KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The cat is out of the bag: Clinton adviser Howard Ickes admits, the pitch to the superdelegates is Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
“Nobody think that Barack Obama harbors those thoughts. But that‘s not the issue. The issue is what the Republicans will do with them. I tell people that they need to look at what they think Republicans may use against him.”
Taking that Cleaver to both campaigns: Missouri congressman, Clinton endorser, African-American Emanuel Cleaver blasts Obama and his supporters.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER, (D) MISSOURI: For white Americans, I mean, it‘s like this guy can speak. You know, and if you put him, you know, on a level with a lot of other African-American speakers, that‘s not going, you know, he may not even measure up.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: But Cleaver also predicts that Obama will win the presidency, says he‘s still rooting for Clinton.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CLEAVER: Even though I don‘t expect the Kansas City Chiefs to beat the Indianapolis Colts, I still cheer for the Kansas City Chiefs.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The Chiefs who won four games last year and lost 12.
Twelve is also the Clinton margin in the latest polling in Pennsylvania, down from 19 three weeks ago, this despite Senator Clinton‘s visit to the “Pittsburgh Tribune Review” and the prospect of an actual endorsement by Richard Mellon Scaife. If you will read the editorial, Scaife himself has written and translate it for you.
“A lesser politician - one less self-assured, less informed on domestic and foreign issues—less confident of her positions—might well have canceled the interview right then and there.” (INAUDIBLE).
Also: The senator with a slight goof as she compares herself to another fictional character, Rocky.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I never quit, never
give up -
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Give, not get, give, give up.
Wal-Mart does the right thing: drops its suit against Debbie Shank.
And fifth anniversary week continues: Senator Larry Craig meets dragnet.
It was Tuesday, June 11. It was sunny and warm for Minneapolis. I was assigned to the vice squad working out at the men‘s room at the airport. My boss is Chief Dolan (ph). My name is Karsnia. I‘m a cop, a cop in a toilet.
All that and more: Now on COUNTDOWN.
(on camera): Good evening, this is Tuesday, April 1st, 217 days until the 2008 presidential election and the halfway mark between the last primary three weeks and the next one.
And any illusion, not that Pennsylvania primary is not going to be about Reverend Jeremiah Wright and race, has late today had been chased from the stage by Clinton adviser Harold Ickes and a Missouri congressman named Emanuel Cleaver.
Our fifth story tonight begins with the admission by Mr. Ickes that Barack Obama‘s former pastor is the topic when the Clinton campaign tries to persuade superdelegates and that that the campaign would still pursue the nomination even if she entered the convention behind in the popular vote.
Mr. Ickes is declining to tell Talkingpointsmemo.com whether he raises the Wright issue saying, quote, “I tell people that they need to look at what they think Republicans may use against Obama. Wright comes up in the conversations.”
And in future conversations if Clinton loses the popular vote, loses it even after Florida and Michigan had been counted to her benefit, Ickes is quoted as saying, Clinton could still ask superdelegates to reverse the voters‘ decision, quote, “I think being ahead in the popular vote is an important factor. I don‘t think it‘s dispositive. If at the end of the process she‘s running very slightly behind the delegates overall, the popular vote will be important. I don‘t think it ‘s absolutely critical.”
And it was an interview conducted with Congressman Emanuel Cleaver by CBC radio in Canada that given reason for outrage in both camps today. Cleaver, the only ordained minister in Congress, a Clinton superdelegate, who thinks she will not win and is now not shy about revealing that, quote, “I will be stunned if Obama‘s not the next president of the United States.”
There‘s more: despite that lack of confidence in his chosen candidate, despite a vigorous a vigorous defense of fellow clergyman Wright, Congressman Cleaver also picks up the hatchet swung last month by Geraldine Ferraro and swings it anew at Senator Obama.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CLEAVER: I think for many white Americans, they are looking at Barack Obama and saying, this is our chance to demonstrate that we have been able to get this bogeyman called race behind us. And so they‘re going to vote for him, you know, whether he has credentials or not, whether he has any experience, I think all that‘s out the window.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Congressman Cleaver analogizing Senator Clinton to his hometown football team, the Kansas City Chiefs, adding that although he doesn‘t expect the Chiefs to beat the vaunted Indianapolis Colts, he still roots for them to do so.
In Philadelphia meanwhile, Senator Clinton is using quite a different sports analogy and offering an unfortunate and unintentional revision of the myth involved when she tried to say she never gives up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Could you imagine if Rocky Balboa have gotten halfway up those Art Museum stairs and said, well, I guess that‘s about far enough?
