updated 2/5/2010 5:45:43 PM ET 2010-02-05T22:45:43

Guests: Howard Fineman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Jonathan Turley,

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

The junior senator from Massachusetts -

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SEN. SCOTT BROWN ®, MASSACHUSETTS:  I do.

JOSEPH BIDENT, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Congratulations, Senator.

BROWN:  Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

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OLBERMANN:  But why would the GOP go from demanding immediate seating for Senator Brown to trying to stall past a series of controversial votes back to immediate seating?

Republicans for sale: John Boehner meets for drinks with the boss of JPMorgan, says only the GOP can protect him from the horror of reform.

Abdulmutallab singing like a bird, yet Mitch McConnell trashes the American intelligence community and the Justice Department, says: only the GOP can protect you from the horror of terror.

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SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER:  He was given a 50-minute interrogation.  Probably Larry King has interrogated people longer and better than that.

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OLBERMANN:  Political points ahead of intel.  Hello!

The Christmas bomber now providing leads about the Yemeni cleric tied to Detroit, the Fort Hood shooter, and even 9/11.  And—oh, by the way the president can kill you while you‘re out of the country if you‘re working with the terrorists.  Huh?

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DENNIS BLAIR, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE:  If that direct action—we think that direct action will involve killing an American, we get—we get specific permission to do that.

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OLBERMANN:  Limbaugh‘s use of the R-word, Sister Sarah still silent about it.  His escape?  He claims he never used the R-word.  He was only quoting Rahm Emanuel.

Quoting this guy, “The president was first a racist.”  Now, he‘s called his name un-American.

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GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS HOST:  You don‘t take the name “Barack” to identify with America.

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OLBERMANN:  And the poll that proved the delusions of the far-right is criticized by the far-right.

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BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST:  Did you know that Republicans are stupid and evil?

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OLBERMANN:  Why, no—I didn‘t.  But I‘ll certainly take your word for it.

All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.

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O‘REILLY:  You‘re out of your mind.

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OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.

The Senate supermajority officially ending at 5:12 Eastern Time tonight, the junior senator from Massachusetts sworn in at that hour by Vice President Biden.  And thus, the Senate reverts from a brief interlude in which Democrats could not get a damned thing done to its normal state in which nobody can get any damn thing done.

Senator Brown‘s arrival giving the Republicans the 41 votes they need to block President Obama‘s agenda by keeping legislation from ever getting an up or down vote because of filibuster abuse.

As the president himself noted yesterday to that poor, downtrodden handful of Democratic senators the Valley Forge contingent, Brown‘s victory last month treated as if the GOP has achieved a 41/59 majority in the Senate.

Earlier this afternoon, Democrats in the Senate giving their 60th member, interim Senator Paul Kirk, a standing ovation as he delivered his farewell address.  Senator Kirk was supposed to have had one more week in office, but yesterday, Mr. Brown demanding he be sworn in today only hours after Massachusetts Governor Patrick had certified his election.

On Tuesday, Mr. Brown had indicated he would be sworn in next week.  At a news conference this evening, the junior senator is giving a reason for his change of heart.

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BROWN:  People have asked me why I wanted to get sworn in so quickly after the results had been certified and the answer is pretty—there‘s no hidden agenda.  The answer is pretty basic.  I want to get to work.

The secretary of state had certified the results.  We gave him initially a fair amount of time.  He called the other day and said they were ready.

So, we thought it was appropriate to come down and start working.  And there are a lot of votes pending that I would like to participate in.

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OLBERMANN:  Senator Brown claiming he might not always be a sure thing Republican vote.

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BROWN:  If I see a bill that is good for my state first and I don‘t care where it comes from, if it‘s good for Massachusetts first, I‘m going to look at it and consider it.  And I have always worked across party lines to solve problems.  I have a history of almost 6,000 votes doing just that.  And I‘m looking forward to analyzing each and every bill and then making a decision when it comes up.

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OLBERMANN:  Senator Brown then pre-apologizing tonight for the errors he would make on the job.

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BROWN:  I‘ll be sure that I‘ll make mistakes from time to time. 

However, I always have tried to learn and grow.

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OLBERMANN:  A growth moment—mistake number one coming only 80 seconds later.

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BROWN:  Also this week, the CIA director said that there will be another al Qaeda attack here in the United States in the next three to five months.  And, obviously, this is frightening news.

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OLBERMANN:  Obviously, Director Panetta having said three to six months not three to five, and far more obviously, the CIA chief having predicted an attempted attack by al Qaeda in no way guaranteeing the certainty of an actual attack.  But you‘ll learn.

Time now to call in our own Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine, who attended tonight‘s swearing in and Senator Brown‘s news conference.

Howard, good evening.

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  So, at that news conference, the senator also said the stimulus has not created a single job.  Would that be mistake number two or revelation number one?

