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'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Friday, September 12

Read the transcript to the Friday show

Guests: Richard Wolffe, Markos Moulitsas, Chris Hayes

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

The Sarah Palin interview.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And the Iraq, everywhere like such as -


OLBERMANN:  I‘m sorry, wrong tape.  The Sarah Palin interview.


CHARLES GIBSON, ABC NEWS:  Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?



OLBERMANN:  Governor Palin doesn‘t know what the Bush doctrine is.

Tonight: Part three, again, about opposing the “Bridge to Nowhere.”  It‘s another $100 I owe.  And she bristles when asked about the earmark she got as governor, including the request for $3,200,000,000 so Alaska could research the genetics of harbor seals and the mating habits of crabs, Charlie.

Worse for the governor: She links 9/11 to Iraq.  Not she did seven

years ago; she did it yesterday, telling the striker brigade shipping out

to Iraq, including her own son -


PALIN:  You‘ll be there to defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the deaths of thousands of Americans.


OLBERMANN:  And while Senator McCain swears he will give us victory in Iraq, General Petraeus says he does not know if anybody can declare victory in Iraq.

In Bushed: The White House replaces Osama bin Laden as the mastermind of 9/11, they called him that in 2006.  But in 2008, it says the mastermind of 9/11 was somebody else.  Somebody else they already caught.

Mastermind in more fake umbrage.


NARRATOR:  They said she was doing “what she was told.”  Then, desperately, called Sarah Palin a liar.  How disrespectful.


OLBERMANN:  Is it disrespectful to call somebody who‘s lying a liar?  “O” is for Obama.  “O” is for offense.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D-IL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  So when American workers hear John McCain talking about putting country first, it‘s fair to ask, which country?


OLBERMANN:  World‘s worst.  I think Lou Dobbs just challenged me to a duel.

And world‘s funniest: John McCain meets “The View” about the judges he wants.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R-AZ) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I want people who interpret the Constitution of the United States the way our founding fathers envisioned for them to do.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, “THE VIEW” CO-HOST:  Should I be worried about being a slave, with being returned to slave?  Certain things happened in the Constitution that you had to change.

MCCAIN:  I understand your point.



OLBERMANN:  And then (ph) deny it.

All that and more: Now on COUNTDOWN.

(on camera):  Good evening.  This is Friday, September 12th, 53 days until the 2008 presidential election.

We‘re keeping a close watch on the impending landfall of Hurricane Ike though it‘s not likely to make significant news for another 90 minutes or two hours.  We will update from the scene and from the weather computer throughout.

We will start, however, with our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: The aftermath of the first Palin interviews.  Since any analogy that doesn‘t compare to her to Madam Currie will be exploited by the McCain campaign as sexist.  The safest comparison is probably one to one of those Sarah Palin dolls already available on the Internet—a talking model with a pull string that allows it to say as many as 10 different phrases, over and over and over again.

If you have not seen any part of Governor Palin‘s interviews with ABC News and find yourself asking, were they really that bad?  She did not know what interviewer Charlie Gibson meant when he calmly asked if she believed in the Bush doctrine, didn‘t get it at the second time either.  And pressed three times about supporting an Israeli strike against Iran nukes, she simply reworded the same answer which was predicated on repeating that she couldn‘t second guess, second guess, second guess.

In the most recent installment airing earlier tonight on ABC, Governor Palin both lying by insisting she opposed the “Bridge to Nowhere,” then when Charlie Gibson would not let her get away with that, tried to claim that earmark of use (ph) by her was OK because she claimed she sought the money openly and because she only received the money.  The evil Congress in Washington did the granting of it, Charlie.


PALIN:  And, Charlie, we killed the “Bridge to Nowhere” and that‘s the bottom line.

GIBSON:  You said you now agree with John McCain that earmarks should be eliminated.  The state of Alaska, governor, this year, requested $3.2 million for researching the genetics of harbor seals, money to study the mating habits of crabs.  Isn‘t that exactly the kind of thing that John McCain is objecting to?

PALIN:  Those requests, through our research divisions and fish and game and our wildlife departments and our universities, those research requests did come through that system, but wanting it to be in the light of day, not behind closed doors with lobbyists making deals with Congress to stick things in there—under the public radar.  That‘s the abuse that we‘re going to stop.


OLBERMANN:  She lied about the bridge again.  Another $100 to charity and another 25 fictional cans of Aunt Sarah‘s moose chunks stew to some lucky viewer.

At no point did it seem more apparent that Governor Palin does not have the chops to be vice president let alone president.  And when it seemed as if she had never before heard the term Bush doctrine.



GIBSON:  Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?

PALIN:  In what respect, Charlie?

