updated 3/12/2009 2:37:36 PM ET 2009-03-12T18:37:36

Guests: Jonathan Alter, Richard Wolffe, Chris Kofinis, Christian Finnegan

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

$410 billion in spending complete with Republican earmarks.  So when the president signs it, the Republicans accuse him of breaking a promise to kill all earmarks—that was McCain who promised to kill all earmarks.

GOP hypocrisy squared.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES:  Some of those who rail most loudly against this bill because of earmarks actually inserted earmarks of their own.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Still desperate after all these years.  The attempt to boot-strap the reputation of President Bush by claiming Obama‘s policies, like the new one on signing statements, are no different than Bush‘s were.  So, obviously, if you like Obama, you have to like Bush.  Have to.  Have to.  Have to.

A no-confidence vote: Republican Chairman Steele likely to face one at the beginning of next month.  But he already has the no-confidence of Newt Gingrich, to say nothing of Boss Limbaugh.

Billo the clown does a countdown on his show.  The five worsts liberals in media.  Janeane Garofalo places in the finals.  And we lost.  I mean, we won.

Bernie Goldberg says this qualifies us, quote, “as journalistic hookers, but I say this, Bill, with apologies to the other hookers out there who always sell their bodies.  These people have sold their journalistic souls.”  Billo adds, “And they have.”  Well, you know about the hookers.

Or we can ask this guy, airport rage from Senator Vitter of Louisiana.

And the shocker from “Star Magazine”: Sarah Palin‘s daughter splits from her fiancee.  She is now officially an unwed mother.

And Worsts: Trying to finally outlaw bestiality here in Florida.  By the way, which special interest group delayed that?  State senator confused by the term animal husbandry actually asks, quote, “People are taking these animals as their husbands?”

All that and more—now on COUNTDOWN.

(MUSIC)

OLBERMANN (on camera):  Good evening from Tampa.

During the 2008 presidential election, one candidate having vowed to eliminate earmarks utterly, even the good ones, quote, “As president, I‘m going to veto every single spending bill that comes across my desk,” unquote, that contains them.  The other candidate having promised to reform the process to eliminate the unnecessary earmarks, quoting him, “When I‘m president, I will go line-by-line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely.”

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: The reform candidate, Barack Obama, now the president, today is delivering and with a speech about earmark reform to boot, yet because he also signed a bill into law that had Republican earmarks in it, many on the right accusing him of going back on a campaign promise—accusing Obama of not fulfilling McCain‘s campaign promise.

The president, this afternoon, is signing into law the $410 billion omnibus spending bill, describing, quote, “in funding necessary for the smooth operation of our nation‘s government”; earlier this morning, hoping to mitigate criticism over the earmarks in the bill by promising changes on future bills which he will not have inherited.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  Finally, if my administration evaluates an earmark and determines that it has no legitimate public purpose, then we will seek to eliminate it and will work with Congress to do so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Yet, of the 35 senators who voted against that spending bill last night, 28 of them had a combine 307 solo earmarks in the legislation -- 25 of those 28 are Republicans.

The president noted the hypocrisy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  Done right, earmarks have given legislators the opportunity to direct federal money to worthy projects that benefit people in their districts, and that‘s why I‘ve opposed their outright elimination.  And I also find it ironic that some of those who rail most loudly against this bill because of earmarks actually inserted earmarks of their own—and will tout them in their own states and their own districts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Senator McCain today reliving the glory days of the 2008 presidential election, claiming President Obama broke his promise to reform the process by not vetoing the bill, quote, “The president could have resolved this issue in one statement.  No more unauthorized pork barrel projects and pledged to use his veto pen to stop them.  This is an opportunity missed.”

Since even Senator McCain has apparently lost the ability to remember what he promised and what the president promised during the campaign, let me remind him what he missed.  The campaign slogan “no earmarks,” that was yours, Senator McCain.  Then candidate Obama promised reform and he lived up to that promise.

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

Good evening, Richard.

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

OLBERMANN:  Half way through the first 100 days, the president gets slammed for not upholding one of his opponent‘s campaign promises.  That‘s weirder than even the campaign was.

(LAUGHTER)

WOLLFE:  Yes, the Irish have a phrase for that—it‘s called Sod‘s law—you get blamed for everything that happens whether you are responsible or not.  You know, it is important to recognize where the problem comes from with earmarks.  It comes from Congress.  So, you have to work with Congress to get them to reform Congress.

But it‘s also worth rewinding the tape here.  The president as a candidate campaigned against wasteful spending.  Now, he was vague there.  It could have been that he was talking about wasteful government programs that have been in place for many years and he was also referring to some of these earmarks.

That vagueness has allowed his opponents to do what they are doing now, which is to distort what he actually said.  But it‘s up to this administration right now to trying to deal with the government spending that doesn‘t work.  We don‘t know whether they can do that.

OLBERMANN:  On the—on the undertaking that at least the occasional earmark is a worthy public project.  If we were, in fact, dealing with “President McCain” having vowed to veto any piece of legislation that contained any earmark in it, where would we be in terms of this government right now?  Would it have just shut down from lack of money because a Republican president would have felt like he would have had to fulfill a draconian campaign promise that doesn‘t seem to have made a lot of sense in practical application?

