IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Friday October 24, 2008

Read the transcript to the Friday show

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

The big Palin policy debut on fully funding projects for disabled children including autism.


GOV. SARAH PALIN, ® VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Sometimes these dollars, they go to projects having little or nothing to do with the public good—things like fruit fly research in Paris, France.  I kid you not.


OLBERMANN:  (INAUDIBLE), University of North Carolina researchers learn of a protein whose absence is a genetic risk factor for autism by studying fruit flies.  But, sweet new specks, Gov.

She made it up.  Ashley Todd was not attacked for having a McCain sticker on a car bumper.  A black man did not carve the letter “B” on her face.  She was not even at the ATM in which she claimed she was attack.  What was your first clue that the “B” was backwards like it was done in a mirror?

Moody Blues:  That makes the words of the executive vice president of FOX News kind of hilarious, quoting John Moody, “If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain‘s quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting.”

Map quest: How Obama could lose Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania and still win the White House over John “Quest-for-presidency-is-over-forever-linked-to-race-baiting” McCain.

Joe McCain, brother of John “Quest-for-presidency-is-over-forever-linked-to-race-baiting” McCain calls 911 for traffic updates.


OPERATOR:  Sir, are you calling 911 to complain about traffic?



OLBERMANN:  They call him back to reprimand him for misusing 911 so Joe McCain calls the police to complain. And, call a cop.  Billo the Clown doesn‘t like the ratings.


BILL O‘REILL, FOX NEWS HOST:  There are major problem with the Nielsen rating systems.  There have been wild swings in the ratings that have benefit MSNBC.  The bottom line on this is, there may be some big time cheating going on in the rating system, and we hope the Feds will investigate.


OLBERMANN:  Was Obama also in on the conspiracy—because it will help him beat John “Quest-for-presidency-is-over-forever-linked-to-race-baiting” McCain?

All that and more: Now on COUNTDOWN.


O‘REILLY:  Hopefully, I can be of help.


OLBERMANN (on camera):  Good evening.  This is Friday, October 24th, 11 days until the 2008 presidential election. While one woman associated with the McCain campaign is tonight facing criminal charges for a fraudulent accusation of a sexual and racial attack by an imaginary Obama supporter—in our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: Another woman associated with the McCain campaign gave her first policy speech today, just eight weeks into her candidacy.  She is, tonight, facing scrutiny over why she ridiculed productive research into a very subject she claims to be personally devoted to—children with special needs. McCain campaign headquarters, apparently not a happy place to be these days, reporting that senior McCain aides are pointing fingers, placing blame and sending out resumes said to be a breach of trust no matter how badly a campaign is doing. Part of what McCain aides are said to be fighting over?  Mark Ambinder of “The Atlantic” reporting that a faction within the campaign believes the running mate, whether unwittingly, subconsciously or otherwise, has been playing Senator McCain off the conservative base, telling that base that Senator Obama has been supposedly palling around with terrorists without the approval of McCain campaign headquarters. McCain‘s chief foreign policy advisor, Randy Scheunemann attempting to refute that contention in an email to Mr. Ambinder, writing, quote, “Just read your post.  This is on the record.  This is cleared by HQ.  It is a fact that Barack Obama was palling around with terrorists.  It was a fact before Governor Palin said it in a fully vetted speech and it is fact today.  It‘s bull blank to claim or write anything else.” So, says the man who backed up Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi exile who helped fed false intelligence about Saddam Hussein‘s WMD that never were. It was against this backdrop today that Governor Palin 2.0 made her debut.  The governor pledging that despite Senator McCain‘s promise on a spending freeze on everything except healthcare, the military, veterans programs, an entitlement spending, some more exceptions have followed as well, that despite Senator McCain‘s record of having voted against increased funding for the Americans with Disabilities Acts at least 18 times, a McCain-Palin administration would shift billions of dollars to programs for children with special needs, children like her infant son Trig.


PALIN:  And, in a McCain-Palin administration, we‘re going to put the educational choices for special needs children in the right hands—the hands of the parents and the good, responsible caretakers.  Under reforms that I would lead as vice president, the parents and caretakers of children with physical or mental disabilities will be able to send that boy or girl to the school of their choice, public or private.


PALIN:  In a McCain-Palin administration, we‘ll also fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  Finally, it will be fully funded.


OLBERMANN:  Where would they get that money?  Why it will be redirected from the dreaded earmarks, of course, like her “Bridge to Nowhere.”


PALIN:  You‘ve heard about the bridges and you‘ve heard about some of these pet projects that really don‘t make a whole lot of sense.  And sometimes these dollars, they go to projects having little or nothing to do with the public good.  Things like fruit fly research in Paris, France.  I kid you not.