That‘s not the way it works. Let me tell you something, when it comes to
finishing the fight, Rocky and I have a lot in common. I never quit, never
give up -
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: America‘s most powerful Democrat, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today is addressing something of the same subject. Clinton‘s decision to stay in the race despite apparently insurmountable math against her, she appeared to reverse course on prior comments widely seen as favoring Senator Obama, now saying Clinton could still theoretically pull it off.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY PELOSI, U.S. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I would not assume that Senator Clinton would not be going to the convention as the frontrunner. We do not know what this next election will do. We do not know what the conduct of the campaigns in the next four to six weeks will produce.
So, if you are a candidate for president, you certainly are saying that you‘re going to convention. You can‘t say anything but—and Senator Clinton may well be going to that convention as the nominee. But I do think as it evolves, one of them, one of them is going to have to realize the numbers, whether it‘s Senator Obama and he would step aside or whether it‘s Senator Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Unknown tonight, whether first part of the Pelosi equation that Clinton is still in it was meant to sell on the second part, that anyone who is still in it should get out of it if the numbers slip away.
The resurgent of race in the race in a moment. First, Howard Fineman, our political analyst and senior Washington correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine. Howard, good evening.
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. We are going to dispel that racial component to both the Ickes and the Cleaver interviews in a minute but the Ickes remarks resonate on so many levels. Have we heard this stated so starkly before: We talk to the super delegates, implication: we tell the superdelegates watch out what happens if you nominate Obama.
FINEMAN: No, you haven‘t heard it that starkly before, but it‘s been going on behind the scenes for days if not weeks. I talked to one of the top Clinton people just a little while ago, and they said, look, everybody else is talking about the Jeremiah Wright effect but us, why can‘t we talk about it?
But in fact, behind the scenes, they‘ve been talking about it on the phone and in person with the superdelegates before and until now, and they probably viewed it as an act of restrain that they haven‘t gone on the air with ads in Pennsylvania talking about all of Wright‘s comments. The reason they haven‘t that is that so far, any public attacks like that seemed to blow back against Hillary Clinton. Her negatives are high and Obama‘s public persona is so welcoming and open that it hasn‘t seemed to affect him at least if you look at the polls.
OLBERMANN: But certainly, Howard, the attempt to get the superdelegates to potentially overrule a popular vote started before the Jeremiah Wright speech clips became public. What were the Clinton people arguing then about Obama and how he was unelectable?
FINEMAN: Well, back then, they were talking about the big states. They‘re saying, we won Ohio, we won New Jersey, we won New York. Obama can‘t win the big states. They were talking about his lack of experience, that he was untested, et cetera, et cetera.
But none of that had the bite or urgency that they think the Jeremiah Wright issue has behind the scenes. The problem that the Clinton people have is that publicly at least, within the Democratic universe, the polls seem to show, with especially after the Philadelphia speech that Obama gave, that trying to link Wright to Obama just isn‘t working, at least in the Democratic race.
OLBERMANN: About Congressman Cleaver, he also said to the CBC that he is supposed to say that taking the fight to the convention is good for America. The truth he says would be that it would be tragedy of tragedies. A remarkable interview, I don‘t know who winds up supporting or who would accept his support after this interview, considering what he did to Obama in it.
Does any of that message get through in the Clinton camp or do they throw him out for daring to say such a thing, that this entire fight, whether or not it is justified, is a third rail for the entire Democratic Party?
FINEMAN: No, I don‘t think they dare throw him out. They have dwindling support among black elected officials in Congress and elsewhere. You have John Lewis, the distinguished congressman from Georgia having switched sides from Clinton to Obama. Hillary can‘t afford o lose any more support in the African-American elected community, and I think, in some ways in his ham-fisted way, he was making her argument for her.
OLBERMANN: Less philosophy, more polls. The new survey USA numbers done for our NBC station in Philadelphia, Obama cutting a 19-point Clinton lead in Pennsylvania three weeks ago, down to 12 points today. Are there other indications, general indications of such movement in his direction or is that an aberration at this point?
FINEMAN: Yes, there are, Keith. And I know, Pennsylvania is my home state. I‘ve been there a lot in the last couple of weeks. There‘s another poll, there‘s a Rasmussen Poll that shows a tightening.
I still think Clinton is the likely winner of Pennsylvania, but the problem she‘s got is that the expectation she started with was so high, at least a double-digit victory, 15 points or more, that if she wins up winning by only half a dozen points or less, it‘s going to be viewed as a loss. And fact is, that Obama who is flush with cash, is outspending her in TV advertising, about four to one in Pennsylvania and is on a bus trip now all across the state and has in a way nothing to lose in Pennsylvania and there‘s three weeks to go.
