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'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Sept. 28

Read the transcript to the Friday show

Guests: General Batiste, Elizabeth Edwards, President William Jefferson Clinton, John Ridley

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

Petraeus, sycophant, savior.  A magazine slams him on the cover.  Broke his faith with the soldiers he commands and the Army.  Fails his country.  Some cousin to  Nope, the “American Conservative.” 

Comedian Rush Limbaugh tries to back out of his quote, servicemen protesting the war are “phony soldiers.” 


RUSH LIMBAUGH, TALK SHOW HOST:  I never said what you think I said. 


OLBERMANN:  Not only did he, now he said something similar about the Congressman and Vietnam vet Jack Murtha.  The condemnation of MoveOn over Petraeus.  Has Congress condemned Limbaugh? 

Countdown to 2008.  Elizabeth Edwards joins us on the campaign.

And the new campaign ad that seems to reflect more than just a bid for the nomination. 


ELIZABETH EDWARDS, WIFE OF JOHN EDWARDS:  Sometimes we put things off, don‘t we?  We think we have all the time in the world.  Well, we don‘t. 


OLBERMANN:  The frontrunner in New York to help close out the third Clinton Global Initiative, more than 100 million lives positively impacted in three days. 


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  These are the kind of ideas that are circulating and we can increase the visibility of a good idea.  Then people, even with the very modest amount of money, can have a huge impact. 


OLBERMANN:  More of my interview with our 42nd president. 

And even more from O‘Reilly-gate.  He secretly records his interview by a “Washington Post” reporter, then plays the tape on the air and takes it all out of context.  Made threats to go to the home of every journalist who reported his racist remarks.  Now it‘s fantasies of actual violence. 


BILL O‘REILLY, HOST, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”:  If I could strangle these people and not go to hell and get executed, I would.  But I can‘t. 


OLBERMANN:  And other hints of racism from the same Bill O. broadcast, which you have not heard. 

All that and more now on “Countdown.” 


O‘REILLY:  I‘m coming to your house.           


OLBERMANN (on camera):  Good evening from New York.  To paraphrase the movie “Body Heat” sometimes the hypocrisy comes down so heavy you feel you should wear a hat.  Calling David Petraeus a sycophant in its cover story on him.

A conservative Jack-in-the-box, comedian Rush Limbaugh compounding his phony soldiers comment, first, by denying he said what he‘d said, then by adding Congressman Jack Murtha to the list of phony soldiers. 

Our fifth story on the “Countdown,” for some reason there does not seem to be a George Bush-led race to blast Limbaugh or the “American Conservative” the way they wrung hands and necks over the Petraeus advertisement. 

The report in the magazine, the “American Conservative” easily falling under the guidelines of what Senate Resolution 315 last week so strongly condemned.  “Sycophant savior,” attacking the four-star general for failing to do what a great political general should, telling his masters what they need to hear instead of what they want to hear.  The last paragraph particularly condemning saying Petraeus, quote, “has wrecked faith with the soldiers he commands and the Army which he has devoted his life.  He has failed his country.” 

Despite the report the “American Conservative” unlikely to fall under what Rush Limbaugh was qualifying as the drive-by media today in a defense/distortion of his phony soldiers comment. 

Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the first to wonder if Republicans, who showed such outrage to, will hold Limbaugh to the same standards.  Others like Senator John Kerry calling for Limbaugh to apologize and publicly.  Congressman Mark Udall saying he will introduce a Rush resolution on Monday.  Its passage a possibly dicey proposition.

As for the comment that stirred up the controversy, you will recall that yesterday Limbaugh referred to phony soldiers, plural.  Today that was down to just one genuine phony soldier, singular.  The entire basis of his claim that he was, stay with me now, taken out of context. 


LIMBAUGH:  I never said what you think I said, Congressman Pallone, Congresswoman Schakowsky, Senator Kerry, or any of the rest of you in the drive-by media.  I was talking about a genuine phony soldier.


OLBERMANN:  Limbaugh now trying to claim his tirade referred to just one soldier, Jessie McBeth, who falsely claimed to be an Army ranger and veteran of the Iraq war.  Might have a better chance of passing the smell test. 

The original phony soldiers comment, still plural, at that point, not coming nearly two minutes before he ever mentioned him on yesterday‘s radio show. 

Limbaugh making things worse for himself today by adding Congressman John Murtha, a decorated Vietnam vet, to his list of phony soldiers.  Now back to being plural. 


LIMBAUGH:  How about Jack Murtha?  Blanketly accepting the notion that Marines at Haditha engaged in wanton murder of innocent children and civilians? 


OLBERMANN:  Time now to turn to Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent of “Newsweek” magazine. 

Howard, good evening.


