THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Guests: Richard Wolffe, Chris Cillizza, Jonathan Turley, Margaret Carlson
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The recount and the amount: The Republicans try to smear Al Franken and the secretary of state of Minnesota, and the law that requires the recount, while boasting and dispatching 120 Coleman lawyers into every corner of the state-oh-and invoking ACORN.
McCain to march through Georgia for Saxby Chambliss, the same John McCain who called Chambliss' attack ad on Max Cleland "worse than disgraceful, it's reprehensible."
And, 90,000 votes just in in Alaska. Can they save Ted Stevens all that trouble of getting reelected, and then still thrown getting out?
Transition: The nations of the G-20 Summit want some contact with the president-elect's team. So, Obama sends a shadow delegation: Madeleine Albright and former Congressman Jim Leach-former Republican Congressman Jim Leach. You know, like, accepting pre-orders.
What do we do now? How a little known law might let Congress revoke any regulations imposed by President Bush in his last six month in office on a straight up or down vote. Jonathan Turley joins us.
McCain in 2012? No.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, ® ARIZONA: It's been a great experience and, you know, we're going-we're going to have another generation of leaders come along. And I hope that I can continue to contribute, that's all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: You got anybody in mind?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SARAH PALIN, ® ALASKA: Well, I've never been an obsessive partisan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Nor, evidently, a fan of the "CBS Evening News."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: Because I'm like, what do you mean, what do I read in Alaska? I read the same things that you guys read in New York, and there in L.A. and in Washington state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Great, that still wasn't the question. I mean, at this point, saying you read PerezHilton.com would be a better answer. More of Matt Lauer and Governor Palin.
And in Worsts: He is back. Ex-Florida Congressman Mark Foley insists he's not a pedophile because the House pages were 17 years old. And the illicit emails and the text messages were all a momentary lapse of judgment a momentary lapse of judgment that went on for six months.
All that and more: Now on COUNTDOWN.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MARK FOLEY, FORMER FLORIDA CONGRESSMAN: It was an innocent thing going back and forth.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening. This is Tuesday, November 11th, 69 days until the inauguration of president-elect Barack Obama.
And there is breaking news at this hour: Absentee ballots counted today in Alaska and they are not all counted not by a long shot. The ones that have been counted have put Democrat, Mark Begich, in front of the Republican Senator Ted Stevens by exactly three votes. One, two, three-three votes.
That leaves our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN tonight: Along with the Senate races in Minnesota and Georgia, in the latter, Senator John McCain who had denounced Saxby Chambliss' reprehensible for his infamous 2002 ad showing the faces of his opponent, Max Cleland, and Osama bin Laden. That was then, this is tomorrow. In advance of the Georgia runoff, McCain will campaign tomorrow for Saxby Chambliss, because the word "reprehensible" my start with the letter R-E-P but so does Republican.
Republicans are raising doubts about the validity of the recount in Minnesota, even before it begins. Norm Coleman's campaign boasting that 120 of its lawyers may soon descend on the 100 recount sites which will begin the official double check on November 19. And the National Republican Senatorial Committee has distributed a three-page memo called a "backgrounder," painting the Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, a Democrat, as grossly biased with links to the voter registration organization, ACORN. The GOP bogeyman of choice, circa-last month.
Coleman's lead has already shrunk to just over 200 votes. Coleman's lawyer calls that mysterious and statistically dubious. Nice to meet you, Mr. Dubious.
Franken's campaign says that Coleman knows better and is assembling its own lawyers and volunteers for the recount sites.
And the Minnesota Secretary of State Ritchie, today, addressed the Coleman campaign criticisms saying, quote, "Their goal is to win at any price." Ritchie's office announced the recount canvassing board which includes two state Supreme Court justices appointed by the Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty, along with two other judges and Mr. Ritchie himself.
Now, to Georgia. The runoff between Senator Chambliss and his Democratic rival will bring Senator McCain back to that state tomorrow. The Democrats oppose to the Web-only ad reminding voters about Senator McCain's opinion of Chambliss 2002 campaign, quoting, "I've never seen anything like that," McCain said in July of 2003, "Putting pictures of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden next to the picture of the man who left three limbs on the battlefield. It's worse than disgraceful, it's reprehensible."
In the current runoff, Senator Chambliss has already an ad beginning with images of the 9/11 attacks. The new RNC ad in Georgia warns of a filibuster-proof Democratic majority. It may not happen.
In Alaska, the Division of Elections was supposed to count most of the 90,000 early and absentee ballots today. The convicted felon, Senator Stevens, had led the Democrat, Mark Begich, by about 3,200 votes before today's canvassing. The final tally is not expected before tomorrow, but the "Anchorage Daily News" and other news organizations reporting, about 43,000 of those votes have been counted. The lead right now-Mark Begich, the Democrat: 125,019 votes, Senator Stevens, Republican incumbent:
Let's bring in the national political reporter for WashingtonPost.com, Chris Cillizza.
