Guests: Dana Milbank, Wayne Barrett, Michael Musto
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
As the House votes on the latest attempt to force the president to stop the war, the staggering poll number is in. Just 22 percent of us believe the country is headed in the right direction.
Three thousand, three hundred and twenty-four of us are dead in Iraq. But the first lady knows who is really bearing the brunt of the pain of watching this war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: Believe me, no one suffers more than their president. And I do when we watch this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Quote, “America will be safer with a Republican president,” unquote. In New Hampshire, Rudy Giuliani makes Dick Cheney look subtle. A Democratic president would mean we‘ll have more casualties from terrorism than a Republican would. And of all the Republicans, he says he‘d be the best at this.
Why is Giuliani trying to terrorize the electorate? And the fraudulence of the Pax Republicana. Who was the mayor of New York when we were hit, anyway? Who was the president? A special comment.
A special deal for Monica Goodling, immunity now. And the Senate ponders a no-confidence vote in her ex-boss, the attorney general, as Gonzales-gate boils over.
And so does Bill O. Nothing, nothing infuriates him more than those vile, childish things said by that Bill O‘Reilly guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O‘REILLY, HOST: The Web site you got it off is called Media Matters, which is an assassination Web site.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And Bill has proved it. See, he has a flow chart. If he has a flow chart, he must be right. The return tonight of Fact or Fiction.
And down goes Rosie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE VIEW”)
ROSIE O‘DONNELL: ... you guys, but I‘m not going away. I am just not going to be here every day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: It was a one-year deal, and the year is up. Is she out at “THE VIEW” or because of her views?
All that, and a special comment on Rudy Giuliani and the morally bankrupt politics of fear, now on COUNTDOWN.
Good evening from New York.
If you had hoped the 2008 election cycle might move the national debate beyond the politics of fear, if you had expected more out of the candidate who had been there when the World Trade Center fell, if you had imagined that on the very day Congress was debating a phased withdrawal from Iraq, the commander in chief might do more than dance, literally dance, it seems, in our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, that you have been expecting way too much of your elected leaders.
Take Rudolph Giuliani. No, please, take Rudolph Giuliani. The former mayor of New York and would-be president channeling his inner Karl Rove last night. He told an audience in New Hampshire, the Live Free or Die State, in effect, vote Democrat and die.
A Democratic president, he charged, would, quote, “wave the white flag on Iraq” while the U.S. would ultimately prevail in the fight against terrorism regardless, he said, quote, “The question is, how long will it take, and how many casualties will we have? If we are on defense, we will have more losses, and it will go on longer. The Democrats do not understand the full nature and scope of the terrorist war against us.”
Later in this newshour, my special comment on Mr. Giuliani‘s remarks.
His Democratic rivals, including Senator Barack Obama, today weighing in with comments of their own, Senator Obama saying, in part, quote, “America‘s mayor should know that when it comes to 9/11 and fighting terrorists, America is united. We know we can win this war based on shared purpose, not the same divisive politics that question your patriotism if you dare to question failed policies that have made us less secure.”
Perhaps the oddest part of the Giuliani diatribe, he is the frontrunner, something John McCain wishes and no doubt expected that he would be at this point. Senator McCain also in New Hampshire today, finally entering the race for the White House, at least officially, albeit informally. Check out the sweater. He is the Mr. Rogers candidate, evidently, the Republican from Arizona returning to the state of his surprising 18-point upset over Bush in the 2000 primary, his support of the president‘s war in Iraq largely responsible for the current drop in his own popularity.
The same might be said of the president‘s popularity, according to the latest polls out tonight from NBC News, only 27 percent approving of the job that Mr. Bush is doing handling the situation in Iraq, no improvement from last month. But those surveyed of a higher opinion of Congress than they had one year ago, 31 percent approving of the job lawmakers are doing, compared with 22 percent in April 2006, something to keep in mind as the budget battle over Iraq comes to a head, lawmakers in the House debating as we speak, a vote expected within the hour on the $24 billion war-funding measure, expected to pass, that would require troop withdrawals to begin October 1st with the goal of completing that pullout six months later, President Bush having vowed it—vowed, rather, to veto that legislation.
This morning on the “TODAY” show, the president‘s wife said no one suffers more than the president and she do when watching television footage of the carnage in Iraq.
The same could be said of anyone forced to watch this today, the Bushes apparently trying to overcome their suffering this afternoon by dancing at the conclusion of a Malaria Awareness Day event in the Rose Garden, with a West African dance troupe.
Let‘s turn now to our own Dana Milbank, national political reporter for “The Washington Post.”
Dana, good evening.
DANA MILBANK, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:
Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: African dancing in the Rose Garden, a good move symbolically from the president today on such a symbolically important day, and, for that matter, even when prompted by an interviewer, the first lady calling attention to her own and her husband‘s own supposed suffering when not a single soldier in the conflict has that name, surname Bush? Are either of these smart moves just politically?
