updated 2/2/2009 9:35:39 AM ET 2009-02-02T14:35:39

Guest: Dan Patrick, Richard Wolffe, E.J. Dionne, Eugene Robinson

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

War: Senator McCaskill of Missouri opens fire on the nonstop self-aggrandizement of the corporate recipients of the bailout handout.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL, (D) MISSOURI:  We have a bunch of idiots on Wall Street that are kicking sand in the face of the American taxpayer.

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OLBERMANN:  The senator‘s startling demand: No company getting a dime in bailout money can pay any employee more than $400,000 a year.

This—while in Worsts: Exxon Mobil sets a world record for corporate profits, $45 billion, even as the national economy is now contracting at an annual rate of 3.8 percent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:  These are the families who have, by no fault of their own, been hit hardest as the economy has worsened.  They need action—now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  And opposed to that action, defending unemployment and the corporations and the subjugation of the middle class—comedian Rush Limbaugh.  He is now officially the target.  A liberal group is now running ads asking voters to ask their Republican senators: Are you voting with Limbaugh or are you voting with America?

Who is running that store?  The head of the Republican National Committee today suddenly quits.  So, Limbaugh thinks he will pick the successor.

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RUSH LIMBAUGH, CONSERVATIVE RADIO HOST:  The official leaders of the Republican Party are fighting over who their ultimate leader is going to be—hint, hint, it‘s Sarah Palin.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Yes, please.  Be careful what you wish for, Rush, you might just get it.

Super Bowl XLIII: Dan Patrick joins me here—meaning our NBC pre-game show is officially starting at 8:50 Eastern Time Friday night.

And he was hair today, gone tomorrow.  But even as the ex-governor, Rod Blagojevich, remains the bottomless cup of comedy coffee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY LENO, TV TALK SHOW HOST:  When you heard the lieutenant governor was going to get his seat, he said, “You mean, for free?”

(LAUGHTER)

DAVID LETTERMAN, TV TALK SHOW HOST:  He spoke for 47 minutes and it really took its toll on the guy.  And afterwards, honest to God, they had to rush him to the emergency room at Supercuts.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  All that and more—now on COUNTDOWN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(RUSH LIMBAUGH LAUGHING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN (on camera):  Good evening, from the NFL Experience in Tampa.

Sadly, this is the American experience tonight: The economy is getting worse—much worse—and so is the gap between the average American and titanic corporations, some of which revealed yesterday they had paid out $18 billion in bonuses after begging for us to bail them out.  Another of which today announced that almost in comprehensive of 2008 profit of more than $45 billion.

Thus, in our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: A tipping point of sorts on the floor of the Senate today—an outraged Claire McCaskill of Missouri, introducing legislation that would make it illegal for any company getting government bailout money to pay their executives more than $400,000 a year.

The figure is not arbitrary.  It is the salary of the president of the United States, who, having warned that the nation‘s financial situation will get worse before it gets better, prove sadly correct by the new numbers today, showing that the U.S. economy fell off a cliff in the last quarter of 2008, the GDP shrinking at annual rate of 3.8 percent in the final three months of the year, its worst showing since 1982 when the country was in a midst of another recession.

At the end of the week in which the corporate gangsters who brought you this recession tried to take delivery of a $50 million private jet and were revealed to have handed out $18 billion in bonuses to Wall Street‘s failures.  Senator Claire McCaskill looking to ensure that if we can‘t get that money back, at the very least, maybe we can make sure the same excesses do not happen again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCASKILL:  They don‘t get it.  These people are idiots.  You can‘t use taxpayer money to pay out $18 billion in bonuses.

Merrill Lynch is unbelievable.  They saved $3 billion to $4 billion from the pot of money that was going to Bank of America.  The sale is going to close the first week in January.  They always gave bonuses in January.

You know what these sneaky guys did?  They decided to give their bonuses in December before the Bank of America took over.  Paid out $3 billion to $4 billion in bonuses in December and that quarter Merrill Lynch lost $21 billion.  What planet are these people on?

Going forward, you want taxpayers to help you survive, you want the people at your financial institution to have a job tomorrow, then you‘re going to have to limit everyone‘s pay at your company to the same salary that the president of the United States makes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The $400,000 man himself today signing executive orders that make it harder for federal contractors to hire nonunion workers, also announcing that he‘s putting Vice President Biden in charge of a task force on the middle-class that would both aim to raise the poor into the middle-class and to protect those Americans who are already there hit hardest in the what is now officially, the worst economic downturn in a quarter century.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  These are the men and the women who form the backbone of our economy, the most productive workers in the world.  They do their jobs.  They build the products, and provide the services that drive America‘s prosperity.

And they told me about jobs lost and homes foreclosed, hours cut and benefits slashed, the costs of life slowing slipping away and chipping away at the hopes of affording college or a new home or retirement.  It‘s like the American Dream in reverse.  These are the families who have, by no fault of their own, been hit hardest as the economy has worsened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Time now to call in our own political analyst, Richard Wolffe.

