updated 2/6/2009 4:11:36 PM ET 2009-02-06T21:11:36

Guest: E.J. Dionne, Clarence Page, Howard Fineman

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

He will fight them at the Energy Department.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:  The time for talk is over, the time for action is now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  He will fight them at the Democratic issues conference.  He will fight them seeking John McCain‘s help.  He will fight them in the op-ed pages of the “Washington Post.”  “If nothing is done this recession might linger for years, our economy will lose 5 million more jobs.  Unemployment will approach double digits.”

But the Republicans continue to obstruct the stimulus and belittle the president‘s efforts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, ® SOUTH CAROLINA:  I am begging him to get involved.  Doing news shows and coming to lunch is not what Ronald Reagan and tip O‘Neill did to solve the Social Security problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Judd for the defense—of wolves against Sarah Palin.  The actress Ashley Judd and the governor at war over alleged Alaskan bounties for dead wolves.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ASHLEY JUDD, ACTRESS:  Now, back in Alaska, Palin is again casting aside science and championing the slaughter of wildlife.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The cockpit tapes: Captain Sullenberger of Flight 1549 and the extraordinary moment he told air traffic control he would have to take it to the river.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

CAPT. CHESLEY SULLENBERGER, PILOT:  We can‘t do it.

AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL:  OK, which runway would you like at Teterboro?

SULLENBERGER:  We‘re going to be in the Hudson.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  And, on a note far less dramatic, my exclusive, quote, “interview,” unquote, with the captain from the Super Bowl.  No reason for you to call the “Associated Press” about this.

And tonight—former Vice President Dick Cheney on the prospects of future terrorism here.  When he was in office we kind of had to take this from him.  He is in office no longer, so we don‘t.  He has caused far more terror in this country in the last seven years than any terrorist.  Tonight‘s Special Comment.

All that and more—now on COUNTDOWN.

(on camera):  Good evening, from New York.

The author of the guest op-ed in today‘s “Washington post” warned of disastrous consequences if Congress does not pass the stimulus.  Only his first and last names were given in his byline.  At the article‘s conclusion, his job was referenced, quote, “The writer is the president of the United States.”

                Our fifth story tonight: “If nothing is done,” the part-

president/part-writer opines, “our nation will sink deeper into a crisis

that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse.”  The man who won the

2008 presidential election is back on a campaign trail of sorts, going on

offense to sell the stim and remind the Republicans of just how much is at

stake.

“Each day we begin to wait the work of turning our economy around, more people lose their jobs, their savings and their homes,” he wrote.  “Our economy will lose 5 million more jobs.  Unemployment will approach double digits.  Every day our economy gets sicker—and a time for a remedy that puts Americans back to work, jump-starts our economy and invests in lasting growth is now.”

On Capitol Hill, on the floor of the Senate, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham accusing President Obama of doing nothing, of being AWOL while the economy tanks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM:  Nice man, great potential, really has a big plate of problems.  And I want to help him.  I want him to succeed so we can find common ground to make America succeed.  I am begging him to get involved.  Doing news shows and coming to lunch is not what Ronald Reagan and Tip O‘Neill did to solve the Social Security problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Luckily, whether the stim passes or Senator Graham gets more lunch, might not come now to Senator Graham.  Democratic Leader Reid is saying today he believes he already has the 60 votes needed to avoid a filibuster.  President Obama at the Energy Department this afternoon, attacking his Republican critics for peddling the same tired ideas like trickle-down economics of all things, that got the nation here in the first place.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  So, let me be clear.  Those ideas have been tested and they have failed.  They have taken us from surpluses to an annual deficit of over $1 trillion and brought our economy to a halt.

And that‘s precisely what the election we just had was all about.  The American people have rendered their judgment.  And now is the time to move forward not back, now is the time for action.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

Howard, good evening.

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  It‘s one year to the day since Super Tuesday.  Is it looking here like now President Obama is back in some sort of tough fight for superdelegates?

FINEMAN:  Well, I just came from the Hill and that is a very good comparison.  You have a determined foe counting every vote, refusing to give up and not eager to make compromise.  And that is the Republican Party in the Senate tonight.

OLBERMANN:  The Republicans, so far, are out-maneuvering the White House in the spin war about this.  How did the president manage to get so far off-message if, indeed, he is so far off-message?

FINEMAN:  Well, it‘s not that there‘s one message.  There has been more than one.  But first, I would say, obviously, the problems with the cabinet choices got in the way.  That was static that the president didn‘t need.

You remember he had a roadblock of interviews the other night.  He wanted to use that to sell the stimulus to a somewhat doubtful public, somewhat doubtful public, instead he had to say, you know, “I screwed up, I screwed up, I screwed up, I screwed up, I screwed up,” five times.  That got in the way.