Hillary needed to have the Pennsylvania primary happen last week. The fact that it‘s still three weeks away is not good news for her, especially with this constant drumbeat, some of it is unfair, I think, that she‘d get out of the race.
OLBERMANN: And of course, as you hint there, unlike in football, the points spread actually counts (INAUDIBLE).
FINEMAN: Points spread counts on this big time.
OLBERMANN: MSNBC‘s Howard Fineman, also of course of the “Newsweek” magazine. Great thanks as always, Howard.
FINEMAN: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: That a black congressman, a black clergyman congressman no less, has now picked up something of the Geraldine Ferraro argument that neither Obama‘s experience nor his credentials propelled him to his current position but that his race did. As a new element to this race that seems at first brush almost impossible to untangle. Congressman Cleaver also criticizing Obama for his speaking ability, saying in the black tradition, he would probably be mediocre, goes on to say, quote, “For white Americans, it‘s like this guy can speak.”
Let‘s turn now to MSNBC political analyst Gene Robinson, also of course, associate editor and columnist of the “Washington Post.” Gene, good evening.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: In Congressman Cleaver we have one black person saying that white persons support another black person because they think he will let them get themselves off the hook about all those other black people. As a white person speaking with a black person, I have to ask, is this a valid point or is this just one step too many for any one of us to be able to untangle it?
ROBINSON: Take a couple of Tylenol. I think, this is too gnarly to try to make a whole lot of sense of it because it doesn‘t actually make a whole lot of sense. I mean, I think, his epitome was saying was said, was essentially the same as Geraldine Ferraro‘s. After all, it was basically the same sentiments.
And it seems to me they come out of this disbelief that we‘ve seen throughout the Clinton campaign, throughout the months, this disbelief that he might actually beat her and get the nomination. So, you know, there has to be a problem with him, with the voters, with America‘s racial history, with something, that would allow this unwarranted thing to happen.
OLBERMANN: There‘s something else in there that has one too many levels, at least for me to understand it—his comments on how in the context of black America, Obama is not that great a speaker. Inside that, we have this long standing argument from the Clinton campaign that Obama‘s only a great speaker. Now, it‘s multiplied by this man who is in Congress and as a great speaker saying, well, you know, Obama is not even that great a speaker.
What is Cleaver‘s point here or is this some—more of the sort of post-traumatic campaign syndrome that you hinted at earlier?
ROBINSON: Again, I think, you know, a couple of Advil or something. Go back in history. W.B. Dubois, Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, you know, we‘re talking of 100 years ago, great black or orators with completely different styles of oratory but nonetheless all recognized as great speakers able to move audiences.
You know, this whole idea that there was one black style of speaking as opposed to a white style of speaking, you know, which kind of comes out of the idea that black people are one way and one way only and white people are another way and another way only, is just absurd on its face. And if this campaign does nothing else than disabuse anyone those who still clings to such a myth, or said (ph) a said myth, then it will have been worth it.
OLBERMANN: It‘s amazing to see how strong this myth is and how far it goes into people who you would never expect and any remaining tainted it but - let me ask you, practical question, Obama obviously would not like this. A lot of supporters would be offended by it, but from a pure political point of view, get a Democrat in the White House, black, white, blue, what if anything is wrong with Harold Ickes whispering to the superdelegates don‘t forget Jeremiah Wright?
ROBINSON: From a pure political point of view, I guess my issue would be with the whispering and not with what he was saying.
You know, get it out there, share it with the rest of the class, if it‘s proper to whisper into the ears of superdelegates, perhaps at 3:00 a.m., who knows when, you know, get it out there and get it on the table and we can all discuss whether or not this is some sort of crippling issue for Barack Obama.
We can look at the evidence thus far, we can project ahead. We know Republicans are going to pick at that scab. But let‘s not—there‘s no need to whisper.
OLBERMANN: Eugene Robinson of the “Washington Post” and MSNBC. As always, great thanks, sir.
ROBINSON: Good to be here, Keith.
OLBERMANN: And still: The most startling news from the Clinton this week may have been that she has gotten a glowing editorial and maybe an endorsement from the father of the ring wing conspiracy: Richard Mellon Scaife. We will read it to you and translate it.
And much translation you should have needed here: Attorney General Mukasey either lying through his teeth to try to get the telecoms immunity or admitting that the Bush administration ignored the vital clue about 9/11 before 9/11.
You‘re watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: Senator Clinton meets the Mr. Burns of the vast right wing conspiracy. Response that would have drawn cheers if she kicked him in the groin. Response that would have drawn respect if she declined the invitation to talk to him and his newspaper. Response that she actually chose, she opened with a joke and now has gotten a glowing editorial written personally commending her by Richard Mellon Scaife himself. We‘ll read you the low lights and translate their meaning.
