updated 5/3/2010 12:09:35 PM ET 2010-05-03T16:09:35

Guests: Richard Wolffe, Kyrsten Sinema, Markos Moulitsas

           

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

The fishermen returning to port in Louisiana can smell it, the smell of a destroyed oil rig still spewing 200,000 gallons a day—the smell of “drill, baby, drill.”

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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The local economies and livelihoods of the people of the Gulf Coast, as well as the ecology of the region, are at stake.

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OLBERMANN:  The smell of ecological disaster.  High tide is likely to push the oil slick Sarah Palin over the protective booms into the inlets, lakes and even ponds of southwestern Louisiana.

And with unimaginable gall, the governor who mocked federal monitoring of possible disaster sites asks the Obama administration to pay for 6,000 Louisiana national guardsmen to help with his disaster.

And another governor doubles down: Jan Brewer appointed by God to fight not just the brown people but also—

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GOV. JAN BREWER ®, ARIZONA:  Arizona has been under terrorist attacks, if you will, with all of this illegal immigration.

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OLBERMANN:  The legislature amends the bill.  State Representative Kyrsten Sinema says they‘ve made it worse.  She joins us.

The chicken lady flip-flops again.  First, Nevada senatorial challenger, Sue Lowden, said bartering chickens for health care should be encouraged by the GOP.  And then she said she never meant it as policy.  Now, she says, “Bartering is not a policy—it is a fact.”  So are her plummeting poll numbers versus Harry Reid.

“Worsts”: the Ohio Democrat who asks about his Indian-American Democratic rival, “You really think a guy with a name like that has a chance of ever being elected?”

And new tonight, doubling your “Worsts” with three more of them exclusively on Twitter.

And “Fridays with Thurber”: “The Night the Bed Fell.”

All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.

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OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.

Few will have forgotten the images of the birds.  The estimated quarter of a million birds killed when the Exxon Valdez ran off the coast of Alaska two decades ago.

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: More than a week after an oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico prompted an environmental disaster with the potential to eclipse the Exxon Valdez, the crisis has reached its first bird, a young Northern Gannet, found offshore today at Fort Jackson, Louisiana, about 70 miles southeast of New Orleans.  Normally white with a yellow head and long, pointed beak, this was Northern Gannet was black.  Its feathers covered in thick dark oil.

The National Weather Service predicting heavy winds and high tides through Sunday, which could complicate efforts to hold back the massive oil slick threatening to coat as many as 400 different species of birds, marine and animal life, in effect, an entire hurricane of oil bearing down upon the Gulf Coast tonight.

Engineers are still trying to figure out how to stop the well from spewing some 5,000 barrels of oil per day deep underwater, a task complicated by the fact that much of the oil rig platform is now at the bottom of the Gulf itself.

The well‘s purportedly failed safe mechanism, a so-called blowout preventer, which was supposed to shut off the oil flow in an emergency, so far, has done no such thing.  Teams now drilling a relief well to decrease pressure and slow the leak—that is the good news.  The bad news is: finishing the relief well could take three months.

Interior Secretary Salazar is naming the effort to seal the wellhead and cleaning up the oil spill the top priorities.

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KEN SALAZAR, INTERIOR SECRETARY:  I‘ve asked other companies from across the oil and gas industry to bring their global expertise to the situation, to make sure that no idea that is worth pursuing is not pursued.  We cannot rest and we will not rest until B.P. permanently seals the wellhead and until they clean up every drop of oil.

JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY:  As the federal coordinators overseeing B.P.‘s efforts, we‘re here to make sure that the resources are being used wisely, and to the greatest effect, in minimizing environmental risk.

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OLBERMANN:  Meanwhile, today‘s second oil drilling rig overturning in Louisiana a shallow water rig located slightly inland floating in a navigational channel near Morgan City, Coast Guard investigators are saying that the rig is not leaking fuel—yet.

Local and federal officials with enough on their hands as it is, the Pentagon today getting its first orders to help, two Air Force planes will spray chemicals to help break up the oil slick and the Navy still planning to open its bases in Mississippi and the Florida Panhandle as staging areas, setting booms, skimmers and contractors down to the effort.

Defense Secretary Gates approving an ironic request from last year‘s anti-disaster preparedness spokesman, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, for the federal government to pay for 6,000 state National Guard troops.  But Pentagon officials say they ultimately expect full reimbursement from the state of Louisiana.

The White House pushing back against criticism that it has not done enough and fast enough responding to the oil spill.  The “Associated Press” asking in a rare moment of bipartisanship, quote, “Will this be Obama‘s Katrina?  Should the federal and state government have done more and earlier?”  Press Secretary Gibbs calling, quote, “the notion we haven‘t been there from the get-go badly uninformed,” adding that “more than 1,800 people died in Katrina.”

Senior adviser Axelrod is calling the criticism “business as usual.”

