updated 8/13/2009 9:33:25 AM ET 2009-08-13T13:33:25

COUNTDOWN

August 12, 2009

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.

THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

Guests: Arianna Huffington, Mark Potok, Chris Hayes, David Iglesias, Christian Finnegan

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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

The Republican plan to euthanize reasonable Republicans: The White House praises Mr. Grassley for negotiating in good faith. Mr. Grassley promptly tells a town hall.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY ®, IOWA: You have every right to fear. You shouldn't have counseling at the end-of-life. You ought to have counseling 20 years before you're going to die. And we should not have a government program that determines you're going to pull the plug on grandma.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: We don't. We never will. It isn't in the bill.

Is Senator Grassley a charlatan, an idiot or did the health care sector simply threaten to cut off the $2.5 million he's gotten from them in campaign contributions?

The terrifying beat goes on. At Senator Cardin's town hall in Maryland.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It does want to kill people like myself. I'm 73. I'm one of those throwaways that we've heard so much about, OK? But I want you to know that I'm not afraid of dying.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: But, now, Senator Murkowski of Alaska blasts Sarah Palin for the "death panel" remarks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI ®, ALASKA: There is no reason to gin up fear in the American public by saying things that are not included in the bill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: The Kenneth Gladney story, the conservative allegedly beaten. His story is unraveling-as is Glenn Beck's advertising support. Men's Wearhouse is out, Sargento Cheese cancels, Lawyers.com, SC Johnson Wax, Procter and Gamble, GEICO, Progressive Insurance and maybe State Farm.

When insurance companies stop advertising in your radio and TV shows in the middle of a national debate over insurance, you're in deep dodo.

Karl Rove in deep dodo: Tied directly to the firing of the U.S. attorneys. The Harriet Miers testimony, Rove described New Mexico attorney David Iglesias as a "serious problem," and said he wanted something done about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH ADVISOR: I was not in a position to find out whether or not they're accurate. That was up to the Justice Department, but I had an obligation to pass those on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: You know, just like typhoid.

And irony immeasurable: Michele Bachmann tries to portray AmeriCorps as Obama's secret, personal army. Guess who just signed up for AmeriCorps? Michele Bachmann's son.

All that and more-now on COUNTDOWN.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: That is so frightening.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.

In yesterday's health care town hall, President Obama singled out specific Republicans for praise, hailing their diligent work on health care, their sensible proposals, extolling bipartisanship.

Today, in our fifth story on THE COUNTDOWN: Two of those Republicans have now responded, snatching duplicity from the jaws of compromise and figuratively spitting in that president's face.

You will recall that responding primarily to the Sarah Palin-Betsy McCaughey lie that he wants to create government "death panels," Mr. Obama yesterday identified who comes up with these lies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People who want to keep things the way they are will try to scare the heck out of folks and they'll create boogeymen out there that just aren't real.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Creating boogeymen, not like the sincere Republicans Mr.

Obama recognized.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I think that there are some of my Republican friends on Capitol Hill who are sincerely trying to figure out if they can find a health care bill that works. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Olympia Snowe from Maine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: As Mr. Obama explained, the "death panel" rumor started with the provision for reimbursing doctors who counsel people about their options, whether they are dying or a loved one might be, about living wills, about hospices, and so forth.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The irony is that, actually, one of the chief sponsors of this bill originally was a Republican-then-House member, now senator named Johnny Isakson from Georgia-who very sensibly thought this was something that would expand people's options.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Today, Senator Isakson responded directly. His anti-sensibility news release in a moment.

But first, what Senator Grassley, top Republican on the finance committee, the Senate GOP point man on health care, had to say today less than 24 hours after the president had singled him out for praise, named him specifically as working sincerely and diligently on health care. Not like those people who want to keep things the way they are by scaring folks and creating boogeymen.

Here is what that man had to say today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRASSLEY: There is some fear because in the House bill, there is counseling for end-to-life. And from that standpoint, you have every right to fear. You shouldn't have counseling at the end-of-life. You ought to have counseling 20 years before you're going to die. You ought to plan these things out. And, you know, I don't have any problem with things like living wills but they ought to be done within the family. We should not have a-we should not have a-we should not have a government program that determines you're going to pull the plug on grandma.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Sounds like his health care contributor corporations pulled the plug on Senator Grassley.

What of Senator Isakson? Quoting the very first news of his news release, U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson today denounced comments made by President Obama regarding Isakson's alleged connection to language contained in the House health care bill on end-of-life counseling.

