Guests: Howard Fineman, Todd Merryfield, Kate Sheppard, Paul Waldman
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The day of major spills in the Tea Party: Alaska Senate candidate, five months late filing personal finance disclosure, faces $50,000 fine. Florida Senate candidate supporting English-only with a commercial in Spanish.
Delaware Senate candidate lies about her education jump from one to three. And—she hears voices.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINE O‘DONNELL ®, DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: We marched on because we knew God was not releasing us to quit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: But some of it is hardly that silly. Church pedophilia victims today ask of Ron Johnson, Republican Senate candidate in Wisconsin, get the diocese to release the names of the priests involved—because when he was still on a diocese board, he testified on the bill to toughen laws against pedophilia, testified against it, because the new laws would be too tough on business.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON JOHNSON ®, WISCONSIN SENATE CANDIDATE: I think it is extremely important to consider the economic havoc and the other victims it would likely create.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Non-Sensenbrenner strikes again. If the Republicans take the House, he wants to turn the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming into an investigation of Obama‘s green power initiatives and of the so-called “climate-gate.”
The 9/11 first responders bill finally passes.
And Glenn Beck‘s latest war—against FOX.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS HOST: I know you and I have a special relationship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: “Several FOX News journalists,” writes “The New York Times,” “have complained that Beck‘s antics are embarrassing FOX.” Roger Ailes “told associates that if Beck were still on Headline News,” his event on the Mall would have drawn 30 people.
And do you know how many advertisers have bailed out? Two hundred and ninety-six.
Glenn Beck—too crazy for FOX?
All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BECK: I believe you will have that answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
The Republican Party was born in 1854. They won the Civil War and—well, they won the Civil War.
But in our fifth story tonight: Today, we know the Republican Party, the Grand Old Party of old, has been subsumed heart and mind by its most radical wing, the Tea Party.
A new NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll finding that 71 percent, well over two-thirds of American Republicans, now have of either a favorable image of the party‘s Tea Party wing and/or hope that Tea Party candidates win in November. It is in less than two years, a remarkable demise for a party that once upheld and advocated values now so proudly shunned and disdained by the Tea Party, as witnessed over and over in news stories from just the past 24 hours or so.
As recently as the Bush administration, Republican operative Karl Rove and President Bush hoped to build a permanent Republican majority by winning over Hispanic voters.
Nevada Republican Tea Party Senate candidate Sharron Angle, however, has been running a campaign ad demonizing illegal immigrants—demonizing them in such offensive fashion that her own occasional spokesperson, Tibi Ellis, the chairwoman of the Nevada Republican Hispanic Caucus, went public on Monday condemning the ad, quote, “I condemn this type of propaganda, no matter who is running them, where they blame Mexicans as the only problem and where they attack them as the only source of illegal immigration.” Angle‘s campaign not responding to “The Las Vegas Sun‘s” request for comment on that.
Republicans have also historically stood for English-only enshrined in
law and practice to facilitate immigrant assimilation. The Florida
Republican Tea Party gubernatorial candidate Marco Rubio even campaigned on
that point, Senate campaign point, excuse me. But now he‘s reaching out to
Florida‘s Spanish-speaking voters by—well, by doing this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARCO RUBIO ®, FLORIDA SENATE CANDIDATE: (SPEAKING IN SPANISH)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Republicans also used to stand—our younger voters might even remember this—for intellectual elitism. The Republican Party leaders wrote their own books and stuff. They looked down on those who would challenge the prevailing canons of literature and history.
So, when we learned about the Delaware Republican Tea Party Senate candidate Christine O‘Donnell‘s time at Princeton and Oxford, it seemed a throwback to the Republican Party that valued academic excellence. But with the spate of reporting on it, in just the past couple days, we now have a better picture of her academic history.
No, despite years of claiming otherwise, O‘Donnell only graduated from college this month. No, despite her lawsuits suggesting otherwise, she did not take any graduate courses at Princeton. No, despite her online bio page she got a Lincoln Fellowship from the Claremont Institute, not a graduate fellowship. And, no, despite a linked in page, she only disavowed today despite being asked Friday by the “Plum Line” blog, it was the right wing Claremont Institute, not Claremont Graduate University and it was a course taught by something called the Phoenix Institute in space on the Oxford campus that she took not, an Oxford University course.