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DAVID AXELROD, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER:  This is always the case in Washington, that whenever something like this happens, the political speculation sets in.  But the truth of the matter is we have the Coast Guard on the scene almost immediately after this accident.  The deputy secretary of the interior was on the ground the next day and we‘ve been coordinating closely with the local authorities and with the responsible party, B.P., down there to deal with this from the very beginning.

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OLBERMANN:  At the Rose Garden, the president is saying that his government fully prepared to meet its responsibilities, adding that the buck stops with the oil company, B.P.

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OBAMA:  B.P. is ultimately responsible under the law for paying the costs of response and cleanup operations.  But we are fully prepared to meet our responsibilities to any and all affected communities.  That‘s why we‘ve been working closely with state and local authorities since the day of the explosion.  There are now five staging areas to protect sensitive shorelines, approximately 1,900 federal response personnel are in the area, and more than 300 response vessels and aircraft on the scene 24/7.

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OLBERMANN:  President Obama putting a hold on his new offshore drilling policy until the investigation of this oil spill is complete.  Mr.  Obama is saying he is still committed to drilling here in the U.S.

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OBAMA:  I continue to believe that domestic oil production is an important part of our overall strategy for energy security.  But I‘ve always said it must be done responsibly for the safety of our workers and our environment.  The local economies and livelihoods of the people in the Gulf Coast, as well as the ecology of the region, are at stake.

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OLBERMANN:  One half of the ticket which ran against Obama during the 2008 presidential election using the slogan “drill, baby, drill,” taking to her Twitter page, to say in multiple tweets, “Having worked/lived through Exxon oil spill, my family and I understand Gulf residents‘ fears.  Our prayers are with you.  All industry efforts must be employed.”

And later, “Domestic drilling: why we can still believe”—linking through to her Facebook page, where the human oil slick writes in part, “No human endeavor is ever without risk—whether it‘s sending a man to the moon or extracting the necessary resources to fuel our civilization.  I repeat the slogan, ‘drill here, drill now‘ not out of naivete or disregard for the tragic consequences of oil spills, I continue to believe in it because increased domestic oil production will make us a more secure, prosperous and peaceful nation.”

That woman‘s ghost tweeter is an idiot.

Lots to talk about, thus, with MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe, the author of “Renegade: The Making of a President.”

Richard, good evening.

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

OLBERMANN:  The woman who first gave us “drill, baby, drill” is now claiming the phrase was actually “drill here, drill now.”  When a change like that occurs in the politics of this, does that indicate that the oil spill crisis has got her politically in its sights?

WOLFFE:  Well, if you‘re asking me whether a vacuous slogan is looking even more empty now, the answer is yes.  But, you know, that was no more of a serious policy or governing philosophy than “yes, we can” was.  It was never going to be a comprehensive plan for this country.

And what really I think—even greater than the damage to Sarah Palin, if that‘s possible, even greater than that, it‘s the underpinnings of this energy proposal—the idea that the industry was so technologically savvy, so environmentally conscious that their assurances that all of this drilling was safe, that pristine areas or protected areas could be opened up for drilling, that whole premise has been shot to pieces here.

So, you know, the notion that drilling somehow is going to lead us to be more prosperous—well, what happens if this technology fails?  And you get this environmental damage which way outweighs any kind benefit from the energy side of it.  That, to me, the rationale there is what is really being undermined.  Not Sarah Palin‘s reputation, not the slogan.

OLBERMANN:  High tides, if they hit just in the right way, or in this case, the wrong way, would put B.P. oil so far inland in Louisiana as to get into ponds.  As this pertains to the people who are actually elected to rule the country instead of the “drill, baby, drill-ists,” not—it is— it is a bad term to use again, yet it does sum this up—are the plans to expand drilling by the Obama administration dead in the water?

WOLFFE:  Well, we think the massive hedging on this—I‘ve frankly never understood why the administration was giving up concessions to Republicans and independent voters.  Let‘s be honest here, and to some of these geographical areas, states like Virginia, where this stuff was popular.  I never understood why they were giving up concessions before they got into the very intense debate they‘re going to have on energy and climate change, and the legislation they still think they can get through before the midterms.

But, remember, just to come back here, this is B.P. we‘re talking about.  This is not Exxon Mobil.  This is the most environmentally-conscious and sensitive, or at least in terms of its marketing, the most environmentally-conscious oil company out there.  And if they have to deal with this, then who else is going to be more responsible?

So, I think in terms of the politics, as David Axelrod said, this is very much on hold and I think it changes the balance of the debate as the administration tries to deal with this energy legislation he‘s trying to push through.

OLBERMANN:  There are so many different political aspects of this and, obviously, the environmental ones, we‘ll have to see just how bad it is.  It‘s atrocious right now, with a good chance of getting worse.

