updated 11/25/2009 10:47:06 AM ET 2009-11-25T15:47:06

Guests: Howard Fineman, Richard Wolffe, Rep. Alan Grayson

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

The plan to sink Joe Lieberman.  Could his vote be replaced by Collins or Snowe?  Why don‘t the Democrats just shoot for reconciliation and only 51 votes?

And why can‘t Lieberman remember why he‘s opposed to the public option?  He‘s now given six different answers in six months.

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REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK:  All we‘re asking is let the Senate consider these issues one by one.  If Joe Lieberman carries the day, so be it.  But if he doesn‘t, he shouldn‘t stop everyone else from voting on it.

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OLBERMANN:  Is changing cloture the anti-filibuster protection realistic?  Our special guest, the man who proposed it: Congressman Alan Grayson.

The president and Afghanistan.  The decision looms with an exit strategy attached.

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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  It is my intention to finish the job.

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OLBERMANN:  The intention of the shameless chicken hawk criticizing from a secured, undisclosed location.

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DICK CHENEY, FMR. U.S. VICE PRESIDENT:  I worry that, you know, there‘s a lack of understanding there, what this means from the perspective of the troops.

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OLBERMANN:  That‘s Dick “Five Deferments” Cheney, who never talked to the troops except in a photo-op.

Ecstatic religious visions of Sister Sarah.  This is more than just some vague policy statement about settlements in the West Bank.

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SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR:  More and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead.

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OLBERMANN:  Now, she‘s quizzing Billy Graham about Biblical teachings on the Middle East, the fundamentalist apocalyptic prophesy that may be the only foreign policy Sarah Palin thinks she understands.

The first Obama‘s dinner for the Prime Minister of India.  How “The Washington Times” and FOX News reported John Boehner was not invited for partisan reasons.  Then it turned he had been invited but declined so he could go home to Ohio to—I don‘t know, work on his tan.

“Worsts”: Beck does it again, calls Mary Landrieu a, quote, “prostitute.”  Now says of her.

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GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS HOST:  So, we know you‘re hooking but you‘re just not cheap.

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OLBERMANN:  Where are the denunciations from conservatives women? 

Where is the call for Beck to be fired, from Sarah Palin?

All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.

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BECK:  I guess shame is dead.

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OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.

As the self-declared spoiler of the health care reform bill that will begin debate in the Senate next week, exactly whom does the junior senator from Connecticut represent?  The 334,000 people in that state, 10 percent who do not have health insurance tonight?  Or Aetna, just one of the health insurance behemoths that have its corporate headquarters in Hartford?

The fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: Senator Joe Lieberman declaring that under no circumstances will he vote for a bill that contains a public option and he still caucuses with the Democrats because.

The man the “Time” magazine has this week dubbed “The Senator from Aetna” drawing his line in the sand in an interview with “The Wall Street Journal,” telling the newspaper, quote, “I‘m going to be stubborn on this,” refusing even to accept the trigger compromise proposed by the Republican of Maine, Olympia Snowe.  “Once the government creates an insurance or plan,” Senator Lieberman adding, “the government or the taxpayers are liable for any deficit that government plan runs, really without limit.”  Except, of course, for the projection by the Congressional Budget Office that the bill will save the government money, will reduce the federal deficit by $130 billion over its first decade, and by as much as $650 billion over its second decade.

In addition, health reformers of all political stripes, telling Ron Brownstein of the Atlantic.com that the bill appears to be the best effort yet to contain costs.  Mark McClellan, former Bush administration official, brother to Scott, is saying of this cost-containment attempt in the bill, quote, “It would be good if more could be done, but this the right direction to go.”  Jonathan Gruber, the leading health economist at MTI, adding, “I‘m sort of a known skeptic on this.  I can‘t think of a thing to try that they didn‘t try.  They really make the best effort anyone has ever made. Everything is in here.”

Politico.com reporting that President Obama made Brownstein‘s blog spot with that analysis required reading in the West Wing over the weekend.

In a new survey from the nonpartisan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 79 percent is saying it is important for the president to include health care reform in addressing the nation‘s economic crisis.  Another poll from Public Policy Polling showing that the outcome of the health care debate could weigh heavily on the Democrat‘s chances at the mid-terms next year.

If Congress does pass a health care reform with a public option in it, the Democrat leads generally 46 to 41 on the 2010 ballot.  But if Congress fails to pass any kind of reform, respondents are then split, 40-40, between the generic Democrat and the generic Republican.

An actual Democrat in Congress is wondering aloud here on MSNBC this morning why Senator Lieberman has been elevated to such prominence.

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WEINER:  Where did this number 60 take on precedence?  All we‘re asking is let the Senate consider these issues one by one.  If Joe Lieberman carries the day, so be it.  But if he doesn‘t, he shouldn‘t stop everyone else from voting on it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Time now to call in our own Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine.

Howard, good evening.

