updated 10/4/2010 11:32:40 AM ET 2010-10-04T15:32:40

Guests: Eugene Robinson, Richard Wolffe, Steve Hildebrand, Steven Pinker

           

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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

Would-be governors without any self governing.

In New York, the Paladino parallax.  Tuesday: “Has anybody asked Andrew Cuomo about his paramours?”

Last night: “It‘s not that I was accusing him.”

Today:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  You do believe that Andrew Cuomo has had or did have extramarital affairs when he was married?

CARL PALADINO ®, NEW YORK GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE:  What I—what I believe and what is factual out there, we will, at the appropriate time, put out.  Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Carl, you said that?  What a guy!

In California, Whitman‘s sampler.  The letter to her husband questioning their housekeeper‘s immigration status, she said they never got it.  Then she hinted the housekeeper stole it.  Then the letter turned up with her husband‘s handwriting on it.

Now, when she said stolen, she really meant “Maybe we gave it to her.”

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MEG WHITMAN ®, CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE:  You know, I haven‘t seen it, but I suspect it probably is his signature.  And I suspect, you know, what he said is he doesn‘t remember ever receiving this letter, but he might have scratched something like that at the bottom of the letter.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Don‘t let the bleeping door hit you in the backside on the way out.  Rahm Emanuel leaves as White House chief of staff, replaced by Pete Rose?  Oh, Pete Rouse.

The GOP‘s newest platform plank: creationism.

Nightmare in Guatemala.  We experimented on living people there as recently as 1948.

“Fridays with Thurber”: “The Dog That Bit People.”

And good evening and welcome to the end of his career.  He says Jon Stewart is, quote, “a bigot” and that TV is run by the Jews.

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RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR:  To imply that somehow they, the people in this country who are Jewish, are an oppressed minority?  Yes.

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OLBERMANN:  Apparently, you can do this to yourself.

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SANCHEZ:  Do it.  Oh!  Yaah!

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OLBERMANN:  All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.

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SANCHEZ:  It hurts.

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OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.

We stand at a pivotal moment in American politics this week.  The prevailing maxim used to be that the cover-up was worse than a crime—meaning if a politician got caught, fess up.  Don‘t make it worse by lying about it again.

But on our fifth story tonight: Republican Tea Party candidates have thrown that maxim and caution and consistency and honesty to the wind.

Exhibit A: the case of Carl Paladino, New York Republican Tea Party gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino.  We told you yesterday about his encounter with Fred Dicker of “The New York Post” in which the would-be governor said both F-him and added he would take Dicker out.  When Dicker asked if that was a threat, responding, “Watch.”

At issue was Dicker‘s demand that Paladino provide evidence of his claim made on Tuesday that Democratic rival Andrew Cuomo had been unfaithful to his wife.  Here‘s the time line and for viewers with weak constitutions, you might want to sit this one out.

On Tuesday, Paladino, who recently came forward about a daughter he had out of wedlock a decade ago told “Politico” to ask, Cuomo, quote, “about his paramours.”  Asked for evidence, he said, “Want me to go get affidavits from the women?”  And then said he knew who three of the four women were.

After his dust-up with Dicker on Wednesday, Paladino stood by his claim yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He was asking you for proof of allegations that you made that the attorney general, your opponent, had affairs when he was married to Kerry Kennedy.  Do you have that proof?

PALADINO:  I informed him at that time that at the appropriate time, when we‘re good and ready, we will—we will furnish that.  Andrew Cuomo has to account for all of his past and I will—I assure you that this is just the beginning of what I will vet on Andrew Cuomo.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Hours later, Mr. Paladino claimed he had not promised Mr.

Dicker to provide evidence of any affairs.

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PALADINO:  I responded that—because I didn‘t understand the context of the question—I responded that I would respond at the appropriate time.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  He responded that he would respond?  Let‘s go to the videotape.

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FRED DICKER, NEW YORK POST:  Do you have the evidence or do you not?

PALADINO:  I will—at the appropriate time you can hear it.

DICKER:  I want to ask you a question.  Do you have any evidence for the charge you made?

PALADINO:  At the appropriate time, you‘ll get it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Nevertheless, Paladino continued to insist he had only said the media should ask Cuomo about possible affairs.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Let me ask you, Carl, when do you plan to present the information that you say you have about Andrew Cuomo?  Because that would—that would—

PALADINO:  I never said that.  I said that I will respond at the appropriate—at the appropriate time because his question caught me off guard.  I didn‘t know what he was referring to when he said that I have information on Andrew Cuomo.  Yes, I said it in the context of a discussion with Maggie Haberman about why the press does not ask him questions like that.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  In fact, by the end of yesterday‘s interview, Paladino was on record saying, no, of course, he was not saying Cuomo had been unfaithful.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you‘re not saying, then, now, to clear the record here—

PALADINO:  No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You‘re not saying—you‘re not saying that you‘re accusing him of having infidelities, you‘re asking why they didn‘t ask—

PALADINO:  Why don‘t they go on a—I don‘t have any.  But they come and ask me the question.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Today, he appeared on FOX News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY:  You also told “Politico” that you claimed you knew of three—quote, “three of the four women” who Andrew Cuomo allegedly had affair with and then you turned around and tell “The Buffalo News” last night that you have no proof.  So, which is it, sir?