But the governor of Louisiana is the man who came on after—the equivalent of State of the Union address last year and attacks the president‘s stimulus plan—irresponsible, the volcano monitoring part of disaster preparedness, most memorably he attacked, before he then handed out the stimulus checks.  Is there a measure of hypocrisy in now asking for federal help when something actually goes wrong when the disaster comes that he was arguing we should not be prepared for?

WOLFFE:  Well, there is.  But actually I would argue that every governor out there, when faced with a disaster of any calamity of this size, or even smaller, they should be out there asking for help, and asking for whatever dollars they can.  So, that‘s the right thing to do.

The wrong thing to do was to get involved in the national politics early on when, frankly, his state needed the economic help.

OLBERMANN:  Right.

WOLFFE:  Never mind about disaster preparedness.  He shouldn‘t be playing politics then, he‘s doing the right thing about looking after his state now.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, I‘m in complete concurrence with you.  This is—this is the right move by that man now.  And the other part was the hypocrisy.

But talking about hypocrisy, in a time when an administration has been elected in large part to reestablish regulations that were rolled back across the business board, across the industrial board, B.P. was largely allowed to call the shots on this for the first week.  Is that going to change this idea of regulation?  Is it going to put some momentum behind all aspects of re-regulation?

WOLFFE:  Well, when we get into the investigation part of this, a critical question is going to be: How come B.P. got it wrong?  Were they ignorant of the oil that was leaking out of this damaged rig?  Or were they obfuscating, hiding some information somehow?

That‘s going to be a really critical area, because all these people who say the federal government should have done more, a lot depends on what kind of the information that we‘re getting in terms of the oil leaking out.  That comes down to: can you trust these companies before a disaster and after a disaster?  B.P.‘s got a lot of questions to answer here.

OLBERMANN:  Richard Wolffe, the author of “Renegade”—great thanks. 

Have a great evening.

WOLFFE:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  An update on another disaster, the mine explosion at the Massey Energy owned Big Branch Mine in West Virginia, the one that killed 29 miners—NPR reporting today: the FBI is investigating that company for possibly bribing employees at the Mine Safety and Health Administration.  Massey has been cited many times for safety violations and the ones prior to the explosion, including 58 violations in March—many of which were for dangerous accumulation of dust and gases thought to be directly related to the explosion.

“Associated Press” sourcing a federal law enforcement official reporting this afternoon that the FBI has interviewed nearly two dozen Massey employees, looking for criminal negligence in that explosion.

After the original report about the bribes, a federal law enforcement source told NPR that while there is an ongoing investigation, it does not include bribery of mine safety officials.  NPR posted on its site that it stands by its original reporting.

The “show us your papers” law in Arizona, one of the worst overreachings by the government since the Alien and Sedition Acts, and one state representative there says tonight they have just made it worse.  She joins us next.

You‘re watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

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OLBERMANN:  This embattled governor has now said the undocumented immigrants who are among those attacked by the new Arizona law are guilty of, quote, “terrorist attacks.”

And the state legislature amends that law making it worse—according to one member who will join us.

This would-be Nevada senator does it again.  She‘s now running around like a chicken with its polling lead cut off.  Markos Moulitsas joins us.

And you like this clown in “Worst Persons”—do you like Twitter?  We‘re doubling “Worst Persons” as of tonight, putting half of them on Twitter.  Huh?  Huh?

And “Fridays with Thurber”—one of his bests: “The Night the Bed Fell.”

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OLBERMANN:  Under fire for signing legislation that two fellow Republican border state governors have now flatly rejected, Arizona‘s governor, Jan Brewer, went on television today to suggest that the Obama administration is ignoring terrorist attacks in her state.

In our fourth story: The Arizona legislature has amended their “show me your papers” law, we‘ll talk to one member who thinks the law just got worse.  State Representative Kyrsten Sinema joins me, presently.

First, last night, Arizona‘s House of Representatives did change some of the language in its immigration law.  The original read: “For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made when practicable to determine the immigration status of the person.”

The Arizona House has approved changing the term “lawful contact” to “lawful stop, detention or arrest.”

Tonight, the governor has signed that change and others into law, and issued a statement saying in part, quote, “These new amendments make it crystal clear and undeniable that racial profiling is illegal and will not be tolerated in Arizona.”

Earlier today, she explained to FOX News that the federal government was ignoring terrorism.

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BREWER:  Arizona has been under terrorist attacks, if you will, with all of this illegal immigration that has been taking place on our very, very porous border.  The federal government has not stepped up to protect us and to do their job and to fulfill their responsibility.

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OLBERMANN:  Two of Brewer‘s fellow border state governors, both Republicans, are saying now they disagree with the new law.  Rick Perry of Texas says Arizona‘s measure, quote, “would not be in the right direction for Texas.”  Last night, Arnold Schwarzenegger told Jay Leno, “I would never do that in California.  No way.”

And then there are the ongoing boycott efforts: New York Congressman Jose Serrano calling on the baseball commissioner to move next year‘s all-star game out of Phoenix, writing in a letter, “I think Major League Baseball, with 40 percent Latino ballplayers at all levels, should make a statement that it will not hold its all-star game in a state that discriminates against 40 percent of their people.”

