updated 9/29/2010 11:29:35 AM ET 2010-09-29T15:29:35

Guests: Arshad Hasan, David Corn, Rep. Chaka Fattah, David Cross

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

Hold everything.  The junior senator from South Carolina puts a personal block on all legislation, raising a personal middle finger to everybody.

The president‘s epiphany—the day he realized the Republicans would not cooperate at all, the stimulus meeting, January 27th, 2009.  So, why has he been trying to get them to cooperate ever since?

Pelosi and Hoyer, will they cooperate?  Complete agreement on middle class tax cuts, says the majority leader—except, apparently, that little detail on whether or not to hold a vote.

The governor‘s (INAUDIBLE) --

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GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER ®, ALASKA:  Oil companies like Valero and Tesoro and Frontier and Koch Industries are blatantly trying to manipulate the will of the people and the public good.

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OLBERMANN:  Arnold Schwarzenegger in defense of the California climate change laws under attack by big oil.

The latest secret Sharron Angle does not want you to know.

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SHARRON ANGLE ®, NEVADA SENATE CANDIDATE:  I‘m not going to have any more babies, but I get to pay for it on my insurance.

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OLBERMANN:  Actually, you and I pay for Sharron Angle‘s insurance.

And the great religious quiz: 45 percent of American Catholics don‘t know what the whole wafer thing is about.  Thirty-three percent of American Protestants don‘t know who started the protest.

Who better to ask about this than the star of the new series, “The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret”?

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DAVID CROSS, “THE INCREASINGLY POOR DECISIONS OF TODD MARGARET”:  I

am filled with energy.  That‘s the great thing about (INAUDIBLE).  I‘m running around!

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OLBERMANN:  It‘s David Cross.

All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.

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CROSS:  And scene (ph).

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OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.

Thirty-five days before the midterm elections and two days before the likely recess of the Senate, it is no longer one lawmaker giving the finger to the majority party, it is now that same lawmaker giving one finger to each party.

Our fifth story: Jim DeMint threatening to hold up even noncontroversial widely supported legislation unless it is cleared first by him.  And in so doing, giving us a glimpse of an even more obstructionist Republican Party, one that is fully under the command of its Tea Party extremist masters.

The South Carolina senator‘s warning and demand was sent to the chiefs of staffs of all 99 of his colleagues that he would place a hold on all legislation that had not been hot lined by the close of business today.  Hot-lining is a routine practice in which noncontroversial legislation is expedited for a vote.  It‘s used by the leaders of both parties for legislation has virtually unanimous support.

For example, as of this past August, 372 bills had passed the House, many of them unanimously, according to “Think Progress.”  But none of those bills have passed in the Senate.  The Senate‘s hot-lining alleviates some of the unnecessary backlog.

But Senator DeMint has other ideas, telling Politico.com that his staff has now reviewed 40 to 50 bills that both parties want to clear by unanimous consent before it adjourns this week.  Senator DeMint further claims that he is looking for bills that have price tags and are not paid for.

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid responded, quoting, “I wonder what Minority Leader McConnell thinks about Minority Leader DeMint‘s unilateral declaration.  One thing I know for sure is if their conference continues to follow the lead from the junior senator from South Carolina, then the only title that precedes his name or Senator McConnell‘s name will be minority leader.”

Meantime, Senate Democrats picked their last major battle before adjournment and lost against a GOP filibuster and a handful of defections from inside their own party.

The Creating American Jobs and End Offshoring Act failed today.  Fifty-three senators supported, but that was still seven votes short of getting passed the now customary filibuster.  The bill was designed to reward companies which move jobs to the United States and it was intended to diminish a particularly ugly brand of outsourcing as described by Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio.

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SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO:  That is where a company will—an industry will close their manufacturing in our country, they‘ll move their production and build factories in another country and then sell the products back to the U.S.  Never have large number of businesses and industries done that, to my knowledge before.  We went from 1 million manufacturing jobs 10 years ago, and then during the Bush years, it shrunk to 600,000 manufacturing jobs in this country.

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OLBERMANN:  Joining me now, the executive director for Democracy for America, Arshad Hasan.

Good evening. Arshad.  Good to see you in person.

ARSHAD HASAN, DEMOCRACY FOR AMERICA:  Good evening, Keith.  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  Is this what it looks like?  Is this Senator DeMint busting a Tea Party cap on back sides of both parties?

HASAN:  Well, I mean, let‘s be clear, the Tea Party has been working to take over the Republican Party.  So, it‘s clearly a maneuver that allows us to see what the Tea Party wants.  And honestly, Keith, it‘s not so different.

Jim DeMint said right here that he is the “party of no.”  That the Tea Party, the Republican Party doesn‘t matter.  He doesn‘t want anything passed.

What this move effectively does is slows down all legislation in the Senate.

OLBERMANN:  But any senator has the right to do this, including Senator DeMint.  Why is this so extraordinary?  And why have we not seen somebody do this before particularly in these, you know, increasingly polarized times?

