updated 2/9/2010 9:50:34 AM ET 2010-02-09T14:50:34

Guests: Ezra Klein, Chris Hayes, Harry Shearer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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

It‘s all a game to the half governor of Alaska.  Her advice for the president?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR:  Say he played the war card. 

Say he decided to declare war on Iran.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Her rationalization of her own hypocrisy about her own special needs son.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

PALIN:  I didn‘t hear Rush Limbaugh calling a group of people whom he did not agree with F-ing retards.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST:  . calling a bunch of people who are retards, “retards.”

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

OLBERMANN:  And, of course, Palin apologists‘ response to the palm-reading embarrassment: talk to the hand.  Tonight, a special guest comment.

Calling them out.  When the underwear bomber was turned over to the FBI, counterterrorism adviser Brennan told Senators Bond and McConnell and Congressmen Boehner and Hoekstra.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BRENNAN, COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER:  I‘m tiring of politicians using a national security issue such as terrorism as a political football.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Back on the health care horse.  The White House attacks WellPoint‘s Anthem Blue Cross for raising rates 39 percent in California.

The president invites the Republicans to a live televised health care reform conference two weeks from Thursday.  They say they will go provided the president first kills the bills already passed in the House and Senate and considers only their ideas.

“Worsts”: 28 inches of snow on the ground in D.C. for three days, and Washington is still in a panic.  Two weeks after an ice storm on the reservations in the Dakotas, and still, power lines down, water mains broken, federal government doing nothing.

And the Super Bowl.  What did it mean for New Orleans?  With Harry Shearer.  What in it was the single worst prediction ever made by a sportscaster?  And what the heck was this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, TV TALK SHOW HOST:  This is the worst Super Bowl party ever.

OPRAH WINFREY, TV TALK SHOW HOST:  Now, Dave.  Be nice.

JAY LENO, TV TALK SHOW HOST:  I think he‘s just saying that because I‘m here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.

(INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.

Lost in the understandably disturbing image of an ex-politician

celebrity, one who had at least a nominal chance of being the vice

president of the United States at this very hour, having to look down to

notes she had written on her own hand that included the instruction “lift

American spirits,” as if she might be talking to people from some other

country, was her conviction that the actual president is playing the war

card might be the way to change the political landscape.  Play the war card

as if a rational president would intentionally choose to send thousands of his countrymen to their deaths for his party‘s political gain—oh, right.

               

Former Governor Sarah Palin giving the keynote address at the TEA party convention in Nashville over the weekend, following the guy who made all of the racist references.  A former vice presidential candidate who cannot remember what her top priorities are, not above spending 40 minutes eviscerating a president of the United States who can, nor is she above rewriting recent electoral history crediting the TEA party movement with electing Scott Brown in Massachusetts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  I want to start off with a special shout-out to America‘s newest senator, thanks to you, Scott Brown.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

PALIN:  Now, in many ways Scott Brown represents what this beautiful movement is all about.  You know, he was just a guy with a truck and a passion to serve our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Senator Brown, of course, threw the TEA party under the bus or the truck last week, denying it had had a significant role in his election.  But Half-Governor Palin has yet to meet a half-truth she does not like, nor an electoral math she cannot compute.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  And yet again, President Obama found some way to make this all about George Bush.  You know, considering the recent conservative election sweep, it‘s time that they stopped blaming everyone else.  When you‘re 0 for three, you‘d better stop lecturing and start listening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  And start learning to count.  The New York 23rd congressional race, the only national one of the bunch before Brown, odd she would forget that—a Democrat won against the TEA party candidate in a speech in which she advocated that the TEA party run more contested primaries.  How is that extremey, splitty stuff working out for you?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  This was all part of that hope and change and transparency, and now, a year later I got to ask those supporters of all that: how‘s that hopey, changey stuff working out for you?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Governor Palin wading into the Christmas bomber aftermath to mock both the president‘s leadership and intelligence at the same time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  Treating this like a mere law enforcement matter places our country at great risk because that‘s not how radical Islamic extremists are looking at this.  They know we‘re at war.  And to win that war, we need a commander-in-chief, not a professor of law standing at the lectern.

(CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  She said, “While standing at the lectern.”  Because—claiming Governor Palin—movements are better when they are led by no one.  Let chaos reign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  I caution against allowing this movement to be defined by any one leader.  This is about the people and it‘s bigger than any king or queen of a TEA party, and it‘s a lot bigger than any charismatic guy with a teleprompter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Who needs a teleprompter when you can take the cheating on your high school Spanish test route?  The palm of Palin‘s hand Saturday clearly reading, “energy,” the word “budget” crossed out next to “cuts,” “tax” inserted below it, presumably to replace budget, and “lift American spirit.”

Governor Palin is making no comment about her crib notes except to write “Hi, mom” on her palm during a Sunday campaign stop with Governor Perry of Texas.  Governor Palin needing a lot more than a handful of crib notes the moment a FOX News anchor, even Chris Wallace, is not willing to carry her during an interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FOX NEWS SUNDAY)

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  All right.  You are a FOX News analyst.  So I want you to take off your political player hat and put the analyst hat on and really try and do your best job almost like a—you know, one of the commentators on the Super Bowl.