Where did Mr. Obama get the idea Mr. Isakson supported government coverage of end of life counseling? Perhaps from Isakson's interview the day before-in which he said, quote, "Sarah Palin's Web site had talked about the House bill having death panels on it where people would be euthanized. How someone could take an end-of-life directive or a living will as that is nuts." Or from Senate bill 466 from 2007, "To provide for coverage of an end-of-life planning consultation," cosponsor Johnny Isakson.

Unlike Mr. Grassley, Mr. Isakson at least acknowledges that death panels are bogus.

And today, an actual Alaska Republican who is serving in office went further, joining Mr. Obama in calling the death panel lie a lie-a lie now owned by Mr. Grassley as well, ginned up fear.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MURKOWSKI: It does us no good to incite fear in people by saying that, you know, there is-there is an end-of-life provision, these death panels. I'm so-quite honestly, I'm so offended at that terminology because it absolutely isn't. There is no reason to gin up fear in the American public by saying things that are not included in the bill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Presumably, tomorrow, Senator Murkowski will be forced to retract that moment of rationality with the health care sector's campaign contribution gun pointed figuratively at her head.

Let's bring in Arianna Huffington, cofounder and editor-in-chief of "Huffington Post."

Thanks for your time tonight, Arianna.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: What is the message to Mr. Obama from senators Isakson and Grassley today?

HUFFINGTON: The message is very clear. The message is: "Welcome to reality, Mr. President, stop pretending and stop fostering the delusion that somehow we can come all together." The Republican senators, the Democratic senators who are in the pay of the drug industry and the health care industry, the drug industry, the health insurance agency, and come together with a real bill that reforms the broken system-that's not going to happen. It's important for the president to realize and stop wasting time.

Remember, Grassley is on the same committee with Senator Max Baucus, who is also a very, very compromised senator, who has said -- 350 of the people who are working at the moment against health care reform are former members of Congress and chiefs of staff and other staffers, and half a dozen of them are Senator Baucus'. So there is a whole industry here working against reform. The president needs to stop acting as though everybody's interests are aligned.

OLBERMANN: And to that end how-never mind how Mr. Obama can do this-but how can Mr. Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, continue to keep a straight face and treat Mr. Grassley as a respectable player in this issue after what he said today in front of actual, living, breathing people?

HUFFINGTON: Well, he should not. Actually, I think that Senator Reid should actually call for a vote of censure on Senator Grassley. Remember, Republicans do that a lot. Whenever a Democrat says something which doesn't make sense, which crosses a line, they call for a vote of censure.

Well, what about calling for a vote of censure on Senator Grassley?

After all, he absolutely lied about what is in the bill and he's a senator. He's not just a member of the lunatic fringe, you know? He's not a Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter or Michelle Malkin, you know? He is a United States senator. There should be certain things that he does not do or say.

OLBERMANN: Do we assume in both of these cases that somebody got to them both in Isakson's case and in Grassley's, and said, "If you do not repudiate what you seem to have said yesterday, this compromise, this good behavior, this societally-cognizant willingness to compromise, if you don't do that, we're never going to contribute to you again"?

HUFFINGTON: Well, remember, Senator Grassley has received over $2 million from the drug and health insurance industry since 2003. But equally troubling, Keith, is the fact that Senator Baucus has received $1.5 million just in the last two years.

So, we need to acknowledge that there are people who are really going to do everything they can and use especially fearmongering to undermine reform. That's why we haven't had reform for so many years.

OLBERMANN: Could there be-lastly-a silver lining in this, Arianna? Because the-with the senator embracing-supposedly the good senator among the Republicans-embracing the death panel, could that be a tipping point in terms of freeing Democrats from this nonsense waste of time, you can't talk sense to a stoned, false bipartisanship they seem to be pursuing to no one's benefit?

HUFFINGTON: I sincerely hope so, Keith. And there is a chance this will be the case. Because, you know, if they can actually draw a line in the sand and say, "To have meaningful reform, we need to actually have a public option. We need to be able to negotiate with the drug industry for lower prices. We need to have some prevention. If you are with that, come onboard, if you are not, get out of the way," because as the president has said we need to have real health care reform.

OLBERMANN: Arianna Huffington of "Huffington Post"-as always, great thanks for your time.

HUFFINGTON: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: Tea baggers, birthers, deathers, those on the outer fringe are on the rise. It should come as no surprise then that almost a decade after they all but faded from view, antigovernment militias are also on the rise, armed with weapons, residing in training camps. Hate groups in this country are multiplying. And as one law enforcement official puts it now, all that's lacking is a spark.

A new report out from the Southern Poverty Law Center shows that right-wing militias, ideologically-driven tax defiers and so-called sovereign citizens are materializing in significant numbers. One federal agent noting, "You see people buying into what they're saying. It's primed to grow."What's priming the movement's growth? An ailing economy, of course; but one key difference between the militia groups in the '90s and what's fueling actions now-the face of the federal government. "The enemy that almost all parts of the extreme right see as the primary threat to freedom is now black."

