updated 10/18/2010 1:02:11 PM ET 2010-10-18T17:02:11

Guests: Chris Hayes, Matt Yglesias, Tim Kaine, E.J. Dionne

           

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

The plot to buy America.  The president in Delaware:

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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  And they don‘t have the courage to stand up and disclose their identities.

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OLBERMANN:  The latest count: $220 million spent on midterms advertising by outside groups; $80 million in the last week alone.

Leading the latest pushback on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce?

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RAND PAUL ®, KENTUCKY SENATE CANDIDATE:  We would encourage you to keep attacking the chamber because the chamber is probably more popular than any politician running for office.

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OLBERMANN:  The president versus the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove, with the man who compared the scandal to Watergate, DNC Chairman Tim Kaine, and from “Think Progress,” Matt Yglesias.

The not-so-secret millions of dollars of campaign influence bought by Rupert Murdoch—the FOX mastermind with a startling admission today to his shareholders.

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RUPERT MURDOCH, NEWS CORP CEO:  We believe that it is certainly in the interest of the country and of all the shareholders and the prosperity—of the—that there be a degree of—a fair amount of change in Washington.

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OLBERMANN:  And do the shareholders have a say in where FOX political donations go?

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MURDOCH:  No.

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OLBERMANN:  Propaganda plus cash, with Chris Hayes.

The man who apologized to BP wants to chair the House Energy Committee.  The woman who said this wants to be a senator.

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SHARRON ANGLE ®, NEVADA SENATE CANDIDATE:  The solutions to the health care costs of insurance are free market.

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OLBERMANN:  “Worsts”: This was actually said on national radio.

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BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS:  Not every Muslim is an extremist, a terrorist, but every terrorist is a Muslim.

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OLBERMANN:  Somewhere, Timothy McVeigh is very surprised.

“Friday‘s with Thurber” and his biggest psych, “The Catbird Seat.”

And Brett Favre meets “Apple Daily.”

All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I hope that there‘s still some magic left with me.

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OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.  This is Friday, October 15th, 18 days until the 2010 midterm elections.

And Republicans are spending much of their time right now laughing at the Democratic strategy of pointing out how much secret millionaire cash is funding Republican ads—laughing because the strategy has failed to gain any attention from voters or the media.  At least that‘s what they keep telling the reporters who keep asking them about it.

Our fifth story tonight: the secret money funding the Republican campaign to control Congress and what Republican gloating about the issue reveals about it.  The chairman of the Democratic National Committee joins us presently.

But we begin with the alleged Republican glee over Democrats harping on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, another secretive right-wing groups funneling tens of millions of dollars, some of it from foreign corporations, into Republican campaign ads.

The president is not backing off today, ramping up what is now more than a week‘s worth of steady criticism of the chamber specifically, and of similar group like Karl Rove, serving as cloaks for the millionaires bankrolling them, laying out again why this matters, and calling out again the secret millionaire donor who funnel not just personal money, but sometimes even the assets of companies they run, into partisan attack ads without having the courage to say they are doing so.

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OBAMA:  Right now, the same special interests that would profit from the other side‘s agenda, they are fighting hard.  They‘re fighting back.  To win this election, they are plowing tens of millions of dollars into front groups that are running misleading negative ads all across America.  Tens of billions of dollars are pouring in.

And they don‘t have the courage to stand up and disclose their identities.  They could be insurance companies or Wall Street banks or even foreign-owned corporations—we will not know because there‘s no disclosure.  They‘ve got these innocuous sounding names, Americans for Prosperity, moms for motherhood.

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OBAMA:  I made the last one up.

But—but this isn‘t just a threat to the Democrats.  This is a threat to our democracy.

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OBAMA:  And the only way to fight it, the only way to match their millions of dollars is with millions of voices.

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OLBERMANN:  At yesterday‘s Kentucky Senate debate, Democratic candidate Jack Conway seized on the distinction between local Chambers of Commerce, which actually support local economic growth and kept up the drum beat against the U.S. Chamber, Republican opponent Rand Paul then articulated the Republican claim that they love this when Democrats do this.

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PAUL:  We would encourage you to keep attacking the chamber because the chamber is probably more popular than any politician running for office.  So, please, your side, if you like this, keep on attacking the chamber.  It makes no sense whatsoever.  And I think it‘s a really, really poor political tactic and untrue.

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OLBERMANN:  How much do Republicans love the Democratic focus on their secret pay masters?

News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch spent much of his annual shareholders‘ meeting today fielding questions about his $1 million donation to the Republican Party, in what he thought was going to be a secret News Corp. donation to the chamber.

There‘s breaking news on that.  At this hour, it turns out it wasn‘t just $1 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce from FOX‘s parent company, News Corp. and Rupert Murdoch.  There was another donation of $250,000 more.  News Corp. is now in the books with the Chamber of Commerce for $1.25 million.

