updated 4/13/2010 9:16:18 AM ET 2010-04-13T13:16:18

Guests: Steve Clemons, Ezra Klein, David Weigel, Bill Carter.

HOST (voice-over):  Which of these stories will you

be talking about tomorrow?

               

Sixty-five years to the day FDR died, the largest gathering of world

leaders called by a U.S. president since Roosevelt to found the U.N.—the

nuclear summit.

And the Republicans continue to threaten the drawdown treaty.  Plus,

President Obama‘s odd invoking of al Qaeda in the nuclear equation.

Steve Clemons on the policy; Michael Beschloss on the history.

               

Politics makes strange bedfellows, but as a Hillary Clinton for

Supreme Court boom begins, Orrin Hatch is the strangest of them all.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ORRIN HATCH ®, UTAH:  I even heard the name Hillary Clinton

today, you know, and that would be an interesting person in the mix.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Scott Brown throws Sarah Palin under the bus.  Scott Brown

throws the Tea Party under the bus.  He will not attend the Palin-T.P.

rally in Boston.

And the latest straw poll winners at the latest conservative clambake,

Mitt Romney by a vote over Ron Paul.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RON PAUL ®, TEXAS:  What we—as Republicans over the last

several decades—have created is a credibility gap.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  By the way, don‘t conservatives hold a convention of some

sort every other week?

“Worsts”: Hi, I‘m Carl Paladino and I‘m running for governor of New

York on the Tea Party platform.  I believe in conservative values.  Mind if

I send you some e-mails, including porn, racism and bestiality?

Conan O‘Brien to TBS?  Eleven p.m., Monday through Thursday?  What‘s

he thinking?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER:  From Turner Broadcasting System, you‘re watching

Superstation WTBS Atlanta.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  What‘s Conan thinking?  I‘ll tell you what Conan is

thinking.  Conan‘s thinking Monday through Thursday.

All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.

(INAUDIBLE)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.

Tonight, we know why yesterday, President Obama set up the nuclear

summit in Washington—by declaring that the greatest threat was loose

nukes falling into the hands of al Qaeda.

Our fifth story: This afternoon, the government of Ukraine revealing

it would eliminate its stockpile of highly-enriched uranium from all of the

major nuclear material it was left when the Soviet Union broke apart two

decades ago—enough uranium to make several nuclear weapons.

The summit bagging its first success ahead of its official start,

Ukraine the first country to accept the idea that countries should use fuel

in their nuclear energy facilities that is harder to weaponize.

At his daily briefing, the White House press secretary, Mr. Gibbs,

saying the agreement has been a long time in coming.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  Today, Ukraine announced a

landmark decision to get rid of all of its stockpile of highly-enriched

uranium by the time of the next nuclear security summit in 2012.  This is

something that the United States has tried to make happen for more than 10

years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Of course, the fine print of getting the other nations to

part with their nuclear material is agreeing to store that nuclear material

here in the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIBBS:  When forced with the choice of having that material stored

safely here or risking—taking the risk that it may or may not be secured

somewhere else, particularly in highly-volatile regions in the world, our

choice, quite clearly, is to have that here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The other big topic at the conference: keeping nuclear

weapons out of the hands of terrorists.  As mentioned, in advance of the

summit, the president is calling that possibility, quote, “The single

biggest threat to U.S. security.”

Robert Gates, defense secretary to both President Obama and President

Bush, is saying today that until this summit, nuclear material falling into

the hands of terrorists has mostly been a threat that people talked about

but had not addressed.  The defense secretary is estimating the world‘s

stockpile of nuclear materials at 1,600 tons of highly-enriched uranium and

500 tons of plutonium.  That is enough to make 120,000 nuclear weapons.

Think concerns about nuclear terrorism are alarmist?  A group of 200

experts is now holding a parallel summit to say they‘re not.

Former U.S. ambassador, Robert Gallucci, the chief U.S. negotiator

during the North Korean nuclear crisis of 1994, is telling the “Associated

Press,” quote, “It is possible, plausible and overtime probable that a

determined and well-financed terrorist group would set off a nuclear blast

somewhere.”

In 2005, more than 80 countries having agreed to new standards to

safeguard nuclear materials within their own countries, but only at their

own discretion—that is only if those countries felt their nuclear

materials and facilities were threatened by terrorists or thieves.  In

addition, those standards would only go into effect once two-thirds of

states have ratified.  That threshold has not yet been reached—the U.S.

is among the nations which have yet to ratify the treaty amendment.

Nor is it a sure thing that the Senate will ratify the new START

treaty signed in Prague last week by President Obama and the Russian

president, Mr. Medvedev.  The Senate is now back in session.  A Republican

aide telling the newspaper, “Roll Call,” that until the president has in

place a plan to also modernize, in their terms, this country‘s nuclear

weapons, he will not see support for the treaty.

Time now to call the director of the American strategy program at the

New America Foundation, author of the foreign policy blog, “The Washington

Note,” Steve Clemons.

Steve, good evening.

STEVE CLEMONS, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION:  Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  So, the president‘s al Qaeda nuclear reference yesterday

and the Ukrainian announcement today, I assume, are not coincidences?

CLEMONS:  No, they‘re not coincidences.  This is President Obama

connecting dots for the rest of the world.  When you‘ve got non-state

players that have grown in influence in network and being helped by various

groups maybe within countries, and you‘ve got materials sitting around like

you do in Ukraine, and as you just pointed out, in many other parts of the

world, this is a toxic mix that has enormous consequence.