Another key factor, a changing demographic, "Contributing to the racial animus have been fears on the far right about the consequences of Latino immigration."

And hate groups are not the only problem. Federal authorities are also focusing on those who may be contemplating politically-charged assaults and acting alone. The FBI's lone wolf initiative launched to prevent single acts of hate-fueled violence like the fatal shooting of three Pittsburgh police officers or the killing of a black security guard at the Holocaust Museum in D.C., or of course the assassination of Dr. George Tiller.

Joining us now Mark Potok, the director of the intelligence project for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Thanks for your time tonight, sir.

MARK POTOK, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: And thanks for having me, Keith. I appreciate it.

OLBERMANN: These recent events that I've mentioned, don't they prove that we're already seeing the kind of violence happen that's sort of being predicted retroactively?

POTOK: It absolutely does. I mean, you know, the spate of real terrorist incidents that we've seen since Obama's election are quite remarkable. You know-and, of course, this was the very kind of activity that was talked about in the infamous Department of Homeland Security report that was so pilloried by Republicans and others on the right, you know? As it turns out, of course, the report was really pressing. And it was completely accurate.

OLBERMANN: That report mocked-as you suggest-by conservatives. What is going to have to happen for the right to take that sort of stuff seriously and to view this from a-from a national security point of view as opposed to a political opportunistic point of view?

POTOK: It is hard to say, because I think that the reaction to every one of these reports, a number of law enforcement reports and now our own, has been that somehow, this is an attempt to defame conservatives, or people opposed to abortion or veterans. And, of course, none of those things are true. You know, the reality is that-you know, we're seeing it in the town hall meetings. We're seeing it in some of the other reactions to Obama, the deathers and so on-as you've suggested.

You know, the reality is, is that there is an immense amount of totally false propaganda out there, and much of it is coming from the militias or similar groups. You know, it's just astounding is that sort of responsible Republicans and other politicians and commentators seem to be incapable of rejecting this. You know, so I think really there is a line between the people you see or some of the people you see at town hall meetings amongst the deathers and so on, and the ideology we're seeing being reborn with the militias.

OLBERMANN: As the story in St. Louis, I guess, it begins to unravel about Kenneth Gladney, the conservative supposed town hall protestor who claims he was beaten up and now there's videotape that shows him walking when he said he couldn't walk any further. Does that actually fit into the subjects of your concern or is that a separate issue? Is the false, almost martyring of people involved in this-is that part of this equation?

POTOK: Well, in a sense it is-in the sense that, you know, there is just an immense amount of false propaganda out there. There are people saying things that they know are not true. You know, there's outright lying being done by commentators and politicians and people in positions of real authority.

So, you know, I think the battle has come down, I think, as you well know, to a kind of calling out of these people. They've got to be shown for what they are-which is people who are unwilling to deal with reality. You know, so when somebody gets on television and says, you know, or suggests that FEMA is running a secret series of concentration camps around the country, you know, that person has to be isolated and called out in the very same way that the birthers have been over the last couple of weeks. I think that really is the nexus.

You know, who is to say whether that person was explicitly associated with the militia or not? I certainly don't know that. And I'm not suggesting it. But it's those kinds of ideas that make the militias thrive.

OLBERMANN: Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center-as always, deeply appreciate it. Thank you for your time, sir.

POTOK: And thank you.

OLBERMANN: The fuel for this, of course, is more easily found, more quickly useable than ever before, but so is the blowback. If you appear on reactionary media and call a president of the United States a racist, advertisers will still abandon you and will abandon you faster than ever before. A cheese company, a popular clothier, SC Johnson Wax, Procter and Gamble, Lawyers.com and two-possibly three insurance firms have now bailed out on "Glenn Beck." Beware the snowball, lonesome roads.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: The research into conservative radio listening habits, the more hate they hear, the longer they listen, the more Limbaugh and Savage and Dobbs and Beck make-explaining their hate-for-hire stance on health care reform. Except, you can still go too far. How much trouble is Glenn Beck in after a seventh, possibly eighth major advertiser cancels its commercials on his programs?

Later: Stephen Hawking on how public health care saved his life. And Michele Bachman hoist on her own petard. She said she'd have a very, very difficult time seeing her own children join AmeriCorps. Guess who just joined AmeriCorps?

Ahead here on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: The Web site run by former Bush speechwriter David Frum has identified why hate speech is flourishing on talk radio. It's not President Obama.

In our fourth story tonight: Hate speech gooses ratings-but as Glenn Beck is learning, there is also a price to pay when you get goosed.