GIBSON:  The Bush—well, what do you—what do you interpret it to be?

PALIN:  His world view.

GIBSON:  No, the Bush doctrine enunciated September, 2002, before the Iraq war.

PALIN:  I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell bent on destroying our nation.  There have been blunders along the way, though.  There have been mistakes made.  And with new leadership, and that‘s the beauty of American elections, of course, and democracy, is with new leadership comes opportunity to do things better.

GIBSON:  The Bush doctrine, as I understand it, is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense, that we have the right to a preemptive strike against any other country that we think is going to attack us.  Do you agree with that?

PALIN:  I agree that a president‘s job, when they swear in their oath to uphold our Constitution, their top priority is to defend the United States of America.


OLBERMANN:  Bush doctrine, Monroe doctrine, Truman doctrine, “Truman Show.”  Could James Bond really (ph) eyeball Russia from his home state of Virginia?  Could the “show-me state” show Harry Truman Joseph Stalin‘s backyard?

Gibson asking, “What insight into Russian actions particularly in the last couple weeks does the proximity of the state give you?”  Governor answered, “They‘re our next door neighbors and you can see actually Russia from land here in Alaska.”

I can see right in the headquarters of Chase Bank from office.  So, on the Sarah Palin scale, that makes me Alan Greenspan.

What it surprise that Governor Palin sees war Russia as a distinct possibility, as a direct result of giving Georgia NATO membership which she advocates.  Mr. Gibson asking, “Under the NATO treaty, wouldn‘t we then have to go to war if Russia went into Georgia?”  The governor is saying, “Perhaps so.  That is the agreement when you are a NATO ally is, if another country is attacked, you are going to be expected to be called upon and help.”

Clearly struggling with foreign policy in general, Governor Palin is specifically contradicting the Pakistan policy of her own running mate.  Gibson asked, “Do we have the right, in your mind, to go across the border with or without the approval of the Pakistani government?”  She answered, “In order to stop Islamic extremists, those terrorists who would seek to destroy America and our allies, we must do whatever it takes, and we must not blink, Charlie, in making the tough decisions of where we go and even who we target.”

Senator McCain having said this summer about Pakistan, and I‘m quote, “I‘m not going to go there and here is why because Pakistan is a sovereign nation.”  Maybe the proverb is true, travel does broaden the mind.

Gibson asking, “Did you ever traveled outside the country prior to your trip to Kuwait and Germany last year?  Her answer: “Canada.  Mexico.  And then, that trip that was a trip of a lifetime to visit troops in Kuwait and stop and visit injured soldiers in Germany.  That was a trip of a lifetime and it changed by life.”

Indeed, it was the trip of her lifetime.  In fact, it was the only trip of her lifetime outside North America, which would make it hard to meet foreign heads of state.

Gibson asking, “Have you ever met a foreign head of state?”  Palin said, “I have not.  And I think if you go back in history and if you ask that question of many vice presidents, they may have the same answer that I just gave you.”

In fact, every vice president in the last 32 years, and every living vice president has met a foreign head of state before taking office.  More lying or simply not knowing.

Gibson asked, “Have you ever given any kind of command decision to the Alaska National Guard?”  Palin answered, “We have called National Guardsmen to help in other states who have gone in emergency status.  We have assisted there.”

False.  Governor Palin has never issued an order to the Alaska National Guard.  You know what else she has not done to our knowledge, properly pronounced the word “nuclear.”


PALIN:  I believe that under the leadership of Ahmadinejad, nuclear weapons in the hands of his government are extremely dangerous to everyone on this globe, yes.  We cannot just concede that—oh, gee, maybe they are going to have nuclear weapons, what can we do about it.  No way.


OLBERMANN:  Is it too much to ask that the next chief executive of this country and his assistant, know how to pronounce the word “nuclear”—both of them?  After eight years, don‘t we all deserve that much?

In one respect, however, there is universal agreement that the governor did well.  A media coach‘s instruction for a politician, for a sportscaster, for a snake oil salesman, alike, it is always this—say your interviewer‘s name as often as possible.


GIBSON:  President of the United States of America.

PALIN:  I do, Charlie.  All about, Charlie.  God-given, Charlie.  From God, Charlie.  This table, Charlie.  And, Charlie.  In what respect, Charlie.  To Charlie, Charlie, Charlie, blink, Charlie.

GIBSON:  Really?

PALIN:  But, Charlie, again -


OLBERMANN:  Time now to call in our own Richard Wolffe, mind if we call you Charlie just to keep it clear?  He, of course is.


OLBERMANN:  . the senior White House correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine.  Good evening to you, sir.

WOLFFE:  Good evening.

