August 3, 2009
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Guests: Sen. Bernie Sanders; Chris Kofinis, Dan Gross
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The status quo at any price: The far-right and big pharma, the insurance giants, the hospital monopolies move to disrupt anyone who stands up for the patient instead of for the corporation.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to make judgments very fast.
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OLBERMANN: The desperate last-ditch effort to derail health care reform and ensure-monopolization today, monopolization tomorrow, monopolization forever. Inside the Senate deliberations with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont; inside the so-called grassroots protests, the ones funded by an industry spending a million bucks a day to protect its profits with Chris Kofinis.
There's been a truth leak. The president's stimulus plan is-working?
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SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: I think you could say it is a short-term improvement in the economy and I'll be glad to give him credit for that.
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OLBERMANN: Fortunately, this is not a sign of the apocalypse. Mr.
McCain still thinks we're all doomed.
More fortunately, the smoking gun has been found-Barack Obama's birth certificate from Mombassa in Kenya in 1961. Except Mombasa was part of Zanzibar in 1961, not part of Kenya, and it says "Republic of Kenya" which it wasn't until eight months after the date on the document and the registrar's name E.F. Lavender. It's a brand of detergent and of especially breed show geckos. But I bet Lou Dobbs thinks it's legit.
"Worsts": Corporate interference in the news? I'll defend you, Billo!
And tonight, a "Special Comment" on the urgency of health care reform. On the millions spent to prevent it, on the Republicans getting those millions, and the Democrats getting those millions. Does this nation protect its corporations or its people?
All that and more-now on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
A so-called grassroots movement, as fake as the purportedly spontaneous tea party protests that broke out on tax day, as fake as the Kenyan birth certificate of President Obama that has been posted online which refers to a city and republic that did not yet exist, as fake as Governor Palin's oath to serve the people of Alaska for four years.
Our fifth story on THE COUNTDOWN: The astroturfing of health care reform in a desperate bid to defeat it. Remarkable new video tonight of fake grassroots protestors working from scripts, disrupting the town hall meetings of Democratic lawmakers.
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OLBERMANN: In Austin, Texas, over the weekend, protestors shouting down Congressman Lloyd Doggett after he said he probably would vote for a single-payer health care plan, even if he found out his constituents were against it-exactly as demonstrators were told to do in that memo of instructions titled "Rocking the Town Halls-Best Practices," written and distributed by FreedomWorks, the same organization that brought you the fake tea party protests. FreedomWorks run by lobbyist Dick Armey, the former Republican majority leader, funded by the usual group of right-wing billionaires.
It is likely, however, that most voters in that congressman's district are in favor of significant health care reform, the Texas 25th, Mr. Doggett, one of the most liberal in that state. It is even more likely that most protestors in that audience did not even live in the Congressman Doggett's district.
Patients United, a front group maintained by corporate-funded Americans for Prosperity is now busing people all over the country to town halls. Probably, including to this one in Philadelphia yesterday. The speakers were HHS Secretary Sebelius and Senator Arlen Specter. The protestor there is holding a Bible.
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KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, HHS SECRETARY: I'm pleased to have a chance to be here. I think the senator has some opening comments. We'll try to take some questions if we can have a number of you participate, if now, you know, we can just keep shouting at one another. But I'm delighted to have a chance to be back in Philadelphia to engage in the very important conversation.
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OLBERMANN: Boss Limbaugh today falsely describing that Philadelphia town hall as Senator Specter and Secretary Sebelius getting hell from average Americans who know they're full of it.
Minority leader Boehner and Michelle Malkin are also applauding the disruptions; Malkin unfortunately invoking the bloodshed of Iraq in describing the scripted protests as, quote, "counterinsurgencies."
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MICHELLE MALKIN, CONSERVATIVE JOURNALIST: And I've been covering the tea party movement, these counterinsurgencies among taxpayer rights groups, and I think that this administration and the Democrats have vastly underestimated just how grassroots this movement is.
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OLBERMANN: She also believes in ghosts.
Time now to call in Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.
Senator, good to talk to you again, sir.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Good to be with you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: These tactics, both the phony protests and the sycophants applauding the phony protest, do the-do the tactics surprise you at all?
SANDERS: No, not at all. The fact of the matter is that these people talk about freedom and what they are doing is trying to disrupt meetings, which is the absolute opposite of what freedom of discussion is about. And the reason for that is they are afraid to debate the real issues, the fact that we have a disintegrating health care system, that we have tens of millions uninsured, underinsured, 18,000 Americans die every year because they don't get to a doctor on time. We got a million Americans this year going bankrupt because of medically-related bills.