WOLFFE:  Yes.  Well, government would have ground to a halt.  There‘s no question about that.  And does it make sense for a president to pick this fight when the economy is in such a deep hole?

You‘re also going to understand the ideological position that John McCain comes from here.  He‘s picking up things from the small government crowd.  And what they pick up—may some of it be wasteful, it‘s true.  But a lot of the other things he criticizes are, for instance, genetic research.  He seems to find genetic research wasteful and unnecessary, and even faintly humorous.

We saw Sarah Palin take on the mighty fruit fly during the campaign.  And, you know, it‘s not an ideological debate here.  Some of it doesn‘t work, some of it does.  You cannot shut down the whole of government or ruin relations with Congress because you‘re taking an ideological position, not at this time.

OLBERMANN:  Beyond vetoing legislation, actually, there isn‘t much a president can do about that legislation.  Is it really any president‘s job to reform Congress by himself especially when, in this case, Mr. McCain‘s Republican colleagues who slapped on 40 percent of this pork?

WOLFFE:  Well, you got to try.  It‘s absolutely true.  But if you are going to get Congress to do something really meaningful when it comes to the budget and reining in spending, deal with Medicaid, deal with Social Security, deal with defense spending, get the big items under control.

And, yes, you got to deal with some of these programs, because earmarks can tie the hands of good policy.  They can also be bad policy just on their own.  But, you know, are you going to focus on the micro-level and if you are going to do that, you‘ve got to get people onboard.  That means members of Congress who are the biggest advocates for this kind of spending.

OLBERMANN:  To some degree, is this not all micro?  I mean, $7.7 billion is an amazing amount of money.  And that is what the earmarks amount to in the omnibus bill.  But that is still less than 2 percent of the entire bill.  Is there some measure of hype to all of this?  Are we looking through the wrong end of a telescope or maybe a microscope?

WOLFFE:  Well, it‘s bad because it can lead to corruption.  And that gets you into the whole lobbying issue which is very important for John McCain and to many other people, including President Obama.  But, it is a small amount of money.  It‘s 1 percent of the overall stimulus package.

And, frankly, right now, the challenge is to spend government money to help the economy.  It could be that good government is one of those cans that are kicked down the road.

OLBERMANN:  MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe—as always, Richard, great thanks.  Have a good evening.

WOLFFE:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Meantime, we rejoin Bush‘s ghost already still in progress.  Instead of changing the course of history, that ship having long since sailed, President Bush and his minions are still trying to rewrite history as of about two hours ago, this time over signing statements and Iraq.

This week, Ari Fleischer, Bush‘s first White House press secretary, and William Burck, his deputy White House counsel, both pushing back at the notion that the president—this one—changed much of anything, when on Monday, he ordered officials to consult with Attorney General Holder first before relying on any of President Bush‘s signing statements.  Burck called that spin and called it bogus.  Fleischer claimed that what President Bush had done was standard practice even though over 200 years, previous presidents issued signing statements only sparingly, President Bush did so some 1,200 times.

Earlier this evening, here on MSNBC, on “HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS,” Fleischer tried to force do-overs on any number of subjects, even floating a patently absurd, almost insane notion that President Obama should be thanking his predecessor for the war in Iraq.  Sadly, I am not kidding.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARI FLEISCHER, FMR. BUSH W.H. PRESS SECRETARY:  It was in part because of Iraq and large part because of the economy that Barack Obama won.  Having said that, I also think Barack Obama should say thank you every day that he inherited a world without Saddam Hussein in it.  The one thing people are going to remember the most is that he kept us safe.

We have not been attacked since September 11th.  The second is, as I said, Barack Obama should be thankful that he‘s inherited a world without Saddam Hussein in it.  We should all be grateful that we‘ve inherited, that Barack Obama has inherited a world without Saddam in it.

I believe we are better off and Barack Obama is better off because Saddam Hussein is no longer in this world during this Middle East—yes, I am proud of the fact we have not been attacked since September 11th.  And a lot of people deserve credit for it.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, “HARDBALL” HOST:  OK.

FLEISCHER:  President Bush included.  But after September 11th, having been being hit once, how could we take a chance that Saddam Hussein might not strike attack again?  We got a report saying al Qaeda is determined to attack the United States.  Well, that‘s not a surprise.  Of course, they are.  It doesn‘t say where, it doesn‘t say when, it doesn‘t say how.  So, if you get a report like that, what do you do?

No question, the administration, the Bush administration left behind a bad recession for President Obama just as we inherited a mild recession from President Clinton.  As a result of the Bush tax cuts, the 2001 recession was very short and very shallow and it was followed then by, as I said, record-breaking job creation.  We‘ve never in this country had 55 straight months of job creation.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

FLEISCHER:  We have that under President Bush before the bank failures of September.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Wow!  Fleischer had to have been stoned.

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  Let‘s turn now to our own Jonathan Alter—I‘m not going to associate you with that remark I just made, Jon—of course, senior editor at “Newsweek” magazine.

JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  I hope that you can.

OLBERMANN:  All right.  Well, welcome to it.

