updated 4/2/2009 11:54:47 AM ET 2009-04-02T15:54:47

Guest: Richard Wolffe, John Dean, Maxine Waters, Chris Cillizza, Ed Schultz

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

The president at the G20 -- trying to find an escape for the world‘s economic problems or just serving as a scapegoat for the British media?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICK ROBINSON, BBC NEWS:  The prime minister has repeatedly blamed the United States of America for causing this crisis.  France and Germany blame both Britain and America for causing this crisis.  Who is right?

PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES:  I‘m less interested in identifying blame than fixing the problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  And when, Mr. President, did you stop beating your wife?

Just remember John McEnroe got treated even worst by the British media and with even less justification.

Case dismissed: The prosecution of former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens by the Bush administration DOJ—dropped.  The current attorney general, quote, “Horrified by the failure of prosecutors to turn over relevant materials to the defense.”  Is this the true measure of just how bad the Bush DOJ was?

The fudge-it has arrived.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN, ® WISCONSIN:  This is our budget, with real policies and real numbers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  And look, the Republican deficit is zero—April Fools. 

Even the GOP budget has a deficit of $1.7 trillion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN:  This is kind of weird, but I‘ve been reading federal budgets since I was 22 years old.  I know that‘s kind of sick.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  I‘m supposed to be surprised by that?

Palin versus Newt: A conservative conference books the governor as a keynote speaker, then she backs out, then they book him, then she says, “I would have made it if you‘d only waited for me.”

Worsts: Another FOX stalker.  This time, the victim is the son of David Brinkley.

And tonight: A very special announcement.  What—you want a hint?  How often do I not tell you exactly what‘s coming?  Just indulge me this one—all right, the announcement is about an ex-sportscaster who was born on January 27th.

All that and more—now on COUNTDOWN.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Pencils down.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

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

For President Obama in London tonight, the G20 Summit must look like a different world—the real one.  There is a bellicose conservative politician and he‘s threatening to walk out of the thing if the leaders don‘t agree on strident, aggressive, almost draconian re-regulation of the financial industry worldwide.

In our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: The very thought of that conservative, Sarkozy of France, must make the Mitch McConnells of this country feel like they‘re going to pass out.  And a sense that that might have come today also to Alberto Gonzales, when the Democrat now holding his old job said the Justice Department was guilty of misconduct in its prosecution of a Republican senator.

We begin in London.  The president starting his day with earlier breakfast meeting at 10 Downing Street, sitting down to discuss nuclear arms with Russian President Medvedev, talking about America‘s economic future with the leader of China, the president and the first lady also joining the queen and the Duke of Edinburgh for tea, giving the monarch an iPod, or obviously, because of the royal fondness for the certain pronoun which should in this case be a “We pod.”

The financial crisis overshadowing all of the diplomacy, however.  The usual protests that accompany such summit, today, no exception, with a particularly violent undertone—some of the ubiquitous bankers in the city, London‘s equivalent of Wall Street, heeding warnings to slop out the suits they would normally wear for jeans and sneakers in order to avoid being attacked.

President Obama having received no warning of the reception he would receive from the members of the news media that covers 10 Downing Street, in fact, Prime Minister Brown telling him he would be greeted by friends.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORDON BROWN, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER:  I said to Barack, I was going to introduce him to my friends in the British media.  Nick?

ROBINSON:  The prime minister has repeatedly blamed the United States of America for causing this crisis.  France and Germany blame both Britain and America for causing this crisis.  Who is right?

OBAMA:  I‘m less interested in identifying blame than fixing the problem.  And I think we‘ve taken some very aggressive steps in the United States to do so—not just responding to the immediate crisis, ensuring that banks are adequately capitalized, dealing with the enormous drop-off in demand and the contraction that‘s been taking place, but more importantly, for the long-term, making sure that we‘ve got a set of regulations that are up to the task.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The next British reporter to get a question wanting to know about Mr. Obama‘s desire for a greater global stimulus of a kind that European leaders seem reluctant to support.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM BRADLEY, ITV NEWS:  You‘ve committed a vast sum of your country‘s money to a huge fiscal stimulus and we had the clear impression that you wanted other countries to come in behind you a bit more strongly.  It appears that—we‘ve been told by the governor of the Bank of England, we can‘t do more for the moment and the French and the Germans won‘t.  Are you disappointed by that and are you actually still calling on other countries to go further?

OBAMA:  If there is going to be renewed growth, it can‘t just be the United States as the engine.  Everybody‘s going to have to pick up the pace and I think that there‘s a recognition based on the conversations that I‘ve had with leaders around the world that that is important.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Let‘s listen to all these funny accents, time now to call in our own political analyst, Richard Wolffe.

Good evening, Richard.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  No, we are not amused.  Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  The first joint news conference between an American president and British prime minister as according to tradition usually rather deferential, a few fireworks.  Instead, did the president seemed to be put on the defensive from the outset for a crisis that was certainly not of his making even if it might be attributed to his nation?