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  The senator told “The Wall Street Journal” today he‘s against the public option because it would increase federal deficit, even though it won‘t.

In September, he told reporters he was opposed to it because Americans don‘t want or support the public option—statistically, in all polls, they do.

In August, he said it‘s because the country is in a recession, we needed to wait—even though lowering the health care cost would help the economy by the measure of any kind of economists.

In June, he said it was because the private insurance provides plenty of competition already.  Obviously, that‘s not true and the insurance industry knows this, otherwise, they‘d be in favor of this bill.

“Washington Monthly” noted he has had a different reason each month since June.

Is Lieberman just making this up as he goes along?

FINEMAN:  No, he‘s doing it pretty deliberately, at least in the eyes of other Democrats in that actual Democratic Caucus.  If you talk to Joe Lieberman or his staff, and I do, as recently as today, they insist that he favors reform and regulation, federal regulation of the health insurance industry, to prevent abuses like denying people coverage for pre-existing conditions.

But it‘s the widespread in the Democratic Caucus, in the Democratic cloakroom, that Joe Lieberman‘s main aim is to kill the bill.  And he will say or do whatever is necessary, from his point of view, to do it.  That‘s the widespread view among other Democrats on the Hill.

OLBERMANN:  If a Republican from Maine, even a fairly one like Olympia Snowe, votes a trigger compromise that would preserve at least some form of public option, however watered down it is.  The question then becomes among the Democrats: Why do they even talk to Lieberman at this point?  Who cares if he pretends to caucus with the Democrats if they can possible get Snowe cheap?

FINEMAN:  Well, they are asking themselves the same question, Keith.  And I talked to some of the Democratic leadership today.  And they said, yes, they think that Lieberman is pretty much of a lost cause, as I was just explaining.

He did vote to bring the bill up.  You remember Harry Reid said, “I‘m not worried about Joe Lieberman in terms of bringing the bill up,” that many was very worried about him on final passage.

And they are talking to Snowe and they are talking to Susan Collins, the other senator from Maine.  And they are looking at the trigger, and they are hoping that maybe—and they may have to get a Republican vote.

OLBERMANN:  What about progressives who do not want even the trigger or any other watered-down public option?  Is there—is it—why is this not the route, kill this bill and resolve as much as you can, using budget reconciliation, the 51-vote process?

FINEMAN:  Well, that—Keith, that may ultimately be the saving grace at the end.  But that‘s certainly nothing that Harry Reid or the Democratic leadership in the Senate want to talk about now.  They don‘t dare talk about it because it‘s a thing of last resort.  It would be full of all kinds of procedural traps in the long term.

And I think they‘re also worried about some kind of loss in a big vote, changing the psychology in a way that would then get out of control.  I mean, they are trying to make this case about cost savings, the president understands it‘s the key thing.  That‘s why he sent Ron Brownstein‘s thing around because that‘s the key to holding the majority together and trying to get that one Republican vote, maybe two Republican votes.

OLBERMANN:  Are they still of the mindset—Mr. Reid and the president, are they still at the mindset that any victory is a substantial victory?  Because even if it just moves the ball an inch forward, it does that?  And also, that the—since the Republicans are clearly opposed to any kind of reform, defeating them is symbolically almost as important as making real reform?

FINEMAN:  Yes, it‘s both.  It‘s both.  And there are all kinds of reform measures in there.  As others have said, as you were repeating.

But as far as Joe Lieberman is concerned—I mean, they have noted, for example, as others have, that, you know, when Mitch McConnell was speaking in the close of debate on Saturday, the Republican leader, an opposition to any bill, Joe Lieberman was sitting on the Republican side of the aisle.  When Harry Reid and the Democrats were speaking to close the argument on Saturday, Joe Lieberman moved over to the Democratic side of the aisle.

So, they‘re dealing with a guy that clearly has issues.  They are focusing on passing a bill any way they can.

OLBERMANN:  Howard Fineman of MSNBC and “Newsweek”—as always, great thanks and have a great Thanksgiving.

FINEMAN:  You, too, Keith.  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  Another solution to the Democratic problems in the Senate, change the rules of the Senate, require only 55 votes to invoke cloture, the anti-filibuster measure, instead of 60.  And as we reported yesterday, the Senate has made a similar change before.  Invoking cloture used to require 67 votes, more than two-thirds until the Senate reduced the number to 60 in 1975.

Congressman Alan Grayson, the Democrat of Florida, having started an online petition at StopSenateStalling.com in an effort to tell Majority Leader Reid to change those rules.  And Congressman Grayson joins us now from Orlando.

Thanks again for your time tonight, sir.

REP. ALAN GRAYSON (D), FLORIDA:  Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  I know Congress has already in its holiday recess.  But do you have a gauge on how your colleagues on Capitol Hill have reacted to your idea?

GRAYSON:  Well, it‘s too early to say.  But everybody understands the situation.  The House has already passed 100 bills that are waiting action by the Senate and this is becoming a chronic problem because the Republicans are using the filibuster rule to disable government.  That‘s what it comes down to.

