Guests: Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Sen. Sherrod Brown, David Weigel, Derrick
HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you
be talking about tomorrow?
The deluge—kiss the 2012 Democratic and Republican conventions
good-bye, maybe the 2011 all-star game, conventions, business trips,
seminars, football games—boycotts, protests. John McCain is saying he
likes it but it‘s not clear “whether all of it all is legal or not.” Tom
Tancredo saying he likes it but he‘s worried people might be “pulled over
because they look like they should be pulled over.”
Arizona‘s new anti-Hispanic, pro-racism act, the “show me your papers”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May I see your papers?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The protests with Congressman Luis Gutierrez. The
political Armageddon with Howard Fineman.
Lindsey Graham‘s flip-flop: He bails out of a deal on energy reform
because the White House is prioritizing immigration reform, a month after
he called out the White House for not prioritizing immigration reform.
While his fellow Republicans try to filibuster Wall Street reform,
with an unclear conscience, the Democrats lose this evening‘s test vote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: What‘s the point of having 100
seats here, coming from 50 states, when a major issue affecting our country
cannot even be the subject of a debate?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Perjury? Palin testifies she never used her hacked e-mail
account for business. But the e-mails from that account suggest quite the
opposite. And does it matter at all in that giant money scam that is being
the imaginary president of the right-wing America?
Talking some smack at the White House—
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And you wonder why the
other teams don‘t root for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And Stephen Hawking says aliens from space would probably
try to hurt us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN HAWKING, THEORETICAL PHYSICIST: Such advanced aliens would
perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets
they can reach.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Hawking says that? Let‘s get off this planet, quickly.
All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bad idea.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
Protests continuing at this hour at the state capitol of Phoenix,
Arizona, while calls for and outlines of boycotts of the various and
extremely vulnerable aspects of one of that state‘s primary exports,
tourism, takes shape.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: What began on this news hour last
week with Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva, now including even the
Republican mayor of New York City, who issued statement warning that people
may want to think twice before going to Arizona and subjecting themselves
to potential run-ins with the police. This because of Arizona‘s new
immigration measure already dubbed the “show us your papers” act.
A smaller number of protesters on hand today at the state capitol in
Phoenix to show their outrage over Arizona‘s law signed by Governor Jan
Brewer on Friday. Sunday, though, thousands had turned out to protest the
law that makes it a state crime to be an illegal immigrant, a law that will
allow police to stop and question anyone they wish, merely on the suspicion
that they might be in the state illegally. Opponents saying the law will
lead to rampant racial profiling and turn Arizona into a virtual police
Overnight, vandals having smeared refried beans in the shapes of
swastikas on to the windows of the state capitol. The nation‘s largest
Spanish language newspaper “La Opinion” telling—today is calling, at
least in the English translation, quote, “for a boycott of all goods and
services from Arizona and pledge to avoid tourism in the state as well.”
Some truckers responsible for hauling Mexican-grown produce to Los
Angeles also are agreeing to avoid Arizona to protest the new law.
And as we mentioned, New York City Mayor Bloomberg is using Arizona‘s
new immigration law to encourage travelers to come to the Big Apple
Major League Baseball scheduled to play next year‘s all-star game in
Phoenix, Arizona‘s capitol city, also on the short list to host the 2012
Republican National Convention, and/or its Democratic counterpart, at the
Meanwhile, Arizona‘s senior senator, “I was never a maverick” McCain,
with a hat trick of fuzzy logic on this one, simultaneously questioning the
constitutionality of the state‘s new law while defending the governor‘s
signature on it and seemingly supporting it at least in theory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: I agree with the thrust of the bill, I
have not read the details of it. And I agree with their frustration and
anger over the fact that there‘s not been any significant and meaningful
effort to secure our border.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Even ultra right Republican Tom Tancredo is saying that
while he would welcome a similar law in a fellow Four Corner state,
Colorado, he believes the Arizona law goes too far. Tancredo worrying—
Tancredo worrying—that people would be, quote, “pulled over because they
look like they should be pulled over.”
Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano calling the new immigration law
misguided. She vetoed similar bills when she was governor of Arizona. The
secretary is adding that we need a federal immigration system to address,
quote, “this patchwork of laws,” which is also what was said at the White
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You have very much what
could be 50 immigration laws, because without us acting, we‘ve deferred to
the states. I think the president has said and I think leaders in Arizona
certainly on both sides of this issue have said that this is a wake-up call
for the federal government to act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And good luck getting the federal government to act. A
House Democratic aide today e-mailing “Talking Points Memo,” quote, “My
boss was told in no uncertain terms her leadership that there is no way
we‘re doing immigration reform this year, just no way.” Another adviser
adding, quote, “we just want to see the Senate move first.”