MILBANK: Well, it‘s well known that the banging of these African drums has been used over the centuries to expel evil spirits. This may be what the president has been reduced to at this point.
That was one ominous poll that you referred to just now. And I think the scariest number for the president in that is, only 12 percent of the people think things have gotten better in Iraq over the last three months, 49 percent say things there have gotten worse. That‘s looking pretty frightening. You can hardly blame the president for pounding on the drums, much as his predecessor did right after the Paula Jones lawsuit was dismissed, by the way.
OLBERMANN: Yes, that was good news, though, for a president.
This “vote Democrat and die” strategy doesn‘t seem to have been viable with the mainstream, if the 2006 midterm elections say anything. Is, is Mr. Giuliani as weak with the conservative base, I mean, the rabid base of the Republican Party, as the speech might lead one to infer?
MILBANK: You know what‘s surprising, Keith, is not that he said it, but that he said it so early in the campaign. This is the sort of thing you might do in the closing days to try to frighten a few people. It works with a diminishing effect each time.
I suspect what‘s happening here is, in the poll, we see his numbers are actually declining. He keeps a lead over McCain, but McCain‘s doing fairly well in some of the early primary states. McCain is retooling his campaign. I think what you‘re seeing is, Giuliani is quite desperate to shift the focus to terrorism and terrorism alone, which is the only way he really can win in the Republican electorate.
OLBERMANN: And the Republican poll numbers, the only person who has gone up in this is Fred Thompson, according to this poll. Is, is it, do we have a “Law and Order” fixation? And I don‘t mean a law and order government fixation, but a fixation with the series on television?
MILBANK: Well, we have a fixation with a Republican field that is not pleasing the Republican electorate. They don‘t—not really supporting Fred Thompson, they‘re supporting none of the above with that.
OLBERMANN: The showdown that looms, that seemingly has loomed for months, between Mr. Bush and Congress, not only are the poll numbers in Congress a lot better than his, going back to that NBC News-“Wall Street Journal” poll, but the results of this other finding in the survey are the worst they‘ve been in the summer before the president‘s father lost his bid for a second term, the, the, the right direction number, 22 percent.
The—it has not been anywhere near this low since it was 14 percent in the same way of July of ‘92. The majority leader, Mr. Reid, said yesterday that the vice president, or of the vice president, that he wasn‘t going to go get into a name-calling match with somebody who has a 9 percent approval rating. Does this accurately sum up the odds the White House is pretty much banking on these days in the fight with Congress?
OLBERMANN: Oh, that‘s unfair to the vice president. I think he‘s all the way up to 18 percent now, actually. But the—you point to this, what the pollsters call the right track-wrong track numbers. They‘re important. Not only is it low, but it‘s been low for a very long period of time. And unlike in 1992, there‘s no recession to explain it. What you have a very disillusioned American public that really feels that we have lost our way. And this is something that all the candidates are going to have to deal with.
But it is why the Democrats in Congress feel that they really have the wind at their backs.
OLBERMANN: And one last news development, suggesting how much they feel like they have the wind at the back. The House Oversight Committee voted to issue a subpoena to the secretary of -- secretary of state, Dr. Rice, compelling her to testify about the false claim from the administration from years ago that Iraq had been seeking uranium from Niger. Is there, are we going to have another executive privilege fight on this?
MILBANK: I was there at that hearing today. I think what this is more of a flexing of the Democratic muscle. She‘s been ignoring the chairman, Henry Waxman. I think this was their way to say, No, we‘re serious about this, we want to negotiate. I suspect neither party really wants to have some sort of a showdown here. They‘ve got bigger issues to deal with in terms of the U.S. attorney scandal.
OLBERMANN: Dana Milbank of MSNBC and “The Washington Post,” of course. Great thanks, Dana.
MILBANK: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: First presidential debate for the campaign is, of course, tomorrow. And it‘s here on MSNBC, not between the two of us, but you can join me and Chris Matthews from the campus of South Carolina State University at 6:00 p.m. Eastern for the COUNTDOWN to the debate. Then at 7:00, Brian Williams will moderate that first faceoff of the eight presidential candidates vying for the Democratic nomination. The debate will last 90 minutes. Then at 8:30 Eastern, Chris and I return for comprehensive analysis of the headlines and interviews with the candidates.
Long before Rudolph Giuliani became known as “America‘s mayor,” he was the mayor to the 8 million residents of America‘s the largest city. And as anyone who lived in New York during the 1990s could tell you, its citizens enjoyed a love-hate, largely hate, relationship with Mayor Giuliani. His approval rate in 2000 was 36 percent, making his current frontrunner status in the race for president what can only be described as a puzzlement to a majority of New Yorkers.
Joining us now, Wayne Barrett, senior editor at “The Village Voice,” and author of “Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11.”
Thank you again for your time tonight, sir.
WAYNE BARRETT, AUTHOR, “GRAND ILLUSION”: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The—all of this talk of a pre-9/11 mindset for Mr. Giuliani last night in New Hampshire, there seem to be two Rudolph Giulianis. There was this pre-9/11 local politician, career virtually over, and the one who appeared before the cameras covered in soot that day before this worldwide audience and was forever after “America‘s mayor.” Are these two guys even the same man?
