updated 9/16/2010 1:02:17 PM ET 2010-09-16T17:02:17

Guests: Dave Weigel, Chris Kofinis, Ezra Klein, Arshad Hasan

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

The 3,450 votes that changed the American political landscape.

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CHRISTINE O‘DONNELL ®, DELAWARE SENATORIAL CANDIDATE:  A united “We, the People” can win back our country.

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OLBERMANN:  The Tea Party triumph in Delaware eclipsed as the Republican Party comes apart at the seams.  Its senatorial election committee will only do the bare minimum for her.

Its gray eminence condemns her and her defenders on its own propaganda channel.

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KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH AIDE:  How does she make her living?  Why did she mislead voters about her college education?

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST:  I interviewed her, and I felt her explanations were far more plausible than was played up.

ROVE:  Did you ask her?  Did you ask her about the people who were following her home to her headquarters and how she‘s checked each night in the bushes?

O‘DONNELL:  Everything that he‘s saying is un-factual.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST:  What‘s going on?  Why is he so mad at a Republican?

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OLBERMANN:  And who leads those Republicans?  Tonight, another claimant steps forward.

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GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS HOST:  This 10 percent is going to be the shelter for the other 90 percent.  This 10 percent is going to—out of this 10 percent will be the leaders of tomorrow.

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OLBERMANN:  And the Democrats celebrating the schism, nervously celebrating the schism—while the president tries to seize the moment and become the tax cut man.

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STAN GREENBERG, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER:  A tax debate is good for the Democrats.

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OLBERMANN:  A Sarah Palin clone is nominated in Delaware—with Dave Weigel on the mad excitement of the Tea Party; Chris Kofinis on the practicality of electing somebody who only got 5 percent of all registered voters last night; the play-by-play of the Rove rebellion; Ezra Klein on the Democrat‘s practical response on taxes; Arshad Hasan on the incredible whiteness of being in a backlash doomed at its first by the demographics of an ever more diverse America.

All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.

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OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.

She won with the votes of only 16 percent of all registered Republicans in Delaware.  Her nomination may assure that the GOP does not regain the Senate.  But the marginalization of Christine O‘Donnell ends there.

In our fifth story: she is the eighth Tea Party-backed candidate to defeat an establishment Republican in this primary season.  So, the vampire that the GOP created in its basement is settling in its living room.  And the House that might go to Republicans in November could be far less beholden to Congressman John Boehner than to Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.

Meet the brand new Republican nominee for the Senate who has so-called Republican strategists in 2008 said of then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, quote, “He is so liberal that he‘s anti-American.”  That Christine O‘Donnell—the (INAUDIBLE) Delaware Republican has now defeated nine-term congressman, Mike Castle, 53 percent to 47 percent for the Senate seat formally occupied by Vice President Joe Biden.  But only 1/3 of Delaware‘s registered Republicans even voted, which means her nearly 30,000 votes represent only 16 percent of Delaware‘s registered Republicans, and only 5 percent of all registered voters in the state.

Congressman Castle would have done better in the general election, according to a new survey from the Democratic polling organization Public Policy Polling.  In a hypothetical match-up, Castle led the Democratic Senate nominee Chris Coons, but Coons leads O‘Donnell by double digits.

A senior aide to Congressman Castle tells “Politico” he will not be endorsing O‘Donnell.

And while one poll does not an election make, FiveThirtyEight‘s Nate Silver noticed this from the same survey, O‘Donnell‘s unfavorable ratings, already at 50 percent in Delaware, not leaving her much room to grow.

But no matter to the victor who today thumbed her nose at the Republican establishment.

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O‘DONNELL:  They never thought that I can win this race.  And I believe that we can win without them.  This is about giving the political power back to “We, the people.”  And we proved the so-called experts wrong.

So I think a few of them perhaps may have their pride hurt this morning.  But, you know, I didn‘t count on the establishment to win the primary.  I‘m not counting on them to win the general.  I‘m counting on the voters of Delaware.

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OLBERMANN:  If you‘re wondering what happened to Palin red, Ms.

O‘Donnell is wearing blue today, Ms. Palin wore blue today.

O‘Donnell‘s campaign Web site now simplified the “About Christy” page and why Christy page gone for now.  As “Think Progress” notes, the Web site may be reinvented to soften up the candidate, like Nevada‘s Sharron Angle did with her Web site shortly after her victory.

Meantime, the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Senator John Cornyn, has today tossed out his congratulations.  Cornyn had called O‘Donnell‘s chances of beating a Democrat a serious issue.  Today, his statement reads in part, “I reached out to Christine this morning, and as I have conveyed to all of our nominees, I offered her my personal congratulations and let her know that she has our support.  This support includes a check for $42,000 -- the maximum allowable donation that we have provided to all of our nominees.”  Forty-two grand.

The Tea Party Express spent $300,000 in advertising for the O‘Donnell primary run.

In New Hampshire, the more establishment GOP candidate there eked out a victory for the Senate nomination.

But just for kicks, let us not ignore the New York Republican gubernatorial nominee, Carl Paladino.  The Tea Party candidate infamous for forwarding e-mails featuring racist jokes, pornography and bestiality, crushed former Congressman Rick Lazio, 62 percent to 38 percent.  Mr. Lazio has not looked so irrelevant since he lost to then-First Lady Hillary Clinton for the Senate.