In the Senate, Lindsey Graham is now accusing the Democrats of playing
election year politics with immigration. As a result, he is withdrawing
support for a climate change bill.
Last month, Senator Graham having told President Obama it was time for
him to step up to get something done on immigration reform, warning,
however, that if the health care reform bill went forward, he would
withdraw his support on immigration reform as a result.
We‘re going back to the senator in a moment. First, Illinois Democrat
Luis Gutierrez—joining the call for tourists to cancel their Arizona
vacations. He‘s been good enough to join us now.
Congressman, thanks for your time tonight.
REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: Thank you. Good to be with you
OLBERMANN: What do you think Arizona‘s softest point is here? Is it
a boycott by individual vacationers or do you try to go after something big
picture like the baseball all-star game next year, or what do you do?
GUTIERREZ: I think that‘s a good question, because it seems as though
in America, economics is the beginning and the end of most successful
political endeavors. Let‘s remember that Arizona was the last state to
approve a national holiday for Martin Luther King. And one of the things
that they did is it cost them hundreds of millions of dollars, when the
African-American community across this country called for boycotts. And
finally, they were the 50th, but they did it. But they did it because they
risked economics in the state of Arizona.
Because, as you have stated—look, when the police intervene with me
or with you or with anyone, it should be on the basis of our conduct, our
behavior. Not the country they suspect we came from and whether or not we
were born here or not. That—I‘ll tell you something, the criminal
element, those human smugglers, the drug dealers, the rapists, those that
are causing so much damage in Arizona and across this country, they‘ve got
to be happy with this law, because what is going to happen is—the eyes,
the ears, that the police need so much of the community in general, so that
they can combat crime, they‘re going to—they‘re going to cause a
division between the people in the population and the police department.
Because I‘m going to tell you, I was there this Saturday, and I was—
I was just having a bagel with a group of people. We were kind of talking,
it was a Latino group. We were—we looked like we had some good suntans
on and we were there.
But I‘ve got to tell you, I joke about it but at the same time, I felt
a real chilling effect when that police officer came in.
GUTIERREZ: Because they came in and I started saying, does he—how
does he see me? How is he going to approach me? How do I interact with
I want to be positive because I want the police to do well, because to
the extent they do well, they defend us and they are our front line against
crime. Let‘s not put them to become agents of immigration and to—and to
go out and spew bigotry and hatred and prejudice. That‘s not the role of
The police should be those who cradle us, right? And protect us. And
we should be there to protect them and to act on the front lines against
crime with them, not against them.
OLBERMANN: You just brought up a major point, Congressman, that I
think has not been emphasized here. Ultimately, what do you think the
point is of this law? Is it really just about immigration and a porous
border? Or is there something in here about wearing out Latinos who want
to live there, particularly those who want to go vote there?
GUTIERREZ: You know, I think they understand that the Latino
community isn‘t going anywhere. Those that have come under desperate
straits are probably going to say, what you‘re going to do is you‘re going
to push them further underground and allow them to be even further
exploited in the condition that they‘re in.
But I think what it really is—it‘s the easy out, right? It‘s like,
let‘s blame someone.
You know, we have a failing foreclosure system with homes going in
foreclosure. We have a high unemployment. The educational system really
isn‘t serving our children well. You know what? Why don‘t we just go
against—after those immigrants?
And I‘ve got to say this. Look, it‘s not new. This is pretty old
stuff. When the Irish came here, oh, they talked about crime and how it
was going to be terrible in America. And the Italians, when they came at
the turn of the century in 1910 and 1920s, they said, only by the rule of
law could we ever help to contain these people, referring to Italian
immigrants in New York City.
So, look, they accused the Italians of crime. They accused the Irish
of crime. They were wrong about them and they‘re wrong about us today.
It‘s an old trick to divert attention about the real pressing issues that
the American public wants us to deal with.
OLBERMANN: My ancestors got it the same way during the First World
War, Germans, Poles and Russians. So, it‘s universal to us and it‘s
terrifying that some people don‘t seem to understand that it‘s—that it
is the same thing, as you point out.
GUTIERREZ: And it is. And I just want to say this—look, I know,
because I‘ve met them, and you‘ve probably met them and we‘ve read great
stories about immigrant Latinos, and immigrants from all who serve in our
armed forces. But we know, whether it‘s in Iraq or in Afghanistan, there
are people that are going to return to Arizona because it‘s their home,
it‘s where they were born after serving in the Armed Forces of the United
And think about it, they‘ve got to prove their American citizenship?