There was a black bag operation which Sandia National Weapons

Laboratory tried to enact trying to get some of its former CIA officials

and others to go around the world and see what they could do in developing

materials for a dirty bomb.  And they came back stunned with just how easy

it was.

So, I think the president is trying to say, we have a real problem and

we need a community approach to dealing with it.

OLBERMANN:  Just getting countries to agree to ratify those existing

international conventions on security of nukes, like the one that has been

languishing in many countries, including this one, for five years—would

that be an admirable goal for the summit this week?

CLEMONS:  I think it would be a huge step.  I think it‘s part of an

ongoing process.  We‘ve had the Nuclear Posture Review that came out and

made the same statement that America‘s threats tend to be more with non-

state actors than with states today.  We had the U.S./Russia START

agreement.

And all of this is flowing into an every five-year review of the

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which five years ago, the United States

was largely absent from and at least very unconstructive towards.  And I

think, right now, they‘re trying to say, we‘re getting back into building

global institutions and working collaboratively with other nations to try

to move security up and to try to show that America can contribute in

positive ways to the global community, rather than destabilizing global

affairs.

OLBERMANN:  That treaty amendment called on nations to protect their

own nuclear materials, essentially at their own discretion, which begs this

question: Why in this supposedly post-9/11 world has it taken more than

eight years to address the nuclear terrorist threat specifically?

CLEMONS:  Well, I mean, there are two things that are going on. 

First, under the leadership of people like John Bolton, who used to be

under secretary of state for arms control in the Bush administration, also

served as ambassador of the United Nations in a recess appointment.  John

Bolton and many of his followers and many of his elders, like Vice

President Cheney, worked very hard to rip apart and tear down the notion

that international agreements like the NPT actually contributed to American

security.  These were the—you know, hyper-committed to a very pure

notion of American sovereignty and not wanting to be bound by other

agreements.

So, there wasn‘t an investment there.  To be fair to the Bush

administration, though, there was an effort called the Proliferation

Security Initiative which brought together like-minded coalitions of the

willing, if you will, to talk about some of these problems, and I think

there were gains.

But as vice president today hosted in his home, he hosted a lot of

world leaders and foreign ministers who were not on this friend‘s list, not

ally nations, that have materials that need to be brought in—just

talking to your friends doesn‘t move you very far forward.  And I think

that‘s the missing piece that President Obama and his team have done, I

think a very good job of addressing and bringing around.

OLBERMANN:  Apart from the start here with the Ukraine, what else

should we expect out of this?  What else is a reasonable outcome at the end

of this thing?

CLEMONS:  Well, I think the reason why is to see how this leads

towards the next step and may we have the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,

is the United States can come forward with other big steps.  And, frankly,

there are other things like the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which is the

next big fight between the political right and left about a new, you know,

safer regime out there.

I think a lot of this is going to deal—you know, involve some

complicated deal-making between the president and others, and we‘re going

to have to look at countries like Pakistan and make sure that Pakistan is

delivering the same sort of nuclear security that we expect of ourselves

and other major stakeholders.

OLBERMANN:  Steve Clemons, author of “The Washington Note”—as

always, great thanks.

CLEMONS:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  For more on the context of this week‘s nuclear summit in

Washington, let‘s turn to our NBC News presidential historian, Michael

Beschloss.

Michael, it‘s a pleasure.  Good evening.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN:  Me too, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Forty-seven world leaders—that‘s counting the president

getting together for one topic, nuclear security.  I‘m implying here

from your presence, or inferring from it that it doesn‘t happen every day.

               

BESCHLOSS:  It doesn‘t.  My children are here in Washington.  They

think it does happen every day because they see all these cars around.  But

it really is unusual.

And the irony—you were mentioning earlier that Franklin Roosevelt

died 65 years ago today, and by at least one source, Roosevelt‘s last words

were: be careful.  It wasn‘t a bad message for all of us here tonight.

But you know the irony is, is that Roosevelt thought that a problem

such as controlling the materials that lead to nuclear weapons around the

world and keeping it away from terrorists, he thought that something like

that could be handled by the United Nations.

The fact that President Obama is convening this meeting today suggests

that it hasn‘t really happened.

OLBERMANN:  And especially this meeting today and the timing relative

to the collapse of, not only the Berlin Wall, but what was held behind it,

a former Soviet bloc country, it was the Soviet bloc viewed as the great

opponent to any kind of regulation of nuclear weapons, or nuclear

materials, it‘s 20 years after that took place that we finally get one of

those former nations to agree to eliminate its stockpile of possible

weaponizable uranium.

How do we put that into context?

BESCHLOSS:  You know, it has taken a little while.  Even Ronald Reagan

and Mikhail Gorbachev in one of their summits, they talked about the fact

that although they were trying to bring an end to the Cold War, the biggest

danger in the future would be that some terrorist would get ahold of

nuclear weapons.  So, they were talking about that almost 30 years ago. 

The miracle is that it‘s taken this long.

OLBERMANN:  Put this into some sort of context what was referred to in

several places as the speed-dating sessions for the president today.  He

met with how many?  How many people did he meet with?  And how could you

possibly get anything done in all—in those short periods of time?