Then: Wal-Mart versus Debbie Shank. It‘s over. Ah, there‘s good news tonight.
Ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: The man dubbed the godfather of the vast right wing conspiracy, who donated hundreds of millions to right wing think tanks who created an entire organization to investigate the Clinton presidency, who assigned a reporter to spend years trying to prove that White House counsel Vince Foster had been murdered at the behest of the Clintons, who a quarter of a century ago, answered a question from a reporter from the “Columbia Journalism Review” by calling the reporter you blanking communist blank.
He is now in our fourth story of the COUNTDOWN on the verge of endorsing Senator Hillary Clinton for president. And with the primary coming up three weeks from today in his state, she has given no indication she would reject it. This maybe April Fools Day but sadly, this is no practical joke.
Richard Mellon Scaife having already reconciled with former President Clinton last year sat attentively at Senator Clinton‘s right hand side as she answered questions from the editorial board of his newspaper, the “Pittsburgh Tribune Review” last week. The same paper that has recently as 2002 published an article on the prospect of a Clinton candidacy that noted, quoted, “While Vince Foster‘s family and friends may still mourn him, his death, and the scandal that still clings to Hillary may save the country from the mistake of her campaigning for the presidency.”
And yet six years later, Mr. Scaife has almost nothing but praise her. I will now read most of the editorial Scaife himself wrote for his newspaper, in the appropriate voice with translations as necessary.
“Hillary Clinton walked into a ‘Pittsburgh Tribune-Review‘ conference room last Tuesday to meet with some of the newspaper‘s editors and reporters.” Possibly, because the devil was on vacation.
“She declared, ‘It was so counterintuitive, I just thought it would be fun to do.‘ The room erupted in laughter. Her remark defused what could have been a confrontational meeting.” There are a lot of jokes around the “Tribune Review,” at least not ones that don‘t involved people in wheelchairs falling down a flight of stairs.
“More than that, it said something about the New York senator and former first lady who hopes to be America‘s next president.” Something like, she‘s willing to take an endorsement from a man who has tried to her to a murder.
“More than most modern political figures, Senator Clinton has been criticized regularly, often harshly, by the Trib. We disagreed with many of her policies and her actions in the past. We still disagree with some of her proposals.” We don‘t like her opposition to human sacrifice, for instance.
“The very morning that she came to the Trib, our editorial page raised questions about her campaign and criticized her on several other scores.” Like Vince Foster and the Whitewater investigation, whether or not we should hold these presidential elections or simply appoint a Republican king.
“Reading that, a lesser politician - one less self-assured, less informed on domestic and foreign issues, less confident of her positions - might well have canceled the interview right then and there.” Or one with self-respect.
“Senator Clinton came to the Trib anyway and, for 90 minutes, answered questions. Her meeting and her remarks during it changed my mind about her. Walking into our conference room, not knowing what to except, or even, perhaps expecting the worst.” And somehow avoiding the alligators and rotating knives.
“Took courage and confidence. Not many politicians have political or personal courage today, so it was refreshing to see her exhibit both. Like me, she believes we must pull our troops out of Iraq, and to refocus our attention on other threat, starting with Afghanistan.” Then Iran, South Korea, Russia, the Japanese, the Spanish and any other dangerous nations.
“Does all this mean I‘m ready to come out and recommend that our Democrat readers choose Senator Clinton in Pennsylvania‘s April 22nd primary? No - not yet, anyway. In fairness, we at the Trib want to hear Senator Barack Obama‘s answers to some of the same questions and to others before we make that decision.” For instance, he might just cut to the chase and sell his soul right away, rather than hold out like she did.
“But it does mean that I have a very different impression of Hillary Clinton today than before last Tuesday‘s meeting - and it‘s a very favorable one indeed. Call it a ‘counterintuitive‘ impression.” Or call it counter to everything we and she have ever said we believe in, and an opportunity for us to still get the nominee we on the lunatic right wing fringe think we stand the better chance against—an excellent opportunity.
There is more about Mr. Scaife ahead—no, this monkey on the monkey, no, that‘s a different story.
As CIA Director Hayden‘s proud boast, we haven‘t waterboarded anybody in five years. Proud to be an American.
But first: The headlines breaking in the administration‘s other 50 running scandals - Bushed.
Number three: Make it up as you go along-gate. The director of the National Intelligence Mr. McConnell spoke at Furman University last week and describing the fight over FISA and telecom immunity said, quote, “We had a bill going to the Senate, it was debated vigorously. There were some who said we shouldn‘t have an intelligence community. Some have that point of view.”
