updated 10/14/2009 10:26:48 AM ET 2009-10-14T14:26:48

Guests: Lawrence O‘Donnell, Sen. Ron Wyden, Jonathan Cohn, Richard Wolffe

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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

The crap Senate Finance Committee health care, quote, “reform,” unquote, bill passes.  And it‘s so crap, even Olympia Snowe can vote for it.  “When history calls,” she says, “history calls.”  Until it calls back tomorrow and tells her to change her vote.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. OLYMPIA SNOWE ®, MAINE:  My vote today is my vote today.  It doesn‘t forecast what my vote will be tomorrow.

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OLBERMANN:  Still, it provides the president cover, providing that ultimately he provides a public option.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I think they‘ve done excellent work.

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OLBERMANN:  Not so the insurance cartel, or as they are more accurately known, the (BLEEP) hole of America.  They hire accountants to analyze the effects of the finance committee bill.  They ignore all the savings.  They then announce the bill would result in raising premiums—neglecting to ever mention the fact that they would be the ones raising the premiums.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We cannot support this bill in its current structure that‘s going to add cost increases for families and employers across the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Oh, and half the newscast in the country treat the, quote, “survey,” as if it were news.  The insurance cartels, the (BLEEP) hole of America.

Of course, Liz Cheney gives them a run for their money, her new 501© group, Keep America Safe, the pro-war, pro-torture, pro-detention, pro-death group.

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NARRATOR:  Barack Obama knows how to give a great speech.  But when it comes to America‘s defense, the rhetoric doesn‘t match the reality.

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OLBERMANN:  And which is it?  You don‘t want to be on MSNBC and NBC, or you desperately do want to be on MSNBC and NBC?

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RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Look what I have spawned.  Glenn Beck is a result of my success.

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OLBERMANN:  Jeez, that‘s like congratulating yourself on spreading syphilis.

All that and more—now on COUNTDOWN.

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LIMBAUGH:  Right on, Daddy-O!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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OLBERMANN:  What?  Good evening from New York.

All of that in exchange for one—repeat—one Republican vote.

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: Senator Snowe of Maine today becoming the lone Republican on the Senate Finance Committee to cross part lines to vote for what is essentially the Baucus bill.  The Baucus bill that was essentially the insurance industry bill that the insurance industry trashed anyway yesterday with the phony research study conducted by accountants, who today distanced themselves from what the insurers, did with the already cooked books.  The only thing that would be more fitting than for Senator Snowe to vote for was if there had been a “Senator Bowl (ph)” to have done so.

In anticlimactic fashion, the finance committee, today, approving its $829 billion health care bill by a final vote of 14-9.

Miss Snowe making it clear that her “yes” vote might not still be a “yes” vote when the final legislation comes to the floor of the Senate.

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SNOWE:  So, is this bill all that I would want?  Far from it.  Is it all that it can be?  No.  But when history calls, history calls.  And I happen to think that the consequences of inaction dictate the urgency of Congress to take every opportunity to demonstrate its capacity to solve the monumental issues of our time.  Finally, I say that my vote today is my vote today.  It doesn‘t forecast what my vote will be tomorrow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Thanks.

The finance committee‘s work winning the praise of the president—who singled out Senator Snowe in his remarks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  And I want to particularly thank Senator Olympia Snowe for both the political courage and the seriousness of purpose that she‘s demonstrated throughout this process.

Now, this bill is not perfect and we have a lot of difficult work ahead of us.  There are still significant details and disagreements to be worked out over the next several weeks as the five separate bills from the Senate and House are merged into one proposal.  But I do I believe the work of the Senate Finance Committee has brought us closer to achieving the core objectives I laid out early in September.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Meantime, the folks at TalkingPointsMemo.com having received the copy of the health insurance lobby secret memo that it is distributing to local insurance agents across the country.  In it, the AHIP offering several arguments against what it calls a government-run plan, including that under a public plan, patients‘ choices and access to health care will suffer—as if it isn‘t already suffering for those with private insurance, let alone those with no insurance.

Yesterday, the AHIP, and so you know what A.H. stands for, having tried to deep-six all reform altogether by releasing a faulty study on the eve of the Senate Finance vote that confirmed health care premiums will continue to rise, with or without the Baucus bill, and that the current reforms being proposed do not do enough to contain costs.  They are the companies that would be raising the premiums.  They are the lobbyists who helped to write the Baucus bill.

Ahead of today‘s vote, Senator Kerry taking apart both the report and the insurance cartel which funded it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), FINANCE COMMITTEE:  It‘s a powerful argument for the attitude of an industry towards this effort.  There‘s an old saying that if you‘re not part of the solution, you‘re part of the problem.  The fact is, the Pricewaterhouse analysis is significantly flawed and the results are simply not valid.  PricewaterhouseCoopers admits that it has not taken many of the reform provisions put into this legislation into consideration.  How do you do a study that doesn‘t take what the benefits of the reforms will be?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Conservative Democrats on the finance committee, long having argued against the public argument—by a public plan that it would not be able to reach 60 votes in the Senate, this afternoon, one of those Democrats, Senator Conrad, coming up with a new reason to be against it.