BESCHLOSS:  Yes, probably seemed like 9,000.  But, you know, one of

the things that is a weapon for him is face time with some of these leaders

who don‘t always have much face time with the president of the United

States.  And it‘s a very good use of diplomacy, because what Obama is

essentially saying is, the U.N. has fallen short, the United States has to

convene this meeting ourselves.

We‘re a powerful country, but one of the biggest weapons in our

arsenal is this kind of diplomacy.

OLBERMANN:  And he got the—he got the Chinese to push against—

back against Iran, and nukes and, as you said, face time, if you will.

But there was one other development, we‘ll recall, obviously, the

exchange between Bush and Putin where he said he could see into Putin‘s

soul and Reagan with Gorbachev, and this morning, the current leader, or at

least the current president of Russia, Mr. Medvedev, is saying to Mr. Obama

and the quote was, “The most important thing that distinguishes him from

other people, I won‘t name anyone by name, he‘s a thinker.  He thinks when

he speaks.”

What is that—how important is a relationship between the two

presidents or to sort of contextualize it backwards in history, an American

leader and a Soviet leader—and what does—what does that kind of quote

from Medvedev say the current one between himself and Obama?

BESCHLOSS:  Well, I guess the quiz question is who possibly could

Medvedev have been referring to?  My guest is that he will not be an early

honored guest at the George W. Bush Library, but it is historically

interesting because all during the Cold War, needless to say, it‘s not too

much to say that the fate of the world rested in the hands of two men, in

Moscow and Washington.  That‘s not quite true nowadays, but the summit does

shows is that it is still the case that who‘s the Russian leader is awfully

important and it‘s even more important that he have a working relationship

with the president.

OLBERMANN:  NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss—as I

said before, great pleasure as always to speak with you, sir.  Take care.

BESCHLOSS:  Me too.  Be well, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  The leaders of 46 foreign states in Washington, the

biggest group of diplomats and statesmen by count, volume or total weight

since FDR died.  And as they assemble, the rumor breaks.  The secretary of

state might get kicked upstairs to the Supreme Court.  Justice Hillary

Clinton?  When we resume.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Is she really a candidate for the Supreme Court or is she

just doing too good a job at State to be spared?  And why did Orrin Hatch

seem to endorse her?

The Tea Party considers his election its greatest accomplishment.  Odd

then that he won‘t even attend their event in Boston with Sarah Palin.

This is not the way to use the Internet to get elected.  A New York

conservative sending out e-mails full of porn, the N-word, and bestiality. 

The candidate responds on camera: no comment from the horse.

And speaking of FOX, he apparently turned them down today to go to TBS

to take over somebody else‘s time slot and force that person to move to a

later hour.  Why does that sound familiar?

You‘re watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Having gone through the Supreme Court nomination process

just one year ago, the Obama White House has already done much of the

legwork toward choosing this year‘s nominee to fill the seat that Justice

John Paul Stevens will be vacating at the end of this term.

And our fourth story tonight: For the front-runner, Hillary Rodham

Clinton?

She is, of course, not just the current secretary of state but also a

lawyer, a lawyer whose resume goes back to the Watergate hearings; a former

senator, of course—all of which give her resume more than qualifying

enough to join the high court.

So, who is suggesting she might be in the running?  Well, it came out

again this morning on the “Today” show from a Republican member of the

Senate Judiciary Committee, Orrin Hatch, who basically implied he‘d vote

for her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HATCH:  I even heard the name Hillary Clinton today, you know, and

that would be an interesting person in the mix.

MATT LAUER, “TODAY” SHOW:  Senator Hatch, you just, by the way,

mention Secretary Clinton.  In your opinion, would she be qualified?

HATCH:  Well, I‘m not going to judge anybody right now.  I happen to

like Hillary Clinton.  I think she‘s done a good job for the Democrat—

secretary of state‘s position.  And I have a high respect for her, and

think a great deal of her.  But I‘m not going to prejudge that.

(CROSSTALK)

HATCH:  We‘ll look at it very carefully and we‘ll have to be very fair

about it.

SEN. PAT LEAHY (D), VERMONT:  I think she‘s done a good job for the

country, not just for Democrats.  She‘s done for the whole country.

HATCH:  Oh, I think so too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Cameo there from Senator Leahy.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs quickly shot that rumor down,

saying the president wants to keep the secretary of state as secretary of

state, where he thinks she‘s doing a wonderful job.

The others on Mr. Obama‘s short list can also claim some Republican

admirers, including Solicitor General Elena Kagan, who argues

administration cases to the Supreme Court, being called today, quote, “a

very respectable choice,” by no less than Bill Kristol, even as other

conservatives are still cheesed off by Kagan‘s opposition to military

recruitment at Harvard Law because the military refused to accept gay and

released.

Tonight, administration officials telling NBC News, at least seven

other people are on the short list: Federal Judges Sidney Thomas, Diane

Wood, and Merrick Garland, former Georgia Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears,

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, Homeland Security Secretary Janet

Napolitano and Harvard Law School dean, Martha Minow.

Hatch, like his fellow Republicans, suggested quick and easy passage

for any nominee his party considers mainstream, which days would not

include Justice Stevens; but warned that Republicans might filibuster any

Supreme Court nominee who is too activist.  Maybe they‘d like Judge Taney.

Committee Chairman Pat Leahy promptly reminded Senator Hatch that the

current court has been dramatically activist, legislating from the bench

for the right.