Richard, good evening.

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

OLBERMANN:  The president said he favors some kind of limit on these incomes.  In that context, does Senator McCaskill‘s plan have any chance of becoming law?

WOLFFE:  Yes, it does.  And we saw yesterday when the president was talking about these issues, a flash of anger, something he rarely shows, showed on two years of the campaign very little emotion.  But on this issue, he feels very strongly, strongly enough that he‘s got his treasury secretary to get Citigroup to back off that corporate jet that you mentioned before.

Claire McCaskill is very close to this president.  She was a trouper through the campaign.  And I‘m told by administration officials that we can expect to hear something pretty strong from this administration, very soon, within the next week or two, on this issue—because when you enter the public sphere, when you take that public money, there are strings attached and this is one of them.

OLBERMANN:  “Bloomberg News,” Richard, reported today that the richest 400 Americans in the country saw their incomes double in the Bush administration and their average income became $263 million.  So, in that context, is it a radical idea that every executive at a firm that gets bailout money won‘t get paid more than the president, will have to get knocked down to 400 grand?

WOLFFE:  Well, in another decade it might have been radical, Keith.  But—what‘s much more radical right now is that the federal government is stepping in and bailing out these companies in the first place.  Never mind bailing them out to the tunes of hundreds of billions of dollars.  You know, these companies have to recognize that they‘re not operating in the political sphere and so the kind of “anything goes” mentality ends when they take the taxpayers‘ money.

This kind of behavior just is not going to fly with this administration.  And let‘s face it.  We don‘t know that the bailouts ended.  The likelihood is, there will be more.

OLBERMANN:  And great that it‘s being attempted now and that the anger is obviously real and people like President Obama and Senator McCaskill who do not show anger readily.  But shouldn‘t the senator and her 99 colleagues, at that point still including Senator Obama, have attached legislation like this to the TARP bailout when it went through in October?

WOLFFE:  Well, yes, they should have done.  But remember how that legislation came about and remember who was pushing it.  It‘s very unlikely that President Bush would have signed that into law at that time and also, there was a sense of urgency and panic.  Nobody thought the financial companies would behave in this way.  There was an expectation, in fact, that financial markets would seize up altogether.

So, it was rushed.  People actually, frankly, didn‘t really understand how the money would be spent.  It‘s late to the game.  But they‘re going to have to do that now.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.  The financial markets seized up, but in an entirely meaning different to that phrase.

One last point, Bill Gates told the BBC that he says or he‘s thinking that it‘s going to take four years to emerge globally from this recession.  Was does that portend for the president on this idea of “it‘s getting worse before it gets better”?

WOLFFE:  Well, it‘s true.  And Bill Gates here is much more pessimistic than even the most pessimistic economists right now, but it is true.  Then the Democrats will lose seats in the next midterms in 2010, and maybe only just pull out into a recovery situation for the president‘s re-election.  I think that is deeply pessimistic.

Most people think that this economy will pick up late this year, early next year.  The Democrats still have a shot unless Bill Gates knows something that we don‘t.

OLBERMANN:  Richard Wolffe of MSNBC—Richard, have a great weekend.  Great thanks, as always.

WOLFFE:  And, you, too.  Good luck.

OLBERMANN:  Meantime, in the Senate a fight over how best to fix the economy and question of whether even one Republican might dare to consider voting for President Obama‘s stimulus plan, one plan of attack is taking aim not at the GOP leader in the House, John Boehner, but rather at radio comedian, Rush Limbaugh.

The liberal advocacy group, Americans United for Change, is targeting Limbaugh as the de facto leader of the Republican Party and today, launching a series of radio ads that link that personality to what amounts to moderate Republican senators in three states that President Obama won, Senator Specter of Pennsylvania, Senator Voinovich of Ohio, Senator Ensign of Nevada.

All of the ads drawing a direct line from Limbaugh‘s “I hope he fails” comment about President Obama to the senators in question, including in this brief portion of the Nevada ad.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

NARRATOR:  We can understand why an extreme partisan like Rush Limbaugh wants President Obama‘s jobs program to fail, but the members of the Congress elected to represent citizens in their districts?  That‘s another matter.  Now, the Obama plan goes to the Senate.  And the question is: Will our senator, John Ensign, side with Rush Limbaugh, too?

LIMBAUGH:  I hope he fails.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Let‘s turn now to E.J. Dionne, “Washington Post” columnist and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Good evening, E.J.

E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST:  Good to be with you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Is there anything to framing the stimulus fight as “Obama versus Limbaugh” or is that little more than perhaps useful gimmick for an attack ad?

DIONNE:  Well, if it‘s a gimmick, I think it‘s a good gimmick.  First of all, those are states where Obama beat McCain.  Imagine how big his margin would be over Rush Limbaugh.  So, if you cast the choice that way, Obama or Limbaugh, it‘s very favorable to the president.

