Guests: Faiz Shakir, Thomas Frank, Nancy Pelosi, Raul Grijalva
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The plot to buy America: Illinois Republican Senate candidate Mark Kirk‘s fundraiser with American businesspeople in China. The next day, he votes “no” on closing tax loopholes that encourage American corporations to ship jobs to China and other foreign countries.
This while the U.S. Chamber of Commerce campaigns against Kirk‘s opponent with this:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Does anyone think Alexi Giannoulias can create jobs?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Here or in China?
Rove‘s latest job, his PAC gets $7 million from the puppeteer of the Swift Boaters.
The shut up and vote as you‘re told Tea Party. In Wisconsin, asked for policy specifics, Republican Ron Johnson refuses to give them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON JOHNSON ®, WISCONSIN SENATE CANDIDATE: I don‘t believe this election really is about details.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: In Delaware, she insists she won the debate about separation of church and state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINE O‘DONNELL ®, DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: We were high-fiving each other thinking that we had exposed he doesn‘t know the First Amendment. Then when we read the reports that said the opposite, we‘re all like, what?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: In Ohio, Rich Iott is even more trouble about the military, worse even that scampering the forest in a replica Nazi uniform.
A dozen days to the strangest election in nearly a century and a half. My special guest on the midterms, on the Tea Party, on the threat to democracy from secret and foreign campaign spending, on the re-emergence today of George W. Bush in the campaign: the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Thursday, October 21st, 12 days until the 2010 midterm elections.
And if you thought the issue of secret millionaire money was starting to play a big role in this election, wait until you se the secret documents that just got leaked from one Republican Senate campaign.
Our fifth story: it may not technically be foreign money, but it is money of rich people, American or otherwise, happy to move American jobs overseas if it will boost the corporate profits that pay the fat cat salaries of the rich people at the top.
And wait until you hear our exclusive preview of a new analysis showing just how much more America‘s richest are making than you are.
First, the Chamber of Commerce is standard bearer on outsourcing of
American jobs, Republican Congressman Mark Kirk of Illinois, now running
for Senate. According to Campaign Money Watch, Illinois has lost more than
1 quarter million jobs to outsourcing. But that has not stopped Mr. Kirk‘s
love affair with China, co-chairing the China Congressional Working Group,
telling Chinese officials not to believe the U.S. government budget figures
one of only 15 members of Congress to vote against the Bush administration reviewing the sell of American oil company Unocal to China.
And according to internal campaign documents obtained by the “Capital Facts” blog, holding a fundraiser this past May by video conference with donors in Beijing, Kirk‘s campaign telling the blog the fundraiser was attended by at least a dozen American business people in Beijing, refusing to release their names. The next day, Congressman Kirk voted against closing American tax loopholes which reward U.S. companies for sending jobs overseas.
Just tonight, “The New York Times” is reporting that nearly half of the U.S. Chamber‘s $149 million in contributions for the year 2008 came from just 45 donors, many such donations coinciding with chamber lobbying efforts that would benefit those companies. The chamber has reportedly spent $2 million to help Kirk beat Alexi Giannoulias, his Democratic rival with attack ads like this one. The chamber just not on the record in favor of outsourcing, but also, through its Chinese arm, also actively working to promote outsourcing, supporting the same tax loopholes Kirk did.
MoveOn.org has already advertised Kirk‘s support from the pro-outsourcing chamber and “The Plum Line” blog reports it‘s now up with a new campaign in at least 28 races, including Kirk-Giannoulias, and they were made by actual Americans.
With us once again is Faiz Shakir, the editor-in-chief of the blog which broke the story about the chamber‘s foreign funding, “Think Progress.”
Faiz, good evening to you.
FAIZ SHAKIR, THINKPROGRESS.ORG: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Raising funds from Americans overseas is legal and Democrats do it, too. Why is this time any different?
SHAKIR: Well, the chamber is running $75 million of attack ads. And you just showed some of them. And I think it‘s important for people to know that if the chamber is trying to influence the outcome of our elections, people deserve to know who‘s behind those ads and what their agenda is.
And as we‘ve documented, you‘ve documented, the chamber is a proud outsourcers. And if jobs is the central issue of this election, and I think it is, that we need too know that the chamber is out there advocating for the outsourcing of jobs and receiving money from firms who are benefiting from outsourcing to run those ads in a lot of these districts.
OLBERMANN: Why do Republicans want to ship U.S. jobs overseas?
SHAKIR: Well, I think it benefits them. I think, certainly, in the case of Mark Kirk, he‘s receiving a lot of donations from the Chinese firms which—that he‘s helping to coach in outsourcing.
We know that Carly Fiorina, who is a Senate candidate in California, has been an advocate of outsourcing, has benefited from it personally with her own personal wealth.
