Guest: Craig Crawford, Chris Hayes, Howard Fineman
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The day after for the Palin drone. Obama‘s poll numbers go up.
The likelihood McCain is stuck with her go even more up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R-AZ) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How about Sarah Palin last night, huh?
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
MCCAIN: How about her? How about the job she did, huh?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Well, instead of answering your question, senator, I‘m going to talk about pomegranate.
The McCain campaign takes Palin non-self emulation as a cue to attack the media. Her baffled (ph) answers to Katie Couric were Katie Couric‘s fault.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SARAH PALIN, ® VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And no matter what you say, you‘re going to get clobbered.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Especially, if you get everything wrong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: With the surge that has worked we‘re now down to pre-surge numbers in Iraq.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Yes, you‘ll get clobbered if you get the basic math wrong, and if you get the name of our commander in Afghanistan wrong, and if you get what he said wrong, and if you get your opponent‘s tax policy wrong, and if you get your own campaign‘s position on mortgages and bankruptcy wrong, and has to correct you the next day because you were wrong.
Tonight, the governor gets clobbered.
The bailout passes—too late for 159,000 more Americans who lost their jobs last month. The Republicans pretzel (ph) logic on this, they win on this because the bailout means you‘ll see less of President Bush now.
Membrane: McCain admits he loves bashing the media while denying he is bashing the media.
Worst: “Bill-O, the Clown” nominates himself to be moderator of the next debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BARNEY FRANK, (D) MASSACHUSSETTS: You don‘t listen at all, or maybe you are listening or you‘re too dumb to understand.
BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: I am too dumb, congressman.
FRANK: The fact is that in—yes.
O‘REILLY: No, you hit it, I‘m too dumb.
FRANK: In 2007.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Speaking of which, if you missed the debate, we will boil it down to three minutes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: (INAUDIBLE), hockey mom, “Joe Six Pack,” and I‘ll betcha, darn right, haven‘t I, darn right, betcha, “Joe Six Pack,” Senator Biden, and say it ain‘t so, Joe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: But so, it is. Just sounding less lost than you sounded last week is not good enough.
All that and more: Now on COUNTDOWN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O‘REILLY: Hello, I‘m Jim Lehrer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening. This is Friday, October 3rd, 32 days until the 2008 presidential election.
The Republican thinks Sarah Palin did so well last night that she will not be appearing on any of the Sunday news talk shows and there are no plans to have her do any live television interviews before the election, not even on FOX, not even if she gets the questions in advance in writing. Well, that‘s the same thing. Sorry.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: What Republicans are saying they think about how Sarah Palin did last night in front of nearly 70 million viewers, 18 million more than McCain and Obama got a week ago tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: Could I begin by asking you very briefly, how about Sarah Palin last night, huh?
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
MCCAIN: How about her, huh? How about the job she did, huh?
You know, I almost felt a little sorry last night for my old friend Joe Biden. She did a magnificent job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: At least one famous person agreed with McCain. We know
so because the campaign put up a Web ad quoting that famous person, quote,
“She killed it. It was her evening. She was the star,” unquote. Signed -
famous person. That unnamed famous person, we later learn, former Reagan speechwriter, Peggy Noonan.
Two national polls, however, conducted partially after the debate showing voters unconvinced today. Obama‘s lead unchanged or up a point or two. The Gallup daily tracking poll: Obama 49, McCain 42, for a seven-point lead. Hotline‘s tracking poll puts the Obama-Biden ticket at 48 with the six-point lead over 42 for McCain and Palin.
For that reason, presumably, and one he elaborated upon, Obama considered the debate a success.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D-IL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, there are a lot of noteworthy moments in the debate last night. But there‘s one that sticks out this morning. It‘s when Senator Palin said to Joe Biden or Governor Palin said to Joe Biden, that our plan to get our economy out of the ditch was somehow a job-killing plan. That‘s what she said.
I wonder if she turned on the news this morning. Because it was just reported that America has experienced its ninth straight month of job loss—ninth straight month.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: As for the governor herself, one might assume that if the McCain camp thought she had done a stellar job last night, they would have freed her to speak to the media today but this was the only real reporters can ask her about her own assessment of her performance last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Governor, how do you think you did?
PALIN: I think we did very well last night. It was energizing and I‘m happy to have (ph) the opportunity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Despite proclaiming her a star, they refused to let her shine today on any other outlet than “FOX noise,” and even that was taped. Ironically, when Palin complained to FOX about real journalism‘s gotcha questions like, which newspapers do you read, Palin inavertedly (ph) suggested what the McCain camp really thinks of her when she asked about McCain‘s pullout from Michigan, which was news yesterday but which she apparently learned of today from one of those unnamed newspapers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: I read that this morning, also. I fired off a quick e-mail and said, “Oh, come on. You know, do we have to? Do we have to call it there?” Todd and I would be happy to get to Michigan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Maybe it went to the spam file. But perhaps, most telling, as I suggested, if you want to know what McCain really thinks of Palin‘s performance, her ability to handle herself on the fly, check your TV guide. Talking Points Memo today noting that despite her claim she wants to somehow talk to voters without the filter of the mainstream media, despite McCain‘s claim that she can do live interviews, with a month to go, Governor Palin will not be appearing on a single Sunday morning news show this weekend nor or any plan in the near future.