You will hear Murdoch on tape defending these actions to his shareholders later in this hour.  But despite the Republican claim this story does not matter, Karl Rove‘s group today sent reporters an e-mail blast playing defense, trying focus attention on Democrats who previously also worked for groups that did not disclose their donors.

And what to make of claims by Rove‘s groups and others that they are benefiting from this scrutiny because it‘s prompting new donations?  “Politico” today reporting that Rove‘s group claimed to have gotten more than $100,000 in small dollar online donation since the president began to criticize them, and that they will use that money to pump $2 million into eight more House races today.

So, how does $100,000 to get them to $2 million?  A separate story in “Politico” reports $13 million raised in the same time period.  But the $100,000 was, quote, “small dollar donations,” which would make the remaining $12, 900,000 medium to large donations.

Let‘s turn to Matthew Yglesias, the fellow with the Center for American Progress, who blogs at ThinkProgress.org, which first broke the chamber story.

Matt, good evening.

MATT YGLESIAS, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS:  Good to be here.

OLBERMANN:  Republicans say they love this story, which asks—sort of leads me to ask you, why then are they so ticked at you guys for breaking it?  I think they‘d be sending over champagne.

YGLESIAS:  Well, you know, it‘s a good story.  I mean, if they were really eager to have people know who was donating to them, I think they could put that information out there in the public domain.  And, you know, really, what this has always been about is about disclosure and about transparency, not about who does it help in the fall.

Since this new Supreme Court ruling came down, there was an effort in Congress, a Disclose Act, that would have forced people putting these TV ads up to say who was giving them money.  Republicans didn‘t like that idea.  Big business didn‘t like that idea, because what they want is the ability to intervene in the political system without anyone being able to hold them accountable.  That means voters can‘t hold the politicians accountable and it means customers can‘t hold companies accountable for what they do.

And so, you know, that‘s why there‘s all this pushback.  That‘s why they were against the Disclose Act.  And that‘s why it bothers them when we talk about this.

OLBERMANN:  Let me correct something that I read incorrectly and it‘s my bad for doing so.  The extra $250,000 that Murdoch and FOX News through the persona of News Corp. gave was not to the Chamber of Commerce, but rather the Republican Governors Association.  It‘s a distinction somewhat without a difference.  But I wanted to make sure that I corrected this end of it.

But let me ask you about this other report on “Think Progress.”

YGLESIAS:  Sure.

OLBERMANN:  The number of foreign members of this U.S. Chamber of Commerce are in the outsourcing business.  What‘s the implication of that?

YGLESIAS:  Well, you know, we were looking specifically just to gather as much information as we can about who are the chamber‘s foreign donors.  One of the branches we were able to look at was the branch in India.  And it turns out that a number of the firms there advertise themselves as being in the outsourcing business.

We‘re putting this out there because, you know, we want people to understand what kind of reasons might companies have for wanting to intervene in American politics.  You know after all, these are Indian companies.  So, you know, what do they care about us?

And there are a lot of questions that we still don‘t know.  There‘s a set up similar to the Indian one that the chamber has for South Korean, and also for Egypt and for Brazil.  But the Web sites of those subsidiaries don‘t have the information about what the companies in those countries, you know, that are donating into the chamber‘s general funds are.  So, we‘re trying to find out as much as we can.

And I think we would appreciate it if other people in the political system and the media who are interested in this, instead of just swallowing the chamber‘s spin, would join us in trying to look into it.

OLBERMANN:  To their credit, “Politico” examined federal records of third-party groups that do have to disclose, which is at least tangentially involved in this story.  And they found, let me quote, “The profile of the 2010 corporate door that can be gleaned from these public donations suggest that the vast majority of them represent long time Democratic adversaries and former Bush loyalists.”

Why is it all in one side?  Why is it seemingly so totally unbalanced?

YGLESIAS:  Well, you know, I think it‘s no surprise.  I remember when Tom DeLay was running the House of Representatives and they had lobbyists in the committee rooms writing the bills.  When George W. Bush was president, you had lobbyists and industry trade groups having their members put in to be heads of regulatory agencies.

You know, big business has influence over both parties, has a lot of influence in America.  But they know, you know, whose side is best for them.  And they‘re putting the money in to make them—that happen.  Make them come to power.  And you see that in the deferential between the money they‘re spending.

OLBERMANN:  Matthew Yglesias from the Center for American Progress and blogging at “Think Progress”—great work.  And again, great thanks.

YGLESIAS:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  Now as promised, we‘re joined by Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, formerly the governor of Virginia.

Thank you for your time tonight, sir.

TIM KAINE, DNC CHAIRMAN:  You bet, Keith.  Glad to be with you.

OLBERMANN:  You heard Rand Paul encouraging you, please keep on attacking the chamber.  Do you expect to oblige the man?

