Guests: Dana Milbank, Mark Benjamin, Chuck Nice
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Monster: The top unpaid foreign policy adviser to Barack Obama apologizes to Hillary Clinton after she described her as, quote, “a monster”, and then said, quote, “That is off the record.” Pulitzer Prize winner Samantha Power quits the Obama campaign. He says nothing about the smear language, quote, “I‘m not being drawn into a knife fight.”
The Clinton camp holds two news conference calls about it, refers to his foreign policy team as amateur hour. And she insists that there‘s no comparison between the “monster” remark and her camp comparing Obama to Lewinsky prosecutor Kenneth Starr, and that there‘s nothing wrong with comparing Obama to Lewinsky prosecutor Kenneth Starr.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One is an ad hominem attack and one is a historical reference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Thus: Leading Obama‘s campaign manager David Plouffe to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID PLOUFFE, OBAMA‘S CAMPAIGN MANAGER: There seems to be a different standard in the Clinton campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Monstrous timing on the eve of Wyoming, a dozen delegates at stake tomorrow. Obama makes it a headline. Clinton largely ignores it as Gene Robinson wrote this morning of the Clinton campaign, some states are more equal than others, like Texas which Obama lost, except, reports NPR, he will now certainly win in terms of delegates. Momentum, did you say?
Mo testy, did you say? Senator McCain unloads on a reporter who presses him for details with a conversation he claims he had with John Kerry about being Kerry‘s running mate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you describe the conversation?
JOHN MCCAIN, ® PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, of course not. I don‘t describe private conversations.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: OK. Can I ask you -
MCCAIN: Why should I?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: OK. Can I ask you about your, um - why you‘re so angry?
MCCAIN: Pardon me?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Ah, crossing the angry commander in chief threshold.
And Worst Persons: Oliver North blames this on Nancy Pelosi.
And: It‘s Bill O versus Hello Kitty?
All that and more: Now on COUNTDOWN.
(on camera): Good evening, this is Friday, March 7th, 242 days until the 2008 presidential election., the day before the Wyoming Democratic caucus.
“Battle not with monsters,” warned the dark philosopher Nietzsche, “lest you become one.” A quote that might be floating around the Obama campaign tonight amid its whiplash and its outrage after a week of verbal assault from the Clinton campaign, a collective comparison suggesting Senator Obama is not as good as John McCain, but just as bad as George Bush, Karl Rove and Kenneth Starr. Obama‘s senior foreign policy adviser might have topped them all.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: Samantha Power, Pulitzer Prize winner, and Harvard professor, told a newspaper in Scotland that Hillary Clinton was, quote, “A monster” who will, quote, “Do anything to win.” She immediately apologized to Senator Clinton and nearly as immediately resigned from the campaign.
Ms. Power tried to declare her comment off the record but once uttered, it was already too late. Friends saying that after a phone call with Senator Obama today, she knew she had to resign. Here statement, quote, “I made inexcusable remarks that are at marked variance from my oft-stated admiration for Senator Clinton and from the spirit, tenor, and purpose of the Obama campaign. And I extend my deepest apologies to Senator Clinton, Senator Obama, and the remarkable team I have worked with over these long 14 months.”
On the campaign trail in Mississippi, Senator Clinton is telling reporters at a train depot at Hattiesburg that, quote, “Senator Obama did the right thing.” But when it comes to head-to-head comparison between Ms. Powers‘ comment and the one Senator Clinton‘s spokesman made equating Senator Obama to Ken Starr, the former first lady is saying there is no comparison and there will be no apology.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: You know, I am, you know, very focused on this campaign.
And you‘ve made the comparison between those two -
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Your spokesman made that comparison.
CLINTON: Well, I think, one is an ad hominem attack and one is a historical reference.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Well, he said, “I don‘t see how anybody who would imitate Ken Starr can win the Democratic presidential nomination.
CLINTON: Well, I think that that is a true statement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The Clinton campaign also jumping on the substance of another power interview in which she had told the BBC last week that the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq during an Obama administration would depend somewhat on the circumstances he would find once taking office. That if there were some cataclysm in Iraq which actually demanded American troops be there, obviously, Obama would reassess. Team Clinton led by the senator herself jumping on that remark as proof that Senator Obama‘s promise to get out of Iraq is disingenuous.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I think Senator Obama did the right thing. But I think it‘s important to look at what she and his other advisers say behind closed doors, particularly, when they‘re talking to foreign governments and foreign press. It raises disturbing questions about what the real planning and policy positions with inside the Obama campaign happen to be. We saw this with NAFTA as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Yes, she brought up the story about an Obama adviser allegedly reassuring Canadians that he had no intent to alter NAFTA, no matter what he might say in public even after a second report quoted the chief of staff to Canada‘s prime minister is telling journalists that the Clinton campaign had assured a Canadian embassy, she was not being honest when she talked about altering NAFTA, even after a third “Canadian Press” report tonight in which the Canadian prime minister‘s office says its government was never briefed by Clinton‘s campaign, only by Obama‘s, although the memorandum detailing the Obama conversation has been released and it indicates it indicates the Obama briefing did not conflict with what Obama has said on the campaign trail about NAFTA.