Joining us now, MSNBC political analyst, Howard Fineman, also, of course, senior Washington correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine.
Howard, good evening.
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Quick tactical question: Why not say she did fine? Why such a hyperbolic phrase when it is out of sync with what uncommitted thought last night, with what the polls showed today, who was McCain talking to?
FINEMAN: Well, he‘s talking to himself, number one. But he‘s talking to the Republican faithful because this is an emotional business politics. A presidential campaign is like a crusade. You need up news for your people to keep them engaged. He was speaking to Republican organizers in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania or in Columbus, Ohio.
Don‘t forget the surround on this is the Michigan story that you mentioned. And not just the national polls but ones that the individual states like New Hampshire where there‘s a new poll showing Obama with a double-digit lead. Sop, he‘s trying to fire up his own troops and he can use any good news he can get right now to do so.
OLBERMANN: But, how does he square that good news and that lavish praise for her, in particular, with his refusal or certainly his campaign‘s refusal, to let her speak on her own somewhere?
FINEMAN: Well, because they are afraid to do so. I was down in St. Louis for the debate and I was fascinated by the fact that afterwards in the spin room, Keith, the top McCain spin masters and leaders weren‘t there. Steve Schmidt wasn‘t there, Mark Salter wasn‘t there. All the other people who‘d actually prepped her weren‘t there.
My take on that is that they were sort of afraid in advance what the results were going to be and wanted to be clear of the blast zone. And I think they are concerned. I mean, she was very well-prepared for this. She‘s good at this kind of thing.
McCain sort of described her as though she were his pet whimper
(ph) there. And the way she went after Joe Biden. And it‘s true. She did
great at that particular type of thing. She‘s good at that. She‘s good at
giving the set speech in the big hall. She‘s not good at answering
questions that probe her knowledge when she‘s talking to the “mainstream
OLBERMANN: And what did she mean about speaking without the filter of the mainstream media? Does that mean she wants to be on television live, but she doesn‘t want any questions of any kind? I mean, she and I both used to have that job; it‘s called being a sportscaster.
FINEMAN: Well, that‘s exactly what it means, Keith. They don‘t want to take the chance. They want to use her in ways that she has proven useful. The big convention speech, the attack dog speech in this debate forum, it wasn‘t really a debate. It‘s a series of snippets.
But they don‘t want to create the chance of unnecessary failure here. And, you know, by the way, they‘re just the extreme version of what most politicians are these days. They‘re very few of them except that they‘re obscure and in need of fundraising money, to really want to talk to the media anymore. So, I can‘t entirely blame the McCain campaign. They‘re just the sort of heightened version of it and Palin is the very tiptop of what is really a new trend in national politics, ignore the media if you can.
OLBERMANN: But, there are no conventions and there are no debates left for her to go to.
OLBERMANN: Is she going to sit in the audience at the two presidential debates and wave?
FINEMAN: Well, actually, they are going to have her out on the stump. They‘re going to have here, you know, literally waving and talking to the faithful. They‘re going to keep the press at arms length. They‘re going to keep the rope lines long and keep the press corps on the other side of the arena. That‘s the way it‘s going to be from here until the end.
They might use her in paid advertisements. They might use and buy some time for her in individual states. There are all kinds of ways they can use what‘s useful about her without exposing her lack of knowledge on a whole wrap of issues, her lack of experience and knowledge on the whole host of issues.
They are not going to do it. And, you know, we‘ll see how far it gets them. It‘s—that thing last night was not enough to be a quote, “game changer” to use the cliche of this campaign. That was not a game changer. Let‘s see if there is any way she can still be one.
OLBERMANN: Obviously, some of that lack of knowledge is their fault, not hers. If she didn‘t know about the pullout from Michigan until today, until she was asked about it, what does that say about what she is within the campaign purely internally?
FINEMAN: Well, she‘s a useful prop, essentially. And, by the way, I know of your attitude toward FOX. I think Carl Cameron, the field (ph) reporter over there, that happens to be a very good reporter, and he‘s capable of and did ask her some tough questions. And I think it was revealing that she had no idea what was going on as far as the strategy of the campaign.
They‘re going to have her, it‘s going to be on a need-to-know basis for her. But she‘ll be busy planning how she‘s going to run the Senate when she becomes vice president. So, she has a lot of do.
OLBERMANN: Yes, Carl is the first guy I would draft off that team, seriously.
OLBERMANN: No, seriously.
Howard Fineman of “Newsweek” and MSNBC—thank you, Howard. Have a good weekend.
FINEMAN: We just got him in big trouble, by the way.