OLBERMANN:  Except there‘s nothing to kid about in the work being done at the University of North Carolina, which is not in France, whereby studying fruit flies, researchers have discovered that a certain protein is required for nerve cell functions to form and function properly, a discovery that may lead to advances in understanding autism. That Governor Palin first policy speech just happened to fall on the same day she and her husband Todd also gave depositions on that second investigation into her firing of Alaska‘s top Public Safety official, pure coincidence.  She and her husband testifying in St. Louis to the so-called Troopergate investigation, into whether she abused her powers by firing the Public Safety commissioner after trying to get her former brother-in-law kicked off the force. Senator Obama meanwhile spending his day in Hawaii, at the apartment of his 85-year-old grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, a woman he calls “Toot,” Hawaiian for grandparent. The senator‘s wife, Michelle Obama, is taking his place on the campaign trail in Ohio, updating the crowd on the health of Mrs. Dunham.


MICHELLE OBAMA, SEN. OBAMA‘S WIFE:  She‘s tough.  Her birthday is on Sunday and he said that, you know—because I always asked Barack through these years like, “How are you doing this? You are tough.”  And he said the other night, he said, “You know, I got my toughness from Toot,” you know, because she taught him with her quiet confidence and that love and support that he could do anything, just deep love and admiration. So, on behalf of Barack and Malia and Sasha and all of our family, we just want to thank all the supporters.  And not just folks who had been supporting this campaign, but people who have sent well wishes and good wishes and prayers.  It means so much to us.  I just want to thank you for that.


OLBERMANN:  Time now to call in our own Richard Wolffe, also, of course, senior White House correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine.

Richard, good evening.


OLBERMANN:  All right.  How could they let Governor Palin go out and mock research that has identified a genetic indicator for autism?  Who was stupid or insensitive enough to let that happen?

WOLFFE:  Keith, I‘m going to be as restrained and measured as I possibly can about this.  But this is the most mindless, ignorant, uninformed comment that we have seen from Governor Palin, so far.  And there‘s been a lot of competition for that prize. Fruit flies aren‘t just to do with this kind of research.  They are a standard scientific model in genetic research along with a whole range of other organisms and cells, including mice, rats.  I mean, there‘s nothing fluffy or funny about it.  It‘s scientific and if you deliver your first serious policy speech and you make this kind of basic error, you either don‘t have a scientific advisor or you don‘t have a speechwriter who knows what they are saying.

OLBERMANN:  Plus, we switched over from dinosaurs to fruit flies, many, many years ago, and the governor should have known about that.  The much hyped McCain spending freeze comes back into the picture because of what Governor Palin said today, it left out—to begin with—defense, veterans programs, healthcare, entitlements, then they added NASA and science spending, worker retraining—today, she adds special needs education.  When is this definitionally no longer a spending freeze of any kind?

WOLFFE:  Well, unless you deal with defense and entitlements, you‘re ruling out such a vast portion of the federal budget that it becomes kind of meaningless.  I mean, it‘s politically effective.  I don‘t think there‘s no question that the whole earmark battle has actually been a reasonably good one for McCain—but not only the exemptions but the basic strategy just doesn‘t speak to the economic crisis.  So, a spending freeze or not, people are still going to be worried about their jobs and their homes.

OLBERMANN:  The report we have in here from “The Atlantic,” is there, in fact, any kind of divide between McCain and Palin?  Is it a little?  Is it nothing?  What‘s going on?

WOLFFE:  You know, I‘ve spoken to a number of Republicans and there are conflicting theories about this.  I think the really significant thing is that those suspicions are even out there, because it‘s poisonous at this point of the campaign, just as the finger-pointing and blame game that‘s already developed among staffers is poisonous.  The idea that anyone in this campaign has a different agenda is corrosive.

OLBERMANN:  The Dow Jones dropped 312 more points today.  The median home price is out.  It‘s dropped $191, it feels like $191, I mean, $191,000.  It‘s down 9 percent from a year ago.  Do those two numbers pretty much tell us what the campaign is going to be about this week as we hit the finish line?

WOLFFE:  Well, it certainly suggests that there‘s no breathing space here for the McCain campaign.  If they thought that their economic news would somehow shift and save them in time, give them a breathing space, it‘s not going to happen. And remember that we‘re only just to the point here—this is the sort of markets‘ response.  But the real economy, the pain of the real economy has yet to kick in.  So, these are the sort of leading indicators here.  We haven‘t seen the sharp spike in unemployment that a lot of people are predicting.

OLBERMANN:  And do we have anything out of Obama HQ with these reports about early voting being heavy and heavily in his favor?

WOLFFE:  Well, they‘re feeling very positive about that.  But these are rough measures and that big problem here is about complacency, about people thinking that this is a done deal.  They don‘t know where the early voting is.  There are rough guides about age and party affiliation.  But, too early for them to celebrate, by any means.

OLBERMANN:  Richard Wolffe in Cleveland for us tonight, from “Newsweek” and MSNBC, with some pointed commentary that I can congratulate you on, sir, at the beginning of our conversation.  Great thanks.  Safe travels.  Have a good weekend.

