that job you have to have no life. Janet has no family. Perfect, she can devote literally 19 to 20 hours a day to it. Governor Rendell tried to rationalize his assessment telling a local paper "what I meant is that Janet is a person who works 24/7 just like I do. She has no life, neither do i." Adding "if anyone out there was offended, I apologize, but you could say the exact same thing about me." We're joined now by Chris Cillizza, White House reporter for the "Washington Post," author of the "Fix" at washingtonpost.com. Good evening, Chris.

CHRIS CILIZZA, "WASHINGTON POST": Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN: We'll start with Governor Rendell, why go with the non-apology apology? Didn't it make it kind of worse there?

CILLIZZA: Yes. I always feel like. I feel like I've seen this enough times as a sort of a good government thing that I should warn these people. If you do not - if you are not legitimately sorry, do not apologize. Because when you say, I'm sorry if anyone was offended, that is not saying you are not sorry. So yes, I think he did make it worse. I think he felt like he had to say something because it was getting national attention. But again, if you are not sorry, if you think the remark is taken out of context or misconstrued, don't apologize or don't sort of apologize.

OLBERMANN: Yes, I mean, the first part of that is OK. It's also true of me. And then just move on. But yes, don't fake the apology. To Governor Palin and this now $180,000 spent on her campaign wardrobe. It's going to the stage where it's going to be equivalent to one of the bailouts when we get the final number here. A, how does anybody spend that much on clothes and accessories and b, given that they only have 173 electoral votes with that wardrobe, should GOP donors be asking for their money back or at least you know the resignation of the party's official wardrobe mistress?

CILLIZZA: Well, let me say two things. First, Keith, I was stunned when my wife told me there were jeans that cost more than $50. So let's put that in its place. But secondly, we talked about this before. What I do not understand about this is the way in which it was handled. They had to know that $150-180,000 being spent on a race for a woman who is being touted as the voice of the average Joe would not look good politically. I just - I continue to be mystified by this. I look back on the campaign just as I was when I was covering it, how this PR situation was handled the way it was. And I don't have an answer for you.

OLBERMANN: And Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, how odd actually is it to have a president-elect go outside the standard system and call a representative directly without an appointment. Do we know, has he been doing a lot of these and should anybody at home sort of expecting this surprise phone call at home like it's from sort of a radio station with a contest going?

CILLIZZA: You know, I feel her pain. Because in college, several friends of mine figured out a way to do three-way calling and would constantly put me on the line with women that they thought I was interested in and we would pick up at the same time. So I understand that. But you know I do actually think it's an important point here. But the fact that he is calling, no pretense, this is the most powerful man in the world, you know, in 40 something days it's important. I think it speaks to the fact that Obama is not just talking about post partisanship. He's not just talking about reaching across the aisle, but is making a legitimate personal effort by making phone calls to members of Congress who are on the other side of the aisle to just say, thank you, congratulations on your win. You know I want to work together with you. I think that is important. The fact that he is doing it. The fact that he is not doing it through his handlers, that he's doing it himself. He speaks to that he's not just saying it, he's doing it.

Plus, as the congresswoman suggested there are very few good Obama impersonators yet. And if they are out there, they have many more things to do to make much more money.

CILLIZZA: There's money to be made.

OLBERMANN: Exactly. And several shows need one right now. Chris Cillizza, White House reporter for the "Washington Post." As always, Chris, thanks for your time tonight.

CILLIZZA: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Neil Patrick Harris teams with Jack Black to protests and sing, sing, sing. It's "Prop 8" the musical.

And driving in the emergency lane in rush hour because her contractions are three minutes apart, the state trooper who ticketed a woman in labor. Worst persons ahead. But first, because they're not going away soon enough, the headlines breaking in the administrations 50 running scandals, bushed. Number three, global warming gate. The Energy Information Administration has just finished compiling its data for 2007 and U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are up from 1.4 percent, it's up a percent from 2006. Meaning they're up 17 percent from 1990. When the 2006 emissions were down one percent from 2005, Mr. Bush claimed credit for that even though it was an unusually warm winter and fuel prices were very high. But now that the decrease for 2006 has wiped out by the increase for 2007, the president has, of course, announced it's all his fault and he's very sorry. I'm kidding. He hasn't said boo.

Number two, gitmo gate. The former U.S. prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay who resigned earlier this year has given his first interview since. Lt. Col. Darrel Vanderveld telling BBC that not only detainees were treated in a "wrong, unethical and finally immoral fashion" and that he was so appalled by conditions at Gitmo that he went to his priest for guidance. "I never suffered such anguish in my life about anything," he added. The priest suggested he resign. And that is what he did. A Pentagon spokesman steamrolled right over the moral crisis and say only we dispute Darrel Vanderveld's assertions and maintain the military commission process provides full and fair trials to accuse, unlawful, enemy combatants who were charged with a variety of war crimes.