For the past couple weeks his radio and TV shows have been targeted by an online African-American group called Color of Change which claims 75,000 members have signed a petition asking advertisers not to enable Beck's programming after he called the president a racist with a deep-seated hatred for white people.

Procter and Gamble, Progressive Insurance and SC Johnson said their ads were not supposed to have aired on "Beck" in the first place. And so, Lawyers.com, until now, quote, "We have suspended further advertising during Mr. Beck's program." And now, this, quote, "As of August 4th, GEICO no longer runs any paid advertising spots during Mr. Beck's program." And this, "After reviewing his recent incendiary comments, Men's Warehouse has decided to remove our advertising."

And now, after joking about poisoning Speaker Pelosi comes this, "Sargento, the cheese company, has made the decision to exclude that program from our future ad rotation."

As conservative talker Michael Medved explained to David Frum's site, "In this economic environment, you have something of a push to be outrageous, to be on the fringe, because what you're desperately competing for is P1 listeners, those who listen most often. The percentage of people on the fringe who are P1s is quite high."

Leaving all puns aside, joining us now, Chris Hayes, the Washington editor of "The Nation" magazine.

Chris, good evening.

CHRIS HAYES, THE NATION: Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Give me your read on Glenn Beck's position right now and its relative precariousness.

HAYES: Well, I mean, look, as you know and as anyone who works in television or any main, you know, corporate media knows, that it's a business at the end of the day, whether it's G.E. or it's Murdoch and FOX, you got to make money, and the way you make money is by selling viewers to advertisers. And, you know, boycotts of advertisers, the pressure brought to bear that we're seeing, do you have an effect, I think. The question is, you know, is this the kind of thing that's going to die down?

I mean, there is this cost-benefit issue that you sort of highlighted in the intro, which is that for every advertiser you drop, if this is the kind of thing that gets ratings, you know, there is going to be other people out there who are going to fill their spaces. I mean, in some sense, the deep problem is the fact that this is something that a lot of people, unfortunately, want to watch.

OLBERMANN: Yes. But unfortunately, if your advertising base now becomes guns and ammo magazine.

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: Gold, there's lots of gold on FOX.

OLBERMANN: Well, sort of categorize this for me, because it would seem that there's a moral level and then there's a-as you say-cost-benefit analysis level. What are the differences between this story and what ultimately cost Don Imus his TV show? I mean, is accusing a president.

HAYES: Yes.

OLBERMANN: . of racism somehow not as bad as expressing racist sentiments against women college basketball players?

HAYES: Yes.

OLBERMANN: Is one worse or aren't they equivalent in some really measurable way?

HAYES: You know, it's a really interesting comparison. I mean, I think-I think it's interesting to meditate for a second on what the differences are, because I think-you know, you're right, the substance of what's being said there is sort of equally vile in both cases. It's not quite as explosively toxic in the case of what Beck said.

I mean, the "Glenn Beck Show" is really, really crazy and upsetting and offensive and vile in a lot of ways. And, you know, there's stuff that's coming out of that-of him and of that show that I think is really over the top and crosses these sorts of lines. And, you know, it is interesting to consider at what point what he says will kind of cross into that-will trigger that kind of backlash and firestorm we saw with Imus.

And so far, for what ever reason, with Color of Change excellent organizing as sort of notwithstanding, he has managed to avoid that. Part of that, to be honest, is that we just have a lot of tolerance, frankly, in the mainstream media for people on the right saying really crazy things. I mean, Michelle Malkin goes on.

OLBERMANN: Yes.

HAYES: . the network Sunday shows after writing a book calling for internment of people. I mean, this is-there are a lot that you can be much further on the fringe of the right and be accepted in mainstream discourse than you can be on the left.

OLBERMANN: And if you call them out on this, it is dismissed as some sort of idea of rivalry as opposed to.

HAYES: Right.

OLBERMANN: . some sort of idea of shining a spotlight on B.S.

But, you know, Beck, Limbaugh, and such, like to come back and say, "Oh, no. The big ratings are here because we're speaking to mainstream America." But Frum's Web site and Medved's remarks on it would suggest that something else is going on. You can generate big ratings simply by getting a tiny portion of the country to listen all day.But what are the implications of this just for political discourse -just for the.

HAYES: Yes.

OLBERMANN: What-what the politicians think they are hearing?

HAYES: This is incredibly important. I mean, I saw a poll recently that said that 7 percent of the electorate thought that Republicans had been too conciliatory to Barack Obama, OK? This is the Republican Party that stonewalled and objected everything. They saw it too conciliatory.

Now, 7 percent is a small number. But in the nation of 300 million people, that's about 21 million, or, you know, 200 million, it's like-still 14 million people. If you got those 14 million people to do anything, watch your show, listen to your radio program, if you got a small percentage of them to show up in whatever congressional district, that seems like a lot of people.