They‘ve got to prove they have a right to be in Arizona? They‘ve already
met the greatest litmus test that anyone can, in terms of their
citizenship. They‘ve put their body and their limb at risk to defend this
So, let‘s not humiliate them. Let‘s not cheapen who they are and
their service to this nation, because I‘m going to tell you, dollars to
doughnuts, they‘re going to get pulled over. The cop‘s going to say
something. And you know what? It‘s going to be another sad tragedy case
in American history.
OLBERMANN: And a relevant one, and thank you for bringing it up. It
couldn‘t have been better pointed out and it couldn‘t—it couldn‘t be
better emphasized. Congressman Luis Gutierrez, the Democrat for Illinois,
thanks for your time, sir.
GUTIERREZ: Thank you, sir.
OLBERMANN: For more on the politics, let‘s turn to our own Howard
Fineman, senior Washington correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine. Good
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. We know how this is resonating on the left. I
think the congressman hit three or four point that are just sort of
bubbling up to the surface three and four days later. It may be more
viscerally felt certainly as an impact than the whole health care debate
was. Is it also resonating to any degree like that in Washington?
FINEMAN: Well, to some extent, let me also say that the congressman
buried the lead there, the fact that the Latinos were sitting around eating
bagels really says everything—everything you need to know about what
America‘s supposed to be.
OLBERMANN: That‘s it.
FINEMAN: But the fact is, while they‘re hearing the noise here in
Washington, my sense from reporting this afternoon up on the Hill, Keith,
is that the Democratic leadership, even while Robert Gibbs is down at the
White House pointing out the chaos that could happen around the country, I
don‘t think the Democrats want to—I know, based on what they told me
this afternoon—top Democratic sources on the Hill in both the House and
the Senate, told me they‘re not going to bring up an immigration bill any
The Senate would go first. The Senate was not going to get to it
until at least July, if then—maybe not until right before they adjourn
and then maybe not even until a lame duck session. There‘s nobody at White
House in charge of honchoing this. There‘s no bill drafted.
I think the Arizona thing to some extent caught them by surprise and
Democrats are very cautious about wanting to jump into this thing.
OLBERMANN: And are Republicans cautious, too? Because if you hear
from—Senator McCain and former Congressman Tancredo—Tancredo remark,
I want to give him the benefit of the doubt that he really does worry that
people will be pulled over because they look like they should be pulled
over. So, I‘m going to give him the benefit of the doubt until I hear
otherwise. But even when these guys are hedging their bets, it sounds like
there is some perception on that side of the equation that this is another
proverbial third rail even for the Republicans.
FINEMAN: Oh, I don‘t think there‘s any question about it. The
question for Republicans is: do they dare try to take advantage of this in
the short term, in the 48 House districts that are occupied by Democrats
that voted for John McCain in 2008. OK? Those are the vulnerable
Democrats. A lot of them are in Appalachia, a lot of them are in South, in
the upper Midwest, et cetera.
Do they use as a way to appeal to independents and Republicans who are
already worried about the role of government, et cetera, et cetera, or do
they really acknowledge what all of their strategists tell them, which is
that long-term, it is a huge disaster for the Republican Party to be seen
When Latinos are now one out of every six Americans, there are 45
million Latinos in America. The percentage of their vote is going up
election by election, even in off-year elections.
And beyond that, Keith, with all fair-minded Americans, which, you
know—let‘s give us the benefit of the doubt and say that‘s just about
everybody—the idea that a person could be walking down the street and
could be looked at with suspicion by authorities and have their papers
demanded of them in the fashion of old medieval Europe is something that is
so foreign to Americans understanding of themselves, that that‘s the fire
that the Republicans are really playing with here. Because it‘s a very
short step for all those people who are of immigrant heritage, which is to
say all Americans, to realize that the idea, let‘s see your papers, you
aren‘t free to be an American or somebody with documents walking down the
street, you aren‘t free to be that person alone without the reach of
government, that‘s a very foreign thing.
And ironically, Republicans who talk at great length about the
overreach of government, about too much government, about intrusive
government, the libertarian streak among conservative Republicans is the
one that I think could be most offended by what happened in what used to be
OLBERMANN: Thirty seconds. What happened with Lindsey Graham? He‘s
bouncing around like a loose basketball.
FINEMAN: Yes, he is. Well, he used the fact they‘re going to bring
up immigration as the excuse to try to get off the climate bill. Now, I
think it‘s pretty clear from the people I‘ve talked to that the Democrats
don‘t want any part of the immigration bill for months and months.
So, what‘s Lindsey Graham‘s excuse now? I think he‘s being batted
around by a shuttlecock between the moderate Republicans and the far-right
Republicans. That‘s been true of him from the beginning and it‘s true of
OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman of “Newsweek” and MSNBC, very eloquent
tonight. Thank you, Howard.