We know Pat Toomey, who used to lead the Club for Growth, who is now a Pennsylvania candidate, believes that corporations shouldn‘t have any roles in regulations at all. And he, again, is somebody who is benefiting greatly from corporations who are shipping jobs overseas and making a lot of money and sending it to their campaigns.
So, at the bottom line level, they‘re receiving a lot of money and they‘re backed by people who are getting great benefit from shipping jobs overseas.
OLBERMANN: Yes, because with no corporate regulations, 1893 was such a good year in this country.
The foreign money, obviously, is the visceral thing and it got a lot of play. But is there a bigger point here that sort of transcends both the foreign money and corporate American money, that it‘s all about getting the same agenda getting pushed down people‘s throats?
SHAKIR: Yes. I think that the agenda is the overlooked portion of this. I think a lot of the firms that don‘t want to be known are shuttling money to the chamber in the hopes that the chamber will do all the tackling for them. They‘re going to run the plays on the field. And the corporations are going to hide out in the sky box suite and hope that nobody pays attention.
And I think that‘s our goal, is to make sure that the people who are funding these ads, who have the agenda, who believe that if Republicans take over, that it‘s going to be a corporate takeover of our democracy. I mean, we had a swift boating in 2004 of John Kerry. I think we‘re going to have a swift boating of democracy in this election if we allow what the corporations are trying to do with their money to go unregulated.
And I think it‘s really the great challenge of the upcoming elections because if they can get away with it in 2010 and funnel all this money in without regulations and try to buy off seats, then who knows what they‘re going to do in 2012, right?
OLBERMANN: And you mentioned in passing, swift boat‘s financier sent $7 million to Karl Rove‘s PAC which we‘ll get into in a moment.
But last question for you: this “New York Times” study of the corporate filings and the other records which determined that despite the chamber‘s claims and the Glenn Beck nonsense that, you know, the U.S. chamber is mom and pop stores, if the nation‘s biggest lobbying organization, big surprise, it is a—it is a monster that is bought and controlled by the largest multinational corporations in the world.
It‘s 12 days to go before the midterms—is there a chance this changes the midterms?
SHAKIR: I think so and I hope so. I think, to your point, Keith, why do corporations give money to the chamber? Because the chamber has got this reputation as being very popular. It represents mom and pop corporations. You know the quote from “The New York Times” that half the money they got just from 45 corporations.
And then we know that American Crossroads is getting a bulk of its money from just a handful of corporations. And you‘ve documented a hedge fund person in New York who‘s bankrolling a bunch of attack ads by himself.
What I think Americans need to know is that there are about 580,000 people who donated to Obama. They‘ve got a list of 13 million people.
And on the opposite side are like a small number of people, like a small number of corporations who are trying to steal all this away from him.
OLBERMANN: Faiz Shakir of “Think Progress”—great thanks as always.
SHAKIR: Sure, thank you.
OLBERMANN: Of course, the Chamber of Commerce is only the largest star in a constellation of corporate cash. But unlike the chamber, some of the others have political action committees which are required still to disclose their donors.
Karl Rove‘s group, Crossroads, for instance, has both kinds. And we just might have some insight into his secret group based on who he has to disclose about his public PAC.
The new federal filings revealing, according to Politico.com, that American Crossroads raised $15 million in the last six weeks, more than two-thirds of it coming from four men. One of whom Texas swift boat bankroller, Robert Perry, wrote Rove a check for $2 million in September, and another on October 4th, and another the following day, and a check for $1 million, some sort of tip, on October 12th. That accounted for almost half of Rove‘s election season donations.
What does Rove do with all that money? He runs ads like this one against Harry Reid. Its claims that Nevada got the least stimulus money and 20 percent unemployment have been debunked months ago by PolitiFact, FactCheck.org and even “the Las Vegas Sun,” which could explain why Rove has a new anti-Reid ad up that actually ask Nevada voters whether they‘re sick of negative ads.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Senator Harry Reid for 27 years—wait a minute—are you tired of all these negative political ads? OK, how about just the facts.
Nevada has the highest unemployment in the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Except that the ad then goes on to repeat the same bogus claims that were debunked months ago.
Wisconsin Tea Party Republican Ron Johnson has also benefited from ads paid for by unknown backers. So, it‘s instructive to find out example what policies the Rove-Chamber types are looking for, especially on the number one issue of the day, job creation.
And here is Johnson asked by the “Green Bay Press Gazette” for his jobs plan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREEN BAY PRESS GAZETTE: So your jobs plan is really to cut spending.
There‘s no real jobs plan?
JOHNSON: I would say bring fiscal discipline to the federal government. We‘ve got to curb spending. It‘s not a tax problem. It‘s a spending problem.
GREEN BAY PRESS GAZETTE: So your jobs plan is to control spending. But what about the middle class? I mean, I hear you talking a lot about business, businesses. But, I mean, what is your plan for the middle class?
JOHNSON: We have to get the economy moving.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: “The Green Bay Press Gazette” endorsed Johnson‘s rival, Senator Russ Feingold shortly after that. It had endorsed Feingold‘s rivals in every single election until this one.