ALTER:  Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  I mean, what was that—I mean, we got the whole thing, he kept us safe, except for the first one he presented in the first term.  We got this arrogant condescending crap that Obama should be basically sending thank you notes every day to Bush for ridding the world of Saddam Hussein who obviously was a terrible threat maybe even outside his own country.

ALTER:  Right.

OLBERMANN:  Is the idea that the more ridiculous you make the spin, that the larger the yield or is any kind of reality still required in this equation?

ALTER:  Well, I don‘t think there is too much reality when you are basically being cast by, you know, cable television as the palookas.  What we didn‘t see in those clips is that Chris Matthews really took him on and didn‘t let him get away with his patter on a lot of these issues which is what it is.

These folks are all in the legacy business now.  A lot of them, Keith, are unemployed.  A lot of the Bush veterans can‘t find jobs.  So, they have plenty of time to go out and spin for their old boss.  He has nothing to put on his presidential museum except maybe some good work on AIDS.  And this idea that he kept us safe, even though on Bush‘s watch he was warned that Osama bin Laden was planning attacks in the United States.

This is one of the things that he said that just blew my mind that when Chris asked him, if there‘s another attack and President Obama is in office, will you not hold him to account for that.  And Fleischer said, “No, of course, we wouldn‘t hold President Obama to account for that.”

Keith, let‘s make sure that we play that tape if, God forbid, we should be attacked because you and I know that the Republican talking heads will be all over the president should we be attacked again.

OLBERMANN:  They‘ve already pre-announced that.  I mean, Fleischer is just lying.

Describing the Bush spin operation—he said previously to “Politico” today, “It is a loose confederation of people united in our belief in what President Bush did.  And we are freer now—we are freer now to talk about some things than we used to be good and bad.”

What were they doing the entire eight years before?  What can we expect in terms of bad disclosures?  When are we start going to hear the good and the bad—emphasize bad?

ALTER:  Well, there are not going to be any bad disclosures.  When they said the bad, what they mean is from the podium, Fleischer and the others couldn‘t trash Democrats.  Now, they are free to do that.  They can go on the offensive when they go on cable shows.

So, are they going to, you know, fess up to various inadequacies in the Bush administration?  Scott McClellan did it with you and with others, but most of them won‘t.  They will be out there spinning their brains out.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, the scales fell from Scott‘s eyes to his credit and apparently to his happiness, he doesn‘t have to go begging Bush for a job at the museum as a greeter or something.

But the defenders of Bush‘s ghost may have more to worry about tomorrow and the near future than the relative records of Bush and Obama on signing statements and on Saddam Hussein and everything else.

Cheney assassination squads.  What does that mean—Cheney assassination squads?

ALTER:  An amazing thing happened in Minnesota last night.  There was a forum with the investigative reporter Seymour Hersh and former Vice President Walter Mondale.  And in the Q&A session, Hersh let slip that he‘s working on a book that will include reporting about Cheney-sponsored assassination rings as Hersh put it, that went around the local CIA station chiefs abroad to carry out assassinations on targets using apparently military personnel.

Now obviously, that‘s very sketchy.  We need to know a lot more about it.  I think Hersh is going to want to make us wait until his book comes out.  But, clearly, there is a lot more that happened in that Bush administration directly out of the vice president‘s office that we don‘t know about yet and that, Keith, will curl our hair.

OLBERMANN:  Well, now, we know what happened when he shot Henry Whittington and Henry Whittington in that phrase.  That fellow there.

ALTER:  Yes.

OLBERMANN:  Obviously, we‘ll do a full look at that one tomorrow.  In the interim, Jonathan Alter of “Newsweek”—as always, great thanks for being with us and joining with my assessment for Mr. Fleischer.  Thanks, Jon.

ALTER:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  There is more than just the academic in the thumb-sucking exercise of watching Republicans waste oxygen trying to defend an indefensible administration.  There is the practicality of politics.  If you are still fighting the spin wars of 2003 for your party 2009 is probably going to hell in hand basket.

Ask Michael Steele, the RNC chairman who probably wishes he had somebody, even Ari Fleischer, out there defending him and not George Bush - - because not three months after his election, Michael Steele is reportedly going to face a vote of no-confidence inside the Republican National Committee.

Fortunately, for the GOP, it seems to have a fresh, bright face ready to step up and lead if Mr. Steele cannot.  And that leader nominated more or less by himself this very day is—John McCain.  No, I‘m not kidding.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  As the hip-hop beat of which he dreams fades in the background, the new chairman of the RNC may soon face a vote that could quickly make him the old chair of the RNC.  The “Frank Burns of news” is back tonight to rip off this show‘s format in order to prove that we are both the most dangerous liberals in the media here while also simultaneously the least influential.

And in Worsts: No, Senator, animal husbandry is not about marrying your monkey.  It is not why that woman in Connecticut was so upset when her chimp went crazy and they had to shoot him.

You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  In some parallel dimension, President McCain and Speaker Tom DeLay are having a big ‘ole laugh about RNC Chairman Rove‘s brilliant win of those filibuster-proof majorities.  Our fourth story tonight: This reality and the battle royal caged deathmatch once known as the Republican Party.

