updated 2/18/2010 9:03:30 AM ET 2010-02-18T14:03:30

Guests: David Corn, Ezra Klein, Markos Moulitsas, Christian Finnegan.

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

A year of the stimulus: A stimulus—the president reveals—from 6 percent economic contraction to 6 percent economic growth.  The stimulus Republican congressmen and senators were against before they took the money anyway, before they resumed attacking it.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  There are those—let‘s face it—across the aisle, who have tried to score political points by attacking what we did—even as many of them show up at ribbon-cutting ceremonies for projects in their districts.


OLBERMANN:  The president goes on the attack on the economy.  He‘s expected to name his co-chair to the bipartisan debt commission, legendary Republican, Senator Alan Simpson.  The Republicans attack the commission even though they first supported.

There‘s a pulse.  “Pass the public option by reconciliation,” so said Senators Bennet, Sherrod Brown, Gillibrand, and Merkley.  Today, say so Senators Feinstein, Franken, Kerry, Leahy, Sanders, and Whitehouse.  That‘s 10.  More joining?  Is it possible that it‘s still passable?

Palin to Tea Party: Drop dead.  “The Tea Party movement is not a party and we have a two-party system,” unquote, so “the smart thing will be independents who are such a part of this Tea Party movement to, I guess, kind of start picking a party.”  In other words: don‘t you dare run your own candidates.

California‘s recalled governor, Gray Davis.  Miss me yet?


GRAY DAVIS, FORMER CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR:  Be nice to me.  You‘re talking to the future governor.


OLBERMANN:  That guy?

“Worsts”: Tiger speaks, but no questions.

And Limbaugh calls the president of the United States—


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Dumbo.  I‘m thinking ears when I say Dumbo, I‘m not thinking of brains.  But I guess it‘s interchangeable.


OLBERMANN:  Are you sure you want to make physical characteristics fair game now, Mr. Limbaugh?

All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.


DAVIS:  It‘s not right.



OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.

Let‘s say purely for argument‘s sake that the Republicans were right.  Let‘s imagine what would have happened if one year ago today, President Obama had signed into law a different kind of stimulus bill, one that the GOP would have predicted would really work.

What would have happened if a huge influx of money had actually helped the U.S. economy?  What would have happened if this other Recovery Act had turned around plummeting job losses and seen to it as something like 2 million Americans who otherwise would have been unemployed were today collecting paychecks?  What would the economy now look like?

As “New York Times” economics writer, David Leonhardt points out in his analysis of the actual stimulus, the economy would look almost exactly like it does right now.

The president today is spending the first anniversary of the stimulus defending a successful program.  Mr. Obama is saying that adopting $787 billion worth of measure wasn‘t a politically-easy decision, but adding he had no choice seeing how he had—you know, a Great Depression to avoid.


OBAMA:  We acted because failure to do so would have led to catastrophe.  We acted because we had a larger responsibility than simply winning the next election.  We had a responsibility to do what was right for the U.S. economy and for the American people.  And one year later, it is largely thanks to the Recovery Act that a second depression is no longer a possibility.  It‘s one of the main reasons the economy has gone from shrinking by 6 percent to growing at about 6 percent.


OLBERMANN:  Since visual aids sometimes help, Organizing for America releasing this graph that illustrates where job losses were headed when President Obama took office and how in a perfect mirror image of President Bush‘s economic free fall, Obama has managed to turn these things around.  That is just stopping job losses and getting back to neutral, a huge victory, in and of itself.

This president admitting that job creation is still a huge issue.  And for that, he expects the help of Congress.


OBAMA:  You can argue, rightly, that we haven‘t made as much progress as we need to make when it comes to spurring job creation.  That‘s part of the reason why the Recovery Act is on track to save or create another 1.5 million jobs in 2010.  That‘s part of the reason why I expect Congress to pass additional measures as quickly as possible that will help our small business owners create new jobs, give them more of an incentive to hire.


OLBERMANN:  The biggest incentives that businesses of all sizes have been receiving thus far: tax cuts, also known as Republican red meat—not that you know it by how much GOP lawmakers have been complaining about the stimulus.


OBAMA:  One-third of the money in this bill—one-third—was made up of tax cuts.  I talked about this at the State of the Union.  Tax cuts for 95 percent of working Americans.

I just want to say to the American people, because we see some polling where about twice as many people think we‘ve raised taxes as lowered taxes, 95 percent of you got a tax cut.  Tax cuts—


OBAMA:  Now, up until this point, I‘ve never met a Republican who didn‘t like a good tax cut.


OBAMA:  But you remember when I mentioned this at the State of the Union, Joe, they were all kind of skirmishing in their seats.  They weren‘t sure whether to clap or not, because most of them had voted against all these tax cuts, which I thought was—it was interesting to watch.



OLBERMANN:  The Republican House leadership having spent the first year of this stim lying about something that is one-third tax cuts, marking this first anniversary by bragging that those lies have worked.

A spokesman for minority leader Boehner claiming, proudly, as if he did not know which was more important, reality or marketing, that more people believe Elvis is alive than believe the stimulus has created jobs.