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SEN. KENT CONRAD (D-ND), FINANCE COMMITTEE:  Public option tied to Medicare levels of reimbursement is a nonstarter for me because I represent North Dakota.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  A lot to talk about tonight with Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, and a member of the finance committee.

Thanks again for your time tonight, Senator.

SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  In previewing your vote on the finance committee bill, during the debate this afternoon, you said you would be voting yes—and quoting you—“to move this legislation forward.”

What do you believe needs to still be done to this legislation as it moves forward?

WYDEN:  Keith, we‘ve got to do a lot more to hold the insurance lobby accountable.  And that means choice.  That means public choices.  It means private choices.

What we learned today is that, under the bill, seven years in, more than 90 percent of the American people wouldn‘t have real choices at the exchanges.  That‘s just unacceptable.  And we‘re going to stay at it until we turn the tables on the insurance industry.

OLBERMANN:  I‘m missing something about the courtship of Senator Snowe.  As nice as it is to see—support for the whole concept of this coming from the other side of the aisle; at best, if materially, she supports a trigger for a public option—such as what you just described.  Is her vote supposed the start of some sort of mass seeing of the light by Republicans or the more conservative Democrats?  Is there any insight you can offer to me as to the strategy behind this?

WYDEN:  I hope it will.  The bottom line is, the American people are going to insist on reform that holds their premiums down.  What we learned again today is that this legislation doesn‘t do that.  I talked about people who were making about $66,000 a year.  They are going to pay something like 20 percent of their income on health care.  That‘s going to be unacceptable.

What we got to do is make sure that the insurance lobby sees that there are real choices.  With choice, you get more competition.  That makes coverage more affordable.  We‘ve got a lot of stages in this process to go at it, and we‘re going to take on the status quo caucus which is led by the insurance lobby and get this done.

OLBERMANN:  If you take away some of the dress-up game that the

insurance lobby did yesterday with this report that they put out, they were

essentially admitting, fairly bold face, that they will raise premiums

under the current reforms as they now stand having been passed by the

finance committee.  They tried to dress up this threat with these cookbooks

that were cookbooks to such a degree that the accountants who got them the

wrong numbers admitted they were cooked and sort of stepped away from the

final product

But there was a threat in there, nonetheless, from the insurance companies: pass this, we will raise your premiums—whether it‘s the necessity of nature causing this to happen or just their own greed causing it to happen.  They‘re saying it‘s going to happen.

Where is the outrage from the Senate, from the leaders of—in the administration to just the concept of a threat by the insurance industry?

WYDEN:  I could tell you, Keith, you‘re going to hear it every day from this point on.  It‘s unacceptable to let the insurance industry call the shots.  I mean, to do this study, for example, on the eve of the big vote.  I mean, I‘ve been around Washington, D.C.  And the fact is, that you got a checkbook, you can just get about any set of facts you want.

But the insurance industry is already shellacking people with these huge premium hikes.  We‘re going to stay at it until we get more competition, until we get real choice.  At every rally in this country, the president promises the American people choices like their members of Congress get.  So, I‘m going to insist on that.

OLBERMANN:  I understand the need to move this bill out of the committee in order to fix it after it got out of that sort of hothouse environment.  But what do you plan to do if the legislation doesn‘t get fixed to your satisfaction and to the public‘s satisfaction?  What if the final bill is reform in name only and it‘s paid for on the backs of the middle class?

WYDEN:  Keith, I can tell you, my price is real reform.  There is no bobble.  There is no key support that is going to persuade me to support the kind of bill you just described.

We‘re going to have to make sure that the American people see that this time it‘s different.  The lobbyists have tremendous clout.  We all understand it.  That study yesterday is just an example.  But this time, it‘s going to be different because we‘re going to stay at it until insurance companies are held accountable and premiums go down.

OLBERMANN:  Can you see any way, theoretically or otherwise, for that to be accomplished without a public option in the final measure?

WYDEN:  I never draw lines in the sand, but I can tell you—I am going to fight every single day for these choices, public choices and private choices.  That‘s the best way to hold the insurance lobby accountable.  That‘s what they fear.  That‘s why they‘re spending all this money to try to derail reform.

OLBERMANN:  Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon and the finance committee—great thanks once again for your time tonight.

WYDEN:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  For more on the analysis, we‘re trying to figure out what went on today and what may yet happen.  Let‘s turn to our own Lawrence O‘Donnell, former chief of staff of the Senate Finance Committee, now contributor to the “Huffington Post” and, of course, a regular with us here on COUNTDOWN.

Good evening to you, sir.

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Good to be here, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  What is—what is the deal with Snowe?  Did she do this so she can stay at the table, or so she could get fun over by Charlie Gibson on “World News Tonight,” or get reelected?  And what is the Democrats‘ fascination with her—her one vote?  Does she have more than one vote?

O‘DONNELL:  And get a shout-out for the president of the United States today.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

O‘DONNELL:  Well, she became—by the Democrats definition and certainly by Chairman Baucus‘ definition and then in effect, by the president‘s definition—the most important vote in the Senate and the most important vote in that committee.  And they got that vote.  She definitely cast her vote that way so that she could remain relevant to the process.