BARRETT: Who knows who Rudy is today? I mean, look at what he just said. He wants to be on the offense in dealing with the war on terrorism. Well, I think he pretty clearly demonstrated, in the leadup to 9/11, that he‘s not very good on the defense.
John McCain finally today said something about the radios that the firefighters were still carrying, even though these radios had malfunctioned in 1993, when the World Trade Center was first attacked. And the radios had been described, we reveal in the book, in memos as early as 1990. As threatening to the lives of firefighters, and here they are still carrying them on that day, all these years after Rudy had been mayor, hadn‘t done anything to change the radios.
You know, you could go from the complete dysfunction of the 9/11 operation, you could go to the fact that here‘s the guy who claims to know something about terrorism, and he puts the command center, the most elaborate command center ever built in this country, in the very complex that had already been attacked, against the advice of his own emergency management director, against the advice of his police commissioner, who referred to it as ground zero.
Now he‘s saying that in 1997, when they‘re making the decision, because it had already been attacked in ‘93.
So this is a guy who, as you point out, was not very popular in the city prior to 9/11. But because he said the right things that day, because he seemed to be on the scene and grappling with the problems of that day, all of the failings of this administration in terms of the preparation, defense -- He says said we shouldn‘t be on the defense. Well, he wasn‘t on the defense. The city had been attacked once, and he didn‘t prepare us for the second attack.
OLBERMANN: And the interval was eight years to practice something in that time, and nothing was practiced. But ...
BARRETT: They never so much, Keith, as had a drill at the World Trade Center. They never so much as had one interagency fire drill anywhere in a skyscraper. They never had any plan to deal with a high-rise fire that went beyond the narrow fire department plan that had existed 30 years earlier.
OLBERMANN: Will the matter of his push to have his—the election that would choose his successor postponed by three months, an emergency measure to basically bypass the democratic system of election, is that, do you think, going to be raised at some point in this campaign, especially if he is going to throw 9/11 out like a shiny new dime at every passerby?
BARRETT: Well, even before he tried to do that, Keith, he tried to have the term limits law revoked that he himself had supported. And when he failed to get that, then he turned to, Can I extend my term? which has never happened in wartime with a president. Can I extend my term for three months?
I talked to the people in the Bloomberg administration. As it turned out, as you know, Mike Bloomberg did take over January 1, 2002, and Rudy only spoke to him twice in those first three months.
So there—his—he was not the indispensable man. He projected himself as the indispensable man that the city could not get along without. And yet, I think Mike Bloomberg has pretty much proven we can get along without Rudy Giuliani.
OLBERMANN: Last point. If there exists 9/11 fatigue, and the vitriol that he expressed last night in New Hampshire doesn‘t resonate beyond a really extreme wing of the Republican Party, is it possible that he broke his candidacy last night by saying what he said?
BARRETT: Well, his whole candidacy is based on the performance on a single day, and I think—certainly think he undermined it. I remind you that he himself has told us that within an hour of the attack, he‘s talking to his good friend Bernie Kerik on the streets of Manhattan, covered in soot, as you say. And he says to Bernie Kerik, Thank God George Bush is president.
So he was partisan even in the moment of great national peril and peril to his own city. He was already talking in terms of partisan politics.
OLBERMANN: Wayne Barrett, author of “Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11.” Once again, many thanks for your time.
BARRETT: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Ahead in this newshour, my special comment about Mr. Giuliani‘s remarks, his arguments not merely inappropriate and inadmissible, but factually incorrect.
Also, Gonzales-gate escalates, the Senate pondering a vote of no-confidence in the attorney general, while the House grants one of his top aides immunity.
And the paranoia that is Bill O. While—why Bill Orally is taking on a Web site simply because they accurately quote his words back to him.
You‘re watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: If you wanted to know whether last week‘s testimony by Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez inspired confidence in the Senate, one indication, the Senate is now considering holding a no-confidence vote, emphasis on “no.”
In our fourth story tonight, just because President Bush is happy with his attorney general, as long as he‘s not a proven criminal, does not mean this saga is over. Gonzalez today met with Democratic Senator Mark Pryor, who has called the attorney general a liar and said he must go, Gonzales today apparently failing to reverse either assessment.
The top Democrat and the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee today notified Gonzales that he must rectify last week‘s 71 “I don‘t knows” with actual answers, in writing, Congress also today approving both immunity and a subpoena for Mr. Gonzales‘s former aide, Monica Goodling, and maybe more worrisome for Mr. Bush, a subpoena for a White House staffer, Sara Taylor, deputy to Karl Rove, Mr. Rove himself in the crosshairs, not just of Congress today, but also of the Office of Special Counsel, OSC, an independent federal agency, not part of the Gonzales Justice Department, the OSC confirming now that it has broadened a relatively obscure investigation centered on the General Services Administration, that investigation now a full-blown probe of whether the White House, and Rove‘s office specifically, used federal taxpayer-funded agencies for political purposes, which some of us might have forgotten is against the law.