WOLFFE:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  It is useful to recall that conventional wisdom regarding vice presidential picks.  First, do no harm.  But, Governor Palin, eight weeks after her selection, seems to be continuing to do harm, even when attempting to knock down the latest unflattering revelation on the $150,000 worth of designer clothes purchased for her by the Republican Party. “That whole thing is just bad,” the governor told the “Chicago Tribune.”  “Oh, if people only knew how frugal we are.  It‘s kind of painful to be criticized for something when all the facts are not out there and are not reported.” The governor said that the clothes are not worth $150,000 and they were bought for the Republican National Convention—even though many of the billing days happened after that convention ended.  As the “Tribune” as well, Palin has been wearing pricey clothing throughout the fall campaign. Meanwhile, with “fixed news‘” Sean Hannity...


PALIN:  The RNC is spending money on clothes.  Those clothes are not my property.  We had three days of using the clothes that the RNC purchased.  If people knew how Todd and I and our kids shop so frugally.  My favorite shop is a consignment shop in Anchorage, Alaska called Out of the Closet.  And my shoe store is called Shoe Fly in Juneau, Alaska.


PALIN:  It‘s not—you know, it‘s not Fifth Avenue-type of shopping.  But RNC purchasing some clothes that are all going—they‘re either returned or they‘re going to charity.  It‘s not my property.


OLBERMANN:  Out of the Closet, you say. In the meantime, it turns out that the highest paid individual on the McCain campaign for the first half of October was Amy Strozzi, who earned $22,800 in two weeks, according to the “Washington Post,” as the governor‘s make up artist, an Emmy-nominated, “So You Think You Can Dance” make up artist, mind you.  And coming in a distant second, $12,500 for the same time period, Senator McCain‘s chief foreign policy advisor, Randy Scheunemann. And there is a problem of giving different answers to the same simple question.  Governor Palin in an interview with Brian Williams broadcast last night and an early one with Kathie Couric a few weeks ago.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS ANCHOR:  Governor, are you a feminist?

PALIN:  I‘m not going to label myself anything, Brian.  And I think that‘s what annoys a lot of Americans, especially in a political campaign, is to start trying to label different parts of America, different backgrounds, different—I‘m not going to put a label on myself.



KATIE COURIC, CBS ANCHOR:  Do you consider yourself a feminist?

PALIN:  I do.  A feminist that believes in equal rights and I believe that women, certainly, today have every opportunity that a man has to succeed and try to do it all, anyway.


OLBERMANN:  Let‘s call in MSNBC political analyst, columnist for, Craig Crawford.

Good evening, Craig.


OLBERMANN:  All right.  People who go before cameras get hair and make up, all appearances to the contrary, even you and me.  But, you know, Palin‘s hairstylist was $10,000 of the same two-week period as the $23,000 makeup artist. When your campaign is trying to live and die by “Joe the Plumber” rules, don‘t you have to pay a little bit more attention to the price tag?

CRAWFORD:  Yes, it makes poor old John Edwards $400 haircut paled by comparison.


CRAWFORD:  This kind of money—sure, I mean, you know, this woman has been a master of symbolism throughout her short political career.  It‘s just that sometimes, symbolism without truth just become demagoguery, Keith.  And that is the problem, I think, she‘s facing is, you know, the image that she put forth is not adding up with all the fact checkers that we have in presidential campaigns.

OLBERMANN:  All right.  And to the substance, the governor had a kind of twofer today, this gaffe on fruit flies research, which I think Richard Wolffe aptly described, and depositions on Troopergate two.  Is she devolving into a perfect storm?  Is this going to be taught in textbooks how not to be a vice presidential candidate?

CRAWFORD:  We haven‘t seen a first impression this bad since Dan Quayle.


CRAWFORD:  And Dan Quayle never came back.  Although, I do think she is a bit more skilled politically than Dan Quayle, but enough so in the next two weeks, less than two weeks.  You get a second chance, maybe, for a first impression, but not with just 11 days to go.

OLBERMANN:  And the governor was wearing a nice, new, more scholarly kind of glasses today.  I mean, we don‘t know, she might have them for 25 years, but these various perceptions of her are beginning to take root.  How hard is it for her or anybody in that campaign, not merely to try to turn that around but, really, to make any kind of dent in that impression in the last 11 days?

CRAWFORD:  I think, you know, that was the effort they made today with this speech, to try to put some gravitas into her speeches.  And, you know, they may try to do that some more.  But there just isn‘t much time left for that.  And I think, she‘s going to—if she‘s going to have a comeback, it‘s going after this campaign.

OLBERMANN:  Our own Chuck Todd commented on the apparent discomfort.  He said there was “a tenseness” between Senator McCain and Governor Palin when Brian Williams and Chuck interviewed them earlier this week. Senator McCain, what is his—any way of estimating where he stands on Governor Palin right now?  Does he think this was a mistake?  Is he still convinced this was the right, bold move no matter what the outcome eventually is?

CRAWFORD:  Well, publicly, we‘re not going to see much other than body language to suggest that.  And I agreed with Chuck, you know, with some of the clips that I saw of that interview, you know, just the way he would look at her.  You got to wonder if he wishes he‘d picked Joe the Plumber for running mate after what‘s happened with this choice. And, yes—but it will happen.  If McCain loses, there will be a lot of finger-pointing.  And some will be pointing at him and others at her.  But ultimately, it was his choice.  The thing about picking a vice president—running mate—is that it‘s the only presidential level decision that a candidate makes.  I don‘t like that.  I would like to see good coverage where we would learn more about other cabinet choices...