WOLFFE:  Well, he should, I would argue, have been better prepared.  Look, the British press is entirely predictable.  They are always contentious.  It doesn‘t really matter what the subjects of the contention is.  The idea is, you go out there and you get in the face of whatever politician you are talking to.

And frankly, I think the president look jet-lagged.  He certainly sounded as if he was suffering from some kind of head cold.  But that‘s no real excuse for I think a pretty lackluster performance.  Regardless of who was to blame and who‘s watch it started on, one of the things he has to project as president, especially at this time, especially when the rest of the world is looking for and desperately needs American leadership, is a sense of confidence about where he‘s trying to take them.

It‘s just as important as a press conference in the East Room of the White House to say—I have plan.  This is how we‘re going to get out of it.  We‘re going to work together to do that.

He seemed to be plodding through this one.  And some of those

questions—look, these international press conferences always reflect the

neurosis of the host country.  In this case, the British attitude is always

why on earth should we listen to you?  And really, he kind of struggled to answer it.

OLBERMANN:  The message, though, out of that briefing in between those questions and that deep psychological issue involving British reporters was the split .

WOLFFE:  Oh, yes.

OLBERMANN:  . with Germany and France over what to do about the economic crisis with Mr. Sarkozy having threatened to walk out over new rules about financial regulation, he says they‘re not negotiable—that this whole thing is being exaggerated.  Is it exaggerated or is this might be the end result of this G20 -- it‘s just a clash of what to do now in the face of crisis?

WOLFFE:  Well, it‘s a bit of everything with these things.  Yes, it‘s being exaggerated there.  Also, these foreign leaders playing for their domestic audience, that‘s why you got the histrionics.

If it goes beyond the stylistics of just jumping up and down for your national press, then, really, these foreign leaders are going to have to think about what is the best way to get to the end point.  Everyone agrees there needs to be more regulation, more oversight of these international financial institutions that have caused so much harm and caused their own government so much money.

The question is: Do you set up something new or do you use those existing bodies that are already there?  There are already international accounting standards and international banking standards that could be beefed up.  That‘s where the United States wants to go.  Do you have to set up something new?  Is it the mechanism or the end result that‘s really important here?

And I suspect Sarkozy is not going to walk out because of the mechanism.

OLBERMANN:  Nothing, not religion, not war—nothing realigns the international community faster than economic self-interest.  What are we seeing change as it‘s being presented at the G20, who are our new international BFFs and who are our new ex-allies?

WOLFFE:  Well, the truth is, every single one of those countries, in many ways, the ones who are most vocal are looking for America to lead the way here, because there is no recovery for the world without the American economy recovering first.  So, they all want to be America‘s best friend.

You are going to have people, especially Sarkozy, we were with Sarkozy over the summer on the campaign when that foreign trip that Obama took, and the man was positively pneumatic.  I mean, he looked like he was in love with Obama.  I suspect these vocal critics are cueing up to actually say, my best friend is Obama and he‘s got the right idea because we need him to succeed.

OLBERMANN:  Did the nature of the protests shift, too?  I mean, they have been directed at the financial community instead of the visiting president of the United States.  Is that a sea change in the relationship between the community of protesters and the U.S. foreign policy?

WOLFFE:  Well, they are a rag-tag group.  It‘s a bunch of anarchists and pacifists.  One thing that is very different here is there is no organizing principle.  Bush gave them a focus which was about the war.  It‘s even more disorganized than it normally is and there is no rallying cry.

So, you are getting the hardcore here of anarchists.  A lot of the regular folks who may have sympathized with them before when it was about Bush and about Iraq, they‘re really not there.  In spite of the numbers, these are kind of professional protesters who are—who are very active in Britain and, you know, should be listened to.  But they‘re not nearly as powerful a force as they used to be.

OLBERMANN:  And they‘re mostly people who couldn‘t get jobs with the British tabloids.

MSNBC political analyst, Richard Wolffe—thanks for not walking out on me.  Take care.

WOLFFE:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  The start of the G20 took the spotlight away from something absolutely shocking here today.  After eight years of a Justice Department in which if you did not prosecute people based on which party they belong to you got fired—we have a new Justice Department of which an attorney general appointed by a Democratic president has just overturned the successful prosecution of a Republican politician accomplished by President Bush‘s Republican prosecutors.

The conviction of Ted Stevens will be overturned at the Justice Department‘s request after Attorney General Holder determined there had been widespread prosecutorial misconduct.  The 85-year-old Republican senator convicted last year on seven counts of lying on a Senate disclosure form to conceal $250,000 in gifts and home renovations from an oil executive and others.

The big problem with the conviction: Attorney General Holder concluding that certain information that should have been provided to defense lawyers at trial and for use at trial was not.  The A.G. said to be horrified that the prosecutors withheld the evidence.  Because of that and because of Senator Stevens‘ age, Mr. Holder deciding to drop all charges, quoting from a statement, “I have determined that it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial.”

