updated 4/1/2009 10:18:09 AM ET 2009-04-01T14:18:09

Guest: Steve Clemons, Seymour Hersh, Rep. James Clyburn, Jamie Hyneman, Adam Savage High: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

Spec: Politics; Elections

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

Americans who believe the country is headed in the right direction, the number has tripled since Obama‘s election.  New “Washington Post” polling also showing his approval at 2/3.  And yet the Republicans continue to rant in defense of their constituents: CEOs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, ® MINORITY LEADER:  I think the idea of the government telling anyone in the private sector who they‘ll employ and who they won‘t is deplorable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Meanwhile, FOX noise asks, why if the G.M. boss has been ousted, why not the head of the United Autoworkers?  And why haven‘t the unions been asked to give anything up?  I assume they mean asked again in the last hour.

Sy Hersh and the moles Dick Cheney may have left behind in the intelligence agencies and military.  Sy Hersh and Cheney‘s undermining of Obama to Israel.  Sy Hersh and Cheney‘s JSOC, Joint Special Operations Command, the death squad.  Sy Hersh and Bill O‘Reilly‘s passive threat, quote, “If Cheney really had such a crew, Hersh would have been dead a long time ago.”

Our special guest tonight: Sy Hersh.

The fudge-it comes out tomorrow, again.  The fudge-it, the Republican alternative to the budget—the one they put out last week only without any dollar figures.  Congressman Jim Clyburn joins us.

And the automobile industry is destroying itself while we watch?  Let‘s turn to the experts, the men who destroy automobiles for a living while we watch.

We reunite with the “Mythbusters,” Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman.

And Billo goes all yellow journalist on us.  He doesn‘t like that Spanish bid to indict six Bush administration figure for war crimes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, TV HOST:  So, here‘s the deal, Spain, unless this action is condemned by Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero, then I am not going to that country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Oh, no!  A one-man tourism boycott.  (SPEAKING SPANISH) close the sex shows!

All that and more—now on COUNTDOWN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O‘REILLY:  Oh, the bags under the eyes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

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

The American president not only voted into office overwhelmingly on a mandate of change, the American voters who did so are still approving overwhelmingly of that president‘s job performance.  Raising the question in our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: When Republicans in Congress and those who are either their media marionettes or their puppeteers advocate for President Obama to fail, when they admonish him as they did today for holding corporate CEOs accountable, who exactly do they represent?  From whom do they expect rewards?  And what kind of financially-stricken American future do they root for?

As Europe is getting its first visit from the new president of the United States, arriving in London today for the G20 Summit, Mr. Obama is still enjoying broad support for his performance here at home.  The number of Americans believing the nation is heading in the right direction is now having nearly tripled in the new “Washington Post” Poll in the 10 weeks since Obama took office.  The new president‘s job performance numbers are also strong.  Two out of three Americans surveyed approving of how he is handling his responsibility.

The public is seemingly blaming everybody but him for the current state of the nation‘s economy.  Far more Americans are trusting President Obama to fix it than they would the Republicans in Congress.

Boss Limbaugh, today, is describing the president‘s high approval numbers as tyrannical.  You heard me, tyrannical.  To quote him, “People love what he‘s doing with the economy.  Maybe we have descended into a nation that sort of loves the concept of soft tyranny.”

Boss Limbaugh is also hallucinating again, specifically embracing the vision that it is his job to save Americans from a president whom they love, adding about Obama‘s plans for General Motors and the economy, that “If Obama fails, America is saved.”

The folks at “fixed news” are doing their part to speak up on behalf of multimillionaire corporate titans, Gretchen Carlson asking, “Where‘s the union in all of this?”  Bill Hemmer saying (ph), “If you can fire the CEOs, why can‘t you fire the head of the union?”  Sean Hannity ranting, “I didn‘t see any union reps get told that they had to go out in this endeavor, because Barack Obama wouldn‘t anger his political base.”

Except, while the salaries and retirement benefits of middle-class union workers have been made vulnerable on the possibility of bankruptcy in Detroit, ousted CEO Rick Wagoner is guaranteed a pension and other payments totaling $23 million.  Nevertheless, House Republican Leader Boehner today is sticking up for Wagoner as if the CEO were the little guy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER:  I think the idea of the government telling any one in the private sector who they‘ll employ and who they won‘t is deplorable.  This is what‘s wrong—when government starts putting money in the private sector, they start to believe that they can write all of the rules.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Just terrible that they can force a hard-working businessman out of his job and into a future where his only means of support is his flimsy safety net, a mere $23 million in pensions and severance.  Who‘s thinking of the CEOs?  Won‘t somebody look out for the CEOs?

But the curtain now is coming down on the COUNTDOWN repertory theater.  Time to call on our own Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine.

Good evening, Howard.

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Against the context of those presidential approval numbers in “The Post” poll, let me ask you that rhetorical question in a realistic way.  Who are the Republicans representing at the moment and by whom do they think they will be rewarded?

FINEMAN:  Well, they think they‘re—they‘re not so much representing people in the first instance as their own principles.  They are trying desperately to recover what they think of as their first principles in what they regard as this hailstorm of government programs and spending that Barack Obama‘s proposing.  That‘s the only way I can describe it.