CRAWFORD:  ... so we could learn more about how people are going to govern.  But unfortunately, this is about the only choice and John McCain blew this one.

OLBERMANN:  The beautifully-clothed (ph) Craig Crawford of MSNBC and “CQ Politics.”  A pleasure always, sir.  Have a good weekend.

CRAWFORD:  All right.  Good to see you.

OLBERMANN:  A moment of truth was the FOX News headline about the woman who claimed she was attacked because she was McCain campaign staffer by a big black man who carved the letter “B” into her face.  If the incident turns out to be a hoax, “Senator McCain‘s quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting.”  That was written by the FOX News executive vice president, the one who puts out the talking points for all the on-air minions every day.  The incident does not only turn out to be a hoax, but the woman has admitted it was a hoax.  And it turns out that this is not the first lie she has made on John McCain‘s behalf.


OLBERMANN:  One McCain staffer makes up a story of a politically motivated, racially tint sexual attack.  Another pushes its goreous details to reporters in the biggest TV market near the racial divides of Western Pennsylvania.  The fraud unravels and the Republicans try to bury it.

Later: Rush Limbaugh insists Obama is in Hawaii, not to see his dying grandmother, but for more nefarious reasons.  Worst Persons—and next: The Republicans latest (ph) scandal, ahead on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  At first, it seemed as if the McCain camp had taken the high road, exercising moderation and reserved when one of its volunteers claimed that Obama African-American supporter sexually assaulted her and carved the letter “B” in her face. Now, on our fourth story, we learn from Talking Points Memo, that before police confirmed any part of Ashley Todd‘s account, let alone its truth, McCain‘s Pennsylvania communications director gave reporters quotes from the fictional attacker, telling reporters that the “B” in Todd‘s face stood for Barack Obama. Fueling the same divisive elements Matt Drudge was pushing on his garbage Web site, in a narrative straight out of reconstruction era race-based fearmongering: “A black man, 6‘4” attacking, sexually assaulting, fondling, mutilating a young white woman—in this case, a black male Obama supporter assaulting a white female McCain supporter and campaign worker.” Tonight, McCain‘s spokesman, Brian Rogers, denied the campaign gave out those quotes, telling COUNTDOWN, they came from the police and were attributed to the McCain camp because of sloppy reporting.  An account that doesn‘t explain why two television stations both quoted the McCain campaign, or the fact that one of them, KDKA Pittsburgh specifically followed the McCain quotes with the line, quote, “Police, however, have not confirmed that.” And tonight, COUNTDOWN asked the reporter from the other station, WPXI to check his notes.  He says he got those quotes first, 4:08 p.m.  yesterday from McCain‘s Pennsylvania communications director. Last night, FOX News executive vice president, John Moody, the man whose daily email directs how FOX slants its coverage, predicted that, quote, “Some voters may revisit their support for Senator Obama, not because they are racists, but because they suddenly feel they do not know enough about the Democratic nominee.” Why would they suddenly feel they did not know enough about Obama?   What, did they now have an alibi? Today, Pittsburgh police revealed, Todd made it all up.  No attack, no attacker.  One perp walk.  But no sign in FOX‘s occasional 30-second reports on this today, of Moody‘s other prediction yesterday, quote, “If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain‘s quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting.” Let‘s turn now to MSNBC political analyst, Eugene Robinson, also a columnist and associate editor with “Washington Post.” Gene, good evening.


OLBERMANN:  Put if you would for me, this narrative, the initial claim, the fact that it‘s not true, in some racial/historical context for us.

ROBINSON:  The historical context is simple.  It is the blood liable against black men concerning the defilement of the flower of Caucasian womanhood.  It‘s been with us for hundreds of years and, apparently, is still with us.

OLBERMANN:  If—the second part of this, if a McCain spokesman really did get ahead of the police and was telling that the reporters that the “B” stood for Barack as in Barack Obama, what are we to make of that part of this narrative?

ROBINSON:  That, in my opinion, is reprehensible.  It certainly indicates—first of all, look, Ashley Todd, a disturbed young woman—one hopes that she gets help.  If the McCain communications director actually did get ahead of the police, was pushing the story toward to the TV stations as it now seems to be the case, there was certainly a willingness, not just a willingness to believe it, but an eagerness to incite a kind of racial backlash against the Obama campaign in a part of Pennsylvania where race can be a very raw and divisive issue, to this day. And I don‘t think there‘s any other way you can look at it.  The idea of this, you know, hawking, looming 6‘4” black man and this white college student.  You know, college student, it‘s—the image was one that was kind of made to order for maybe stirring something up.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, it had 2008 Willie Horton, at minimum, written all over it.  The reaction, though, here from this man at FOX who I know for a long time, John Moody—his prediction yesterday.  I mean, you know, the current geological era will run out before we see them do the right thing and treat this fraud the way he outlined it yesterday.  But was he right in terms of outside the FOX bubble?  I mean, is John McCain‘s quest for the presidency over?  Is he forever linked to race-baiting now?