FINEMAN:  Well, it‘s both.  It‘s—it is a mistake, I think any fair-minded observer would say.  By the way, one job that the stimulus package may well have created was Scott Brown‘s.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

FINEMAN:  So, that‘s false on its face.

But in addition to that, look, has it created 2 million jobs?  No.  Has it created or saved 2 million?  Maybe.  Would any fair-minded economist say that some jobs were created by it?  Sure.

What‘s interesting about it is what it showed about Scott Brown.  You know, I have to go on gut instinct.  My first impression of this guy, watching him at his first press conference, he‘s a tough, combative guy who is aimed straight at the heart of the Obama administration.

Maybe he was bipartisan up there in Massachusetts some of the time.  I think he‘s going to be very much a part of the team, the Republican rejectionist team from the get-go.  That was my dominant impression especially having made that crack about not one job having been created by the stim.

OLBERMANN:  Is that why he flip-flopped on the—on the date of being installed?  He was—he had acceded to the 11th and now, suddenly, it had to be today.  Is this about a filibuster of the jobs bill?

FINEMAN:  Partly.  I think possibly, because that would make sense, because his crack about the stimulus bill came in answer to a question about, what are you going to do about the jobs bill?  And so, his predicate there was, you know, I don‘t believe these kinds of bills work.  They don‘t work at all.

So, if the stimulus package didn‘t work at all, I‘m assuming that‘s what he thinks about the jobs bill that the president is trying to put forward, which is kind of stimulus junior.  So, yes.  I think he couldn‘t wait to get down there.

I got the sense of a real—as I said—combative guy, couldn‘t wait to get down here and mix it up as part of the Republican bossy minority.

OLBERMANN:  Here‘s a question, though, about his—the box that he is in uniquely among Senate Republicans.  The others can usually, when it‘s time for reelection, point to something they have accomplished.  If it is indeed is the Republican agenda for the next two years, you know, just say no, what is he going to run on again in 2012?  Is he going to run on the premise of, “Look, I managed to say no 68 times”?

FINEMAN:  Well, it worked for him so far.  It worked to get him here.  I think people may underestimate the depths of the anger and the antagonism, the fear about government spending that‘s out there among a lot of the electorate, including a lot of independent voters, and because the Democrats haven‘t been able—in part because of Republican obstructionism -- but because the Democrats haven‘t been able to deliver enough of the goods in terms of changes in policy, in terms of effect on the ground, it gives the Republicans a lot of room to play the “politics of no,” which I think they‘re going to continue to do.

I didn‘t smell a whole lot of bipartisanship in what I saw there today from Scott Brown.

OLBERMANN:  As for the Democrats, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and we‘re going to have to start being awful specific about them, complaining today that the president has not provided enough leadership on health care.  So, is there a signal in there that the Democrats are going to try to stop leading themselves to whatever degree they were in the Senate?

FINEMAN:  I think what that is a signal of is that there‘s trouble brewing on the Democratic side.  The Democratic National Committee is in town, meeting here in Washington.  I talked to one member, a high-ranking member.  They‘re mad at the White House.  They don‘t think they‘ve handled political things well.

There‘s a lot of tension between the Senate Democrats and the leadership downtown at the White House.  I think here, in a moment here, if Obama can‘t win a few here, if he can‘t win a couple of things, there‘s going to be a lot of tension breaking out in the open among the Democratic coalition and, of course, that‘s exactly what Mitch McConnell‘s plan is.  That‘s exactly what he‘s been trying to do and so far, it‘s worked.

And I don‘t see any evidence in Scott Brown of a change in atmosphere.

And I also listen to Paul Kirk give his farewell address.  Paul Kirk, I think, is a very decent guy.  Yes, a partisan Democrat, but he was almost beseeching the institution to try to come together in a spirit of cooperation.  When he spoke, there wasn‘t a single Republican on the floor to listen to him.  That said it all.

OLBERMANN:  Well, Mr. McConnell was out jumping a shark which we‘ll get to in a moment.

But Howard Fineman of MSNBC and “Newsweek”—many thanks.

FINEMAN:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  If Mr. Brown, Massachusetts, has not yet heard from Wall Street, he should keep his phone on.  New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo today filing civil fraud charges against Bank of America, its former CEO Ken Lewis, and other executives, saying the bank purposely misled investors about more than $15 billion in losses at Merrill Lynch—not to mention huge bonuses—in order to complete its purchase of that firm in late 2008.

That Wall Street might still need reform in the wake of the near-collapse of the U.S. economy, Republicans now actively seeking donations from Wall Street by making the case they would be anti-reform.  “The Wall Street Journal” reporting that House Minority Leader Boehner has been courting JPMorgan Chase chief executive, James Dimon, until now, a big Democratic contributor, telling him congressional Republicans have stood up to the president‘s effort to curb pay and impose new regulations, and expressing his disappointment that so many on Wall Street continue to donate their money to Democrats.