OLBERMANN:  Let me borrow the phrasing of Resolution 315.  In the wake of Rush Limbaugh‘s quote, it‘s the effort to attack the honor and integrity of members of the United States forces and in light of, quote, “the unwarranted attack of General Petraeus by” in this case “American Conservative” magazine.  Do you think they will vote to condemn orders to repudiate the publication or the large gentleman? 

FINEMAN:  I don‘t know but the Democrats are trying to gen up support on this.  On the House side you mentioned I was talking to some people in the Senate and they are now—the Senate leadership is circulating a letter among both Democrats and Republicans that will be sent to the company that employs Rush Limbaugh calling Limbaugh‘s comments unconscionable and calling him—for him to be reprimanded by his bosses.  I think that‘s unlikely to happen.  As far as the resolution is concerned, I think the Democrats perhaps wisely, as much as they might find this outrageous, realize that the real issue here is the war.  And on that issue, they are very much on the right side, at least as far as the American people seem to be showing in the polls. 

OLBERMANN:  In a straight up comparison between the “American Conservative” cover story and the ad, is the difference between how the two are perceived is the use of the word betray us which is in the ad but not the magazine article?  Is it the verb or skill and tenaciousness from the GOP machine? 

FINEMAN:  It‘s not just skill and tenaciousness from the GOP machine.  It‘s desperation.  Politically they‘re very much on the defensive about the war.  Their president‘s approval ratings are at the bottom of the barrel because of that.  The war is unpopular.  They were looking for some way to deflect attention and they found an opening in the ad.  So the energy that the Republicans put into it was a matter of desperation. 

The Democrats really have the upper hand on the issue here.  If they want to try to score points on Limbaugh, I think they can.  If they want to try to score points on the “American Conservative” my point would be, who really cares?  They can do that, too. 

OLBERMANN:  If they do want to score those points, is the fact that the president came out in that last sort can have fed to him question at his news conference a week and a half ago, is that now in retrospect a bad idea for the president to have said anything about this subject? 

FINEMAN:  Well, I think so because I think it diminished whatever standing he had with fair-minded people as commander in chief.  He seemed to be one of his own spin doctoring minions getting down into it in what is really a proxy war over the real war which is the real war in Iraq. 

Let me mention a couple other things here, Keith.  Military families mean a lot in the upcoming elected.  There are a lot of them and they‘re quite divided on the war in Iraq and they‘re strategically located in states such as Kentucky and Virginia and Ohio.  And so the Democrats have to be careful but they do have to and want to reach out to those people.  This may help them do it. 

OLBERMANN:  Have they got anything cooking if they‘re not going after anything symbolically with Limbaugh and this magazine or they‘re not prepared or do not have the votes to have a clean bill in the Senate?  What are they cooking on now? 

FINEMAN:  Well, what they‘re cooking on is somehow trying to continue to underscore their opposition to the war and their desire to bring the troops home as quickly and responsibly as possible.  They can play around with this.  It may make them feel good but in the end that‘s not really where the issue is and their votes are not among the hard core Limbaugh listeners or American Conservative subscribers.  

OLBERMANN:  Howard Fineman, of MSNBC and “Newsweek.”  Thanks for your time.

FINEMAN:  Thanks, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  By Mr. Limbaugh‘s definition, even the commander of the First Infantry Division in Iraq, Major General John Batiste, might quality now as a phony soldier, given that he had the courage to speak out and end his 31-year military career in order to speak out on behalf of soldiers and those families that Howard just mentioned. 

General Batiste, now an adviser to, kind enough to join us now.

Thank you for your time, sir. 


OLBERMANN:  How do you respond to the Limbaugh comment, and we‘re going with the original one from yesterday that service members who advocate are, quote, “phony soldiers”? 

BATISTE:  If a two-time combat veteran, first Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom, one of the two U.S. brigade commanders in Bosnia, 12 months that began in December of 1995, 33-month commander of the 1st Infantry Division with duty in Kosovo, Turkey, and 13 months combat operations in Iraq, West Point graduate, son of a career infantry soldier and son-in-law of a career special forces soldier, if that‘s the definition of a phony, I don‘t get it. 

You know, the fact is that more than 70 percent of this nation does not agree with the current strategy in Iraq and I‘m here to tell you that our Army and Marine Corps are a reflection of the society from which they came and the same percentages exist there. 

OLBERMANN:  General, if Mr. Limbaugh was trying to be genuine when he claimed he had been referring to the one actual phony soldier guy, pretending to be a soldier, did he not sort of dismiss any validity to the argument when he added more actual soldiers including Congressman Murtha, the decorated Vietnam vet, to his list? 

BATISTE:  Absolutely.  That‘s exactly what he did and Congressman John Murtha joins a whole range of great elected officials like Senator Chuck Hagel from Nebraska.  And Congressman Walter Jones from North Carolina who understand that this nation right now does not have a focused regional or global strategy to defeat worldwide Islamic extremism and they understand that this nation is not mobilized in any dimension to accomplish what we have to do. 