So there's-you know, it's a big country and at the fringes, there are a lot of people in sort of real terms, even if it's a small percentage of the electorate. And one thing that's so disturbing and frustrating about the discussion we're having about health care is that that fringe is being confused for the mainstream in a way that I think is really deleterious to how we are having a conversation about these big, national issues.

OLBERMANN: Well, at least they have a good symbol for confusing the fringe for the mainstream and Glenn Beck.

Chris Hayes of "The Nation"-it's always a pleasure. Thank you, sir.

HAYES: Thanks. Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: This may look odd, but it testifies to an international tradition dating back to at least the 1960s: the dancing traffic cop.

And this is what ultimately happens when you trafficking lies and rumor. O'Reilly accuses G.E. of selling radio modules that wound up in roadside bombs in Iran. It turns out G.E. doesn't even make the radio modules in question. Oops!

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: "Bests" in a moment, and Steve Doocy's best secret friend is a Web site.

First, on this date in 1880 was born the first beloved superstar in American sports history Christy Matthewson, the hero pitcher of the New York Giants who won 373 games and died young after being accidentally gassed during training for the First World War. If you'd like to see a recently uncovered image that proves Matthewson introduced so-called modern pitching a century ago, it's on my baseball blog.

If not, and for now, let's play "Oddball."

To Soledad, California or thereabouts, you say tomato, I say tomato, Amtrak says diced-after a semi crossed its path carrying 40,000 pounds of tomatoes. Nobody injured, including 279 passengers, but a plant manager said all the tomatoes will now have to be destroyed. What? People never heard of ketchup?

In Manhattan, this is not the latest reality TV dance competition nor is this the first police officer to make a dance floor out of a busy intersection, but in yesterday's humidity, this was something. Mentoria Hutchinson says she dances to pass the time and also get driver's attention. It's easy to see how that might work, but don't be surprised if there is a slight uptick in reckless driving, including spontaneous-ha, ha-three-point turn.

A crack in the case; Harriet Miers testified Karl Rove ordered something done about U.S. attorney David Iglesias, fired by the Bush administration. Mr. Iglesias joins us. And is this the face of the Republican party's presidential nominee for 2012? Well, he won't get any of the votes of any of the dog lovers, if you know what I mean. These stories ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN's top three best persons in the world.

Dateline Cluster Fox-land, number three, best admission you have imaginary friends, Steve Doocy. The Fixed News offering some friendly advice to health care town forum attendees. "This is from one of my friends. I got a lot of friends who send me stuff. This is one of those things where, if you find yourself at a town hall meeting and you need to ask a really hard question, that would be hard for these guys and gals to weasel out of, ask them one of these five questions."

The five questions he read turned out to be virtually identical, usually word for word, to a list of talking points called "five questions Americans should pressing their elected leaders on," from the website of the conservative Heritage Foundation. So Steve Doocy's friend is a website. Steve's other friend is a toaster.

Dateline Cambridge University, England. Number two, best snappy answer, Steven Hawking, recipient today of the United States Medal of Freedom, and well deserved. As we mentioned yesterday, an idiot wrote an editorial for the "Investors Business Daily" suggesting health care reform might give us a version of the British NHS, the national health, with people dying on waiting lists, or being denied care because of how disruptive their illnesses might be. "People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the UK, where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless."

Apparently, nobody knew Dr. Hawking is from the UK, and has been since 1942. He has now responded himself to the British newspaper "The Guardian." Quote, "I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for the NHS. I have received a large amount of high quality treatment, without which I would not have survived."

And dateline the web, number one, best reputation of nonsense, Ed Morrissey. Amid its many job postings, the Army includes a call for internment resettlement specialists to provide custody and security to internees within a detention internment facility. The less intelligent end of the right wing paranoia machine, Steve Maltzberg, Michael Savage, World Net Daily, those kind of guys, have seized on this as a variant of the Glenn Beck memorial FEMA detention camp.

But Mr. Morrissey writes, "we have received an eruption of e-mail over a completely innocuous job listing from the National Guard, which proves that a few people pay more attention to conspiracy theories than to facts. Whatever and wherever Guard units get deployed, some of them have to be trained in handling prisoners. It's not really a great mystery, nor is it a conspiracy to set up camps for political dissenters."

Well said. Now here's why it's worthy of applause, although I'm not sure he'll be happy it's coming from this venue. Mr. Morrissey wrote that calm contribution to serene political discourse at the website Hot Air. He is a conservative. And here he chose the truth ahead of the temptation and political opportunity that fear and misinformation present.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: It only looked tainted and politically motivated because it was. In our third story on the COUNTDOWN, it is now evident that Karl Rove was actively involved in the 2006 firings of U.S. attorneys. David Iglesias, one of those nine attorneys fired for crass political reasons, will join us in a moment for reaction.