OLBERMANN:  McCain‘s spokesman, Tucker Bounds, told MSNBC this afternoon that the Palin interview was impactful, which is an interesting choice of words.  The clearly is not a lie.  That is the truth.  He didn‘t say what kind of impact, did he?

WOLFFE:  No, and I think Tucker may have been on a trip of a lifetime himself.


WOLFFE:  This is a kind of deep asteroid impact.  What you have here is not just a cumulative effect.  Let‘s just pull out one thing—shall we—and examine what would have happened, had Barack Obama, given that response about NATO, you pulled out a bit of it, but it‘s a really important point here.

Given how the McCain campaign has talked about Russia and Georgia, Charlie Gibson actually did a good job of pressing Governor Palin—was it worth going to war—would it be worth going to war with Russia over Georgia.  Her response was this, “Yes, if someone has invaded NATO allies are called on to come and help.”  But she went further, she said, “Actually, what it really it‘s about, it‘s about being vigilant.  If a big country invades a small country, we might not get to war,” she said, “maybe there just be economic sanctions.”

Well, now, listen, either Governor Palin is arguing for the complete evisceration of the world‘s greatest military alliance and turning it into the European Union or she doesn‘t really understand what NATO is, what mutual self-defense really represents.  And, again, had Barack Obama said this kind of thing, everyone in the conservative media would have said -- he does not understand national security.

OLBERMANN:  Or if he had given the answer about the Bush doctrine.  Or it wasn‘t an answer, it was, in fact, a series of questions in response, basically that amounted to, I don‘t know what you‘re talking about.  Is it more frightening the fact, that she answered the way she did and then runoff into some prepared material, or that she seemed utterly unfamiliar with that term?

WOLFFE:  The troubling thing, actually, has been hearing people all day saying—well, you know, there are lots of doctrines out there.  And she did kind of well.  You know, this isn‘t, actually, “America‘s Got Talent.”  This is not a case where you just say, well, you know, she hasn‘t had much time to practice for this kind of thing.

The Bush doctrine isn‘t just any old piece of the Bush legacy.  It is the critical piece of the response to 9/11, the justification for going into war in Iraq and national security.  After all, it is considered the strength of this ticket.  That‘s been the argument that Governor Palin and Senator McCain have said all along.  So, it‘s not just a lack of familiarity; it‘s knowing what that ticket represents.  The ticket that she is on, that‘s where the troubling aspect of this is.

OLBERMANN:  And I thought there was a chance she was going to say that she was a rolling rock gal herself.

But now, this earmarks thing from tonight, she‘s claimed that

accepting them, that part of the equation here—the acceptance of the

earmarks is OK, the peddling of pork is evil.  Is there an analogy there to

it‘s OK to take illicit drugs, but dealing them, those are the people who are solely responsible for the equation?


WOLFFE:  Well, on this one, I actually kind of admired the dodging spirit here.  And if Sarah Palin was running against John McCain as opposed to running with him, then this would have been a great response.  Unfortunately, John McCain had several years of statements about why he opposes earmarks, why he opposes pork barrel spending.

And the use of lobbyist doesn‘t really crop out the secrecy.  It‘s a factor, but that‘s not the main factor.  The factor is wasteful spending.  So, it‘s an interesting dodge, it just doesn‘t comport to what her boss, the head of the ticket, represents.

OLBERMANN:  If you‘re an independent voter, you‘re not a member of the conservative Republican base, somebody undecided, somebody in the middle, that group of, I don‘t know, 1,000 people left, did the interview convince you that Governor Palin is ready to lead on day one or, you know, whatever it is, day 1,000?

WOLFFE:  Well, look, I suspect that a lot of people are looking at the tone and the composure of the performance.  And a lot of, frankly, what political reporters missed a bunch of stuff in this because the headlines were all about going to war with Russia as opposed to what does NATO represents.  A lot of people were taken in by the performance here and 50 percent of the country, apparently, thinks she is qualified, 50 percent doesn‘t.  So, I suspect these media interviews series doesn‘t really change very much.

OLBERMANN:  Last point here.  She‘s got her next big interview, Sean Hannity of “fixed news” next Tuesday.  If you‘re a betting man, Richard, what are the odds that we will ever see Governor Palin on “MEET THE PRESS”, “Face the Nation,” in front of the “Newsweek” editorial board, or anywhere else where there are actual journalists ever again until her debate?

WOLFFE:  Unlikely and I would expect Rachel Ray to ask more piercing questions about her moose stew.

OLBERMANN:  Got a good recipe for moose.

Richard Wolffe of “Newsweek” and MSNBC, and not named Charlie—thanks, have a good weekend, Richard.