And these people are screaming and yelling so we can't have a real discussion of the real issues.
OLBERMANN: Presuming you have to win both on the issues and the screaming and yelling, how do you win on the screaming and yelling when that is spun as the rage of average Americans in most of the media?
SANDERS: Well, you know, it gets back to the media doing what they did in Iraq, which is distorting reality. You remember, during the debate in Iraq, Keith, we were told that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and Iraq was working with al Qaeda. Well, it turned out not to be true.
And what these guys are doing, what they are saying is grossly untrue. They are talking about a government takeover of health care. Untrue. They are talking-if you can believe this in 2009 -- about the president of the United States wanting to kill off older people.
So the answer is: if you want to have a real debate on the real issues, let's do it. Let's ask for example why countries around the world are providing better quality of care than we are at ½ the cost. Let's ask why we are the only nation in the industrialized world that does not have a national health care program guaranteeing all of their people. Those are the kinds of questions that we've got to be debating.
OLBERMANN: A question about Senator Enzi of Wyoming. Last week, he said he wanted a guarantee that anything that came out of the finance committee ends up in the final legislation that's passed. And today, he's rejected the September 15th deadline for his committee to reach agreement on the bill.
Is this-are we seeing the outlines of the latest Republican plan, just never let the legislation out of committee?
SANDERS: Look, let's be clear. There are virtually no Republicans in the Senate who are serious about health care reform. That's the simple reality. And what they keep doing is stalling and stalling and stalling, and trying to confuse people.
Now, the truth of the matter is, the Democrats have not been particularly effective in also saying and stating the case as to why we need real health care reform. Bottom line is: the system is disintegrating. Bottom line is: we spent twice as much as any other country. Our outcomes are worse. Bottom line is: the vast majority of people want a public option among other reforms.
OLBERMANN: Another bottom line, though, is delaying this-just delaying this victory, is that victory enough for the health industries? I mean, how many million a day do they collectively profit that would go out the window if there was this public option that would tamp down insurance prices?
SANDERS: That's absolutely right. According to the papers just today, the health care industry has spent $130 million in the last quarter. And that is the reason why our private insurance companies are reaping huge profits, why the drug companies charge the American people, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. Of course, they don't want health care reform. Of course, they'll do everything to try to stop us.
OLBERMANN: Last question, Senator, a prediction. Is this legislation eventually going to require passage by reconciliation?
SANDERS: Reconciliation is one of the tools that we have. My hope is that every Democrat will vote against the Republican filibuster, will pick up maybe one Republican, will do something serious and real for the American people.
OLBERMANN: Amen. Senator Bernie Sanders, the great independent of Vermont-once again, great thanks for your time tonight, sir.
SANDERS: It's good to be with you.
OLBERMANN: For more on how Democrats can handle the so-called grassroots protestors, let's turn to Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis.
Chris, good evening.
CHRIS KOFINIS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Does it really take that much to hijack a town hall meeting? And how do Democratic lawmakers or other Democratic speakers combat that?
KOFINIS: Unfortunately, it doesn't take a lot to disrupt these meetings and I think that's the whole point. Listen, the Republicans and these grassroots groups are clearly being backed by Republican groups and operatives. They have a very simple strategy, which is to delay, is to disrupt, is to disturb. It's basically that you take over these town halls and make them a media spectacle and create this facade of what is opposition.
The reality is: the overwhelming majority of Americans want health care reform. There may be clear disagreements or discussions about what kind of health care reform we need, but the notion that we don't need health care reform is laughable.
Now, in terms of what Democrats, I think, need to do, listen, it's a difficult thing. When you have a town hall, 150 people, 10 or 20 can disrupt that. Listen, my perspective is, a good strategy: shame-shame them.
And the way I think you can shame them, and I would suggest to every Democratic member of Congress that has one of these town halls, bring one of your constituents who have suffered through this health care crisis that can tell you a personal story, that can start that town hall telling them, telling those people in that audience what the consequences are when an insurance company cuts their coverage and their child couldn't get the treatment they needed. And let those protestors get up and fight that. I think that is a very powerful approach.
OLBERMANN: Would it to be of any use to sort of foster a backlash against the phony backlash to say, "Look, where exactly are you from? Have you ever been in this district before? Did you come here on a bus from another state?" Is that of any use in those situations, confront them?
KOFINIS: Well, I mean, I think-I think it helps but the problem is, you know, it's one of the things that I think the media is going to have to expose. I mean, what is clearly happening here is the Republicans know that the country has moved in a different direction. That it clearly wants to tackle these issues like health care reform.
