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'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for January 28, 2009

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

Guest: Richard Wolffe, Lawrence O‘Donnell, Jonathan Turley, Margaret Carlson

High: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

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

As the House votes on the stim, the Republicans go in eight directions at once.  Congressman Cantor of Virginia included—again—thanks the president for working with Republicans on “some terrific tax provisions.”  Congressman Pence of Indiana excluded, complains “Republicans have had no input whatsoever in the development of this so-called stimulus bill.”

Congressman Ryan of Wisconsin refuted .


REP. PAUL D. RYAN, JR., (D) WISCONSIN:  This bill we‘re about to vote on is not worthy of our new president‘s signature.


OLBERMANN:  Senator Coburn of Oklahoma plays the grown-up on his Republican colleagues in the House, quote, “I don‘t think they ought to whine about the process.”

And the president himself says, “Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick.”


PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:  Part of what led our economy to this perilous moment was a sense of irresponsibility that prevailed in Wall Street and in Washington.


OLBERMANN:  And the sense of irresponsibility that prevailed in the previous administration.  Now, the ACLU asks this president to release all Bush Justice Department memos rationalizing secret prisons, domestic spying and torture.

The count and the amount: Rod Blagojevich after interview number 20.


GOV. ROD BLAGOJEVICH, (D) ILLINOIS:  Richard Nixon fought every step of the way to keep his tapes from being heard.  I consider myself the anti-Nixon.  I want every tape, every one of them, every taped conference to be heard.


OLBERMANN:  He‘s been on everything but the soap.  I don‘t think he is going to be on our Super Bowl pre-game show on Sunday.  Breaking news tonight that now he wants to address the Illinois Senate before the impeachment prosecutor wraps up tomorrow.  Must have heard there‘d be cameras!

Bests: The rabid right-wing Republican congressman who has dared to stand up to comedian Rush Limbaugh.  Worsts: Jessica Alba knows more about World War II than Bill O‘Reilly.

And, behind the scenes with the Obamas.  At the convention in Denver, it turns out there was heavy wagering?


PRES. OBAMA:  I‘ve got a bet with Malia because she‘s been talking about when he sees her Jonas Brother favorite—what‘s his name?


PRES. OBAMA:  Nick.  I‘ve said, “Malia, I will bet you $5 that you will stammer and not have anything to say when you see Nick.



OLBERMANN:  Take the first daughter and the points.

All that and more—now on COUNTDOWN.


BLAGOJEVICH:  I think the fix is in.


OLBERMANN (on camera):  Good evening, from Tampa.

First, they wanted tax cuts, then they wanted more tax cuts, then they wanted money spent on contraceptives cut.  Finally, this afternoon, before tonight‘s final House vote on the stim, the Obama economic stimulus program, it was suddenly infrastructure.  Not the president‘s vision to spur the U.S. economy by improving the crumbling bridges, the highways and the mass transit of this country, instead, Republicans—who let the infrastructure of the nation go to hell in a hand basket for eight years—suddenly complained that the stimulus bill did not have enough infrastructure spending in it.

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: Every excuse including the kitchen sink.  Breaking news this hour—not a single GOP member of the House voted for a stimulus plan that one of them had had any intention of voting for in the first place—post-partisan America be damned.  But the bill passed anyway and handily, 244 to 188.

President Obama getting the victory he wanted in the House and he did not need any Republican help to achieve.  The Democrats in the House approving the $819 billion economic stimulus package, that is a centerpiece to President Obama‘s plan to revive the economy.  As we mentioned, no Republican is voting for the measure.

After tonight‘s vote, the president expressing his gratitude to the House for passing the stimulus plan, adding that this is not a time to, quote, “allow the same partisan differences to get in our way.”  Earlier this morning, before that vote, the president is inviting top business leaders to the White House to stress his belief that the measure needed to be enacted and in a hurry.


OBAMA:  When it comes to rebuilding our economy, we don‘t have a moment to spare.  The businesses that are shedding jobs to stay afloat, they can‘t afford inaction or delay.  The workers who are returning home to tell their husband and wives and children that they no longer have a job, and all those who live in fear that their job will be next on the cutting blocks, they need help now.  They are looking to Washington for action, bold and swift.  And that is why I hope to sign an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan into law in the next few weeks.


OLBERMANN:  The latest economic bellwether in a week of many of them, the Postal Service is now threatening to cut mail service and delivery down to five days a week from six because of massive deficits and rising costs.

But pay no attention to that economic crisis behind the curtain, the same Republicans responsible for bringing it to you and for over 2.5 million jobs lost, for a national debt exceeding $10 trillion, this afternoon are claiming that they have a better plan than President Obama‘s and a cheaper one, too.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R-OH) HOUSE MINORITY LEADER:  We think there‘s a better way.  We just did an analysis of our proposal and found that our proposal will create 6.2 million new jobs in America.  That‘s twice as many as the bill that‘s on the floor now, at about half the price.