FINEMAN: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: No. Seriously. Thank you.
OLBERMANN: The Republicans, meanwhile, going from opposing financial
reform to claiming bipartisan strides had been made to affect it, to today
starting the process of filibustering it. Senator Sherrod Brown next on
OLBERMANN: The Republicans careen back towards filibustering big bank
reform on behalf of Wall Street. This senator says they oppose a straight
up-or-down vote because they prefer backroom negotiations with big money.
Did the imaginary president of the right-wing America perjure herself at a
trial of her email hacker?
The Thai place that would not admit a blind customer because they
thought his date had asked to bring a gay dog into the restaurant.
And Derrick Pitts will be here after the smartest man on the planet
says, if folks from other planets ever show up here, they will not be
coming in peace. But don‘t worry. The new illegal alien law in Arizona
will protect us.
Ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: All that is at stake with the Senate‘s current financial
reform bill is the stability America‘s economy, the future of your job,
your home and your child‘s education.
And in our fourth story: Republicans tonight said the Democratic bill
is so bad that they‘re blocking the process that would be used to change
it. The Democratic bill needs so much debate that tonight they‘re blocking
the start of debate.
At 5:00 p.m. in Washington, the Senate held a cloture vote—in this
case, a cloture vote to open debate on the Senate‘s financial reform bill,
specifically to launch 30 hours of public open debate during which
senators, Republican and Democratic alike, could offer amendments to the
bill. As promised, Republicans blocked the beginning of the debate. The
president tonight is saying he was disappointed, probably not surprise,
knowing this was coming.
Senator Chris Dodd, who‘s banking committee produced the bill, argued
for debating it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DODD: Hardly do we claim perfection to what we‘ve written here—
hardly. But we believe in sound ideas that deal with these very issues
that cause the problems in the first place and what we need to do is to be
able to debate those ideas. If my colleagues in this chamber, as many do
disagree, some think I‘ve gone too far, some think I haven‘t gone far
enough. Those are two maybe legitimate points.
But how we ever going to resolve it if I can‘t even bring up the bill
to have the kind of debate this chamber was designed to engage in? What‘s
the point of having 100 seats here, coming from 50 states, when a major
issue affecting our country cannot even be the subject of a debate?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Senate Republican Leader McConnell earlier had argued that
beginning public debate is wrong because it would end the debate. If you
can follow this logic, see your doctor and thank your stars McConnell
didn‘t get his way about your doctor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: We can solve this
problem. But we won‘t solve the problem if we vote for cloture tonight. A
vote for cloture is a vote that says we are done listening to the America
people on this issue. And a vote against ending this debate is a vote for
bipartisanship, for working out an ironclad solution to the problem of too-
big-to-fail. A vote against ending this debate tonight is a vote that says
it‘s no longer enough to tell our constituents to simply trust us. It‘s a
vote that says, this time, we‘ll prove it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Joining Mr. McConnell in blocking debate was Democratic
Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Where have we heard this before? Also
voting that way, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley from Iowa, despite the
fact that in committee, he had been the single vote backing tough new
derivative regulation. So did Republican Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine
who actually wrote to Majority Leader Reid to ask that those derivative
measures be added to the bill before her vote tonight against moving
forward with it.
And what was the new bipartisan measure? Democrat Blanche Lincoln of
Arkansas added language that would move almost all the $600 trillion
derivative market into public exchanges and force banks to choose between
trading in popular derivatives and still having access to Federal Reserve
funds and FDIC insurance. But small government, anti-bailout Republicans
want the government to keep shoring up Wall Street derivative trading and
states rights Republicans oppose returning to the states the power to
regulate the banks.
Republican opposition, however, is potentially moot. “Politico”
reporting they committed only to filibuster tonight, but now all bets are
To see what‘s actually happening in the Senate, lets turn to the
representative of Ohio, Mr. Brown, also a member of the banking committee,
Senator Sherrod brown.
Thank you for your time tonight, senator.
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Good to be back. Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Can your party get a Republican vote to begin this debate
without gutting reform?
BROWN: Yes, I think they‘re embarrassed by it. I mean, when you just
heard Mitch McConnell, the mental calisthenics he did, he even outdid Mitch
McConnell and Jim Bunning combined. I mean, you know, you look at this and
he‘s saying, go back to the back room, cut a deal, something bipartisan,
and then bring it out in the open and we‘ll debate it. Why don‘t we bring
it out in the open and debate it now?
I mean, this goes back to—in December, John Boehner met with 100
bank lobbyists figuring out how to kill the bill. A couple weeks ago,
Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn, the head of the Republican Senate Campaign
Committee, went to New York to meet with hedge fund and other Wall Street
executives to figure out how to kill the bill. The American Banking
Association says, the more you can delay, the more chance we can write the
bill to our favor or kill it. That‘s what they‘re doing.
