updated 10/19/2010 10:28:04 AM ET 2010-10-19T14:28:04

Guests: Ezra Klein, Jill Burke, Chris Kofinis, Jonathan Turley, Jon Ralston



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

Goon show.  Alaska Senate candidate Joe Miller‘s private security guards detain and cuff—in essence, kidnap a blogger.


TONY HOPFINGER, EDITOR, ALASKA DISPATCH:  I do not think I did anything wrong.  And I‘ve never been handcuffed, you know, or having someone do this sort of thing to me when I‘m at another event.


OLBERMANN:  This was at a public school.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If you don‘t leave right now—


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  -- I‘m going to put you in handcuffs, too.


OLBERMANN:  Jill Burke, blogger for the “Alaska Dispatch” and witness joins us.

Oh, by the way, Miller has a solution to immigration, our own Berlin Wall.


JOE MILLER ®, ALASKA SENATE CANDIDATE:  We have the capacity, as a great nation, obviously to secure our border.  If East Germany can do it, we can do it.


OLBERMANN:  The stimulus, it worked.  How do we know?  Letters—letters from Inhofe, Bachmann, McCain, Ron Paul, Pence, Grassley, Scott Brown, this Session, that Sessions, from Republicans across the country seeking stimulus money for their projects because it worked.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER:  I think the stimulus was a—was a big mistake.  I think we can, you know, fairly, safely declare it now a failure.


OLBERMANN:  Did I mention he wrote a letter, too?

The prosecution of John Ashcroft.  Supreme Court will rule. 

Jonathan Turley analyzes.

And Sharron Angle goes kablooey.  Her anti-Hispanic commercial?


SHARRON ANGLE ®, NEVADA SENATE CANDIDATE:  I‘m not sure that those are Latinos in that commercial.  I don‘t—I don‘t know that all of you are Latinos.  Some of you look a little more Asian to me.  I‘ve been called the first Asian legislator in our Nevada State Assembly.


OLBERMANN:  Asian?  A-S—that wasn‘t—that wasn‘t what they were calling you.

All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.


ANGLE:  I‘m not an expert.




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

For the town hall of Alaska‘s Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller, the Facebook invitation might have offered a clue.  Quote, “Hear Joe Miller speak for himself.  Don‘t let the media skew your views.”

In our fifth story: candidate Miller‘s private security detail handcuffed and detained a journalist after that journalist repeated attempt to get answers, about a subject which—just coincidently, of course—

Mr. Miller has deemed off limits.  The incident happening at the Central Middle School in Anchorage after Sunday‘s 45-minute town hall.

Mr. Miller had already gotten some sharp questions from the crowd and he exited the school gym quickly, according to the “Anchorage Daily News.”

The editor of the “Alaska Dispatch,” Tony Hopfinger, pictured there in the handcuffs, says he approached Miller to ask some questions.  Quoting Hopfinger, “I mean, I asked him some hard questions; we need to get some answers.  He‘s being sued by two newspapers, an online newspaper now over his employment at the North Star Borough.  He hasn‘t denied the accusation so I started out—that‘s where this all came from.”

Mr. Hopfinger says that security guards from a firm called Drop Zone surrounded him and when they pushed him, he pushed back.  Mr. Hopfinger was then handcuffed by the security detail.


TONY HOPFINGER, EDITOR, ALASKA DISPATCH:  When I pushed the guy out of my way.  From that point, then they took me down there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Who‘s they?  Who‘s they?

HOPFINGER:  All these guys.


HOPFINGER:  They handcuffed me and then they called the police.


OLBERMANN:  That tape, courtesy of several news organizations which filmed the immediate aftermath when a reporter from the “Anchorage Daily News” continued to film the owner of Drop Zone, William Fulton, threatened to handcuff him as well.


WILLIAM FULTON, DROP ZONE:  I‘m asking you now.

REPORTER:  And I am saying the answer is no.

FULTON:  The police sees—

REPORTER:  There‘s a cop right here.  You ask the cop to throw me out.

FULTON:  Sir?  He‘s actually dealing with him right now.  You can leave.  Sir, you‘re trespassing.  You need to leave.

REPORTER:  This is a public place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It is actually a private—

REPORTER:  They rented the entire school building?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Apparently they did.

FULTON:  So, this is what‘s going to happen.  If you don‘t leave right now, I‘m going to put you in handcuffs, too.



OLBERMANN:  Merely renting a space does not necessarily make it a private event and the event had ended.

But setting that aside for the moment, it is notable that the Anchorage police chose not to eject any of the several reporters who had remained.  The police officer pictured here un-cuffed Mr. Hopfinger and did not arrest him.  The Anchorage police spent about an hour taking statements from several witnesses and forwarded the information to the district attorney‘s office which will decide whether to prosecute Mr. Hopfinger for trespassing.

Meantime, the Miller campaign in a statement described the journalist as, quote, “the irrational blogger whose anger overcame him.  It is also important to note,” the statement added, “that the security personnel did not know that the individual they detained was a blogger reporting on the campaign.”