In fairness to Mr. Johnson, he announced yesterday the vagueness on details is part of his approach, not just on jobs but also when he was asked how to help homeless veterans.
(BEGIN VIDEEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: Specifically I can‘t really—I haven‘t been there, I don‘t have all the details. You know, one thing I will point out: I don‘t believe this election really is about details. It just isn‘t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And as promised, a quick note about just how rich the beneficiaries of the lack of details are getting already, Pulitzer Prize-winning tax reporter, David Cay Johnston, who will be reporting at Tax.com on Monday new information about American wages.
Johnston, a friend of this news hour, revealing to COUNTDOWN tonight that while the number of people fell in the top category of income earners, 50 million a year and up, the average income of those top-earning Americans rose from $91 million in 2008 to $519 million last year.
As Mr. Johnston puts it, the 74 Americans in the top wage category made just as much money as the 19 million Americans who made the least.
Somewhere in between, let‘s bring in MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman, also a senior political editor at “The Huffington Post.”
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Way to the bottom.
OLBERMANN: Well, not quite that kind of raise, the $519 million a year. But you will be worth penny of it (ph).
FINEMAN: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Let me go back to this extraordinary piece in “The New York Times.” I urge everybody to go through you it like eight times. It seems the paper has essentially pulled the disguise off the chamber and revealed what is really going on there and the faces are all familiar corporate rate logos.
FINEMAN: Well, it‘s a little like moment in the “Wizard of Oz” where Toto pulls the curtains back and there‘s somebody manipulating the levers in the background. And it turns out, not unexpectedly, it‘s companies like Prudential or like Texaco or Dow Chemical, or—my favorite is AIG.
FINEMAN: The foundation of which gave tons and tons and tons of money to the chamber. And not surprisingly, AIG is the biggest entity in the world that received taxpayer bailout money. And AIG still owes the American taxpayers, I think, at least $100 billion.
OLBERMANN: This came on the same day that we learned how concentrated Mr. Rove‘s backing is as well and just the donations we know about, let alone the secret stuff. If class warfare still has a few battles left—if it is not the upper class having won the whole thing already, it would seem today that we see the battlefield overall in something of a different way. It‘s not about business, it‘s not about big business, but it‘s literally about maybe fewer than a thousand people, not just in this country but around the world—a thousand people all around the world who are bankrolling virtually the entire Republican half of the American political debate right now.
That‘s not an exaggeration.
FINEMAN: No, it‘s not an exaggeration, Keith. And the great irony of it is, this is the kind of thing that one would think that the Tea Party people would be furious about. In other words, the Tea Party—and I‘ve been to a lot of their rallies—they‘re worried about unseen powers they can‘t control, the big boys, you know, running things out of Washington.
Well, the big boys really running things in this election are the people at the Chamber of Commerce. There‘s no question about it. It‘s become almost a branch of government, a sort of unseen branch of government. And behind them are those handfuls of people and corporations that you‘re talking about.
Yes, they have shareholders. We could argue about that. But the fact is, decisions are being made by executives of these major companies, in many cases without any reference to the shareholders themselves. So, there‘s nothing democratic about this.
This is the kind of thing that you could, if you had the time, get Tea Party people angry about. Certainly, a lot of the American people should be.
OLBERMANN: All right. And that‘s the point, the time. I have to imagine it‘s all bubbling up too late to move the needle much for Election Day, although correct me if I‘m wrong. What are the implications for 2012?
FINEMAN: Well, I don‘t think it‘s entirely too late. You know, I discovered this in Philadelphia the other day talking to Representative Bob Brady, who runs the Philly machine. He‘s an old-fashioned Democrat, a ward boss. And I said, well, what‘s moving the votes, if anything? He said, well, you know, you wouldn‘t think so but this question about who‘s paying for all these ads.
You know, here inside the Beltway, we dismiss that as a process story. People wouldn‘t be interested to that. According to Brady, who‘s an old school guy, people late in the game are getting interested in it.
Will it turn the election around? I somehow doubt it. But I think it sets the table for what all the arguments are going to be in that building behind me here when the lame duck session comes back and the entire next session of Congress.
OLBERMANN: Ask comedians on the TBS television network, nothing offends people watching television more than seeing the same commercial again and again and again. It‘s a way to defeat yourself with too many commercials.
FINEMAN: There is.
OLBERMANN: Lean forward.
MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman—thanks for your time tonight.
FINEMAN: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: We have barely scratched the surface of the madness of this Tea Party. Christine O‘Donnell won a separation of church and state debate. The Supreme Court decided Dred Scott no earlier than 1995, and that guy in Ohio in the Nazi outfit, that turns out to have been the highlight of his campaign—next.
OLBERMANN: Not only does she think she won the debate over church and state in the Constitution, she also thinks she settled the witch controversy and thought she had canceled the “I‘m not a witch” commercial.