I think, though, that shows like this and your outspokenness and
others, Keith, will embarrass the Republicans enough that they can‘t
continue to say: no, we don‘t even want to debate. We don‘t even want to
discuss this. It‘s not bipartisan to bring it out on the floor.
Let the amendments flow once this bill‘s on the floor and everybody
has an equal chance.
OLBERMANN: Well, thank you for that. Although I think they are
expert at sticking very effective hands in the ears so that they don‘t hear
any of it.
But correct me on this other point: blocking a straight up-or-down
vote so that they can keep negotiating behind closed doors—does that
sound at all like what the Republicans say they want these days in this
BROWN: Yes, and that‘s what they‘ve done. That‘s since—I mean,
you add up the filibusters, add up the obstructionism, quantify it any way
you want for—what is it—from January of ‘09 to now, 16 months or so,
of trying to slow down, slow-walk, block everything they can.
And, you know, so far, politically, it‘s worked for them. It worked
on health care, even though we passed it. It made Democrats‘ numbers
pretty bad. The polls aren‘t very good. It doesn‘t look like a great year
for Democrats. It could be an OK year in the end.
But they‘ve—I think this is one too far for McConnell, because,
overwhelmingly, the public thinks, wait a second, you‘re not even going to
debate on an issue? And it‘s so clear they‘re protecting Wall Street,
that‘s their benefactor. The insurance companies, Keith, were their
benefactor on the health care bill, and Wall Street is their principal
benefactor on Wall Street reform, the big Wall Street banks.
And this one is going to blow up in their faces unless they sort of
decide—at least a few of them—to come over to our side and at least
give us a chance to debate it.
OLBERMANN: Also, Senator, isn‘t this the definition of the “cutting
of your nose despite your face” bit from the Republican point of view?
Because aren‘t a lot of the amendments that are on the floor designed to do
things Republicans say they want anyway? I mean, McCain wants Glass-
Steagall back. And, what about your own amendment?
BROWN: Yes. And my own amendment with Senator Kaufman and several
others on basically saying too-big-to-fail is too big, that these banks
just can‘t be that big, these five or six huge banks.
Let me give you one statistic about that. Fifteen years ago, the
assets combined of the six largest banks in America were 17 percent of the
gross domestic product. Today, the six largest banks‘ combined assets make
up 63 percent of gross domestic product. That‘s a serious problem when a
small number of humongous entities have that kind of financial power over
our country. That‘s why the amendment that we‘re working on is so
But we want a chance to offer it. If it doesn‘t pass, I mean, I‘ll be
sorely, sorely disappointed, but you still work on this. And we‘ve got—
we‘ve got opportunities here to make this bill better—and on both sides.
In the end, you know, let‘s have at it.
OLBERMANN: Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, I don‘t know how you—how
you do it every day in the Senate, and still retain your sanity, but
congratulations on both, and best of luck with this. Thanks for your time.
BROWN: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Oh, for the nostalgic days when Republicans would debate
things with a Democratic president the way a New York Yankees executive
debated things with one of those presidents today in the White House with
the videotape rolling, briefly, though it was.
And Sarah Palin and perjury, Dave Weigel joins us.
You‘re watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: The restoration of Stephen Baldwin in worst persons ahead.
First, the Twitter report, day 19. Followers, 50,400, milestone 50,000th
Apparently @DJBlue2. It is Monday. So after the weekend, three Tweets of
the Day, two on the Glenn Becks ratings drop. Second runner up from that,
“does Beck‘s ratings drop mean we should stop buying gold?”
Or the first runner up from @agerstner, “maybe all of Lonesome Rhodes‘
viewers sold their TVs to buy more gold.”
But our winner, while he‘s still fresh, an amazing idea from Nevada
Republican senatorial candidate Sue Lowden to barter poultry for medical
care from @jakedshapiro, “someone needs to ask Sue Lowden, if she wins the
Senate seat, will she be willing to take chickens in lieu of a salary?”
Now, Jake, we don‘t want the nice lady to turn into a pillar of salt.
Let‘s play Oddball.
First to the White House; the ritual is now nearly 30 years old. The
winning team visits the president and everyone gets an autograph. The
world champion New York Yankees this time—ceremony over, the Yankees
schmooze. President Obama was good enough not to mention that in the last
half century there have been 29 years of Republican presidents, but all
nine Yankees championships, all nine of them, have been under Democrats.
But as he posed with Yankees‘ manager Joe Girardi and the trophy, Yankee
vice president and assistant general manager Jean Afterman talked a little
trash at the White Sox fan in chief.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEAN AFTERMAN, YANKEES ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGER: Now you want to
hold it? you may not get a chance to again.
