Guest: Richard Lewis, Richard Wolffe, Jonathan Turley
High: Olbermann delivers a scathing summary of the Bush administration.
Spec: Politics; George W. Bush; Government; Economy
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Going out with a snore, not a whimper.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES: Retreating behind our borders would only invite danger.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Heads up bright eyes and turn in your White House pass, and like everybody else in the Bush administration, your BlackBerries, your laptops, your gem keys, your “I authorize torture” t-shirts. It‘s moving day. The painters and the carpet guys will be here tomorrow.
Stunning bipartisanship is here today. Republicans virtually apologize to the president-elect for voting against his request for TARP funds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, ® SENATE MINORITY LEADER: So far, Republican interactions with the incoming administration have been quite encouraging and appreciated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: “This was a painful vote for me,” says Republican Senator Corker of Tennessee. “I greatly respect President-elect Obama‘s economic team.”
The attorney general‘s confirmation, day two. The Republicans keep pushing but none has yet said they will vote against Eric Holder. And Martinez of Florida and Hatch of Utah say they will vote for.
Worsts: Billo the Insane Clown Posse says NBC News has used propaganda like Abu Ghraib to lie about America‘s torture record and thus hurt his right to torture. “Those in the name of ideology want to weaken the country putting us all in danger,” he says. Get out your mirror, Bill, because you are number one on that list.
Eight years in eight minutes, from Tora Bora to Baghdad, from Iraq to Downing Street, from Abu Ghraib to Gitmo, from Enron to Halliburton, from New Orleans to Wall Street—George Bush‘s flying circus.
And, cheer up. That is the light at the end of the tunnel, our special guest Richard Lewis says bye-bye to Bu-Bush.
All that and more: Now on COUNTDOWN.
(on camera): Good evening. This is Friday, January 16th, four days until the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.
Monday is a federal holiday. This weekend belongs to the cleaners and the painting crew. Thus, in our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: While it is still to exist until noon Tuesday, for all intents and purposes, as of 5:00 o‘clock Eastern this afternoon—the Bush administration ended. Yay!
Time to hand in those I.D.s, those BlackBerries, those security clearances and those licenses to screw everything up. Top level staffers at the White House are given a deadline of 9:00 p.m. Friday to vacate the premises, and don‘t let any secret doors hit you on the way out.
A lonely few days ahead at the White House, not even President Bush now living in it, the first family clearing out for its finally Camp David getaway, leaving only Chief of Staff Josh Bolton, Press Secretary Dana Perino, and senior counselor and utility man, Ed Gillespie, on stand by over this long holiday weekend, along with a team of painters and carpet cleaners wiping away any hint that the Bush era had ever happened—wiping away the administration‘s political legacy far more difficult, however, than just throwing on a few coats of paint.
President-elect Obama is traveling to the former battleground state of Ohio to sell his economic recovery plan today. Mr. Obama is making the case that the need for action is urgent, warning that if nothing is done, the recession could linger for years. Something much odder seeming to linger on Capitol Hill today, things like remorse, guilt, respect, Republicans who voted against the passage of the second half of that $700 billion rescue package better known as TARP, if not apologizing to, at least, expressing appreciation for President-elect Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: Again, I do want to say my appreciation to the incoming administration for its responsiveness to Republican concerns. Every time we ask a question, it was promptly answered. So far, Republican interactions with the incoming administration have been quite encouraging and appreciated.
While I voted on the losing side, I hope the new administration will consider some of my concerns and our concerns on this side. We hope their stewardship of these funds is successful in stabilizing the markets according to the original purpose of the TARP. And we‘ll continue to work with them to strengthen our nation‘s economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Time now to call in our own Richard Wolffe, senior White House correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine.
Richard, good evening.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The Republicans who voted against the TARP funding, like Mr. McConnell there, almost apologized for doing so. If I‘m suspicious about this, it‘s because their definition of bipartisanship these many years has been—if you agree with them. Have they really wiped a slate clean or is there something behind this for us paranoids to grab on to?
WOLFFE: Well, I can understand the suspicion. I mean, this trench warfare has been going on for a long time. And, of course, it‘s politically useful for people to say that they were on both sides of this issue because you don‘t know how it‘s going to play out.
But, what this really does show is that you only really wipe the slate clean when you have leadership at the top. If you have an incoming president who goes out of his way to dine with op-ed columnists from the other side, who gives the other side the big tax cuts that they were looking for, who even has a dinner in honor of the guy he beat.
I mean, imagine if President Bush had had a dinner in honor of Al Gore in 2000. Would thing have looked different over the last eight years? I suspect they probably would.
OLBERMANN: Back to the Republicans on Capitol Hill. How much does being gracious matter if you are voting to obstruct anyway and if the foreseeable future, basically, has you voting to obstruct things?
WOLFFE: Well, it helps, but it only helps a little way. I mean, you know, they could afford to obstruct because in the end, they knew that their votes were going to be there. And much tougher if the economy is in a dire straits and they‘re obstructing something that could actually help. So, they had some leeway here.