HASAN:  Well, you know, they call—they call it a senatorial courtesy.  But what Jim has done here, Senator DeMint has done, is anything but a courtesy.  It‘s been an extraordinarily discourteous maneuver, a tactic for the American people.

The reason this is different is that while we do this sometimes, our senators do this sometimes, whether it‘s to pass—whether it‘s to expedite legislation or occasionally make a fuss about, well, I want this particular piece of pork in my district or I have an ideological problem with this.  What this is a categorical blanket slowdown of all legislation in the Senate.

OLBERMANN:  Is there a point to it other than to show he can do it?

HASAN:  Well, Senator DeMint revealed early on in the health care—in the health care fight what his agenda is.  He wanted—he called the health care fight, Obama‘s Waterloo.  All he wants to do and all the Tea Party, Republican Party folks want to do is slow down any effective legislation—basically prove that Democrats can‘t do anything.

OLBERMANN:  Is that—is this some sort of preview for after November 2nd?  Because the Democrats may very well retain the Senate, but there will be Republican candidates.  There‘s nobody‘s predicting otherwise for that.  That‘s not in doubt.

Assess this in terms of that.  Is it, in fact, some warm-up action?  Or this is—is there a preview what life will look like under a smaller Democratic majority or a Republican majority in the Senate?

HASAN:  Well—so, here‘s the thing I would look for after November

after November 2nd.  I want to look for exactly who‘s winning these races.  So, sure, we‘re going to lose a few Democratic seats, that‘s what everyone is saying.  And it is true that we‘re not going to lose everything.

      

But I‘m going to look at people who are progressive—whether those progressives have won.  I think there‘s still an opportunity for progressives to really make the agenda here.

Or if we don‘t have clear and contrasting, you know, Democrats versus Republicans really good elections, really good races—then we‘re essentially ceding this to the Republicans.

OLBERMANN:  The Democrats are left to do what then?  If you—if you—if a DeMint can just stand on his hind legs and say, “All business stops because I say so,” under these circumstances, what are—what is the answer?  What is the answer in terms of even dropping the left/right equation out of this?  What is the answer in terms of government if nothing is going to get done because of one guy?

HASAN:  Well, I just think the answer is that Democrats ought to draw a clear contrast, right now to the election, as to what the Republican agenda is—Jim DeMint has done us a favor in this regard - and what Democrats can do.

Take a look at people like Russ Feingold who‘ve really drawn a line in the sand as to what he stands for—jobs and economy that works for everyone, middle class tax cuts.  When he indicated he was in a little bit of trouble in his election, he was able, through Democracy for America and a number of other progressive organizations, was able to get $100,000 of contributions in 24 hours.

There is enthusiasm on the Democratic side.  But what we need to do to make sure this happens is to draw a clear contrast between Democrats, progressives, and the Republican Party with the Tea Party.

OLBERMANN:  They‘re one in the same.

Arshad Hasan of Democracy for America—great thanks for coming in.

HASAN:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  And if there were ever any doubt that President Obama was keenly aware of the political maelstrom surrounding him, there is this extraordinary “Rolling Stone” interview.  January 7th, 2009, only a week after his inauguration, the president was on his way to a meeting with Republicans to present and gather ideas on the stimulus bill.

Quoting him, “And on the way over, the caucus”—that is the Republican Caucus—“essentially released a statement that said, ‘We‘re not—we‘re going to vote know as a caucus.‘  And this was before we‘d even had the conversation.  At that point, we realized that we weren‘t going to get the kind of cooperation we‘d anticipated.  The strategy the Republicans were going to pursue is one of sitting on the sidelines trying to gum up the works, based on the assumption that given the scope and size of the recovery, the economy probably wouldn‘t be very good even in 2010 and that they were better off being able to assign the blame to us than work with us to try to solve the problem.”

As for the communications and off time fundraising arm of the GOP, FOX News, the president seemed to be under no illusion about its effect.  “It is part of the tradition that has a very clear, undeniable point of view.  It‘s a point of view that I disagree with.  It‘s a point of view that I think is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country.”

The president also said that the Tea Party was a mixed bag of different strains in American politics, including libertarians and social conservatives.  But he was clear that moneyed interests underpinned much of the movement.

Quoting again, “There‘s no doubt that the infrastructure and the financing of the Tea Party come from some very traditional, very powerful special interest lobbies.  I don‘t think this is a secret,” President Obama said.  “Dick Armey and FreedomWorks, which  was one of the first organizational mechanisms to bring Tea Party folks together are financed by very conservative industries and forces.”  “Forces,” the president added, “that are against environmental laws and clean energy policy, as well as regulations to protect workers and rein in the financial industry.”

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

David, good evening.

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES:  Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  I need to preface what I‘m going to say here with something that the deputy press secretary, Mr. Burton, said in a gaggle aboard Air Force One this afternoon about whether or not the president feels appreciated.  Let me quote Mr. Burton directly.