PALADINO:  We will at the appropriate time, OK, say whatever we have in our—in our box at the appropriate time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Whatever he does have in his box, the world waits with bated breath to know.

And then there is exhibit B: California Republican Tea Party gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman.  For a while, it seemed as though Whitman might wriggle out of the scandal of having had an undocumented immigrant working for her until she claimed she and her husband never got the letter flagging the woman‘s dubious Social Security number.

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WHITMAN:  If there is a letter out there, I don‘t know how they got it.  It‘s not in our house.  And so, you know, somehow it ended up in, you know, Jerry Brown‘s hands or Gloria Allred‘s hands.  So, we never saw that letter.  And as I understand the process, normally if that was to happen, they would have sent a letter first to the employee, then two weeks later to the employer.  And I think there‘s a question about whether employers with less than 10 employees actually got such a letter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The problem is the letter is extant and it has her husband‘s handwriting on it, something that Whitman now doesn‘t dispute. 

Making even more problematic, that fact that Whitman previously suggested

that the letter intended for her and her husband might have been stolen by

you know, the housekeeper.

           

Let‘s bring in Democratic strategist Steve Hildebrand of Hildebrand Strategies Consulting, formerly deputy campaign manager for the Obama presidential campaign.

Thank you for your time tonight, sir.

STEVE HILDEBRAND, HILDEBRAND STRATEGIES CONSULTING:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  All right.  So, here‘s your hypothetical.  The Paladino campaign is on the phone for you.  They want to know which version they‘re going with tomorrow.  They are accusing Cuomo and do have evidence, or they‘re not and they don‘t.  And you say what?

HILDEBRAND:  I think I would say, Keith, what my mother always told me is, when you lie, cheat and steal, you‘re going to get caught.  It‘s time to fess up.  You‘re lying, you‘re cheating, you‘re stealing.  So, it‘s time to fess up and we‘ll put this behind us.

The more he drags this out, the more problematic it‘s going to be for him.  So, I think it‘s time to move on.

OLBERMANN:  Assuming he does not get hit by the lightning bolt of logic that that suggests or implies, we‘ll put you on the other side of the equation.  You‘re on the Cuomo campaign and you‘re targeting voters who are so ticked off about the economy, whatever, that they don‘t care about the sort of serial inconsistency here.  They‘re just in the mood to throw the bums out.

How do you get those people to care about this and the implications of the dishonesty that is so blatantly on exhibit here?

HILDEBRAND:  Well, the first thing that we do is make sure Andrew Cuomo puts it out there constantly, that he‘s been—he has a lifelong record of fighting for middle class voters for consumer rights and that he is not one of the bums, we shouldn‘t throw him out.  He‘s one of the good ones.  We need to keep him.  He needs to—he needs to get out there and he needs to get his surrogates out there saying that.

But, Keith, you know, a piece in politics so important is trust.  And if we can‘t trust Paladino to talk about a character issue in an honest and sincere way, you can‘t trust him with the economy.  Andrew Cuomo is a good, sincere, honest guy, and we ought to—we ought to elect him the next governor of this great state.

OLBERMANN:  The other great state—to prove this is not just a New York thing for a change.  In California, Meg Whitman does not seem to be in quite as complicated nor bad a predicament but it‘s very specific.  It‘s right on point.

She‘s made a big deal about holding the employers of the undocumented accountable.  So, is this more like a direct small laser hit against her?

HILDEBRAND:  Well, I think what you‘re seeing is a pattern amongst these Republican conservative candidates that are aligning themselves with the Tea Party.  They‘re going farther and farther and farther to the right as possibly as far as they can get.  You know, these folks are becoming more and more dangerous.  And I say that in a sincere way.

Meg Whitman has a real problem here.  She‘s looking weak.  She is hemorrhaging.  You know, it‘s hard to justify being a billionaire and not being able to probably pay for taxes and things like that.  She is part of the problem in this country.

But, Keith, you know, you got to point out that these Tea Party Republicans, you know, in addition to the lying and cheating and stealing, they‘re also deceiving the American people in who they really are.

These are the same people that are going to destroy Social Security, that are going to dismantle Medicare and Medicaid.  They‘re going to take away workers‘ rights.  They‘re going to repeal women‘s rights.  They are fiscal conservatives who are going to destroy government and they‘re also social conservatives who are going to destroy people‘s lives.

OLBERMANN:  Democratic strategist Steve Hildebrand of Hildebrand Strategies Consulting—great thanks for (INAUDIBLE).