In the last Congress, the 110th Congress, they used the filibuster more twice as much as anyone ever had before, Democrat or Republican.  And now, they‘re going to set a new record with 111th Congress.  This can‘t go on because the country has problems that need to be solved.

OLBERMANN:  If you were to get 30 seconds to pitch your idea to Majority Leader Reid of the Senate, your best 30 seconds, what would you tell him?  What would you focus on?

GRAYSON:  I think he‘d be pitching it to me.  I think he‘s pretty frustrated at this point, himself.  I think we all are.

But what everyone has to recognize is that this has to end somehow. 

Americans didn‘t vote for the status quo last year, they voted for change.  And they‘re not getting it because the Republicans are acting in a very unified fashion to prevent this and to support the status quo.  And that‘s not what America wants or needs.

I think—I think Senator Reid understands that as well as everybody.  But you need to also recognize, in the past, when the Republicans wanted to pass something, they ignored the rule.  We had tax cuts for the rich passing with 51 votes in 2003.  We had CAFTA passing with fewer than 60 votes, the free trade agreement with Central America.  We had Medicare Part D passing with fewer than 60 votes.

Every time the Republicans came up against this impediment and the Democrats were serving themselves, they rolled right over it.

OLBERMANN:  You heard what Howard Fineman just said about reconciliation and the prospect of doing much of the bill in the Senate that way.  Is that a better alternative to changing the cloture rules essentially in the middle of the game?

GRAYSON:  If we need to, that‘s fine.  But the important thing is to solve people‘s problems, to give them the health care that they need, to give them the jobs that they need.

Right now, the Republicans are executing on their game plan which is disabled the government.  You know, years ago, they started this when they appointed lobbyists to run the government in the executive branch.  And they contracted out everything to their contracting cronies and they cut off the revenue of the government by tax cuts with the rich.

Now, they‘re following through in that with this cloture rule.  It‘s got to end.  We‘ve got a democracy and we need to show that that‘s what this is.

OLBERMANN:  All right.  From a purely partisan view, let‘s say, Mr.  Reid, you know, this the best idea I‘ve heard all week, we‘re going to do this, we know can pass it, we can get it done by next Thursday.  What happens if and when the Republicans regain control of the Senate and they have a 55-vote cloture measure?  Does that—is that factored into this or are you saying that the log jam is so bad that it should be there, it needs to be changed just on principle never mind on party?

GRAYSON:  It doesn‘t matter.  We‘re not talking Democrat problem or Republican problem.  We‘ve got a problem now with democracy.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

GRAYSON:  And the problem is the House is getting its business done and the Senate simply isn‘t because you‘ve got 40 determined senators who are bent on stopping it.  That‘s the problem.

Now, if we change the rule, it‘s going to apply just as well to Democrats as Republicans.  And you‘re going to see the Senate is going to be able to get its business done and you‘re not going to see 100 bills piled up waiting to be acted on in the Senate.

OLBERMANN:  Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida—as always, great thanks for your time and good holiday.

GRAYSON:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Thank you, kindly.

GRAYSON:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  Post-traumatic stress disorder is one of the leading unreported illnesses in the country, speaking of health care, and one of its most insidious effects is that the victim is likely to employ again and again coping mechanisms that have repeatedly failed him in the past, which explains not only why former Vice President “Deferment” Dick Cheney thinks he was speaking for all U.S. troops when he blasted the commander-in-chief about Afghanistan, but also why some people would still think, after Cheney‘s failures about Afghanistan that he has any credibility on the topic.  Next.

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OLBERMANN:  Dick Cheney warns about delay in Afghanistan.  The current delay, not the one he caused for the seven years of U.S. history ending this past January.  Oddly, the laughter was not loud enough to peel paint off all the houses in the country.

Later, having already called her a, quote, “prostitute,” Beck now calls Senator Mary Landrieu a, quote, “hooker.”  One hilarious response to this and one sad non-response.

You‘re watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

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OLBERMANN:  The British failed in Afghanistan, the Soviets failed in Afghanistan.  Bush-Cheney leading the greatest military force in history failed in Afghanistan.

But in our fourth story tonight: President Obama says he now has a plan to, quote, “finish the job.”

What Dick Cheney now says in a moment—first, multiple reports tonight claiming Mr. Obama will announce next Thursday the deployment of at least or rather next Tuesday, the deployment of at least 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan following what was called last night‘s final meeting of his war council on this strategy.

The president today confirming no details.

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OBAMA:  The review that we‘ve gone through has been comprehensive and extremely useful and has brought together my key military advisors but also civilian advisors.  I can tell you, as I‘ve said before, that it is in our strategic interest, in our national security interest to make sure that al Qaeda and its extremist allies cannot operate effectively in those areas.  I‘ve also indicated that after eight years, some of those years in which we did not have, I think, either the resources or the strategy to get the job done.