Minority whip Cantor claiming falsely in a statement that because of the stim, over 3 million jobs have been lost.

And instead of engaging the president on this issue, Boehner and Cantor suggesting a televised debate with people with whom they already have regular, often daily, televised debates.  Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer, to whom they wrote, daring them to a televised job debate, I believe that‘s called the United States House of Representatives.

Time now to call in our own Richard Wolffe, author of “Renegade: The Making of a President.”

Richard, good evening.


OLBERMANN:  By the actual metrics of this thing, the first year the stimulus would appear to be an unqualified success, albeit with that issue of having to prove the negative of what didn‘t happen being much more important than what did perhaps.  But the popular perception is, it‘s been a washout, if not a failure.

How did the White House manage to lose the message war on this?  And do they think—and do you think it could be turned around?

WOLFFE:  Well, there is a political answer to this and there‘s an economic answer to this.  And the politics are really quite satisfying, because we can blame individuals.  So, let‘s start with that, shall we?


WOLFFE:  Republicans did a slick job of pretending that this whole bill was about pet projects and pretty much not anything else.  And they ignored the fact that the earmarks were stripped out of it.  They ignored all the tax cuts that the president talked about or the unemployment benefits.  And they actually did a much better sales job than this White House did, because the White House thought, well, they would get credit for dealing with the crisis.

So, the White House, in a sense, thought that this would all be self-evident and at some point, recognized that actually, there was a much bigger thing running against them, which is the economics.  And the economics piece of this is a hard to blame on any individual person, but 8 million jobs lost since the start of this recession, more than all recent recessions combined, an incredibly steep downturn, and trying to sell a stimulus package that has saved or created a fraction of what has been lost is really beyond anyone‘s scope—even someone as talented as a speaker as the president of the United States.

So, they‘re just up against an economic reality and a slick opposition, and the two things combined were too much.

OLBERMANN:  Ezra Klein from “The Washington Post” wrote this afternoon that conservative reader have been e-mailing him to say, any jobs in the stimulus, anything that was saved, anything that was created, they‘re all public sector jobs, so they don‘t count.  But as the president kept emphasizing, a third of the stimulus is tax cuts.

And does that not—is there—is this conclusion not inevitable as a result of that, that the Republican theory of tax cuts, as the creators of private jobs, that just got bench-tested in practical American life today for a year and it failed?

WOLFFE:  Well, that‘s a subtle point and a good one to make.  I think one thing that may be kind of necessary to point out here is that public sector jobs include things like the military.  I mean, the men and women who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are being paid by the United States treasury.  They are in the public sector—so are teachers, for instance, who are leading the next generation of young Americans.

And if a member of Congress seriously thinks that a teacher‘s job is easy, they ought to give up their seat in Congress and try to teach a bunch of kindergartners, because these are serious jobs.  It‘s real money on the table.  And those jobs would clearly have been lost.  They only need to talk to Republican or Democratic governors who are willing to put those teachers out of work, because they didn‘t have the money until they got the stimulus funds.

OLBERMANN:  Last point on this, Richard—the televised jobs debate challenge from Boehner and Cantor to Pelosi and Hoyer.  As I‘ve said before, I think I‘ve seen this show already, it‘s on C-SPAN and it‘s called Congress, right?  The Republican leadership not think anybody would, sort of, notice that?

WOLFFE:  You know, it is a curious choice of opponent.  I guess they feel that when they punched out of their weight class with the president, it didn‘t go so well.  So, there must be a boxing term for trying to go back a class, but that‘s what they‘re trying to do.

OLBERMANN:  Something—“Jersey Bleeder” or Joe Bugner or somebody like that.

MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe, dropping in the boxing there for a moment—as always, great thanks.

WOLFFE:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  The purportedly deficit-hating Republicans in Congress, never mind their last president saddled the current administration with a deficit of $1.3 trillion, hostile to President Obama‘s plan to create a bipartisan commission, the sole purpose of which would be finding ways to cut the deficit.

The president still doing it, without them—scheduled to create the commission by executive order tomorrow and to tap as its co-chairman, former Clinton chief of staff, Erskine Bowles, a moderate Democratic businessman from North Carolina who made an unsuccessful run for the Senate, you‘ll recall.  And the Republican, since no current lawmakers of that party would cooperate, former Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming, once the second-ranking member of his party.

In an interview with the “New York Times,” Mr. Simpson dismissing claim saying reining in the deficit could be accomplished with spending cuts alone and offering a reminder that, quote, “Republicans never vetoed a single bill in 6 ½ years.  How is that for cutting spending?”

As for the partisan impasse his former colleagues now find themselves in, Mr. Simpson adding, “There isn‘t a single sitting member of Congress, not one, that doesn‘t know exactly where we‘re headed.”

Let‘s turn to the Washington bureau chief of “Mother Jones” magazine, columnist for PoliticsDaily.com, David Corn.

David, good evening.

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES MAGAZINE:  Good to be with you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Deficit reduction—can we say this is something Republican lawmakers are for, only until the president then becomes for it, or unless a Republican president has an agenda they can pass through?  Does that about sum it up?