ROBINSON:  That‘s a very good question.  I don‘t think it will be played that way on FOX, and I don‘t think it will play that way on the Drudge Report.  I do think there are some questions that need to be answered, specifically, about the role of anybody connected with the McCain campaign in pushing the story.  And I would hope that the McCain campaign, if it finds that its representatives did, in fact, kind of try to pump this up, you know, I hope they do the right thing and clean house in Pennsylvania, or else, it will become an issue.

OLBERMANN:  Well, clearly, there is some and it maybe remote, but there is some culpability here because we heard today references, as you mentioned, to the history of mental problems which may true or otherwise helped her with her legal problems.  But this was not just some random McCain volunteer.  This was an active, apparently full time field rep for the National College Republicans Group, who admitted on her Twitter, lying to Pennsylvania voters that she called.  She claimed she was a Steelers fan.  Obviously, that‘s fraud on the nth degree, a far different level. But isn‘t somebody inside the McCain campaign directly responsible for a culture that encourages everything from the range of, you know, the simple dirty trick out and now fraud for which you get arrested and perp walked?

ROBINSON:  I think the simple answer to that question is—I don‘t know.  I mean, it depends, really, to what extent this was an atmosphere rather than one disturbed young woman.  I think, what we can say for sure, unless the bloggers on right-wing Web sites are right, some of them are saying she was a Democratic plant, but if that‘s not true, one thing we can say for sure is that they should not have pushed the story and if they did, someone should have to answer for that.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, the “B” was backwards.  Everybody who looked at that one, I‘m not sure about this.  Let‘s just wait. Eugene Robinson of MSNBC and the “Washington Post”—have a good weekend, great thanks, Gene.

ROBINSON:  You, too, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Jonathan Alter goes on the “Colbert Report” to talk about FDR and, is instead questioned about my urine. And suddenly, Rupert doesn‘t like his upcoming biography, maybe because it says he‘s embarrassed by Roger Ailes and Billo.  (INAUDIBLE), matey.


OLBERMANN:  McCain in the Membrane in a moment and McCain‘s legal adviser says he‘s already voted early, for Obama.  First, on this date in 1929 was born the first man to play a professional sport and simultaneously write a great book about it.  In fact, two of them.  Jim Brosnan, he was the relief base of the 1961 national league champion Cincinnati Reds and author of both “The Long Season” and “Pennant Race, grateful, hilarious accounts of the seasons of 1959 and 1961.  It‘s readable as now as it as the.  So happy birthday, Jim Brosnan. 

Let‘s play Oddball.

Our pal Jonathan Alter promoting his book on FDR, “The Defining Moment,” on with Stephen Colbert in an unexpected first topic. 



Olbermann is insane, right?  I mean Olbermann is crazy, right?

JONATHAN ALTER, AUTHOR:  Olbermann is our great resource now in this country to get the truth out there.  He‘s doing a great job. 

COLBERT:  He looks like—he rants like a guy who saves his own urine.  I mean crazy, like really dangerous kind of crazy.  Come on, Jon, it‘s just me. 

ALTER:  There‘s a place for ranting in America.


OLBERMANN:  No, Stephen.  I save your urine.  To Northern Virginia where another frivolous 911 call has been placed.  We played them for you before.  I was just kidding about that.  Someone calls police complaining that their pizza didn‘t get there in 30 minutes or less, thereby tying up resources that should be used for real emergencies.  Tonight‘s call is a celebrity edition.


OPERATOR:  Alexandria 911, state your emergency.

CALLER:  It‘s not an emergency but do you know why on one side at the damn drawbridge of 95 traffic is stopped for 15 minutes and yet traffic‘s coming the other way?

OPERATOR:  Sir, are you calling 911 to complain about traffic?