But Mr. Fulton of Drop Zone has said, quote, “After I told him he

was trespassing, he said he was a reporter.  I said, ‘Sir, that doesn‘t

matter.  You‘ve been asked to leave.  This is a private event.‘”

Mr. Fulton insisted that Mr. Hopfinger was the one at fault.


FULTON:  We asked him to leave.  He chose not to.  So, he was placed under arrest for trespass.  That‘s exactly what happened.


OLBERMANN:  That video was shot by our next guest, Jill Burke of the “Alaska Dispatch,” who had her own issues with the Miller campaign security guards.


JILL BURKE, ALASKA DISPATCH:  You said to me, stop.  Stop touching me.  Stop touching me now!  Get off me now!


OLBERMANN:  Mr. Miller has now told—Mr. Miller has now told FOX PAC that he answered one question for Mr. Hopfinger.  And when the journalist kept at it, Miller turned and left.  Miller says that he left before Mr. Hopfinger was handcuffed.

The moderators of tonight‘s Alaska Senate debate happened to be from the “Alaska Dispatch.”  But Mr. Miller is still unconfirmed.

Now let‘s bring, as promised, the staff writer from the AlaskaDispatch.com, Jill Burke.

Jill, thanks for your time.

BURKE:  Thanks for having me.

OLBERMANN:  Tell us what else bunk this incident that we need to know about.

BURKE:  Oh, wow.  You know, I didn‘t actually see is this scrum takes place, the death threat (ph) between my editor Tony Hopfinger and the security staff.  I was notified of it after the fact.

I do know, in my personal opinion, these security guards were a little over the top.  By the time I got there, he had already been detained and was in handcuffs, pushed into a back hallway with three staffers standing guard to make sure nobody advanced toward him.  And I think they were overly aggressive, more so than the situation called for.

And as you saw in the video, tensions were kind of high.

OLBERMANN:  Mr. Hopfinger has admitted he pushed one of those security guards in response apparently.  But given what you experienced with them, can you put that into context?

BURKE:  You know, he initially described feeling like these guys kind closed in around him and that maybe some of the Miller supporters did the same sort of thing.  And I think, you know, everybody is walking.  He describes it as a scrum.  He was trying to ask questions that we know the candidate had been previously resistant to answer—and as of yesterday, had been resistant to answer.

So, he felt a little frustrated.  I know he said threatened at one point about it happened very, very quickly from my understanding.  And he describes, you know, kind pushing his hands forward to get people off of him.  I didn‘t see it.  So, I can‘t really characterize it other than secondhand.

OLBERMANN:  All right.  Now, we sort of—we sort of buried the lead, to borrow a phrase familiar to both of us.  Tell us a little about this subject that Mr. Hopfinger was trying ask Mr. Miller about and why this has been an issue, and why the Miller campaign refused to address it.

BURKE:  One of Mr. Miller‘s past jobs—and keep in mind, he‘s a very accomplished man.  A West Point graduate, as well as serving as a U.S.  magistrate judge among other positions, once act as a part time attorney for the Fairbanks North Slope Borough.  He held that position for about seven years and through—taking a look at some of the records from his history that have been disclosed related to that employment, it became clear that there was some type of issue in March 2008, it looked like maybe there had been an investigation and some type of reprimand.

Those records were closed, so we didn‘t know the details of it.  We later came to find out through the mayor at the time, who served over Mr.  Miller, that it related to him politicking on borough time and it was taken very, very serious.  So, we‘ve been asking questions about.  We wanted to know if he had done this.

And what we were told is that it was his effort at the time to try to unseat our state‘s GOP chair.  It was a failed coup.  It did not succeed.  But one of the things that they had held up against this current leader was that he, in the past government position, had politicked on government time.

OLBERMANN:  One thing that fascinates me about this that I think don‘t people have gotten into too much, is this issue of whether or not they knew that Mr. Hopfinger was a reporter or a blogger, or had some media qualifications for being there and asking these questions.  And the defense seems to be on the part of the people who did this, the goons who are working for Joe Miller, was that, well, we didn‘t know he was a reporter or a blogger.

Does that not necessarily mean they were treating what they thought was an ordinary private citizen like he was under arrest and pretending that they were policemen who had the right to hand cut another citizen because this was supposedly a private event on public grounds?

BURKE:  If you believe that they didn‘t know that he was a journalist, then yes, that‘s certainly could be construed to be what that means.  I personally believe they absolutely knew he was.  While we were there, there was—Mr. Miller‘s wife was in the back of this candidate forum, this meet and greet, and she was making remarks that clearly made it obvious that she knew who we were, as did other people that were there.  And we‘ve been at previous events, as have these gentlemen.

OLBERMANN:  Jill Burke of the “Alaska Dispatch”—what an extraordinary story.  Great thanks for your time tonight and give Mr.  Hopfinger our best wishes.

BURKE:  I‘ll certainly do that.  Thanks for having me on.

OLBERMANN:  Thank you.

All right.  Let‘s turn to Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis now

Chris, good evening.