CORN:  Well, I think the Republicans are acting on a very sophisticated political tactic called the cooties principle.  Anything that the president touches has cooties.  And therefore, they can‘t be seen dead embracing it or even dealing with it.

I mean, it is kind of serious.  It‘s like almost everything is opposite day with the Republicans—whether it‘s the stimulus bill, the health care, and now, with the deficit commission.

And I‘m not a big fan of the deficit commission.  I believe that Congress and the White House should man up and woman up and deal with this without a commission.  I don‘t like the way that too often people run to commissions when there‘s a tough problem here.

But, nevertheless, you know, most Republicans, you know—in the Senate, we saw a lot of Republicans, seven, I think, who supported the bill to create a deficit commission.  And then when it became Obama‘s bill, they opposed it.

I mean, these guys are just playing an opposite game.  And they‘re really hoping—this is the—I think, the basic principle here, that things are going to get worse in the country and that all they can do—all they can—all they‘ll have to do next November is say, “Look what Barack Obama did to us.”

OLBERMANN:  Following the instructions of Rush Limbaugh.  It‘s actually, literally, the case.

There is some sort of silver lining in this, and I‘m wondering if it‘s

if you think there‘s a possibility it may—it may manifest itself as something positive.  You hear former lawmaker, like Alan Simpson, not surprisingly, speak out.  But to some degree, as with Senator Bayh‘s complaints this week with on his way out the door.


Do they not both have a responsibility—if the partisanship is so poisonous in their assessments, do they have some responsibility to do more than lament it?  Do they have to propose steps to fix it and point out who, individually, name names, is standing in the way of fixing it?

CORN:  The easiest thing to do in Washington is to blame partisanship.  You know, I actually am a big fan of partisanship, when it‘s based on real substantive differences and you argue it out with facts, not with spin and empty political rhetoric.

Now, if you know, Senator Bayh, he‘s been around for a couple of years.  If he thought the Senate wasn‘t working and wasn‘t doing the people‘s business, he had a chance inside to fight for changes and he had a chance as a sitting senator to blow the whistle and say, these are the things that must happen so that we can serve the public interest.  Maybe that would have to do with campaign finance reform, getting rid of lobbyists, whatever you want to pick.

But, you know, he was not seen as a reformer, and only on the way out the door is he kind of whining about the situation.  So, I mean, it happens often that when people leave, they become critics.  But that doesn‘t really lead to much change, does it?

OLBERMANN:  No.  But a guy with a few more bona fides by several thousand percent, I think, would be Alan Simpson.  He and I might agree, politically, 25 percent of the time, but every time I‘ve interviewed him or visited with him, it‘s been a delight and he‘s been a pragmatist—because it seems to me, the old-fashion way he represented is what is now missing.

And it‘s not, you know, oh, kumbayah and we went drinking after 5:00 and the rest of that, but it was—

CORN:  Although they did.

OLBERMANN:  They did.  But that wasn‘t—I mean, that‘s what people remember, if they remember anything, because they did too much drinking.  But the element was—you were ultra-partisan sometimes.  You fought for your party and your matters of philosophical intensity and your political urgency issues.  And when they did not reach some sort of level, you were not partisan.  You did, in fact, give and take, you did play ball, there was bipartisanship.

Instead, now, everybody is ultra-partisan, all the time.  Is that—could the Simpson message be of some value now?  Be partisan when it matters and back off when it doesn‘t?

CORN:  Well, I think there have been periods in American history that have been hyper-partisan.  Go back and look at what happened with Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.  You know, they actually arrested opponents—political opponents back in those days.

I mean, the thing is that we have real, honest to goodness philosophical and political and policy differences in this country.  And there‘s nothing wrong with having drag-down fights over this.  But what is wrong is when it‘s only about partisan politics.  When there is no concern about facts and about policy-making.

And I think, perhaps, Simpson maybe a throwback to the days where the policy differences drove the debate, not just simply scoring political points.  And maybe I‘m being overly generous there, but if he can lead us in that direction, well, God, you know—


CORN:  God help us and God help him and that would be a good thing.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.  And we don‘t—we don‘t have to throw it back to, say, Senator Sumner and Congressman Brooks.

David Corn of “Mother Jones”—great thanks.

CORN:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  And never more timely, our second installment of COUNTDOWN‘s Hypocrisy Hall of Shame stimulus wing.

And tonight‘s nominees are: Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, quoting, “This is spending, not stimulus.”  Voted no, of course.  In his letter to the federal government applying for stim money, again quoting, “It is anticipated that the project will create over 200 jobs in the first year and at least another 40 new jobs in the following years.”

Congressman Jack Kingston of Georgia is also nominated.  His press office praised a $106,000 grant and a $138,000 grant for the hiring of new police officers, fully funded by the stimulus plan that Kingston voted against.  That according to ThinkProgress.org, which has now cataloged 110 lawmakers who have tried to block this Recovery Act but later praised its success or even took credit for it or parts of it.

And our third nominee this week: Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who contended that the stimulus, quote, “misses the mark on all counts.”  But in his letters seeking a stimulus grant for his district, Ryan said that the group in question, quote, “intends to place 1,000 workers in green jobs.”

