updated 9/30/2009 10:54:46 AM ET 2009-09-30T14:54:46

Guests: Ron Wyden, Eric Burns, Shannyn Moore, Christian Finnegan

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DAVID SHUSTER, GUEST HOST (voice-over):  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

The assault on the public option.

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SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER (D), WEST VIRGINIA:  This will be optional.  Nobody has to do this.  I believe it says $50 billion.  That‘s a lot of money.

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SHUSTER:  Despite the choice, despite the savings, the Senate Finance Committee votes down two different public option amendments with the help of several Democrats.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The fine tally is eight ayes, 15 nays.

SEN. MAX BAUCUS (D), MONTANA:  The amendment fails.

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SHUSTER:  Where does the public option go from here?  Our guest:

Senator Wyden of Oregon.  And the politics of today‘s vote with Howard Fineman.

Sarah‘s story.

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TINA FEY, ACTRESS (impersonating Sarah Palin):  Listen up, everybody. 

I‘m going rogue right now.

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SHUSTER:  That‘s no joke.  That‘s the title of her new book, “Going Rogue: An American Life.”  The details about the new book and why is the publisher rushing the book to store shelves.

Selective indoctrination?  The right-wing noise machine still sounding at alarm.

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CHILDREN:  Can we make America better?  Yes, yes, we can.  Yes, yes, we can.

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SHUSTER:  Kids sing about Obama—it‘s indoctrination.  Kids sing about President Bush—not a problem.

And “The Hammer” is tough as nails.  Tom DeLay promises to keep on dancing.

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TOM DELAY ®, FMR. HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER:  I‘ve worked too hard, and even though my foot hurts, nothing‘s going to stop me from doing this dance tonight.

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SHUSTER:  And what‘s going to stop you from dropping your partner?

All that and more—now on COUNTDOWN.

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DELAY:  We‘re going to dance until it breaks.

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SHUSTER:  Good evening from New York.  I‘m David Shuster, sitting in for Keith Olbermann.

There are five health care bills in Congress—three in the House, two in the Senate—four have made it through committee so far.  All of them include a public option that would let Americans choose a government health care plan instead of a plan run by private insurance companies interested in maximizing profits.

Today, in our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: The one committee seen as having the best shot at enacting its vision of health care into law took up the public option and shot it down.  The smoking gun was in the hands of Democrats.

The Senate Finance Committee had two versions of the public option to consider today.  One of them from West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller—would have cost the drug companies billions of dollars by paying less for drugs.  The other, from New York‘s Chuck Schumer, opened the drug prices up for negotiation among other concessions.

Rockefeller‘s version was first out of the gate.  Republicans, led by ranking member Chuck Grassley, raised a number of options.  One, of course, their objection in principle to any program run by the government—which Mr. Grassley tried to explain: does not mean they oppose popular government health care programs like Medicare.

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SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK:  I‘d just like to know what you think of Medicare, a government-run program that‘s far more government-run than what‘s Senator Rockefeller is proposed.  Do you think Medicare is a good program?  Because most of the amendments on the other side have been aimed at preserving Medicare, a government-run program.

SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY ®, IOWA:  I think that Medicare is part of the social fabric of America, after 40 years, just like Social Security is.  And I don‘t say that because it‘s perfect.  There are a lot of things that need to be changed and a lot of the things in this legislation are changing a lot of things that‘s wrong with Medicare, and—and to say that I support it is not to say that it‘s the best system that it can be.

SCHUMER:  But it is a government-run plan, is that right?

GRASSLEY:  It is a government-run plan.

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SHUSTER:  Republicans had other arguments in their quiver.  Even if a public option by itself was a harmless or even a beneficial program, it could lead to something bad—an argument they originally used when they tried to block Medicare and Medicaid.

Today, when Grassley was challenged on how the public option would lead to a single-payer health care system, Mr. Grassley said the public option would lure so many people to it, private insurance would collapse.  Although the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated only 8 million people would join the public option in the next six years, Grassley had memorized other statistics to justify his slippery slope argument, including one from the conservative Heritage Foundation and one from—well, we‘ll explain in a moment.

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SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA:  Now, you just made a statement that it will lead to a single-payer.

GRASSLEY:  Yes.

GRASSLEY:  Well, you know, there are health economists around here, and I can only quote two, but I imagine there‘s dozens you can quote.  And the only reason I can quote two is because they‘re the only ones that I want to keep in my head to give people answers.  But one is, Heritage says that 83 million people are going to be forced out of their plan, employer plans into public option, and Lewin Group says 120 million people.

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SHUSTER:  The Lewin Group is owned by United Healthcare, which has spent millions of dollars opposing a public option.

Senator John Kerry pointed out that Rockefeller‘s public option had provisions built in that prevented it from going down a slippery slope to a single-payer plan and in doing so identified what he thinks is the real reason for Republican opposition.