But as legal observers point out, the nomination battle could get

interesting because for the first time in this majority Protestant nation,

the new court might not have a single Protestant justice.

Let‘s turn now to Ezra Klein, columnist for “Newsweek,” who also

covers economic and domestic policy for “The Washington Post.”

Ezra, good evening.

EZRA KLEIN, NEWSWEEK:  Good evening.

OLBERMANN:  What exactly happened with Hatch today?  Was that

strategic speculation or did he, you know, just have one of those, that‘s

my strange uncle from Utah moments, or was she actually in the mix?

KLEIN:  One of the toughest things in Washington to decide is: did

that person have a plan?  Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don‘t.

But, you know, there‘s been some speculation about Hillary Clinton, in

part because there‘s a long tradition of putting politicians on to the

bench.  John Marshall, who helped create the modern Supreme Court, was one. 

Hugo Black, Earl Warren—and they‘ve often done a quite good job.  Sandra

Day O‘Connor is another one.

Hillary Clinton would fit into that long line of prominent politicians

who eventually ended up on the Supreme Court.  And I think, let‘s be honest

about it, people like speculating about Hillary Clinton.

OLBERMANN:  He made a point today about the presumed Obama desire to

avoid strong opposition from the Republicans on this one.  If that‘s

impossible, what should the White House do?  Should they nominate Sarah

Palin or what?

KLEIN:  Well, there‘s a school of thought which I‘ll probably

subscribe to, which is they go in the other direction.  Assuming that they

would get strong opposition even if they nominated the guy on the Quaker

Oats box, they should pretty much assume that that‘s going to happen, and

maybe what you want to do is get a Supreme Court nominee who drives up your

base, who your people are excited about.

One of the dangerous things in a midterm election is to go in with a

sort of asymmetric amount of enthusiasm where the opposition side is

excited and your side isn‘t.  If they‘re going to turn the Supreme Court

into a fight, then you might want, at least, make it a fight that your side

would like to engage in.

OLBERMANN:  Five out of six Catholics on the court were appointed by

pro-life Republican presidents.  President Clinton appointed the two Jewish

justices.  Mr. Obama appointed Justice Sotomayor, who is also Catholic.

With that kind of breakdown or demographic analysis, does it matter if

the largest religious denomination in the country is not represented on the

court?  Or is this, you know, post-religion Supreme Court justicing?

KLEIN:  It‘s very interesting, isn‘t it?

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

KLEIN:  And the one thing I would say about it, because I really don‘t

know what I think about that—but the one thing that I would say about it

is that it is part of sort of our country‘s admirable ability to bring

different groups into the “us,” right?  Sixty years ago, 80 years ago, 100

years ago, the idea that Jews and Catholics would make up the majority on

the Supreme Court would have been absurd.  But at this point, it actually

is very rarely remarked upon because it‘s all part of the “us,” right? 

It‘s all everybody become part of the—many people become part of the

majority.

And you know, hopefully that trend continues.  I think it‘s a good

thing for the country.

OLBERMANN:  Elizabeth Warren has been getting a push slightly?  Is

that—is that correct the she‘s on some short list or are there so many

short lists that they just create one giant long list among them?

KLEIN:  She‘s not on any list that I know of.  But I think there are

some who believe Elizabeth Warren would be appealing for a couple of

reasons.  One, she‘s a Harvard Law bankruptcy professor.  Another—she

would focus the Supreme Court on economic—or her nominee would focus the

conversation on economic issues rather than cultural ones, which is very

important.  And, obviously, when you go back to this question of creating a

fight and a narrative for the midterm election, Elizabeth Warren is very,

very tough on the banks, as somebody who really brings a lot of these

questions of consumer protection and the big guy versus—little guy

versus Wall Street into focus.

So, there would be some appeal for that.  And certainly, she‘s, you

know, as qualified as many are.

OLBERMANN:  And lastly, the obligatory stupid question, you can‘t have

the Federal Judge Sidney Thomas be the nominee or get on to the court

because then every newscast and every news story would have to—we

couldn‘t just say Justice Thomas anymore.  It would have to be S.  Thomas

and C. Thomas, right?  We‘d add an extra 20 seconds to each newscast?

KLEIN:  Absolutely.  Barack Obama would never do that to you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  I appreciate it.

Ezra Klein of “The Washington Post” and “Newsweek”—great thanks,

sir.

KLEIN:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  Scott Brown dumps on Sarah Palin, so to speak.  A

conservative conference repudiates the thing at the heart of the Tea Party. 

And a new name for the testers (ph) in our first ever “tweet of the day”—

next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Scott Brown to Sarah Palin.  Palin?  Palin who?

First, Twitter.  Day five, followers, 35,000.  Received tweet of the

day from Uncucumbered, “If you could work in the words ‘teahadists‘ and

‘Paliban‘ into your show, that would make TCOT heads explode.”  TCOT, I

have learned is top conservatives on Twitter.  That maybe 11 guys, because

in the first week, and I will pass (ph) Hannity, O‘Reilly and Greta Van

Susteren.

I promise I‘ll calm down about this.  This will work.  Video of a dog

defiling a Minor League Baseball game.

Let‘s play “Oddball.”