House Democrats today countering Mr. Boehner‘s claims, Congressman Waxman, chairman of the energy and commerce committee, telling “Huffington Post,” he could think of two specific examples why Wall Street is better off with Democrats “A,” the bailout, “B,” the stimulus.  Put another way, the Democrats saved Wall Street from ruin.

Republicans are now pretending they did not vote for the bailout when they did, while they voted against the stimulus all together.  But they don‘t mind seeming to pose with the checks.

Let‘s turn now to Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democrat of Florida, chief deputy whip of the House.

Congresswoman, thanks for your time tonight.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  The president made exactly this argument to Senator Lincoln in answer to her question at the Democratic Senate Caucus meeting yesterday, that Republicans would begin arguing that we start doing what we did before the financial crisis, even though that led straight line, clear bright line to the financial crisis.

Has Congressman Boehner inadvertently proved the president‘s point today?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:  Well, I think what the Republicans have been doing all along is signaling and telegraphing to the American people that the years and years under the Bush administration and their leadership, that there was no one minding the store, is perfectly OK with them.  And that we can continue to hang consumers out to dry and that they learned absolutely nothing from the collapse of the financial markets and the financial—the financial services industries.

What Democrats under the president‘s leadership are saying is that we need to rein some things in.  Not go, you know, all the way to one side and tip the balance, but establish some balance and establish some regulation so that we don‘t just leave the industry to their own devices.  We saw what happened when we allowed that and it really sent our economy careening off the ledge.

OLBERMANN:  I think you‘ve just hit on the central point to this.  It‘s not as if the attempts to reform Wall Street are to shut Wall Street down.  It is—as you said—limited and reformational.  If Wall Street doesn‘t like the populist rhetoric that it has heard from the president in recent weeks, which really was sort of an echo of what the country has been saying for the last few months, wouldn‘t they—aren‘t they missing their opportunity to get a pretty cut rate, good deal out of all of this?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:  It makes no sense to me that they wouldn‘t come to the table.  And, you know, to be honest with you, I think a lot of the Wall Street leadership is willing to come to the table and have been sitting down with the members of the executive branch, as well as our congressional leadership.

It‘s the Republicans that seem to really be, you know, off the deep

end here.  We‘ve had literally between 90 percent and 100 percent of the

Republican caucus, Keith, vote against every single proposal that we have -

that we have put out there, whether it‘s giving a, say, on pay to shareholders on executive compensation or establishing finally, a consumer financial protection agency or making sure that we don‘t allow for the abusive lending that gave so much money to people who really just had no business—no business getting loans and the subprime lending essential scandal that you couldn‘t—can‘t call it anything else other than that.

           

Reining those things in is incredibly important to protect consumers and strengthen our economy and Republicans, literally, anywhere between 90 percent to 100 percent of their conference, on each and every one of those votes, have voted no.

OLBERMANN:  Your colleague Mr. Frank of Massachusetts, in his capacity as chairman of the financial services committee, told “Huffington Post” today about Mr. Boehner saying he‘d made a huge mistake.  And the quote was, “In taking credit for the status quo and opposing any kind of reform.”

Just politically, how would you go out there and campaign if you were to be identified in these circumstances in this time as the party of dough?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:  They‘re the party of no.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:  The party of dough.  It‘s just unbelievable.

I don‘t know how any of those Republicans—my Republican colleagues could stand with a straight face in front of a crowd at a town hall meeting and say that they were—they were OK and comfortable protecting Wall Street.  That‘s what—that‘s what they‘re doing.

We‘ve got—the American people understand that we got to establish some balance.  We have to make sure that we protect consumers.  We can‘t have banks that are too-big-to-fail anymore.  We got legislation to make sure that we can dismantle banks and corporations like AIG when they run into trouble.

We‘ve got to make sure that we establish some balance and protect consumers, and protect our economy from financial ruin, which the Bush administration caused and we had to clean up the mess.

OLBERMANN:  The chief deputy whip, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida—great thanks for your time, again.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Not only is the alleged underwear bomber still talking, even with his Miranda rights intact—to say nothing of his limbs—but he has now expanded to giving up info about the cleric in Yemen who is connected to the Fort Hood shooting.  Nonetheless, today, Senate Minority Leader McConnell compared those who questioned Abdulmutallab on behalf of this nation‘s security to Larry King.

Mr. McConnell‘s unpatriotic insult to those who actually fight terrorism rather than just exploit it for political gain—to say nothing of insulting Larry King—next.

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OLBERMANN:  In a moment, the unexpected news that the interrogation of the Christmas bomber may result in nailing the cleric connected to the military doctor who shot up Fort Hood.

First on that topic, tonight‘s first “Quick Comment.”