PALIN:  Oh, gee, I‘ll try.  OK.

WALLACE:  All right.  Handicap the 2012 GOP presidential race for us. 

Who‘s the front runner?

PALIN:  No idea.  I have no idea.

WALLACE:  Well, not a very good analyst.

PALIN:  Well, fire me, then, Roger.  Sorry, I already failed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Still open to discussing a Palin run for president, even if she is unable to analyze her own chances.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  I can‘t comment on what the poll numbers mean today.

WALLACE:  Why wouldn‘t you run for president?

PALIN:  I would.  I would if I believed that that is the right thing to do for our country and for the Palin family.  Certainly, I would do so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  As for Palin doctrine, we now know that preemptive war to boost electability is something that the half-governor likes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE:  But how hard do you think President Obama will be to defeat in 2012?

PALIN:  It depends on a few things.  Say he played—and I got this from Buchanan, reading one of his columns the other day—say he played the war card.  Say he decided to declare war on Iran or decided really to come out and do whatever he could to support Israel—which I would like him to do—but that changes the dynamics in what we can assume is going to happen between now and three years.  Because I think if the election were today, I do not think Obama would be re-elected.  But three years from now, things could change if on the national security front.

WALLACE:  But you‘re not suggesting that he would cynically play the war card.

PALIN:  I‘m not suggesting that.  I‘m saying if he did, things would dramatically change, if he decided to toughen up and do all that he can to secure our nation and our allies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Last but by no means least, Governor Palin apologizing for Rush Limbaugh instead of getting an apology from Rush Limbaugh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  Rush Limbaugh was using satire to bring attention to what this politically correct.

WALLACE:  But he used the R-word.

PALIN:  He‘s using satire.  Name-calling by anyone—I teach this to my children, you teach it to your children and your grandchildren, too—name-calling by anyone is just unnecessary.  It just wastes time.  Let‘s speak to the issues and again let‘s move on.

WALLACE:  But you know what some people are going to say, Governor, and have said.  They say, look, when it‘s a political adversary, Rahm Emanuel, she‘s going to call him out, he‘s indecent, apologize.  But when it‘s a political friend like Rush Limbaugh, oh, it‘s satire.

PALIN:  I didn‘t hear Rush Limbaugh calling a group of people whom he did not agree with F-ing retards and we did know that Rahm Emanuel has been reported, did say that.  There‘s a big difference there.

(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:  Playing the war card—as if it‘s political strategy or a game.  She said she wasn‘t advocating that.  And then she said, “I hope he would do that, toughen up on national security.”

What‘s the—what‘s the read on that part of this?

FINEMAN:  Well, sometimes I find myself in odd positions on this show and right now, I need to defend Pat Buchanan.

OLBERMANN:  Go ahead.

(LAUGHTER)

FINEMAN:  I don‘t think Pat was suggesting that as a strategy.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

FINEMAN:  You know, Pat‘s an old political analyst and war horse, and he knows—he knows about the nether reaches of politics.  I don‘t think Pat would advocate that.

And I think Sarah Palin was just proud of herself for reading a Pat Buchanan column.  And it bespeaks a certain level of cynicism that really is kind of unearned.  You know, it‘s kind of unearned cynicism.  You have to really go through the wars and really think some very deep, dark thoughts to be as cynical as that.

And talking to Republican strategists around town, they‘re of two

minds.  They know that a lot of people that she represents are necessary to

the Republican future, but they‘re scared as heck of her, except they don‘t

well, most of them don‘t want to say it publicly.

               

OLBERMANN:  Sister Sarah, the palm reader.  This stuff with the hand notes.  Seemingly not meant for the speech, she had a lectern, she had a speech in front of her obviously, but for the Q&A where she was sitting down.

Is—isn‘t that worse to some degree not being able to remember the core principles you believe in off-the-cuff so you have to write them pretty much on your cuff?

FINEMAN:  Well, two things here.  If you read the book “Game Change,” which was a terrific expose of what goes on behind-the-scenes and you talk to anybody who was close to the McCain/Palin campaign, and they will tell you, and I saw it myself, that as talented as she is as a—as a theatrical personality, especially when she‘s on script, this is somebody who—to put it mildly—gets the deer in the headlights look when she‘s got to think on her feet.  She‘s not very good at it.  And that‘s being kind.

OLBERMANN:  OK.

FINEMAN:  And I talked to one conservative who told me, “Look, I watched that FOX interview on Sunday.”  He said, “And I felt I was losing I.Q. points myself just watching it.”

OLBERMANN:  Is there—are we suggesting here that this is a chance that‘s not her own writing, that somebody did that for her?

FINEMAN:  I don‘t know.  That would be taking speech-writing to a whole new level.  It‘s true.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

The things that could not be remembered that are on that list—tax cuts, energy, isn‘t it—I mean, this is conservativism, this is the first minute of the first day of the meeting of conservativism 101, isn‘t it?

