updated 12/9/2008 12:47:11 PM ET 2008-12-09T17:47:11

Guests: Arianna Huffington, Christian Finnegan, Jack Jacobs

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over): Which of these stories will you be talking tomorrow? Would you buy a used auto industry from these men for $15 billion out of the fund to encourage green cars? The incoming presidential administration and most of Congress say yes. But the current administration is waffling. The two Alabama Republican senators say, "We might filibuster over it."Just a coincidence, the state of Alabama has no Chrysler, Ford, or G.M. plant, but it does have Honda plant, Hyundai plant, Mercedes Benz plant, Toyota engine plant, and international diesel plants-playing politics while 2 million jobs hang by a thread. The new head of Veterans Affair, General Eric Shinseki, the same man who warned Congress a month before the war, that maintaining the peace in Iraq would take several hundred thousand American soldiers, and for his honesty, got fired by Bush and Rumsfeld.

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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT-ELECT: No one will ever doubt that this former army chief of staff has the courage to stand up for our troops and our veterans.

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OLBERMANN: General Shinseki assessed by our Jack Jacobs, who just happens to have been Shinseki's faculty advisor at the War College. The Supreme Court says take it out outside. It will not hear one claim that the president-elect is not eligible to be president. This, while, a far right commentator says the illegitimacy claim, quote, "is not conservatism, it is sore loserism and quite radical in its intent, embarrassing and destructive." And our guest, Arianna Huffington doesn't like it either. Barbara Streisand kisses George W. Bush, Fred Thompson goes from running for president to renting out his apartment for $30,000 so you can watch somebody else gets sworn in as president? Bests: Running for chairman of the Republican National Committee on the "I Survived an Interview with Keith Olbermann platform." And Worsts: The secular progressives score heavily on the war on Christmas. "Parade" magazine presents the national holiday quiz written by that noted threat to Christmas-Bill O'Reilly? Wow. All that and more: Now on COUNTDOWN.

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KEN BLACKWELL, FORMER OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: Thanks for having me, Keith.

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OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening. This is Monday, December 8th, 43 days until the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.After a weekend in which it appeared a mini-bailout of the auto industry was imminent, two monkey wrenches in that assembly line.Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: Is taxpayer help for Detroit being held up by one state that relies on money from foreign automakers and by one final effort from the Bush administration to kill or cripple the big union? This morning, the White House suggested an agreement was in sight, possibly today, assuming the legislation ensured that the money was not a new allocation and that someone would be in place ensure the car companies used the money in a way that would ensure their long-term survival. Today, Democrats sent the White House draft legislation. The provisions -- $15 billion that would come as Mr. Bush wanted from previous allocations, billions in loans targeted for conversion to green technology. Also in the draft language, a restructuring of the auto industry and the creation of a federal overseer. Over the weekend, the president-elect signed off on broad outlines within these perimeters, highest components of an industry bailout. Today, Democrats explained what the federal overseer, already nicknamed the "car czar," would do to make sure the auto industry survives.

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REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) HOUSE SPEAKER: We call this the barber shop. Everybody is getting a hair cut here in terms of the conditions of the bill. If labor has to take a hair cut because of concessions and expediting concessions, bondholders have to take a hair cut as to what the return on the dollar is for them. Shareholders have to take a hair cut. There have to be reconsideration of leadership with dealerships, with suppliers. And the management itself has to take a big hair cut on all of this.

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OLBERMANN: Tonight, almost as soon as we learned that the Democrats had sent their draft legislation to the White House, Mr. Bush gave an interview signaling hesitation but he wants to make sure that the "car czar," to be appointed by him, has the power to ensure his vision of what the car company should to be. We lack (ph) detail on Mr. Bush's criteria for long-term auto industry viability, but while Speaker Pelosi tonight enumerated virtually every single party with skin in this game, putting them on notice that labor, United Auto Workers, UAW, as well as the management and shareholders, those who run the companies will all have to make concessions under the car czar. When White House Press Secretary Dana Perino today gave an example of what the car czar might do, note which of all those parties Ms. Perino singles out for her hair cut.

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DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is a person, who would be named by the president, with the authority to negotiate a credible viability plan with automakers seeking assistance. So, for example, if an automaker comes to the government seeking assistance, we will make short-term financing available, providing that the automakers and the stakeholders, like the UAW, agree to negotiate with the adviser in good faith and on an incredible plan for long-term viability.

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OLBERMANN: Let's turn to MSNBC political analyst, Richard Wolffe, also, senior White House correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine.Richard, good evening.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN: When the White House talks about ensuring long-term viability, that obviously is just a euphemism for whatever the White House believes will ensure long-term viability. So, what is that? Is that going green or is it union busting?