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SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  Senator Hatch and others were talking about this is the first step to single-payer.  Well, if people are paying the premiums that are charged to cover the costs and it‘s not allowed to have a federal subsidy, and there‘s no bailout allowed, and after the first two years, the prices are set according to the private market negotiation—what are we scared of?  That Americans might like a competitive plan that is in fact paying for itself and providing good service?  If that suddenly sort of becomes something that Americans like more and go to?  More power to them.  That‘s precisely the choice that they ought to get.

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SHUSTER:  Republicans admitted it.  They oppose it because it might get popular.  Constituents might actually like it.

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SEN. JOHN ENSIGN ®, NEVADA:  Why we think all of this is a slippery slope toward government-run—complete government-run health care, complete government takeover of our health care system, is that a lot of the things that we do around here, we put into place—and supposedly safeguards are put into place, but when we see the effects and people like government programs, they then defend those government programs and they make them want to compete and want to survive that much more.

You know, as Ronald Reagan said, that the best way to eternal life is to become, you know, a government program.  You know, so if this—this thing is said, well, you know, if it doesn‘t survive on its own, it will go away.  Does anybody here really believe that this Congress would let this government program go away once it has constituency?

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SHUSTER:  In the end, though, it was Democratic Chairman Max Baucus leading four Democratic defectors against Rockefeller‘s public option and two against Schumer‘s more moderate version.  Baucus explaining in essence, it does not matter that Americans support it.

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BAUCUS:  My job is to put together a bill that would become law.  In the Senate, that means my job is to put together a bill that gets 60 votes.  Now, I can count, and no one has been able to show me how they can count up to 60 votes with a public option in the bill.  And thus, I‘m constrained to vote against the amendment.

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SHUSTER:  Chairman Baucus apparently unaware or not concerned that Senator Tom Harkin now sees a public option within striking distance for 50 votes in the Senate.

Senator Rockefeller rejecting the appearance given by both Mr. Baucus and President Obama that passing a bill outranks passing a good bill.

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ROCKEFELLER:  I don‘t—I don‘t buy it when somebody says, “I want to have a health care bill, I don‘t care what‘s in it.  I just want to have a health care bill so I can sign it.”  I‘m not referring to the president necessarily, but I don‘t like that philosophy.

We‘re here for serious purpose, for people who know our stuff.  We

spent thousands of hours preparing for these hearings that continue to go

on.  But most of all, I have to tell you that I‘m absolutely astounded that

my Republican colleagues are as satisfied as they are with the $483 billion

·         $483 billion of new subsidies—the chairman would disagree with that but I don‘t—being given to insurance companies on top of everything they‘re already getting.

           

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SHUSTER:  With us tonight from the finance committee is Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon.

And good evening, Senator.

SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON:  Thanks for having me.

SHUSTER:  Of course.  Ten Democrats on your committee voted for a public option today.  Is that a better or worse position than the public option held yesterday?

WYDEN:  My sense is that this fight is far from over, and, in fact, I‘m going to keep pushing for choice, both private choices and public choices, because that‘s how you get insurance company accountability.  Of course, we would have rather won today, but the fact of the matter is, Americans learned today that this system is walled off from competition and choice.  I‘ll be offering a proposal that gives all Americans choices, like members of Congress have.  Through competition, we can hold the insurance companies accountable.  This fight is far from over.

SHUSTER:  As far as Chairman Baucus, a Democrat, can you explain why he, Chairman Baucus, who unveiled a reform blueprint a year ago that had a public option, has been drifting away ever since, culminating with his vote against the public option twice today?  Even though he said he still supports the public option—I mean, how can he claim to have any credibility?  Who are his real constituents?  Are they the three Republican moderates he‘s hoping to attract?

WYDEN:  I‘ll take him at his word, but I think we‘ve got an opportunity to round up the votes on the floor of the United States Senate.  And I want to make sure that all Americans can have choices.  For example, under the public option approaches that had been taken in previous bills, more than 85 percent of the country wouldn‘t be able to choose a public option.  Let‘s make sure these choices are available to all Americans.  That‘s what my proposal, the “Free Choice” proposal, would to do tomorrow.

SHUSTER:  Senator Rockefeller, who saw his public option amendment defeated today, said that the underlying Baucus bill—that‘s the basis for all these amendments—is now shaping up as almost a half a trillion dollar giveaway to the insurance companies.  Rockefeller doesn‘t sound like a sure bet therefore to help pass reform without a public option.  Does Chairman Baucus have 60 Democratic votes without a public option?  Does he have your vote without any sort of public option?

WYDEN:  I‘m certainly not going to support legislation that doesn‘t let consumers hold insurers accountable.  If you got somebody, for example, at a midsize company and their insurer is abusing them, just ripping them off, giving them crummy, overpriced service thee way these bills are written now, the consumer couldn‘t go get anything else.  That‘s not right.

