updated 9/25/2009 11:23:10 AM ET 2009-09-25T15:23:10

Guests: Howard Fineman, Jonathan Alter, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, Michael Moore, Craig Crawford

           

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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

Health wars: What do you call a fight between a senator who wants no reform and a senator who wants reform that boosts insurance industry profits?  You call it damn entertaining!

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JON KYL ®, ARIZONA:  I‘ll complete my thought and then make another point, Mr. Chairman.

SEN. MAX BAUCUS (D), CHAIRMAN, FINANCE CMTE.:  You‘re delaying, Senator.  And we just have to move on.

KYL:  Mr. Chairman, I am not delaying.  I‘m making an extremely important point.

BAUCUS:  It‘s very, very important point, but you‘re also delaying.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Howard Johnson is right.

The Republicans going to a stall that borders on a sit-in, Senator Roberts with the most transparent, pro-corporation proposal yet.

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SEN. PAT ROBERTS ®, KANSAS:  We would at least have 72 hours for the people that the providers have hired to keep up with all of the legislation that we passed around here.

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OLBERMANN:  The people that the health care providers have hired to keep up with all the legislation.  That would be—you, Senator!  And the other Republicans and Baucus over there!

Senator Jay Rockefeller on the fate of real health care reform, Howard Fineman on the pure politics of total inertia, and Jonathan Alter on the newest Republican brainstorm—Senator DeMint says the president is ignoring more important stuff.

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SEN. JIM DEMINT ®, SOUTH CAROLINA:  He‘s working on other issues such as health care and he‘s putting off the decision on Afghanistan, which I think puts our troops at risk.  So, he needs to focus on priorities right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Like getting more money to the corporations.  Who‘s thinking about the corporations when somebody‘s thinking about the corporations?  Our special guest tonight, as his new movie, “Capitalism” premieres, Michael Moore.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER:  We‘re here to get the money back for the American people.  I got more bags, 10 billion probably won‘t fit in here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Sarah Palin on her next career or job or whatever.

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SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR:  You know, I wish I could predict the future, cannot, so can‘t answer that question right now.

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OLBERMANN:  And two of the all-time worst “Worsts.”

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SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS:  Turn this water on now.

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OLBERMANN:  This water of which you speak.  Sean, it was turn on on June 30th.  Oh, and Glenn Beck has endorsed that part of the Constitution that required the continuation of slavery in this country.  You heard me—

Glenn Beck has endorsed constitutionally-supported slavery!

All that and more—now on COUNTDOWN.

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GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS:  Who doesn‘t love these guys, huh?

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OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.

If you‘re examining health care reform and you suspected diagnosis of filibusteritis issue for certain symptom: patient regurgitates what he already said, or truly desperate, spits out some truth—like admitting he is repeating himself or who he works for.

And as you‘ll see in our fifth story tonight: The diagnosis is in—filibusteritis, or as it‘s also known clinically, Kyl‘s disease, Republicans have got it bad, and that ain‘t good.

The GOP‘s latest efforts: stop everything.  The Senate Finance Committee has hundreds of amendments Republicans have offered to halt, slow or politicized it‘s final health care reform bill with thousands losing their insurance daily, time is of the essence.  But after some public debate preceded by a year of campaign debate, preceded by decades of legislative debate, Republicans now say, “Not so fast.”  Because, you know, it‘s just too much excitement.

Senator Jim Bunning there is offering an amendment in the spirit of a newfound GOP love for transparency to mandate posting online a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the final legislative language 72 hours before voting.  The analysis would itself take two weeks.

Even though Chairman Max Baucus says a plain English version will go online before the vote, Senator Pat Roberts defended the delay and revealed exactly who it is for.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS:  The thing I‘m trying to point out is that we would at least have 72 hours for the people that the providers have hired to keep up with all of the legislation that we passed around here and the regulations that we passed around here to say, “Hey, wait a minute.  Have you consider this?”  And that‘s all—that‘s all I‘m asking.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  People that providers have hired, that‘s—that‘s you, Senator, who took $174,000 from big pharma and medical suppliers in the last five years.  And your bosses, Senator Roberts, they already know what your committee is doing.

“Roll Call” is reporting that pharma‘s top priority, killing a proposal, quote, “to pay lower rates for prescription drugs”—which you opposed.  Heck of a job, Robbie!

Today, Democrats called out Republicans for their delay tactics.  Arizona‘s Jon Kyl took umbrage of the acquisition, even though he had just admitted he was saying the same thing, quote, “As I pointed out in my opening statement, I wanted to quote, note one example I gave.”  In a clip you‘re about to see, he acknowledges a third time he already pointed out what he is yet to say—in other words, he quotes his own words which he had already said at the same committee but still angrily denies he‘s filibustering.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KYL:  What‘s one of the cost drivers?  Well, I pointed out a study.

BAUCUS:  Senator.

KYL:  . that said that a hundred.

BAUCUS:  Senator, we get the point.

KYL:  Mr. Chairman, let me just complete my thought here.

BAUCUS:  In about one minute, you‘ll complete your thought.  OK, we got to.