Senator Feingold of Wisconsin has been written to Director McConnell asking him who exactly, “I would appreciate your providing list of all statements made by senators during the debate that you believe support these assertions. Feingold did not ask though he would have been justified if he had if anybody in this country has ever said we shouldn‘t have an intelligence community and if Mr. McConnell had a history of auditory or visual hallucinations.
Number two: Protect the troops-gate. The horrifying statistics are in from the Pentagon. One act of violence against American troops is up by 73 percent over a two-year span. Sexual assaults against female members of the military by servicemen, by commanding officers, even by military physicians, 2,947 of them were reported last year alone. Women, serving in the U.S. military are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than to be killed in Iraq.
And number one: Watch list-gate. Treasury Department report documents unsealed in federal court had given us some tangible feel for first time for the havoc wrought in the lives of ordinary Americans erroneously placed on a federal list of possible terrorists and/or drug traffickers, a list that is now been provided to the credit agencies.
Among the 100 pages worth of horror stories, a Navy vet denied use of the online service Paypal because he‘s on the list. An 18-year-old American kid who said he‘d been denied credit because a company‘s records showed he was in fact, a minister from Libya. And somebody who went to a Toyota dealership to buy a car there in Maryland and was told by the salesman that he could only buy the car if he permitted that salesman to inspect him for some nefarious tattoos.
The list, are you on it?
OLBERMANN: On this date in 1905 was born the actor Ned Glass, hardly a household name, but usually as a laconic or world weary clerk or guard or cop, he memorable bit parts in dozens of movies, like “North by Northwest,” and just about every television series from the days of the “Phil Silver Show” through the time of “Cagney and Lacy.”
But around my house, he was best known for a cameo on the “Honeymooners” in an episode called Palomine (ph), where he played a guy named Ted Oberman, who was just one L and one N away from my father‘s name. Let‘s play Oddball. Hi, dad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN (voice-over): We begin on the Internets with footage reportedly from Indonesia. We really don‘t know where the hell this is from or when it was filmed, or if it‘s even computer generated. We do know it does show a monkey riding a mini-bike. The little simian managing to pick up some serious speed on the street. Next stop, the motorcycle cage of death at the Gwinnett County Fair in Georgia.
Meanwhile, in Kernersville, North Carolina, they may want to double test the water, because this is what hatched at Chan Davis‘ reptile farm last Friday, a lizard with not one but two heads. Mrs. Davis says she has no plans to sell the bi-cranial bearded dragon, despite repeated phone calls from someone named Hagrid.
For months, baseball card collectors were stumped by a card that showed up in packages of the 2008 Tops set, featuring a future star, a 16 year old pitcher from Japan named Kazuo “the Uzi” Uzuki, who supposedly had a fastball clocked at 104 miles an hour and was the subject of some secret bidding war among American big league teams.
Today, the calendar revealed the truth. The photo is of Sen-Sen Lin, a student at NYU, and the colloquial translation of Kazuo Uzuki from Japanese to English is first son of April, or colloquially April Fool‘s.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The attorney general, either admitting a titanic intelligence failure before 9/11 by the Bush administration or making stuff up to try to push its current agenda.
And our fifth anniversary week continues. We go back to the Larry Craig bathroom, dragnet style. These stories ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s top three best persons in the world.
Number three, best spoof, National Geographic. It‘s not really them with Paris Hilton on the cover and the headline, “Your Wildest Animal Fantasies.” It‘s the first ever Harvard lampoon spoof of “National Geographic.” The satirists say the geographic folks cooperated possibly because they were bored by all those dull animals.
Number two, best reminder to understand the Internets, President Bush. His presidential library is in trouble online. Seemingly all of the library‘s potential website addresses have been scooped up by squatters who paid just a few dollars for the privilege. Fortunately, the library foundation still owned the most obvious address, GeorgeWBushLibrary.com, and they let their rights to it lapse. A web company called Illuminati Karate (ph) in North Carolina has bought it for ten dollars.
Number one, best ridiculous TV and/or Internet innovations, Wesley Music of London, which will fill a not so obvious need, charging 150 bucks to allow those who can‘t attend an event in person to do so via a secure sight with a web cam. The events? Funerals. They are doing live web casts of funerals. Gross, macabre, kind of boring? Probably. On the other hand, I think we just found a new program idea for CNN.
OLBERMANN: It‘s one thing for the administration to continually claim that immunity for telecom giants is actually necessary to keep America safe. It is quite another for Attorney General Michael Mukasey to cite a call from a safe house in Afghanistan to the U.S., a call before the attacks of September 11th, about those attacks, implying that if the government had already shredded the constitution then, the attacks might have been prevented. The claim is necessarily either false or it convicts the Bush administration of complete negligence.