Asked to name a Supreme Court decision in the last two decades with which he disagreed, this Pennsylvania Republicans answers, “Dred Scott.”
It couldn‘t get any worse for this Ohio Tea Partiers after that picture emerged, could it? Oh, yes. Oh, yes, it could.
And in the middle of this maelstrom, my special guest tonight, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
OLBERMANN: The thought that the nation needs you to serve it in elected office is necessarily tinged by some degree of separation from reality. Just as deciding that people need to hear what you have to say on television.
But in our fourth story: There‘s tinged and there‘s living on an entirely separate plane of existence with unicorns and optional gravity and intelligent design and flat earth societies and Christine “You‘re so dumb how do you find the door every day” O‘Donnell.
It‘s another day of jaw-droppers from the Tea Party. Ms. O‘Donnell, first. She‘s claiming victory by dint of not understanding the First Amendment of the Constitution to the United States. As she tells it, it was her opponent, Chris Coons, who was ill-informed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: So, we were high-fiving each other exposed—thinking that we had exposed he doesn‘t know the First Amendment. And then when we read the reports that said the opposite, we were like, what?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Her campaign in one word, what?
In the interim, the latest Delaware Senate debate providing yet another stumper for Ms. O‘Donnell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give me a name, Christine, of someone in the U.S.
Senate across the aisle that you‘re comfortable working with.
O‘DONNELL: Well, she‘s not a senator anymore. But I would definitely have to say Hillary Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: After Mr. Coons names Senators Dick Lugar and Lindsey Graham as Republicans, he would be willing to work with, Ms. O‘Donnell had her answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: One of the real risks as we go forward is that if we elect someone who literally cannot name a single currently serving senator in my party with whom she would work, were advancing someone who really has no experience—
O‘DONNELL: Senator Lieberman.
COONS: -- someone who has no experience in crossing the bipartisan divide.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Chris.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Yes, if only there were more Republican senators willing to work with Joe Lieberman, independent of Connecticut. This is not “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” lady!
Meanwhile, proving he‘s comfortable working with the big oil interest, Republican Senate nominee Ken Buck of Colorado campaigning with well-known environmentalist senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma. After claiming he wants to focus solely on economic issues, Buck praised Inhofe for bravely standing up to say, quote, “global warming is the greatest hoax that has ever been perpetrated.”
And despite what you may think, no hoax coming out of New Jersey‘s third congressional district. Here‘s GOP candidate and former NLF offensive tackle Jon Runyon, adding his name to the growing list of Tea Party-backed candidates, unable to name a recent Supreme Court case. His opponent, John Adler, asked the following question:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN ADLER (D), NEW JERSEY CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Jon, it‘s different branch of government. Can you give me an example of the last 10 or 15 years of a Supreme Court decision with which you disagree?
RON RUNYON ®, NEW JERSEY CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: That I strongly disagree with? Dred Scott.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: He wasn‘t much of an offensive tackle either.
My apologies for identifying him as being from Pennsylvania. He played in Pennsylvania. He‘s running for office in Jersey.
No wonder that one of the founders of the Tea Party movement, Karl Denninger, calls all of this joke.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARL DENNINGER, TEA PARTY MOVEMENT FOUNDER: We originally began with the premise that fraud is wrong. Theft is wrong. And it stayed that way for about a month. And the moneyed interests came in and they basically took it back. As far as I can tell, they did it by saying, look, you know, if you go down this road, then we won‘t get any more campaign contributions. And so, the Republican Party essentially put the kibosh on this, got their people in and co-opted the Tea Party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Mr. Denninger used slightly more colorful language in a blog entry titled, “To the Tea Party: Go Screw Yourself,” calling out Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and Bob Barr and his word not mine—douchebag—his word not mine—groups such as the Tea Party Patriots, blaming them for focusing on, quote, “guns, gays, God,” instead of the group‘s original mission.
“Tea Party my ass,” he wrote. “This was nothing other than the Republican Party stealing the anger of a population that was fed up with the Republican Party‘s own theft of their tax money at gunpoint, to bail out the robbers of Wall Street and fraudulently redirecting it back toward electing the very people who stole all the blanking money.”
Now time to call in Thomas Frank, author of “What‘s the Matter with Kansas?” and “The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule.”
Good evening to you, sir.
THOMAS FRANK, AUTHOR, “THE WRECKING CREW”: And how are you today, Keith?
OLBERMANN: I‘m stunned by Mr. Denninger‘s comments. Will they have any impact or is the Tea Party really kind of a modern bloodless French Revolution and he just gets to go to the virtual guillotine with everybody else?
FRANK: Look, it‘s—no, it‘s not—that he‘s denouncing them? Is that going to have an impact?
FRANK: No, I would say not. I would also even—I would disagree with him to some degree. I think his heart is in the right place. I like the things he‘s saying. I certainly like the way he‘s expressing it.