Of course, moral rectitude, honesty was only a Republican value back when supporting the troops still was. Sharron Angle, again, claiming Saturday, in audio posted yesterday by “The Las Vegas Sun,” that she never supported privatizing Veterans Affairs care for America‘s veterans, explaining she was just talking about the care her own dad gets.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SHARRON ANGLE ®, NEVADA SENATE CANDIDATE: He has served this country, and yet he pays $800 a month in prescription drugs that are not covered by the V.A. and they‘re not covered by Medicare. And, there is a lot of you that understand what I‘m saying. And that was the context of those comments. I said that they could do a better job, that‘s all I said, is the V.A. could do a better job for our veterans.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: All the Republican candidate said was the V.A. could do a better job, nothing about privatizing. No, that was the Tea Party candidate and just this past May.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ANGLE: He is needing more and more supervised care. He‘s 87 years old and has Parkinson‘s and we‘re having to pay more and more for his health care. We pay—I know he pays over $800 a month in prescription drugs that we can‘t get through his V.A. nor through Medicare. They just won‘t cover those things. And I know lots of seniors—
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should they cover those things?
ANGLE: No, not if you‘re working towards a privatized system.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Of course, moral rectitude used to be even more important to the Republican Party on fiscal matters. This was the party of grownups, the party that knew how to balance its books.
Alaskan Republican Tea Party candidate, Senate candidate, Joe Miller, has failed to file his personal finance disclosure as required by law, “Think Progress” reports. He was supposed to do so last spring or face a $50,000 fine. He has yet to file.
Of course, when it comes to moral rectitude, nothing was more important to Republicans, the law and order party, than law and order. New York Republican Tea Party gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino has a campaign apparently full of convicted criminals, accused criminals and other question marks. “The New York Times” reported an indicted adviser, campaign chairwoman, accused of funneling public funds away from the public. And the Tea Party organizer who got him into this race, a hit-and-run drunken driver, did jail time.
Paladino‘s campaign manager telling “The Times” Paladino knows all about them. “This is a campaign of junk yard dogs,” the campaign pledging to take out the trash—the quote from a campaign manager who had himself failed to pay $53,000 in taxes.
And then there was the traditional Republican respect for authority, especially, respect for the office of president. Meet the Maine Republican Tea Party gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL LEPAGE ®, MAINE GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: As your governor, you‘re going to be seeing a lot of me on the front page saying, “Governor LePage tells Obama to go to hell.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The driving force behind the new Republican Tea Party candidates, Senator Jim DeMint, who is now virtually in open warfare with the last dying remnants of the Grand Old Party‘s grand old guard. In a mailing last week, he blasted them for supporting Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, even after Murkowski lost her primary to Joe Miller.
The old guard replying in stunningly public fashion:
“I would take issue with that.”
“A mistaken idea.”
“Very counterproductive, totally inaccurate.”
“Helpful to Republicans? No.”
“Disappointed. Makes it hard for us to be a team.”
Not if you signed on with the new team.
Let‘s bring in a member of our team, MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman, “Newsweek” senior Washington correspondent and political columnist, soon to make his home at “The Huffington Post.”
Howard, good evening.
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: This new poll, 71 percent of Republicans, to some degree or another, onboard with the Tea Party. Does the figure deserve some nuancing, or is it just about right as an overall barometer?
FINEMAN: No. I think it‘s pretty close.
But Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster who was with Newt Gingrich in the old days of the “Contract with America” in the ‘90s, told me that it probably does need to be unpacked a bit. There are a lot more Tea Party people who have come into the Republican Party. That‘s one reason the number is where it is.
But he cautioned me to note that just because even Republicans might say they have a favorable view of the Tea Party, doesn‘t necessarily mean that they‘re going to vote for Tea Party candidates in specific places. Like Alaska, where according to a new poll in “Time” magazine, Lisa Murkowski is running neck and neck with Joe Miller, the Tea Party candidate. And maybe not in Nevada, where Sharron Angle is really out there; and maybe not in Delaware, where—same with Christine O‘Donnell.
So, you have to look at it a little more closely.
OLBERMANN: The younger viewers, as we suggested, might not remember the Republican Party that we described. But it really was, as just that brief videotape clip of William F. Buckley suggested, it really a different beast than what we have today, correct?
FINEMAN: No, it definitely was. If you can go back in time a little bit, if you permit me—Teddy Roosevelt was the prototypical progressive.
And then, even Richard Nixon was in favor of national health care and established the Environmental Protection Agency.
Ronald Reagan made a deal with Tip O‘Neill essentially to save Social Security for a generation.
George H.W. Bush raised taxes to help try to balance the budget.
George—even George W., as you pointed out, was for—was for immigration reform.
So, these were all Republicans who wanted to contribute to the discussion and who wanted, they thought, to make government run better, not to run away from government.
OLBERMANN: And that raises—I guess, let‘s get to that overall point here right now. What happens if enough of the Tea Partiers do well enough to shift the balance toward them, not just on the stump but in Congress? How does what is truly an anti-government concept, a group of anti-government people, govern?
FINEMAN: Well, with great difficulty, if not impossible. I covered Newt Gingrich when he ran the Newt revolution in 1994 and the old Newt Gingrich looks like Nelson Rockefeller compared to this crowd.