And the Major League Baseball Players Association today is calling for the repeal or modification of the Arizona law.  Its executive director releasing this statement, “The spring homes of half of the 30 Major League teams are now in Arizona.  All these players as well their families could be adversely affected even though their presence in the United States is legal.”

From Casa Grande, Arizona, this just in, authorities in Pinal County there say they are searching for a deputy who radioed for help to say he had been shot in a remote desert area about 50 miles south of that city.  The county sheriff is saying the deputy radioed in to say he encountered a group in the desert and had been shot with an AK-47 assault rifle in the abdomen.  Law enforcement officers from across the area are trying to find the deputy who was apparently in the desert somewhere.

And there was an earlier report that have been put out by a local television station in Arizona that the suspects were suspected to be undocumented immigrants and other suspects being sought.

We‘ll give you more on that if there is anything to be heard.

We mentioned the viewpoint of Representative Kyrsten Sinema.  She is a constitutional attorney who serves as the assistant leader of the Democratic Caucus in the Arizona state house.

Great thanks for some of your time tonight.

REP. KYRSTEN SINEMA (D), ARIZONA STATE LEGISLATURE:  Great to be with you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  The changes that were made to this law that we went through were sold as preventing an opportunity for racial profiling.  I gather your opinion is that they do nothing to stop racial profile something.

SINEMA:  Well, that‘s correct, Keith.  In fact, these changes actually make the law more onerous and even more unconstitutional if that can even be imagined.

OLBERMANN:  And the other changes to this law—the major one is that police contact over violations for local civil ordinances can trigger questioning on immigration status.  You‘ve identified that as a major problem with this.  What is the problem?

SINEMA:  Well, that‘s the key problem because, previously, the sponsors of this legislation indicated that it was solely to apprehend people who were suspected of committing criminal acts.  But now, when police officers encounter someone whose lawn is overgrown or who perhaps has a dog that‘s barking too loudly, they‘ll be required to inquire into their immigration status if they have reasonable suspicion to believe they may be undocumented.  That is incredibly concerning and a massive expansion of this law.

OLBERMANN:  And the change of the term, it was “lawful contact” to “lawful stop, detention or arrest,” that would—to a layman, it seem like it improves the law, does it?

SINEMA:  Not really, because a lawful stop is any contact that a law enforcement officer has with a resident of the state.  Now, detention or arrest is different, but a lawful stop is pretty of the same as a lawful contact.  So, there‘s not much legal significant difference there.

OLBERMANN:  The two Republican governors in the adjoining states with

borders with Mexico and also with Arizona have come out against this. 

Does that—

SINEMA:  Right.

OLBERMANN:  -- say anything to you about Governor Brewer‘s insistence that this is a good thing?

SINEMA:  Well, it certainly does.  As we know, last week, Governor Richardson from New Mexico came out against this law.  It‘s clear that Governor Brewer is acting in contravention of other officials around the border regions.  And I think that this indicates that this bill is indeed overreaching, unconstitutional, and really unsafe for our community.

OLBERMANN:  And what about this—we played this tape twice now.  I don‘t think we need to play the tape again.  But the quote that Arizona has been, from the governor, “Arizona has been under terrorist attacks, if you will, with all of this illegal immigration that has been taking place in our very, very porous border.”

To throw out the word “terrorism,” is that—is that too strong in your opinion?  Is that a little strong—ridiculously strong?  Where does it fit in?

SINEMA:  Well, I think it‘s not appropriate.  The fact is that Arizona is besieged by an increase in drug running, gun running, and violent human smuggling on our border regions and I and others have called for her to act on that problem—unfortunately, this bill does nothing to address that problem.  In fact, she exacerbated the problem by cutting funding for local law enforcement and for our prosecutors in the state.  They have less ability today than they did just a year ago to crack down on those violent criminal syndicates.

OLBERMANN:  One thing we have not heard in all the coverage of this this week is what those of you who were opposed to this in the two Arizona bodies were going to do to try to prevent the law from being implemented.  What‘s your plan?

SINEMA:  Well, we are working with MALDEF, the ACLU and the National Immigrant Law Center to file an injunction.  And that‘s fancy for saying—look, court, this bill is so unconstitutional you can‘t even implement it, because it will violate the rights of so many people in our state.  Not just immigrants but people like me.

OLBERMANN:  Kyrsten Sinema, Democratic representative in the Arizona State House—good luck with that and great thanks for your time tonight.

SINEMAN:  Thanks so much, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  How the Republican candidate who proposed putting a chicken in every doctor‘s pot did another 180 today and may, thus, be putting Harry Reid back in the Senate.

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OLBERMANN:  The GOP‘s Nevada hopeful just can‘t let this “chickens for health care” thing go.