OLBERMANN:  Were—none of us are able to see the physical aspect of this, and who started it, and who shoved whom, and was that sort of caged in feeling justification for shoving these guards.  But just talk about how this looks from a campaign that has in fact gone out of its way to prohibit actual questions from actual reporters in actual kind of defined reporter/candidate traditional environments.

KOFINIS:  Well, to state the obvious, it looks pretty bad.  I mean, you basically create a self-fulfilling prophecy here that you got something to hide, and it‘s pretty obvious that Joe Miller has got something to hide.

You know, this is, you know, one of those classic examples of where the response creates a worse story than if you‘d just answer, you know, taken five minutes and answer a couple questions from, you know, from this reporter.  But I think this is part and parcel of Miller‘s campaign.

I mean, when you go out there and you make a blanket statement that you will not be taking any questions about your past, I mean, he‘s running for the U.S. Senate.  This is a six-year term for goodness sake.  The notion that somehow the reporters nor the public have the right to ask you about your past is laughable on its face, but it shows, I think, the mentality of Mr. Miller as well as a lot of these so-called Tea Party candidates.

OLBERMANN:  Do supporters of the Tea Party candidates applaud in this circumstance, when the alleged liberal ha, ha, ha media is pushed around like this?  Is this actually working out to play to Joe Miller‘s base and other Tea Partiers‘ base?

KOFINIS:  You know, maybe to some extent.  But, you know, to I think moderates, Democrats, you know, independents who are still undecided, you know, this should chill—this should chill you to the bone because this is, I think, reflective of a lot of the Tea Party candidates in terms of how they are approaching these races.  And that is, when you challenge these candidates, whether it‘s, you know, Sharron Angle in Nevada, whether it‘s, you know, John Raese in West Virginia or Joe Miller in Alaska, you challenge them about their extreme positions, or Paul Rand in Kentucky, another good example—they become very defensive in almost hostile, that the notion that somehow you dare question them.

Well, when you look at their position, they‘re entirely out of mainstream.  And that is really, I think, the heart of the problem, that they don‘t want to defend their position.  They don‘t want to talk about their position because when they do, they end up alienating those voters.  So, maybe it mobilizes some on the right so to speak.

But I also think in Alaska, when you have three, you have three candidates between, you know, Murkowski, the current incumbent, as well as Scott McAdams, the Democrat, it ends up creating a very dangerous dynamic.  And I actually think this is going to create a story that‘s not going to end right until Election Day.

OLBERMANN:  One correction.  Somewhere, somebody named Paul Rand freaked out when you mentioned him just then.  Obviously, you meant Rand Paul.  Just for the—

KOFINIS:  Sorry, Rand Paul.

OLBERMANN:  Last point, this sort of—this almost coats over this other extraordinary story involving Joe Miller.  At that town hall event before the video flip cameras came on, he said the following about border security.  “We have the capacity to, as a great nation, secure the border.  If East Germany could—we could.”

Is anybody that stupid as to not know that the Berlin Wall was designed to keep people in?  It wasn‘t an immigration—it was basely to make East Berlin a prison camp, and he‘s supporting a wall like that?  To protect its borders?  I mean, is the guy that asinine?

KOFINIS:  Well, you know, I think that can only be topped by Sharron Angle in a room of Hispanic students saying that they look Asian.


KOFINIS:  I mean, this again, I think, is the real theme and narrative of this election and why, you know, Democrats as well as moderates who may be, you know, questioning whether they need to participate, need to wake up and face the reality, that we have some of the most radical, extreme candidates that I‘ve seen in my lifetime.  You have Tea Party candidates all across the country talking about privatizing Social Security, abolishing the minimum wage, ending public school funding.  This is an extreme, radical agenda that they‘re pushing and you‘re just seeing this extreme radical rhetoric play out in these individual races.

OLBERMANN:  But the irony of all ironies, Chris, is that these guys probably sit and bow to a picture of Ronald Reagan every night and Ronald Reagan‘s most lasting contribution to society, probably, from a bipartisan point of view, was the speech that he gave in front of the Berlin Wall saying, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this ball,” and Joe Mr. Miller is in favor of building a new one here.  It‘s absolutely crazy.

KOFINIS:  It‘s really—you know, it‘s frightening on a lot of levels.  And the part that I think is most shocking is how much little attention nationally has been given to not these individual races, but what they all represent—the notion that these people are going to help, to shape our reality if they end up become U.S. senators.  That is a scary statement.  That should serve as a pretty strong wake-up call to every Democrat.

OLBERMANN:  Democratic strategist, Chris Kofinis—as always, Chris, thanks for your time.

KOFINIS:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Then there are those Tea Partiers who combine slap stick humor with their tendencies towards fascism.  As Chris mentioned, Sharron Angle‘s race-baiting commercial with those evil-looking Latino boys in it, those may not be Latino, she says.  They might be Asians.  And she says she‘s been mistaken for Asian.

First proof that the stimulus plan worked, it‘s all there in request for stimulus money written by the very Republican who‘s continued to insist the stimulus did not work.  Ezra Klein is next.