So, they're trying to slow it down. You see that both in the legislative tactics they're using in Congress and now you're saying that now in these grassroots tactics. They did the same thing I think in a weird way that's very reminiscent to what happened back with the 2000 election, and now, you're seeing the very same thing, have small groups disrupt it.
I think, exposing them is a good thing, but it's not enough. I think you have to tackle it head on, basically disprove their lies and their falsehoods, because the reality is, when you explain to the American people the enormous benefits of this health care reform, it's going to control costs, that it's going to expand coverage, that we basically are going to tackle a problem that we cannot ignore anymore, people will support it-but you can't let a small group dominate the agenda or dominate that town hall in that case.
OLBERMANN: All right. If you take the August recess as kind of a collective town hall and media perceptions of town halls, you've got those, you've got TV/radio ads, you got stunts we probably can't even imagine, you got Rush Limbaugh who might as well be funded by the Republican Party reading whatever it is they hand him. Could this slip into a groove that cripples health care reform?
KOFINIS: Well, it's possible but, you know, I'm going to be optimistic about it. I think what you're seeing from the Democrats in terms of the strategy that's coming out of Congress, as well as the strategy out of the White House is a very aggressive strategy on multiple levels, both in the grassroots, the media, in terms of using, you know, OFA, which is the grassroots arm of the Obama campaign, as well as other progressive groups.
But let's make no mistake about it. This really is a battle for health care reform and in terms of the next four, six, eight weeks, it is the groups that are going to fight the hardest that I think are going to have an incredible influence in terms of who wins the agenda both at the media level as well as the legislative agenda.
So, this is a real challenge, I think, to progressive groups, Democrats, to go out there and fight for the health care reform we all know this country needs.
OLBERMANN: The Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis-as always, Chris, great thanks for your time tonight.
KOFINIS: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Behind all of this, of course, is the money. And the great struggle in this American experiment: the people versus the corporation. As I suggested in my question to Senator Sanders, if the health care giants can afford to spend a reported $1,400,000 per day to thwart the public insurance option, how much are they making per day? And to whom is that money going?
Sadly, it is going to our politicians and in carload lots. Your assumption about the Republicans is correct, but there are also Democrats who have sold their soul, and I will call them out by name tonight in a "Special Comment" on health care.
OLBERMANN: Tonight: A "Special Comment" on the urgency of health care reform and the price the health care monopolies are willing to pay to prevent it and the politicians, Republican and Democrat alike to whom they are paying that price, and the fate that awaits those who place corporations ahead of citizens.
John McCain says there is good news about the economy, so, of course, we have to change course. The woman says the Air National Guard Base on Long Island is actually a FEMA detention camp, she knows this because Glenn Beck told her so. "The New York Times," Rupert Murdoch, and Billo the Clown vie for "Worst Persons" honors.
You're watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: "Country first," John McCain's campaign slogan, even after he put Sarah Palin first in line to become president if he could not serve country first.
And yet, in our fourth story tonight: At the time when economic confidence or a lack thereof could be self-fulfilling prophesy, John McCain now says the sky is falling.
Why now? Because now, the sun has started to peek through the clouds in the sky. The GDP, gross domestic product, fell just 1 percent last quarter, lower than expectations, and slowing its fall, stabilized largely by the Obama stimulus plan which fueled spending by local governments, letting them hire 12,000 workers and subsidizing capital projects.
Ford today credited the "cash for clunkers" program for its first sales increase since 2007. Chrysler has lowered incentives and is low on inventory because it has sold so many cars. Car dealers are calling for the Senate to renew that "cash for clunkers" program. But one senator threatens to filibuster and to stop it: John McCain.
And when asked whether or not Mr. Obama deserves credit for the good economic news, Mr. McCain tried to deflate any confidence consumers or Wall Street might have.
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MCCAIN: I think you could say that it is a short-term improvement in the economy and I'll be glad to give him credit for that. But the question that I think we should be asking are the long-term consequences of this unprecedented debts and deficits-are they beneficial to the country? And I think the answer is no.
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OLBERMANN: Let's turn to Dan Gross, senior editor at "Newsweek" magazine.
Thanks for your time tonight, Dan.
DAN GROSS, NEWSWEEK: It's good to be here.
OLBERMANN: Why does Mr. McCain and the right-why do they worry so much about incurring this debt now when its purpose is-even if it's a failed idea, the idea is economic recovery, they, themselves, approved more than a trillion in tax cuts under Mr. Bush for rich people?