Secondly, if you look at the coverage of this fight so far, the Republicans really haven‘t paid a very big price for not giving any votes to Obama in the House.  And I think this is an effort to say, “Look, there is going to be some price to be paid.  You‘re going to be associated with this very loud right-winger who may be popular in the conservative base but surely isn‘t popular among moderate swing voters.”

OLBERMANN:  Senator Specter, Senator Voinovich, Senator Ensign, are targeted by the radio ads, Senator Snowe, Senator Collins, Senator Gregg, Senator Murkowski, Senator Grassley, they are the focus of the TV ads funded by this coalition of Democratic groups.  Is any one of them more susceptible to re-election fears or pressure from their districts than their counterparts in the House, seemingly were not when none of them supported the stimulus program?

DIONNE:  Well, I think all of the senators are far more vulnerable to pressure than all but a few of the House members, because, you know, the House districts—the Republicans lost a lot of seats.  So, they‘re really down to their hardcore.  Those folks represent very conservative districts, whereas senators represent very diverse constituencies.

And obviously, in the case of these senators, they represent constituencies that like Barack Obama.  He‘s up to 69 percent nationally and that includes the states that voted against him.  So, I think they are turning on the heat now.  And I think, again, that the Republicans have paid so little a price so far that they‘ve had to figure out some way to bring different kinds of pressure on these Republicans.

OLBERMANN:  Is feeding Rush Limbaugh‘s paranoia and his delusions of grandeur, is that ever a good idea, ultimately, however?

DIONNE:  Sure, it‘s a good idea.  You know, you can say that this gives Rush Limbaugh more attention.  Well, guess what?  Limbaugh gets a lot of attention.  He‘s a very important figure on the right wing.

A president wins not only by winning votes from his own party but also by changing the other party.  Ronald Reagan changed the balance of power in the Democratic Party in 1981 in his direction.  And so, I think by saying this is an extremist voice or an extreme voice, do you want this whole party to be like that?  Do you want your party to be like that?  I think, you know, it takes him seriously.

The other thing is, he‘s been used to mobilize conservatives on behalf of Republicans for a long time.  But middle-of-the-road voters hadn‘t paid attention to him because they don‘t listen.  This says—wait a minute, you middle-of-the-road folks, pay attention to who is supporting the conservative wing of the Republican Party.

OLBERMANN:  We mentioned Senator Gregg.  There are these intriguing reports that he is being considered for commerce secretary in the Obama administration and the Republicans don‘t want him to take it for several reasons, not the least of which would be there is a Democratic governor in the state who would appoint his replacement.  Is that going to end up making the battle of the stimulus package look like a quick dance in the spring rain or is there some deal going to be cut in which the Democrat governor will appoint a Republican replacement?

DIONNE:  You know, this is the ultimate and a “crazy like a fox” move, because on the one hand, Obama will get credit from some for being bipartisan.  He‘s naming another Republican to his cabinet.  Meanwhile, he‘s pushing the Democrats, well, potentially, assuming Al Franken wins, up to 60 votes.  It‘s the ultimate win/win for Barack Obama.

I kind of think that Senator Gregg is a person of the Senate.  He is under a lot of pressure from Republicans not to take this job.  But it‘s a very clever thing to float out there.

OLBERMANN:  E.J. Dionne of the “Washington Post” and the Brookings Institution—as always, great thanks.  Have a great weekend.

DIONNE:  And you have fun down there, Keith.  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  I‘m doing what I can.

Everybody works for Rushbaugh.  As the Republican National Committee teeters towards either civil war or suicide, the current chairman quits his bid for re-election and Limbaugh decides he will decide who will lead the conservatives—Sarah Palin.  If Limbaugh can give the Democrats the eternal gift that would be Sarah Palin as the head of the conservative movement, I will pay his expenses.

And Glenn Beck continues to pay his own way, blasting Obama for including something in the stimulus, something Beck actually admits he doesn‘t understand—something that it turns out to be a program Beck supported.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  First, this afternoon, the incumbent chairman dropped out of the race to again lead the Republican National Committee, and then the buffoon who ran on the “I survived an interview with Keith Olbermann” platform, he dropped out, too.  So, who will lead the Republican Party?  Yes, Mrs. Palin, put your hand down, we see you.

Later: Dan Patrick on the Super Bowl.  And Glenn Beck leaves a refrain from an old Steve Martin song, criticize things you don‘t know about, only it turns what he doesn‘t know about he recently supported.

The race for Worst Persons of the World—later tonight on

COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Michael Steele, the former lieutenant governor of Maryland, today became the first African-American to lead the Republican National Committee.

But in our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: This required six tortured rounds of voting by 168 Republican committee members to get him there.  And outside of that core group, the maneuvering to provide new leadership for that party continues more fiercely than before.

Mr. Steele emerged the victor today by a vote of 99 to 77 as the new chairman of the RNC.  He is considered by his brethren to be a moderate, at least compared to the second runner up, South Carolina RNC Chair, Katon Dawson.  The other leading conservative candidate, the incumbent Mike Duncan, a leftover from the Bush era, dropped out after the third round of voting.  Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell quit as well—proving that you can‘t win by campaigning on a platform of “I survived an Olbermann interview.”