OLBERMANN:  I‘m a little confused about military protocol here and perhaps you of all people, who has been on the show, could clarify this.  If serving or retired personnel question any aspect of the war, they are branded as playing politics and really probably get less or more attention than they deserve being called phony soldiers.  But if the president sends a serving four-star general up to the House, up to Capitol Hill as his political spokesman, really being knee deep in the political process, that‘s okay?  That‘s his duty?  Am I missing something here, sir? 

BATISTE:  You know, Keith, I have enormous respect for Dave Petraeus and he‘s in a position.  Listen, this administration is using David Petraeus.  They well understand that David Petraeus is focused on the military component of strategy in Iraq. 

What they‘re missing is that there is no regional or global strategy to defeat worldwide Islamic extremism.  And by the way, al Qaeda exists in about 60 countries in the world, not just Iraq.  It‘s disingenuous.  It‘s putting David Petraeus in a horrible situation. 

OLBERMANN:  And the results have been what we‘ve seen.  It‘s solved nothing.  The Petraeus part of this, not the surge—we‘re separating those two subjects out—but Petraeus‘ role as a politician all of a sudden has served no one well. 

General John Batiste, a veteran of both the Iraq wars.  Thanks.  Have a good weekend, sir. 

BATISTE:  Thank you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Our special guest tonight is Elizabeth Edwards, after a critical campaign decision by her husband and a request for donations to that campaign by her. 

And how would you feel if in three days you had philanthropic pledges that would improve the lives of 100 million people around the world?  Our other guest tonight—feel pretty good, thank you.               


OLBERMANN:  Campaigning for president of the United States is a crucible balance for anyone who dares to do it.  And when it is endless and treated with the media as the definitive measure of appeal, it can be brutal.  Questions have been raised about whether the campaign of former Senator John Edwards can adequately compete with that of Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama‘s because Edwards has decided to accept public campaign financing. 

The decision by the Edwards‘ camp comes days before the end of the third quarter fund-raising period.  It will force Senator Edwards to abide by a spending limit that is not required of candidates who do not opt for public financing.  But Edwards‘ camp says the decision was consistent with Edwards‘ repeated calls to eliminate the influence of lobbyists and presidential candidates. 

Meantime, an advertisement on the Edwards‘ website asks donors to contribute to the campaign because, quote, “We don‘t have all the time in the world.”  That message is from Elizabeth Edward, who will join us in a moment. 


EDWARDS:  Sometimes we put things off, don‘t we?  We think we have all the time in the world.  Well, we don‘t.  You say you‘re going to volunteer at a food bank but maybe I‘ll do that next week or my elderly neighbor could use some help and I‘ll do that tomorrow.  Sometimes we can‘t wait.  The people who live in poverty in this country, they can‘t wait for us to step up.  The people who are struggling and voiceless, those without health care, they can‘t wait.  The men and women who are serving in Iraq, they can‘t wait.  The truth is we don‘t have all the time in the world. 


OLBERMANN:  Joining me now, as promised, Elizabeth Edwards. 

A great pleasure to have you on the newscast again. 

EDWARDS:  It‘s great to be with you.  I look better with makeup than without, don‘t I? 

OLBERMANN:  No comment. 

EDWARDS:  Not taking the bite, huh? 

OLBERMANN:  No, no, no, no.  We‘ll get to the public financing news in a moment. 

I must first ask you about that ad.  Your stated reference and the context is to the issues that your husband cares about, how those affected by them can‘t wait, but there have been all manner of inferences drawn that it means more than that, that it‘s about your health, your family‘s story.  Is there any truth to that? 

EDWARDS:  Everything I say gets put in this context.  When I talk

about John being a fight when the odds are against him, if I make a

reference to his successes in the courtroom somehow it‘s meant to be—

read to be some evolution to my illness. 

When I say that we don‘t have all the time in the world and talk about people who are serving in Iraq or talk about people without health care, somehow it‘s an elusion to my illness.  If I wanted to tug on people‘s heart strings, I have better material than that.  I have used that allusion to the fact that—I made that back in 2004.  It‘s often the way I talk about it. 

It honestly didn‘t occur to me that it might be read that way.  I guess I need to be more careful as I do things so that you all don‘t spend so much time, although you played the ad, maybe people will donate at the website.  So maybe that‘s great. 

OLBERMANN:  There you go.  There‘s a tradeoff in that.  I guess it is like what we used to do in sports when they announce add ballplayer was day-to-day and the observation struck me that we are all day-to-day so it‘s the same thing. 

EDWARDS:  We absolutely are.  But the campaign is not about me and my disease, it‘s about the people who I see and have seen for years who are struggling and nobody is speaking up for them. 

OLBERMANN:  Let me ask you about the campaign and this public campaign financing.  The irony about this issue is that this used to be the norm.  Everybody used to do it this way. 