KYL:  I‘ll complete my thought and then make another point, Mr.

Chairman.

BAUCUS:  You‘re delaying, Senator, and we just have to move on.

KYL:  Mr. Chairman, I am not delaying.  I‘m making an extremely important point.

BAUCUS:  It‘s very, very important point, but you‘re also delaying. 

So, let‘s—other senators have amendments they wish to offer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mr. Chairman.

BAUCUS:  Just go ahead, complete your thought, then I‘m going to have to recognize other senator, in deference to and courtesy—be courteous to other senators who also want.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mr. Chairman, it‘s courteous if you don‘t interrupt somebody right in the middle of the sentence of an important point they‘re trying to make.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  You know, I last eight minutes in elected office.

Falling himself away from the finance committee festival of amendments tonight—West Virginia Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller, who chairs the subcommittee on health care.

Great, thanks for your time tonight, Senator.

SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER (D), WEST VIRGINIA:  Thanks, Keith.  I was there. 

I didn‘t realize it was that bad.

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  It was that bad.

“Politico” reporting tonight that the blue dog Democrats in the House want to delay their floor vote until after the Senate has its bill completed.  Does that shed any light on what you have called the substantial slow walk in your own committee?

ROCKEFELLER:  No, because we don‘t have any blue dogs on our committee.  We have Republicans—and that more than makes up for it.

It is absolutely extraordinary.  I think the average amendment that the Republicans offered, or ones that they were trying to beat down that we offered took up one hour in which people talked endlessly, endlessly, endlessly.  And I‘ve never seen anything like it, but I just love the way you put that together into a montage that just showed how really pathetic it was.

Under the guise of doing something that the nation desperately needs, which is to lower the cost of health care and raise the quality of health care.  And which is what the public option is all about.  That will happen tomorrow.  And what they will try to do with that, you probably ought to have a couple of shows on.

OLBERMANN:  Well, fortunately we do.  “Roll Call” is reporting tonight on the subject of the public option that you don‘t seem to have—by their tally—the votes to get the public option into your bill when that amendment comes up tomorrow.  There was a telephone news conference tonight in which you said you have a good shot, but you did not explain why you think that.  So I think the obvious question here is, why do you think that?

ROCKEFELLER:  Well, one reason I think that is that near the end of today‘s earlier session, we passed something 15-3, which everybody said would never, ever pass the Senate Finance Committee.  And that is something called MedPAC, which takes away from the lobbyists and takes away from the senators and congressmen.  The right to set reimbursement rates for hospitals, doctors, and all of the rest.  That needs to be done professionally.

Right now, it‘s a political exercise, a fund-raising exercise, and it‘s shameful.  And, you know what?  Everybody went along with it.  You know, maybe they were just ashamed not to, I don‘t know.  But the amendment passed.  So, to me, nothing is impossible, and that particularly includes the public option.

OLBERMANN:  Shame works under these circumstances, as I‘m sure you know.  Senator Roberts said—he openly said this—that he wants the medical companies to have a chance for their people to go over the final legislative language.  Why big companies, specifically?

ROCKEFELLER:  Well, I mean, that whole thing is a joke.  The idea of -

Kent Conrad took out and said—this is—this is what you‘re going to have, Mr. Roberts.  And he took out three legislative pages written by lawyers.  And not one person in the room understood a single word that was said.  However, the point wasn‘t registered on Mr. Roberts or others.  It went right ahead as usual.

           

Obviously, you don‘t write legislation, you write it for lawyers.  Now, it‘s all posted on all of the Web sites available anywhere in the western world.  I‘m sure this is true in Lithuania and Scandinavia and all over.  But they want the language printed.  And it actually is printed.  And it‘s there for people to see.  Options and different amendments are coming up almost as we speak.  And it makes it very difficult.

But it‘s a terrible demonstration, Keith.  It‘s a terrible demonstration of public irresponsibility, the way the Republicans are behaving on this.  I mean, health care—look, I come from West Virginia, I went there as a volunteer.  I‘ve lived with people that have a whole lot that they need in life, including health care.  They are under the control of insurance companies.

This Congress, at least a part of it, appears to be under the control of insurance companies.  In fact, what we basically are doing here is raising more subsidies to subsidize insurance companies to do what they ought to be doing anyway—which is why the public option is so important, because it doesn‘t have to make a profit, it doesn‘t have any shareholders, it doesn‘t have to report to Wall Street, it doesn‘t have any marble buildings.  And when it passes, people are going to have a real choice, and they‘re going to—a lot of them are going to pick.

And what‘s interesting with that is the public option.  What‘s interesting is that, including single-payer, which is about 20 percent of all doctors in this country, an additional 50 percent or 60 percent of all doctors in this country want the public option.  No, they‘re not afraid of the public option.  They want the public option—because it‘s going to make things a lot clearer and take away a lot of paperwork.  In other words, get—minimize the insurance companies‘ roles.

OLBERMANN:  Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and the finance committee—great thanks for making time for us tonight, and as tomorrow, and the vote on the public option and your committee.  Good luck and bring your sandwiches with you.  You‘ll probably be in there for a while.