The interrogation of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab may turn out to be the greatest counterterrorism triumph in American history.  First, it produced the leads in Yemen and Malaysia.  Now, on Anwar al-Awlaki, who mainlines to Fort Hood and Detroit, and even 9/11.

And today, the Senate minority leader, Mr. McConnell, said this about the handling of Abdulmutallab, quote: “What happened?  He was given a 50-minute interrogation, probably Larry King has interrogated people longer and better than that.”

Perhaps nothing said in the last decade of counterterrorism matches this intolerant and intolerable remark in terms of insult to this country and, particularly, insult to the men and women in our intelligence services and in the Justice Department.

And, Senator McConnell, when your party‘s candidate ran for president 18 months ago under the banner “Country First,” which country did you understand him to mean?

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OLBERMANN:  Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab has apparently given up not only everything he knows about his failed terror attempt, but now, he is reportedly leading American counterterrorism officers towards an American-born terrorist living in Yemen who is connected to the Fort Hood shooting and to 9/11.  That terrorist provides a fascinating segue into this, the director of national intelligence has confirmed that the United States maintains a policy that allows the targeted killing of Americans.

Abdulmutallab first.  The Nigerian suspect in the failed Christmas Day airline attack is reportedly cooperating with the FBI in providing intelligence on a radical Muslim cleric hiding in Yemen—this according to an unnamed law enforcement official.  The cleric is Anwar al-Awlaki, born in the U.S. but now believed to be a prominent recruiter for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.  Al-Awlaki has not only been linked to the 9/11 hijackers and to the failed Christmas Day attempt, but also to Major Nidal Hasan and the shooting at Fort Hood.

Meantime, the director of national intelligence surprised many on the House Intelligence Committee when he spoke frankly about the U.S. policy of allowing intelligence agencies to kill U.S. citizens abroad who would be involved in terrorist activities.  The euphemism for this is direct action.

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BLAIR:  We take direct action against terrorists in the intelligence community.  If that direct action—we think that direct action will involve killing an American, we get—we get specific permission to do that.

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OLBERMANN:  Question about the precise parameters of killing Americans in light of the fact that there are radicalized Americans, like al-Awlaki out there, Director Blair added this.

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BLAIR:  To whether that American is involved in a group that is trying to—trying to attack us, whether that—whether that American is a threat to other Americans, those are the—those are the factors involved.  I‘d rather go into details in closed session, Mr. Chairman, but we don‘t—we don‘t target people for free speech.  We target them for taking action that threatens Americans.

I just don‘t want other Americans who are watching to think that we are careless about endangering—in fact, we‘re not careless about endangering lives at all, but especially are not careless about endangering Americans as we try to carry out the policies to protect most of the country.

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OLBERMANN:  Let‘s turn now to George Washington University law professor, constitutional law expert, Jonathan Turley.

Jon, good evening.

JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY:  Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Abdulmutallab just keeps on talking.  A great reminder because, evidently, many Republicans need one that this little constitutional system of interrogation works and works very well?

TURLEY:  Well, it‘s true.  You know, we hate to admit it, but for many, torture is not as much a technique as a desire.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

TURLEY:  We saw that after 9/11.  That the Bush administration quickly went to the concept of torture and it seemed to be an irresistible impulse.  It seemed to be driven by that desire more than by the practicalities. 

Torture has never been a very successful way of eliciting information.

But there was this overwhelming desire and I believe many in the public also have that desire.  They want to see the roughest possible techniques used, even though in this case, they happen to constitute a war crime.

OLBERMANN:  When Senator McConnell casts aspersions on what is an unqualified and nonviolent success, is he being more than just unconscionably political about such an important subject?  Can he be damaging the legal process either in this case or in general?

TURLEY:  Well, it certainly makes me feel better about my appearances on “Larry King.”  It was not nearly as bad as, apparently, Senator McConnell‘s appearances on “Larry King.”

But I—you know, what‘s strange is that this really should be a celebration moment, that we have shown—as you‘ve stated—that we can beat terrorism without changing who we are, without changing our values, without being hypocrites, because that‘s what the Taliban is.

The Taliban and al Qaeda and people of that ilk are all hypocrites.  They use religion—they—to kill people, to maim people, to destroy buildings, and they use it, do these things in the name of God.  And it‘s the ultimate hypocrisy.

But we‘ve shown you don‘t have to be a hypocrite.  That you can actually have someone within our system of laws and elicit information without becoming the thing we‘re fighting against.

OLBERMANN:  To this related issue, this policy that DNI Blair mentioned yesterday, allowing the targeted killing of Americans outside the country—no one would look at a known terrorist, like al-Awlaki and have sympathy there.  But what of this as a policy, is this—is the fact that this is on the books troubling to you from a—from a legal point of view?

TURLEY:  Well, what‘s troubling, Keith, is it‘s not on the books.  The problem is that this is something that President Bush developed.  We actually saw the Bush administration kill an American citizen named Kamal Derwish in 2002 with the Predator strike, and we knew that he was a U.S.  citizen.  We knew he was in the car because we were monitoring his phone and it took him out.