WOLFFE: Well, you're right. It is a euphemism and it's euphemism for cost-cutting. Going green costs way too much and busting the union is a way to get to cost cutting. But it's an incredibly subjective measure. How much do you need to cut out of these companies to make them viable? And can you even get to the long-term viability position when they really a short-term problem which is that, at least two of these companies are going to run out of money in the couple of months? So, I don't know if there's a precise measure on this. And it's an extraordinary amount of intervention for the White House trying to find it.

OLBERMANN: What is going to be the public White House spin on this? I mean, what should we look for to tell us which one they're looking out for and which one they're not looking out for?

WOLFFE: Well, they're going to say they're being careful with taxpayers' dollars as if it's a conservative position. But you have to understand how far they have come from conservative principles here. If these companies are worth saving, then they should take ownership in them, that's a stakeholder position, which would mean, say, a convertible note-that's debt that converts into shares. But really, what they're doing here is micromanaging. It's a totally unconservative position because you don't protect taxpayers dollars by getting into the weeds of which plant should survive or what employee cost should look like. That's really a job for the managers and you hold them accountable by being owners. That's the only market-based position they could really take here.

OLBERMANN: The White House actually wants checks oversight on what happens next, even wants to read this legislature first, obviously, based on today's apparent dropping of the ball? Why are we seeing a level, Richard, of meticulousness now that we did not see with, say that, the Wall Street bailout which was 20 times the size of this, or even say the Patriot Act?

WOLFFE: Well, it's an interesting comparison, looking at how they approached the Wall Street bailout. You know, this was obviously something that President Bush didn't really agree with, he was only pushed into the Wall Street bailout because his economists were convinced that there would be a Great Depression, of a collapse of the economy if the banks collapsed. Now, you can certainly make that economic argument. But there is still a huge real world impact from seeing what's left of the manufacturing base in this country collapse as well. And here, it does come back to those first principles. If these companies are worth saving, then do the same kind of deal. It actually happened to be the case that the banks were not that close to failure because they were able to pay dividends and still pay their executives plenty of money. So, these companies are in the much worse position, these car companies.

OLBERMANN: The political end of this, the transformative end of this, transition end of this. And what can the president-elect do to put his stamp on this deal and what would that stamp be? I mean, does he get to choose the car czar? Is the czar appointed by Bush? A lamed duck car czar and there's another car czar in January 20th? Where are we going from here?

WOLFFE: There should be no more czars, first off.

(LAUGHTER)

WOLFFE: Look, what we need to have is, obviously, a clearer direction from the new administration about what it takes to make these companies survive. And that does mean green technology. But you cannot take the money from the green technology fund just to bail out these companies. So, there has to be a much clearer plan that goes beyond cost cutting, and says, what does an American car of the future look like, and help them to get there as oppose to just throwing money at a short-term problem.

OLBERMANN: Our own Richard Wolffe, also a senior White House correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine-as always, Richard, great thanks.

WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: There is, of course, another player in this saga, with Democrats falling short of a 60-seat majority last month, Republicans in the Senate can continue to filibuster any plan, any bill at all that they do not like. This weekend, Alabama's Jeff Sessions said the Big Three automakers ought to file for Chapter 11, ignoring apparently surveys that find car buyers, surprisingly enough, will not buy from companies without confidence that warranties and spare parts and somebody to answer the other end of the phone call will remain available. Fellow Alabaman, Richard Shelby urged fellow Republicans to filibuster the bailout. His argument, the Big Three automakers are dinosaurs and he would hate to see a dying breed each taxpayers dollars on their way out. Then the Big Three are not in Shelby's state which instead got foreign carmakers to locate there by using financial incentives, paid for with what do you know, taxpayer dollars. With us now is MSNBC political analyst, Eugene Robinson, also, of course, associate editor and columnist at the "Washington Post." Gene, good evening.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Is it wrong to ask whether Senator Shelby and Senator Sessions are protecting the foreign automakers in their states by and it's the full array, it's everybody from Hyundai, the Mercedes Benz, by in effect, torpedoing the competition in Michigan?

ROBINSON: Well, there's that old saying about all politics being local. So, I think you can assume that they have a somewhat different interest from senators from Michigan, for example. On the other happened, I'm not sure that BMW and Hyundai and the foreign automakers need a whole lot of help in taking the place of the U.S. automakers. The Big Three have shot themselves in the foot repeatedly over the years. And the foreign carmakers are doing just fine, unhampered by things like union contracts and the like. So, I don't think they need the senators' help.

OLBERMANN: But why-still, why the threat from Shelby of a filibuster on this, which is $15 billion, which is not small change but compared to his reaction to the $700 billion bailout for Wall Street, with virtually no restrictions for the banks, he didn't call for, you know, even reading the whole document, I don't think.