Second, the Republicans, they are complaining to me whether it‘s Lindsey Graham or Lamar Alexander, many of the others I talked to tonight on the Hill, they‘re saying, “The president didn‘t come to us.  He wouldn‘t sit down with us.”  That‘s not quite true.  He did go up there.  He did break bread with them and did express an interest in bipartisanship as he has done all along.

My sense about the Republicans is that they haven‘t liked the stimulus bill from the beginning.  They want to prove that they are in the ball game with the president.  And they have been sort of a rejectionist front all along.  So, that‘s been difficult.

And the president has had confusion of tone.  Is he going to change things in Washington with a bipartisan approach?  Is he really going to roll up his sleeves and sit down with all these people on the Republican side or not?  He tried it, he sort of tried it, he‘s not trying it.  Now, he‘s clenching the fist instead of extending the hand—to use the metaphor from the inaugural speech—and it‘s been a little confusing.

OLBERMANN:  But did Lindsey Graham just hand him a break on this?  Because—one thing you can‘t say Mr. Obama has not done since he got into office, he has spent the majority of his practical time trying to get the stimulus passed one way or another.  Obviously, that variation of the tone and direction is absolutely credible criticism of him.  But when somebody accuses you of being AWOL on something that you have spent your entire day on for the entirety of your administration, who‘s buying that?

FINEMAN:  Well, I don‘t—I agree with you.  I don‘t think anybody or most people are buying it at all.  Now, what I also am saying, as having talked to a lot of Senate Republicans, they‘re claiming that they really wanted to sit down with him and work on this thing and have a balance of tax cuts and spending.

I‘m not sure I buy it.  I think there‘s too much spending in there for them.  They don‘t accept the premise of it.  They don‘t accept that Obama should be entitled, in a way, within limits, to his own first answer, based on the election, to what he thinks the most important thing is here to proceed with.  They are not accepting it and they have not accepted it from day one.

I‘ve been surprised how little bipartisan tone from the Republican side, genuine bipartisan tone, there‘s really been from the very beginning.  And now, Obama is left to try to scratch for a few Republican votes to break a filibuster if he has to.

OLBERMANN:  Is he going to get them and does he have to get them because this thing is now kind of taking on the appearance of the first match of the tournament?  He has to win this or somehow he gets eliminated?

FINEMAN:  Yes.  By the way, he is going to win it eventually.

Let‘s back here and look at the big picture.  He is going get a bill.  It might not be tonight, it might not be by Valentine‘s Day.  The Senate works—the Congress works slowly.  He will get some version of this.  It may not be $800 billion; it may not be $900 billion.  Who knows what the bottom line is?

But yes, he is negotiating person-to-person.  I mean, he sat down with Susan Collins, a senator from Maine for a half hour yesterday.  They negotiated over numbers.

He is going to keep doing that with the few Republicans who maybe willing to play ball with him, who will be Susan Collins of Maine, Olympia Snowe from Maine, maybe a couple more here and there.  He will win it eventually.  Not on the terms he is setting out to try to get through as of tonight.

OLBERMANN:  Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of his entire (ph) term.

FINEMAN:  Yes.

OLBERMANN:  Howard Fineman of MSNBC and “Newsweek”—as always, Howard, great thanks.

FINEMAN:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  All right.  For more on the Republicans and the message war, let‘s turn to E.J. Dionne, the “Washington Post” columnist and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, being crowded off the pages today by this new Obama guy, this new writer.

Good evening, E.J.

E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST:  Good young writer.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

DIONNE:  It was nice to share the page with him today.

OLBERMANN:  I‘m missing something in this though.  Republican deregulation off-and-on for the last 28 years and a two-term Republican president in the last eight years precipitated these economic times.  There is no other way to interpret this if you‘re going to assign political responsibility for this.  How are they ahead in the media war?

DIONNE:  Well, I think it‘s because it took about a week or a week and a half for Obama himself to say something like you just said.  What the Republicans did is they went at little parts of this bill and made it look silly.  In the meantime, I think Obama was unprepared for that wall of Republican opposition.

The Obama administration was talking constantly about bipartisanship.  So, that became the only test, the bill passed the House and they declared it a defeat in much of the media because it wasn‘t bipartisan.  It was as if he handed, you know, the whistle and control over to the replay booth to the Republicans.

So I think they realize that now.  And what you see is they‘re coming back out.  They‘re not anticipating broad Republican support.

They‘re fighting for those Republican votes they need and Obama is going on the offensive and making an argument and answering the Republicans.  But it took him a week.

OLBERMANN:  When it comes, ultimately though, to jobs and money under these circumstances, at some point don‘t the facts overwhelm the spin?  Didn‘t the Republicans learn this lesson in 1932?

DIONNE:  Well, apparently they are not looking back to 1932.  I have been thinking a lot about the analogies between then and now.  And there was that great FDR quote “Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in the spirit of charity than the mistakes of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.”