The public campaign financing, that‘s what it was created for.  But now there is so much money in presidential campaigns that it is being interpreted as a sign of weakness for anyone to opt for public financing, assumption in there that the campaign cannot raise more than that amount through private donations.  Is there a risk therefore in your husband‘s decision to go this way especially as measured against the amounts raised by Senators Obama and Clinton? 

EDWARDS:  Well, Senators Obama and Clinton are raising an awful lot of money.  John set a campaign goal of raising $40 million.  Honestly he‘s raised more than—if you don‘t count this election he‘s raised more than any other candidate has before. 

In 2004 he agreed to abide by the campaign financing structure and that was considered a sign of strength that he did that.  People don‘t remember that when John Kerry announced he was stepping outside the campaign finance system, that was described as a sign of weakness. 

John thinks that ideologically it‘s consistent with where he stands, his position with respect to not taking lobbyists‘ money, making certain people understand you are speaking for the public, completely consistent with doing exactly this time what he did last time. 

Honestly I think that this will allow John to raise—to have more money in the bank than his budget accounts for.  So he‘s going to have plenty of money to run the campaign.  We‘re well within our goals there.  That it was consistent ideologically with where he stood and oddly enough people think this time it‘s a sign of weakness though they thought just the opposite decision was a sign of weakness. 

OLBERMANN:  Do you get the feeling in politics now that every once in a while somebody turns off the gravity switch and everything floats up in the air and comes back down in a different order than it was last week? 

EDWARDS:  Exactly.  Exactly.  But you deal with—you juggle whatever it is they‘ve tossed you and so we‘re juggling this one a little bit.  As I said, the extent to which it draws attention to the fact that it is the end of the quarter and that campaigns and other campaigns are trying to raise money before the quarterly report.  That‘s maybe not a bad idea. 

OLBERMANN:  About juggling things in the campaign, has anything—did we see anything change with the Senator in New Hampshire?  There seems to be repeated contrasts, and I saw this on the one I worked on in Chicago, he drew continual contrast between himself and Senator Clinton, maybe more so in the one in New Hampshire than in the past debates.  Did you get that sense?  Do you think that‘s—is that a campaign tactic?  Was it a set of answers to a specific set of questions or what are we seeing? 

EDWARDS:  Well, John answers the actual question that‘s asked him and so he‘s limited in that respect.  He doesn‘t just get to go willy-nilly attack somebody.  He tries to answer the question, a longer format, the longer answers that allow people to give just some campaign snippet, actually talk about the issues, favors somebody who has substance and allows John to talk about where he is and to make the distinction about where other candidates are.  John was able to make pretty important distinctions to where he stands in contrast to where Senator Clinton stands on those issues. 

OLBERMANN:  I take your point because in Chicago he told me, “Wait a minute, I‘m going to finish this,” about six times during his answer. 

EDWARDS:  He does that to me, too. 

OLBERMANN:  I know a little of the playing field then.  You‘ve been a strong presence, a vocal presence in the campaign.  I want to quote something regarding Senator Clinton‘s health care plan you said in an interview nine days ago.  “We would have expected her to be the first one out of the box not the last one out of the box with a health care plan and then for her to come up with one that looks like John‘s, it‘s almost as if she hasn‘t been willing to have the courage independently to be a leader on this.”  Are you more blunt on the campaign trail than your husband? 

EDWARDS:  I‘ve always been a pretty blunt person.  I‘m 58 and every day—every day of those 58 years I‘ve been pretty blunt and I was just making the point that we need a leader on this issue.  I realize that she was—had the battle in 1993.  But that battle was lost. 

She said in this debate she wanted to be the health care president and it took her until September to come out with a plan that she already knew had been stamped as a great plan by health economists throughout this country, by commentators on health issues, so she‘s walking some pretty safe ground when she came out with a plan that looked in all material respects like John‘s.  So, you know, wasn‘t the kind of leader that I expected her to be.  If you want to lead on health care, John has given you a plan back in February. 

OLBERMANN:  Normally, you ask this question of someone you admire and appreciate first and not last, but a news interviews is a different animal.  Belatedly and lastly, how are you? 

EDWARDS:  I feel great.  Your first story today, I‘m pretty aggravated with Rush Limbaugh.  I came from a military family and frankly for someone who doesn‘t serve, he doesn‘t get the right to say those things.  And so, besides being aggravated at him, I‘m feeling great and ready, honestly, to fight. 

OLBERMANN:  Amen.  Elizabeth Edwards, always a pleasure to talk with you. 

EDWARDS:  Great to be with you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Take care.                

Now to the Bill O‘Reilly mess.  Now expanding to virtually begging for Jesse Jackson‘s approval and to secretly taping and playing on the air without consent an interview with a “Washington Post” reporter, to say nothing of dreams he has of strangling people.  Making Tom Cruise look wishy-washy by contrast.  All he reportedly is looking to do is fire a film worker.