“What the president is doing is making sure that people know, whether you‘re on the left or on the right, that we‘ve done a lot, we‘ve got a lot more to do.  And if you‘re on the left, if you‘re somebody like Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow, or one of the folks who helps to keep our government honest and pushes and prods to make sure that folks are true to progressive vales, then he thinks that those folks provide an invaluable service.”

I want to thank Mr. Burton for his kind words and the president for his.  And I want to sort of rise to this bar, I hope, by asking this—if on the eighth day of the administration, the president knew the GOP has just anti-everything, why ever since has he been negotiating with them as if he could ever get a “yes” from them?

CORN:  I think it‘s because the president doesn‘t watch zombie movies.

OLBERMANN:  That‘s right.

CORN:  And you can‘t negotiate with zombies, you can‘t trust zombies and you—you know, and he continued after that point.

I mean, I read the “Rolling Stone” interview today, and that was a striking acknowledgment on his part, because after, you know, getting—you know, after getting that big “no” from them on stimulus spending, he ran into it again and again on the energy front, on health care, on Wall Street reform.  And each time he was, you know, he spent a lot of effort and a lot of political capital trying to work with the zombie party.  And he kept hitting his head against the same wall.

Maybe if he‘d come to that conclusion earlier, things would look a little different today.

OLBERMANN:  These zombies, though, don‘t eat brains, clearly.

You know this—this president, more than any and probably we‘ve seen in a long time, really take seriously the idea that he‘s a president of people who didn‘t vote for him.  So, he can understand that pressure working against whatever his instincts might have been on January 7th, 2009.

But all those things that you brought up, public option, climate legislation, immigration, even more jobs bills, things that didn‘t happen.  Are—they can now be seen within the sort of the rubric of the certain political calculations.  Is it supposed to make it more palatable or more bearable to the disappointed out there?  Out here?

CORN:  I don‘t think the problem is that the president compromised.  Sometimes that is necessary down here in Washington to get something through.  I think the problem was the way he went about doing it.  You can compromise and still win and define your own narrative.  That‘s a very popular word here amongst pundits, “narrative.”

By which the stimulus was a good example.  We all know now that it probably should have been twice as big as it was.  Now, that probably wouldn‘t have passed through the Senate with all our Republican obstructionist pals there.  So, the president, though, could‘ve said at the time, “Listen, we need a bigger stimulus.  I will take what they give me.  But I tell you, it‘s not going to be good enough.”  And that way when unemployment, you know, is at 9.6 rather than 7.6, he has an argument to be made, which is “I told you we needed to do more and the Republicans prevented us from doing that.”

But instead at the time, he did all the compromising, he won over three or four Republicans, whatever the number was, and he said this bill is great.  And that put him in a jam because unemployment went up to 9.6 and he gave the Republicans the opportunity to say, “See, we spent all that money and unemployment still is high.”  So, he lost the story part of this.

And it sounds kind of trite and immature, but if you‘re going to be a leader, you have to lead, not just in passing and governance, but in telling people what‘s going on and keeping your side together and activated, and winning over independents to your arguments.

OLBERMANN:  Which raises an interesting question as to what he does if there is a zombie party house in the months to come.

But there‘s—last point, we have to address this.  The president did not go so far as to address the issue of FOX News the way we do by calling them “FOX PAC.”  But he does seem to know now, or it‘s evident, he‘s admitting to the fact that he knows what he‘s up against with that outfit?

CORN:  Well, yes, he took that stab at FOX.  And you remember, a year ago or so, the White House started a campaign against FOX and then dropped it.  I think that—I think the way they should regard FOX News is with strategic derision.  Now, I don‘t mean they should go up every day and say, worst person in the world, because you do that pretty well yourself.

OLBERMANN:  Thank you.

CORN:  I think you have to sort of undercut it, undermine it and just say, oh, yes, that‘s just FOX being FOX, let the Keith Olbermanns of the world do the trench warfare, “Media Matters” pound away.

And just—you know, the president is bigger than FOX News.  He‘s bigger than cable.  I hate to say that on cable.  And, you know, he shouldn‘t be shooting down—he‘s not going to change them.  That‘s a rarefied bizarro alternative world that FOX serves.  And I think the best way to deal with it is try to laugh at it to a certain degree and just not take it all that seriously, because it‘s not a serious network.

OLBERMANN:  I hope he—in fact, I hope the smallest president we‘ve ever had is bigger than cable.  Goodness.

“Mother Jones‘” Washington bureau chief, David Corn—many thanks.

CORN:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  It isn‘t zombie Republican obstructionism that Nancy Pelosi has to worry about, it‘s the Democratic kind.  Steny Hoyer says the party is certain, absolute, resolute, immovable in favor of tax cuts for the middle class.  What about voting for tax cuts for the middle class?  Maybe, maybe not.

And the best speech given by an American governor in years and it‘s Arnold Schwarzenegger on tape about the Koch brothers.

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OLBERMANN:  The House majority leader insists he and the speaker and all Democrats are united on tax cuts for the middle class—except that little detail on whether or not to hold a vote on them.