But, there are going to be tougher decisions for them ahead. A gracious start is helpful, though. You do not want to say you are going to bring change to Washington and then continue with the same old politics.
OLBERMANN: Speaking of that, skeletal staff at the White House this weekend almost as if the Bush administration was only on call, one could make the argument that the White House has spent the last eight years only being on call. And also, in that context, should everybody just hold their breath that nothing happens anywhere involving anything more serious than a football game between now and noon on Tuesday?
WOLFFE: Well, I think it‘s fascinating that the Obama folks are saying to their staff, “Be prepared to work on Tuesday.” It‘s not just about the partying side of it. And look, there was a big bank bailout just today when Bank of America could collapse on a Friday and needs a big bailout, I mean, who knows what‘s going to happen on Monday. It may be a national holiday but, you know, this situation and the economy and national security, anything could happen.
OLBERMANN: Ironically, if there was ever a weekend the Bush administration had earned by just dint of hardwork, not necessarily good work, the weekend off, it was this one. They had the news conference, the final cabinet meeting, the address to the nation. The sum total of groveling here from your perspective, keeping in mind the Scott McClellan point from last night that the White House took a permanent campaign approach to governing all the way through—if they had worked as hard at running this country as they did in burnishing their image on the way out, would the country be as bad off as it is right now?
WOLFFE: You know, it‘s funny that Scott talks about the permanent campaign because I remember one Dick Cheney saying eight years ago that the permanent campaign was over. In the end, it‘s not about the marketing, it‘s not about the exit interviews. This administration‘s reputation comes down to a decision to go to war in a country that should never have been invaded. And, you know, the phrase that springs to mind most of all is “lipstick on a pig.” We all know how that turned out.
OLBERMANN: Richard Wolffe of MSNBC and “Newsweek”—great thanks.
I‘ll see you next week in Washington.
WOLFFE: Thanks, Keith. Looking forward to it.
OLBERMANN: In last night‘s address to the nation, the president calling on the U.S. to maintain its moral clarity after he is gone. Thanks. In fact, the goal would seem to be improving upon government‘s moral clarity especially this one‘s moral clarity about torture. Some encouraging signs reading the tea leaves at the confirmation hearing of Barack Obama‘s nominee to head the Justice Department, Eric Holder.
At the outset of those hearings which concluded today on Capitol Hill, Mr. Holder getting that question, the question on torture.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY, (D) SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Do you agree with me that waterboarding is torture and illegal?
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL-NOMINEE: If you look at the history of the use of that technique, used by the Khmer Rouge, used in the inquisition, used by the Japanese and prosecuted by us as war crimes. We prosecuted our own soldiers for using it in Vietnam. I agree with you, Mr. Chairman, waterboarding is torture.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Let‘s turn now to Jonathan Turley, constitutional law professor at George Washington University.
Jon, good evening.
JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Mr. Holder also said at these hearings, the quote is:
“We don‘t want to criminalize policy differences that might exist between the outgoing administration and the administration that is about to take over.” This is echoing something President-elect Obama began to say in April. Is waterboarding, though, a policy or an act? Is Mr. Holder really threading a needle too carefully here or should we be reading into this that he will not be inclined to prosecute Bush officials?
TURLEY: Well, you know, there‘s a big difference between criminalizing policies and a policy of crimes. That‘s what we have here. We just had three attorney generals who couldn‘t tell the difference. And the question is, whether he will prosecute confirmed crimes. Otherwise, people like Augusto Pinochet were just poor policy-makers.
You know, what we are talking about here is a war crime. And you can see that Holder is trying desperately to find an exit where he won‘t have to apply the law to a former president. But that‘s why there happens to be a cloth over the eyes of the civil of justice. You‘re not really supposed to peek. And that‘s what he‘s doing.
OLBERMANN: The “New York Times” columnist, Paul Krugman, wrote something today. Let me read this verbatim, too. “It‘s true that a serious investigation of Bush era abuses would make Washington an uncomfortable place, but the price of protecting their comfort would be high. If we whitewash the abuses of the past eight years, we‘ll guarantee that they will happen again.”
Doesn‘t that—doesn‘t that seem to be the answer right there? I mean, the trump argument to all others, that absent any consequences, if we don‘t prosecute, if we don‘t uphold the idea that no matter who you are, you are responsible for your actions within the law, eventually, somebody will come back and use this as a precedent to say, “No, it was all right then, it‘s got to be all right now.”
TURLEY: That is certainly the case. This is perhaps one of the most transformative moments in our history. If we do nothing in the face of now confirmed war crimes, then they won‘t be Bush crimes, they‘ll be our crimes. That‘s the point, that if you walk away from a war crime, if you walk away from eight treaties and federal laws that say that we cannot torture, then it becomes our shame.