OBAMA: And yo wonder why the other teams don‘t root for hem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Meanwhile, in Taluca (ph), Mexico—so they tell you if
you like sausage, never watch how sausage is made. What are we showing
you? You are looking live at sausage being made. It took 30 people three
days to create the world‘s longest sausage. The links measuring over a
half a mile in length and weighing quite literally a ton. The good folks
of Taluca expect to be entered into the Guinness Book of World Records.
After sizing it all up, the crowd got to enjoy the record-breaking meat, to
which a follow-up event was held with the world‘s largest tub of antacid.
Sister Sarah‘s latest moment of martyrdom, trial of a man who hacked
into her private email. Her testimony about those e-mails does not match
those e-mails. Could be a big problem next.
OLBERMANN: Funny how one thing often turns up something else. A
former college student on trial for allegedly breaching the private e-mail
account of the Governor Sarah Palin, and the testimony of Palin herself on
whether the release of those emails had caused her actual damage. The
trial was not about whether Palin ever used personal e-mail for state
business while she was governor, but in testifying that she did not conduct
gubernatorial business that way, she may have committed perjury.
In our third story tonight, will it matter? Given that the multi-
million dollar enterprise that is Sarah Palin almost requires that truth be
trampled? In summarizing Palin‘s testimony in Knoxville, Tennessee last
week, a reporter wrote simply “she denied using the personal e-mail account
to conduct gubernatorial business,” and quoting Palin‘s testimony, “we know
there was an attorney general‘s opinion one week prior and a lot of other
opinions in the state that of course it was proper for me to have a private
By the way, if you never used your personal e-mail for governmental
business, why get defensive about whether it was a proper thing to have
such an account? Anyway, when PalinGates.com asked that reporter, Jamie
Satterfield (ph), for clarification, the answer was this, “what she said
was the people at the governor‘s mansion sometimes sent her e-mails
relative to issues regarding the mansion and her children. She denied
specifically diverting gubernatorial issues to the account.”
But 3,000 pages worth of Palin‘s e-mails, released months ago from a
Freedom of Information Request from MSNBC.com, contradict that. Palin‘s
personal e-mail account—she actually had three of them—were replete
with examples of government business, like the state budget, or legislation
awaiting action, or discussion of government positions.
But it all may become a footnote set against the reality of Citizen
Palin, as detailed by “New York Magazine.” Over the past year, it writes,
“Palin amassed a 12 million dollar fortune and shows no sign of slowing
down.” That includes her book and plans for a second one, her three
contributor deal with Fixed News, reportedly worth a million a year, and
her upcoming reality show—that‘s a brand name—with TLC.
Let‘s turn now to “Washington Post” political reporter David Weigel.
David, good evening.
DAVID WEIGEL, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So you‘ve now done your own reporting on the testimony in
this case by Palin and not the possible perjury issue. What have you
WEIGEL: You seem to be having a good night and I hate to wreck it for
you, but it just—we need to see the transcript, but it doesn‘t sound
like she actually trapped herself in anything here. The defense attorney,
Wade Davies, was prohibited from taking this much further than the
questions about what—the e-mails that were sent, that were asked about
previously. She stuck to saying that it was political e-mails, e-mails
about the governor‘s mansion.
The e-mails that you were talking about didn‘t really come up. So the
people I talked to inside the courtroom say maybe she could have fudged the
words a little bit less, but this doesn‘t seem to be a problem for her.
OLBERMANN: Well, that‘s—the correct answer is the one we‘re
looking for, not one that might just as a matter of theory please somebody
who was involved in the show, but as a practical matter, does it make any
difference about this industry that she‘s created for herself? I mean, one
way or the other, whether this thing just fades into obscurity as soon as
we stop talking about it or there‘s something else to it, does it make any
WEIGEL: Well, I wouldn‘t be surprised if this doesn‘t show up on her
Facebook feed at some point, if she doesn‘t accuse people of attacking her
based on a blog post on a site that attacks her. It was a popular blog
post and it got people like me checking into it. But it doesn‘t really
matter, because she—as you pointed out, she‘s doing very well for
herself. She actually felt well enough at this trial to go back and do
something that she has not done before, which is meet a media scrum and
This was actually kind of a pivotal moment. This is the kind of thing
we‘ve been waiting for months and months, more than a year. She got
friendly questions from the press. She batted them back. She didn‘t wish
jail for the boy who broke into her e-mails. But she thought the
punishment might be good if somebody did something bad.
So she is comfortable with this story. That‘s why some people think
she may have trapped herself, but it doesn‘t look like it.