The governor of California calls out big oil and the rich by name, including the Koch brothers by name, for their willingness to destroy the planet so they can get richer.

The dirty little secret that could cost her her chance at the Senate in Nevada—one word: insurance.

And add to his litany of character names like Tobias Funke—the new one, Todd Margaret.  David Cross will also react to the news that 45 percent of Catholics apparently don‘t know what that whole eating the wafer in the big pointy building is.

Ahead on COUNTDOWN.

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OLBERMANN:  Ninety-eight percent of Americans get reassurance that there are still some Democrats willing to stand up for them.

And in our fourth story: even better, House Majority Leader Hoyer now says he and Speaker Pelosi are in absolute agreement on middle class tax cuts—except for one little detail: whether or not to hold a vote on them.  Well, they would if the Senate would, but nothing‘s definite.  Well, they definitely might vote on it—but no, probably not.

Hoyer telling reporters today that Democrats are still considering a vote on middle class tax cuts before the House adjourns Friday.  Just don‘t hold your breath.  That‘s not saying that we‘re not going to do it, it‘s saying I doubt we‘re going to do it.

It‘s an ever so slight departure from what Hoyer said over the weekend, calling a potential House vote a specious act.  After Nancy Pelosi told reporters that the House Dems “retain the right to proceed as we choose.”  Today, Mr. Hoyer said the Dems are united.  Adding, a tax vote will be done before the end of the year.

After reporters pressed him on the logic of waiting for a lame duck session, Mr. Hoyer blamed the Senate.  “Is there any confusion in this room where the Democrats are?  Frankly, if we thought we could get it through the Senate, absolutely, we would act and we may well act anyway.”

If the House does act, it will probably do so under suspension process which requires a 2/3 vote.

Meantime, CBO director, Doug Elmendorf, testifying before the Senate Budget Committee, as “The Washington Post‘s” Ezra Klein reports, Elmendorf concludes that extending the Bush tax cuts, quote, “will probably reduce income relative to what would otherwise occur in 2020.”

Elmendorf conceding that tax cuts would just temporarily stimulate the economy and not by much, and they would create certainly more debt.  This is as a “New York Times” editorial slams the Democrats for their inaction in the tax cut debate.

“This particular failure,” “The Times” wrote, “to act was not about Republican obstructionism of which there has been plenty.  This was about Democrats failing to seize an opportunity to do the right thing and at the same time draw a sharp distinction between themselves and the Republicans.”

In an effort to do the right thing, 46 House Dems led by the co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, Raul Grijalva, sending a letter to Speaker Pelosi, asking for a vote to extend the current tax cuts on everyone but the top earners: “Extending the Bush tax cuts will result in an $830 billion give-away for the nation‘s wealthiest Americans, significantly increasing government debt, the interest on which will be paid for by our nation‘s middle class for years to come.  This astronomical sum could instead be used to close our budget deficit.”

Joining me now, a member of that Progressive Caucus, as well the House Appropriations Committee, Congressman Chaka Fattah.

Congressman, thank you for your time tonight.

REP. CHAKA FATTAH (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  It‘s good to be here, Keith.

OLBERMAN:  Where do things stand right now?  Are you and your fellow progressives confident there will be a vote before the recess?

FATTAH:  I think there‘s going to be a vote before the recess.  And I think that Democrats believe in total that we‘re going to lower taxes for people at $250,000 and below.  That‘s for everyone, for the first $250,000 of income.

The question you pose about whether it‘s before the election or after the election—obviously, I prefer before the election.  I think that‘s what we‘re going to do.

But there‘s no uncertainty about whether or not we‘re going to act.  In fact, there‘s only one party that has done tax cuts over the last two years for the middle class.  We did it in the stimulus.  Almost 40 percent of the stimulus was a reduction in payroll taxes for people under $250,000.  Every Republican voted against it except for three in the Senate.

And so, if you‘re looking for which party will vote to reduce taxes on people below $250,000 and exclude that top 2 percent for their extra income, it‘s already been demonstrated, and we‘re going to probably see another demonstration of it this week.

OLBERMANN:  On the premise of the—as the old phrase goes, “You can‘t build your reputation on what you‘re going to do”—how can any Democrat say that voting for tax cuts for the middle class before the election would not be a good thing?  I mean, isn‘t—isn‘t the polling pretty clear on that?  And what is this interplay with the Senate?  Why does whether or not the Senate votes on this before the midterms really matter to anybody in the House, or why should it matter?

FATTAH:  Well, you may have noticed that a few Democrats are getting beat up for voting for an energy bill that the other side calls cap and something or other.  And the Senate didn‘t act on it.  We have hundreds of bills, over 400 bills, passed by the House that are over in the Senate and have not been acted on.

So can our member be harmed by casting a vote that they have to take the hit for, right, without the—concluding the matter with at least a public policy that they can stand behind?  But if the question, again—is tax cuts for people $250,000 and under, we enacted that in the stimulus.  Democrats, they voted for the stimulus, voted for tax cuts for people $250,000 and under, and every single Republican in the House voted no on it.