OLBERMANN:  Elected on the crest of anti-stimulus sentiment.  Guess who wrote one of the dozens of Republicans letters proving the stimulus worked?

You think the Supreme Court taking the case means they will be prosecuting him or other Bush officials, you may need to think again.  We‘ll ask Jonathan Turley.

Another mail it in apology, after his “all terrorist are Muslim” line.

And Sharron Angle says these kids and her hatemongering anti-immigration ad are not necessarily Hispanic.  They could be Asian.  In fact, you could be Asian.  In fact, she said she could be Asian.


OLBERMANN:  The fundamental story of the Tea Party, and therefore now, the Republican Party, is that small government is best because government gets in the way.  If only the government would get out of the way, the economy would be unleashed.  Congressional Republicans buy into and feed that story in public.

But in our fourth story tonight: It turns out that behind closed doors, what they have learned in Washington is, that government helps.

We all remember how much Senator John McCain hates earmarks in the stimulus passage was passed with the promise of no earmarks.

But the Center for Public Integrity reveals today, thousands of

letters from member of Congress across the country requesting so-called

letter marks from the agencies distributing stimulus money.  Letter marks -

simply letters asking agencies to fund particular projects.  Letter marks from dozens of Republican who claimed publicly the stimulus would not create jobs.  Letter marks for Republicans including John McCain.


John McCain writing to the Departments of Energy, Transportation and Commerce supporting stimulus funding for project in his state.  Of course, McCain was part of old Washington.

What about the very first senator swept to power by the Tea Party?  In his very first news conference, he said the stimulus had created no new jobs.


SEN. SCOTT BROWN ®, MASSACHUSETTS:  The last stimulus bill didn‘t create one new job.  And in some states, the money that was actually released hasn‘t even been used yet.

REPORTER:  It didn‘t create one new job?

BROWN:  That‘s correct.  We lost, what, another 85,000 jobs again, give or take, last month.  And Massachusetts hasn‘t created one new job and throughout the country as well.  It may have retained some, but it hasn‘t created any new jobs.


OLBERMANN:  Only two months later, Brown asked big government to get in the way of local business with funding for broadband infrastructure.  “Broadband coverage is essential to the economic wellbeing and recovery of western Massachusetts and crucial to help prepare our next generation of entrepreneurs and job creators.”

What about Brown and McCain‘s leader in the Senate, Mr.

Responsibility, Mitch McConnell?


MCCONNELL:  A stimulus bill that was supposed to be timely, targeted and temporary, turned out to be a liberal wish-list instead.  Instead of stimulating the economy and keeping unemployment below 8 percent as promised, we stand here today with nearly 10 percent unemployment nationwide, and many more Americans struggling to find full time work.


OLBERMANN:  Five letters, not just seeking money but explaining why stimulus money is so important to Kentucky.  To quote from a few, “Supporting Appalachian railroads has the potential to attract industry, create jobs.”

Milton, Kentucky-Madison, Indiana.  Yes, the bridges of Madison, Indiana, “replacing this hazardous bridge will improve and preserve these river communities.”

McCracken County—“These necessary improvements will enable Paducah and the region to improve its economy.”

Except, of course, the Tea Party is running against the Republican leadership and even Scott Brown was only the northeast version of a Tea Partier.  What about a real Tea Partier?  What about the queen of tea, Congresswoman Michele Bachman?

Quoting figure from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Michele Bachmann makes a passionate case for big spending by big government to finish a big 40-year effort to rebuild the Trunk Highway 36 Bridge over the St. Croix River.  “The project would directly produce 1,407 new jobs,” she writes, “per year, while indirectly producing 1,563 a year—a total of 2,970 jobs each year after the project‘s completion.”

Numerous jobs in Nevada, Senator Ensign says, a multitude of new jobs.

Georgia‘s Republican senators both say, Senator Jeff Sessions using the phrase, “long term economic and environmental benefits” in five letters.

And Lamar Alexander on just one stimulus project, “increase job growth and speed up the economic recovery of,” what?  A town?  County?  “ Quote, “the tri-state region, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama.”

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

Good evening, Ezra.


OLBERMANN:  This—the caricature of the stimulus, from the day it was thought off, let alone enacted, was that money only creates jobs by paying people to work.  But these are letters and dozens of them from Republicans and they‘re far more than we had room to go into here and they all suggest that stimulus spending, as Ms. Bachmann said, creates jobs by improving the environment in which businesses, you know, go and do business.

It seems somewhat contradictory to their stated position.  Is this all correct or some figment of my imagination?

KLEIN:  It‘s like how people don‘t like Congress but like their congressmen.


KLEIN:  If you could have had a stimulus, there was one stimulus for every congressional district, this past 435 bills, it would have been a perfect vote because that‘s the basic truth of it right there.  Things that are indirect stimulus, like tax cuts.

But then, what these folks want is money for their highway, money for their broadband, money for their bridge.  And what that does is it hires private contractors in their towns and it creates jobs.  And then when it‘s done, those people go out and they spend money and they create more jobs.