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

DIONNE:  And I think you‘re going to hear those kind of great New Deal quotes.  But I think the Republicans made a calculation.  If this works and the economy gets better, Obama wins and the Democrats win no matter whether they vote for this or against it.  So, they might as well put up a wall of opposition, spoil Obama‘s bipartisan party, and if things really continue to be bad, they‘ll win anyway regardless to how they voted on this.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.  But what is—what is the end game for the Republicans there?  Because if you are correct, if it does work, they have dived off the only bandwagon that has a chance or even will get a chance of resolving this.  I mean, if this doesn‘t work, Obama is not going to just take some Republican plan and shove it down the Democrats‘ throat.

DIONNE:  No.  And they‘re not—I mean, I agree with what Howard said at the end.  That, you know, some plan pretty close to this is going to pass eventually and a few Republicans, I think, will vote for it in the end.

But a lot of Republicans are just against this.  They are ideological conservatives.  They don‘t believe in a lot of the programs Obama is putting forward and a lot of them come from conservative states and conservative house districts.  So, no one back home is going to mind very much, because there aren‘t many Republicans left in closely-fought seats.  The main Republicans are in a somewhat progressive state and they are playing a little bit of ball with Obama.

OLBERMANN:  One last question about 1932 and that parallel.  How has this bizarre fantasy been sold that Roosevelt extended the Great Depression by spending, so we can‘t let Obama spend now.  I mean, John McCain said this, just now and yet the facts, the statistical facts—the historical statistical facts are just unavoidable clear.  Employment rate was 25 percent in 1933 and 10 percent in 1937, which suggests it worked.

DIONNE:  You know, this is a very important argument and you‘re going to hear it a lot.  What—you know, the recession came back in 1937.  And it really did take the war to get us back on track.  But the reason the recession came back is that Roosevelt, at that point, listened to the conservatives, took his foot off the accelerator, cut spending and, you know, he didn‘t keep the New Deal going long enough.  And so, that‘s the real reason.  So, I think the lesson from that is not that this stimulus bill should be a tiny, tiny thing but perhaps that it should be pretty big.

OLBERMANN:  The one and only correct answer, at least according to history.

E.J. Dionne, columnist with the “Washington Post”—as always, a pleasure, sir.  Thank you.

DIONNE:  And—good to be with you.  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  Meanwhile, the de facto leader of the Republican Party is devoting her time to try to solve what she sees as the nation‘s foremost problem—runaway out of control Ashley Judd.  Governor Palin versus a popular actress—the field of debate: The harvesting of wolves.

And when people dared to criticize the counterterrorism policies he and his president advocated, he branded them naive, Nazi appeasers, un-American, divisive, uninformed, words that can‘t be repeated on TV, even though his policies contributed to the worst attack ever on American soil.  Now, Dick Cheney, with his own attack on American, is blindly lashing out at the new administration‘s counterterrorism policies, a new administration in only its 17th day.

Tonight—a Special Comment.  We‘ve heard enough from you, Dick!

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Sarah Palin versus Ashley Judd over wolves.

The cockpit recordings from the moments three weeks ago today when Captain Sullenberger executed a pinpoint landing on the Hudson River and my own exclusive, quote, “interview,” unquote, with the captain.

Worsts: Comparing the Republican Party to the insurgency and the Taliban, and it‘s done by a Republican.  And he‘s a private citizen now, so there is no reason for anybody to take the nonsense Dick Cheney hands out about counterterrorism without telling him we‘re to shove it—which we will do tonight in a Special Comment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  At this grave time, two wars unwon, the global economy undone, the governor of Alaska now the winking face of the Republican Party has assessed the challenges America faces and has begun the daunting task of confronting—Ashley Judd.

Our fourth story today: We‘d happily escort Sarah Palin into obscurity but the Republicans keep telling us, she is the party.  Have it your way.

Ms. Judd appears in a new version of the ad from Defenders of Wildlife that aired during the campaign, she asks—calls Alaska‘s aerial hunting policies and Palin‘s planned bounties for wolf legs—cruel, unscientific and senseless.

Governor Palin is now responding, says the ad distorts the facts, twists the truths without saying how either is the case.  Palin injecting herself into national politics this week, coming out against Obama‘s economic stimulus package and also writing the members of SarahPAC, her new political action committee dedicated to liberating Washington from the influence of political action committees, courting supporters from three states representing the whole country—Missouri, Tennessee and Alaska, actually signing a letter, quote, “With an Alaskan heart, Sarah.”

An Alaskan heart?  Cold and desolate.

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  Let‘s turn to Clarence Page, Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist of the “Chicago Tribune.”

Good evening, Clarence.

CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE:  Good evening, Keith.  Thanks for having me.

OLBERMANN:  Our pleasure.  Why would the leader of the Republican Party bother taking on Ashley Judd?

PAGE:  Well, I think she gets a double-hit here.  First of all, she gets herself back into the headlines because the other leader of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh, has been getting all the attention in recent days.  And secondly, she is able to take on a Hollywood celebrity which gives her an extra publicity boost right now.  She‘s laying the groundwork for, you know, boosting her own stature and a possible—who knows—possible run for the nomination again in 2012.