OLBERMANN:  And where was Minority Leader Boehner headed now that he has lost tonight‘s vote in that House?  No.  Not to Disney World.  He was invited to the White House for cocktails.

Yesterday morning, the president having invited the entire leadership of the House and the Senate, Democrats and Republicans, to join him for refreshments at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.  Winner buys.

Time to call in our own Richard Wolffe.

Good evening, Richard.


OLBERMANN:  So, Obama gets the stimulus plan but he didn‘t get a single Republican vote.  Did he win or did he sully his own win by making such a big deal over Republican votes that he wasn‘t going to get in the first place?

WOLFFE:  Well, he wins by getting the legislation through, and he wins by keeping the moral high ground.  But clearly, his goal of a new kind of politics is going to take a lot longer than he thought.  Now, you can put that down to sort of optimism on his part or self-belief.  But, in the end, what he thinks is more important than changing politics is getting this stimulus package through, and there are many people in the White House who think Republicans opposing a popular president and a popular spending package are effectively driving themselves off a cliff.

OLBERMANN:  And, to that point, the minority leader kept his votes in line, not so much on the message discipline that they always seek.  Would it have been a lot more believable, this whole thing, if the Republican members had stuck to one set of talking points?  I mean, were there any talking points—they seemed to be going in all sorts of different directions before this vote?

WOLFFE:  Well, I think they had pretty good talking points initially on some of these spending issues.  And look, they got the president to knock down a couple of them, on the National Mall, on contraceptives as well.  So, they, I guess, had some tactical skirmishes that they won.  But what you see at the end of it is a party that is struggling for definition and direction.  And without clear leadership, some of them are going in one ideological direction and others are just looking after their own skins and their own districts.

There are confident predictions inside the White House, not just that they will pick up votes in the Senate, but you are going to see Republicans in the House voting for this final package when it comes back to them.  In other words, there are going to be Republicans out there who say they voted against it before they were for it.

OLBERMANN:  And, is that where the reports that there had been discussions between the chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, and this caucus of a dozen or so centrists Republicans in the House, the “Tuesday group” as they call themselves, with the new transportation secretary, Mr. LaHood, having been one of the group‘s members?  Did they have to stand aside in this vote but are they expected to, as you suggest, vote for it when it comes back to the House?

WOLFFE:  I don‘t know that they have identified exactly who‘s going to bend here.  But, you know, the danger for Republicans is that they are on the wrong side of the politics, that this economic vote ends up being a bit like national security was for some Democrats in 2002.  The public opinion is so strongly in one direction that you end up looking on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of the politics.

So, this isn‘t just some sort of naive game about everyone singing kumbaya.  It‘s about positioning themselves both with the economy—the policy now and politics moving ahead for the next two years.

OLBERMANN:  So, who, ultimately, do the Republicans who all voted against this thing—who do they look good to?

WOLFFE:  Well, Republicans in the House are looking at competition that comes from the right.  It‘s a very different dynamic from what you‘re seeing in the Senate, where people are representing whole state, where there are lots of different opinion shifts as we saw in the last election.  And if you are a party that is down to your base and you‘re worried about challenges from the right, that‘s all they care about.  They are looking good for their own base, for the kinds of people who still inhabit the conservative echo chamber.  And it‘s not going to take this party—take the Republican Party to a new direction.

OLBERMANN:  Our political analyst, Richard Wolffe—thank you, Richard, as always.

WOLFFE:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  To that last point, since Monday, 100,000 Americans have lost their jobs.  That‘s on top of the 2.6 million who got pink slips last year.  Republicans are betting everything now, that the unemployed and millions more Americans who worry they might soon be joining them on the unemployment lines would prefer that Congress do nothing so that they are taxed less on paychecks that they might not have for much longer.

Behold, the GOP now running its first ad of the 2010 midterm election against Majority Leader Harry Reid in the Reno market, in his home state of Nevada.  The ad is attacking Senator Reid for his support of the bailout bill and the stimulus plan.  Roll ‘em.


ANNOUNCER:  Super-spending partisan Harry Reid.

As Democrat leader, he helped pay for vicious attack ads criticizing last year‘s bailouts.

But guess who voted for the $700 billion bailout?

You guessed it—Harry Reid.

And now, he wants $1 trillion more in new spending?  $1 trillion?

Tell Harry Reid to stop wasting our hard-earned money.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is responsible for the content of this ad.


OLBERMANN:  Who will think of the pigs?  Who‘ll be looking out for the pigs?

Let‘s turn now to MSNBC political analyst and a contributor to, Lawrence O‘Donnell.

Good evening, sir.


OLBERMANN:  So, am I missing something here?  Have the Republicans bet their party‘s success on the economy failing further, but nobody remembering that it first began to fail and fail significantly under George Bush, who was a Republican if I recall correctly?