WOLFFE:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Something Charlie Gibson did not ask in his otherwise impeccable probing of the governor‘s mind, she herself brought up, unexpectedly, in front of the troops shipping out to Iraq, her own son included.  She told them they were going to defend America against the people who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans.  You heard it.  She linked 9/11 to Iraq in 2008.  Next.


OLBERMANN:  The mantra is—how different they are from Bush and Cheney.  Yet, the Republican vice presidential nominee has just insisted in public to American troops and the American people that people those troops will fight in Iraq are responsible for 9/11.  This as the White House itself changes the identity of its real life version of Goldstein—this just in—Osama bin Laden was not the mastermind of those attacks.

And the latest on Hurricane Ike making landfall but hours away from making its biggest news.

You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN:  The false link, the disproved link between the attacks of 9/11 and Iraq has been made anew not by President Bush—who has finally given up on lying about that, at least in public—but by the candidate who would be vice president, Governor Palin.

In the fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: Another common assertion that the United States would be able to declare victory in Iraq, Mr. McCain‘s main point has been brought into question by no less than authority than General Petraeus.

Governor Palin, first.  She spoke yesterday in Fort Wainwright, Alaska to an Iraq-bound army brigade striker combat team of the 25th infantry division, which includes her own son.


PALIN:  You‘ll be there to defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans.


OLBERMANN:  The governor had been invited to address the brigade before she was chosen as Senator McCain‘s running mate but the ceremony was deliberately set for September 11th, in part, to be, quote-unquote, “theatrical.”  According to Major Chris Hyde, the brigade‘s public affairs officer, the brigade will not actually be deployed until later this month.

As for that theater of war, General Petraeus characterized the situation there as, quote, “still hard but hopeful.”  But he said he did not know that he would ever use the word victory.  Quoting, “This is not the sort of struggle where you take a hill, plant the flag, and go home to a victory parade.  It‘s not war with a simple slogan.”

Let‘s call in the Washington editor for “The Nation” magazine, Chris Hayes.

Good evening, Chris.

CHRIS HAYES, THE NATION:  Hey, Keith.  How are you doing, Keith? 

Good to see you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Thank you, Chris.  Chris, which is scarier, Chris, the possibility that Governor Palin does not realize that Iraq not only had nothing to do with 9/11, but the people who said that then, with the exception maybe of Vice President Cheney, have all pretty much abandoned that or are they‘re under, you know, no longer in public life.  Which is scarier, that idea or the possibility she knows better and it‘s just a set to perpetuate this lie?

HAYES:  Well, it depends.  I mean, neither option is good.  I think it‘s terrifying if she doesn‘t know.  I mean, you know, after every single sources debunked this claim.  If she really believed that, that‘s terrifying because it demonstrates just how completely and utterly out of her depth she is right now.  If she‘s propagating unintentionally, I think it‘s repugnant because it‘s false and it‘s the kind of falsity that has led this nation into a war that never should have been waved.

The point is that and this is the takeaway, it‘s almost like the last seven years haven‘t happened.  I mean, that‘s really what it seems like when you hear her talk about foreign policy.

OLBERMANN:  Did—in that context, particularly—did Governor Palin see somehow what worked in 2001 and 2002 and is now something sort of becoming a new person to this field and saying, well, gee, this works really well, I‘m going to try to follow it now.  Was she actively trying to cast herself as the heir to Bush and Cheney?

HAYES:  You know, I can‘t speculate on what she‘s trying to do.  I do think that her responses to Charlie Gibson were tremendously Bush-like.  Particularly the notion that it‘s not what she knows or experience or anything like that, it‘s just that she doesn‘t blink, that she‘s clear-eyed and she‘s sure of herself, which is exactly the kind of mindset that the Bush administration just played.

But—in some ways, Sarah Palin is sort of beside the point.  She‘s saying the foreign policy views of the man at the top of the ticket, John McCain, which are totally crazy, frankly.  And the fact of the matter is, the Obama campaign has been going around and saying Bush and, you know, McCain is more of the same—McCain-Palin is more of the same.

But, on foreign policy, McCain is worse than Bush.  The Bush administration has actually been cowed, a little bit, marginally, not enough, by all the failure of the last several years.  McCain, I think, he sees the success of the surge as validating the entirety of his world view and it‘s doubling (ph) down and wants to be even more bellicose, even more forward-leaning in terms of foreign policy.

OLBERMANN:  General Petraeus is part of the story.  The opposite of crazy—he injected a dose of realism into this matrix of victory versus defeat in Iraq.  And he was explaining basically the word does not really apply to this kind of war, which we‘ve heard before.  But what—I mean, it is central to the McCain campaign, he is taken on against the advice of many Republicans.  He‘s taken on the idea—we‘re in Iraq, we can stay there forever, we‘re going to win, I‘m the one who can win, I‘m bringing you victory in Iraq—all these terms.