And so, it‘s a defining moment for us. And I think what you‘re seeing, unfortunately, with Mr. Holder is this attitude that it‘s just an inconvenient time to deal with war crimes. Well, war crimes are always inconvenient. But that‘s not the point.
If you say that no one is above the law, you have to apply the law. You can‘t just say, “You‘re not above the law. What you did is wrong. We won‘t do it,” because if you don‘t prosecute this president, it means that there are some people above the law.
OLBERMANN: As for where the Republicans in the Senate still stand on this issue of the waterboard and torture, I want to play another exchange between Eric Holder and Senator John Cornyn, the Republican of Texas. Senator Cornyn has presented this hypothetical cliche, “24” ticking time bomb scenario where waterboarding, he says, is the only tool agents have to question the suspect and he would not let go of the premise.
Here‘s the tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLDER: Your hypothetical assumes a premise that I‘m not willing to .
SEN. JOHN CORNYN, ® TEXAS: I know you don‘t like my hypothetical.
HOLDER: No. The hypothetical is fine. But the premise that underlies it I‘m not willing to accept and that is that waterboarding is the only way in which I could get that information from those people.
CORNYN: Assume that it was.
HOLDER: See, I—given the knowledge that I have about other techniques and what I‘ve heard from retired admirals and generals and FBI agents, there are other ways in a timely fashion that you can get information out of people that is accurate and will produce usable intelligence. And so, it‘s hard for me to accept or to answer your hypothetical without accepting your premise. I don‘t think I can do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Jon, do you think Mr. Cornyn was trying to set up this premise that Democrats who don‘t approve some terror under some circumstances, some torture are soft on terror or is Mr. Cornyn just not smart enough to realize that there can be interrogation without torture?
TURLEY: Well, this is a very, as you know, a common farcical hypothetical. I mean, first of all, if you put away the fact that all the studies by experts in this skill showed that junk is produced by torture. People will say anything. But also, if you ignore the fact that anyone who‘s played a role in putting a nuclear weapon in a city is probably going to give you false information with very little time to check it.
But putting aside all of that, it doesn‘t really make sense, that if the president still has the ability to pardon someone in the most extreme circumstances, what he does not have the right to do is to order right (ph) war crimes as a policy as this president did. But it‘s not who George Bush is that‘s in question now. It‘s who we are. And that‘s a question that Mr. Holder has yet to answer.
OLBERMANN: As has his boss. We will see.
Jonathan Turley of George Washington University—as always, Jon, great thanks. Have a great weekend.
TURLEY: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: About prosecuting waterboarding and torture, the president-elect has said what we have to focus on is getting things right in the future as opposed to looking at what we got wrong in the past. That he is absolutely right. And that is why he must prosecute torture. Monday, my Special Comment on this subject here on COUNTDOWN.
Eight years of George Bush‘s America from the rolling blackouts of California to the “toast each side (ph)” warnings about al Qaeda and bin Laden—a last backwards glance as the rest of us stagger to the finish line. And then Richard Lewis makes it all better.
Meantime, the extraordinary pressure from the president-elect, on him, in fact, about Tuesday‘s speech. “First African-American president,” he was warned today, “better be good.” Do you know who told him that?
OLBERMANN: As the Bush men beat it for higher ground, the capital district, indeed, the Atlantic seaboard lights up in anticipation of the inauguration on Tuesday. And the president-elect gets a warning about his speech. It should be short and good.
We look back to, condensing eight unbelievable years into eight even more unbelievable minutes.
Bests: The anti-abortion group protesting group what it and only it sees as pro-abortion donuts. And in Worsts: FOX noise out to sink the confirmation of Carol Browner, even though Carol Browner‘s new job does not need a confirmation.
All ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: In preparing for his historic ascendance to the presidency on Tuesday, Barack Obama has let slip just how much pressure he is under, telling a conference call of donors that not only did his younger daughter intimated the speech better be short, but then his eldest, Malia, told him, quote, “First African-American president, better be good.”
Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: The inauguration of President-elect Obama. He‘s planning to start his journey to the White House traditionally, taking a train journey with his Vice President-elect Biden from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. where performers are already rehearsing for Sunday‘s free concert at the Lincoln Memorial—the very beginning of a massive four-day inauguration celebration.
I‘m joined now by our White House correspondent, Savannah Guthrie, who is inside 30th Street Train Station in Philadelphia tonight in anticipation of the president-elect‘s whistle stop train journey to Washington.
Good evening, Savannah.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Keith.
How are you doing?
OLBERMANN: Run us through what is happening over the next few days?
GUTHRIE: Well, there is a lot. Massive was the word you used. I think that‘s right.
First of all, let‘s start with this concert on Sunday. Ready for this? Here‘s who‘s playing, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Beyonce, Usher, Garth Brooks, Stevie Wonder, John Mellencamp, Shakira, Mary J. Blige—we could do this all night into Rachel‘s show, I have to stop there.