ROCKEFELLER:  Yes, you got it.  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  Thank you, sir.  Thank you.

Let‘s turn now to MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent and, of course, political columnist for “Newsweek” magazine.

Howard, good evening.

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  All right.  You heard Senator Rockefeller on the public option—just now, enthusiastic, at least optimistic or hopeful, invoking the MedPAC 15-3 vote today.  Is he going to get what he wants?

FINEMAN:  I‘m not sure he is, Keith, because the Senate leaders are looking at the big vote on the floor of the Senate.  They want to try to get 60 votes to shut off debate if they can, so they can pass off a real bill, not a Swiss cheese bill through reconciliation.  They‘ve got their new senator.  They‘re going to have their temporary senator from Massachusetts, Paul Kirk, who is going to fill in.

They got a chance to get it, and if that public option is in there, I think the possibility exists that they could lose two or three conservative Democrats in the Senate.  They wouldn‘t then get that 60 votes to have the real bill.  So I‘m not sure it‘s going to work.  I think there is a lot of sentiment for it, and it‘s good for the Democrats on the House side for Senator Rockefeller to be touting this, and to be talking about it, and to be passionate about it, because there is more passion on the House side for the public option.

If you want to keep those House Democrats in the ball game, you want to keep them enthusiastic, all this is pointing toward that conference committee that they hope to have sometime down the road.

OLBERMANN:  Is that the White House strategy at the bottom of this?  That the Democrats would let the Republicans try to kill all reform, which they can‘t do, where they don‘t clearly have the votes to do it, but exhaust their possibilities, and the Democrats pass whatever they can in each chamber.  Then in the conference, the Senate Democrats and the House Democrats decide between them what goes to the president, but the president has his people in there saying, “You‘ve got the public option from at least the House side, probably not from the Senate side.”

Can the public options survive the conference?  I guess that‘s the bottom line.

FINEMAN:  Well, it might be able to.  And that might be the plan.  Although I‘ve got to say, down at the White House, I mean, I‘ve heard this for months, they‘ve downplayed the public option from the very beginning, Keith, because they realize the treacherousness of it in the Senate.  So, it‘s a very complicated Machiavellian game going on.  I think Barack Obama wants it.

I think some of his advisors have told him that if you‘re too public about it, if you insist on it, if you push too hard, it will complicate things.  Let‘s wait to see what we can get at the end.

I wouldn‘t rule it out.  I totally agree with you.  I wouldn‘t rule it out.  You can commit at the very end, let‘s see.

OLBERMANN:  Does it mean anything that Senator Snowe did not appear at the news conference that the GOP members of Senator Rockefeller‘s committee held today?

FINEMAN:  I think it means a lot.  I think she‘s still in play.   I think she‘s the big—the big kahuna on the Republican side.  I think she clearly wants to be part of it.  I think she wants to vote for it in the end, if there is any way she can see her way clear to do it, I think she‘ll do it.  And that she‘s still there.

Even though Paul Kirk is coming down from Massachusetts, Olympia Snowe is still a very key player and I think could be until the very end.

OLBERMANN:  Howard Fineman of “Newsweek” and MSNBC, it will be a big day tomorrow.  Great thanks for helping us.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  Can I also say, Keith, you said you would last eight minutes in politics?

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

FINEMAN:  I think you‘re being generous.

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  Howard won‘t be back.  Thanks, Howard.  Talk to you soon.

FINEMAN:  OK.

OLBERMANN:  So, of course, the president has dealt with nothing but health care reform since, I don‘t know, the late 1800s—which is why he was chairing the U.N. Security Council today, spoke on climate change, on Middle East peace, on nuclear proliferation, went to Troy, New York, to investigate job retraining and its impact on the economic bounce-back.  Yet the latest Republican‘s stall is the president has taken his eye off Afghanistan, because he is thinking only of health care reform.  Ironies untold continue to unfold.  This is from the same people who took their eye off Afghanistan so we can go into Iraq!

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OLBERMANN:  Republicans say Obama is ignoring Afghanistan to focus on health care, forgetting that the president who cannot multi-task left office eight months and four days ago.

One year ago today, John McCain‘s campaign cratered in part on Letterman, and you were there.  By you, I mean me.  Thus, your special guest tonight here in the studio is Michael Moore, and you are really going to take off on Glenn Beck for, in effect, endorsing slavery.

And I am watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  One year ago tonight when Senator John McCain suddenly announced it would be necessary for him to stop campaigning for a time so that the nation could focus on the economic crisis for which he had tried to blame his opponent—and, oh, by the way, had to postpone that week‘s first presidential debate.  Then Senator Barack Obama responded saying he believes, quote, “It is going to be the part of the president‘s job to deal with more than one thing at once.”

Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: After eight years of President Bush, Republicans still incredulous that a chief executive might be able to walk and chew gum at the same time, now accusing this president of putting troops in Afghanistan at risk by focusing not on them, but instead, as if it were an either/or on health care reform.