Meantime, back at the ranch (ph), at a diner in Casper, Wyoming, pro (ph) reporter John McCormick of “The Chicago Tribune” asked Senator Obama about Samantha Power. Mr. McCormick saying that the senator said something like, “I‘m not being drawn into a knife fight.” Later, at a town hall meeting in that same city, Senator Obama saying that Senator Clinton doesn‘t have the standing to question his position on the Iraq war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I‘ve been against this 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and I will bring this war to an end in 2009. So, don‘t be confused.
OBAMA: Don‘t be confused when Senator Clinton is not even willing to acknowledge that she voted for war. She says, she voted for diplomacy despite the title that said: Authorization to use U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq. So, you know, I don‘t want to play politics on this issue because she doesn‘t have the standing to question my position on this issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: It‘s time now to bring in our own Richard Wolffe, senior White House correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine. Richard, good evening.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: We‘re going to go in-depth about Samantha Power in a moment with Dana Milbank who knows her very well. But, let me ask you about this. Obviously, it‘s your classic dumb remark, does the Obama camp get points for getting on top of it, getting ahead of it, especially considering that Senator Clinton followed up on the Howard Wolfson: Obama-Ken Starr comparison yesterday by today saying, she thought it was true.
WOLFFE: Well, it does make you wonder what the definition of true is. I mean, here you have a situation where is really looking like “Alice in Wonderland” politics. One campaign with no pretense to running a positive effort is policing the standards of the rival campaign which, by the way, never said that it was going to run a purely positive campaign. So, this is a topsy turvy situation.
Of course, it‘s never good to have a close aide, a senior policy aide, even someone who is outside the campaign structure, unlike Howard Wolfson, someone like Samantha Power has to step down. But on the other hand, they have learned clearly from the whole NAFTA squabble and moving quickly, decisively, and most importantly, expressing where Obama‘s principles are, those are positive things given how ugly that story could have become.
OLBERMANN: And amid all of this, he‘s Ken Starr, he‘s Karl Rove, he‘s George Bush, he‘s adviser called me a monster. Again, today, and this time, without any prompting, without even a question from the audience or a reporter, she brought up the prospect that they might yet share the ticket. Is there a disconnect here? Does she genuinely mean that? Or is she trying to get support by letting people think that it‘s a possibility when it may not be.
WOLFFE: I lost count of the number of times she‘s done this and her allies and surrogates have done this. I mean, clearly, this is an attempt to undercut him, to undercut Obama and suggest that this isn‘t really serious. I mean, you know, the guy is clearly going to be the number two on the ticket. Of course, you know, she could be pitching, I guess, for a joint ticket where she‘s the number two. Maybe someone on her campaign should ask her that.
OLBERMANN: NAFTA, the actual memo about the Canadian ‘emissary‘s meeting with the Obama adviser is out, it essentially backs up the Obama version of that story. There‘s another version that the Clinton camp has disseminated tonight from the “Canadian Press” that explains that there was no—despite what was reported yesterday, the Canadian prime minister‘s office anyway is saying, there was no briefing of any kind from Clinton. But the Obama briefing apparently coincides with what Obama has said publicly about NAFTA. Why is she then still running with the debunk version which is like four versions ago?
WOLFFE: Yes, I think my head is about to explode on this story. So, what we have here is the Canadian government taking part in a foreign election and then trying to say, none of it was true, and all of it was true. And of course, the Clintons, look, it‘s worked. So, why not run with it? I mean, the truth is somewhere out there.
OLBERMANN: Last point here, from “The Day‘s News,” an adviser to the McCain campaign made a direct request to the Clinton campaign today, I imagine somewhat, I‘m intrigue, at this event at the Center for Foreign Policy. The quote was, “Please keep running those 3:00 a.m. ads about who you want to answer the phone because we like those.” Does that say all that needs to be said about why perhaps the Clinton campaign, ultimately, should not be running those ads?
WOLFFE: Yes, if you‘re running this on a national security campaign, a 2004 style election, they‘re running uphill against John McCain here. And, by the way, the whole premise of the Clinton campaign is that they can run against the Republican attack machine. Here they are, actually, laying out the groundwork for the Republican attack machines. So, it‘s a curious thing that will come back to bite them.
OLBERMANN: Well, I‘d use the term monstrous, no, I don‘t want to go there at all. That‘s off the record. Richard Wolffe of “Newsweek” and MSNBC, have a good weekend. Thanks.
WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: As promised, Dana Milbank who went to college with Samantha Power joins us presently for a big picture context on that story. But the immediate context has to be found in Wyoming. In so much as tomorrow, Democratic caucuses convene there with only 59,000 registered Democrats but 12 delegates at stake. At much oomph (ph) of as the winner can ring out of it.
Senator Clinton held town hall meetings today in Cheyenne and Casper, hometown of Vice President Dick Cheney. Former President Bill Clinton was in the state yesterday and local Democrats were gleeful over the most attention their state has received in a presidential election since 1960 when Wyoming put John F. Kennedy over the top with 15 votes at the convention.
Senator Obama also today, held a town hall meeting in Casper and a rally in Laramie. And although no polling has been conducted in Wyoming, the senator in an interview made it clear how he prefers to be cast in the broader contest with Senator Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We are always the underdog from my perspective because, look, I‘m the up start. Senator Clinton is the established candidate. You know, she inherits a 20-year infrastructure from her husband. And so, we always have to work a little bit harder than she does to make sure that the voters know what we‘re about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: In a rather significant oh, by the way, that once both the Texas caucus and primary results are combined, Senator Obama will have won that state by at least three delegates. National Public Radio reporting that even though Senator Clinton bested Obama in the primary, 65 delegates earned to Obama‘s 61. The state Democratic Party is already estimating that Senator Obama will garner seven more delegates than Clinton in the caucus part of this prima-caucus, bringing the estimated cumulative total for the state to Obama 98, Clinton 95. There will be no final official count though for several weeks.
Let‘s turn to “Washington Post” columnist and associate editor, MSNBC political analyst Eugene Robinson. Good evening, Gene.
EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good to see you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So, at various times the Clinton campaign has said, the campaign is not about momentum, it‘s about delegates. Then it was not about delegates, but it was about momentum. It looks like Wyoming is about both. If the Obama wins there, did he get more delegates and blunt Clinton‘s momentum?
ROBINSON: Well, one imagines this will be the subject of some debate between the two campaigns. I think, clearly, if Obama wins, the Obama campaign will come out and say, well, you know, momentum over. OK? You had your momentum, you won three out of four last Tuesday, but it‘s over and we‘re in the next phase, where we have the momentum. And he‘ll go on to Mississippi.
The Clinton campaign, one assumes will say, yes, but it‘s just Wyoming, so that really doesn‘t count. It‘s one of the states that just kind of didn‘t happen. And Mississippi probably will be one of those, too. And really, the next state is Pennsylvania.
OLBERMANN: Well, I‘ve already quoted you, paraphrasing animal farm on this. Why don‘t you say it exactly and while explaining how Senator Obama would go and try to change this dynamic that, you know, casts certain states in the votes and the delegates from those states as somehow less than (ph)?
ROBINSON: Exactly. The Clinton campaign formulates that some states are more equal than others. It‘s true. And some states really don‘t count, either because they are caucus states, and Clinton campaign has not done well in caucus states, you know, except in Nevada with a very few exceptions. So, those don‘t count. Those aren‘t real contests as far as the Clintons are concerned.
And then, primaries like, you know, Virginia and Maryland. Those somehow don‘t really count either. There‘s something about those states, even though they‘re big states, you know, 13 original colonies. I mean, they‘ve been around for a while but they don‘t seem to count as much as some other states. It‘s as if they have kind of selective recollection of the—I think it‘s now 27 contests that Obama has won.
OLBERMANN: Selective geography at least. How do we assess Wyoming? We have no polling, what do we‘re going to do? I mean, there is the state Democratic chair told the “AP”, he thinks a lot of conservative Republicans would not vote in November for John McCain there.
But, you know, they may show up to vote against Senator Clinton. Do we have anything to work with on Wyoming? I mean, how did Ken Starr analogies play in Wyoming or monster name calling?
ROBINSON: The truth is: We don‘t have anything to work with. We have very little to worm with. One can assume that Wyoming Democrats, you know, both of them are conflicted about the Clinton versus Obama.
Look, you know, this is a heavily, heavy Republican state. And Democrats, as you noted, in the opening aren‘t used to this sort of attention. They aren‘t used to being important at all. And so, we‘ve never really focused on them in this way.
It will be fascinating to see exactly what the Wyoming Democratic electorate is like. Everyone, I think, assumes it‘s more an Obama state than a Clinton state. But the truth is, we don‘t really know.
OLBERMANN: Well, it‘s 12 delegates. That‘s what we really know.
Lastly, about this news from Texas, there is every chance that if Senator Clinton had lost that popular vote there Tuesday, she might have been out of the race by now - out of the race by now. It‘s pretty evident though that, in terms of delegates, when the final tally is tallied, she lost Texas. What gives with this? This seems to be a suspension of reality?
ROBINSON: Yes, it is a suspension of reality, it seems to me. The contest, you know, again, was supposed to be about delegates. But, you know, the Clinton campaign has been very effective at moving the goal post. I imagine some people over there have sore backs from moving those heavy goal posts so often. But in case, the goal posts are popular vote as opposed to delegates.