You know, there‘s many other lower visibility pieces of legislation where this stuff happens all the time, where a senator says, “OK, I‘m not crazy about this, I don‘t really like it the way it is right now, but I‘m going to vote it forward so that it moves forward to the floor and I may vote against it on the floor or I may vote against it in final passage.”  And there are plenty of times when senators do that.  They vote for something in committee vote, against it on the floor.

So, the suspense continues with Olympia Snowe.  By voting for it today, she‘s just continuing the suspense out on to the Senate floor.

OLBERMANN:  The study yesterday, PricewaterhouseCoopers, it would have been a perfect opportunity to respond to this by saying, essentially, F.U.  to the Republicans, to their insurance cartel friends, and really say, “All right, it is a line in the sand” or at least it‘s sort of the Ron Wyden version of the line in the sand, virtually such, for a public option.

Is there anything today suggesting that that opportunity is being exploited?

O‘DONNELL:  Boy, they blew that chance.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

O‘DONNELL:  It was sitting right there for them to do.  You know, CBO basically sits around and does a lot of educated guessing about what‘s going to happen when legislation is enacted.  And they try to predict what different players in the legislation will do.  This is the biggest player in this legislation.

The health insurance is coming out and saying, “Hey, CBO, this is what we promise we will do.  We will raise rates this much.  In other words, we will raise rates even more than you have projected we will raise rates.”

Now, CBO, along with Pricewaterhouse, CBO does say that premiums will go up under the Baucus bill, not down.  They will go up.  The argument now is just how high up will they go?  And the insurance industry is promising us—study or no, forget the study, the study doesn‘t matter.  The industry, the people who set the prices, as you have said, have promised us: “This is how high we‘re going to go because of all of these taxes they‘re putting on us.”

OLBERMANN:  Yes.  To borrow Mr. Hitchcock‘s praise, that study is the MacGuffin.

O‘DONNELL:  Yes.

OLBERMANN:  It doesn‘t matter what MacGuffin is.  It‘s what—the fact that the box is there.

Does that mean that it‘s likely that we‘re going to see something like the trigger option instead from Snowe or the opt-out compromise from Carper and Schumer?  Is that the big advance when we‘re all said and done here?

O‘DONNELL:  Well, we‘re certainly not going to see anything that Olympia Snowe doesn‘t like.  The president, in effect, made that clear by singling her out.  He could have said something about Jay Rockefeller today, who‘s the chairman of the health subcommittee, who‘s been on this subject longer than anyone else in the Senate.  He could have done that, he didn‘t.

He picked Olympia Snowe to say, in effect, “I‘m with you.  And what you need is what I need.”  And so, she‘s only available, it seems, for a vote on the triggered version of the option.  And so that—at the moment, it looks like the best the Senate can get.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.  Senator Rockefeller has been upfront in this battle with the shield and ax going at the other side.

But what is—from Senator Conrad, they used to argue against the public option by saying it couldn‘t get 60 votes in the Senate.  Today, the senator said that the public was a nonstarter for him for this entirely new reason.  Is—is he now coming up with reasons the way the insurance industry comes up with reasons?  I mean, well, it‘s another day, we have to have another new reason?

O‘DONNELL:  Well, you know, when he was saying you couldn‘t get 60 votes, what he meant was you can‘t get mine.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

O‘DONNELL:  But, in fact, to be fair to Senator Conrad, he has said before that North Dakota hospitals would suffer, would have to shut down—virtually all of them would have to shut down if they were getting reimbursed at the Medicare rate.  So, what he is saying is, he‘s against the strongest version of this as proposed by Jay Rockefeller.  There are other versions of public option that he might be able to go along with.

But it‘s really that specific kind and he actually mentioned that to me personally when I saw him in Washington the last time I was there.  He hasn‘t been, you know, highly visible about this particular reason.  But he has been on the record about this reason before.

OLBERMANN:  It‘s a valid one and deserves something in the final bill that protects him and any other state that is likely to be in that situation.

(CROSSTALK)

O‘DONNELL:  Exactly.  That‘s right, Keith, you could tell it‘s a fix-it for him.

OLBERMANN:  Lawrence O‘Donnell of the “Huffington Post” and MSNBC—as always, thanks for helping us try to understand this continuing nightmare.

O‘DONNELL:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  That insurance industry‘s sponsored and insurance industry-manipulated research study on the Baucus bill was such a crock that—as I mentioned—the accountants who came up with the raw numbers for the insurers today felt it‘s incumbent upon them to say, “We were honest.”  They left out the data we gave them about how much money would be saved.  When the accountants—the accountants—are worried that your business might be hurting their reputation, your business might as well be selling baby seals to the devil.

The author of “Sick” joins me.

And we have an update tonight on our free health care fair health fair drive which will stun you as much as it has already stunned me.

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OLBERMANN:  The insurance cartel bought half the senators.  They advanced the concept of preexisting conditions, making an insurance strike virtual financial suicide.  They purchased much of the press and even some of the entertainment industry.