First RNC‘s real chair, Michael Steele, and his real problems—and get out your abacus, kid.  One: Former Speaker Newt Gingrich, last night, quote, “If the Republican Party quits worrying about the Republican Party from the chairman down and focuses on what America needs, we‘ll do fine.”  Two: Senator Arlen Specter, today, after Steele threatened him with a primary challenger, for having voted pro-stimulus.  Quoting Specter, “He said so many contradictory things, I wouldn‘t pay a whole lot of attention to him.

Three: Unnamed GOP senate aide, quote, “I think on the Republican Senate side, people are justifiably unhappy with how Steele‘s tenure has started.”  And, four—maybe: South Carolina Chairman Katon Dawson, failed aspirant for Steele‘s job, reported by Politicowire.com, as having organized a no-confidence vote in the chairman.  Dawson now proclaiming his support for Steele without actually saying no, he‘s not organizing such a vote.

So, who can unite this fractured party with fresh, new ideas?  I give you; he gives himself—John McCain.  “Huffington Post” having obtained a McCain staffer‘s e-mail suggesting that McCain is preparing to reclaim the mantle of party leader by introducing a 21st century version—or is it 19th century version—of Gingrich‘s Contract with America.  The best part, rather than no tax increases, McCain—who famously claimed to have suspended his campaign last year so we could race to Washington to solve our economic crisis personally—he doesn‘t know what‘s in this plan yet.

The e-mail went to an outside adviser, quote, “Looking for some guidance on a definitive plan on the economy.  Ten principles that McCain could point to on what must be done.”  He‘s got the one about no tax cuts.  But you heard the man, somebody e-mailed John McCain some principles, but only nine of them.  He only needs nine of them.

Let‘s bring in Democratic strategist, Chris Kofinis, former communications director on the Edwards‘ campaign.

Chris, thanks for your time tonight.

CHRIS KOFINIS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  March 20th, Mr. Steele releases his February fundraising report to the RNC.  How is he going to do on that because “Roll Call” says he has yet to hire a chief of the staff or a research director or a field director or a political director or a finance director?

KOFINIS:  Well, I can‘t imagine it‘s going to be good, unless people are donating out of sympathy.  But, you know, the problem for Michael Steele isn‘t not fundraising.  The problem with Michael Steele is he is a message disaster and a distraction to the party.  And I think what you are seeing every day, it seems to get worse.

And what you are starting to see from, you know, various factions within the Republican Party is this growing call for him to go.  Again, a very strong indication of how bad a job he is doing going out there and selling whatever semblance of a Republican message exists.

OLBERMANN:  And yet, the “Associated Press” had a story yesterday that said state GOP leaders are still supporting this man.  Why would we find a schism between criticism of Steele in D.C. and support outside the beltway?

KOFINIS:  Well, part of it is ideological.  Now, if you can believe it, there are factions, again, within the Republican Party, especially within the RNC, that think that Michael Steele isn‘t conservative enough.  Apparently, they want a leader of the RNC who‘s even more out of touch.

The other part, to be frank, is, you know, from top to bottom, this is a rudderless party.  They have no leaders.  They have no message.  They have no direction.

And Michael Steele is, if you will, becoming the punching bag for a lot of those frustrations.  I think what they‘ve got to—they have to come to terms with is they really don‘t have anyone better unless they‘re try to recruit maybe one of the former bank CEOs to take over the RNC.  He probably would do or she would probably do badly as good a job as Michael Steele.

But they have a very big problem because of the way this party is infighting right now.

OLBERMANN:  Should Democrats be worried about Steele or worried about the possibility that he might not be there much longer?  I mean, if he is ticking off both Boss Limbaugh and congressional Republicans, does that sound like a necessary first step for anybody who wants to save his own party?  Don‘t they basically have to get rid of those people if the Republicans want to, you know, have enough to field a candidate in 2012?

KOFINIS:  Well, you know, speaking at least this Democrat and I think a lot of others, I don‘t think there‘s many Democrats in the entire world that are worried about the RNC and Michael Steele right now.

Listen, the Republican Party has a very difficult problem, one that needs to be addressed.  They are not going to address it.  They seem to ignore the fact that the country has moved in a different direction.  That the last election, the country moved ideologically to the left.  It is a completely different country.

They seem to continue to embrace these right-wing voices like Rush Limbaugh and Tom DeLay and all these others.  And they‘re not realizing the country wants a different type of direction and different type of policies.

I mean, let me put it even more frankly, the Republican Party needs an ideological vasectomy.

(LAUGHTER)

KOFINIS:  They need to cut off these voices if they have any chance of moving forward.  But they are not going to do that because, unfortunately, these are the voices that are cloning the next generation of Republicans.  And so, they are creating this death spiral where they continue to put leaders who basically alienate even more moderates and even more independents, and what they‘re doing, in fact, is embracing the very fringe elements that put them in this position as to where they are right now, which is a losing party.

OLBERMANN:  A lot of reproduction in that metaphor.

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  How—lastly, how embarrassingly metaphoric is it to have the party‘s last presidential candidate actively throwing himself out there as the man who is going to present these economic principles to believe in and then this e-mail surfacing he needs 10 of them and he‘s only got the one?

