updated 11/11/2009 10:50:28 AM ET 2009-11-11T15:50:28

Guests: Lawrence O‘Donnell, Sen. Jack Reed, Ken Thompson, Eugene Robinson

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KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST:  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

The cavalry arrives.  The president trying to pass health care brings in the last president who is trying to pass health care.  Mr. Clinton to the weekly Senate Democratic caucus to invoke the other part of reform:

“This is,” he says, “an economic imperative.”  To massage the two hedging senators from his own state and to work on the reluctant senator from Nebraska, the chair recognizes Mr. Nelson.

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SEN. BEN NELSON (D), NEBRASKA:  I‘ve said that certain public options are unacceptable, but a state-based public option certainly is something to consider.

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OLBERMANN:  More GOP backlash against Sarah Palin.  Now, it‘s the Republican candidate she helped oust in the New York 23rd.  Dede Scozzafava, “How can Sarah Palin come out and endorse someone who can‘t answer some basic questions?  If they don‘t want us with them, we‘re going to work against them.”

The White House, more (INAUDIBLE).  The bombshell lawsuit today against “The New York Post” by the editor who protested the Obama dead-chimp cartoon and got fired for her trouble, harassment, she says, sexism, racism and most importantly, Sandra Guzman quotes Murdoch‘s bureau chief in Washington, “The New York Post‘s” goal was to, quote, ‘destroy Barack Obama.‘”  Ms. Guzman‘s attorney joins us.

Rupert Murdoch lied on camera about his network‘s campaign against the president.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Others on FOX have likened him to Stalin.  Is that defensible?

RUPERT MURDOCH, NEWS CORP CHAIRMAN:  No, no, no, not Stalin, I don‘t think.  I don‘t know who that, not one of our people.

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OLBERMANN:  So, if that wasn‘t Stalin in the middle that Beck was comparing Obama to, who was it?  Borat?

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CARRIE PREJEAN, FMR. MISS CALIFORNIA:  If Sean Hannity went out there and said some of the things that Keith Olbermann has said about me, you know, if he said anything about Sonia Sotomayor or Michelle Obama, he would be off-the-air.

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OLBERMANN:  Hey, lady, first, you‘re not Sotomayor or Michelle Obama.  Second, he said worse about them than I said about you.  And third, you made a sex tape that wound up being shown to your mother and even you are still on the air.

All that and more—now on COUNTDOWN.

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PREJEAN:  That was by accident.

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OLBERMANN:  Good evening, from New York.

The worse thing to do is nothing said the president to the Democrats of the Senate at their weekly lunch in a meeting he described as focused as much on the national economy as anything else, but which insiders‘ report was emotional.

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: Not President Obama, President Clinton.  He called in to rally those senators and choosing that unexpected combination of econ and emotion.  Mr. Clinton raising the stakes as he delivered a pep talk of sorts—on Capitol Hill today, speaking behind closed doors to the Democrats in the Senate.  TalkingPointsMemo.com reporting that he attended the lunch at the request of his former White House adviser, Rahm Emanuel, now, of course, the president‘s chief-of-staff, as well as, at the request of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Senator Reid announcing today that he now expects to bring the bill to the floor for debate next week.

President Clinton, perhaps the best living example of the dangers of failing two past health care reforms.  Senate sources telling “Huffington Post” that President Clinton made an emotional plea for action this afternoon.

Mr. Clinton telling print reporters in the hallway after the meeting was over that his argument had as much to do with economics, as it did health care or politics or emotion.  Quoting him, “I think it‘s an economic imperative.  We‘re in an economic crisis, we‘re trying to bring America back, and I have always been concerned that, you know, 16 percent of our people don‘t have health insurance and 30 percent are without it at any given point during the year.”

President Clinton advising the lawmakers to work in the realm of the possible, quoting again, “It‘s not important to be perfect here.  It‘s important to act, to move, to start the ball rolling, to claim the evident advantages that all these plans agree with and whatever they can get the votes for, I‘m going to support.”

In other words, passing any bill is better than passing no bill at all.  Quote, “I think it is good to pass this and pass it as soon as they can.  But I think the most important thing, it‘s the right thing for America.  We just simply—the worst thing to do is nothing.  The worst thing to do is keep dragging around 16.5 percent of GDP health care system that doesn‘t cover everybody, doesn‘t get the right results when we can do so much better.”

The Senate aide who was briefed on the meeting, paraphrasing the former president as concluding, “If you don‘t win this, the Republican opposition will define the issue.”

Time now to turn in—turn to Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, a member of the health, education, labor, and pensions committee, the health committee in the Senate and attendee at today‘s luncheon with President Clinton.  He‘s joining us, as you can see, from Reagan National Airport in Washington.

Senator, great thanks for joining us tonight.

SEN. JACK REED (D), RHODE ISLAND:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  We know what President Clinton says he said.  What else did he say that you can tell us about?