Senior White House officials, including Mr. Rove, were more intimately involved than previously disclosed. This according to hundreds of pages of interview transcripts and documents now released by the House Judiciary Committee. The effort against Mr. Iglesias began early, June 2005. Mr. Rove's political aide, Scott Jennings, wrote that Mr. Iglesias should be removed because Republicans in New Mexico are, quote, "really angry over his lack of action on voter fraud stuff. We are getting killed out there."

The reference is to some dubious voter fraud cases that might have helped Republicans. Former White House Counsel Harriet Miers testified in a closed session of the House Judiciary Committee that Rove described Iglesias as, quote, a serious problem, and he wanted something done about it.

Another e-mail chain from October of 2006 shows a Rove aide criticizing the fact that Iglesias was not bringing a corruption prosecution in the run up to the 2006 elections that could help Republican Representative Heather Wilson in the midst of a tough re-election campaign.

In another e-mail, January 2007, from Jennings to Rove, suggests replacements for Mr. Iglesias. Quote, "Rogers would be the dream but won't do it." Reference there to Pat Rogers, a New Mexico Republican activist who had called voter fraud, quote, the single greatest wedge issue ever.

Let's bring in, as promised, the former U.S. attorney in New Mexico David Iglesias. Thank you for your time tonight, sir.

DAVID IGLESIAS, FORMER US ATTORNEY: Thank you, Keith. Good to be here.

OLBERMANN: We've merely sampled some of this evidence that was presented under oath. What do you think it demonstrates regarding your own dismissal?

IGLESIAS: Well, it's precisely what I've been describing for over two and a half years. That is politics was the only reason for removing me and my colleagues. The e-mails and documents are oozing with the puss of politics.

OLBERMANN: Mr. Rove still claims he had no direct involvement, no direct role. He was merely passing along complaints about you. What's your reaction to that rationale?

IGLESIAS: Completely false and provably false. After stone-walling and then trying to tell half truths and untruths, the overwhelming evidence, beyond any doubt, not a reasonable doubt, but beyond any doubt, shows his active involvement in this process.

OLBERMANN: You said provably false. As a U.S. attorney, that's a specific set of instructions and details. Tell me what you mean by-what is in there that is provably false?

IGLESIAS: In terms of Rove saying all along that he had nothing to do with it; whereas the e-mails, the sworn testimony shows that he was made aware of the voter fraud issue, made aware by Republican operatives in New Mexico that I need to be replaced, and he wanted me replaced. That is something that a good lawyer could prove in a court of law.

OLBERMANN: Well, there is a federal prosecutor still investigating the firings. Is there anything next to happen with the Justice Department, or is there anything further to happen with this congressional investigation? Where do you see this going from here?

IGLESIAS: Well, the Congressional investigation is over. But what's left is probably the most ominous, and that is a special counsel. The United States attorney in Connecticut, Nora Danaghey (ph), is looking at potential criminal violations related to my firing and my colleagues.

Now she has access to documents that even Representative Conyers did not have access to. It's going to be her call, which I'm not going to second guess, whether or not criminal laws were violated.

OLBERMANN: Anything in what you have heard from these releases from this part of the investigation that was news to you? Is there anything in here that only amplified what you already knew? Anything that was a surprise?

IGLESIAS: The one surprise was that the rumblings got to Washington, D.C. earlier than I had thought. The first e-mails that I saw criticizing my lack of filing bogus voter fraud prosecutions started in June of 2005. So that was new.

OLBERMANN: Despite what has surfaced, what we know tonight, that sort of final connection of the dots, if not resulting in somebody going to jail, at least confirming that there were dots and lines, has the process, in your opinion, still been half baked and allowed Rove and Alberto Gonzalez, the former attorney general, and others to stone-wall for too long, to decrease the relevancy of the crime?

IGLESIAS: No. No. The process has been working. It's taken a long time because of the stone-walling, because of executive privilege arguments. But I believe the fat lady has yet to sing. So I am hopeful that this matter will be ultimately wrapped up in a just way.

OLBERMANN: All right. You've led me into it. What is the wrapping up-which way, and which is the just way?

IGLESIAS: That would depend on the nature of the documents that Nora Danaghey had access to, that Chairman Conyers did not. Possible crimes would be perjury, obstruction of justice, things of that nature. But remember, she has to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, and she has to avoid taints of a political prosecution. So I wish her God speed basically.