KOFINIS:  You know, it‘s really kind of sad actually.  And one—that John McCain is trying to step up and lead this party, I think what, you know, John McCain and his advisers don‘t seem to understand that no one in the party is listening or going to want to listen.  And now, put aside the fact they have nine principles, you know, left to go.

You know, I‘m just going to think back when President Obama and the others say the Republican Party is the “party of no,” they really are the party of no ideas and no clue.  Until they figure out where they want to go and real ideas that appeal to the American people, they‘re going to continue this kind of, as I said, death spiral.

OLBERMANN:  John McCain, the man with principles to be named later.  Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis—thanks for chuckling along with us, Chris.

KOFINIS:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  And—I‘m telling you, this home hair-coloring kit says you mix the stuff with the water first then you throw it on your head.

Did you know that if you support stem cell research, you also support baby harvesting and you are a Nazi?  Glen Beck says so.  And if anybody knows about Nazis in 21st century America, it‘s Glenn Beck.

Worst Persons is coming up on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Still Bushed in a moment, and why did Bush capture and release another guy who is back leading terror?  First, on this date in 1931, the birth from down under, a man who shares the first name as yours truly.  He is, among other things, the major shareholder, chairman and CEO of a global empire, media overlord, crypt keeper of News Corp, and my former boss.  Oh yes, probably the only press baron in existence who talks like a pirate.  Happy birthday to Keith—I don‘t use that name anymore—

Rupert Murdoch, and Arrgh.

With that heartfelt sentiment, let‘s play Oddball. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  We begin in Northern India.  No, this is not a birthday party for Rupert.  These folks are celebrating the Oddball classic annual holy festival, where dousing your neighbor with a fistful of pink powder is not just a way to kill time, it‘s tradition.  Eager participants throw colored powder at unsuspecting friends and family for one long week.  I bet that never gets olds. 

Remember, what‘s great for the spirit is not so great for the hair. 

And what we believe is Turkish television.  This is what happens when TV stations trim back on their budget for camera operations. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (INAUDIBLE)

OLBERMANN:  A little Oddball TV jargon 101, this is what‘s called a slow tilt up.  If only that camera person worked at Fixed News. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Speaking of which, back inside the brain of Bill-O, if any, how we here at MSNBC are the leftiest, smeariest merchants out there.  But in the same breath, we‘re insignificant and we have no influence.  And Bill-O borrows our format to explain both of these things. 

And the poster kids for responsible, life-affirming teenage parentry are apparently splitsville.  These stories ahead, but first, because they may be gone, but their deeds outlive them, the headlines lingering from the previous administration‘s 50 running scandals, Still Bushed.

Number three, poison-gate.  The “Michigan Messenger” reports that flooding from a river contaminated with dioxin has left the toxic chemical in the soil at West Michigan Park in the Saginaw Township.  For years, the EPA has known dioxin causes cancer, damages endocrine and immune systems and can affect fetal development.  So last year, the Government Accountability Office suggested Mr. Bush‘s EPA ought to hurry up its dioxin report, so it could start enforcing laws against dioxin. 

Mr. Bush said no.  This week, President Obama said yes, after last week haven frozen the cleanup negotiations with Dow Chemical, talks that had been criticized for their secrecy under Mr. Bush.  Dow now says it will clean up the dioxin at West Michigan Park. 

Number two, representative democracy-gate.  President Bush won the presidential election of 2000, despite losing popular vote, thanks not only to the Republican leaning Supreme Court, but also the suppression of Democratic votes, most notably here in Florida.  Despite that scandal, Mr.  Bush won again in 2004 in another election marred by voter access irregularities, most notably in the decisive state that year, Ohio. 

But at least he managed to fix this democracy by 2008, right?  A new study concluding at least four million Americans did not vote last year due to registration or absentee ballot problems.  Approximately the same number of voters who encountered such problems in 2000. 

And number one, Taliban-gate.  The Associated Press reporting that a Taliban operations chief named Mullah Abdullah Zakir (ph) has been put in charge of countering Obama‘s surge of troops to Afghanistan.  Zakir had been captured back in 2001 by the Northern Alliance and turned over to U.S.  forces.  How is he now free to plan the death of American military service people?  Mr. Bush set him free.  In December 2007, President Bush handed Zakir and a dozen other Guantanamo detainees over to the Afghan government, which promptly released them, which means one two of things again: either Mr. Bush tossed an innocent man into Guantanamo, thus creating a terrorist who will likely have American blood on his hands all too soon, or Mr. Bush had an actual terrorist in his hands and, even free from legal restraints and free from Miranda and due process, free from any deadlines at all, he still could not succeed at prosecuting, let alone convicting a terrorist who may well soon have American bloods on his hands all too soon. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Ah, back to the trenches.  We have not done this in a while, taken one of Bill-O the Clown‘s rants and translated back into human to show you the fresh piece of steaming hogwash that it is.  But in our third story on the COUNTDOWN, pull up a chair and spend part of your evening with us as Bill-O tries to tackle the cover of fricking “Newsweek,” but manages only to fall down a very long, painful flight of stairs. 