OLBERMANN:  Why did she get into the Texas gubernatorial race this week?  She endorsed Rick Perry, the incumbent, who‘s being challenged by Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is the Republican senator of the state.  Is she firing some sort of warning shot to the, you know, that pro-choice fringe in her party?

PAGE:  It looks that way.  You know, Perry was close to George Bush, part of that, particularly Republican establishment.  Kay Bailey Hutchison was passed for a consideration as the running mate for John McCain because she is known to be soft on that choice issue which is so important for the party base.

Sarah Palin is very important for the party base right now which, as Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, was saying last week, is about all that‘s left of the party right now.  As he said, they are in danger of being a regional party, and as McConnell said, “I didn‘t pay to be a leader of a regional party.”  They‘ve got to broaden that base.  Palin doesn‘t really help them do that right now but she does help to firm up the real loyalists.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, we‘ll see which goes extinct first, the National Republican Party or the Alaskan wolves.

Opposing the stimulus, pushing her own political action committee, promising policy proposals but really not coming out with any specifics, does she have an end game here or is the goal just stay in front of the camera—stay in front of the camera for the next two years?

PAGE:  Well, talking about proposals without a lot of specifics, that‘s a problem for the whole Republican leadership right now.  Even John Boehner, when he was asked about, “What‘s your alternative for Obama‘s stimulus package,” and he said, “Well, we plan to roll that out in coming months.”  They really don‘t have lots of specifics either.

Right now, they are someone of the opposition party and that‘s not a healthy way to build your support at a time right now when so many people in the country realize we are in an economic crisis.  We have other problems with national security.  We need some leadership in both parties not just one.  So, into that vacuum, Sarah Palin does very well.

Now, that‘s not to say there aren‘t still people out in the wings like, you know, Bobby Jindal down in Louisiana as an up-and-comer.  You‘ve got the governor up there in Minnesota who is an up-and-comer.  You got a lot of people around who are kind of in the wings.  But they haven‘t really stepped forward like Barack Obama did with the Democrats to set a new direction for the party.

OLBERMANN:  But as you personally saw at that Alfalfa dinner of the Washington insiders with both Palin and President Obama last week, this interaction between them, and also, how those insider Washingtonians that she slammed last summer, how did they react to her?

PAGE:  Well, it was interesting.  You know, I did get that exclusive picture right there that you‘ve got of Joe Lieberman and Sarah Palin and Obama in the same shot up there at the dais.  And there really was not interaction between Palin and Obama.  But what you did see was that at different end of the table, there were these lines forming of people to shake hands with VIPs.  The only two VIPs people really wanted to interact with were Obama and Palin.  So, that tells you something about where both parties are these days.

OLBERMANN:  Absolutely fascinating.  Clarence Page, columnist of the “Chicago Tribune” and many other fine newspapers—great thanks for your time, Clarence.

PAGE:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  You have heard the rumors, now, you can watch the videotape.  The great Super Bowl match race between my “Football Night in America” colleagues, Jerome Bettis and Dan Patrick.  One of them lost and the other one is still breathing heavily.

Speaking of which, Billo the Clown‘s latest extraordinary claim: The “New York Times” can destroy the two-party system by destroying Billo.  Seriously.

Worst Persons is ahead on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Still Bushed in a moment and democracy hangs by the slender thread of a tie.

First, you see this other thing here in the picture besides my head.  It‘s called an over-the-shoulder graphic.  They just didn‘t appear when they started first broadcasting news on TV back in the olden days.  Somebody had to invent over-the-shoulder graphics and that man‘s name was Ben Blank.  He spent his career pioneering all kinds of graphics for TV News on CBS and ABC.

On Tuesday, at the age of 87, Ben Blank died.  Change the graphic. 

Thank you, Mr. Blank.

Let‘s play Oddball.

And we return now to Tampa, site of two unbelievable sporting events last week, Super Bowl XLIII and the 50-yard dash between my NBC colleagues, Dan Patrick and Jerome Bettis.  It‘s a showdown between a recently retired NFL superstar and a nearly geriatric sportscaster.  This is never before seen footage—and, oh, yeah, one of them got a nine-yard head-start.

And running, Patrick on the outside, maintaining his lead, Bettis turning it on.  But will it be enough for the ex—it‘s over.  Dan “Insane Bolt” Patrick is your winner and Jerome Bettis is left wondering, wondering why.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEROME BETTIS, SPORTSCASTER:  No.  I slowed up that‘s why I didn‘t win.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, you couldn‘t win.

(CROSSTALK)

OLBERMANN:  I got to say though, if that was you slowing up, I couldn‘t tell.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Wow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  To the Gold Coast of Australia where a guy cutting down a eucalyptus tree is having trouble euca-lifting his pants.

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  That‘s not what it seems, ladies and gentleman.  The man had been hoisted at the top of the tree anchored by a safety harness, the harness snapped, somehow his pants fell down and the man was left hanging down for dear life.  At least he had the good sense to match his drawers to his t-shirt.  Smile for the cameras.