And Newt couldn‘t do it. Newt was much better as an attack guy, trying to pull down the Democratic hierarchy of that day, than he was as a manager and an inside guy, and he really, in the end, couldn‘t do it. There were all kinds of coups and countercoups because when the purists get in, they‘re more interested in purism than they—purist thinking than they are in cutting deals and running government. I think it‘ll be very difficult.
And this is really kind of too bad, Keith, because we need this kind of argument in the country, constantly, about the role of government. But you have to have people who believe enough in government to make that possible. A rejectionist front doesn‘t work.
And I blame for this collapse of the conversation, people like John McCain, who is after all the Republican standard bearer against Barack Obama. He went totally over the Tea Party side to get the nomination in his state.
You ran a list of Republican senators there who were, you know, objecting to Jim DeMint. I didn‘t see Mitch McConnell in there, the Republican leader. And the reason you didn‘t see Mitch McConnell is he had the pants scared off him by Rand Paul who won the nomination in Kentucky for the Senate against McConnell, himself.
So, the people who, in an earlier time, a generation, would step forward to try to be the adults in the Republican Party are too scared to do so in many cases.
OLBERMANN: And getting even more meta here for a second, there used to be something else that work in the parties and among the voters and it seems utterly absent in this—at least in this cycle, and that would be the word “shame.” Here in New York, Mr. Paladino‘s campaign actually is portraying this criminal, scandalous past of its top personnel as a badge of honor. And at the risk of sounding like a Republican of old—where is the outrage?
FINEMAN: Well, I got to say, Keith, New York is New York. So, it‘s a little bit of a special case. He‘s up against Andrew Cuomo, who is a tough customer himself. There‘s also—there‘s a little bit of street bravado going on both sides.
But, I think, more generally, a lot of Republican voters, a lot of conservatives, are in the mood to say, “We will reach for any weapon we can, any candidate we can, to send the message we want to send.” There‘s almost no other way to explain Christine O‘Donnell in Delaware or Sharron Angle in Nevada or Joe Miller in Alaska.
And the question will be and is right now, in these remaining weeks, whether those people are ones that, in the end, these very Tea Party people and Republicans will end up voting for and turning out for or not. It remains to be seen because there‘s still a lot of time to look at those people between now and November 2nd.
OLBERMANN: MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman—as always, great thanks for your time tonight, Howard.
FINEMAN: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The absurdity and transparent crookedness, in some cases, of the Tea Party takeover of the GOP sometimes simply eclipses genuine evil. The Wisconsin nominee for the Senate from Wisconsin—the Republican nominee for the Senate from Wisconsin testified about new, tougher pedophilia laws—testified against them because of the potential impact of the laws on businesses. He never mentioned the business with which he was associated at the time was the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay. A victim‘s reaction to Ron Johnson—next.
OLBERMANN: In essence, he testified in defense of pedophiles and the church that employed them explaining business had to be protected. Now, the Republicans want to put him in the Senate.
If they take the House, his plan is to take a committee now dedicated to investigating climate change and turn it into a committee giving a platform to climate change deniers and other tools of big oil.
Last time, he raged. This time, he won. The 9/11 first responders bill passed the Congress.
And his, quoting, “inflammatory rhetoric makes it difficult for the network to present itself as a legitimate news outlet.” Details of the internal fight over the televangelist inside Emperor Palpatine‘s headquarters.
OLBERMANN: Republican Party is or has been or has sold itself as the law and order party, the party of family values, and the party of business.
But in our fourth story tonight: if you want to know how the new emerging Republican Tea Party prioritizes these things, you might look to Wisconsin. There, businessman Ron Johnson is running as a family man, a Washington outsider who doesn‘t have experience with lawsuits like all those D.C. lawyers do—turns out he does know about some lawsuits.
This is a picture of John Feeney, a former priest transferred from the Green Bay diocese to Nevada after allegations of child abuse. In 2008, a victim of his in Nevada sued the Green Bay diocese for covering up Feeney‘s past and moving him on to prey on new victims.
What does this have to do with Johnson? He sat in, or, rather, sat on the Green Bay diocese finance council, the body that manages its books and signs off on its lawsuit settlements. The head of the finance council on which Johnson sat was Auxiliary Bishop Robert Morneau, who was long ago blamed for relocating Feeney time after time in Green Bay.
Today, in response to a news conference held by abuse victims, Johnson, now running for Senate on the Republican ticket in Wisconsin, called on the diocese, quote, “to provide the utmost transparency.” But in January, Johnson had testified against the bipartisan child abuse victim‘s bill which would have eliminated the statute of limitations preventing abuse victims from suing much later on.
When you watch his testimony, keep in mind that Johnson was still on the finance council facing that Nevada lawsuit over Feeney, neither of which Johnson mentions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: Chairperson, thank you for the opportunity to speak.