The real future of the party has already been divined by comedian Rush Limbaugh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH:  I am a guy on the radio and I am not, by any means, an official leader of the Republican Party.  I‘m a conservative.  The official leaders of the Republican Party are fighting over who their ultimate leader is going to be—hint, hint, it‘s Sarah Palin.  And right now, Obama wants to talk with the guys he thinks he can roll.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Which brings us to Palin versus Obama—not quite.  But the Alaska governor plans to attend the annual Alfalfa Dinner on Saturday, tomorrow, along with the president and other politicians, quoting her, “How often will I have an opportunity to have dinner with the president.”

The Alfalfa Club with about 200 members exists for the sole purpose of throwing a dinner party once a year close to the media.  It did not induct women until 1953 and did not welcome African-Americans until the ‘70s.  But each year, jokingly, nominates a mock candidate for president.  Past nominees went on to become actual candidates.  The actual presidents like Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

So, perhaps, Governor Palin sees herself in that company.  It is not yet clear whether she will be one of the speakers.  But President Obama will address the black tie crowd.

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

Good evening, Gene.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Good evening, Keith.  This is an honor.  I‘ve never been on a pre-game show before.  Is that correct?

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  It‘s really not until Sunday.

ROBINSON:  Yes, I think there‘s a lot of blitzing, there‘s going to be blitzing on Sunday.

OLBERMANN:  Well, thanks, Gene Robinson and have a good weekend -

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  Michael Steele is a moderate?  The man who stood in front of a Jewish group in Baltimore, I think it was, and suggested that stem cell research was comparable to Nazi experimentation at the death camps and it was like how American slaves were treated?

ROBINSON:  Well, Michael Steele‘s political views tend to be somewhat fungible.  I mean, recall that this is a man who, in 2006, ran a Senate campaign in Maryland without mentioning the word “Republican” more than once or twice during the whole campaign.  He had these gorgeous TV ads in which he came out and said something completely different as he said today on winning the chairmanship, without mentioning that he was a Republican in a Democratic state.

So, I don‘t think you can quite judge.  Don‘t look for consistency at least in terms of ideology for Michael Steele.  I suspect he‘s a fairly moderate guy.

OLBERMANN:  Well, but then, is he a perfect match then if, in fact, Sarah Palin is the, you know, early line front-runner for 2012 for the Republican nomination?  I mean, is this—is he the malleable guy she can manipulate or is she the one who he can manipulate?  Or how is it going to work?

ROBINSON:  We don‘t know a lot about whether he is malleable or not.  One thing we know is there is no kind of perfect match in the Republican Party right now.  This is a party that doesn‘t know what it is at the moment, doesn‘t know where it‘s going at the moment and has made a situational decision.

I mean, he was running against Ken Blackwell and the guy who sent out the “Barack the magic negro” tape and the other guy who belongs to the whites-only club in South Carolina.  You know, so—why not take the leap.  But the party hasn‘t really defined itself for the next four years and Sarah Palin is part of the mix.  But we‘ll see.

OLBERMANN:  Wow, what a group.  The minority leader of the Senate, Mr. McConnell spoke to this RNC membership this week at this convention and said basically—nothing wrong with the message.  That wasn‘t what happened in 2008, in the presidential election or in the Senate or in the House.  Rather, it was, quote, “our sales job.”

Is—first off, does he believe that and what chance does his party have of succeeding even if economic things don‘t improve at all in the next few years if it has convinced itself that only the sales pitch is out of tune with the rest of the country?

ROBINSON:  Just imagine the high-fives and fist-bumps in Democratic Senate offices and House offices all over Washington and all around the country when they hear something like that.  This election was a clear turning point, in my view.  I mean, every once in a while, we move into a new era and the political spectrum shifts.  It did when Ronald Reagan was elected.  It shifted to the right.

And Barack Obama‘s election, I think, signals a general dissatisfaction with the way things have been going at the tail end of that Reagan revolution.  And things have moved back to the left.  And I think the smart Republicans realize that the wind is blowing in a different direction.

I can‘t imagine that Mitch McConnell really believes that.  If he does, it‘s going to be a good couple of years for Democrats.

OLBERMANN:  And how do all these results and strands jibe with the, you know, leadership—we are talking about leadership of the Republican Party, leadership of either party, that‘s a brand name, that‘s like a leadership trademark.  How does it mix with the idea of how the Republicans have led or tried to lead in the last couple of weeks, you know, mixed messages on all the votes, particularly in terms of the stimulus package followed by entirely partisan votes so far, at least?

ROBINSON:  Again, it goes back to the, you know, the old Will Rogers line, “I don‘t belong to any organized political party.  I‘m a Democrat.”