OLBERMANN:  On this date, the year is variously reported as 1916, 1915, and 1912, Frederick George Peter Engel Finch was born in England.  He was an actor.  His most enduring work became such only after his death as Peter Finch.  He played the crazed anchor in “Network,” giving his all.  He died while promoting the movie.  He was the only man nominated posthumously for an Academy Award and the only actor to win one.  Dedicated to the man and the character who were mad as hell. 

Let‘s play “Oddball.” 

And something that might have come out of the UBS Network news.  We begin in West Palm Beach, Florida, where an injured Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett‘s miraculous recovery from spinal injury turned into a sportscaster‘s worse nightmare and a viewer‘s.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Great news regarding Bills tight end Kevin Everett.  He moved his arms and legs today.  And doctors now believe—that‘s the wrong video, by the way. 

OLBERMANN:  Wrong video indeed.  Faithful Oddball viewers might recall where that particular wrong video came from.  It‘s from Columbus, Ohio, where perp Wendall Hollandsworth (ph), who was on trial for robbing a church and claiming to be injured, started kicking his lawyer in court and then was dressed up like that.  Mr. Everett was originally thought to have been permanently paralyzed after a head-on injury in the NFL season‘s first game, but has been able to move his extremities and there‘s hope for significant recovery. 

To the Internets, where fresh off our exclusive in-depth report on the sudden increase in mascot on mascot violence comes this shocking new evidence of the depth to which these once innocent creatures are willing to sink.  Witness this incident in Arrow Head Stadium in Kansas City.  A wayward fan charges the field.  The Chiefs‘ mascot tries to head him off.  Security gets there first and gets him down, when suddenly the wolf goes all pro wrestler on him, piling on top of the security guys then claiming credit for their tackling skills. 

Ready for a job as an NFL player. 


It is a virtual competition to see who can be the most philanthropic.  The third annual Clinton Global Initiative is over.  The number of the world‘s citizens positively impacted?  Over 100 million.  The Clinton behind the initiative joins me. 

And now we‘re down to his dreams of literally strangling all those who called him on his racism, Bill-O-gate day five.  These stories ahead, but first time for our goof balls and good guys.  Here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three best persons in the world. 

Number three, best answer, Graeme Frots of Baltimore.  He will give the Democratic response to the presidential speech of the week tomorrow.  Anticipating Mr. Bush‘s veto on a 35 billion dollar increase to SCHIP, the State Children‘s Health Insurance Program, the Dems opted not to have a politician give a response, but Mr. Frost, Master Frost, actually.  He‘s 12.  Three years ago, after he suffered severe brain trauma in a car accident, his life was saved by federally subsidized health care. 

Number two, best problem solvers, the city council of Ashland, Oregon.  After regular bickering, fighting, name calling and even cursing at council meetings, the legislators decided to do something about it.  They hired Dr.  Rick Kirshner, a naturo-pathic conflict resolution expert, a counselor.  Moreover, a counselor who says he has previously counselled a cable news network. 

And number one, best-worst employer, Hong Kong pop singing sensation Jacky Cheung, who has now been banned from hiring any more maids from the Philippines.  He and his wife are on a hiring black list kept by the Philippine consulate in Hong Kong because in the last three years they have hired and fired a few maids, 21 of them.  I wonder if the consulate knows about Naomi Campbell, her housekeepers and her cell phone throwing habits. 


OLBERMANN:  Other than the periodic appearance of Angelina Jolie or the guys who started Youtube or the president of Malawi, or the head of CrMD+SD_rMDNM_isco Systems, they are not a standout in a crowd kind of crowd.  Yet in our third story on the COUNTDOWN, the 400-plus attendees milling around a New York hotel for the three days of the annual Clinton Global Initiative made 245 new philanthropic pledges, which will positively impact the lives of just about 100 million people.  Not a bad way to spend over half a week.  The last part now of my interview with the man of the initiative. 


OLBERMANN:  This is the thing that is below the surface here I would imagine.  Obviously gifts, money, those keep the wheels moving, but the idea of an idea.  Last year the one the stuck in my mind were the micro-loans, the idea that you got people going—begging in many countries, give them something to sell and all of a sudden you have turned them into door-to-door salesmen.


Well, I can just—yes, give you an example of that, we can all be micro-bankers now thanks to a little Web site called, which made its introduction here last year.  They came here for the first time.  And one of the people who followed us on the Internet, of the 48,000 people, several hundred of them made their own commitment.  One of them said, I‘m going to loan 25 dollars to somebody in Africa to start a business or expand a business.

When I featured them in my book and then went on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and she brought them there, within three days, all of the people in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Afghanistan, every one of their business people was fully funded within three days by people giving between 25 and 200 dollars to them.

It was amazing.  So now they all will get reports—all of these people, and when their loans are paid back, they can keep them or turn around and lend them again.  These are the kind of ideas that are circulating the world.  And we can increase the visibility of the good ideas.  Then people, even with a very modest amount of money, can have a huge impact. 