My name is Ron Johnson. I‘m a business owner in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
The first question I asked myself when I was made aware of this legislation was: what is its purpose? On its face, it appears it is intended to financially compensate victims of past sexual abuse.
The reason I am here today is to discuss the many unintended consequences this legislation might produce. I think it is extremely important to consider the economic havoc and the other victims it would likely create.
I list the many organizations I am currently involved with below hopefully to demonstrate my direct knowledge of the struggles that nonprofit organizations face on a daily basis. With the $50,000 cap on damages from public institutions, it is obvious that any lawsuits under this bill would be directed to private organizations, and any private organization servicing children would be at risk.
We all share a deep sense of sympathy for anyone affected by these crimes and the punishment for the perpetrators should be severed. But I believe it is a valid question to ask if the employer of the perpetrator should also be severely damaged, possibly destroyed, in our legitimate desire for justice.
What type of organizations am I talking about? This obviously (ph) would include any and all private schools, boys and girls clubs, YMCAs, the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, churches of all denominations. Less obvious would be private businesses and organizations that donate employee time to teach and mentor students in and out of the classroom environment.
As the business culture (ph) of the Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce‘s Partners in Education Council, one of our primary goals is to help facilitate these contacts between students and businesses. This legislation could make private businesses that generously donate employee time in the past vulnerable to future action and would also send a very chilling signal to avoid civic-minded activity in the future.
I think it is also valid to ask, after a long, emotionally draining, and very expensive legal process, what are the chances the victims would receive any meaningful compensation? I have no doubt the trial lawyers would benefit. I‘m not so sure the actual victims would. I simply don‘t see the big pots of money available this bill must assume exists.
So, who would be the other victims who could be resulted with this legislation? First and foremost would be the children and individuals who will no longer benefit from the organizations that are damaged or destroyed in the process. Second, the many wonderful and dedicated individuals that devote their lives to servicing their fellowman through these fine organizations.
Third, to the extent organizations have built endowments to fund future operations, those that generously give to support good work would see their donations go to an entirely different purpose. Any organization that relies on fundraising would suffer as this would make their fundraising efforts significantly more difficult.
And, finally, this bill could actually have the perverse effect of leading to additional victims of sexual abuse if individuals recognizing the organizations are at risk, become much more likely to report sexual abuse.
I am a confirmed Lutheran who has agreed to serve on the boards of Catholic and other important nonprofit organizations because I strongly support their important missions. The people I work with in these organizations are fine, decent human beings working hard to improve people‘s lives.
I urge you to defeat this legislation so we can all continue to benefit from their good and noble work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Mr. Johnson‘s hi-speed sophistry succeeded. The bill failed. The Green Bay diocese then asked to have that Nevada suit dismissed, because it had exceed the statute of limitations. Last week, the Nevada Supreme Court said the suit can go forward.
We are joined now by one of the people abused by Feeney in the diocese, Todd Merryfield, whose abuse was allegedly known to the diocese when they transferred Feeney to Las Vegas.
Mr. Merryfield, thank you for your courage coming forward and for joining us tonight.
TODD MERRYFIELD, ABUSE VICTIM: Well, thanks for having me on.
OLBERMANN: If we erred in summarizing the facts here, please let me know, and if you could otherwise amplify what you know, especially about what this Senate candidate, Mr. Johnson, would have known throughout this process.
MERRYFIELD: Well, frankly, Keith, I found out about everything last night near about 10:00. I‘ve been a huge Johnson supporter since he announced his candidacy, and I‘ll tell you, last night, I was—I was really—I was taken aback at his position on this.
OLBERMANN: What was your reaction when you saw it? I mean, you described it in kind of, in a political sense and how it will affect you going forward. But on a personal level, if we can ask you just to whatever degree you want to answer that question—how did you feel when you heard this man saying these things? Because even somebody as remote as myself listening to it, it seemed like some pretty mediocre arguments against protecting kids from pedophiles.
MERRYFIELD: It—if it wasn‘t so tragic, Keith, it would be laughable. You know, when you hear, you know, the concern that the victims won‘t get much of the money if this would have passed, you know, that it will all go to the lawyers, why is he so concerned that the victims would get a smaller amount?
And his statement about the perverse effect that there would actually be more abuse—come on. No. That‘s not going to happen. The organizations, the victims are not going to worry about the organization‘s inability to raise funds in the future. They‘re worried about their own personal well being at that time.
In my brother and my case, we didn‘t sit back and wonder, oh, gosh, we shouldn‘t do something against the Catholic Church. I mean, we need to deal with it ourselves.
OLBERMANN: Well, and the other one that I wanted to ask you about was his point that I think it is also valid to ask after a long and emotionally draining and very expensive legal process—what are the chances victims would receive any meaningful compensation? As if the only reason anyone would sue or try to get a priest removed from his position of trust and authority was for the money.