FINEMAN:  Yes.  Well, here‘s the thing.  I mean, I increasingly think that, and as talented as she is, she‘s all attitude.  She‘s not about the idea.  She‘s about the attitude.  And that speech she gave attacking President Obama was all attitude.

I mean, she was Sarah barracuda when she was a high school point guard, and she was very good at it.  She knows how to attack and it‘s all attitude.  But I must say, at a time when 75 percent of the American people say—according to one poll—that they‘re either somewhat angry or a lot angry at government, not the corporate world, at government, she‘s an instrument that the Republicans are willing to use no matter how risky it is for them to do it.

OLBERMANN:  That—the weekend, of course, was highlighted if that‘s the right term for the meeting of the TEA party convention.  It‘s behind us.  It began with Tom Tancredo with racism and anti-immigration.  It moved on to birtherism.  It moved on to homophobia.

Is this really a movement the Republican Party should want to embrace as Governor Palin suggests, or that she now represents, as a kind of bridge between the Republican Party and this movement?

FINEMAN:  Well, whether they should want to embrace it or not, I think they‘re going to tell themselves they have no choice.  Haley Barbour, the governor of Mississippi, who was a former Republican chairman and a mainstream conservative, you know, said, “These TEA party people are good folks.  We need to—we need to embrace them.”

People like Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, former chairman and so forth, while they may have some qualms about the—you know, the lower reaches of that movement, are going to try to use its energy and ride it as best they can.  This is something they‘ve done before.  They are going to do it again.

OLBERMANN:  Howard Fineman of “Newsweek” and MSNBC, and the Pat Buchanan defense fund—I‘m glad you did that actually.  Thank you, Howard.

FINEMAN:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  First, the GOP asks the president why the health care reform debate wasn‘t on TV as he proposed.  Then the president said, “OK, you guys come in on the 25th and we‘ll televise the health care reform debate for half the day.”  Now, the GOP has responded with an ultimatum tonight about reconciliation—breaking news next.

First, a “Quick Comment” on Sarah Palin from a very special guest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  And now, something special as promised, a guest “Quick Comment” and I‘ll let the commentator provide their own introduction.

Good evening.  I‘m Sarah Palin‘s left hand.  All of us hands have been written on but when was the last time you were written on for something that wasn‘t either trivia, stuff that the brain figured it was going to forget, you know, peanut butter, gravy, Diet Dr. Pepper.  Or when it‘s not that, it‘s something really important or complicated like a phone number at a bar or the answer sequence on a bio-exam or George Costanza‘s crib notes in bed with that girl?  I really enjoyed that episode.

I mean, look at this: energy, cuts, tax, lift American spirits.  That ain‘t exactly the Gettysburg address she scribbled on me.  And—and look.  A cross-out?  A cross-out?

Four things she wanted to remember and she couldn‘t keep them straight even after she wrote them down on me?  I know.  I know.  I read the blogs.  They‘re trying to defend us.  “At least it wasn‘t a teleprompter.”  Like the Boss had her acceptance speech at the convention written on her thigh or something.

Remember how she complained when the prompter screwed up on her?  Remember how she used the prompter throughout the campaign?  Get this woman a new prompter stat.  I mean, if not, some day, I‘ll open up and on the palm, it will say, your name is Sarah.

OK.  I can see I‘m out of time but I want to thank you for being such a great audience.  Give yourselves a hand.  I know.  Old joke.

But before I go, I‘d just like to end with a two-word plea to the American people: Help me!

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The president invited Republicans to a bipartisan televised session on health care reform—and in breaking news at this hour, Republicans respond in what may very well be their setup to not showing up.  You will recall that Republicans had the president cornered they believed.  You did not televise the health care reform debate, they said at the waterloo of mass political encounters two weeks ago.

First, he reminded them, nearly all of it was televised, then he invited them to another televised session on the 25th—and tonight, Republicans have issued their long list of preconditions to going.  House Republican Leader John Boehner and Minority Whip Eric Cantor in a letter to White House Chief of Staff Emanuel asking if the president will agree to the following: start over on health care.

Here‘s the big one of them: Discard the idea of passing a bill through reconciliation—now widely considered the only way to get any health care bill through; make his plan available 72 hours before the televised session; include congressional Democrats who oppose the bill; and include actuaries, experts from the CBO, experts offered by Republicans, and representatives of any health care sectors that have made any special deals with the administration.

The president had announced that he would host the Republican lawmakers this week to discuss health care reform followed by this bipartisan half-day-long summit on the 25th on TV.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  And what I want to do is to ask them to put their ideas on the table and then after the recess, which will be a few weeks away, I want to come back and have a large meeting of Republicans and Democrats to go through systematically all the best ideas that are out there and move it forward.