And the Obama administration once again seems to be morphing into the Bush administration and adopting the same principle.  The problem is that there‘s a term for this.  It‘s called assassination—that is you‘re taking out someone, a U.S. citizen, who‘s had no chance to prove that they‘re innocent.  We‘ve seen the government be wrong before.

But U.S. citizens are entitled to trials.  Now, it doesn‘t say you can‘t kill a U.S. citizen who‘s engaged in a terrorist act, who you catch in a terrorist act, but to use this term of involved in an organization raises some very troubling legal and constitutional issues.

OLBERMANN:  Jonathan Turley of George Washington University, great thanks for your help on both these topics tonight.

TURLEY:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Guess who didn‘t wind up criticizing Rush Limbaugh after all for using the R-word and guess who claims he didn‘t use the R-word but was only quoting somebody else?  Ahead.

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OLBERMANN:  Glenn Beck says President Obama chose to use an un-American name.  Seriously.

First, on this date in 1895 was born actor Nigel Bruce famed as Dr.  Watson to Basil Rathbone‘s Sherlock Holmes.  But it was on the set of the movie “Limelight” that Bruce and co-start Norman Lloyd got to watch unmatched film history.  As star and director Charlie Chaplin filmed himself in a complicated bit of business, Bruce and Lloyd heard someone whispering “just to your left, Charlie.  Your center frame, Charlie.”

Finally Bruce realized it was another co-star, legendary comic Buster Keaton, whispering guidance to Chaplin.  My god, Bruce mumbled, we‘re watching Keaton direct Chaplin. 

Let‘s play Oddball.

In fact, this was directed by Buster Keaton.  We begin near Bolivia‘s Mount Rico, with your oddball travel tip of the week.  Got a short fuse?  Looking to have a blast on your next vacation?  Blow off some steam through the therapeutic use of explosives.  And boom goes the dynamite. 

Yes, that whole sparking thing is not an exclusive for Mark Sanford anymore.  Tour companies now allowing visitors to try their hand, while it‘s still attached to everything else, at the art of blowing stuff up.  Blow it up real good.  It‘s a boost to the local economy.  Look at all the targets.  Critics say the activity puts the mountain at risk of collapsing.  But it sure looks cool.  Remember, it‘s all fun and games until that stick of dynamite in your mouth wants out. 

Strude (ph), England, hello.  The home of Chris Weller and his room mates, the lounge lizards.  Mr. Weller spent more than 30,000 dollars—although he probably spent Euros or Pounds—to convert his house into a reptile playground.  A crocodile and his closest cousins shack up in a luxury suite, complete with a TV and pool.  What do crocodiles watch on television?  Glenn Beck.  Mr. Weller sleeps in a separate loft.  As a safety precaution, Mr. Weller installed security cameras to monitor the animals. 

I need to apologize for that remark, to the crocodiles.  All this worked very well until lunch time. 

If you took the long odds and bet on Sarah Palin calling out Rush Limbaugh for doing exactly what she called out Rahm Emanuel for doing, you lose.  And watching the GOP mind-bending machine action on two fronts; how Bill O‘Reilly reacts to proof of the success of his BS, and how Fox turns the success of the top-rated cable news show not on Fox into news that the show is about to be canceled.

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OLBERMANN:  Sarah Palin will stand up to anyone to defend her baby, except anyone who might help her politically.  After calling for White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to be fired for using a phrase, behind closed doors, which she calls heartbreaking to special needs kids and their families, she is refusing to call for the same measures against Republicans who use that word or variations on it, even on national radio or TV. 

This weekend, she will be campaigning for a man whose top campaign aide has used that word repeatedly directly to journalists.  But first, tonight‘s new developments; after the Plum Line Blog called Palin‘s attention to the fact that Orly Taitz Limbaugh too used the word, glorified in it, while referring to the Emanuel story, Palin‘s spokeswoman issued a statement that did not call for Limbaugh to be fired or even apologize.  And if you read it carefully, does not in fact criticize Limbaugh at all.  Quote, “Governor Palin believes crude and demeaning name calling at the expense of others is disrespectful.” 

And yet never has the integrity to stand up for her son and say that Limbaugh, just like Emanuel, actually did this.  Republican number two who can say the word, Texas campaign consultant Dave Carney, whose repeated use of this word, even directly to reporters, called into question yesterday, has not led Palin to call for his resignation from the campaign of Texas Governor Rick Perry, for whom Palin, herself, will be campaigning this weekend. 

And Republican number three who can use the word, not once like Emanuel, not privately like Emanuel, but repeatedly on national television, on national radio, laughing about it and it‘s perfectly fine with Sarah Palin—that would be Fox News host Glenn Beck, whose uses of the word were literally too numerous for us to present in their entirety in our time allotted tonight, but to whom Ms. Palin gave a lengthy interview just last month, after a year of Beckian commentary that included the following. 