Finally, a footnote to the possible narrative that Tea Party candidates would crush their Democratic opponents or the other narrative that the extremism of those Tea Party candidates will assure victory for the Democrats -- 47 percent of registered voters nationwide still do not have an opinion about the Tea Party movement.  Twenty-nine percent view it unfavorably, 23 percent view it favorably—according to that CBS News/”New York Times” survey.

Let‘s bring in the political reporter for Slate.com, MSNBC contributor, Dave Weigel.

Dave, good evening.

DAVE WEIGEL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  We‘ll broaden this out to the new and devolved Republican Party in a bit.  But do Democrats need to worry about losing that Senate seat in Delaware?  If so, more so than they did 24 hours ago?  Less?  Where does it stand?

WEIGEL:  Much—much, much less.  I mean, they hoped this would happen.  But they didn‘t think it could happen.

I‘m from Delaware originally.  And Mike Castle is about essential to Delaware as, you know, expensive tolls and scrapple.  I mean, he‘s never lost an election until now.  He‘s been winning since LBJ was president.  So, no one thought this could happen.

And their reality—and I think the Republicans‘ reality, if you read between the lines of these statements, is that the election‘s over.  She—and she is going to, I think, play clips like what I said back, maybe in YouTube‘s—sorry—to prove—to prove that she can do this after all and then we all wrote her out.

OLBERMANN:  The $42,000 donation from Senator Cornyn and the Republican Senatorial Election Committee, that doesn‘t seem like that‘s the maximum that they provide to the other candidates.  What‘s—what‘s he saying there?

WEIGEL:  No, they are doing the pro forma activity they do for candidates.  And it‘s—and they were not going to last night.  Last night, they were very clear in saying, we are done with her.  You know, off the record, we‘re done with her.  On the record, we‘re done with her.

And they were goaded by the base and the base was people like Rush Limbaugh, people with blogs like Michelle Malkin, viciously goaded into doing this and, you know, I think with reason, because their attitude is, look, we won, suck it up.  We sucked it up and supported John McCain when he ran for president.  You suck it up and support this person that we decided was our favorite candidate in the world two weeks ago.

I mean, you didn‘t hear much about her—she‘s a talented candidate.  I spent some time with her on the trail.  She‘s a good, you know, pundit-turned-candidate.  But the speed with which they fell in love with her and demanded that the establishment falls in love with her says a lot about the pace of the election this year.

OLBERMANN:  Obviously, she had Sarah Palin behind her, Jim DeMint behind her, but not Senator Cornyn, not Karl Rove—something we‘ll be exploring in full and gory detail later, and not Dick Armey‘s FreedomWorks, nor the Club for Growth.  Is O‘Donnell and what happened—is this the classic example of the sort of Pyrrhic victory that the Tea Party is causing Republican Party to endure?  It‘s like, oh great, you got a—you got a nominee and you‘ve already declared her, you know, DOA?

WEIGEL:  Well, a tea partier would say that New York 23 was a Pyrrhic

was supposed to be the Pyrrhic victory.  And that is the victory that got people like John Cornyn, the chairman of the NRSC, to stay out of primaries.  I mean, if the NRSC have been more muscular in some of these primaries, they probably would have saved Lisa Murkowski.  I‘m not sure if they would have saved Mike Castle, probably.

           

You know, they actually met with Lisa Murkowski before her primary and hinted that she should really start spending money.  But they didn‘t swing elbows the way they did, for example, when Lincoln Chafee was in trouble or when Arlen Specter was in trouble against Pat Toomey.  I mean, they got—they got scared out of this.

And now, they‘re—if they‘re serious about this, this was the nightmare scenario.  This is a winnable, this was part of their map.  Taking Delaware was one of the four easiest elections they had.  And now, it‘s not easy.  I mean, it‘s not something they‘re going to spend money on.

So, this was—you know, for the movement, I mean, this is—this is people who decided like Jim DeMint decides, it‘s better to lose a clean fight than elect a moderate.  They won.  And the establishment lost.

OLBERMANN:  And what does the GOP do now?  Does it—does it, even those—obviously, there aren‘t a pack of primaries to go through yet—but do they pander now to the people who—who were successful?  Do they go even further to the extremes just to make sure the Tea Party people show up on Election Day?

WEIGEL:  Well, there‘s not much room to do that.  And they don‘t have to do a lot of that.  I mean, none of these camps would be electable at all.  Rand Paul wouldn‘t be electable at all if the economy was good.  The economy‘s not good.

So, the message every single day is going to be: you were only talking about this MTV video Christine O‘Donnell was in or the story about a frat that or a secret society, whatever sounds better that Rand Paul was in.  You‘re only talking about that because the economy‘s bad.  And that‘s going to get them very, very close to the finish line.

I mean, Christine O‘Donnell ran for Senate in 2008 against Joe Biden, when everyone knew this, they voted for Joe Biden, he was done.  It was kind of a fluke election, and she was destroyed.  She lost every county.

She‘s going to do definitely better than that this year just because the economy‘s bad.  So, that is what—I mean, it‘s—the election is going to take a little bit more reporting than that, it‘s not quite that boring.  But that‘s what it‘s about.