It is my intention to finish the job.  And I feel very confident that when the American people hear a clear rationale for what we are doing there and how we intend to achieve our goals, that they will be supportive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Naturally, the military genius who helped whipped up right-wing frenzy over the insanity of taking a few months to hammer out an actual plan—after eight years of war—could not resist lobbing new insults, actually suggesting today that U.S. soldiers have only one opinion about this, and he knows what it is after a radio host teed him up by saying Mr. Obama‘s decision-making is something he is doing to the troops rather than for.

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RADIO HOST:  Why is he doing this to the troops that are waiting reinforcements in Afghanistan?

CHENEY:  I don‘t really know, Scott.  I worry that, you know, there‘s a lack of understanding there of what this means from the perspective of the troops.  And if you‘re out there on the line day in and day out, and putting your life at risk on a volunteer basis for the nation, and you see the commander-in-chief unable or appearing to be unable to make a decision about the way forward here that—you know, that raises serious doubts.

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OLBERMANN:  Mr. Cheney might understand that the U.S. troops do not think as one.  If he ever to speak any other than those hand-picked for him at photo-ops.  Or if he had not avoided joining them by getting a deferment, I‘m sorry, two deferments—three, four—five, five deferments.  Mr. Cheney, of course, has more decision-making experience that just about anyone in Afghanistan, making quick decisions that were wrong in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008.

And unlike the instantly sure, seldom right Mr. Cheney, the U.S.  people are themselves unsure how to proceed.  A new CNN poll is finding 50 percent supporting sending 34,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, 49 percent opposing that.

Let‘s turn to MSNBC political analyst, Richard Wolffe, also senior strategist at Public Strategies, and the author of “Renegade: The Making of a President.”

Thanks for your time tonight, Richard.

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

OLBERMANN:  I‘m quite sure some troops are upset about Mr. Obama‘s, quote, “dithering,” unquote.  And I am equally sure that some troops are thankful for a president who has produced a comprehensive, multi-pronged deliberative process.

Does not, Mr. Cheney, marginalize himself by turning U.S. troops into this kind of fictionalized, monolithic Dick Cheney supporter?

WOLFFE:  Well, I‘m sure some troops might have wanted the job to be finished in Tora Bora and al Qaeda‘s leadership killed at that moment.  They might have wanted real armor on their vehicles instead of having to pay for it themselves.  They might have wanted an exit strategy in Iraq or the mission defined in Afghanistan.

In any case, this hasn‘t really ever been about, quote-unquote, “supporting the troops” because Dick Cheney may, for instance, have planned for the day after the invasion of Iraq if he was really interested in that.  This is about the politics of posturing about supporting the troops.  And that has worked up to a point.  But, in the end, this is going to be a decision that actually really does impact real human beings, real brave men and women in the United States military and being deployed for a second, third, fourth time.

It‘s actually a huge decision.  It has to be defined and executed in the correct way.  It‘s no longer—this war isn‘t about a propaganda battle with the Taliban.  It‘s exactly—the Taliban that people in Afghanistan, the fight is—are fighting a gorilla war, it‘s not a media war, no matter what Dick Cheney presents it to be.

OLBERMANN:  What would Dick Cheney in office have said about somebody like Dick Cheney out of office being so pointedly and God-awfully convinced of his perfection of his criticism being so critical of the commander-in-chief at a time of war?

WOLFFE:  Well, they would have clearly played the patriotic card.  I mean, you know, one thing that the typical strategy for this kind of parrying would be to say, you don‘t question the commander-in-chief at a time of war.  That undermines the morale of the troops more than anything else, because in the end, even the polls suggest that this isn‘t about politics.  It‘s not a left or right division.  This is about defining what the mission really is.

When President Obama says he‘s going to get the job finished, what is the job?  That‘s his challenge next week.  He‘s going to be able to define what this thing is.

Sarah Palin can say the job is to support the troops but you can‘t just support the troops in abstract.  They need to have a mission.  And defining that mission is just been one of the biggest failures.  That‘s, of course, one of the big lessons of Vietnam—say what the exit strategy is, define the enemy.  It‘s not this open-ended commitment that is somehow going to stand up something in Afghanistan.

OLBERMANN:  All right.  One question, one specific about how he does this in this speech.  From the snapshot of this that I got at the White House last month, I gather the president thinks all the options, all of them are severely flawed, severely limited, that the best one he can find might simply be the least worst one.  Is he likely to be that blunt about it?  Is he likely to sell his plan to the country that way, saying, “Look, they all stink.  This is just the least stinky of them”?

WOLFFE:  I think he has to be slightly more optimistic than that, that he does have to frame this as a longstanding effort that has struggled, because of wasted opportunities in the past.  Whether it was going after the al Qaeda leadership, whether it was the political failures in Afghanistan of President Karzai and the failure—let‘s face it—to reinvest in the reconstruction in Afghanistan, he‘s got to talk about missed opportunities precisely because he needs to say what the opportunity is now.