KAINE:  Well, the American public has the right to know who is funding campaign ads.  And that‘s the issue here, Keith.  The Republicans have made a concerted effort this cycle to funnel as much of the campaign financing as possible to secret groups.  By doing that, they‘ve turned back on 35 years of development that came out of the Watergate scandal towards openness and transparency.

And they‘re doing it in a way that is shocking Americans.  Americans have a right to know who‘s funding the campaign ads.  And any Republican who wants to stand up and say, no, Americans don‘t have a right to know, I would encourage them to do that.

OLBERMANN:  The ABC headline on your interview this morning read, “Tim Kaine worried Karl Rove may be right”—obviously referencing Rove‘s claim that donations have been pouring in since the reality of the situation involving particularly the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—

KAINE:  Yes.

OLBERMANN:  -- and Rove‘s organizations have gotten a little public traction.  Are you indeed that Karl Rove might be right, and this is turning into a fundraising thing for the Republicans?

KAINE:  No.  No, and I never said that in any interview.  We‘re pointing this out because we think the polling suggests, but more important, the right and wrong of this suggests that the Republicans are pushing a secret agenda.  They‘ve over—and the story of this, for the reporters that care to focus on it, and I‘m glad that you are, is that the Republicans are running a concerted effort to hide their donors for the American public.

And the reason they‘re doing that is that the American public would be shocked to find out who is supporting their candidates.  It‘s people who want to repeal Wall Street reform, repeal health care reform, possibly others, even including foreign entities who are promoting the outsourcing of American jobs in the midst of the worst economy since the 1930s.  They‘re embarrassed about who their donors are and that‘s why they‘re hiding them.

OLBERMANN:  Mr. Rove has made this claim and as we showed before, the math doesn‘t seem to add up because he has gotten $100,000 in contributions and able to produce $2 million.  He sort of proves the point of the entire story, that they can take money and pull it out of mystery orifices.

But purely on the bottom line of fundraising—is this issue playing out to any significant degree for your party in the last week or so?

KAINE:  Well, Keith, yes, we‘ve seen—look, the Democratic National Committee, all of our dollars come from individuals, we don‘t raise money from corporations, PACs or federal lobbyists, and we‘re raising more money than we‘ve ever raised in our history in the midterm elections.  But I think it‘s interesting that Karl Rove, his first response to this attack was not to defend the rightness of what they were doing.  But to say, oh, great, it‘s a great fundraising thing for us.

He has not even addressed the merits of the claim I‘ve made that one of the biggest improvements in American politics since Watergate has been the trend towards openness and disclosure.  And that they are making a concerted effort to roll back that 35-year trend toward openness.  He hadn‘t even defended that.  He‘s just, in a very Karl Rove-like way, rubbed his hands and said, “Wow, maybe I can raise some more money off this.”

When the guy who is the architect of their entire plan is worried about the money and not worrying about doing what‘s right for the American people, that gives you a pretty clear contrast between the two parties.

OLBERMANN:  Well—I mean, you‘re not going to get very far talking openness to Karl Rove.  But that‘s a rhetorical point for another point—another time.

KAINE:  But you know what?  The good news is—the good news is the American public cares about this as demonstrated by the polling.

OLBERMANN:  And to that point, what is next as a matter of strategy here?  Do you have somewhere to go with this next week and in the days before the midterms?

KAINE:  Well, I think we‘re going to continue to talk about it.  The polling shows that over 80 percent of Americans, Democrats, Republicans and independents—this is not a partisan issue—think they have a right to know who is funding these campaigns.  And we‘re going to point out that the Republicans are violating that basic expectation of the American electorate.  And in particular races where candidates are being benefited from the secret contributions, we‘re going to put them on the carpet, and have our candidates, as in the Kentucky race you showed, you know, pin down their folks about why they are trying to buy elections with secret money.

OLBERMANN:  Well, good luck with that because it‘s like trying to pick up mercury off the floor, particularly in the case of Dr. Paul in Kentucky.

The chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Governor Tim Kaine

great thanks for your time, have a good weekend.

           

KAINE:  Thanks, Keith.  You got it.

OLBERMANN:  Next, it is the chairman of the largest single corporate donor to the Republican Governors Association.  He turns he gave even more than we thought, it‘s $1,250,000 in total from Rupert Murdoch.  Unfortunately, he also runs a TV network that purports to cover news.  And in a series of dramatic confrontations with his shareholders today, he basically told them, if they don‘t like his combination of propaganda and cash, they can go Rupert themselves.  Next.

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OLBERMANN:  As news of a third huge News Corp. contributions to Republican breaks, will his shareholders got a say in how much money their company donates to Republicans?  No, he squawks.  A tough day at the annual meeting for Emperor Palpatine.

At least you can understand him.  They‘re still trying to decipher her comment about America versus the free market at last night‘s debate in Nevada and the question is about insurance.