Following these investigations for us is MSNBC‘s David Shuster, back at the scandals desk in Washington.
Good evening, David.
DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Let‘s back up to Mr. Gonzales first. Subpoenas ready for Monica Goodling, the liaison to the White House, and Sara Taylor in the White House. Is the Judiciary Committee starting to suspect that Gonzales is just another administration fall guy?
SHUSTER: Yes, absolutely. And Senator Schumer‘s already said that he believes that Gonzales‘s foggy memory‘s by design, and that Gonzales is trying to protect officials at the White House, and not just Karl Rove. I mean, Gonzales has already acknowledged that he had conversations about the U.S. attorneys with President Bush, but Gonzales cannot remember the details.
And speaking of not remembering things, Keith, one of the things that we heard about why Senator Pryor was so mad at Gonzales today is because Gonzales said something along the lines of, Look, Senator, I can‘t remember the details of our phone conversation in December that you got so mad about. And so Pryor now believes that Gonzales is lying for the second time, and that‘s why Pryor said again that Gonzales must resign.
But as far as Monica Goodling, officials on the committee believe that this former Justice Department official has information about Karl Rove. Sara Taylor is the White House political director. E-mails show that she was directly involved in conversations about the firings of two U.S. attorneys, including one who was replaced by a Karl Rove deputy.
And so while the White House won‘t allow Taylor to testify, and the subpoenas have actually been issued, the committee is working in overdrive to be very aggressive with these Justice Department officials to try and figure out what exactly the White House is trying to hide, Keith.
OLBERMANN: And clearly, we need a subpoena to get a new head shot of Ms. Goodling, but that‘s another story for another time.
Mr. Rove and the special counsel, for some of us, that phrase “special counsel” induces a tic. Explain for us what this more sweeping probe into how the White House may have politicized much of the federal government is going to work.
SHUSTER: Yes, and just to be clear, as you just mentioned, federal law prohibits political activities by government employees on government time, or on government property. And allegations of violations are investigated by this Office of Special Counsel. The OSC says that it has now launched a broad investigation into Karl Rove and his team at the White House.
There are three main areas that we know of so far. First, complaints by U.S. attorney David Iglesias that he was fired for political reasons and that White House officials used government resources to carry it out. Second, that Iglesias was penalized somehow because he served as a Navy captain and missed 45 days of work at the U.S. attorney‘s office. And third, a series of briefings by Karl Rove‘s office that he gave to government employees at several government agencies in the buildings themselves where these government employees were told, Here‘s how you can help Republican election campaigns.
It‘s also worth noting, Keith, that the person in charge of the OSC investigations is himself under investigation. Scott Bloch allegedly refused to enforce a discrimination ban. He allegedly tossed out cases to reduce the workload of his office. And Scott Bloch allegedly got rid of employees who disagreed with him and his political views, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Boy, it just reminds you of a cult sometimes.
MSNBC‘s David Shuster. As always, great thanks, David.
SHUSTER: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: A special comment tonight. At, of all things, a Lincoln Day dinner in New Hampshire, Rudy Giuliani seeks to deny you your rote to - - right to vote without fear.
Rosie O‘Donnell leaves “THE VIEW,” and now, here come the claims of responsibility.
That and more, ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Forty-eight years ago this past Sunday, Terry John Francona was born in Aberdeen, South Dakota. He grew up to be college baseball‘s player of the year in 1980, then the only man to manage Michael Jordan, then the only man to manage a big-league club back from an 0-3 deficit in a best of seven playoff series, and finally, the first man since 1918 to manage the Boston Red Sox to a world‘s champion. And somehow, he‘s still younger than I am. Happy birthday, Tito.
Let‘s play Oddball.
We begin in Japan with the COUNTDOWN Cool-ass Robot of the Week. It‘s this guy, who looks exactly like this guy. Ohh. And sort of like Colin Powell. He‘s called Geminoid, even though he‘s a Pisces. He‘s been designed to look exactly like his inventor, Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro (ph) of Osaka University. Good news, everyone. Not only that, if he poke him in the face, he gets annoyed, just like the real professor. Keep it up, and he‘ll beat you to within an inch of your life.
Using dozens of sensors and other wingdings, the robot is able to show various facial expressions and even speak with the professor‘s voice. Ishiguro says after a few finishing touches, he‘ll bring the thing home, and then he‘s leaving that shrill wife of his once and for all.
To the Museum of Design, Art, and Architecture in Culver City, California, where some artists are taking recycling to the extreme. Well, not really, but they‘ve taken shredded paper and made trees out of it. That‘s pretty neat, right? Well, two thirds of a ton of paper, all from office shredders, went into building of the trees. They will be on display through May 19. If you cannot make it to Culver City, visit Washington, D.C., where Karl Rove has six of these things on his front lawn.
The return of Fact or Fiction. Bill O. takes issue with being quoted accurately. Of course he does.