OLBERMANN: The “New York Magazine” expose—others have reported on
how lucrative this post gubernatorial time has been. And certainly
anything questionable, honesty or truth wise, doesn‘t necessarily end a
business career nor a political career. But is Palin far more comfortable
and far more profitable as this, you know, imaginary president of right
wing America? And how does that—do you have any assessment on how that
guides her decision on whether to run for the, you know, actual president?
WEIGEL: It‘s a much more fun job than being governor of Alaska. The
piece we‘re talking about points out that she actually had the book deal,
the very lucrative seven million dollar book deal before she decided to
resign the governor‘s office. It was just that she couldn‘t conduct this
national tour and serve as governor effectively. That was the decision
that put her out of there.
If you extrapolate that, there‘s a lot of things about running for
president that tie you down when you might want to go take a jet with a
couple of family members, give a speech for a lot of money, and then have a
nice expensive dinner in the city you‘re in. That becomes more different.
You have to eat lots of rubber chicken and appear in front of Republican
committees at the drop of a hate. Gabe Sherman said she‘s winging it when
it comes to 2012 and that is an accurate, if not pejorative way of saying
it. She‘s got a really good gig right now.
OLBERMANN: Dave Weigel of the “Washington Post,” thanks for checking
into it for us. Thanks for your time tonight.
WEIGEL: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Kind of a surprise out of Stephen Hawking. If ET shows
up, he won‘t look like ET, he‘ll look more like these guys from “Mars
Attack.” Boom! Senator Chuck “Pull the Plug on Grandma” Grassley is
taking credit for health care reform. Worst persons ahead.
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, back to the racist
immigration law of Arizona, who wrote it and who was pushing for it?
OLBERMANN: If there are extraterrestrials, they‘re not coming here to
say hi; they‘re coming here to kill us and eat us, so says Stephen Hawking.
Run away! That‘s next, but first, tonight‘s worst persons in the world.
The bronze to Thai Spice Restaurant in Analain (ph), Australia.
Staffers prevented Mr. Ian Jolly (ph) from entering the restaurant because
they believed his dog was gay. I‘ll just repeat that. Staffer prevented
Mr. Ian Jolly from entering the restaurant, because they believed his dog
was gay. Even for Australia this was a little too homophobic. The court
awarded Mr. Jolly 1,400 bucks American, and ordered Thai Spice to give him
a written apology, which is a bit of an inconvenience because Mr. Jolly is
blind. Apparently the woman with Mr. Jolly as they tried to enter Thai
Spice told a waiter she wanted to bring a guide dog into the restaurant and
they heard gay dog.
The restaurant‘s submission to the court actually reads as follows:
“the staff generally believe that Nudge was an ordinary pet dog which had
been de-sexed to become a gay dog.” OK, just ignore that bit of illogic.
Maybe the owners of the restaurant had seen the clip from the infamous news
blooper in 2002.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After the break, we‘re going to interview Eric
Wigenmeyer (ph), who climbed the highest mountain in the world, Mt.
Everest, but he‘s gay—I mean he‘s gay—excuse me, he‘s blind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: No, he‘s a dog.
Runner up, the website ResourceStephenBaldwin.org, which, as Andrew
Sullivan discovered, purports to be unaffiliated with the actor, uber-
conservative, and, as his own brother calls him, head injury victim. But
it is there to help pay off his bankruptcy claiming he‘s a modern day Job
and should be redeemed by token gifting. “As the body of Christ, we are
the greatest force on Earth. What if 10 percent of the 159 million
Christians in America gave a token gift?”
Send your tokens to Stephen Baldwin. There is this catechism of St.
Stephen of Baldwin on the website—question, I guess, “why does Stephen
need personal wealth?” Answer, “Stephen‘s influence is in Hollywood.
Hollywood worships money. Without it, you‘re seen as a loser and cannot be
an effective influence to this group.” He‘s seen as a loser right now.
Speaking of websites, our winner, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa. You
will recall he was the highest ranking Republican to go all nutsy over
health care reform.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY ®, IOWA: We should not have a government
program that determines you‘re going to pull the plug on grandma.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Grassley is now boasting in a press release, and on his
site, “I worked successfully to improve Medicare payments to doctors in
rural states like Iowa and, in turn, access for beneficiaries as part of
the health care reform enacted this year.” Chuck Grassley taking partial
credit for health care reform. I wonder if the Tea Party knows about that.
Senator Chuck “I Got Pull the Plug on Grandma Passed” Grassley, today‘s
worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: On February 4th, 2008, NASA beamed the song “Across the
Universe” by the Beatles towards the north star. 431 Billion light years
into deep space, in hopes that one day extraterrestrials would hear it and
reply. Our number one story, British scientist Stephen Hawking says if we
keep sending out the Beatles, aliens may respond with Megadeth. Not just
the hit “Peace Sells.” Derrick Pitts will join me before it‘s too late.