REED:  Well, the president urged us to seize this moment, that this would be something that, if we did not act effectively, we would not have the opportunity.  And he emphasized, as you indicated, Keith, that there‘s a huge economic issue here as well as moral issue.

The economic issues are increasingly important.  We won‘t be able to afford health care in this country if we do nothing.  We‘ve seen families that are facing the loss of health care because they‘ve lost their jobs.  We need to create a system in which the health care is affordable and reliable, and everyone feels confident they‘ll have it regardless of their work status.

And he emphasized those points very eloquently.

OLBERMANN:  Senator, I would think it‘s fair to say that your caucus would seem to need unifying—to some degree—at least on the edges as much as, if not more than some sort of pep talk as brilliant as President Clinton is at pep talks.  Did the former president succeed today on both counts?  Did he—did he coalesce people in the any sense of that word?

REED:  I think he indicated how important this is, and how much that we have to work very cooperatively and carefully, in a collaborative way, to come up with a very good plan.  But as he indicated, anything as complex as health care reform was going to be continual work in progress.  But if we don‘t work, we don‘t cover all of our citizens and we don‘t make it affordable, we‘ll never be able to get a handle on the cost of health care, and that will continually erode our economic position in the world.

And his experience, not only as the president, but now, as someone who travels the world, is something that was very influential.

OLBERMANN:  Mr. Clinton‘s evident pragmatism on this shines through all of these quotes that he gave to the reporters in the hallway afterwards.  You had said over the weekend that there‘s active debate among senators about a trigger or an opt-out to the public option.  Is the public option now itself a subject that‘s being addressed in a totally pragmatic point of view?

REED:  Well, I think it is.  And I think, from my position, or in totally pragmatic view, would argue strong for a public option.  One of the things that everyone complains about, I met with some small businesses yesterday up in Rhode Island, they complained about the increased health care costs to them from private insurers—every year, 18 percent, 20 percent increases.

And unless we have competition, then we‘ll see that.  For example, in my state, there‘s two major insurance companies to 80 percent of the market.  That‘s not competition.  We‘ve got to get that competition.

OLBERMANN:  The other quote that I wanted to ask you about, the paraphrase actually.  I should attribute it to the president directly, but a briefed aide described that as the question of not letting the Republicans define the issue.

How does that apply, practically speaking, once debate begins, if does, as scheduled next week?  How do you prevent that from happening?

REED:  Well, I think the major way we‘d prevent it is by working together to pass health care legislation.  This is the closest point we‘ve been in the Congress since ever—since the 1940s, and even in the 1930s when Franklin Roosevelt talked about it.  We‘ve got, as I say, seize this moment.

If we fail, then the story will be written not only about the failure, but about sort of imagining what caused it.  And it will play into a lot of the erroneous rhetoric about, you know, we‘ve seen the death panels, the fact that this is going to take over all health care.

The essence of our plan is a very vigorous private health care system that is on an exchange in which people can make choices based upon their needs, their satisfaction, and the cost of the plan.  And that‘s the essence, I think, of a—of a competitive solution.

OLBERMANN:  Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island—great thanks, especially at the airport.

REED:  Thanks.

OLBERMANN:  And I‘m glad we didn‘t wind up hearing you getting paged during the middle of that.  Thank you, sir.

REED:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  For more on the politics at the current moment, let‘s turn now to our Lawrence O‘Donnell, contributor to “The Huffington Post,” as well as former chief-of-staff to the Senate Finance Committee, and, of course, a regular with us.

Lawrence, good evening.

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

OLBERMANN:  All right.  Give me that picture here, as we know it from what we think Bill Clinton said to the senators and from what Jack Reed just—Senator Reed just filled in some of the edges for us.  What happened today?

O‘DONNELL:  Well, one thing to know about these lunches, and, by the way, these are private senators only.  Very few staff members ever allowed in there.  I‘ve been in more of those lunches than I can remember.  I mean, I really lost count after a couple years.

Almost never does anything interesting happen in those lunches.  They could put them on C-SPAN and no harm would be done to anyone.  They tend to be pretty stiff exchanges.  They are not free-wheeling conversations.  It‘s an attempt in the modern age to replace what used to be a closeness among senators and a chance for them to talk to each other once in a while.

And so, these things tend to be pretty stiff events.  What‘s ironic about what President Clinton apparently had to say today is he is now of the Obama school and the Rahm Emanuel school of accept anything.  There‘s nothing worth fighting over.  There‘s nothing worth voting no over here.  This is exactly the opposite of what his approach was in 1994.

And so, there are senators in that room today who were really rolling their eyes hearing Bill Clinton completely flips strategically because his position in 1994 was: the individual mandate, which is in all these bills, was an evil Republican idea and no one should be in favor of that, and that you have to vote for the Clinton bill.  And if you didn‘t vote for the Clinton bill, then there was nothing else worth passing and no compromise.

So, those meetings in 1994 were all about the Clinton message of absolutely no compromise.  And what you‘ve seen today is a completely opposite approach.