There is nothing counter intuitive about stimulus.  There is nothing confusing about it.  It is only when you call it stimulus, a big vague message of $787 billion that people get confused.  But when it gets specific, like in these letters, there‘s no confusion at all.

OLBERMANN:  And still there is this tight rope for people like Pete Sessions, the congressman, in the statement that he gave to the Center for Public Integrity, about his own requests, which he also said that will create jobs.  His statement was, quote, “What I have not done is allow my strong principled objection to the bill to prevent me from asking federal agencies for their full consideration of critical infrastructure and competitive grant projects for north Texas when asked to do so by my constituents.”

If his strong and principled objection is that these projects will not create jobs, why is he asking for the funding just so he gets these constituents off his back?

KLEIN:  Well, I would like to see the meeting in which he decides to be honest with the constituents.


KLEIN:  And they come and they say, listen, the bridge, it‘s about to fall down.  And everybody is out of work.  And he said, you know, if we build that bridge, that is not going to be built.  It won‘t create jobs.

There‘s really—I mean, this has always been the problem, that by making it a stimulus, by making so many things under this one large rubric, it was hard for the people in the administration to say what the stimulus was doing.

This has done tens of thousands of projects.  We have done more than 15,000 transportation infrastructure projects alone.  Fifteen thousand, that number is pretty much nowhere in the debate.  You talk to people—they think the money went God knows where.  More than 15,000 transportation projects, many in districts like Sessions.  And these projects needed to be done.

OLBERMANN:  Are we seeing some evidence here?  At least when it is concrete and specific and local, that when Republicans hit Washington, D.C., the way they change is that they come to understand that, you know, government in fact does have a purpose and can help and does not need to be shrunk to the size of being drowned in the bathtub?

KLEIN:  No.  Coming to understand it and coming to advocate it are two different things.  They realize that when it comes to it, they can‘t let their local districts, their local constituencies rot.  What they are not sort of able to do is marry that to a philosophy that creates a more sort of efficient and effective role for government.  And you‘re seeing this increase as Tea Parties begin to push out to people like Bob Bennett and others who were able to be in that middle space a little bit better, a more efficient but not a larger government.

OLBERMANN:  Ezra Klein of “The Washington Post” and MSNBC—thank you, again, Ezra.  Good night.

KLEIN:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  John Ashcroft can be sued for improper detentions or Bush official will be immunized for all time against suits and prosecutions.

And Michele Bachmann wants to have dinner with Jesus—Jesus and Ann Coulter.


OLBERMANN:  The prosecution of John Ashcroft—or more accurately, probably, the non-prosecution of John Ashcroft.  First, the sanity break and the Tweet of the Day from Lucia Lucia.  “Sarah Palin says don‘t let anyone tell you to sit down and shut up.  I guess that doesn‘t apply to any reporters covering Joe Miller.” 

Well, dear, reporters aren‘t Americans.  Let‘s play Oddball.

We begin tonight in Bridgefield, Pennsylvania.  Most people think that parallel parking is the most difficult part of the driver‘s test.  No, this guy found out that regular parking is the hardest.  Hello!  Robert Keller had just completed the road portion of the driving test and was taking the instructor back to the DMV.  He got a little too close.  Attempted to park out front, put the car it in what he thought was park.  He thought wrong.  He would have passed his test had it not been for the whole crashing through the building thing. 

Yeah.  They failed him for that.  Yet everyone in—insert the name of your least favorite driving state here—is still allowed to drive. 

Lastly, to San Diego, for a really crappy contest.  It‘s the eighth annual Scooper Bowl.  The object, of course, is for people to go around and see how quickly they can scoop fake boom.  Some people took a hands-on approach.  I hope she is only doing that because she knows it is fake.  All this done to raise funds for local fire department to buy air masks for their dogs.  After a day of rough competition, all the scoopers were pooped. 

Time marches on. 

I could make a Padres joke here, but I am not going to.  Jonathan Turley on the prosecution, or lack thereof, of former Attorney General John Ashcroft, next.


OLBERMANN:  He was born in Kansas, became a football star at the University of Idaho.  He was married with kids when he decided to pursue his doctorate degree overseas.  At the airport, he was taken into custody by the FBI.  He spent 16 days in a cell.  The lights never went off.  He got no lawyer.  For hours on end, he got no clothing. 

When they moved him from state to state, he was in shackles.  After his release, he was forced to live with his in-laws for more than a year, check in with a probation officer.  His marriage end.  He lost his job with an Air Force contractor because that required security clearances. 

When the director of the FBI testified to Congress listing five victories against terrorism, his capture was one of them.  But he was not held as a suspect.  He was held as a material witness and never called to testify.  The suspect in the trial was acquitted.  The mistake Lamoney (ph) committed was being Muslim after 9/11, and trying in 20033 travel to Saudi Arabia. 

The FBI got the word by telling a judge Kidd‘s ticket was one way.  It was not.  And first class, it was not.  So now in our third story tonight, the Supreme Court today announced it will decide whether Kidd can sue then Attorney General John Ashcroft. 