And on conservative radio, they‘re actually replaying Ronald Reagan‘s famous “Time for Choosing” speech from the 1964 Goldwater campaign, as they try to reorient themselves.  And frankly, they‘ve got a problem in part because of George Bush.  They‘re not so much opposing Barack Obama in some instances, Keith, as they are their own sour memories of George Bush, who they regard as a big spender who didn‘t create a real contrast between Democratic big spending and Republican big spending.

So, you got to give them credit on one level for trying to find their own principles.  It‘s just to say that they‘re politically tone deaf is a huge understatement.  It‘s as though they are ignoring politics as it‘s practiced as they desperately search for some direction.

OLBERMANN:  All right.  I‘ll give them the credit that you suggest is appropriate.  But how—but you wind up—even in any construction you put around it—they wind up being for corporate CEOs.

FINEMAN:  Yes.

OLBERMANN:  What is the political viability of representing corporate CEOs at a time when .

FINEMAN:  None.

OLBERMANN:  Go ahead.  None!

FINEMAN:  It‘s a triumph of abstract thinking over the merest politics.  I mean, it doesn‘t take a rocket scientist to know that you don‘t defend the CEO of General Motors, especially when according to the Republicans‘ own strategists, who I was talking to earlier today, they think that the American people don‘t like the auto bailout and there‘s a lot of evidence to support that.  So, if you think, logically, if the American voters don‘t like the auto bailout, they certainly don‘t like the CEOs who have forced the companies into the position where they need to be bailed out.  It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

And as one Republican leader told me today privately, he said, look, we have no leadership.  We just have none.  People like Boehner and others on the Hill are just sort of mouthing old rhetoric because they don‘t know where to go against a popular president who seems to pretty much have checkmated them all the way around.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, if they‘re going back to 1964 for the Reagan speech, the Goldwater campaign, I think defending .

FINEMAN:  Right.

OLBERMANN:  . the G.M.‘s CEO dates to about 1957, and what was his name, Robert Wilson .

FINEMAN:  Yes.

OLBERMANN:  . that what‘s good for G.M. is good for the nation.

FINEMAN:  Yes.  It doesn‘t make sense.  It doesn‘t make sense.

OLBERMANN:  No.  And it‘s not of the moment or any other last 50 years of moments.

But now, let‘s look at tomorrow.  Republicans are going to release this budget again.  I‘m going to—we‘re going to talk to Congressman Clyburn about that in about a half an hour.

But Citizens for Tax Justice looked at what the Republicans have outlined already and concluded that if that‘s what they are presenting tomorrow, it would cost $300 billion more annually than the Obama budget would.  In a political theater sense, are you looking forward to tomorrow as much as I am?

(LAUGHTER)

FINEMAN:  Yes, I am, and I‘m going to be on the Hill to see the echoes of that.  The problem that the Republicans have is that they‘re sticking to “tax cut first” philosophy, which had its moment.  It‘s had its heyday in the early Reagan years when a lot of the American people thought that government in fact had gotten too big, that there was a need to drain the swamp, as Ronald Reagan said.

We‘re now almost 30 years later.  We are in an entirely different world.  And the American people want what the White House calls affirmative government.

And I think that‘s true.  I think the polls show it.  And I think Barack Obama is trying to give it to them in every conceivable way here.

The Republicans haven‘t figured out how to find their old principles and yet speak to the needs of the American people today.  That‘s the basic problem they‘ve got and the budget is just going to reflect the fact that they haven‘t figured it out yet.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.  And tax cuts will not resonate when a lot of people either think or fear that they‘re going to get huge rebates from the government anyway because they‘re not going to be paying any taxes, because they don‘t have a job to pay taxes from.

FINEMAN:  Yes.  They‘re not going to have a job, they‘re not going to have a job to pay taxes on.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, exactly.

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

FINEMAN:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  For more on the president‘s first overseas trip, let‘s turn to Steve Clemons, director of the Foreign Policy Program and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, as well as author of the blog the WashingtonNote.com.

Steve, good evening.

STEVE CLEMONS, THE WASHINGTON NOTE:  Great to be with you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  The last time Mr. Obama went to Europe over the summer, he‘s still as a candidate.  The McCain campaign called him a celebrity, equated him to Britney Spears.  Of course, last week the minority whip, Mr.  Cantor, went to a Britney Spears concert the night of the president‘s news conference.

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  Not that the thing worked last year, but I‘m guessing that Mr. Cantor rendered that line of attack pretty useless this time around.

CLEMONS:  Oh, yes.  I think that Barack Obama is going over, but, you know, with the way he‘s going over right now, there‘s still a lot of anticipation about him, and, frankly, diplomacy‘s breaking out everywhere all of a sudden.  The Iranians, the Russians are stepping forward in ways.  So, maybe that celebrity-esque nature of Barack Obama is helping a bit.

OLBERMANN:  To the point of the Russian president, Mr. Medvedev wrote a “Washington Post” op-ed today saying he‘s ready to work with Obama on substantive issues.  Is that the overall tone internationally, the major leaders sort of pressing sort of a reset button when it comes to their attitudes, their approaches towards this country internationally?