Republicans having to spend a little more time than they would like—

I‘d say making their candidates more generic.  You know, we like to talk of the generic Republican.  The problem they have, these are the least generic Republicans of all time and they have to make them electable.

OLBERMANN:  Dave Weigel of “Slate” and MSNBC—thank you, Dave.

WEIGEL:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  And the Democratic strategy in the wake of all of this? 

Well, here‘s Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis.

Chris, good evening.

CHRIS KOFINIS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  The midterm elections first.  A strong Democratic turnout is far from certain.  Thus, the Tea Party candidates have to be taken very seriously, even Christine O‘Donnell?

KOFINIS:  I would—I would not discount any candidate.  I mean, one

of the most, I think, you know, frustrating factors in this election so far

you know, the context in the economy may be bad, but what is really, I think, making the margins in some of these races where they are is there‘s a clear enthusiasm gap.  You know, Democrats, for whatever reason, some may be frustrated they didn‘t get everything what they want in terms of progressive agenda, some may be frustrated with the economy or something else—they‘re not enthused.

           

And I think, you know, Democrats need to have a wake-up call.  I mean, the choice in this election in particular in some of these races couldn‘t be more stark and scary.  You‘re talking about a growing wing of the Republican Party that is downright extreme and dangerous in terms of what they want to propose and pursue in terms of policy.  And if Democrats can‘t get excited about the fact or energized about the fact that we have to stop that, then I‘m not sure what‘s going to energize them.

And I think that is the stark choice that we face in November.  It‘s not a question about stopping a mainstream moderate Republican.  This is a right wing—extreme right wing dangerous element that wants to take this country in a very scary place.

OLBERMANN:  If the Republicans retake the House, who‘s in charge?  Is it John Boehner?  I mean, everybody makes jokes about Speaker of the House Boehner.  But could it be Speaker of the House Bachmann?

KOFINIS:  I don‘t think even the Republicans would know who‘s in charge.

I mean, here‘s what the Tea Party has done and I think what‘s the frightening element for the Republican Party—it is not just that they‘ve clearly had an impact in these primaries and taken out some of these establishment candidates from Utah to Alaska wherever it might be.  They have now paralyzed the establishment Republicans who are afraid if they don‘t what the Tea Party wants, they‘re going to be tea partied next.  They become the bogeyman for the Republican Party.

And so, I‘m not sure that anyone is going to be in charge because, you know, Boehner, if he happens to become speaker—I don‘t he will—but if he does, he is going to be paralyzed in terms of negotiating making deals.  I mean, from the legislative perspective, what will happen if the Republican wing—the Tea Party wing takes over, is going to be just paralysis on Capitol Hill.

OLBERMANN:  Can the Democrats get the mileage out of this that one would think when somebody goes ultra-extremist in this country—and any time that‘s history, that party, that one that went ultra-extremist has, if not necessarily in the short term and then certainly within a second vote, destroyed itself—the Republicans in 1964, perfect example of that; the Wigs in the 1850s, the historical example of that.

Is there enough of the Democrats to turn it around at this point by saying just sort of pointing at Sharron Angle, Christine O‘Donnell, Rand Paul, and running on the prospect of Obama tax cuts for the middle class?  Is that enough?

KOFINIS:  I mean, in terms of November, I think you have to do two things.  I think you have to paint a very stark contrast between these two parties.  And I think, in painting that in terms of the negative side is clearly framing these Republicans that would get in as an extreme, dangerous element.  I think we have to go out there.

Another part is make a very strong case in terms that we made not only the tough decisions, but the right decisions.  I think if we can do that successfully over the next five-plus weeks, we can minimize the losses.

The Republican Party‘s problem is they now are a prisoner to this Tea Party faction.  And when you‘re looking forward and thinking ahead in terms of 2012 -- I mean, can you just imagine what is going to happen in the Republican primaries when Sarah Palin and the other Tea Party candidates fight in terms of who is far—who is the most extreme.

I think this is where we have to think of both in the short-term and the long-term in terms of painting this narrative, and going out there and doing a strong case, enthusing our base.  But also making the case to moderate independents that we are the ones with common sense solutions.  It‘s not Republicans.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.  The 2012 Republican debates are one of the things that keeps me going.

KOFINIS:  It will be a show.

OLBERMANN:  Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis—as always, a pleasure.  Thank you, Chris.

KOFINIS:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  O‘Donnell‘s surprise victory was only the warm-up for a bigger surprise and a lot more fun.  Karl Rove promptly savaged her on FOX while Sean Hannity‘s head spun a full 360 degrees.  In the 24 hours since, it‘s gotten bad enough that the half-governor has just tweeted, pleading for conservative focus.  I thought Ms. O‘Donnell didn‘t like that.  GOP cannibalism—next.

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OLBERMANN:  Karl Rove will not go gently into the Tea Party good night.  The man they all worship is suddenly on the S list.  Rove versus O‘Donnell, Palin versus Rove, Rove versus O‘Donnell again and Palin‘s pleading tweet.

The Democrats are largely sitting back and watching, but not the president.  He has today attacked the Republicans for blocking his tax cuts.

Times are tough, but these two men are willing to stick out their necks to protect the poor and downtrodden of our nation—you know, their fellow pasty white guys and the suffering Tea Party that protects them.

Fire then fired.  And for once, the First Amendment really does apply. 

Why you and I must defend this Koran burner.  Ahead in “Worst.”