So, if you‘re looking for a vote to demonstrate that it happened, I think you‘re going to see another vote this week on the matter.  That‘s what I‘m pushing for, and I think that both Leader Hoyer and Speaker Pelosi are clear that we think that for your income up to $250,000, that there should be a continued reduction in taxes.

But we should not make the same mistake that was made almost 10 years ago, enacting the Bush tax cuts, which have driven the economy in part in the hole and has raised the deficit and the debt level of the country.

OLBERMANN:  The question about what Mr. Elmendorf of the Congressional Budget Office testified to today, that making the Bush tax cuts permanent would impede income growth in the long-term and also add to the deficit.  Is there not an argument to be made that it would be better to let all of the tax cuts, even the ones for the middle class, expire because there is not any long-term plan to pay for them?

FATTAH:  Absolutely.  In fact, if you let all of them expire, you could balance—almost balance the federal budget.  The problem is that we‘re still in recovery that needs to take hold in our economy.  So, additional revenues to people who will spend them, that is people below $250,000, will have a stimulating effect on our economy that the economy needs at this time—so that every economist will tell you that when you‘re trying to develop this recovery, that we have to be very careful that we don‘t pull back too soon.

So, yes, as an empirical matter, we know what the Bush tax cuts will do because they‘ve done it already.  That is—we‘ve seen their action over 10 years.  That is you will get a temporary fix, a sugar fix almost, and then it will run the economy into the hole.

We don‘t want that.  We at least don‘t want to have it skewed to the top 2 percent of earners the way it was done—we‘re talking about an average tax cut of $100,000 for people who are in making millions of dollars.  There‘s no reason for it.  Our economy and our debt and deficit picture can‘t withstand it.

OLBERMANN:  Congressman Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania—always a pleasure, sir.  Thank you kindly.

FATTAH:  Thank you for having me.

OLBERMANN:  Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, in a dandiest speech you heard in months, eviscerates big oil and the Koch brothers and their bid to basically buy California and repeal its climate change laws.  You will stand up and applaud and want to download “Terminator” and—and “Kindergarten Cop.”

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OLBERMANN:  “Does anybody believe,” asks the governor of California, “that these companies out of the goodness out of their black oil hearts are spending millions and millions of dollars to protect jobs?” 

Wow.  First, the sanity break and the Tweet of the day from ShinerMan in New Jersey.  “How many minutes of your show will be on the Sarah Palin ‘Dancing With the Stars‘ faux controversy tonight?  Twenty three minutes with Eugene?” 

Actually, we weren‘t going to mention it, but since you Tweeted me, we will.  What controversy?  They booed the crap out of her.  It happens, a lot.  Fifteen seconds.  Let‘s play Oddball.

We begin in Singapore, where singer and Hello Kitty fanatic Mariah Carey is performing her song “Make It Happy.”  She makes it happy.  Down goes Mimi.  After being hoisted back on to her feet by her backup dancers, she soldiers—I‘ll try that again in English.  She soldiers and sells—she sells seashells by the seashore—through the remainder of the song, but not before calling not one, but two assistants to come to remove her 10,000 dollar pair of stilettos.  And still this was better than “Glitter.”

From a woman falling in heals to women racing in heals.  More than 100 taking place in a charity stiletto race in Sydney:  And down goes—wait, nobody‘s falling.  The track was 80 meters long and the events—why don‘t we just watch. 

OK, finished the relay in one minute and four seconds.  You get to watch this.  I have to read the script.  They also set the record here for time and blisters. 

Oh, that‘s the end of the tape?  All right.  Down under to Luna Park, the highly anticipated finale of “Australia‘s Next Top Model.”  Pronouncing Kelsey Martinovich (ph) as the winner, host Sarah Murdoch, daughter in law of the well known Emperor Palpatine look-alike Rupert Murdoch, then has a surprise for the contestants. 

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SARAH MURDOCH, “AUSTRALIA‘S NEXT TOP MODEL”:  Oh, my god.  I don‘t know what to say right now.  This was not—this was a complete accident, I‘m so sorry.  It‘s Amanda.  I‘m so sorry.  It was read to me wrong. 

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OLBERMANN:  I still think that Sophie should‘ve won.  If only someone had turned around and noticed the large poster that announced that Amanda Ware (ph) was the winner.  Time marches on. 

Guess who also didn‘t win?  Arnold Schwarzenegger.  His startling speech calling out the rich and big oil in its class war against America.  But is that class war itself already lost next?  Next.

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OLBERMANN:  Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger charged full bore into the national debate over big business shaping our politics and class warfare.  And in our third story tonight, he spoke the plain truth behind their motives: greed, just greed. 

It turns out most of America does not even know just how rich the rich had gotten.  A new study based on polling from 2005 finds that Americans think the richest 20 percent of the country own about 59 percent of the wealth.  At the time of the poll, the richest 20 percent owned 84 percent of the wealth.  And that was before the recession. 