Members of Congress in the Washington, D.C. area, if their insurer rips them off in the fall of 2009, come January of 2010, they have more than a dozen, good quality, affordable choices.  When the insurance companies can‘t discriminate against them, low administrative cost, I think a lot of us on the Senate Finance Committee are going to insist on the opportunity for consumers that real accountability over the insurance industry.

SHUSTER:  You mentioned that your proposal, which I imagine that you‘re going to introduce tomorrow, depending on the timing.  What sort of support does it have among the Republican Caucus right now and do you fear that some of the Democrats will say, “Wait a second, we don‘t want to go with Wyden‘s proposal because that will perhaps mean that there won‘t be any sort of public amendment that might introduced on the Senate floor”?

WYDEN:  I think it‘s attractive to both sides.  For example, I think, Republicans ought to look at our proposal and say choice in competition—that‘s what the Republicans are all about.  That‘s the free enterprise system.  That‘s how you make markets work.

For Democrats, what I‘ve said, and I voted for both of the proposals today, is, let‘s make sure that all of Americans have choice.  I remember the summer and all of the rallies, I‘d see folks carrying those public option signs and I‘d have to tell them more than 85 percent of you won‘t get to choose the public option and folks were practically falling out of the bleachers.  They want everybody to have choice.

So, I think we have arguments for both sides of the aisle, and I think once all Americans have choice and are in a position to hold the insurance companies accountable, that is genuine transformation of the American health system.

SHUSTER:  Bottom line—what does the Baucus bill have to be changed to in order to make sure it holds all the Democrats and still, I suppose, leaves open the option of a couple of Republicans joining in?

WYDEN:  What I think colleagues are looking for is, first and foremost, affordability.  You know, under this legislation, Americans are going to be required to buy health coverage.  If it‘s crummy coverage and you don‘t have choice and you‘re forced to buy it, you‘re not going to see people very happy about that.  So, I think affordability and making sure that consumers have choice so they can hold these insurance industry accountable—those are going to be the key issues.

And I think choice and affordability are two sides of the same coin.  If your policy isn‘t affordable for you and your family, you ought to be able to get something else, particularly the kind of coverage members of Congress have.

SHUSTER:  Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat from Oregon, in the midst of a fascinating markup hearing in the Senate Finance Committee.  And, Senator, thanks as always for coming on.  We appreciate it.

WYDEN:  Thanks for having me.

SHUSTER:  You‘re welcome.

Coming up: What do today‘s votes in the public option tell us about what‘s ahead in the health care fight?  Howard Fineman of “Newsweek” joins us next.

And later, more FOX News follies—school kids sing about President Obama so, of course, they‘re being indoctrinated.  But when the songs are about President Bush, there‘s nothing to worry about there.

And Sarah Palin‘s new book, it‘s coming out faster than anyone thought.  Why is that?  And what does it say about Palin‘s priorities?

Still ahead tonight on COUNTDOWN.

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SHUSTER:  Coming up: The political battle over health care reform.  Where will Democrats go from here after a handful of their own party blocked the public option for getting out of the Senate Finance Committee today?  Howard Fineman joins us.

And later: Political second act.  Sarah Palin‘s new book and Tom DeLay‘s dancing career.  That‘s next.

This is COUNTDOWN.

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SHUSTER:  Senator Schumer‘s mantra about the public option for health care reform has been this: that the fight was toughest in the finance committee, though it would get easier on the Senate floor and would be easier still when the Senate and the House get together to reconcile their proposals.

And in our fourth story tonight: Schumer‘s claim that the more Congress talks about the public option, the better its chances get because supporters can bat down the lies about it and its support then grows.

A new poll from the Kaiser Foundation finds support for health care reform overall is rebounding from the pounding it took this summer, but will that be enough?

Let‘s bring in MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman, also political columnist and senior Washington correspondent for “Newsweek.”

Howard, great to see you.

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Hi, David.

SHUSTER:  Was today a sign of hope or dead-end for the public option?

FINEMAN:  Well, it was sort of a barely alive, semi dead-end.  It ain‘t over, because there are at least four major steps in this process: the final vote in the finance committee; a vote on the Senate floor out of the combined bills from finance and the health committee in the Senate; then if it goes to conference, which it then would, with the Senate and the House, and an agreement there if there is one; and then final votes in the House and Senate.  Those are all opportunities for supporters of the public option to keep trying.  It ain‘t over until it‘s over.

SHUSTER:  Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, wants Republican support for the Baucus bill, which is the baseline for the amendment action in the finance committee.  Max Baucus also wants Republican support, enough to vote against things, he said, he supports.

FINEMAN:  Right.

SHUSTER:  First, why are Democrats like Nelson and Baucus more concerned about the other party than the members of their own that they might lose?  And second, why all of this concern for a Republican Party that would happily steamroll the Democrats?