Merely the latest “say anything” attack in the GOP‘s continuing effort to make sure there is no health care reform, you will recall that the commander-in-chief now reviewing his administration‘s strategy in Afghanistan, his top commander there, General Stanley McChrystal, having recommended earlier this week in a leaked memo that unless more troops are sent to that conflict, it will, quote, “likely result in failure.”

Senator Jim “Waterloo” DeMint of South Carolina complained to ABCNews.com that the president is dragging his feet on the request because he has taken his eye off the ball.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEMINT:  The problem is, is that the war in Afghanistan and our economy are our two biggest issues.  But he is working on other issues such as health care, and he‘s putting off the decision on Afghanistan, which I think puts our troops at risk.  So he needs to focus on priorities right now, and not try to ram so many things down our throat here in Congress.  He needs to address the issue of Afghanistan quickly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  We have to make one meal at a time.

Time now to call in our own Jonathan Alter, senior editor at “Newsweek” magazine.

Thank you for coming, Jon.

JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  The questions about Afghanistan and the irony of that being the topic du jour in a moment.  But this is how the GOP somehow convinces Americans that the health care system is not really in crisis, that it does not need to be a priority, and is anybody actually buying that?

ALTER:  It‘s a pretty lame argument.  I don‘t remember Jim DeMint saying when George W. Bush was proposing to reform Social Security a few years ago that somehow he was putting the troops at risk in Iraq, because he was worried about some domestic issue.

Look, the Republicans at this point are basically irrelevant to the process.  I know that sounds like a harsh and definitive thing to say, but they‘ve taken a hard right off the main highway of American politics.  And Democrats don‘t need their votes.  And whatever noise they make is ambient noise.  It‘s not really relevant to how any of this shakes out.

OLBERMANN:  Or in this context, it‘s ambient noise, perhaps.  You have bizarre behavior that there may not be any memory of later.  And DeMint is a great example of this.

There is a Harvard study that‘s come out that says 4,500 Americans each year are now dying because they don‘t have health insurance.  That is one every twelve minutes, five per hour.  Does that not qualify—even in the context, even ceding DeMint the idea that this is a legitimate argument and not another straw man, but does that not qualify as a stunning casually list if that‘s what we‘re talking about, to compete with the worst conflict imaginable?  And, you know, why does Jim DeMint hate American sick people?

ALTER:  Well, you know, it‘s 10 times as many people as we lost in Iraq, 10 times as many as we lost on 9/11.  Look, it‘s possible to overstate this.  There are a lot of things that are very good about the American health care system.  A lot of people come from other countries to get treatment here.

But there are fundamental flaws that anybody who is involved in this system knows are deeply problematic.  And the one you pointed to, which is basically discrimination against sick people, that‘s what the status quo does.  It discriminates against people, and caught—pushes them into medical bankruptcy for no other reason that they‘re sick.

And this bill—whatever version passes—will end that.  And in that sense, it‘s the most important civil rights legislation we‘ve had in this country in a generation.

OLBERMANN:  The political audacity of this.  DeMint was the one who said that health care reform, when Obama lost on it, would be his waterloo.  So, the Republicans spend the summer whipping up the politics of this situation to near revolt status, at least that‘s the way they‘d like to portray it.  And Obama is then criticized for devoting any time to it?  I mean, it just—it seems like—one side starts a fight and is offended when somebody stands up to the bully in the equation.  I don‘t understand this.

ALTER:  Yes, well, you saw they said that when Wilson was reprimanded, that that somehow was a distraction or taking our eye off the ball of health care and took all of five minutes to push that through.  So, they‘re getting to the bottom of the barrel of their arguments.  And I think that that is a happy indicator that we are moving towards some kind of resolution.

There are a lot of tough issues.  There are a lot of moving parts in this bill.  There is an opportunity, as Senator Rockefeller said, at the 11th hour, get some real important things, like a public option, back into this bill in conference.

They also need to pay attention to insurance regulation, which has not been talked about nearly enough.  You have a lot of people in this country who have been hit by 20 percent annual premium increases that those increases need to be capped, there need to be rock-solid regulations of the insurance companies cannot get around, so they stop gouging people.

So, there are a lot of details here.  And I think it‘s important for the press and all of us to stay on top of this, and sort of follow the way we follow sports and really get into the sausage-making factor.

OLBERMANN:  Last point.  The—it‘s not just DeMint, McCain has done this, Boehner has done this, and the comparison to Afghanistan and not prioritizing it.  Am I hallucinating this, or were these not the same men who enabled George Bush to take his eye off the ball.

ALTER:  Yes.

OLBERMANN:  . and get out of Afghanistan and focus on nothing in Iraq for seven years?

ALTER:  Great point.  I mean, the reason that we‘re in this soup right now, in Afghanistan, is because they did not pay enough attention to it.  And Barack Obama ran partly on that.  And that complicates his situation right now, because he did make such a big deal during the campaign of us getting distracted from the real fight in Afghanistan—that it‘s going to be a little bit hard for him to walk away from this war.

OLBERMANN:  Well, but it‘s a separate—those two issues could be dealt with simultaneously.

ALTER:  Yes.

OLBERMANN:  Not either/or.

ALTER:  Yes.