O‘DONNELL:  Well, what they are betting on is the failure of voter memory two years from now.  This is an easy vote.  This first passage through the House is an easy one for them to vote no on.

As Richard pointed out, there is going to be another chance, there‘s going to be a final passage.  And we may see some Republicans come under pressure, between now and then, to change their minds.  They will have a rationale for that because the Senate will deliver some changes to this, the conference committee version of it will have some changes.  So, you‘ll always be able to say this is a different bill than came through here the first time.

But the easy bet right now, especially for House Republicans, most of whom or almost all of whom are in fairly safe seats—because let‘s remember, Keith, everyone, every Republican in the House survived the Obama tsunami that took over the election this year.  So, what they‘re counting on is this stimulus probably won‘t work very well or have a very impressive achievement two years from now.  Unemployment may go up a point.  Who knows if without the stimulus it would have gone up five points?

But they are hoping they are going to be able to argue this stimulus package was a big waste of money and we can prove it to you two years from now.  If the stimulus package works out well and the economy is somehow doing well two years from now, they are betting on voters forgetting who voted yes or no today.

OLBERMANN:  Obama‘s approval rating as we start this process, where the Republicans think they‘re going to come out ahead in two years time or less than that, he is at 70 percent, Congress is about 20 percent.  And there‘s a Hotline Poll in which 51 percent say it does not matter who‘s in control of Congress as long as they get something done for the benefit of the country.

Does it seem like the Republicans have decided to bet the long shot here rather than take the safe bet of going with Obama in the middle of a crisis?

O‘DONNELL:  Well, what House members get to do is bet on their own approval rating within their own districts—and these Republicans have pretty good approval ratings at this stage of the game.  And they have plenty of time in the next two years if this becomes a politically costly vote for them, they have time to make up for that in other ways and jump on some other Obama bandwagon in 2010, throw one or two votes Obama‘s way in 2010, and eliminate whatever price they are going to pay for this.

But remember, the important thing is this is just the first passage. 

The bill is going to change.  The Senate is going to pass something else.  They‘re going to go to a conference committee.  The final passage of vote may look different or may look the same.

But their bet right now is, they are in a safe position, especially since what they are saying is, “We are not just opposed to this.  We have our alternative that does not include wasteful spending and it includes more tax cuts and our alternative is not being given a chance.”  So, on the campaign trail next year, they‘ll be saying, “This was the alternative but I was in favor of when I was voting against the crazy Obama bill.”

OLBERMANN:  But, Lawrence, Obama met with Republicans and he met with them on their turf.  He compromised on multiple aspects of the stimulus plan and added things and subtracted things per Republican request.  He invited everybody to cocktails at the White House after the vote, before the vote is taken.

Even if it had lost in the House, if he were to lose this somehow in the Senate, would the president have lose—lost by losing or would he won by losing?  Did he fix this so that his bet is covered in both directions?

O‘DONNELL:  Absolutely.  I believe he is going to win final passage.  I think they are guaranteed that.  But he has played it absolutely, perfectly in terms of the public perception of: Is he really trying to go bipartisan?  He has certainly delivered that imagery absolutely.

You k now, House Republicans will argue, “Yes, but he wasn‘t trying to do real compromise.”  One of the possible strategic problems for Obama was that he compromised too soon with them on tax cuts.  Maybe he should have waited later to show real compromise toward the end instead of toward the beginning.  But he has really compromised.

OLBERMANN:  Lawrence O‘Donnell of MSNBC and—as always, great thanks, sir.

O‘DONNELL:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  The president still has a different kind of leftover from the Bush administration with which to deal tonight.  And the ACLU today just tried to nudge him in a right direction on it.  “Release,” it asked, “all Bush documents legally rationalizing torture, domestic spying—the whole bag.”  This while a Republican senator apparently makes up a claim that the attorney general nominee promised him, just him, that no Bush White House figure would ever be prosecuted.

Jonathan Turley joins us next.


OLBERMANN:  The Bush administration Justice Department memos, the ones about torture, about kidnapping, about secret prisons, and secret domestic spying and why they were all legal.  Why the ACLU thinks they might be smoking guns?  Jonathan Turley joins me next.

Later: Governor Blagojevich‘s next guest shot at his own impeachment trial for a 90-minute answer, he hopes.  And in Worsts: Bill O‘Reilly finds out he knows less about the Second World War than does actress Jessica Alba.

All ahead tonight on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  In George Bush‘s America, he spied on people, kidnapped people, held them in secret facilities and tortured them without any of the founders‘ check and balances, courts or Congress not even knowing about it.

In our fourth story tonight: The first steps toward accountability for those who said the president could operate outside the rule of law.

Today, the ACLU wrote to the Obama administration, asking it to release dozens of memos—secret memos once issued by the Bush Justice Department, telling Mr. Bush that waging war elevated him above the law.  Mr. Obama rescinded those memos last week in order to his agencies to embrace transparency but still we don‘t know how he will extend that transparency to his predecessor.