So, why did they do something as obviously stupid as issue a phony study of the cost of health care reform and so overcooked the books that even the accountants who did the calculations had to issue a statement today saying, “Hey, don‘t look at us, the corruption is theirs”?  Could it still somehow wind up helping reform?

That and Rush Limbaugh announcing he is insane.

You‘re watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

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OLBERMANN:  Prominent accountants hired by the insurance cartel to put prices on health care reform were so offended by how the insurers misused the research that the company today issued a public statement that took more wind out of the sails of the self-serving, myopic, corrupted, quote, “study,” unquote.

Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: The obvious, heavy-handedly push by the cartel may actually facilitate the chances of a public option.  In the interim, they cement the industry‘s position as the anus of America.  No belief (ph) required.

You will recall that the insurance industry tried to skewer the Baucus bill yesterday by claiming it would force insurance companies to raise premiums more than if no bill were passed.

But the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has now conceded in a statement that it‘s audited, not investigate the entirety of the legislation.  In other words, it ignored the savings, which was the exact charge made by Democrats who had called the report a hatchet job.

And today, a spokesman for the insurance cartel tried and failed to dance around with Chris Matthews, it‘s newfound out in the open opposition.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Again, I want to be very clear, we support health care reform.  We think it‘s possible.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Do you want them to vote nay or yea today?  What‘s your purpose?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You know, our purpose is to make sure that the American people and the policymakers know.

MATTHEWS:  But you‘re a lobbyist.  What do you want them to do, vote yea or nay?  You got to tell me what you are lobbying for.  You‘re not on this program just to give us information.  You‘re lobbying for the insurance industry.  Do you want the Democratic and Republican members of the finance committee to vote for or against this bill today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We cannot support this bill in its current structure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Thanks for coming on, Sonny.  Please leave your resume with Chris‘ secretary.

So while the Baucus bill does have other legitimate problems, the insurance industry has played its hand poorly, at least in this case.  An unnamed senior Senate Democratic aide telling “Politico,” quote, “They have opened themselves up.  It is an incredibly stupid strategic blunder.  If you are going to fire a shot like this, you fire a good shot.”

Meantime, an update on our call to donate to the National Association of Free Clinics: More than 7,000 people have already responded and they have donated.  You have donated $575,000.  That would pay for more than one free health fare in its entirety.  It comes close to paying for a second one, that‘s if there are no significant donations to it in terms of resources.  The biggest cost: securing the arena-size venues needed.

Right now, they‘re focusing on New Orleans and Little Rock.  Any help securing a large facility in either city would go a long way.  The goal is to hold these health fairs in five key cities, in five key states represented by the Democratic senators who have not yet said that they certainly would oppose a Republican filibuster of the public option.

You can get more details or give what you can at FreeClinics.us, or COUNTDOWN.MSNBC.com.  We‘ll keep you posted.  Five hundred seventy-five thousand dollars.

Let‘s bring in the senior editor at “The New Republic” and author of “Sick,” Jonathan Cohn.

Thanks for your time tonight, sir.

JONATHAN COHN, THE NEW REPUBLIC:  Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  The insurance cartel has been so good at this, so professional in this kind of evil way.  They spent so much money.  Did they indeed screw this part up?

COHN:  Yes.  Boy, I really think this was a misfire.  You know, they were trying to do what the special interests always do.  You got some money, go out and hire some accounting firm to cook up some study that makes it look like, you know, what you want, you know, puts out your argument and puts the imprimatur of an authority, a respected accounting firm.  And everyone is supposed to believe it.

But it was so transparently bad.  It was so transparently dishonest that immediately, everybody recognized it.  They managed both to, I think, discredit themselves with most of the media or a lot of the media.

And more importantly, I think they really alienated a lot of people in Congress who maybe thought, “Well, look, you know, they are saying some nice things about reform.  Maybe we can work with this people.”  Well, I think they alienated a lot of people.

OLBERMANN:  Well, clearly, the alienation was registered today.  But is there any chance that there is a rallying point here.  Lawrence O‘Donnell said he saw no one taking advantage of this opening here.  Is there anything on which support for the public option can be based here?  Is that wishful thinking?

COHN:  I don‘t think it‘s quite wishful thinking.  I mean, look, this isn‘t going to change the tide of that fight instantly.  But, I think, if you listen to the comments of the senators at the Senate Finance, you listen to Senator Wyden on your show a few minutes ago, this is good ammunition.

I mean, the fight here is about: do you trust the insurance industry?  That‘s what the public option fight is about.  It‘s also—if you look at a lot of the other elements of health care reform, how closely do we regulate the insurance industry?  All of this comes down to a question of:

Do you trust the insurance industry?

And when they put something out like this, again, that is so obviously dishonest.  It really, kind of, blows their credibility out of the water.  And I do think that can matter.  I do think supporters of a public option can use this to get a little more momentum on their side.  And maybe that doesn‘t get us all the way to a public option, but maybe it gets us to a good compromise on it, whether that‘s some kind of trigger or this opt-out idea that you were talking about before.