Why Ashcroft?  Because a month after 9/11, Ashcroft said he would use material witness warrants to try to prevent terror attacks.  The Bush administration‘s round-up of Muslim immigrants, of course, was not an option for Kidd because he was, is, an American citizen.  Federal judges in Idaho and on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals have already said Kidd can sue.  But the U.S. Justice Department is defending Ashcroft, arguing that he has absolute immunity.

Arguing for Attorney General Holder is U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal, the same attorney who did so much on the outside to dismantle Bush administration abuses like this one, and a frequent guest on this news hour.  Kidd‘s chances diminished considerably with the recusal of Justice Kagan, due to her prior involvement in the case, also as solicitor general. 

With us tonight about this, Jonathan Turley, scholar of constitutional law, George Washington University School of Law.  Great thanks for your time tonight, Jon. 


OLBERMANN:  Overarching all this, the Obama administration is arguing the attorney general of the United States has absolute immunity above the law? 

TURLEY:  Yeah.  That‘s basically it.  The amazing thing about this case is there is an old expression of bad cases making bad law.  This is a case of a bad guy making bad law.  They‘re going to have to pitch this to the hard right of the court, to support one of the most abusive attorney generals in history. 

And what will be left is truly frightening.  This is a case, as you‘ve mentioned, where false statements were given to a federal court to secure a warrant.  A person was held without access to a lawyer, was held in highly abusive conditions.  And you also have an attorney general who was virtually gleeful during that period about his ability to round up people.  This was at a time, as you know, where the material witness rationale was being used widely and rather transparently to simply hold people. 

What‘s fascinating about this, Keith, is, you know, Smith, the judge here, wrote a really incredible opinion.  It‘s one of the better opinion I‘ve read in the last ten years.  And he notes at the end, this is basically what the framers fought against.  And he‘s right.  That is, we‘ve become what it is we fought against, what it is we defined ourselves against. 

This is what the framers were talking about, arbitrary detention.  And my God, you now have the Obama administration arguing that you can‘t possibly hold an attorney general liable for such an egregious and horrible act. 

OLBERMANN:  Especially with Justice Kagan on the sidelines for this, is it safe to assume that a conservative court is going to undo what all the lower courts have said and give that absolute immunity to Ashcroft and all the other attorneys general for time immemorial? 

TURLEY:  I think it is, unfortunately.  The Obama administration knows that it has an excellent chance of creating this new precedent.  And when you pile it up, it truly is frightening.  The administration has already said it will not investigate torture.  It has already said it will not prosecute torture.  It has said dismissed dozens of cases, including cases for victim of torture. 

Now it is saying that even people that order abuses, that clearly should have known that they were abuses, cannot be held liable.  And you‘re left with this curious scene of Obama officials expressing concern over why liberals are so lethargic in this election, like it‘s something that we said. 

Yeah, it is.  This is a truly—it‘s not a disappointing act by the administration.  I have to tell you, I find it a disgusting act to try to create this kind of precedent.  I promise you, this precedent will bear a horrible fruit.  And this will be repeated because of what President Obama and his administration are going to do before this court. 

OLBERMANN:  Do I have this correct?  In essence, the reason there is a case against Ashcroft or the attorney general in this case, would be that because he announced beforehand he was going to stretch material witness law and then stretch it, that that—it is premeditated? 

TURLEY:  You know, what the court here said was you knew that this was illegal.  This was well established law.  So you went out and broke the law.  And now you‘re coming to us and saying, but I can never be sued at any time under the sun.  That is the precedent that President Obama may soon be establishing. 

OLBERMANN:  Jonathan Turley of George Washington University, always a pleasure, even when we‘re talking like this.  Thanks. 

TURLEY:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  The Tea Party warns against voting for the Tea Party candidate.  And she says those are not Latinos she is insulting in her new commercial.  They could be Asians. 

The Tea Party candidate writes for a biker magazine, the new issue of which contains repeated references to women as—well, we‘ll let you read it herself. 

When Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, she‘ll talk to Meghan McCain about Don‘t Ask Don‘t Tell and Christine O‘Donnell.


OLBERMANN:  Sharron Angle reveals that her commercial is not targeting undocumented immigrants from Mexico, but from the north.  That damned Canadian menace.  That‘s next, but First get out your pitchforks and torches, time for tonight‘s Worst Persons in the World. 

The bronze to Brian Kilmeade of Fox PAC.  You remember this burst of verbal flatulence from Friday? 


BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Not every Muslim is an extremist, a terrorist.  But every terrorist is a Muslim.  You can‘t avoid that fact. 


OLBERMANN:  Mr. Kilmeade has apparently been forced by his employers to make a half flatulent apology for his blatant racism and Islamophobia. 


KILMEADE:  I said this, “not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.”  Well, I misspoke.  I don‘t believe all terrorists are Muslims.  I‘m sorry about that, if I offended or—offended or hurt anybody‘s feelings. 

Now what I should have said—I‘d like the clarify—is all terrorists who kill us on 9/11, with the Cole and the Khobar, the ‘98 embassies, that‘s what I should have said.  They were all Muslim.  That‘s the only thing they had in common. 