Firefighters quickly arrived to get the man down and several of them asked him if maybe they‘ve seen him skiing recently upside down in Vail, Colorado.

The cockpit tapes from Flight 1549.  The calm voice of Captain Sullenberger with the startling announcement he could not make it to any airport.

And he helped ruin the last eight years in this country, what kind of American is Dick Cheney to try to sabotage a new administration‘s efforts against terrorism when that new administration is not yet three weeks old.  Tonight—a Special Comment.

But first, because they maybe gone but their deeds outlive them, the headlines lingering from the previous administration‘s 50 still running scandals—Still Bushed.

Number three: Corporate socialism-gate.  The “Wall Street Journal” today reports that when Bank of America tried to back out of buying Merrill Lynch, stun by its losses, the Bush administration told Bank of America, “If you don‘t buy Merrill Lynch,” the next time Bank of America comes asking for bailout money, the government will consider the bank‘s executives and directors.  Bank of America then bought Merrill Lynch and in the process, our first NBA president essentially nationalized America‘s banking industry.

And what did we the people get for that $700 billion it costs us and give Mr. Bush control over U.S. banks?  According to the congressional oversight panel in Senate testimony today, last year, the Bush treasury paid out $254 billion for a piece of the banks.  How much was the piece actually worth?  $176 billion.  Why, that there is a bargain, friend. 

Number two, poetic Justice Department-gate.  “Talking Points Memo” reporting that the federal Grand Jury looking into the firing of nine U.S.  attorneys to see determine whether any prosecutable offenses occurred is now looking not only at former Senator Pete Domenici, but also at former senior Bush White House aides.  Why?  Because an internal Justice Department probe of the firings was, quote, hindered by the refusal of those Bush aides to cooperate.  Why would they do or not do that?  Because the same probe concluded that if the Bush aides attempted to make those later fired US attorneys investigate voter fraud in order to affect upcoming elections, the conduct might have been criminal. 

Number one, the people‘s house-gate.  Former Chief of Staff Andy Card says President Obama should wear a suit coat and tie in the Oval Office, because, quote, there should be a dress code of respect.  The Oval Office symbolizes the Constitution and, I‘m going to say, democracy.

Yes, that is what stands between democracy and a president determined to exterminate it?  A tie.  Not ignoring the Constitution, lying or getting 4,000 Americans pointlessly killed in Iraq, nor even calling his Karl Rove turd blossom, or locking Colin Powell out of a cabinet meeting because he was a couple minutes late, or barking at one of his a top aide, “you think you‘re up to getting us some cheese burgers.”  It is the tie, Mr. Card. 

By the way, why didn‘t you say anything when a president ordered that poor slob to get him some cheese burgers?  Because that was you and you were too busy getting the cheese burgers? 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  With Captain Chesley Sullenberger virtually silent since he placed US Airways Flight 1549 onto the Hudson River with barely a splash on January 15th, the definition of an interview with the captain has been utterly redefined.  A 26 second address he made to the people of his hometown, 35 words—count them -- 35 words on an evening network newscast tonight.  And two sentences transcribed by a sport columnist. 

Thus, did it dawn on me on the plane that I, quote, interviewed Captain Sullenberger right before the Super Bowl last Sunday.  That entirety of that, quote, interview will be presented here in a moment.  And it is, in fact, much less than I‘m making it out to be. 

Our third story, however, is no exaggeration.  Today, the FAA released the tape of the conversations between the captain and air traffic control the moments before he landed the plane in the Hudson River.  First, according to the National Transpiration Safety Board, the flight data recorder from US Airways Flight 1549 reported no anomalies or malfunctions, just as the captain first reported.  Both engines were taken out by birds. 

Yesterday, the NTSB released this photo of the lone feather found on the aircraft.  The Smithsonian Institution in Washington will now determine the species of the bird found in the engine.  As for the library book that Captain Sullenberger had borrowed from the California State University library, which was in his luggage when the plane when into the water, it appears to be a casualty.  That did not stop the captain from calling the library and asking for a waiver on late fees. 

The book‘s subject, personal ethics.  The library is waving all fees.

Now about the landing.  The first voice you will hear is that of the captain.  The US Airways flight is given the call sign Cactus 1549.  That number gets jumbled a few times. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHESLEY SULLENBERGER, PILOT:  Cactus 1549, 700 climbing to 5,000.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Cactus 1549, New York departure radar contact, climb and maintain one and 5,000.

SULLENBERGER:  Maintain one 5,000, Cactus 1549.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Cactus 1549, turn left heading two seven zero.

SULLENBERGER:  This is Cactus 1539, hit birds.  We lost thrust in both engines.  Returning back towards Laguardia. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK, you need to return to Laguardia.  Turn left heading about 220. 