OLBERMANN:  Materially, how is that done?  I mean, the pro-reform interests have to do what to counter this?  Do they have to put out their own numbers, ads that emphasize how the insurance industry cooked the books and threatened everybody?

COHN:  Well, I do think it‘s important to put out their own numbers.  I mean, this argument is now out there.  It‘s going to get repeated even though people, like you and me, understand it‘s a bogus number.  So, it‘s important to get some other numbers out there.

But I also think, again, I think it is important to say, “Look, these are the people asking us to trust them.  They come up.  They make dishonest arguments.”  And to a point that, “Look, they are promising to raise your premiums.  This is what they are saying.  Do you want to just trust them to deliver affordable health care?  I think that‘s the argument that people need to make.

OLBERMANN:  Being as interested and knowledgeable about this subject as you are, do you just drop to the floor and, kind of, try to roll away from the fire when you hear something like—as I did on the leading all news radio station in New York, this survey, this research quoted and I mentioned being made that it was funded by the insurance industry.  But no mention being made of this gigantic logical leap that you have to make that says, “Well, they‘ve just said the result here is going to be—we‘re going to have—it‘s going to be necessary to raise premiums when the survey has been sponsored by the people who will actually raise the premiums.”

Why is that—why is that such a jump for the news media in this country?  It doesn‘t seem to me to be a partisan point to say who it was who promoted the study and what it is they will do when the results of reform are accomplished or not accomplished.

COHN:  Yes.  I mean, it seems—it seems incredibly obvious to me.  I mean, all the signs were there.  I mean, this study had a big neon billboard sticking right on top of it, saying this is a bogus study and this is the insurance industry basically telling us that, you know, we want to—you know, we may end up raising your premiums.

I mean, that‘s—you know, it‘s a very logical leap.  I don‘t understand why anyone in the media would report it as anything else than piece of propaganda.

OLBERMANN:  And yet, there it was.

Jonathan Cohn of “The New Republic,” author of “Sick”—great thanks again for your time.

COHN:  Thanks a lot.

OLBERMANN:  Mr. Cohn used that title “Sick.”  Thus, when Liz Cheney and William Kristol founded a 501© nonprofit to promote war, torture, detention, troop increases, and anything else they can think of that would get somebody else‘s kid killed, they had to call it something else—the Keep America Safe group.  They‘re also going to whip up the dumbest mixture of flag-waving and blood lust you‘ve seen in the long—you‘ll see it here in a short time.

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OLBERMANN:  Bests in a moment.  And just because your house is on fire is no reason to wake up to find out what the trouble is. 

First, on this date in 1949 was born the great sports caster, the late Tom Neis (ph).  He was one of the founding anchormen of Sportscenter.  And even as ESPN has loudly celebrated its 30th anniversary last month and this, what we, his colleagues at the time of tragic passing 13 years ago, requested has not been fulfilled, that the news room be named in his honor there, or one of the buildings, or just a plaque would have been nice. 

Let‘s play Oddball. 

We begin in Chicago, with know your celebrity clumps of hair.  Yes, it‘s all that‘s left of Elvis.  The Flowbed (ph) locks of the King himself and they are available to the highest bidder this Sunday.  I think he dropped a few.  Leslie Heindman (ph) auctioneers believes the locks came from the haircut that Elvis got when he joined the Army in 1958.  Looks dyed to me.  Of course, they could have come from a shower drain in Graceland.  We will never know.

Presley allegedly gave the hair to the president of one of his clubs in the ‘60s, meaning he maintained it all that time.  When that man died, he left the hair to his nurse and the nurse is cashing in.  Estimates run between 12,000 and 115,000 dollars.  That‘s quite a range.  For that price, you get a free shampoo.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  (INAUDIBLE)

Finally, to Suburban Detroit, where, for a fleeting moment on Sunday, venison was on the special board.  Hello.  This is security camera footage from inside El George‘s Cony Island Restaurant.  A deer leaped through the window, lands in the dining room, and takes off through the front door.  The waitress was stunned.  A group of Lions fans, wearing Calvin Johnson jerseys, scrambled out of their seats, which was ironic because, at the same time, just like Calvin Johnson on Sunday, the dear injured his thigh and did not return to action. 

Because promoting pointless wars and shredding the Constitution earned her father our eternal love, Liz Cheney founds a new political group dedicated to everything violent that we as a nation should be ashamed of.  The and worst persons ahead.

But first time for COUNTDOWN‘s top three best persons in the world. 

Dateline Southern California, number three, best political revenge, Allison Vivas of the Pink Visual Company, first awarded an Entrepreneur of the Year award by Newt Gingrich‘s PAC, then denied it once Newt found out what Pink Visual produced, movies like “Wife Switch Volume Seven.”  Miss.  Vivas‘ revenge?  Her company has just announced that Gingrich will be presented with her 2009 porn fan of the year award. 