GROSS: Well, all of this is in the realm of theology. In their world view, government spending cannot stimulate the economy. Their-the RNC chairman, Michael Steele, has said that. Their politicians have said that over and over again.
They think the only thing that works to stimulate the economy aside from low interest rates is tax cuts. So, they are-went down on record opposing the stimulus package. Not a single Republican voted for it. And so, they are heavily invested in its failure.
OLBERMANN: There are obviously differences about this "cash for clunkers" program and how much it is really goosing sales. But car sales are up. So, if you're the McCain economic advisor, what's the strategy to be the guy who tries to block the "cash for clunkers" program when it seems to possibly be working?
GROSS: You know, you pointed out in your intro to this that we've seen something out of Detroit almost as rare as a Detroit Lions win, and that is a year over year gain on sales. Ford sold more cars in July '09 than it did in July '08. "Cash for clunkers" only kicked in in the last week of it. So, it had something to do with it.
But, you know, all sorts of good things happen when a lot of cars are sold. There are huge retail sales, there are taxes that are paid, it draws down inventory-which means car factories may have to start actually making cars again and employing people. And, of course, all sorts of bad things happen when they don't sell.
And there's this sort of mentality, you know, if the Senate doesn't act quickly, tens of thousands of new cars might be sold. Run for the hills.
OLBERMANN: Now, I'm told by my producers that you made a football
reference in there. If you know my body of work, I don't know anything
about football. So, we'll just let that one pass.
GROSS: Well, you must know the Detroit Lions were-were they 0-16 last year?
OLBERMANN: Yes. We actually wound up hiring their general manager for a while. But that's another story.
Speaking of things seeming to go well or seeming not to go well, the premise of economic recovery, some percentage of it being psychological, that confidence will fuel spending, et cetera-how do Republicans run next year as country first if the primary economic message of this year is to yell, "Whatever you do, do not have confidence"?
GROSS: Well, this is the great challenge I think they've had. They put themselves on record and said we're saying the stimulus is a disaster. It won't work; it can't work; it's just physically impossible for this to work. And then, they're talking about health care and all of these other things that are going to sabotage whatever very fragile recovery exists now. So, they are basically rooting for failure.
For them to be in a better position in October 2010 than they are now, lots of people have to be out of work. The stock market has to be down. Every piece of good, economic data that comes out, whether it's the stock market rising to a level it hasn't been at in a year, whether it's the GDP maybe going into positive territory, is a reputation of their basic premise that these programs can't work.
GROSS: Or they have to concoct new reasons why the economy is growing in spite of everything that the Obama administration is doing.
OLBERMANN: Worth the postscript. Dan Gross of "Newsweek"-many thanks for that.
GROSS: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: "Worsts" ahead. Oh, look! Speaking of things collapsing of their own weight. Do not try this at home. Leave it to the experts or whoever is walking down the street. Next on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: "Bests" in the moment and the woman with the automatic weapon knew that was a FEMA concentration camp because she saw it on "Glenn Beck."
First, on this date in 1940 was born in Dayton, Ohio, Ramon Antonio Gerard Estevez, who has played, in films and on TV, the attorney general of the United States, the president's chief-of-staff, the White House counsel, and actual historical president of the United States, a fictional future fascist president of the United States and a fictional liberal president of the United States. Also, he was Dobbs in "Catch-22." He was courageous (ph) Dobbs in "Catch-22."
You know him best by his stage name and thus it is by that we will say happy birthday to Martin Sheen.
Let's play "Oddball."
Missiles are flying. Hallelujah! We begin with yesterday's Buick Open in Michigan. Before finishing the 18th hole, this is the tournament's eventual winner, Tiger Woods, I believe the name is, standing alongside his caddy Steve Williams and standing in the vicinity of one high-powered course microphone.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just going to try and let it release a little bit more.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tiger waits. It's interesting that ball three of his '09 wins have been in his last.
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OLBERMANN: Tiger would break 70 yesterday perhaps after breaking something else. We can't say for sure that was the Tiger who roared. He and his caddy chuckled towards the gallery where somebody might have had one of those Leslie Nielsen machines or maybe John Daly had stepped on a duck.
And then to Cankiri, Turkey, where they demolished the old Cankiri flower factory on Saturday. Controlled demolition as you see-controlled quite poorly as a matter of fact. The engineering teams figured the building would just sort of collapse under its own weight but as you can see the thing instead tumbled onto its roof like a rubrics cube. Thankfully, nobody was hurt. And as experts determine their next move, the old flower factory is going to go back to the service to pump out upside down cakes.