(MUSIC)

OLBERMANN:  This is not the aforementioned Scott Brown story.  Arvest

Ballpark in Springdale, Arkansas, where Saturday‘s Minor League northwest

Arkansas Natural‘s game was delayed due to a dog on the field, part of an

adoptable pet of the game promotion.  Eventually corralled and taken to the

dugout and then it broke free again and this time rover got natural on the

field of the Naturals.  Must be the reincarnation of Bump Bailey.

Yes, it jogged back out into left center field and shall we say,

turned to unassisted.  That poop fly is deep and I don‘t think it‘s

playable, Dan.

After short chase, the field crew once again picked the dog up and ran

it off the field.  It‘s not clear if the dog has been adopted.  What is

clear is that this guy carrying the hot nature off the field is the rookie

member of the grounds-keeping staff.

To Germany where Sven Goebel yesterday set the Guinness World Record

for building the largest house mad entirely out of beer coasters.  Over a

quarter of a million four-by-four cardboard squares formed walls and chairs

and tables with absolutely no adhesive holding it together.  So,

ironically, you could never put your beer down.

It took Goebel months to construct, placing an average of 1,000 cards

and hour.  But in order to officially get the record, he had to prove he

hadn‘t used any glue by knocking the whole thing down.  Months to build,

gone in seconds.  A local bar volunteered to take in the gently used

coasters.

Finally, to the Caribbean, where experts aboard the British ship the

James Cook have found a volcanic vent some three miles beneath the surface

of the Caribbean.  It is the deepest vent ever discovered on Earth.  The

previous record for world‘s deepest vent had belonged to Frederick

Nietzsche. 

That‘s right, a philosophy joke in the middle of the news. 

Scientists call what you‘re looking at a black smoker.  The water

erupting from that vent is hot enough to melt lead.  So how is the

submarine getting that close?   Conspiracy theory, hello.

Time for the latest bi-weekly convention of conservatives, and their

latest straw poll choice to lead them in 2012, Millard Fillmore. 

And in Tea Party news, Scott Brown abandons them and the half

governor. 

And the would be governor of New York selling emails full of porn,

racist jokes and pictures of bestiality.  Family values.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Anybody daring to try to draw a straight line through

Republican, conservative and Tea Party thinking is quaking with shot nerves

again tonight, after another conservative gathering has selected the ex-

governor who passed health care reform far more radical than anything

dreamt of in the White House.  Also, in our third story tonight, a Tea

Party in Boston, where they had the original patriotic tea party, and the

man whose election it claims as its greatest success will not attend that

party.  Senator Scott Brown has declined to attend a rally at Boston Common

on Wednesday, to be headlined by half Governor Palin. 

The senator explained that the Senate is in session.  Tea Party

leaders have, at least officially, given him a pass.  “It‘s not about

paying favors back,” said Mark Williams, chairman of the Tea Party Express. 

“I‘d happily forgo having him if he‘s truly doing the job of the people.” 

Bear in mind that Senator Brown is up for re-election in just two

years.  The Tea Party also a factor in the straw polls at the Southern

Republican Leadership Conference.  Former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt

“health care reform” Romney virtually tied Congressman Ron Paul.  Both men

drew 24 percent of the vote.  Romney won officially by drawing one more

vote, 439, to 438 for Paul. 

Mr. Romney did not attend the conference, citing a scheduling

conflict, possibly the fact that the Senate is in session.  But his

supporters attended and were reportedly very organized.  Congressman Paul,

who had handily won the CPAC straw poll seven weeks ago, once again

delighted his Tea-inclined followers, while inadvertently offering the

Democratic National Committee a campaign ad, again. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RON PAUL ®, TEXAS:  What we as Republicans, over the last

several decades, have created is a credibility gap.  We talk a good game. 

But when we get the chance to do something, we haven‘t done the job that we

should have. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Mr. Paul also said that President Obama was technically

not a socialist, but rather a corporatist, a label he then applied equally

to Republicans. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL:  And unfortunately, we have corporatists in the republican

party.  And that means you take care of corporations, and corporations take

over and run the country. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  But back to that straw poll.  After Romney and Paul came

Palin and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who both spoke at the

conference.  They tied with 18 percent.  The rest of the pack in single

digits. 

Meantime, RNC Chairman Michael Steele admitted to mistakes when he

spoke before a half-empty ballroom.  And according to the “Washington

Times,” Steele was forced to cancel a major donor fund raising event for

lack of interest. 

On that note, let‘s turn to “Washington Post” political reporter,

author of “The Right Now” blog, David Weigel.  David, good evening.

DAVID WEIGEL, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Good evening, Keith.  

OLBERMANN:  Senator Brown, in session in Washington, D.C., is a

shuttle flight from the Boston rally he supposedly has no time to attend. 

Therefore, we may draw what from his Tea Party no-show?  

WEIGEL:  I take him at his word on this.  I take him at his word that

he pledged to stay in D.C. and cast votes, while this Tea Party, which has

been in planning for a long time—a year literally—was going to go on

without him.  That excuse that you gave from Mark Williams of the Tea Party

express, I buy that.  I see this as another example of Tea Party activists

moving into election mode, getting ready to elect Republicans. 

If they‘ve got Scott Brown there casting a key vote to block, you

know, Goodwin Liu, for example—though that‘s not going to be tomorrow—

then that‘s fine.  They‘ll take it.  