Monday night—OK—you have the green ball which is hosted by Al Gore, the hip-hop ball, the kids inaugural ball, plus bipartisan dinners for Joe Biden, Colin Powell and John McCain. And then Tuesday, there‘s this is all matter of the inauguration.
But let‘s talk about the balls. Tuesday night, there is the neighborhood ball, the youth ball, the Obama home states ball, the Biden home states ball—OK—and the mid-Atlantic, mid-western, western, eastern, southern, all those regional balls, and, Keith, the commander-in-chief ball.
GUTHRIE: So, it‘s going to be an exhausting night for you making all those parties.
OLBERMANN: Yes. Conveniently, I have been invited to none of them. The only thing I‘m going to share with the incoming administration is taking the train over the weekend. Does that train trip, obviously, everybody on the line knows Biden from, at least, from Wilmington to Washington. But, is this a logistical security nightmare?
GUTHRIE: It is and it isn‘t. I mean, the Secret Service has done these sorts of whistle stop tours before. But, yes, you can imagine this is a lot harder than saying, “Oh, having him there at the White House or inside Blair House tucked away.” And then they are going to make three stops, starting in Philly, then Wilmington, then Baltimore, and then on to Washington. And there are going to be points along the way they slow down so they wave at the crowds.
So, imagine Secret Service has to be a part of every bit of that.
So, it‘s definitely a logistical challenge.
OLBERMANN: Yes. I‘m just trying, in my head, count the overpasses between Philadelphia and Washington on the northeast corridor line. It‘s got to be 250. The premise of the train, is it—was this drawn from Lincoln‘s entrance to Washington in 1861? Is there more to it than that?
GUTHRIE: It was. And then he‘s on the same train car that he used for a trip he took through Pennsylvania during the campaign. And, you know, it‘s a little bit contrived, let‘s face it, because he‘s not actually moving to Washington this weekend. He‘s already there. But it‘s good theater and lots of candidates do it and presidents, too. And so, nothing wrong with tradition, I guess.
OLBERMANN: And from the other end, obviously, president-elect and a few hundred thousand of his closest friends, what is this going to be like for the people who attend the inaugural balls and other celebrations?
GUTHRIE: OK. Do you want an honest answer to that?
GUTHRIE: I‘ve done a little research, Keith. OK. I‘ve personally never been to an inaugural ball. But what I‘m told is they are really big and really crowded, people waiting in long lines for cash bars and squinting to try to see the president-elect—excuse me—the president, the new president when he‘s there for about seven or 10 minutes. So, as one person described it to me, it‘s a big, crowded, expensive disappointment.
OLBERMANN: So, stay home. We are doing a round-up of it. Chris Matthews and Rachel and Gene Robinson and myself, between 10:00 and midnight on Tuesday night. So, that‘s the easiest way. You will not be afforded that luxury, I‘m sure.
Savannah Guthrie, White House correspondent for NBC and MSNBC—great thanks. Have fun.
GUTHRIE: OK. Nice to see you.
OLBERMANN: The Chinese are evidently trying to horn in on Japan‘s monopoly in the building of pointless robots wearing hats. Speaking of pointless, Billo says he is going “to name names of those in media who in the name of ideology want to weaken the county” at their stance against torture. We will beat him to the punch by naming one such name of someone tried to hurt the name the country in the name of ideology—Bill O‘Reilly.
Worst Persons is ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Bests in a moment, and a time to find out the bank is moved is before you tried to hold the bank up.
First, on this date in 1907 was born one of the most unheralded and versatile actors of the 20th century, Canadian-born Alexander Knox was nominated for an Oscar in his first lead role portraying, when he was only 37, President Woodrow Wilson. Knox was later, however, cast as a Russian general in “Gorky Park,” an American general on “D-Day,” the head of British intelligence, Roosevelt‘s secretary of war, Henry Stimson, Eisenhower‘s secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, the British government‘s prosecutor against Oscar Wild, and then the president of Mexico.
Let‘s play Oddball.
We begin in Clinton Township, Michigan, where the answer to Detroit‘s economic woes is in development. Creating the next big thing in personal transportation, inventor Alfie Carrington gives us the every man‘s auto bailout, a flying saucer. Who needs an electric car when a spaceship will do? We‘ll let Mr. Carrington explain both form and function.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALFIE CARRINGTON, INVENTOR: This is the outer disc right here. It rotates in one direction as it draws air in through the inlet holes. And then this is the inner disc that rotates in the opposite direction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And you power it with the snow? I see. The outer disc rotates in one direction; the inner disc rotates in the other direction. Next.
In China, more incredible technology from the civilization that gave us paper, fireworks and the Great Wall, behold, it is the robot rickshaw wearing a hat. This modern day miracle will help transport you and a friend to the nearest village traveling at the speed of six miles in only six hours. Hopefully, pedestrians will wave hello as they pass you on the right. Nice hat.