The senator‘s lawyers are calling the attorney general a pillar of integrity in the legal community and thanking him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRENDAN SULLIVAN, STEVENS‘S LEAD ATTORNEY:  The misconduct of the prosecutors was stunning to me.  Not only did the government fail to provide evidence to the defense that the law requires them to provide, but they created false testimony that they gave us and they actually presented false testimony in the courtroom.  We‘re very grateful to the attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder, for the decision that he made today to drop all charges against Senator Stevens.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  For reaction and interpretation, let‘s turn to John Dean, White House counsel under Richard Nixon, also a former associate deputy attorney general, now a FindLaw.com columnist and author of both “Worse than Watergate” and “Broken Government.”

Good evening, John.

JOHN DEAN, FORMER ASSOC. DEPUTY ATTY. GENERAL:  Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Attorney General Holder began his career in the public integrity section of the Justice Department.  When he is said with that kind of background to be horrified, how egregious must this conduct have been?

DEAN:  Well, it must have been very egregious.  This is a surprising situation.  The Supreme Court long ago, Keith, set the general duties of any prosecutor, any federal prosecutor to never impede the finding of the truth.  And that appears to be what‘s happened.  Holder, who has known, for example, the judge on this case, Emmet Sullivan, since they both sat on the bench together years ago, is not any kind of anti-establishment type judge.  He is very sound.

So, I‘m sure Holder has had his antenna up to this case ever since he arrived since there‘s an outstanding contempt citation against senior department prosecutors as a result of Sullivan holding them in contempt for earlier action.

OLBERMANN:  Any hand-wringing over Stevens sort of beating the rap, although I think that‘s probably not a fair construction here, but is the point that whatever he did, misdemeanor or felony or slap on the wrist subject.  It‘s almost besides the point when there is misconduct like this in a democratic system of justice, there is no choice, right?  You don‘t withhold evidence from the defense no matter what.

DEAN:  That is correct.  The Supreme Court has spoken on that as well under a case called Brady versus Maryland back in ‘63.  They said—the government really has a duty to turn over anything that is materially relevant to the defense of that defendant and has to be produced.  I think we can‘t say at this point until we know what evidence, indeed, was withheld.  Whether Stevens beat the rap or maybe he was set up, which is an awful prospect.

OLBERMANN:  How refreshing is it, again, to look at the Justice Department and see justice and an attorney general at the helm of this where it‘s not just the rule of law is followed rather than politics at any cost.  In fact, if you were to really look at this, it‘s the rule of law prevailing even though there might be some political embarrassment to one party over the other.

DEAN:  Well, these are—these are all career prosecutors.  And typically, they‘re apolitical people.  And I‘m sure Eric Holder wants to keep it that way.  I think what he‘s done today and—that‘s very encouraging is he sent a message—he sent a message to all these career people that we‘re going to play by the rules now.

And I think things have gotten a little loose and slack under prior attorneys general during the Bush years.  And Holder has used this very effectively by indeed starting an investigation at the Office of Professional Responsibility as well.  This sends a very clear message to his team and his prosecutors as to the conduct of his department.

OLBERMANN:  And that other message in the broader sense, does it say anything about the attorney general‘s conduct in this Stevens case, does it speak to whether his department might proceed in investigations of torture under President Bush or at least, does it speak to what level of integrity it would bring to an investigation like that if it chose to proceed?

DEAN:  It certainly speaks well for the new attorney general, Eric Holder.  And given the conduct that he‘s shown in this instance and already, since his—during his confirmation proceedings, I think, Keith, it‘s going to be very difficult for him not to proceed with an investigation—particularly when you have things going on like they are in Spain, where a judge has referred a complaint for investigation as to whether Bush officials indeed did commit torturous acts.  And this kind of pressure will force the Obama administration sooner rather than later to get off the dime and make a decision about this.

OLBERMANN:  John Dean, the author of “Worse than Watergate” and “Broken Government”—as always, John, great thanks.

DEAN:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  OK.  What‘s got fudge in it and it‘s often presented with nuts nearby and now has numbers added to it.  I mean, besides brownie ice cream from 31 flavors at 300 calories a serving.  How about the Republican alternative budget which addresses their party‘s unspeakable dread of deficits by offering a $1.7 trillion deficit?  With sprinkles on it!

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Their first attempt was the political equivalent of taking the math SATs and submitting a bunch of essays.  Today, take two on the Republican fudge-it, and the GOP version of the budget is not much better even with the numbers.  After railing against Obama for trillions in deficit, the Republicans offered trillions in deficits.  Congresswoman Maxine Waters joins us next.

Later: The Palin-Gingrich rift.  And Joe the Plumber quizzed about the Employee Free Trade Act, he admits he doesn‘t know what he‘s talking about.

Plus, the promised big announcement.

All ahead on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Given that today is April Fools‘ Day, it was tempting to start our segment on today‘s Republican budget announcement by saying they propose to, I don‘t know, dismantle Medicare, increase Bush tax cuts for the rich, stop stimulus spending—except, in our fourth story tonight:

All of that actually happened.