ROBINSON: Well, he did call for the reading that document. But it is a different reaction that we're getting from the Republicans side on this. And frankly, I think it has to do with whose needing the bailout. And when it was Wall Street that needed the bailout, that was-it seemed to be a circumstance that the Republicans felt more urgency about than a bunch of assembly line workers and the like in Detroit and in other states around the country. I don't think you can divorce the specific circumstances from the reaction that we're seeing.

OLBERMANN: The Republicans strategy, as we look ahead to the mid-term elections in 2010, is this the first sort of cracking of the vine through the sidewalk here on that? I mean, stop the Democrats from doing anything and then turn and around and blame the Democrats for not doing anything?

ROBINSON: It's a bit early to read the tea leaves on that. I suppose it could be, but remember, George Bush is still the president, he seems to be saying, he wants or is willing to accept some sort of auto bailout as long as it's done the way he wants it done, out of the green fund. So, it's unclear. I think it will bear watching. But I don't we know that quite yet. Wait until the new president gets in office and we'll see how they treat his initiatives.

OLBERMANN: All right. Well, here's I guess, the second version of the same question. Which are Republicans in Congress more afraid of at this point, cooperating with the president-elect or opposing the president-elect? And which should they be more afraid of?

ROBINSON: Oh, I think they should have some concern about being on the wrong side of the president-elect's initiatives to try to get the economy moving again. I think that's something that most Americans agree on. For example, the need for some sort of, very large stimulus package and all sort of other measures. I don't think the Republicans want to be caught on the wrong side of history on this one. Then, again, one could argue that they've been caught on the wrong side of history before but that's another-that's another topic.

OLBERMANN: Oh, well, we all wind up walking to work in the next 10 years because there are no cars and we know where they were on that side of history.

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN: Yes, Eugene Robinson of MSNBC and the "Washington Post," it would help everybody to walk to work one day a week-great thanks for your time, Gene. And I'll stop apostatizing that.

ROBINSON: Good to talk to you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: The president-elect's other focus, the Department of Veterans Affairs. It's hard to imagine a more obvious break with the Bush administration than putting in charge the man Rumsfeld fired for telling the truth about the Iraq before the war started. Eric Shinseki's faculty adviser at the War College gives us his grades. And if you're protesting Prop Eight, singer-turned-columnist, Pat Boone says there's no difference between you and one of the terrorists in Mumbai.

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OLBERMANN: Breaking news that "New York Times" and "Broadcasting & Cable" magazine are reporting tonight that NBC will be putting Jay Leno on at 10:00 o'clock every night in the New Year. No confirmation or comment from our masters here. The effect this will have on political humor ahead. Also, General Eric Shinseki, he's charged to modernize the Veterans Affairs Department, the symbolism of his selection after he was fired by the Bush administration for telling the truth about what war in Iraq would cost. Later, attempts to delegitimize the Obama administration nip in the bud by the Supreme Court and by a rabid right-winger. Arianna Huffington joins me. And a man who made the war on Christmas writes for a national magazine, not the great American Christmas quiz, but the great American holiday quiz. Worst Persons' big, giant hypocrite division-ahead on COUNTDOWN.

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OLBERMANN: President-elect Barack Obama said about his choice for secretary of Veterans Affairs that there is none more distinguished, more determined, or more qualified to care for our returning troops, is no less notable than what the appointee, the retired Army General Eric Shinseki did in February 2003 -- to that in a moment. But in our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: The first part of an answer to the question we've asked nightly since the election and will continue to do until the inauguration-what do we now when it comes to taking care of our vets? On Sunday in Chicago, Mr. Obama announcing the selection of General Shinseki, the first Asian American to hold that post, citing him for earning the respect to the troops, charging him to modernize the V.A.

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OBAMA: No one will ever doubt that this former army chief of staff has the courage to stand up for our troops and our veterans. No one will ever question whether he will fight hard enough to make sure they have the support that they need. He is always stood on principle because he has always stood with our troops. And he will bring that same sense of duty and commitment to ensuring that we threat our veterans with the care and dignity that they deserve.

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OLBERMANN: Shinseki, a graduate of West Point, of course, served two combat tours in Vietnam where he lost part of his foot. In 1999, he became the army chief of staff. And it was a month before the U.S. invaded Iraq that he infuriated the Bush administration during 2003 testimony before Congress. He estimated that, quote, "several hundred thousand soldiers would be needed to stabilize the country." The general was rebuke by deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who called the comments, quote, "wildly off the mark." It proved sadly that Wolfowitz was wildly off the mark. Even the Bush administration silently admitted that after a fashion with the concept of the surge. We're joined now by retired U.S. Army Colonel Jack Jacobs, Medal of Honor recipient, and, also, of course, an MSNBC military analyst. Good to see you, Jack.