It‘s like a contest at FOX.  Who can be the biggest bigot?  I think he‘s one.

And if there‘s an “Apple Daily” version of his overexposed football quarterback, is there an “Apple Daily” versus of his quarterback option package?

Stay tuned to find out.

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OLBERMANN:  We should all know by now what FOX News is and what it is trying to do.

But in our fourth story: the chairman and CEO of News Corp., Rupert Murdoch, has given the most overtly political explanation to date, regarding $2 million contributions and other one for $250,000 benefiting the Republican Party.  Quote, “It‘s certainly in the interest of the country and of all the shareholders that there be a fair amount of change in Washington.”

And now this other quarter million dollar donation has surfaced.  Today at News Corporation‘s annual shareholder meeting, stakeholders wanted to know why News Corp. had given $1 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which backs Republican, and $1 million more to the Republican Governors Association.

And since this morning‘s shareholders meeting, IRS disclosures show that News Corp. gave another $250,000 to the Republican Governors Association, that according to “Think Progress.”  That brings News Corp.‘s total contribution to the RGA to a million and a quarter.

As to the question posed, however, Mr. Murdoch offered only this:

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MURDOCH:  In these two donations that you‘re speaking of, we judged it to be in the best interests of the company.  It has nothing to do with the editorial policies or the journalism, or the films or anything or anything else.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Could you just take a moment and explain how you

believed it to be in the best interest?  How you believe it would further -

-

           

MURDOCH:  No, we believed it is in the interests—we believed that it‘s certainly in the interests of the country and of all the shareholders and the prosperity of the—that there be a degree of—a fair amount of change in Washington.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Murdoch also said that News Corp.‘s political action committee had given more money to Democrats than to Republicans.  But yet, another shareholder correctly noted that those donations had been comparatively small, $78,000 to Democrats, $66,000 to Republicans in various congressional races.  The shareholder further noted the million dollar donations by News Corp., that would be kind of different.

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MURDOCH:  They were unusual and we made them because we decided that, that was in the interests of our shareholders and the country.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The questions came from various stockholders, including the Nathan Cummings Foundation, calling for full disclosure of News Corp.‘s political contributions.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And going forward then, would you be willing to have greater disclosure to shareholders around political contributions, both the policies and the actual dollar amounts?  It‘s particularly troubling to shareholders that, in particular the U.S. Chamber contribution was only learned of by shareholders because of a leak to the press.  So, would the board consider much broader disclosure around share—around political spending?

MURDOCH:  We‘ll consider it from time to time.  I don‘t believe we‘ll be doing it again.  But we‘ll see.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Would you be willing to engage shareholders in that process?

MURDOCH:  No, sorry.  You have the right to vote us off the board if you don‘t like it.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  On that note, let‘s turn to the Washington editor of “The Nation,” MSNBC contributor, Chris Hayes.

Good evening, Chris.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Good evening, Keith.  He‘s a real prince, isn‘t he?

OLBERMANN:  No.  As we said before, he‘s a real emperor, as in the one from “Star Wars.”

Reduced to its essence, what did Prince Murdoch just do there?

HAYES:  Well, it was—it was the Cheney treatment.  I mean, this is

you know, if you don‘t like it, screw you, sale the share, try to vote us off the board.  We do what we want to do.

           

The best part of that, everyone should go listen to the transcript because it‘s really great.  It‘s up in the “Media Matters” site.  The best part is that they start asking the audit committee at one point.  And the audit committee, you know, were you guys OK with this?  The audit committee says, well, you know, we defer to management‘s judgment on these things.

So, it‘s like, why do we have an audit committee.  In fact, that sort of summarizes a lot of what went wrong in the last decade in corporate America.  But that‘s sort of another story.

OLBERMANN:  If we were 18 days from the 2006 midterms, Mr. Bush was president, looked like Democrats might regain the House, a very near run thing as Mr. Wellington (ph), who knew Mr. Murdoch years ago, once said, and the CEO of a parent company of some other major news organization had called for change in that context, the right would have detonated.  There would have been fireworks would have been coming out of various, you know, parts of Bill O‘Reilly.  It would have been a huge story.

FOX has now built up this effective strategy here.  Oh, it‘s just attacks of ratings.  Is that Olbermann guy again, it‘s those “Media Matters” guys.

Is the result of this, the media complacency over what Murdoch and FOX do and say, or do people just genuinely not care?

HAYES:  You know, it‘s a good question.  I think people do care.  I actually—this story has been interesting, the art of it, because when I first heard it, I was down at 30 Rock when the story first came out.  And, you know, I thought, well, let‘s look across the board how unusual this is.  And at first, I didn‘t want to sort of jump the gun.

But the fact of the matter is, this really is sort of remarkable and unique.  And Murdoch admitted that today.  I mean, I thought that was a really interesting admission.  This isn‘t the run of the mill, you know, the PAC funding is one thing.  And that‘s in the sort of $60,000, $70,000.  They sort of sprinkle it around.  It‘s the basic pay for access economy of influence that runs Capitol Hill.