MERRYFIELD: I will tell you, Keith, it is not about the money. When my brother and I—when my brother and I took up the criminal case against Feeney, in fact, we still get phone calls from victims around the country that they are in serious pain, and because of the legal system, they have not been able to get their ounce of justice, that they looked to us almost as heroes that—you know, they call us, you almost start crying hearing their stories.
And they are looking to us to get their ounce of justice and we did our best—well, we put the priest in jail, so we did our very best on that. The Catholic Church—well, the Green Bay diocese specifically, just continues to shirk their duty to do the right thing.
OLBERMANN: We asked Mr. Johnson‘s office today if he stands by that testimony from earlier in the year, but he did not respond to that question. But he did issue a statement today which as I said called on the diocese to show the utmost transparency. “A,” do you have any idea what he means by that, and, “B,” what‘s your reaction to the nature of that statement?
MERRYFIELD: Well, gee, the Green Bay diocese has been talking transparency for quite sometime now. And there are—there are 51 individuals out there that they refuse to release the identities of that have had allegations against them. They may be active clergy members out in the community—somebody may being abused as we speak right now and we don‘t know.
So for complete transparency to have happened, I don‘t—I guess we need to have a definition of complete transparency.
As far as Mr. Johnson making that statement, it seems a little light.
If he did not know what had happened, what was being covered up in the
diocese, if someone had told you that, and you felt, oh, my God, I didn‘t
know this, wouldn‘t you come out with a very strong statement just that I -
I was lied to, I was not aware of this, and I‘m ashamed of the diocese and they need to open up their books right now?
But to come out with this—this weak response of, you know, just—that they need to come out with complete transparency, that doesn‘t show the outrage that I would expect from someone in his position on something that is so critical—
MERRYFIELD: -- as this child victims act.
OLBERMANN: Especially when he just got a second opportunity to say something about it and chose not to.
Todd Merryfield, again—no, go ahead.
MERRYFIELD: Well, what I was going to say is—and you kind of tapped into it, this is a great opportunity for Mr. Johnson to come out—and for lack of a better term—have his come to Jesus moment and say, you know what? I reconsider what I—what I stated in that testimony and I am going to be very forceful and do whatever I can to make the Catholic diocese or the Green Bay diocese come through and do the right thing. And to help out all these victims out there.
OLBERMANN: Indeed. Todd Merryfield, well-spoken—again, thank you for your time and being as public with this as you have been.
MERRYFIELD: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Today, it is a small committee dedicated mainly to publicizing climate change. But if the GOP wins, one Republican congressman wants to turn into a venue for witch hunt against those who were fighting climate change. Ahead.
OLBERMANN: Climate change, change; Republican plans to turn a pro-‘ environmental committee into an investigation into pro-environmentalists. First, the sanity break and the Tweet of the day from Mike King. “What are Delaware conservative moms going to tell their daughters as to why they can‘t dress as a witch on Halloween?” Obviously they‘ll tell them if they behave and don‘t, Christine O‘Donnell will get them into Oxford.
Let‘s play Oddball.
We begin in Utah, at the Nemadaville (ph) Salt Flats, with a man who says if Tim Allen can do it, why can‘t I? Bobby Cleveland decided ordinary lawn mowers were, in fact, too slow. So he souped up his old mower with a new engine, drove into the record books by going over 96 miles an hour. Rewired it. However, he still fell short of his goal of 100 miles an hour. Cleveland said would have made it, but he had to stop midway and clean out his collection bag.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, hello. Boy, the airlines are really trying to cut back. I knew it would come to this. I knew it. Some 600 US Airways employees took turns pulling their plane down the runway. I said it to Orville and I said it to Wilbur, that thing will never get off the ground. The event staged to raise money for the United Way. Though I fear that since the plane is in Eagles colors, it will change course mid flight and go with a new pilot.
Time marches on.
His full name is actually Frank James Sensenbrenner Jr. But after you hear his latest stunt about inverting the purpose of a House Committee on Climate Change, you‘ll wonder why it isn‘t James non-Sensenbrenner.
A programming reminder; the new schedule is 8:00 and 11:00 Eastern.
Now 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. Pacific. Ample parking day and night.
OLBERMANN: He voted against the committee‘s creation. His fellow Republican committee members see no point to it. But if the GOP takes the House in November, they‘ll have the opportunity to get rid of it. Yet, in our third story, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner wants to keep a climate change committee alive just to prove there is no such thing as climate change, and so he can persecute those who know that there is.
“Politico” reporting that the 16-term congressman not only wants to keep the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming going, but he is eyeing its top spot, the better from which to investigate climate science and the Obama administration‘s green policies.
Sensenbrenner, a long-time climate science skeptic, is currently ranking Republican of the committee, which is run by Chairman Ed Markey of Massachusetts. Mr. Sensenbrenner hinting that he would employ some of his expertise as the former chair of the Judiciary Committee, where he was able to obtain information from the Clinton administration without, he says, subpoenas.