Dateline Ross, PA, number two, best sound sleeper, Edward Stefanick, who lives in the Pittsburgh suburb.  They woke him at about 4:40 Monday morning, and he didn‘t know why they were in his house.  They being the firefighters who had come to his house, because it had pretty much burned to the ground, over the course of two hours, which he slept through.  He was uninjured. 

And best comeuppance, number one, unidentified 22-year-old German journalism student.  He tried to stow away on a train from Bremin to Hamburg.  So the train staff ordered him off at the Langalake (ph) Station, which is when the guy decided to moon them by sticking his naked rear end against the window of the train, which is when his pants got caught in the door of the train, and then the train dragged him half naked 650 feet down the platform and out onto the tracks.  All the while, he was dangling from his trousers. 

He was not injured.  He will be fined.  Now, he and you know where that cliche comes from: don‘t run for a train.  There will always be another one. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Because the microscopic remaining contingent of pro-Iraq war neocons needs a voice other than Liz Cheney and Bill Kristol, a new right wing foreign policy group has emerged, run by Liz Cheney and Bill Kristol.  Our fourth story in the COUNTDOWN, less than a year after losing power for screwing up the entire planet, the legion of right wing offspring rides again, calling themselves—wait for it—Keep America Safe. 

Fox Noise noise makers Cheney and Kristol still say invading Iraq was the right thing to do.  It was practically Kristol‘s idea.  Torturing suspects is OK and should not be prosecuted.  Detaining suspects forever is OK.  Kristol has advocated war with Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Sudan, Somalia and Cleveland.

Cheney had the political foresight and judgment to serve as campaign co-chair for Fred Thompson, and then as senior foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney, saying it would be a sad day for Republicans if Senator McCain were nominated. 

Kristol joking to “Politico” that their new group would help launch her political career, something she quickly denied.  Smooth message discipline on the roll out guys.

So what do they want?  To save America from President Obama, as illustrated in a new web ad criticizing him for not announcing a new Afghanistan policy yet. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He hasn‘t reached a conclusion, I suppose because he‘s spending all his time preparing for Letterman and speeches to school children, that he hasn‘t been able to focus on a war in which our soldiers are in the field, getting shot at. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Not enough time for decision, but plenty of time for Letterman, golf, a beer summit, more golf, vacation, and a visit to Copenhagen.  If you think America‘s president must act to defend America instead of just talking about it, join Keep America Safe today. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  What should we do to keep America safe today, other than get a less slimy sounding announcer?  Join Keep America Safe.  Give money to Keep America Safe.  Write letters about Keep America Safe.  Call talk radio.  Call—write more letters about Keep America Safe.  About what?  Please, don‘t prosecute anyone, Cheney‘s dad, for torturing suspects.  And keep them off U.S. soil, so they can‘t sue anybody, Cheney‘s dad. 

What has Mr. Obama done to keep us safe, other than keep us safe?  Carried out as many drone strikes this year so far as Bush did all over last year, killed Pakistan‘s Taliban leader this August, sent commandos to kill a top al Qaeda terrorist in Somalia last month, after years of failed Bush attempts to do so using only missiles. 

Here, multiple arrests in just the past month; the “Washington Post” reporting that after Obama first learned of the alleged Zazi plot in August, he got briefings three times a day on it, and, by the way, never boasted that he personally broke it up, as Bush would have.  Nor dismissed it, as Bush did.  He told the CIA briefer who tried to warn him about al Qaeda hijackings in August 2001, “all right, you have covered your ass now.” 

Even after September 11th, literally, he put terrorism aside for golf. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers.  Thank you.

Now, watch this drive.  All right. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  On vacation at the time.  Let‘s bring in MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe, author of “Renegade, the Making of a President,” and senior strategist at Public Strategies.

Thanks for your time tonight, Richard. 

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  My pleasure, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Keep America Safe.  There‘s not a word in there about supporting the troops.  There‘s nothing about volunteering in the military or abroad.  Just whipping people up to yell about torture investigations and yell about Gitmo, which, incidentally, Mr. Bush also wanted to close.  Even the rabid right has other priorities for keeping America safe, I believe.  What is the point of this? 

WOLFFE:  Keith, are you suggesting that there‘s a difference between a call to national service and a call to talk radio?  For me, it‘s the same kind of thing.  Let‘s remember the good old days, shall we, when America could invade a country that posed no imminent threat and had no weapons of mass destruction, while Iran and North Korea forged ahead with their nuclear program, and al Qaeda‘s leadership was safe on the Pakistani border. 

I think it‘s perfectly understandable that they would want a return to those days in the alternative universe that is talk radio in this country. 

OLBERMANN:  But, all right, there are some practicalities that you really can‘t erase because you want them to be gone.  Cheney‘s father was the foreign policy credibility of Bush/Cheney.  Obama, by the calendar, has already kept this country safe longer than Bush-Cheney did.  Not to mention, Bill Kristol gave us the Iraq war, which wound up being to al Qaeda‘s benefit.  Who is actually listening to these people and taking them seriously, rather than as what we are, a joke? 