New Census Data out today showing that median household incomes fell again last year to 50,000 dollars, while those making at least 180,000 saw their incomes rise.  The income gap between rich and poor never larger since the nation began to track it.  The 20 percent that earned more than 100,000 a year took home 49 percent of all income last year. 

Those living in poverty made just 3.4 percent of all income, making the richest to poorest ratio 14 to one.  Without even factoring how much tax loopholes, dividends, and capital gains further enrich the rich.  And we have new information on how the rich are using that money.  While individual voters have given money to Democratic campaign committees, the Associated Press reports that the Citizens United ruling, unleashing private groups to pour millions of dollars into political campaigns, has benefited Republicans by a ratio of six to one.

The outpouring of money leading to last night‘s extraordinary outpouring from the Republican governor of California, talking about a political campaign now underway there to, in essence, take over the state with cash in order to undo the legislation he signed four years ago to reduce carbon emissions there by 30 percent by the year 2020. 

The ads claiming his new law will kill jobs. 

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GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER ®, CALIFORNIA:  Does anyone really believe that these companies, out of the goodness of their black oil hearts, are spending millions and millions of dollars to protect jobs? 

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OLBERMANN:  In the rest of his speech, audio of which was provided to COUNTDOWN, Governor Schwarzenegger did not hesitate to name which companies, including the Koch brothers, founders of the Tea Party movement.  Here‘s how he started. 

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SCHWARZENEGGER:  I want to talk about the corruption of the democratic process, and about forces willing to sabotage this country‘s economic future for private gain.  I want to talk about Texas oil interests that have descended upon California to overturn a Californian environmental law.  And then assume that they‘ve done the dirty work, thanks to millions of dollars of scare tactic advertising, they intend, in the words of their own spokesperson, to fold up their tents and go home. 

Ladies and gentlemen, there‘s a great drama.  There is a great struggle playing out here in California right now that the rest of the world doesn‘t pay much attention to and knows very little about.  And that‘s why I‘m here today to put the spotlight on this very important issue. 

And let me just say that the entire oil industry is not involved in this deception that I will explain here today.  No, there‘s some oil companies trying to do the right thing.  But others are not.  Oil companies like Valero and Tesoro and Frontier and Koch Industries are blatantly trying to manipulate the will of the people and the public good. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Manipulate people?  How?  The oil companies sponsored a new ballot initiative to halt California‘s new law until unemployment drops to 5.5 percent.  The governor comparing them to the 20th Century conspiracy of gas, auto and tire companies that killed off public transportation rail systems. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHWARZENEGGER:  Today, Valero and Tesoro and others involved are also involved in the conspiracy.  But not in a criminal conspiracy, but clearly in a cynical one.  They are not seeking to buy rail systems, but to buy votes this time.  Yet the motivation is the same, which is self-serving greed. 

Two thirds of Californians approve our state law to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.  Do you know who the two most prominent opponents are?  Valero and Tesoro, also two of the state‘s top polluters.  They‘re behind an initiative on the November ballot called Proposition 23, which would suspend our law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

But, in reality, because of the fine print when it comes to unemployment, they really don‘t want to just suspend it; they want to kill this initiative.  They want to kill our laws. 

And while they‘re not creating a shell company, they are creating a shell argument that this is about saving jobs.  Does anyone really believe that these companies, out of the goodness of their black oil hearts, are spending millions and millions of dollars to protect jobs? 

This is like Eva Braun writing a Kosher cookbook.  It‘s not about jobs at all, ladies and gentlemen.  It‘s about their ability to pollute and thus protect their profits. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Defer for a moment your reaction to the last analogy.  The cost we will pay for big oil‘s profits if they get their way.  The governor again. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHWARZENEGGER:  Those who seek to overturn our carbon reduction law say that the green-tech future is too costly.  Another excuse, great, great excuse, huh?  But here‘s what they don‘t want to tell you.  The cost calculations doesn‘t include the increased cost of doing business their way, the old way.  They don‘t include the cost of rising oil prices, as the developing world demands more and more oil. 

They don‘t include the costs of job losses that these rising oil prices will force.  They don‘t include the costs of hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks that have gotten and continued to get.  They don‘t include the costs of pollution that are already causing—the cost, for instance, to hundreds of thousands of Americans who die every year from smog-related diseases. 

They don‘t include also the cost of 6.5 million hospital visits a year for smog-related illnesses.  They don‘t include the cost of the next war over oil.  And believe me, eventually it will come, as we become more and more dependent on oil. 

I mean, I think that we have had enough wars in the Middle East because of oil.  Don‘t you think so? 

That is why George Schultz, Ronald Reagan‘s secretary of state, is firmly against Proposition 23, and is firmly against what Valero and Tesoro are doing. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  But when Arnold Schwarzenegger and George Schultz think big business has gone too far using our political system to enrich themselves even more, there is no class warfare in America; it would seem to be over and they would seem to have won. 