I want to be very specific.  How do you guys want to lower costs?  How do you guys intend to reform the insurance markets so people with preexisting conditions, for example, can get health care?  How do you want to make sure that the 30 million people who don‘t have health insurance can get it?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  After the summit on the 25th, the president intended to expedite the legislative process according to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.  Meantime, the secretary followed up on something the president mentioned in last night‘s interview, that Anthem Blue Cross of California is raising premiums by 39 percent.  In a letter to that company, Sebelius wanted to know how it could justify a rate increase 15 times that of inflation especially when its parent company, WellPoint, reported earnings of $2.7 billion in the last quarter of 2009.

Let‘s bring in the “Washington Post” staff reporter, Ezra Klein, who‘s been covering health care reform since the beginning this time around anyway.

Ezra, good evening.

EZRA KLEIN, WASHINGTON POST:  How are you?

OLBERMANN:  Your reaction to this set of preconditions from the Republicans.  Is it—is it sort of guaranteed to make sure they have some sort of excuse for not showing up?

KLEIN:  I think that‘s pretty much what it‘s attempting to do.  I mean, look, I think you‘re seeing the real contours of the debate here, right?  There is an image people like to put forth.  That there are two sides with different sets of ideas and they disagree about the ideas and if they can compromise on them, then we get a bill.  In fact, you have two sides where one side wants a bill and the other does not want the bill, and it‘s actually very hard to compromise between those two positions.

OLBERMANN:  Does this dramatically alter what might have been a move by the president to provide the Senate cover for passing whatever is required by reconciliation?  Or in some weird way, could this actually help Obama in that very regard?

KLEIN:  I think it‘s early to say.  I mean, I wouldn‘t be shocked to see the president and the Senate majority leader come back tomorrow and say, “OK.  Here‘s the deal.  We will take reconciliation off the table if you agree that our bill gets an up or down vote.”  Because, remember, reconciliation is not about keeping the majority off, it‘s about keeping the filibuster off.

But I think more generally, one thing you have to think of here is what the summit is doing is providing structure to a process that had fallen back into chaos, right?  That Pelosi and Reid haven‘t yet figured out how to move forward, and this actually gives them time.  Even if we‘re not sure if the summit is going to happen, it gives everybody something else to look at while the congressional leadership figures out how to move forward.

So, for now, this is sort of a distraction effort here so that the folks who need to line up the votes have time to line up the votes without people feeling like the moment is slipping away.  That‘s working out just fine.

OLBERMANN:  And what would the president‘s next move be likely to be in this sense?  I would assume that the people that he has on this, and himself included in that group, would have anticipated the possibility that the Republicans would come up with some however, you know, large volume words excuse, they‘d still come up with some sort of excuse.

KLEIN:  One would hope, although I found during this process that my mistake has often been assuming people have a plan.  But, you know, they have every capacity to move forward.

Remember, it‘s like the old joke about outrunning the bear.  You don‘t have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun the other guy?  You don‘t have to be bipartisan.  You just have to be more bipartisan than they are.

And so, the move right now is going to be to make the Republicans look small.  I mean, the president has invited them over to the White House and they‘re pretty much saying no.  Well, what does that say about their desire to actually legislate on behalf of this problem?

Remember that when Scott Brown was elected there were massive polls showing that people wanted him to work with the Democrats on the health care bill.  It didn‘t need to sign that bill, but work with them.  Right now, the Republicans are painting themselves into a bit of an obstructionist corner.

OLBERMANN:  Ezra Klein of the “Washington Post”—great thanks, and great thanks for getting through that cumbers in question I just asked you.

KLEIN:  Thank you.

The first Vietnam War combat veteran elected to Congress was ultimately a prominent and potent voice in opposing the war in Iraq has died today.  Congressman Jack Murtha passed away due to complications from gallbladder surgery.  The congressman, the Democrat of Pennsylvania‘s 12th district, earned broad bipartisan respect over the course of his 18 terms, particularly on military issues.

In November of 2005, his stance against a war he had once voted to authorize may have been pivotal in forming public opinion or galvanizing it at least.  Quoting him then, “The war in Iraq is not going as advertised.  It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion.”

Just this past Saturday, Jack Murtha became Pennsylvania‘s longest serving member of Congress.  John Patrick Murtha, Jr. was 77.

The four top Republican politicians on counter-terror caught either lying or not knowing the law about the interrogation of Abdulmutallab—next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The Republicans were told almost as it happened that the underwear bomber had been handed over to the FBI and apparently none of them knew that meant he had been read his Miranda rights.  Sometimes when you play politics with terror, you lose.

First, let‘s play “Oddball.”

(MUSIC)

OLBERMANN:  All of us who have ever been sportscasters have had a moment like this—the seemingly solid prediction immediately disproved.  But if yours comes 10 seconds before the decisive play of the Super Bowl, it becomes the Super Bowl of seemingly solid predictions immediately disproved.

New Orleans 24, Indianapolis 17 with Peyton Manning driving the Colts towards the tying score—and that‘s when Phil Simms of CBS says.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHIL SIMMS, CBS SPORTS ANCHOR:  If I was the New Orleans Saints, I would not blitz him.  I would put the extra guys in coverage.

(INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  So the Saints blitzed, forcing Manning‘s bad pass which was intercepted running back Tracy Porter 74 yards for a touchdown by Porter and iced the Super Bowl for New Orleans.

Oops!  I have great admiration for Phil‘s work.  I think I broke him in in TV.  He worked with me at CNN during a season he missed due to injury.

So, here‘s my version of his Super Bowl of seemingly solid predictions immediately disproved.  I predicted that the guy who succeeded John Wetteland as the closer for baseball‘s New York Yankees would never last because he only had one pitch.  This was in 1996.  His name was Mariano Rivera.  He‘s only saved 521 games since using that one pitch.

Chicago, Illinois, hello!  Scott Lee Cohen, good-bye!  Scott won the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor and last night wrote a new chapter in Chicago politics by dropping out.

Was it the ex-wife‘s accusations of infidelity and violence, her theory that his rage stemmed from shooting steroids, or was it news of his arrest accused of beating up his girlfriend?  To be fair, he swears he had no idea she had a prostitution arrest on her record.  Perhaps best of all, he made his announcement at Chicago‘s Hop Haus Tavern.  Was it the wings?  Or the fact they had the Super Bowl on TV, which we know because the Who was blasting and, I kid you not, “Won‘t Get Fooled Again.” 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT LEE COHEN, “HALFTIME SHOW”:  They did not tell me they would give me money to get out. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Did you ever get to talk to the governor? 

COHEN:  I have not spoken to the governor.  I think that it was wrong. 

When I won, I did not receive one phone call from anybody. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What do you think would have happened if you had stuck with it and stayed on the ticket?  In your opinion? 

COHEN:  I think we live in a society where people can handle a person‘s past.  Everybody—everybody makes mistakes. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Adding the Roger Daltry, yeah, rock out when you drop out. 

How did Blagojevich not wind up putting him in the Senate?

The Republicans who are loudly criticizing how the Obama administration is handling the underwear bomber; turns out some of those same Republicans were silent when personally briefed on the night of the failed attack.  And what the hell was that Letterman/Leno/Oprah commercial about?  Next on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The elected leaders of the Republican party have two choices today; they can admit they do not know basic law enforcement procedure, or they can admit what their sheep would most likely consider far, far worse, that they‘re really secretly pretty confident in Commander in Chief Obama. 

Here‘s what happened.  Yesterday, John Brennan, the assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counter-Terrorism, revealed that top Republicans in Congress and on the intelligence committees were all briefed by Brennan on Christmas night about the capture of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the accused underwear bomber.  And all four Republicans, the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Republican Leader John Boehner, Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Kit Bond, and House Intelligence Ranking Member Pete Hoekstra, were informed that Abdulmutallab was in FBI custody. 

They have publicly complained that Abdulmutallab was not taken into military custody, but put into the civilian system, which of course includes Miranda rights warnings.  But what did they say to the Obama administration secretly before their public political plan took form? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BRENNAN, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER:  I spoke to Senators McConnell and Bond.  I spoke to Representative Hoekstra and Boehner.  I explained that he was in FBI custody, that Mr. Abdulmutallab was in fact talking and cooperating at that point.  They knew that in FBI custody means there is a process you follow, as far as Mirandizing and presenting him in front of the magistrate. 

None of those individuals raised any concerns with me at that point.  They didn‘t say, is he going into military custody?  Is he going to be Mirandized.  They were very appreciative of them information.  We told them we‘d keep them informed and that‘s what we did. 

So there‘s been quite a bit of an outcry after the fact, where, again, I‘m just very concerned on the behalf of the counter-terrorism professionals throughout our government that politicians continue to make this a political football, and are using it for whatever political or partisan purposes, whether they be Democrats or Republicans. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Rather than admit, yes, of course they were comfortable with the Obama administration‘s FB-freaking-I, with the head appointed by President Bush, envy of law enforcement all over the world, taking the lead on this, Miranda and all, today those four Republican leaders would rather have America believe they did not know that the FBI be Mirandizes suspected terrorists.

Kit Bond whining in a typical statement, quote, “Brennan never told me of any plans to Mirandize the Christmas day bomber.” 

Of course, if they really want people to believe they‘re really that ignorant about the subject, kudos to McConnell spokesman Don Stewart, who said in a statement that on Christmas day, Abdulmutallab was, quote, “a known terrorist.”  In fact, Abdulmutallab had been linked to zero incidents of terrorism before Christmas day. 

As any of the remaining honest Republicans would admit to you, at least in private. 

Let‘s turn now to Chris Hayes, the Washington editor of “The Nation” magazine.  Good evening. 

CHRIS HAYES, “THE NATION”:  Good evening, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Am I basically on target about the GOP choice here, and which one it seemingly prefers after today‘s round of statements? 

HAYES:  Well, I guess there‘s a third option, which is that they‘ve sort of selective amnesia about the entire Miranda decision 40 years ago, which conservatives, let‘s recall, hated when it first came out, and have sort of been opposed to forever.  Maybe they‘re sort of glossing over the fact that Miranda is good law right now.