Vote now at COUNTDOWN.MSNBC.com.  And vote quickly before your vote and the votes of 1 million of your friends are subsumed by the corporate electionary machine unleashed on us by Congress.

It turns out when I said that the Supreme Court ruling was a disaster, I was understating the case.  A lobbyist scheme to allow corporations to buy the elections and buy them secretly—tonight‘s comment.

And 11 senators now say bring back the public option.  Pass it by reconciliation.  So, anybody out there got 40 spare senators?


OLBERMANN:  And now, tonight‘s first “Quick Comment.”  And yes, the Republicans are absolutely right—the Supreme Court‘s Citizens United ruling was only about free speech, not about enabling a full corporate takeover of our elections.

That‘s why the K&L Gates lobbying firm has already compiled a 1,639-word guide for its corporate clients on how they can now advertise for or against individual candidates right up until election day and avoid the pesky risk of, quote, “public scrutiny” by washing their campaign advertising money through third party organizations.

“TPM Muckraker” dug this up but it‘s on the firm‘s own Web site.  Part of it reads, “Groups of corporations within an industry may form coalitions or use existing trade associations to support candidates favorable to policy positions that affect the group as a whole.  While corporations that contribute to these expenditures might still be disclosed, this indirect approach can provide sufficient cover, such that no single contributing entity receives the bulk of public scrutiny.”

To get even more, quote, “under the radar,” K&L Gates advises its clients to spend on ideologically-based talk radio, Web-based ads or phone banks.  And it reassures them that the Supreme Court ruling permits campaigning by American firms that are subsidiaries of foreign corporations.

So, the court‘s ruling doesn‘t open up Pandora‘s Box for the big boys to buy the electorates.  I was wrong about that.  It opens up Pandora‘s Box for the big boys to buy the elections secretly.


OLBERMANN:  The public option, a government-administered health insurance plan, is not only fiscally-conservative, it would save America tens of billions of dollars.  It has broad bipartisan support among American voters.  Polls showing a clear majority of independents support it.  As do even a third of Republicans.

And so, of course, as Democrats prepare for next week‘s bipartisan health care summit, Senate Democrats in the White House apparently want nothing to do with the public option.  Nevertheless, 10 Democratic senators and independent Bernie Sanders, led by Michael Bennett, joined by more than 100 members of the House have now written to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, asking him to pass the public option, using reconciliation, the legislative method that provides for a straight up or down majority vote, nullifying the threat and filibuster that would require the supermajority of 60 votes for passage.

Quoting their letter: “The Congressional Budget Office estimated that various public option proposals in the House save at least $25 billion.”  Reid‘s reaction: “Senator Reid remains a strong supporter of the public option, but it‘s always a question of where the votes are.”

Last year, Reid suggested the votes were with a majority, but now that the majority is all he needs, “Politico” reports, quote, “Leadership aides have said there is no discussion of returning to the public option.”

No discussion—while 46 million lack any insurance, millions more with insurance go without care or go into medical bankruptcy and thousands turned out at this winter‘s free health care clinics, made possible by $2 million donated by you, the COUNTDOWN viewer, already paying dividends, like, say, the life of Carol Wilcher.


CAROL WILCHER, FREE CLINIC PATIENT:  My name is Carol Wilcher.  I attended the free clinic that you were offering in Connecticut, in Hartford, on February 3rd.  While there, a short time after arriving, I was rushed to the hospital.  I was in crisis, hypertensive crisis and congestive heart failure.  I got out of the hospital yesterday and I was there in the nick of time.  I was there for one week.  Thanks again and God bless you all.


OLBERMANN:  Let‘s turn now to Ezra Klein, who covers economic and domestic policy for “The Washington Post,” now a columnist with “Newsweek” magazine as well.

Ezra, good evening.


OLBERMANN:  Republican Congressman Dave Camp said yesterday that anybody listening to the American people would say scrap this bill and begin again.  Is he right?  And is that what these 11 senators are trying to do?  And is Harry Reid going to listen to any of them?

KLEIN:  Well, it‘s all complicated, right?  Somebody‘s—a lot of people are lying to the American people and listening them to repeat it.  I think that the public option has been popular the entire way through this process.  It‘s much more popular than a lot of the parts of the bill that are going to survive, potentially, the excise tax, the Medicare commission.

But it‘s very unpopular among people like Dave Camp, and Democrats very desperately want to appear bipartisan right now.  And they don‘t think they‘re going to achieve that by going back to the public option.

OLBERMANN:  “Politico” reported that Senate Democrats are, in fact, worried that if they pursue a public option, Republicans might attack them.  Would we have any idea what it would be like if, say, Republicans started attacking Democrats on health care?

KLEIN:  Yes, it‘s a bit of—it was a bit of an odd quote there.  I mean, one of the things that I think has been important through this process is that the negotiations are primarily among Democrats, right?  There are Republicans who are involved in it and at various times have pretended that they would potentially be a partner in the process.