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OLBERMANN:  As we first reported here in 2006, in his book, “Tempting Faith,” David Kuo, the former special assistant to President Bush on such matters, wrote that Karl Rove‘s office referred to evangelical Christian leaders who support Rove coveted at the ballot box as “goofy, ridiculous, and nuts.”

Last night after, Christine O‘Donnell‘s victory interfered with Rove‘s designs to retake the Senate for Republicans, he went on TV, FOX, and described the Tea Party candidate as someone with “truthfulness and sincerity issues who says nutty things.”

In our fourth story: Karl Rove is the latest right-wing puppeteer displeased with the fringe candidate his party created.  Last night, he voiced his displeasure on FOX Republican news and the ensuing Republican infighting has played out like a scene from “28 Days Later.”

Karl Rove may be out of the White House, but he still has skin in the game.  His political action committee American Crossroads is spending millions to try to elect Republican senators in Nevada, Colorado, and elsewhere.

Before last night, Rove‘s belief was the Republicans could regain the Senate, and then O‘Donnell had fun storming the Castle and then Karl Rove went on FOX where he chewed up Ronald Reagan‘s 11th commandment, stuck it in a straw, and shot a sapping wet spitball at poor Sean Hannity.

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ROVE:  I‘ve met her.  I‘m not—I‘ve got to tell you, I wasn‘t frankly impressed as her, you know, abilities as a candidate.  And again, these serious questions about how does she make her living?  Why does she mislead voters about her college education?  Why—how did—how come it took her nearly two decades to pay her college bills so she could get her college degree?  How did she make a living?  Why did she sue a well-known and well-thought of conservative think tank?

It does conservative little good to support candidates who, at the end of the day, while they may be conservative in their public statements do not advance the characteristics of rectitude and truthfulness and sincerity and character that the voters are looking for.

HANNITY:  But I think that—

ROVE:  Well, we‘ll see how she can answer these questions.  She sure hasn‘t answered them thus far in the campaign.

HANNITY:  Well, I interviewed her—

ROVE:  And now in the general election, she will be asked about it.

HANNITY:  I interviewed her and felt her explanations were far more plausible than that was played up.

ROVE:  Did you ask her?  Did you ask her about the people who were following her home to her headquarters and how she‘s checked each night in the bushes?  Did you ask her—I mean, there‘s just a lot of nutty things she‘s been saying that just simply don‘t add up.

HANNITY:  It sounds like you don‘t support her, but I will tell you, I think—

ROVE:  I‘m for the Republican, but I‘ve got to tell you, we were—we were looking at eight to nine seats in the Senate.  We‘re now looking at seven to eight in my opinion.  This is not a race we‘re going to be able to win.

She attacked him by saying he‘d had a homosexual relationship with the young aide with not a bit of evidence to prove it.  So—

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HANNITY:  I heard—I heard the tape.  She said in that interview that he—she was not making that accusation.

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ROVE:  She—that was—that was the second interview.  She‘d already previously spread the rumor.  I mean, come on.

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OLBERMANN:  That happened before O‘Donnell‘s victory speech.  And the right wing blogosphere went at apoplectic.

Michelle Malkin called Rove an effete sore loser and she compared him to me.

Erick Erickson said Rove was in full-on meltdown.

And back in Dover, after O‘Donnell‘s speech, she handed the microphone to one of her supporters, Russ Murphy, executive director of Delaware‘s 9/12 Patriots, who had watched Rove dress down his candidate.  He told the crowd about his December 2009 meeting with Rove.  He says then Bush‘s brain asked the Tea Party crowd to ditch O‘Donnell.

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RUSS MURPHY, 9/12 DELAWARE PATRIOTS:  About a year ago, Karl Rove came to Delaware for a Republican thing, and he asked for a private meeting with the Tea—with the Tea Party groups, the grassroots groups.  And we went and sat down with him.  And he tried to convince us how we needed to get behind the party and how we need to get behind a candidate that was electable.  He said, what I really want to do is tell you folks how to work with a candidate and how to get things done.  And I said, sir, with all due respect, no one is going to tell us how to take care of business.

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OLBERMANN:  We‘re not going to do what you say anymore, Karl.

This morning it was Tokyo Rose Limbaugh‘s turn to freak out.

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LIMBAUGH:  I‘ve never heard Karl so animated against a Democrat as she was against Christine O‘Donnell last night.  We‘re talking about Christine O‘Donnell‘s baggage, where is this criticism of Democrats?  Where has it been?  If 51 seats was really the objective, if getting that majority is really that important, then let‘s go balls to the wall for Christine O‘Donnell.

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OLBERMANN:  Happy thoughts, happy thoughts, happy thoughts.

This morning, Christine O‘Donnell swung back at Rove on “Good Morning America” and turned to the unsmooth, un-factual word to repudiate Rove‘s charges.

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O‘DONNELL:  Everything that he‘s saying is un-factual.  And it‘s a shame because he‘s the same so-called political guru that predicted I wasn‘t going to win.  And we won and we won big.  So, I think, again—you know, he‘s eating some humble pie, and he‘s just trying to restore his reputation.

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OLBERMANN:  With the ball back in his court—happy thoughts—Rove booked himself on FOX News earlier today.  Rather than backing down, he basically gave the Democratic candidate Chris Coons his next campaign ad for free.