Chris, good evening.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, WASHINGTONPOST.COM: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Well, I'm sure that Alaska race is much tighter than the vote would indicate. What on earth is happening there?
CILLIZZA: You know, Keith, this is-it's a fascinating thing, because as you point out, there were 90,000 votes that essentially had not been counted from last Tuesday until today. It's a mixture of people who voted early which is apparently an oxymoron-you vote early, but it gets counted late. Question ballots, ballots of people with their names didn't show up exactly right and then absentee ballots.
So, they are supposed to count about 52,000 today, with the rest coming later this week or next week. And as point out, this is absolutely amazing. You've seen Mark Begich essentially gained 3,200 votes in one day. Always a warning, you never know where the votes are coming from. If they're from the Anchorage area, that's good for him. He is the mayor of Anchorage, that's going to be his base. You never know if there are other votes out there from more Republican areas. But, it's certainly a lot closer than I think we thought it might be.
OLBERMANN: All right. So, we probably got as many more votes to be counted as have been added today-somewhere between 43,000 and 47,000.
OLBERMANN: Something like that. Any indication of where this is headed? You know, is there a "Lord help us"? Is there a chance of a recount that could send the senator back to Washington where he will be expelled, forcing another election? Where are we going?
CILLIZZA: You know, Keith, I wish I knew. I would have probably told you before this count started today that Mark Begich would narrow the margin but would not be able to overcome Senator Stevens. We usually see in things where there's a number of ballots not counted. Typically, one candidate wins 53 percent, one candidate wins 47 percent. It's not enough to overturn it.
So, I wouldn't make any predictions. I will tell you, though, I'd be interested to know who the Republican Party leadership is rooting for, because I don't think they want Ted Stevens to come back, Jim DeMint has already said he would vote to expel Senator Stevens. I think they want a clean break with the last eight years. They don't want any of this taint of corruption, and they would almost rather-I don't say they would rather-but I think it's a debate whether they want Senator Stevens back or not.
OLBERMANN: All right. Let's switch briefly over here to Minnesota. The recount is mandated, as we all know, by law in Minnesota. What are the Republicans hoping to accomplish by trashing the recount. And we know, they're setting up a court battle if Franken wins?
CILLIZZA: Well, you know, I think what we're seeing is an attempt to sway public opinion. But ultimately, Keith, you're right. It's very likely, given the fact that I think it was 203 votes the last time I sort of clicked to refresh on my "Associated Press" vote count in Minnesota, it's very likely this thing is headed to a manual recount. And manual means manual-by hand.
Several million votes could not be decided until December. So, I think, what's going on on both the Coleman and the Franken side is-in attempt to cast this before-it's sort of working the referees-before this canvassing board, which was named this evening, meets, they want to try and get public opinion on their side. It may not matter, ultimately. What matters is whether there's more votes for Franken or more votes for Coleman. But this is all part of the politics of it.
OLBERMANN: And Georgia-is Senator McCain feeling indebted because Senator Chambliss had endorsed for president in February or what is the point here? If there's some sort of attempt at rehabilitation from his tough (ph) presidential campaign, why is McCain going there with that man?
CILLIZA: I'm not convinced that he feels as though he owes Saxby Chambliss. Saxby was not one of the people who was on-very early on, Lindsey Graham, John Thune, those kind of people. My guess, Keith, is that McCain views himself, and is viewed because he's the Republican nominee for president, as a party leader-this December 2nd runoff, this is not like the general election. This may well be a battle of the bases, who can turn their voters out on a very, very unorthodox election day. And so, I think the goal is to put people like Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Sarah Palin, John McCain down into Georgia on the Republican side in hopes of really energizing that base and turning them out.
OLBERMANN: All right. Well, obviously, the Alaska thing is in doubt. Minnesota is going to a recount. We don't what's-we've already got a second vote in Georgia. If all three of those seats went to the Democrats, they would have 59, including Bernie Sanders, and then 60 including bingo -Joe Lieberman. I mean, you see the guy rooting-should we see if he voted in Alaska, and Georgia, and Minnesota? Where is he now and how valuable is he with every passing day?
CILLIZZA: Well, Keith, the scenario you just outlined, I think, if you wrote it as a novel, people would reject because it was too outlandish. But I think Joe Lieberman got a big vote of confidence early this week when Barack Obama said he would like him to remain in the Democratic caucus.