That line is appropriate for the Republicans right now.  It‘s not a coherent party.  They‘ve got to figure out their stories for the next few years: Who they are, what they want to tell Americans, and—that‘s going to resonate.  They haven‘t figured that out yet.  And so, you see them going in a number of different directions at once.

OLBERMANN:  Never met a Gene Robinson interview I didn‘t like.

Eugene Robinson of the “Washington Post” and MSNBC—have a good weekend, Gene.

ROBINSON:  You, too, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Word tonight of a possible complication in the confirmation of former Senator Tom Daschle as the president‘s health and human services secretary.  NBC News is reporting that after leaving the Senate in 2004, the former majority leader received the use of a car and a driver from a wealthy Democratic friend and did not declare the services on his income taxes as tax laws require.

NBC News confirming tonight that on Monday night, the Senate Finance Committee will be meeting to discuss issues that have risen with the vetting of Mr. Daschle‘s nomination.  The White House is now confirming tonight that Daschle did, in fact, fail to pay taxes on his car and driver.  He has since repaid those taxes with interest.

Gone but not forgotten or even forgiven.  Rod Blagojevich goes from governor of Illinois to punching bag of late night comedy.

And Super Bowl XLIII: Dan Patrick joins me for the preview—since we are part of the “Super Bowl 21,” the 21 broadcasters who will bring you the game on Sunday on NBC.

You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Still Bushed in a moment.  Also worsts just ahead.  Glenn Beck blasts the costs of the Carbon Capture Demonstration project they put in the in the stimulus plan.  Then admits, I don‘t even know what the hell that is.  It turns out it is something he vehemently supported last June. 

Back when Rod Blagojevich was simply the unpronounceable governor of Illinois, and not as familiar to TV audiences as Paul Shafer or Kevin Eubanks.  Talk about familiar to TV audiences, Dan Patrick joins me to preview this little game we have Sunday, to say nothing of the 94-hour pregame show we‘re doing. 

These stories ahead, but first, because they may be gone, but their deeds out-live them, the headlines lingering from the previous administration‘s 50 running scandals, Still Bushed. 

Number three, blame the intel-gate.  Mr. Bush likes to tell us, gee, it‘s too bad the intelligence on Iraq was so off base.  What did he do about the people he put in place to push crap intel like the Saddam/al Qaeda connection, people like Laurie Malroy (ph), who wrote an op-ed on September 13th, 2001 called “The Iraqi Connection?”  It turns out, she was still doing analysis for the Bush Pentagon in 2007.  Talking Points Memo uncovering that an influential Pentagon think tank was still using Malroy years after she was discredited to assess future trends, risks and, quote, opportunities.  Opportunities for more phony wars, I presume. 

Number two, torture-gate.  Attorneys for accused dirty bomber Jose Padilla told a federal court yesterday that the evidence they have is that he was tortured, on top of that, that Bush officials knew about it, specifically then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz.  Set aside the obscenity that we already know Rumsfeld authorized torture.  And Padilla still represents a chilling new level of outrage by the Bush administration. 

Why?  Because Jose Padilla was and is a citizen of the United States of America.  PS, they dropped the dirty bomb charges.  And, of course, they knew about the torture.  They authorized it. 

Number one, certitude-gate.  Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney like to say how often they think of the troops and families who sacrificed so much to invade Iraq.  What they do not say ever is that they admit to or inquire about the possibility of any sliver of doubt in the rightness and righteousness of their decision to ask that sacrifice of so many.  The president suggests no one can fully understand that position, because no one else has been in that position, his position.  Except that Tony Blair has.  In the “London Times” tomorrow, the former prime minister is asked specifically whether he ever suffered from doubt over Iraq.  Quote, “of course you ask that question the whole time.  You would be weird if you didn‘t ask that question.” 

Weird.  And so much worse, you would be wrong. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  He quoted Kipling and Tennyson and random cowboy movies.  He drew personal comparisons to Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.  He used Pearl Harbor and Mother Teresa as metaphors.  And he still faces possible criminal charges for trying to sell Obama‘s bleeping golden U.S. Senate seat.  Our third story on the COUNTDOWN, citizen Blagojevich, gone from the governorship of Illinois, but certainly not forgotten. 

Just 18 hours after his classic post-conviction impromptu news conference outside his home, complete with protestations of innocence, solicitations of the media, and shout-outs of “si, se puede.”  His successor, former lieutenant governor, now real Governor Pat Quinn, held a real news conference in Springfield, Illinois at the capital, announcing an end to Blagojevichian politics, without actually mentioning Blagojevich. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. PAT QUINN (D), ILLINOIS:  We had a body blow to our politics and government in the last seven weeks and two days.  But that‘s over.  Today is a beginning, a start.  That‘s what we are going to do.  We‘re going to start to fumigate state government from top to bottom to make sure that it has no corruption. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  To that end, the new governor signed his first law today, officially putting the Illinois Reform Commission under the governor‘s office.  While it seems clear that Illinois is glad to be Blagojevich-free since yesterday, he will be missed, especially by those who make their living in late-night television. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, “THE LATE SHOW”:  Have you seen this guy?  Have you taken a good look at this Rod Blagojevich.  He looks like the producer of an adult entertainment awards show.  He looks like the guy that tells you you need new brake pads.  You know?  Looks like a guy who claims to know Jon Lovitz. 