OLBERMANN:  So, that‘s—that‘s a very interesting contrast to what was being said before this luncheon took place, which was that, essentially, he was asked in by Rahm Emanuel, by Harry Reid, but principally by Rahm Emanuel because he could conceivably exploit his Arkansas ties to, gosh, two of the recalcitrant senators just happened to be from Arkansas.  And he and Ben Nelson were contemporary governors in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

Was he as much trying to talk to them about, you know, changing positions slightly 1 percent, 3 percent in the other direction, or was he actually talking to the progressives and saying, “You need to back off because we need to win, no matter how you define winning”?

O‘DONNELL:  Keith, I think this was much more aimed at the progressives, especially in the wake of the abortion vote, because it‘s—this legislation, as I said months ago on the program, always moves away from the liberal position toward the more moderate, centrist position of the Democratic Party.  That‘s the way the gravity always pulls it.

And so, he‘s rally talking to the people who are thinking about voting against this thing, for example, if it has that—you know, that House amendment in it about abortion.

And—I don‘t think he‘s going to have any influence at all over Arkansas senators.  I think today, they look at him as this guy who lives in New York who doesn‘t really know their politics.  Same thing with Ben Nelson—I mean, when was the last time a senator from Nebraska took his advice from somebody who lives in New York?

And so, I just don‘t see that he has that impact.  I think one of the things that they did today, smartly, is create a momentum story.  You know, Harry Reid had—there was nothing Harry Reid could do today.  When they had a big win in the House, what is the Senate doing today?  Bringing Bill Clinton in is a public momentum story.  I doubt, though, that there was anything significant that happened in that room today that would push a vote one way or the other.

OLBERMANN:  So, he trotted out, obviously, the bloody shirt of the 1993-‘94 failure, and then added into this idea: it‘s not just a moral issue, it‘s an economic imperative.

Is the economics of this—is there some value in terms of the overall debate to have somebody coming in and underlining, redlining that term “economy”?  President Obama has mentioned it a couple times.  I don‘t know anybody‘s ever gone out on a limb and said, “Look, we either do this or we‘re going to continue to crash this economy into the ground.”

O‘DONNELL:  Well, Obama was very eloquent about this during the presidential campaign.  He always linked it to that.  And he certainly linked it to it at the beginning of this crusade.  But it has been lost lately. One of the reasons it‘s been lost lately, these bills don‘t have any real cost controls in them.  That‘s the real problem when you try to sell the economic side of it.

Unlike the Anthony Weiner single-payer, “Medicare for all” approach, which is—which is the best cost control approach you can possibly come up with.  The second best is a strong public option.  It‘s very clear that strong public option isn‘t going to get through the Senate.

And so, Bill Clinton goes in there today with a front page story in “The New York Times” talking about how these bills don‘t really have cost controls.  And so, in the amendment process in the Senate, they might be able to strengthen the cost controls component.  And that would be a very smart move, if they can.

OLBERMANN:  Lawrence O‘Donnell of “Huffington Post” and MSNBC in Los Angeles with us tonight—great thanks as always.

O‘DONNELL:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  The administration and congressional Democrats and, I guess, President Clinton have well-organized opposition in this, is as obvious as the Grand Canyon—the Republican Party‘s supposed grassroots efforts bankroll the health industries and their lobbyists, and a political entity masquerading as journalism.  More unexpected evidence on that front tonight in a lawsuit, one of Rupert Murdoch‘s former editors quotes her Washington bureau chief as explaining that the goal of Murdoch‘s “New York Post” post was to, quote, “destroy Barack Obama,” unquote.

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OLBERMANN:  One of the purposes of Rupert Murdoch‘s “New York Post,” according to its Washington bureau chief, to destroy Barack Obama.  This claim in fired associate editor Sandra Guzman‘s lawsuit against the paper, and then it was also sexual harassment, and the racism.  Her attorney—next.

Later: The GOP backlash amps up against Sarah Palin.  Bill O‘Reilly corrected on air about health care reform by Brit Hume.  And it turns out Carrie Prejean doesn‘t understand the First Amendment on two different levels.

All ahead on COUNTDOWN.

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OLBERMANN:  For the first time, a former member of Rupert Murdoch‘s management team has claimed she was sold by a higher-up at the purpose of Murdoch‘s money hemorrhaging newspaper, “The New York Post,” was to, quote, “destroy Barack Obama.”

Our fourth story—that is part of a former editor‘s full spectrum lawsuit against the paper after she was dismissed after she had complained about a racist cartoon “The Post” ran about Obama last winter.

Former associate editor, Sandra Guzman, is suing, claiming racism and sexism are also rampant inside “The Post,” led and protected by Murdoch‘s top editors.  Guzman said she was fired after her objection to this cartoon, which depicted the president as an escaped chimpanzee shot dead by white policemen.  When that became public, her criticism capping the history of her complaints about racism and sexism there.

“The Post” says Guzman was terminated because her section had been cancelled.  Her suit has no merit, the paper says, and the charges are groundless.