First, a brief Twitter report because we will be expanding “Worst Persons” into the Twitterverse later.  So, one Tweet of the Day from @MichaelClear: “I refuse to ever be your Tweet of the Day on the grounds that it‘s biased against people who don‘t use Twitter.”

And that makes my head hurt.

Let‘s play “Oddball.”

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OLBERMANN:  Lake Norman, North Carolina, hello!  And what a previous generation of “Saturday Night Live” would have inevitably called “boat in a dock.”  It‘s a boat, it‘s a dock, it‘s boat in a dock.  Need a boat but don‘t have a dock, get boat in a dock.  It‘s a boat and a dock all in one.  Boat in a dock!

Officials are investigating whether alcohol or possibly helium was involved in the crash.  Oh, the humanity.  Police said when they arrived at the accident scene, the driver of the 27-foot boat was still in it—either because he could not figure out how to leave or because no one can live without their boat in a dock!  From Ramko.

In Vilnius, Lithuania, hello!  You know how you go to the movies and you‘re sitting there and thinking, “Man, why can‘t I get some exercise at the same time?”  No?  Well, that‘s why you‘re not in Vilnius, Lithuania, where these bicycles built for view are used to power the 400-watt projector at Cinema Pasaka.

The eco-friendly art house theater uses eight bikes cycled by 20 moviegoers over the course of each film.  Not a bad way to burn off the extra butter popcorn and gigundo-sized Mason Dots—at least until the opening night of “Avatar” there when everybody will have to get tanked up first on fine Lithuanian just to power to the 3D IMAX.

When you make a campaign-killing statement and your spin doctors have almost gotten you out of it, probably best not to go back and say, “No, no, I meant we should barter chickens for flu shots and stuff.”  The chicken lady of Nevada and her crumbling poll numbers—next on COUNTDOWN.  She is plucked. 

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OLBERMANN:  First, Republican Senatorial hopeful Sue Lowden said people should barter with their doctor.  Campaign said by barter Ms. Lowden meant haggle, to which Ms. Lowden said no, I meant barter.  By barter, I meant paying for your health care with chickens.  Our third story in the COUNTDOWN, Nevada‘s chicken lady has officially flown the coup.  Now says that bartering is not a policy, it‘s a fact. 

Also a fact, Lowden‘s dwindling poll numbers against Senator Harry Reid.  In an op-ed for “Politico,” Ms. Lowden accusing Mr. Reid and the Democrats of turning this race into a zoo.  “The comment I made about bartering was not, it was never intended to be a policy proposal.  It was an example of how struggling families are working to pay for medical care in any way they can during these tough times.” 

Elaborating further on her blog, “bargaining, bartering and negotiating for health coverage is not a policy, it is a fact.  Nowhere in my health reform proposal do I discuss bartering or negotiating.  Rather I offer real solutions that work without creating a government-run entitlement program that Nevadan‘s don‘t want and cannot afford.” 

Here‘s what Ms. Lowden actually said.  See if you think she‘s talking about the facts of how people pay for health care. 

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SUE LOWDEN, CANDIDATE FOR NEVADA SENATE:  Let‘s change the system and talk about what the possibilities are.  I‘m telling you that this works.  You know, before we all started having health care, in the olden days, our grandparents, they would bring a chicken to the doctor.  They would say, I‘ll paint your house.  They would do—that‘s the old days of what people would do to get health care with their doctors.  Doctors are very sympathetic people.  I‘m not backing down from that system. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  And now a new Research 2000 poll shows Nevada voters are backing down from supporting Lowden.  Senator Reid, once trailing her by double digits, may have a shot at this thing, if Lowden makes it through the Republican primary.  Reid‘s only down four points, 41 percent to Ms.  Lowden‘s 45 percent.  Speaking of all that, joining me now, the founder and publisher of “Daily Kos,” author of “Taking on the System, Rules for Radical Change in a Digital Era,” Markos Moulitsas.  Markos, good evening. 

MARKOS MOULITSAS, “DAILY KOS”:  Happy Friday, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  And to you.  What are the polls showing in Nevada?  And can we tell how they have actually been affected by chicken-gate? 

MOULITSAS:  Yeah.  Earlier this year, Reid was sort of mired in the high 30s, low 40 percent.  For any incumbent, that‘s pretty disastrous.  But even worse for him, the Republicans were all in the 50 percent range or higher, low 50 percents.  You‘re looking at the polls in February, March, you‘re thinking there‘s no way Harry Reid is going to survive this election.  He is done. 

Now what you‘re seeing is that Sue Lowden comes out, she starts talking.  Nevada voters start taking a look at her and starting to realize that maybe she‘s not all that she‘s cracked up to be.  And suddenly her poll numbers are down in the mid 40s.  And she seems to be bringing down all the other Republicans with her, as well.  Reid is still in the low 40s.  He‘s got a way to go.  But what was a sort of foregone conclusion of a race now starts looking a little more competitive again. 