JON STEWART, “THE DAILY”:  Blagojevich, seen here in Lego form, chose to forgo his impeachment trial to appear on every daytime show that doesn‘t involve Rachel Ray making something out of left over hot dogs. 

JOY BEHAR, “THE VIEW”:  He does a fabulous Nixon impression.  Do it for us. 

BLAGOJEVICH:  Who said that? 

BEHAR:  Somebody told me.  Come on.  Just say “I am not a crook.”  Do it. 

BLAGOJEVICH:  No.  I‘m not going to say that. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Open the window, governor. 

CONAN O‘BRIEN, “LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O‘BRIEN”:  Yesterday, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was interviewed by Geraldo Rivera.  They billed it as an interview with the most hated man in America and Rod Blagojevich. 

LETTERMAN:  He looks like your wife‘s ex-husband.  He looks like an insurance salesman that keeps calling you Captain. 

BLAGOJEVICH:  We can conceivably bring in 15 angels and 20 saints led

by Mother Teresa to come in and testify—

STEPHEN COLBERT, “THE COLBERT REPORT”:  I believe we have footage of the governor showing up to his impeachment trial.  Jimmy?  There he i  walking from his car with his attorney.  Just look how vicious the press is to this poor man. 

BLAGOJEVICH:  How can you throw a governor out of office when the rules don‘t even require that you prove up elements of criminal allegations?  And more than that, how can you throw a governor out of office who is—

JIMMY KIMMEL, LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW HOST:  He is fine.  He landed on his hair.  He is going to be fine. 

JAY LENO, “THE TONIGHT SHOW”:  Not only was he convicted, his hair dresser was given the death penalty. 

O‘BRIEN:  On the bright side for Blagojevich, he has been offered a job as the before picture at Super Cuts. 

LETTERMAN:  It is one headache after another for this Blagojevich.  It turns out next month his hair goes digital. 

BLAGOJEVICH:  Then I thought about Mandela, Dr. King, Gandhi and tried to put some perspective in all this. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  What a wonderful thing propaganda is.  You have to prove or back up nothing you say.  Ask Steve Doocy of Fixed News, meat puppet in tonight‘s worst persons. 

Then Dan Patrick fights his way past adoring throngs here to join me so we can begin the NFL on NBC Super Bowl pregame show. 

When Rachel Maddow joins you at the top of the hour, her special guest, Daryl Vandevelde (ph), a former Gitmo prosecutor, who quit his job there in protest while he was prosecuting a prisoner who was 14 years old.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Super Bowl 43; Dan Patrick joins me to preview it.  Plus, we‘ll preview our five hour pregame show on NBC Sunday afternoon, if we can remember all of the details about it.  That‘s next, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s number two story, tonight‘s worst persons in the world.

The bronze to the resident rocket scientist of Fixed News, Steve Doocy.  Doesn‘t like the stimulus package because of something that isn‘t actually in it.  “I was looking into the stimulus that they passed yesterday.  They‘re spending 4.19 billion for neighborhood stabilization activities.  Acorn, four billion for Acorn.  They‘re getting four billion for Acorn, but we‘re going to get rid of one of my days of postal delivery?” 

Boy I wish I had Steve Doocy‘s job.  Neighborhood stabilization activities are efforts to keep ares in tact after wide spread mortgage default.  It has nothing to do with the voter registration group Acorn.  If you‘re Steve Doocy, you just say the two things are the same.  You don‘t even have to pretend to try to connect them.  You‘re looking into the stimulus.  You‘re reading the talking point, propaganda for dummies, for your boss John Moodie (ph). 

From the next level of hell, our runner up is Glenn Beck.  Last June, he excoriated Democrats for refusing to pass clean coal legislation.  Yesterday, he excoriated Obama for including in the stimulus another 2.4 billion for carbon capture demonstration projects.  “I don‘t even know what the hell that is,” he said.  It is clean coal legislation, genius, the same stuff you demanded the Democrats pass last year.  How about this, why don‘t you go away until you figure out that you need to know what the hell that is before you open up your bazzoo (ph) and complain about something you were supporting seven months ago. 

But our winner, Rex Tillerson, the CEO and chairman of Exxon/Mobile, which today announced its profits for 2008, 45.2 billion dollars.  That breaks the world record for a corporation, which was set the year before by Exxon/Mobile.  Now, you think with that world economy of ours in a mess and this, its home base nation, year after year, getting more and more tailored to the needs of the mega-corporation, it might have behooved Mr.  Tillerson‘s company to say, hey, we live here too.  We‘re going to kick in a little something to the bailout or stimulus, 500 million, a billion maybe?  Well, they would really be putting seed money out, because if people don‘t have jobs next year, Exxon won‘t make 45 billion next year.  It would look like, I don‘t know, what is the word, humanity, or that other word, patriotism. 