Quote, “I have had a reputation of really being a tiger on oversight.”
Listen to this tiger in action during a committee hearing back in December. Sensenbrenner calling for all climate change science to be reviewed based on the so-called climate-gate e-mails, private exchanges stolen from the University of East Anglia in Britain. The content of those stolen e-mails distorted and blown out of proportion by the right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JAMES SENSENBRENNER ®, WISCONSIN: And at worst, it‘s junk science. And it is part of a massive international scientific fraud.
There is increasing evidence of scientific fascism that‘s going on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The scientists in question have since been cleared. Several inquiries finding they did not engage in any kind of deliberate malpractice. No matter. Congressman Darrell Issa also wants to use taxpayer dollars to investigate those emails, except he wants to theoretically do it as the theoretical head of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Issa tells “Politico” he would use that position to also keep the EPA‘s authority in check, and that Sensenbrenner‘s committee is “a made up committee for show and for travel and much less any real jurisdiction.”
Mr. Sensenbrenner‘s aspirations? “He has made statements about how little he thinks of the committee well before he thought about being chairman.” To that point, back in 2007, Sensenbrenner told “Politico” the committee creation was a stunt and a vehicle to give a forum to Markey and his views. He also regarded the calls for legislative action on climate change as hyperbole and extremism.
“How much climate change is caused by human activity and how much is caused by the natural climatic cycle? I don‘t think there is a real consensus on.”
Except that there have been countless studies and intergovernmental panels and rulings all finding that, yes, there is a scientific consensus on climate change; and, yes, its principle cause is us. The consensus among Republicans? Out of all the candidates vying for the 37 seats in the Senate that are open, not one supports legislative action on climate change. The one guy who did eliminated by Christine O‘Donnell.
Joining me now, the environmental reporter from “Mother Earth Magazine,” Kate Sheppard. Kate, good evening.
KATE SHEPPARD, “MOTHER JONES MAGAZINE”: Good evening, Keith. Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: Invert the purpose from which dog—watch dog to witch hunt. It‘s not a new Republican trick. But have we seen as stark an example of this ever before?
SHEPPARD: I don‘t think so. I mean, this is a committee that was created to educate Congress on the issues of not just climate change but energy independence, which—I mean, even if you think climate change is a giant hoax, hopefully you certainly know that we do face a huge energy problem here in the U.S. and around the world. This committee was designed to raise awareness, to hold committees investigating these topics.
And Sensenbrenner has always treated it as a joke. We had a hearing a few years ago where he basically asked a scientist about whether we should be putting catalytic converters on cows as a solution to global warming. He thinks of this as a giant joke and has treated it as such for the last three years it‘s been around.
OLBERMANN: As the speech of Governor Schwarzenegger Tuesday suggests, when he called out big oil in California for basically trying to buy the repeal of climate change laws there, the environment has to be target one for big oil, especially with Citizens United letting it off the money leash. Is there any defense against this?
SHEPPARD: I mean, absolutely, big oil and other fossil fuel industries are looking to have their best friends back in power here in Congress, and having someone like Sensenbrenner is obviously—would be a huge win for them in that pursuit. I mean, the best defense right now is getting out and voting and making sure that folks like Sensenbrenner don‘t get that chance to make a joke of these committees, and make a joke of these issues that are facing this country right now.
OLBERMANN: So what is the scenario, if the Republicans take the House and Sensenbrenner comes in on this committee or any of the other possibilities for examining the climate change supposed issue—the one that Issa brought up? How would the Obama administration work on climate change legislation with the Republican House full of people who are paid by big oil to deny that there is any climate change?
SHEPPARD: Well, I mean, there is no question that we‘re going to see just hearing after hearing folks like Sensenbrenner if he gets to control this committee, folks like Issa—they are just going to drag the administration officials out from doing their jobs and make them testify before these committees, drop subpoena after subpoena on them, and try to prevent them from doing their job.
Whenever they ask for a report—basically, the Republicans just ask for a new report that proves what they want it to prove. They‘re going to just have these people basically on trial in Congress day after day, and not just people in the administration but independent climate scientists as well, attempting to just bash them and instill fear in the scientific community.
That‘s basically their goal here. The administration I think still has much they can do with their own executive powers on the big questions of climate and energy, even if the House is controlled by Republicans. But you can just guarantee that folks like Issa and Sensenbrenner are going to make that as difficult as possible.
OLBERMANN: Let‘s hope they use those things if it comes to that.
Kate Sheppard, environmental reporter for “Mother Jones.” Thank you, Kate.
SHEPPARD: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Is this possible? A “New York Times” report that reveals infighting between Fox‘s biggest mouth and it‘s biggest executive?
Another reason to vote for Tea Partier Alan West for Congress. He says his security clearance is higher than that of the president. Of course he is lying.