FINEMAN:  Yes.  Well, let me take the second question first, David.  I think that people like Max Baucus and Ben Nelson don‘t really understand the Republican Party of today.  It‘s a thoroughly grassroots-based conservative party that‘s been back on its heels, thinks it found its identity, and protest over the summer, and is not going to support this measure in any way, shape or form institutionally.  Maybe a senator or two are considering it.  But even they are doubtful.

So that‘s the first part.  I don‘t think they understand what they‘re dealing with.

The Republicans are in a rejectionist mood.  That‘s number one.  Number two, I think in conservative states, in red states, take Nebraska, for example, somebody like Ben Nelson, if he‘s going to vote for something, would love to have Republicans on it as well so he can say they joined with me to try to protect himself.

SHUSTER:  To what extent was today a performance, to let members have a forum before the real work happens between the House and the Senate?

FINEMAN:  Well, that would be too cynical to say it was just that.  I think it‘s partly that.  But the whole objective here is to get something voted out of the committee, get it voted on by the Senate, get it sent to the conference committee.

You said there‘s, you know, nothing—this is a fascinating markup.  Well, if people are into this process—and by the way, David, the polls show that the American public is following this pretty closely.  They know that there‘s going to be a conference committee and these other votes down the road.

So, yes, it was some showing up, but it‘s just to get the thing out of the garage.  There‘s—imagine them trying to push this vehicle that sort of won‘t quite start.  They‘re trying to push it out of the garage and get it started—get it started.

SHUSTER:  Well, as far as the two people who were driving this car, Max Baucus and President Obama, Max Baucus—do you envision a scenario whereby at the end he will vote for a public option despite the votes that he cast today in his own committee?  And secondly, is President Obama happy about the action today?

FINEMAN:  Well, I think in Baucus‘ case, it depends on what the final bill is, David.  And we‘re a long way away from that.  So who knows what Baucus will do?  It‘s impossible to predict and people have gone broke trying to predict Max Baucus.

In the case of Barack Obama, he wants something he can call historic and he will call virtually anything he gets that.  Just look at the way he‘s handled this whole process.  He‘s let Congress do the whole thing.  He‘s drawn no lines in the sand.  He‘s gone off and done a million other things.  He‘s letting Congress chew itself up and spit itself out in this process.

If he can get something where he can say that tens of millions of more Americans are covered—even at taxpayer expense—and if he can say we put some kind of federal regulation on the health insurance industry, he‘ll call that historic, even though the health insurance industry and big pharma and all of the other parts of the medical and health care industry have really come up really well in this process getting taxpayer money to pay for new customers for them.

SHUSTER:  The White House has been signaling that it will not fight for the public option.  There are the rumblings that perhaps, now, maybe the Democrats might get the 50 votes for the public option.  To the normal process, they would 60 to pass an overall bill.  How does that complicate things as far as Democrats?  Do they go the 50 route or the 60?

FINEMAN:  Oh.  That—yet to be seen.  But what‘s probably going to happen, David—and this is maybe still six weeks or two months down the road—is that there will be a final bill coming out of the conference, then the Senate will have to vote on that.  They‘ll need to get 60 votes to shut off—to allow debate to proceed, you know, cloture.  And then after that, they won‘t need 60.  They‘ll only need 50 or 51.

They got a half a chance of getting that, depending on the wording of public option.  It will be a test public option.  It will in a few states.  It will—it will be written like the final peace settlement in Palestine.

SHUSTER:  OK.  Howard Fineman of “Newsweek” and MSNBC—Howard, thanks as always.  We appreciate it.

FINEMAN:  Thank you, David.

SHUSTER:  We all know where Sarah “Death Panel” Palin stands on health care reform, thanks to her Facebook page.  And pretty soon, we‘ll know where she stands on just about everything else, thanks to her new memoir‘s “Going Rogue.”  The book is on the publishing fast track, leading some observers to wonder—was Levi Johnston right?  Did Palin resign her office to cash in quick on her fame?

And here‘s another way to capture the spotlight, an “Oddball” splash down—next on COUNTDOWN.

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SHUSTER:  On this day 20 years ago, actor Zsa Zsa Gabor was found guilty of battery for slapping a Beverly Hills police officer.  The tabloid scandal jolted Ms. Gabor‘s career in the early ‘90s.  However, the spotlight would soon fade, only to return in 2007 when her ninth husband, Prince Frederick von Anhalt claimed he fathered Anna Nicole Smith‘s daughter.  Later that year, the prince wound naked and handcuffed to his Rolls-Royce after being robbed by three women who may or may not have been prostitutes.  Google the picture.

Let‘s play “Oddball.”