CLEMONS:  I think so on the optics level.  What Russia and Iran have

both done is a bit more posture.  To some degree I think it‘s interesting

because they‘re stealing the show, frankly, on the eve of the G20 Summit on

other important issues, and showing that they‘re not recalcitrant, that

they can be brought in, that they can work on things.  But neither country

neither Iran nor Russia has proposed anything that‘s not very much in their interest.

But posture-wise, I think Barack Obama‘s very cordial tone internationally is affecting some other leaders that are coming back in the same.  And that‘s all good.  If you get the optics on the front end of this thing in good shape, then maybe substance can follow.

OLBERMANN:  But—I mean, at what point do the substances overwhelm everything?  Because obviously, we‘re already hearing of the sticking points inside the G20 over what to do.  There‘s—this country is—whether the Republicans like it or not—this country is firmly behind stimulus spending, priming the pump, any cliche you want to use.  The Europeans seem more hesitant about this and very sold on regulation, which doesn‘t seem to make necessarily a lot of fluid sense there.  Where does reality hit the “rock star” thing?

CLEMONS:  Well, I think what has to happen is, you need to watch the Germans, you have to watch the Chinese and see what they commit to, if anything.  Germany‘s in a problem.  Angela Merkel has elections in about six months and she‘s under pressure not to sort of blow the bank on the economy right now.

And they‘re using all sorts of excuses for not really doing more to help the Euro-zone countries.  Many of the peripheral countries, Hungary, the Baltic states, Latvia and others are really slipping as is Spain, and they are teetering on the edge.  And there‘s criticism of Germany that it‘s not doing enough.

I think Barack Obama has already said out, though, that he‘s going to go in as sort of a humble leader.  He‘s dropped the Bush swagger.  He‘s going to go in and try and show by example how much he‘s thrown at the economic problems and trying to nudge these others forward, and show that America can design itself to be more like a country that looks like Google and doesn‘t really look just like General Motors.

OLBERMANN:  And does this president have to do something about repairing our relations with Germany, particularly with Angela Merkel, and something to compensate for back rubs of previous administrations?

CLEMONS:  Well, I think Barack Obama has already begun to give her the room she needs to run politically.  I don‘t think you‘re going to see any back rubs or too much familiarity there, like President Bush did.  But I do think that President Obama has a very tough challenge because he‘s got to walk this line between being a leader and showing what we‘re doing and not being overbearing and trying to set an agenda for the world.

And to try to be a soft leader in this format, where you‘ve got Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Gordon Brown of the U.K., all competing for the spotlight frankly, is going to be a tough challenge for Barack Obama.

OLBERMANN:  So, there it is, to use the cliche, he has to—he has to rub the G20 leaders the right way.

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  Steve Clemons of the New American Foundation and the “Washington Note” foreign policy blog—thank you, as always, Steve.

CLEMONS:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  Some of President Obama‘s popularity, especially his popularity abroad, seems to have been fostered despite the best effort of ex-Vice President Cheney.  Seymour Hersh reported yesterday about that little bit of transition time undermining.  Now, there‘s an additional element, the prospect that Mr. Cheney may still have—to fall into the patois of spy novels—moles inside the intelligence agencies and the military.

Of all of his stories about Cheney, this may be the most disturbing of Mr. Hersh‘s: His roles in this nation‘s affairs ripped from Mr. Cheney‘s cold hands, and yet some people in this government at this moment still think that they can, they should, they must listen to him.  Sy Hersh joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Seymour Hersh on his latest revelation about Dick Cheney, the ex-vice president‘s lingering influence inside what is ostensibly the Obama administration.  As the Democrats compromise with their president on the budget, the Republicans are finally ready to show their math, we think.  Congressman James Clyburn joins us, too.

And Billo threatens UPS and Spain.

And the Illinois congressman who says, “Global warming—don‘t worry about it.  The dinosaurs, they had it much worse than we did.”

Worst Persons is ahead on COUNTDOWN.

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OLBERMANN:  For the last two months, the questions circling around Dick Cheney have all been in the past tense.  What did that guy do while he was still in power?

Tonight, in our fourth story: A stunning change in tense to present and future.  What is Dick Cheney still doing?  What will he do?  How will all of this affect our relations in the Middle East?

Earlier this month, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh, spoke publicly about a previous story on Cheney, amplifying his report that special forces in the Joint Special Operations Command, JSOC, were getting clearance for assassination targets, not through legal chains of command, but through Cheney illegally, and that Cheney blocked congressional efforts to learn more about the JSOC mission, rejecting clearance request from congressional investigators already proved for top-level clearance on other matters.

In the new issue of “The New Yorker,” Mr. Hersh reports that before the inauguration, when the president-elect was helping to persuade Israel to end its bombing of Gaza and withdraw ground troops, in private, Cheney was telling Israel not to trust Obama because he was, quote, “pro-Palestinian” and, quote, “not ready for the major leagues.”