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, a shocking discovery in this election season. She has found candidates actually running on their own records. Of course they‘re Democrats.
OLBERMANN: Glenn Beck versus Fox News? That‘s next, but first get out your pitch forks and torches—soon in a bookstore near you—time for tonight‘s worst persons in the world. The bronze to an unnamed parking enforcement officer in Milwaukee. She handed out three 35 dollar tickets to long black cars parked outside the old Pabst Brewery on a drowsy Sunday afternoon, putting a kind of odd station wagony thing with a big back door and a strange back window. It was a hearse. She ticketed a hearse at a funeral. And she ticketed the funeral director‘s car and the car of at least one of the mourners.
The funeral was for Mr. Bill Pensee Sr. (ph). It was being held at a beer hall. One of his mourners saw this happening and asked the woman you‘re not ticketing a hearse are you? It‘s parked illegally, he quoted her reply. A newspaper columnist wrote this up, and the city avoided the tickets. They should probably void the employment of the robotic officer who wrote them.
Speaking of robots, the runner-up, Dinesh D‘Souza. This is one of these wilder right wing writers, the one who has been hallucinating lately about the president being animated by his, quote, “anti-colonial attitude.” D‘Souza has a book—they all have a book—and Media Matters found this on page 47, “addressing the TV cameras on May 14, 2010, Obama managed to work up some enthusiasm. Time and again, he condemned British Petroleum, an interesting term since the company long ago changed its name to BP. Given our anti-colonial theory, it‘s no surprise that Obama wanted to remind Americans what BP used to stand for.”
Except that on May 14th, Obama never called the company British Petroleum. Several conservative London tabloids wrote about this in the spring. And even though not one of them could cite one instance where the president did not call it BP, D‘Souza just put it in his book, because what good is a book designed for the radical right if it‘s been fact checked? Maybe Mr. D‘Souza was confused because one of these anti-colonialist swine did call BP British Petroleum, and did so on May 14th, and did so addressing the TV camera.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN, FMR. GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: I‘m very frustrated with British Petroleum and any of their subcontractors who are kind of playing the blame game and not fixing the problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Look for Mr. D‘Souza‘s work in your local book store in the fiction section.
But our winner, Lieutenant Colonel Alan West, nut job. This is the guy drummed out of the U.S. Army after a torture incident in Iraq, now running for the 22nd House district in Florida, the one who told his supporters that they needed to make sure the incumbent was afraid to come out of his house.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN WEST ®, CANDIDATE FOR HOUSE IN FLORIDA: I still maintain a secret security clearance. And I tell you if you look at the application for a security clearance, that‘s—I have a clearance that even the president of the United States cannot obtain, because of my background.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: It is only on the authority of the president that the security clearance system exists. Therefore, as the nonpartisan fact checkers Politifact suggested, Colonel West is flat out lying about this. They literally rated his lie “pants on fire.” Nobody gets a higher security clearance than the president. Moreover, Lieutenant Colonel West resigned from the Army while facing a court-martial because he was threatening to kill a man his unit was interrogating and had already beaten.
Right now, Mr. West couldn‘t get the security clearance of the Maytag repairman. Alan West, Tea Party House candidate in Florida, today‘s worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: Fox PAC has distinguished itself by going where no news organization has gone before, virtually no news. In our number one story, what does it look like when even Fox PAC gets non-newsed and out-promoted? What happens when the crazy is too crazy for Fox? The happening is televangelist Glenn Beck. It‘s chronicled by Mark Liebovich for the “New York Times Magazine.”
Though he may not put it in quite these terms, the scary scares advertisers and the lost advertising makes for a very troublesome relationship now between Beck and Fox. Quoting the article, “as of September 21st, 296 advertisers have asked that their commercials not be shown on Beck‘s show, up from 26 in August, 2009. Fox has also a difficult time selling ads on “The O‘Reilly Factor” and “Fox and Friends” when Beck appears on those shows as a guest. Beck‘s show is known in the TV sales world as empty calories, meaning he draws great ratings but is toxic for ad sales.”
But Beck has no problem using his Fox PAC TV show as a platform to make more money for himself, as he endlessly plugs his multimedia, multi-personality stuff. And while Fox PAC President Roger Ailes is described as generally supported of Beck, the Beckian self-promotion appears to be becoming a problem.
“The cross promotion can be a sore spot at Fox News, particularly for its president, Roger Ailes, who has complained about Beck hawking his non-Fox ventures too much on his Fox show. Ailes has communicated this to Beck himself and through intermediaries.”
Their is also the matter of egos, with Ailes sensing a lack of gratitude for his star-making ability. “He,” Ailes, “has also been vocal around the network about how Beck does not fully appreciate the degree to which Fox News has made him the sensation he has become in recent months. In the days following Beck‘s Lincoln Memorial rally, which by Beck‘s estimate drew half million people, Ailes told associates that if Beck were still at Headline News, there would have been 30 people on the mall.”