OLBERMANN:  Earlier this evening he voted.  He voted with three other

Republicans, sided with the Democrats to move ahead with extending the

unemployment benefits for hundreds of Americans, that blockage thing.  Is

that going to endear him to the Tea Party crowd or, because they can use

that same rationale, well, he‘s doing the people‘s bidding, as if previous

senators never showed up or cast a vote, no matter the outcome, right? 

WEIGEL:  That‘s more troubling.  There are two kinds of Tea Party

politicians.  There are the guys that rise up from the Tea Party.  You

mentioned one, this guy running for governor of New York, with the e-mail

problems, who don‘t win.  Then there are guys like Scott Brown and probably

Marco Rubio in Florida, who are Republican politicians looking for a leg

up, and tell the Tea Partiers, hey, I‘m one of you.  I‘ll show up to your

rally.  I‘m going to be one of you when I get to Washington. 

Then, once they get momentum, they‘re not there every time you pick up

the phone.  He was a lot easier to reach a few months ago.  

OLBERMANN:  The candidate in New York had an e-mail with a leg up, but

that‘s another story which we‘ll get to that later.  This juxtaposition of

Brown not being there in Boston, when Mrs. Celebrity carpetbagger herself

will be.  Put that together for us. 

WEIGEL:  Well, that‘s one reason I don‘t think Tea Party activists are

going to mind that Scott Brown is not there.  This is part, again, of Sarah

Palin‘s big national tour of whatever she‘s touring. 

Another example of something I saw at this conference in New Orleans,

activist after activist I talked to really love Sarah Palin.  They

basically turn into a Who fan during “Won‘t Be Fooled Again” every time

they hear her speak.  They‘re not quite ready to embrace her as a

president.  They think—one guy put it to me—one guy who is actually a

cousin of one of the congressmen, said she‘d be great as RNC chairman. 

She‘d be great pounding the pavement for whoever we nominate.  But she‘s

not really going to be elected.  She can do this.  She can wave the pom-

poms—that‘s not the best metaphor I could use, but she could wave the

Gadsen Flag at any of these events and move on, yes. 

OLBERMANN:  “Don‘t tread on me, don‘t tread on me.”  

WEIGEL:  Yes.  

OLBERMANN:  There are three kinds of conservatives at the moment;

people who call themselves conservatives, Republicans and Tea Party

members.  There‘s some overlap, but there are three different divisions. 

The guy who championed the health care that they supposedly all hate to

varying degree was just barely the winner in this latest straw poll.  And

the guy just one vote down keeps ripping Republicans.  And the chairman had

to cancel a fund-raiser. 

That wing of politics, everything—those three subsets, they‘re

having—either it‘s a nervous breakdown or it‘s a meltdown, and one of

the all-time great ones in political history.  Is there a reason it is

rarely portrayed that starkly in most of the media?  

WEIGEL:  I hate to stand in front of the Capitol and say it makes more

sense outside the Beltway, but it makes more sense outside the Beltway.  If

you get outside Washington, the awareness of Michael Steele‘s scandal isn‘t

as big as the awareness of David Vitter actually surviving and looking like

he‘s going to get re-elected, or members of Congress going to a town hall

and getting shouted down for health care.  So these things activists,

Republican strategists will tell you do seem like distractions compared to

the environment they see out there. 

The flip side of that is that they‘re winning some of these elections

with guys like Scott Brown who are not behaving the way the Tea Party

activists want them to behave.  But that was Steele‘s defense, in fact, at

the conference; if you talk more about this scandal, if you don‘t show up

to my fund-raisers, then you‘re letting the Democrats win.  Well, they‘re

happy to do that.  They‘ve got their own PACS.  They‘ve got their own

efforts.  They don‘t need Michael Steele.  

OLBERMANN:  Oops.  David Weigel of the “Washington Post,” as always,

great thanks. 

WEIGEL:  Thank you very much. 

OLBERMANN:  As Conan O‘Brien says, in three months he went from “The

Tonight Show” to Tweeting to TBS, so his plan has worked perfectly.  What

is his plan?   Bill Carter of the “New York Times” joins me. 

                E-mail is a good way to get out your message when you‘re running for

governor, unless you send the e-mails this guy sends.  What did we do in

this state to get these people? 

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, they‘re saying that

in Virginia where the attorney general is headed to a Tea Party event, and

will also hang out with a faith healer.  Who put something in the water in

Virginia?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Conan O‘Brien to TBS, which is either the beginning of TBS

or the end of Conan O‘Brien.  That and worsts ahead.  First, tonight‘s

comment, and Republican Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia had just pulled

his burning marshmallows out of the fire when Republican Governor Haley

Barbour of Mississippi was nice enough to push them back into the inferno. 

In his dubious decision to reinstate Confederacy Month in Virginia,

McDonnell left out any reference to slavery, then ignored criticism of that

for a week, then said something really stupid about how slavery wasn‘t one

of the big issues that concerned Virginia then or now.  Then he saw his

whole political career flash before his eyes.  Then he apologized right

quick. 

Now Governor Barbour has said “anyone who thinks you have to explain

to people that slavery is a bad thing, I think it goes without saying.  To

me it‘s a sort of feeling that it‘s just a nit, that it is not significant. 

It‘s trying to make a big deal out of something that doesn‘t matter for

diddley.” 