If Rudy Giuliani was quoted accurately, this should be the end of his presidential campaign, but it will not be. Fear always sells, and now he has descended into that cesspool. Special comment tonight.
But first, COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of this day.
Number three, Jerry D. Mahaffey of Hackettstown, New Jersey. He was arrested in the middle of the night for being naked in a house. Well, not his house, somebody else‘s, into which he had broken in, while naked, in hopes of using the computer to surf the Internet for porn. Mr. Mahaffey is an Army recruiter. I have to say, he seems to be a very creative, if not necessarily a very successful one.
Number two, Mayor Gregg Nickels of Seattle, who had to cancel a speech after the neighborhood he was in was flooded by a crew fixing the street nearby. A pothole brigade put a three-foot hole into a water main. Mayor Nickles was to speak about, you guessed it, the major improvements to Seattle‘s street surfaces.
And, number one, Eric Cunningham of Orlando, Florida, arrested there, accused of three robberies, the latest at a gas station, where Mr. Cunningham allegedly wore a mask and brandished an AK-47, and then fled, leaving behind the receipt from his purchase of the AK-47, complete with his name and street address.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: COUNTDOWN presents “Factor Fiction,” wherein we catch that bastard Bill O‘Reilly lying again.
Oh, wait, Bill, hold still. Allow me to soil myself on you.
Victory is mine!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: In one of the most memorable of the “Monty Python” sketches, an unusually intense Graham Chapman, replete with a pointer, an easel, and a vivid panel with three brightly colored bars, fairly screams at the audience: In this graph, this column represents 23 percent of the population. This column represents 28 percent of the population. And this column represents 43 percent of the population, to which Michael Palin replies, telling figures, indeed.
Our third story in the COUNTDOWN: Bill-O meets Python.
Bill O‘Reilly has issued another fatwa, this time against the journalism watchdog Web site Media Matters, proving, without the slightest fear of contradiction, that he has a flowchart and the access to the color red.
In this graph, this arrow represents 23 percent of the population. This arrow represents 28 percent of the population. And this arrow represents 43 percent of the population.
And they all prove somehow that liberal billionaire investor George Soros digs into his pockets to fund groups that eventually make the mainstream media do stories that make O‘Reilly look dumb.
In the FOX News noise investigation, Media Matters is some sort of major cog in an evil liberal spiderweb, one of his guests describing it as part of an incredibly well-oiled machine.
You want to see oily? Thanks to Media Matters, you can watch Mr. Orally confronted last Friday the 13th by his own words during an interview on Irish television.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Some of the things that you have said either on your radio show or on your TV show: “Advice to the poor, it‘s hard to do it, because you have got to look people in the eye and tell them they‘re irresponsible and lazy. And who is going to do that?”
O‘REILLY: Well, where did you get that, because I don‘t remember saying that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That‘s radio “Factor With Bill O‘Reilly” 11/06/2004.
O‘REILLY: By whom? Who put that out?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got it off the Web site.
O‘REILLY: OK. The Web site you got it off is called Media Matters, which is an assassination Web site.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you do have views on, say, the Iraqi people.
Did you say that thing about the Iraqi people, that they‘re prehistoric?
O‘REILLY: No, I don‘t remember saying that at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: I do.
Being the mainstream media tools that we are, we scrolled around Media Matters and found the full quote about the poor from his radio show dated June 11, 2004. It is in full: “It‘s hard to do it, because you got to look people in the eye and tell them that they‘re irresponsible and lazy. And who‘s going to want to do that? Because that‘s what poverty is, ladies and gentlemen. In this country, you can succeed if you get educated and work hard, period. Period.”
Ah, but what about his calling the Iraqis prehistoric? Remember, Alberto Gonzales O‘Reilly did not recall saying that. That‘s OK. Media Matters has a tape.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
O‘REILLY: When 2 percent of the population feels that you‘re doing them a favor, just forget it. You‘re not going to win. You‘re not going to win.
And I don‘t have any respect, by and large, for the Iraqi people at all. I have no respect for them. I think the they‘re a prehistoric group that is—yes, there‘s excuses.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Did you say excuses? Yes, we have one of those, too.
When word got out of his embarrassing Irish TV interview, here‘s what the big giant head had to say about it in his April 19 column: “When I asked the man why he was quoting from an obviously biased source, he blinked nervously and put down the cards.”
Once again, here is the interview. Do you see any nervous blinking on the part of the host? Maybe some Bill-O projecting. It doesn‘t look like any blinking.
Nothing Media Matters has ever posted about Bill O‘Reilly has failed to withstand independent vetting, not a missing comma, not a missing context.
In an age which we rightly fear of being inaccurately quoted or misinterpreted, it would seem like that Bill-O‘s real anger and real fear rests in the dread that someone is quoting him correctly, someone besides Andrea Mackris.
More FOX spin on Rosie O‘Donnell—the noise machine helping to spread the rumor that O‘Donnell was dumped from “The View.” Michael Musto analyzes the dispute as only he can.