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ROVE:  I think the questions about why she had a—did have a problem for five years with paying her federal income taxes, why her house was foreclosed on and put up for a share of sale, why it took 16 years for her to settle her college debt and get her diploma after she went around for years claiming she was a college graduate.  These and other troubling sort of personal background—she thinks that she has explained them.  I think she‘s got to—I think a lot of voters in Delaware are going to want more than she‘s offering to them right now.  And we‘ll see.

I mean, 59 days from now, we‘ll see if these issues matter or not.  And if she wins, more power to her.  She‘s got—she‘s right on the issues.  But I think the voters of Delaware are not going to just want to know are you right on the issues?  But do you have the character and record and background that gives me confidence you‘re the right person for the job?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You think she‘s not electable?

ROVE:  Well, look, that‘s going to be proven.  What I said last night was: she‘s got to answer these troubling questions.  It‘s not enough.  She said, look, I‘m puzzled as to why the IRS put a lien on me.  Well, you don‘t have an IRS lien put on your taxes you failed to pay in 2005, five years later, unless you haven‘t paid your taxes.

You know, she said it was a technical mistake by the bank why her house was the subject of a foreclosure lawsuit that she lost and her house was put up for sale at a sheriff‘s sale.  And just before the sheriff‘s sale, she sold the house on which she owed ninety-some-odd-thousand dollars.  She sold it $135,000 to her boyfriend who was also her campaign adviser.

I mean, people are going to want to know more about these.  What did she do?  Why did she only have $5,800 in living expenses?  Why did she claim to be a graduate of Fairleigh Dickenson in the mid-‘90s—since the mid-‘90s, when it turns out she just got her degree because she had unpaid college bills that they had to sue her over.

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OLBERMANN:  One thing Mr. Rove forgot, though, Christine O‘Donnell is a mama grizzly and when a mama grizzly is attacked, the original mama grizzly nibbles on brains.

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SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR (via telephone):  Well, bless his heart.  I—you know, we love our friends, they‘re in the machine, the expert politicos.  But my message to those who say that the GOP nominee is not electable or that they‘re not even going to try—well, I say, buck up.  Yes, the cannibals, I think there are fewer of those than there are of us.  And us would be just—we, the people.  So, it is time to put aside internal power grabs and greed and egos within the party and to fight united for what‘s right and beneficial for all Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Dolores Umbridge then put down the phone and tweeted, “Independents, GOP focus.  The weakened leftist party is the point.  It allows unified effort to reign in fed govt‘s overreach and protect Constitution.”

Dr. Freud would note that she misspelled “reign.”  She used the regal version.  And with the O‘Donnell victory coming at the price of the Rove rebellion, uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.

The Democratic answer to all this?  Steal the tax cut mojo.  Next.

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OLBERMANN:  President gets the message and gives it out.  They are his tax cuts and the Republicans are blocking them.  Next.  First, the sanity break and the Tweet of the day from Third Bowl of porridge.  That would be Ken McElroy (ph).  “Breaking news tonight, GOP pitches a big tent.  O‘Donnell tells them they best take a cold shower.” 

See, he made a self-abuse funny there.  Let‘s play Oddball.

She had this whole—never mind.  We begin in Dubanesoir (ph), India.  Move over crazy cat lady, we now have bird man.  Rupesh Nayak (ph) has turned his home into one large bird sanctuary.  The cage is large enough that trees can grow on the inside, which makes the birds feel more at home. 

Neighbors say at first they were bothered by the noise, but they now find it soothing.  I‘m sure the fact that he is also a city councilman had nothing to do with their acceptance of this.  Not clear how many birds birdman owns, but he is single handedly saving the newspaper industry in India. 

To a galaxy far, far away, Ferndale, Michigan.  I guess the emperor does not pay as well as he used to.  Darth Vader, in desperate need of funding for the Death Star, has decided to rob a convenience store.  But he forgot outlaw rule number one, put the mask on before walking in, not afterwards.  See?  Maybe he thought he was using his force ability.  He couldn‘t get it.  Second try.  OK, sparky.  Instead of the first cloakability, he was just using stupidity.  You have plenty of time to master the ways of the force, or at least when to don your disguise in the big house. 

Finally to Brussels for the Comic Book Parade.  Apparently, Belgium has a very rich comic book history, from the Smurfs to Betty Boop, all the once popular characters are there.  It‘s their version of the Macy‘s Day Parade with one exception—not her.  There is, in fact, a balloon representation of the Manneken Pis statue.  I‘m not sure who the genius is who decided to represent a 17th century statue of a young boy urinating, but it gives new meaning to the phrase, your balloon is leaking. 

An apt description of the GOP at the moment, as its air goes to whoever can grab it first.  One of those trying to the president on his middle class tax cuts, next.

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OLBERMANN:  Facing the potentiality of a Tea-fueled tidal wave in November, a political movement united in its demand to shrink government debt, the Democratic party is right now debating whether maybe it might be a good idea to stand up against a plan to add another half trillion or so to the debt to pay for a tax cut for the richest two percent of Americans.  Our third story tonight, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell put a bow on this gift today.  But despite strong words from the president, it‘s still not clear whether Democrats will be smart enough to take that gift. 