Last week, to prove they are just not the “party of no,” Republicans produced their own budget, the now famous fudge-it, notoriously free of any numbers.

Today, ranking House Republican Budget Committee member, Paul Ryan, unveiled an actual budget, with numbers.  In predicting criticism, you may note Mr. Ryan does not actual deny engaging in class warfare.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN:  You‘re going to hear a lot of echoes of class warfare.  You‘re going to hear allegations of draconian spending cuts.  You are going to be told that there is no viable choice for America other than to embrace the president‘s radical fiscal agenda.

Let me respond to that right now.  Using class warfare to take advantage of people‘s legitimate anger and anxiety—it may make good politics but it‘s not leadership.  Preying on people‘s emotions of fear and envy, it doesn‘t create jobs.  It demoralizes the small business people who are trying to become successful and it demonizes the small businesses that are successful that create most of our jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  He did not specify which small businesses had been demonized, so we can‘t say whether he meant AIG or Citigroup.

But if the previous fudge-it had too few numbers, the new fudge-it, the double fudge-it, if you will, seems to have too many.  This is Mr.  Ryan‘s chart, comparing his government spending through the year 2080 against Obama‘s based on estimates from the CBO, the Congressional Budget Office.  Except, the Atlantic.com reports the CBO estimate actually ends in the year 2019.

So, where did the skyrocketing Obama line come from?  According to “The Atlantic,” it seems Ryan got his numbers from a 2007 estimate of the Bush budget outlook long, long term.  That and the CBO itself says there is considerable uncertainty about its projections for the year 2080.  Understandable considering this would be 17 years after we first make contact with the planet “Vulcan.”

For their part, Democrats responded by looking to the past.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN SPRATT, (D) BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN:  If you want to make sure you‘re voting for deficit reduction that‘ll be carried out, accomplished, effected, our party is the party that balanced the budget in 1998, paid off $400 billion in debt and presented President Bush with a gift that no president in recent times has enjoyed—a surplus of $5.6 trillion.  We wiped out the deficit; they wiped out the surplus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  A pleasure to be joined again tonight, from Washington, by Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California and the Financial Services Committee.

Much thanks, as always, for your time, Congresswoman.

REP. MAXINE WATERS, (D) CALIFORNIA:  Delighted.  Thank you for having me on.

OLBERMANN:  Congressman Ryan‘s budget offers lower deficits, lower spending, lower taxes, and at least 2 million more jobs.  Apparently, he forgot to include the pony for everybody.

WATERS:  Well, I think you described exactly what‘s happening with this budget.  First of all, it doesn‘t have many numbers in it.  Secondly, this does nothing but rehash the same old Bush policy and those are the policies that drove us into this recession that we‘re in, the worst job creation in the last 75 years.

In addition to that, they have the audacity to continue to give big tax breaks to the wealthiest people in our society.  Another $4 trillion worth of tax breaks on top of the already Bush tax breaks that‘s in the system.

And so, it‘s unrealistic.  They don‘t talk about how they‘re going to have this trillion dollars more in cuts.  And I think it‘s—it is laughable.

OLBERMANN:  Why would—and we heard Congressman Ryan seem a little on the defense right from the beginning there - why would Mr. Ryan think anybody was going to accuse him or draconian cuts?

WATERS:  Well, I don‘t know why he thinks that he would be taken seriously.  This is worse than draconian.  This particular plan will take away funding for Medicare, for Medicaid.  It would even reduce and eliminate some people who are available—I mean, who are eligible now for Social Security.

And so, when you take a look at the tax cuts for the rich, pulling the safety net out from under the most vulnerable in our society, and you also understand when you look at this budget that there‘s no way that they can accomplish what they are saying they are going to accomplish—and they didn‘t even try and put the numbers with it—you recognize that not only is it old Bush plan rehashed, but this is what got us into the recession that we are in now and they would take us into a depression with this kind of budget.

And so we, the Democrats, have the budget that Nancy Pelosi describes as the blueprint for economic recovery, where we talk about how we are going to invest in Head Start, what we are going to do about health care and education and housing.

And so, this budget that they‘re presenting, the Republican budget, is a budget that is absolutely shameful.  We left Bush with a surplus.  Not only did he get rid of that surplus and spend like a drunken sailor, they took us into deficit.

And so, I don‘t think the American people are going to buy what they are attempting to sell because they are not even doing a good job of selling it, trying to put it out there without numbers.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.  And especially—I mean, Congressman Ryan doesn‘t look like he doesn‘t know what he‘s talking about.  He doesn‘t look like he is a slave to dogma.  He doesn‘t look like he‘s a pure politician the way much of the Republican leadership is.  And yet, he‘s out there saying, just as you suggest, that this thing amounts to—remember how well the Bush tax cuts stimulated the economy?  I mean, purely as political strategy, how would you assess this move?