Nothing better than seeing Bush in your rearview mirror. The eight years condensed to eight minutes. And the Gettysburg address it wasn‘t. Two reviews of Mr. Bush‘s farewell, that nodding off one from Mr. Cheney and another from our special guest tonight, Richard Lewis. These stories ahead.
But first, time for COUNTDOWN‘s Top Three Best Persons in the World.
Number three: Best paranoia. Judie Brown, founder of an organization called the American Life League, who is outraged by the following publicity grab by a noted pastry retailer. Read this with me and see if you can find what was so, quote, “disrespectful and insensitive and makes a mockery of a national tragedy.”
“Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc. is honoring American‘s sense of pride and freedom of choice on Inauguration Day, by offering a free doughnut of choice to every customer on this history day, January 20th.” The word choice—freedom of choice by offering a free doughnut of choice. Ms. Brown thinks this was a, quote, “tacky reference to the upcoming 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade as opposed to just being a tacky advertising fun.” She is calling them pro-abortion donuts. She is a loon.
Number two: Best dumb criminal. It‘s a “Monty Python” sketch, only slightly rewritten. Bank robber in Nicholasville, Kentucky pulls a gun and demands money. “We really don‘t have any money,” said the employee. “I know you have money,” the robber says, “It‘s a bank.” The employee responds, “No, sir, it‘s not a bank anymore.”
With only then that the bank robber realized that what was the Farmers Bank until four months ago is now the office of the local water district. He promptly exited the facility.
And number one: Best delivery mistake. UPS in Denton, Texas, a man expecting a shipment from Sears was instead handed a 30-pound brick of compressed marijuana. What can Brown do for you? I don‘t remember. Ahhh!
OLBERMANN: George Walker Bush, 43rd president of the United States, first ever with a criminal record. Our third story tonight, his presidency, eight years in eight minutes. Early in 2001, the U.S. fingered al Qaeda for the bombing of the USS Cole. Bush counter-terrorism adviser Richard Clarke had a plan to take down al Qaeda. Instead, by February, the NSC had already discussed invading Iraq, and had a plan for post-Saddam Iraq.
By March 5th, Bush had a map ready for Iraqi oil exploration, and a list of companies. Al Qaeda? Rice told Clarke not to give Bush at lot of long memos; not a big reader.
August 6th, 2001, a CIA analyst briefs Bush on vacation, “Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S.” Bush takes no action, tells the briefer, quote, “all right, you covered your ass now.”
Next month, Clarke requests using new Predator Drones to kill bin Laden. The Pentagon And CIA say no.
September 11th, Bush remains seated for several minutes to avoid scaring school children by getting up and leaving. He then flies around the country and promises, quote, a full investigation to find those folks who did it.
Rumsfeld says Afghanistan does not have enough targets. We‘ve got to do Iraq. When the CIA traps bin Laden in Tora Bora, it asks for 800 Rangers to cut off his escape. Bush out sources the job to Pakistanis sympathetic to the Taliban. Bin Laden gets away.
In February, General Tommy Franks tells a visiting senator Bush is moving equipment out of Afghanistan so he can invade Iraq. One of the men who prepped Rice for her testimony that Bush did not ignore pre-9/11 warnings later explains, quote, we cherry-picked things to make it look like the president had been actually concerned about al Qaeda. They didn‘t give a bleep about al Qaeda.
July, and Britain‘s intel chief says Bush is fixing intelligence and facts around the policy to take out Saddam.
January ‘03, Bush and Blair agree to invade in March. Mr. Bush still telling us he has not decided, telling Blair they should paint an airplane in U.N. colors, fly it over Iraq and provoke a response, a pretext for invasion.
The man who said it would take several hundred thousand troops fired. The man who said it would cost more than 100 billion fired. The man who revealed Bush‘s yellow cake lie smeared, his wife‘s covert status exposed. The White House liars who did it and covered it up not fired. One convicted; Bush commutes his sentence.
Then in Iraq, stuff happens. Iraq‘s army disbanded. The government de-Baathified, 200,000 weapons, millions of dollars lost, foreign mercenaries immunized from justice, political hacks run the green zone. Religious cleansing forcing one out of six Iraqis from their homes.
Abu Ghraib, the insurgency, al Qaeda in Iraq. Other stuff does not happen; WMD, post-war planning, body armor, vehicular armor. The payoff, oil and billions for Halliburton, Blackwater and other companies, while Mr. Bush denies VA health care to 450,000 veterans, tries to raise their health care fees, blocks the new GI Bill and increases his own power with the USA Patriot Act, with the Military Commissions Act, public orders exempting himself from a thousand laws, and secretly from the Presidential Records Act, the Geneva Conventions, FISA, sparking a mass rebellion at the Justice Department.
Secret star chambers for terrorism suspects overturned by Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. Denying habeas corpus, overturned by Bomedine v. Bush. Two hundred renditionings, sleep deprivation, abuse. Rumsfeld warned in 2002 that he was torturing, that it would jeopardize convictions. Out of 550 at Gitmo, hundreds ultimately go free with no charges. Dozens are tortured, eight fatally, three are convicted.