As importantly, it comes up in the context of our third story on the COUNTDOWN, indications that the White House may now be willing to negotiate on the electronic surveillance bill. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer saying today that based on conversations with the Bush administration, there could be a compromise on extending FISA, the electronic surveillance legislation.
Before we revisit what Attorney General Mukasey said, bear this in mind, that even before 9/11, FISA allowed warrantless eavesdropping when the subject was outside the U.S. and calls into the US. And yet, Mr. Mukasey, speaking to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco said this, “before 9/11, that‘s the call we didn‘t know about. We knew that there had been a call from some place that was known to be a safe house in Afghanistan and we knew that it came to the United States. We didn‘t know precisely where it went.”
Then, as described by Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com, the attorney
general swallowed hard and appeared to tear up, adding, “we‘ve got 3,000
people who went to work that day and didn‘t come home to show for that.” ~
Let‘s bring in Air America radio host, MSNBC political analyst Rachel Maddow. Good evening.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Is there some option here that I missed, that either the government was guilty of malfeasance or Mr. Mukasey just made that up?
MADDOW: Well, do you remember when Alfonso Jackson, secretary of Housing and Urban Development, who just resigned—he told a crowd in Houston that he had yanked a federal contract from a contractor who had been insufficiently enthusiastic about George Bush. When confronted about that, because that‘s illegal, his defense was, don‘t worry, I was lying.
That, essentially, is the place that we are in with Mike Mukasey right now. Oh, please let him have just been lying. If he was telling the truth here, if there really was a call from a known al Qaeda safe house in Afghanistan to the United States before 9/11, which the Bush administration didn‘t tap and trace, that‘s huge news, and we ought to get some answers about why we were left so unprotected and surprised on 9/11. Let‘s hope that he was just making that up.
OLBERMANN: It requires—as I suggested last night, right now, somebody in the House or the Senate should be swearing him in to testify as to what the hell he was talking about.
OLBERMANN: We need to know this, because that is information that is not anywhere in the 9/11 report, nor apparently came up nowhere in the investigation.
MADDOW: It should shock everybody to know that it was dropped parenthetically to make a political point in a speech in San Francisco by the attorney general nearly seven years after 9/11.
OLBERMANN: Underlying it in either event, this apparent falsehood, since the government did have the tools then that it has now. Fill in the rest of that blank.
MADDOW: The implication of Mukasey‘s story here is that these pesky, restrictive FISA laws kept us from tapping that call from Afghanistan and blocked us stopping 9/11. That‘s complete bull pucky. The laws then, the laws now, the laws since the FISA court has been in existence; the laws have said that you can tap without a warrant that kind of communication from outside the United States into the U.S., particularly if you knew it was an al Qaeda safe house and it had a link in terrorism.
What Mukasey said is either a terrible lie about the law or it‘s terrible admission about the Bush administration leaving us unprotected on 9/11.
OLBERMANN: Let‘s put two things together. We heard this book that‘s coming out about the various elements in the 9/11 investigation and the quotes attributed to John Ashcroft, saying don‘t bother me with this; I don‘t want to hear about this al Qaeda again, sometime in June, I guess June of 2001. If we put all these little strands together, the possibility that maybe Mukasey has the details wrong, or—but he‘s got a shred of something. He couldn‘t have made that up out of whole cloth. Something is in there and there are all sorts of other strands. We know about the PDB that nobody paid any attention to. We know about the ambivalence towards listening to anybody left over from the Clinton administration.
Richard Clarke, to this day, I‘m sure wakes up screaming in the middle of the night, Roger Cressey, everybody else. Put it all together; does it sound like this is simply guilt coming out at this point, that there is at long last some acknowledgment that these people were—mailed it in in the summer of 2001 and ignored the true crisis and have been inventing fake crises ever since to try to rationalize? We‘re going to get the next one.
MADDOW: And the mentions of it are slipping out at unscripted moments at emotional crises points for people who joined the administration after all of that, but are now in a position to know what happened. I don‘t know, but it certainly seems like that could potentially be what‘s going on.
OLBERMANN: And given that Mukasey was working as a judge, if I remember the timing—was working blocks from ground zero. He also said that without telecom immunity, we face the prospect of disclosure in open court the means and methods by which we collect foreign intelligence against foreign targets. Is there even a shred of accuracy in that?
MADDOW: No, that is more bull pucky. He is a federal judge. He knows. Federal courts deal with classified information all the time. They have a whole bunch of different ways of dealing with it. They have closed court rooms. They have ex-parte communications. They hear things in judge‘s chambers.