OLBERMANN: Yes. And it's extraordinary, none of the people who moved against you had to worry about the taints of political prosecution. They simply did not care. The former U.S. attorney, David Iglesias. Great thanks for your time. To the degree that this was vindication, congratulations.

IGLESIAS: Thank you, sir.

OLBERMANN: Michele Bachmann looks at Americorps and sees Obama's political reeducation camp. Her son looks at Americorps and sees something to sign up for.

Bill-O reports an unconfirmed detail in an unconfirmed investigation about radio frequency modules in IEDs. The company he said might have made those particular modules turns out not to even make those modules.

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, in this climate of paranoia and threat, her special guest, the most visible doctor still performing late-term abortions, Dr. Warren Hern.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: Rick Santorum couldn't get re-elected as a senator from Pennsylvania, but he's hinting he thinks he can get elected president of the United States.

And mother doesn't know best; as Michele Bachmann blasts Obama's Americorps and her son joins it.

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

The bronze to Boss Limbaugh, once again interrupting his new compare everybody to Hitler radio show to bleep that everybody else is comparing him to Hitler. "You people are out calling us Nazis, saying we're running around with Swastikas. We get tarred and feathered as Nazis because we don't just bend over, grab the ankles and let you guys ram whatever down our throats you want."

I always knew Mr. Limbaugh had problems with reality and logic, but this misunderstanding of anatomy is news.

The runner-up-here we go again-Lou Dobbs and the self-destruction tour. He said former DNC Chairman Howard Dean was guilty of advancing liberal fascism. Then Dobbs added, "I thought we had gotten rid of this left wing pest. He's a bloodsucking leftist. I mean, you got to put a stake through his heart to stop this guy."

He then issued one of those apologies in which he denies the murderous imagery was his responsibility. "I'm sorry if a Bram Stoker allusion is too literary for some. And for those who could not make what was seemingly an obvious connection, my deepest apologies, and I gladly withdraw the latter part of my remark."

Howard Dean's brother, Jim, chairman of the Democracy for America activist group has emailed his entire membership. It, in turn, issued a statement calling on his radio syndicator and CNN to fire Lou Dobbs.

And tonight's worst, Bill O'Reilly, who stepped in it this time. After trying to blackmail people for two months with some story about the involvement of the parent company of this network, GE, in roadside bombs, IEDs found in Iraq, Bill-O made one gigantic mistake. He said last night, "sources tell the Factor there's a federal investigation under way to find out if any American company has sold components for roadside bombs to nefarious people. In May 2008 and again in October of '08, coalition forces discovered unexploded roadside bombs in Iraq and handed them over to the FBI bureau in Baghdad. The FBI then discovered that radio frequency modules inside the bombs were part of a shipment made by a U.S. company to Corezing International, a business in Singapore with direct ties to Iran.

"Now, the FBI will not comment. The Factor has been told but cannot confirm that the General Electric corporation is under suspicion in the case."

So you've got an unconfirmed report of an unconfirmed investigation, and you've got an unconfirmed report that GE is under suspicion in your unconfirmed report of your unconfirmed investigation. Do you have any facts at all? Well, there is a company called Corezing, and there are parts called radio frequency modules. However, a GE spokesman told the Associated Press today that it has never done any business with the Corezing company. And according to the spokesman, GE also does not happen to make the kind of radio frequency modules described by O'Reilly.

So he confirmed no facts about any investigation, no facts about GE being investigated. He got the elemental details about whether GE ever dealt with Corezing wrong. And he didn't bother to check whether the components at issue were even made by GE, which they are not.

So he smeared a company which he had previously threatened with public blackmail. You can talk all you want about feuds and cease-fires and childishness. But if I or any actual reporter like me had gotten as much wrong in any story as Bill O'Reilly got wrong in this one, I'd be fired in 15 minutes, as he should be now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: It's a parent/child relationship plot twist equaled only in cinema when Darth Vader informed Luke Skywalker that he, Luke's villainous arch enemy, was actually his father. In our number one story, today we've learned that conservative Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's son has chosen what she might consider, might as well have called the dark side.

You may recall the Congresswoman's unique view of President Obama's expansion of the Americorps program, which she shared on a Minnesota radio program earlier this year. In reality, Americorp is a federal program that pays young people to restore parks, tutor children, help communities struck by natural disasters. But in the mind of Michele Bachmann, if any, the Obama expansion of Americorps was the latest in a slippery slope leading to communist prison camps.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: It's paying people to do work on behalf of government. And the real concern is that there are provisions for what I would call re-education camps for young people, where young people have to go and get trained in a philosophy that the government puts forward, and then they have to go and work in some of these politically correct forums.