Holy cow, really?  Diddley?  Governor Flanders over there?  Barbour‘s

only playing dumb, of course.  He knows exactly what he‘s doing.  The Tea

Partiers throughout the country and the Republicans in the south are

playing to several despicable groups who, at best, aren‘t comfortable with

black people, period.  And he knows it. 

So let‘s follow his logic for a moment and McDonnell‘s original logic. 

When talking about the confederacy, table slavery issue for a moment.  How

about we just focus on secession, and the threat and use of violence, and

the refusal to acknowledge a lawful and uncontested democratic election

because you didn‘t like who won?  In 1860 and 1861, that put you in the

confederacy.  In 2010, that puts you in the Tea Party.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  You‘re watching Conan O‘Brien on TBS, because apparently

they canceled “the Frank Caliendo Show.”  Bill Carter of “the New York

Times” next. 

But first, tonight‘s worst persons in the world.  The bronze to John

Derbeshire of “National Review” online, speaking to the law school at the

University of Pennsylvania and explaining to them why they‘re faster, but

he‘s smarter.  Quote, “we all notice the different physical specialties of

the different races in the Olympic games.  There was a run of I think seven

Olympics in which everyone of the finalists in the men‘s 100 Meter Sprint

was of West African ancestry, 56 out of 56 finalists.  These differences

even show up within sports.  Where a team sport calls for highly

differentiated abilities in team members, football being the obvious

example.” 

Wait, this gets better.  “We see the same differences in traits we

don‘t think of as directly physical, what evolutionary psychologists

sometimes refer to as the BIP traits, behavior, intelligence and

personality.”  Not refer to Bip Roberts, the old infielder?  “Two of the

hardest to ignore manifestations here are the extraordinary differentials

in criminality between white Americans and African-Americans and the

persistent gaps in scores when tests of cognitive ability are given to

large population samples,” unquote. 

Then again, there‘s the empirical evidence for African people as a

whole being smarter then non-Africans.  That evidence being seen in this

detail, moronic tautologist John Derbeshire is a non-African. 

Our runner up, Lonesome Roads Beck.  He‘s had another one of his

visions.  “Why is it no one notices when the president, the administration

and this Congress are saying the same thing?   You‘re either with the

president or you‘re a terrorist.  That‘s what they‘re saying about you. 

That‘s what they‘re saying about the Tea Parties.  And no one seems to

notice that.  No one seems to notice that this president has said you‘re

either with us or you‘re a terrorist.  You‘re either with us or you‘re

against us.  He‘s not saying that to the rest of the world.  He‘s not

saying that to the countries of the world that are harboring terrorists. 

He‘s saying that to the citizens of America.  How has that gone unnoticed?”  

Possibly, Glenn, because it didn‘t happen.  What you heard is one of

those voices in your head, again.  Just remember, it‘s only entertainment,

like watching a donkey being forced to high-dive into a pool. 

But our winner, Carl Paladino, the Tea Party candidate for the clearly

jinxed office of governor of New York State.  The Buffalo area site

WNYMedia.net has posted dozens of what it claims, and no one was denying,

are Paladino‘s e-mails to friends and business associates.  They contain

racist jokes, porn and bestiality.  Now the candidate responds, sort of. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARL PALADINO, CANDIDATE FOR NEW YORK GOVERNOR:  I don‘t know what e-

mails you‘re referring to specifically.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I can show them to you if you have a second.  

PALADINO:  I‘m not quite sure.  I wouldn‘t even know half of them if I

saw them. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Let‘s take a look at some of them. 

PALADINO:  We‘ll deal with—

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This one has the “N” word in it.  There are other

pictures of naked women.  And another one there‘s a picture of a woman

performing a sexual act on a horse.  Is that appropriate for someone

running for governor to forward to other people?   It‘s a very simple

question. 

PALADINO:  Is it appropriate for the Democrats—

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Carl, I‘m not asking about the Democrats. 

PALADINO:  They can hear the rumblings, OK, of something happening.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What does this have to do with the Democrats? 

PALADINO:  Everything. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  We can all hear the rumblings too.  The campaign manager

added, “it figures that members of the party who brought us record taxes,

record spending and record debt would want to change the topic from reform

to having sex with horses and S & M parlors.”  Wait a minute, we know the

thing about the horses but there‘s nothing in the emails about S&M parlors. 

What‘s this about Paladino and S&M parlors?  

Carl “my e-mails may contain bestiality” Paladino, Tea Party candidate

for governor in New York, today‘s worst person in the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  It is the basic cable channel that brings you appointment

television, provided your appointment was for seven years ago.  TBS, reruns

of “the King of Queens” and “Family Guy,” along with heavily advertised, so

far low yield sitcoms and talk shows.  And then, in our number one story in

the COUNTDOWN, today, TBS signed Conan O‘Brien today.  At first looking

like perhaps Manny Ramirez signing with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. 

Mr. O‘Brien declaring on Twitter, “the good news I will be doing a

show on TBS in November.  The bad news, I will be playing Rudy on the all

new Cosby Show.” 

Coming as a shock to virtually everyone, well the TBS part at least,

considering Mr. O‘Brien had been in serious discussions for months about

launching a late-night show on Fox.  Mr. O‘Brien will host an 11:00 p.m.

show Monday through Thursday, giving him a 30-minute head start on “the

Tonight Show,” the franchise he headed for just seven months.  “New York

Times” reporting that the negotiations between O‘Brien and Turner

Entertainment only lasted about ten days. 