And later: a special comment, Rudy Giuliani‘s messiah complex, his claim that—quote—“We will have more casualties” in a terrorist attack if a Democrat wins the White House than if he does.
You‘re watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: “The View” loses Rosie O‘Donnell. What did Rudy Giuliani lose last night in New Hampshire when he warned, electing a Democratic president would mean more casualties in a terrorist attack? A special comment ahead.
And Glenn Beck and comedian Rush Limbaugh battle it out with a congressman who defends the torture of innocent men for “Worst Person” honors tonight. That‘s next.
This is COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Despite what you might have heard from the FOX noise channel or various delusional blowhards who have a big chip on their shoulder when it comes to Rosie O‘Donnell, she was not fired from “The View.”
Our number-two story on the COUNTDOWN: She will not however, be returning as a full-time co-host of that program next season. On “The View” this morning, Ms. O‘Donnell said she had been interested in co-hosting the show for one more year, but that ABC Daytime, with which she was negotiating, wanted her to sign on for three.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE VIEW”)
ROSIE O‘DONNELL, CO-HOST: I have decided that we couldn‘t come to terms with my deal with ABC. So, next year, I‘m not going to be on “The View.”
However, I will be coming back and guest-hosting. I will be doing one-hour specials on autism and depression.
BARBARA WALTERS, CO-HOST: We have had, to say the least, an interesting year.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
WALTERS: This is not my doing or my choice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: But that did not stop Donald Trump, apparently with nothing better to do from going on the FOX noise channel to say that O‘Donnell had been fired.
O‘Donnell will leave the show in June when her current contract expires, unless she somehow manages the contractual equivalent of a comb-over.
Joining me now, “Village Voice” columnist Michael Musto.
Good evening, Michael.
MICHAEL MUSTO, COLUMNIST, “THE VILLAGE VOICE”: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Rosie O‘Donnell gave “The View” a shot in the arm this season, certainly in terms of ratings boosts. Is it possible to dispense with these rumors that she was actually fired?
MUSTO: I don‘t know.
Barbara Walters looked a little bit like she was cracking a smile through her tight face there when Rosie announced that.
MUSTO: But, no, no, no, Rosie totally Reba McEntired off the show. Remember when Reba took over “Annie Get Your Gun” on Broadway, revitalized it?
Without her, “The View” is like Joanie without Chachi. It‘s like “Cheers” without Shelley Long. It‘s just useless. All that‘s left is that right-wing girl, who is so dumb she thinks Iraq is a thing on her chest. And Barbara is so into her 80-year-old hottie boyfriend, she can‘t even think about the show.
Rosie was not fired.
OLBERMANN: Donald Trump has tried to turn this news into the latest chapter with his feud with her. She did take more swipes at him recently at the luncheon in New York for the New York Women in Communications, used some very colorful language. Trump says that was the reason she was terminated from “The View.”
You want a reality-check that story for us?
MUSTO: Look, Donald thinks any time somebody leaves a job, somebody said, you‘re fired, and he was behind it.
MUSTO: That is not the case in this case.
If anything, I hear that she probably got a raise. In fact, ABC offered her three years, instead of one year, probably because she has been trashing him.
And what the Donald doesn‘t realize is, she‘s going to keep trashing him. She is going to sneak in little attacks on him in her specials on autism and depression.
OLBERMANN: O‘Donnell and Trump have had a relatively brief, but a rich history, certainly. She called him a snake oil salesman, a comb-over bunny. He called her fat, a loser, a slob.
Don‘t you think, secretly, Trump will miss having Rosie O‘Donnell on daily television?
MUSTO: Oh, yes. He better get somebody, because this feud helped both of their careers.
In fact, it was so good for both of them, I was convinced it was scripted. But then he regained his credibility when he started attacking Vincent McMahon and hooked up with the WWE.
His next victim, I think, should probably be Alec Baldwin‘s daughter.
Line up. Leave her an abusive message. What the hell.
OLBERMANN: Anyway, that‘s...
MUSTO: That‘s a disgrace.
OLBERMANN: Many of the right-wing water-carriers took aim at Rosie O‘Donnell recently, from Bill Orally to Tom DeLay. They will have to turn their attention to somebody else, some other sinister threat to democracy. You have got nominations there, like Bugs Bunny or Sanjaya or somebody?
MUSTO: Yes, basically anybody gay.
MUSTO: You know, look, you have seen Bugs in a dress. You don‘t need to see Sanjaya. Just trust me. And Rosie is the biggest out lesbian since Eleanor Roosevelt.
And now the right-wingers, oh, the world is safe for them, because there is an immoral war raging and human rights are being denied, but there is one less lesbian comic giving sassy advice on TV. They can all sleep better thanks to some OxyContin from Mexico.
OLBERMANN: Now, this departure, given how much the—much news and how ugly the previous one did, with Star Jones, this actually is sort of—would you say this is disappointing, that there weren‘t more fireworks involved in this one?