OLBERMANN: I‘m sure we did. All right. It‘s Alaska and every (INAUDIBLE) over there. He‘s a bum. Thank you, Howard. Have a good weekend.
OLBERMANN: In the meantime, Governor Palin‘s relationship with the facts during the debate, getting the full day after treatment, the governor was prolific in misstatements, repeating a McCain claim that Obama voted to raise taxes on Americans earning more than $42,000 a year. Except, it was a non-binding budget resolution and it was actually about middle class tax cuts, while allowing a tax hike for the wealthiest Americans.
Particularly noteworthy, that moment when Senator Biden said that McCain did not support new bankruptcy laws to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, Governor Palin said, that is not so, then she abruptly changed the subject to energy. Now, we know why. She was lying.
Even McCain‘s spokesman, Brian Rogers today corrected her, the campaign would not give judges the ability to keep homeowners from defaulting on their mortgages. On the surge in Iraq, Governor Palin was wrong, left, right, and center, saying U.S. troop levels in Iraq are at pre-surge levels, false. That Senator Obama had never admitted that the surge worked—false.
Strenuously asserting that the commander in Afghanistan said that Iraq-style surge would work in Afghanistan. That commander said basically the opposite, that surge wasn‘t a word he would fit in Afghanistan. General Petraeus concurring.
And Palin got that Afghanistan commander‘s name wrong. It‘s General David McKiernan, not General McClellan, in which (ph) from the civil war. Governor Palin repeated the lie that Senator Obama voted against funding for the troops, added that Senator Biden had supported McCain‘s Iraq policies until this presidential campaign. Two falses there.
Indeed, almost every fact that Governor Palin deemed (ph) to touch, she got wrong. A virtual encyclopedia of error including these subjects, Darfur, divesting Alaskan funds from Sudan, she tried to stop that; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in general; global warming, man-made or not, she once said it was not; McCain‘s healthcare plan; a still nonexistent natural gas pipeline in Alaska she said is under construction; even the powers of the vice presidency, the governor saying, quote, “I‘m thankful the Constitution a bit more authority given to the vice president if that vice president so chose to exert it.” Well, that‘s not a lie. That‘s a threat.
We‘re assuming McClellan for McKiernan was a mishearing or a Freudian slip about Scott. So, I‘m counting 12 lies in that debate. So, I owe the Alaska Special Olympics another $1,200 in donations.
Let‘s call in the Washington editor of “The Nation” magazine, Chris Hayes.
Good evening, Chris.
CHRIS HAYES, THE NATION: Hey, Keith. How are you doing?
OLBERMANN: We‘ll get to some of those specifics momentarily, but at the heart of that performance at the debate last night, isn‘t it important, at the heart of this, to answer the actual questions you are asked because part of the idea of a debate is—if you are elected, you don‘t get to pick your crises nor the order in which those crises appear, and the debate is really the only thing even resembling a test of whether you can quickly handle areas that are not in the forefront of your mind?
HAYES: I think that‘s a fair point. And what the most egregious example of that last night was on the nuclear weapons question in which she was asked: what would trigger American use nuclear weapons. And after saying that it would be the be-all and end-all for so many people in places around the word, she then turned that around to answering a question about other people getting a nuclear weapon.
So, that was sort of object listening (ph) on how she was doing this. I will say that you can overstate the degree to which a rhetorical tool box that makes an evil candidate makes someone good at governing. But the place in which they overlap is a basic fluency in a wide, vast array of topics, because you‘re going to be having things, as you said, thrown at you all the time as a president or the vice president, and you need to have run your mind over these various things, at some point, so you can just synthesizing information being sent at you.
And I think she showed herself incapable of that at this point.
OLBERMANN: Yes, it can be Five and Dime or it can be the highest end department store, but you have to be able to serve more than a couple products at more than a couple of customers at the same time.
She was, in nearly, every respect, a generic talking point-generating machine, which almost by definition, includes misstatements about your opponents‘ positions, but then getting other facts right would seem all the more imperative, like military leaders and their positions and their opinions more than their positions as military leaders. That seemed like such a minor thing, McClellan and McKiernan but it does sort of open up a whole vein of room for error, if you will.
HAYES: Yes, I guess that‘s true. I think the McKiernan and McClellan thing, as you just said, I think it‘s on the spectrum of all the falsity that has been flying from the McCain-Palin campaign. I mean, that‘s really, really low on the list. I think the much more troublesome thing is the fact that, you know, the entire mystique, aura, and message of Sarah Palin is her, that issue of lies.
There‘s no, you know, I remember even an interview a few weeks ago, or some speech in which she said that Alaska had 20 percent of the energy production in the state and that‘s why she knows so much about energy. It has 3.5 percent of the energy production.
So, even these basic fillers of the Sarah Palin appeal are kind of, you know, wedged in this foundation of sand. And that‘s what you see whenever you get any kind as a scene exposure to her whether on a debate or on the stump or on an interview.