WATERS:  Well, I‘m just surprised that they would come back with the same old thing.  I‘m also surprised that not only are they giving away these tax cuts to the richest Americans in our society, they are trying to make sure that they keep the subsidies for the oil and gas industry of this country.  In the president‘s budget, he‘s taking out that $31 billion worth of subsidies for the oil and gas companies.

And so, this budget that the Republicans are offering is not credible.  It is not possible to execute it in the way they are talking about it.  And I just don‘t think the American people are going to buy it.  And I don‘t know what their political strategy is because you certainly can‘t fool the people with these budgets—this budget that they are coming forth with.

So, I think it‘s a—you know, just throwing something out there.  People have been waiting for days to see what the budget is from the Republicans.  They said they were going to have an alternative.  The first time they rolled out, it was certainly with a folder with nothing in between.  And then they roll back out with very few numbers and, of course, targeting, you know, tax cuts again for the rich, pulling the rug out from under the most vulnerable, saying nothing about what they‘re going to really do about economic recovery.

And you said it, too.  They are going to do away with the stimulus plan that‘s designed to put money into our economy, create jobs, repair our infrastructure and get us back on the road to a solid economy again.

OLBERMANN:  Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Democrat from California—as always, Congresswoman, it‘s a pleasure.  Thank you for your time.

WATERS:  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

OLBERMANN:  Meanwhile, in Glenn Beck news—oh, no, I‘m sorry, I got the wrong script.  That‘s what I look like to Glenn Beck.  Yay!  Fire-breathing robots.

And another fixed news stalking incident—why bother inviting people on your show when you can just act like a flasher jump out of the woods and ambush them?  Worst Persons ahead.

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OLBERMANN:  Our big surprise announcement coming up.  First on this date in 1927, the great and versatile American actor William Daniels was born.  He has played everything from the satirical superhero Captain Nice to the impossible Dr. Craig on “St. Elsewhere” to the voice of the car in “Nightrider” to Dustin Hoffman‘s father in “The Graduate.”  He has portrayed such diverse historical figures as John Adams, his President John Quincy Adams and G. Gordon Liddy.  Happy birthday, William Daniels. 

Let‘s play Oddball.

We begin in Tokyo, where the computer virus has taken on the form of a giant fire breathing robot.  Run for your safety.  It‘s a sort of kinder, gentler mega Godzilla, part of future week in Tokyo‘s Rapungee (ph) neighborhood.  His name is Grand Trian.  While it is not clear what those giant golden nipples are all about, I can tell you the aluminum flame bot stands about 25 feet, is part of an effort to transform the entire neighborhood into an alien, robot themed wonderland.  He blogs.  It‘s an alien, robot themed wonderland.  In other words, Lou Dobbs‘ worst nightmare. 

To Newark, Ohio, where 28-year-old Kyle Weedley (ph) just wanted a night out with the guys.  Is that too much to ask?  Fifteen beers later, and a spin on the old motorized bar stool, apparently yes, that was too much to ask. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  911. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I have a friend here who wrecked a bar stool.  Hit the pavement with his head. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK.  But he fell just from the bar stool. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No.  He was riding the bar stool. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A motorized bar stool. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘re sending a squad over there for a gentleman who wrecked in a motorized bar stool.  He got head lacerations and he‘s alcohol on board.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  All right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Weedley told police he was only doing 20 miles an hour on his motorized beer stool when he ate it.  He went on to fail a series of field sobriety tests and was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated.  Still, Mr. Weedley‘s thirst remained unquenched.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Actually, I drank quite a bit after I wrecked because my head hurt so bad.  I went in and I drank a half a bottle of whiskey. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The circle of booze was thus complete.  That was tonight‘s big announcement.  When I say it was, of course I mean it wasn‘t.  It is still to come, along with the latest editions of the perils of Palin; the keynote at the latest conservative conference she backed out of, and they had to get Newt Gingrich.  Now she says she would have backed in if only they had waited for her.  This is the most reliable Republican.  Next on COUNTDOWN.

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OLBERMANN:  A major GOP fund-raiser, a keynote address for a Republican rising star; our third story tonight, that rising star is Newt Gingrich?  A battle royal brewing over the GOP‘s annual Senate/House dinner Washington.  The original rising star slated to speak at the June fund raiser was none other than Governor Sarah Palin.  The Republican committees in charge of planning that dinner trumpeted Palin as the keynote speaker in a media release in mid March. 

Then the governor‘s spokesman told the “Anchorage Daily News” that Palin agreed to no such thing.  Also part of the mix and subsequent mess-up, Palin‘s political action committee, Sarah Pac, spokeswoman Meg Stapleton firing off this one, “enthusiasm during a scheduling meeting among Sarah Pac members to discuss events that we thought the governor should consider attending was misinterpreted as a confirmation of attendance.” 

A spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee responding, “after initially confirming her attendance, Governor Palin‘s team informed the committee that her gubernatorial responsibilities in Alaska prevented her from committing until the end of the legislative session.” 