What does he do about General Petraeus saying this?

HAYES:  Well, I‘m tempted to say he ignores it and goes back to lying and slandering Barack Obama.  But, I think that, you know, look—he‘s going to ignore it.  And the fact of the matter is, as I sat, you know, I sat for four days of the Republican National Convention, straining my ears to hear what the plan for Iraq was.

OK, let‘s the success has brought, the surge brought down violence in Iraq.  OK, let‘s stipulate that.  What is the plan forward?  There is no plan forward.  Victory—victory he didn‘t design and you cannot win an occupation.

And what‘s really, really frustrating is the fact that there is no other area of policy and political debate in which your prescription could be to just spend $12 billion a month and keep 140,000 Americans somewhere with no definitive strategic end point.

OLBERMANN:  The one thing about the Petraeus statement, does it have value in any way for Obama?

HAYES:  I think it does.  I mean, you know, I would like to say it does and I think that every statement made by the people who are close to the situation in Iraq had backed up the fundamental Obama vision of beginning some king of responsible phased withdrawal, whether that‘s Nouri al-Maliki or whether it‘s General Petraeus.  The problem is that all this is sort of being washed away in this, you know, battery of nonsense that the campaign has become and you wonder how much the actual real life (ph) experience of what‘s happening in Iraq and puncture (ph) through that.

OLBERMANN:  Well, we just need people who live near Iraq to look into it and they can see what‘s happening from a distance.

Chris Hayes, the Washington editor of “The Nation,”—thank you, Chris.

HAYES:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Hurricane Ike, still couple of hours until we know if there‘s real damage or just really visceral video.  Our brief update.

And then back to the politics, John McCain bashes small town mayors and short term governors?  Opps.  Just say, “Opps,” and get out.  McCain and the Membrane, ahead.

But first, the headlines breaking in the administration‘s 50 running scandals—Bushed.

Number three: President petulant-gate.  Another nugget from the Woodward book.  Admiral William Fallon at the White House meeting on Iran in spring 2007, quote, “I think we need to do something to get engaged with these guys,” says Fallon.  “Well,” President Bush said, “these are blank holes.”  Fallon was stunned, declaring them blank holes was not a strategy.  Lots of words and ideas were thrown around the meeting especially about the Iranian leaders.  They were bad, evil and out of touch with their people but no one offered a real approach.

It did never dawned (ph) on the admiral apparently that Mr. Bush might have thought that since calling his opponent‘s curse names got him reelected president in this country, it would also defeat his opponents in other countries.

Number two: Blood for oil-gate.  You were recall that cat got out of the bag early this summer when Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, Shell, Total, BP, and a couple of other western companies got the first contracts to handle Iraqi oil in the post-Saddam era.  The contracts were oddly enough no bid deals.  And they involve oil with which we have been told in 2003, the Iraqis would pay for the entire cost of the war themselves.

Well, guess what?  The Iraqis have cancelled the deals.  On the other hand, Iraq has confirmed its first major post-Saddam oil contract with a major global player, the China National Petroleum Corporation.  So, we‘ve sent 4,100 Americans to their death in Iraq to make that country safe for big oil, Chinese big oil.

Number one: Mastermind-gate.  Asked about how Mr. Bush has still never found Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of 9/11, Press Secretary Dana Perino, giving the surprising answer.  “No,” she said.  “Khalid Sheikh Mohammad was the mastermind of 9/11 and he‘s sitting in jail right now.”

The ball of intellectual fire in the White House Press Office was evidently unaware that on September 9th, 2006, her predecessor, the late, lamented, and very much missed, Tony Snow, made reference to, quote, “Osama bin Laden, mastermind of September 11th, the person that many people talked about and still had concerns about.”

Ms. Perino, to take the humor out about my favorite joke about you, there are, in fact, exits here, here and here.  And you would be doing this country quite a service if you took one of them—now.


OLBERMANN:  Another weekend, another potentially deadly hurricane.  We pause the COUNTDOWN for a moment for the latest from NBC‘s Jay Gray in Galveston, Texas, presently.  The briefest description is the most startling, a hurricane nearly as big as the state of Texas is baring down on the state of Texas.  Hurricane Ike, Category two, 600 miles across, winds at 105-miles-per-hour, may strengthen to a Category three by the time it makes land fall.  Predicted to come ashore somewhere near Galveston, with its awful history of hurricanes, particularly in 1900.