But when Democrats at 60 votes are looking for 60 votes, there were negotiations among them and the public option disappeared on Senator Lieberman and Senator Nelson‘s say so.  And now, Democrats are looking for 51 and it is among them again.  Now, that, I think you see a certain amount of trepidation there about bringing the public option back, but it is among Democrats.  The attacks from Republicans are pretty much neither here nor there.

OLBERMANN:  So we know who these 11 are.  It‘s Bennet and Sherrod Brown and Burris and Gillibrand and Merkley and Feinstein and Franken and Kerry and Leahy and Sanders and Whitehouse.  Are there, in fact, 40 more?  And is Harry Reid really staking his leadership on assuming that there aren‘t 40 more and that the public is not going to take it out on him in particular if this public option does not sort of revivify itself?

KLEIN:  You know, if 42 Democrats or 40 more Democrats come to Harry Reid tomorrow and say, “Look, you‘ve got to put this back in, we‘ll vote for it tomorrow,” it will go back in.  Harry Reid is basically a vote counter.  He‘s not a committed supporter of the public option, I don‘t believe, even though he would vote for it if it was there, and nor is he an opponent of it.  He is acting in his role as majority leader, and he will lead to where the majority is.

So, I think this is going to be very much about how much support can be whipped up among Democratic senators, not so much Reid‘s preferences.

OLBERMANN:  The New Public Policy poll finds and it‘s—I guess, not a surprise that people who are raising a ruckus over health care are not going to vote for Democrats no matter what they do.  So, why have Democrats chosen the worst possible path of pandering to the unpanderable and merely losing their own base in the process?

KLEIN:  It‘s very, very hard to say.  The one thing that you keep hearing when you talk to Democrats in Washington, in the administration and out, nothing has become rational.  So, it‘s become very hard to evaluate the process.

Nobody thinks Democrats are better off if this bill fails.  The Democrats don‘t think it.  They‘re just too scared—they know they can‘t stop and they‘re too scared to move forward.

OLBERMANN:  Well, then the viewer at home knows who to call about this.

Ezra Klein of “The Washington Post”—great thanks for your reporting on this and for your time tonight.

KLEIN:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  The attack against the tea party was unmistakable.  It implied they were on the fringes of the two-party system.  It implied they‘d better start dealing with reality and not delusions of grandeur.  My attack on the tea party the other night?  No, I‘m not—Sarah Palin‘s attack on the tea party.  Details ahead on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  Sarah Palin versus the Tea Party, again.  First, on this date in 1821 was born Lola Montaz (ph), the famed Spanish, exotic, half-naked dancer of the 19th century.  Except Lola Montaz‘s name was actually Elizabeth Rosanna Gilbert (ph).  She was born in Ireland, grew up in India and Britain, and had an affair with the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt and the French writer Alexander Dumas, and then the king of Bavaria.  Then she married a newspaper man from San Francisco. 

Then she started performing for the miners during the Gold Rush in Nevada.  Then moved to Australia, where she attacked a newspaper editor with a whip.  And finally to New York, where at age 39 she had a stroke, and she‘s buried in Brooklyn.  Lola Montaz‘s life inspired the founding of the United Nations.

Let‘s play Oddball.

Aturanga (ph) Zoo in Sydney, Australia—no, half-naked women with whips this time, just the animal kingdom continuing its war on television personalities.  Go animal kingdom.  Weatherman Steve Jacobson (ph) of Nine Network attempts to give an eager nation its five-day forecast.  But not if that pelican has anything to do with it. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is Monnie, who‘s a little bit excited.  Ah!


OLBERMANN:  And he said in pelican, Monnie did, accu-weather, my ass. 

Mr. Jacobson tried to go on with the segment, but Monnie is not finished. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Extending into the southern the ocean, while an associated cold front brushes the south.  Ah!  Ah!  Ah!  Let me go!



OLBERMANN:  Mr. Jacobson is doing just fine, although Monnie consumed him whole in inside an hour.  Monnie is disappointed.  She didn‘t get to meet the standard set by her cousin, the Florida cockroach. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, god.  Oh, my god.  There it is!  Oh, my god. 

Oh, no!


OLBERMANN:  Now back to London, where Jim Stansfield (ph) doesn‘t need spider-like ability to scale the side of a building, just a couple of vacuum cleaners.  Mr. Stansfield used the appliances to create suction pads allowing him to ascend 100 feet.  The scientist has demonstrated his skills on various structures around the country, and a show on the BBC.  Reflecting upon his experiences, Mr. Stansfield says climbing up is the easy part.  Getting back down, kind of—ah!

It was wrapped up in word salad, but even Sarah Palin‘s message to the Tea Partiers must have been clear enough, even for them.  You want to run your own candidates, drop dread.


OLBERMANN:  There are two prime ways that half-Governor Sarah Palin might really tee off the Tea Party.  Try to introduce a dose of reality to a group that is notably out of touch with it, and/or to say, basically, drop dead.  Palin may have managed to do both.  Forget the Sarah Palin who just ten days ago gave the keynote address at Nashville‘s Tea Party Convention, just after the overt racist guy and just before the birther guy. 