What charges?  Take editor-in-chief, Col Allan, alleged to have shown a picture of a man displaying his genitalia to four female employees, smirking they objected.  “The Post” ignoring complaints about.

Allan alleged to have rubbed himself against the female employee, making sexual remarks about her breasts.  Allan saying the majority of people protesting his chimp cartoon were uneducated, that Guzman was listening to Al Sharpton.

Then there was the senior editor who offered a copy assistant a reporting job in return for oral sex; the columnist who‘s saying West Side story songs at Ms. Guzman; “The Post” policy to use white female models for its section covers; and the News Corp. senior vice president who routinely stared at female employees‘ breasts and buttocks while licking his lips, repeatedly called Guzman sexy as well as—this is what passes for repartee there—cha-cha number one.

When Ms. Guzman complained, Col Allan screamed at her.  When she interviewed baseball‘s Pedro Martinez, Allan asked whether he had a gun or a machete.

To the paper‘s credit, it never ran a planned cartoon it turns out that depicted Jews as sewer rats.  But despite Murdoch‘s own apology for that chimp cartoon, Guzman says the Washington bureau chief of “The Post,” Charles Hurt, told her the paper‘s goal, quote, “is to destroy Barack Obama.  We don‘t want him to succeed.”

With us tonight, as promised, Ms. Guzman‘s attorney, Ken Thompson, a former federal prosecutor.

Thanks for coming in, tonight.

KEN THOMPSON, ATTY. FOR FMR. NY POST EDITOR:  It‘s a pleasure to be here, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  I‘ll confess to being far less concerned with or surprised by the sexual or the racial allegations, not that they don‘t matter.  But what surprises me in there is that quote from the Washington bureau chief about destroying Obama.  That seems to me to matter the most journalistically, even politically or culturally, if you will.

THOMPSON:  No, it‘s not an isolated incident.  It was actually a part of a pattern practice at “The Post” and it‘s parent company, News Corporation, to basically trying to undermine and destroy the first black president of the United States of America.  And the way you can see that is not only did Charles Hurt make that comment to Ms. Guzman, but they ran this very offensive, dangerous cartoon depicting our sitting president as a dead chimpanzee, knowing full well the history in this country of black people being portrayed at gorillas, apes and monkeys.  And they did it, Keith, with full knowledge that it was offensive.

Jessie Angelo, the manager—the white managing director at “The Post” told people that he knew that the cartoon was offensive before they published it.  And just alluded to the fact that Col Allan said that they‘re—the people who are protesting are uneducated.  No, he said something more racist than that.  He said, the majority of the folks outside, who were protesting this despicable cartoon were minorities.  The majority of them are uneducated.

OLBERMANN:  This raises, though, a point about this place and what is always looked for in a lawsuit of this case, corroboration in some way.  Some witness testimony that will back up the claim.  To what degree is “The Post” based on your—development of this case, a white boy‘s club, frat house kind of thing, and thus, is their likelihood to be their corroboration of Ms. Guzman‘s claim whether that sexual racial ones or the political ones?

THOMPSON:  First of all, Keith, if you look at this—the diversity we have in this great city of ours here, and then you look at the newsroom at “The Post,” they have one black person as the editor.  The vast majority of the editors at “The Post” are white males.

How is that possible?  And when you have white males who will allow their employees of color to be denigrated, we lay it out in a complaint.

And you ask about corroboration.  We certainly will be able to corroborate Ms. Guzman.

You have to understand, they fired her on September 29th.  We have been preparing this lawsuit.  It is a very important lawsuit because Sandra Guzman must succeed.  Because if she succeeds, other women and people of color who currently work for “The Post” will also succeed.

So, yes, I will call witnesses who will corroborate her testimony and they have already helped me, Keith, get this far.

OLBERMANN:  Rupert Murdoch himself is not a defendant in this case.  Is there a reason for that?  Or does it suggest that he is somehow not responsible for what goes at “The New York Post”?

THOMPSON:  Keith, he‘s not an individual defendant, yet.  As you know, everything rises and falls on leadership.  You have Col Allan who Mr.  Murdoch brought over from Australia in 2001 and put him as the head of the newsroom, showing an offensive picture where a man‘s genitalia was hanging out and doing other offensive things to women and people of color.

Now, how could that be?  He must have had comfort to believe that his boss, the chairman of News Corp. would find that that was OK.  So, we filed the lawsuit yesterday based on what we had to date.  But Rupert Murdoch is certainly responsible for this racist and sexist environment.

So, stay tuned about whether he will be able to avoid this lawsuit.

OLBERMANN:  Ken Thompson, the attorney for the ex-“New York Post” associate editor, Sandra Guzman in that suit against the paper—again, thanks for coming in.

THOMPSON:  My pleasure, Keith.  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  First, Sarah Palin helped to throw out the Republican in the special House election in the New York 23rd, then she helped to throw the race to the Democrats.  Now, she‘s getting the same crap she threw at that ousted Republican, thrown back at her.  The revenge of Dede Scozzafava -- ahead on COUNTDOWN.