There are all sorts of different ways that courts have dealt with this. This is another situation where something going on in the war on terror they‘re telling us is completely unprecedented. It‘s something like we have never had to deal with before as a nation. Whereas, actually, our courts have perfectly operable systems for dealing with classified information.
There is obviously something that was wrong in our government at the time on 9/11 that left us unprepared for and surprised by 9/11. There is something that was deeply, deeply wrong. It was not the constitution that was wrong.
OLBERMANN: We had intelligence. We had the physical material. We had all of the material there. We had no intelligence in the government, as in the brain.
MADDOW: Small I intelligence.
OLBERMANN: Rachel Maddow of MSNBC and Air America, great thanks, and from all of us here on COUNTDOWN, happy birthday.
MADDOW: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Celebrations for other reasons, in the home of Jim and Debbie Shank tonight; Wal-Mart has conceded. They won the lawsuit and now they say the Shanks get to keep the money. So we have a whole new slate of worst persons tonight. Well, new from last night. Comedian Rush Limbaugh may wind up getting a Democrat elected to Congress. Perfect, next.
OLBERMANN: One of the greatest falsehoods in the English language, the cliche that asserts any publicity is good publicity. Ask Wal-Mart. In our number two story on the COUNTDOWN, the retail giant has tonight reversed course, dropped its lawsuit after weeks of building outrage over its treatment of Debbie Shank, one of its former Missouri employees horribly injured in a 2000 truck accident. She was left with a little over 400,000 dollars in settlement money to pay for a lifetime of 24 hour a day care, about the amount Wal-Mart‘s health plan had paid her after she was hit by a semi.
Wal-Mart sued her for that money, all the way to the Supreme Court, and won. We have mentioned the case of 52 year old Debbie Shank each night since last Thursday. That coverage has itself inspired reporting in newspapers from Miami to Chicago to today “Women‘s Wear Daily” and “US News.” As late as this morning, Wal-Mart had re-issued a statement insisting it had to sue Mrs. Shank, whose son died in Iraq six days after that suit was filed, because the money it paid her had to be returned to the health plan so that it can pay the future claims of other associates and their family members.
But this afternoon, Jim Shank, who had divorced his wife Debbie during the suit because her Medicaid payment would go up slightly if she were single, told us he had received a letter from Wal-Mart saying the company now plans to drop its claim. The company‘s personnel chief, Pat Curren (ph), writing, “occasionally, others help us step back and look at a situation in a different way. This is one of those times.”
Mrs. Shank can keep the money still in her trust fund. It‘s now about 277,000 dollars. It will go to her care. Amen. Now, what is Wal-Mart going to do to compensate this family for the unnecessary grief of the last year and a half of legal torture? Jim Shank, by the way, joins us tomorrow night on COUNTDOWN. A nice surprise for our fifth anniversary week.
We commemorate tonight in less noble but far snarkier fashion the day the police report on the arrest of Senator Larry Craig inspired an edition of Dragnet. Just the facts, fellow. That‘s next, but first time COUNTDOWN‘s Worst Person in the World.
The bronze to CIA director General Michael Hayden. We didn‘t have time for this one last night. It was from “Meet the Press” on Sunday. His proud announcement that torture is just a legal term. And this priceless quotation, we have not water boarded anyone in now over five years.
That long, huh? That‘s like seeing one of those boastful safety first signs at a factory somewhere, accident free for six days.
Runners up, Steve Doocy and Gretchen Carlson of Fixed News, blasting Democratic chair Howard Dean, claiming Dean had said new McCain ads referencing McCain‘s time as a POW in the Hanoi Hilton were, and I‘m quoting Ducey quoting Dean, blatant opportunism. Carlson, the minor bird on the show, then said, he called him a blatant opportunist.
Actually, Dean issued a statement after McCain‘s so-called policy speeches about Iraq and the economy last week, the ones that were startlingly free of any policy, in which he said, Dean did, “while we honor McCain‘s military service, the fact is Americans want a real leader who offers real solutions, not a blatant opportunist who doesn‘t understand the economy and is promising to keep our troops in Iraq for 100 years.”
No reference to the ads. No reference to his time as a POW. No
reference to the Hanoi Hilton. But otherwise, Ducey and Carlson were, as
usual, right on the money. I must congratulate both of them for finding their office every day. The challenge that must represent to them I can‘t imagine.