But now we come to the reason for speaking of Mr. Cheney in the present and future tense.  In an interview yesterday with NPR, Hersh said that Cheney installed people called “stay behinds” at, quote, “a lot of agencies” who were not only reporting back to Cheney, especially in the military and national security, both keeping him informed and probably, Hersh says, up to a point still controlling policy, including even Bush/Cheney people still now working ostensibly in the Obama/Biden White House.

With us now is Seymour Hersh, whose article in Mideast peace process is in the new issue of “The New Yorker.”

Great thanks you for your time tonight, Mr. Hersh.

SEYMOUR HERSH, “THE NEW YORKER” MAGAZINE:  I think I‘m glad to be here.

(LAUGHTER)

HERSH:  The one-man gang against Cheney right here.

OLBERMANN:  Well, before we move to the broader issue about the Middle East, obviously, this is a—this is a concern on this issue of the “stay behinds.”  Do we have any what sort of dimensions we‘re talking about?

HERSH:  Yes.  Let me just tell you, put it in a different framework, which makes a little more sense, which is that a lot of the officers in America, senior officers are great guys.  The kind of guys you would go into a foxhole with.

But there are always a group that are political and who play kiss-up.  And so, inevitably, you‘re going to have a group of officers that got promoted ahead of the curve because they were closer and more friendly to Rumsfeld, to Cheney, and their policies.

And so, you have a group of people that were very loyal to the Rumsfeld/Bush/Cheney policies, who had been promoted in big jobs across the spectrum, which is not surprising.  They have a loyalty.  They, also, in many cases, firmly believe in the Cheney/Bush policies, you know, towards al Qaeda, et cetera—the tough stuff that was going on.

And so, these are people that Cheney could turn to.  And I don‘t think there‘s any question that when it came to naming cabinet officials and senior officials, Cheney, it‘s been demonstrated and written about quite openly—one thing about these guys, they aren‘t operating in secret about what they do.  They really tell you.  Cheney has enormous influence with a lot of the senior officers in the Pentagon, absolutely.

And—so I have been told, to put the word—it was the word that I was told about, what they call “stay behinds.”  He has people that he can count on, that keep him informed of what‘s going on.  But it doesn‘t necessarily mean he has much influence on policy, but he, certainly—certainly, in the Pentagon.  And I think because the—certainly, at the National Security Council, for weeks and weeks after the Obama administration took over, there was a long delay in getting stuff turned over.

So, there were a lot of people around in the first few weeks, in the first months of this administration that had served very closely with the Cheney/Bush operation.  Yes, that‘s all correct.

OLBERMANN:  Do you think it puts any kind of drag on the Obama administration‘s efforts to put us in place in the Middle East, in the sense of what sort of influence we should have there?

HERSH:  No, I think his appointment of General Jones was very shrewd, Jim Jones.  Putting a marine general in there who, as many in the audience might know, was very friendly to McCain, too, during his campaign and is considered to be a good listener.  I think that was a shrewd appointment.  I think that was a very cautious, shrewd appointment that ensured him of a lot more control from the Pentagon.

One of the things I do understand is that Gates among, Bob Gates, for whom I have a lot of respect, as most people do, he did want to keep some of his aides there.  That‘s one of the conditions that Obama acceded to, that some of the people who worked for Gates stayed there.

So, putting Jones in there gives him a grown-up in a place that he can control some of the military aspirations.  It was a shrewd—in that sense, it was a very shrewd move.

OLBERMANN:  Where are we, in fact, in the third month of this administration in terms of restoring this country‘s influence in the Middle East and making our weight count, both count and also in a lead to good ends?

HERSH:  Well, one thing that‘s marvelous is, obviously, we don‘t have Bush.  And as you—as we saw in the introduction to your program, in the news clips that there‘s an enormous change.  Howard Fineman was talking about that that this guy is—he does speak about mutual respect when he talks about the Iranians.

And also, as I wrote about this week in “The New Yorker,” he‘s made—he, through Hillary Clinton, who by the way also seems to be very much a player on this, it‘s a different language being expressed in the Middle East.  For example, the Syrians are told no longer that the Bush mantra was, you have to kick out Hamas, the radical group Hamas that withstood the Israeli assault in Gaza, has an office in Damascus.  And Bush used—that was a requirement for any discussion, we had to kick—Bashar Assad, the president of Syria, had to get rid of the office.

Obama‘s message, as I understand it, in meetings that we had with the Syrians, is much more subtle, much more sensible.  Look, we understand you‘re not going to embarrass yourself by kicking out a fellow Arab.  Well, we want you to let him stay but we hope you can moderate him, get him to be more conciliatory and get people talking.

And so, I think the mere presence of Obama—look, all of us are worried about—not all of us, but I certainly am worried about Afghanistan and that there got to be morass there—but in other places, he‘s got an enormous opportunity.  And that‘s what I was writing about in “The New Yorker” that with Syria willing to talk to Israel even after Gaza, there‘s a chance there to get a regional peace conference going, to bring the Iranians in, to, perhaps for the first time, make some sense of the madness of the Bush policy administration.

OLBERMANN:  Seymour Hersh, the author and investigative journalist of “The New Yorker”—it‘s been a pleasure.  Thank you for your time, sir.