OLBERMANN: Yes, it was 20 percent—first it was 20 percent of oil and gas.
OLBERMANN: Then it was 20 percent of energy. And it‘s like—it‘s 13 percent of the oil and gas, as you said, 3.5 percent of energy. But apart from energy which is her expertise area, she kept turning the subject back to that, there were no major subjects that passed through this equation unscathed. She was asked about the powers of the vice presidency and she said something about the Constitution as I read earlier, allowing flexibility and a bit more authority.
Was that a huge mistake? Was that too much time watching Dick Cheney? Was it throwing a bone to the base? Is that some sort of actual position that we need to worry about in the election?
HAYES: Well, look, let‘s be honest here for a second. I mean, Sarah Palin is not in a very crucial sense Dick Cheney, which is that what we learned about Dick Cheney is the man managed to pull off effectively a kind of cull in which he both got himself nominated to be vice president and to basically with pulling the strings for much of the administration.
Sarah Palin, meanwhile, isn‘t being told that the McCain campaign is pulling their staff from Michigan. So, I have taken one crucial respect, you know, if there‘s some small solace, I mean, higher Sarah Palin fiasco, it‘s that, I think, we can be fairly confident that we‘re not going to see this imperial vice presidency under her stewardship.
OLBERMANN: Well, she could have an advisor next to her who could be doing the Dick Cheney role while she speaks it. There‘s always that nightmare scenario.
HAYES: Right. They‘ll keep Addington on.
OLBERMANN: I‘m not going to sleep this weekend.
Chris Hayes, the Washington editor of “The Nation,” thanks as always for joining us, sir.
HAYES: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: We suggested how Republicans said they might when they saw Sarah Palin and how it might not match up with how they really saw her.
One other ulterior connection, she‘s actually a rerun of somebody they
really liked. And if you think that‘s a little disturbing, wait until we
get to the assessment of one conservative who wrote today, “I‘m sure I‘m
not the only male in America whom, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat
up a little straighter on the couch and said, ‘Hey, I think she just winked
What you‘re thinking he was thinking as he watched her. Yes, that‘s exactly what he was thinking about as he watched her.
OLBERMANN: The oldest thing in politics is claiming that you are new. Sarah Palin may have revealed herself in unexpected ways last night as a post-modern version of another candidate once beloved by these very Republicans.
Meanwhile, there is at least one conservative out there who transparently would like to see the governor reveal herself in an entirely different way. Huge “ek (ph)” factor warning ahead in Worst Persons.
You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC. He‘s a bad boy (ph).
OLBERMANN: Not that you should, but if you were inclined to set aside the many points of substance that we just cover about last night‘s vice presidential debate, as well as those we did not get to, even the most extreme critics of Governor Sarah Palin would be left with one undeniable concession.
In our fourth story tonight: Palin brought a folksy, outside the beltway style to the debate that the pundits, politicians, and voters across America just have not seen before, or, have they?
Palin spoke consistently about McCain and herself as mavericks, as part of a veritable army of mavericks working together in lockstep, the way mavericks do. And especially about herself as a Washington outsider who can bring real reform to Washington. Even openly stating that the Bush administration has made mistakes, blunders, she said. Something other Republicans are reluctant to do, unless they too are up for election.
Here is one such remark.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: I‘ve had that track record of reform and I‘ve joined this team that is a team of mavericks with John McCain. Also, with his track record of reform, we‘re known for putting partisan politics aside to just get the job done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Using bipartisan reform to get the job done to get results, reformer with results. Not exactly a typical Republican campaign theme, but the kind of thing Washington hasn‘t seen in a long time.
In fact, despite herself portrayed as a Washington neophyte qualified to clean the town up by virtue of her outsider cowboy status. The consummate inside Washington GOP group, GOPAC, told COUNTDOWN tonight that in 2005, during Palin‘s gubernatorial campaign, she signed up for GOPAC training. GOPAC, Newt Gingrich‘s former group, especially created to train new Republican politicians around the country to carry water for GOPAC‘s Republican establishment agenda.
And so, while Governor Palin spent much of the debate claiming she represented change from the Washington of George W. Bush, she marches in lockstep with his policies and outlook.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Look, global warming needs to be taken very seriously. And I take it seriously. But science, there‘s a lot of—there‘s differing opinions.
PALIN: There are real changes going on in our climate. And I don‘t want to argue about the causes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: More to the point, the people around her, the top level campaign staffers crafting her message of change and reform are almost all from the inner circle of the same Bush campaigns and administration from which she offers that change. Small surprise then, than even in a very act of claiming that her background and her experience qualify her to offer as that change from Bush, she does so by sounding almost exactly like Bush.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: And it‘s so obvious that I‘m a Washington outsider.
BUSH: Look, I fully recognize, I‘m not of Washington.
PALIN: I‘m tired of the old politics as usual.
BUSH: I cannot let this go by, the old Washington-style politics.