And number one, Gonzo-gate, as the Bush administration sinks slowly in the west and the Obama administration rises without any evident hurry to prosecute anybody in the Bush administration. Remember this name, Norah Dannahey. She is the prosecutor in the Justice Department investigation of the firings of the U.S. attorneys. "The Washington Post" is now reporting that she has met with defense attorneys and issued subpoenas to a grand jury but is not saying to or with whom. But her friends at TPMMuckraker apparently figured out at least one of the names. They interviewed the spokesman for Alberto Gonzales, Bob Bork, Jr., who said that while Gonzo's lawyer had reached out to Ms. Dannahey as the investigation began. He did not believe that Dannahey had formally contacted Gonzo. And then an hour later, Bork called them back to say he had been mistaken about that "we won't be able to talk about interactions with D.O.J." click. When they stopped denying it and when they call you back to tell you, they stopped denying it, it no longer isn't true. The prosecutor looking into Gonzo gate is looking into Gonzo.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: Neil Patrick Harris, Jack Black, Andy Reichter, John C. Reilly and a cast of thousands, starring in "Prop 8, the musical." And worse person, Sean Hannity boasting about the ratings from fourth place. The oozy politician who explained that the recession is god's judgment and the Massachusetts state trooper who encountered a motorist in labor and gave her a ticket. A big night for the (inaudible) of mankind here on "Countdown."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: "Prop 8, the musical." Jack Black's protest in song to California's vote to stop same sex marriage. That's next. The first time "Countdown's" number two story tonight. Worst person (inaudible) Sean Hannity the other night trying to sell the idea that his viewers were better informed than those of other networks. 3-1 compared to CNN and twice the number of those people get tingly feelings at some NBC network, right. His guest, professional provocateur John Ziegler added, well Sean, it's important to keep in mind that the MSNBC numbers might because of their small number of people in their audience may not be indicative of the larger population. It's harder to get a good sample size with MSNBC viewers for understandable reasons.

What would those be? Last night's cable ratings in the advertising demo, viewers 25 to 54, "Countdown," your number one rated show in the business, second time in this week. 699,000. Bill O., 585,000, Rachel Maddow 540,000. "Hannity & Colmes," 490,000. Sean, you're in a distant fourth place. Maybe you want to give the on-air boasting a rest.

The runner up tonight, Australian member of parliament James Bidgood. He has explained that the current financial crisis and the 1987 stock market collapse were both acts of god. Bidgood said there was a march for Jesus in London in April in 1987, and then the market collapsed that October. "I believe when Christians pray, god does things. I believe what was happening today has much to do with god and economics bringing judgment." He's saying this is all god's fault. What? Does he want a bailout, too? Mr. Bidgood was already under heavy criticism after he saw a man outside trying the Australian parliament trying to light himself on fire. Instead of calling the police, Mr. Bidgood took a picture of the guy and tried to sell it to a newspaper.

But our winner, Massachusetts state trooper Michael Galluccio based the "Boston Globe" reports in the (inaudible). Three weeks ago, in rush hour in the bumper to bumper traffic of Route 2, John and Jennifer Davis were driving slowly on the shoulder or breakdown lane. They had a pretty good excuse. Jennifer was nine months pregnant and her contractions were three minutes apart. Earlier, two state troopers had told them to use the lane to avoid the gridlock. So when the Davises came upon another trooper they waved him over and ask for instructions. That's when they met trooper Galluccio who only did not tell them to keep driving in the breakdown lane, but also issued them a $100 ticket for driving in the breakdown lane and he also made them wait five to ten minutes while a ticket to another driver was issued. And he also pointed to Mr. Davis undulating belly and said what's under your jacket and made her unzip the jacket to confirm her pregnancy. The citation arrived in the Davis' home this week where Jennifer is recuperating and going into labor at rush hour. The kid is healthy. The Massachusetts trooper is apparently unaware of the public relations nightmare he created, offering no comment about trooper Michael Galluccio. Today's worst person in the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: When the civil rights of millions of people in California was extinguished on November 4th by the passage of proposition 8 and by misinformation and intolerance, no one could have predicted that the issue would become a musical.

The number one story in the "Countdown," it's a mini-online incarnation. The added punch that Jesus Christ is played in this by Jack Black. And a part of the point is you can't pick and choose what the Bible supposedly prohibits. The video's final message is simply practical, quoting "every time a gay or lesbian finds love at the parade, there's money to be made." And pay close attention to the bevy of celebrities playing their parts including John C. Reilly, Maya Rudolph, Neil Patrick Harris, Allison Janney, Andy Richter, Margaret Cho and Rashida Jones.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

It's a brand-new bright Obama day. What a time to be a boy, a girl or gay. You know nothing could go wrong so join us to the song of happy days of gays nothing can go wrong.

Look, nobody's watching it's time to spread some hate and put it in the constitution . Now. How? Proposition 8. Proposition 8. Right.

People listen to us. Sodomy.That wasn't right. That's a lie. We don't care. Now you wish we don't shut up well, the Bible says so. Well the Bible says a lot of things. You know.

Jesus Christ.

How's it going?

Jesus, doesn't the Bible say these people are an abomination?

Abomination.

Yes but you know it says the exact same about this shrimp cocktail.

Shrimp cocktail.

Shellfish is an abomination.

Obama-nation.

What else does the Bible say, Jesus?

The Bible says a lot of interesting things. Like you can sell you can

stone your wife, sell your daughter into slavery

Well we ignore those verses.

Well, then friend it seems to me, you pick and choose. So please love instead of hate. Besides your nation was built on separation of church and state. See you later, sinners.

Bye Jesus.

I love you Jesus.

You know, here's another though to wrap things up. Oh, every time a gay or lesbian finds love at the parade, there's money to be made.

He's right.

Time to groom. They paint that wedding hall in lavender. The shade.

There's money to be made.

He has a point.

Think of all the carriages and tall white horses. There's millions lost from all your disapproving. Think of all the lawyers or the gay divorces. Think of the tattoo removing.

We've been such fools. I can see America calling me. Yes, gay marriages will save the economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: The musical posted on the website funnyordie.com was conceived and written by Mark Shaiman. The Tony award-winning composer of "Hairspray." He will join us here tomorrow along with Jack Black. Or also known as Jesus Christ. That's "Countdown" for this day, the 2035th day since the declaration of mission accomplish in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck. MSNBC's coverage continues now with the "Rachel Maddow Show." Good evening, Rachel.

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

END

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