What‘s happening with the RGA contributions specifically and the chamber is something much more kind of ideologically hard edge.  And I think it really does stand out and really does pose a problem.  I also think, just to get this point in, his whole explanation when he says there needs to be change in Washington has nothing to do with the Republican Governors Association.  That‘s a complete—it‘s completely nonresponsive to the question.  Why does change in Washington require $1.25 million to the RGA?

OLBERMANN:  Well, maybe he‘s thinking of other political contributions that we don‘t know about.

HAYES:  Right.  That‘s right.

OLBERMANN:  And how would we—and that leads to a very serious question.  How on earth would we know about them?

HAYES:  That is the big issue here.  And I think, you know, there was obviously—these IRS filings—getting at this disclosure is pretty difficult.  Now, some of it may come out later.  But the problem is that it‘s not prompt.  I mean, the way that the post-Watergate campaign finance regime works is that you have fairly prompt regular filing deadlines.

Now, the reason disclosure is so important is not because it fixes things.  It‘s not a panacea.  But it‘s a disincentive.

And we see it in one big case, which was Target, right?  When Target in Minneapolis wanted to fund an anti-gay candidate, they took hell for it because people found out and they went back after Target.

Corporations do not want to alienate their customers.  And so, the ideal world for them is a situation in which they can manipulate the levers of political power via anonymous donations and never have to pay the consequences with the public.  And we‘re seeing here that that‘s what makes it‘s dangerous, all the subterfuge, the fact that people don‘t know what‘s actually going on.

OLBERMANN:  And lost in this and, of course, barely covered in the barely covered story, Murdoch‘s admission that he was surprised that the million-dollar contribution to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce became public, which means necessarily, he gave them that money expecting it to be kept a secret.  That‘s kind of a microcosm of this whole issue, is it not?

HAYES:  That‘s exactly right.  That is the thing, right?  That‘s—if you—if you—if you went around and polled, you know, the top 500 companies in—by market share, by market capita in this country, and you said, you know, would you like to like, you know, see the Republicans win, they‘re going to say yes.  And maybe you can, you know, slip them $1 million and no one will know.  And a lot of them I think we‘ll jump that chance.

The fact of the matter is, the other thing to realize is that for Democrats who are frustrated with Obama, they should keep in mind that the chamber and FOX News are giving money to the Republicans for a reason.

OLBERMANN:  Chris Hayes of “The Nation”—thanks for your time.  Have a good weekend, Chris.

HAYES:  You too, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Where the secret money is going to try to get the impenetrably thick elected.  Tonight‘s example, Sharron Angle.  There are ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs from the ninth dynasty more easily understood than what she said last night.

Also, we have animated video of Brett Favre‘s sexting scandal.

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OLBERMANN:  Sharron Angle says something about a choice between the free choice and Americanism; trying to translate her debate performance from Anglese (ph). 

First the sanity break, Tweet of the Day from Andy Borowitz at

“Borowitz Report, “to boost ratings, CNN proposes putting miners back one

by one.”  Ouch. 

           

Before Oddball, good news, everyone.  Amazon reports that “Pitchforks and Torches” is now in stock.  Buy one, buy two.  Buy 30.  If you know how to read, there‘s nothing better than a book.  And my new book, “Pitchforks and Torches,” is a book.  Now available without description.  Let‘s play Oddball.

We begin in Janga (ph), India.  It‘s that special time of year when the leaves and the babies begin to fall.  The tradition of baby tossing has existed in Janga for over 200 years.  Although back then the babies were tossed from a height of 40 feet instead of just six feet today.  All this is done in an effort to toughen up the babies.  None of the children were harmed, at least physically.  But the next time somebody invites you to a baby shower, ask them to clarify. 

Speaking of babies, our friends over at Apple Daily have finally made the video breaking down the Bret Favre scandal.  Now sometimes these videos need a little explaining.  I think this one speaks for itself.  Don‘t worry.  No props included. 

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(FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

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OLBERMANN:  You know, it is too bad he didn‘t have those laser heart eyes on the practice field. 

Time marches on. 

Asked about which procedures health insurance should have to cover, Sharron Angle gives an answer they‘re still trying to figure out.  We‘ll give it a shot next.

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OLBERMANN:  As the Tea Party tries to edge us closer to becoming a partial theocracy, their candidates offer yet more insight into their lack of insight for America‘s future.  Our third story, forget chickens for checkups, try free market checkups and funding free schools and energy policy left up to the guy who apologized to BP. 

One hundred thirty eight Tea Party candidates running for nearly half of the Democratic or open seats in the House, a third of those seats in the Senate.  The latest analysis of “the New York Times” puts 33 of those candidates in toss up races or running in House districts that are either leaning Republican or solidly in the GOP corner.  Eight stand a good or better chance of winning for the Senate seats. 