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OLBERMANN:  “Bests,” in a moment.  First, the legend lives on from the Chippewa on down of the big lake they call “Gitchie Gumme.”  The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead when the skies of November turn gloomy.  Thus, it was 34 years ago today, the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, the last time anybody took the sinking of an iron ore-carrying tanker on Lake Michigan, claimed 21 lives and turned it into the number two song in the country, by the time of the first year anniversary of the disaster.

Let‘s play “Odd ball.”

Now, the political equivalent of that, we begin inside the Maharashtra legislative assembly in Mumbai, where lawmakers did not like what the guy was saying, so they stole his podium.  And the McCain campaign said, “Really, you can do that?”  Mr. Abu Azmi of the Samajwadi Party began taking his oath of office speaking Hindi, the national language of India, the opposition party refers the local language of Marathi.  So, they decided to shut the whole thing down.

Azmi continued in Hindi without A.V. equipment.  He would eventually return to the house floor where he was shoved and slapped.  Later, the house resolved to suspend four legislators involved in the ruckus.  They also resolved to bolt the podium to the floor.

Inside the halls of our own government, where there is new footage from the inside of Capitol Hill on Saturday, the historic night for supportive of health care reform and for House Speaker Pelosi.  The triumphant Democrat seen her returning to her office is flanked by reporters, one of whom is about to take one in the jimmies.  A historic night for the Democrats.  A painful night for one reporter.  It‘s OK, guys.  Just keep walking.  I don‘t need any help here. 

Over the weekend, it was Mike Huckabee taking a chunk out of Sarah Palin.  Now the woman she helped purge out of the New York 23rd Congressional race also blasts the ex-governor.

And Carrie Prejean‘s freedom of speech has been so violated by people like me that she‘s only done three national TV interviews about her lost freedom in the last day, including one in this studio. 

These stories ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s top three best persons in the world. 

Dateline, New York, number three, best historical revisionism, Sean Hannity of Cluster Fox.  “There‘s a chance our government knew all along about this guy Hasan, and did nothing because nobody wanted to be called an Islamo-phobe.  What does that say about Barack Obama and our government?” 

Well, since Obama wouldn‘t have known about it directly, it probably says exactly the same thing it does about George Bush and our government, because the communications with the imam with alleged ties to al Qaeda, those were reportedly intercepted late last year, when George Bush also personally did nothing about Major Hasan. 

Best circular logic, number two, Jon Scott, the news model, news actor, turned anchor of what used to be the media criticism show on Fixed News.  Hosting the program between his appearances on stage in Camelot.  “We heard from Robert Gibbs, the presidential spokesman, on Wednesday.  He came out and said, oh, the president wasn‘t really paying attention to these election returns.  He was watching the HBO documentary about himself.” 

Then the panel of right-wing mini-brains they assembled to replace the actual media critics they all fired starts laughing uncontrollably and the idea that the president was watching a documentary about himself instead of the election returns was so funny that some woman named Cupp announced that the spin job was laughable, I mean, really laughable.  I get it.  That‘s what you have to do in politics. 

Not only was Obama not watching the documentary about himself, but the false story that he had had been promulgated by Fox News.  Its reporter, Major Garrett, even had to go on the air and announce he screwed it up.  So the Fox News media criticism show starts laughing at the president over a false story that none of the media critics even knew was false.  And worst still, the false story began as a screw up on Fox News. 

And dateline Richmond, number one, best asset protection, Reynolds Tobacco.  The Associate Press reports that the cigarette and chewing tobacco manufacturer is in talks to buy a Swedish company called Niconovam AB (ph) for about 44 million dollars.  What does Niconovam AB make?  It makes what are called cigarette replacement products, nicotine in gum, nicotine in sprays, nicotine in pouches.  In other words, not ways to get you to stop using nicotine, but new ways the tobacco industry can keep you hooked on nicotine while promising you—trust us, they‘re not as dangerous as cigarettes, like they used to promise, trust us, those light cigarettes, those cigars, those pipes, those chewing tobaccos, those snuffs, they were not as dangerous as cigarettes either.  Until it turned out the tobacco industry was lying. 

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OLBERMANN:  The woman who gave us the verb Scozzafava, meaning to enforce purity in a political party, might be giving birth to another new word.  Our third story tonight, the Scozzafava blowback against Sarah Palin and some amazing revelations about the loss that Republicans suffered in New York last week. 

The “Washington Post” reports that Scozzafava‘s endorsement of her former rival, Democrat Bill Owens, was the result of an orchestrated campaign.  The White House cooperating with the state party to court Ms.  Scozzafava, after Sarah Palin helped hound her out of the race.  Owens called her.  “He didn‘t ask for an endorsement,” Scozzafava says.  He just said. I hope you‘re doing OK.”  Doug Hoffman, the family values candidate, had neither the values nor the smarts to offer his condolences, nor seek her endorsement.  Scozzafava tells the Post, Hoffman, quote, had no integrity, a sentiment that had been shared by the National Republican Congressional Committee, until it endorsed him. 