But all terrorists aren‘t Muslim.  So I apologize to anybody that was offended by that.  But I also want to emphasize that I said all Muslims aren‘t terrorists, because they‘re not. 


OLBERMANN:  You didn‘t say that.  You didn‘t say anything close to that.  And you‘re lying when you say you did.  Once again, an apology consists of the words I apologize, not I apologize if. 

The runner up, Alan West, possibly the most damaged of all the Tea Party candidates in this country.  To his varied titles of having disgraced us in Iraq by threatening to threatening to shoot an interrogation subject, to his demand that his supporters make his opponent in the race for the House in the 22nd District of Florida afraid to leave his own home, we can now add this: Mr. West‘s contributions for “Wheels on the Road Magazine,” a biker publication promoting the gang the Outlaws, accused by the Justice Department of meth production, arson, homicide, and prostitution.

Mr. West did not write this.  But here‘s something from the new October issue.  It is so disrespectful, I won‘t read it aloud.  You read it. 

Campaigning with Mr. West last week was Minority Leader John Boehner. 

But our winner, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.  A double header from an interview with Paranoia.com, better known as “World Net Daily.”  Question, “if you could sit down to dinner with any eight people who ever lived and they could all, for this one occasion, speak English, who would be on your guest list?” 

Answer: “Jesus, George Washington, Adam, the first man, the apostle Paul, Johan Sebastian Bach, Ann Coulter, Ronald Reagan and Mark Levin.  It would be a very interesting combination.”  Yes, Reagan would turn back into a Democrat.  Washington would read her his farewell address warning against forming political parties.  Adam would reconsider celibacy.  Paul would announce he had gone blind again.  Bach would try to play the harpsichord loud enough to drown out her voice.  Coulter would question Jesus‘ sexuality.  Levin would run out on the check.  And Jesus would shout, get these out of here.  Do not make the House of Representatives a house of morons, and then turn over the table.

You know, like in “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.” 

Part two, “World Net Daily” also asked, question, “if with the snap of your fingers you could change anything about America, what would it be?” 

Answer, “reduce the federal government to its original size and constitutional limitations and to restore the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.” 

The original size would presumably be the government after the first Senate convened in 1789.  That would mean only 26 senators, only 69 congressmen and only 13 states and thus no representatives from Minnesota.  And the government only attends to the needs of what the population of the country was back then, four million. 

Original constitutional limitations would mean there‘s no Bill of Rights, slavery is legal, and women can‘t vote. 

Michele—do you ever get the feeling she should be going not to Congress but to a sixth grade American history class—Bachmann, today‘s Worst Person in the World.


OLBERMANN:  Early voting began today in Nevada.  And Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle better hope her Hispanic supporters get to the polls before they see the video we‘re about to bring you.  In our number one story, it is one thing to tell member of an ethnic group that to you they all look alike.  But it is something else altogether to tell them that many of them look like a different ethnic group. 

Asked by Hispanic high school students why she would use images of Hispanic men to fear monger about illegal immigration, Sharron Angle pretended not to see race, before telling the Hispanic Student Union that some of them could pass for Asian. 

First, big party at the launch of the Tea Party Express bus tour in Reno, Nevada, this morning.  One of the big messages, don‘t vote for Nevada‘s Tea Party candidate. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Just in case any of you think that the Tea Party candidate on the ballot has anything at all to do with the Tea Parties, he doesn‘t.  He is a fraud. 


OLBERMANN:  OK.  Now you confused us utterly.  The guy in the Gadsden flag hoody referring to Tea Party Nevada candidate Scott Ashjian, who remains on the ballot despite Angle‘s pleading and her claim that she can Ashjian some of Mitch McConnell‘s juice. 

Back in Reno, candidate Angle was legally prohibited from attending the big bus tour kick-off because the group‘s PAC has spent money on her behalf.  So instead, a Sarah from Alaska filled in. 


SARAH PALIN, FMR. GOVERNOR OF ALASKA:  I can see November from my house. 

I thank you for being so bold in your support of Sharron, too.  You know, bless her heart.  The stuff that they have thrown at her and just tried to clobber her with.  Yet she is still standing. 


OLBERMANN:  Last Friday, Sharron Angle—or Shang Angle, as Ms. Palin would call her—was standing in front of the Hispanic Student Union at the Nevada Rancho High School.  Students organized the meeting with Angle to discuss her use of negative racial stereotyping in her campaign ads, particularly the imagery of Hispanic men with flashlights, creeping around our fences.  Ms. Angle told the kids it was all a big misunderstanding.  One of the students recorded the exchange. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Why is that it all your commercials have an image Latinos?  What do you see when you hear, and I quote, illegal aliens? 

SHARRON ANGLE ®, CANDIDATE FOR SENATE FROM NEVADA:  I think that you‘re misinterpreting those commercials.  I‘m not sure that those are Latinos in that commercial.  What it is is a fence and there are people coming across that fence.  What we know is that our northern border is where the terrorists came through. 