OLBERMANN:  That voice that sounds so familiar telling the police officer (EXPLETIVE) you, Joe McCain, brother of presidential candidate John McCain, everybody.  Who can blame him though?  He was probably caught up in Obama early voting traffic.  Brother McCain has apologized for his rude remark and says he will not be doing any more campaigning, not even about what he previously called the communist part of Virginia.  What would it profit McCain if he won Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania and still lost the White House.  That mind boggling map, in a moment. And heavy on the boggling, not so much on the mind.  Bill O the clown explains that TV ratings may be fixed to make MSNBC look better.  Seriously, he said this on TV. But first, the most outrageous or untrue things said by or on behalf of the Republican presidential nominee, McCain in the Membrane.  Number three, McCain‘s legal advisor endorsing Obama.  Charles Fried, the solicitor general under President Reagan, a member of McCain‘s honest and open election committee says he has already voted early for Obama principally because of McCain‘s “choice of Sarah Palin at a time of deep national crisis.”  Powell, McClellan, William Weld, Fried and Joe the Plumber will even try to sell McCain out in a book deal, also announcing today he‘s thinking about running for Congress.  Number two, palling around with Pinochet.  The McCain-Palin drum beat that Obama would sit down with dictators without precondition, even though the governor could not explain what a precondition was.  “Huffington Post” reviewing recently declassified embassy cables reporting that in 1985, John McCain went to Chile to sit down with dictator Augusto Pinochet without precondition.  McCain told the State Department that the meeting was friendly and at times, warm.  When he met with Pinochet, Chile‘s Democratic opposition was desperately trying to rally support to end that dictatorship in which Pinochet killed more than 3,000 Chilean civilians and put tens of thousands more of them in jail. No. 1, right to the point, Marcia Stirman, chairwoman of the Republican women‘s group of Otero, New Mexico has written a letter to the editor published in the “Alamogordo Daily News.”  She listed 16 reasons “why I‘m a Republican.”  One of them, “I believe Muslims are our enemy and Barack Obama is a Muslim socialist.  Why we are trying to elect one is beside me,” Ms. Stirman tells the “Associated Press” in a follow-up.  She adds, “I still have freedom of speech and an opinion.” You sure do, not a brain.  No decency, no grasp of the truth, no reign on your prejudice and your hatred.  Hey, Senator McCain, isn‘t this one of these bozos whose attacks you promised to denounce? 


OLBERMANN:  All but the human calculators among us have hit or will yet hit a math wall.  Trigonometry, calculus, long division.  But our third story on the COUNTDOWN, John McCain may have hit his math wall and its name might be Colorado.  A possible best case, McCain electoral scenario, still yielding.  Worst case results, here‘s how the map could look on November 5th, given a very generous tilt to Senator McCain.  If McCain holds on to, and this is a huge if, those critical ‘04 Bush states, Indiana, North Carolina, Missouri, Florida and Ohio.  Add in the gargantuan task for flipping Pennsylvania into the Republican column this election and he still loses by two electoral votes.  Why?  Because the Obama campaign seems poised to make good on promises to change the map, flipping Iowa, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and Virginia. Let‘s turn now to NBC News and MSNBC political director Chuck Todd.   Good evening, Chuck. 


OLBERMANN:  All right, so that‘s a best case scenario right now?

TODD:  Well, you know, we looked at this scenario because we obviously

the McCain/Palin ticket is concentrating on Pennsylvania.  There‘s a lot of polls saying they shouldn‘t be, but you get to a point where you run out of real estate, you run out of electoral votes.  And they are obviously spending a lot of time in Ohio. Geographically, it makes sense to go there.  If things move nationally and you move it in Pennsylvania, then you could see a flip.  And the numbers there frankly are getting out of double digits.  I know some of the polls are there, but you talk to some private polls both on the Democratic side and on the Republican side and it is sitting in high single digits.  So it may not be a complete waste of time.  But the problem they‘ve got is—you mentioned it—Colorado.  This whole west issue for McCain.  You know, we talk about the young voters.  We talk about African-American voters.  It‘s Hispanic voters that could do in John McCain because the entire west could be gone, all three of those battle grounds.   And then the Virginia issue which has turned into a significant lead.  They are on the air heavily now in Washington, D.C.  They hadn‘t been there before, but there you go.  You put that map together and suddenly Pennsylvania is a luxury for Obama.  That‘s a huge problem for the McCain ticket. 

OLBERMANN:  Yes, as we watched the senator speaking in not surprisingly, Colorado, Durango, Colorado.

TODD:  Right. 

OLBERMANN:  I heard somebody say today that without Colorado, if he lost Colorado, you might as well go home now.  Is that a bit of an exaggeration?

TODD:  It is a slight bit of exaggeration because Nevada is still fairly close.  Nevada is still going to be a tough state for Obama to flip.  I think the Hispanic fact, the fact that they‘re breaking more like 65-35 than 60-40 is probably enough to get Obama over the top out there.  But of all those three western states, that‘s the last one to go.  And Colorado, we‘ve seen, it‘s been trending.  He could make it up, if he somehow held Virginia.  But the combination, Keith, of Virginia and Colorado slipping away from McCain, that‘s where this things suddenly hits a wall for them.  And that‘s where they‘re stuck at around 260 to 265.  Frankly, you know, McCain is spending the weekend in Iowa.  Everybody is like, why is he in Iowa?  He‘s down double digits.  Again, in search of electoral votes.  And the thing about Iowa and Pennsylvania, Keith, is they‘re both very old populations.  And the one voting group that they think Obama has the least amount of hold on is older, white voters.

OLBERMANN:  There‘s other numbers besides poll measures or your maps.  The “Associated Press” estimate right now is McCain has $12 million to try to flip Pennsylvania and defend the red states.  Obama has $66 million to spend.  How is that supposed to work?