Of course, Beck‘s stream of consciousness broadcasts have occasionally gotten our attention for their sheer lunacy, as well as Beck‘s potential to actually lead some of the lunatics. When Fox News complains about one of its own, you know there is something terribly wrong.
“Several Fox News journalists,” the article continues, “have complained that Beck‘s antics are embarrassing Fox, that his inflammatory rhetoric makes it difficult for the network to present itself as a legitimate news outlet.” Like they didn‘t have that problem already.
Let‘s bring in the senior correspondent for “American Prospect Magazine,” co-author of “Free Ride,” Paul Waldman. Paul, good evening.
PAUL WALDMAN, “AMERICAN PROSPECT MAGAZINE”: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The gist of this is, in “the Times,” that Glenn Beck is the universal solvent. He‘s great at first, and then you realize you don‘t have anything in which to keep him because he eats through everything.
WALDMAN: The thing to understand about Glenn Beck is that he actually does offer something pretty compelling to his viewers. You know, what he says is that the end is near; disaster is upon us; and if you watch me, I will reveal the truth to you, and you will be one of the few people who understand, you know, what the sinister levers of power are, and the deep conspiracy behind everything that‘s going on.
As long as you don‘t step back and realize that what he is saying is completely insane, it‘s actually a very compelling message and a lot of people are drawn to it.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, but that‘s the follow me to freedom thing. My pal Charlie Steiner did that in the ESPN commercial, and we all laughed and everybody slapped ten, 12 years later. This is not, obviously, done humorously. And also in this context of what we‘re talking about here, in many senses, it would seem that Beck is sort of the quintessence of Fox News. He likes to tell stories. He doesn‘t get bogged down with actual facts. And he can self promote like nobody‘s business.
What would the problem be between him and Fox?
WALDMAN: Well, you know, when it gets to a certain level of extremism, it can become dangerous for them. When—he lost all of those advertisers when he came out and said that Barack Obama had a deep seeded hatred of white people. And now, according to Liebovich‘s article, there seems to be concern—some concern at Fox that he‘s more concerned with the Glenn Beck brand than the Fox News brand. He takes in about 35 million dollars a year, only a small portion of which is his Fox salary. He has got the radio show and the books and the live performances. So he is really a one man industry.
OLBERMANN: And don‘t forget that that didn‘t just happen organically. That was pushed to a great degree by the fellow on Twitter, Stop Beck, who has done such a marvelous job on this. But is there, do you think, an analogy to be made that the GOP let in the Tea Party vampire and look what happened over there; now that is the Tea Party that has kind of a Republican house that it lives in. And Fox News let in Glenn Beck figuring he‘d sort of fit in amongst the rest of the craziness; and now it is Glenn Beck with his backup group, the Fox News network?
WALDMAN: Yeah. I think that‘s true, that in many ways he is sort of the perfect man for the right‘s moment. You know, every time there‘s been a Democratic president in the last half century or so, we‘ve seen these right wing populist movements that are consumed with conspiracy theories come up. When Bill Clinton was president, you had the militias talking about black helicopters. In the 1960s, you had the John Birch Society screaming about the Illuminati.
And so when Beck is up there with his chalk boards and circles and arrows, it touches a real nerve. But the—there are some questions about whether or not that has a lasting negative effect on Fox‘s brand.
OLBERMANN: How do you get out of it? If it suddenly does and he still—although his ratings are down and obviously the advertising thing is the ultimate question—not the ratings, but the advertising thing. How does Fox get out of it, if they need to get out of it?
WALDMAN: Well, I guess they can think about whether or not they want to renew his contract when it comes up next time. But, you know, the nature of those sorts of movements is that they dissipate after a while. And with Beck‘s show, as I said before, it‘s very compelling. But there is only so long you can kind of sit there on the edge of your seat grinding your teeth, thinking that the walls are all falling down and Armageddon is around the corner.
After a while, when the person you‘re watching keeps saying it‘s happening tomorrow, it‘s happening tomorrow, and Armageddon doesn‘t come, eventually people sort of start to drift away. And that may end up happening to him or maybe it is already.
OLBERMANN: Yes. Well—but they‘re the guys—I mean the people who forecast the end of the world and said, no I got it wrong; the new end of the world is three years from now. They stay in business. So perhaps, perhaps not.
And he could always, I don‘t know, get a job somewhere else I suppose.
Paul Waldman of “The American Prospect,” great thanks for your time, Paul.
WALDMAN: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: That‘s September 29th. It‘s the 2,708th day since President Bush declared mission accomplished in Iraq, the 2,297th day since he declared victory in Afghanistan, and the 163rd day of Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf.
I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
Now to discuss campaigning Democrats committing politics, ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow. Good evening, Rachel.
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