That would be late tonight or early in the morning.  It would then pass directly over Houston, in all probability, with pre-storm surges affecting Galveston hours ago.  About one million people were ordered to evacuate, all low lying coastal areas.  But about 90,000 unwise residents across just three counties refused, even after a warning forecasters that they faced certain death.  More than 60 people have already been rescued from those flood waters by helicopter.

Let‘s go to now Galveston and our own Jay Gray. 

JAY GRAY, NBC NEWS ANCHOR:  Keith, here comes Ike.  The conditions really intensifying here right now.  The wind has picked up dramatically.  The rain is beginning to pound Galveston Island.  Take a look at the water behind us in the Gulf, really starting to rage now.  It‘s been coming up and over the 17 foot sea wall here and on to the roadway.  Speaking of the roadway, take a look at all of the debris that‘s been dumped to this point.  City crews initially thought they could clean some of this up.  They abandoned that effort when they saw they could not stay ahead of the storm.

Staying ahead of the storm is a big issue.  Emergency responders here say they will try and to stay and respond to problems as long as they can.  At some point, they are going to have to move back in their bunker positions and wait until Ike passes.  That could be an issue because as many as 40 percent of the residents have decided to stay and ride Ike out.  At that point, they will be on their own.  That could be for quite some time. 

If we get the catastrophic flooding that‘s talked about, with the 20 to 25 foot storm surge and then the winds well over 100-miles-per-hour, it could be late Saturday or even more likely Sunday before any help is on the way. 

On Galveston Island, I‘m Jay Gray.  Keith, now back to you. 

OLBERMANN:  Good luck, Jay, thank you.  Jay Gray at Galveston. 

When is calling somebody who lies a liar disrespectful?  McCain tries to stir up more phony umbrage, even as the Associated Press calls him and his running mate out on their lies.  Markos Moulitsas joins me. 

Speaking of lies, St. Rudy of 9/11 has his own edition of Wikipedia.  Apparently, it exists only inside his own head, however.  Worsts persons ahead.


OLBERMANN:  The liars paradox is a philosophical assumption that a liar who lies must be telling the truth.  The flaw in it is that liars don‘t tell the truth.  In our the third story on the COUNTDOWN, not just the Obama campaign, but outside observers like the Associated Press have suddenly begun calling out the lies of the McCain campaign.  Throw in a dose of hypocrisy and that projection we discussed on Wednesday and you have this new TV spot. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He was the world‘s biggest celebrity.  But his star is fading.  So they lashed out at Sarah Palin, dismissed her as good looking.  That backfired.  So they said she was doing what she was told.  Then desperately called Sarah Palin a liar.  How disrespectful.  And how Governor Sarah Palin proves them wrong every day. 

MCCAIN:  I‘m John McCain and I approve this message. 


OLBERMANN:  Senator McCain, who also called Barack Obama attractive on David Letterman‘s celebrity heavy show this past March.  But the drum beat is growing loudest about claims in McCain ads about what he and the governor have and have not done and what have and have not been done to them.  Critical mass seemingly approaching, to the degree that even the Associated Press, at times accused of pandering to the GOP, now truth squadding the Mc-Palin pair.  Writes Charles Babbington, of whom I have been personally critical, of McCain, quote, “he keeps saying Palin killed the federally funded Bridge to Nowhere, when, in fact, she pulled her support only after the project became a political embarrassment.  He accuses Obama of calling Palin a pig, which did not happen.  He says Obama would raise nearly everyone‘s taxes, when independent groups say 80 percent of families would get tax cuts instead.” 

You have unsuspected depth, sir.  I‘m joined now by Markos Moulitsas, founder, publisher of, also the author of “Taking on The System.”  With this disclaimer that I infrequently post at the website.  Markos, good evening. 


OLBERMANN:  And to you.  Paul Krugman at the “New York Times” called McCain claim out and out lies.  That was his term.  The Associated Press went nearly that far.  Holy Don Paro‘s (ph) pants; is there a tipping point going on here? 

MOULITSAS:  God, I hope so, Keith.  Everybody knows.  The McCain campaign knows that they are lying.  His supporters know that he is lying.  The Obama campaign obviously knows he is lying.  The media knows he is lying.  For so long, they pretended that there‘s actually a legitimate debate happening in this campaign.  Now we‘re finally starting to get a spade called a spade.  I‘m hoping that this means the sort of treatment that Al Gore got unfairly in 2000 will now be fairly applied to John McCain and Sarah Palin. 

OLBERMANN:  Obviously, it‘s not about whether or not you or I or even reporters get this, but whether or not voters are able to separate fact from fiction.  Are they seeing this in any way, shape or form? 