HILDEBRAND:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  For the bigger Tea Party picture here, let‘s bring in MSNBC political analyst Eugene Robinson, associate editor, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist of “The Washington Post” and author of the new book, “Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America.”

Gene, good evening.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  When does the book come out?

ROBINSON:  It comes out on Tuesday.

OLBERMANN:  OK.  So, you‘re a month ahead of me, you‘re safe.

OK.  I didn‘t mention in this the Nevada Republican Tea Party senatorial candidate Sharron Angle who is denying the Harry Reid claim that she tried to repeal mandated insurance coverage for mammograms.  But—while “The Plum Line” blog has reported being on record with both “The Las Vegas Review Journal” and in her Senate primary debate, she literally said that she had bills that would have ended those mandates for mammograms.

You‘ve got that.  You‘ve got Paladino.  You got Whitman.  I‘m sensing a pattern here, Gene, or am I just being a little paranoid?  Which is it?

ROBINSON:  Well, Keith, first, let me respond that I intend to respond to that at the appropriate time.

OLBERMANN:  Thank you very much.

ROBINSON:  Oh, that would be now.  OK.

OLBERMANN:  I‘ll take you out!

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  For a—for a beer.

ROBINSON:  And I‘ll take you out for a beer.

No.  You know, here, in the case of Angle and Paladino, what you have

and I‘m just going to be frank here—is crazy people saying crazy things that are not true.  I mean, you know, let‘s face it.  These are really erratic candidates who often don‘t make a lot of sense.

           

In the case of Meg Whitman, you have something a little different.  You know, you have—she has a real problem in that she‘s tried to portray herself as, you know, tough on employers and hire illegal immigrants and she employed one for nine years and she‘s—and here‘s the proof and she‘s trying to get out from under it.  Yes.

OLBERMANN:  But which is more true of these two choices?  And if one of them is incorrect, supply the correct one.  That these candidates represent some sort of flaw—fundamental flaw in the way people in the Tea Party think or that these are growing pains of a young party that has no system of vetting their candidates and no bar to understand, you know, as cynical and as jaded as professional politicians are, some of them can tell you when you can get away with something and when lying six different ways about the same subject might get you into trouble?  Is it—is it one or the other, or is it both?

ROBINSON:  Well, this is not an either/or construction.  This is a both/and.  I think, you know, is there something wrong with the way they think?  Well, if you think that you can say something—you know, just come out and say something that‘s demonstrably not true or say something that directly contradicts something you said the other day, then I think that‘s a flaw in the way you think.

And yes, this is a movement or whatever you‘d want to call it that doesn‘t quite have its act together in terms of fielding professional candidates who would—who would have—you know, who would know how to handle these sorts of situations and like stick to their story.

OLBERMANN:  To that point, the one detail that we left out in the recap of the Whitman thing.  I played the tape at the open of the show but we didn‘t do it again.  She said last night, you know, I haven‘t seen the letter—which is the whole crux of her problem.  But I suspect, it probably is his, her husband‘s signature, and I suspect what he said is, he said he doesn‘t remember ever receiving this letter but he might have scratched something like that at the bottom of the letter.

That‘s—in some ways that‘s—is that worse than the Paladino thing?  Because it just—the Paladino thing, the guy is just going back and forth saying whatever he thinks is appropriate for the given moment and it changes by the hour and he‘s crazy.  I mean, he‘s just nuts.

But is this - but this woman has been taken seriously as a businesswoman, as an innovator, as a giant in her own field, and she‘s now saying, we never got this letter and the housekeeper stole it but, yes, that‘s probably his handwriting on it.

That‘s—that‘s an attempt to just push a pile of bull past people, isn‘t it?

ROBINSON:  Well, you know, I think it is.  And that‘s why I kind of separate out the Whitman case because I really think this is a serious problem for her.  Certainly for the image she‘s trying to project.  It‘s a really, really bad thing if this—you know, this close to an election you‘re offering to take a lie detector test, which she—which she is offering to take.

And this sort of shifting, creeping story about what actually happened and what the truth actually—there is no letter, you know, the housekeeper stole it.  Oh, you mean that letter.  Oh, you mean that husband signed it.  It‘s—you know, it‘s really bad.

And so, you‘re left with just a few possibilities, all of which are pretty bad.  Either she‘s just a flat-out liar, she‘s just lying.  Or at a minimum, she is the sort of person who employs someone in her house for nine years and doesn‘t bother to learn even the most basic details about this woman‘s life.

OLBERMANN:  And—and later accuses her of stealing a document that it turned out her husband obviously had.  I mean—

ROBINSON:  And said, according to the housekeeper at their parting, I don‘t know you.  You don‘t know me.  So, you know, real sweet.

OLBERMANN:  Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Gene Robinson—thanks for your time tonight.  I‘ll take you out!

(LAUGHTER)

ROBINSON:  I‘ll take you out!

OLBERMANN:  To congratulate you on the publication of your new book.

ROBINSON:  And yours coming up.  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  Thank you kindly.