But our winner, comedian Rush Limbaugh. You will recall his Operation Chaos. No, not a reference to his doctor shopping. This was when he told Republicans in Mississippi to cross over and vote for Senator Clinton in the Democratic primary last week. Comedian never mentioned, he didn‘t know, didn‘t care, wasn‘t conscious at the time—we don‘t know—that Mississippi Republicans who did cross over in the primary could not then vote in next week‘s special Republican primary runoff for Congress in the state‘s first district. And that may wind up costing the more conservative of the two Republican candidates as many as 3,000 votes. That figures to be enough to give his more moderate rival the Republican nomination.
It gets worse. One of the Democrats running for the seat in the Mississippi first is considered more conservative than 85 percent of the Republicans in the state. Meaning Rush Limbaugh‘s big mouth may get a Democrat elected to Congress. Comedian Rush “Hoist on his own Petard” Limbaugh, today‘s Worst Person in the World!
OLBERMANN: Yes, it is fifth anniversary week here at COUNTDOWN. And amid the serious recollections of the extraordinary times, it is imperative too to recall the occasions in which the newscast went into the toilet, literally.
Our number one story, last August, an awaiting world learned Senator Larry Craig had been arrested earlier inside a public restroom at the airport in Minneapolis. The police report, when read allowed, sounded surprisingly to us like the cliched cop show of all cliched cop shows, and we brought you then, as we bring you tonight, Dragnet; Larry Craig meets Joe Friday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The story you are about to see is true. The names have not been changed to protect anybody.
OLBERMANN (voice-over): This is the city, Minneapolis, Minnesota. I work here. I carry a badge. It was Tuesday, June 11. It was sunny and warm for Minneapolis. I was assigned to the vice squad, working in the men‘s room at the airport. My boss is Chief Dolan. My name is Karsnia. I‘m a cop, a cop on the toilet.
At 1200 hours I was working a plain clothes detail involving lewd conduct in the main men‘s public restroom of the Northstar crossing of the Lenburg Terminal. From my seated position, I could observe the shoes and ankles of the person seated to the right of me. An unidentified person entered to the left of me. From my seated position I was able to see his shoes and ankles.
At 12:13 hours, I could see an older white male with gray hair standing outside my stall. He was standing about 3 feet away and had a roller bag with him. The male was later identified by driver‘s license as Larry Edwin Craig. I could see Craig look through the crack of the door from his position.
Craig would look down at his hands, fidget with his fingers, and then look through the crack into my stall again. Craig would repeat the cycle for about two minutes. I was able to see Craig‘s blue eyes as he looked into my stall. At 12:15 hours, the male in the stall to the left of me flushed the toilet and exited the stall. Craig entered the stall and placed his roller bag against the front of the stall door.
My experience has shown that individuals engaging in lewd conduct use their bags to block the view from the front of their stall. From my position, I could observe the shoes and ankles of Craig seated to the left of me. He was wearing dress pants with black dress shoes. At 12:16 hours, Craig tapped his feet. I recognized this is a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct.
Craig tapped his toes several times, then moved his foot closer to my foot. I moved my foot up and down slowly. While this was occurring, the male in the stall to my right was still present. I could hear several unknown persons in the restroom that appeared to use the restroom for its intended use. The presence of others did not seem to deter Craig as he moved his right foot so that it touched the side of my left foot, which was within my stall area.
At 12:17 hours, I saw Craig swipe his hand under the stall divided for a few seconds. The swipe went from the direction from the front door side of the stall back towards the back wall. Craig swiped his hand again for a few seconds in the same motion to where I could see more of his fingers. Craig then swiped his hand in the same motion a third time for a few seconds.
I could see that it was Craig‘s left hand due to the position of his thumb. I could also see Craig had a gold ring on his ring finger as his hand was on my side of the stall divider. At about 12:19 hours, I held my police identification in my right hand down by the floor so that Craig could see it. With my left hand near the floor, I pointed to the exit.
Craig responded, no. I again pointed toward the exit. Craig exited the stall with his roller bags without flushing the toilet. Craig handed me a business card that identified him as a U.S. senator as he stated, what do you think about that. I responded by setting his business card down on the table and again asking him for his driver‘s license.
Later, in a recorded post-Miranda interview, Craig stated the following; he‘s a commuter. He went into the bathroom. He was standing outside the stall for one to two minutes, waiting for the stall. He has a wide stance when going to the bathroom and that is foot may have touched mine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The story you have just seen is true. On August 8th, Larry Craig pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in court number one for the County of Hennepin. He never told anybody about it. Not his family, not his constituents, not the U.S. Senate‘s, not until his conference on August 28th. In one moment, the results of that news conference.
OLBERMANN: Defendant also admitted a bathroom tile had apparently fallen on his head. The actor did. That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 1,797th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
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