We begin on the Internet with video last week of the World Peace Day celebration in Kabul, Afghanistan.  In the YouTube video, we see a panel of dignitaries on stage set to commemorate the day by releasing doves into the air.  Only one of the doves is sleeping, so to speak.  The older gentleman on the right doesn‘t seem to realize his dove has expired.  Still he runs through with the drill and the dove never woke up.

Peace Day celebrations in Kabul were still considered a success.  That they even happened is a wonder in itself.  Next year, just don‘t hold the birds so tight.

Over to Japanese television, where “Professor Splash” is giving a lesson on stunt high-diving and class is in session.  Daren “Professor Splash” Taylor holds the world record for jumping into a kiddie pool from platform 10.7 meters up.  That‘s over 30 feet to you and me.  This jump that will break that record.  The kiddie pool is just 12 inches of water to break his fall.  This time, Taylor leapt from 10.83 meters in the air.  As you can see, the professor walked away a little soggy but completely unharmed and somewhere Thornton Melon is smiling.

Finally, to a stunt gone wrong.  Last night marked Conan O‘Brien‘s return after Friday‘s accident on the set of “The Tonight Show.”  In a bit with “Desperate Housewives” actress Teri Hatcher, O‘Brien was supposed to race across the finish line on the studio floor.  Instead, the host lost his footing, fell backwards and—ouch—banged his head.  Well, O‘Brien was eventually forced to leave on a stretcher with a conclusion.

In his return last night, O‘Brien thanked the staff and the medical professionals who treated him and joke with Andy Richter about the dirty picture that the paramedics took (INAUDIBLE).  You can Google that after Prince von Anhalt.

The latest hypocrisy from the right is enough to cause a concussion.  Singing school kids have been indoctrinated by President Obama.  But when they sang about President Bush, that‘s not a problem.

And “Going Rogue,” Sarah Palin‘s memoirs are coming out faster than anybody anticipated.  Was the book more important than being governor?  How is that question going to impact her political future?  Ahead on COUNTDOWN.

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SHUSTER:  America, your children are at risk.  Schools are using them as pawns for the Obama administration, forcing them to sing songs about studying and helping people.  Naturally, the only people who are doing anything about it are the folks at Fox News. 

Our third story on the COUNTDOWN, more grift for the mill, as the right gins up another bogus claim that the Obama administration is indoctrinating your kids. 

The fake controversy started a few weeks ago, when video surfaced of kids at a New Jersey elementary school singing a song about President Obama.  The video was taken back in February, as part of Black History Month celebration. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CROWD:  Barack Hussein Obama, he said we must all lend a hand to make the country strong again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  And while the performance is seven months old, the phony outrage is brand-new. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Kids singing a song about Barack Obama. 

We can‘t sing Christmas carols in this country. 

BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  In fact, some say this is like what the Chinese did with Chairman Mao. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  When you don‘t want to rhyme, that‘s all you say. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  Never mind the fact that the song‘s lyrics were sent home with the students in advance.  And as the school superintendent noted, there were no concerns or complaints to during or after the program.  Meanwhile, to make sure the manufacturing hysteria continues through the week, another video has surfaced, posted on the right wing website Hot Air. 

This time, it shows students in North Carolina performing at a program for parents. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CROWD:  Education is the path.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Can I make America better? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Can I make America better? 

CROWD:  Can we make America better?  Yes.  Yes, we can.  Yes.  Yes, we can. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  That video is also from February, with the school giving this response: “the segment on President Obama‘s was less than one minute in length out of a 26-minute program which featured famous Americans of all colors and creeds.  As the first African-American to be elected president of the United States, it was entirely appropriate to feature President Obama in the program, along with other famous American leaders.” 

Now, naturally, the folks at Cluster Fox would like you to believe that this type of indoctrination could only occur during a Democratic administration. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O‘REILLY:  This caused outrage across the country because it‘s indoctrination.  Nowhere have we found any songs for President Bush, for example. 

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Here‘s the evidence that this is indoctrination.  If it was George Bush, you‘d be having a fit. 

MARY KATHARINE HAM, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR:  Mm, mm, mm, George W. Bush. 

You just can‘t imagine it in a million years. 

O‘REILLY:  It would never happen.  It didn‘t happen. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  Too bad there‘s videotape of kids from the Gulf Coast serenading then First Lady Laura Bush, while praising then President George W. Bush for his response to Hurricane Katrina.  They sang “Katrina could not stop us.  Our hopes will never fade.  Congress, Bush and FEMA, people across our land, together have come to rebuild us.  And we join them, hand in hand.”

Joining us now is the president of MediaMatters.org, Eric Burns.  Good evening, Eric. 

ERIC BURNS, MEDIAMATTERS.ORG:  Good evening, David. 

SHUSTER:  So explain to me, why is indoctrination when kids sing about President Obama, but it‘s patriotism when kids sing about President Bush and FEMA? 