Big news tonight in big birther land-they found President Obama's birth certificate. Apparently, he was born in a city that didn't exist yet, in a republic that wasn't a republic yet.
At what price America's politicians? With Senator John Thune, his obstruction of health care reform was worth $1,206,176 in contributions from the insurance, hospital, and pharmacology industries. "Special Comment" ahead.
But first, time for COUNTDOWN's "Top Three Best Persons in the World."
Dateline, the museum in Washington, D.C. Number three: Best wheels coming off. Michelle Malkin saying on ABC's "This Week": "If you put enough government cheese in front of people, they'll just keep eating it, which explains why America never has grown tired of cheap cheese and why it's totally led to nobody wanting to strive or excel or have a job in the past three decades."
You mean, we have 100 percent unemployment? Three decades? It started when Reagan was president? If you're going to insult President Reagan, Ms. Malkin, I'm going to have to ask you to step outside.
Dateline: Gabreski Airport, Air National Guard Base, long island, New York. Number two: Best proof that watching crazy man on TV will make you crazy. Nancy Genovese, she was arrested there while illegally photographing the base. She was armed with an assault rifle, a shotgun and 500 rounds of ammunition. She was hysterical and falling to the ground.
She apparently decided that the base was actually a secret FEMA detention camp. You know where she got that idea? From Glenn Beck-she says so on her MySpace page. But he's just an entertainer.
And dateline, the parallel Glenn Beck (INAUDIBLE) universe. Number one: best illusion Glenn Beck. The "cash for clunkers" program-it's actually a secret conspiracy to let the president take over your computer because the CARS.gov Web site says anybody using it is giving the government lawful access to all files on their computer. Well, it doesn't say that and that's not on the CARS.gov Web site, it's on something called the ESC.gov Web site where car dealers have to log in to register car transactions. I think somebody already took over Beck's computer, if you know what I mean.
OLBERMANN: Good news, everyone. We don't have to worry about those whacked out birthers anymore because, in our third story on the COUNTDOWN, they have found the Holy Grail. The head birther, Russian emigree, dentist and correspondent school lawyer Orly Tate, has found Barack Obama's birth certificate and is trying to introduce it as evidence in a Florida lawsuit.
There are a few problems. But only a few more than say a millionaire Nigerian prince's e-mail. Orly Tate and WorldNetDaily finally finished it -- I'm sorry produced it yesterday. This piece of something showing Obama was born at Kost (ph) General hospital in Mombasa, Kenya on August 4th, 1961.
All right, a little detail; as sagely noted on a dozen websites, specifically Daily Kos, the city of Mombasa was not part of Kenya in 1961. It was part of Zanzibar in 1961. It didn't become part of Kenya until 1963.
This bombshell-the Joseph Farrell white supremacists crowd calls it a smoking gun-was supposedly issued by the Office of the Principal Registrar, Kost Province, Republic of Kenya, February 14, 1964.
Whoopsy. On February 14, 1964, Kenya was not a republic. It was still a British dominion. It's 1964 documents read "the Dominion of Kenya." It did not become the Republic of Kenya until December 12th, 1964.
Also, the registrar who is supposed to have signed this, E.F. Lavender (ph). E.F. Lavender turns out to be the name of a popular detergent, to say nothing of a brand of specially bred show geckos.
Also, the registration number on the document: 44, the letter O, 47. Just a coincidence that Obama is the 44th president. His last name starts with the letter O. And when this other fellow, Ed Hale, says he obtained the document last September, Obama was 47 years old.
But a lovely try, Ms. Tate, and very nice artificial aging of the document. You've been a wonderful contestant and please enjoy your parting gifts in this home version of the forgery game.
Not every Democrat who has taken contributions, campaign contributions from the health care sector, is a Blue Dog. But some are, like Congressman Mike Ross of Arkansas. Prepared to be called out, sir, in tonight's Special Comment.
Revisionist personal history in Worst Persons, as Bill-O denies one of his most beautiful quotes, the one about MFer, I want more iced tea.
When Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, new details in the saga of Senator John Ensign, suggesting some in the GOP knew about his scandal much earlier than they claimed.
OLBERMANN: Tonight's special comment on the politicians of both parties holding up health care reform and the health sector companies to whom they have sold their souls. This's next, but first time for COUNTDOWN's number two story, tonight's worst persons in the world, brought to you tonight by Fixed News, celebrating six days without having fired Glenn Beck, even after he called the president of the United States a racist, and even after they basically claimed he didn't really work for them.