SULLENBERGER:  Two two zero.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘ve got emergency returning.  I believe 1529, bird strike.  He lost all engines—he lost the thrust in the engine.  He‘s returning immediately. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Cactus 1529, which engines? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He lost thrust in both engines, he said. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Got it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Cactus 1529, couldn‘t get it to you.  Do you want to try to land runway 13. 

SULLENBERGER:  We‘re unable.  We may end up in the Hudson. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All right, Cactus 1549, there‘s going to be less traffic runway 31. 

SULLENBERGER:  Unable. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK, what do you need to land? 

Cactus 1549, runway four is available, if you want.  There‘s less traffic at runway four. 

SULLENBERGER:  What‘s over to our right?  Anything in New Jersey? 

Maybe Teterboro. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Off to your right side is Teterboro airport.  Do you want to try to go to Teterboro? 

SULLENBERGER:  Yes. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Teterboro, Empire—actually Laguardia departure, emergency inbound.  Cactus 1529 over the George Washington Bridge wants to go to your airport right now. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Wants to go to our airport, check.  Does he need assistance? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  It was a bird strike.  Can I get him in for runway one? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Runway one, that‘s good. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Cactus 1529, turn right 280.  You can land at runway one at Teterboro. 

SULLENBERGER:  We can‘t do it. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK, which runway would you like at Teterboro?

SULLENBERGER:  We‘re going to be in the Hudson. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m sorry, say again Cactus. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The calm is the most amazing part.  Now, as promised, the full, quote, interview with that calm man, Captain Sullenberger from Sunday.  Publicity men said the captain wanted to say hello.  So he introduced us. 

Captain Sullenberger: “I recognized you.  Good to know you.” 

Me: “good to know you, too.  Congratulations to you and your crew.” 

Sullenberger: “Thank you.  It was a group effort.  Thank you for the kind words.” 

Me: “what do you think of all this,” meaning the Super Bowl? 

Sullenberger: “It‘s great.”   

Me: “I don‘t want to take up more of your time.  It‘s been a pleasure. 

Enjoy this.” 

Sullenberger: “Thank you.” 

You laugh, but he was very nice.  I got 25 words out of him. 

Gone but refusing to be forgotten; Dick Cheney rationalizes his administration‘s failures in counter-terrorism by predicting mayhem if his policies of repression, brutality and lying are not continued by this president.  My special comment tonight. 

And the Republican Congressman who compares his party‘s new role to that of the insurgency or the Taliban.  The worst persons in the world ahead.

When Rachel Maddow joins you at the top of the hour, she asks the woman in charge of oversight if the second half of the bank bail out is going to be any better tracked than was the first half.  I guess any would be better. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Former vice president predicts catastrophic terrorism here if Obama‘s policies are followed and Bush‘s ignored.  Why he is undermining the president, the country‘s counter-terrorism struggle and the nation.  A special comment; Enough, Dick Cheney. 

That‘s next, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s number two story, tonight‘s worst persons in the world.

The bronze to Bill-O the Clown.  Quite the blowup when the “New York Times” mentioned him in passing in an editorial decrying the racism inherent in anti-immigrant politicians and their media toadies like him.  Bill-O insists this is all part of a conspiracy to destroy him on the way towards destroy the Republican party.  “If blanket amnesty is passed, the Democratic ranks in places like Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and Florida will explode, putting our two party system in jeopardy.  That is exactly, ladies and gentlemen, what the ‘New York Times‘ envisions.” 

Bill-O did not mention Karl Rove‘s often state claim that he would establish a, quote, Republican majority, a permanent one.  And he used as an example of the elimination of the two party system California, where he says “the Dems control power.”  Which is why the last Democratic governor of that state was recalled by the electorate.  A Republican has been elected in his place twice.  And that state passed the heinous Prop Eight two months ago.   

Runner up, Bernard Goldberg, enabling Bill-O.  He asked Goldberg about the Times editorial, in which he was a one sentence after thought.  “If you were me and you woke up on a Sunday and read that, how would you have reacted?”  Goldberg answered, “well, I probably would have gotten a baseball bat and gone down to the ‘New York Times‘ with it and found the person who wrote the editorial.  But that‘s me.” 

Well, you said it.  That‘s you. 

But our winner, Texas Congressman Pete Sessions, pitching to his Republican colleagues for the second time in a week the idea that they should position themselves against the Obama administration as a, quote, insurgency.  Bad enough at the start, but it gets worse.  “Insurgency,” Sessions told the editors of “The Hotline.”  “We understand perhaps a little bit more because of the Taliban.  That is that they went about systematically understanding how to disrupt and changing a person‘s entire processes.” 

Suddenly Sessions realized he was suggesting Republicans think of themselves as car bombers.  “I‘m not trying to say the Republican party is the Taliban.”  The rational thought lasted about a second, as Sessions resumed, “we need to understand that insurgency may be required.” 