OLBERMANN:  By the way, I learned this many years ago, I got punched in the arm when I said it wrong.  To get your credibility in that community, it‘s Nevada.  Even though we tend to want to look at it and go and say, Nevada, just throwing that out there.  There has been clucking, as it were, on cable from conservatives and other panderers that Lowden shows how weak Harry Reid really is, that he‘s still behind in the polls to the chicken lady.  Assess that conclusion for us. 

MOULITSAS:  Yes, Reid is in a very weak position right now.  I don‘t think there‘s any way to sugar coat that.  He‘s in a very difficult position.  Now he has a lot of money.  He has a machine behind him.  He‘s about to start hitting his Republican opponents.  And we‘ll see if that makes a difference moving ahead. 

But like I said, what used to be an almost forgone conclusion that he had no chance to win, it‘s suddenly a little bit more competitive again.  Being in the low 40s, not that good.  Being down single digits, instead of double digits, huge improvement. 

OLBERMANN:  Running against the chicken lady, priceless.  One Nevada GOP official admitted to getting phone calls from Republicans in Washington who are wondering what‘s going on with Ms. Lowden.  And I was watching one of the local newscasts online, and there seems to be utter amazement that nobody—even on the local level, there‘s an amazement that nobody on that campaign has had the presence of mind, this candidate especially, to just shut up.  Isn‘t that the easiest solution for her at this point?  Just shut up? 

MOULITSAS:  It would be very, very helpful for her to do so.  I think that, you know, her grandmother used to trade chickens for leaches at the doctor‘s office, so she thinks, if it was good for her grandmother, it‘s got to be good for us today. 

OLBERMANN:  And if she serves, she‘ll be paid in livestock.  So there you go.  Eugene Robinson wrote an op-ed today, “Ms Lowden threatens to make Sarah Palin sound like some kind of pointy headed policy wonk.” 

If she is not outlining, in a very serious way, what is it that she‘s doing, if this constant barrage of information about how you can trade and barter for your health care, particularly live chickens—if that‘s not outlining a policy or suggestion, what is she telling this story for? 

MOULITSAS:  You‘re expecting me to be serious about that? 

OLBERMANN:  Yes, just a little bit.  One of us needs to be for a little bit. 

MOULITSAS:  I truly believe she thinks this is a solution to the problem.  I mean, you played the clip.  She said we need to look for solutions.  We need to look a way forward on how to fix this problem, and for her fixing that problem seemed to be solved in large part by bartering.  And there‘s no other way you can possibly look at this in any serious manner, except that she truly, honestly believes it, to the core of her heart, that that‘s an actual solution to the problem.  And I think that just shows how unserious of a candidate she actually is. 

OLBERMANN:  And her handlers had almost gotten her out of it, had they not, when they said she meant haggling, she didn‘t mean trading chickens.  And she steered right back out of the mainline and back into the skid.  How did she do that? 

MOULITSAS:  Again, I think she truly believes this.  But you‘re right. 

Her handlers had done a fantastic job of getting this almost in the past.  We may have had a couple days of jokes at her expense, but it wouldn‘t have dragged out for weeks the way it has done now.  And it‘s all thanks to her. 

OLBERMANN:  Markos Moulitsas of “Daily Kos,” have a great weekend and Nevada.  Thanks Markos.

MOULITSAS:  Thanks. 

OLBERMANN:  We go with one of the all-time greats on Fridays with Thurber, “The Night the Bed Fell.”  Also the Texas congressman who compares undocumented immigrants to grasshoppers and says they should be caught in the same manner.  We‘ll expand on his thoughts with a little worst persons.  Speaking of which, worst persons now 100 percent more worsterer as we‘re adding the Tweeter element into it.  I being the Tweeter thereof. 

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, the New Jersey congressman who today co-signed a letter to the president urging him, in the wake of the disaster in the Gulf, to reverse his policy of increasing offshore drilling. 

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OLBERMANN:  “The Night the Bed Fell” by James Thurber, next.  But first tonight‘s Worst Persons in the World.  For the first time ever, we‘ll be doubling the list.  The other three will go out exclusively on Twitter at the conclusion of the live edition of COUNTDOWN.  The easiest way to get the T-worst persons, the ones who didn‘t quite make this list, follow me on Twitter, where I am, and this is original, @KeithOlbermann.  Exclusive content for the Twitterati about 9:00 pm Eastern each night.  See? 

Back to this old medium TV crap.  The bronze to Boss Limbaugh.  People ask how he lives with himself.  The answer is he clearly has no short-term memory anymore.  We‘ll preface this with two brief clips of Limbaugh that he clearly cannot remember.  August 13, 2009 --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Nobody is saying that Obama is Hitler. 