And I think most senators are going to defer whether they want to or not, are going defer to the president-elect. My guess is Joe Lieberman remains in the Democratic caucus. The thing to watch: does he retain that homeland security chairmanship? If he doesn't, does he bolt on his own right?
OLBERMANN: All right. The national political reporter for WashingtonPost.com, writer of "The Fix," Chris Cillizza. Great thanks for your time.
CILLIZZA: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: And we repeat that headline: 250,035 votes counted already in Alaska. Maybe as many as another 47,000 to count. But with 250,000 votes in, it is the Democrat, Begich, leading the Republican incumbent, Stevens, by three votes.
In the executive branch transition, meanwhile-one really tasty bit of fluff for you tonight. But first, the substance. The transition office today is announcing leadership teams to assess the departments of state, defense, and treasury, and to prepare President-elect Obama and his nominees to take over. Former Senator Sam Nunn, not only informally advising the defense transition, despite initial reports to the contrary, former Clinton Secretary of State Warren Christopher, not at all involved in that agents switch over-agencies switch over.
Christopher's successor, Madeleine Albright, though, along with former Republican Congressman Jim Leach, have been asked by Obama to attend this weekend's superpower economics summit in which many foreign leaders were hoping to meet Obama himself.
The president-elect's camp is saying, quote, "There is one president at a time in the United States. So ,the president-elect has asked Secretary Albright and Congressman Leach, an experienced and bipartisan team to be available to meet with and listen to our friends and allies on his behalf.
Finally, the fun. After meeting with Obama today, tomorrow, Joe Biden, the vice president elect, and his wife, at 5:15 p.m. will have a private meeting with Mr. and Mrs. Cheney. Following the private meeting at the vice president's official residence, the Navy Observatory, the Cheneys will then give the Bidens a tour of the historic home, including the secret vault, the torture chamber, the shredder, the other secret vault, the other torture chamber, the rack, and the Iron Lady, which just needs a score of WD-40 every month or else the hinges squeak.
Finally, Cheney will take Biden way, way down to the wine cellar to see Cheney's "Cask of the Amontillado."
For the love of God, Montresor, let's bring in MSNBC political analyst, Richard Wolffe, also, of course, senior White House correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine.
Richard, good evening.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Is there any way that a night with the Cheneys could be anything short of just hilarious?
WOLFFE: Obviously been over for a game of (INAUDIBLE)
WOLFFE: You know, he's known for his small talk and his big shop.
So, I am sure it will be wild to everyone.
OLBERMANN: That's right. One word, Mr. Vice President-elect. One word of advice-duck.
OLBERMANN: The lead in the "Washington Times" today read, "The Obama transition is starting to look more and more like Clinton world." And, obviously, considering the source, everybody knows what that's supposed to mean as political red meat. What would it mean practically?
WOLFFE: Well, look, if you're going to have anyone with any experience, then you need to reach back as Democrats since the Clinton Team. It's not necessarily a bad thing. Remember that the Clinton's suffered because they had no people in Washington experience when they first came to town. And, in fact, they made an active effort to keep at a distance anyone associated with the previous Democratic administration, in other words, the Carter White House. They have to spend lots of time correcting that.
So, I don't know that you should read into this that there is going to be a Clinton-style approach to government because what you need for that is that extra special ingredient X, which is the Clintons. And, obviously, they are not going to be there.
OLBERMANN: There were remarkably few leaks during the campaign from the Obama campaign part of it. Are we now seem to get dribs and drabs from the transition, nothing huge but they knock down just tonight another report from CNN that David Boehner would be joining the team. More importantly than why there are a few leaks now, why do they all seem to have been pretty much wrong?
WOLFFE: You know, there was one leak out of this transition and people at the highest level of the transition were very unhappy about it and that was Rahm Emanuel. The only news we've really had out of this transition. Remember, that leaked even before the election. So, they kept a very tight lid on things.
And, you know, when you look at the leaks just today, Sam Nunn, the story was materially wrong. Warren Christopher is even more wrong. So, you've got a lot of very highly pressured journalists who want to break some news and sources that are really not giving them much. Although the transition is a fairly broad and sprawling group, the number of people who really know what decisions are being made is very, very small. So, you can source things to people associated with transition, but they may not actually know very much.
OLBERMANN: Let me ask you, Richard, about the breaking news we have tonight out of Alaska. With this, suddenly this senatorial race -- 250,000 votes with one ahead by three. Is the Obama transition team too worried about January 20th to be focused on this? Would they have been caught flatfooted on this? Or did they know about it the moment that those canvassing returns came in from Alaska this afternoon long before the press did?