OLBERMANN: Eugene Robinson of “The Washington Post” and MSNBC, thank you, Gene. Have a good weekend.
ROBINSON: You, too, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The power and not so much the glory. Obama‘s suddenly ex-senior foreign policy adviser, Dana Milbank on the impact of the monster mash and about the woman who has said it, who is known since they went to college together.
And it‘s what a reporter has known or what John McCain thinks she should have known that was at the center of an ill-timed outburst by Senator McCain just as some military leaders were claiming, they think he‘s too hot headed to be commander in chief.
You‘re watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: While campaigning for Hillary Clinton, one of the nation‘s top businessmen can suggest Barack Obama was passing around drugs on the street. The senator‘s husband can dismiss his campaign as having as little viability as Jesse Jackson. The senator‘s top adviser can compare him to Ken Starr.
And none of them is as much as reprimanded by anybody. But an unpaid Obama adviser uses a brashly inappropriate term. She‘s off that campaign in 12 hours. Is there a double standard and should is that the tore Obama be proud of it?
Dana Milbank on his college classmate: Samantha Power, next on
OLBERMANN: Last month after it had accused Senator Obama of plagiarism because he and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick freely and knowingly exchanged speech ideas and phrases, the Clinton campaign would not guarantee that it had never used someone else‘s rhetoric without crediting them. And a series of examples bubbled to the surface of her doing that.
Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: That was not one of the examples given by Obama campaign manager, David Plouffe when he said, quote, “There seems to be a different standard in the Clinton campaign.” Mr. Plouffe, of course, was referring to the fallout from the Samantha Power resignation in wake of her comment and apology for the statement that Senator Clinton was a, quote, “monster.” More specifically that she has resigned while a long list of people associated with the Clinton campaign that he says have made questionable comments about Senator Obama have not resigned.
Time now to bring in our own Dana Milbank, national political reporter for “The Washington Post” and we should mention, a college friend of Samantha Power. We‘ve heard that a lot already. Thank you, Dana.
DANA MILBANK, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Mr. Plouffe today citing a pattern of comments in the Clinton campaign, the BET founder Bob Johnson, the head of the Machinist Union, Mr. Buffenbarger, Iowa Governor Vilsack, claiming there is a different standard in the Clinton campaign compared to the Obama campaign. Is there one and is it perversely something on this night of all nights, Obama should be proud of?
MILBANK: Well, it‘s not a different standard. They‘re in a different universe here. I mean, Billy Shaheen in New Hampshire suggesting that, you know, that people should look into Barack Obama‘s drug use. You know, it‘s clearly, you know, Tina Fey on “Saturday Night Live” used a word far worse than monster to describe Hillary Clinton. She rewarded that by going on the show the following week.
So, it is monstrous, the whole standard but the truth is, you can‘t blame Clinton for going after it. The people I blame here are David Plouffe and Barack Obama for not saying it that way and standing up for Samantha Power and saying, look, this is an offhanded remark, giving venting things during a campaign. Let‘s get on with business here.
OLBERMANN: But what would have happened if that were the case? Would this not turn into a firestorm and, you know, a media that largely looks for simplicity would just latch on to this and not let go until, you know, there was a burning at the stake (ph) or something?
MILBANK: It probably what happened, it‘s going to happen in either event. And the truth is: Barack Obama set himself up for this by running a “holier than thou” campaign, setting up some belief that there‘s some sort of utopia. So, when of his advisers, Susan Rice says, look, neither Clinton nor Obama is ready for that 3:00 a.m. call or when his economic adviser says, looks, we‘re not actually going to trash NAFTA on the first day in office, basically, they‘re saying realistic, reasonable, obvious things but it looks off message because Obama has his head in the clouds.
OLBERMANN: As evidenced by the way the Clinton campaign jumped all over the Samantha Powers interview with BBC about Iraq and, you know, the possibility of some sort of cataclysm that might force Senator Obama to change his plan for troop withdrawals, you know, the day before an inaugural. The resignation seems to have been about more than just her “monster” comment. Is that your feeling on it, too?
MILBANK: Definitely. It brings to mind the Michael Kinsley rule that a gaffe in politics is when you accidentally speak the truth. Of course, it would be irresponsible for Obama to say, I‘m going to withdraw the troops regardless of what‘s going on with al Qaeda at any particular moment. It would be reckless. So, again, somebody stating a very obvious reality is punished for that.
OLBERMANN: All right. So, here is where your long acquaintanceship with Ms. Power can advance this story. There is a suggestion in some quarters that maybe that wasn‘t an accident. That the story actually works to the Obama‘s campaign‘s advantage because the imagery of Clinton as monster is out there.