Later he was asked to clarify.  He insisted, “I simply said one can see that there is a model out there for insurgency,” which is when an aide interrupted him and led him away, which was quite a trick, considering that, by then, Sessions had both feet and the better part of one of his legs in his mouth.  That would be Mullah Pete Sessions, Congressman, parentheses, T for Taliban, of Texas, today‘s Worst Person in the World!

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Finally tonight, as promised, a Special Comment on former Vice President Cheney‘s remarks about the prospects of future terrorist attacks in this country.  Flatly, it may be time for Mr. Cheney to leave this country.

The partisanship, divisiveness and naivete to which he ascribed every single criticism of his and President Bush‘s delusional policies of the last eight years, have now roared forth in a destructive and uninformed diatribe from Mr. Cheney, that can only serve to undermine the nation‘s new president, undermine the nation‘s effort to thwart terrorism, and undermine the nation itself.

Mr. Cheney‘s remarks were posted yesterday at Politico.com.  They are a reiteration of all the manias of his vice presidency.  Only they now come without the authority of office.  They insist—he insists, on the imminence of attack, of the maintenance of Gitmo, of the necessity of water boarding, of the efficacy of torture.

Time does not stale nor custom wither your infinite variety, Mr.  Cheney.  You will say it, and be wrong and you will still say it anew.  You will say it, and undercut a President 17 days on the job and you will still say it anew.  You will say it, and help terrorists and you will still say it anew.

“The United States needs to be not so much loved as it needs to be respected.  Sometimes, that requires us to take actions that generate controversy.  I‘m not at all sure that that‘s what the Obama administration believes.”

The first glimmer, in years, of sanity in any your remarks, Sir.  That‘s not at all what the Obama administration appears to believe.  It seems to be ready to use all avenues and all emotions, seeking love, respect, fear, diplomacy, shared experience, education, principle, and, yes, even rational thought.  This President, unlike yours, seems intent on living in the real world, rather than trying to re-shape an imaginary one by force.

“When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an al-Qaida terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry.”

More concerned, Mr. Cheney?  What delusion of grandeur makes you think you have the right to say anything like that?  Because a president, or an ordinary American, demands that we act as Americans and not as bullies; demands that we play by our rules; that we preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States; you believe we have chosen the one and not the other?  We can be Americans, or we can be what you call “safe,” but not both?

“If it hadn‘t been for what we did with respect to the terrorist surveillance program, or enhanced interrogation techniques for high-value detainees, the Patriot Act, and so forth, then we would have been attacked again.  Those policies we put in place, in my opinion, were absolutely crucial to getting us through the last seven-plus years without a major-casualty attack on the U.S.”

Mr. Cheney, you are lying.  As the cloud of fear you deliberately fostered in this good-hearted and courageous nation finally begins to dissipate, the nonsense that you and Mr. Bush presented as “evidence” of this childish claim, this perverse example of wishful-nightmare-thinking, has become apparent, and it should shame you.

The “major-casualty attacks” on the U.S. you think you stopped, involved would-be hijackers who were under constant surveillance by at least two nations and had neither passports nor plane tickets.  They involved feeble-minded braggarts, so clueless as to even the most obvious steps of organization that they believed they could enter Fort Dix in New Jersey disguised as pizza delivery men, kill hordes of Americans, and get out alive, even though Fort Dix teems with soldiers who have an almost inexhaustible supply of weapons.

They involved embittered ex-Airport-employees so uninformed about where they used to work that they thought dropping a match in a fuel supply line thirty miles away would cause the airport to explode.  These are the plots that by your own proud, strutting, crazy admissions, were the ones you “got us through.”

You and Mr. Bush, sir, you are the old men who cried wolf.  The Politico story continues:

“Citing intelligence reports, Cheney said at least 61 of the inmates who were released from Guantanamo during the Bush administration - “that‘s about 11 or 12 percent” - have “gone back into the business of being terrorists.”

Mr. Cheney, you made this statistic up.  Perhaps not you personally, but your people made this statistic up!  As the new reality-based administration has discovered, there are not enough records of the detainees still at Gitmo to suggest that there is any reliable database on those who have been released.   That McCarthy-esque number, Sir, is also as fluid as the infamous Senator‘s was.

As Professor Mark Denbeaux of Seton Hall University noted on this network last month:

“The government has given its 43rd attempt to describe the number of people who have left Guantanamo and returned to the battlefield.  Forty-one times they have done it orally, as they have this last time.  And their numbers have changed from 20 to 12 to seven to more than five to two to a couple to a few, 25, 29, 12 to 24.  Every time, the number has been different.  In fact, every time they give a number, they don‘t identify a date, a place, a time, a name or an incident to support their claim.”

Mr. Cheney, which orifice are you pulling these numbers from?  You know, in the movie “The Manchurian Candidate,” the character based loosely on Joe McCarthy had trouble remembering all the different numbers.  His Lady Macbeth-like-wife pointed out to him that the reason she kept changing the number of purported communists in the State Department was so that people would no longer be asking “are there communists in the State Department?”  But would begin only asking “how many communists are there?”