WOLFFE: Well, I think everyone is surprised by how it shrunk and, obviously, it means every vote really does count. But, I think, there has been, at the DNC level and also folks associated with the Obama campaign, now the transition, moving resources over there. I mean, they really care about how close they can get to that 60 vote total in the Senate.
So, people are aware of it. They are engaged in it just as they are with the situation in Georgia. Obama is going to need 60 votes at several points. So, this is really important.
OLBERMANN: And how involved are they? And to what degree would have
been involved in those two states and in the Al Franken runoff in Minnesota
the recount anyway, not a runoff? Would whatever they be doing be the iceberg with 90 percent of below water?
WOLFFE: Well, you're looking at legal resources. You know, there's a lot of work to make sure that things happen at the local level in terms of the recount, as we found in Florida as well. There are strategic issues in terms of how you play it out through the press. So, I think there are lots of different levels going on. But the transition work itself, I mean, this isn't about the most senior people around Obama who are dealing with this, this is more about the party structure kicking into gear.
OLBERMANN: Our own Richard Wolffe, senior White House correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine-as always, Richard, great things.
WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Is it possible that an obscure little law signed by Bill Clinton a dozen years ago could wind up letting Barack Obama undue the final six months of signing statements and executive orders from George W. Bush?
As she and the other Republican governors convene in Florida, Sarah Palin is now up to an average of more than one exclusive interview a day, and three words tonight: "Arrested Development" movie.
OLBERMANN: Jonathan Turley is here for our nightly feature, "What do we do now?" How does the president-elect unravel the tangle of Bushian signing statements, executive orders, and last-minute regulations? It turns out he may have a secret weapon at his disposal.
Also, Sarah Palin in Florida, Bigfoot the slug, and Billo the Clown going racist about Prop Eight.
You're watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: You may have heard that President Bush got an early start on his last-minute regulatory changes because incoming presidents can easily undo them if they are done after November 1st. You may have not heard and Mr. Bush have not either, than an obscure little law could make it easy for Democrats to undo last-minute Bush regulations enacted any time in the last six months of his presidency.
As a wise man once said, "Pretty sneaky, sis. Diagonally."
Our fourth story tonight on Mr. Bush's attempt to extend his legacy, the question we will ask of Mr. Obama nightly until his inauguration: What do we do now? As Bill Clinton discovered, it can be very tough to undo those last minute zingers, Politico.com reports Clinton amended almost half of the first President Bush's last-minute rules but managed to repel just 9 percent of them. This President Bush could only repel 3 percent of President Clinton's.
But now, Politico reports, Democrats are looking at a 1990s law that could led Congress, on simple party line votes, undo even some of those last-minute rules that Mr. Bush tried to get in early.
Let's bring in Jonathan Turley, the professor of constitutional law at George Washington University.
Good to talk to you again, Jon.
JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Baseline question first, why is it often so tough to undo those regulations? I mean, Bush undid, you know, most of the Bill of Rights. What's the difficulty with something with few regulations here?
TURLEY: Well, this is the ultimate dead hand control. What a president can do is by finalizing a regulation, he can force his successor to go through an entirely new regulatory process that can take years. And what that mean in real terms is that you could have an Obama administration that continues to carry out George Bush's directive. And for people who elected Obama for change, that's practically an obnoxious reality to accept.
OLBERMANN: The ultimate dead hand president we see on the right hand of the screen here, but-the "Washington Post" over the weekend, the Obama Team spent months going through all of the Bush decisions, especially the political ones that they think they could undo, global warming, stem-cell research, and things like that. What is the difference between those things and these last-minute regulations and against the deadlines though?
TURLEY: Well, the Bush administration is playing on a full-court press. They are pushing for the finalization of regulations while they're also pushing for executive orders to be implemented. Those executive orders are easier to undo. A President Obama can come in with his superseding executive orders.
Now, these include some executive orders that are classified that President Obama will be able to unravel. Things such as Guantanamo Bay and other very hot button issues are often contained in executive orders rather than regulations. Those regulations, however, is what really concerns people the most because it's-to push through a regulation at the end of an administration is akin to following the water well. It is almost a sign of contempt for the results of the election.
Now, President Bush is not the first to do that. President Clinton did that. It's not particularly good form. But most importantly, we're talking about regulations that go to the heart of the recent election-we're talking about environmental regulations, a lot of issues that the public clearly indicated they wanted to change on.
OLBERMANN: And, Jon, having given the background of this, what is this law that the Obama people think that they have found? What is exactly is this promise of blessed relief?
TURLEY: Well, this is the Congressional Review Act of 1996. And the Congressional Review Act is designed to prevent presidents in the final hours of their administration of creating this dead hand control. What it does is it creates something of a fiction. It says that if you push it through in the final days of your administration, it won't be considered final until the new Congress comes in.