Like Sharron Angle in Nevada, last night debating Majority Leader Reid.  While Ms. Angle enjoys the benefits of government health insurance through her husband Ted, a former federal employee, she thinks it‘s best to leave your doctors visits up to the free market. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Is there anything at all that you think the insurance companies should be mandated to cover?  Anything? 

SHARRON ANGLE ®, CANDIDATE FOR SENATE IN NEVADA:  Anything at all? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.

ANGLE:  I think that what we have here is a choice between the free market and Americanism.  America is about choices.  We need to allow people to have those choices.  The free market will weed out those companies that don‘t offer as many choices and don‘t have a cost-effective system. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Teams of translators still trying to decipher that one.  Suffice it to say, Mrs. Angle did not let facts or her previous legislative record get in the way.  As the “Las Vegas Sun” reports, Angle did support insurance mandates while in the state legislature.  Angle proposed not one or two, but five laws that would have expanded state insurance mandates. 

Meanwhile, in Kentucky, Rand Paul once again emphasizing his vision of a government without a Department of Education. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAND PAUL ®, CANDIDATE FOR SENATE IN KENTUCKY:  I don‘t like the idea of somebody in Washington deciding that “Suzy Has Two Mommies” is an appropriate family situation and should be talking to my kindergartner on school.  That‘s what happens when we let things get to a federal level.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Never mind the shear ignorance and insensitivity of making such comments weeks after a wave of hate crimes against members of the gay community and teen suicides.  But what Dr. Paul also has wrong is the statement.  The Department of Education not set curriculum standards for school.  That is done at the state and local level. 

Over on the House side, as potential new members weigh Michele Bachmann‘s selfless offer to run Constitutional reeducation camps, Texas Congressman Joe Barton is selflessly making his offer to chair the House Energy Committee.  He‘s already promised to investigate the EPA and look into all these new regulations. 

And to further illustrate a possible Barton chairmanship, here‘s the congressman back in June apologizing to BP CEO Tony Hayward.  Sorry our Gulf got in the way of your oil. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOE BARTON (R, TEXAS:  So I‘m only speaking for myself.  I‘m not speaking for anybody else.  But I apologize.  I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or corporation does something that is legitimately wrong is subject to some sort of political pressure that is, again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown.  So I apologize. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Let‘s turn to “Washington Post” columnist, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, E.J. Dionne.  Good evening, E.J. 

E.J. DIONNE, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Good to be with you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Nevada, first.  Do we have consensus here on a Tea Party issue, that this was not a game changer for either candidate last night? 

DIONNE:  I was really struck with that sound bite you showed.  It‘s a choice between the free market and Americanism.  Was she saying that the free market is un-American?  Which maybe the real news of that debate is she is the closet socialist here. 

I mean, watching—listening to some of the commentary on this, I have to say that if the standards applied to Sharron Angle for winning that debate were applied to my baseball skills, I would be in the ALCS tonight.  I can assure you I don‘t belong there. 

For me in judging this debate.  I can‘t imagine she won over any people who are for Harry Reid.  But for the life of me, I can‘t understand why anyone is undecided in that race.  And to the extent that that debate is supposed to move undecided voters, I don‘t know what sense they made of it. 

The one place I really thought Harry Reid missed a chance to use one of our favorite lines—I think it is both of our favorite lines—is when she did that innuendo about Reid making money while he was in the Senate.  You really just wanted him to say “have you no sense of decency, ma‘am?”  That was a moment where you really would have liked him to be more challenging.  He just seemed to be laying back and shaking his head.  Maybe that will persuade somebody. 

OLBERMANN:  Meantime, Rand Paul managed to condemn educational standards in this country and gay bash in the same breath.  While today in New York, Carl Paladino, who did the other—something similar last week, sent out a campaign e-mail accusing his opposing candidate, Andrew Cuomo, of not doing enough for gay rights.  Besides the give more money back to the rich platform, is there a coherent policy position from this group?  I mean, if they got a caucus of 33 congressmen and eight senators and some governors, are they just going to sit and yell at each other or discuss things that nobody else understands? 

DIONNE:  Or throw pocket constitutions at each other?  I mean, I think when—Democrats are looking down the road at this election, and they‘re a little bit gloomy right now.  When they try to imagine the top ten rationalizations for why this won‘t be so bad, one of the things they think about is if Republicans take over, they have to write a budget.  I don‘t know how they write a budget based on promises that they‘ll cut taxes, cut the debt, and then not tell us what they‘re going to cut. 

I think you‘re looking at either incredible disappointment on the part of the Tea Party folks when the deficits just go up or government doesn‘t shrink much.  Or if you really cut this as much as the Tea Party want to, the Republicans will become very unpopular in about a week and a half.  So I think this is mostly a movement that says government is bad.  Many of them have conservative social issue positions.  Beyond that, it‘s hard to know what it is they stand for. 