PALIN: Positive change is coming now, reform of government is coming.
BUSH: But if you want change.
PALIN: We‘re going to forge ahead with putting government back on the side of the people and making sure that our country comes first, putting abscess (ph) of partisanship aside.
BUSH: You need to get somebody who knows how to bring Republicans and Democrats together to get positive things done for America.
PALIN: I think Americans are craving something new and different.
BUSH: It‘s time for a fresh start. It‘s time for a new look.
PALIN: And that new energy and that new commitment is going to come with reform.
BUSH: It‘s going to require a new spirit.
PALIN: That‘s what I‘ve done as governor.
BUSH: It‘s been my record as governor of Texas.
PALIN: Take on my own party when I had to and work with both sides of the aisle.
BUSH: To reach out across the partisan divide.
PALIN: Appointing those who would serve regardless of party—
Democrats, independents, Republicans.
BUSH: To say to both Republicans and Democrats, let‘s come together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Speaking of practice not making perfect—it‘s coconut guy. Why on earth would they call, anytime now—this guy a coconut guy? No, no, missed, aw. Aw, I hit the wood. Aw.
And what you‘re going to call this guy after you hear his rhapsody about Sarah Palin. I‘m not sure but in part it reads, “And her smile by the end, when she was clearly know she was doing well, it was so sparkling, it was almost mesmerizing.” Worst Persons is ahead.
But first, the most outrageous or untrue things said by or on behalf of Republican presidential nominee, John McCain—McCain in the Membrane.
Number three: Guess what Gov, that wasn‘t the British ambassador. “(INAUDIBLE) Daily Mail” reporting that the Palin-McCain campaign issued a list of foreign officials she had met, included was Sir Nigel Sheinwald , the British ambassador to Washington when the governor claimed she met at a U.S. Governors Conference in July. Opps. Sir Nigel had to drop out at the last minute. Evidently, (INAUDIBLE) that the governor and campaign noticed.
That British dude you met, Gov., that might have been John Oliver from the “DAILY” show.
Number two: Rudy speaks. Now reduced to being a surrogate for the McCain campaign, America‘s mayor went on Sean Hannity last night and said the governor had given one of the best debate performances he‘d ever seen. Only the liberal media could deny her this victory. He went on MSNBC this morning and said, “The only group that could possibly deny how well Sarah Palin did last night are the very left-wing media. Mayor Giuliani learned a new phrase.
And number one: You can have it both ways. In a town hall meeting in Denver, admitting, “I do believe that there are many occasions where the nature of the media is to exaggerate things and perhaps not be as accurate as we would like them to be,” the senator added, “I love to bash the media all the time,” which is fascinating because the day before, the senator said, quote, “I do not comment on the media treatment of me or Sarah. Complaining about something we are doing voluntary that we want to do and get done, I think would just not be productive. But I do not complain about the media. And I will not complain but that‘s not appropriate for me to do so and, frankly, it doesn‘t do me any good, if I did.”
Well, apart from the naked self-contradiction there, senator, seriously, you don‘t complain about the media? That‘s why you attacked Katie Couric, that‘s why you trashed debate moderator Gwen Ifill the day after you defended her. Why you stood up Larry King after a CNN anchor had the nerve to ask your spokesman a tough question and why when the “New York Times” caught your campaign manager selling access to you, to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, you claimed it was in the tank for Obama? Why you sent that street thug Steve Schmidt into this building and threatened this people here? When it comes to the media, Senator, your people are leg-breakers and you, sir, are in a word, a bully.
OLBERMANN: Bests in a moment. And borrow your friend‘s I.D., you borrow his criminal record, too. But first, this is the birthday of—and this will be a reality check for those who recall his work in Fleetwood Mac or his solo career, especially his haunting single “Trouble”—this is the 61st birthday of Lindsey Buckingham. In the odd truths department, his brother Greg won the silver medal in the 200 meter individual swimming medley at the 1968 Olympics. Let‘s play Oddball.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: We begin on the Internets with an unknown clip of an unknown program in an unknown country. How‘s that for being informative? All we know about this is that this guy is supposed to be on live TV trying to break the world speed record for smashing coconuts with his hand. What could possibly go wrong except he misses the first coconut and the second and the third and the—ow, ow, ow. What did you put, big pieces of concrete there instead of the coconuts? Or perhaps a little practice would have been more prudent before trying this on live TV. Sarah Palin of coconut smashers.
To Jerro (ph), in England, where this horse walks into the bar and the bartender says, why the long face? This is 13-year-old Peggy, a mare who has been a regular customer at the local pub, enjoying the odd pint, a bag of chips with her fellow boozers. until now. The landlord just laid down a new carpet and Peggy is officially barred from coming inside. Which explains why the long face.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The bailout has passed and the unemployment figure just went up by 25 percent in one month, and the Republicans claim this is good news for them.