BURNS:  Well, David, it‘s not indoctrination to anybody except Karl Rove, Josh Bolton, Roger Ailes, the rest of the Bush administration in exile over at Fox News, because they‘re trying to push a political agenda.  And they‘re trying to destroy this administration.  And they‘ll use any means necessary to do it. 

And to just give you a little example of this, James O‘Keefe, who is the author of one of the suspect Acorn videos that there have been a lot of questions surrounding, told Chris Wallace recently on Fox News that he was employing tactics that would, quote, destroy his political enemies.  That‘s what this is about.  There‘s nothing abnormal about folks talking and children learning about their president, and learning about their democracy through talking about the president.  I did it when I was a kid. 

SHUSTER:  The videos that were posted did not blur the children‘s faces.  Both schools have pointed out that the parents were not angered by the performances, but were angered over their children‘s privacy being violated.  Where is the right‘s outrage over that? 

BURNS:  That‘s a great question, especially for a movement that typically pays a lot of lip service for caring about local control, about families, and about kids.  And as I understand it, it wasn‘t just the Youtube videos where their faces weren‘t blurred.  The initial Fox broadcasts of these videos, their faces weren‘t blurred either. 

The question I have, did Fox go out and get waivers from each and every one of these parents to broadcast their children‘s image on national television?  And if they did, they ought to produce those.  Frankly, it‘s illegal if they didn‘t. 

SHUSTER:  As far as teaching our kids about the president, is there something wrong with teaching our kids to respect the president, to sing in praise of the office of presidency, the office of the first African-American president? 

BURNS:  Absolutely not.  As I said, I went to Catholic school in Texas.  I was taught about the president.  We learned to respect the presidency of the United States, to be a patriotic American.  My parents were taught the same thing.  This is a very normal and appropriate way to educate young children about our democracy. 

It‘s important and it‘s—it just goes to show you to what lengths the folks at Fox News will go to derail the political discussion in this country, and what deplorable tactics they will do in exploiting our nation‘s children.  I think it‘s really disgusting. 

SHUSTER:  Is that the general theme here with the right wing media, I mean, undermine the president by manufacturing controversies?  Because many of the actual Obama policies are favored by the majority of Americans? 

BURNS:  Absolutely.  We‘ve seen it day after day.  You know, Glenn Beck is the smearer in chief over at Fox News.  And we see new charts documenting some new vast conspiracy theory every day, new attacks.  And it‘s a constant barrage. 

And I will tell you, this right wing noise machine has been ginned up.  It‘s never been more ferocious.  And their goal is simple, as Rush Limbaugh has stated at the beginning of the year, they want Obama to fail.  Roger Ailes said that this is the Alamo for conservatives, and that Fox is the voice of the opposition. 

So this is no longer a news organization.  This is a political organization.  And their aim is to destroy a progressive policy agenda.  They‘d rather win at the ballot box than see any sort of real debate on health care.  It‘s a real shame. 

SHUSTER:  Eric Burns, president of Media Matters for America.  Eric, thanks as always.  We appreciate you coming in. 

BURNS:  Thank you, David. 

SHUSTER:  Did Sarah Palin quit the governorship so she could start cashing in on her political celebrity?  She spent the entire month of August working on her book.  Now the publisher has pushed up the release.  “Going Rogue” hits bookstore shelves in about six weeks. 

And don‘t rush your Tango.  It could lead to less than graceful endings.  Will it be hammer time for the Hammer on “Dancing With the Stars?” 

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, more on the Republican assault against Acorn.  Why is the right so intent on destroying that group?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHUSTER:  On May 12th, then-Governor Sarah Palin announced her book deal.  Two and a half months later, she left office.  And a few days after that, she and her family moved to San Diego for a month, so that Palin could crash the book with her collaborator. 

So in our number two story on the COUNTDOWN, as Palin‘s publisher announces that her book will be out months ahead of schedule, there is no doubt about how that happened, or exactly where the former governor places her priorities. 

A little more than two months after resigning as governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin has reportedly completed work on her memoir.  Her publisher, Harper Collins, which signed a multi-million dollar deal with Palin, has now moved up the publication date to November 17th, way ahead of the original schedule of Spring 2010. 

The first printing, 1.5 million copies, well—that will equal the number of the late Senator Ted Kennedy‘s book.  Palin‘s memoir will be 400 pages, and the title “Going Rogue: An American Life,” which playfully refers to complaints from the McCain campaign during the presidential campaign that Governor Palin had publicly and irresponsibly deviated from the campaign‘s message. 

Palin‘s collaborator, Lynn Vincent, is an editor of an evangelical magazine.  So maybe Palin‘s book will be inspirational. 

In any event, an extensive survey by “Politico” finds that the GOP base still loves Palin, but many leaders doubt she would be a credible presidential candidate. 

Let‘s call in talk radio host and “Huffington Post” contributor Shannyn Moore.  Good evening. 