“The Limbaugh/Obama controversy is thankfully just about over.  But the far-left smear machine that propelled it to our attention is just getting started.” 

The far left smear machine propelled it to your attention?  You didn‘t hear Limbaugh start it by saying he wanted Obama to fail?  Bill, you don‘t listen to Limbaugh?  You know what they will do when they find that out? 

“At the top of the smear chart is the MoveOn organization, George Soros heavily invested in.  The propaganda of MoveOn, another far-left pressure group, is Media Matters, run by a gutter-snipe named David Brock.  Brock and his character assassins distribute out-of-context statements to a carefully selected corrupt of group of media, headed by MSNBC.  And they also distributed to the Internet.” 

David Brock has never distributed anything to MSNBC.  I take that back.  We traded e-mails once and he came on the show once.  Which to O‘Reilly constitutes a corrupt conspiracy.  Also snowstorms.  Snowstorms that make it difficult for him to get to worse.  They‘re also corrupt conspiracies. 

“Sometimes the entities even cooperate.  The aforementioned ‘Newsweek,‘ for example, provides far left commentators to MSNBC on a daily basis.” 

Yes.  We have a contract with them like you have a contract with Karl Rove.  Only the “Newsweek” guys are not full of canal water.  It is the same contract with “Newsweek” that was, in fact, back in 2003, Billy, when you told the original executive producer of COUNTDOWN, Dennis Murray (ph), that you thought COUNTDOWN was a terrific show. 

“The goal, of course, is to smear conservatives in the media, to convince ill-informed Americans that those on the right are racist homophobic extremists, whatever.” 

Bill means Bill, smearing bill, and racist homophobic extremists, that‘s our Bill.  Also, you left out factually mistaken usually. 

“As for Limbaugh saying he wants Obama to fail, here‘s something you will never hear on NBC News or read in the ‘New York Times‘”—you got that wrong, didn‘t you?  “According to a Fox News poll, taken in August 2006, 51 percent of Democrats said they wanted President Bush to fail; 51 percent.  I believe NBC and the Times were in that group.” 

Right, Fox News pollsters asked people from NBC and the “New York Times” to participate in one of their polls.  By the way, funny this question about Democrats wanted Bush to fail poll by Fox News from Fox News shows up out of nowhere on Fox News this week.  No direct link on the web.  IT turns out that when Fox wrote up the poll results in 2006, they never even bothered to include anything about the question about wanting Bush to fail until this week. 

“The Obama administration should understand Americans are wising up to the smear factory.  Last year at this time, John Edwards was running around saying millions of homeless veterans are living under bridges because of the economy.  Of course, that was bull.  We proved it.” 

You proved what?  Firstly, Edwards said, quote, “200,000 men and women who wore uniforms and served this country patriotically as veterans will go to sleep under bridges and on grates.”  Not millions, you idiot.  Not just under bridges, homeless vets, Bill, they exist. 

In fact, the only thing that was proved was that Edwards was being conservative with that number.  The Veterans Administration not only confirmed Edwards‘ number of 200,000 permanently homeless vets, but it also revealed there are 340,000 transiently homeless vets.  Our service men spending part or all of the year on the streets. 

You proved it?  You gigantic flaming fraud you. 

“Fox News analyst Bernie Goldberg is well acquainted with the far left sneer machine.  He‘s been a target.  So we asked him to name the five worst offenders in the mainstream media.” 

Now, you‘d think after that psycho terrorist admitted he shot up the Unitarian Church in Tennessee and killed two innocent bystanders because he couldn‘t shoot the people Bernard Goldberg rated as his 100 people screwing up America, Bernie would avoid any future list of liberals.  He has, by proxy, enough blood on his hands already. 

But shame and responsibility are two fellas Goldberg and Bill-O have never met.  So now they rip off the COUNTDOWN format that Bill so admired in 2003, and they read off their list of offenders, in descending order.  They picked Janeane Garofalo fifth.  Seriously, you know what even Janeane Garofalo would say about this?  You idiots lost an election to a far left smear machine partially led by Janeane Garofalo?  What, is she a wizard?  Can she fly or something, something she never told me about? 

The Bernard Goldberg paranoia festival continues with Bill Moyers fourth, Daily Kos third, to which Bill-O said, “it‘s about hateful as you can possibly get.  You can‘t get a more hateful website than them.” 

You want to bet?  Did you read the Fox News website on Monday, Bill, in which the president was compared to a monkey and to Hitler.  Right, you didn‘t need to read it because some news model read those quotes on Fox News on TV. 

Goldberg continues with the “New York Times” at number two.  And then the big finish, MSNBC is first.  Goldberg, “I have them on the list at number one because they‘re a division of a major news organization, NBC News, and the villains are not even people on the air.  They are executives who most Americans don‘t even know their names, but they have made a business decision to allow—and I will use this word very carefully—to allow defamation of conservatives with whom they have a beef.” 