OLBERMANN:  Jonathan Alter of “Newsweek” and MSNBC—again, thanks for coming in.

ALTER:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  I just mentioned that this is September 24th, “McCain Day.”  Let‘s flash back to the exact moment his campaign jumped a shark with Letterman and a cameo by yours truly.

We‘re all sick to death of this guy, but when he starts embracing that clause in the Constitution that made it illegal to ban slavery, I‘ve got to call him out again.  “Worst Persons” is ahead on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Michael Moore in a moment, and then Glenn Beck‘s endorsement not just of slavery, not just of constitutionally approved slavery, but of the continuation of slavery for another 20 years.  Genius, genius, I tell you.

First on this date in 2008, John McCain lost the election.  Suspending his campaign—as I mentioned—trying to suspend the debate, and worst of all, scheduled to be David Letterman‘s only guest a year ago tonight, McCain bailed out forcing Dave to bring in as a guest‘s guest—me.  And final nail, McCain then lied to Letterman about where he was going instead on his own show, and I got to watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, TV HOST:  Our people here were told, it‘s so serious, he‘s getting on a plane immediately and racing back to Washington.

And now, we‘ve just been told here—take a look, do we have it on the thing?

OLBERMANN:  This just in?

LETTERMAN:  This is going live.  This—there he is right there.

It doesn‘t seem to be racing to the airport, does he?

(LAUGHTER)

LETTERMAN:  This just gets uglier and uglier.  See what he has to say here.  This will be interesting.  I wonder if he‘ll mention me.  Hey, John, I‘ve got a question!

(LAUGHTER)

LETTERMAN:  Do you need a ride to the airport?

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  It will be in all the history books, like this.  Look, the caption will read, Letterman shown on the right, man on the left, “unidentified.”

Let‘s play “Oddball.”

Got to hear him twice tonight.

To Nottingham, England, where stag parties for bachelors are grand tradition, but they could be expensive.  So with the poor economy and all, the Brits turn to more frugal and unusual outings, like zorbing, which, as you can see, is defined as climbing inside a big inflated ball and falling down a hill.  Zorbing does tend to make people dizzy, but it‘s far better than a hangover.  And you will not wake up with a stranger in your bed, although there might be one lying on you. 

Another idea, driving a tank around.  I don‘t know about this one, gentlemen.  You might want to stick to something less lethal as you celebrate your last few days of freedom. 

To Kanjiripali (ph), India, watch carefully; the elephant either does not like cars or failed his drivers test by a lot.  And down goes to car. 

The incident involved a worker elephant.  It was pulling logs when it suddenly turned violent, attacking three vehicles in all.  Where‘s the cash for clunkers program when you really need it?  The rampage continued for hours, reportedly, with villagers obviously not too thrown by this, halfway trailing behind.  The pachyderm was eventually tranquilized and shipped to Nottingham, England for a stag party. 

He angered the auto industry, enraged the right, infuriated the health sector.  Now he premiers “Capitalism.”  They‘re really not going to like this.  Michael Moore joins me here next.  And what the Republicans used to say about the Democratic politicians criticizing Bush while he was out of the country or they were out of the country.  Obviously, Sarah Palin can do it.  You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Monday, May 10th, 1886; the Detroit Wolverines surprised the National League favorite, New York Giants, nine to two in Detroit.  Senator John Sherman of Ohio, brother of General William Tecumseh Sherman, celebrated his 63rd birthday.  And the Supreme Court of the United States issues its ruling in a little number we call Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company.  That affirmed that corporations were kind of like real people.  You couldn‘t tax them in ways you could tax real people, but, of course, you also couldn‘t send them to jail for anything, and they could be immortal. 

And in our third story tonight, the ruling also ultimately gave film maker Michael Moore his latest topic and it gave our country 123 years of the hell on Earth that is the legally sanctioned greedy vampire. 

The mere audacity of Mr. Moore exploring an issue is grist for controversy always.  But what you probably will not hear about the film “Capitalism” from its fiercest detractors is that it was produced in Travers City, a small town in Moore‘s beloved state, a state which still has the nation‘s highest unemployment rate, more than 15 percent. 

So Moore is looking through that window when he takes aim at policies that have largely benefited the richest one percent of our populous.  Former Republican Governor of Michigan William Milligan, who attended one of the Michigan premiers of the film, said, quote, the message of the injustices that still persist and prevail in our society, that‘s a powerful message. 

As always, in Michael‘s documentaries, he attempts to explain with dark comic frankness. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL MOORE, FILM MAKER:  The scam to swindle people out of the homes they already own was masterful.  Here‘s how it worked.  First, tell these owners that they own a bank.  And that bank is your home.  So if your home is worth 250,000 dollars, that makes you a quarter millionaire.  You‘re sitting on a gold mine.  You own your own bank, the bank of you. 

And you could use your bank to get more money.  Just refinance!  Everyone‘s doing it.  Of course, hidden in the dozens or hundreds of pages of fine print are tricky clauses that allow the bank to raise your interest rate to a number you didn‘t know about, perhaps so high that you wouldn‘t be able to repay your loan. 