And the chutzpah to call Chris Matthews and me out for anchoring primaries and conventions when you‘re crazy deluded enough to think you should be moderating debates. Worst persons tonight, a no-brainer in all senses of the world.
These stories ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s top three best persons in the world.
Number three, best passport, hackers in Holland. They claim they have made a fully authentic looking, complete with all the electronic reinforcements and radio frequency chips and bells and whistles passport in the name of Elvis Aaron Presley. Elvis has left the country.
Number two, best example of the proof of Occum‘s Razor. When offered multiple explanations of events, the simplest one is usually the correct one. The La Mesa, California branch of the Wells Fargo Bank was robbed at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday and then again at 6:00 pm. on Tuesday. It was robbed twice in three hours. No conspiracy. No plot. The two thieves aren‘t even working together. It is believed they don‘t even know of each other. Coincidence.
Number one, best comeuppance, Jared Maddock of New Castle, New Hampshire. Pulled over by cops for erratic driving, he didn‘t want them to know his license had been revoked, so he showed them the license belonging to a friend. Police promptly arrested Mr. Maddock anyway, because his friend was wanted on an outstanding warrant.
OLBERMANN: The bailout finally passed the House this afternoon and a conveniently pre-printed version was immediately signed by President Bush. In our third story on the COUNTDOWN, this came a little late for 159,000 of John McCain‘s fundamentals, as he calls American workers in a language of his own invention that occasionally sounds like American English. On the morning of September 15th, Senator McCain declared that the fundamentals of the U.S. economy were strong. That was the very day Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch went belly up, and the Dow Jones went belly down, 4.4 percent on the close.
It was the afternoon of September 15th that John McCain said what he meant was that American workers were the strong fundamentals. Today, this dubious news, it was during the month of September that the American economy saw the biggest loss of jobs since March of 2003. The total this year now 760,000. Another measurement of employment, the percentage of discouraged workers, the ones who are not even trying to find new jobs, rose to their highest since April 1994.
The impact on the Republican campaign inspiring something of a mixed message tonight. McCain‘s camp taking a hint from a double digit dip in the polls in Michigan, suffering terribly from the economic crisis, of course, it pulled most operations out of the state.
Back to the bailout. John McCain‘s campaign further damaged with George Bush out from under the radar, according to an unnamed aide who spoke to Politico.com: “Part of the problem for us in the last three weeks has been a president on TV almost every day who had been MIA for the past six months. If you‘re talking about the political benefit of getting a deal, hopefully you‘ll see less of the president.”
Alas, today, after signing the bill, Bush appeared before cameras. He thanked Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, Steny Hoyer, Roy Blunt, Barney Frank and Congressman Spencer Baucus of Alabama. No mention of John McCain. It should not go without mentioning that the national debt topped 10 trillion on the last day of last month.
Let‘s turn now to Craig Crawford, MSNBC political analyst and columnist for CQpolitics.com. Good evening, Craig.
CRAIG CRAWFORD, CQPOLITICS.COM: McCain folks must wish Bush is hiding out with Cheney, wherever he is.
OLBERMANN: But Paul Krugman said here the other night that there‘s not a thing to do, even this bailout, to loosen up credit quickly. It‘s five weeks and a weekend until the election. Can the economy even seem to be improving enough? Can the issue get further enough out of people‘s mind to bail out McCain‘s campaign to any degree on this subject?
CRAWFORD: Paul was downright scary. I saw him the other night. You hear that a lot. No. I think the answer is no, there isn‘t enough time. Even the administration is giving themselves a lot of time. They‘re talking about no real result trickling down to average people for another year, like this time next year, which is convenient for them, since they‘ll be gone. This bailout does feel like trying to pull a car out of a ditch and then find out it‘s out of gas. You‘re making progress, but you‘re still not going anywhere.
OLBERMANN: To that point, in terms of getting President Bush off the radar, that would be great for McCain. But are the voters going to react to the bailout the same way Wall Street did today? As soon as that passed, stocks had been up—everybody in the stock market sighed In Relief. Then they looked around at the less urgent economic news, and they saw how bad it was. As your analogy is, they discovered the pulled-out car doesn‘t have any gas, maybe doesn‘t have an engine, and the stock market went down. Is that going to be the public‘s reaction to the economy regardless of what happens and where Bush goes off that radar screen?
CRAWFORD: Yes, Keith. the problem I see is—I spent last week in Appalachia, along the West Virginia/Virginia border. One day I spent just talking to small business owners. And late last week they were just then beginning to actually feel the effects. I mean, I talked to one small business owner, runs a shop, who had just talked to his banker that day and learned he was going to have some problems getting credit he normally got to make his payroll. So, as they are seeing the politicians congratulating each other and patting themselves on the back, they‘re starting to feel the real effects of this thing, and it‘s not in sync.
OLBERMANN: What is happening with this campaign in Michigan? I mean, yesterday, while everybody was fixed on the debate, the McCain camp let it leak out that, other than the radio ads, they‘re basically pulling the TV ads, direct mail out of the state and a lot of staffers out. Today, Governor Palin said she wants to get back to Michigan. Are they just going to send her for the hell of it? What‘s happening with the Republicans in Michigan?