MOULITSAS:  You know, I would really hope so.  If I‘m going to have any faith in this country, I really need to believe that.  Obviously, his supporters, John McCain‘s supporters don‘t care.  Anything that blames angers, anything that scores cheap points, anything that gets Barack Obama off his message for a day, it‘s fantastic, because if Obama gets to talk about the issues people really want to talk about, about the things that they need to make their lives better, John McCain doesn‘t stand a chance. 

So the best chance they have is to knock him off balance every day by throwing mud and knowing it ain‘t going to stick to the wall.  They don‘t care because tomorrow, they will have something new to throw at that wall. 

OLBERMANN:  The idea of the lie is not exactly new in American politics, but the idea of it doesn‘t matter whether or not people believe it, just as it keeps a variety of them gaining, is maybe kind of new.  You mentioned the Gore campaign, or the campaign against Gore.  Is this Republican campaign kind of a bastard child of the Bush‘s campaign to start the war in Iraq, because nobody could stand-up and say, conclusively, everyone of these 400 lies are, in fact,lies.  Did that make it possible and an acceptable campaign strategy, lie because they can‘t possibly disprove you fast enough? 

MOULITSAS:  Clearly, you say something long enough and repeat it enough and you hope that people start believing it, even if the truth is completely different.  We saw this on a very small scale after the Republican convention, when people say the teleprompter malfunctioned for Sarah Palin.  She did that without the teleprompter.  Of course, the teleprompter worked fine, but it did not matter, because in the world of the Republican fart, you create your own alternative reality and you say it enough and hope that people think that‘s actually what reality is. 

OLBERMANN:  Your new book, “Taking on the System,” is discussing the rise of technology in giving ordinary people a larger role in this political process, or whatever we have that looks like a political process.  Is it impacting—are you able to document where it applies in this election? 

MOULITSAS:  Well, I think it‘s absolutely having an impact.  For one, just on a broader macro- level, this has allowed the Obama campaign to really speak to his supporters directly, without going through the media filter.  We know, given the way the media has covered this campaign, that if we depend on the media, we‘re in really big trouble as progressives.  On a more tangible level, for example, when John McCain selected Sarah Palin as his running mate, Daily Kos community ran into action.  Her membership in the Alaska Independence Party and a lot of other things really sort of stemmed from this open source, grass roots investigative reporting that‘s going on on sites like Daily Kos and others like it. 

OLBERMANN:  The use—finally, to come back where we started, the use of the term lie, even by one political campaign towards the other, that is kind of a watershed thing.  People have been reluctant to use it.  Why be reluctant to use, if that‘s the apt word? 

MOULITSAS:  Democrats haven‘t been lying in the campaign, so Republicans haven‘t had any occasion to use it, because they would have had no problem doing this a long time ago, had the opportunity presented itself.  It‘s our side.  I think you have somebody in Barack Obama who really believes in this high minded, changing politics thing.  The reality is that politics is still a blood sport.  

OLBERMANN:  Let‘s see if we can arrange a day next week where everybody goes around and answers every question, in what regard, Charlie.  We‘ll just call it Sarah Palin Day.  Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos, a pleasure, as always, my friend.  Take care. 

MOULITSAS:  Thank you very much. 

OLBERMANN:  Meantime, Senator McCain appeared on “The View” today.  While the strict construction of the United States Constitution does not normally elicit guffaws in daytime TV, it did there, albeit in a very uncomfortable way.  Mr. McCain said he would appoint Supreme Court judges who strictly construed the Constitution.  Whoopi Goldberg asked if he wanted strict constitutionalists. 


MCCAIN:  I want people who interpret the constitution of the United States the way our founding fathers envision for them to do. 

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, “THE VIEW”:  Should I worry about being a slave?  Being returned to slavery?  Certain things happened in the Constitution that you had to change. 

MCCAIN:  I understand your point.  I understand your point.  Thank you.  That‘s an excellent point. 



OLBERMANN:  Cindy McCain joined him and said that, like her husband, she has always been pro-life.  She was asked if she agrees with Governor Palin that there should not even been exceptions for rape or incest, Mrs.  McCain said that she and her husband disagreed with Palin on that.  Senator McCain also insisted that his recent ads, quote, are not lies.  But when pressed by Barbara Walters about what specific reforms Governor Palin had brought to Alaska, he referred to cutting earmarks.  Miss Walters corrected him, that Governor Palin had accepted earmarks.  When McCain mentioned how Governor Palin had sold the plane, Walters added, quote, she it at a loss. 

Meanwhile, Lou Dobbs is hallucinating again.  I attacked him for his hypocrisy on illegal aliens.  He says I attacked his kids.  Now, he wants to hit me.  Worst persons coming up. 