Fortunately, we still have David Cross.  His new series, his reaction to this amazing goofy survey suggesting half of the religious in this country don‘t know much about their own religions, not dissimilar to Sharron Angle‘s latest amazing whopper.  She wants to dismantle those socialist insurance programs.  Does that not include the one she benefits from? 

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, she will take a closer look at the issues Democrats should be running on, instead of running from.  Rachel‘s invaluable.  You heard it from the White House today. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  David Cross on his new series on IFC.  His new series on Fox, this survey that shows that 53 percent of Protestants don‘t know the name of the guy who started Protestantism, and about our fantasy baseball league.  That‘s next, but first, get out your pitchforks and torches.  Time for tonight‘s Worst Persons in the World.

The bronze to thieves still on the run in or around Wichita, Kansas.  After they knocked off Little Debbie Snack Cakes delivery truck.  It was jacked from outside a store at 4:00 in the morning.  The truck has been found partially submerged in a canal with a trail of empty boxes and empty cookie wrappers leading back to the woods to the highway.  Be on the lookout for Hansel and Gretal.

Runner up, Brit Hume of Fox PAC, mumbles, announcing during one of their pretend news shows that although the experts have now determined that the recession ended in June of 2009, quote, “almost no stimulus money had gone out the door.  So the recession ended more or less on its own.” 

Ninety three billion.  The Council of Economic Advisers reported that by the end of June of 2009, 93 billion dollars of stimulus money had already gone out the back of the door to states or in government contracts or in tax relief to small businesses and individuals.  In fact, the chief economist at Moody‘s told the “LA Times” that June 2009 was the point at which stimulus spending was at its maximum.  Almost none?  Ninety three billion.  Brit Hume just makes this stuff up.  Perfect for Fox PAC.  And people still call him a journalist. 

But our winner, Sharron Angle, the radical Republican Tea Party candidate for the Senate in Nevada.  You heard her plans to phase out Social Security and Medicare and her complaints about how she has to pay for other women‘s maternity leave, and how states have to pay for kids with, air quote, autism, end air quote.  They were her air quotes.  And you heard her talk about how Harry Reid is a socialist or an anarchist or Marxist, or whatever he is.

Turns out Sharron Angle gets government health care insurance.  Her husband is retired from the Federal Bureau of Land Management.  So he gets the same federal employee health program insurance he got while he worked there.  And it covers his wife Sharron, as does his pension, paid for by contributions made by current civil service employees.  It‘s the civil service government equivalent of Social Security. 

So the next time she whines about ending this or relieving Nevada of the burden of that, let‘s see her start by cutting off that socialist insurance she gets, her insurance that you and I pay for.  Sharron Angle, hypocrite, today‘s Worst Person in the World.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  According to the Pew Forum‘s U.S. religious knowledge survey, released today, on average people who don‘t believe in God know more about religion than people who do believe in God.  Our number one story, a Christian and a Jew and an atheist walk into a church and the only guy who knows about the wafer is the atheist.  And now that atheist is here, comedian and actor David Cross joins me presently. 

Pew‘s polling was conducted between May and June this year.  Over 3,000 adults asked 32 religious-based questions.  Topics ranged from Bible 101 to basic questions about Buddhism and everything else in between.  Atheists and agnostics answered an average of 20.9 questions correctly, just edging out Jewish people and Mormons.  Protestants averaged 16 correct answers.  Catholics were six correct answers back from the leader at 14.7.  And the Wiccans missed the cut. 

Among all Christian faiths, Mormons apparently know their religion the best, answering nearly eight out of 12 questions relating to the Bible and Christianity correctly.  Four in ten of all polled know that the Book of Mormon tells the story of Jesus appearing to people in the Americans.  Less than half know that the Dalai Lama is a Buddhist.  Twenty seven percent of all Americans know that the dominate religion in Indonesia is Islam.

A question on the Eucharist gave a lot of Catholics trouble.  Forty five percent don‘t know that their church teaches that the communion bread and wine aren‘t just symbols of the body and blood of Christ, but actually become the body and blood of Christ.  I know that.

And more than half of all Protestants polled did not know who the first protestant was.  Asked what was the name of the person whose writings and actions inspired the Protestant Reformation—given that choice, John Wesley Thomas Aquinas, the right answer—also Houston Street and Brad Lidge—only 45 percent of Protestants picked Martin Luther. 

Martin Luther had a problem with the increasingly poor decisions of the Roman Catholic Church.  David Cross stars in a new show called “The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret.”  How‘s that for a segue?  Here‘s a clip. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID CROSS, COMEDIAN:  Look, I know this is sudden, but I got this amazing job offer to go to London and head up this office there.  But here‘s the thing: I got to leave tomorrow. 

This isn‘t breaking up, okay? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Todd—

CROSS:  Please, let me do this. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Todd—

CROSS:  Well, it‘s too good to pass up. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Todd, two weeks ago I made the mistake of sleeping with you.  That mistake doesn‘t make me your girlfriend.  Oh, man, come on, you‘ve got to go out the window.  My date‘s here.  I don‘t want him to see you. 