OLBERMANN:  Richard Wolffe of MSNBC, also author of “Renegade” and with Public Strategies—as always, our great thanks, Richard.

WOLFFE:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  One of the less frequently spoken reasons behind the rights unjustifiably smog certitude about what to do in Afghanistan or Iraq or Iran or Israel is back in the news tonight because of something “Sister Sarah Palin” mentioned seemingly in passing in an interview with a reporter last week just before she took over the fixed news primetime line up.  It is symbolized by the fact that to expand her knowledge of the foreign policy implications of the settlements in the West Bank, Ms. Palin has turned to the Reverend Billy Graham.  Be afraid.  Be very afraid.

Ahead on COUNTDOWN.

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OLBERMANN:  “Bests” in a moment.  And Lou Dobbs says he‘s running for president.  Well, maybe running is a bit optimistic.

First, on this date in 1972, a passenger onboard a Northwest Orient Flight from Portland to Seattle stood up, showed up the attendant a briefcase filled with wires and red sticks, a bomb he claimed.  He demanded $200,000 in cash and some parachutes.  When the plane landed in Seattle, he released the passengers in exchange for the money and chutes, then, ordered the pilots to take off, again.

Supposedly, money stuffed in his pockets and parachute firmly attached to his back, he jumped out of the plane over southwest Washington State.  But the Air Force jets which were trailing the plane never saw anybody bail out from it.  The man who himself called Dan Cooper vanished.  Eight years later, about 3 percent of the money was found by campers.

Let‘s play “Oddball.”

A slightly different crime; we begin with dash cam footage of the arrest in Twinsberg (ph), Ohio, lovely place.  John Ford pulled over on suspicion of bank robbery.  Placed on the hood of the cruiser so police could frisk him for questions.  An officer pulled the suspect‘s wallet out of his pocket.  A white piece of paper appeared and—yoink—they completely missed it at the time, but after watching the tape, police now believe that piece of paper Mr. Ford ate was the hold-up note he used in the robbery.  Ford remains in custody.  Police say they still have enough evidence to convict him, but a station rookie is being kept on duty just in case. 

To a Formula One racetrack in Valencia, Spain, where Ferrari‘s CEO, Luca de Mantezolo (ph), is taking a couple of drivers far spin around the track in the new Ferrari California.  It‘s the first front engine Ferrari with a V-8, first Ferrari with a seven-speed duel—and it‘s also the first Ferrari to suck on gravel.  We‘re not sure why Seniore de Mantezolo pulled off into the gravel pit, which is designed to stop cars before they smack into the grand stand.  The boys in the back got out to push, to no avail.  All three men were forced to do a walk of shame, back to an ordinary 1979 Chevy. 

Finally to Brazil, where you‘re going to have to give me a little leeway with the pronouns here, because things got ugly at the Miss Gay Brazil beauty pageant.  After shocking the field with an improbable victory, your 2009 Miss Gay Brazil, Ava de Moas (ph), was doing the press rounds when her wig and her tiara got teared off by a runner up. 

Right here.  The shocked winner lost her hair and her crown.  The villain has yet to be positively identified.  Officials believe she may have been wearing some sort of disguise.  Back here at home, Carrie Prejean has denounced opposite pageants and Donald Trump‘s hair was too upset to comment. 

Sister Sarah Palin turns to a troublesome source for foreign policy advice, Billy Graham.  Why a seemingly casual remark about Israel actually serves as warning; she may be one of those end of days, Apocalypse anti-Christ believers. 

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

Dateline, New Jersey, number three, best self-delusion, Lou Dobbs is running for president.  Talking to the esteemed journalist, Fred “mail it in” Thompson, who asked, “have you ever thought of perhaps running for president,” Dobbs replied, “I‘m talking—yes is the answer.  And I‘m going to be talking some more with some folks who want me to listen to them in the next few weeks.  I do know this: I‘m going to have the best advice.  I may make a terrible decision, but I‘m going to have great advice.” 

Lou, at the end, you were having trouble getting more viewers than Jane Velez-Mitchell.  How in the hell are you going to get enough votes to become president?  Maybe president of Lou. 

Dateline Baton Rouge, number two, best comeuppance, Senator David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana, veteran of the DC Madam prostitution scandal.  the Louisiana Democratic party responded to the unconscionable use of the word prostitute to describe Senator Mary Landrieu, a word used by Beck and Limbaugh, has now called upon one of the state‘s leading politicians to denounce the remark about prostitutes, Senator Vitter.  Senator Vitter has thus far been silent, but his expertise in the area of prostitutes would be most helpful in undoing some of the harm inflicted on his senatorial colleague. 