Could changing chiefs of staff fire up the base?  Or does it reflect a slight change in a lesson learned a little too late by the White House?  What will it do for the newest candidate for the mayor of a top three city?  Is his departure as chief of staff an indication that the Obama administration is moving back toward progressives?  Richard Wolffe—next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Is his departure an isolated event or is the White House turning towards progressives?

Creationism, it‘s just not just for the gullible anymore.  Its rapid ascent as one of the credos of the new Republican Tea Party.

CNN‘s fast talking anchor pulls a Mel Gibson and they show him there really is a list you don‘t want to be on.

And once again, finally, in an odd way, “Fridays with Thurber,” “The Dog That Bit People.”

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OLBERMANN:  Would it make a difference in substance or perception as President Obama nears the halfway mark of this term?  Will it bolster the enthusiasm of progressives going to the midterm elections which are now 32 days away?

In our fourth story: These are the only questions about which anybody outside the White House should really care when a president‘s chief of staff is leaving, but all the more so in this case since this high level personnel change is not happening in a vacuum.  If the Obama administration has learned any lessons from the past two years, have those particular lessons come too late for what the president may face the next two years?

Today, it became official.  White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is now former and now running for mayor of Chicago.

The new interim White House chief of staff is White House senior adviser Pete Rouse.  Mr. Rouse became the chief of staff for then-Senator Obama six years ago.  Before that, he had served as the chief of staff for Senator Tom Daschle who was both minority and majority leader.  Rouse became known as the 101st senator in part for the wide reception that he works well across party lines.

As White House senior adviser, Rouse helped create the new consumer protection bureau and he‘s been given credit for overcoming internal White House friction so that Elizabeth Warren would became the senior adviser for that bureau.  That may cheer progressives.  President Obama once described Rouse as completely ego free—that may cheer them, too.

As for the other obvious differences between the outgoing and the incoming—

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Obviously, these two gentlemen have slightly different styles.  This is a couple of years ago, I pointed out that Rahm, when he was a kid, had lost part of his finger in an accident and it was his middle finger.  So it rendered him mute for a while.  Pete has never seen a microphone or a TV camera that he likes.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Also from the president, quote, “There is a saying around

the White House, ‘Let‘s let Pete fix it.‘”

Let‘s see if we can get Richard Wolffe to fix this, the MSNBC political analyst, “Daily Beast” contributor, and author of “Renegade: The Making of a President.”

Richard, good evening.

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

OLBERMANN:  Did this have anything to do with how quickly Rahm Emanuel became anathema to progressives?

WOLFFE:  No.  Otherwise, he‘d left a lot earlier.  If this was about Rahm‘s ability to insult progressives or the Special Olympics or, in fact, polite conversation, his tenure would have been much shorter.  This is, in the first instance, about personal ambition.  Rahm was always more comfortable, I think, seeing him as a principal, not a staffer.

And remember, this is a president who has always really not chosen to pander or lean towards progressives.  If he was going to do so, he had done it in the primaries.  He didn‘t do it then.  He‘s not done it in government.

And Pete Rouse, while he has taken a progressive line on some policies, he‘s known as this guy who reaches out for bipartisan compromise.  Actually, Rahm was the guy who liked to run at the Republicans.  So, you know, this cuts both ways.

OLBERMANN:  Did this have anything to do with the president‘s criticism of FOX News or the kind words that Bill Burton had me—for me and Rachel on Monday?  Is there a tonal change or is all of it temporal coincidence?

WOLFFE:  Well, I don‘t doubt that that was sincere what Bill Burton said.

OLBERMANN:  No, nor do I.  I was just wondering if there‘s anything more to it than it all happened in the same week.

WOLFFE:  Yes.  No, the tonal thing I think is important when you understand how the White House is approaching these midterm elections.  They need to get the base out.  They need to fire up progressives.

But the coincidence of timing I think is just that.  It‘s not that they had shifted the politics.

Remember that Pete Rouse is a guy who is used to the Senate.  You have to cut across the other line to do that.  Ironically, Rahm was the guy who, in the House, was known as being very aggressive.

So, I just don‘t think that the politics are going to change as much as this week or the needs of the next months suggest.

OLBERMANN:  So, does this—is there any indication whatsoever that the president or anybody in the White House recalculated the formula about what to do relative to the base, relative to the middle-of-the-road, and to that, you know, constant negotiation with a group the president was on record admitting he realized he couldn‘t negotiate with as of January 27th, 2009?

WOLFFE:  There have been a lot of re calibrations here.  And the question here—this is a sort of a hypothetical—looking at where this election may be headed, maybe what Rahm scales—his ability to draw out the differences about slugging it out, the kind of dynamics you have in the House more than you want a Pete Rouse right now.  The problems they had in the Senate were really the things that blocked them from getting where they wanted to go on health care—maybe if Pete Rouse would have been better earlier and Rahm would have been better now.