At last night‘s Republican fund-raiser in Little Rock, Arkansas, Palin got all literal on the subject of those pesky Tea Partiers.  Sure, Sister Sarah tossed out her pro-forma platitudes; the Tea Party is a grand movement, and I love it because it‘s all about the people. 

Then she said this, quoting, “now the smart thing will be for independents who are such a part of this Tea Party movement to, I guess, sort of start picking a party.  Which party reflects how that smaller, smarter government steps to be taken?  Which party will best fit you?”

Then comes the dagger, quote, “and then because the Tea Party movement is not a party, and we have a two-party system, they‘re going to have to pick a party and run one or the other, R or D.”

Let‘s bring in founder and publisher of Daily Kos, also author of “Taking on the System,” Markos Moulitsas.  Markos, good evening.

MARKOS MOULITSAS, DAILY KOS:  Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Is this as stark as it seems?  Don‘t run your own candidates.  Get with the establishment, two party program.  Don‘t you damn well go rogue on anybody. 

MOULITSAS:  Well, Sarah Palin is right—that was weird.  I don‘t say that every day.  But in this case, Sarah Palin is right that in this country, if you want to have electoral success, you need to work within the two-party system.  I think, in a moment of honesty, any green party or libertarian party member will tell you that being a perennial loser and sometimes spoiler isn‘t exactly as satisfying as actually winning an election every once in a while. 

OLBERMANN:  But isn‘t the premise of the Tea Party sort of suspension of disbelief, and the idea that they are going to change the world and reinstate America 1941 or 1940, the last good year.  You know, all those nice things for what they see as their nostalgic view of a place that never actually existed.  Isn‘t the premise, don‘t ever tell them they have to play by the rules or they‘re just going to throw you under the bus? 

MOULITSAS:  Well, the way they dress, I think they‘re pining for the 1700s, actually.  Yeah, these guys are—they have a notion, I think, of American politics and of ideology that is really out of step with not just the broader American mainstream, but with the Republican party itself.  And the Republicans have a balancing act to try to harness and use some of that energy and anger, without actually giving them anything. 

And—because they are very effective as an extension of that Fox News, right-wing noise machine, spread lies to the American people.  They‘re very good at that.  I don‘t think they‘re as good as they think they are on the electoral battlefront, though. 

OLBERMANN:  What do the Tea Partiers do, though?  Presumably, further anger from some, further denial from others, absolute determination to run their own candidates, anyway.  They‘re hearing this message from the woman who got herself involved in their fabulous success in the New York 23rd Congressional district, where they managed to get a Democrat elected, right? 

MOULITSAS:  Yeah.  No, they were able to play the spoiler role.  And I think they can play that very, very well.  They have a choice to make, I think.  Like I said, I don‘t think they‘re very effective electorally.  The places where Tea Baggers have been sort of what are considered successes for them, places like Massachusetts‘ Senate race, they were successful because they were a part of a broader conservative coalition that included big organizations like Club for Growth and Freedom Works, that have a lot of money, and then the Tea Party acted as sort of ground troops for that. 

They‘re good at that.  But on their own, they‘re not.  We saw it in the Illinois Senate primary, Republican primary, where they had a Tea Bagger candidate against moderate Republican Senate wannabe Mark Kirk, and Mark Kirk absolutely crushed this Tea Bagger candidate.  So if they‘re going to be—if they‘re going to be taken seriously, I think they have to be more effective at raising money and actually being able to do the electoral heavy lifting, without the support of Club for Growth and so on. 

OLBERMANN:  Is there something, though, in the Palin message that starts some sort of reckoning within this group, when they realize perhaps that all the Republicans actually want from them is their anger and then their vote and, you know, shut up the rest of the time? 

MOULITSAS:  Well, remember that Sarah Palin didn‘t go to the Tea Bagger convention because she believed in her cause.  She went because they paid her over 100,000 dollars.  And if you look at the roster, they didn‘t have any real high-level people.  So they‘re going to have to actually take matters into their own hand and show that they‘re independent.  I don‘t think they can do that, but let‘s see if they can. 

OLBERMANN:  And one thing to credit her for this, she did this without any notes written on her hand.  Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos, great thanks as always, my friend. 

MOULITSAS:  Thank you very much. 

OLBERMANN:  In a moment, the blow-back from Monday‘s special comment on the extreme, you know, whiteness of the Tea Party.

Worsts, Rush Limbaugh opens up his own minefield, his own personal mine field, after calling President Obama “Dumbo” today, and claiming he was referring to his ears. 

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, first he said the stimulus money created as many as 160,000 jobs in his state alone.  Now he says, no jobs, not one job in the world.  Rachel with more on life‘s rich pageant of stim hypocrisy.


OLBERMANN:  And now the second of tonight‘s quick comments, and still the topic is tea.  I wanted to give some equal time to those on the right who disagreed with the focus of Monday‘s special comment, that there is an alarming homogeneity of the so-called Tea Party events, and that this is not some sort of demographic coincidence. 

In other words, they‘re almost all white people, and this is, in essence, a white people‘s party.  From the blog Hot Air, ownership of which Michelle Malkin has just divested herself of, for some reason, “according to CNN, fully 11 percent of Americans claim they‘ve actively supported the Tea Party movement, in some way.  Note to Olbermann, supporters are also better educated than the population on average.” 