COL. JACK JACOBS, U.S. ARMY, RETIRED: Good to be with you.

OLBERMANN: So, you have specific credentials in assessing this man.

JACOBS: Well, I've known for him a long, long time. He's a 1965 graduate of West Point. I saw him on and off for many, many years. And I was his faculty adviser at the War College. I can tell you that he is very brave and very, very smart.

OLBERMANN: And how does that apply particularly to this situation? It's the second largest-people would guess this-the second largest cabinet department behind defense, he's been charged with modernizing it. It sounds like a vague term. He'll know what it means?

JACOBS: Yes, he'll decide what it means himself. I think he's going to be given wide latitude to do whatever he needs to do in order to take care of American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines.The Veterans Administration-secretary of Veteran Affairs presides over an enormous bureaucracy, bureaucracies of large organizations that do routine things in a routine kind of way. If you will throw them a curve, present them with a large number of young people with traumatic brain injuries, for example, or amputations, it goes into overload. It doesn't know how to handle it, can't handle it, and doesn't serve the people properly.

OLBERMANN: And his value and his experience applied to that situation where it's 2008 in war terms, but it's still 1978 in terms of treating the wounded.

JACOBS: Or maybe even earlier. I mean, they mean well but they're not organized in order to do it properly, which means that he's going to have to do two things as the secretary of Veterans Affairs. He's going to have to reorganize the organization and that's going to take a lot of work, and he's going to get a lot of lip from the Congress, maybe even some from the secretary of defense but maybe not as much as you might think. And second, he's going to have to streamline it. Whether he's able to reorganize it or not, he's going to have to streamline all the processes which are there to take care of our troops. But I think if there's anybody who can do it, it is this guy. He's one tough cookie.

OLBERMANN: And, Jack, the symbolism of the appointment. Obviously, you couldn't find a bigger break with the Bush administration. But, you know, in Shinseki, I guess you also couldn't find a bigger break with the idea of-we used to believe, it seems like the civilian rule of the military believed in wishful thinking as opposed to reality, and now, that's been reversed with this man?

JACOBS: Yes. He undoubtedly was not the only guy that come to the conclusion that we didn't have enough forces going into Iraq. For one thing, everybody studies this as a young soldier. Everyone knows that it always takes more assets to hold to an objective than it does to take it in the first place. And he's been through the wars and knows that this is true. He's actually seen in actual practice. But of all of the people, the high-ranking people in the military establishment, he was the only one that I know of who stood up to the people in power and said it publicly. And for that, he was left twisting in the wind.

OLBERMANN: And perhaps now, there's something being-something of a make good for him in that. But one specific question about this. In March, it turned out the Pentagon narrowed the definition of the combat injury, no longer to include roadside bombs or land mines, which is very convenient for statisticians but doesn't do much good for the troops. Is that the first thing he might be willing back?

JACOBS: Well, the decision was-the results of the decision was not what the secretary of defense meant when he did it. But in all the bureaucracy again, that's exactly how it interprets it. This is the first thing he's going to have to address and I think he'll get no complaints from Secretary Gates.

OLBERMANN: Colonel Jack Jacobs, MSNBC military analyst and a Medal of Honor recipient, always a pleasure, sir

JACOBS: Thanks for having me.

OLBERMANN: Thanks, Jack.The MRI-oh, no, let me get to the breaking news first. Jay Leno reportedly will be going back to NBC's primetime lineup. The "New York Times" is reporting that tonight. The impact that could have if it's true and we don't know whether or not it is-on political humor. And the MRI on your head is just fine, if maybe not mine, as long as you don't mind having the Virgin Mary living inside your brain as illustrated there. And what could be letting inside the man-the brain of the mystery man, who just betrayed the war on Christmas by writing a secular progressive great American holiday quiz for a national magazine. The turncoat's identity when COUNTDOWN continues.

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OLBERMANN: Best in the moment and vote for Ken for Republican National Committee chairman because he survived an interview with me. First, December 8th, then history and I got nothing for December 8th. So, belated birthday wishes from last Monday to the model Carol Alt, the only 48-year-old woman likely to be proofed at a bar. Let's play Oddball.We begin in Fort Pierce, Florida, and a new miraculous sighting of the Virgin Mary, her latest residence, this MRI scan. Pamela Latrimore says she was going through her old x-rays from 2002, well, who does that first off? When her stepdaughter suddenly exclaimed, oh, her stepdaughter was looking at them with her-and this is this left side of my head-and suddenly exclaimed, "Oh, my God, you have the Mother Mary in your head." Now, Mary in an MRI is heading where so many virgins have ended up-eBay. To London's Trafalgar Square, well, thanks to some animated trickery, one of the four great bronze lions guarding Nelson's column is suddenly talking about it.