Whether to seek the truth or justice for the Bush era is now a question for Eric Holder.  He‘s expected to win full Senate confirmation as attorney general as early as tomorrow, after sailing through the judiciary committee today on a vote of 17-2.  One of those two “no” votes, Republican John Cornyn of Texas saying, quote, “I am left with remaining doubt about Holder‘s political independence.”  Just a moment.  Thank you.

In 2005, Cornyn considered Alberto Gonzales politically independent from George Bush, voting to confirm an attorney general who only told Bush no when Bush asked him, “Hey, do you mind making some coffee?”

Let‘s turn now to Jonathan Turley, professor of constitutional law at George Washington University.

Good evening, Jon.


OLBERMANN:  The ACLU has sought these very memos for years.  Run through it.  Exactly what kinds of things would we learn from them and why does it matter?

TURLEY:  Well, first of all, these memos are not just some historical interest.  They are evidence of crimes.  This is the ultimate paper trail.  It will show not just what rationalizations were made for the commission of war crimes in the case of torture, but who accepted those rationalizations.

And when you talk about no one being above the law, it generally means you follow that trail of evidence wherever it may lead.  And these memos will give us a very good account of who made the decisions and who assisted in what is now a pretty well-defined war crime.

OLBERMANN:  Valid reasons that the Obama administration might possibly have to not release these documents now.  Are there any?

TURLEY:  Not really, you know, because the existence of the program is well-known.  The details are well-known.  It is admitted that waterboarding occurred.

And so, what‘s being classified here is really evidence in the historical record but, you know, the fascinating thing is that you have a group of people who knew at the time that they would be accused of war crimes for ordering the torture of individuals and they then promptly classified even their legal arguments.  So, it‘s a unique situation where you have people who are presumed as felons who have the ability to control what evidence will be used against them.

And so, there really isn‘t any good justification here.  Some of these memos, like a 2002 memo is classified legal argument.  It‘s just—it‘s a memo talking about the Fourth Amendment and why it doesn‘t matter.

OLBERMANN:  Mr. Holder has said he‘s not interested in going after the agents who did what they were told.  We‘ve already discussed the fallacy that‘s contained within that.  But, what about the higher-ups?  I mean, how could those memos affect Holder‘s thinking about pursuing the higher-ups?

TURLEY:  Well, it‘s going to make it much more difficult for Obama and Holder to ignore the war crime in the room and the potential war criminals who just left it.  And, you know, I have to say, though, people talk so freely about not holding the low-level people responsible.  They don‘t seem to realize that that‘s accepting the defense of just following orders, the very defense we rejected in Nuremberg.  And so, the implication of what is being said seems to be totally detached from this political moment.

But I do believe if these memos are released, and I think it‘s a great credit to the Obama administration that they are thinking of releasing them, it will make it all the more difficult to ignore the people who wrote them, and more importantly, the people who received them.

OLBERMANN:  A side note about Mr. Holder—the “Washington Times” reported today that the Republican senator from Missouri, Mr. Bond, said he had voted for him after Holder assured him that there were not going to be any torture prosecutions.  Holder promptly denied that.  Mr. Bond would not, his office did not reply to our request for any clarification on that.

But whether or not it‘s true, what did he have to gain with that story, and now that it‘s been shot down, what do we look from Republicans at the full Senate confirmation vote which might be tomorrow?

TURLEY:  Well, he knows that there is a lot of concern among civil libertarians particularly after the report last week of General Hayden that he was told by Obama, quietly, that there would be no war crimes or torture prosecutions.  And for civil libertarians, it‘s a great concern.

The important thing here is that all they have to do is say, “It‘s not our decision.  We‘re going to take the evidence where it leads and we‘re not going to stand in the way of an investigation of war crimes because that‘s not the type of country we are.”

OLBERMANN:  Jonathan Turley of George Washington University—as always, Jon, my great thanks.

TURLEY:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Pining for the fjords?  What kind of talk is that?  If you hadn‘t nailed him to the toilet, he‘d be pushing up the daisies!  My apologies to John Cleese.

And, when will Billo apologize to Jessica Alba, she makes an obscure historical reference about the Second World War, he claims, “She‘s a pinhead.”  She proves she was right and he was, per usual, wrong.

Worst Persons is ahead on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  Bests in a moment.  And a restaurant is in trouble, so one day the staff came in and worked for free.

But first, six years ago tonight, the most infamous 16 consecutive words of this century were uttered.  Quote, “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

On that note, let‘s play Oddball.

And, no coincidence we begin with crap—and parroting.  Ten-year-old Emil was making too much mess in his cage at his home in Landskrona, Sweden, so his owner potty-trained him.  And poo isn‘t all that Emil can do, he also drinks tea, and whistles the theme tone from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”  Beautiful bod, lovely cleavage—just run down the curtain and join the bleeding choir invisible!