But that‘s OK.  If you can‘t repay it, we‘ll just take your house. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Joining me now, as promised, Michael Moore, whose new documentary, “Capitalism, A Love Story,” opens nationwide next Friday.  Welcome. 

MOORE:  Thank you for having me here.  Great to meet you. 

OLBERMANN:  The mess that was exposed beginning a year ago basically this week, and which has become more shocking by the day, as we have realized what we funneled all this money into—was it sadly inevitable, or were there other ways to deal with it by the time it hit the tipping point? 

MOORE:  No, it was always going to happen, because we actually started on this path about 30 years ago with the election of Ronald Reagan.  And Reagan and his people, Don Regan in particular, his secretary of Treasury, who happened to be the chairman of Merrill Lynch at the time, they decided that the way for them to get even more filthy rich than they already were was to throw as many people out of work as they possibly could. 

They still were going to keep the company running.  They still going to make cars.  But let‘s see if we can get rid of half the work force and have the remaining half work twice as hard.  Don‘t give them any raise in their wages.  And think of the money we‘re going to make.  And that was the plan. 

And for a while, it worked.  Because for short-term gain, if you get rid of people, I mean, your bottom line is going to immediately look better, because that‘s your biggest expense.  But what it did in the long run is it decimated the middle class, and it killed the very people that were supposed to buy their cars or their TVs or washing machines or whatever was being built. 

And we stopped making things in this country, and we turned it over to a bunch of really psychotic people who had these crazy schemes about how to create virtual casinos down on Wall Street.  Take people‘s pensions and their 401(k)s, create betting schemes, where they would take out a bet against.  Then They would bet against the bet.  Then take out an insurance policy against both bets. 

It was just absolutely, absolutely crazy, insane.  And it has almost wrecked us. 

OLBERMANN:  The statement a year ago at this time was, if we did not intervene, if we did not pour in as much money as necessary for the banks, then the insurance industries and everything else, if we didn‘t give that money, it meant another Great Depression.  In retrospect, was there any truth to that? 

MOORE:  Well, we‘ll never know. 

OLBERMANN:  Yes. 

MOORE:  But they are masters at manipulating the fear in people.  I mean, it had—everyone had to act right away.  We couldn‘t have any hearings.  You could—don‘t even read the bill. 

OLBERMANN:  No.  First off, it‘s written on the back of somebody‘s cocktail napkin. 

MOORE:  Right.  Two-and-a-half pages long, about a billion dollars a word. 

Don‘t read the bill, just pass it.  And I mean, these guys are—boy, they‘re great at what they do.  And it was almost a replay, because here it was six weeks, eight weeks before the election.  You know, go back to 2002, six, eight weeks before the election, mushroom clouds, missiles hitting London, et cetera, et cetera.  You know, steel rods, balloons. 

OLBERMANN:  Gliders that could make it here from Baghdad.  Don‘t forget the gliders, and the trailers that were full of latrines. 

MOORE:  All that stuff, to get everybody all like this, and to do it to Congress before they‘re up for re-election.  And make them afraid that if they vote against this—

OLBERMANN:  Yes. 

MOORE:  -- then they‘re for Saddam.  And so now flip ahead to 2008, if you don‘t vote for this bailout, you‘re against the American people.  You want to destroy the teachers‘ pension fund.  I mean, if they really—they had—geez.  You know, this is what bugs me, Keith, is they actually are smarter than you and I.  They pull this stuff off.  And they get away with it.  They get away with murder.

And here we are a year later.  Remember that first few weeks, what we need are more regulations, just get the rules back in place, and we‘ll be OK.  So here we are a year later. 

OLBERMANN:  Nothing. 

MOORE:  Where‘s the rules?  And let me tell you something, a year from now, won‘t be anything either. 

OLBERMANN:  Exactly. 

MOORE:  Until the people at home decide to say that‘s it. 

OLBERMANN:  All right.  Now, is that still capable of happening, because as I mentioned, it‘s 1886 since the Santa Clara decision, which changed—created these sort of semi-humans.  Has there ever been a real chance to get control of the nation back from the corporations after that point? 

MOORE:  Well, there have been attempts to do that.  But, of course, especially with the conservative court of recent years, they want to protect the rights of these corporations.  They believe that money equals free speech.  I mean, there‘s a case they‘re going to decide this year that I got kind of wrangled into, because of this anti-Hillary movie that was made as an ad, saying, well, Michael Moore gets to make “Fahrenheit 911”—of course, that‘s actually a movie that wins the Palme d‘Or.  My feelings are actually—and I don‘t work for the Democratic party. 

It‘s an actually movie.  It‘s not an ad.  But the Supreme Court may rule in favor of these corporations, may be able to not have to follow the election laws and do things like that business did. 

OLBERMANN:  Is the—the one saving grace in the corporate system we were talking about this before was that it—the reason—it‘s the reason you can make your films.  It‘s the reason I can do my show without being thrown out of the windows up there.  The corporation is not necessarily immoral.  It‘s amoral.  If you make it money, most of the time it will let you do—it is built in to sustain itself, even when we‘re at—doing whatever it is we do best, correct? 