Just think about it.  You and I could become bankers to people and we could monitor their progress and people in their neighborhoods will see and they will look for micro loans.  They have their own ideas, so we can give them a chance to raise their kids with dignity, send their kids to school, and in troubled places like Afghanistan, we marginally increase the chance that peace can prevail because people will see there is a positive alternative to conflict.

OLBERMANN:  So this is, you‘d say, after three years of this that the spirit of giving and of creative thought towards how to help other people is contagious?

CLINTON:  Oh, yes.  And mow people spend—we have a commitments office that works all year long.  So we help people develop these commitments in the run-up to the CTI.  Then at the end of the conference, people who came and haven‘t yet made commitments, we help them make their commitments then in the two months afterwards.  And then we spend six months helping everybody keep them. 

It‘s worked out so well.  Probably the most innovative big thing that‘s been announced is the 300 million dollars that the Canadian mining interest and Carlos Slim, the Mexican billionaire, have committed to go into mining communities and help them develop long term economic projects that benefit average people and are good for the environment.

As long as the world population goes up, mining will go up.  We‘ll need more minerals, materials of all kinds.  But very often miners don‘t do very well.  Their families don‘t do very well.  The land is (INAUDIBLE).  When the mine plays out, everybody leaves and goes on and then all these people are left without a way to make a living.

So you‘ve got this one man, Frank Giustra (ph), a Canadian friend of mine with a social conscience, who said this is wrong.  This is unethical.  We make a ton of money out of this.  We should give a big portion back.

And there -- 300 million dollars have already been committed.  Twenty four other companies lined up to give more.  Five countries in Latin America and Africa already selected.  There is some money in the bank in Peru for this, because the government requires.  And the Europeans have already paid into the bank lots of money to buy carbon offsets to meet their global warming targets, but they don‘t have good projects.

We‘re going to try to put all of this together and I wouldn‘t be surprised if this one guy‘s idea and his 100 million dollar commitment leads to billions of dollars in reinvestment in good, environmentally responsible jobs for people in some of the poorest countries in the world.

OLBERMANN:  It‘s nice to see the dominoes falling in good order, isn‘t it?

CLINTON:  Yes, and it‘s something you can do with relatively little bureaucracy.  As I said, it doesn‘t mean that we don‘t need an international climate change agreement.  We do.  It doesn‘t mean that the government is not important.  It is.  But these are things that can be done to fill the gap that is always there and always has been between even the healthiest economies and the most vigorous government in the wholes in this society and where we ought to be.

OLBERMANN:  President Clinton, as always, our great thanks for your graciousness and your time.

CLINTON:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  Thank you, sir.


OLBERMANN:  And the cartoons.  Tom Cruise reportedly breaks character when a crew member breaks wind.  The hoof hearted investigation.  And in Worst persons, this awful image, the poster for a right winger‘s Islamo-Fascist week, a young girl being buried alive in Iran.  Only one problem, this awful image isn‘t from Iran, and it isn‘t even real.  That‘s next.  This is COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  Keeping tabs on the world of celebrity and entertainment is number two tonight.  Beginning with something in the air about Tom Cruise.  Reports in Britain‘s “Daily Star” that a furious Tom Cruise wants to fire a member of his film crew because of flatulence.  Mr. Cruise has gone to great length to get German government permission to film his movie about the attempted assassination of Hitler in historic locations in German.  But after asking his cast and crew for a moment of silence in Berlin‘s infamous Bender Block, where the anti-Nazi patriots were executed, someone broke wind, either accidentally or as a prank.  At least this is what the story says, and Cruise was said to be incensed. 

Not incensed.  You what I mean.  Accidental or not, the tabloid says the offender could get fired.  Or worse, he might be given a complete set of the works of Elron Hubbard. 

On to the latest on Paris Hilton‘s post-pledge to grow up and do something better with her life.  After having served 23 days last June, she said she wanted to seek out worthy causes.  She‘s chosen a real whopper.  Not volunteering in soup kitchens, or visiting the elderly at nursing homes.  Instead she‘s off to war ravaged central African nation Rwanda.  Miss Hilton telling the E! website that she‘s going to go there in November to bring more attention to poverty and children‘s issues, saying I know there‘s a lot of good I can do just by getting involved, maybe with fun makeovers for the whole nation. 

Bill O‘Reilly strikes again.  More threats against journalists, more racist implications from the very same broadcast that included, where‘s my iced tea MF-ers comment.  That‘s next, but first time for an almost non-political addition of COUNTDOWN‘s worst person in the world. 

The bronze to an unnamed 33 year old worker in Virtsbirg (ph), in Germany.  He has confessed to stealing a few items from the factory, screws, one million screws.  He acknowledges that on a bad night he would only walk out of the plant with 2,000 of them hidden on his person and his belongings.  But on a good night he‘d walk away with 7,000.  They caught him when somebody drove by with a giant magnet.  I made the last part up. 