And, to Chengdu Research base in Sichuan Province in China, and 13 adorable, fuzzy baby pandas making their first public appearance as part of the celebrations of the Chinese New Year.  Technically, this is the year of the ox, but pandas are so much cuter and more easily carried.

It turns out Rachel‘s interview with Rod Blagojevich was just a warm-up.  He wants his next appearance to be giving his own final argument at his impeachment trial.  It will last an hour and a half.

And the Obamas of Chicago find out what happens in Washington when it snows.  And they—especially the kids—are not all that impressed.

These stories ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s top three best persons in the world. 

Number three, best de-assimilation from the Borg, Republican Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana.  Asked if he agreed with comedian Rush Limbaugh, who has repeatedly says he hopes President Obama fails.  Pence spit out the Kool-Aid and decided he works for the American people and not some guy on the radio.  “Every American hopes that our president is a success.  Everyone hopes that America succeeds and our president succeeds, but Republicans are going to stand for conservative values.”  He then presumably voted against the stimulus anyway, just like Lord Limbaugh told him to.  But it is a best start. 

Number two, best dumb criminals and best cliche come to life, John T.  West and Ashley Sorenson, 20-year-olds accused of stealing the tires off a car in Sacramento.  They fled.  They put the tires on their car and they promptly drove the car back to the scene of the crime, just like criminals are alleged to always do, because, they later told the cops, they wanted to see if the lady had called the cops.  Good question.  She had.  The cops were already there.  And they got arrested by them. 

Number one, best employees, the 17 servers, cooks, bus boys, dish washers, cashiers and hostesses at Mr. B‘s Pancake House in Muskegon (ph), Michigan.  Business is slow and the pancake house is having tough times.  So, thought senior server Mary Van Damn (ph), it would be great if everyone came in a week ago Sunday and worked one shift for free to help out their boss, Mr. B, Dave Barhan (ph).  They all agreed. 

When the customers found out, they increased their tips to the staff.  Still managed to go home with 51 bucks each as payment for their generosity.  That is terrific. 


OLBERMANN:  Breaking news.  We now know why Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has conducted 20, count them 20, interviews over the past few days.  It‘s a warm up act for his impeachment trial, the very trial he said he would not attend, so he could do all of the interviews.  In our third story on the COUNTDOWN, the governor has now made a request to speak tomorrow at what will likely be the final day of those impeachment proceedings. 

The Democratic president of the Illinois Senate announced the request this afternoon.  The governor‘s spokesman, Lucio Guerro (ph), saying, quote, he wants to make a closing argument.  The governor will speak for an hour to an hour and a half, reportedly before the prosecutor‘s closing arguments.  The governor will off offer no testimony and take no questions. 

Mr. Blagojevich‘s spokesperson said he was not certain why the governor had chosen to make an appearance after consistently denouncing the impeachment process itself.  Why did he do this?  Maybe he sold the film rights. 

Until that final pitch before the state senators, who act as both judge and jury, we have only the governor in his own words and words and words and words. 


GOV. ROD BLAGOJEVICH (D), ILLINOIS:  There was a cowboy who was charged with stealing a horse in town.  Some of the other cowboys, especially the guy whose horse was stolen, were very unhappy with that guy.  One of the cowboys said let‘s hang him.  And the other cowboy said, hold on, before we hang, let‘s first give him a fair trial.  Then we‘ll hang him. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Will reflect that governor has failed to appear or to answer the article of impeachment. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Governor Blagojevich remains defiant. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Governor Rod Blagojevich, good morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. 

BARBARA WALTERS, “THE VIEW”:  AS I‘m in California, I will talk to you first. 

RACHEL MADDOW, “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW”:  Thank you for being here. 

It‘s nice of you to take the time. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Governor, open the window.  Open the window.

LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR:  Springfield, Illinois.  Hello? 

BLAGOJEVICH:  Are you asking me this now?  Am I on TV?


BLAGOJEVICH:  Yes—no, I said I‘m not resigning.  You are funny. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  There‘s been discussions of a TV movies of this being made.  Who would play you?  Who would you want to play you? 

BLAGOJEVICH:  Is that right?  Have there been?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes, there have been some discussions.  I mean, would you—

BLAGOJEVICH:  I wouldn‘t mind playing myself.  I could probably use the job. 

PATRICK FITZGERALD, FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  The most cynical behavior in all this, the most appalling, is the fact that Governor Blagojevich tried to sell the appointment to the Senate seat. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I have this thing and it is bleeping golden. 


JOY BEHAR, “THE VIEW”:  You and your wife are potty mouths. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Ask him, for nothing, ask him. 

BLAGOJEVICH:  I was raised in a big city and a tough neighborhood. 

We had gangs in the neighborhood I grew up in. 