CRAWFORD: I don‘t think anybody has been that out of the loop as a running mate or vice president since Franklin Roosevelt didn‘t tell Truman he was building an atom bomb. The idea that she wouldn‘t know about this, and then would be publicly talking about it the way she did does not suggest a campaign that‘s organized. But I always thought Michigan was something they would not be able to sustain, going all the way back to the Republican primary, when John McCain, in that primary, stood up in front of auto workers and said, your jobs are gone and they‘re not coming back. That was the straight talk that probably didn‘t help him too much.
By the way, he campaigned the last day for that primary at a funeral home, which might be telling us something.
OLBERMANN: Obviously, I presume he would pick a different venue for the debate on Tuesday, had he the choice. Are there any indicators, early indicators on the economy and how both candidates plan to approach it in that next presidential debate next week?
CRAWFORD: The Obama aren‘t telegraphing a plan to really focus on McCain‘s health care proposals, in particular taxing employer paid health care benefits, making that taxable. They‘re planning to make sure that every voter in at least every battleground state is going to know about that plan. So I think you‘ll hear Obama talking about that.
For McCain, it sounds like call 1-800 for the hits of the ‘80s. It‘s all about Democrats are tax and spend, tax and spend. That‘s what he‘s been saying so far, and that seems to be all they can come up with to hit Obama.
OLBERMANN: Craig Crawford of CQPolitics.com and MSNBC, when we‘re lucky enough to have him. As always, Craig, great thanks, have a good weekend.
CRAWFORD: You bet.
OLBERMANN: It is very possibly the grossest thing ever to merit a nomination for worst persons, so gross it actually knocked Bill-O down to a runner-up spot. Sarah Palin‘s smile, he rates in rapture, sent little star bursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America. And he wrote about the winking, too. It and the new corn ball phrases she unleashed upon an innocent and unsuspecting nation recapped for you.
But first, the headline breaking in the administration‘s 50 running scandals, Bushed. Ah, there‘s good news tonight-gate. After Armstrong Williams and Jeff Gannon and the video news releases and Fox Noise and the water carrying by comedian Rush Limbaugh and the net losses each brought them, they still don‘t get it. rMD+BO_rMDNM_The “Washington Post” reporting that the Pentagon has signed deals with four private American contractors in Iraq for the next three years for as much as 300 million dollars in total to produce for the Iraqi media entertainment programs, public service announcements and, yes, news stories to engage and inspire the local populace to support the Iraqi government and endorse U.S. policies.
If you can‘t make it good, make it look good. One of the first projects on which you and I have spent hundreds of millions of dollars now, the Post reports, was a radio call-in show hosted by a man named Sadi Achman (ph), a Palestinian American and former New York cabby, who was doubling as David Petraeus‘ interpreter. So Petraeus not only works in the war business, not only dabbles on the side as a military/civilian line blurring spokesman for the Bush administration on Capitol Hill, but he‘s also got a hand in producing propaganda for cash in Iraq.
OLBERMANN: Best of Sarah Palin at the debate. Worst—worst of Sarah—no, best. That‘s ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s number two story, tonight‘s worst persons in the world.
The bronze to Greg Howard, seventh grade social studies teacher in Jackson County school system of Florida. Last Friday, he asked not one but two and possibly three different classes about Barack Obama‘s call for change, and then explained to them by writing it out on the blackboard that change was actually an acronym, an acronym for can you help a N-word get elected. Mr. Howard was given a reprimand, a ten day suspension without pay. He lost his job coaching football. He was ordered to apologize in writing to each student and was transferred to the county‘s adult education program. The excuse for not firing him? The racial epithet was not directed at a student but at a political party. Nobody apparently thought of firing this racist because the acronym does not even spell change. It spells “Cyhanwge.”
Our runner up, Bill-O the Clown. A columnist for another Rupert Murdoch owned entity suggesting that to liven up the presidential debates, O‘Reilly should moderate them. “I‘d love to host the debates,” he responded. “A lot of people would watch. I‘d double the ratings.”
The gall of these Newscorp people to seriously complain about Chris Matthews and me simply hosting primary night election coverage or convention coverage, while suggesting a political hack who reads talking points from the Republican party should moderate a debate. Also, about doubling the ratings. The vice presidential debate drew an estimated 70 million viewers last night. Bill O‘Reilly couldn‘t draw 70 million, let alone double it to 140 million, if he tried to jump the Snake River Canyon on a motorcycle powered only by his own ego.