WOLFFE:  Well, here is the sad truth of it, that independent voters who have disproportionately been disillusioned Republicans are tuning into this strange organism called Fox News, which repeats this stuff.  It‘s no coincidence that in that very long ad, which I think was something like two minutes—tell me they weren‘t very good at the whole decision thing about editing.  That ad posts Charles Krauthammer as the teller of truth on President Obama and his foreign policy. 

Look, they are speaking to the Fox crowd.  Unfortunately, that does affects not just the base, but these independents who can prove critical in the purple states. 

OLBERMANN:  Don‘t they have a credibility needle to thread here?  Either al Qaeda does attack again, which underscores the fact that al Qaeda still exists, and Bush-Cheney had the seven years, at least, to get rid of it and chose not to.  Or al Qaeda does not attack again, in which case everybody understands that actually Obama succeeded in keeping us safe from a threat that Bush and Cheney failed to appreciate or neutralize. 

WOLFFE:  Yes, that‘s very good, Keith.  But when a Democratic president has a terrorist attack, it‘s completely different from when a Republican president does, because clearly the Republican was just taken unawares and the Democrat is not keeping us safe. 

So there‘s a difference of a standard there.  And I‘m sure President Obama will realize he‘s been naive and just hand things over to John McCain. 

OLBERMANN:  Thank you.  Thank you for clarifying that all for me.  I was getting confused by reality.  Richard Wolffe of MSNBC, author of “Renegade,” senior strategist at Public Strategies, as always, thank you kindly. 

WOLFFE:  Thank you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Kind of a surprise in that Rush Limbaugh interview, when he admitted he was insane.  Oops, one of the centerpieces of a new website touting Hispanic female and/or African-American Republican heroes was not a Republican.  See if you can guess which one. 

And when “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” begins at the top of the hour, the questions enveloping Governor Rick Perry tonight, the role he played in sending a Texas man to the death chamber without proper investigations first. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  So, first Rush Limbaugh says we‘re trying to make money off him, dares MSNBC not to mention him for 30 days.  Then he does an hour long sit down interview with “The Today Show.”  The ego‘s mightier than the principle.  We‘ll deconstruct the Limbaugh interview next.  But first time for COUNTDOWN‘s number two story, tonight‘s worst persons in the world.

The bronze to Lonesome Roads Beck, stepped back on his heels like the rest of them over there at Fixed News when the White House called them out.  “I see it all the time.  I see their statements.  They all say, oh, the smear.  I mean, exactly what people used to say about those ho were going after Nixon.  It‘s just a smear campaign.”  

No.  Smears, that‘s not Nixon.  It‘s O‘Reilly. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  If you can‘t beat them, smear them. 

You‘ve got these smear merchants.

Smear tactics. 

Smear tactics.

Smear merchants.

Smearing anyone. 

Glenn Beck has been smeared. 

Smear websites. 

Smeared.

Smear merchants. 

Smear websites.

Smear factor. 

To smear us with it. 

There was some smearing going on at smear sites. 

Smear merchants. 

Smeared the three of us. 

Smear—for my trouble, I was smeared twice. 

We knew that MSNBC are a bunch of smear merchants.

The smear stops here. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  It‘s even funnier if you think of smear as a euphemism for another word.  By the way, as they climb up on their cross over there, just ask yourself this: when will the Fox News party hold its convention to nominate its presidential candidate for 2012?

Runner up, Michelle Malkin.  Maybe it‘s her.  When this Obama song stupidity broke in New Jersey last month, with elementary school kids there singing about the president, author Sharice Carnie Nuenez (ph) says she got an e-mail from Malkin reading, “I understand that you uploaded the video of school children reciting a Barack Obama song/rap at Bernice Young Elementary School in June.  I have a few quick questions.  Did you help write the song and teach it to the children?  Are you an educator or guest lecturer at the school?  Did you teach about your book, “I Am Barack Obama” at the school.  Your bio says you‘re a schoolmate of Obama.  How well acquainted are you with the president?” 

That was at 6:47 in the morning.  By nighttime, Malkin and the lunatic fringe had decided Carnie Nuenez was responsible for the song and whichever plot their fevered little paranoid minds saw behind it.  She received death threats and hate filled voicemails, all thanks to the total mindless, morally bankrupt, knee jerk fascistic hatred, without which Michelle Malkin would just be a big mashed up bag of meat with lipstick on it.

Ms. Carnie Nuenez had nothing to do with the song.  By the way, the fringe is out protesting at the school again, scaring the kids.  Exactly the way that psychotic pastor protests at military funerals. 

Our winners, though, the Republican National Committee.  A new web page today called Heroes, featuring 16 patriots, American heroes and famous Republicans: Abraham Lincoln, one of the Supreme Court justices who helped pave the way for Civil Rights Acts, one Hispanic American, seven African-Americans, including one of them that Republicans claim was a Republican, even though this gentleman, in his autobiography, wrote “I‘ve never identified myself with one party or another in politics.  Every chance I got while I was campaigning, I said plainly what I thought of the right wing Republicans and the harm they were doing.  By in large, Republicans had ignored blacks and sometimes hand picked a few servile leaders in the black community to be their token N‘s.  Early in 1964, I wrote a speaking out peace for the ‘Saturday Evening Post.‘  A Barry Goldwater victory would ensure that the GOP would be completely the white man‘s party.  What happened in San Francisco when Senator Goldwater became the Republican standard bearer confirmed my prediction,” which he wrote lead him to, quote, “a better understanding of how it must have felt to be a Jew in Hitler‘s Germany.” 