The “L.A. Times” says he has a five-year deal and ownership of the

show.  Part of what needed to get resolved, what to do with TBS‘ current

11:00 p.m. Talk show host, the comedian George Lopez of “Lopez Tonight.” 

TBS proposing Mr. Lopez move to midnight to make way for Mr. O‘Brien. 

Finding that plan a little too familiar, Mr. O‘Brien was reluctant until

Mr. Lopez gave his blessing.  Mr. Lopez releasing this statement: “I can‘t

think of anything better than doing my show with Conan as my lead-in.” 

The news made public just hours before the kick-off of Mr. O‘Brien‘s

30 city, the Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour.  He

quipped, “in three months, I‘ve gone from network television, to Twitter,

to performing live in theaters.  And now I‘m headed to basic cable.  My

plan is working perfectly.” 

Joining me now from Eugene, Oregon, where he will attend the first

stop on Conan O‘Brien‘s comedy tour, the ace TV writer for the “New York

Times,” Bill Carter.  Bill, good evening. 

BILL CARTER, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”:  Good evening to you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  What happened here?   Wasn‘t Conan going to Fox?  

CARTER:  Well, he was going to go to Fox if they could make a deal. 

It was very complicated because of the situation with their stations having

bought a lot of syndicated shows, a lot of sitcoms that they‘ve spent a lot

of money on and already sold advertising in.  I think the negotiations were

still going on, but it became so complex and TBS came up with a very

aggressive offer, stepped in and took him away. 

OLBERMANN:  What is the positioning here of this 11:00 start time?  

He‘s going to be on a half hour earlier.  Does that imply he‘s not being

really sort of set out there to compete with Leno and Letterman, but rather

with Stewart and Colbert?  And who benefits the most from this deal?  

CARTER:  Well, definitely he‘ll be on cable compared to Stewart and

Colbert, and Chelsea Handler, for that matter.  Late night in cable is

getting crowded.  I think, though, that the 11:00 thing is just what cable

does.  They don‘t have late local news.  They don‘t have to deal with late

local news.  And that became a complication first for NBC and then for Fox. 

OLBERMANN:  You reported that TBS plans to launch—let me read it

exactly—the biggest proportional campaign in television history.  There

was some suspicion that they‘d already done that with George Lopez and with

the Tim Hutton series, “Leverage” and, of course, “The Frank Caliendo

Show.”  Are we going to see a commercial for Conan O‘Brien on every

commercial blank on TBS and every other one they can buy between now and

November?  

CARTER:  I would imagine you‘ll see everything they can do, including

billboards and everything else.  I do think when we watched the baseball

playoffs in October, we will see—you know, in between pitches, you‘ll

see Conan‘s face.  He may be on the ball. 

OLBERMANN:  When they did that with Frank Caliendo two years ago,

there were a number of us who watched all those games, who were thinking

about jumping.  So it may or may not work to their benefit.  But does this

bespeak a moment, not just in terms of TBS or late night TV or Conan

O‘Brien—is this the attempt here by TBS to lift themselves out of the

vast basic cable wasteland that includes guys like me, and actually compete

head to head with the broadcast networks, that long-anticipated first step

toward erasing the distinctions between cable and broadcast, at least for

entertainment programming? 

CARTER:  I certainly think they‘re interpreting it that way.  This is

a signature network star moving to cable.  That‘s a big deal.  Jon

Stewart‘s pretty big, though.  He‘s done the Oscar.  So there‘s some on

cable.  I think for TBS, it‘s enormous.  They even said something along the

lines of we hope this brings creative talent to us from people who say,

wow, Conan went there, maybe we can, too. 

OLBERMANN:  Would they, in fact, roll out some sort of prime-time

lineup to precede this, and erase the entire idea of any reruns of any kind

on that network?  

CARTER:  I think they have a long way to go for that.  They have some

original shows, but they‘re all comedy.  There would have to be sitcoms

around the clock.  I don‘t think they‘re going to do as well as repeats of

the network sit-coms.  Those sitcoms are probably not identifiable right

now, particularly.  But I think their plan is ambitious.  And let‘s face

it, basic cable is making more money than network television now, because

they have two revenue streams and they‘re going to use that money.  

OLBERMANN:  Yes, we are.  Last question; you implied at the beginning

of this about what Fox was likely to sort of stick with the way things are. 

Is that what they want to do?  Or will they look long-term to something

like Conan O‘Brien in the future?  

CARTER:  I think they‘re really disappointed not to get Conan.  The

entertainment side is disappointed.  They thought this was a golden

opportunity to get a big established star.  They can‘t put a non-

established star in there now.  And I think they‘re basically thinking it‘s

probably not going to happen for them.  Late night may never happen for

them as a network show. 

OLBERMANN:  Bill Carter from Eugene, Oregon, where he‘s going to be at

the first Conan O‘Brien comedy tour night.  A big day for Conan O‘Brien. 

Great thanks, Bill, and enjoy the show. 

CARTER:  Thanks a lot, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 2,538th day since the

previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq.  I‘m Keith

Olbermann, good night and good luck. 

And now with the attorney general of Virginia scheduled to attend Tea

Party rallies and faith healing sessions, ladies and gentlemen, here to don

a protective tin foil hat on behalf of us all is Rachel Maddow.  Good

evening, Rachel.

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

BE UPDATED.

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