OLBERMANN:  The Canada/Nevada border?  They weren‘t Latinos?  They were Canadians?  The school‘s teachers telling the Associated Press, quote, some of the kids, they couldn‘t help but chuckle at that.”  The conversation continued. 


ANGLE:  I don‘t know that all of you are Latino.  Some of you look a little more Asian to me.  I don‘t know that.  What we know about ourselves is that we are a melting pot in this country.  My grandchildren are evidence of that.  I‘m evidence of that.  I‘ve been called the first Asian legislator in our Nevada State Assembly. 


OLBERMANN:  However, a COUNTDOWN investigation has confirmed what the Associated Press first reported today.  Quoting the AP story, “Angle says she herself has been called Nevada‘s first Asian legislator.  Angle is white.”  And Angle spokesperson today telling Jon Ralston of the “Las Vegas Sun” in a statement that somehow this is Harry Reid‘s fault.  Quoting, “this is a low blow from Harry Reid.  Sharron is making the point that this country is a melting pot, and you cannot judge people based on stereotypes or the way they look.  When she was in the legislature, a reporter mistakingly referred to Sharron as being of Asian descent.” 

Let‘s bring in the aforementioned Jon Ralston, political analyst and columnist of the “Las Vegas Sun.”  Jon, good evening.  


OLBERMANN:  How is Sharron Angle‘s juice with Hispanic voters these days? 

RALSTON:  I think she had her juice spiked before she went into that meeting over at Rancho High School.  I know you‘re jealous, Keith.  I know you want to be out here covering this, because it is one spectacle after another.  And that one was especially bizarre. 

I was there in 1999 when Sharron Angle started in the assembly.  No one was under the mistaken impression she was Asian.  I had no idea where that was coming from.  But you have to wonder, Keith, why she said the first thing, which was about—as if she didn‘t know that those images were being used, those very controversial image that have now forced her ad and, as you know, David Vitter‘s ad to be pulled down, of those so-called Hispanic thugs that apparently were based on Ottawa or Winnipeg or somewhere like that. 

I mean, it was just totally bizarre what she was saying there, Keith.  Of course, that begs this question: why did she go there in the first place?  What is her campaign thinking letting her go to that meeting? 

OLBERMANN:  Other than the affiliation of the Las Vegas AAA baseball team with the Toronto Blue Jays, is there any kind of Canadian/Nevadan border issue that we‘re not aware of in the rest of the non-Nevada 49? 

RALSTON:  I‘m going to have to go get my daughter‘s geography book to make sure I didn‘t miss anything back in high school.  I don‘t know if you saw it today, Keith, but the Canadian ambassador is now demanding an apology from Sharron Angle, adding his name to the mayor of Deerborne, who is also demanding an apology for another crazy comment she made about Sharia law ruling in Deerborne.  So it just keeps getting better and better.

OLBERMANN:  You could their kids giggling.  And you sort of feel their recoil when she said some of them may have looked a little Asian.  At any point, do these moments cost Sharron Angle votes?  Or is she in one of these bubbles where her supporters are just going to take any factual mistake on her part as an attack on her by the infidel media? 

RALSTON:  Or the infidel Harry Reid, right?  You read from that statement.  It is incredible that they are blindly loyal to her.  And I‘m telling you, there is a lot of people who aren‘t even necessarily loyal to Sharron Angle, who just despise, hate, loath Harry Reid so much, Keith, that they don‘t care what Sharron Angle does or says, they‘re going to vote for her.  That‘s the dynamic that Harry Reid has to deal with.  That‘s why he has tried to expose a lot of things that she said in his ads. 

His ads used almost exclusively her own words against her.  While it has brought her negatives up, his are so high that that is why this race is a toss-up right now. 

OLBERMANN:  There was a large crowd at that event in Reno today.  And a lot of people obviously are passionate about her campaign.  This is not just true for her campaign.  But give me an assessment; do they understand the prospect that she might lose?  What happens if she loses?  What do the next six years look like in that state, a sort of constant plea for a recount? 

RALSTON:  I think the greatest fear is that word recount.  Nobody wants to see that.  She has definitely developed a fervent following, not just here but across the country.  As you know, Keith, she raised 14 million dollars from across the country in the third quarter.  I have to believe that if Sharron Angle were to lose, she will immediately turn her sights on yet another member of the establishment, but this time a Republican by the name of John Ensign, who is sitting there a walking corpse in Washington, D.C. 

OLBERMANN:  Jon Ralston, political analyst, columnist of the “Las Vegas Sun.”  With that beard, you look like that guy from “Flash Gordon.”  Were you in “Flash Gordon?”  I‘m sorry.  My inner Sharron Angle—

RALSTON:  I prefer Chuck Todd. 

OLBERMANN:  That‘s it.  That‘s who I meant.  Chuck Todd from “Flash Gordon.”  Thank you, Jon. 

That‘s October 18th, the 2,727th day since President Bush declared mission accomplished in Iraq, the 2,316th day since he declared victory in Afghanistan, and the 182nd day of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf. 

Rachel is next with Meghan McCain on Christine O‘Donnell.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck. 



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