Our silver tonight to the traffic engineers of Seminole County, Florida, who worked today to correct a sign on the intersection of state road 26 and Reid Road in front of a local school.  That sign is now supposed to read school zone.  As of this morning it read, as you see, “Scohol Zone,” S-C-O-H-O-L, Scohol. 

But our winner, right wing lunatic fringer David Horowitz (ph), who has for his annual Islamo-Fascism awareness week chose as the poster a photo which he describes as, quote, a teenage girl being buried before being stoned to death for alleged sexual offenses.  The stoning took place in Iran. 

Nice try.  The image is actually from a 1994 made in Holland called De Stein (ph).  And the teenaged girl in the picture is an actress named Smadar Monsinos (ph).  And she has made at least three appearances on Dutch TV series since.  Evidently she‘s OK.  But keep plugging away, Mr.  Horowitz.  Let‘s keep spending billions of dollars to stoke up religious hatred and send our kids to their deaths on the battlefield so we can prevent Dutch actresses from having to do scenes in which their characters are buried alive in a movie. 

Right wing water carrier David, “I saw it in the movies, it must be real,” Horowitz, today‘s Worst Person in the World!


OLBERMANN:  If you think Bill O‘Reilly capable of anything, you are mistaken.  For days now he has argued, sometimes with black people, that his comments last week about black people were not offensive to black people.  In our number one story tonight, there is one thing O‘Reilly appears incapable of doing, despite his claim that he was taken out of context.  He seems incapable of playing any tape that would put into context his surprise at the civil demeanor of black restaurant patrons in New York City. 

Last night, he not only pretended to be confused when the Reverend Jesse Jackson challenged him—you‘ll see that in a moment—he also tried the rhetorical equivalent of putting words into somebody‘s mouth with a jack-hammer.  Trying and failing to get the reverend to condemn anyone, anyone except him, or to agree that his comment was not offensive. 


BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Unless you condemn what Media Matters and CNN did, you, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton as well—unless you came out and said—and I think you have said this in the public, I read it—

O‘Reilly didn‘t say anything racist at all.  This is diverting attention from the real issue.  You‘ve got to do that. 

JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST:  I think the issue about you and your view of civility in Harlem was not nearly as offensive as Imus statement—

O‘REILLY:  Not even close. 

JACKSON:  Or even Michael Richards.


OLBERMANN:  Not as offensive differs slightly from not offensive.  More offense to come.  First this promise, O‘Reilly‘s classic, I said the what about the who now? 


O‘REILLY:  We are happy to have for the first time in 11 years on the air the Reverend Jesse Jackson, everybody.  You know, I‘m glad to see you. 

JACKSON:  Bill, what were you trying to say? 

O‘REILLY:  In what?  I‘m saying the press is corrupt.  And they‘re exploiting black Americans.

JACKSON:  In Sylvia‘s, what were you trying to say? 

O‘REILLY:  The press is corrupt and they‘re exploiting black America. 

JACKSON:  No, what you said about how civil the people were.  What was your point? 

O‘REILLY:  Oh, up in Sylvia‘s? 


OLBERMANN:  Yes, up in Sylvia‘s, where you have now also said black people were fooled—no racism in that statement—by the media into taking offense at your remarks.  This despite the fact that in 2004, when a guest said the white baby boom population will fade out in 50 years, O‘Reilly responded on the air, quote, yes, we‘ll all be dead.  Thank god, right? 

Despite the fact that we went back and listened to the entire hour of last week‘s radio program several times and found no exculpatory context, but instead several other instances of racially charged language, stereotypes like black kids living in ghettos, white kids not, as if there were no black middle class or poor white kids, that black resentment is the only impediment to black success.  It goes on. 

But despite his claim that no one complained the hour, also includes two callers who took issue with his portrayal of black rap culture. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Bill, I have to tell you I think you‘re wrong about Twista.  You obviously haven‘t met the man. 

O‘REILLY:  I don‘t have to meet him.  I have his lyrics right in front of me, man. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And he does a lot for the people of Chicago.  He‘s a father to his family.  He‘s big on his family. 

O‘REILLY:  Ken, Ken, Ken, look, that‘s enough.  That‘s enough.  You‘re an idiot. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think you‘re spinning and bloviating does not do the black community justice.  You‘re just giving fodder to your viewers who have a negative view of black people anyway.  So you‘re pointing out a couple of Twistas and Ludacrises and the large general population is shameful.

O‘REILLY:  I think you‘re justifying bad behavior.  I think you have your head in the sand.


OLBERMANN:  As we discussed yesterday, the entire episode has observers concerned that Mr. O‘Reilly is becoming separated from reality.  Exhibit number 23-D, yesterday‘s violent impulses towards his critics. 