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VOICE OVER: Now that I have found my voice, why don't I tell you about all the enchanting things taking place? I just know you're in for roaring good time.

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OLBERMANN: The lion then proceeds to tell the crowd where to go to spend its money in London. It's all part of a $5 million campaign to encourage tourism during the global credit crunch. But considering you already have to be in London to see the lion, it's unclear exactly how this is encouraging new people to visit? The rejection of claims of citizenship illegitimacy against President-elect Obama while Karl rove says he'll name names of those who thought Mr. Bush was an illegitimate president. Yes, while (ph) Karl going out on a limb, you got time to name all 60 million of us? And reports tonight of a nightly primetime Jay Leno show, what it could mean for political humor as politics gets funny again? These stories ahead.

But first, time for COUNTDOWN's Top Three Best Persons in the World. Number three: Best out of left field qualification for election. Ken Blackwell, the former secretary of state of Ohio who did not do such a robust job at the election time there in 2004, he now wants to be elected himself to chairman of the Republican National Committee. Part of his field of the constituency, quote, "I've survived interviews with Keith Olbermann." Well, great. So have I, couple of thousand of them, and stage crew, too. So, by that standard, this makes all of us a couple thousands times more qualified than Blackwell to become head of the Republican Party? Number two, best football on coverage. The Fox Network, yesterday running a sound bite from the Minnesota Vikings locker room after they beat the Detroit Lions. Quite clearly visible in the background and naked was Minnesota tight end Vicente Shiancoe. It was not his end that was visible either, it was his front. Everybody apologized except for Shiancoe who told a local newspaper, "It's not too bad; I didn't just get out of the pool." And Number one best on criminal, Robert Jones of Gilfach Goch in Wales in the U.K. He's been arrested after being photographed by one of those roadside speed cameras; photographed four to six times. Each time he's grinning and waving at the camera while doing 40 to 49 miles an hour in a 30-mile-an-hour zone in front of a school. Arrested, Mr. Jones explained, he thought he could not be ticketed because it legally it wasn't his car, you see. He had registered it in the name of his daughter. Then the police reminded him his daughter was 13 and faking the registration in her name was also illegal. They then told him he could wave good-bye to his license for six months.

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OLBERMANN: The idea that Barack Obama is not actually a natural born citizen of this country is not just so ridiculous that the Supreme Court even when pressed by a reactionary justice like Clarence Thomas refused today to hear a lawsuit making that contention. It's so ridiculous that even a far right commentator has urged his side to drop it and drop it fast. Our third story in the countdown, the Obama citizenship blowback with Arianna Huffington joining me in a moment. First, the SCOTUS turned down as chance to rule on D'Onofrio v. Wells today, the bizarre claim by a New Jersey man that Obama's father's birthplace, Kenya, makes Obama a dual citizen of the U.S. and England and that's some reason not a natural-born U.S. citizen. Still out there, another series of annoyance suits over Obama birth certificate which the State of Hawaii has already verified along with the far-right Website, WorldNet daily. But over-arching other the legal details, does anybody think this is a good idea? Uber-conservative David Horowitz writes, "The continuing efforts of a fringe group of conservatives to deny Obama his victory and to lay the basis for the claim that he is not a legitimate president is embarrassing and destructive. What difference does it make to the future of this country whether Obama was born on U.S. soil? Advocates of this destructive campaign will argue that the constitutional principle regarding the qualifications for President trumps all others. But how viable will our Constitution be if five Supreme Court justices should decide to void 64 million ballots? It is not conservatism; it is sore loserism and quite radical in its intent. Respect for election results is one of the most durable bulwarks of our unity as a nation. Conservatives need to accept the fact that we lost the election, and get over it; and get on with the important business of revising our country's economy and defending its citizens, and-by the way-its Constitution."Joining me now live from the Los Angeles bureau, Arianna Huffington, founder and publisher of huffingtonpost.com. Arianna, good evening.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, FOUNDER, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: Good evening, Keith. Incidentally I'm not a natural born citizen.

OLBERMANN: And it's a huge difference, obviously. But this is the first time that you and/or I have ever agreed with David Horowitz but he really expressed one element of this problem (ph) to me and I'm startled to say I'm proud of him for doing so.

HUFFINGTON: I'm proud of him, too. But on the other hand, Keith, just notice the second line in what you read which is the line whether Barack Obama is a natural born citizen or not. I think that line is completely unacceptable. It's like saying whether the earth flat or not.

Barack Obama is a natural born citizen, unless you believe there's massive conspiracy, the moment of his birth between Hawaiian state authorities, his parents who had this amazing foresight to know he was going to run and become president of the United States to manufacturer some sort of birth certificate that has been decreed legitimate. We should not even allow that kind of line or that kind of reasoning which has also permeated some mainstream covers like the "Chicago Tribune," that says some, however remain dubious.