MOORE:  Right.  Because—well, because the corporation is obviously just in the business of making money.  And it doesn‘t really matter how it makes—this is why I say capitalism is such an immoral system, because it is only about making the money.  But you and I are—because of that crack in the system that allows even us to do this, because we make the money.  Trust me, if we didn‘t make the, money, it would be the last you would hear from us. 

OLBERMANN:  That‘s right.  Good night, everybody, yes. 

MOORE:  But so—but here‘s the thing, though.  This is when they‘ll stop putting you on the air, and when they‘ll stop distributing my movies.  If people, after they get done watching COUNTDOWN each night, or after they leave the movie theater for my movie, if they actually get up off the couch, get out of that theater seat and do something.  If your bosses at GE or my distributor at Viacom and Liberty Media decides that oh, my god, look what happened; we put this movie in theaters and now the people are revolting?  And our lobbyists aren‘t get their way in Congress?  The representatives are actually doing what the people want?  That‘s when they‘re going to maybe say, OK, this is a mistake. 

So my appeal to the viewers is, put Keith and me out of business. 

OLBERMANN:  I was just going to say, you‘re willing to make that trade? 

MOORE:  Absolutely. 

OLBERMANN:  Me too. 

MOORE: Oh, god, yes, sir.  Let‘s go fishing.

OLBERMANN:  That‘s it.  And we can go to a ball game.  Michael Moore‘s movie is “Capitalism: A Love Story.”  Great luck with it.  A pleasure to meet you.  You have done great work for this country, sir. 

MOORE:  Thank you for being here every night. 

OLBERMANN:  Thank you for being here this night.  And we better stop with the thank yous or the rest of the show won‘t happen.  Here is the subject of capitalism in action; Sarah Palin talking to Chinese communist bankers, and ripping the president as she does so.  Perfect. 

And then our friend, Lonesome Roads, defending Article I, Section Nine, Clause I of the Constitution, the part that made it illegal to ban slavery, and he is in favor of that.  Worst persons ahead. 

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, exclusive expose‘ about Acorn.  Namely that 80 percent of the mainstream media stories done about Acorn are not true. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Sarah Palin explains death panels.  No, me first.  Sarah Palin explains death panels to youth in Asia.  Not youth, really, most middle-aged dudes.  That‘s next, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s number two story, tonight‘s worst persons in the world. 

The bronze to Sean Hannity, demagoguing live from California‘s Central Valley.  He accused the administration and radical environmentalists of causing a drought there in order to protect a fish called the Delta Smelt. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Today, their water is gone.  Shut off by the government.  With all the money being spent on a failed stimulus, health care reform and bailing out Wall Street banks, the solution here is relatively simple.  Turn the water back on. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The Department of the Interior turned the water back on on the 30th of June.  The pumping restrictions ended nearly three months ago.  You missed it, Sean.  So too did the “Washington Times,” Michelle Malkin, the “Wall Street Journal” editorial page, the rest of the moron‘s echo chamber.  Check the water you‘re standing in, Sean.  There is a shark in there that you just jumped. 

Runner up, Chuck Norris, describes the 9/12 wash-out as a, quote, revolutionary movement, and writes that to keep it going you should take down your heathen modern American flag, quote, over the next year, post the 13 star Betsy Ross flag, Navy Jack or Gadsen‘s Flag, Don‘t Tread on Me, or any representation that tells the story of Old Glory, and makes a stand for our founder‘s vision of America.  If you insist on posting a modern USA flag, too, then get that one that is tea-stained to show your solidarity with our founders.” 

Stain the US flag?  Deliberately desecrate Old Glory?  Why does Chuck Norris hate the American flag? 

But our winner, Lonesome Roads Beck, quoting, praising, embracing Article I, Section Nine, Clause I of the Constitution, which reads, “the migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall that think proper to admit shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year 1808.  But a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding 10 dollars for each person.”  

You know what that part of the Constitution was about?  Glenn doesn‘t.  “That‘s right,” he writes.  “The founders actually put a price tag on coming to this country, ten dollars per person.  Apparently they felt like there was a value to being able to live here.  Not anymore.  These days, we can‘t ask anything of immigrants, including that they abide by our laws.” 

Glenn, Article I, Section nine, Clause I of the Constitution, it‘s a little confusing.  It is, after all, 18th century legalese.  But the key word in there is that the start, “the migration or importation of such persons.”  Importation of persons?  Buying slaves from other countries.  The clause Beck thinks has something to do with a price tag on coming to this country was, in fact, a clause that made it illegal to ban the importation of slaves until at least 1808, but gave Congress the right to tax a slave owner ten bucks for each slave he brought in. 

This is the fool who thinks he is Thomas Payne or Thomas Jefferson or somebody, or he thinks he and he alone is interpreting the meaning of the founders of the country.  And he thinks that clause requiring the continuation of slavery and making it constitutional for one American to own another is about immigration!  This guy may well be the dumbest man on the planet. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  As of two days ago, Sarah Palin‘s main foreign policy credential was her proximity to Russia.  Now freed from her pesky day job, the ex-governor of Alaska uses her coming out speech to, while on foreign soil, rail against the president, something her party used to view as akin to treason.  Our number one story, ex-Governor Palin shares her world view and hints at her political future. 