So, if you do this closer at the end of the previous Congress, Congress gave itself extra time to reverse it. The key here, however, is time. We're not going to have a lot of time. And we're talking about a lot of regulations and a lot of executive orders. And that's why Obama reportedly has a team of dozens of people who are trying to unravel this very complex web of executive orders and regulations to use that time efficiently.
OLBERMANN: So, this, then what-paint the scenario for me about exactly what this looks like in the Senate and the House on, you know, the last days of January of next year. Is there a flurry of legislations in which a dozen of this are repealed at the same time or a one giant get rid of Bush bill, or how does it work?
TURLEY: Well, they could do it in an omnibus manner like that. And I expect that they may have to. What's strange about this administration is that President Bush has a certain benefit in being the least popular president in modern history and that you really can't statistically go any lower. And that seems to, in a strange way, have freed up his subordinates where they are trying to just run the table and move every regulation and executive order they can to try to create this control.
And, I think that the Congress, if it's going to deal with this, is going to be dealing with literally hundreds of executive orders and regulations, and also, hundreds of signing statements by this president. And eventually, they are going to have to tackle each one of those individually to give Obama the right to direct his own administration.
OLBERMANN: Yes. It's like one of those booths at those Minor League Baseball games where the guy, a contestant steps in and they have all the dollar bills blowing around, you grab as many of them as you can. That's the Bush administration in the final days.
TURLEY: Something like that.
OLBERMANN: Yes, I mean, close enough. You don't have to sign on to that. Constitutional law professor, Jonathan Turley-as always, Jon, great thanks.
TURLEY: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Sorry, squire, we're right out of parrots. I got a slug, afraid (ph), does it talk? Not really, no. We nicknamed it Bigfoot.
And disgrace ex-Congressman Mark Foley is back-speaking of slugs-insisting he really was not a pedophile because the boys were nearly 18. He rejoins the Worst Persons in the world.
OLBERMANN: If you've been throwing away your calendars, we have just been advised that it's no longer Tuesday, November 11th, but is, in fact, Wednesday, November 12th. In the race to get the breaking news out at the start of the news cast we forgot to get the other breaking news that it changes day from day to day.
Best persons in a moment.
What do you mean there's going to be an "Arrested Development" movie? First, on this date, November 12th, in 1892, the former Yale star Pudge Hefflefinger (ph) was paid 500 by the Allegheny Athletic Association to play against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club, making him the first overtly paid football player. Thus, when he was suggested as a delegate from Minnesota to the 1904 Republican National Convention, that made him the first ex-pro football player to go into politics.
Let's play Oddball.
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OLBERMANN: We begin on this November 12th in Edmonton, Canada. Meet big foot, a five inch long slug. Native to Europe, the oozy creature somehow found its way into the woods near Leslie Robinson's house, where she stumbled across it a few months ago while walking the dog.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My first initial reaction was, oh, my goodness, somebody didn't pick up after their dog again. And then I realized it was moving.
OLBERMANN: So naturally, she picked the thing up. She took it home. She fed it vegetables. She named it Big Foot, and currently is keeping it as a pet. Canadian hospitality at its finest.
To lady's bathroom at Sanford Stadium, reportedly after the University of Georgia played a college football game there. And the inebriated young lady here has just been advised a receptacle has become available towards the end of the hall.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go, go!
OLBERMANN: Yes. She was stunned, but, think of it this way, probably didn't make much difference. As suggested by a poster on the website Dead Spin today, I fought the stall and the stall won.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: You know, I've never actually seen one before, but it looks to me like that has all the makings of a governor running for president four years before the next election. And for those of you who don't like stories about Sarah Palin, there's another story about Sarah Palin. The exclusive interviews are now up to a rate of 1.17 per day. These stories ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN's top three best persons in the world.
Number three, best entertainment news from Jeffrey Tambor, who tells the website Collidor.com that an "Arrested Development" movie is going to happen. "We're doing it. We're are going. It's a go. I just actually talked this week to Mitch Herwitz (ph). When the writer calls you and the director and the executive producer call you, it's a pretty good sign. Get your hopes up." David cross says, tonight, it's true, he too got that call.
Number two, Best cliche's come to life. Runner up, John Tripp of Lawrence, Mass, arrested after allegedly holding up a Sovereign Bank in that city. Tellers slipped a dye pack among the money. After it exploded around his wrists, Mr Tripp was apparently so easy to spot because he was caught red-handed.
Number one, best cliches come to life, winner, Michelle "Big Mike" Laponte out of jail in Ottawa, after 25 months of a five year sentence for being part of a drug gang, because the Canadian jailers say he doesn't fit. It's not a cultural thing. It's not an anti-social thing. He's 450 pounds and the authorities say he couldn't sit on the chair in his cell, nor the bed, which he was about a foot wider than. The cliche come to life, no jail could hold this man!