MUSTO: Yes, because this is on the up and up. With Star Jones, it was like she was caught lying about her stomach stapling. Her wedding vows were like, do you take these Payless shoes?
MUSTO: With Rosie, she is really being outed—leaving, not being outed. She was outed a long time ago by me.
MUSTO: But Star jumped the gun. That was the problem. She announced on the show, way before she was supposed to, that she was leaving.
And Barbara Walters was like: That‘s wonderful. Whoever hires you will be privileged. Now, get out, your freaking bitch.
Rosie, you know, she told Barbara that she was going to do this. It‘s all—it‘s all on the level, until we find out what really happened.
OLBERMANN: This just in: Rosie O‘Donnell outed.
MUSTO: Yes, in 1972.
OLBERMANN: Who—who should Barbara Walters get to replace Rosie?
Do you have some favorites, some nominees?
MUSTO: They haven‘t even replaced Star, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Yes, that‘s true.
MUSTO: But whatever. You need somebody butch with a kind of foamy mouth and bad hair, how about the Donald?
MUSTO: Or bring back Meredith to replace Star. Bring back Star to replace Rosie. Or just forget the whole thing. This whole thing is like Peaches without Herb.
OLBERMANN: And bring back Katie Couric to replace Meredith?
MUSTO: She‘s looking for a job, I hear.
OLBERMANN: Yes. And there is at least one company I know that would be very much in favor of that and one that probably wouldn‘t.
Michael Musto of “The Village Voice,” it‘s been too long. Good to talk to you again, sir.
MUSTO: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Finally tonight: a special comment. A survivor of 9/11 threatens voters with a new 9/11 if they dare to vote for anybody but him.
That basically is the headline, sadly. And that is next.
But, first, kind for COUNTDOWN‘s latest list of nominees for “Worst Person in the World.”
The bronze to Glenn Beck, now turning to the old baby-killing argument to rationalize staying in Iraq—quoting—“It is immoral for us to be doing what we‘re doing right now, to abandon these people and let them get slaughtered, after we started it. If we did that now, this would be America‘s most shameful act of immorality since slavery. The blood of the Iraqi children will be on all of our hands.”
Hate to break it to you, Glenny, but the blood of the Iraqi children has been on all of our hands since March 20, 2003. Funny that you have only begun to worry about it and civilians being slaughtered now.
Runner-up: comedian Rush Limbaugh playing a racist song by a white guy doing a crappy imitation of Al Sharpton, a song called “Barack the Magic Negro,” wording used in an “L.A. Times” op-ed piece.
Comedian Rush Limbaugh correctly putting out that he did not create that phrase; it originated elsewhere, which I seem to recall was Don Imus‘ defense.
But our winner, California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, defending, at a House hearing, U.S. rendition of suspected terrorists, you know, when we kidnap them and take them to another country and torture them. Rohrabacher said that imprisoning and torturing one innocent person was a fair price to pay for locking up 50 terrorists who would—quote—“go out and plant a bomb and kill 20,000 people.”
After groans went up from members of the audience at the hearing, Congressman Rohrabacher said: “Well, I hope it‘s your families. I hope it‘s your families that suffer the consequences.”
Imprisoning and torturing one innocent person is worth it if you could lock up 50 terrorists.
Well, you‘re innocent, Congressman. You first.
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of California, today‘s “Worst Person in the World.”
OLBERMANN: Finally tonight, a special comment about Rudolph Giuliani‘s remarks at a Lincoln Day dinner in New Hampshire last night.
Since some indeterminable hour between the final dousing of the pyre at the World Trade Center and the breaking of what Senator Obama has aptly termed 911 fever, it has been profoundly and disturbingly evident that we are at the center of one of history‘s great ironies.
Only in this America of the early 21st century could it be true that the man who was president during the worst attack on our nation and the man who was the mayor of the city in which that attack principally unfolded could not only be absolved of any and all blame for the unreadiness of their own governments, but, moreover, would thereafter be branded heroes of those attacks.
And now that mayor, whose most profound municipal act in the wake of that nightmare was to suggest the postponement of the election to choose his own successor, has gone even a step beyond these M.C. Escher constructions of history.
“If any Republican is elected president—and I think, obviously, I would be the best at this—we will remain on offense, and we will anticipate what the terrorists will do, and try to stop them before they do it,” insisting that the election of any Democrat would mean the country was back on defense.
Mr. Giuliani continued last night: “But the question is, how long will it take and how many casualties will we have? If we are on defense, we will have more losses, and it will go on longer.”
He said this was no sense of irony, no sense of any personal shortcomings, no sense whatsoever.
And, if you somehow missed what he was really saying, somehow did not hear the none-too-subtle subtext of, vote Democratic and die, Mr. Giuliani then stripped away any barrier of courtesy, telling Roger Simon of Politico.com—quote—“America will be safer with a Republican president.”
At least that Republican president under which we have not been safer has, even at his worst, maintained some microscopic distance between himself and a campaign platform that blithely threatened the American people with casualties if they, next year, elect a Democratic president, or, inferring from Mr. Giuliani‘s flights of grandeur in New Hampshire last night, even if they elect a different Republican.”