Specifically, the “Washington Post” reports today that McConnell was asked how he would pay for his proposal to extend and add to all the Bush tax cuts, a plan that would nearly double projected deficits over the next ten years, adding four trillion in just the first decade, and more in decades subsequent. 

How to pay for four trillion plus?  His office told the post, McConnell supports a spending freeze that would save 300 billion dollars.  Good, only 3.7 trillion dollars to go, Mr. McConnell.  There are signs Democrats are hungry to make this an issue before November, especially Republican insistence that they will block President Obama‘s plan to extend tax cuts for every household on the first quarter million in income, if Republicans can not also get additional tax cuts on income above a quarter million.   

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Right now, we could decide to extend tax relief for the middle class.  Right now, we could decide that every American household would receive a tax cut on the first 250,000 dollars of their income.  But, once again, the leaders across the aisle are saying no.  They want to hold these middle class tax cuts hostage until they get an additional tax cut for the wealthiest two percent of Americans.  We simply can‘t afford that. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Last night, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the House Dem Campaign Committee, came out of a meeting with Democratic House members on precisely the issue of whether to force Republicans to vote on this before voters vote on them in November.  And I asked him whether the House plans to do so. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND:  I think there will be a vote in the Congress.  Again, this is something that‘s under discussion.  I think there will be a vote in the Congress.  Whether the Senate goes first or the House goes first, that‘s the kind of thing that needs to be resolved. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  With conservative Dems still wavering, the “Huffington Post” today reporting that Senate Leader Harry Reid is considering pursuing Republican support for just the middle class tax cuts by allowing Republicans at least a chance to hold a full vote on whether to extend all tax cuts. 

Let‘s turn to MSNBC contributor Ezra Klein, also staff reporter for the “Washington Post” and a columnist at “Newsweek”.  Ezra, good evening. 

EXRA KLEIN, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Good evening, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Politically, why wouldn‘t Harry Reid give his eye teeth for a Filibuster of tax cuts for the middle class? 

KLEIN:  Because talking to Democrats about tax cuts is like talking to Indiana Jones about snakes.  They‘re terrified of the issue.  They lose on it over and over again.  They‘re just absolutely petrified that‘s what is going to happen is they‘re going to grab small business people—they‘re going to grab some sort of sympathetic rich person, get him in there, and people begin to think, you know what?  Democrats are going to raise taxes again. 

Democrats have pretty much been like this largely since Reagan. 

OLBERMANN:  But to that point, there was a thing in the “Huffington Post” this afternoon about the Democratic resistance, which said essentially what you did.  The fear is that Republicans will find a small businessman and sit him before a camera, fretting that tax hikes will make it harder for him to hire people.  A rising deficit makes interest rates rise and that makes it harder for businesses to borrow.  And, in fact, on our news hour, we‘d already had a small businesswoman, who was the CEO of Betty‘s Family of Restaurants, Elizabeth Lesner (ph).  She was on this program.  She talked about how tax cuts for the rich are not going to help her out, not going to help her hire new people. 

Weigh in on the competing views here, if you would. 

KLEIN:  I don‘t think people have a sense of what the numbers are here.  When we talk about the tax cuts, the Republican plan right now, it would add four trillion dollars to the deficit over the next ten years.  Nothing that Obama has done, even if you multiply it by itself a couple times over, has done anything like that.  That is five times larger than the stimulus.  That is—I think it‘s about 15 times larger than what Tarp will end up being, which will only be about 66 billion dollars. 

So this is a huge increase on the deficit.  And by the way, Obama‘s middle class tax plan is about 3.2 trillion on the deficit.  So we just went, in a couple of months, from everybody saying the deficit is the most important issue in American politics to should we increase it by three trillion dollars or four trillion dollars?  This is what American politics is. 

And nobody levels with the American people on it, right?  The Republicans don‘t say we think this is worth four trillion on the deficit.  Obama doesn‘t say I think it‘s worth three trillion on the deficit.  We just sort of swing back and forth between pretending we‘re concerned about the deficit and pretending we‘re concerned about taxes.  And never ever deal as a country with the dissonance between those two positions. 

OLBERMANN:  If you take as a given that the Democrats get away with that because they‘re experienced politicians, and it‘s business as usual and the rest of that, how do people in the Tea Party look at themselves in the mirror under the same circumstances and say, wait, do I want to cut taxes or do I want to cut the deficit?  Or do they just not appear in their own mirror? 

KLEIN:  I don‘t think they appear in the mirror.  There was a “New York Times” poll of Tea Partiers a while back showing the majority preferred cutting taxes compared to the deficit.  I was actually looking into this today, so I went back to a Christine O‘Donnell interview from a couple weeks back, I think it was.  And she said, yes, we need to extend the Bush tax cuts.  And Rand Paul said yes, we need to extend the Bush tax cuts.  But neither of them said how they would pay for it.  And this is the same Rand Paul who said he would filibuster any budget that wasn‘t balanced. 

So we have a sort of a weird escape clause in American politics, where you‘re supposed to tell the American people that you‘re coming to Washington to make tough decisions, but you‘re never supposed to tell them about any of the tough decisions you‘ll make.  And, in fact, once you get there, you don‘t actually try to make any of the tough ones at all. 

Eventually, this bill will come due.  The fact that we don‘t talk about it doesn‘t mean it won‘t happen.  But nobody‘s saying how they‘re going to pay it. 