Maybe she can see 2012 from her podium.  More tonight on Palin‘s speech to investors in Hong Kong, closed to the press.  Now Governor Palin has deigned to post an excerpt on her Facebook page, slamming the Obama administration defense budget.  “We need to go back to fiscal discipline.  And unfortunately that has not been the view of the current administration.  Though we are engaged in two wars and face a diverse array of threats, it is the defense budget that has seen significant cuts and has actually been reduced from current levels.” 

Palin also disparaging the current U.S. policy toward China.  Today, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Howard Berman, saying of that, “leaving aside the propriety of criticizing the government while on her first to Asia, the assertion that the United States is ignoring areas of disagreement with China is flat wrong.” 

And after Palin explained fake euthanasia to a room full of bankers, as opposed to youth in Asia, it was time for tea parties and her own unemployment status.  “The town halls and tea party movement are both part of a growing grass roots consciousness among ordinary Americans, who decided that if they want real change, they must take the lead, not wait to be led.  Real change, and you know, you don‘t need a title to do it.” 

Meanwhile, on the way out of town, she had this to say about her political ambitions. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN, EX-GOVERNOR OF ALASKA:  You know, I wish I could predict the future.  Can not.  So can‘t answer that question right now.  But look forward to more opportunities to send good messages from the US and hopefully help meet some of the challenges. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Kind of got lost in that last sentence there.  Joining us now, MSNBC political analyst, columnist for CQPolitics.com, Craig Crawford.  Good evening, Craig. 

CRAIG CRAWFORD, CQPOLITICS.COM:  You‘ve got a pretty good Palin impression going there.  You‘ve got a future. 

OLBERMANN:  Well, I‘ve listened to Tina Fey very carefully.  Did we just get a glimpse at the future, according to Palin, even though she said she can‘t see it?  Does it involves these highly paid venues that are closed to the media, in which she can just go out and be as inflammatory as she damn well pleases? 

CRAWFORD:  As much as we trash her, Keith, she is in the cat bird seat.  She has just got us all, because I think she can tease this forever, and go all the way to the next presidential election.  My hunch is she is going to tease it all the way into New Hampshire and Iowa, maybe make trips there.  And she‘ll up and—we‘ll all be wondering all the way up to the filing day if she is going to run. 

But my guess is, she won‘t run, because fame and fortune is more important to her than power. 

OLBERMANN:  And you have to run for a long time, and that‘s not getting it done.  The idea of criticizing the president while abroad, this old politics ends at the water‘s edge stuff; if a Democrat had spoken to President Bush in those terms when either the Democrat or Bush were out of the country, that would have been considered akin to treason.  Where is the outrage from the right about her doing it in China of all places? 

CRAWFORD:  Well you know, like I think I‘ve said before, if hypocrisy was a virus among politicians, they would all be dead.  The thing is, I do recall—I remember Bill Clinton getting impeached while he was running a war in Bosnia.  And Republicans—if that had been reversed, Republicans would have called that treasonous, I suppose. 

But it‘s—it‘s all in the eye of the beholder.  And I think—you know, increasingly, what we‘re going to find is Republicans are just—because they‘re out of power, are just going to say anything. 

OLBERMANN:  Well, yes.  But why bring up death panels or tea parties in that environment, if you don‘t invite the media along?  Isn‘t that basically just wasting those references to your favorite topics? 

CRAWFORD:  Yes, I think part of her strategy in not inviting the media is because she is targeting the media, and because it makes us complain about it.  And then—and then we look like the accusers that she wants us to be.  And she is the martyr.  So it‘s hard to win in this situation with her. 

OLBERMANN:  Well, let‘s give her a minute to spin on this one here.  In Alaska, the Permanent Fund, which is this dividend that every man, woman and child gets from the state‘s oil income, lost 18 percent of its value this year.  And the thing is—the pay is going to be less than what it was last by about a half.  I guess 50 percent or so.  Is this the Palin legacy, when the going is going to get tough, get out well in advance? 

CRAWFORD:  I think, yes, when the going gets tough, the smart get out.  She has left Alaska perhaps just in time, in that sense.  But I think now she has it made.  She doesn‘t have any responsibility to govern.  That‘s why I think she may not actually ever run for president, because so long as she is not accountable to voters or for her views, she can say absolutely anything.  And she can lead her charge among conservatives who love to listen to her all the more, because she is avoiding scrutiny. 

OLBERMANN:  And she gets to keep the clothes this time.  Craig Crawford of CQPolitics.com.  Thank you, Craig. 

CRAWFORD:  And great to almost follow Michael Moore. 

OLBERMANN:  Yes, you‘re between Michael Moore and Ken Burns.  How about that? 

CRAWFORD:  It‘s a privilege. 

OLBERMANN:  That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 2,338th day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq.  I‘m Keith Olbermann.  To paraphrase Ron Burgundy‘s sign off, stay classy, COUNTDOWN-land.

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

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