Well, my response to this would be, where are the people of color at the Tea Parties? 

From the David Horowitz blog, “the next time Keith Olbermann calls you racist or any other hateful epithet, take comfort in he fact that you are in the best possible company.  In fact, if Keith Olbermann is not delivering hate-filled rants of invective your way, that will be the time to second guess yourselves.”

Well, my response to this would be, where are the people of color at the Tea Parties? 

And lastly, from the GOP USA website, “the tired race card approach to politics and current events would not normally require any response or comment.  It could be dismissed for what it is, coming from a questionable source, who deals in vile rhetoric.” 

Well, my response to this would be, where are the people of color at the Tea Parties? 

Look, this isn‘t rhetoric.  This isn‘t invective.  It‘s not about education or ranting.  And it‘s not the playing of a card.  It‘s math.  The question none of these defenders will touch, because there is no answer to it, where are the people of color at the Tea Parties?


OLBERMANN:  He inaccurately claimed he was the father of Anna Nicole Smith‘s child and he swore on Larry King.  Hello.  Sounds like the perfect candidate to be the next governor of California.  That‘s next, but first tonight‘s worst persons in the world. 

The bronze to Tiger Woods.  A spokesman announcing he will speak to a small group Friday morning at a golf course clubhouse in Florida, friends, colleagues, close associates and a pool reporter or two.  He plans to discuss his past and his future and he plans to apologize for his behavior.  Quoting agent Mark Steinberg, “Tiger feels as though it‘s time to make amends and to publicly do that.”  Steinberg added, per the Bloomberg News account, which broke this story, “no questions will be allowed at the meeting.”  No questions.  I guess reporters will take the hint and nobody will ask Tiger a question about this ever again.  That‘ll be the end of it, won‘t it?  After the sex addiction clinic, you didn‘t have time to go to a bad public relations clinic? 

The runner-up, Dick Morris of Fox News.  He won the over night based on this column claiming that Obama was helping al Qaeda by, quote, “boasting about his string of successes against it.”  Then another part of this piece struck me.  “Incumbent politicians always have to balance their need to get reelected against the need to keep many of their intelligence successes private.  The Bush administration, for example, took great pains not to reveal how it used wire taps to can keep al Qaeda from blowing up the Brooklyn Bridge, because it did not want to make the taps public, lest al Qaeda realized the FBI was listening in.  Winston Churchill made the ultimate sacrifice early in World War II, when alerted to German plans to bomb the city of Coventry, he chose to allow the attack to proceed, without any evacuation of the city, lest the Nazis realize that the British had cracked their code.  Thousands were killed.” 

So by that theory, Mr. Morris is saying that if President Bush had had any kind of fore-warning about al Qaeda‘s 9/11 plan, you know, like a US government document reading “bin Laden determined to Strike in US,” he wouldn‘t have done anything to prevent the attack, lest al Qaeda realize that the US had cracked their code.  Dick Morris is a truther?  Wow!

But our winner, comedian Rush Limbaugh.  You will probably be offended by what he called the president today, but consider for a second the larger picture.  And the larger picture is, he has just inherited his own wind.  His complaint that Obama referred to those who have referred to our recent economic history as the lost decade.  You know, like “the Wall Street Journal” and “The Atlantic,” “USA Today,” et cetera—


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Nobody‘s calling it the Lost Decade but you, Dumbo!  Nobody‘s calling it the Lost Decade.  Who besides him is calling it the Lost Decade?

I‘m thinking ears when I say Dumbo.  I‘m not thinking brains, but I guess it‘s interchangeable. 


OLBERMANN:  So it‘s OK now for Rush Limbaugh to make fun of somebody else‘s appearance?  Then it‘s OK to make fun of Rush Limbaugh‘s appearance.  Is that really a good rules change for a commentator who is bald, morbidly obese, and uses other people‘s Viagra?  Rush “a kind of living, breathing glass house” Limbaugh, today‘s—we‘re going to have fun with this in the weeks to come—worst person in the world.  He‘s fat.


OLBERMANN:  There was skepticism last month when Prince Frederic Von Anhalt announced his attention to run for governor of California.  After all, this was a guy who used the death of Anna Nicole Smith to vault himself on to Hollywood‘s D minus list.  In 2007, Von Anhalt, Zsa Zsa Gabor‘s eighth husband, claimed he was Smith‘s lover and the father of the child.  Paternity tests proved him wrong. 

But he‘s been a tabloid gadfly ever since.  So on January 25th, when the Prince announced his candidacy in front of a giant billboard of himself on Santa Monica Boulevard in LA, You Can understand why many would dismiss it as, you know, some kind of publicity stunt. 

Today, the Prince filed the necessary paperwork.  Prince Frederic Von Anhalt, the Duke of Saxony and Westphalia, and the Count of Ascania, is now officially running for the governor of California.  A thousand apologies for ever doubting you, your heiny-ness. 