Now let‘s consider this in context for a moment.  Since the day I began to criticize him, Bill-O‘s ultimate response, his fallback, has been to pull down his zipper and show everybody how much bigger his ratings are than mine.  And Goldberg has routinely dismissed MSNBC and COUNTDOWN as irrelevant and trivial for the same reason.  But we‘re also at the top of their list for worst, best, most influential liberals in the media.  Worst, better than the New York times?  Worst, better than Janeane the human torch Garofalo. 

Boys, either we have no ratings and don‘t count or we‘re the worst liberals in the world.  Even in your fun-house mirror world, it cannot be both. 

So Goldberg continues, “this qualifies them in my book as journalistic hookers.  But I say this, Bill, with apologies to the other hookers out there who only sell their bodies.  These people have sold their journalistic souls.” 

And Bill-O wraps it up with, “and they have.” 

Well, here‘s it‘s finally happened.  I‘m going to have to agree with Bill O‘Reilly.  He is, after all, the authority on hookers.  From the Andrea Mackris lawsuit, when O‘Reilly told her about, quote, “a girl at a sex show in Thailand who had shown him things in a back room that had blew his mind. “ And there you have it.  MSNBC is a company full of journalistic prostitutes because Bill-O the clown once went into the back room with a Thai hooker.  Case closed!

Speaking of hookers, how dare those airport employees not know who Senator David Vitter is?  Doesn‘t everybody recognize him from the D.C.  Madam case? 

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, her special guest is Meghan McCain on what it‘s like to be considered the youngest, hippest face in the Republican party. 

And an elected representative of the people of this great state of Florida actually asks if animal husbandry means you just married a chimpanzee.  Worst persons in the world next on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Senator David Vitter, from the files of a D.C. Madam to the trouble at the D.C. Airport.  And they used them in the campaign, but now Sarah Palin‘s daughter and the future son-in-law are splitsville.  That‘s next, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s number two story, tonight‘s worst persons in the world.

The bronze to the increasingly dangerous Glenn Beck.  The latest from his doom bunker.  Obama‘s peeling back of the Bush administration ban on federal funding for stem cell research is, in his words, eugenics, literally racial purification.  That would lead us down the Nazi path.  “In case you don‘t know what eugenics led us to, the Final Solution, a master race, a perfect person.” 

And today he appealed to his listening audience, “do you think maybe we could avoid harvesting babies for their organs or stem cells or cloned bodies?” 

Glenn, seriously, you need to find a way to tell what parts actually happened and what parts you really dreamed. 

Runner-up, Paul Delagado (ph), weatherman for the Fox affiliate here in Tampa, who in the middle of a forecast declared global warming was no longer a threat.  Athens, Georgia, just about a week ago, and they had up to half a foot of snow.  Las Vegas got snow.  It actually snowed in New Orleans this winter.  Delagado went on to say the current warming trend peaked in ‘98 and, quote, I just think the whole global warming doom-sayer theory is tough to see, based on recent calculations.” 

Once again, this is sciences‘ fault.  Never should have used the phrase global warmer.  Weather disaster would have worked.  The mistake was they thought even the dimmer folks would realize during global warming, it could get colder from time to time, especially in the places where it‘s not supposed to, like Tampa last month, when it got down to 28 here.  This guy missed it, obviously because he was more worried about putting global warming denial propaganda into the local weather forecast on the local freaking Fox station.  By the way, same night, that station had a segment, worms that might be growing in your brain. 

But our winner, Florida Democratic State Senator Larcinia Bullard (ph), who wasn‘t clear on the wording in a proposal by her committee to make bestiality illegal in the Sunshine State.  Florida one of only 16 states in which molesting an animal is still not a crime for some reason.  Miss Bullard supported the proposal, but was unsure about a provision contained within it.  The provision allowed for animal husbandry.  Quoting Bullard, “people are taking these animals as their husbands?  What‘s husbandry?” 

OK, a reminder, we‘re probably not paying our politicians enough money.  We seem to be losing the better candidates to the fast food industry.  They tried to explain animal husbandry, the science of breeding animals to Senator Bullard.  She didn‘t really get it.  Her follow up question, “so that maybe have been the reason the lady was so upset about that monkey?” 

Florida State Senator Larcinia Bullard, D of Miami, today‘s worst person in the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  In our number one story, Governor Sarah Palin‘s political machine, if you can call it that, may have taken a hit due to some simple and candid remarks, while Louisiana Senator David Vitter, of D.C. Madam infamy, reportedly engaged in an airport freak out that wreaks of both arrogance and cowardice at the same time. 

You may recall, Governor Palin managed to bring more attention to her daughter‘s Bristol‘s unexpected pregnancy by going into the Republican national convention, spreading the news that her daughter would marry the boyfriend, Levi Johnston.  The young couple was even trotted out for public viewing.

But Johnston‘s sister Mercedei (ph) has told “Star Magazine” that her brother and Bristol broke up more than a month ago and that he rarely gets to see his newborn son.  “People Magazine,” the Associated Press, “Access Hollywood” confirming the split.  Yet we have yet to hear from “OK!  Magazine.” 

All of it would be nobody‘s business if the governor had not tried so hard to insist on publicizing domestic blitz. 

Meanwhile, Senator Vitter of D.C. Madam infamy, unleashed a tirade when he missed a flight last Thursday from Washington to New Orleans, according to a tipster, describing the incident to “Roll Call.” 