TODD:  Well, he does also have Republican Party money.  The RNC has their independent expenditure and they‘re actually now targeting Indiana and they‘re spending some money in Chicago and Louisville.  And they‘re spending money now in Miami.  So he makes up some in that.  It‘s not quite 66 to 12.  It‘s probably more like 66 to 35.  But it‘s still a two to one margin.  And that‘s what really has made this McCain thing difficult.  They are not up in Philadelphia.  The McCain campaign is a little bit, but the Republican Party isn‘t.  So they are almost seating that part of the state.  And while Philadelphia, the city, is going big for Obama, the suburbs should be a place that McCain stays competitive.  If it‘s slipping away there, then it doesn‘t matter if he over performs in the Pittsburgh area, which is a place that they think he can do well, if he‘s going to get trounced in those Philadelphia suburbs. 

OLBERMANN:  Chuck Todd, political director, MSNBC and NBC News and owner of the world‘s largest Blackberry.  Thanks Chuck, have a good weekend. 

TODD:  Thanks, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  And now the real numbers game.  Bill O‘Reilly says Barack Obama is fixing the Nielsen TV ratings to make him look bad.  Kind of makes worst persons into an anticlimax until you hear the even sorrier ratings of comedian Rush Limbaugh.  You‘re watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN:  A columnist actually suggests John McCain selected Sarah Palin because of her looks—a conservative columnist.  And columnist does battle with comedian Rush Limbaugh‘s conclusion that Obama‘s trip to visit his dying grandmother is a cover story.  And also, more Australian piracy from Rupert Murdoch for worst person honors tonight.  And then Obama is fixing the TV ratings to make MSNBC look good or MSNBC is switching the ratings to make Obama look good.  I didn‘t quite get the whole thing.  But you don‘t have to when it‘s a Bill O‘Reilly paranoid delusion.  We‘ll decipher it for you ahead on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  Did you know Barack Obama is fixing the Nielsen TV ratings to make me look good and Bill O‘Reilly look bad? It‘s true.  Ask Bill O.  Fact or fiction returns next.  Bring your paranoia. First, time for COUNTDOWN‘s number two story, tonight‘s worst persons in the world.  The bronze to conservative columnist Kathleen Parker in the “Washington Post” on the selection of Sarah Palin in retrospect.  “A brilliant 75-year-old scholar and raconteur confessed to me over the line, I‘m sexually attracted to her.  I don‘t care that she knows nothing.”  “McCain didn‘t know her,” she continues.  “He didn‘t vet her.  His campaign team had barely an impression.  One does not have to be a psychoanalyst to reckon that McCain was smitten.  By no means am I suggesting anything untoward between McCain and his running mate?  His judgment may have been clouded by, what?”  Hold on here, Ms. Parker.  If you mean to suggest that Senator McCain selected a vice president for her looks, you‘re mocking all that matters.  Who am I kidding, I tried, you‘re right.

Our runner up, Rupert Murdoch.  He had no complaint with Michael Wolff‘s upcoming bio of him.  He sat down for 50 hours of taped interviews with Wolff.  Murdoch‘s son-in-law Matthew Freud sent Wolff an e-mail three weeks ago saying the book was brilliant on so many levels, congratulations seriously.  Now though, Rupe is not so sure.  “I just read four or five chapters of your book,” Mr. Murdoch writes.  “It contains some extremely damaging statements, which I will be happy to point out to you, if we could meet somewhere near the mizzen mast.”  I added the part about mizzen mast.  “Otherwise, I will have no option other than to speak direct to Random House.”  What could have made Murdoch suddenly complain?  I‘m guessing it‘s this quote from Wolff.  “For a long time, he was in love with the FOX chief Roger Ailes.  Now the embarrassment can‘t be missed.  He mumbles even more than usual when called on justify it.  He barely pretends to hide the way he feels about Bill O‘Reilly.”  Do you think maybe Bill O or Ailes complained to Murdoch?  Maybe.

But our winner, comedian Rush Limbaugh.  Barack Obama is in Hawaii by the side of his grandmother.  Rush doesn‘t think so.  “I think this about something else.  You know what‘s really percolating out there?  This birth certificate business.  I‘m just wondering if something is up.  I have no clue.” 

Well, you‘ve got that right, you‘ve got no clue.  The nonpartisan has already seen the Obama birth certificate, pronounced it legit.  The wacko “World Net Daily” has already seen it and pronounced it legit, but not Rush Limbaugh.  Listen, Rush, I‘m telling you this again.  There used to be a sort of despicable majesty to what you did on the radio.  But now you‘re parodying Jerome Coursi and Michael Savage.  Michael freaking Savage.  Your credibility is below that of “World Net Daily.”  Rush, this is how bad it really is.  I feel sorry for you.  Rush Limbaugh, today‘s worst person in the world.    