The bronze to Brian Stelter of the "New York Times." Front page story
front page story Saturday about a, quote, deal in which, as the headline read, voices from above silence a cable TV feud. Problem, Mr. Stelter asks me at least twice last week if there was such a deal, and I told him, on and off the record, there was not. And told I rather obviously would have to be a party to such a deal. And I told him that not only wasn't I, but I had not even been asked to be by my bosses.
And he printed it anyway. And I had even written to him that this was merely a misinterpretation of an announcement I made here on June One, that because Bill Reilly at Fox News had abetted the assassination of Dr. George Tiller, he had become too serious to joke about, and I would thus stop doing so, an announcement that would obtain unless and until, of course, I felt like changing the rule again later since this is not the US Constitution here. It's a half baked television news cast and I make all the rules.
So-tonight's runner-up, Bill-O the clown. After the arrest of Professor Gates, the Frank Burns of news went back to his excursion two years ago to meet some black people. "Remember when I went up to Sylvia's and had dinner with Al Sharpton and said on my radio show, you know, Sylvia's is just like any other restaurant in America. It's a nice place with nice people. I got served great. Then the left wing turned it into I was denigrating, saying oh, he didn't think Sylvia's was going to be nice."
Yes. That's not what you said. Bill-O on September 19th, 2007: "I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was-it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks. Primarily black patronship. It was the same. That's really what this society is all about now. There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, MFer, I want more iced tea. You know, I mean everybody was-it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all white suburb, in the sense that people were sitting there and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn't any kind of craziness at all."
Bill thought there might be a human sacrifice between the salad and the entree. Racist clown. Imagine dinner shade Bill-O, I'm happily surprised you haven't stabbed me with the steak knife, dear.
But our winner, Rupert Murdoch. How would you like to be Roger Ailes right now, or Bill Reilly, or anybody else who thinks they decide what goes on, even for a minute, on Fox News Channel? Rupert Murdoch, according to the "New York Times" piece, has muzzled Bill-O, kept him from speaking his mind because, as the Times put it, what Bill-O said, quote, could create real consequences for Fox's parent corporation."
How dare you muzzle Reilly, Mr. Murdoch? How dare you, sir? This is the essence of corporate interference in the marketplace of ideas, and it is shameful. Abast, ye mate; solidarity, Brother Bill. Free yourself from your corporate shackles. Solidarity! Rupert Murdoch, who could never get away with that here, today's worst person-aargh-in the world!
OLBERMANN: Finally tonight, as promised, a Special Comment on health care reform in this country, and, in particular, the "public insurance option."
In March of 1911, after a wave of minor factory fires in New York
City, the City's Fire Commissioner issued emergency rules about fire
prevention, protection, escape, sprinklers. The City's Manufacturers
Association, in turn, called an emergency meeting to attack the Fire
Commissioner and his 'interference with commerce.'
The new rules were delayed. Just days later, a fire broke out at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. The door to the fire escape had been bolted shut to keep the employees from leaving prematurely. One hundred and fifty of those employees died, many by jumping from the seventh floor windows to avoid the flames.
Fire fighters setting up their ladders literally had to dodge the falling, often burning, bodies of women.
This was the spirit of the American corporation then. It is the spirit of the American corporation now. It is what the corporation will do, when it is left alone, for a week.
You know the drill. We all know the drill.
You get something done at a doctor's, at a dentist's, at an emergency room, and the bills are in your hands before the pain medication wears off. And if you're one of the lucky ones, and you have insurance, you submit the endless paperwork, and no matter whether it's insurance through your company, or your union, or your non-profit, or on your own dime, you then get your turn at the roulette wheel.
How much of it is the insurance company going to pay this time? How much of it is the insurance company-about which you have next to no choice, and against which you have virtually no appeal-how much is this giant corporation going to give you back? What small percentage of what they told you they were going to pay you will they actually pay you?
You know the answer. And, you know the answer if you don't have insurance. But do you know why that's the answer?
Because the insurance industry owns the Republican Party. Not exclusively. Pharma owns part of it, too. Hospitals and HMO's, another part. Nursing homes, they have a share. You name a Republican, any Republican, and he is literally brought to you by campaign donations from the health sector.
Senator John Thune of South Dakota? You gave the Republican rebuttal to the President's weekly address day before yesterday. You said the Democrats' plan was for "government run health care that would disrupt our current system, and force millions of Americans who currently enjoy their employer-based coverage into a new health care plan run by government bureaucrats."
That's a bald-faced lie, Senator. And you're a bald-faced liar, whose bald face happens to be covered by your own health care plan run by government bureaucrats.