HERSH:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Mr. Bush‘s legacy: democracies in the Middle East, the bulwark against terrorism.  In a moment, the democracy in the Middle East where consent has just been eliminated as a legal requirement for marital sex—another edition of Still Bushed.

And carbon dioxide levels may have been 10 times higher in the era of the dinosaurs, so, says an Illinois congressman, we have nothing to fear from carbon dioxide or global warming.  Yes, wait, didn‘t the dinosaurs die off?  Worst Persons is ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The congressman who cites both the Bible and dinosaurs to explain that there is no threat from climate change.  And Billo declaring war on Spain and UPS.  The Worst Persons in the World are coming your way.

To say nothing of the fudge-it—the Republican alternative to the federal budget, only this time, when they release it tomorrow, they‘re going to show they‘re mad—if any.

And the different kind of solution to the crisis in the auto industry from our friends the “Mythbusters,” Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, who will join me here.

But, first, because they may be gone but their deeds outlived them—the headlines lingering from the previous administration‘s 50 running scandals—Still Bushed!

Number three: War on terror my butt-gate.  In the bellicose narrative of the president, the former president, nowhere on earth was safe for anti-American terrorists.  He was going to smoke them out dead or alive except when he was helping them.

In the weeks and then months and then years after 9/11, after Mr. Bush outsourced the hunt for bin Laden and let him escape, Mr. Bush not only did nothing to get al Qaeda in Pakistan, he gave Pakistan billions of dollars, despite the well-known ties of ISI, its intelligence agency, to al Qaeda.  He actually endorsed a Pakistan/Taliban truce that gave al Qaeda safe havens there.

This weekend, the Pakistani newspaper assessed the hard-line U.S.  diplomacy of the first two months of the Obama administration and found, quote, “a major change in U.S. attitudes towards the ISI.”  Well, that‘s a start anyway.

Number two: Labor relations-gate.  A union complaint against the Bush administration has been upheld by an arbitrator ruling specifically that a Bush agency essentially forced its workers to volunteer between 2003 and 2006 by denying them overtime pay to which they were entitled, and giving them time off instead.  It was, the arbitrator found, a knowing violation of the Fair Labors Standards Act.  Which Bush agency would violate the Fair Labor Standards Act?  It was, of course, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  The Obama version of the EEOC says it will make the required changes. 

And number one, spreading freedom-gate.  The Bush strategy after 9/11 was not to actually get the people responsible, but to instead establish stable democracies and thereby deny safe havens to violent extremists.  Once Mr. Bush installed Hamid Karzai as Afghanistan‘s president, he no longer cared about getting bin Laden.  Afghanistan, after all, was now inoculated against Islamic extremism, due to the stabilizing grace of democracy.

Here‘s what democracy looks like when Mr. Bush props it up half-assed in a country of voters dominated by religious extremism.  Mr. Karzai has just rammed through without even legislative debate religious doctrine as the law of his hand, Shia family law.  Karzai has embraced it, in hopes of winning over religious factions before his August elections. 

Here‘s what democratic law looks like when Mr. Bush‘s appointee caves to his religious right—it makes divorce easier for men than for women; it gives men priority in court and preferential inheritance rights.  And then there is Article 132 of Shia family law—eliminating consent as a legal requirement for marital sex.  Put more simply, the new law from Bush‘s appointee in Bush‘s democracy, according to a U.N. report on the subject, quote, legalizes the rape of a wife by her husband.  Article 132, courtesy of the Bush march to freedom.

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OLBERMANN:  Tomorrow morning, House Republicans and Senate Republicans will finally reveal their budget.  And they will hold a rally.  The rally is no doubt to celebrate the fact that this time around, their budget has actual numbers in it.  Meantime, in our third stories on the COUNTDOWN, brought to you by the number three, President Obama having met once again with House Democrats, may be days away from having his budget passed, with certain differences from what he requested originally. 

The House minority whip, Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, will join us presently.  After the GOP‘s first budget reveal, which was a fiasco with legs, Republicans have now reportedly added figures, utilizing all possible digits, zero through nine.  The GOP alternative to be unveiled again after Republicans meet privately in the House chamber tomorrow morning. 

The Unity Rally on the steps of the House expected soon after.  Unity among Democrats would be enough to meet President Obama‘s imperatives.  And yesterday, he met with House Democrats behind closed doors.  The president was reportedly upbeat, down-playing differences between his proposal and what his party, including its moderate flank, is willing to give him. 

At issue, primarily, deficit containment.  He spoke to fellow Democrats for about 14 minutes and took questions.  The president stressed that his budget is tied to his economic strategy and that, once passed, it will fuel momentum towards a health care bill. 

Joining me now, as promised, the House majority whip, vice chair of the Democratic caucus in the House, Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina.  Great thanks for your time tonight, sir. 

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA:  Thank you very much for having me. 

OLBERMANN:  Yesterday‘s meeting, was it one last pitch by the president?  Were differences also hashed out?  How did it go? 

CLYBURN:  It was a very upbeat meeting.  I think that the president made it very clear to all of the members there that he understood what their anxieties were all about.  But he also lays out his vision in the budget, that is to do three major things. 