OLBERMANN: Well, you see what it did to the Tribune. Sorry..

HUFFINGTON: That's not exactly what happened.

OLBERMANN: The Hawaii state officials who say that obviously Obama was as he was born without any question there. His birth certificate has been verified. It's out there for everyone to see. World net daily said they saw the Brooks Jackson Group factcheck.org said they saw it. With all the verification in the world, and even getting David Horowitz to write another column meeting your specifications in there, is there ever going to be enough proof or is this actually going to be a theme for the far-right for next four or eight years about Obama?

HUFFINGTON: Keith, I think there will be some people who will never believe that Barack Obama is a natural born citizen. In the same way that there are some people still don't believe that evolution is real or that the earth is not flat. Or people who believe that they (inaudible) or that they are Napoleon. They normally though tend to be in institutions and we don't spend time discussing them. That's the difference here. We actually have a responsibility to not give them much air time, if any, and to actually acknowledge that this is one of those few cases in life where the truth is solidly on one side and there's no other side.

OLBERMANN: Now, all right. We'll switch topics to the other side of this equation. The court already obviously decided one presidency, that of Mr. Bush's. And Karl Rove is now claiming that that decision meant that there-let me read this quote, "A great many of the political actors in this town who never accepted him as a legitimate president." He says that in his new book, "I've got behind-the-scenes episodes that are going to show unreceiving they were of this man as President of the United States. I'm going to name names and show examples." Exactly what's-who would care if their named on this list? First off, it's going to be long list, and what's the news in it. What does Karl think he's telling us here?

HUFFINGTON: First of all, it's going to be a very long list. And it's going to include many Republicans who have repudiated the Bush years. But right now, Karl Rove is kind of following Orwell's line that he who controls the past controls the future. He's trying to rewrite it in some way and try to salvage something from the Bush legacy. It's going to be a very, very tough job. And I think that even Karl Rove would try to rewrite the future already. Remember, he was on Charlie Rose telling us that it was the Democrats who wanted to go to war in Iraq. He tried many different points during the last almost eight years to ignore the fact and present his own reality. But I think it's getting harder and harder to live in a Rovian universe.

OLBERMANN: Especially because now he's taking a point that obviously negates his first point which was that the Bush administration's been successful. Now he's essentially saying it could have been successful because he was picked on because some people thought he was illegitimate.

HUFFINGTON: I know. This is also a little bit what the president did with Charlie Gibson. Remember, he had never before said that invading Iraq would not have been the right thing to do even without WMDs. During that interview, he said wasn't prepared to actually say what he would have done if there were no WMDs. They're all very busy scrambling, and rewriting, but it's not going to make any difference. It's too late for that.

OLBERMANN: Arianna Huffington of huffingtonpost of course. Always a great pleasure, Arianna. Take care.