But this is where they are because people are burnt out, because they thought that Rahm would be aggressive and go-getting.  In the first instance, I think you have to separate out again what they‘re trying to do right now, get the base out to vote because that‘s going to decide the midterms with where this president, Pete Rouse and Rahm Emanuel, are in the longer term.  And that‘s in the center ground.

OLBERMANN:  All right.  And pursuant to that, if there‘s a—if there‘s a slight shift in advance of trying to get the base out for the midterms in 32 days, is it—is it cosmetic and only good for 32 days, or does the president see things differently going into the prospect of having some sort of mixed bag with either or both house not being in his hands?

WOLFFE:  They have clearly realized that the idea of getting significant numbers of Republicans isn‘t going to happen.  They realize that FOX News is their enemy and this is a widespread effort to smear the president on a number of different fronts.

So, is there a shift there?  Yes.  I think they have dropped this idea that they‘re going to change the face of Washington, unite red and blue America.  But, in the first instance, they‘ve got to get a better result going into these midterms, because otherwise, it‘s going to get really ugly.

OLBERMANN:  MSNBC political analyst, Richard Wolffe—many thanks. 

Have a great weekend.

WOLFFE:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Another job open today—probably not a good job to call Jon Stewart a bigot and claim that television is run by Jewish people like him and they‘re not minorities.  And—you got enough yet?

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OLBERMANN:  The newest Republican issue: creationism.  Amazingly, creationism creates lower income levels.

First, the sanity break and the tweet of the days from EmpPalp, location: Death Star II.  “Hey @KeithOlbermann,  I hear you‘ve been telling people I look like Rupert Murdoch.  Why the low blow, man.” 

Sorry.  It‘s the haircut.  And the attempt to take over the universe. 

Let‘s play Oddball.

We begin on the Internets.  And it‘s the Oddball too adorable for words video of the week.  I‘m not sure why this cat is so tired or why it‘s attempting to sleep in a tea cup.  If you like cats in tea cups, if, say, you‘re not allergic to cats, as am I. 

What the heck!  This is just not fair.  Cats.  I have pet wildebeests. 

Time now for a check on the local news.  Anyone who lives on the east coast is already well aware that there was a little rain this week.  Crack meteorologist Bill Evans is on top of this.  It seems like he‘s gotten some really good news on the subject. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, hello. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Yeah, it looks like our friendly weatherman is a bit of an Austin Powers fan.  Though it should have been obvious when he gave this weekend‘s forecast as sunny with a chance of being shaggadellic. 

Paris, France, bonjour.  And the question of the day: how much would you pay for a hat?  A fedora wore by Michael Jackson recently went up for auction.  As you know, people are not wearing enough hats.  Apparently, the King of Pop threw it into the audience during a concert in Niece in 1988.  Where are they selling this at?  Barney‘s?  Look at this.  Trunk sale?

The person who caught it held it on—on to it until now.  It was expected to fetch between five and seven grand.  It ended up being sold for 24,000.  The seller took the money and made away like a smooth criminal. 

Time marches on. 

We prosecuted German scientists for conduct of this nature, American medical experiments on living people in Guatemala in the ‘40s.  And the GOP and creationism; it‘s not just pandering to the stupid anymore.  It‘s spreading stupidity.  Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  And now the Bill Hicks Is Still Ahead of His Time clip of the week. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL HICKS, COMEDIAN:  You ever notice how people who believe in creationism look really un-evolved?  Eyes real close together, big furry hands and feet.  I believe God created me in one day.  Looks like he rushed it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)  

OLBERMANN:  Something from the late comedian and transcendent commentator Bill Hicks, which we‘ll show you about once a week, with the kind permission of his family.  That‘s from 20 years ago and it‘s still as fresh as today‘s headlines.  Specifically, our third story on the COUNTDOWN headline, creationism as political platform. 

In all the talk about the Tea Party takeover of the Republican party, much of the focus has been on the alleged fiscal discipline the Tea Party wants to restore to government, specifically reining in government spending while somehow paying for new tax cuts for the rich. 

But the dirty little secret of this Tea Party is that it did not arrive from nothing.  Many of its members, leaders and even candidates emerged from a previous political movement, the religious right, which has spent the last few decades trying to undo the Constitutional separation of church and state, and to outlaw abortion, to force their God into people‘s schools, to deny gay people their rights, and to deny an entire generation and generations yet to come of American students the fundamental right of knowledge and understanding about the cornerstone of the entire science of biology, about the most fundamental thing in the world, how they came to be. 

That‘s right, the Tea Party wants to deny our children the right to understand evolution.  The irony even they do not see is that their fight against evolution has failed so miserably, with the public and in the courts, that they may have to adapt it, mutating, evolving.  And so now they fight for teaching all theories, including—shocker—intelligent design, which of course evolved from straight out creationism, the theory, which first appeared in that scientific journal “The Book of Genesis,” that God created humanity. 