Obama didn‘t say it. The campaign didn‘t crap around. They acted immediately. She apologized immediately. He didn‘t say, she‘s not a monster as far as I know, fuel the fire or tamp it out because it is predicated on the idea that she would say it deliberately. Do you think, knowing this woman, she would involve herself with such Machiavellian maneuvers?
MILBANK: Absolutely not. I‘m certain that it was not said deliberately. In fact, the very context of trying retroactively to make it off the record makes it wasn‘t. There was just sort of naivet’ when dealing with the press.
Now, that said, this probably does work in some sense to Obama‘s advantage. She was giving voice to the reason a lot of people are behind Obama. And now, they, for whatever reason, fairly or unfairly, regard Hillary Clinton as something of a monster. This gives voice to that, a lot of his supporters are saying right on. So, it may be accidentally good politics.
OLBERMANN: Now, no one will come out and say truth as a defense but that is what is being implied in some points (ph). Dana Milbank of “The Washington Post” and MSNBC, a great thanks and have a good weekend.
MILBANK: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Remember the scene in county (ph) shack where the kid drops the baby Ruth bar (ph) in the pool? And they evacuated and drained it. It made cries of doodee (ph). The nightmare of the ding dongs in the Laundromat dryers is finally at an end.
And your tax dollars in action as Dana Perino blasts Senate majority leader Steny Hoyer. Ms. Perino, Hoyer is in the House, not the Senate. Ops. Worst Persons is ahead.
But first: The headlines breaking in the administration‘s 50 other scandals - Bushed.
Number three: National intelligence estimate-gate. No, this is not about a reprise about the NIE about Iraq. This is about the conclusions in the upcoming NIE about Iraq which Mr. Bush‘s intelligence chiefs now cannot decide whether or not to make public. A neat trick (ph) considering the president is planning to again send (ph) out General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker in front of Congress next month to talk about the Iraq NIE. Anybody want to bet, it says something about, let‘s just wait six months more and see then, what‘s going to happen then.
Number two: Gonzo-gate. It has now reached the authority of the printed book. The fired U.S. attorney for New Mexico, David Iglesias has written “In Justice” in which he says, a U.S. attorney for San Antonio told him his firing was all politics and he should just get out. “This is political,” Iglesias claims, he was told by U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, if I were you I‘d just go quietly. Boy, if only I had a dollar for every time somebody in the Bush administration heard that.
And number one: Too clever by half-gate. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was responding to the House Judiciary‘s Committee‘s questions about the review of his department that said, it is far behind all others in minority and women hiring. Congressman Mel Watt asked, all of Chertoff‘s aides seated behind him to stand up. Ten white guys wearing suits promptly stood up.
As the congressman began to move on to another topic, Chertoff interrupted him to say, I wouldn‘t assume that the ethnic background of everybody behind me is self-evident. Watt then said, if anyone wants to stand up and volunteer and tell me they are African-American, I hope they will do that right now. Silence. If anybody is a female that‘s sitting up there that wants to stand up and volunteer to tell me that, I hope they will do that now. Crickets. Then, laughter.
Our secretary of Homeland Security, kids, in-charge of interrogation and getting answers and intelligence, and he gets humiliated by a congressman who was about to ask him about something else. Idiots.
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC HOST: If you‘re calling about this, Why-oming, we know that‘s not how you spell it. That‘s a visual pun, as in why Wyoming is getting so much attention. But thanks for calling and thanks for watching.
On this date in 1962, pop singer Taylor Dane was born in Long Island. Of course, she was not Taylor Dane back then. One of the great name transformations of American music history. Taylor Dane had been born Leslie Wonderman. On that note let‘s play “Oddball”.
Why-oming. We begin in Salem, Arkansas however and if you are one of the half dozen patrons at a local Laundromat who found a delicious chocolate treat in your drier last month, we think we know why. This is security footage of a man police say is Jerry Wayne Whitaker opening dryers one at a time and dropping into each a hostess ding dong.
Customers caught on before any drawers were stained. Police found Whitaker and charged him with disorderly conduct. And now, senior ding dong faces a jail sentence longer than the shelf life of a twin key. In the big house. Actually, they‘re just going to fine him $200.
And we return to Alice Springs, Australia for a shocking set up on Dinky the lovable singing dingo. As you may recall, “Oddball” first brought you the story of Dinky several years ago. Tonight, it is my groom duty to report he‘s still singing. Take it away Dinky.
Stop squeezing the dingo‘s tail. I see what you‘re doing.
Senator McCain will bring a lifetime of anger to the campaign. I will bring a lifetime of anger. The republican nominee presumptive gets a little presumptuous with the reporter for a timing just as several generals are branding him a hot head.
And the race to buy up politically insulting website names?
Flipflopmccain.com, the Republicans on that one? These stories ahead. But first on COUNTDOWN, top three best persons on the world.