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GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Governor Schwarzenegger attempted a huge bluff by saying that firefighters and police and teachers are going to lose their jobs, and rapists are going to be roaming the streets of California, and all of the California children are suddenly going to become retarded or something like that. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We know now she wasn‘t retarded. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  But I also like painting of retarded children and paintings of the insane.  So—

GLENN:  How much of the painting of the retarded children—

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Who‘s laughing in the background? 

BECK:  We‘re not laughing.  We‘re—we‘re—we‘re just imagining that those would be nice.  What do the paintings of the retarded children go for?  Honestly, I‘ve been looking for one of those and I haven‘t seen them. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Any segue being out of the question, let‘s just turn to MSNBC‘s political analyst, Richard Wolffe, also the author of “Renegade, The Making of a President.”  Richard, good evening. 

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Good evening, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Correct me on this if I‘m mistaken, but in Palin‘s statement, she basically said calling people that is not acceptable, but she did not actually say she thought Limbaugh had done that, and therefore would have fallen into the unacceptable category.  Am I more or less correct? 

WOLFFE:  Yeah, more or less correct.  What would have been consistent

and not that consistency has always been Sarah Palin‘s strong point—would have been maybe a Facebook entry along the lines of what she wrote about Rahm Emanuel: are you capable of decency, Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck?  I‘ll leave you to answer that one. 

But the question here for her and for those who love her is this question of does she have the guts to stand up for what she believes in, no matter whether it‘s Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck or anyone else?  Because if you can‘t stand up to a talk radio host, then how are you going to confront Putin when he rears his head? 

OLBERMANN:  Eventually somebody will ask her about say Beck‘s repeated and public and gleeful use of this word, or press her about Limbaugh‘s use of it.  What does she say then? 

WOLFFE:  Well, here‘s the tough thing—of course, for a start, it‘s hard for journalists to press her, because it‘s a one-way communication.  Facebook does not exactly constitute a press conference. 

But the problem for her, the challenge for her, is that essentially however authentic and meaningful and heartfelt her original sentiment was, she is taking a, quote/unquote, politically correct point of view.  She is trying to, in the eyes of folks like Limbaugh and Beck, restrict their free speech.  This is not a tack you can take with those folks.  And by the way, it‘s not a tack you can take for the libertarian wing of the Republican party, that forms the Tea Party folks who are paying to hear her speak at their annual convention. 

So, you know, politically, it doesn‘t make any sense for her.  And that I think is why you‘re seeing this supposedly authentic politician become just yet another conventional politician. 

OLBERMANN:  Her fans have, some of them, split away from her over the way she treated them on her book tour and endorsing John McCain.  Somebody will hear eventually that she‘s been giving money politically to Lindsay Graham, who is the bane of the Tea Party.  And now here she is, once again, using her child to try to beat up the White House, when it‘s clear she doesn‘t care when her political buddies and her Fox colleagues are far more guilty of the same offense.  Is there a tipping point in terms of doing damage with those who have supported her in the past? 

WOLFFE:  Well, the greatest disappointment has got to be with those mothers who are—families who are in the same situation as her, who thought she would be that advocate.  But authenticity, the sort of genuine nature, the unvarnished nature of her is her currency.  That‘s her brand.  And the more she has to create problems like this, and try and get out of them, the more she‘s worried about offending certain people, the more she just looks like another career politician.  And that is ultimately going to be her downfall.  She has to take a stand and stick to it.  That‘s what going rogue would really mean. 

OLBERMANN:  Richard Wolffe of MSNBC, author of “Renegade,” as always our great thanks. 

WOLFFE:  Thank you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  This is a big day for the website Daily Kos; Bill-O‘s lead story last night wasn‘t about Bill-O.  It was about the Daily Kos poll that proved how effective Bill-O and others were at warping the far right.  If you think Becks use of the R word or calling the president another R word, racist, was bad, wait until you hear what he calls the president now. 

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, President Obama speaks out about Uganda‘s proposed law to jail homosexuals for life.  He does so while addressing the National Prayer Breakfast.  Her special guest on the subject, Bishop Gene Robinson of the Episcopal Church.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Worsts next, but now the second of tonight‘s quick comments.  We‘ll explore the big picture of this with Markos Moulitsas in a moment.  First the small picture on how conservatives come to believe the crazy, nonsensical, totally fact free things they believe, how they transform discernible, provable lies into their wishful thinking version of the truth. 

Rupert Murdoch‘s vanity newspaper “The New York Post” today reports “has the countdown begun for the end of COUNTDOWN,” and “even Olbermann‘s former supporters on the left are tuning out.” 