In 2008, the presidential candidates for the Republican side were asked at a debate whether they disputed the scientific fact of evolution.  Three of the candidates, Sam Brownback, Tom Tancredo and potential 2012 nominee Mike Huckabee raised their hands.  Candidates for the highest office in the land rejecting a cornerstone of science.  With the rise of the Tea Party, the ratio of scientific literacy to illiteracy among candidates for national office appearing to get even worse. 

Florida Senate Candidate Marco Rubio tried to undermine the teaching of evolution in schools in his state.  Christine O‘Donnell, Delaware Senate hopeful, quote, “evolution is a theory.  There is not evidence, consistent evidence to make it as a fact.  Creationism is believing that the world began as the Bible and Genesis says, that God created the Earth in six days, six 24-hour periods.  And there is just as much, if not more evidence supporting that.” 

Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle, quote, “we weren‘t there.  We can‘t see and hear for ourselves and say absolutely this is how it happened.. When we are trying to raise logical thinkers, we have to give them every argument.” 

Not to mention the Tea Party‘s 2012 favorite, who ran for vice president, with one of the party‘s last leaders to admit he believes in evolution.  On that note, let‘s bring in Professor Steven Pinker, who researches language and cognition at Harvard and is author of “The Blank Slate, a Modern Denial of Human Nature,” among other words. 

Professor, thanks for your time tonight.

PROF. STEVEN PINKER, HARBARD UNIVERSITY:  Thank you for having me.

OLBERMANN:  What are the implications for kids of having a growing number of creationists in positions of power in Congress, Senate, state houses around the country? 

PINKER:  Well, it doesn‘t auger well for science education.  We‘re the world‘s richest country.  We‘re the world‘s most technologically advanced country.  You would think that our students would understand science at the highest level in the world.  In fact, in tests of scientific understanding, other countries regularly beat the pants of us. 

It means that instead of perfecting our science curriculum, so that we have kids who are more scientifically literate, the curriculum is going to be designed by politicians who want to insert Bible stories instead of the best possible science. 

OLBERMANN:  Why does it matter if kids understand biology or evolution?  I don‘t have to dissect frogs to do my job here every day.  . 

PINKER:  Well, there are some practical reasons.  Some of the great technological advances of the next few decades are going to be in the biological sciences.  And you can‘t do biology unless you understand evolution. 

There‘s going to be a race between us and the super bugs, the viruses that are going to attack us.  Their big weapon is that they can evolve fast.  If we don‘t have a generation of science students and scientists who understand evolution, we‘re not going to be able to understand our worst enemies. 

Also, great advances in diseases like cancer and Alzheimer‘s and Parkinson‘s Disease are often going to come from research on other animals, because you obviously can‘t give cancer or give Parkinson‘s disease to a human.  You can to a mouse. 

We have to understand what the relationship is between a mouse and a human in order to interpret that science.  Scientists have a credo that nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution.  If you sow confusion about evolution, you are sowing confusion about biology.  That‘s the last thing that we need in the economic and technological advances that we face. 

But also, what could be more fundamental than knowing where we came from?  The theory of evolution is one of the most magnificent intellectual accomplishments of our civilization.  It‘s a tragedy to deny children of the evidence, the line of argumentation that led to this magnificent achievement in this essential bit of knowledge to understanding who we are and where we came from. 

OLBERMANN:  I eluded to this broadly earlier.  Does accepting creationism have broader social consequences?  Is there, indeed, evidence that the more a country embraces creationism, the less likely it is to have what we would consider an advanced society? 

PINKER:  Well, it‘s certainly true that among industrialized modern societies, the two countries that are lowest on the scale of accepting evolution are the United States and Turkey.  And we do have to ask ourselves the question, do we think that our country should be a lot more like Turkey?  Is that the neighborhood that we belong in.  Not to insult the nation of Turkey, but it‘s not clearly the direction that we obviously want to go in. 

The basic question is, do you want to convey to our kids that the way to understand the world is to ask questions, to study it honestly, to go where the evidence takes us?  Or do we want to understand the world by what politicians tell us and what they legislate in their—in acts of Congress, instead of what the best scientists figure out? 

OLBERMANN:  Dr. Stephen Pinker, professor of psychology at Harvard University, thanks for adding to this discussion.  Great thanks, sir.

PINKER:  Thank you. 

OLBERMANN:  James Thurber‘s theory was that dogs were just about to evolve to speech and reason, but were holding back because they didn‘t want to have an argument.  An example tonight in “The Dog That Bit People.”

The Friday night news dump indeed.  You know the sad part about his firing.  Now we‘ll have to start explaining who this guy was. 

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, what happens when Democrats go on offense and hit Republican Tea Partiers on their extreme views?  Those extreme views magically disappear. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The National Institute of Health calling today‘s revelation an appalling example from a dark chapter in the history of medicine.  American doctors, on behalf of the United States government, ran Tuskegee-style venereal disease experiments on hundreds of Guatemalans people in the 1940s without their knowledge or permission. 