Not a consideration for Rex Tillerson, CEO for Exxon “unconscionable profits” Mobile, today‘s worst person in the world!

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Just one short Super Bowl ago, former President Clinton was taking in the game with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, presumably trying to schmooze the governor into endorsing Senator Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee for president.  Then the Giants upset the Patriots, Richardson endorsed Obama, and Obama upset Clinton.  A scant year later, Dan Patrick and I are here in Tampa for the big game.  He is, in fact, right over there.  President 44 is using the occasion of Super Bowl 43 to try to woo Republicans over to his way of thinking about economic stimulus. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What else can you tell us about this Super Bowl get together? 

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  I mean, it‘s a fairly straight forward deal.  You‘ll see Democrats and Republicans.  You‘ll undoubtedly see Steelers fans and Cardinal fans, once again, bringing people together. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Let‘s take this chance to clear this up, by the way.  Mr.  Gibbs, on the left, is not in fact also John Clayton, ESPN‘s football reporter, nor were they ever separated at birth.  We wanted to clear that up.

As promised, joining me here from the NBC Sports headquarters at the NFL Experience in Tampa, where it is 41 below zero, one of the other 20 co-hosts of our pregame show, Dan Patrick.  Shake my hand just so I can warm up.  Thank you.  Do you think weather will be a factor? 

DAN PATRICK, NBC SPORTS:  No, only for your show, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  It is cold, cold.  It is humid and damp and cold. 

PATRICK:  But if you are Pittsburgh, this is nice. 

OLBERMANN:  Yes. 

PATRICK:  Arizona, it‘s cold.  Tampa, it‘s cold.  Pittsburgh, it is not. 

OLBERMANN:  Is the game really in doubt, do we think, or are we just hyping it by giving Arizona a chance?  Do we not know the outcome of this one, unlike most Super Bowls? 

PATRICK:  I think we are rooting—we root for a great story.  I think we root for a great story with Kurt Warner.  I think sometimes you can get in trouble by doing that, because you don‘t look at what is in front of you.  I think we rooted for the Patriots because it was a great story last year.  I said to Michael Strahan of the Giants, if you didn‘t face them in the final regular season game, would you have beaten them in the Super Bowl?  He said no.  It‘s because there were no surprises there.

Arizona/Pittsburgh have already played.  I think Pittsburgh has gotten better.  So has Arizona.  But I still think Pittsburgh has been the best AFC team I saw all year long. 

OLBERMANN:  Cris Collinsworth said, in one of our 84 meetings in preparation for this extravaganza on Sunday, which our part of it starts at 1:00 -- I might add that again—he said, he likes to use that horse racing idea, only look at the last three races.  If you look at the last three races for Arizona, the last three games, they have been spectacular, especially defensively.  Is that the real team?  Or could that be an aberration and Sunday night be a huge blowout? 

PATRICK:  You know what, Keith, if you go back a couple of years, the Colts were an offensive juggernaut.  Why did they win the Super Bowl?  Their defense dominated in the playoffs, and then they beat the Bears.  I don‘t know if you have seen this epiphany with this Cardinal defense.  They couldn‘t have been any worse.  They had to get better.  I think what we saw with Carolina was a truly remarkable turn around there. 

I don‘t think you can look at them and say they are just an offensive-minded team.  The defense has helped them win games. 

OLBERMANN:  That looked like mind reading on Jake Delhomme.  Is there is a chance they can do that to Roethlisberger? 

PATRICK:  No, because after talking to him two days ago, he is so confident.  I think you get that confidence when you see something in film study, and that is where I came away saying, he knows something. 

OLBERMANN:  So it is the other way around? 

PATRICK:  Yes.  I really thought so. 

OLBERMANN:  You have the Big Ben piece in the pregame show. 

PATRICK:  He talks about how serious that injury was, where he—You look at these guys as infallible.  He was on the field and he couldn‘t feel his fingers.  And the first thing he is thinking of is, please tell my mom I‘m OK.  He was crying.  They pricked his finger, he couldn‘t feel it.  He said—the presence of mind to say, please tell my mom I‘m OK.  He is a tough guy, but he says he won‘t change his style.  He is an old 26. 

OLBERMANN:  And the idea, this announcement from him that he was nervous in that previous Super Bowl game, that admission of this—was that actually a brave act to have admitted you were nervous? 

PATRICK:  He said that his legs were rubbery the entire game.  Guys kept coming up to him and saying, hey, relax.  He never relaxed whatsoever.  He said that is why he brought a video camera to media day, because, he said, I wanted to have fun.  So I think psychologically, he is saying, have fun, have fun, have fun, have fun. 

OLBERMANN:  How does Pittsburgh, speaking of trying to take away the fun of Arizona, the one obvious fluid super weapon the Cardinals have, Larry Fitzgerald—do they have to hit him as he leaves the line?  Do they have to trip him up somehow?  What do they do?