But look, this is manifestly and obviously, completely, absolutely fabricated as an issue.  It‘s not an issue.  They have just—it‘s amazing the way they have reverse engineered this into being a topic of debate.  This is standard practice.  It was done under the Bush administration.  It was done in this case.  And the notion that this is somehow extraordinary or shows some radical deviation is just crazy. 

I mean, I think that Brennan‘s report of the briefing shows this is completely, completely fabricated. 

OLBERMANN:  The only thing missing today was some explanation that the Miranda they thought he was referring to was referred to was from “Sex in the City.”  What would most of the rabid Republicans—I mean the Tea Party—what would they think of the concept that Republican officials secretly would have cordial, professional, non-yelling phone calls with a man like John Brennan, without putting on a show of Miranda, soft on terror, et cetera, blah, et cetera, blah, et cetera? 

HAYES:  Well, they wouldn‘t be happy with it.  What‘s interesting is

you‘re seeing here actually a mirror image of what we saw during the whole

a lot of what happened in terms of the Democratic Congress and the briefings it received from the Bush administration, right?  Which is that these briefings are very strange kind of encounters, in which the executive does really hold the cards, first of all. 

Second of all, there‘s a lot of consensus amongst the players in the national security stage on national security policy.  I mean, we‘ve seen there is a kind of, you know, basic consensus among policy makers.  And obviously, there were huge deviations during the Bush administration.  There are some things the Obama administration are doing now that are awful.

But there‘s a lot more agreement than there is disagreement.  Then what happens is, when they‘re out of the room and in front of the cameras, then you get a lot more disagreement.  So I think we‘re actually seeing sort of an interesting line on that, which is that policy that‘s produced sort of behind closed doors has a tendency to gather a coalesce around consensus. 

OLBERMANN:  I want to—and you‘re involved in this, too.  But I want to take a second to issue a public challenge to those four Republican members of Congress tonight.  If you can, gentlemen, document, however you see fit, the record since 9/11 of intel about imminent threats coming through the military tribunal system, as opposed to intel about threats coming through civilian law enforcement.  And, you know, while they figure out how many, you know, 37,000 preconditions before they‘d be willing to answer my challenge there, you want to take a whack at it? 

HAYES:  Well, look, this is something that the FBI has been trained to do forever.  One of the craziest things about Bush administration counter-terrorism policy was that interrogations were shifted into the military apparatus.  In the beginning—let‘s recall, and go back and look at some of the Jane Mayer, “New Yorker‘s” incredible reporting on this.  You had people doing interrogations, whether in Bagram or Guantanamo, who had absolutely no training.  They had been given a 30-day course.  They were just soldiers who had been plucked and were now supposed to be getting information out of people.

Whereas you had an entire ranks of people inside the FBI who are highly trained in interrogations, to do lawful interrogations, and to get information out of people that—in ways that don‘t involve torture, that don‘t involve these extraordinary measures.  And that‘s where the locus of institutional knowledge on interrogation is and always has been, and that‘s where it makes sense.  Those are the people it makes sense to put in charge when faced with a situation like this. 

OLBERMANN:  But the point of all that was obviously the torture.  It was to fill a certain narrative. 

HAYES:  Right. 

OLBERMANN:  And it was deliberately chosen so that these people would not get any information.  But we‘ve been through this already.  Chris Hayes of “The Nation,” great thanks. 

HAYES:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  New Orleans is officially over Katrina.  So says no less an authority than our guest, New Orleans resident and Super Bowl winning saints fan Harry Shearer. 

Remember the Daily Kos poll about Republicans Bill-O Mocked?  They quoted it on Fox News yesterday to support Sarah Palin.  Worsts ahead.

When Rachel joins you, live by the Tea Klux Klan, die by the Tea Klux Klan.  Ron Paul facing three different primary challengers, all of them from the Tea Party.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  And now the second of tonight‘s quick comments.  I‘ll handle this one.  Once again, your Senate to the high bidder.  “Inaction on these nominees,” the senator said, “is a disservice to the American people exacted by members of the opposing party who,” quote, “choose to block the process for political gain.” 

The complaining senator was Richard Shelby of Alabama.  The year was 2005.  The nominees were President Bush‘s.  The opposition senators choosing to block the process for political gain were Democrats.  But now another senator is holding up President Obama‘s nominees, choosing to block the process for political gain.  This other senator has put a blanket hold on 70 to 80 of them, from appointees at Homeland Security to appointees to the Department of Justice Intel division, because he wants, of all things, an earmark. 

A 35 billion dollar contract for tankers is going to the American firm Boeing.  This senator is delaying counter-terrorism appointees because he wants the contract taken from Boeing and given instead to the makers of Airbus, a firm based in France.  Airbus just happens to have assembly plants in the senator‘s state.  It just happens to have given that senator at least 34,000 dollars in personal and PAC donations since 2000.  It just happens to use the lobbying firm that employs the senator‘s former legislative director. 

The senator deliberately keeping American intelligence under-staffed so he can get 35 million dollars to go to a foreign company from whose teat he sucks is Senator Shelby of Alabama. 