O‘REILLY:  You know, look, if I could strangle these people and not go to help and get executed, I would.  But I can‘t.


OLBERMANN:  And then there was this not quite accidental slip of professional ethics on last night‘s TV show.  First, he taped a phone call with “Washington Post” reporter Paul Farhi, who wanted to interview him, without telling Farhi.  Then he played it on the air despite the fact the journalist asked for privacy.  How do we know?  He played that part too. 


PAUL FARHI, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  I listen to the radio show.  Please don‘t repeat this because I‘m supposed to be neutral.  But you‘re getting so dragged into something you don‘t deserve.  It‘s ridiculous. 


OLBERMANN:  Yes.  Let‘s bring in NPR contributor John Ridley, author of the graphic novel, “The American Way.”  Great thanks for your time tonight, John. 

JOHN RIDLEY, AUTHOR, “THE AMERICAN WAY”:  Thank you, Keith.  Thanks for having me. 

OLBERMANN:  Mr. O‘Reilly‘s attempt to co-opt the Reverend Jackson as a critic of CNN was even more extraordinary than that thing we just played.  At one point the reverend listed a number of stories that deserved more coverage and O‘Reilly replied, in essence, you‘re right.  CNN is trying to smear me.  We also saw him in there pretend not to know what Reverend Jackson was referring to. 

He‘s usually a better actor than that.  Was that as desperate as it looked? 

RIDLEY:  Well, to me it was like when I come home and something‘s broken on the floor, and I have my four-year-old and my six-year-old.  What vase, daddy?  What vase?  It was pretty interesting.  Clearly that was going to be the topic of the evening and he seemed to have no idea that Reverend Jesse Jackson would somehow get into a race issue. 

OLBERMANN:  The monsters broke it, daddy.  The monsters from the left-wing media.  Clearly Reverend Jackson took over that show for a few moments last night, at least.  But he held fire and Al Sharpton the night before had reserved judgment.  Is there any idea—do you have any idea why they have held back, because this seems to be pretty open and shut, doesn‘t it? 

RIDLEY:  Well you would think.  I was kind of surprised by Al Sharpton.  It was like first and ten and he decided to punt.  I think that these guys—and I don‘t want to cast too many aspersions—but look, they‘re about-face time.  They like being on TV.  Who doesn‘t like to put their ideas and their philosophies out there.  And Bill O‘Reilly has a good game going. 

So once these guys start to cozy up—this is Reverend Jackson‘s first time on in 11 years and Bill O‘Reillly made a big deal of that.  Al Sharpton went out to dinner with this guy.  I think they‘re not going to step forward and be the aggressors they usually are.  They had no problem getting into the Duke case without knowing all the facts and there young people‘s lives were at stake. 

Here somebody said something.  It was pretty clear what he said.  They had no problem finding somewhere on the Internet where it was posted.  And they refused to comment about it. 

OLBERMANN:  The core of this, the impression that he leaves, O‘Reilly, that is, that if you don‘t hate black people, you‘re not racist.  Is the subtext of that, of what he‘s been saying throughout that if blacks just act, dress, sing the way he wants them to and dress up nice, then he won‘t hate or fear them?  Isn‘t that the most virulent form of racism that we have going nowadays? 

RIDLEY:  Well, it is, and I think it demonstrates this, because this is a guy—look, he‘s not hanging out in the hood with a bunch of rappers.  Who does he meet on a regular basis?  Guys like Juan Williams or Dick Parsons, Colin Powell, Condi Rice.  And yet despite the fact that he‘s only meeting black agenda setters, when he goes to a restaurant, he‘s stunned.  He‘s stunned that we can use knifes and forks, and we don‘t eat off the floor. 

If he goes to an Anita Baker concert, he‘s stunned we wear suits.  I mean, who does he think is going to an Anita Baker concert to begin with? 

OLBERMANN:  Last question, John, is this over?  Is this going to pass next week? 

RIDLEY:  I think it will pass with the next news cycle.  But he will say something again and this will come up again.  It‘s not going to go away because he‘s not going to go away.  And, quite frankly, all of our ignorance is not going to go away.  The difference between him and probably the rest of us is he‘s got a place where he can say it to several million people, and that‘s where it really makes a difference, when he propagates the stereotypical ideas that he has. 

OLBERMANN:  Is there—is there damage to him?  Or is there nothing to damage? 

RIDLEY:  I would say there‘s probably very little at this point to damage with Bill O‘Reilly and certainly not to his audience.  Look, the people who like him, like him.  The people who don‘t, don‘t.  This doesn‘t make a difference.  I think someone who is more respectable in general probably could have damaged him more. 

OLBERMANN:  John Ridley, commentator for NPR, author of the “American Way.”  Good luck with the book and great thanks for your time, sir. 

RIDLEY:  Thank you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  That is COUNTDOWN for this, the 1,612th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq.  From New York, I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.



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