Sixty four years later, our government is apologizing.  Wellesley College Professor Susan Reverby today publicly revealing her findings from an unpublished paper written by a U.S. Public Health Service physician John Cutler.  According to Reverby, between 1946 and 1948, under Dr. Cutler‘s direction, nearly 700 people, female prostitutes, mail prison inmates, mental patients, soldiers, were infected in Guatemala with Syphilis and Gonorrhea, injecting them with the diseases into their skins, genitals, spines. 

The U.S. goal was to determine the effect of Penicillin in treating sexually transmitted diseases.  Guatemalan authorities provided access to their patients in exchange for supplies.  According to Reverby, the United States Surgeon General Thomas Parran saying at the time, quote, “you know, we couldn‘t do such an experiment in this country.” 

The experiments ended after two years.  And Dr. Cutler would later go on to oversee the equally shameful Tuskegee, Alabama Syphilis study two decades later.  Today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the head of HHS, Kathleen Sebelius, issued a joint apology to those affected and their families. 

Late this afternoon, the White House released this photo of the president on the phone with the Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom.  The president expressing deep regret for the experiment on behalf of our nation. 

We‘ll be back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Fridays with Thurber and memories of mugs, “The Dog That Bit People.”  That‘s next, but get out your pitchforks and torches, first, time for tonight‘s Worst Persons in the World. 

The bronze to Joe Brandon Jr., the attorney for the bigots who are suing the city of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, over the expansion of an Islamic center there.  The lawsuit is supposedly about the city‘s failure to hold open meetings, as the law requires.  Instead, Mr. Brandon‘s questions to city witnesses thus far have included “are you aware that all the plaintiffs have wanted from day one is to know whether this is a religious institution?  Where does tolerance meet Sharia Law?  What tolerance are you asking the plaintiffs to swallow?  Did you do anything to determine this was a religious meeting place?” 

And about the burial of two members of the center on the private property, “are you suggesting you would give approval to a mosque with a connection to Jihad or without any assurances bodies are buried deep enough so they don‘t stink?” 

The stink, Mr. Brandon, comes not from the graves, but from your clients.  But it is refreshing to see a bunch of Islamophobes go into court and proudly admit their bigotry. 

Speaking of which, there‘s my old back-up host Rick Sanchez of CNN.  Not anymore.  Not after this interview on Sirius XM Radio in which he called Jon Stewart a, quote, bigot. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR:  People who are not minorities understand that those of us who are—and very few of us will say the things that I have just said—are actually more complex than they think we are. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Stewart is a minority as much as you are. 

SANCHEZ:  Come on. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He‘s Jewish.

SANCHEZ:  Yes, come on.  Very powerless people. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Whoa!

SANCHEZ:  You‘re such a minority.  I mean, you know—please.  What, are you kidding?  He‘s—

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You‘re telling me that—

SANCHEZ:  I‘m telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart.  A lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart.  To imply that somehow they, the people in this country who are Jewish, are an oppressed minority, yeah. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Oh, boy.  The old the Jews run TV stuff again.  Bye, Rick. 

Fired at 6:00 p.m. 

But our winner, Rupert Murdoch from “Politico.”  News Corp, which already donated a million dollars to the Republican Governors Association, then had its news poodle Chris Wallace compliment the association on its fund-raising, has now made another one million dollar contribution to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, another radical right organization. 

The journalistic violations are uncountable.  But hidden in this one is something extra.  The Chamber says it plans to spend 75 million dollars on the 2010 election, nearly all of it on behalf of GOP candidates.  But it still has more than 68 million left unspent.  And with Fox stations up and down the country ready to sell them TV ad time, that‘s not just a donation.  It‘s a kickback.  As Rupert says—

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I am the Senate. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  I‘m sorry.  That was Emperor Palpatine again.  Different haircut.  Rupert Murdoch, today‘s Worst Person in the World.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  I‘m very proud to say that next Monday night, for reasons largely beyond my ability to comprehend them, I will be involved in the presentation of the Thurber Prize for Humor, the finalist for which are Chancy Dunn (ph), Steve Haley (ph) and Rhoda Jansen (ph).  They have a lot to live up to. 

This week, James Thurber again takes us back to his youth.  Indeed, to the origins of the Thurber dog.  His drawings of them seemed more to offer a bloodhound.  But in point of fact, as tonight‘s story suggests, the Thurber dog had not a breed but an awareness bordering on becoming human. 

Again, we go to “My Life and Hard Times” from 1933.  And as usual, I‘m reading from the American Library “Thurber, Letters and Drawings,” edited by Garrison Keillor, and available without a prescription. 

“The Dog That Bit People” by James Thurber. 

“Probably no one man should have as many dogs in his life as I have had.  But there was more pleasure than distress in them for me, except in the case of an Airedale named Mugs.  He gave me more trouble than all the 54 or 55 put together. 