The system of senatorial holds has outlived its usefulness.  So have this senator for rent hypocrites, like Richard Shelby.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  New Orleans is back.  That‘s Harry Shearer‘s verdict, not mine.  We‘ll ask him.  That Super Bowl commercial, Letterman, Winfrey and Leno?  What was that a all about?  That‘s next. 

But first tonight‘s worst persons of the world. 

The bronze to Ed Sheehy (ph), the president of the group of 173 auto group members called Southeast Toyota.  You can understand Mr. Sheehy is a little upset lately.  But his response to the Toyota apocalypse?  To pull his group‘s commercials off local ABC TV affiliates because of what Southeast Toyota called excessive stories on the Toyota issues by Brian Ross of ABC News.  Now, it‘s their advertising money and they can spend it any way they want.  But when you want to punish journalists for trying to keep the public from getting killed in your lame ass cars, try to keep that a secret, because otherwise every news organization in the country is going to pick it up and pick on it, and remind the country whenever possible that if you want a car that doesn‘t stop, visit Ed Sheehy, especially at his dealership, JM Toyota/Lexus of Margate, Florida, where the Toyotas are literally driving themselves out of the show room. 

Runners up, Bill-O and Karl Rove.  You recall they led off the Bill O‘Reilly autobiographical history of the world show by attacking the Research 2000 poll for Daily Kos in which disturbingly large numbers of Republicans admitted they believe Obama is a socialist, was not born here and should be impeached.  You remember Bill-O memorably said—

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  He added, “the poll is a fraud, as is the website.”  Yesterday, Fox News found a poll result favorable to the candidate it has decided to elect as the next president and Chris Wallace ran with it.  Republicans‘ favorites for the nomination in 2012, as you saw it on Fox, Palin and Romney.  Whose poll?  Research 2000, the same poll O‘Reilly branded a fraud, as is the website.  Not that one result in it. 

But our winners, the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.  Where are you guys?  Three major Native American reservations in South Dakota, particularly the Cheyenne River Reservation, have been buried under snow and ice with major power failures for two weeks.  Power lines down, thousands of other Lakota and other tribes people who already face 75 to 85 percent unemployment before a blizzard, and an ice storm that added six inches of ice weight to utility poles hit—two weeks since those lines were knocked down and most of the electricity went with it.  They managed to get the water turned back on at Cheyenne River.  Unfortunately, most of the water goes into a pipe system that failed during the storm.  The pipes are broken. 

With the wind chill, it was minus 19 there today.  What will you find out about this at the website of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs?  Some means of donating to the affected tribes?  Means of underwriting the energy companies now distributing propane tanks by hand?  An emergency hearing on the crisis there?  Nothing.  There is a committee meeting Thursday to discuss regular business.  The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, AWOL, today‘s worst persons in the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Sarah Palin was not the only one etching things on her body this weekend.  If you were among the record 106 million Americans watching the Super Bowl last night, you likely saw what was going on inside the helmet of Tracy “Super Bowl winning interception” Porter.  SB 44 spelled out in hair on one side of his head, and a hair version of the Lombardi trophy on the other side.  And nothing crossed out. 

Most Saints players are back in Louisiana following yesterday‘s win.  The Who Dat Nation Victory Parade will wind through the French Quarter tomorrow.  The procession to begin at the Superdome.  Of course, just four and a half years ago it was that that building was the makeshift home for so many desperate New Orleans residents, displaced in the wake of the worst natural disaster in American history, followed by the presidential disaster. 

Those images and that history presumably not lost on the new mayor-elect of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu, the brother of Senator Mary Landrieu, overwhelmingly elected Saturday to succeed Ray Nagin. 

New Orleans resident, actor, author and satirist Hair Shearer tweeting last night, “with Mitch Landrieu winning mayor and Saints winning Super Bowl, symbolism plain: New Orleans has now ended the post-Katrina era.” 

Mr. Shearer will be here to expand on that thought in just a moment. 

First, have the late night wars turned a corner during the Super Bowl?  David Letterman‘s executive producer telling Bill Carter of the “New York Times” that last night‘s late show promo with Oprah Winfrey and Jay Leno was Letterman‘s idea.  Leno agreed to do it, got approval from NBC, flew to New York last Tuesday on a corporate jet, wearing a fake mustache.  The once and future “Tonight Show Host” sneaked into the Ed Sullivan Theater to record the promo. 

The shoot took less than 30 minutes.  The mood was cordial.  And according to Burnett, you could tell these were two guys who have known each other for a long time. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, “THE LATE SHOW”:  This is the worst super bowl party ever. 

OPRAH WINFREY, “OPRAH”:  Now, Dave, be nice. 

JAY LENO, “THE TONIGHT SHOW”:  He‘s just saying that because I‘m here. 

LETTERMAN:  He‘s just saying that because I‘m here. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  And that was in his good mood before the Colts lost.  Joining me from New Orleans, just back from Super Bowl XLIV in Florida, Harry Shearer.  Welcome.  Congratulations. 