He wants us to do something about making health care more affordable and accessible and cheaper.  He wants us to make education more affordable, more accessible and cheaper.  And he wants us to do something about energy, laying the foundation for making energy affordable and accessible and cheaper.  And laying a foundation for us to get to energy independence in a reasonable amount of time. 

And so when it was all over, he had a Q&A and people got to ask the questions they wanted to ask.  And I think people were satisfied with his answers. 

OLBERMANN:  The end result of this, a lot has been made lately about the moderate plank in the party, the moderate flank, if you will.  There‘s a concern about the deficit, that it was forcing significant changes in the budget.  Yet, the president‘s budget director is saying the administration is getting 98 percent of his requests. 

CLYBURN:  Yes. 

OLBERMANN:  Is that an accurate number or is the truth somewhere in between the flank and the 98 percent? 

CLYBURN:  I think he‘s not getting the numbers he wanted everywhere. 

But in terms of what he wants in this budget, yes, he‘s going to get 98

percent of what he wants in this budget, if not more.  What he won‘t be

getting is the same level of expenditures, because there are people in our

budget—we cut it back by 1.5 percent in the so-called non-discretionary

non-defense discretionary spending.  We‘re about 1.5 percent less than what the president asked for. 

So I suspect that that‘s why they are using the 98 percent numbers.  I would suspect you have 98.5 percent of what he‘s asking for. 

OLBERMANN:  Congressman, do you have any idea what we‘re going to see tomorrow from the Republicans and this alternative budget take two, after last week‘s free dissemination of folders with nothing in them didn‘t go over so well? 

CLYBURN:  Well, you know, Keith, I hate to say this, but you know, if I‘m right, looking at my calendar, tomorrow is April 1st.  It‘s April Fool‘s Day.  And I think that that‘s pretty much what you got. 

This budget is a joke.  People saw what they did last week—and they‘ve thrown together some numbers.  They won‘t talk about what their projected deficit is going to be.  We all know that it‘s—it‘s going to be one.  So I don‘t believe that you can take this—this budget seriously at all. 

People have pretty much determined that Barack Obama has their confidence.  What, back in December about 15 percent of the American people said they like the direction the country was going in.  Today, we‘re at 42 percent, saying they like the direction this country is going in; 66 percent of the American people say they support Barack Obama‘s leadership here.  About 60 percent support his position on economic issues. 

So I think that the president is in a very good place and the Democrats are going to have to do what is necessary to help him stay there. 

OLBERMANN:  Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina, under difficult circumstances tonight, thanks to a traffic mess in Washington, with us by phone.  Great thanks for your time tonight, sir.   

CLYBURN:  Thank you so much for having me. 

OLBERMANN:  Always a pleasure.  Specifically regarding the auto bailout, new pictures of the industry actually in freefall.  Oh, no, a little joke.  Just a precursor of our moment of levity with our friends from “Myth Busters.”

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, a WTF moment.  Treasury Secretary Geithner‘s pick for his deputy is a guy who helped draft the centerpiece of the catastrophic deregulation of the financial industries.  WTF. 

And unless the Spanish repudiate possible indictments there of Bushes for war crimes, Bill-O says, then I am not going to that country.  Can we get him to make a similar comment about New York?  Worst persons ahead on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Never mind the Detroit auto bailout.  How about a Detroit auto blow up?  The “Myth Busters” are here.  That‘s next, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s number two story, tonight‘s worst persons in the world.

The bronze is shared by two men who we will identify in a moment.  They believe to stop drug use here, we need to adopt a system used in Singapore.  Public man number one says, “now, they have no drug problem in Singapore at all, because, number one, they hang drug dealers.  They execute them.” 

Number two, “the market is very thin because when they catch you using, you go away with mandatory rehab.  The United States does not have the stomach for that.”  So public man number two says, “I think it‘s time we get the stomach for that.  I would dramatically expand testing.  I would try to use rehabilitation.  I would make it mandatory.  I think we have every right as a country to demand of our citizens that they quit doing illegal things which are funding, both Afghanistan and in Mexico and Colombia, people who are destroying civilization.” 

Who are these dangerous men, proposing these socialistic, invasive, totalitarian measures that are used in some other country called Singapore?  Who wants to hang drug dealers and mandate drug tests and have federal drug rehab centers?  Maybe Barack Obama and Michael Moore?  No, Bill O‘Reilly and Newt Gingrich.  Bill apparently went to Singapore on one of his tours of the east, if you know what I mean.  And that Singapore, which has had one-party rule since 1959, has censorship and doesn‘t have jury trials. 

Our runner-up, a two-fer for Bill-O.  On his own, no Newt requited.  Not happy that a Spanish magistrate is investigating possible indictments on war crimes of six ex-Bush administration officials, led his show with an announcement, right from the files of William Randolph Hearst from 1898, “Spain, insulting the USA.”  Well, he knows how to fix that.  “So here‘s the deal, Spain. If this”—“so here‘s the deal, Spain: if this action goes forward, you‘ll be insulting American, implying we are the problem in the terror war.  Unless this action is condemned by Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero, then I am not going to that country.” 