Number three, best bipartisan unsuspected death. Elizabeth Hasselbeck of “The View”. When comedian Rush Limbaugh‘s comment on a Clinton-Obama ticket was quoted to her, you‘ve got a woman and a black for the first time ever on the Democratic ticket. They don‘t have a chance. Hasselbeck slammed him calling Limbaugh a blocker.
That‘s what I call someone who blocks progress, blocks hope, blocks someone from getting something that they most likely deserve. Barbara Walters noted a lot of conservatives love Limbaugh. I don‘t, Ms. Hasselbeck replied. I‘m a conservative and I don‘t love him. Sherry Shepherd then suggested there was an under current of racism to Limbaugh. Even Sherry Shepherd noticed. Good for you Elizabeth Hasselbeck.
Number two, best excuse. Ken Williams, the mayor and senator in Arkansas since 2001, he abruptly resigned Wednesday explaining that he had suddenly discovered he had a previous life as Mr. Don La Rose, a preacher with a wife and two kids. But in 1980 he says, he suddenly remembered, he was abducted by devil worshippers who brainwashed him and caused him to forget he had been Don La Rose. Mayor Williams did not exactly know why for several years he had been running a website about the disappearance of Don La Rose.
And number one best be careful what you wish for young lady. You might just get it. April Wormly of Hobbs, New Mexico. She had been sentenced to two years in prison. She wanted to break up with her boyfriend and make sure he would leave her alone. So naturally she called in a bomb threat about the flight he was on thinking he would never bother her again after he realized she had made the call. Well, he‘ll sure leave you alone now.
OLBERMANN: In the words of Republican presidential candidate John McCain, “Eff you.” That was him speaking to Senator John Cornyn. Nothing personal. Senator Chuck Grassley was an effing jerk, Senator Pete Domenichi, a “hole” of some sort. In our third story tonight, McCain, the button, and the temper that led Domenichi, as a Republican to say, “I decided I didn‘t want this guy anywhere near a trigger.”
Republican Senator Thad Cochran said, “The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine, he losses his temper, and he worries me.” McCain‘s temper is well known. But now it‘s not just senators expressing concern about him. According to salon.com, it‘s the military. Major General Paul Eaton telling Salon quote, “I‘m a little worried about his knee jerk response factor. I think it is a little scary.” Eaton now campaigning for Clinton.
Former Republican and former Air Force chief-of-staff Gen. Merrill McPeak, quote, “McCain has got a reputation for being a little volatile.” McPeak now an Obama man. Major General Scott Gration, quote, “I have tremendous respect for John McCain, but I would not follow him.” Another former Republican, another former Obama or current Obama man.
And proving one again the timing is everything. Today, McCain seemed to have trouble keeping his cool in public. Why? A major crisis? Something at 3:00 a.m.? No. A reporter who asked about his claim in 2004 that he had never discussed the vice presidency with John Kerry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Everybody knows that I had a private conversation. Everybody knows that. That I had a conversation. There‘s no living American in Washington (INAUDIBLE). There‘s no one. And you know it too. Well, you know it. You know it. So I don‘t even know why you ask.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Well, I ask because I just read. I just, no, I just read in the Times in May of ‘04 you said.
MCCAIN: I don‘t know what you may have read or heard of and I don‘t know the circumstances. Maybe in May of ‘04 I hadn‘t had a conversation. I don‘t know but it‘s well known that I had a conversation. It was absolutely well known by everyone. So do you have a question on another issue?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Well, can I ask you when the conversation was?
MCCAIN: No, because the issue is closed as far as I‘m concerned.
Everybody knows it. Everybody knows it in America.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can I ask you about your—why are you so angry?
MCCAIN: Pardon me?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Never mind. Never mind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: In point of fact, Senator McCain said in May of 2004 that he had never talked to Kerry about being his vice president. We used to that point. Let‘s bring in the reporter who wrote the Salon piece about McCain and the military. National correspondent Mark Benjamin.
Mr. Benjamin, much thanks for your time tonight.
MARK BENJAMIN, SALON.COM: Thanks for having me, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The retired military men that you spoke with, are they conceivably aberrations or is the concerned among America‘s military leadership about McCain at the helm widespread?
BENJAMIN: I don‘t think they‘re abrasions, Keith. You know, it‘s funny I went into this story expecting to write about Obama and Clinton. You know, there‘s a spat going on among those two about who is the better commander-in-chief. So I turn this thing in. And my editor says well, you really need something about McCain in here. I thought it was sort of a no-brainer. I sort of assumed that support for McCain in the military would be, you know, absolute.
I also assumed that, you know, the stuff about him being a hot head was probably over played. I was wrong on both counts, I have to say. I was really surprised how easy it was to find very smart, very accomplished Republican, you know, folks who work in the Pentagon or have worked in the Pentagon who have had run-ins with John McCain that scared them. When I say scared them, they felt like, you know, regardless of what you see on that TV screen on the airplane, that he sometimes really, really loses control of himself.