PATRICK:  Rodney Harrison, who is one of the 42 people on our pregame show on NBC, he said, what you must do is—Deon Sanders echoed this—you put pressure on Kurt Warner, you don‘t have to worry about Larry Fitzgerald.  I think that is where the game is won and lost.  You take your chances.  The Cardinals begged the Eagles to blitz them.  I think that Pittsburgh defense is different.  Their defense is better than the Eagles.  If they put pressure on Warner, then Larry Fitzgerald, it doesn‘t matter if he‘s open or not. 

OLBERMANN:  What is Pittsburgh secretly afraid of or worried about that they haven‘t told us? 

PATRICK:  I think they have to worry about Steve Breaston and Anquan Boldin.  Everybody says worry about Larry Fitzgerald.  I don‘t think the running game scares them, but I think you have to at least be aware of it.  I think the Arizona defense is better than what people think.  I don‘t think Ben can go in saying, we can do whatever we want to do.  I think you have to be fair to the Arizona defense or you get caught with your pants down. 

OLBERMANN:  The other way around.  What is Arizona secretly afraid of in Pittsburgh that we don‘t know about or they won‘t say? 

PATRICK:  I think the front four and Polamalu have to keep Kurt up at night just thinking where they are.  The pressure—here are two things to keep in mind: the running backs for the Cardinals, if they do not block well, this game will be over.  It will be ugly.  If they pick up the blitz, you give Kurt time, then all of a sudden, we have a ball game here. 

OLBERMANN:  You are doing the trophy presentation. 

PATRICK:  I am doing it.  I‘ve been practicing.  I actually got room service and I loaded up the dishes just to see if I could—

OLBERMANN:  Is that what that sound was? 

PATRICK:  Yes, it was.  Are you next door to me? 

OLBERMANN:  Yes. 

PATRICK:  Let me try it that way.  We have come a long way since we did Sportscenter.

OLBERMANN:  I even was flashing back to the CNN days, where we couldn‘t get a credential to go to a Yankees game.  We have come a long way. 

PATRICK:  Could we get hired back at CNN.  They wouldn‘t let you in the building, right? 

OLBERMANN:  Well, I went back, briefly, if you remember, in 2002 and then they threw me out again. 

PATRICK:  They asked me if I wanted Larry King‘s job to replace him when he was on vacation. 

OLBERMANN:  Really? 

PATRICK:  Yes. 

OLBERMANN:  Really? 

PATRICK:  Yes. 

OLBERMANN:  I did not know that.

PATRICK:  I mentioned it on the radio.  The next thing I know, they never called me back. 

OLBERMANN:  No, you never—they—we know all those guys since they were kids.  You never let a secret out.  I have one last thing here.  Excluding you and me, can you name the other 19 analysts on our pre-game show.  Go ahead, just rattle them off.  I‘m giving you and me.  So you‘ve got 19 to go. 

PATRICK:  Oh, wow, Tony Dungy, Mike Holmgren, Cris Collinsworth, Bob Costas, Rodney Harrison, Jerome Bettis. 

OLBERMANN:  Jerome, yes. 

PATRICK:  How many more do I have? 

OLBERMANN:  Like 15. 

PATRICK:  Al Roker. 

OLBERMANN:  Al Roker.  Tiki barber. 

PATRICK:  Jim Cantore.  Tiki Barber.  Andrea Kremer.  Alex Flanagan. 

OLBERMANN:  Good, good, good. 

PATRICK:  Matt Lauer. 

OLBERMANN:  Matt Lauer.  Michael.  Al Michaels. 

PATRICK:  Al Michaels calling the game.  John Madden.  Anybody else?

OLBERMANN:  Your friend from Detroit. 

PATRICK:  I mentioned the bus. 

OLBERMANN:  No, no, the other—you missed Tom Collichio, Matt Millen, Peter King, Bob Newmyer, and Maria Barteromo.  And the bonus round was President Obama, number 22. 

PATRICK: Is he part of our team? 

OLBERMANN:  I think so.  I think he is doing highlights.  Here‘s the deal on Sunday: at noon, “The Road to the Super Bowl” on NBC.  At 1:00 p.m.  Eastern, Dan, me, Chris, Tiki, Matt, Bus Rodney, Mike and Sparky the Wonder OX host a quick preview of the game.  In five hours, the game itself begins with coverage from Al Michaels and John Madden.  Kickoff is scheduled for 6:28. 

Dan and I will join you again in the post game show, which runs until Tuesday or Thursday—

PATRICK:  It is sort of a telethon. 

OLBERMANN:  It is some sort of marathon.  Now, we are going to do something for old times sake.  You ready for this.  That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 2,092nd day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq.  For Dan Patrick, I‘m Keith Olbermann. 

PATRICK:  Can I do good night and good luck.  I‘m sorry.  I didn‘t go as scripted.  Our MSNBC coverage continues now with the lovely and talented “RACHEL MADDOW SHOW.”  Hi, Rachel.

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

END   

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