HUFFINGTON: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Something old, something new. NBC is expected to announce tomorrow that Jay Leno will move to 10:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific next year; nightly, primetime, largely political humor on broadcast TV? And here, why on earth is Pat Boone comparing the Mumbai terrorists in a column to those protesting the passage of Prop 8 in California? Because they're not going away soon enough, the headlines' breaking in the administration's 50 running scandals-Bushed. Number three bailout-gate. This is what happens when you give bankers public money and you don't tell them what they can and cannot do with it; they keep it. Bank of America which got $25 billion in the taxpayer bank bailout, promptly cut off the line of credit at Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago. That factory giving its employees three day's notice closed its doors saying without the Bank of America line of credit, it could not pay salaries let alone healthcare or retirement benefits. Workers who average $14 an hour and were guaranteed 60 days notice of any firings refuse to leave the building. They're still inside, 250 of them in total; about 60 at a time in peaceful protest.President-elect Obama expressed his support for them. The governor of Illinois says his state will no longer do business with Bank of America. From the Bush administration-crickets. Number two, Blackwater-gate. It's official now, the Justice Department has filed -- 35 counts against five of the mercenaries charging them with voluntary manslaughter in the massacre of civilians in a traffic jam at Nisur square in Baghdad on September 16, 2007. A Sixth Blackwater employee pleaded guilty to these charges on Friday. The other five all turned out to have been ex-soldiers who served in Iraq and upon discharge went to work for Blackwater. In the first bit of common sense in this whole nightmare, all five peacefully turned themselves in to authorities. And number one, Intel-gate. In what was clearly branded an editorial on its editorial page, "The New York Times" yesterday savaged the White House for Mr. Bush's self-serving statements about how everybody got hosed by bad intelligence about Iraq. The truth is, "The Times" wrote, that Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had been chafing to attack Iraq before September 11, 2001. They justified that unnecessary war using intelligence reports that they knew or should have known to be faulty. Today lame duck national security adviser and Iraq co-conspirator Steven Hadley denied not only the editorial but "The Times'" right to print it. He says "The Times" is guilty of expressing inaccurate and incomplete statements on pre-war intelligence. He said there's no support for "The Times'" claim that the administration should have known the intel was faulty. And then he went into an irrelevant bluster about the undeniable success of the so-called surge. The administration dies but the delusion lives on. Mr. Hadley, there was ample evidence of no WMDs; you suppressed that evidence. You lied us into an unnecessary war.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: Barbara Streisand kisses President Bush. Jeremiah Wright kicks Elisabeth Hasselbeck, time to take her side. And NBC is expected to announce tomorrow that Jay Leno will stay on doing his mix of celebrities and political humor five nights a week in primetime. That breaking news next. But first time for number two story tonight-worst persons in the world. The bronze, to the latest incarnation of the Baseball Hall of Fame veterans committees. They finally corrected one of their mistakes of their many predecessors by electing Joe Gordon today. He was the second base-man of the 1930s and 1940s; he was that era's equivalent of Ryan Sandberg. But they once again by-passed for election the likes of Ron Santo (ph) and Jim Koch (ph) and Dick Allen (ph) and especially Gil Hodges (ph). Hodges was merely the National League's all-time leader in homeruns by right-handed batters the day he retired. Then he managed the so-called miracle Mets to the world's championship in 1969 and he died young at just 47. And yet he has now been ignored by Hall of Fame voters for 40 consecutive elections. The runner-up tonight, Pat Boone. The singer and failed basketball entrepreneur has become quite the paranoid lately but this is remarkable. Running a column suggesting that the Mumbai massacre will be repeated here; to quote him, "Look around. Watch your evening news. Read your newspaper. Are you unaware of the raging demonstrations in our streets, in front of our churches and synagogues? Even spilling into these places of worship and many of these riots turning defamatory and violent? Have you not seen the angry distorted faces of the rioters, seen their derogatory and threatening placards and signs, heard their vows to overturn the democratically expressed views of voters, no matter what it costs, no matter what was expressed at the polls? Twice? I refer to California's Proposition 8. Let me ask you, have you not seen the awful similarity between what happened in Mumbai and what's happening right now in our cities?" Yes, the terrorists randomly murdering people on the streets of Mumbai and the Prop 8 backlash protesters. Same thing. They're in fact so far apart that it's like comparing Pat Boone the singer to Pat Boone the thinker. But our winner is evil secular progressive as Bill O might call him in his latest blatherings about the imaginary war on Christmas. Authoring in a national magazine distributed in hundreds of Sunday newspapers yesterday, parades great American holiday quiz? Not a great American Christmas quiz but a great American holiday quiz; complete with secular progressive questions that have nothing to do with Christmas. Like who started (inaudible) and what does Hanukkah mean in Hebrew? Just another slide down the slippery slope to the eventual banishment of Christmas by the evil non-sectarians who will not recognize the rightful dominant place of Christmas in a Christian nation. And which evil doer spewed his multi-culturist bio in Parade's great American holiday quiz? That's right, Bill O the Christmas Benedict Arnold. The winner even gets a free copy of O'Reilly's new book "A Bold Fresh Piece of Christmas Treason." Losers get two copies. Bill O the hypocrite; today's worst person in the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: Breaking news about NBC: NBC's expected to announce tomorrow that Jay Leno will be hosting a new program, five nights a week at 10:00 p.m. Eastern beginning in the fall of 2010, maybe earlier. Conan O'Brien taking over the "Tonight Show" in the spring as announced five years ago. The new deal would keep Mr. Leno, who's been the ratings leader in late night on the network where he'll be able to crack jokes about the brand new administration in primetime and in what is described in one report as a similar format to his current venue. Also on our number one story in the countdown, the further shock of Barbra Streisand kissing President George W. Bush. Ms. Streisand, one of six performing artists receiving the prestigious Kennedy Center honors this year with weekend events including the pajama party at the White House. White House event was caused for this warm exchange between the president and the artist otherwise known as having called for his impeachment. So pecks on the cheek replaced cheekiness. Ms. Streisand later explained that "Art transcends politics this weekend." Ms. Streisand did add that receiving the award from the President-elect Obama would have been quote, "lovely." Everyone it seems is trying to transition. Even Reverend Jeremiah Wright speaking at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, from which he had retired, for its 47th anniversary and saying that President-elect Obama was still, quote, "my child." Also taking some swipes at Elisabeth Hasselbeck of "The View; without saying her name, he referred to her as, quote, "that dumb broad." And with the important caveat when it comes to Page six of the "New York Post,"-we have no idea if it contains even a kernel of truth. There's an item on former senator Fred Thompson, who reportedly is trying to rent his one-bedroom condo in D.C. overlooking the inaugural parade route for the historic weekend; just $30,000 for five days of all the fun you can handle. Let's turn now to comedian Christian Finnegan, also a regular contributor to VH-1's "Best Week Ever." Christian, good evening.