OLBERMANN: The former aide to Secretary of State Colin Powell, Colonel Larry Wilkerson told “The Nation” magazine that McCain hardheaded, arrogant, hubristic, and proud and entertains no decent. It‘s reminding me of somebody, it‘s reminding me of somebody, who especially on these topics of the military, Iraq, homeland security, is it four more years of the last seven?
BENJAMIN: Well, there are some similarities, if it‘s not so much in temper, but there‘s also a real concern that the change that needs to be made, a lot of military people think is that we need to start thinking about projecting American interests in ways other than using military power. In other words, this soft power approach. Now, the war needs to be fought by the USAID, you know, International Development in the State Department, an economic policy and not just go, you know, go for the military every time.
The concern is that John McCain is more oriented that way. I mean, certainly on the Florida Senate in October 2002, we‘re about to go to a war in Iraq, you now, we predicted it was going to be a glorious chapter in the history of the United States. He was wrong.
OLBERMANN: He‘s been courting, he‘s been winning support, and advice from a lot of real hard liners about Iran including some people openly advocates attacking it preemptively. He says he‘s skeptical about the NIE saying Iran had dropped its weapons program.
When the nation asked McCain‘s top foreign policy adviser why McCain would keep troops in Iraq, as long as he talked about, a hundred years or whatever it is, he said quote, “Iraq might be stable, but what about the region.”
McCain himself said, quote, “There‘s going to be other wars.” Is temper perhaps less an issue ultimately to these military men than this military interventionist attitude?
BENJAMIN: I think both are, Keith. I mean, you know, when you talk to these folks who have been, you know, in the Pentagon for years and years and years, you have to understand it‘s not an anger thing. It‘s not just I think it‘s angry. And I interviewed people who like John McCain. They respect John McCain. And they‘ve been yelled at by, you know, a lot of different senators. What they were saying was different. They said this guy really loses his mind sometimes to the point where he should not have his finger on the button. That‘s what I found.
OLBERMANN: Well, you know, that‘s irrational sounding, not angry sounding. Mark Benjamin, the national correspondent for salon.com. Great insight. Very thanks for your time.
BENJAMIN: Thank you, sir.
OLBERMANN: When the Democratic presidential candidate is selected and those smear websites turn up, just so you know, advance. The shrewdest domain names have already been own by several months by the Republican National Committee. And nobody, not even the Bush administration was ready to be so cheap and so obvious as to claim that was the result of the Democrats not caving in on telecom immunity. Nobody, that is, until Oliver North. Worst persons ahead.
OLBERMANN: Masters of their domains. The Republican National Committee snaps up at least four dozen of the nastiest names for web sites about Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. And Bill O‘, going down for the third time in his failed attack on “The Huffington Post,” duking it out with Oli North and Dana Perino in tonight‘s worst person. They will be ahead here on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Hatemccain.com, heisnotready.com, hillarytaxplan.com. No not the bookmarks on the laptop of comedian Rush Limbaugh. These are domain names already registered by the Republican National Committee. Implications of that bizarre fact and that‘s the first. Time for our number two story. COUNTDOWN‘s worst persons in the world.
A bronze to White House press secretary Dana Perino asked about the status of the so-called Protect America Act, the telecom immunity stuff. She pounced. Well, what‘s interesting is, you know, I actually have a slide. I can actually bring up, now that you‘ve asked. We‘ve been waiting to use this for a couple days. She immediately produced a graphic on a large video screen bearing a quote on the subject from, quote, “Senate majority leader Steny Hoyer.
She launched into a spill about how the Democrats well and that‘s what somebody pointed out that Steny Hoyer is the House majority leader, not the Senate majority leader as her slide identified him. So the White House has all the intelligence. They don‘t know the difference between the House and the Senate even on a visual aid which they happily had volunteered. They had been waiting to use for a couple days. I feel safe.
The runner up, Bill O‘. Doing his third segment about huffingtonpost.com and how it‘s just like the Nazis. So far none of his own guests have even agreed with him. There is paint from top to bottom on that site. There‘s defamation. It‘s irresponsible that he traffics in that. Once again, the Frank Burns of news forgot to mention that last year his personal website featured posts about assassinating Hillary Clinton and/or staging an armed up rising if she can be elected.
Tune in Monday when Bill O‘ sails the website hellokitty.com, because Hello Kitty was born in London and may be in this country illegally.
But our gold tonight goes to good old Colonel Oli North. Heard about see low-yield bombs, some criminal riding a bicycle through it with the military recruiting station in Times Square, New York. Appearing on Fix News, North explained he already knows who to blame. The U.S. House of Representatives at the direction of Nancy Pelosi went on vacation rather than voting on a Protect America Act that provided for wire tapping of terrorists making phone calls into and out of the United States or foreign places.