One GOP official remarking of Palin and her team, quote, “she was a disaster.  We had confirmation.”

Paging Newt Gingrich.  Expressing their delight in Governor Palin being replaced by Mr. Gingrich, Palin‘s PAC claiming no hard feels, except, “she would probably have said yes if they could have waited.” 

Meanwhile, never one to wait himself, the GOP‘s de facto mascot, Joe, not Joe the Plumber, not really a plumber.  Touring the state of Pennsylvania as a shill for the conservative group Americans for Prosperity to campaign against the Employee Free Choice Act, which would protect labor unions from anti-union intimidation. 

At a rally in Harrisburg, Mr. Wurzelbacher, probably wishing he still had his Snuggie to protect him, had a hard time articulating exactly why he was there. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What is the difference between the National Labor Relations Act and the Employee Free Choice Act. 

JOE WURZELBACHER, JOE THE PLUMBER:  I know a little about a lot.  I know a little about a lot of things.  I don‘t know a lot about everything. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Joining me now, White House reporter for the “Washington Post” Chris Cillizza.  Good evening, Chris.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Good evening, Keith.  Great Snuggie reference.

OLBERMANN:  Thank you very much.  If you are going to ask Joe the Plumber to speak on your behalf, shouldn‘t you give him some sort of research packet before you send him out into the cruel world, or something he could write on his wrist and cheat off of? 

CILLIZZA:  This was not I think what the group who sponsored Joe the Plumber had in mind.  The problem is Joe the Plumber is someone that John McCain used during the campaign as the image of the every man.  Now, Joe the Plumber is trying to take advantage of the fact he was used as the image of the everyman.  When you go to an event like this at the state capital, and you admit no, in fact, you have not read the Employee Free Choice Act, you sort of undermine your credibility. 

OLBERMANN:  First Read reported that Governor Palin is going to be speaking at Vanderburg County, the right to life fund-raiser there at Evansville, Indiana in April.  So she pulled out of this national party fund-raiser in June, because she wouldn‘t be finished with Alaska state business by then.  Unless they‘re using a different calendar there, is not April still before June?  Why would she go to a county fund raiser in Indiana, rather than the Senate/House GOP dinner?

CILLIZZA:  Keith, I don‘t know the answer to that.  This has been a—this whole congressional fund-raising dinner was something that should have been a feather in Sarah Palin‘s cap.  She is someone who is very desired in terms of fund-raising ability by Congressional candidates, by Congressional committees.  Yet, as you mentioned, right off the top, it was announced and then her spokesperson said, well, wait, no, it is not confirmed.  Then we waited two weeks and then she either pulled out or was pushed out.  We‘re not totally sure how that went down.  It wound up becoming this public relations disaster that it, frankly didn‘t need to be. 

OLBERMANN:  What is Newt Gingrich‘s role in all this?  Does he see this as an opportunity to push himself as a candidate in ‘12 or ‘16? 

CILLIZZA:  I never underestimate Newt Gingrich‘s ambitions.  I don‘t say that in a bad way.  He clearly is someone who believes he has a voice that needs to be heard on the national level.  It is smart for Newt Gingrich to step in here at the last minute.  He wins plaudits with members of Congress, with operatives, with those kind of people who are making decisions in this early going about who should be considered a serious candidate for president. 

OLBERMANN:  Last point here on Palin; the governor last week sparred with members of her own party.  And she had this fight in Alaska over the cancellation of a meeting that she passed the blame.  And now there is this.  These are not media fault kind of things.  Does she have political advisers and does she listen to them? 

CILLIZZA:  Keith, here‘s the problem, some does have political advisers.  But some are in her governor‘s office in Alaska, some are with this Sarah Pac, this new political action committee in Washington.  It appears as though—the last month has shown to be the case.  It appears as though they do not communicate well with one another.  One group, the Sarah Pac group, clearly thought she was doing this Congressional fund-raiser.  The official office clearly thought she was not doing the fund raiser. 

Again, this is politics 101.  If this is someone who wants to run for president in 2012, and I do think, despite everything that has happened, she still has a foot in the door, because the base of the party loves her.  She needs to clean up her game.  These are things that can‘t happen for a candidate at this level. 

OLBERMANN:  White House reporter for the “Washington Post” and its blogger extraordinary, Chris Cillizza, who is not tonight‘s big announcement.  Thank you, Chris.

CILLIZZA:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Have I mentioned yet that we have a big announcement coming up.  It is big.  It is an announcement. 

Then when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, her exclusive sit down interview with Colin Powell, who absolutely rips into this new GOP budget plan. 

Speaking of which, one of tonight‘s worst persons in the world pretends that clean energy will cost each American family 3,100 extra dollars a year.  The figure is actually about one 145th of that.  Nice going, Boehner.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Our special announcement; he is out in the hallway getting makeup.  That‘s next, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s number two story, tonight‘s worst persons in the world. 