OLBERMANN:  If there are Republicans.  The A.P. did their own analysis of the Tea Party candidates.  There was a quote from Jim Bennett, who is the son and the campaign manager of Senator Bob Bennett, who was thrown out at the state GOP convention by the Tea Party.  The quote was “I‘ve decided the Republican party in Utah doesn‘t exist anymore.  It‘s the Tea Party and the Democrats.”  Is that true, and is it national? 

DIONNE:  You know what, one of the things that is going to happen

after the election is a lot of Republicans are going to say—if they win

this served our purposes.  Let‘s try to move away from these folks.  But they‘re going to have a real problem, because what you saw in one Republican primary after another is that the Republican primary electorate has gotten so conservative that it becomes harder and harder to win a primary if you‘re anything but a right winger.  Mike Castle being the best example. 

           

So if they continue to dominate these primaries, it will become the Tea Party. 

OLBERMANN:  E.J. Dionne of the “Washington Post,” always a pleasure. 

Have a great weekend. 

DIONNE:  Great to be with you, thank you. 

OLBERMANN:  Of murder and file cabinets, one of the classics from James Thurber.  Tonight, “The Cat Bird Seat.” 

And the pharmacist at the CVS was apparently ready to let her die of an asthma attack, rather than let her owe them the two dollars for a few minutes.  Worst persons ahead on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  One of the epic tales from the minds of James Thurber, “The Cat Bird Seat.”  That‘s next, but first get out your pitchforks and torches, time for tonight‘s Worst Persons in the World. 

The bronze to the CVS in Garwood, New Jersey.  Regular pharmacy customer Katherine O‘Connor (ph) was walking by when she says she had an asthma attack but did not have her inhaler with her.  They went into the CVS to get a refill on her inhaler prescription there and they wouldn‘t give it to her.  Not because of the prescription, that was fine.  Because the inhaler cost 21 dollars and 99 cents, and she and her boyfriend between them only had a 20.  He says he offered the pharmacist his cell phone and his wallet and said he would run right home to get the two bucks they were short. 

By this time, Ms. O‘Connor was on the floor of the CVS, so the boyfriend called the paramedics.  Fortunately, the woman didn‘t, you know, die.  She is now fine.  The CVS pharmacist was and is a jackass. 

Runner up, Doug Schoen of Fixed News.  Paired with one of the news actresses over there to analyze the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its bid to buy the foreign—the elections for foreign businesses and governments.  Never once did Schoen or Fox PAC reveal that last month the U.S. Chamber released a poll it had commissioned about health care reform and small businesses.  U.S. Chamber of commerce described the survey as a poll, quote, by Frank Luntz and Dough Schoen.  And unless the two of them did it as a hobby, the U.S. Chamber paid Doug Schoen.  And Fox had him to discuss the Chamber‘s nefarious fund raising, and never mentioned that they paid him. 

Instead, they described Schoen as a, quote, democratic pollster. 

But our winner, Brian Kilmeade.  There is stupid and there is bigoted and there is paranoid and there is Islamaphobic.  But it takes a big man to combine all four of them. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Do you think Americans have a right to look at moderate Muslims and say, show me you‘re not one of them?  Because that‘s really where we‘re a t right now as a country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  No, we‘re not.  But that was just a warm up.  Wait for the hate. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KILMEADE:  The Shoe Bomber, the Times Square Bomber, the Underwear Bomber, they have one thing in common.  They are all extremists and they are all Muslims.  Not every Muslim is an extremist, a terrorist.  But every terrorist is a Muslim.  You can‘t avoid that fact.  And that is ridiculous that we got to keep defining this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  “Every terrorist is a Muslim.”  Scott Roeder, who assassinated George Tiller, must be surprised to find out that he‘s a Muslim.  Jim David Atkison, the church murderer, who says he was inspired by Bernie Goldberg‘s writing, he converted without his knowledge apparently.  Eric Rudolph, and the guy who tried to attack the Tides Foundation and the ACUL, and the man who detonated a bomb at a mosque in Jacksonville, all Muslims.  And Timothy McVeigh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KILMEADE:  And the people that equate Timothy McVeigh with the al Qaeda terrorist organization, which is growing, and a threat that exists -- 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  That‘s right, see, because when McVeigh was put to death, that ended all threats of American born terrorists on the radical right. 

So here‘s one for Mr. Kilmeade: not every un-American bastard is Brian Kilmeade.  But all Brian Kilmeades are un-American bastards, and tonight‘s Worse Person in the World.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  We close another week with another story from James Thurber.  There are fans of his Walter Mitty story.  I love “A Box to Hide In.”  The stories in “My Life in Hard Times” have their adherence.  But tonight we begin what might be the best of them all.  Keep in the back of your mind that while Thurber set this story in the business world of New York City of the early 1940s, when it was made into a film in 1959, they moved it to a Scottish distillery. 