I will point out when some of that language was used, there were no women on the phone. 

If that was said, that is subject to many interpretations. 

KING:  You can‘t tell me what the two words bleeping golden meant? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  (EXPLETIVE DELETED) them.  Put that in context for me? 

BLAGOJEVICH:  Again, that could be interpreted in a whole variety of ways. 

MADDOW:  What could be kosher to exchange for a Senate seat? 

BLAGOJEVICH:  How about helping us pass health care and a jobs bill. 

I‘m am, in many ways, the anti-Richard Nixon. 

I consider myself the anti-Nixon.  I‘m the opposite of Richard Nixon, who was always trying to protect his tapes. 

BEHAR:  He does a fabulous Nixon impression.  Do it for us. 

BLAGOJEVICH:  Who said that? 

BEHAR:  Somebody told me.  Come on.  Just say, I am not a crook.  Do it. 

BLAGOJEVICH:  No.  I‘m not going to say that. 

BEHAR:  Come on. 

BLAGOJEVICH:  This is like an old Frank Capra movie, whether it‘s Jimmy Stewart or Gary Cooper.  I see myself that way.  In those movies, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I will tell you what I want, sir.  I want a chance to talk to people who will believe me. 

BLAGOJEVICH:  I view myself as Jimmy Stewart and Gary Cooper.  I know that is going to be met with mockery. 


BLAGOJEVICH:  But that‘s how I see it. 

No, but I think the fix is in. 

The fix is in. 

The fix is in. 

The fix is in.

The fix is in.

I think the fix is in. 

The fix is in in the state Senate. 

The fix is in. 

I believe the fix is in. 

Because the fix is in. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Who were you thinking of for Senate? 

BLAGOJEVICH:  Do you have any suggestions about who I might have been thinking about?  What have you heard? 


BLAGOJEVICH:  That is true. 

Oprah was one of the many people we thought about. 

Oprah Winfrey, for example. 

Then the question is, how do you suggest something like that so it doesn‘t look like it‘s just a gimmick to get cheap publicity at her expense. 

OPRAH WINFREY, “OPRAH”:  I think I could be a senator too.  I‘m just not interested. 

BLAGOJEVICH:  It wasn‘t my idea. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I said cuckoo once.  I‘ll say it again.  Cuckoo. 

BLAGOJEVICH:  The sounds of political allies who the day before all of this came down, which we called our personal Pearl Harbor Day—I had a whole bunch of thoughts.  Of course, my children and my wife.  Then I thought about Mandela, Dr. King, Gandhi. 

They knew what it was like to be in custody.  I‘m not the first person this has happened to.  All you have to do is read the Bible.  Parts of Bible are filled with stories like this. 

In terms of what we tell our kids, it‘s a very difficult time for our family.  Our little girls, my wife and I got them a puppy during the Christmas holidays. 

Everybody should do what they think is right.  Anybody who wants to say anything nice about me, that would be kind of nice.  There hasn‘t been a lot said that‘s been nice.

GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  I‘ll buy you dinner. 

BLAGOJEVICH:  Is that ethical? 

There is an old gospel song “One Day at a Time, Sweet Jesus.”  I do—you hear something like this, you take it one day at a time.  I had this delusion, which I know is a delusion, that I‘ll wake up some time, like tomorrow morning, and then maybe they‘ll realize there is just one big misunderstanding here.  That is likely not to happen. 


OLBERMANN:  The governor added, soylent green is people. 

Meanwhile, a clean Illinois politician turns out to have a record as a gambler.  All right, the bet was for five.  It was one of his daughters.  The Republicans have to be able to do something with that. 

Do you know as much about the history of World War II as Jessica Alba does?  Bill-O doesn‘t, as we will find out in Worsts. 

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, the attorney general will decide whether or not to hold Bush officials accountable on torture and all the rest.  Will he?  She will ask Senator Russ Feingold. 

But, first, because they may be gone, but their deeds outlive them, the headlines lingering from the previous administration‘s 50 running scandals, still Bushed.

Number three, bailout-gate.  It‘s not like Citibank‘s 50 million dollar jet, nor the million dollar bathroom, but the insurance company AIG, which we bailed in September, has confirmed it is still paying bonuses to the employees who made the deals that caused the companies to nearly go belly up.  These were credit default swaps.  And AIG owed the 400 members of its financial product unit a total of 450 million dollars in bonuses, was contractually bound to pay them.  When we bailed AIG out, the Bush administration Treasury Department about making it possible to invalidate those contracts, the way a bankruptcy judge would have.  So you and I paid the bailout bonuses of the idiots at AIG whose stupidity crashed the company and required that we bail them out. 