Looking at fellow Republican, Florida Governor Charlie Crist‘s for Senate next year, up against a Doug Hoffman of his own, Marco Rubio, who just won the endorsement of the right wing Club for Growth, which also launched Hoffman on his path to obscurity.  To them Scozzafava had this warning: “there is a lot of us who consider us Republican, of the party of Lincoln.  If they don‘t want us with them, we‘re going to work against them.” 

And we‘ll infer the definition of Palin to Palin, as in Republicans got Palined out of a Congressional seat when they bought into a know-nothing outsider.  From what Ms. Scozzafava had to say about her, how can Sarah Palin come out and endorse someone who can‘t answer some basic questions.  Do these people even know who they are endorsing? 

Let‘s bring in MSNBC political analyst Eugene Robinson, also an associate political editor and Pulitzer Prize winning columnist at the “Washington Post.”  Gene, good evening. 

EUGENE ROBINSON, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Good evening, Keith.   

OLBERMANN:  The national GOP lost.  They had a candidate who did not know national issues.  Then they lost with a local candidate in New York who did not know local issues.  If the GOP keeps Scozzafavaing themselves, won‘t they end up, like, totally Palined? 

ROBINSON:  Actually, I think they are impaling themselves, Keith.  Look, this is a great way to make a really, really small party.  On Wall Street, how do you make a small fortune?  Start with a big fortune.  How do you make a small part?  Start with a big party.  You kick out everybody who is pro-choice.  You kick out everybody who is pro-gay rights, which means, I guess, you have to kick out Dick Cheney. 

This quest for ideological purity can only take the party in one direction.  That‘s smaller and smaller and smaller.  It seems totally insane to me. 

OLBERMANN:  In terms of the blowback here, when Ms. Scozzafava says we are going to work against them, who‘s the we?  Who is left?  Who is—to use the old apocryphal line, who is this we, Kimosabe (ph)?  Is anyone left to fight that fight? 

ROBINSON:  I think they are having secret rendezvous‘s at Rick‘s Cafe in Casablanca planning the resistance.  There are moderate Republicans or at least former moderate Republicans looking for a home, who are—I hear from a lot of people who say this isn‘t the Republican party that I belonged to for 20 or 30 or however many years.  And I want it back. 

But is it organized right now?  Does it have the momentum?  Does that faction have the momentum?  No, they don‘t.  The Palin putsch or purge or whatever you want to call it is rampant at the moment. 

OLBERMANN:  Is this not the snake eating its own tail?  We started with social conservatives who were tired of being exploited by rich tax cutters.  Now the Paliners are embracing candidates endorsed by Dick Armey and the Club for Growth.  It seems like they have revolted against themselves. 

ROBINSON:  It does seem that way.  Once again, if you kind of play it out, the social conservative, once again, will be disappointed.  They are going to get fooled again, I think, and not get their issues carried forward in the way they want.  Then they will look elsewhere.  In the meantime, they are with Sarah. 

OLBERMANN:  And—all right, how much is it about her?  The other day, Mike Huckabee took a fairly veiled, polite swipe at her.  But it was a swipe.  It read, “some of the people who had excoriated me and been very dismissive of me for views that I had taken, and labeled me anything from a populist to an ignoramus, the same people have been very defensive of and laudatory to Sarah Palin.  I‘m glad she‘s getting the props.  I know I‘m not nearly as attractive.”  Is there actually Sarah Palin blow back inside the GOP?  Or is it limited to Mike Huckabee and Dede Scozzafava?

ROBINSON:  Well, no, it is certainly not limited to just them. 

Anybody who wants to run for president is not going to be falling in line.  And look, Mike Huckabee is a social conservative.  He has been.  He‘s been known as a social conservative, a leading one for many years.  And it‘s got to rankle him that all of a sudden the expert on social conservatism is the almost one-term governor of Alaska.  He‘s been at this for considerably longer, you know, with a lot of skill and some tact. 

So, no, this is just beginning.  And it‘s going to be not just a battle of issues, but a battle of personalities as well.  And it‘s going to get ugly. 

OLBERMANN:  Don‘t forget, she‘s also an export on the history of minting of dollar coins.  Gene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist of the “Washington Post.”  Drop that in the next time you write about her.  Great thanks, Gene.

ROBINSON:  Good to talk to you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  First, Carrie Prejean didn‘t understand that the first amendment only protected her free speech from government interference.  Now she doesn‘t understand that if she‘s done three TV interviews in 24 hours about how her first amendment rights are being violated, they are not being violated. 

And long time, no see; the Frank Burns of news can‘t tell the difference between the public option and the public sector. 

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, the AMA endorsed health care reform.  Now, quote, grassroots groups are trying to talk the association into revoking that endorsement.  Guess what she‘s found out about those, quote, grassroots groups?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Carrie Prejean‘s revenge against me.  Her freedom of speech so abridged, she was interviewed on “The Today Show,” in this studio but down stairs.  Given that tape she made, did we clean?  Please? 