Nobody would be forced into anything; and the Public Insurance Option is no more a disruption than is letting the government sell you water, and not just Poland Spring and Sparkletts.
But, as corrupt hypocrites go, Senator, at least you're well paid. What was that one statement worth to you in contributions from the health sector, Senator Thune? Five thousand dollars? Ten?
We know what you are, Sir, we're arguing about the price.
What about your other quote? "We can accomplish health care reform while keeping patients and their doctors in charge, not bureaucrats and politicians."
Wow, Senator, this illustrates how desperate you and the other Republicans are, right? Because Senator Thune, if you really think "bureaucrats and politicians" need to get out of the way of "patients and their doctors," then you support a woman patient's right to get an abortion. And you supported Michael Schiavo's right to take his wife off life support. And you oppose "bureaucrats and politicians" getting in the way. And we'll just mark you down on the pro-choice list.
That's a rare misstep for you Senator Thune. No twelve-thousand dollar payoff for that statement!
I am not being hyperbolic, am I, Senator? About the money?
Senator Thune has thus far received from the Health Sector, campaign contributions - and all these numbers tonight are from "The Center For Responsive Politics"-campaign contributions amounting to one 1,206,176 dollars. So much for Senator Thune.
How about Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite? Good evening Ma'am. You are the Florida representative who claimed on the Floor that Democrats had "released a health care bill which essentially said to America's seniors: drop dead."
Now those are strong, terrorizing, words. That's exactly what your Insurance and Medical Overlords wanted to hear. But are you truly worth every dollar of the 369,000,255 of them you have received over the years from the Health Sector? I'd read the rest of the operative part of your speech myself, but your rendition actually cannot be matched
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. GINNY BROWN-WAITE ®, FLORIDA: Listen up, America, seniors have special needs. This bill ignores the-ignores the needs of Florida's health care system. We should be fixing what is broke, not disseminate-disseminating-decimating, the care of our senior population.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: You can always tell, can't you, Congresswoman, when the hostage is reading her own ransom note, and when she is reading one written for her? So much for Congresswoman Brown-Waite.
There are so many other Republicans, bought and sold-like that unfortunate Congresswoman there-by the Health Sector.
Minority Leader McConnell of the Senate?
You're worth 3.1 million to the Health Sector? A million and a half just for last year's election? And I'm supposed to think you aren't a sellout, a liar, a paid spokesman, a shill, a carnival barker? So much for Sen. McConnell.
Congressman Joe Barton of Oklahoma; $2,660,000, Congressman? That's ten times what Senator Robert Byrd has accepted from the Health Sector. Congressman! What a guy! So much for Congressman Barton.
Senator McCain, 1.6?
To serve the Hospitals, and serve the Drug Companies, and serve the nursing homes? And not to serve the retirement communities of Arizona? Or the cancer survivors? Or the veterans? So much for Senator McCain.
I could go on all night and never exaggerate in the slightest.
PBS pointed out that the health and insurance industries are spending more than a 1,400,000 dollars a day, just to destroy the "public option" - the truly non-profit, wieldy, round-up and not round-down, government, from helping you pay your medical bills with about a billionth of the recklessness with which it is still paying Halliburton and its spin-offs to kill your kids.
And much of this money is going to, and through, Republicans.
But that's the real point tonight. Not all of it is going through Republicans. Because the evil truth is, the Insurance industry, along with Hospitals, HMO's, Pharma, nursing homes -- it owns Democrats, too.
Not the whole party.
Candidate Barack Obama got more than 18 million from the Health Sector just last year. And you can bet somebody in the Health Trust, somebody responsible for buying influence, got fired over what Obama's done.
No, the Democrats are not wholly owned. Hundreds of Democrats have taken campaign money from the Health Sector without handing over their souls as receipts. But conveniently, the ones who are owned have made themselves easy to spot in a crowd.
They've called themselves "Blue Dogs," and they are out there, hand-in-hand with the Republicans, who they are happy to condemn day and night on everything else, throatily singing "Kumbaya" with the men and women who were bought and sold to defend this con game of an American health care system against the slightest encroachment.
Congressman Mike Ross of Arkansas, leader of the Blue Dogs in the House. You're the guy demanding a guarantee that reform will not add to the deficit. I'm guessing you forgot to demand that about, say, Iraq.
You're a Democrat, you say, Congressman? You saw what Sandy Barham said?
Sandy Barham is 62 years old. She's got a bad heart. She's hoping her valves will hold together for three more years until Medicaid kicks in, because she can't afford insurance.