OLBERMANN:  Short-term, the same question I asked Congressman Van Hollen last night, and Pete Greenberg, the pollster.  Are the Democrats going to put the Republicans up against the wall on middle class tax cuts and say, either vote for these or let‘s see you veto them?  Is it going to happen before the election? 

KLEIN:  If it‘s going to happen, it will be because their base is pushing them to do it.  At the end of the day, Democrats and politicians in general tend to like to stay quiet right before elections.  Even though the polls are in their favor on this, they‘re a little bit nervous.  What if it backfires?  They tend to be more comfortable with risks they know. 

But there‘s a lot of pressure from folks like you and others in the Democratic base to do it.  So I wouldn‘t be shocked to see it happen. 

OLBERMANN:  Well, if it‘s about me, forget it.  We‘re that bad off. 

MSNBC contributor Ezra Klein, always a pleasure.  Thank you, Ezra.

KLEIN:  Thank you. 

OLBERMANN:  So who is in charge of the new landscape of the far right? 

He says he is.  The nation‘s demographics say the far right has had it.  And Sarah Palin has just issued a new proclamation about how to deal with it.  Just put your message out through Fox News, she says. 

Fired?  For burning pages of the Koran.  Fired by the government.  I don‘t think so.  Worst persons ahead. 

And Rachel joins you at the top of the hour with a very special guest, well-timed given the story in Delaware, Vice President Joe Biden.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  As Sarah Palin wrestles Karl Rove for the control of the Republican party and Fox News, and not necessarily in that order, tonight, Palin has publicly told the new Republican Senate nominee in Delaware how to bypass the party using Fox.  She said tonight, quote, “she is going to have to learn very quickly to dismiss what some of her handlers want.  Remember what happened to me?  She‘s going to have to learn that quickly, dismiss that, go with her gut, get out there, speak to the American people, speak through Fox News and let the independents who are tuning in—let them know what it is she stands for, the principles behind her positions.”

There‘s apparently always an authority to rebel against for Ms. Palin, and she is still operating under the delusion that independents watch Fox News. 

Worsts.  And then we‘ll wrap up the O‘Donnell story with Tea Party celebrations.  But they‘re celebrating like they‘re the Hapsburg empire and it‘s 1899.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  What the Tea Party means for the future of the Republican party, if it has one.  That‘s next, but first, get out your pitchforks and torches, time for tonight‘s worst persons in the world. 

The bronze to Mark Smith of Watsonville, California.  Police say he walked into a bank there, said he had a bomb in his backpack and if they didn‘t give him 2,000 bucks, he‘d blow up the bank.  In passing, Mr. Smith allegedly said he needed the money to pay the rent of a friend.  Thinking quickly, the bank manager said, you don‘t need to do that, we can loan you the money.  Mr. Smith said, great.  He sat down.  The bank manager left to get the paperwork for him to fill out.  While she was gone, she called 911 and the cops came and arrested the guy. 

The runners-up, Arco Gas Stations and its ad agency, Ogilvy & Mather.  They had a great idea, did these mad men, a radio commercial satirizing the Emergency Broadcasting System.  What could go wrong with that?  It started with the same knock your fillings loose tones you hear in actual alerts, then this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The following alert is from Arco Straight Up Gas Institute and our every day value system.  This is only a test. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You can usually save five cents and sometimes ten cents on every gallon at Arco. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Guess what happened next?  Some emergency broadcasting systems around the country were actually started by the use of the tones heard in the commercial, especially the part we didn‘t play.  What they did was at least against FCC rules, possibly against the law, and it confused and even scared a lot of people.  Surprise, surprise, Arco is now a subsidiary of BP. 

But our winners, New Jersey Transit; Derek Fenton was a coordinator, then a rolling stock coordinator for the state-run railroad there.  He was the guy who last Saturday, at a protest against the Park51 Islamic Center in New York ripped pages from the Koran and started to burn them, before he was led away by the police, questioned, but of course not charged. 

Then New Jersey transit fired him.  A spokesman said only, quote, “Mr.  Fenton‘s public actions violated New Jersey transit‘s Code of Ethics.  NJ transit concluded that Mr. Fenton violated his trust as a state employee and therefore was dismissed.”

Look, burning pages from the Koran is a reprehensible and unthinking act.  It‘s the same kind of religious insanity that fuels hatred against us.  If Mr. Fenton worked for a private company and did what he did, the consequences are whatever the company would decide they should be.  But he didn‘t.  He worked for a branch of the state government.  And this is where the First Amendment actually does come in for a change.  Government in this country cannot abridge or punish your free speech, nor Derek Fenton‘s.  Firing him did exactly that. 

New Jersey Transit, today‘s worst persons in the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Let‘s finish, if Ms. O‘Donnell will let us.  Republicans might win the House in two months.  They might win the Senate in two months.  They might even win the White House in two years.  But our number one story tonight, it just might be the fear of what happens in the next two decades that has fueled Republican energy in this election cycle, because the future of the Republican party, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of its life, is a grim one. 