Although my moment of keenest embarrassment was the time a Scotch Terrier named Jeannie, who had just had six puppies in the clothes closets of a fourth floor apartment in New York, had the unexpected seventh and last at the corner of 11th and 5th Avenue, during a walk she had insisted on taking. 

Then, too, there was the prize-winning French Poodle, that great big black poodle—none of your little un-troublesome white miniatures, mind you—who got sick riding in the rumble seat of a car with me on her way to the Greenwich Dog Show.  She had a red rubber bib tucked around her throat.  And since a rain storm came up when we were halfway through the Bronx, I had to hold over her a small green umbrella, really more of a parasol. 

The rain beat down fearfully and suddenly the driver of the car drove into a big garage filled with mechanics.  It happened so quickly that I forgot to put the umbrella down.  And I will always remember with sickening distress the look of incredulity mixed with hatred that came over the face of the particular hardened garage man that came over it to see what we wanted, when he took a look at me and the poodle.

All garage men and people of that intolerable stripe hate poodles with their curious haircut, especially with the pompoms that you have to leave on their hips if you expect the dogs to win a prize. 

But the Airedale, as I have said, it was the worst of all my dogs.  He really wasn‘t my dog.  As a matter of fact, I came home from vacation one summer to find that my brother Roy had bought him while I was away.  The big burly choleric dog, he always acted as if he thought I wasn‘t one ever the family. 

There was a slight advantage in being one of the family, for he didn‘t bite the family as often as he bit strangers.  Still, in the years that we had him, he bit everybody but mother.  And he made a pass at her once but missed.  That was during the month when we suddenly had mice.  And Mugs refused to do anything about them. 

Nobody ever had mice exactly like the way we had mice that month.  They acted like pet mice, almost like mice somebody had trained.  They were so friendly that one night when my mother entertained at dinner the Freeraleras (ph), a club she and my father had belonged to for 20 years, she put down a lot of little dishes with food in them on the pantry floor, so that the mice would be satisfied with that and wouldn‘t come into the dining room. 

Mugs stayed out in the pantry with the mice, lying on the floor, growling to himself.  Not at the mice, but about all the people in the next room that he would have liked to get at.  Mother slipped out into the pantry once to see how everything was going.  Everything was going fine.  It made her so mad to see Mugs lying there, oblivious of the mice—they came running up to her—that she slapped him.  And he slashed at her, but didn‘t make it. 

“He was sorry immediately,” mother said.  “He was always sorry,” she said, after he bit someone.  But we could not understand how she figured this out.  He didn‘t act sorry.  Mother used to send a box of candy every Christmas to the people the Airedale bit.  The list finally contained 40 or more names. 

Nobody could understand why we didn‘t get rid of the dog.  I didn‘t understand it very well myself.  But we didn‘t get rid of him.  I think that one or two people tried to poison Mugs.  He acted poisoned once in a while.  And old Major Moberly fired at him once with his service revolver near the Seneca Hotel on East Broad Street.

But Mugs lived to be almost 11 years old.  And even when he could hardly get around, he bit a congressman who had called to see my father on business.  My mother had never liked the congressman.  She said the signs of his horoscope showed he couldn‘t be trusted.  He was Saturn with the Moon in Virgo.  But she sent him a box of candy that Christmas.  He sent it right back, probably because he suspected it was trick candy. 

Mother persuaded herself it was all for the best that the dog had bitten him even though father lost an important business association because of it.  “I wouldn‘t want to be associated with such a man,” mother said.  “Mugs could read him like a book.” 

We used to take turns feeding Mugs to be on his good side.  But that didn‘t always work.  He was never in a very good mood, even after a meal.  Nobody knew exactly what was the matter with him.  But whatever it was, it made him irascible, especially in the mornings. 

Roy never felt very well in the morning either, especially before breakfast.  Once when he came downstairs and found that Mugs had moodily chewed up the morning paper, he hit him in the face with a grapefruit and then he jumped up on the dining room table, scattering dishes and silverware and spilling the coffee. 

Mugs‘ first free leap carried all the way across the table and into a brass fire screen in front of the gas grate.  But he was back on his feet in a moment.  And in the end, he got Roy and gave him a pretty vicious bite in the leg. 

Then he was all over it.  He never bit anyone more than once at a time.  Mother always mentioned that as an argument in his favor.  She said he had a quick temper, but that he didn‘t hold a grudge.  She was forever defending him.  I think she liked him because he wasn‘t well.  “He‘s not strong,” she would say pityingly. 

But that was inaccurate.  He may not have been well, but he was terribly strong.” 

“The Dog That Bit People,” part one.  We‘ll do part two for you next week.  By James Thurber. 

That‘s October 1st.  It‘s the 2,710th day since President Bush declared mission accomplished in Iraq, the 2,299th since he declared victory in Afghanistan, and the 165th day of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf. 

I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck. 

Now to discuss why the Democrats knead to work on offense, ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow.  Good evening, coach. 

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