SHANNYN MOORE, “HUFFINGTON POST”:  Good evening, David. 

SHUSTER:  We don‘t have advance excerpts of Palin‘s book yet.  But the title, some thoughts on that, as well as the release date? 

MOORE:  Well, I think it‘s pretty ironic that she used that as her new title, “Going Rogue.”  You know, a lot of people are talking about that McCain camp had used that in—in describing how she was, you know, going all mavericky on them.  Also, Tina Fey brilliantly did the I‘m going all rogue.

But in Alaska, it actually has a different sort of connotation.  Sarah Palin actually used that term two times to basically destroy two careers of two different men here.  One was former Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.  She called him a rogue commissioner for trying to secure more money for—for sexual assault victims in Alaska, which we have the highest number of, per capita. 

The other one was her ex-brother-in-law, Mike Wooten, who she said was a rogue cop.  She basically destroyed two lives here.  Mr. Wooten is not allowed to be on the street anymore as a cop.  He‘s at a desk job because the troopers couldn‘t keep him safe. 

So for her to use the word rogue on herself, as though it‘s cute and adorable, it really isn‘t.  She‘s used it to destroy people here.  And I don‘t think Alaskans will forget that.  As far as the timing goes, I think she‘s trying to beat a couple other books to the punch. 

SHUSTER:  We alluded to this already, but is there really any doubt remaining about Palin‘s prime motive for abandoning her elected office after only two and a half years?  She saw more money on the other side? 

MOORE:  Well, I‘m sure she‘s seeing lots more money on the other side.  And for what people see as Alaska, we‘re not that many people, not even 700,000 people to be the governor over.  We do have trillions of dollars worth of resources here, and managing that, and the social ills that happen here, and the climate change that‘s happening here, you know, it‘s hard work, as George Bush said about being president.  And it was too hard of work for Sarah Palin. 

SHUSTER:  And a typical quote from the “Politico” piece that we mentioned.  The former New Hampshire Republican party chairman said that Palin attracts huge crowds and is great for fund-raising, but, he added, there is the Palin paradox.  Quoting, “how can you quit without finishing your first term, and then ask us to entrust the presidency to you?” 

MOORE:  Yes, like the rogue means the quitter.  You know, I look at this, and certainly, you know, she‘s—she‘s had this ghost written by an Evangelical writer.  I don‘t know if they plan on her base just adding this to the new testament as one of the additional books, or how they‘re perceiving this.  The base is very small.  And, you know, she can—she can raise money for them.  But at what cost? 

SHUSTER:  And as far as the presidential campaign, would it be hard for Palin to resist speaking to big crowds, even as with the presidential campaign, she is not paid to do so? 

MOORE: You know, I think thousands of people showing up and chanting, you know, Sarah Palin‘s name, even if she‘s not getting paid for that, I think for her, that‘s priceless. 

SHUSTER:  And as far as—as far as Levi Johnston, there was the big spread in “Vanity Fair,” his I mean really critical comments about Sarah Palin.  People in Alaska, who do they believe in all of this?  Do they believe Levi Johnston‘s version of Sarah Palin as being lazy and not interested in essentially raising her family?  Or do they believe Palin, as she fights back, as we expect her to do so in this book? 

MOORE:  I don‘t know that they believe either one of them.  I think they believe their own eyes and their own ears.  And they have watched Sarah Palin.  And they saw her stand up and say that she was going to quit for the good of Alaskans.  And the next thing you know, she‘s being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for a speech, and making millions off of a book deal. 

So I think Alaskans don‘t really need Levi Johnston to tell them what to believe.  They just can see what she‘s doing themselves. 

SHUSTER:  Shannyn Moore, talk radio host and contributor to “Huffington Post.”  Shannyn, great thanks as always.  We appreciate it. 

MOORE:  Thanks, David. 

SHUSTER:  From “Going Rogue” to gone dancing.  Tom Delay almost dropped his partner last night.  Will he get dropped from the show?  Comedian Christian Finnegan up next on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHUSTER:  It may be that if you are a former House Majority Leader indicted for violation of campaign finance laws and money laundering, then making it to two week of “Dancing With the Stars” suddenly becomes the highlight of your career.  In our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, Tom Delay is making news a second week in a row, since he almost dropped his dance partner. 

But for a political second act, it could be worse.  Much drama unfolded last night, as the former House Majority Leader complained of excruciating foot pain.  But Delay‘s pre-stress fracture had been previously reported.  So the notion that DeLay‘s injury came from rehearsing the Tango can be attributed to clever editing. 

Here‘s some highlights. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  OK, don‘t get whiplash. 