And dateline St. Louis, number one, best celebrity romance news, Carrie Prejean, disgraced ex-Ms California, First Amendment misunderstander, and producer of amateur auto porn, is, according to radar.com, in love with backup St. Louis Rams quarterback Kyle Boller.  Her brother confirms that they are dating.  In her book Prejean writes in dedication to Kyle.  To steal the post of commentator Carson from the sports site Dead Spin, “Rams coaches say Boller has been watching a lot of film lately.”

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OLBERMANN:  Unemployed Alaska blogger Sarah Palin likes to talk about her faith without talking about her faith.  For the record, our third story is neither ridiculing nor disputing her religious beliefs.  It is purely an attempt to discern exactly what those beliefs constitute, so that the voters of 2012 know exactly what they‘re getting. 

There‘s nothing to suggest that Palin‘s religious beliefs are anything but utterly mainstream, American mainstream, anyway.  But in the last two weeks, she has revealed pieces of the puzzle of her religious doctrines, that suggest she shares the belief of her church, the Assemblies of God, that in the end times, the Rapture, Jesus lifts true believers up with him as non-believers suffer through the Apocalypse. 

She‘s also implying now that her interpretation of Biblical prophesy drives core elements of her policy, as the conservative “Washington Times” claimed last September, as the nation got its first inklings that Palin shared the Evangelical belief in the end times. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There are some things about the natural resources, about the state.  There are some things that god wants to tap into to be a refuge for the lower 48.  I believe Alaska is one of the refuge states in the last days. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  But the last days, according to Evangelical beliefs, cannot happen until Israel is fully restored, the temple on the Mount rebuilt and Jews return from around the world.  Here‘s what Palin‘s church believes, quote, “when the modern nation of Israel was founded in 1948 and Jews began returning from all around the world, Bible scholars knew that god was at work and that we were very likely living in the last days.  Ezekiel Chapter 37, Verse 71, thus sayeth the lord, God, behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen.  Wither they be gone and will gather them on every side and bring them into their own land.”

But does Palin, herself, believe in this prophesy of Jews returning to Israel, followed by Armageddon, the destruction of Israel, and the death of Jews and other non-believers, that this will happen soon?  There was no evidence of that, until last week.  Keep in mind, when asked about her own ambitions, Palin said she cannot make predictions. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN, FMR. GOVERNOR OF ALASKA:  I am not one to predict what will happen in a few years. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  But when asked about Israel, where Reuters reported immigration is down to fewer than 20,000 Jews a year, Palin last week suddenly decided she can make predictions without identifying the source of her prediction. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  I believe that the Jewish settlements should be allowed to be expanded upon, because that population of Israel is going to grow.  More and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  More and more people will flock to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead, just as Ezekiel prophesied.  And explaining why Israel gets a special place in her foreign policy, telling Shimon Peres, falsely, that the only flag in her office was Israel‘s.  After Thomas Ice at the Pre-Tribulation Research Center at Jerry Falwell‘s Liberty University told the “Atlantic,” quote, “what Sarah Palin probably believes is that this is the first re-gathering, a condition for the second re-gathering, the re-gathering in belief when the Jewish nation is converted.  Then there will be the battle of Armageddon. 

Who else believes that?  Billy Graham, leading prophet of the Rapture, whose website, after President Obama‘s election, declared 2009 a year to focus on the end times. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REV. BILLY GRAHAM, EVANGELICAL PREACHER:  We who live, who survive, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the lord in the air. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  In 1970, Billy Graham‘s Worldwide Pictures released a documentary explaining Israel‘s essential role in Rapture prophesy. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The lord god says, my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise, again, and return to the land of Israel. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  British pop star Cliff Richard even sings a song about it.  

(SINGING)

OLBERMANN:  I prefer it when he opens with Congratulations.  Sarah Palin met Billy Graham this Saturday, also spending time with son Franklin Graham, who has called Islam an evil religion.  And if Sister Sarah had not yet made it clear that her views on Israel are shaped by Apocalyptic prophesy, Franklin gave reporters this tidbit about Palin‘s meeting with Billy Graham; quoting the “Charlotte Observer,” “she quizzed him on the president‘s he‘s known and wanted his take on what the Bible says about Israel, Iran and Iraq.” 

So if Mrs. Palin truly wants to discuss her faith, we invite her to clarify what her faith says about Israel, its role in the Rapture, and the ultimate fate of Israel and the Jews who choose to keep their faith. 

Write first, ask questions later; the phony partisanship storms stirred up by the right over the Obama State Dinner tonight turned out to be nothing bigger than John Boehner wanting to go home early for Thanksgiving. 

Worsts, Bill-O claims an ambush by his stalker producer has forced Bill Moyers to retire from PBS, two years later.

And at the top of the hour on “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” Eliot Spitzer on the face off between the Obama administration and the Wall Street barons who want their money, anyway, bailout and bailout repayment be dammed.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Coincidence?  No meat at the first State Dinner of the Obama presidency; the guest of honor is a vegetarian.  And no meat to a claim from the right that the president excluded key Republicans, one of whom was, in fact, invited, but decided to go home, instead. 