“The post” got this, it writes, from blogs at National Public Radio and “the LA Times” and it uses the names of those organizations as if they are evidence of the supposed tune out on the left.  The NPR blog, it turns out, cites as a source “The LA Times” blog.  It describes “The LA Times” blog as, quote, “hardly a partisan forum,” except the “LA Times” blog post was written by the former press secretary to Laura Bush, a man who was, in fact, the worst kind of partisan.  And he managed to write a column called “Countdown begins for the end of Keith Olbermann‘s COUNTDOWN,” predicated on the relative ratings of this program to CNN, as reported in yet another blog from a site called Daily Finance, which cherry-picked the January ratings to report that the 8:00 pm shows on CNN and Headline News have narrowed the gap. 

So “The New York Post” lifted from an NPR blog, which lifted from Laura Bush‘s ex-press secretary‘s blog, which lifted from Daily Finance‘s blog, which left out details that makes the whole meme nonsensical. 

This program‘s ratings actually grew from December to last month by five percent at 8:00 and six percent at 10:00.  Grew, in a month in which CNN did exceptional, almost continuous coverage from Haiti.  Grew to 27 percent ahead of CNN and 24 percent ahead of Headline News.  Grew from the end of a year, in which MSNBC replaced CNN as the number two rated news network among younger viewers in prime-time. 

And yet the right wing believes this show is about to be canceled because it‘s so desperately wants this show to be canceled, that the facts and the ratings and profits become irrelevant.  And it is better for them to pretend they are getting their way than to acknowledge that they‘re not.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Markos Moulitsas responds to Bill O‘Reilly not recognizing his own talking point staring back at him from a poll.  That‘s next, but first tonight‘s worst persons in the world. 

The bronze to Sean Hannity.  When Bush flunky Nicole Wallace claimed that this president was out of touch, unlike President Bush, Hannity said “George Bush, who you worked for, did not play golf while this country was at war.  He didn‘t want the families of loved ones serving, or that may have lost a loved one, seeing him on a golf course.  He seemed to be far more in touch.” 

Far more in touch with his 9 iron. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Oh, and, Sean, remember in May of ‘08 when Bush said he had given up golf in August of 2003 out of respect for families of dead soldiers, even though he was still playing golf in October, 2003, five months after he claimed to have given it up?  Those leg injuries that made swinging the club painful had nothing to do with it?  What was they used to say on “20/20?”  He wasn‘t in touch, so don‘t you be in touch either, Sean? 

Hannity finishes behind our runner-up, an unnamed 53 year old woman from Crestview, Florida.  Arrested because her husband had taken away her cell phone and would not return it.  That was the start.  She was actually arrested for then calling 911 to insist they make him give it back.  When the sheriff‘s office told her not to call the emergency number again, she did anyway.  And then a third time and then a fourth, within an hour and a half.  Then came the arrest.  Then she was searched and it was learned that all that time the phone had been in her jacket pocket. 

But our winner, Lonesome Roads Beck.  Listen to this and you tell me where he lost his metaphorical cell phone. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BECK:  He chose to use his name, Barack, for a reason, to identify, not with America—you don‘t take the name Barack to identify with America.  You take the name Barack to identify with what?  Your heritage?  The heritage maybe of your father in Kenya, who is a radical?  Really?  Searching for something to give him any kind of meaning, just as he was searching later in life for religion. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  So by your logic, we all choose to use our names?  So you chose Glenn Beck?  Glenn is to identify with what?  Glenn Quagmire from “Family Guy?”  And Beck, why Beck?  Did you choose to use the name Beck to identify with this man?  Kurt Beck, Kurt Beck, the former chairman of the German Social Democratic Party?  The Social Democrats, Mr. Beck?  Glenn Beck, today‘s worst person in the world.           

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Even the several days they took to assimilate the results of this week‘s Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll failed to give Bill O‘Reilly and Karl Rove enough time to recognize the deep compliments it contained to their skill and effectiveness, namely that they helped turn a portion of the American population into the political equivalent of kids who believe in brownies and elves. 

Let‘s revisit the poll‘s highlights again quickly, before we get to Markos.  Out of a little more than 2,000 self-identified Republicans polled last month, 31 percent said they believe President Obama is a racist who hates white people; 63 percent said they believe President Obama is a socialist; 36 percent said they believe the president was not born in the United States. 

Good news for Fox News, the message is getting through.  After all, where else but from the most trusted in name news would self-identified Republicans come up with the notion that the president of the US is a racist, socialist foreigner? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BECK:  This guy is I believe a racist. 

DICK MORRIS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR:  He is obviously a socialist.  The question now is—

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I told you so. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What will be really helpful is if Senator Obama would release primary documents like his birth certificate. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  You have to do that with your voice all the time, too.  Mission accomplished, boys.  Except for some reason Bill-O didn‘t like it when somebody held a mirror up to his own network‘s viewers, especially when the poll was conducted by radical insane loons. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Did you know that republicans are stupid and evil?  That is the subject of this evening‘s Talking Points Memo.  The radical loon website Daily Kos has a new poll out.  Don‘t get too excited.  Their poll in Massachusetts had the senate race too close to call.  Apparently, the leader of the Kos brigade is writing a book comparing Republicans and conservatives to the Taliban.  And so this poll was designed to back up his insane point of view. 