The bronze to Fixed News junior stalker producer Griff Jenkins.  Ambushed Professor Alan Brinkley at Columbia University because he didn‘t like something that was in one of Brinkley‘s textbooks and he didn‘t like something that wasn‘t in one of Brinkley‘s textbook.  Jenkins said his methodology was, quote, worthy cause.  And the paragon of journalism at Fox, Steve Doocy, congratulated him.  “Good enough.  Real good job there.  Who are you going to hassle next?” 

It turns out the thing Jenkins thought wasn‘t in the book, it was.  He was just too stupid to find it.  Only after the stalking, says Professor Brinkley, son of David Brinkley, by the way—only after it did Fox invite him to appear on one of its phony news shows.  After the hunting of Amanda Terkel of Think Progress, this is apparently Rupert Murdoch‘s new policy;

Fox, the home of news terrorism. 

Speaking of, our runner up, Bill the Stalker, telling the “Milwaukee Journal Sentinel” that because I criticize him, because I accurately quote him, MSNBC is guilty of, quote, industrial sabotage every single day.  And nobody reports it.”  We are not in the same industry, Bill.  Over here, we do news. 

Of me he says, “he and his ilk are assassins.  They‘re character assassins.”  Again, your definition of terms all wrong.  You have no character.  Therefore, nobody attacking you could possibly be a character assassin.  Interesting that Bill-O also gave away this nugget.  He claims he never watches MSNBC, but “I get a clip file every single day.  The clip file has in it all attacks on Fox News personnel from all the media around the country every single day of the year.  On NBC‘s air, Fox News is attacked.  Every day, news reporters are attacked.  Executives are attacked.  Show hosts are attacks every day.  This is a concerted attack to marginalize, to demean, to defame.” 

Whenever Bill is not man enough to do it himself, so he sends somebody else to stalk one of his critics, their line of attack is always the same: the critic has no right to criticize because they did not actually watch or listen to the whole of Bill‘s show, which, as Bill just said, is exactly what Bill does. 

But our winner, House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio.  We assume that when it comes to politicians and math there is going to be some lying.  But lying to the tune of 140 times the truth?  Boehner‘s criticism of the Obama‘s proposals on cap and trade, making energy in this country as green as possible, includes this statement: “anyone who has the audacity to flip on a light switch will be forced to pay higher energy bills thanks to this new tax increase, which will cost every American family up to $3,100 per year in higher energy prices.” 

That is true if your family is a large one, say 101 people.  Boehner has taken a research study done two years ago at MIT on the affect of cap and trade on energy prices and he has lied about it.  The number in the study was not up to $3,100 per family.  It was up to $31 per person.  And even that would not kick in until 2015. 

So the average additional cost per family six years from now would be 79 bucks, minus however much foreign gas prices would drop based on decreased demand, and minus the lowered health care, because of the cleaner atmosphere.  Thirty one bucks, 3,100 bucks, it‘s all the same to Congressman John the mathlete Boehner, today‘s worst person in the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Many times I have been asked, what are the qualifications of getting your own night time political show on MSNBC?  This evening, finally, I have more than just theory and arts, fartsy persiflage with which to answer that question.  I have something of statistical substance to work with.  Apparently, if you are an ex-sports caster born on the 27th of January, you are in, because there are now two of us.

Our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, as of right now, MSNBC is proud to announce we will be premiering a new news hour on this network next Monday at 6:00 p.m. Eastern, 3:00 p.m. Pacific.  It is called “The Ed Show.”  Here is Ed, Ed Schultz, who is, of course, America‘s most listened to progressive radio voice. 

ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Keith, my pleasure.  It is great to be on your team.  I have never been this excited.  This is something I have wanted for a long, long time. 

OLBERMANN:  I was just going to say, after 30 years in broadcasting, you are an overnight success. 

SCHULTZ:  Isn‘t it great, in America, you can achieve goals at this time.  I‘m excited about it.  And I appreciate the opportunity. 

OLBERMANN:  But really, another ex-sports caster born on January 27th

What is that something in the ground water, the stars?  What is this? 

SCHULTZ:  I don‘t know.  I have to check that out.  I have got to check how the stars were that night or whatever.  It‘s interesting that we do have similar backgrounds.  And also I think a pretty good appetite for what is going on in America right now. 

OLBERMANN:  You‘d have to.  That addresses my first point here.  So my bosses come to you and say, A, would you like an hour of television on national TV every night.  And B, what would you do with it?  Because you‘re sitting here, we know what the answer to A was.  What is the answer to B?  What is this going to look like?

SCHULTZ:  What is on the kitchen table of America?  What is really on the hearts and minds of the American people.  I would like to take the passion I have on the radio show and bring it to the screen.  I‘m honored to be a part of the MSNBC lineup.  You have done a phenomenal job starting year number seven, Chris Matthews.  Rachel is just on a tear.  I am just honored to be a part of that line up.

I want to talk about the American people.  I think there has been an attack on labor in this country for the last 30 years. 