First, Dr. Hawkings‘ Discovery Channel documentary series is called
“Into the Universe.” On last night‘s premiere, he said that the concept of
alien existence is perfectly rational. He then described his own
conceptions of what intelligent life on other planets might look like, from
sea creatures swimming below the icy surface of Jupiter‘s moon Europa, to
floating aliens living in the atmosphere of a gas giant like Saturn,
billions and billions of miles—sorry, I went—I had a class with
Then there was the warning that human contact with alien life forms
could doom our own existence. To quote Dr. Hawking, “if aliens visit us,
the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn‘t
turn out well for the Native Americans.” It is because of that
hypothetical threat to our existence that Hawking calls contact with aliens
a little too risky.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It might sound unlikely, but if you think about it
logically, alien technology should be as extraordinary to us as a rocket
ship to a caveman.
I imagine they might exist in massive ships like these. Having used
up all the resources from the home planet below. Such advanced aliens
would perhaps become nomads looking to conquer and colonize whatever
planets they could reach.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The program went on to suggest that our big blue marble
over here could fall victim to the aliens. Today the Hawking as H.G. Wells
has been criticized by Mary Voitech (ph), senior scientist for astro-
biology at NASA telling “The Christian Science Monitor,” quoting her,
“we‘re not going to get caught, say like the Native-Americans when Columbus
came to their shores. We‘ve been actively listening. And hopefully we get
some information before any eventual encounter ever happens.”
On that cheerful note, time for our own encounter with Derrick Pitts,
chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Good evening,
DERRICK PITTS, FRANKLIN INSTITUTE: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: I think that last observation from the scientist at NASA
is comforting. If any of the SETI scanners, the Search for
Extraterrestrial Intelligence dishes—if they picked up the Death Star
moving towards us, we‘d get how much warning time during which we could end
all division on Earth and prepare for invasion?
PITTS: I really think, Keith, we have several hundred million years
before we really need to worry about that. But just in case, I think we
need to get rid of all of the ketchup on the planet.
OLBERMANN: They‘re going to have to eat us without the ketchup. Has
anybody ever, to your knowledge, either scientifically or in some semi
governmental way, contemplated the defense plan, other than the old duck-
and-cover thing, bend over, head between your knees and kiss your planet
PITTS: As much as we know about aliens somewhere else in the galaxy
or the universe, we are much more concerned with the immediate problems we
have from some country across the border, rather than worrying about some
aliens coming here to eat us. We figure that at least we‘ll have a few
million years‘ warning, so there‘s no need for us to become concerned about
that. So I don‘t think there‘s any plan around, other than, you know, I‘ll
set up my insurance company, let me know what you need, I‘ll provide it.
PITTS: I‘m sorry.
OLBERMANN: Derrick Pitts will insure you against alien invasion. Dr.
Hawking calls contact with aliens risky. Are we confident we have not
already come into contact aliens and survived this? You know, the Dennis
PITTS: The fact of the matter is we have no documentation whatsoever
of any kind of contact. There‘s so much speculation, Keith, it‘s enough to
keep the movie industry and the book industry and science fiction going for
a very long time. It‘s sort of great to play around with this idea, but
the only problem is that whenever you make these extraordinary claims, as
you heard Dr. Sagan say, you need extraordinary proof. We have none of
Then the other part is our signal going out into space. We always
think that our signal is going to travel for hundreds of light-years, and
that the “I Love Lucy” programs are way out there some place. In fact,
what happens is that signal deteriorates over time. So our earliest radio
signals are already deteriorating beyond 60 light-years. So if the aliens
aren‘t within that realm of maybe 100 light years, they‘re not going to
OLBERMANN: Well, to that last point about the traveling and
deterioration, Hawking said in the past, he thinks the only long-term
insurance survival guarantee for the species is to leave the planet. Do
you agree with him and can I hitch a ride?
PITTS: I have a ship leaving next week, it will only cost you 20
OLBERMANN: All right, with insurance. Do I get the insurance with
PITTS: That comes with the package. Sure. And all the water you can
OLBERMANN: Derrick Pitts of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia,
and the Derrick Pitts Interplanetary Insurance Fund.
PITTS: Thank you, sir.
OLBERMANN: An entrepreneur of Biblical proportions. Thank you, sir.
That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 2,552nd day since the previous president
declared mission accomplished in Iraq. We‘ll be broadcasting tomorrow from
the planet Luna in the galaxy of Andromeda. Good night and good luck.
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