Plus, Hurricane Ike coming ashore near Galveston.  We‘re tracking its progress.  The latest on that  First, our newest feature, the most outrageous or untrue thing said by or on behalf of Republican presidential nominee John McCain.  McCain in the membrane.  And for the latest winner, we move back in time just briefly to October 21st of last year.  Remember that since that day, he‘s attacked Obama for insulting small town Americans.  He‘s also found Sarah Palin, making this rediscovered clip from the vault from October 2007, the Republican debate, today‘s McCain in the membrane. 


MCCAIN:  I am prepared.  I am prepared.  I need no on the job training.  I wasn‘t a mayor for a short period of time.  I wasn‘t a governor for a short period of time.  I didn‘t manage for profit.  I led for patriotism. 


OLBERMANN:  Sarah Palin, mayor, two terms, Wasilla, Alaska.  Sarah Palin, governor 20 months, state of Alaska.  Short period of time?  In what respect, Charlie?  McCain in the membrane.


OLBERMANN:  Hurricane Ike still at least an hour or two from making the real news as it hits Texas.  We‘ll zone in on that with a brief preview just ahead.  But first time for COUNTDOWN‘s number two story, tonight‘s worst persons in the world. 

The bronze to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.  Continuing his comeback attempt by lying like a rug.  Telling Fixed News that it was obvious Governor Palin did to know what the Bush doctrine was.  When reminded that the governor, quote, had to be told by Charlie Gibson that the Bush doctrine is a preemptive strike, Giuliani bristled, not on Wikipedia.  Wikipedia says the Bush doctrine is irresponsible, some kind of irresponsible war monger. 

Nice try, Sylvester.  In 1,053 words, the Wikipedia entry for Bush Doctrine carefully and neutrally describes the Bush doctrine at great and boring length.  The words irresponsibility and war monger appear exactly no times, not even under the appendix at the end, titled criticism.  Rudy Giuliani just made that up. 

Our silver tonight to Lou Dobbs of CNN, appearing at the Value Voters Summit, run by the holier than thou Tony Perkins.  Lou said Governor Palin had been savaged in the media by Matt Damon and added that I was hanging by a, quote, seriously medicated thread, and insisted I went after his children and, thus, he would like to get me in a room alone for a frank sounding of ideas. 

Lou means a fight.  Lou likes to threaten people to fight.  He threatened to beat up the head of CNN sports in 1982, after that man took Mrs. Lou off the air because she could read allowed.  Lou was 37 then.  The head of CNN sports, who he wanted to beat up, was 62.  First of all, if Lou and I had a fight, we would look like two Sumo wrestlers bumping bellies.  Secondly, I never went after his children.  I went after him.  Lou spends his weeknights stirring up hatred of Hispanics and illegal immigrants.  Lou spends his weekends helping to financially support the industry horse shows that is the second or third largest employer of illegal immigrants.  That‘s for his children‘s horses.  The fact that its their children‘s horses is beside the point.  He‘s the one paying for the illegals while making money demanding the illegals be deported. 

Thirdly, Lou, I never went after your children.  I went after you.  Be a man.  Stop hiding behind your daughters‘ skirts. 

But our winner, Alasandra Stanley (ph) of the “New York Times.”  She has attacked Charles Gibson of ABC for his measured, fair and, above all else, simple and direct interview of Governor Palin.  She describes him as impatiently wriggling his foot, having the skeptical annoyed tone of a university president, who agrees to interview the daughter of a trustee, but doesn‘t believe she merits admission.  Miss Stanley misses the obvious, that it‘s Governor Palin, the applicant who, up until now, refused to be interviewed and simply was demanding admission anyway. 

Wait, there‘s more.  Gibson‘s, quote, “attitude was, at times, supercilious.  He asked if a nuclear Iran posed an existential threat to Israel, as if it were the land of Sartre, not Sabras.” 

That‘s a cute pun there, but the problem is the first definition of existential is not a philosophical line of thought popularized by John Paul Sartre, but rather, quote, but pertaining to existence.  A little known piece of trivia, but this segment was introduced one day when Alasandra Stanley, previously critical of MSNBC for never giving shows any kind of chance, demanded this network cancel a new show that had only been on the air for about a week.  By airtime that night, we, of course, had already found somebody who did something worse.  So what a feeling tonight to finally be able to say, Alasandra Stanley of the “New York Times,” today‘s worst person in the world. 


(WEATHER REPORT)              

OLBERMANN:  Stay with MSNBC for continuing coverage of the hurricane, live coverage throughout the night, starting, wall to wall, 10:00 pm Eastern, 9:00 Central.  For now, that‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 1,962nd day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.



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