But I went to the first rally back in February of ‘09, the one across the street from the White House. It‘s the same people that are there today. It was a bunch of guys from Dick Armey‘s group. It was a bunch of, you know, the sort of conservative think tank—the think tank people from here in D.C., you know, a lot of people in three-cornered hats, you know?
It was—it‘s weird how stable the thing has remained. I mean, you‘ve got a lot of—it‘s accreted a lot of strange characters over the last few months, I mean, like Christine O‘Donnell and people like that.
FRANK: You know?
OLBERMANN: As to Ms. O‘Donnell, in addition to thinking that she won the debate over whether or not separation of church and state is mentioned in the First Amendment, she also claims she wanted to kill the “I‘m not a witch” ad before it ran. If “I‘m not a witch” ad had not worked, would she be saying that?
FRANK: No. Of course not. You know, nobody everybody wants to—you know, when someone designs a lousy ad campaign, they all want to distance themselves. You know, hot potato, they want to get rid of it as quickly as they can.
But there‘s something that about Christine O‘Donnell that I think it‘s important to bring up. I mean, she‘s a lot of fun to talk about. It‘s great to make fun of her. And she says she‘s constantly got her foot in her mouth and she‘s always saying stupid things.
And here‘s what I‘m getting at, Keith: ever since I have been paying attention to politics, liberals like you and me have been—I don‘t know, liberals like me—I‘m sorry, I‘ve just—I shouldn‘t—I shouldn‘t—I am the problem in America, right? I am the liberal.
But people like me have been making fun of conservatives for being dumb and getting things wrong. They sold all these books about Ronald Reagan, you know, misremembering things. You know, this—we‘ve been making fun of them for their spelling errors on their signs at the Tea Party rallies. And it‘s a blast, you know, to make fun of someone like Sarah Palin or something like that.
But when we do that, you‘ve got to remember, their critique of us is
already to go. You know, the liberal elite, right? These eggheads. These
they call us the ruling class. You know, people that went to—people that went to college and think they‘re smarter than you.
OLBERMANN: Tenth grade. People went to the tenth grade.
FRANK: I know. I know. It is ridiculous. But it‘s also—it works. You‘ve got to remember that. This—whenever we criticize them for slip-ups like that, we—you know, we come off looking like snobs.
OLBERMANN: But in one case, it may not be lack of knowledge. That sound bite of Mr. Runyon, there‘s a subtext to it. When ultraconservatives say Dred Scott, there is a dog whistle to that. That has something to do with Roe v. Wade?
FRANK: Right. Well, there‘s always—whenever the conservatives bring up the issue of slavery, and they do this all the time, especially when I used to follow conservatism closely at a local level back in Kansas, they‘re forever talking about things like that and about, you know, the abolitionist movement. And they would identify themselves with that movement.
And it all goes back to the anti-abortion movement. It‘s a way of talking about the anti-abortion movement that‘s not as controversial.
OLBERMANN: Thomas Frank—sorry to interrupt you there.
FRANK: It‘s a Dred Scott decision. All right.
OLBERMANN: That‘s just in: Dred Scott was decided long way by Chief Justice Taney.
The speaker of the House is joining us later. Thomas Frank, the author of “The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule,” has just joined us now. Thank you again, sir.
FRANK: Sure thing.
OLBERMANN: The speaker of the House on all of this and the resurfacing of George W. Bush, we‘re not talking about paving—coming up.
OLBERMANN: The Speaker of the House on the midterms, the re-emergence of George W. Bush. My guest, Nancy Pelosi, ahead.
First, the sanity break. Two Tweets of the day. The topic is the firing of Juan Williams by NPR for saying he gets nervous if he travels and there‘s someone dressed in Muslim attire.
From Chris Perkins, “I get nervous firing on a plane with Fox Noise commentators.”
Also, from G. Benjamin Ensor (ph), “it‘s amazing, 3-me, that somehow freedom of speech is somehow translated to mean you can‘t fire me for violating my contract.” It‘s amazing three all of us. I think he meant two.
Which reminds me to mention to the obtuse Mr. Williams, as if the 9/11 murderers were wearing turbans or something. Let‘s play Oddball.
We begin in Kansas City with a monkey on the loose. A pet chimp broke free from its restraints. Apparently a twine rope not enough to hold the 300 pound animal. Who would have though? Suddenly, the pissed-off primate spots the police cruiser. Bubbles smash, ow, ow, ow.
Eventually, the chimps owner arrives, calms the animal down enough to get him back into his cage. Nobody hurt. Animal being held in a sanctuary for the time being. Sanctuary. We‘re probably way beyond suggesting keeping a pet chimp is a really dangerous idea, right?
In sports, break out the poles, but no hills. Time for some cross country skiing action. And down goes Frazier. It‘s a long race. There‘s plenty of time to recoup your lost time. And he‘s off again. And really, another fall. Come on, fellow. It isn‘t even a slope.