TOM DELAY, FMR. HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER:  Nothing‘s going to stop me from doing this dance tonight. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  If your foot breaks, you‘re going to have to just crawl to the floor. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All right.  Let‘s go to our judges. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  DeLay and partner Cheryl Burke (ph) received 18 points from the judges out of a possible 30, better than last week‘s score.  And in fairness, there have been worse non-dancers on the show, at least in past season.  One critic may have put it best when he called DeLay‘s performance, quote, alarmingly un-terrible. 

And let‘s not forget the political second act of Sarah Palin, whose completion of her memoir probably means that she has now read at least one book in her life, her own?  Or has she? 

Let‘s bring in comedian Christian Finnegan.  Good evening, Christian. 

CHRISTIAN FINNEGAN, COMEDIAN:  Hello, David. 

SHUSTER:  If DeLay had actually dropped his dance partner there, is it absolutely clear that would be worse in terms of getting call-in votes?  Might it have helped him in we want to see more train wrecks kind of way? 

FINNEGAN:  I wish he had dropped her.  He is really ruining it for us by showing this modicum of proficiency.  Look, Tommy, nobody booked you on this show to see you actually dance well.  We wanted to laugh at you.  So stop trying to skate by with these sort of classy dances like the Tango. 

Next week, I want to see him out there popping and locking, maybe doing the Worm. 

SHUSTER:  What‘s with the foot pain?  You almost feel sorry for him, but then somewhat mad at yourself for feeling sorry for him. 

FINNEGAN:  Yes, I‘ve had a stress fracture.  And I wouldn‘t wish that kind of pain.  I have never thought, I wish Tom Delay would get a stress fracture.  Now punch to the face or maybe a knee to the groin, you know, then maybe it would be a little harder. 

SHUSTER:  A few critics have noted that when he‘s not grimacing in pain, Mr. Delay giggles quite a bit.  What‘s up with that? 

FINNEGAN:  Yes, at times, he kind of reminds me of that giggling Nazi guy that burns his hand at the beginning of “Raiders of The Lost Ark.”  It just tells me that if dancing doesn‘t work out, he has a serious future as a Bond villain.  All he needs is a long-haired cat and an underwater fortress.

FINNEGAN:  How would I know that, David?  I can‘t watch “Dancing With the Stars.”  I don‘t know if you noticed, but I‘m not the manliest guy in the world.  When your sexuality is as precarious as mine, you can‘t risk watching “Dancing With the Stars.”  Just to watch that two-minute clip of Tom Delay, I had to have my wife do topless jumping jacks next to me. 

SHUSTER:  Easy segue.  At the rate that she‘s going, Sarah Palin will be on “Dancing With the Stars” next season, right? 

FINNEGAN:  Do not tease ABC like that, David.  Sarah Palin is the stuff of reality show fantasy.  Do you have any idea what all of the liberals in Hollywood would do to book Sarah Palin on their show?  They would vote for Sarah Palin.  I know that sounds extreme, but I think it‘s true. 

SHUSTER:  As for Palin‘s memoir, what other great figures might you compare her to in predicting the heft of this new tome? 

FINNEGAN:  Well, I know where you‘re going here.  But it is a very hefty book.  I mean, it‘s over 400 pages, as far as I know.  Of course, that does include 60 pages of photographs, 45 pages of footnotes, 13 Sudoku puzzles, a word search, and over 200 reprinted family circus cartoons. 

In fact, they were so determined to make her book longer than George W. Bush‘s, the last two chapters are written entirely in read us form. 

SHUSTER:  Do you predict any bombshells or at least some more digs at Levi Johnston. 

FINNEGAN:  There‘s nothing Sarah Palin can do to Levi Johnston that adult life won‘t take care of itself.  As far as bombshells go, my source do tell me that Sarah Palin will reveal that this entire time, she‘s just been a character portrayed by Sacha Baron Cohen, and we all fell for it. 

FINNEGAN:  I mean, she‘s not going to go to book stores and do readings, because it‘s entirely possible that anyone who would want to buy a Sarah Palin book wouldn‘t know how to locate a book store.  So what she‘s going to do is just sell the books from the back of a truck at like Nascar rallies and Rascal Scooter dealerships. 

SHUSTER:  So we can‘t expect to see her on this show or any other show on MSNBC, talking about what actually might be in her book? 

FINNEGAN:  No, probably not. 

SHUSTER:  Comedian Christian Finnegan.  Christian, great, as always. 

Thank so much.  We appreciate it. 

FINNEGAN:  Thank you, sir. 

SHUSTER:  Sarah Palin, coming to a book store near you.  Amazing. 

That will do it for this Tuesday edition of COUNTDOWN.  I‘m David Shuster, in for Keith Olbermann.  You can usually see me weekdays on MSNBC, alongside my colleague Tamryn Hall.  The show is called “The Big Picture.”  Tune in from 3:00 to 5:00 Eastern every day here on MSNBC. 

In the meantime, our MSNBC coverage continues now with “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW.”  Good evening, Rachel. 

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

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