That will show them!  The prime minister should issue a one-word statement, gracias.  Say, Bill, if we begin an investigation of these six Bushes in the U.S., will you promise not to go here either?  As promised, there‘s a Bill-O two-fer.  He also reiterated his delusion about the It Happened to Alexa Foundation, where Bill-O was thoroughly criticized for having the gal to address a fund raiser for rape victims, after twice publicly blaming rape victims, then sending a producer to stalk a woman who wrote a blog post about his hypocrisy.

UPS promptly dropped out as an advertiser in protest of Bill-O‘s victimization of Amanda Terkel of ThinkProgress.org.  That‘s not how he sees it, of course.  “Far left zealots have attacked a rape victim and her family because they asked me to speak at their fund raiser.  Democratic operative John Podesta and NBC boss Jeff Zucker allowed underlings to trash the It Happened to Alexa Foundation, causing Alexa Branchini and her family great distress.  Well, now we have some good news.  A charity has donated 20,000 dollars to help Alexa‘s cause.  And Raptor Technologies, which makes computer software, has donated 15,000.  

By the way, Mr. Podesta and Mr. Zucker have donated nothing.  One other footnote, disappointingly, the UPS Corporation helped Podesta and Zucker in their evil deed.  Czech is quite surprised.  UPS needs to wise up fast.” 

You saw what I did to Spain, UPS.  By the way, Jeff Zucker did not make a donation to the It Happened to Alexa Foundation because I did of 25,000.  Let‘s see if Bill really cares about the foundation enough to mention that on the air?   

But our winner, Congressman John Shimkus, Republican of Illinois, with two fascinating and utterly contradictory statements.  A, Congressman Shimkus on why there isn‘t global warming.  “Today we have about 388 parts per million of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere.  I think in the age of the dinosaurs, when we had most flora and fauna, we were probably at 4,000 parts per million.  There‘s a theological debate that this is a carbon-starved planet, not too much carbon.” 

Number one, Carbon and Carbon Dioxide are not the same thing.  Number two, the only theological debate over how much carbon the plan needs would be taking place in the church of the Labrea Tar Pits.  Number three, didn‘t the freaking dinosaurs go extinct?  Or do they just have a bad public relations person? 

But I‘m digressing.  B, Congressman Shimkus on why it doesn‘t matter anyway.  “The Earth will end only when God declares it‘s time to be over.  A man will not destroy this Earth.  This Earth will not be destroyed by a flood.  I appreciate having panelists here who are men of faith, and we can get into the theological discourse of that position.  But I do believe that God‘s word is infallible, unchanging, perfect.” 

So a man pressing a button to start a nuclear war, that would be God‘s infallible word?  Why do we bother trying to govern?  Can‘t he do something about the budget deficit?  By the way, as you hit me over the head with your Bible, Congressman, there ain‘t a word in it about those dinosaurs you mentioned earlier. 

Congressman John Shimkus of Illinois, today‘s worst person in the world!  Dinosaurs.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  With the American economy in tatters and domestic automakers scrambling to stay afloat, there‘s a lot of blame for a lot of failure to be spread around to a lot of people.  My next two guests have nothing to do with any of it.  Our number one story, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, the “Myth Busters,” representing a kind of two man stimulus package. 

After all, they have dropped more money on more explosives to blow up more stuff up in the name of science than the gross domestic products of most small countries.  On April 8th, “Myth Busters” begins its seventh season on the Discovery Channel.  In next week‘s demolition derby premier, Adam, Jamie and their build team do their part to help the ailing auto industry by making many cars go smashy-smashy, in an attempt to debunk several famous Hollywood car stunts. 

The busters are over here.  I will talk to them in a second.  First, a clip in which Jamie and Adam try to flip a bus that could not slow down, a stunt from that movie about a bus that would not slow down.  The movie, I believe, was called the bus that would not slow down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Despite the improvised and chaotic start, the test is still on track. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Holy crash, this is almost an adrenaline rush as when I was driving it.  Here it comes. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Here it comes. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Fade to black.  Jamie Hyneman on the left, Adam Savage on the write.  Co-host of Discovery Channel‘s “Myth Busters,” and virtually original guests on this program.  It‘s good to see you in person. 

ADAM SAVAGE, “MYTH BUSTERS”:  It‘s very nice to finally meet you in person. 

OLBERMANN:  We talked electronically, but never face to face. 

SAVAGE:  Indeed. 

OLBERMANN:  And nothing‘s going to blow up while you‘re here, right? 

SAVAGE:  We have not called the fire department.  We are off-duty. 

JAMIE HYNEMAN, “MYTH BUSTERS”:  They took all of our liquids.  We flew in. 

OLBERMANN:  Of course, it slows you guys down more than anybody else. 

SAVAGE:  They always swab or shoes, but I think it‘s just for sport. 

OLBERMANN:  What would you—the last time you were on, it was the occasion of department baseball blowup in Chicago.  If you could blow something up tonight, is there anything in particular you would be looking for? 

HYNEMAN:  Just be careful if you use the toilet. 

OLBERMANN:  Yes, but that‘s true even when you‘re not here.  That one in particular.  Now, our records, or your records—our records because we‘re reading them, say that you have destroyed 77 cars in six seasons.  So have you heard from President Obama to try to, you know, get you guys to buy more cars, destroy more cars and pump up both the overall economy and Detroit simultaneously? 