Oh well, the fans were lucky that he‘s competing in cross-country skiing, not the winter biathlon, the one with the guns.
Lastly to Japan, the newest addition of the HRP-4C humanoid robot. Although she may look like a storm trooper missing the mask, she represents a big advancement in the humanoid robot department. She talks, lifts her arms, walks, talks some more. Yes, she does it all. But in order to be in compliance with all of Isaac Asimov‘s laws, she must do one more thing. Dance. Domo Arigato, Ms. HRP-4C humanoid roboto.
Yes, this robot has mastered all the classic disco from the YMCA to the most obvious given the circumstances, the Funky Chicken. She looks like she puts on a great show, but there was the embarrassing moment when the wrong song was played on the speaker and she melted down and thought it was, as you see, river dance.
Time marches on.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi next on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Our next guest has appeared in so many television advertisements, it would seem she‘s running in virtually all 435 congressional districts of the United States. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will join us in a moment.
But the voting has already begun. In our third story, three million Americans have cast ballots in early voting. In many states, Democrats have an edge. The survey by the Associate Press does not measure how people voted, of course, but whether those early voters were Democrats or Republicans. More Democrats than Republicans are voting in Iowa, Maryland, North Carolina and Louisiana. Republicans outnumbering Democrats so s far in Florida and in Colorado. It‘s basically a draw, for now at least, in Maine and Ohio.
But overall, Republicans have made gains in early voting compared to their own numbers two years ago.
With that as preface, joining me now as promised, the speaker of the House of Representatives and the congresswoman from California Eighth Congressional District, Nancy Pelosi. It‘s good to see you. Thanks for coming in.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: My pleasure. Thank you.
OLBERMANN: I want to talk about the elections, obviously, but let me start with what we mentioned earlier tonight, this “New York Times” report on the Chamber of Commerce. The first—half of Chamber of Commerce donations in 2008 came from 45 donors. Half of the total of 149 million from 45 donors. It‘s the nation‘s largest lobbying group. It‘s essentially representing a constituency in double digits. And it is all over the election without identifying who gave it its money.
Did you know the Chamber was so concentrated toward the super rich?
PELOSI: Well, it‘s interesting because they have about 300,000 members. Half the money coming from 45 corporations, it‘s a bigger issue. It‘s about our democracy. They give new meaning to the term buy American.
They want to buy these elections.
So elections are always about the future. You know that, Keith. What is our vision for taking America forward, as the president? We‘re going forward. We‘re not going back. We‘re fighting for the middle class.
This election is also about our democracy. If they win, which I fully intend to stop them from doing—but if they were to win, it would mean that we are now a plutocracy, an oligarchy. Whatever these few wealthy, secret, unlimited sources of money are can control our entire agenda.
OLBERMANN: Because of this Times report, we get sort of the vague outlines of who we‘re dealing with. Prudential Financial, two million when the Chamber was launching its offense—the offensive against regulating Wall Street. Dow Chemical was 1.7 million as the Chamber was working against tighter regulations of chemical facilities. Similar stories for Goldman Sachs, for Chevron, Texaco, for Edward Jones Brokerage.
How do we fix our laws after that Supreme Court decision, so that we‘re no longer prey to companies that are blocking our attempts to improve this country?
PELOSI: First, let me just say, as you read those names, it‘s clear that there are those on Wall Street who want to block the Wall Street reform, some of the greatest reforms in decades and for consumer protections, the biggest in our nation‘s history. There are those who want to stop our creating good, clean energy jobs. You see that energy and chemical companies who want to stop that.
They have an agenda that is counter to the reforms that we have put forth. What we have to do is say to them, stand by your ad. You‘re so proud of yourself, identify yourself. That‘s what the Disclose Act in Congress would have done. We passed it in the House. There are 59 votes in the Senate. We couldn‘t get one Republican to say disclosure is the right thing to do.
The court made a terrible decision. It was contrary to the fundamentals of our democracy. But at least people should be able to know where this money is coming from.
OLBERMANN: Obviously the first step towards that is getting this message out. You‘ve spoken extensively about it. The president has spoken extensively about it. We‘ve reported about it whenever there was something new and worthwhile to report. Has the message gotten? Has the message gotten through in time for the mid-terms?
PELOSI: First, let me say, the president mentioned this in the State of the Union Address. So this goes back a long way. That was very, I think, important for him to do. He, again, has kept that beat going, because it is essential and fundamental to our democracy that we not have it be wholly owned subsidiary of these corporations, and as part of the Chamber of Commerce.
But as far as the message coming through, our members who are getting hit seven to one, just brutal in terms of negative ads that are going out there. And I might add, some of them—one of these secret organizations is asking the Hispanic community not to vote, to depress the vote. And the impact of some of these ads—they‘re so on negative—is to depress the vote.