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OLBERMANN:  And four weeks ago today, the second of April—

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Who has called him a Nazi? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  So are we clear?  Nobody is saying Obama is Hitler, nobody called him a Nazi.  Here‘s the latest from Limbaugh-land, the place that time and Limbaugh forgot. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  One of the things that really distresses me about all of this is the way Obama is playing this.  He‘s actually playing the race card, doing two things at one time.  The communists around the world always thought that they had to play off the haves versus the have notes, class warfare.  Hitler and his gang believed you did it by race.  You divided people by race. 

Obama is doing both.  Obama is playing class warfare and dividing people on the basis of race.  He‘s doing them both.  He‘s out-doing whatever Hitler and any Soviet commissar ever did, because he‘s combing these two thing that roil and divide a culture. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Outdoing Hitler?  Good thing Limbaugh never called him Hitler. 

The runner up, Congressman Ted Poe of Texas.  Congressman Ted Poe, super genius.  He has now compared undocumented immigrants to grasshoppers. 

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REP. TED POE ®, TEXAS:  Now, it seems to me that if we are so advanced with technology and manpower and competence that we can capture illegal grasshoppers from Brazil in the hulls of ships that are in a little small place in Port Arthur, Texas, on the Sabine River—the Sabine River, madam speaker, is the river that separates Texas from Louisiana. 

If we‘re able to do that, as a country, how come we cannot capture the thousands of people that cross the border every day on the southern border every day?  You know they‘re a little bigger than grasshoppers and they should be able to be captured easier.  Well, maybe it‘s because the country doesn‘t have the moral will.  The government doesn‘t have the moral will to protect the borders from people coming in.  But we sure have the moral will as a nation to keep these grasshopper critters from coming in to the United States from Brazil. 

Maybe we need to make the guy down there in southeast Texas that captured this grasshopper from Brazil, he ought to be in charge of Homeland Security. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And old (INAUDIBLE) is going to rattle me. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Now, who can argue with that? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  I think we‘re all indebted to Congressman Gabby Poe (ph) for say what needed to be said.  But our winner, David Kerkorian, the Cincinnati novelty playing cards entrepreneur, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to face the reprehensible Jean Schmidt for the house seat in the Ohio second.  He is being challenged by an Indian-American, Suria Yalamanchali (ph), from Proctor & Gamble in Cincinnati, and, before that, from “The Apprentice.” 

If he were nominated to face Schmidt, I just don‘t know where Mr.  Kerkorian thinks he would be finding votes.  He tried to beat her as an independent two years ago and called himself a Reagan conservative.  Now he‘s allegedly told the VFW at Claremont County, Ohio, quote, “you really think a guy with a name like that has a chance of ever being elected?”  Kerkorian denies he said that about his opponent at the VFW.  But an Ohio Democratic county chairman says Kerkorian said the same thing, almost word for word, to him earlier. 

You know, you can‘t trust them foreigners.  This Syria guy was born in Morristown Pennsylvania.  Would-be Democratic congressional nominee David Kerkorian, today‘s worst person in the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  I think by now everybody knows we finish up Friday nights here, as I used to finish up my late father‘s nights in the hospitals, with a quick reading from the works of the great American humorist and cartoonist James Thurber.  I am, as ever, reading from the “Library of America‘s” tremendous 1996, “Thurber Writing and Drawings,” with some slight editing for time, with the kind consent of Ms. Rosemary Thurber. 

Though this classic first appeared in Thurber‘s masterwork, “My Life and Hard Times” from 1933, and can be found in full, unabridged there. 

“The Night the Bed Fell,” by James Thurber. 

“I suppose that the high water mark of my youth in Columbus, Ohio, was the night the bed fell on my father.  It makes a better recitation, unless as some friends have said, one has heard it five or six times, than it does a piece of writing.  For it is almost necessary to throw furniture around, shake doors and bark like a dog to lend the proper atmosphere and very similitude to what is admittedly a somewhat incredible tale. 

Still, it did take place.  It happened then that my father had decided to sleep in the attic one night, to be away where he could think.  My mother opposed the notion strongly, because she said the old wooden bed up there was unsafe.  It‘s was wobbly and the heavy headboard would crash down on father‘s head, in case the bed fell and kill him. 

There was no dissuading him, however.  And at a quarter past 10:00, he closed the attic door behind him and went up the narrow twisting stairs.  We later heard ominous creakings as he crawled into bed.  Grandfather, who usually slept in the attic bed when he was with us, had disappeared some days before. 

We had visiting us at this time a nervous first cousin of mine named Briggs Biel (ph), who believed that he was likely to cease breathing when he was asleep.  It was his feeling that if he was not awakened every hour during the night, he might die of suffocation.  He had been accustomed to setting an alarm clock to ring at intervals until morning.  But I persuaded him to abandon this.  He slept in my room and I told him I was such a light sleeper that if anybody quit breathing in the same room with me, I would wake instantly. 