Not just for herself, mind you. For her employees. She needs the public option. So do those six people who work at that restaurant of hers, Congressman Ross.
And why should you give a crap? Because Sandy Barham's restaurant is the Broadway Railroad Cafe, and it is at 123 West First Street North in Prescott, Arkansas.
Prescott, Arkansas, Congressman Ross. Your home town. You are Sandy Barham's congressman. Hers, Sir. Not Blue Cross's and Blue Shield's, even if they do insure 75 percent of the state and they own you.
The top donor so far to Congressman Ross's bid for re-election next year? The Blue Dog PAC, ten thousand bucks. Second? Something called Invacare, 7,300. Oh, they make wheelchairs and rollers and slings. They're big in slings.
Tied for third? The American Dental Association, another grand, 5,000, as a matter of fact.
Your top donors by industry, Congressman Ross? Health professionals:
29,250. Then Pharma and health products: 12,250. And so far in your career, Congressman Ross, your total haul from the health sector is 921,000. That's 90th in the combined list of donations for the House and the Senate, sir, 90th out of 537.
You should be proud, Congressman!
Except for the fact, that before you started living off the public dime, you owned a pharmacy. And your grandmother was a nurse. And it turns out you're not Sandy Barham's congressman, after all. You're Blue Cross's. So much for Congressman Ross.
Congressman Bart Gordon of Tennessee. Congressman? Undecided on the public option? At 1,173,000 in donations from the health sector, I'm surprised. You should have already said no and loudly. The only thing you should be undecided about is whether or not you're really a Democrat. So much for Congressman Gordon.
Senator Max Baucus of Montana. Good evening, Senator.
So you're supposed to be negotiating all this out with the Republicans and the hesitant Democrats, to gain bi-partisanship with a wholly-owned subsidiary of the health sector? Bipartisanship that will get you, what? A total of no votes?
And your price has been, let's see, 414,000 dollars in donations from Hospitals; 667,000 in donations from the insurance companies, just over a million from Big Pharma, 1,300,000 from other health professional, and 237,000 from nursing homes.
When you think of getting 237,000 dollars in campaign contributions from nursing homes, Senator Baucus, do you ever think about whether they subtract that amount of money evenly from all the patients suffering and dying in the lousy ones, or just from a few of the lousy ones?
So much for Senator Baucus.
Sadly, this list could go on almost all night, too.
I could ask Blue Dog Congressman Democrat John Tanner of Tennessee if, since he's gotten 215 Grand from hospitals over the years-if I and the appropriate number of my friends were willing to make it 216 Grand, if we could buy his vote, or would there still have to be an auction?
We could bring up Senator Hagan, and Congressman Pomeroy, who at 628,000 appears to represent the insurance industry and not North Dakota. I could bring up Senator Carper and Senator Blanche Lincoln.
Senator Lincoln, by the way, considering how you're obstructing health care reform, how do you feel every time you actually see Senator Kennedy?
I could bring up all the other Democrats doing their masters' bidding in the House or the Senate, all the others who will get an extra thousand from somebody if they just postpone the vote another year, another month, another week, because right now, without the competition of a government-funded insurance company, in one hour, the health care industries can make so much money that they would kill you for that extra hour of profit.
I could call them all out by name. But I think you get the point. We don't need to call the Democrats holding this up Blue Dogs. That one word "Dogs" is perfectly sufficient.
But let me speak to them collectively, anyway. I warn you all. You were not elected to create a Democratic majority. You were elected to restore this country.
You were not elected to serve the corporations and the trusts who the government has enabled for these last eight years.
You were elected to serve the people. And if you fail to pass or support this legislation, the full wrath of the progressive and the moderate movements in this country will come down on your heads.
Explain yourselves not to me, but to them. They elected you. And in the blink of an eye, they will replace you.
If you will behave as if you are Republicans-as if you are the prostitutes of our system-you will be judged as such. And you will lose not merely our respect. You will lose your jobs!
Every poll, every analysis, every vote, every region of this country supports health care reform, and the essential great leveling agent of a government-funded alternative to the unchecked duopoly of profiteering private insurance corporations.
Cross us all at your peril. Because, Congressman Ross, you are not the Representative from Blue Cross.
And Mr. Baucus, you are not the Senator from Schering-Plough Global Health Care, even if they have already given you 76 Grand towards your re-election.
And Ms. Lincoln, you are not the Senator from DaVita Dialysis.
Because, ladies and gentlemen, President Lincoln did not promise that this nation shall have a new death of freedom, and that government of the corporation, by the corporation, for the corporation, shall not perish from this Earth.
Good night and good luck.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.