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

The bronze to Rupert Murdoch.  Just isn‘t his week.  First he defended Glenn Beck calling the president racist.  Now he‘s been caught flat footed in a lie about another reference to Obama, a lie to one of his own networks, Sky News Australia. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I was on Fox.  Stalin, is that defense --  

RUPERT MURDOCH, NEWSCORP:  No, not Stalin.  No, that wasn‘t one of our people. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  So this guy doing the promo for the April 2nd 2009 “Glenn Beck Show” on Fox News is a Glenn Beck impersonator? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Firefighters with a plan.  Is this where we are headed?  Those who don‘t know history are destined to repeat it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  To that point about repeating history, the last guy there, that was Stalin.  The first guy was Obama.  That would be a comparison of Obama to Stalin, Rup, by one of your people.  You might want to watch your own network, if you can risk your soul jumping out of your body and smacking you in the face. 

The runner up, Congresswoman Sue Myrick of North Carolina.  David Gobatts (ph) -- Gobatts?  That‘s got to be a made-up name.  Maybe it‘s Gobatts.  Gobatts.  Co-author of the book “Muslim Mafia,” has responded to the Ft. Hood nightmare with another one of these screw the Constitution, screw waiting for any investigation, revenge fantasies, complete with book burnings.  Says Gobatts, “now is the time for a professional and legal backlash against the Muslim community and their leaders.  If Muslims do not want a backlash, then I would recommend a house cleaning.  Stack every Saudi, al Qaeda, Pakistani, Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood piece of material from their mosque and have a bonfire.”

Hard to tell if Gobatts hates or is just looking to make money off this.  But Congresswoman Myrick, in theory, is an elected representative of the people of the United States.  She wrote the forward to this piece of crap and is, thus, endorsing racial hatred, guilt by association, attacks on freedom of religion, book burning, professional and legal backlashes, and house cleanings, all of which once let loose on this society could, she has obviously forgotten, easily be redirected against thin-brained Congresswomen from North Carolina. 

But our winner, back after too long an absence, it‘s Bill-O the Clown. 

He decided to talk health care reform with Brit Hume and hilarity ensued.  

Bill-O, “they call it the public sector.” 

Hume, “public option, you mean?” 

“Public option, whatever.  The folks don‘t want it.” 

Hume says, “the public option—actually, some polls show that the public option standing by itself is not at all unpopular, but it is kind of popular.” 

Holy crap.  O‘Reilly was lying so much, Brit Hume had to correct him twice.  Holy crap.  And public sector?  That might not be the dumbest thing ever said on Fox.  That‘s still Glenn Beck citing the university of I don‘t remember.  But citing the public sector insurance plan?  Holy crap.  Bill, “what‘s all this about a pubic option, O‘Reilly, today‘s worst person in the—what‘s word here—world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The free speech and first amendment rights of the dethroned Miss California Carrie Prejean have been so silenced, her freedom so denied that she‘s only done three national TV interviews in the last 24 hours, including one in the down stairs part of this studio.  Our number one story, did she leave any more of those personal videos hanging around? 

Give Ms. Prejean credit for moxy.  A sex tape in which she is alone and which was played for her while she sat there with her mother, who did not know about it in advance, is revealed.  And she‘s still out there hawking her new book on TV, all thanks to the miracle of free speech and video cameras with remote panning devices. 

But what we might have learned from her interview with Sean Hannity last night is that the answer to every question, no matter what the subject, would end with a restatement of her mission to save free speech as we know it. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARRIE PREJEAN, FMR. MISS CALIFORNIA:  Americans should not be attacked for their beliefs.  They should not be silenced.  We have the freedom of speech.  I was punished.  I was fired.  I was brutally attacked, still being attacked.  People are still trying to dig up things from my past.  People have heard bits and pieces of the liberal media‘s version of it.  But basically it‘s for Americans who believe their beliefs are under attack.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Of course, Ms. Prejean fails to understand that her free speech does not apply to what she says on a privately owned TV network during a privately owned beauty pageant.  Besides, nobody was trying to stop her from speaking her mind before, during or after that the pageant.  Of course, she was not fired for doing that.  She was fired for breech of contract.  That was after pageant, through the decree of the franchises owner, Donald trump, had given her a pass for those so-called modeling pictures that had surfaced. 