He tested me the first night, which I suspected he would, by holding his breath after my regular breathing had convinced him I was asleep.  I was not asleep, however, and called to him.  This seemed to allay his fears a little bit.  But he took the precaution of putting a glass of Spirits of Campfir on a little table at the head of his bed.  In case I didn‘t arouse him until he was almost gone, he said, he would sniff the Campfir, a powerful reviver.

By midnight, we were all in bed.  The layout of the rooms and the disposition of their occupants is important to an understanding of what later occurred.  In the front room upstairs, just under father‘s attic bedroom, were my mother and my brother Herman.  Briggs Biel and myself were in a room adjoining this one.  My brother Roy was in a room across the hall from ours.  Our bull terrier, Rex, slept in the hall. 

My bed was an Army cot, one of those affairs which are made wide enough to sleep on comfortably only by putting up flat with the middle section, the two sides which ordinarily hang down like the side boards of a drop leaf table.  When these sides are up, it is perilous to roll too far towards the edge.  For then the cot is likely to tip completely over, bringing the whole bed down on top of one with a tremendous banging crash. 

This is, in fact, precisely what happened about 2:00 in the morning.  Always a deep sleeper, slow to arouse—I had lied to Briggs—I was at first unconscious of what had happened when the iron cot rolled me on to the floor and toppled over op me.  It left me still warmly bundled up and unhurt, for the bed rested above me like a canopy.  Hence, I did not wake up, only reached the edge of consciousness and went back. 

The racquet, however, instantly awakened my mother in the next room, who came to the immediate conclusion her worst dread was realized, the big wooden bed upstairs had fallen on father.  She therefore screamed, “let‘s go to your poor father!” 

It was this shout rather than the noise of my cot falling that awakened Herman, in the same room with her.  He thought mother had become, for no apparent reason, hysterical. 

“You‘re all right, ma,” he shouted, trying to calm her.  They exchanged shout for shout for perhaps ten seconds.  “Let‘s go to your poor father!”  And, “you‘re all right!”  That woke up Briggs. 

By this time, I was conscious of what was going on in a vague way, but did not yet realize that I was under my bed. instead of on it.  Briggs, awakening in the midst of loud shouts of fear and apprehension, came to the quick conclusion that he was suffocating and that we were all trying to bring him out.  With a low moan, he grasped the glass of Campfir at the head of his bead, and, instead of sniffing it, poured it over himself.  The room reeked of Campfir.  Yuck, choked Briggs like a drowning man, for he had almost succeeded in stopping his breath under the deluge of pungent spirits. 

He leaped out of bed and groped towards the open window, but he came up against one that was closed.  With his hand, he beat out the glass, and I could hear it crash and tinkle in the alley way below.  It was at this juncture that I, in trying to get up, had the uncanny sensation of feeling my bed above me.  Foggy with sleep, I now suspected in my turn that the whole uproar was being made in a frantic endeavor to extricate me from what must have been an unheard of and perilous situation. 

“Get me out of this,: I bawled.  “Get me out.”  I thought I had the nightmarish belief that I was entombed in a mine.  “Yah,” gasped Briggs, floundering in his Campfir.

By this time, my mother, still shouting, pursued by Herman, still shouting, was trying to open the door to the attic in order to go up and get my father‘s body out of the wreckage.  The door was stuck, however, and would not yield.  Her frantic pulls on it only added to the general banging and confusion.  Roy and the dog were now up.  The one shouting questions, the other barking. 

Father, farthest away and soundest sleeper of all, had by this time been awakened by the battering on the attic door.  He decided the house was on fire.  “I‘m coming, I‘m coming,” he wailed in a slow, sleepy voice.  It took him many minutes to regain full consciousness.  My mother still believing he was caught under the bed detected in his “I‘m coming” the mournful resigned note of one who is preparing to meet his maker. 

“He‘s dying,” she shouted.  “I‘m all right,” Briggs yelled to reassure her.  “I‘m all right!”  He still believed that it was his own closeness to death that was worrying mother.  I found at last the light switch in my room, unlocked the door and Briggs and I joined the others at the attic door. 

The dog, who never did like Briggs, jumped for him, assuming that he was the culprit in whatever was going on.  And Roy had to throw Rex and hold him.  We could hear father crawling out of the bed upstairs.  Roy pulled the attic door open with a mighty jerk, and father came down the stares sleepy and irritable, but safe and sound. 

My mother began to weep when she saw him.  Rex began to howl.  “What in the name of God is going on here,” asked father. 

The situation was finally put together like a gigantic jigsaw puzzle.  Father caught a cold from prowling around in his bare feet.  But there were no other bad results.  “I‘m glad,” said mother, who always looked on the bright side of things, “that your grandfather wasn‘t here.” 

“The Night the Bed Fell,” by James Thurber. 

That‘s COUNTDOWN.  Tomorrow marks the seventh anniversary of the previous president announcing mission accomplished in Iraq.  Portions written here by James Thurber.  “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” is next with continuing coverage of the events in Arizona and the environmental crisis in the Gulf around New Orleans.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck. 

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

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