OLBERMANN:  You betcha. 

SCHULTZ:  I think it‘s all unfolding right on the kitchen table.  When you look at health care expenses, you look at energy costs, you look at what it costs to run a family today, and the structure of the family is under attack because of the economy.  We have to do something about it.  So the cultural issues, got to drop in a little sports because of the January 27th thing and commentary. 

OLBERMANN:  Go right ahead. 

SCHULTZ:  It is Ed because I don‘t have all the answers, but I will still be Ed. 

OLBERMANN:  I have always thought that a show in this environment will only succeed if the host going in can see it in his mind.  Do you see your show?  What does it look like? 

SCHULTZ:  I see my show being news makers, timely, topical, what is on the minds of the American people, what are the people talking about at the work place, the water cooler.  Also, it‘s got to have passion.  This is who I am.  This is what I believe in.  I don‘t have all the answers, but I‘m an American and I love this country and this is what I believe where we have to go with the middle class. 

There will be a strong focus on the middle class on “The Ed Show.”

OLBERMANN:  You have the conundrum all of us have.  As this thing gets more and more successful, the show has got to look like a relative of all the other shows right before it, right after, but not too much.  I mean, Chris is the political inside baseball guy.  Rachel is the affable, charming policy wonk.  I‘m the A-hole.  What are you going to be? 

SCHULTZ:  I‘m the guy who represents people who take a shower after work.  I‘m going to be that guy who is going to be there for the working folk of America.  I‘m a staunch supporter of unions.  I do believe the American people can pull out of this.  We have the heart.  We have the desire. 

I just went through that in the last few weeks in Fargo, North Dakota, where I saw unselfish Americans.  I think, Keith, we have been living in the most selfish generation over the last eight years.  What I saw, KFGO Radio, and the unselfish of 80,000 volunteers diking 35 miles of river to save their town; that‘s the America I know.  That‘s the America I want to help bring to MSNBC. 

OLBERMANN:  Have you seen the promo yet? 

SCHULTZ:  They showed it to me and I said, that is some other guy.  Is that really Ed?

OLBERMANN:  Let‘s take a look at the promo.  Roll that, Brian. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Premiering Monday, America, you‘re better off Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  Did I hear that? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  From op-ed. 

SCHULTZ:  What do you mean you don‘t have the votes? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  To Ed strong. 

SCHULTZ:  It is payback time. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He hits the nail on the Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  Americans, isn‘t that what we want? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  “The Ed Show” premieres Monday at 6:00 Eastern on

MSNBC. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  You have been initiated into the society of the bad promo puns. 

SCHULTZ:  You people are good.  You are good. 

OLBERMANN:  So you hit the subject of unions a couple of times.  To talk about something of substance, how come it‘s not obvious when we talk about you‘ve got to pay those AIG bonuses to the people who crashed AIG because it is in the contract—it is in their contract.  There is the sanctity of the contract.  You have liberals and conservatives embracing that, maybe some more reluctantly than others.  In the meantime, we are ready to go to Detroit and go, UAW, tear up all the contracts.  It is not worth the paper it is printed on. 

SCHULTZ:  Keith, the American people are tired of fine print.  They want the truth and they want fairness.  In this whole playing out of the AIG situation, and Mr. Wagoner walking with 20 million dollars. 

OLBERMANN:  Twenty three.   

SCHULTZ:  Was it 23?  Son of a gun, it gets better all the time. 

OLBERMANN:  He got a raise, too. 

SCHULTZ:  The American people see that and say, how does this work?  That is not fair.  I think the Obama administration is about fairness.  I think we saw that today in the story with Ted Stevens.  We would have been saying, maybe if Bush had let him go, oh, it is a conspiracy.  But wait a minute, we have to believe in the legal system.  We have to believe in the American system.  But yet, we have to ask the tough questions and our job, I believe, to do that. 

I‘m liberal, but I‘m also pragmatic and I‘m also not going to turn my head to the facts.  I think the American people, when they see an AIG executive get a million dollars for tanking the company, when they see GM going where it is going—it‘s not on the backs of the workers.  It‘s people in the front office that didn‘t do what they were supposed to do—a sense of fair play is lost in America.  We need to get our sensibilities back to that.  I think we are seeing people adjust to that in that regard. 

That is part of the show.  That is the story that I think needs to be out there more in America. 

OLBERMANN:  Looking forward to it.  Ed Schultz, “The Ed Show” begins Monday at 6:00 Eastern.  All the best of luck. 

SCHULTZ:  Congratulations to you.  It has been a heck of a run.  Go to year seven and beyond.  I‘m glad to be on your team, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Glad to have you, sir.  I should mention that my friend David Shuster, whose show is currently on at 6:00 p.m., will be moving to the afternoons from 3:00 to 5:00 and will, I‘m delighted to say, continue as the guest host on this show when they, on occasion, let me out of here. 

In the interim, that is COUNTDOWN for this 2,153rd day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.

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