OLBERMANN: Good evening, again. It's still Wednesday, November 12th, and for the purposes of our third story on the COUNTDOWN, the number is 1,455. That would be the number of days until the next presidential election, November 6th, 2012, three years, 11 months, 25 days for Republicans to clean up their act or the exact opposite, for making another run at the White House. A topic high on the agenda at the Republican Governor's Association Meeting, getting underway today in Miami, Miami, Florida. Florida Governor Charlie Crist hosts, himself a jilted candidate, passed over for the VP slot for Sarah Palin. More about her presently.
The three-day event supplying ample opportunity for political odds makers to hedge bets on who will be anointed. Among the headliners, upon whose shoulders rest the future of the GOP, if any, Minnesota's governor, Tim Pawlenty, Louisiana' Bobby Jindal, both once thought to be on the McCain short list. Jindal and Mississippi Haley Barbour both taking part in an '08 postmortem. The latter later honored at a special dinner.
And former McCain co-chair, ex eBay CEO Meg Whitman rumored now to be eyeing Arnold Schwarzenegger's office in 2011, on the docket for a press round table. As for Governor Palin, her day back in that white hot spotlight of the lower 48 tomorrow, with a morning news conference, followed by a speech and a slot on a panel discussion titled "looking towards the future, the GOP in transition."
Asked this morning whether she's the party's future, quote, "I don't think it's me personally. I think it's what I represent, every day, hard-working American families. A woman on the ticket perhaps represents that. It would be good for the ticket. It would be good for the party. I would be happy to go do whatever is asked of me to help progress this nation."
Meanwhile, McCain on his 14 appearance on the "Tonight Show" last night, revealed his own future intentions, if any.
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JAY LENO, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": In 2012, you'll be 76, still a young man.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: Here we go again. I'm ready to go again. I wouldn't think so, my friend. It's been a great experience and, you know, we're going to have another generation of leaders come along and I'll hope that I can continue to contribute. That's all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Time now to bring in Margaret Carlson, political columnist for "Bloomberg News," Washington editor of "The Week Magazine," who joins us from Miami, there to cover that Republican Governor Association Meeting. Good evening, my friend.
MARGARET CARLSON, "BLOOMBERG NEWS": Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Are we worried or were we worried here that there would be nothing to talk about after last Tuesday? Now we have this going on? Are you sensing there that the Republicans really did kick off campaign 2012 today?
CARLSON: Well, we'll always have Sarah Palin, it seems. But here, actually, the governors are wanting to talk about 2010, because the number 2012 is code for talking about Sarah Palin, which was where they do not want to go. Her saying that she doesn't represent herself, she represents an entire movement that's going to save the Republican party is just what they quietly don't want to happen. If they had their way, she wouldn't be here tomorrow.
OLBERMANN: Wow! To what the degree is that the other prominent Republican governors who got some passing mention during this campaign, with an eye towards 2012, Jindal, Pawlenty, Crist? Is there any sense that any of them are forming a power base behind Palin? Or are they intending to cut her up like a Roman dictator and smuggle her out under their robes?
CARLSON: Well, they only say that quietly, Keith. Each of the-
Crist has his own posse following him wherever he goes, the lights come on. Bobby Jindal is the boy wonder, and he attracts a lot of attention. Haley Barbour is the elder statesman. One easily doubled his black vote in Mississippi, the only governor to actually come out well from Katrina.
Mississippi did so much better repairing itself than Louisiana. And he will only talk about 2010 and the governors. And you know, the governors -after covering the campaign, Keith, it's so strange to be among Republicans who aren't ideologues.
Republicans can't talk. They actually have to deliver, Republican governors. So there's a lot of pragmatism here and not much Sarah Palin talk. Very much, what are we going to do about Medicare and Medicaid, what are we going to do about the schools? How are we going to rebuild the bridges and the roads?
OLBERMANN: On or off the record, is anybody in the GOP hierarchy concerned or expressing concern about the fact that the governor seems to be on television more often than Ryan Seacrest?
CARLSON: Governors like the lights themselves. The minute she appears, was here today briefly, and she'll be taking up all the oxygen, and all the lights all tomorrow morning, and they don't really like it.
OLBERMANN: And is there somebody else in there who actually is a potential rival to her, in terms of getting attention in this down time for that party?
CARLSON: I haven't seen Arnold Schwarzenegger. He usually attracts quite a crowd. Meg Whitman is a little bit shy, but I guess if she really mounts this challenge to Schwarzenegger, she'll get more attention. As I said, Bobby Jindal is the new, young star, gets a lot of attention. But Sarah is just a star in her own orbit.