And I note that it would have been a lot easier, perhaps, to find out who did this or even to know that they were planning it had we been able to intercept those communications. OK, major paranoia. The New York Post, Murdoch‘s other news organ is reporting that New York cops are working on the possibility that the guy on the bicycle who threw the bomb might just have been the same guy on a bicycle who threw one from a bicycle at the Mexican consulate in New York last year and from another bicycle to the British consulate in New York in 2005.
So you may have already had three years to intercept this guy‘s communications, and a fat lot of good that ditch you. Shameful political opportunist, fear-monger Oliver North, today‘s worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: In politics, badmouthing your opponent as a destination is nothing new. Just string together a few words and add dot com. But today, there‘s calculatingclinton.com and fauxbama.com, hatemccain.com. And our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, all of those actually examples now owned by the Republican National Committee.
The first two place holders for possible future use. The latter was bought preemptively so nobody else could use it against McCain. And there are about 15 others filling the RNC‘s virtual domain name vault. Apparently monster.com has been taken. The Hillary Clinton domain names were registered by the RNC last year or a linked to servers the committee uses.
According to “The New York Times” they provide obvious clues to the Republican line of attack, canttrustclinton.com and clintoniscorrupt.com, as well as variations of the theme clintonisbad.com and clintoniswrong.com. the 20 plus Obama domain names were secured today after the senator from Illinois. Baracknotready.com, barackthebeginner.com, and the slightly more creative yeswecandowhat.com.
The McCain website that will never be created by the RNC probably include flipflopmccain.com and voteagainstmccain.com. Evidently, the Democratic Party has not bought any McCain domain names yet. At this point, let‘s turn to comedian Chuck Nice. Also VH1‘s “Best Week Ever.”
OLBERMANN: Chuck, good evening.
CHUCK NICE, BEST WEEK EVER: Hey, Keith. How are you?
OLBERMANN: The Republican National Committee is A) Smart and crafty, B) Has too much time on its hand or C), Knows more about the Internets and the Google than President Bush goes.
NICE: I think you forgot the D) All of the above except A. You know, honestly, I think it certainly is C, because President Bush doesn‘t like the Internet because it was created by al Gore.
OLBERMANN: That‘s true. The same “New York Times” article found little evidence of the Democrats doing this. The DNC reserved some domain names regarding the convention in Denver and then apparently everybody went home. And they call themselves politicians?
NICE: Yes. There they go again. The Democrats showing up to a knife fight with just a knife. Everybody knows the way you win a knife fight is to strategically place snipers in hidden positions.
OLBERMANN: A beautiful thought. Back to these other examples. There‘s one for Hillary Clinton that was obviously created many months ago, the twohillaries.com. Which two Hillarie‘s do you think they had in mind there?
NICE: Well, I think this is a very clever ploy by the RNC to float the idea that Hillary has a multiple personality disorder. I think we might look forward to that if she is the nominee. Either that or there under the impression that she‘s going to run Hillary Swank as her VP.
OLBERMANN: Or she can solve the whole problem of the VP thing by running as both president and vice president.
NICE: Could be. I mean, honestly, there are two Hillary‘s.
OLBERMANN: For Obama, several of the RNC names mock the “Yes, we can” slogan like no we cannot, nowecannot.com, nowecannot.net, and nowecannot.org. So the RNC definitely has something planned for that. Something really high flung and energetic. A no we cannot commercial or material.
NICE: Right. No we cannot. I can see it now. Can we get behind a guy that wants to unify the country and bring us all together? No, we cannot.
OLBERMANN: Beautiful thing. And there‘s a half dozen of these Clinton domain names that are obviously reflected RNC guesses as to possible running mates. There‘s clintonkerrey.com which for Bob Kerrey, not John Kerry. But they neglected to get either Clinton-Obama or Obama-Clinton dot come. And you talk, again, showing up to the knife fight with good wishes or what?
NICE: I think that is their wishful thinking. That is number one on the Christmas list of the RNC. Either that or just the idea of Clinton and Obama on the same ticket makes their head explode.
OLBERMANN: There is it is, Chuck Nice. Comedian and contributor to VH1‘s “Best week ever.”
Thanks, Chuck. Have a good weekend.
NICE: All right, Keith. You do the same.
OLBERMANN: That‘s COUNTDOWN for this, the 1773rd days since the declaration of “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq. Tonight, I closed with a farewell all of us here would give anything not to hear. Jennifer McNamara had been with us here for a year. If you can imagine somebody running the teleprompter for me and never letting the smile leave her face, you begin to get an idea of just what kind of a person and what she meant behind the scenes. She was at COUNTDOWN and at MSNBC.
She was in a fatal accident early Wednesday right after cheerfully finishing her long shift on another long night of our primary coverage, an assignment on which she took great pride. Her mother, her brother, her aunt, and her uncle were here this morning to see where she had worked. Perhaps not surprisingly while we were trying to share their grief, they quietly assumed some of our. Jennifer McNamara was just 29 years old.
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