On US soil, 1,200 immigrants rounded up without due process, without bail, without court dates, without a single charge of terrorism.
It wasn‘t just Mr. Bush no longer subject to the rule of law. He slashed regulations on everyone from banks to mining companies, appointed 98 lobbyists to oversee their own industries, weakening emissions standards for mercury and 650 different toxic chemicals.
Regulators shared drugs and their beds with industry reps. The Crandall Canyon Mine owner told inspectors to back off because his buddy, Republican Mitch McConnell, was sleeping with their boss. McConnell‘s wife is Bush Labor Secretary Elaine Cho (ph). Her agency over-ruled engineer concerns about Crandall Canyon and was found negligent after nine miners died in the collapse there.
Mr. Bush is hands off as Enron blacks out California, doubling electric bills. After months of rejecting price caps, many Bush bows to pressure. The blackouts end. Mr. Bush further deregulates commodity futures, mid-wifing the birth of unregulated oil markets, which, just like Enron, jack up prices to an all-time high, until Congress and both presidential candidates call for regulations and the prices fall.
Deregulating financial services and lax enforcement of remaining rules create a housing bubble, creating the mortgage crisis, creating then a credit crisis, devastating industries that rely on credit, from student loans to car dealers. Firms that had survived the Great Depression could not survive Bush. Those that did got 700 billion dollars, no strings, no transparency, no idea whether it worked.
Unlike the auto bailout, which cut workers salaries. A GOP memo called it a chance to punish unions. But Bush failed even when his party and his patrons did not stand to profit. Investigators blamed management, cost cutting communication for missed warnings about Colombia.
Bush administration convicts include sex offenders at Homeland Security, convicted liars, every kind of thief in the calendar.
If you count things that were not prosecuted, the vice president of the United States actually shot a man in the face. The man apologized.
Mr. Bush faked the truth with paid propaganda in Iraq, on his education policy, tried to silence the truth about global warming, rocket fuel in our water, industry influence on our energy policy, politicized the truth of science at NASA, the EPA, the National Cancer Institute, Fish and Wildlife, and the FDA.
His lies exposed by whistle blowers from the cabinet down. “Complete BS,” the Treasury secretary said about Mr. Bush on his tax cuts.
Rice‘s mushroom cloud, Powell‘s mobile labs, Iraq and 9/11, Jack Abramoff, Jessica Lynch, Pat Tillman, Pat Tillman again, Pat Tillman again.
The air at ground zero, most responders still suffering respiratory problems. Global warming, carbon emissions, a clear skies initiative lowering air quality standards, the Healthy Forest Initiative increasing logging, faith-based initiatives, the cost of Medicare reform, fired U.S. attorneys, politically synchronized terror alerts.
The surge causing insurgents to switch sides, that abortion causes breast cancer, that his first recession began under Clinton, that he did not wiretap without warrants, that we do not torture.
That American citizen John Walker Lindh‘s rights were not violated, that he refused the right to counsel. Heck of a job, Brownie, some survivors still in trailers, New Orleans still at just two thirds 3 its usual population.
The lie that no one could have predicted the economic crisis, except the economists who did. No one could have predicted 9/11, except one ass covering CIA analyst, or 30. No one could have predicted the levee breach, except literally Mr. Bill in a PSA that aired on TV a year before Katrina.
Bush actually admitted that he lied about not firing Rumsfeld because he did not want to tell the truth. Look it up.
All of it and more leaving us with 10 trillion in debt to pay for 31 percent more in discretionary spending, the Iraq war, a 1.3 trillion dollar tax cut, median income down 2,000 dollars, three quarters of all income gains under Bush going to the richest one percent, unemployment up from 4.2 to 7.2, the Dow down from 10,587 to 8,277, six million now more in poverty, seven million more now without health care.
Buying toxic goods from China, deadly cribs, out-sourcing security to Dubai, still unsecure at our ports and at our nuclear plants, more dependent on foreign oil, out of the International Criminal Court, off the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, military readiness and standards down, with two unfinished wars, a nuclear North Korea, disengaged from the Palestinian problem, destabilizing Eastern European diplomacy with anti-missile plans, and unable to keep Russia out of Georgia.
Two thousand miles of Appalachian streams destroyed by rubble from mountain top mining. At his last G-8 summit, he actually bid farewell to other world leaders, saying, quote, goodbye from the world‘s greatest polluter.
Consistently undermining historic American reference to the institutions that empower us, education now academic elites, and the law, activists judges capping jury awards.
And bin Laden live today unmolested in a Pakistani safe haven created by a truce endorsed and defended by George W. Bush. Among all the gifts he gave to bin Laden, the most awful, the most damaging not just to America, but to the American ideal was to further bin Laden‘s goal by making us act out of fear rather than fortitude, leaving us with precious little to cling to tonight, save the one thing that might yet suffice: hope.