How dare you, sir?
“How many casualties will we have?”—this is the language of bin Laden.
Yours, Mr. Giuliani, is the same chilling nonchalance of the madman, of the proselytizer who has moved even from some crude framework of politics and society into a virtual Roman Colosseum of carnage, and a conceit over your own ability and worthiness to decide who therein lives and who dies.
Rather than a reasoned discussion, rather than a political campaign advocating your own causes and extolling your own qualifications, you have bypassed all the intermediate steps, and moved directly to trying to terrorize the electorate into viewing a vote for a Democrat, not as a reasonable alternative and an inalienable right, but as an act of suicide.
This is not the mere politicizing of the war in Iraq, nor the vague mumbled epithets about Democratic softness from a delusional vice president. This is casualties on a partisan basis of the naked assertion that Mr. Giuliani‘s party knows all and will save those who have voted for it, and to hell with everybody else, and that he, with no foreign policy experience whatsoever, is somehow the messiah of the moment.
Even to grant that that formula, whether posed by Republican or Democrat, is somehow not the most base, the most indefensible, the most un-American electioneering in our history, even if it is somehow acceptable to assign “casualties” to one party and “safety” to the other, even if we have become so profane in our thinking that it is part of our political vocabulary to view counterterror as one party‘s property and the other‘s liability, on what imaginary track record does Mr. Giuliani base his boast?
Which party held the presidency on September 11, 2001, Mr. Giuliani?
Which party held the mayoralty of New York on that date, Mr. Giuliani? Which party assured New Yorkers that the air was safe and the remains of the dead recovered and not being used to fill potholes, Mr. Giuliani?
Which party wanted what the terrorists wanted, the postponement of our elections? And to whose personal disadvantage would that have redounded, Mr. Giuliani? Which the mayor of New York was elected eight months after the first attack on the World Trade Center, yet did not emphasize counterterror in that same city for the next eight years, Mr. Giuliani?
Which party had proposed to turn over the Department of Homeland Security to Bernard Kerik, Mr. Giuliani? Who wanted to ignore and hide Kerik‘s organized crime allegations, Mr. Giuliani?
Who personally argued to the White House that Kerik need not be vetted, Mr. Giuliani? Which party rode roughshod over Americans‘ rights while braying that it was actually protecting them, Mr. Giuliani? Which party took this country into the most utterly backwards, utterly counterproductive, utterly ruinous war in our history, Mr. Giuliani?
Which party has been in office as more Americans were killed in the pointless fields of Iraq than were killed in the consuming nightmare of 911, Mr. Giuliani?
Drop this argument, sir. You will lose it.
“The Democrats do not understand the full nature and scope of the terrorist war against us,” Mr. Giuliani continued to the Rockingham County Lincoln Day dinner last night. “Never, ever again will this country be on defense, waiting for terrorists to attack us, if I have anything to say about it. And make no mistake,” he concluded, “the Democrats want to put us back on defense.”
There is no room for this. This is terrorism itself, dressed up as counterterrorism. It is not warning, but bullying, substituted for the political discourse now absolutely essential to this country‘s survival and the freedom of its people.
No Democrat has said words like these. None has ever campaigned on the Republicans‘ flat-footedness of September 11, 2001. None has the requisite irresponsible, all-consuming ambition. None is willing to say, “I accuse,” rather than recognize that, to some degree, all of us share responsibility for our collective stupor.
And if it is somehow insufficient that it is morally, spiritually, and politically wrong to screech as Mr. Giuliani has screeched, there is also this: that gaping hole in Mr. Giuliani‘s argument of “Republicans equal life, Democrats equal death.” Not only have the Republicans not lived up to their babbling on this subject, but, last fall, the electorate called them on it, as doubtless they would call you on it, Mr. Giuliani.
Repeat: Go beyond Mr. Bush‘s rhetorical calamities of 2006. Call attention to the casualties on your watch and your long waking slumber in the years between the two attacks on the World Trade Center. Become the candidate who runs on the “Vote for me or die” platform. Do a Joe McCarthy. Do a Lyndon Johnson. Do a Robespierre.
Only, if you choose so to do, do not come back surprised, nor remorseful, if the voters remind you that terror is not just a matter of casualties. It is just as certainly a matter of the promulgation of fear.
Claim a difference between the parties on the voters‘ chances of survival and you do Osama bin Laden‘s work for him. And we, Democrats and Republicans alike and every variation in between, we, Americans, are sick to death of you and other the terror-mongers trying to frighten us into submission, into the surrender of our rights and our reason, into this betrayal of that for which this country has always stood.
Franklin Roosevelt‘s words ring true again tonight. And, clarified and amplified, they are just as current now as they were when first he spoke them 74 years ago: We have nothing to fear but fear itself, and those who would exploit our fear for power and for their own personal, selfish, cynical gain.
Good night, and good luck.
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