OLBERMANN: Like Lindsay Lohan. Margaret Carlson of "Bloomberg News" and the "Week Magazine," outside the governor's convention in Florida. Thank you, Margaret.
CARLSON: Good night, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Bill-O the Clown joins the chorus of the wrong on California's infamous Proposition 8. And there's racism. Worst persons ahead. And we'll tread even further inside the mind of Governor Palin. Don't wear your good shoes.
But first, because they're not going away soon enough, the headlines breaking in the administration's 50 running scandals, Bushed.
Number three, memoir-gate. The president takes his lumps again, as the first lady moves towards authorship. She is, this week, interviewing publishers who are bidding on her memoirs. She is interviewing them in the White House. Random House went there the other day. Mort Janklow (ph), book agent for both President and Nancy Reagan was asked how long President Bush should wait before trying to write his book. Quote, "30 or 40 years might be good." Britain's newspaper "The Telegraph" also added this trenchant detail, that President Bush, quote, "has said that his favorite literary work is the very hungry caterpillar. The president said he enjoyed reading it when he was a boy. It subsequently emerged that it was published when he was 23."
Number two, Gitmo-gate. The president elect's team is trying to tamp this stuff down, but there's still some leakage. "Washington Post" reporting that in January, the new administration will review the classified files of each of the 250 Gitmo detainees. The main hurdle to closing it down is what to do with the prisoners who actually may be guilty of something, but who may walk Scott free because, of course, the Bush administration approved the use of torture and that's how we have evidence against them. The final irony, torture frees terrorists.
Number one, bailout-gate. There's still 410 billion out of the 700 as yet uncommitted. And the D.C. lobbying community wants the money. The Treasury Department described as being under siege by an army of hired guns, representing everything from the American Express Company-don't go bankrupt without it-to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, to a Hispanic business group representing home heating and plumbing specialists. Wait, the National Marine Manufacturing Association? It turns out it wants some of that loot to insure that luxury boat dealers can get loans, because without some easing of credit, all those boat dealership showrooms won't have any boats in them.
Now, why should some of the 700 billion dollar economic bailout program go to the home heating and plumbing specialists? Explain the lobbyists cheerfully, the government is going to wind up owning a lot of houses, one way or the other. Buying distressed mortgages directly or, more likely, buying companies whose only assets are distressed mortgages. And the landlord is always responsible for fixing the toilet and the hot water heater. So, we, the people, we're now the landlords.
These guys want us to hire them as the supers. I've said it before and I'll say it again, today we call this the bailout. Tomorrow, we will be calling this why daddy went to jail.
OLBERMANN: When he began to be interviewed, Baseball Hall of Famer Dizzy Dean supposedly answered each reporter's simplest question, what's your full name differently. To one, he said Jay Hannah Dean, to another Jerome Dean. They caught on and asked him why was he doing that. He said, I wanted to give each of you an exclusive. Dizzy Dean reincarnated, perhaps, as Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska. She's now given seven exclusive interviews in the last six days. That's next, but first time for COUNTDOWN's number two story, tonight's worst persons in the world.
The bronze to the traffic wardens of Hownslow (ph) in England. Veterans Day, Remembrance Day there, is a far more grave affair in that country, in commemoration of the 11 hour of the 11 day, when the First World War ended, the nation still observes two minutes of motionless silence. It was during that two minutes of silence yesterday that motorist Stephanie Jost says she was standing next to her car and watched as one of the meter-man placed a 90 dollar parking ticket on her wind shield.
Our runner up tonight, Bill-O the Clown, again reading the conservative talking points, trying to pin the victory of Proposition 8 in California on black voters. "The African American community came out for Obama. While they were in that booth, they said, you know what, gay marriage, I don't think so. So why aren't they protesting in front of the African-American church?" Maybe because they're not racists and you are.
Our friend, Nate Silver, who relies on statistics rather than on things he heard in the hallway, has dispensed with this version of reality, simplified for the Bill-O's of the world. Nate writes, "the notion that Prop 8 passed because of the Obama turnout surge is silly. Exit polls suggest that first time voters, the vast majority of whom were driven to turn out by Obama, voted against Prop 8 by a 62 to 38 margin. If California's electorate had been the same as it was in 2004, Prop 8 would have passed by a wider margin." Nate Silver, Bill, FiveThirtyEight.com. Learn something. Well, try.
But our winner, Former Congressman Mark Foley. In his first interview since he resigned in September 2006 after the sex scandal involving underage male pages, Foley said he did nothing illegal, never had any sexual contact with the teens, just inappropriate Internet conversation. He says what he did was extraordinarily stupid, but that he wasn't a pedophile. Quoting Foley, "it hits me right in the gut, because it's absolutely false and inaccurate. A pedophile is someone having sex with a pre-pubescent person. I mean, that is an outrage to be called that."