That‘s one summary of the Bush presidency. We will get one differing in tone but not intent from my special guest, Richard Lewis.
When Rachel Maddow joins me at the top of the hour, her special guest Matt Taibbi of “Rolling Stone” on the farewell Mr. Bush should have given us.
Cracking lies about Seton Hall‘s women‘s basketball team cost Don Imus his job. Cracking wise about Cincinatti‘s men‘s team may now cost this vulgarian his. Worst persons in the world ahead here on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Dick Cheney says goodbye to George Bush by nodding off during Mr. Bush‘s final speech. Richard Lewis will not be so polite. He‘s next. But first time for COUNTDOWN‘s number two story, tonight‘s worst persons in the world.
The bronze to Brian Kilmeade of the morning show on Fixed News, reads those talking points like nobody‘s business. Thinking, not so much. “Carol Browner has socialist ties. She led a commission of socialist groups which calls for global governance.” Kilmeade then tells a guest, “so should she have a hard time getting confirmed?”
Her position as presidential adviser on climate and energy, that doesn‘t require anybody to confirm her. Brian, you have been a wonderful contestant. As a parting gift, we would love to give you the home version of the conservative parrot game.
The silver to Bill Cunningham, the rabid radio host of Cincinatti. Got away with comparing Obama to Hitler. But as with many of the lunatic fringe, he may have met his Waterloo in sports. Cunningham talking about the University of Cincinnati hoops squad, quote, “how many illegitimate children does the UC men‘s basketball team have? I heard it is more than half a dozen. So there is some hanging and banging going on at the Schoomaker Center after the game. They are popping those things out like cherry pits out of one‘s mouth.”
I think the man just Imused all over himself. Just for added zest, the station he is on in Cincinatti broadcasts the University of Cincinatti basketball games.
But our winner, Bill-O the clown, heartbroken that the end of his fantasy world is near, the one in which he is Jack Bauer and Bush is Jack Bauer and Cheney is also Jack Bauer. Also terrified at the prospect somebody somewhere might be held accountable. O‘Reilly opened his show thusly, “tearing the country apart over the Bush/Cheney anti-terror policies, the far left media has succeeded in convincing the world that USA is a nation of torture, a country that sadistically inflicts pain on both the innocent and the guilty.”
No, that was done the other day, when Mr. Bush‘s head of prosecution for detainees said we tortured that man al Khatani. “These people at the ‘New York Times‘ and NBC News should be very proud. They have damaged their own country in a disgusting display of propaganda and outright lies.
It all began with Abu Ghraib, a story featured more than 50 times on the
front page of the ‘New York Times.‘”
Of course, you don‘t want anybody reporting the Bush administration‘s mistakes, because Mr. Bush was so diligent about owning up to them. Obviously, Abu Ghraib would have corrected itself if we had ignored it.
“Now there‘s an insane call for fishing expeditions to find something that will lead to prosecuting the president and vice president. Again, this is poison, a destructive act toward America. Bush and Cheney protected Americans after 9/11 and they did fast. So mistakes were inevitable, but they stopped the killing on American soil, did they not?”
If you don‘t count the anthrax killings, Bill. But if you ignore the fact that Bush and Cheney didn‘t protect Americans before 9/11, and if you fell for all those Diet Coke and Mentos plots they foiled --
“Talking Points despises those who, in the name of ideology, want to weaken the country, putting us all in danger. We‘re going to name names coming up in the future, ladies and gentlemen. It‘s going to stop right now.”
How about starting with yourself, pal, because with the hateful bile you have been spilling for a decade, and the racism and the homophobia and the demonizing of dissent, you, Bill O‘Reilly, have personally harmed this country far more than a John Walker Lindh ever did. Bill O‘Reilly, today‘s worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: It was President Bush‘s 36th and final address to the nation, and his last public appearance before leaving office on Tuesday. And somewhere Richard Lewis was watching and retching. Mr. Lewis and his own fond farewell for President Bush in just a minute. First, while millions tuned in for the president‘s valedictory speech, each thinking the same thing, what time does the hero pilot get interviewed, one VIP, the VP, was not all there.
About ten minutes into this 13 minute diatribe, those little Dickens at PBS took a cut-away of Vice President Cheney that appeared to show him catching a little shut eye.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: We must reject isolation itch and its companion protectionism.
Retreating behind our borders would only invite danger.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: It was all just a dream. Now, as promised, my friend, comedian Richard Lewis. His Misery Loves Comedy tour is in town for a show tomorrow night at Townhall with Richard Belser.
RICHARD LEWIS, COMEDIAN: Yes.
OLBERMANN: Next weekend for six dates in West Palm Beach. He‘s beginning shooting on the seventh season of the HBO sitcom “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
LEWIS: Hi, Larry.
OLBERMANN: Tuesday, he will complete his eighth year of agitating from the Bush administration. Good to see you.
LEWIS: You know, Professor Turley, he was magnificent tonight.