Showing up 20 minutes before departure, Vitter found the gate closed, so he opened it, setting off the security alarm.  The senator then reportedly got into a don‘t you know who I am argument with an airline worker.  When that employee threatened to call police, Vitter initially welcomed the idea, perhaps thinking that would provide a better person with whom to pull rank. 

But when the employee actually left to fetch a security guard, Senator Vitter reportedly fled the scene.  No videotape of this incident unfortunately exists but use your imagination. 

(INAUDIBLE)

OLBERMANN:  Rough translation, don‘t you know who I am?  Let‘s bring in comedian Christian Finnegan, headlining at Comic‘s Comedy Club in New York City this Friday and Saturday night.  Christian, good evening. 

CHRISTIAN FINNEGAN, COMEDIAN:  Thanks, Keith.  That video never gets old. 

OLBERMANN:  Indeed, especially if you see Senator Vitter in it maybe wearing a wig of that hair style.  A quote from Senator Vitter on this, “after being delayed on the Senate floor, ensuring a vote on my anti-pay raise amendment, and in a rush to make my flight home for town hall meetings the next day, I accidentally went through the wrong door at the gate.  I did have a conversation with an airline employee, but it was certainly not like this silly gossip column made it out to be.” 

Would you—would you like to parse the senator‘s explanation for us? 

FINNEGAN:  This is good spin.  I think he should take it even further, like, yes, I was late for my flight, because I was introducing a bill to Congress to outlaw murder.  Do you like murder, because I, Senator David Vitter, do not.  Yes, I was upset that I missed the town meetings.  Do you know what the town meetings were about?  Puppies.  Not just puppies, Shar-Pei (ph) puppies with their scrunchy little faces.  But apparently Mr.  Airplane driver had a problem with that. 

OLBERMANN:  And he didn‘t mention—the other nice thing about this statement was he never used the words brothel or prostitute in there.  So that probably worked to his advantage.  He is apparently a paragon of credibility, except this one exception being when his name showed up in the phone records of the D.C. Madam in 2007.  Is there a reason we shouldn‘t take him at his word? 

FINNEGAN:  I think we should absolutely take him at his word.  This tirade was completely a result of Senator Vitter‘s desire to be a good public servant.  It had nothing to do Mistress Shandy‘s strict 24-hour cancellation policy. 

OLBERMANN:  Let‘s switch to Governor Palin.  By the time she revs up her 2012 presidential campaign, do you think she will have learned her lesson, and stop trying to apply the proverbial public band-aid to a messy little family issue?  If the daughter is preggers, just let her stay off stage, right? 

FINNEGAN:  Keith, I was extremely relieved when Obama and Biden took the White House.  No one in America was more relieved than Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston.  Can you imagine the pressure they‘ve been under.  Now, they can relax a little.  Bristol can live her life openly.  Levi can grow his mullet back.  Everybody goes home happy. 

OLBERMANN:  The governor, to be fair, has been off the radar lately.  At least she is sort of staying out of the picture.  Is she staying out of the picture because she knew this was happening, or is she staying out of the picture to get out of the way of the Michael Steele/Boss Limbaugh/Newt Gingrich/John McCain, GOP self-emulation series? 

FINNEGAN:  Keith, how familiar are you with the film “highlander?”  

OLBERMANN:  Not really. 

FINNEGAN:  Late ‘80s, third-tier action hero, Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery—

OLBERMANN:  No Sean Connery, unless he‘s doing an impression of me. 

FINNEGAN:  Sadly, no.  If you did, you would know there could only be one.  This is basically a big battle royal.  They are all cutting themselves off at the knees, heads rolling around.  And then Sarah Palin is keeping a low profile until she can emerge in 2012, otherwise known as “The Quickening.” 

OLBERMANN:  One last note.  We have to go back to the Vitter story.  The Hotline website is reporting that the TSA is now investigating Senator Vitter and the incident of the doorway at the gate.  So he is under another investigation.  I guess—I guess he is familiar with that, huh? 

FINNEGAN:  Listen, I understand why he took off.  I mean, how many times have I been on the phone with a credit card company debating a fraudulent charge, and then, all of a sudden, I realize I did buy that vintage Welcome Back Kotter lunch box.  I‘m like, I need to speak to your supervisor, click.  That‘s how it works.  

OLBERMANN:  Comedian Christian Finnegan, you can catch him this weekend at the Comic‘s Comedy Club.  Go to the Comedy Club, and if you can‘t get in, go to the Comedy Club. 

Thank you very much.  That is COUNTDOWN for this the 2,132nd day since the previous president declared mission in Iraq.  I‘m Keith Olbermann from Tampa, good night and good luck. 

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

END   

Copy:     Content and programming copyright 2009 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 

                Transcription Copyright 2009 CQ Transcriptions, LLC ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED.

                No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research.

                User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s

                personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed,

                nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion

                that may infringe upon MSNBC and CQ Transcriptions, LLC‘s copyright or

                other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal

                transcript for purposes of litigation.

Watch Countdown with Keith Olbermann each weeknight at 8 p.m. ET

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,