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

The bronze to the fired Hewlett Packard CEO, Carly Fiorina, who is now running for the Senate from California as a Republican.  Ms. Fiorina on the bank bailout on Fox Noise, October 14th, 2008, quote, “the bank bailout was, unfortunately, necessary, because credit is tight for hard working Americans and small businesses.”

Eight days later, she credited the bailout with unlocking credit.  Now that the bailout has worked, she addressed a breakfast held by the conservative “American Spectator,” and according to that publication, quote, “Fiorina said she was opposed to bailouts and President Obama‘s economic stimulus package.”

Ma‘am, you‘re embarrassing yourself, and you explain again why Hewlett-Packard dumped you. 

The runner up, Bill-O, really earning that epithet clown on this one.  Bill Moyers has announced that at the age of 75, after 38 years in television news, he will be retiring from his weekly program on PBS.  “No, I think we, Jesse Waters, drove him out of PBS.  I think Jesse Waters is responsible for Bill Moyers leaving.  Now, Bill Moyers is hammering Bush and Cheney.  They wanted them impeached, this and that, and, you know, taking shots at the ‘Factor.‘  So we sent Jesse out to talk with him.” 

In the ambush interview from O‘Reilly‘s stalker producer, Moyers mopped the floor with the kid.  He invited Waters to come on the show because O‘Reilly didn‘t have the courage to do so, he said.  A year later, O‘Reilly sent his other flunkie, Porter Berry, to try to side swipe Moyers, and no one has seen Barry since. 

And these interviews from two and three years ago, that‘s what Bill-O thinks drove Moyers out of PBS.  Bill also thinks he has his own police force and that he schedules the tides.  Notice, O‘Reilly never does these ambush interviews himself because, well—here kitty, kitty, kitty. 

But our winner, a two-fer from Lonesome Rhodes Beck.  As a fairly recent survivor of an emergency appendectomy, I think I can say this—I don‘t think what they took out of him was his appendix.  Predicting a collapse of the American economy, he advised, “I like to the call the three G system for this; it‘s god, gold and guns.  Now, personally, you might take God and put him as an umbrella over the whole thing.  Then you‘ve got your gun and your gold down here, too.” 

Once again, Beck‘s dirty little secret is that American society means as much to him as faith means to a televangelist.  It‘s a scam.  It‘s a cash cow.  He‘s in it for the money.  He keeps trying to sell people gold, largely because his a disproportionate number of his advertisers sell people gold. 

Here‘s a fact Beck never mentions: the gold sellers will buy gold back from you at about 60 or 70 percent of the going wholesale price they charge you.  In other words, if you guy buy gold and the price doesn‘t go up 30 or 40 percent, you will never make your money back, let alone a profit. 

Part two, Beck called Mary Landrieu a prostitute again, did it on the radio, using the word itself.  Then on television, “so we know you‘re hooking, but you‘re just not cheap.”  At the end of the same attack, of verbal diarrhea, Beck concluded, “I guess shame is dead.  Shame died.” 

What would you know about shame?  And where are the conservative feminists?  A women politician is called a prostitute and you‘re OK with that.  It‘s OK if I call Sarah Palin that?  The hell it is.  Lonesome Rhodes Beck, traveling gold salesman, today‘s worst person in the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The menu for tonight‘s state dinner is meat-less.  The guest of honor is a vegetarian.  But while the prime minister of India and others enjoys green curry prawns and coconut basmati, the right wing will be feasting on sour grapes.  Our number one story, the right‘s made up hysterics over the guest list. 

Short time ago, the president and First Lady greeting the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, and his wife.  Tonight‘s festivities will require something bigger than the traditional the state dining room to accommodate a guest list of over 300.  They have been moved inside this heated tent, you see, on the South Lawn. 

The right accused the president of keeping the GOP out of the big tent.  A “Washington Times,” in an article titled “Top Republican Law Makers Not Attending State Dinner,” reported that the Obama White House had snubbed GOP leaders.  It wrote, “House Minority Leader John A. Boehner won‘t be there.  He‘s on Thanksgiving break at home in Ohio.  His deputy, Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, also didn‘t get an invitation.”

Once again, facts ruining a perfectly good story.  There you see the secretary of state.  As reported by “Politico” a few days ago, Boehner was invited, but declined to attend so he could go home to Ohio.  Also invited, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.  He too will be in his home district and will not attend.

Drudge running the story with the headline, “Not invited, Republican lawmakers,” next to a link about all the Hollywood a-listers attending the dinner and the headlines “Celebrity Curry.” 

Never one to be left out of a fabricated controversy, the Fixed News website also linked the article.  The “Washington Times” later updated its post to represent actual facts. 

Now, what Boehner and McConnell are missing out on at this hour.  The guests seated in tables of ten, awaiting the toast from the president.  They will dine on China from the Eisenhower, Clinton and Bush the younger administrations, the purple floral centerpieces.  The apple green linens are intended to pay homage to the Indian peacock. 