CROSS:  There‘s a tree over there.  What about my cat?  Oh, mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Joining me now comedian, atheist, awesomist, creator, writer and star of the “Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret” on the Independent Film Channel, beginning the first of this upcoming month, David Cross. 

CROSS:  Hello, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Good to see you, David. 

CROSS:  You too. 

OLBERMANN:  I‘ve got to ask you about this.  This is one of the weirdest polls I‘ve seen in a while, this religion poll.  Why would atheists know more about religion than—

CROSS:  I think it makes sense.  I literally heard about this today. 

OLBERMANN:  Well, that‘s when it came out.  If you would have heard about it, you would have been a psychic. 

CROSS:  But—and I was thinking about it.  I was listening to the radio when I heard about it.  And it makes sense because, in one aspect, the more you know about how religion came to be and survive, and just the human part of—you know, illiterate people writing down stories for other illiterate people that were then edited over time, and all based on fantastic, you know, word of mouth thing—you know, decades and decades, sometimes hundreds of years after the event took place. 

The more you realize it, maybe it‘s not so legit, and then you start questioning things.  And then it‘s a domino effect.  So that doesn‘t surprise me. 

OLBERMANN:  Does the rest of this?  There were non-religious questions in here too, and 59 percent could name Joe Biden as vice president.  It‘s not just a knowledge about religion problem.  It‘s just a people not paying attention problem, isn‘t it? 

CROSS:  Yeah, that‘s—I‘m sure the majority of the people couldn‘t answer who the vice president was could tell you who won “American Idol” five years ago, you know.  I would guess. 

OLBERMANN:  I was just thinking if I had any idea. 

CROSS:  I don‘t.  But then—

OLBERMANN:  Sarah Palin?

CROSS:  Let‘s not be—but the—one of the things that was most interesting was the thing that you put up there about Mormons knew the most about their religion, which makes more sense because it‘s brand new, relatively. 

OLBERMANN:  Relatively. 

CROSS:  And as you went down, then it was Protestant and then Catholics.  And those all go in descending order of when they were created, which I think is kind of interesting. 

OLBERMANN:  Yeah, well, also, there‘s a certain element of keeping the story straight among everybody for a while. 

CROSS:  There‘s less opportunity to discover the—although, let‘s be honest, with Mormonism, that probably occurred the day Joseph Smith showed up. 

OLBERMANN:  A good time to talk about the show, I think. 

CROSS:  All right.  Sounds like somebody‘s scared. 

OLBERMANN:  No, no.  I just want to make sure we get enough juice going here.  Speaking of juice, all right, you go to England to sell an energy drink and bizarre fun ensues? 

CROSS:  Yeah, it‘s—my character is a temp at an office in—you know, unnamed office in Portland and then is mistaken by this blustering boss who has just taken over this—represents people who just took over the company as being this hard-assed salesman, tough as nails guy.  And my character does nothing to dissuade him of that. 

And then he goes over to England, heads—literally 48 hours later to head up this satellite office selling energy drinks.  And he‘s in way, way, way over his head.  And he just keeps lying to make things better.  And every episode takes place the very next day of the last episode.  So it all starts compounding, and there‘s no relief of—yes. 

OLBERMANN:  Well, I noticed in the first full clip that we showed, you‘re falling out a window.  You fall—you do a lot of falling.  Why is this?  Why do you fall all the time?  And by choice, I might add. 

CROSS:  Every character I‘ve ever played has severe vertigo.  And it‘s just coincidence. 

OLBERMANN:  That‘s all it is. 

CROSS:  That‘s all it is. 

OLBERMANN:  There‘s no typecasting or you like to fall? 

CROSS:  I honestly do—I really do like doing kind of physical comedy.  It‘s not all physical comedy, but there is—there‘s moments in each episode.  I enjoy it.  It‘s fun. 

OLBERMANN:  You‘re doing this and the thing on Fox, “Running Wild” and Will Arnett is in both of them? 

CROSS:  Yeah. 

OLBERMANN:  Is that a lot of punishment?  Or is that like falling out of windows? 

CROSS:  I don‘t know what you‘re implying.  But, hey, he‘s not so bad on the eyes, is he?  And that voice.  It‘s like syrup and butter.  No, I—

I wrote the part that Will plays in Todd Margaret for Will.  And thankfully he was able to do it.  And then—and then just sort of the same situation happened, “Running Wild,” which he wrote and created with Mitch Herwitz (ph) and Jim Valemie (ph) from “Arrested Development,” they had a part—they‘re like, oh, we want you to do this.  So it worked out. 

OLBERMANN:  Like a blackmail thing.  It premieres on IFC, “Todd Margaret,” on October 1st.  David Cross, a pleasure to see you in person rather than just on the computer.   

CROSS:  Thank you.  You too.

OLBERMANN:  All right, that‘s September 28th.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck. 

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