Number two, Gitmo-gate.  It continues.  A judge has ruled that Ghalib Nassar al Bahini (ph) must stay there even after seven years of detention without charge.  We say he aided the Taliban.  He says yes, that is true.  He was an assistant in the Taliban kitchen.  That is good enough for US District Judge Richard Leon, who today ruled Bahini must stay there, and quoted Napoleon as saying “an army marches on its stomach.” 

Damn it all, judge.  Even Napoleon would have charged the cook with something.  Napoleon was a dictator.

Number one, History-gate.  More evidence not supporting the president‘s belief that historians will judge him more kindly than his current critics are doing.  The Republican National Committee is meeting in Washington amid an undercurrent of insurrection against National Chairman Mike Duncan.  Says RNC member California Shawn Steele, Duncan should be ousted because he, quote, never criticized Bush when the president was wrong. 

The group is also poised to adopt a resolution to criticizing the bloated bank bailout bill that Bush supported.  Member Curly Hogland (ph) of North Dakota says Mr. Duncan must go, because Mr. Bush appointed him.  And that while, quote, most of us strongly supported the Bush administration through the entire two terms, the last few months of this bailout and the abandonment of capitalism really kind of sealed it. 

Wait, it gets worse.  On the “Today Show,” Senate Minority Leader McConnell brought his memories of Mr. Bush and he also brought a bus. 


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL ®, KENTUCKY:  I was a strong supporter of the president.  But presidential unpopularity is bad for the president‘s party.  We suffered losses in ‘06 and ‘08.  We wish President Bush well.  Frankly, we will not have to be carrying that sort of political burden that we carried the last two elections. 


OLBERMANN:  You heard it.  The Republican leader in the Senate saying George W. Bush is a political burden.  Mr. Bush, the historians you are waiting to save you are not coming.  You are in this box of infamy for good.  Kind of Guantanamo Bay of presidential reputations. 


OLBERMANN:  It seems the president wagered on whether his own daughter would stammer in the presence of a Jonas Brother, while gently calling out D.C. for not handling snow the way the city of Chicago does.  That is next, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s number two story, tonight‘s worst persons in the world. 

The bronze to Bill-O the clown who has gotten schooled again about World War II, again, by actress Jessica Alba.  She now famously called Bill-O the hole word, and when Fixed News chased her for a response, she suggested the network should go Sweden about it.  By go Sweden about it, she said she meant be neutral.  Bill-O fired back, saying she was uninformed.  Labeled her a, quote, pinhead.  And decided she had clearly confused Sweden and the famously neutral nation of Switzerland. 

Ms. Alba has now gotten the last word, writing on a blog that it “is so sad to me that you think the only neutral country during World War II was Switzerland.”  Sweden was not only famously, sometimes painfully neutral during the war, indeed during most of the 20th century.  But that fact made its way into pop culture as recently as the movie “Catch-22.”

Bill-O, who didn‘t know the Americans were the victims and not the war criminals at Malmady in that war, now proves to have know less about the Second World War than does the star of the movie “Sin City.”

The runner up, columnist Charles Krauthammer, criticizing Obama‘s appearance on the al Arabiya network yesterday as needlessly apologetic and defensive.  “We heard him say that we shouldn‘t paint Islam with a broad brush.  Who does?  That‘s a straw man.” 

Krauthammer obviously never read this sentence, painted with the broadest brush imaginable in December 2002: “from Nigeria to Sudan to Pakistan to Indonesia to the Philippines, some of the worst, most hate driven violence in the world today is perpetrated by Muslims and in the name of Islam.” 

That amazing generalization, written without any attempt at verification, the definition of painting with a broad brush was written six years ago by Charles Krauthammer. 

But our winner, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia.  Though not taking credit for the stimulus program, he is ripping it.  “Even the Congressional Budget Office says it is not stimulative,” he said on CNBC today.  “You‘ve got that office saying that only 25 percent goes out in the first year.” 

Actually, the Congressional Budget Office writes that the stim would have a, quote, “noticeable impact on economic growth and employment in the next few years.”  About that 25 percent claim, the office says it is ridiculous to try to measure how much of the money would be distributed by the end of this year, because the plan won‘t even go into effect until roughly the middle of the fiscal year. 

But by the end of September of next year, the office says 65 percent of this funding will have been spent.  This guy Cantor is supposed to be one of the GOP‘s bright new lights.  He is kind of new.  He seems fairly light.  I don‘t know about bright.  Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia, today‘s worst person—and there‘s echo in the room already—in the world!


OLBERMANN:  Lord knows, in the campaign, they went after him for everything else and show early signs of being willing to do so even as he is in the White House.  Perhaps, the right wing talking points are just a day or two away: President Obama is an irresponsible father.  He taught his children how to gamble for relatively high stakes, five dollars.

Or President Obama criticizes a major city‘s policy of handling of snowstorms, the elitist.  Number one story on the COUNTDOWN, or maybe everyone might calm down this time and just see a dad needling a daughter and good-naturedly complaining when they both get the day of school in DC for what in Chicago would have been referred to as flurries.