The, quote, unquote, Republicans who felt the Republicans had picked a handful of token N‘s was Jackie Robinson.  The Republicans have tried to claim him because he campaigned for his friend, Nelson Rockefeller‘s bid for the GOP presidential nomination.  Today, the Republicans would not let Rockefeller in their party, let alone in their convention.  As to Jackie Robinson, they would be calling the original affirmative action infielder, wouldn‘t they?. 

Folks at the RNC Heroes web page, today‘s worst persons in the world. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  When last we ventured into the mind of Rush Limbaugh—don‘t wear your good shoes—he thought the vast NBC/MSNBC world domination machine trying to make money off of him by constantly referencing him shouldn‘t. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I challenge you, MSNBC, 30 days without anything mentioning me, no video of me, no guests commenting on me. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  I inverted at the time that that was really the plaintiff cry, stop hitting me; I can dish it out, but I can‘t take it.  Thus, naturally, in our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, when Limbaugh coverage did drop, mostly because he lost his primacy in the lunatic fringe to Lonesome Roads Beck, Limbaugh did a sit-down hour long interview with the vast NBC/MSNBC world domination machine trying to make money off him by constantly referencing him. 

Jamie Gangel and “The Today Show” were the beneficiaries and/or victims of this game of following the bouncing Limbaugh ego.  And hilarity ensued.  As a public service, I thought I would deconstruct and translate tonight.  First, if he‘s not one of the leaders of the GOP, who is? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH:  I have no idea.  I‘m certainly not in charge of picking them.  The only thing I can do is recite names from 2008 that probably want back in it.  Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Huckabee.  Tim Pawlenty is probably going to go in. 

At this stage, as the anointer of the Republican nominee, I‘m not going to go out there now and destroy the chances of three or four other people.  I have more compassion than that. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  In other words, like all demagogues, he dreams secretly of being summoned, like Cincinatus, by a desperate nation.  That, or that was rare honesty, and he can‘t think of a single Republican likely to get more than 400,000 votes in 2012. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMIE GANGEL, “THE TODAY SHOW”:  Sarah Palin.

LIMBAUGH:  Misunderstood and underestimated. 

GANGEL:  You love her? 

LIMBAUGH:  Well, no.  Love?  I admire her.  People tried to destroy her.  She‘s got more of a backbone than any man in the Democrat party.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  He just said he admires her backbone.  Continuing Ms.

Gangel‘s word association game: George W. Bush. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH:  He‘s just the most decent, down to Earth, real man you could ever hope to meet. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  You could ever hope to meet. 

Then there was the subject of the overshadowing of Limbaugh by the likes of Glenn Beck.  With great reflexes, Limbaugh applied rule one of disaster management: if complaining about what hurts would also make you look bad, instead take credit for it. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH:  Look what I have spawned.  Glenn Beck, to me, is right on, Daddy-O.  Glenn Beck is a result of my success. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Yes.  Indeed.  Like congratulating yourself on spreading Syphilis.  But more materially, Limbaugh is ignoring all that preceded him on hate radio and TV, Bob Grant, Joe Pine, Wally George, and the man who proceed him in his first hate radio job, Morton Downey Jr. 

There was a flash of unexpected self-insight though.  You often gain insight into a man when he thinks he‘s talking about somebody else. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH:  You know, when I hear Bill Clinton say, I can‘t help—I start channeling the guy.  Look it, do you realize how quick and shafty I am, Jamie?  Look at what I managed.  The Democrat party is going to be really, really sad when I‘m gone, because I‘m the glue holding them together.  I mean, I‘m wealthy.  I sold a lot of books.  I tell people I am rich all the time, how my tax rate is.  And I still scored two million bucks for that stimulus plan that was supposed to create jobs.  How clever am I?  

GANGEL:  You are bad. 

LIMBAUGH:  It‘s true.  Great comedy has to have an element of truth in it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  As apparently does terrible political commentary.  Anyway, Ms. Gangel asked Limbaugh one of the stock questions that all interviewers ask all people like him, and all people like him lie as they answer: do you worry about what people think about you? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH:  I‘d be insane if I did. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  But we know he does worry about what people think about him.  He said so. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH:  So, I challenge you, MSNBC, 30 days without anything mentioned me, no video of me, no guests commenting on me. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  When asked if he worries what people think of him, he says he would be insane if he did.  He already said he did.  Thus, in the interview on “The Today Show,” Mr. Limbaugh just declared himself insane. 

That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 2,357th day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq.

I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck. 

Now to discuss Governor Rick Perry‘s role in the execution of a Texas prisoner before the man‘s case was fully investigated, ladies and gentlemen, here, sitting in for Rachel, is Alison Stewart.  Good evening, Alison.

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

END   

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