Again, this is a real challenge to our democracy. And members are getting the word forward. But it‘s important to make the link. It‘s not just that Wall Street is contributing to whatever political beliefs they have. They want to stop Wall Street reform. The Republicans have been very clear. If they take office, they will not allow funding to go forth to implement new reforms.
Same thing with energy companies. Same thing with health insurance companies. The list goes on and on. So you have to make the link. Not only the way—what did I see today, that perhaps seven million dollars was contributed by the Swift Boaters?
OLBERMANN: To Rove‘s PAC, yes.
PELOSI: To Rove‘s PAC. Again, we have a distortion of our democratic system. So this is not just an election about our future. It‘s an election about our future and our democracy.
OLBERMANN: In this election, will there be a political upset on November 2nd? And how would you define upset?
PELOSI: Let me say that I have always thought that remain calm. I‘d rather be in our position than the Republicans‘ position. Our members are battle ready. They believe in what they voted for. They‘re proud of it. They‘re fighting for it. They‘ve all come—the ones who are under challenge have come from very difficult districts. So they know how to win those districts.
I hearken back to ‘06 when we took the House. The president was in the 30s. President Bush was in the 30s. The war in Iraq was raging and a very big issue among the voters. And we won 30 seats. In order for the Republicans to take the House, they have to win 40-some seats. I just think it‘s a big hurdle.
I think we‘re in a better position. We have the candidates. We have the issues. We have the grassroots. The only place—we would have won. The reason they came in big with this money is they knew we were going to win.
OLBERMANN: It‘s the great leveler, yes.
PELOSI: They come in and deluge, drown out the voices of the American people. But we have to fight. I believe that we will win.
OLBERMANN: Do you see the backlash in a lot of the House races that has been apparent in the Senate races to exactly the things we‘re talking about, this money coming in, the secret money? Do you see in your—either just by feel of touch and experience that there is a blowback against that that is favoring the Democrats, because people are beginning to realize that the Republicans are funded by shadowy groups, perhaps with international money, or at minimum with anonymous money?
PELOSI: Secret money. Yes, but the—but it‘s also important to note is that when Washington was stirring all of this in July and during the August break—when our members came back after the August break, they said this is more a Washington story. This is not what we‘re seeing in our districts. Our districts are very difficult. They always have been. Some of those districts that we won, President Obama only got about 35 percent. So—one district in Maryland, he got under 30 percent.
So these are difficult districts. They were not minimizing the challenge that was there. They just said, some of us have Tea Party, some don‘t. But they‘re not really that big a factor in our district.
Again, they‘re ready for the fight out there to do so. Yes, 70 percent of the American people who know about these undisclosed, unlimited, unidentified ads, say it‘s not right. If more people know about it, the better. And when it is linked to stopping Wall Street reform, stopping health care reform, stopping clean energy jobs for the future.
OLBERMANN: Give me a moment, if you can. I‘d like to take a quick commercial break and then come back and ask you about the former president, Mr. Bush, who emerged from the shadows to sort of unintentionally prove your party‘s point about Republicans and the economy regarding Social Security.
OLBERMANN: Stand by. We‘ll continue.
OLBERMANN: There is one thing for which Democrats might want to thank George W. Bush. His presidency played a great part in bringing Congressional Democrats back to power four years ago, and in widening Democratic majority two years ago, and Nancy Pelosi became the first woman in American history to take the gavel as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Speaker Pelosi rejoins us now.
The former president spoke in Chicago today. He said his greatest failure as president was not passing, as he called it, Social Security reform. The softball is headed your way. You can pick which favorite member of the San Francisco Giants you would like to pretend to be as you swing on it. Please give me your response to that.
PELOSI: I thank the president for validating the point that we made during the campaign, because when we were saying that the president initiated the idea that he wanted to privatize Social Security, people said we were exaggerating; we were fear mongers and the rest. It wasn‘t really so. We stayed our course.
He gave us a gift then and he‘s the gift that keeps on giving. He‘s giving us a gift now. He‘s proving the point. That‘s what he intended to do. I remember during the course of that campaign, I was speaking with him at one of our leadership breakfasts. I said, Mr. President, I understand you‘re going to 60 cities in I don‘t know how many days to talk about your welfare reform. I want you to go to 120, because when we go there, we will be inoculating before you get there, educating after you leave, and making the distinction that Social Security as a pillar of our security for our seniors and American people.
We will make that differentiation. You know, after it was over and we won, I said, Mr. President, the results are in. He said, actually, I achieved my goal. I really wanted to call attention to the situation.
OLBERMANN: OK. Well, he also has provided something else during this campaign. Perhaps there‘s been a lot of criticism that the Democrats did not take—obviously, the House doesn‘t operate in a vacuum. But the Democrats did not take advantage over this—what the polling suggested was a winning position, Bush tax cuts for the rich and if you want to call them Democratic tax cuts for everybody else. Yet, the House adjourned without having a vote on this. Why did you—to the degree that you let that happen, why did you let that happen?