The survey says 39 percent of self-identified Republicans believe President Obama should be impeached; 63 percent believe he is a socialist; only 42 percent of GOP‘ers think the president was actually born in the United States; 31 percent believe he hates white people. 

Now, if you believe that poll, you also believe Nancy Pelosi once dated Dick Cheney.  The poll is a fraud, as is the website. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Joining me now, an insane fraud, the lead story on last night‘s Bill O‘Reilly autobiographical history of the world hour, Markos Moulitsas, founder of Daily Kos.  Welcome. 

MARKOS MOULITSAS, DAILY KOS FOUNDER:  Thank you very much, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  I don‘t think you‘ve ever been the lead story on this show.  Broad picture, why aren‘t O‘Reilly and Rove thrilled with your poll? 

MOULITSAS:  They should be thrilled.  I mean, this poll proves that their ability to convince tens of millions of Republicans the craziest, most insane, ridiculous things is really second to none.  But I think that they like to keep that crazy insider house in their family, because they want to portray to the outside world that they‘re reasonable, moderates who may have a policy disagreement or two with the president, but they‘re really, really reasonable.  And I think this poll shows that, no, they‘re pretty much crazy. 

OLBERMANN:  When somebody who is watching O‘Reilly‘s show hears him mock the idea that the president should be impeached or that he‘s a socialist or born somewhere else or hates white people, what do you think O‘Reilly thinks of those viewers?  And what do you think those viewers think of O‘Reilly? 

MOULITSAS:  You know, I think those viewers are more than happy to follow along and nod along with Bill O‘Reilly, just like they do with Rush Limbaugh.  Surveys have shown that Fox News viewers only watch Fox News because they don‘t want to run the risk of ever coming across an alternate point of view. 

OLBERMANN:  The man had Karl Rove on to give the Republican response.  And besides dismissing birthers, it was very interesting because they did nothing to refute the results of the poll, and neither of them said, I don‘t think Republicans think he‘s racist or socialist.  They simply claimed you‘re trying to demonize Republicans.  What say you? 

MOULITSAS:  Well, I think it‘s funny that they think that the Fox News agenda makes them look like demons, because basically they just regurgitated the stuff that Glenn Beck and Bill O‘Reilly say.  So if that makes them looks like demons, maybe they need to worry more about what they‘re saying, as opposed to me simply asking questions—or not even me, having an independent pollster ask questions and reporting the results. 

OLBERMANN:  By the way, what does too close to call mean in an electoral poll, relative to a result like Massachusetts?  Does Bill not understand polls?  What did it actually mean? 

MOULITSAS:  He doesn‘t understand that.  He doesn‘t understand margins of error either, apparently, because there wasn‘t that much of a blowout. 

OLBERMANN:  Mr. Rove said we‘re being lectured to about what‘s appropriate or not appropriate by people who generate four-letter words on their blog, you know, all the time.  Wow, four-letter words.  Good thing we never heard any of those from Mr. O‘Reilly or Mr. Rove.  Correct?  What is this, there is no—there is nothing to attack in the argument?  There‘s only the message and the messenger to attack? 

MOULITSAS:  They know darned well that there‘s really—they can‘t attack on the merits.  It‘s a lot easier to attack me and try to distract from the fact that their basis is pretty much crazy.  And like I said, they want to perceive themselves—they want the world and the country to perceive themselves as moderate and reasonable people.  And obviously this poll shows otherwise. 

OLBERMANN:  The attention to this—and I mean, to say nothing of the ring tone that was created there by Bill O‘Reilly saying, did you know that Republicans are stupid and evil?  I‘m trying—I‘m working on the technology to put that on my iPhone. 

MOULITSAS:  Please do. 

OLBERMANN:  Did you know that Republicans are stupid and evil?  Oh, it‘s Bill calling again.  What did this just do, this whole thing just do to your street cred and the site‘s street cred? 

MOULITSAS:  I‘ve been a nerd my entire life, so I‘ve never had the luxury of worrying about things like street cred. 

OLBERMANN:  Well, I think you got it now.  Markos Moulitsas, if you didn‘t have it before, here it is, of the Daily Kos.  Great thanks, and maybe you‘ll get to be the lead story again on the big Bill O‘Reilly world domination factor.  Thanks. 

MOULITSAS:  Thank you very much. 

OLBERMANN:  That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 2,471st day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck. 

Now to discuss the president‘s push-back against the anti-gay laws in Uganda with her special guest, Bishop Gene Robinson, 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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