But our winner tonight, actually topping that, Rich Lowry of “National Review.” Thinking Governor Palin did well last night is not a ludicrous position. It‘s not a criminal offense. It‘s an opinion. But when you‘re opinion starts to read like soft core porn, you may be explaining more about Sarah Palin‘s appeal to the far right than you want. Here is Mr. Lowry‘s opinion, as he posted it in full today: “A very wise TV executive once told me that the key to TV is projecting through the screen. It‘s one of the keys to the success of, say, a Bill O‘Reilly, who comes through the screen and grabs you by the throat. Palin too projects through the screen like crazy. I‘m sure I‘m not the only male in American who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, hey, I think she just winked at me.
“And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling. It was almost mesmerizing. It sent little star bursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America. This is a quality that can‘t be learned. It‘s either something you have or you don‘t. Man, she‘s got it.”
Look, sir, I don‘t really care if you sat there last night during the debate and masturbated. But was it really necessary to tell America about it? Rich, sitting up a little straighter on the couch, Lowry of “National Review” online, today‘s worst person—please sit back from your TV, sir - - in the world!
OLBERMANN: To paraphrase the great American writer Dorothy Parker, at last night‘s vice presidential debate, Governor Sarah Palin ran the gamut of political insight from A to B. There‘s no reason to make you sit through the entire debate again. We‘ve already showed you her factual errors. We‘ve already pointed out that the reason you‘re supposed to answer the moderator‘s questions, not the one in your head, is because questions which come at you in order out of your control are the closest the viewer gets to see how you would react to events which would come at you in order out of your control.
So in our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, let‘s show you the debate as Governor Palin wanted you to see it. Just in case the writers at “Saturday Night Live” are still polishing up Tina Fey‘s sketch for tomorrow night.
PALIN: Nice to meet you. Hey, can I call you Joe? Thank you. Thank you, Gwen. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
IFILL: Governor Palin.
PALIN: Thank you, Gwen. Go to a kid‘s soccer game on Saturday, I betcha you‘re going to hear some fear—fear—fear—a fear—people in the Senate—Barack Obama and Senator O‘biden (sic) --
This team that is a team of mavericks—maverick from—he has been the maverick. What do you expect, a team of mavericks. Also, John McCain‘s maverick position—
BIDEN: Maverick he is not. John McCain said at 9:00 in the morning that the fundamentals of the economy were strong.
PALIN: That‘s what John McCain meant. I‘m going to keep pushing him on Anwar though. For my dad is was in the audience today, here‘s a shout-out to all those third graders at Gladys Wood Elementary school.
Joe Six pack.
Hockey moms across the nation.
Darn right it was the predator lenders.
BIDEN: He did support deregulation—deregulate—deregulate—deregulation—deregulation—more deregulation—deregulated—deregulation. Asked a guy named Joey Danker (ph), I said, you know what his answer was, quote, deregulation.
PALIN: Darn right.
BIDEN: If you notice, Gwen, the governor did not answer the question about deregulation.
PALIN: I may not answer the questions—
BIDEN: Where I come from it‘s called fairness. Simple fairness—it‘s fair.
PALIN: That‘s not patriotic.
IFILL: Governor, are you interested in defending Senator McCain‘s health care plan?
PALIN: I am because he‘s got a good health care plan that is detailed and I want to give a couple of details on that.
BIDEN: He replaces a 12,000 dollar plan with a 5,000 dollars check he‘s just given to the insurance company. I call that the ultimate bridge to nowhere.
PALIN: You know what I had to do in the state of Alaska, from Wasilla, Main Street—how long have you been at this, five weeks? I don‘t want to argue about the causes. Back in the day, when men and women were free, people stop the greed and corruption—the corruption and the greed—and my answer is the same as his and it is that I do not.
BIDEN: The policy of this administration has been an abject failure.
PALIN: Say it ain‘t so, Joe.
Enough is enough with your ticket on constantly looking backwards.
We need to look back even two years ago and we need to be appreciative of John McCain. Two years ago, remember it was John McCain.
John McCain thankfully—
We have John McCain to thank.
Thanks to John McCain.
We also have John McCain to thank for—
I want to talk about, again, my record on energy versus your ticket‘s energy ticket also.
BIDEN: Drill, drill, drill.
PALIN: Drill, baby, drill.
Clean, green natural gas, nuclear energy—the nuclear—nuclear armed—nuclear weapons—nuclear weapons. Some of these dictators who hate America be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, period.
BIDEN: We will end this war.
PALIN: Your plan is a white flag of surrender.
BIDEN: John McCain has been dead wrong.
PALIN: Central war on terror is in Iraq.
BIDEN: Our commanding general in Afghanistan—
BIDEN: Let me say this again now, our commanding general in Afghanistan—
PALIN: McClellan didn‘t say anything—
BIDEN: Abject failure.
PALIN: Oh, man, it‘s so obvious that I‘m a Washington outsider.
BIDEN: Big mistake.
PALIN: That‘s another story.
OLBERMANN: Oh, great, you had to do that. Now we‘re going to hear from Rich Lowry again. And it‘s nuclear, for the last time. Any similarities between the governor and one of those late night con men or con woman motivational speakers is purely coincidental. That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 1,983rd day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
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