OLBERMANN: As usual.
LEWIS: After the third spot—I normally before I make love watch “Death of a Salesman,” but that‘s over. I‘m going to watch—everyone, this should be on Youtube. I hope there are eight billion hits on that. That is what happened. You did a magnificent job.
First of all, cut me off a lot, because I‘m not the one who should be summing up this hell that President-Elect Obama is inheriting.
LEWIS: If Gore didn‘t get ripped off, I would venture to guess 99 percent of the stuff—you can‘t account for all the hypocritical jerk-offs who are in Congress and in the Senate. They still might have been. If Kerry would have won, we still—he would have inherited the fake war, but it wouldn‘t have been like this.
So this has been the worst eight years of my life. Let me say, the farewell speech—
LEWIS: I saw the exact thing in a Hallmark card store. He just made a couple of changes.
OLBERMANN: Grab all of them and read them in the correct order.
LEWIS: That was the most absurd thing. Cut me off, because I‘m all over the joint here. First of all, I‘m not going to the ball either. I would stay home and ball. There‘s not enough people. I mean, play ball.
LEWIS: You have a beautiful lady. I have a beautiful wife. Here‘s the thing, I‘m so glad the election is over and he got it, because the day after he got nominated, I was making love and I went, this is Richard Lewis and I approve this orgasm. I was brainwashed with this crap. I couldn‘t take it.
Listen, we have the best person right now that is inheriting the worst possible conditions maybe ever, not just the nightmarish situation. I‘m not going to—I‘m going to run out of time. We know what is going rMD+IN_rMDNM_down. Our respectability is in the dumper. This never would have happened.
As far as the criminal trials, it would have been really fabulous if we at least tried to do that, and if they were convicted, he would have pardoned—that would make the Marc Rich pardon maybe saying like I think Carrot-Top has too many props. It would have been—he would have pardoned god knows how many people.
This has been a disaster. This has been a horror show for eight years.
OLBERMANN: But it is over. All we have to do is get through Tuesday.
You are not optimistic?
LEWIS: No. No. No.
LEWIS: First of all, the obvious, this Country, rooted in slavery, to have an African-American president is one of the greatest thrills of my life time. I am so happy. Richard Belser said it makes every African-American feel an inch taller. It is a beautiful thought. It should make everyone feel an inch taller.
OLBERMANN: Because we have screwed this up a hundred different ways since 1600, but our most recent answer is President-Elect Obama.
LEWIS: Dig this, I have a billion jokes. I don‘t want to talk about
I‘m not that smart. Bush obviously is not that smart. It was really embarrassing to me that McCain, who has, you know, some really good record and a war hero, was so desperate to get that—to get Tina Fey‘s stunt woman to actually be a breath away. You know?
Maybe she‘ll turn into something, but she sure wasn‘t going to be our president. And if she was, this would have been a—no. Forget about it. Thank god.
You know something, I was thinking about this backstage: Gore won the popular vote and got ripped off. Kerry was a close election. Obama won. OK. Sure, there‘s anti-semites and there‘s white supremacists. I was also getting bogged down in this depression, this country, where am I living? This country, I‘m convinced—sure—and the religion thing is a whole other issue, if I could get to that. Oh, god. Separation of church and state. We have to get that act together. He has blurred that. I‘m a Jew, but I was popped out Jew. I was very reformed.
I used to go to the Frank Sinatra—Temple Beth Sinatra in Palm Springs. Really, the rabbi used to say, what is new in pound cake. That was his sermon. If someone doesn‘t want an abortion, don‘t have it. But don‘t say, if you have an abortion, you are a baby killer. We have to separate that. That‘s what‘s going on all over the world anyway. Those mental cases, those socio-paths.
What‘s going on here? Where‘s the morality here? This country is supposed to be a melting pot. There is no acceptance.
Here‘s the deal, he has to get people‘s esteem back, get them to work.
He‘s got to fix the education and he‘s got to fix the health care system. That way, the blacks won‘t hate the Irish and the Irish won‘t hate the Jews. In other words, we‘ll be Americans. I was taught that when I was three years old. This is the greatest country in the world, because we blend in.
It is not true. It‘s a lot of BS. We have the greatest guy in the world to do it. I‘m so proud to be an American right now. Always was proud to be an American, but I was under my bed for eight years. And now I‘m out.
OLBERMANN: Now we are out with the flags on Tuesday.
LEWIS: Flags for the right reason.
LEWIS: Not wrapping it around crimes, but around being an American.
OLBERMANN: Richard Lewis is performing at Townhall in New York City.
LEWIS: I will be much funnier tomorrow. I promise, sorry.
OLBERMANN: Always a pleasure, sir. That is COUNTDOWN for this the 2,078th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. A reminder, we will see you Monday night, inauguration eve, from our MSNBC headquarters at the capital, with a special comment on why the president-elect and his administration must pursue prosecutions against those who tortured and those who authorized torture in our names.
I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
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