PELOSI: We could have taken the vote and we would have known. But knowing the distortion that the Republicans would have applied to that, I said, they‘re going to be political. We‘re not giving it. We know what our position is. By the way, it‘s a tax cut for everyone. It‘s just not an additional tax cut for the people at the top two percent in our country.
Everybody gets the tax cut, they just don‘t get more at the top two percent. So knowing how they would distort it, the president‘s clear in his campaign, the president‘s clear in his message about that.
It would cost 700 billion dollars to give an extra tax cut to the people at the top, the top two percent. Seven hundred billion dollars added to the deficit with no performance. In other words, when that happened before, it did not produce jobs.
PELOSI: Speaking of jobs, I want to say—because I think everybody should know that in the first eight months of 2010, did you know, more private sector jobs were created under the Obama administration, Democratic Congress, and the ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit of the American people—more private sector jobs were created in the first eight months of 2010 than in the eight years of the Bush administration?
OLBERMANN: Let me close with this last question: do you expect to be Speaker of the House in January 2011?
PELOSI: The democrats intend to win. What‘s important is that we have a Democratic majority to protect what we have done, something very big, health care for all Americans as a right, not a privilege, Wall Street reform, to give more leverage to working families in our country, affordability for college education.
They want to reverse this. And our Democratic victory will prevent that. It‘s about the future. It‘s about moving America forward, not going back to the failed policies of the past, which they said they would do, the same exact agenda. Now it‘s about saving our democracy from those who want to buy it.
OLBERMANN: Indeed. The speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, always greatest thanks to you for doing that. Safe travels in the next 12 days.
PELOSI: Thank you very much.
OLBERMANN: We have breaking news tonight from Arizona. Congressman Raul Grijalva will join us next, confirming that a letter was sent to his office in Tucson containing a toxic substance. The good news about it is no one was hurt. He‘ll have the details when he joins us after this.
OLBERMANN: Worsts and Ohio Tea Partier Rich Iott will unfortunately have to wait until tomorrow. We‘re getting word of breaking news tonight. Politico.com reported that the Tucson office of Congressman Raul Grijalva, the co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus, had been shut down by police tonight after that office received a package of, quote, confirmed toxic substance. This from a spokesman for the congressman.
The envelope was adorned with Swastikas. The package examined, found to contain a toxic white powder. All of his staffers there, about a dozen of them, said to have gotten a clean bill of health. This the third security problem for Grijalva‘s office since he spoke out against his state‘s controversial law aimed at illegal immigrants.
The congressman is now joining us on the phone right now from Tucson.
Thanks for your time tonight, sir. Is everybody all right?
REP. RAUL GRIJALVA (D), ARIZONA: Everybody is good, Keith. It‘s just that it‘s—as you stated, it‘s a disturbing pattern. This is the third time that—office had their windows shot out. We‘ve had somebody prosecuted and convicted of death threats to the office. Now we get this continuing mail, which puts a lot of innocent people in danger, constituents. It‘s just a disturbing pattern.
I understand that we‘re in a tough election. All of us across the nation are in a tough election. But there is still room for a little bit of civility and a little bit of understanding that this is not the way the system works. The system works by who is going to vote and how we‘re going to vote on November 2nd, not by how you threaten or intimidate people. This is unfortunately a disturbing trend that goes beyond anger. It goes toward hatred and trying to hurt people. I can‘t even describe it.
OLBERMANN: Not to ask you to tell us more than the police would have us know, but are there any details about this? Can you confirm either does anyone know what was in it or does anyone know if anything was written inside it?
GRIJALVA: No. All I can confirm to you was the Swastikas that were part of the mailing. And all I can confirm is this is a pattern. This is a continuing type of mailings that we‘ve been receiving. This one contained a powder. Wisely, the staff at the office immediately called the Capitol Police and then the local police responded and the FBI have responded.
OLBERMANN: The “Politico” report that it was a toxic substance. Is that confirmed?
GRIJALVA: Yeah. The toxicity to it—the confirmation to its level of danger is still to be determined.
OLBERMANN: And would you assume or would you want to not assume at this point that this had has some connection to your stance on the immigration battle?
GRIJALVA: This pattern of a tax against the office, threats, began with our outspoken opposition to 1070. Unfortunately, you know, it‘s brought a lot of other people that shouldn‘t be part of it into this whole dilemma. Like I said, it‘s part of an intimidation that we‘re just not going to tolerate. We‘re looking forward to the FBI investigating and prosecuting that to the full extent.
OLBERMANN: Congressman Raul Grijalva, we‘re glad this wasn‘t worse news. Thanks for taking a couple of moments with us.
GRIJALVA: Thank you. Bye-bye.
OLBERMANN: I‘m Keith Olbermann. I‘m going to guess that wasn‘t sent by an illegal immigrant to this country. Good night and good luck.
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