OLBERMANN:  Now, tonight‘s latest from the network whose executive vice president has concluded that Senator McCain‘s quest for the presidency is over forever linked to race bating FOX News.  Our No. 1 story on the countdown, Bill O the clown has jumped the shark tank that is delusional paranoia.  He‘s seen the ratings spike here at MSNBC and decided that it is the result of a fraudulent conspiracy perpetrated by the “New York Times,” Barack Obama, G.E. and the AC Nielsen ratings company.  As ever, I will read Bill‘s words, then translate them back into human.  “The war, ladies and gentlemen, between ‘The New York Times‘ and FOX News has broken out into the open.  The “Times” today used the announcement of my new contract to put forth that FOX News may be in trouble ratings wise.  The article, written by Bill Carter, raises questions about how much longer FOX News will be successful.  In the body of the article, Carter raises the absurd contention that MSNBC is competitive with FNC.” Mr. Carter‘s article was actually about how the economic collapse will affect advertising in all of cable news.  I know you only sort of skim the paper Bill to look for your name, but Carter‘s piece was 765 words long and it isn‘t until 600 words in that he even mentions MSNBC and then only to note how we cleaned Bill‘s clock by 200,000 in the key demo on Tuesday night. By this point however, Bill O was already at stage three, we‘ll do it live, uncontrollable anger.  “Hey, Bill,” he continues to write, “going to print that last night I beat their guttersnipe at eight by two million viewers, 200,000 in the key demo?  Are you going to print that, sir?” Actually talking about our big night Tuesday, Carter wrote, “Mr.  O‘Reilly still dominated among total viewers with 3.4 million to 2.2 million for Mr. Olbermann.  But Bill O has long since eluded reasons grasp.  Now, he is at the “I don‘t know what that means” stage. “Are you going to print that, sir?  Of course you won‘t.  Why?  Cause you‘re corrupt and you oughta quit the business.” I love it when Bill O lets him do my impression of him angry.  But there was an extra quality to his voice as he delivered that line that you must hear directly.  It doesn‘t lose that much in the original.


BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Are you going to print that, sir? Of course you won‘t.  Why?  Because you‘re corrupt and you oughta quit the business. 


OLBERMANN:  Oh, you should quit the business and die and I‘m not going to play with you anymore, Bill Carter, you big meanie.  Just buying your premise for the sake of argument, Bill O, what does being corrupt have to do with quitting the business?  I mean, you‘ve been on the air since 1996.‘The Factor‘ was the 8 p.m. time slot 100 percent of the time in total audience and 94 percent of the time in the 25-34 demo.” Just not lately.  And Bill, didn‘t it used to be 100 percent of the time in total audience and 100 percent of the time in the 25-34 demo?  Hey, what happened?  “We don‘t just win.  We more than double MSNBC in total audience and beat them by 32 percent in the demo.”  Jeez Bill, five years ago, you had seven times our total audience and you used to beat us by 562 percent in the demo.  Even two years ago, you had three times our total audience and you beat us by 165 percent in the demo.  Good thing evil Bill Carter left that out.  “Now the corrupt Bill Carter ignored all that.  He‘s quite a guy.  Comparing this October to last October, ‘The Factor‘s‘ younger viewer demo has increased 90 percent.  Again, Carter somehow missed that.” You know what else he missed?  COUNTDOWN‘S younger viewer demo October to October is up 338 percent.  “While FOX News continues to rule, there are major problem with the Nielsen ratings system.  There have been wild swings in the ratings that have benefited MSNBC.  We‘ve asked for an explanation of those wild swings.  Nielsen can‘t explain them and those swings are unprecedented in the television business.” It‘s cause you suck. “An examination of Nielsen shows that their personnel is overwhelmingly liberal.  Twenty-six Nielsen executives including CEO Susan Whiting, 26 have donated to the Democrats, two to the Republicans.”   Twenty-six donations to the Democrats, two to the Republicans.  Have you seen any of the presidential fundraising this year, Bill O? That ratio isn‘t very far out of whack with you know, America.  So, America is conspiring against you, too.  Geez Bill, exactly where are you going with the stuff about Nielsen?  “The bottom line on this is there may be some big time cheating going on in the ratings system.  And we hope the Feds will investigate any fraud in the television rating system affects all Americans.”   So the only possible explanation for your ratings shrinking and ours growing is a conspiracy in which the Nielsen company compromises the only thing it has, the credibility of its ratings methodology so that what?  MSNBC has some higher ratings so what?  So Obama looks better or is it Obama gets higher poll numbers so MSNBC looks better? Or do you want to flesh this out a little or do you just want to think back 10 or 11 years ago, when they first moved you to 8:00 and things weren‘t going very well.  And you had never finished ahead of that goofy guy who was on against you on MSNBC.  And then he quit.  And then you tied his successor for a couple of nights and then you were ahead for awhile, then he was ahead for awhile and then you broke away from the pact and it was all uphill from there.   It‘s the same thing now Bill, except it‘s all downhill from here.  Sunrise, sunset.  You know, swiftly fly the years.  Or, you‘re right.  It‘s all fixed.  And Michael Mukasey needs to drop everything and needs to start a freaking federal investigation into the TV ratings. 

That‘s COUNTDOWN for this, the 2,004th day since the declaration mission accomplished in Iraq.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck. 

Our MSNBC coverage continues now, totally fixed in the ratings with “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW.”  And boy, hasn‘t she fixed the ratings. 



Transcription Copyright 2008 ASC LLC ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is

granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not

reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or

internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall

user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may

infringe upon MSNBC and ASC LLC‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or

interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of