He also said the 17-year-old kids never said stop, or I'm not enjoying this or this is inappropriate. "It's not what I envisioned," the Florida Republican concluded. "Working this hard all my life to end up in an ash heap because of a momentary lapse of judgment."
A momentary lapse of judgment that lasted from no later than late 2005 well into the summer of 2006. Former Congressman Mark Foley of Florida, besides everything else, he can't tell what time it is or how long something takes or when pedophile is defined, today's worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: To paraphrase the late great comic Bill Hicks, the self aware world's reaction to Governor Sarah Palin is like the guy with the sore tooth, can't stop touching it. Ow, Ow.
Our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, since her return to Alaska on Friday, she's given interviews to the local NBC station, assembled state Capitol reporters, a CNN correspondent, Greta Van Susteren, Matt Lauer, Wolf Blitzer and Larry King, and each was an exclusive. The only way she could be on television more often was if CBS started a series called "CSI Sarah Palin."
Thus new interviews can be used to digest the old interviews. In an exclusive interview, Matt Lauer asked her about her exclusive interview with Katie Couric.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT LAUER, "THE TODAY SHOW": But you didn't think the interview was unfair? The questions were fairly straight forward, weren't they?
PALIN: Sure. But questions like, what do you read up there in Alaska? To me, that was a little bit annoying. I was like, what do you mean, what do I read in Alaska? I read the same things that you guys read in New York and there in L.A. and in Washington State. What do you mean, what do I read up there?
But anyway, some annoyance that certainly I'm sure showed through. And, you know, perhaps that annoyance that showed through would have led some to be annoyed with me watching the interview.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: But Couric never asked what she read up there Alaska, simply what news sources she read. And Larry King, in an exclusive interview with Governor Palin, noted the advice from Ms. Couric that Governor Palin should work really hard before contemplating a run for president. Palin said, "well, thank you, Katie Couric, for your advice. And, you know, Larry, there too, if there's anything I can do in terms of assisting there and allowing the credence, the credibility that that great vocation, that corner stone of our democracy called the press, if I can help up that credibility in the press and allow the electorate to know that they can believe everything that is reported through the air waves and through print, I want to be able to help."
As for running for president, yesterday we heard about opened doors and plowing through. Today it's life is unpredictable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: Well, life is very unpredictable and that's the excitement of life. You never know what's around the next corner. And I do not know what's around the next corner. I don't know what opportunities will be there. But I know that today and tomorrow, I will be in the governor's office in Anchorage and in Juneau serving the people of Alaska.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Today and tomorrow but by Friday, say Friday, who knows? By the way, I know what's around the corner today and tomorrow, another interview. When Matt Lauer noted that she has been in the white hot spotlight and seemed to be pretty ambitious-
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: You know, when you talk about that white hot spotlight, that's not real attractive to me. The attraction is where can I best serve people whom I will forever be accountable to? Right now, I'm accountable to the people of Alaska.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Meantime, over yonder in an exclusive interview with Greta Van Susteran, Senator Clinton was again warmly embraced.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRETA VAN SUSTERAN, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Have you ever talked to Senator Clinton?
PALIN: I have not, but I'm going to call her tomorrow.
SUSTERAN: You are? What are you going to tell her?
PALIN: I'm going to tell her, more power to you. I have a lot of respect for what she has accomplished and she-I feel like she certainly, having gone before me, and she helped shatter glass ceilings left and right. Yes, that one is still there, above Hillary, above me, above every woman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Of course, tactics from the recently lost campaign are still at issue, with Palin offering another version of how her line about palling around with terrorists came into being. In an exclusive interview with Wolf Blitzer --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: That was a collaborative effort there in deciding how do we start bringing up some of the associations that, perhaps, would be impacting on an administration on the future of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Collaborative effort, you say? That brings us full circle. When she was asked if there were other allegations in the media she wished to address.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: If the media had taken one step further and investigated a little bit, not just gone on some blogger, probably sitting there in their parent's basement wearing their pajamas, blogging some kind of gossip.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Of course, it was a blog that helped bring Governor Palin to national attention, PalinForVP.Blogspot.com. We don't know if those people were also in their pajamas or naked. And Todd Palin, Alaska's first dude. He gave Miss Van Susteran an exclusive ride on a snow machine.
That's COUNTDOWN for this the 2,023rd day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann and I can report that I exclusively don't have an interview with Sarah Palin, at this point or any other point in the next 2,000 years. Good night and good luck.
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