As a parent I would have a very, very difficult time seeing my children do this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Guess who signed up as a teacher in Americorps? Harrison Bachmann, son of Michele Bachmann.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No! No!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: "The Minneapolis Star Tribune" reports that the Congresswoman's adult son was hired earlier this year as a teacher in the Americorp Teach for America program. According to "Star Tribune" columnist John Tedland (ph), the last application date to get into Teach for America was in February. That would be before the Congresswoman's anti-Americorps rant, meaning she did not know about her son's communist adventure when she made her comments, or she was in the process of re-re-educating him at that point.

Let's turn now to Christian Finnegan, comedian and commentator at large. Welcome.

CHRISTIAN FINNEGAN, COMEDIAN: Thanks for having me.

OLBERMANN: Is this a betrayal here? And if so, is there another parallel that you can think of?

FINNEGAN: First of all, I want to say, I don't think it is fair that this kid gets to go to reeducation camp, when it's obvious that Michele Bachmann never got the opportunity to go to any sort of regular education camp.

OLBERMANN: But parents want their kids to do better than they did.

Here is a perfect example of it, isn't it?

FINNEGAN: You're right. It is the American dream, writ large. If you're looking for a parallel, let's pretend-pretend that you're, say, Sammy Hager, which is something I know you like to do on occasion, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Every Halloween.

FINNEGAN: So you're Sammy Hagar, the Red Rocker, and over the years, you've made it pretty clear that you simply can't drive 55. Then you find out that your son, your own flesh and blood, has joined the Highway Safety Commission. That is the sort of betrayal, Keith, we're talking about.

OLBERMANN: We know she does not think of this this way. But in the realm of secrets children keep from their parents, this is pretty tame. It's not like he was on drugs or was involved in the disappearance of a drifter, right?

FINNEGAN: Yet. Yet.

OLBERMANN: Oh, yes.

FINNEGAN: Everybody knows, Keith, Americorps is a gateway organization. Sure, maybe it starts with cleaning up debris after a hurricane or some light tutoring. But how long before we have roving gangs of civic thugs holding up signs that say, will organize youth soccer league for food?

OLBERMANN: Well, now, you know, you brought up light tutoring and that leads me directly into the guy who has the conscience of America with him in a brown paper bag at all times, former Senator Rick Santorum, who has revealed that he's heading to Iowa in October, presumably to kick the tires on a run for the presidency.

Is the country finally ready for a president who has publicly equated homosexuality with man on dog sex?

FINNEGAN: God, would I love to spend ten minutes inside the political echo chamber that allows someone like Rick Santorum to think he could be elected president of the United States. I mean, late period Elvis was more grounded in reality than this guy.

I've actually made a short series of things that are more likely to happen than Rick Santorum getting elected president. The movie "G.I. Joe" sweeps the Independent Spirit Awards. Steve Bartman is elected mayor of Chicago.

OLBERMANN: Very good.

FINNEGAN: Noam Chompsky is added to the cast of "Gossip Girl." And a sex tape surfaces featuring Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and a sex doll with Ronald Reagan's face pasted on the front. Actually, I'm sorry. That should have been the category of things that have happened.

OLBERMANN: Yes, exactly. Santorum is, in fact, downplaying that Iowa visit. But he did say your voice becomes more amplified. It sounds like a message from Thomas Edison. The recording device will always distort the human voice. Your voice becomes more amplified in a place like Iowa or New Hampshire. Is that the lesson for the Republicans? Don't change the message. Just turn it up to 11.

FINNEGAN: Don't underestimate the power of sheer volume, Keith. If these town hall protests have proved anything-in fact you don't need to say anything, just sheer noise. A bit of a display here. Do me a favor, in a short sentence, describe to me the public option.

OLBERMANN: Umm-an alternative to the-

(CROSS TALK)

FINNEGAN: See how effective that is, Keith?

OLBERMANN: The talking stain commercial comes to mind suddenly. Santorum and 2012, all the other possibilities seem to have come back to the pack for various reasons. At this point, if the Republicans had to nominate somebody today for 2012, who would it be? And you can't pick Paula Abdul.

FINNEGAN: OK. Well, judging by the attendance of these sort of right wing people at the town hall protests, I am thinking maybe Angela Lansbury, although then that might reawaken the whole birther movement.

OLBERMANN: Yes, Angela Lansbury is really very cool. Comedian Christian Finnegan, also very cool. Thank you for your time.

FINNEGAN: Thanks. Happy anniversary to my wife. Hi Cambri (ph).

OLBERMANN: That'll be 20 dollars. That's COUNTDOWN for this the 2,295th day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, go forth and spread beauty and light.

And now to discuss, firsthand, the realities of this time of hate and threat with her guest, Dr. Warren Hern, ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow. Good evening, Rachel.

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

END

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

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,