Two days ago on his radio program, Glenn Beck suggested otherwise, claiming that his fans represent this nation‘s political future. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  We have 30 million people in our footprint, 30 million people.  Well, that‘s 10 percent of the population.  A lot of people say that‘s only 10 percent.  That‘s 10 percent of the population.  Here‘s the good news, this 10 percent is going to be the shelter for the other 90 percent.  This 10 percent is going to—out of this 10 percent will be the leaders of tomorrow. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  So who are these leaders of tomorrow?  This alleged 30 million who buy whatever Beck is selling?  You‘re looking at them.  This is his audience at his Washington rally on September 11th.  They are white people.  They are Christian people, they are old people.  Which means not only will the leaders of tomorrow die tomorrow-ish, they‘re not even replacing themselves in the population. 

Beck‘s 10 percent is shrinking.  Out of every thousand white women, 60 had a baby in 2006, compared to 70 babies for every thousand black woman and compared to, for every 1,000 Hispanic women, 102 babies.  As of 2006 birth rates, white Americans were falling just short of replacing themselves in the population.  Hispanics were not only replacing themselves, they were tossing in .96 of another one for good measure. 

The implications for the white Christian male power structure is obvious.  Or at least they were back in 2007 for one member of the white Christian male power structure named Bill O‘Reilly, who feared for the future of that structure if the far left had its way.  He was urging Senator John McCain not to let more immigrants into this country. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  They want to break down the white Christian male power structure, which you are a part, and so am I.  And they want to bring in millions of foreign nationals to basically break down the structure that we have.  In that regard, Pat Buchanan is right.  So I say that you‘ve got to cap it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Let‘s bring in a non-member of the white Christian male power structure, Arshad Hasan, executive director of the group Howard Dean founded, Democracy for America.  Thanks for your time tonight, sir. 

ARSHAD HASAN, DEMOCRACY FOR AMERICA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR:  My pleasure. 

OLBERMANN:  Correcting my videotape, that‘s Bush‘s—Beck‘s rally from 8/28, not the one from 9/11.  On the numbers, who is right here?  Is the future Glenn Beck‘s audience or Bill O‘Reilly‘s worst fears? 

HASAN:  Well, you lead it out, Keith.  Any seventh grader can do this math, and clearly Glenn Beck hasn‘t been able to.  This is a nation that‘s becoming increasingly diverse and increasingly pluralistic.  And if we want to build a movement—and I think, you know, Glenn Beck has been really trying to do that, I guess.  If you want to build a movement, you have to be able to build a broad, progressive movement that is broad based. 

If you have to do the math, if Glenn Beck really wants to do the math, we actually already have a successful model.  Barack Obama won with enormous portion, enormous share of the vote.  And that was a coalition built of young people, minorities, people of broad interests all over this country. 

OLBERMANN:  How much of the enthusiasm, thus, that we see from the right, particularly in the last few months—how much of that actually is coming out of fears about what it means for them—means for them to join everybody else, basically, in being a minority in this country?  Fears about the death of whatever values and culture they think are unique to them? 

HASAN:  I think it‘s ludicrous to fear being a minority in this country.  I‘m not really afraid of being a minority, and I‘m already one.  So I think if he really wants to reach out, he should think about—or he and whoever else in the Tea Party should really think about what the main concerns are in this country.  People want an economy that works for everyone.  And that‘s an issue that‘s both broad-based and really appeals to that progressive base of young people and minorities.

OLBERMANN:  But does it boil down to something as simple as when we see people hysterically saying we want our country back, it‘s—it‘s basically a white country that‘s nice to acceptable minorities? 

HASAN:  Well, they‘ve created their own mythology about what this country used to be.  So I don‘t find any of that even relevant. 

OLBERMANN:  The Republican party, of course, gave us the southern strategy in the ‘70s, picking out racism against black people.  And Ken Mehlman has just admitted the use of homophobia in the first decade of this century.  And we‘ve seen the same tactics used much more recently against Latinos and Muslims, especially. 

Wasn‘t there going to be a Republican big tent at one point?  Or have we just sort of forgotten that one? 

HASAN:  Clearly that didn‘t work.  And I don‘t think there was really any sincerity behind a supposed big tent.  If there was a big tent, remember, there was actually an effort in the ‘90s to reach out to Muslims in the Republican party.  That clearly didn‘t work.  And this decade, we‘ve had briefly an attempt in the Bush administration to reach out to Latinos in this country. 

The minute that these Tea Party people, who are clearly taking over the country—the minute that they have an opportunity to throw anyone else under the bus, they will.  And that‘s not a big tent. 

OLBERMANN:  Isn‘t the right‘s quandary then that if you modernize conservatism, you basically kill it? 

HASAN:  I think it‘s a bit too late for them to think about it.  It‘s almost over-intellectualizing it.  You‘ve got Glenn Beck and you‘ve got Rush Limbaugh going out there and saying, this—we‘re the future.  This is it.  We‘re the future, when demographically that is false.  And honestly, if you‘re building a pluralistic society, that‘s not where this country is headed. 

OLBERMANN:  Executive director of Democracy for America, Arshad Hasan, thank you kindly for your time. 

HASAN:  Thank you. 

OLBERMANN:  That‘s September 15th.  It‘s the 2,694th days since President Bush declared mission accomplished in Iraq, the 2,283rd day since he declared victory in Afghanistan, and the 149th day of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck. 

And now to discuss Vice President Joe Biden‘s old Senate seat with Vice President Joe Biden, ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow.  Good booking, Rachel. 

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