Little did we know that apparently earlier she had made a tape, perhaps in hopes of becoming a hand model.  This morning, the tour continued on NBC‘s “Today Show,” where Ms. Prejean gave her stock answer about whether or not the tape was a sex tape.  She offers a potentially clever answer, given that the tape may someday be released. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PREJEAN:  You can call it whatever you want to call it.  If you want to call it a sex tape, that‘s fine.  But -- 

PREJEAN:  It was me by myself.  There was no one else with me.  I was not having sex.  I sent it to my boyfriend at the time.  I was a teenager.  I cared about him.  I trusted him.  And, you know—but the main point is that there has been a campaign against me to try and silence me for the past seven months for the answer that I gave at the pageant. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  So even parts of her life that have nothing to do with her pageant answer, like posing half nude for modeling photos or making a sex tape, have been used to attack her, because of the real motive.  Try to keep up. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PREJEAN:  All I know is there‘s been a campaign against me to try to silence me.  They have tried to embarrass me.  They‘ve tried to humiliate me.  They‘ve tried to attack me.  And I‘m still standing. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  No surprise, her book is called “Still Standing.”  And kudos for working in the title half a dozen time in these interviews.  Anyway, not content with talking points, Ms. Vieira dared to press Ms.  Prejean on why she dropped her lawsuit, particularly since that lawsuit was, theoretically, a vehicle to prove that she was fired for her beliefs. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEREDITH VIEIRA, “THE TODAY SHOW”:  Carrie, why did you drop the lawsuits against pageant officials.  You have charged them with libel and slander and religious discrimination.  If you feel that strongly about it, why drop the lawsuit?  Are you worried about this tape becoming public? 

PREJEAN:  Everything that happened in mediation is confidential.  I made a promise not to discuss anything that was discussed in there. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  In other words, you got rid of your freedom of speech, didn‘t you?  Convenient.  Returning to Ms. Prejean‘s thesis, already in progress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PREJEAN:  I think it‘s important for people to understand.  I think that Americans heard only bits and pieces of what really happened.  I think there is a liberal bias in the media.  It‘s unfortunate that, you know, conservative women are attacked.  They are attacked for their beliefs.  So many Americans believe that their beliefs, you know, are under attack and they should be silent.  And free speech doesn‘t exist.  Since when does free speech not exist? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Yes, we‘re getting warmer.  But first, a quick detour to the issue of Ms. Prejean‘s hypocrisy. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VIEIRA:  There are people who say they want to call you on the carpet when they feel you‘re being a hypocrite.  In the book you write, “our bodies are temples of the lord.  We should earn respect and admiration for our hearts, not for showing skin to look sexy. 

PREJEAN:  Right, absolutely. 

VIEIRA:  Some people are seeing the tape, whatever you want to call it, and they‘re saying well, she‘s a hypocrite. 

PREJEAN:  I‘m a model.  I was in a beauty pageant.  If people want to call me a hypocrite, then that‘s their prerogative. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  OK, if the tea is steady.  Ms. Prejean, you‘re a hypocrite.  But when Sarah Palin‘s name was invoked, we might have known that Ms. Prejean would arrive at her coup de grace. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VIEIRA:  You say in the book, you have been Palinized, referencing Sarah Palin.  What do you mean by that, I‘ve been Palinized?

PREJEAN:  You know of the attacks Sarah Palin has been under.  There‘s as an extreme double standard that conservative women are under attack for whatever it is.  If Sean Hannity went out and said some of the things that Keith Olbermann has said about me—if he said anything about Sonia Sotomayor or Michelle Obama, he would be off the air.  Why is there this double standard?  That‘s the reason I wrote this book. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Several points.  Part of the double standard, Ms. Prejean, you‘re not Justice Sotomayor or the First Lady of the United States.  Surprise.  Secondly, Mr. Hannity has relentlessly pressed a case that both Sonia Sotomayor and Michelle Obama are themselves racist.  He did the far right‘s bidding in taking Sotomayor‘s words out of context in a speech she had given.  He used a court case in which Sotomayor had followed precedent to paint her as a reverse racism extremist. 

With Michelle Obama, Hannity repeatedly distorted a passage in her college senior thesis to suggest that others‘ views on race that she was describing were actually her own views, including the words white oppressor. 

And words do matter, which is why there‘s often a fight over context and meaning.  So Ms. Prejean, have you ever considered what you were saying in that beauty pageant answer?  You know, right before you said that you believed that marriage should be between a man and a woman? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PREJEAN:  I think it‘s great that Americans are able to choose one or the other.  We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Except gay people don‘t have that choice because the majority of straight people use their majority power to deny it.  So when you use those words, whether you knew what you were saying or not, you must expect something of a pushback. 

As for unfair attacks on men or women, it has never been limited to conservative women. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  This is entirely predictable, is it not?  Nancy Pelosi basically did everything except sell her own body to get this bill passed.  She did everything.  She had—everything was on the table. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  But the most truthful answer you have given thus far was a simple nod and a yes. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARBARA WALTERS, “THE VIEW”:  There are a lot of people who—you know, it‘s deplorable that happened to you.  On the other hand, it‘s the best thing that happened to you, isn‘t it? 

PREJEAN:  Yes. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  That‘s COUNTDOWN for this 2,385th day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq.  I‘m Keith Olbermann.  And so sign off the way Carrie Prejean might, it‘s Girl Scouts.  Oh, no, I‘m sorry, three.  I‘m sorry.  Good luck. 

Now the grassroots pushback against the AMA endorsement of health care reform.  Golly, it‘s not that grassroots after all?  Connecting all the dots, ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow.  Good evening, Rachel.

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

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