HARRY SHEARER, COMEDIAN:  Thanks, Keith.  Who dat.  And tax cuts. 

OLBERMANN:  No, you know the way to do that?  One side of the hand is who and you have to turn it over to read dat. 

SHEARER:  Who dat?  There you go. 

OLBERMANN:  Let me reread your Tweet, “with Mitch Landrieu winning mayor and the Saints winning Super Bowl, symbolism plain: New Orleans has now ended the post-Katrina era.”  How does that symbolism translate into actual progress for your city? 

SHEARER:  I think in a city where the recovery has been really grassroots and ground up, it translates into new energy and new optimism for the people who were here.  What got lifted off the shoulders of the city last night was four decades of NFL futility and the reputation as a city of losers.  You know, you can overstate the importance of football to a city, certainly to its economy.  Given the fact that we had virtually no productivity the week leading up to the NFC championship and the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl—but it‘s true that people here feel that, at least in the eyes of the nation, they‘re looking at New Orleans in a new way today.  And I think that energizes people here to continue making their own recovery. 

OLBERMANN:  We have talked many times about the last president‘s attention to New Orleans and the whole Gulf region.  What do you think of the current ones? 

SHEARER:  I think there‘s an interesting stat at hand.  Last night‘s game lasted longer than President Obama‘s only presidential visit to New Orleans. 

OLBERMANN:  Hmm. 

SHEARER:  You know, when he came here, he talked about what happened here as a natural disaster.  Now that‘s sort of commonplace shorthand for a lot of Americans, but in fact he‘s a smart enough guy to know better.  And there are two independent engineering investigations into the flooding of New Orleans that say, in the words of one, it was the greatest man-made engineering disaster since Chernobyl. 

And some of that would require presidential attention.  So I think the reason he chose to recast it is because he‘s not prepared to give the city and those issues of coastal restoration a holistic way of protecting the city from future flooding his full attention yet. 

OLBERMANN:  You are doing a documentary.  The title I know.  The details I do not.  I can guess.  It‘s called “The Big Uneasy.”  You want to fill in the blanks? 

SHEARER:  It‘s basically a factual feature length documentary with the people who did those investigations, explicating and setting forth how they started to doubt the official explanation that the levees were over-topped, carrying through to the moments when they announced these were serious, catastrophic design and construction flaws on the part of the Army Corps of Engineers. 

Now, the Army Corps of Engineers has accepted some of the blame.  But I think most Americans are still not quite clear on this history, and how New Orleans really was flooded by their tax dollars at work.  And we now have the same agency doing the repairs, doing the new system.  They say a lot has changed, and we‘ll examine that in the documentary as well. 

OLBERMANN:  So this would happen again under the same circumstances tomorrow? 

SHEARER:  Well, that‘s a very good question, and that‘s one that I‘m going to be exploring with people who should know the answer.  The plan is to have the documentary out and seen by as many people as possible on August 29th of this year, the fifth anniversary. 

OLBERMANN:  Let me ask you the show business question, because I sat and watched it.  And I‘ve watched it about ten times since.  And I still can‘t figure out the Oprah/Letterman/Leno commercial.  I know it had a late show logo on it.  And it made me laugh.  And I thought it was the most memorable thing other than the game in the broadcast.  But who was that a commercial for? 

SHEARER:  Well, all I know is after I saw that, I was hungry for those chips.  I have to say, I did think—I was looking in the monitor where I was watching the game at the stadium.  And I didn‘t think that was actually the three of them in one set.  I thought it was some computer generated magic.  And I was waiting for space ghost to move in or Kent Brockman, if he was available. 

OLBERMANN:  That‘s right.  Then Gene Kelly dance behind them all. 

SHEARER:  That‘s right. 

OLBERMANN:  So you were at The Who performance last night?  You saw

that in addition to the game.  So it got—I think this is more or less in

consecutive order, McCartney, Springsteen last year—I was there for that

and the Who. 

SHEARER:  So—and the stones. 

OLBERMANN:  So the only possible halftime show for next year is the Folksmen? 

SHEARER:  Man, from your mouth to Roger Goodell‘s ears.  By the way, I think the Saints‘ victory did one really good thing for the NFL.  They erased the spectacle of them going after people selling Ho-Dat t-shirts. 

OLBERMANN:  That was well timed, too, wasn‘t it? 

SHEARER:  Dumbest lawyer of the year. 

OLBERMANN:  They also announced—started talking on Friday about how there might be a lockout after the 2010 season, just what everybody wanted to hear. 

SHEARER:  Right.  It‘s the good news league. 

OLBERMANN:  Well, it‘s not the no fun league, not if you‘re in New Orleans tonight.  Henry Shearer is. 

SHEARER:  That‘s right. 

OLBERMANN:  Congratulations again.  And I know you rushed for 38 yards in that game or felt like you did.  So congratulations. 

SHEARER:  Thanks, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  It‘s a new policy. 

All right, that‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 2,475th day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good—luck.   

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

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