The Associated Press confirms that Von Anhalt will run as an independent in the November election.  His platform includes over-turning the states ban on gay marriage, legalizing Cuban cigars and marijuana.  Also prostitution, a position that may or may not result from a 2007 incident in which police found Von Anhalt naked and handcuffed behind the wheel of his own Rolls Royce.  The prince claimed three women had mugged him. 

The Associated Press reporting that Von Anhalt‘s previous jobs included a bank clerk, a screenwriter, and a sauna manager.  And if his opponents are interested in doing some research, they need to look no further than TMZ.com. 



Britney Spears is a huge artist.  She‘s a big artist.  She entertains the whole world.  Don‘t ever compare with girls like Paris Hilton, who shakes her ass to make some bucks. 

I don‘t vote.  Whatever I do, it‘s on—so I don‘t vote.  I‘ll leave the voting to the intelligent people.  And further more, Paris Hilton has feet like a guy.  I would never take a woman in bed with such big feet like Paris Hilton has.  This man, Al Sharpton, I take him in a fight anytime. 

This is—this is—I can do the dance, you know.  I‘m not for gay marriage.  I‘m against it.  Why?  Mine is sexually focused. 

I don‘t watch Bond.  If I want to screw around, I‘ll do the real thing.  I don‘t watch Bond. 

My wife asks me, did you have an affair in Europe.  And I said to her, look, don‘t ever ask me again, because I would lie anyhow.  If you need to make a living, go and (EXPLETIVE DELETED) a rich woman.  Then you don‘t have to hang around on the street and bother people. 

Everybody around Britney Spears right now is full of (EXPLETIVE DELETED).  The only people in charge are the parents now. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And Kevin too?  And Kevin too?



OLBERMANN:  Brought to you by the Von Anhalt Committee.  Here‘s a guy running on an anti-vote, pro-Leiderhausen platform.  We‘re join now by Christian Finnegan, the comedian whose stand-up special “Au Contraire” is available on DVD and i-Tunes.  If you see him in the street, he‘ll sell his video to you.  Christian, good evening. 


OLBERMANN:  On his website he call himself a prince and a duke and a count.  A noble profession, you‘ve got count in your name.  If or when he reaches the governor‘s mansion, what would you call him then? 

FINNEGAN:  His excellency, because having him in the news would be so excellent.  I say we might as well make him governor.  Why should New Yorkers and South Carolinians have the only hilarious governors is my feeling?  And how can we pass up the opportunity to insert semi-genuine royalty into the Democratic system, if for no other reason than to see the Tea Party activists‘ head explode.  Actually, you know what, I take that back.  For a minute there, I treated the Tea Parties as a genuine expression of populism, and not a bunch of spoiled Baby Boomers who are frightened because history is moving on without them.  That‘s my mistake.  Anyway, Prince Von Anhalt.

OLBERMANN:  You‘ve got to listen to Sarah Palin when she tells the Tea Party movement what they can and cannot do. 

We showed some of these great hits.  The policy that he‘s had, more than any other, is always talking to anyone who has a camera, including passersby, tourists, strangers, and the guys on Hollywood boulevard who are dressed as Elmo.  Is it possible that these multiple camera appearances might come back to bite him during the campaign? 

FINNEGAN:  Keith, quite the contrary.  Actually, the good prince seems to have a grasp of the media landscape that more traditional civil servants do not possess.  I mean, rather—in this world of TMZ and Twitter, rather than expend all your energy trying to do avoid doing anything controversial, just be such an unyielding and unrelenting jackass that you basically make people not take anything you do seriously.  You just become bullet proof.  It‘s a little thing I call the John Mayer Principle. 

OLBERMANN:  He‘s running for lieutenant governor.  Let‘s talk the policy detail here.  The platform that he has is called—he has a platform—return the good life to California.  We already mentioned the keys; prostitution and marijuana would be legalized, as would Cuban cigars, and taxed.  Now, admittedly, this does sound like LA circa 1950.  Is he going to expect a lot of support out of southern California and people who are nostalgic for 1950? 

FINNEGAN:  Well, the guy does know what state he‘s running in, that‘s for sure.  As a candidate, you could run on a platform of instituting martial law, repealing the Bill of Rights, and the preemptive military invasion of Tonga, and as long as you have the word legalize it in there somewhere, you‘re going to pull double digits in California.  All you need is a snappy slogan, like 420 or fight. 

That was a joke specifically for pot-smoking presidential historians. 

OLBERMANN:  I‘m going to pretend I don‘t know what you‘re talking about.  There is one thing that anyone running against him could get him on, right.  We had tape of him saying he‘s against gay marriage.  And the only intelligent thing he has said in this campaign is now he‘s for it.  Is this a flip-flop?  He was against it before he was before it. 

FINNEGAN:  I mean, who among us out there haven‘t had moments where maybe we were unsure about our feelings—um, can we get to our next question? 

OLBERMANN:  I was talking about a political proposition.  The comedian Christian Finnegan, as always, thanks, Christian. 

FINNEGAN:  Adios, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 2,484th day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.

Now with more on how House Whip Eric Cantor managed to lose the 160,000 jobs he said the stimulus had created, at least how he lost them in his own mind, ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow.  Good evening, Rachel. 



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