CHRISTIAN FINNEGAN, COMEDIAN: Hello, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Let's start with this breaking news and this report that Jay Leno may be moving into primetime next year; I said 2010, it's 2009, next year-skipped a year there. Primetime, interviews and largely political humor, I mean, on broadcast television? Is this legal?

FINNEGAN: First of all, you have to ask yourself is that edgy Jay Leno brand of humor going to play at 10:00? I just don't know. I worry, you got to feel bad for Conan O'Brien, you got to he's on the phone with his lawyers now. Poor Jimmy Fallon because there are going to be two full talk shows before him and who's he going to talk about? Thank God, the Clintons are back on the scene. It's sort of like a stimulus plan for comedy.

OLBERMANN: But I'm just going to say and for all of you in the comedy business that you just increased the number of booking opportunities there? So work is more plenty. It's like reopening an assembly line at GM.

FINNEGAN: I suppose so. I probably should say, good for you, Jay. Good luck with the show. Call me.

OLBERMANN: All right. Now, let's work on some of the material for this. What else could Barbra Streisand have done when the president greeted her and went in for that kiss? Does she do an Angela Merkel move from Germany, the two-handed push-off, or something?

FINNEGAN: Really, I'm actually surprised that all they did was kiss. I'd always seen Babs and President Bush as sort of that classic Hollywood love story where they hate everything about each other, where you just know they're going to hook up. They would have hooked up if it wasn't for Twila Tharp, who's a world renowned c-blocker.

OLBERMANN: She also attended the State Department's black tie party, Saturday night as part of the festivities and said, quote, "it was nice to get legion the honor from France, but it's nice to get it from your own country, too. Was that a little extra dig to President Bush mentioning France and all that?

FINNEGAN: See? This is exactly the kind of playful banter I'm talking about, Keith. There's really no other word for this than foreplay. Barbra Streisand brings up the French, President Bush threatens to drill in ANWR; before you know it, we got the Red Shoe Diaries on our hands.

OLBERMANN: And the Clintons came up, obviously, this weekend. Amy Poehler made a return from maternity leave to portray the secretary of state nominee. Number one, do you think that some of this was right on that the senator had to sort of convince herself that becoming secretary of state was a good idea?

FINNEGAN: Yes, probably. You get the feeling that Senator Clinton's used to having to convince herself of things. Like, "Bill, let me get this straight, you were on Steven Bing's private plane and that's why your cell phone was off. Ok, I get that. Let me get this straight; a flight attendant knocked a bowl of glitter all over you? Okay." So this is not uncharted territory is my point.

OLBERMANN: The Former senator Fred Thompson, if that story is true, instead of criticizing him, should we be complimenting him on showing the energy to get up and out of his apartment so somebody else can watch the inaugural parade from there?

FINNEGAN: Not really, I mean $30,000 sounds like a lot of money but it's not just getting to the inauguration. You also get as many Thompson '08 bumper stickers as you can carry, access to as many episodes of "Law and Order" you can stand which studies have shown is four. Also, you get access to the senator's personal embalming station and you can't put a price tag on that.

OLBERMANN: And it's weird, Elisabeth Hasselbeck on "The View" today responding to this remark from Reverend Wright calling him sexist. Why do you say something like that? You might disagree with this woman's political point of view but why call her a name? It doesn't make any sense at all.

FINNEGAN: Reverend Wright should pipe down before he wanders into crazy uncle at Thanksgiving territory. Like, "Yes, Uncle Jeremiah. This is called a Blackberry. No, I don't where they make it but we don't use that word anymore, we just call them Japanese now."

OLBERMANN: Christian Finnegan, comedian and contributor to VH-1's "Best Week Ever." Christian, great. Thanks for your time tonight.

FINNEGAN: Always a pleasure, sir.

OLBERMAN: A brief recap of the breaking news, as you can read it on the red banner in front of my face. NBC's expected to announce tomorrow that Jay Leno will not be leaving the network when his time on the "Tonight" Show is over and it's turned over to Conan O'Brien. He'll instead do a five nights a week, 10:00 p.m. show on against Countdown's re-run with the same format or similar to the one he's currently using. Stay tuned for details on that tomorrow. In the interim, that's "COUNTDOWN" for this the 2039th day since the declaration of "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.Our MSNBC coverage continues with the Rachel Maddow Show which will respond to this news by adding an orchestra. Good evening.

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

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