SAVAGE:  You know, a lot of people keep offering us cars, but we haven‘t gotten any offers from GM or the president yet. 

HYNEMAN:  I do want one of those planes that the executives use, though, now that they can‘t use them. 

OLBERMANN:  For an experience or just—

SAVAGE:  Oh, yes. 

OLBERMANN:  Or just to have? 

HYNEMAN:  We‘ll find some use for it. 

SAVAGE:  Yes, absolutely.  We‘ll make phone calls on it and see if we interfere with the avionics. 

OLBERMANN:  OK.  Now you did that once, didn‘t you? 

SAVAGE:  We did that—

OLBERMANN:  It was a million to one shot that you could line up on the same frequency? 

SAVAGE:  But the problem was, we couldn‘t actually take off in a plane. 

OLBERMANN:  Right. 

SAVAGE:  Because no amount—and we tried for months to get the permit, and we could not actually take off in a plane because no one wanted to take responsibility for it. 

OLBERMANN:  Wow, that sounds a little more ominous than your average experiment.  Back to the ground and cars, do you have a preference destroying domestic, foreign, American-built, hybrids?  What do you go for, anything? 

HYNEMAN:  It‘s always shrapnel to us. 

SAVAGE:  Yes.  We‘re pretty agnostic when what we‘re left with is a steaming heap of metal on the pavement. 

OLBERMANN:  So you described—we just discussed this idea that you couldn‘t do the experiment you really wanted to do on the plane, because nobody would take liability for it.  Is there anything with cars that‘s like that, that they won‘t let you do?  Or is it pretty much fair game on an automobile? 

SAVAGE:  It‘s been pretty much fair game.  We found test tracks and racetracks and empty deserts and pretty much everything we ever needed in order to test car myths. 

OLBERMANN:  No unfulfilled car blowup fantasies? 

HYNEMAN:  I‘m sure we‘ll figure something out that we haven‘t done. 

SAVAGE:  We got to redo the rocket car again.  We did rocket cars, one of the very first myths we ever did.  We revisited it a couple years ago and the rockets blew up on the ramp.  Apparently, we‘ve been offered some free rockets to try to again. 

OLBERMANN:  Now, when they blew up on the ramp, was this to your great disappointment or your eternal pleasure? 

SAVAGE:  No, it was awful.  Look, it‘s fun to be there.  But we had buttoned down so many hundreds of different of items just to make this work.  And the one thing we didn‘t have control over was those rockets.  And they were the one thing that failed. 

OLBERMANN:  There‘s—in the upcoming season, there‘s an Alaska special.  Do you actually touch on the Sarah Palin question, can you see Russia from Alaska? 

HYNEMAN:  We did.  And you can, but not from the mainland.  There‘s these little islands that are way out in the middle there, and you can—you can—

SAVAGE:  Off the coast of Alaska is Little Diomede, and off the coast of Russia is Big Diomede.  And you can see them from each other.  However, you‘re staring across the International Dateline.  So from Alaska, you can see Russia tomorrow. 

OLBERMANN:  So if you‘re doing it the other way around, you‘d be looking back in time. 

SAVAGE:  Exactly. 

OLBERMANN:  If she said that, she would have gotten herself and McCain elected.  I can see backwards in time towards my house.  Obviously, there are many things wrong with the campaign, but leaving that out was a new one that we just added to the list here.  All right, seventh year, six years complete.  Seven years of this.  Is there anything—is there any chance of running out?  Are you going to be without at some point or going into full repetition? 

HYNEMAN:  You know, I thought we were going to run out after the first three episodes. 

SAVAGE:  He did.  He called me up and he was like, well, that was fun. 

I really don‘t see where it could go.  That‘s pretty much it. 

HYNEMAN:  And now we‘re up to around 150 or so.  And there‘s just a world full of stuff to mess around with.  And I don‘t see any end in sight. 

SAVAGE:  We say, are people ever going to stop believing stupid crap? 

As long as they do, we‘ve got a job. 

OLBERMANN:  Well, I feel the same way about my line of work too, because I‘m out there trying to sort of blow those things up, in a matter of speaking. 

SAVAGE:  Exactly. 

OLBERMANN:  I said this to you guys in I guess 2003, so near the beginning, if not right at the beginning.  It‘s still one of the most original thoughts anybody ever had in putting together a TV show, let alone execution.  It‘s marvelous and remains such.  So congratulations on the anniversary. 

SAVAGE:  Thank you.  We‘re having more fun than ever. 

OLBERMANN:  Great.  Adam Savage, Jamie Hyneman, the “Myth Busters.” 

The seventh season debuts next week.  Great thanks for coming in. 

SAVAGE:  Thanks, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 2,152nd day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq.  Two vanity notes, it‘s six years to the day since we started this program.  Thank you for making us the most-watched show in cable news this year, not counting Fox.  Since you‘re already here, I‘m guessing that you don‘t.  That isn‘t news. 

Also, a big announcement here tomorrow night.  Sorry for the lack of specifics, but it will be worth your while.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, 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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