The needling and betting first released by video just released of the Obama family during the Democratic Convention in Denver last August. 


OBAMA:  Who is iPod are you going to use?  Malia‘s?  A little Jonas Brothers. 

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY:  We have another secret.  I‘m going to be on “Ellen” next week.  Special guests? 

OBAMA:  Jonas Brothers? 

M. OBAMA:  I‘m taking the girls. 

OBAMA:  That‘s big. 

M. OBAMA:  I‘m not going tell them. 

OBAMA:  Don‘t tell them at all.  Particularly because I‘ve got a bet with Malia.  She‘s been talking about how when she sees her Jonas Brother favorite—what‘s his name? 

M. OBAMA:  Nick. 

OBAMA:  Nick.  She‘s going to be all sophisticated.  I said, Malia, I will bet you five dollars that you will stammer and not have anything to say.  She said, no, no.  Well, I‘m sure I‘ll say I‘m a really big fan.  You know Malia, acting all sophisticated.  I‘ll be—I really enjoy his music.  I said, you won‘t say that.  You‘ll be like, ah—

M. OBAMA:  They have a five dollar bet. 

OBAMA:  We‘ve got a five dollar bet.  I won‘t really take her money. 


OLBERMANN:  Their lives at once normal and extraordinary.  The Obama girls danced with the Jonas Brothers at a kids ball during the inaugural and retreated to another surprise Jonas Brothers visit at the end of the scavenger hunt in their first night in the White House.  All reports suggesting Malia handled herself with grace, and without stammering and presumably she has collected the fin from a secretly delighted father. 

Now, about the snow.  The president again sounding like just a father, today Complained about his daughters‘ school being canceled. 


OBAMA:  Because of what? 


OBAMA:  Some ice? 

As my children pointed out, in Chicago, school is never canceled. 

We‘re going to have to try to apply some flinty Chicago toughness. 


OLBERMANN:  Good luck.  Let‘s bring in “Bloomberg News” political columnist, Washington editor of “The Week Magazine,” Margaret Carlson. 

Good evening, Margaret. 


OLBERMANN:  Without getting so ripe about this that we rot and fall of the tree, that is pretty cool stuff right there. 

CARLSON:  Well, you know, about—there‘s no people who come here are shocked that a dusting of snow can bring a world capital to a screeching halt.  Because a day like today in Chicago is called springtime.  It was nothing.  He had a good point.  If he came out on the wrong side of that bet with Malia, it‘s one of the few bets that President Obama has been on the wring side of in the last couple of years. 

OLBERMANN:  This is what people were talking about when they wondered what it would be like to have young kids and, thus, a young father in the White House again? 

CARLSON:  Well, I was told by one magazine editor if you put a picture of the family on any story, it automatically gets so many more hits than any other.  It is kind of exciting.  It is the first time really since the Kennedys that kids that young have been there.  I bet the Jonas Brothers were as nervous about meeting the most famous first family as they were about meeting them. 

You know, it‘s going to be hard.  These kids look as normal as any kids I have seen, certainly as normal as my own daughter being raised in Washington, D.C. without this all going on.  It‘s going to be hard to stay normal.  The downside of their lives, of course, on one side, they have the Jonas Brothers.  On the other side, they are going to have to be very polite to Mitch McConnell. 

OLBERMANN:  Not quite the same thing, meeting Mitch McConnell.  Also, they‘ve got to wait for that first day, as we suggest, where there is some newspaper article that‘s headlined, “The Stimulus Package, What Malia Thinks.” 

The utterly cynical point of view on this, the subtext of the Obama presidency is this presidential version of father knows best.  That helps him politically how much? 

CARLSON:  Well, it helps him because it‘s such an appealing sight, you know, any family all getting along and as, you know—looking the way they do.  There‘s a down side to it, if he were to play it hard.  During the campaign, he apologized for doing—I think it was a “People Magazine” interview, saying that he shouldn‘t have done that.  No, it was Extra Hollywood or Hollywood Extra, one of those shows. 

And they didn‘t use it too much.  You know, politicians don‘t want you to write about their family, but they use their families to help them during elections.  The Obamas so far have it just about right.  I don‘t think they‘ve gone too far. 

The kids seem to be well adjusted, kind of advanced for their years, but not precocious.  They know who they are and they know they are not adults and they know their place.  Many political kids are not like that, I can tell you from having been here so many years. 

OLBERMANN:  Hopefully Malia has gotten her five dollars.  And if not, somebody better ask the president about it in a hurry.  Put it in the stimulus package, while there‘s a chance.  As always, thanks Margaret. 

CARLSON:  Thanks, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  That‘s COUNTDOWN for the 2,090th day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq.  Tomorrow night, from here in Tampa, an exclusive interview with the coach of the Super Bowl favorites, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mike Tomlin.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, from Tampa, good night and good luck.



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