Eventually she picked one number that her husband could remember, fifty-seven.  She found it on the bottle of Catsup on the room service tray. 

Of course, Mr. Cheney, it is also impossible to prove that any of those released detainees actually were terrorists before we captured them, because you never presented any evidence against them, Sir, and they were released.  Which makes something else you said seem almost the product of a split personality.

“If you release the hard-core al-Qaida terrorists that are held at Guantanamo, I think they go back into the business of trying to kill more Americans and mount further mass-casualty attacks.  If you turn them loose and they go kill more Americans, who‘s responsible for that?”

Well, right now?  That‘d be you and Mr. Bush.  You released those supposed repeat terrorists, all 61 of them, or 12, you.  If Gitmo worked so well and you really had the devils in a cage, why did you release them, without trial, without any second effort at proving their guilt?  You just released them.  If you turned them loose and they go kill more Americans, who‘s responsible for that, Dick?

And six years and more since General Powell and Dr. Rice, and all the rest, played the trump card of terrorizing this nation, the mighty Cream of Mushroom Cloud soup, you played it again: nuclear weapon, biological agent, deaths of perhaps hundreds of thousands.  

“I think there‘s a high probability of such an attempt.  Whether or not they can pull it off depends whether or not we keep in place policies that have allowed us to defeat all further attempts, since 9/11, to launch mass-casualty attacks against the United States.”

“The Bush System,” as John Yoo so aptly re-christened it the other day: start the wrong war, detain the wrong people, employ the wrong methods, pursue the wrong leads, utilize the wrong emotions.   Beat them up first, ask questions later.  You know, just like Al-Qaeda does, or Iran.  Save this nation from the terrorists by doing the terrorists‘ work for them, Mr. Cheney. 

To your credit, sir, you have added a new monster under a new bed to try to continue to foment a national policy of panic.  It‘s the Terrorists-on-our-streets ploy.

“Is that really a good idea to take hardened al-Qaida terrorists who‘ve already killed thousands of Americans and put them in San Quentin or some other prison facility, where they can spread their venom even more widely than it already is?”

As opposed to keeping them in an extra-legal facility mixed in with some unknown number of innocents mistaken for terrorists.  Who is likelier to be more influenced by terrorist venom, Mr. Cheney?   The characters from the TV series “Oz” or a bunch of guys who we‘re holding in chains without trial and without even some token attempt at rehabilitation? 

And by the way, what about Ahmed Ressam, sir?  Benni Noris, if you prefer, the Millennium Bomber.  Caught at a ferry crossing from Canada to Washington State in December, 1999, on his way to blow up Los Angeles International Airport.  He had a car, a legit passport, nitroglycerin, and timing devices. 

And what did we do to him, Mr. Cheney?  Did we send him to Gitmo?  Or Pre-Gitmo?  As “high a value” terrorist as ever we‘ve caught in this country, trained by Abu Zubaydah, days away from his target and ready to go.  We tried him in U.S. courts, with U.S. lawyers.  Part of the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court.  He got 22 years in U.S. prisons. 

No torture, no Gulag, no stories of him proselytizing fellow prisoners.  Oh, but he did cooperate long enough to tell his prosecutors, who didn‘t beat the hell out of him, about al-Qaida cells in this country.

That was his info they stuck in the President‘s Daily Brief of August 6th, 2001.  That‘s probably news to you, since obviously you and Mr. Bush didn‘t read it, stalking Saddam Hussein as you were. 

Of course, none of that mattered to Mr. Cheney, just as none of this matters to Mr. Cheney.  Because, at heart, Mr. Cheney is not interested foremost in protecting this country.  He is interested foremost in protecting Mr. Cheney.  And the business of being Dick Cheney, of rationalizing one‘s own existence after one of the most reprehensible, myopic, unprincipled, and even un-American careers in the history of our government, depends on continuing to convince the gullible among us to live in abject fear and not with vigilance and common sense and principles.

We, sir, will most completely assure our security not by maintaining the endless, demoralizing, draining, life-denying blind fear and blind hatred which you so thoroughly embody.  We will most easily purchase our safety by repudiating the “Bush System.”  We will reserve the violence for which you are so eager, Sir, for any battlefield to which we truly must take, and not for unconscionable wars which people like you goad and scare and lie us into.

You, Mr. Cheney, you terrified more Americans than did any terrorist in the last seven years.  And now it is time for you to desist, or to be made to desist.  With damnable words like these, Sir, you help no American.  You protect no American.  You serve no American.  You only aid and abet those who would destroy this nation from within or without. 

More than 400 years ago, when a British Parliament attempted to govern after its term had expired, it was dispersed by the actions and the words of Oliver Cromwell.

“You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately,” he told them—exactly as—Mr. Cheney, exactly as a nation now tells you:

“Depart, I say, and let us have done with you.  In the name of God, go!”

Good night and good luck.

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

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