Which brings me to the Grand Poobah of  crying foul, Orly Taitz Limbaugh today complaining the Obama administration has single-handedly ruined turkey day.  “Has any president ever tried to hijack Thanksgiving with a state dinner two days before Thanksgiving?  I‘m surprised he didn‘t do it on Wednesday night or Thursday night.” 

No mention of any of the days controversies, as the president gave a toast earlier—later, rather. 

For the record, 49 seconds of research finds that President Johnson had a state dinner for the president of West Germany five days before Christmas in 1965.  Even though President Bush only held six state dinners in his eight year, one of them for the Japanese prime minister was scheduled just five days before the Fourth of July in 2006. 

Joining us now, columnist for CQPolitics.com, MSNBC political analyst Craig Crawford, also the co-author of “Listen Up, Mr. President.”  Good evening, Craig. 

CRAIG CRAWFORD, CQPOLITICS.CO”M:  Looks like those folks‘ Thanksgiving hasn‘t been hijacked.  They‘re having a good time. 

OLBERMANN:  Is there nothing left?  Is there nothing apolitical left, not even state dinners, the ultimate pomp over meaning?

CRAWFORD:  Maybe not the only thing left is politicizing a state funeral, Keith, I guess.  This is part of a plan that the political parties do quite often.  It‘s intense in this round of trying to delegitimize the president of the other party.  They have been doing it in so many different ways.  Attacking something as benign as a state dinner is one way to do it, I suppose. 

OLBERMANN:  If you are going to politicize something like this and open it up, it not more appropriate to ask why the minority leader of the House could not stick around an extra few hours to represent this country to an honored guest like the prime minister of India?

CRAWFORD:  I‘m sure if it was reversed, that‘s what we would hear from them.  They couldn‘t stick around to do this?  Again, I think it‘s part of a plan to just delegitimize this president, not even giving this platform, go and suck it up and pretend to get along. 

OLBERMANN:  The vice president on the left there.  The guest list was a closely regarded secret.  Obviously, we knew the vice president would be there.  It was released early this evening.  Anybody watching could see the arrivals.  Do we predict the meme tomorrow from the right about all the Hollywood stars there, or is the one advantage of having this thing scheduled where it is that nobody from the right is going to be at work tomorrow, and none of this gets played tomorrow?

CRAWFORD:  Right.  Well, I think they are going to make this effort to

·         the Hollywood president, the celebrities that are there, make a big deal out of that.  Past presidents have had celebrities at all these kinds events.  That‘s nothing new.  Of course, that‘s an old call 1-800 for golden oldies from the ‘90s, with Bill Clinton, attacking him for being so close to Hollywood.  Never seemed to hurt him.  I think it sort of helps the president in a way. 

OLBERMANN:  What is the significance?  I guess this is largely answered by the historic nature of this, in other words the historic continuum.  It‘s been 60 years of dinners that have involved leaders from India.  But is there additional significance to the president selecting India as the country that gets the honor of his first state dinner?

CRAWFORD:  There‘s been some concern in State Department circles and diplomatic community that India was feeling left out, with all the attention paid to Pakistan, which obviously they don‘t get along with too well, and other surrounding countries.  Plus, India is a huge democracy, one of the biggest in the world.  Sometimes I think some of those countries feel like we pay so much attention to the bad guys that we overlook the good guys. 

OLBERMANN:  And don‘t say, because the right will come after you—don‘t say they are the biggest democracy, even though they are.  The attention to detail for everything at this dinner, from the menu to the tables, to the dress that Mrs. Obama has.  The First Lady is going to be in an outfit designed by an Indian born American designer.  Does pulling off an impressive welcoming diplomatic dinner lead to headway?  Does this have some—no pun intended—meat to the bones?

CRAWFORD:  I don‘t know of any, unless maybe China with Nixon, when you open up relations with a new country or something, and the pomp and circumstance is new to them, and it gives them respect.  I think this lays a foundation, but there‘s nothing to replace the hard work behind the scenes to actually get deals made.  Dinners are nice, look good and help make presidents look very presidential .  There‘s the music right there, “Hail to the Chief.”  That‘s one purpose of it. 

OLBERMANN:  As the president and prime minister enter, followed by Mrs. Singh and Mrs. Obama, we‘ll thank Craig Crawford of CQPolitics.com.  Have a happy thanksgiving and rush over and pick me up a doggy-bag from this thing, I would appreciate it. 

CRAWFORD:  They‘ll have plenty of leftovers for Thanksgiving, it looks like. 

OLBERMANN:  That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 2,399th day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck. 

Now  to discuss the brewing bonus battle on Wall Street with Eliot Spitzer, ladies and gentlemen, sitting in for Rachel Maddow is former Governor Howard Dean. 

Governor, good evening. 

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

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