“The Battle of the Sexes” starred Peter Sellers and Robert Moraly (ph) Donald Plesence (ph).  In its original form, it appeared first in “The Thurber Carnival” in 1945.  I‘m reading, as usual, from the Library of America, “Thurber, Writings and Drawings,” edited by Garrison Keillor.  Hold onto your hat.  “The Cat Bird Seat” by James Thurber. 

“Mr. Martin bought the pack of Camels on Monday night in the most crowded cigar store on Broadway.  It was theatre time and seven or eight men were buying cigarettes.  The clerk didn‘t even glance at Mr. Martin, who put the pack in his overcoat pocket and went out.  If any of the staff at F & S had seen him buy the cigarettes, they would have been astonished, for it was generally known that Mr. Martin did not smoke, and never had.  No one saw him.

It was just a week to the day since Mr. Martin had decided to rub out Mrs. Ulgine Barrows. The term “rub out” pleased him because it suggested nothing more than the correction of an error—in this case an error of Mr. Fitweiler.  Mr. Martin had spent each night of the past week working out his plan and examining it. 

As he walked home now, he went over it again.  For the hundredth time he resented the element of imprecision, the margin of guesswork that entered into the business.  The project as he had worked it out was casual and bold.  The risks were considerable.

Something might go wrong anywhere along the line.  And therein lay the cunning of his scheme.  No one would ever see in it the cautious, painstaking hand of Erwin Martin, head of the filing department at F & S, of whom Mr. Fitweiler had once said, “Man is fallible but Martin isn‘t.”

No one would see his hand, that is, unless it were caught in the act.

Sitting in his apartment, drinking a glass of milk, Mr. Martin reviewed his case against Mrs. Ulgine Barrows, as he had every night for seven nights.  He began at the beginning.  Her quacking voice and braying laugh had first profaned the halls of F & S on March 7, 1941.  Mr. Martin had a head for dates.  Old Roberts, the personnel chief, had introduced her as the newly appointed special adviser to the president of the firm, Mr.  Fitweiler.

The woman had appalled Mr. Martin instantly, but he hadn‘t shown it.  He had given her his dry hand, a look of studious concentration, and a faint smile.  “Well,” she had said, looking at the papers on his desk, “are you lifting the oxcart out of the ditch?”

As Mr. Martin recalled that moment, over his milk, he squirmed slightly.  He must keep his mind on her crimes as a special adviser, not on her peccadilloes as a personality.  This he found difficult to do, in spite of entering an objection and sustaining it.  The faults of the woman as a woman kept chattering on in his mind like an unruly witness.

She had, for almost two years now, baited him.  In the halls, in the elevator, even in his own office, into which she romped now and then like a circus horse, she was constantly shouting these silly questions at him.  “Are you lifting the oxcart out of the ditch?  Are you tearing up the pea patch?  Are you hollering down the rain barrel?  Are you scraping around the bottom of the pickle barrel?  Are you sitting in the catbird seat?”

It was Joey Hart, one of Mr. Martin‘s two assistants, who had explained what the gibberish meant.  “She must be a Dodger fan,” he had said.  “Red Barber announces the Dodger games over the radio.  He uses those expressions, picked them up down South.”

Joey had gone on to explain one or two.  “Tearing up the pea patch” meant going on a rampage.  “Sitting in the catbird seat” means sitting pretty, like a batter with three balls and no strikes on him.

Mr. Martin dismissed all this with an effort. It had been annoying.  It had driven him near to distraction.  But he was too solid a man to be moved to murder by anything so childish. It was fortunate, he reflected, as he passed on to the important charges against Mrs. Barrows, that he had stood up under it so well.  He had maintained always an outward appearance of polite tolerance.

“Why, I even believe you like the woman,” Miss Paird, his other assistant, had once said to him.  He had simply smiled.

A gavel rapped in Mr. Martin‘s mind and the case proper was resumed.  Mrs. Ulgine Barrows stood charged with willful, blatant, and persistent attempts to destroy the efficiency and system of F & S.  It was competent, material, and relevant to review her advent and rise to power.

Mr. Martin had got the story from Miss Paird, who seemed always able to find things out.  According to her, Mrs. Barrows had met Mr. Fitweiler at a party, where she had rescued him from the embraces of a powerfully built drunken man who had mistaken the president of F & S for a famous retired Middle Western football coach.

She had led him to a sofa and somehow worked upon him a monstrous magic.  The aging gentleman had jumped to the conclusion there and then that this was a woman of singular attainments, equipped to bring out the best in him and in the firm. 

A week later, he had introduced her into F & S as his special adviser. 

On that day, confusion got its foot in the door.”

Part one of “The Cat Bird Seat” by James Thurber.  To be continued. 

That‘s October 15th.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck. 

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